What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.
What I’m fixing:
- Samosa Pie. We loved this. I used ground beef instead of ground chicken because the use of poultry substitutes is grounds for abandonment in J’s mind. I also halved the jalapeño because I was also making a batch for a newly postpartum friend and her children. And then I stained our counter quite impressively with turmeric. But still. Worth trying.
- Things with our friends’ Whole30 leftovers. (Don’t pity them. They’re in Hawaii now. Don’t grudge me my cashew milk chocolate pudding and carrot coconut milk soup.)
What I’m reading:
- Everyone Should Have a House Meal. Pointed out to me by a Facebook friend.
- Be a Better Hostess: Always Make Chocolate Cake. Need I say more?
- Enjoy Every Moment (Gentle Mother). Kind of the opposite of the post I just wrote, but it still really hit a chord for me. Both/and?
When we stop feeling like we need to make every moment of our kids’ lives picture perfect and enjoyable, it leaves us some room to breathe and (get this!) really, truly enjoy more of their childhood. These year are precious, there’s no denying it; but more important than just enjoying them, we can actually be at peace in them (and not just in retrospect), knowing that we’re fully present and accepting of both the good and the hard.
- The Boxcar Children series with Pippin. I remember reading these as a kid and delighting in them, in the kids’ independence and housekeeping, and P loves them, too. But reading them as an adult is so surreal, this weird double vision, a haunting awareness of how Gertrude Chandler Warner walks this tightrope around all the darkness in the children’s lives. As an adult, I think of the real bitterness of orphanhood when the Aldens mention casually their parents are dead; I think of the children I saw climbing in the dump in Uganda when the kids go hunting for treasures in the junkyard. And yet the passages where they forage blueberries and wash them down with a bottle of milk cooled in the stream are just as bewitching.
- I finished A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and despite my early reservations, I really loved it and had trouble putting it down by the end. I’ve never felt very at home in New York City, but I loved reading about Francie looking out over her Williamsburg neighborhood, thinking of the evening I spent on my sister’s roof almost 100 years later, when she spent a stint in Bushwick:
She looked out over Brooklyn. The starlight half revealed, half concealed. She looked out over the flat roofs, uneven in height, broken once in awhile by a slanting roof from a house left over from older times. The chimney pots on the roofs…and on some, the shadowing looming of pigeon cotes…sometimes, faintly heard, the sleepy cooing of pigeons…the twin spires of the Church, remotely brooding over the dark tenements…And at the end of their street, the great Bridge that threw itself like a sigh across the East River and was lost…lost…on the other shore. The dark East River beneath the Bridge, and far way, the misty-gray skyline of New York, looking like a city cut from cardboard.
Francie feels like the kind of character who becomes a watchword for discerning kindred spirits, like Anne, like Harry. You love Francie? Me, too! Katie I just adored and forgave all her limitations; Johnny I struggled with. When did you first read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn?