Come & Sit For A Spell

The hour is upon us.

This week’s theme, my dear bookworms, is:

Many years ago one of my college roommates who was/is also a good friend handed me her copy of The Witching Hour by Anne Rice. She is a huge Rice fan and was reading through all of her vampire books at the time. I had never read anything by Rice and I can’t remember why she recommended TWH to me, other than the fact that she loved that book.

I took that chunk of a book and started reading. The mass market edition, which is the edition I had, is over a thousand pages.

TWH was not only my first novel by Anne Rice, but it was my first novel about witches. Obviously I didn’t have any other witch novel to compare it to, but after reading it I can’t imagine a better book about witches to start with.

TWH begins the saga of The Mayfair witches. The story opens in present day San Francisco and effortlessly glides between 17th-century France, the coffee plantations of Port-such-Prince, New Orleans, and the Civil War South.

In present-day San Francisco, a neurosurgeon named Rowan Mayfair, rescues a man who has drowned. Aware she has some type of power, but unaware this power comes from being a descendant of an ancient line of witches, she brings him back to life (this isn’t a cheesy bring-back-to-life-romance story, I promise). This man, Michael Curry, having had a brief experience with death acquires a sensory power of sorts (also not cheesy) is drawn to Rowan.

Michael and Rowan’s story is followed as easily and as intensely as the one of the Mayfair Witch history. Ultimately the stories intertwine. If you like historical family sagas, I think you will greatly enjoy this book. Rice draws you in with such hypnotic visuals- at times they seem almost larger than life. As you learn more about each generation of witches, it becomes harder and harder to step away from this story and their world. Her words might just pull you right from where you are and into her world of witchcraft, spells and the sometimes seductive destruction of four centuries of witches.

It’s only when a story is accompanied with a delectable richness like that of velveteen that you know someone is truly a master at their craft.

Anne Rice is one such master.

The Mayfair witches and their story have stuck with me for over twenty years. Never would I have guessed that a book such as this would’ve entranced me so fully.

“I feel the darkness near me; I feel the light shining. And more keenly I feel the contrast between the two.“

Anne Rice, The Witching Hour

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Friday Night Frights

Friday is music to my ears!

It’s been a long week and I am glad to be sitting in this very spot (on my front porch) writing this post to all of you.

This blog is going in to its fifth month, which is hard for me to believe! I’m not sure what my expectations were when I started out. I knew, if anything, I wanted to be consistent with my posts and so far that has worked out. I’ve been thinking about what my next set of goals will be. I’m not in a hurry, just taking it a week at a time.

Today ends this week’s true crime theme.

{ A quick recap of this week’s books }

Monday: The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

Wednesday: My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLouche Williams

Thursday: We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver and A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold (SOSN)

In keeping with the theme of true crime and also with my normal Friday post of a book, a drink, and a dessert, I will get to the book without further ado.

The Book:

American Predator by Maureen Callahan,299 pages, Published by Viking, July 2019.

AP is about serial killer Israel Keyes. I had never even heard his name until a few months ago. He and his criminal history was touched on in The Killer Across the Table by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker, which is a great, great book.

I wasn’t sure when I’d get a chance to read AP because it was a newer book. My library still doesn’t have it available in Kindle format. So it wasn’t even on my radar to post for this week’s theme. Anyway, early last week I stopped in to my library, because I just often do (not because I need books or anything, I just love it there) and there sitting so beautifully on top of the non-fiction new release shelf was American Predator. I snatched that baby right up. It was like winning the lottery, except without the money part.

I couldn’t help but start reading it right away. It was hard to put this book down. Israel Keyes is a maniac, but a low key maniac. He was just brought to justice in 2012.

One of his MOs were “kill kits”, which he buried all over the U.S. These kits contained body disposal tools, guns, ammo, money, and other weird shit. Beside the fact the even “creating” a “kill kit” is weird shit in itself.

Before he was caught and over the course of roughly fourteen years Keyes would fly to a random city, rent a car to drive a thousand miles to the location of one of his “kill kits”, abduct someone in broad daylight, kill them and dispose of their body(s), then fly back home to his girlfriend and young daughter in Alaska.

It was only after he was caught in 2012, which he almost got away with, that his history of other killings came to light. He committed all of these murders undetected for over a decade.

It’s really interesting when something or someone like this comes to light. Most everyone has heard of Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and BTK, but who the heck is Israel Keyes? How is this not all over the news? This book goes in to that, so I won’t spoil it for you.

