I entered a giveaway contest in December on my favorite Italian food site, Educated Palate: Giuliano & Lael Hazan’s blog. What makes it a favorite? Beautiful photos. Heartbreakingly delicious food. (And wonderful cookbooks!) They talk about two places I love, Italy and Florida, and two of the things that make life worth living, family and food.
We just finished reading Two Snowflakes by Jennifer Miller, who blogs at TwinHappy. She also does #TwinTuesday on Twitter as @TwinHappyJen.
I won the book in a giveaway. It’s a sweet story about two identical snowflakes who find two identical girls. My daughters aren’t identical twins, but we always love a good story about twins. Thanks, Jen!
This basket arrived the other day, much to the kids’ delight. We love pancakes, and I hate not being able to find syrup without HFCS in it, which is why I entered the contest. The basket includes Log Cabin syrup (with no high-fructose corn syrup), Mrs. Butterworth’s complete pancake & waffle mix, a whisk, a spatula, a plate and a glass. Isn’t it adorable?
Just a little more than a year ago, we decided at the last minute to go to Norway for the holidays. My husband’s grandmother was gravely ill, and we hoped to see her one more time. (She died just a few days before we got there.)
Linda also gave me free rein to redesign the blog, which I did over my crazy summer. I had some hits and misses. A photographer promised the use of an image then wouldn’t return e-mails or telephone calls. So I scrambled for a suitable replacement, and I got something even better. I called on someone I knew, Kristine Freed.
With the help of Kristine and Sherilyn Brinker of Brinker-Freed Photographyand new mother-of-twins Kerrin Laari and her 5-week-old babies, Elise and Ian, I had a fabulous image to use on the blog.
None of it would have happened, though, without Jo-Lynne at DCR Design. She made the header and buttons, arranged and rearranged everything and even called me to give me a crash course in making my own changes. (Though I’m still fairly hopeless in that department.) I would have made a big announcement on the blog by now, but I’m having technical difficulties with Typepad, and I haven’t been able to sign on. As soon as I get it figured out, though, I’ll get something posted.
1. Where was I 10 years ago?
Probably living in a rental by now after selling our house and getting ready to move to Norway in a few months.
2. What is on my to-do list today?
Call about recycling (we don’t have garbage service here)
Call about the gas tank in our yard … when does it need to be filled?
3. What would I do if I were a billionaire? I’m with Alisa. I would never, ever fly commercial again. I would never put my money in my old bank. I would build a home in Norway and visit often (never flying commercial, ever again, mind you).
4. Five places I have lived
5. Three bad habits
Not reading instructions thoroughly
Cursing (see first two)
6. Snacks I like
So I did a meme the other day. I mentioned a Johnson who was president. Why? I thought it would be a good segue into the “I come from a long line of Johnsons” bit. I also mentioned the only Johnna I’ve ever known, and I haven’t even said her name in, oh, almost 30 years. (Dang. Where is that yearbook?)
Then I ran across this article in Newsweek, My Turn: Don’t Just Call Me Jane, written by — a woman named Johnna, who writes about her unique name. (This other Johnna read the article and blogged about it.) While several people named Johnna responded in the comments, it’s still a fairly uncommon name.
The next day, my newspaper ran a full-page article about not just any ol’ Johnson but Lyndon Baines Johnson, called This is LBJ Country, with a Johnson City dateline.
That same day? We went to look at a house for sale on Johnston Road. (No, no. Nothing serious. Just looking.)
I have read two of his books Sophie’s World (Sofies verden), which was made into a movie, and The Solitaire Mystery (Kabalmysteriet). Here’s a little diversion from the main topic at hand. It’s a trailer to the movie Sofies verden, which apparently isn’t available in English yet. I guess it’s not so easy to get the Norwegian version either. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’d like to.
I saw Gaarder at some literature festival or other several years ago. I thought it was Bjørnsonfestivalen, but I still have a tote bag from then, and it has Bokbadet På Tur on it. So who knows.
Anyway. Here’s what’s on page 123 of the book that’s closest to me, Julemysteriet by Jostein Gaarder.
— Joda, svarte pappa. — Men det har jo egentlig ingen betydning hva hun het.
Den siste som sa noe før de måtte skynde seg å spise frokost, var Joakim.
— Jeg synes det har ganske stor betydning, sa han. — For også damen på bildet het Elisabet.
Pappa doesn’t think it matters what her name is. Joakim, on the other hand, does. He things it matters a lot because the woman in the picture is named Elisabet.
If you want to know what’s on page 123 of books I’m actually reading, here are a couple of passages.
In the fall of 2004, when the kidnapping started, it became very necessary not to be publicly identified on the streets as a foreigner. I wear a scarf, I wear Iraqi-style clothing. I don’t go with the whole abaya [the traditional full-body garment for Islamic women] because I don’t walk like I’m an Iraqi that’s in an abaya. — Liz Sly, Chicago Tribune
I kept a blue Magic Marker with me at all times. My favorite tags were “Lady Cupcake, Slob Killer”; “Lady Cupcake, 60’s Killer” (to denote “60’s Killer,” I’d write “60’s” and then mark a giant X over the 60’s); or “Lady Cupcake — Gangsta Ca-rip Cuzzz.” Gangstas also taught me how to make money by “working a store.”
That’s from A Piece of Cake, a memoir by Cupcake Brown, who practices law in San Francisco. I’m almost halfway through her book. I just read about her third pregnancy/second abortion. Her first pregnancy ended in miscarriage brought on by a severe beating by girls in her foster home … when she was 13. That was after turning tricks, a stint in the hospital for alcohol poisoning and running away repeatedly from the abusive foster home, where her biological father put her after her mother died when she was 11.
Even though I will eventually read about her graduating magna cum laude from college without a high-school diploma or certificate of General Educational Development and her other successes, I can’t help feeling she lives with her past as a big part of her present. And that makes sense, I guess. Most of us carry around a part of our 5-year-old, 10-year-old or 15-year-old selves, don’t we? When I was reading The Glass Castle, though, I felt the author was looking back on a much older story from a different time and place. Brown tells her story with such gusto and bravado that it seems she’s not as far away from her past. Two very different perspectives, yet the authors are about the same age. Maybe the difference is that Brown’s past is a big part of her current life because she uses “all of the years of negative experiences, coupled with the positives, to share with others how — even though it seems impossible — the hopes and dreams of anyone really can come true” to speak to others around the country.
I’d love to hear what Brown is reading, but I understand she’s incredibly busy. Oh, what the heck. I’ll tag some of my favorite authors. Let’s just see if they (or their publishers) ever check their incoming links.