June Book Reports

Considering I gave up a week of my life for this year’s Row by Row quilting experience I am quite pleased with the level of reading I did for June. Part of this may also be due to the multiple summer reading programs I am currently taking part in and enjoy ever so much.

Shout out to:

  • Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library
    • Love this library as it’s my hometown. I’ve been using their online program to log my reading. This program requires you to read at least 1 book during the course of the program. They also send out weekly emails (opt-in) recommending different books and you can create a virtual “wish list”.
  • Hudson Library & Historical Society 
    • When I write about us going to the library every week this is the place we go. Dave loves the business section and since they’re a CLEVNET member he can request  books from tons of other locations too. A lot of libraries have branches or sister libraries like this, but this system seems to work best for him. This summer reading program has weekly prizes as well as a grand prize. Each book completed gets you an entry and it’s all logged online.
  • Cuyahoga County Public Library
    • The nearest library in this system is a good 40-45 minutes away from me. I joined a while back for access to ebooks. I also enjoy the different news updates they send out on occasion. Next month I signed up for a meet the author night of We Were Liars and I’m super psyched. Their summer reading program is logged on the same type of site as Hudson which makes the switch super easy as my username logs into both accounts. The cool thing about their program is it’s based off time spent reading not a completion of the book requirement. It also has challenges for math and volunteer activities. Because of this system I learned about Freerice.com 
  • Akron-Summit County Public Library
    • Many many branches in my area. I’ve probably used this library the most over the years. The main branch in Downtown Akron is always hosting events and was a place I spent many hours at when I worked downtown and they hosted training. It’s also the place I go for a lot of “must have” books for research. One of the local branches was located behind the building we moved to when I worked at my old job, another branch is about 20 mins from my current home, and yet another is an area of town I frequented for years and went there for speaking competitions and Sign Language classes. Lots, right? This program has you log any time you spend 20 minutes reading or time spent exercising. There’s prizes along the way up to 50 days of reading I believe and if you do at least 26 days of reading and 26 days of movement you get a finisher’s shirt. Also entries for grand prizes.
  • Kent Free Library
    • One of the newer libraries in my world. I had been here for several work events with my current job and I am able to walk to this branch in about 5 to 10 minutes from my place of employment. Each book read is an entry and there’s weekly prizes too. I usually drop slips off on Monday or Tuesday on my lunch break.
  • Twinsburg Public Library
    • The newest of the mix. I joined a group on Goodreads where they are having a challenge to read 50 books this year. When I joined I had read about 30 so I figured I could get the next 20 NBD. I’m currently at 45 for those who are curious. After attending a Halfway party for this group I signed up for their summer reading challenge. As a thank you I was given a free book! I picked something about a women in the 1950’s whose husband is transferred to a new job involving nuclear weapons and there’s all types of lies and deceit from there. Most of the other books were author’s I know I don’t enjoy or random selections from a series I have no desire to start of finish and was afraid I’d be lost. Don’t get me wrong a free book is AWESOME and I bet if I signed up sooner there were other choices! I also received a free book for attending the party which sounded AWESOME (Picked it out myself) then when I looked it up on Goodreads I see it’s a to be published sequel to another book in my to be read shelf. Oof. At least I have it, right? The summer reading program is in person and each slip is an entry to one of several gift baskets choices.

All of these programs allow me to log any book I read, borrowed, purchase, whatever from any source. Another library I belong to (Cuyahoga Falls) has a program too, but requires all books to be checked out from their site so I decided not to sign up. It’s been great to challenge myself to get back on the reading train and since we last “spoke” I’ve added quite a few to my list, 8 to be exact which is double the number in May. Let’s see what we have, shall we?

Reminder all links are to Goodreads, feel free to buy it from your own source.

My Fat Dad by Dawn Lerman

Fat Dad

I just did an extensive review a few days ago so in case you didn’t or won’t read the whole thing here’s the highlights. Dawn grew up in the 70’s with a dad famous during the “Mad Men era of advertising”. Her Dad also struggled with his weight (over 400 pounds) during her childhood, teen years and adulthood. This book is part memoir, part cookbook. Dawn shares what it was like to grow up watching her Dad struggle and jump from fad diet to fad diet and how she learned to love cooking and use “real food”. For the most part I enjoyed the book, but when I agreed to review it I was thinking it would be more the perspective of the person dealing with weight issues.