When the author, Maureen Callahan first heard of this unheard of killer she was instantly intrigued. This project of learning how Keyes was ultimately caught by the FBI and what it means that a killer like Keyes even exists consumed Callahan for several years.

I won’t give you any more info, but if you enjoy true crime, GO. READ. THIS. BOOK (Stacy, I’m talking to you!) .

The Dessert:

These are Keto Pumpkin Cookies and this is my first time making them. I found this recipe on Pinterest and tweaked it a little. They are pretty dang good.

The recipe is below:

Set oven to 350 degrees

Cookies:

Mix 8oz (1 block) and 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick) in a bowl (I softened in the micro for a few sec). I also used a hand mixer.

Then add:

1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree

1/2 cup stevia

2 eggs

2/3 cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (which is just cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice all mixed together)

1/2 tsp salt

A splash or 3 of pumpkin pie praline sugar-free syrup (Jordan’s Skinny Syrups- I order them from skinnymixes.com or usually they are available at HomeGood stores)

A small handful of chopped walnuts

Mix all of this together. Spoon on to parchment paper-lined baking sheets and cook for 18 min.

Let them cool.

While they are cooking, you can prepare the icing.

Icing:

8 oz cream cheese

1/4 cup stevia

Softened cream cheese, then mix in stevia.

Spread on to cookies once they have cooled a bit. Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice or with plain cinnamon.

Then, enjoy!

The Drink:

I think the name, 19 Crimes kind of says it all. But just in case, it’s a a red blend from California. I’ve tried this one, although it’s been awhile. It’s a delicious wine that pairs well with some bloody good Keto Pumpkin Cookies and a little bit of American Predator on the side.

Cheers!

PS. New theme coming up next week!

“I have been two people for the last fourteen years.” -Israel Keyes

Words, Dessert, & Wine- That’s It

Oh man. Thank goodness it’s Friday.

How are you all? Long week, slow week, good week, bad week? Either way, it’s over and it’s time to celebrate Friday!

It’s the simple things, my dear bookworms, which delight me.

So, if you’ve been following the posts this week you know the theme has been books that terrify me. All five of Lisa Genova’s books fit this bill. They each scare me in some form or another because they are all based upon truth.

Yesterday was the final book in my American Horror Stories series, which featured Every Last Note by Genova.

Tonight I wanted to end the week with a book that has similar terrifying qualities- like Genova’s books. I read this book many year ago and it still gets under my skin. A movie based on the book came out several years ago and I haven’t seen it and I don’t want to. The book was more than enough.

Every Friday on this blog I post a book, a dessert, and wine. Today is no different, so let’s get started!

The Book:

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult follows the Fitzgerald family. Sara and Brian have two children, Jesse and Kate. When Kate develops leukemia, everything changes. Sara and Brian feel their only chance at saving Kate is to conceive another child.

Anna is born and her life consists of one medical procedure after another in efforts to help save Kate. Of course there’s a million ethical questions and alarms that I’m sure are going off, but that’s not what bothers me most.

Dealing and caring for a horribly sick child is what bothers me. Bother isn’t even the right word. It’s unimaginable. It’s both sad and terrifying. Leaving that aside for a moment to then think about another child being subjected to test after test is awful still.

What would you do in this situation ? I’m asking you, because I have no idea what I’d do. I’m not judging anyone’s answer, because I’ve not walked in those shoes.

The whole situation is horribly gut wrenching.

Although this book, like Genova’s, can be difficult to read, I do recommend it. I have read many of Picoult’s books and they never fail to make me think deeply.

The Dessert:

This is the same Almond Butter blondie that I posted a few weeks back. They key ingredient is Trader Joe’s brand almond butter. It hadn’t cooled enough to cut in to pieces, but I thought it was beautiful enough to post right in the pan.

The Wine:

The wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon by Seven Daughters. It’s from California and it is a new wine for me. Wine always pairs well with dessert, so I’m not worried about this one 🍷

Well bookworms, I’m exhausted. I meant to get this post up earlier, but the day got away from me.

Stick around- next week’s theme is true crime and I have some good ones just waiting to share with you.

Cheers.

“If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone?” -Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

A Feast Fit For A Bookworm

Are you all getting tired of me professing my endless love of Friday ? I hope not, because it’s out of my control. So, if you decide to stick with me and this blog, you’re stuck with my gushing about Fridays- but only on Friday.

Friday is for favorite things and posting about them. My favorite things are books, dessert, and wine. Not in any specific order of importance, but all at one time. Sort of like a miniature feast. So let’s get the feast started.

