Sunday Stories

Now that holidays are "officially" upon us, I am totally immersed in holiday reading.  

On our recent visit to London, we found ourselves fascinated by the ceramic "Blue Plaques" that adorn houses where famous (and infamous) people lived.  The New York Times recently had an article discussing the history of these plaques.  As one who is obsessed with "A Christmas Carol" in all forms, what better way to celebrate the holiday season than a stop by Dickens' house? 

Photo from  The New York Times .

Photo from The New York Times.

Last week, I was getting ready to make pumpkin bread - with all of the ingredients staged around the kitchen counter - when this recipe for Soft Pumpkin Cookies popped up on Lovely Little Kitchen's Instagram.  Decisions, decisions.  I made the pumpkin bread - essential to our Thanksgiving dinner - but these are on next weekend's agenda.

Can't wait to see the new permanent installation on NYC history "New York at Its Core" at the Museum of the City of New York.  This museum is only about a 15-minute walk from our apartment, but we don't get there nearly as often as I would like. 

If you still have leftover stuffing. Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, turkey gravy and more, layer them up into The Kitchn's recipe for Leftover Thanksgiving Lasagna.  Our leftovers consist mostly of turkey and cranberry sauce (mmm...sandwiches), but if you try this, let me know what you think.

I am so addicted to Apartment Therapy's House Tours.  I can't pull up the site without spending at least half an hour scrolling through, especially any and all apartments and flats in New York, London and Paris.

Finally, this weekend, the New York Times published their list of the 100 most notable books of 2016.  How many have you read? 

Have a lovely - and festive - week! 



Career Lessons from Julia Child

During our trip to Paris last month, I received an email from the publisher of "The French Chef in America: Julia Child's Second Act" to let me know they were sending me an advance copy for review.


I may or may not have done a little dance in our hotel room.   Coincidentally, we were staying just a few blocks from 81 Rue de l’Université - where Julia Child and her husband Paul lived when they moved to Paris in 1948 (I may have asked Scott to snap photos of me in front of that address on more than one occasion). 


Yes - I am a fan, something that has been referenced more than once on this blog.

The book, which comes out this Tuesday, was written by Julia's great-nephew Alex Prud'homme.  He also co-wrote her memoir "My Life in France" - which I have read way too many times to count.


But that story - and "Julie & Julia," the excellent movie it inspired starring Meryl Streep as Julia - only explores her early years.  It does not go into much depth about her "second act" that launched shortly after the Childs returned to the States and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts and "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" was published.

This new book picks up where the first one left off, with the publication of what was the first of many books - and how she parlayed interviews about "Mastering" into an empire and a television career that extended well into the 1990s.  Basically, you see the development and progression of how she became the "Julia Child" we know today.

Decades before The Food Network, food blogs and the practice of Instagramming every lunch and cup of coffee, Julia became the first true food celebrity and laid the groundwork for those who would follow.  Viewers related to her approachable style, sense of humor, and ability to teach people to cook what could be complicated dishes.  She appealed to post-war American cooks who were becoming fascinated with French cuisine and culture, and who wanted to move beyond dinner staples such as casseroles and Jell-O "salads."

Julia is also an inspiration for people who have not yet found their career niche.  After all - she did not even start cooking until she was in her late 30s - let alone write cookbooks or become a media celebrity.

In fact, she was almost 50 when she did her first TV interview!  I started my TV career at 31 - which seemed very late at the time.

Another great lesson is the value of having a spouse who is your greatest fan, cheerleader and partner - something I can totally relate to!  Paul Child was just that for her, and he also happened to have the creative, marketing, photography and PR skills that supported her work.  Ten years her senior, his career was winding down as hers was taking off, which enabled him to focus all of his skills and efforts into helping build the Julia Child "brand."

Once you start reading, your only distraction may be a desire to head into the kitchen and whip up something fabulous for dinner.

Bon appetit!


Upper East Guide: Logos Book Store

When I travel, I always look for bookstores.  They are a much-needed place to walk around after hours in the air - although I confess it is usually a challenge to avoid buying a stack of new titles.


Barnes & Nobles are great, but smaller shops are heavenly.  After we moved to the Upper East Side a few years ago, I was excited to discover the Logos Book Store on York Avenue.


I immediately knew these were my peeps when I walked in and saw one of my all-time favorite books - Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast" - on the table just inside the front door.


