There was once a time that my to-read list was more than 220 books deep. Every time I'd see a book on Goodreads that I thought might be even just a smidgen interesting, I added it to my list. It got to the point where the list was stressing me out; I felt like no matter how much I read, I'd never catch up. I would feel guilty when I wanted to re-read a book I loved, or when I saw something I wanted to read that wasn't on the list. I constantly felt behind. And it was getting on my nerves. Reading is supposed to be fun.
So I culled the list. And culled again. And again, and again, and again. And along the way, I read books and got them off the list that way, too. The result was a far-more-manageable 50ish, which as of the posting of this blog, I've now whittled down to 9, a couple of which haven't even been published yet. And it feels so damn good. I plan to not add anything to a to-read list for a long time. Instead, I can't wait to just grab a book at random off the library shelves, or pick up a book I already own that's been hiding somewhere.
Okay, pipe down, I know it's not technically fall yet. But I've been over summer - and this heat - for a while. Really, fresh produce is the only consolation for surviving a South Carolina summer (side note: can I move back to France now?).
But seriously, I've been ready for fall since about mid-June. Now that we're soooo close, here are the things I'm crushing on for this season.
After our trip to Spain, we added another item to our "we can definitely make this at home" list: gazpacho. I mean, aside from, say, grilling a chicken breast or baking a potato, soup is one of the easiest things to make in the kitchen. And in this heat, gazpacho sounds awfully enticing, you know?
I've been interested in making bread for a while now after reading "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School." Author Kathleen Flinn explains how easy it is to make fresh bread with only four ingredients - yeast, sugar, water, and flour - and how store-bought bread is often filled with God-knows-what. I mean, have you looked at a commercial bread label lately? So one Saturday afternoon, while B was off fighting the bushes in our front yard, I decided to do a little domestic goddessing.
We've been rocking the farmer's market produce lately. I don't know how we've eaten so many fruits and vegetables, but we have. We hit up Greer Farmer's Market and/or Taylors Farmers Market on Thursday afternoons and either the downtown Greenville Saturday Market or TR market on Saturday mornings, with plenty of grocery store stops and occasional visits to Fisher's in between. Whew.
Even though this heat is kiiiiling me, I'm trying to embrace this last bit of summer because I know all the delicious produce will start dwindling as the heat does. And that makes me a little sad.
Remember the French green lentils with walnuts and goat cheese? Remember how I said an online reviewer suggested swapping the goat cheese, walnuts, and parsley for Parmesan, pine nuts, and basil? Yeah, we totally did that.
My knowledge of Barcelona prior to this trip is not what you'd call inspiring. In 2011, shortly after B and I visited France for the first time, my mother went to Barcelona on a work trip. Long story short, a thief ripped her heavy gold necklace right off her neck in broad daylight. So there's that.
Before that incident, all I knew about Barcelona was that it hosted the 1992 summer Olympic Games, because I adore the Olympics, especially women's gymnastics (side note: can I get a hands UP for Team USA this year? Aren't they KILLER?!).
Needless to say I approached Barcelona with a certain...ah...apprehension. As far as I know no gymnastics were going on during our trip, but I'm guessing the petty criminals were still in business.
Our experiences with Spain have been different than with any other European country we've visited. In every other country - except France, for obvious reasons - we hit only the major cities: London, Dublin, Athens, Rome, Munich, etc. In Spain, we've really only been to smaller coastal towns.
Last year, we hit up San Sebastian, a tiny seaside resort town on the Bay of Biscay in the Basque Country, literally just over the French border. We hopped back across just in time to catch the Tour de France coming through.
This year, although we did take a long weekend in Barcelona, we spent the bulk of our time in the Costa Dorada region - namely, Reus, with some quick field trips to other areas. However, Reus is much smaller and less interesting than, say, Tours, so it was a hard week for me. Because here's a newsflash for you: Spain isn't France.
I had such fun writing the story about South Carolina-made food products in March. So when a freelance writer was assigned a story about bakeries in the Upstate, I went to my editor and requested that heretofore all food-related stories be given to me. Because let's be honest, if there's an industry I'm passionate about, it's food.
So he forwarded me a link to a company and asked me to write a story about them. What, pray tell, was the company? Why, only the purveyor of the ONE FRIGGIN' FOOD PRODUCT I DON'T EAT: mayo. Duke Foods. Irony at its finest.
We are slooooowly, finally, getting settled into the house. The painting is done (thank the good Lord and all His saints above), and we are actually hanging things on walls now. While some spaces (such as the fourth bedroom) are still disaster areas, others are actually, surprisingly ready to share with you...like the office. Although we still need to hang our diplomas, it's basically done. Whew. One room down.
As soon as I realized our new house had a room that could be used for an office, I got really excited, and not just because I wanted another room to decorate.
Functionally, the Stevenson family needs an office.