The Book

I came across How to Disappear by Akiko Busch in one of the various book review publications or emails I receive. The title in its entirety is, How to Disappear- Notes on Invisibility in a time of Transparency. It’s not a long book, coming in at exactly 200 pages.

I would be finished with it if I wasn’t putting ‘Note Pals’ on every other line. There are so many statements, ideas, and phrases that ring true to me.

The main idea of this book being many people are so concerned with image consciousness, branding themselves, and just simply putting themselves and their lives on display. Busch argues against this notion saying, “The impulse to escape notice is not about complacent isolation or senseless conformity, but about maintaining identity, propriety, autonomy, and voice. It is not about retreating from the digital world but about finding some genuine alternative to a life of perpetual display.”

Yes, yes, and yes.

Another section talks about how children today do not shy away from the camera as much, and actually primp a little in their awareness of one being present. Busch alludes this to the fact that children in today’s culture came straight from the womb being photographed and posted. Because of this, children and teenagers associate, “being unseen as negative,” says Busch.

Since I am only halfway through, below is the Amazon synopsis:

How to Disappear is a unique and exhilarating accomplishment, overturning the dangerous modern assumption that somehow fame and visibility equate to success and happiness. Busch presents a field guide to invisibility, reacquainting us with the merits of remaining inconspicuous, and finding genuine alternatives to a life of perpetual exposure. Accessing timeless truths in order to speak to our most urgent contemporary problems, she inspires us to develop a deeper appreciation for personal privacy in a vast and intrusive world •

For being such a short book it packs quite a punch and I haven’t even finished it. The copy I am reading is from the library, but since I have sticky-noted so many pages, I think I need my own copy. I recommend this book if you feel annoyed and/or overwhelmed with the constant ridiculousness of this social media-obsessed world we unfortunately live in. This book does not berate or insult, but rather provides an introspective view on the idea that, “the human species is finding a renewed interest in passing unnoticed.” So despite this attention-crazed world, there is a small, growing percentage of people who are taking a step back from it all. By taking a step back, much beauty is realized. The last paragraph of the introduction ends with a quote from ceramic artist Eva Zeisel. She was asked how you make something beautiful. Her response was, “You just have to get out of the way.”

The Dessert

Tonight’s dessert is the Low-Carb Reese’s Cup. The only thing I did different from the other times I posted was I added larger walnut pieces to the peanut butter fudge part. I didn’t measure, but rather just tossed a handful in the mixture before I froze them. Below is the link to the post that features this recipe:

https://themostconstant.com/2019/08/31/something-sweet-something-devine-something-with-pages-all-three-might-be-mine-but-id-share/

The Wine

This is a Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Vally in California. I fully admit I bought it because the name, Imagery, reminded me a lot of the mostly image-obsessed world we live in. Hopefully this wine doesn’t leave the same bitter aftertaste that social media usually does. In the end, I’ll take my chances on a new bottle of wine over social media any day of the year, but that’s just me.

Hope your weekend is wonderful.

Cheers.

“& if the world comes knockin’, tell em’ I’m not home.” – E. Church

Forever Fall & Forever Friday Please

Dear Bookworms,

Today was beautiful and because it’s Friday, well that’s just the icing on the cake.

It was so beautiful that it almost made me sad. Fall does not ever last long enough in my humble opinion.

If it could just be forever fall and forever Friday.

If you are new to my blog, on Fridays, along with book stuff I also post about dessert and wine. So now that you are caught up, let’s go!

The Book:

Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen was first introduced to me by a girl in my bookclub. She raved and raved about it so I went to Overdrive (free library app for e books for my Kindle) to put it on hold. As amazing as Overdrive is, it didn’t have Harry’s Trees in its collection yet, so my only choice was to put it on their recommendation list. Usually my library is pretty good about buying recommend books, it’s just sometimes you’ve got to be a little patient.

A few weeks later, translating: last week, I went to the library looking for a different book. I found what I was looking for and was on my way out, when Harry’s Trees about hit me in the face! The cover is so darn beautiful too, and I’m a sucker for a stunning cover. I added HT to my bundle and headed home.

Of course I’m reading a million other books and truthfully I did not open HT for at least four days after checking it out.

But it’s just so pretty, that it simply begs to be opened.

So I opened it and started reading it. I know, I know, I should’ve stopped, but my will power is complete crap when it comes to books. I’m just a few chapters in and so far, so good. Below is the Amazon synopsis:

• Thirty-four-year-old Harry Crane works as an analyst for the US Forest Service. When his wife dies suddenly, he is unable to cope. Leaving his job and his old life behind, Harry makes his way to the remote woods of northeastern Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains, determined to lose himself. But fate intervenes in the form of a fiercely determined young girl named Oriana. She and her mother, Amanda, are struggling to pick up the pieces from their own tragedy – Amanda stoically holding it together while Oriana roams the forest searching for answers. And in Oriana’s magical, willful mind, she believes that Harry is the key to righting her world.