 

Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

Etta

I read this book for one of my books clubs. The club won’t review it for a few months, but I wanted to read something more “adult fiction” since I’ve been focused on YA for a while. There’s lots of choices on my list, but I also didn’t want to jump into something 600 plus pages. This was a rather sweet book with some parts requiring a suspended belief. Etta sets of on a journey to the “water” and along the way changes people’s lives without knowing or meaning. There’s a shifting POV between Etta and her husband Otto as well as a shift from present day events to 50 or so years ago when they met and choices they made as young adults. A good general read selection, I don’t recall anything overly sad or traumatic. My favorite part of course was when he bought a guinea pig and is trying to be sweet to the new pet.

 

The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen

fireflies

One of the months recently this was a Kindle First selection. I thought it sounded fascinating, but ultimately picked a different title with a better rating. When I came into a $5 credit toward any ebook I knew when one to pick. Somehow I missed the part about this being translated. This is now the second book I’ve read which is a translation and both had some of the same pacing issues or places where the descriptions lost me and it may be a language barrier. What starts off as a great idea for a book ultimately dies by the last third of it give or take. The first part is told via the 10 year old boy (I forget about that age) who was born in captivity essentially. His whole family lives underground and never goes to the surface and claim the world outside is too cruel to ever come out of hiding. In the second part the’s a flashback to before he was born and the read learns what happened that the family felt the need to take refuge underground. The last part if present day again, picking up where part one left. The end has a “so many years later” conclusion too. Personally I hated a great number of the characters by the end and hated the ending both because I didn’t like in general and because it seemed too unrealistic. Possibly by least favorite book this month.

 

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

the boy

I never knew this was a YA read and I didn’t know it was a fast read either or I would have picked it up a long time ago. Countless lists have this as a must read. A young boy in WWII and his family move from their large and lovely home in Berlin to an old and must smaller home he hears people call “Outwith”. Knowing what I know about this time period I was able to pick up on what all the “wrong” words really meant long before they’re revealed in context. However if you’re not familiar you might still find yourself Googling what the term in the book means. Don’t feel bad if you do there’s a lot of sites with that exact search topic. Because it was such a quick read some parts didn’t hit me until days or weeks later when I thought back on it. One of the few books where I gasped and had to stop reading at parts to comprehend “Did that REALLY just happen”.

 

Recovery Road by Blake Nelson 

Recovery

Another book I have BookBub to thank for as they give amazing discounts. Considering one of my fave teen dramas is Switched at Birth I saw an insane number of ads for the show Recovery Road on the new Freeform. (Rolls eyes). When the book it was based upon came up for about $2 I decided to give it a go. Honestly I LOVED this book. I think the author did a great job hitting on some of the major ups and downs of recovery in general, but especially recovery for a young person. The character seemed genuine even if she wasn’t always likable. As I always admit though, I have a soft spot for this topic. I don’t think I’ll be watching the show though.

 

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson 

Sweded

My other translated book where some of the phrasing may have been lost of changed in translation. I highly enjoyed this writer’s style. It was witty and at times very tongue in cheek. My only complaint about it, is that just like a friend who says everything with a sarcastic tone, after a bit you need a break. This book was a book club pick and we met this past weekend to talk about it. Some may think that puts me at an advantage to talk about it, but honestly it doesn’t. While at club we all decided it’s hard to really talk about this book. You can’t go more than a few pages without some new detail or change and everything is so far fetched. It’s a fairy-tale of sorts honestly meshed with real world locations and bending of the facts with real world historical events.

