On books, real books

One of my goals for 2016 was to read more books.

Real books.

Because I live in the middle of nowhere and getting to the shops is a real effort I did some random scatter gun Amazon purchasing and bought a big pile to dip into. They sat on the table in my study for a while and I even enjoyed just looking at them for a while, before I even started reading them.

There is something about the texture of book covers that I really like. And I like the colours of the spines, and the different fonts and title formats …

The reading itself is going really well (14 books so far this year (plus one I abandoned) — go me! And the kids are still alive). Needless to say, I’m loving it. For the last several years I have been moving away from paper books — books are clutter, the paper versions are so expensive, you read them so quickly, who has time to read books anyway …

Part of rediscovering my pleasure in reading, though, has been allowing myself the luxury — and commitment — of a proper book. I love the artwork on the cover; I love holding the weight of a book in my hand. The promise of a new story. The smell of a fresh book. I love having a book mark (I have an impressive bookmark collection, some of them made for me by friends I have not seen in twenty years) and being able to see at a glance, from across the room, where I am in the book gives me a sense of rightness in the world.

Having a book is like having a friend with me at all times. A book I am in the middle of enjoying is a physical object I can bring with me, wherever I go, and just holding it makes the world a better place, giving me a sense of delicious anticipation of all the lovely things I am about to read.

So books. They rock.

This month I am attempting a “write-a-(first-draft-of-a)-book-in-a-month” so my rate of reading has already declined through April (writing is going well so far, thank-you for asking, in terms of wordcount, and I have switched off my inner editor, as required by the process, but wow I can write a lot of derivative drivel quite quickly — but what is surprising me is how much I am enjoying doing it).

Looking forward to getting stuck in again in May. I probably will need to go shopping again, though.



I love Jamie Oliver

Really, I do.

IRL, of course, I don’t know him from Adam, and I’m not the sort of person to actually approach him in any way should I see him browsing in a shop or anything.

But, this morning, I already I have a chilli on the stove (because I know I need to cook in the morning or decent food in the evening doesn’t happen). It makes me happy that it is there, bubbling away, and that I no longer need to think about food for today as it’s all in hand. (Mozarella and tomato salad for lunch, if you are wondering, with rocket.)

Making the chilli reminded me of how much I love Jamie Oliver. The recipe I used is really my own: it’s not Jamie’s recipe because I don’t eat beans these days (the low carb thing). But Ministry of Food, the book I hooked out this morning, is one of my favourite cook books of all time, and I always come back to it. Sometimes the recipes are a bit OTT for my taste (chicken with crispy posh ham: OMG how can anyone eat that? It’s so salty and overwhelming!), and I ignore plenty of them (all the pasta dishes) but I return to it on a regular basis for inspiration and reminders of how much I love so much of the food in there. I cannot, at the moment, get enough of the broccoli with Asian dressing (to die for — Mr P gets it at least once a week and I have it more often as I use the leftovers for lunch the following day). I use it every week when I make roast dinners for my wider family:  roast veg (potatoes, parsnips, carrots), gravy, Yorkshire puddings (not that I actually eat any of those at the moment, but everyone else does and I know they are tasty!); I turn to it when I am coming up with a meal plan for the week and have run out of inspiration (oh yes! I could make tuna with salsa!); oooo curries yum.

So, today is the day I am thanking my lucky stars that Jamie exists and does the evangelising about food that he does.

Cooking from scratch: some days it really isn’t hard.


Well. Begin at the beginning.

So. I’ve started a blog. Hallebloodyluia. About time.

What has prompted me to do this TODAY is that I am realising that the time is, indeed, now. I’m not ready. I haven’t mapped out where I am going with this. But it’s something I’ve been tinkering with for years and years and other things got in the way; and if I let it, it will be that way forever.

I do have a sense of embarkation: I am starting on a new journey by starting this long-overdue blog, and I need to do it now because I want to document an extreme (to me) Lent (despite being an atheist).

I’m going to give up alcohol. And chocolate. Ideally forever, but I am framing it round Lent because I think it will stop people challenging me too hard before I am ready to be challenged.

Generally I am good with food: I tend to follow Whole-30 ish guidelines and do really well with it. But. Chocolate. Wine. So I’ve spent some money on some books (I’ve decided I really like books again — so much better than screens) on how to kick chocolate and alcohol and, once they have arrived, I shall dig in and will be my own experiment of one to see if I can do it as easily as the blurbs claim.

It’s not about weight loss. Don’t get me wrong, some weight loss would be great. But my motivators are more about energy levels, sleep and heart rate than weight. (Yes, heart rate. Since owning a FitBit HR which I LOVE I have discovered that drinking alcohol affects my heart rate — which I then Googled and discovered is not some individual peculiarity of mine but is a documented THING.)

One of my aims for 2016 is to get back into books: children have pulled me away, along with the difficulty of keeping a house and some semblance of a life going. My kids are a little older now (starting to be more self-sufficient) and I want to read read read. So my fiction book that is on the go at the moment is The Taxidermist’s Daughter; and I have just finished Better Than Before (see the link?). Gretchen Rubin, though, is a whole nother post.