Now it’s time for Harry to let go….

After taking up residence in the woods behind Amanda’s house, Harry reluctantly agrees to help Oriana in a ludicrous scheme to escape his tragic past. In so doing, the unlikeliest of elements – a wolf, a stash of gold coins, a fairy tale called The Grum’s Ledger and a wise old librarian named Olive – come together to create a golden adventure that will fulfill Oriana’s wildest dreams and open Harry’s heart to a whole new life •

So what do you think? Have you read it? Let me know your thoughts.

The Dessert:

These are Almond Butter Blondies. What makes them so amazing besides being low sugar (low carb) is the key ingredient. I use Trader Joe’s Almond Butter and it makes them nothing short of phenomenal. A friend of mine figured this out when she was experimenting with the recipe one day. On my next trip to the grocery store I grabbed some random jar of almond butter. They were good, but they weren’t what my friend had made. The skeptic that I can be (and totally not doubting my friend) was thinking how can one almond butter be so drastically different from another. The other reason, the closest Trader Joe’s is an hour from me. And you can’t order it online unless you want to get ripped an new one by some price gouger on Amazon selling it for $14 a jar (normally it’s $5 something a jar at TJ’s). So now when I make the trek to TJ’s I buy it in obsessive amounts-as in nine or so jars. If you were eating these right now, you’d understand.

The Wine:

This is my first time trying Crushed. It’s a red blend from California. It’s good, pretty smooth and somewhat dry. No complaints for under $10 and a screw off top.

So there you have it, my dears. Another Friday post for the books, or the blog? I don’t know how the saying goes, just go with it and have another glass.

Cheers.

“I think books are like people, in the sense that they’ll turn up in your life when you most need them.” – Emma Thompson

Weekly Goal: Low-Key Decadence

Good morning.

The hours of Friday have spilled nicely in to Saturday. Because The Goldfinch was released in theaters yesterday, I traded my normal Friday post of books, dessert, and wine to talk about that.

But in my thinking, it just wouldn’t be the same without including some kind of post featuring my favorite trifecta, so here we are.

If not fancy, then decadent is the feeling of a Friday night. Saturdays on the other hand, especially the morning, feel more low key. So—can you be decadent and low key? Yes, you absolutely can, in fact that’s my preference. I am not a fancy person. Brontë has more fancy-ness in her front paws than I could ever have, even if I tried every day for the rest of my life. Her fancy-ness always seems to add a little something to the mix, so she too, is a key ingredient to many of my photos on here. She ups my game (if I have a game?) a bit, maybe she appeals to literary snobs, while my twist-off bottles of wine appeals to the simpletons?

The Book

The Hours by Michael Cunningham, like The Goldfinch (of yesterday’s post) was made in to a movie (interesting tidbit-both films feature Nicole Kidman), and both books won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction—1999 and 2013, respectively. If you are at all familiar with this blog, then you may know I have mixed feelings about books that win prizes. So it surprises me a little that for two days in a row I have posted two award-winning books. If you want to read the original post about my thoughts regarding Pulitzer winners, the link is below. If not, scroll past and move on, no judgement.

https://themostconstant.com/2019/08/14/a-diner-coffee-rings-and-the-pulitzer/

Unlike The Goldfinch, I have not read The Hours, but it is a book that has interested me for awhile, because part of its premise is the book in its entirety takes place over the course of one day. One of the characters is the lovely Virginia Woolf, who’s book, Mrs. Dalloway also takes place over the course of a day. The Hours, unlike TG is much shorter in length, 239 pages versus 760. I think it would be fun and quite fitting to read The Hours over the course of one day.

Below is the Amazon synopsis:

The Hours tells the story of three women: Virginia Woolf, beginning to write Mrs. Dalloway as she recuperates in a London suburb with her husband in 1923; Clarissa Vaughan, beloved friend of an acclaimed poet dying from AIDS, who in modern-day New York is planning a party in his honor; and Laura Brown, in a 1949 Los Angeles suburb, who slowly begins to feel the constraints of a perfect family and home. By the end of the novel, these three stories intertwine in remarkable ways, and finally come together in an act of subtle and haunting grace • Side note, the main character in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway is named Clarissa.