While this article in The New York Times focuses on their vast collections of Bibles and other religious-themed materials, they have a rather eclectic assortment.  New and used books, ranging from current bestsellers, classic fiction and travel - to a curiously large section of Curious George in the children's section.  There is also an entire section dedicated to "C.S. Lewis and Friends."


The shop hosts a regular calendar of events, from children's story times to reading groups for a variety of books. When I dropped by earlier this week, the booksellers were lamenting they had to cancel that evening's "Sacred Texts" reading group because of the expectation that the first Presidential debate would keep people away.


On this particular morning, I actually managed to get out of the store only buying one small paperback.

Logos Book Store,  1575 York Avenue (between 83rd and 84th Streets).

Please chime in and share your favorite book stores! 

London Bookshelf

After our week in Paris, we hopped on the Eurostar train to chunnel over to London.  (Easier, cheaper, faster and a whole lot more relaxing than dealing with airports).  We are excited about returning to some favorite spots, discovering new places, and spending time with friends at my alma mater's study abroad program.

In addition to reading books about Paris and watching movies set in the City of Light, I also browsed a few of my favorite London books before we left.  Several of these are quite worn, and book lovers will understand when I say a few are like old friends.  I have been an Anglophile since the Royal Wedding (not Kate and William.  The previous one), so a few of these have been on my shelf for awhile.


There is no Jane Austen here.  Zero.  Nada.  I may lose my Anglophile card,  but I have never been able to get into these books.  I respect those who do - even my dad has read "Pride and Prejudice" - but they just don't speak to me. Here are a few that do:

"The Anglo Files" - Sarah Lyall

This best-seller by a longtime London-based correspondent for the New York Times humorously explores what she refers to as the eccentricities of the British people - including her own husband.

"Notes From a Small Island" - Bill Bryson

Same theme as above.  Could not stop laughing.  

"Watching the English" - Kate Fox

A more academic version of the first two books - and just as entertaining. 

"Imagined London" - Anna Quindlen

Subtitled "A Tour of the World's Greatest Fictional City," this and the next few books should help restore my Anglophile credentials.  You probably know Quindlen from her best-selling novels, but her enchanting story of visiting England for the first time will draw you in from page one.  Many of us form our vision of England through the prism of English literature (which in my case, was supplemented by reading about the Royal Family).  I first visited London while doing study abroad in college, and completely relate to Quindlen's search for the city she had read about all of her life.  

"84, Charing Cross Road" - Helene Hanff

This classic about post-war correspondence between a Manhattan writer and a London bookseller also inspired a movie.  If you like reading books about books, you will love it.

"The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street" - Helene Hanff

Again - the story of a writer finally realizing her dream of visiting London.  (Did Jane Austen write a book about visiting London for the first time?  If so - count me in).

"The London Scene" - Virginia Woolf

Great writers make you feel you are right there, in the midst of the story instead of reading it on a page.  This short collection of essays about London life, originally written for the British edition of Good Housekeeping, will do just that.

"Mrs. Dalloway" - Virginia Woolf

Vivid portrayals of post-World War One London.

"London: A Biography" - Peter Ackroyd

Widely viewed as the definitive book about London, this is much more scholarly than the others.  It looks nice on the bookshelf, but I confess I have never actually finished it.  I just peruse various chapters from time to time and aspire to actually finish it one day.

Chime in and tell me what else I should read - and feel free to set me straight about Jane Austen.

Sunday Stories

In between reading books and watching movies for our upcoming vacation, I continue to catch up on newspapers, magazines and my favorite blogs.  Here - a few fun links from the week.  As always, I only share happy stories.

  • Books, glorious books!  Feast your eyes on this week's Wall Street Journal fall book preview.
  • These 10 things productive and organized people do before noon sound about right to me, although I admit that staying away from digital distractions early in the day would be a bit of a challenge.
  • Has an airline ever lost your checked bags?  This article about how Delta Airlines is investing in a new RFID tracking system to try to improve their baggage operations will make you happy.
  • As someone who does not like sweet pastries in the morning, these savory Tomato-Basil Morning Muffins sound like a winner.
  • Finally, a story I am happy to share since today is my birthday: the older people get, the happier they are.  Something for all of us to happily look forward to!

Have a lovely week!