 

The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller

Bridges

Since one of my book club friends kept talking about this being her favorite book one night I picked it up for $1 or $2 at a garage sale one weekend. I read it in one day and wasn’t sure why it was so popular, but still really loved it. The book sets up the story as one of fact, which is one reason I loved it so much. As I started to look it up after finishing I learned the whole book is a work of fiction, but I’m not the only one who missed this detail. Haha. Knowing it was made up did take some of the sparkle out for me, but it was still an interesting read and really challenges if we know the people in our lives without forcing a tragic death or accident on the audience.

 

Liars, Inc by Paula Stokes 

liars

I highly enjoyed this book. Some parts where a little far fetched, but at the same time I could see how with the right set of circumstances it would happen. A YA novel where a set of friends decide to start a business selling lies. Calling in as kid’s parents, forging signatures on permission slips, the usual stuff kids want to get away with and it all started with an accidental lie. Of course things get out of hand and there’s a suspicion of murder and lots of fact finding craziness. Like I said it was a fun read, but don’t think it’s going to change your life or anything alone those lines. No lessons learned with this story.

 

OK, looking at the 8 books from this month there’s two I have to nominate for the book of the month. If you read my snippets I’m sure you can guess the first is

Recovery Road!

Recovery

Since I know not everyone LOVES that topic though, I’d have to say the other would be

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

the boy

Even with all the other WWII era books out there, this one stands on its own.

 

 

 

 

My Fat Dad by Dawn Lerman and No Stopping Required Potato Chips!

A month or two ago I was contacted by an author to review her new book. Honestly, I am contacted by a lot of PR people about reviewing different books or products, but I can’t remember if I have ever been contacted by the author directly, so this stood out as something special. The book was part memoir and part cookbook – which I found intriguing.

MY FAT DAD: A Memoir of Food, Love, Family, and Recipes was written by Dawn Lerman.

cover

As she explains early in the book, many of the recipes she grew to love and know where more than words on a page. Food made with care and love was always different from overly processed or order by number type food. Each recipe she shares connects with a person and time in her life, in a way it’s as if the memories make the food taste better, ya know? When I think about it, food from my own childhood, and attempting to create was always a special experience. I once read the reason food tastes better when someone else makes it, is because while we make it we are smelling and touching the ingredients, so our senses are dulled by the time we eat. I’m not sure this is always the case though, as it is explained through so many stories in this book, friends and family gush over the home cooked meals, especially when they are a part of the cooking process.

Dawn grew up the older of two daughters of a father who found great success with food (and other) campaigns, but not as much success with his own diet and weight. Her Mom’s idea of cooking was using the microwave and was rarely seen eating more than a can of tuna each day. By comparison her grandmother seemed to know how to make anything and everything and the fridge was full of fresh and recently made meals and treats. Dawn grew to love spending time at her grandmother Beauty’s home and learning the art of cooking and baking.

Along the way you learn part of this difference in cooking style comes from a generational shift. Dawn’s Mom wanted equality as a women and sought to rise above being a homemaker or house wife.  At some point her Mother makes a statement about how lucky women are to have food in convenience form in order to spend time doing other things.  Placing myself in her shoes or shoes of any woman at the time I can see the conflicting roles. Heck in 2016 I can see the conflicting roles! It makes me think of an exhibit at COSI in Columbus, OH where they have a fake street built with a post office, market, gas station and the like from the late 1800’s and when you walk down the next hall it’s the same street from the 1960’s with the same shops, but updated. One part of it narrates the fear people have of eating food from a can and asks if there’s any fears in today’s society (cough…GMO’s…cough) not saying they aren’t serious, just saying that’s the frenzy of today.

By the end of the book Dawn has grown into an adult and her Dad has ebbed and flowed along the way, losing and gaining weight based on the diet of the moment. When I finished it I honestly felt like the title was misleading because it focused more on Dawn’s life with snippets of her Dad and family. My hope when I read the book was it would help me to relate to someone struggling with their weight and always looking for the next great “fix” which seems to be the life her Dad lead his whole life. Instead, I was granted the perspective of the child growing up in such an environment. While I couldn’t relate to Dawn and at times even judged or envied her, I appreciated this honesty and view. When I have children I want them to have a healthier relationship with food than I do. I want them to grow up and not be picked on for their weight, and while I blame it on my genetics or not sticking to a fad diet, I know the root is much deeper. Dawn’s book reminded me healthy food doesn’t have to be boring food and while food is fuel, it can also be social and special.