Doesn’t it sound interesting? Not exactly a short story because of its length, but a story written over a short time period, while covering different short time periods, and can ultimately be read in a *short amount of time. Kind of a conundrum.

* Please excuse the excessive use of the word short in the above paragraph.

Ok, book covered, on to the dessert and wine.

The Dessert

My aim is to make something homemade every Friday to enjoy over the weekend, but that doesn’t always happen. This week was good, but was a little busier than normal. One of my go-to’s in an event such as this, because forgoing dessert is not an option, is #Lily’s chocolate. If you live in a larger city Lily’s is most likely readily available. I do not and up until recently I had to travel an hour or order online. It has finally made the trek from the olden days to 2019, probably in a covered wagon to a few of our local grocery stores—my heart was singing upon its arrival. There are several varieties, including milk chocolate, dark chocolate, with nuts, without, some with coconut, and even baking chips. The beauty of Lily’s are the ingredients and taste. You should know by now that I eat low carb, which massively cuts my sugar intake and therefore my craving. In addition, Lily’s uses stevia and erythritol and no maltitol. This is major because ingesting maltitol OFTEN causes EXPLOSIVE 🧨 reactions in the bathroom 🚽 (unless you are like my friend J, who has a stomach and intestines made at least partially of steel, which I am jealous of). This chocolate costs a little more than regular chocolate, but is well worth it in my opinion.

(Moving on from the Lily’s Public Service Announcement to wine)

The Wine

This week I am back to featuring #JamJar’s sweet Shiraz. It originated from South Africa and is one of my favorite things. It’s inexpensive, around $10-12, and can be found easily, and has *no need for a corkscrew.

*If that fact, and that I drink it over ice makes me a redneck, so be it.

This is how you open Jam Jar
A. in the wild
B. If you don’t have hands
C. If you are lazy (like Brontë)

Happy weekend, Bookworms!

Sincerely,

tmc

“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” – Jacqueline Kelly

Ignore The To-Do List, Put Your Feet Up, & Enjoy Your Friday

How are you?

During the week there are so many blocks of time promised to other things. Whether it’s work, getting myself or my boys to appointments, going to the grocery store, or getting to practices. Between all of that I’m always making lists of what the next block of time will consist of. There are so many aspects to daily life and keeping a household running. That’s not accounting for the unexpected. Like the dryer or dishwasher breaking, or the toilet backing up, or somebody being a complete hypochondriac because they have run out of deodorant (it’s obviously completely irrelevant that there are little markets on every other corner where deodorant could be bought rather quickly in such an emergency). Is that why moms (and some dads, I’m sure) keep extras of everything stashed away, why their handbags are mini-arsenals of supplies that could probably get their family through the first days of Armageddon?

It’s all so much. I think that’s why I make lists and also another reason why I am so passionate about reading. List-making helps me to write things down in the moment, I can clarify and think more about the specifics later. Reading allows my mind to go somewhere else, even if it’s just for ten minutes. It allows me a break from the constant planning and thinking about what comes next.

Friday’s are the day that I have the biggest block of free time, or at least it feels that way. I look forward not having to get everything done in the evening because it’s a school night. Everyone’s mood is always better on Friday-have you noticed that?

People like breaks.

Not only do we like them, we need them, if simply to keep our sanity intact before the next dramatic outburst or turn of events smacks us across the face.

So, Happy Friday to you.

I came across On Beauty by Zadie Smith not too long ago. She is an author who has got a lot of literary attention. I have never read anything of hers, nor been particularly drawn to her work. OB is the one that has been most recommended to me, which is why I picked it up. Her first novel, White Teeth, was introduced in 1997 before its completion, based only upon a partial manuscript. On Beauty is her third book. Smith has taught at Columbia and NYU. She is married and has two children. Her first collection of short stories, Grand Union, will be published next month. Below is the Amazon synopsis:

• On Beauty is the story of an interracial family living in the university town of Wellington, Massachusetts, whose misadventures in the culture wars—on both sides of the Atlantic—serve to skewer everything from family life to political correctness to the combustive collision between the personal and the political •

If anyone has read this book or another of Smith’s books, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Tonight I made two desserts, because why not? On the gold-colored plate are the Reese’s Cups and also the Almond Butter Chocolate Chip bars.

No Jam Jar tonight. This is a Pinot Noir called Cherry Blossom. It is a much dryer wine than JJ, but it’s good to mix things up. Maybe next week I will make three desserts?

Happy reading 📚

Sincerely,

tmc

“I have never known any distress that an hour’s reading did not relieve.” – Montesquieu