WAIW: Book Love, More Fro Yo, and Lots of Chicken

Have you ever had one of those experiences where you feel like you’re in need of something — even something small — and suddenly, BLAMO, the answer to your question/very thing you need is right in front of you?

I had this experience this weekend with my beloved Sonoma Burgers, but it also happened again Monday night: while I was on the bus, I was thinking about how I often feel like I don’t deserve to ask for what I really want.

I feel inexplicably selfish and, I dunno, bad when I say “Hey, I’d really like a helping hand/bit of encouragement/opportunity to open up.” (It turns out that while I’m really progressive and all about reinforcing other peoples’ self-worth, I’m like an angry Calvinist in caffeine withdrawal when it comes to doing those things for myself.)

Anyways, there I was: sitting on the bus and feeling bad about the fact that I’d really, really, really like it if some key things in life could just fall into place. A few seconds later, I realized: I need some inspiration in my life. And where, exactly, is a nerdy girl like myself supposed to find such inspiration?

Books.

They’re my homies.

So, I pulled up the Amazon bookstore on my iPhone and browsed my little heart out as the bus hurtled down the highway — and within minutes, I’d found the perfect thing.

Image Source: http://www.positivelypresent.com

 

Like I said before: BLAMO.

As soon as I started reading it, I knew I’d found the perfect book for me. I’m 15% of the way through (thank you, Kindle, for giving me such precise percentages), and I already feel like I’ve hit the jackpot. All the messages and viewpoints that have led to me being so harsh on myself are getting debunked faster than Usain Bolt can run 100 meters. (Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration. But that’s not the point.)

Adding to which, all the gut feelings I’ve had in recent years — for example, the fact that everybody says that working and adulthood are supposed to be a slog towards retirement and that work is supposed to be more or less soul-shredding, while I keep thinking “That can’t be true. There has to be some way to work hard, earn a decent amount of income, make a meaningful contribution to the world, and actually be happy”are being validated left and right.

Needless to say, I lurve it. One could even say I’m eating it up, which brings me to…

Peas and Crayons

Woohoo! Thanks as always to Jenn over at Peas & Crayons for hosting. 🙂

My food offerings this week have been pretty consistent with my normal routine: Coffee and toast before my morning workout, followed by a big ol’ smoothie.

Lunches this week have relied on my foodie BFFs, the elusive but beloved Sonoma Burgers. I still can’t get over the fact that I finally found them after 18 months of fruitless searching!

Aside from the Sonoma Burgers, our one time venturing out for lunch this week wound up being a serious GF win: we went to Coastal Flats in Fairfax, VA after our closest-approximation-to-Tex-Mex plans (out here on the East Coast, we know we can’t get the real thing — but we’ve found a reasonable facsimile) were thwarted by the insane Cinco de Mayo crowds. The folks at Coastal Flats were incredibly accommodating of my gluten allergy; the manager came and talked to me about what menu options were safe, how they prepare the GF food, etc., and he was awesome. Not surprisingly, my meal — a chop salad with pan-seared chicken — was delicious!

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My snacks have involved the usual suspects: Pamela’s Whenever Bars, Greek yogurt with fruit and granola, and fresh fruit (apples and cantaloupe: best snack fruit ever).

Dinners have been all over the place, and last week I made coconut-cashew curry chicken tenders with jasmine rice and broccoli…

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…as well as a spatchcock-style roasted chicken with white wine, lemon, and oregano.

DSC00845Desserts have been — need we even ask? — fro yo!

Pinkberry

With all that being said, I hope everyone has a phenomenal Wednesday! And tell me…

Has the right thing ever fallen into your lap at exactly the right time?

Do you ever feel bad about asking for what you really want?

What’s your favorite dessert?

Gettin’ My Read On: A Review of Sarah Jio’s The Bungalow

I’ve always loved reading. I remember being unspeakably excited about starting Kindergarten, because I knew I’d learn how to read — and I’d been desperate to learn since I was about three years old.

Not surprisingly, I became a voracious reader as soon as I cracked the literacy code. Whenever we drove through Denver, I’d insist on going to the Tattered Cover — it’s since been broken up into different branches, but when I was growing up, the Tattered Cover was one gargantuan, four-story bookstore in downtown Denver — and would proceed to beg my parents for at least ten books when I knew darn well they’d be willing to buy three at the most. (Hey, a kid can dream.)

Image Source: tatteredcover.com

Since I finished grad school in 2008, I’ve found that one of the most thrilling things about being done with school — aside from earning a steady paycheck, which, after a year of grad research and two years of grad school, is kind of a big deal — is having time to read for fun again. As soon as I turned in my master’s thesis, I went straight to Target and bought myself some fiction novels.

As soon as I landed in DC, one of my first tasks was to get an account set up with the local public library. I had two books on hold at the library this weekend, and I felt all conflicted about picking them up: I’m slowly working my way through two other books, but they’re pretty dense. I enjoy reading them, but I have to do it in small increments because there are so many characters to keep straight and so much information to digest.

So, before heading out to the library, I sat on the couch feeling guilty for picking up two more books and adding them to the pile of half-read tomes on my nightstand. “You really should finish the other two before you pick up any more,” I thought to myself. “It’s ridiculous for you to be reading so many books at once. You should finish what you started before starting anything else!”

But then I had a little epiphany: this is my entertainment. I’m doing this reading for fun. It doesn’t have to be disciplined, and I don’t have to be task-oriented about it. “Screw it!” I said as I laced up my shoes, “I’m gettin’ me some books!”

The first one I dove into was The Bungalow by Sarah Jio. In short, I absolutely loved it. It combines all the genres I love most: historical fiction, mystery, art, and romance.

Image source: Goodreads.com

Among the many things I loved about this book was the fact that she writes about bygone eras with just enough detail to paint a vivid picture of that particular moment in time, but without venturing into the levels of detail that have your eyes glazing over. Anne, the novel’s protagonist, is superbly likable, and you find yourself rooting for her at every step of the story.

Another great thing about the book is the fact that Jio’s writing style is totally accessible. This was an incredibly enjoyable read — not to mention a riveting one — and I didn’t want to put it down. Truth be told, I read it in one night. No joke. Granted, I paid for that the next morning when I couldn’t get enough caffeine to get me through the day, but it was totally worth it.

So, if you’re looking for an awesome book, pick up The Bungalow — you’ll be glad you did.