As part of the agreement to share this book with all of you, I am also allowed to share one of the recipes. I picked one for potato chips since it’s now summer time and I know this is one treat I would be bummed to never reach for again!

Reprinted from MY FAT DAD: A Memoir of Food, Love, Family, and Recipes By Dawn Lerman Berkley Books/2015

No Stopping Required Potato Chips

Yields : 4 servings 

My father, a brilliant copywriter in the Mad Men era of advertising, was known for his witty as campaigns – an being able to solve any image problem that was thrown his way.

Unfortunately, he was not able to use the same problem-solving skills when it came to his weight. My 450-pound ad man dad felt that in order to create a good campaign, you needed to believe in the product you were selling. He was always the best customer for the products he advertised, testing them excessively – especially when Well Rich & green prompted him to head of creative director on Pringles.

Listening to him crunch away, I knew I had to get inventive and create a healthier snack. While he won the award for his slogan for Pringles, “Once You Pop, You Can’t Stop!” He said I won the award for best health chip. Pair this with my homemade hummus for a satisfying summer snack.

Potato Chips

  • 2 large sweet potatoes peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, or cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon of dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of minced onion

Toss the sliced potatoes in a bowl with olive oil and all the dried herbs. Place on a lined baking sheet with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees on the middle rack until soft and crispy, about twenty minutes.

Note : You can also do this with sweet beets, white potatoes, or kale. For kale the cooking time is about ten minutes

*****

I personally have tried this recipe with beets, sweet potatoes and white. The most important thing I learned is to make sure your slices are THIN. Sadly for me the mandolin I used left my chips a little on the thick and chewy side. Oops. Oh well, still yummy!

homemade chips Beet-Chips-and-Ranch-Dressing

If you would like to learn more about Dawn or reach out to her, she can be reached in the following ways:

Dawn Lerman, MA, C.H.H.C, LCAT, AADP
Nutrition Consultant, Speaker & Writer
NY Times Column
DawnLerman.net
Facebook: Author Page
Twitter: @dawnlerman

Will Acceptance Lead to Love?

Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed some positive changes in my mental health. I’ve also read about 5-6 books so if you read my previous post you know I think the two are connected. When I am focused on the fictionalized stories of others, I don’t have time to dramatize my own. Hmm I think that should be on a poster somewhere, right? Anyway. I’ve been much more happy, both inside and on the outside. I’ve felt more comfortable in my own skin and have stepped outside my comfort zone as well. Plus, I think my actual work is improving as I can multitask better (it seems).

My diet has gone to shit again (sorry), but at the same time I’m trying to be careful in my terrible decision making. Last weekend I went to the grocery store and stocked up for the week on deli turkey and veggie based meals to at least help my budget. However I also found myself hitting the drive-thru between work and home for a sandwich here or there….but no fries! So yay, right? Baby steps? We have plans to buy chicken and rice and turkey to make turkey burgers this week so I will have yummy things to look forward to at home as well. What’s more helpful though is to take it with me. My shift is too long for just the one meal it seems and I can’t stand driving home and having to cook before I can eat again.

Side note…because it isn’t just coming home and microwaving something. It’s taking the dog out, checking on the guineas, checking the mail, cleaning up the house. I get into this other mode when I hit the door and my poor food gets cold or goes un-prepared for at times a whole other HOUR. This is why I hit drive-thrus. Ugg.

uUXW8Ea

I’ve started walking again in the morning. My acid re-flux medicine is back in my system so the coughing has subsided and I can move without fear of death or puking. I managed to get 10,000 steps Monday and like 9,000 Tuesday. Tuesday night I even walked my living room while reading on my tablet so there’s commitment and double tasking proof my friends! I hate reading on the tablet but since this nonsense happened I have little choice. Wed I worked my first 11-9 shift and basically didn’t walk more than what was required in basic daily movement. Thursday it rained all day so that killed it for me too.

Friday was AMAZING. I had the best day on Friday listen to all this business, but fun!!

We woke up and drove out to Dave’s “hometown” which is about a 30-45 minute drive because he needed blood work (routine). Not the best part of the day, but I made him play a made up game of “car karaoke” and we took turns singing whatever was on the radio. Listening to your boyfriend try to sign “Dangerous Woman” and hit the high notes is a great way to start the day. After the doctor’s we went to the library so I could turn in my tacking sheet and get my milestone gifts from one of the six libraries I am a member of and doing a summer reading challenge with this year.

akron gifts

Next we hit a second library where we go literally every Friday this year so he could return books and pick up books, one I requested as also in so now I will be reading The Book Thief which I hear FANTASTIC things about all the time. The Miss Peregrine series is also on request for me and I’m looking forward to it in the coming weeks. Much to Dave’s delight we finally went to lunch after this…he was on a fast for the blood work so he was desperately hungry. After some delicious southwest food at MOE’S we headed to the movies to see Central Intelligence and we laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed some more. Very good movie. Post movie we went home and he caught a nap and cleaned the guinea pigs’ cage while I read some of my book and took a shower. Then it was off to Cleveland to see The Phantom of the Opera!

pre poto

Despite my usual way of arriving to things, we were considerably early to the event and opted to go to this German restaurant next door to “check it out”. OH MY GOODNESS. This was was insane. They seat you at these lonnnnnnnng wooden table and benches where people actual stand up on the benches to dance or are dancing in the little aisles. The waiters and waitress are all dressed in lederhosen (so much boobs) and there’s a live band. Dave was all smiles from the moment we sat down and I was all about to have a heart attack and climb out the window. I hated it. he had his beer and we shared some appetizers and it was off to the play.

As we were leaving we talked about walking back over. Why not? We never get out of the deck for a good 20-30 minutes anyway and most importantly….we are young, we don’t have kids, we have the money and we honestly almost NEVER go out at night. 90 percent of me did want to go home and I know he would have been fine with that too, but for whatever reason I decided we would go back. Why not? We could always leave at any time. This second time around I felt much more relaxed, the live band didn’t play until about 15 minutes after we arrived and maybe it was because I knew what to expect. We shared some more food and each had a drink…I had about 1/2 a drink to be honest and I LOVED the polka music. They played the two songs I knew and then made a bunch of other songs into a polka style! I even stood up on the bench and danced to “Hang on Sloopy”.

video

At first I didn’t want to and told Dave that much. I was embarrassed. I am considerably overweight and even though I opted to wear a dress that night it was clear I was heavy by the way it sat and clung to me. Then I realized, even though I am overweight, it doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to enjoy life. I’m trying (at times) and more importantly than that is the fact I honestly don’t hate myself for being fat anymore. I still see it that way and I still wish I could lose weight, but I don’t look in the mirror and want to cry. I don’t have a panic needing to leave the house wondering what to wear. Maybe because I’ve lost some weight and went down a size I feel hopeful again? Or not as ashamed because I AM doing something about it? Who knows….maybe it’s not being caught up in my head as much Whatever it is, I looked at my boyfriend and knew he wanted to be a part of everything and I knew even though it scared me it wouldn’t kill me to be a part of it all too. I knew the song, I liked the song and in the end, all the people I feared looking at me and laughing aren’t my boyfriend. They’re nobodies to me. So I stood up and danced with the man who loves me and I love him. One of the few people who’s opinion about me I should care about and who doesn’t care what I look like as long as we’re together. We sang and danced the night away and I was all smiles until we came home and crashed into bed.

I’m never going to be 150 pounds again drinking beer and eating pierogies, but my weight isn’t only poor food choices based. It’s also tied to my anxiety and depression and depending on the day I’m working on one of those factors or something else. Dancing and signing helps with the second of the above concerns and as I’m happier I am more willing to go out and do things that will benefit me. I’m more likely to exercise or skip the sweets. I haven’t reached self-love yet, but getting to a point of acceptance has been a huge help.