Commonplace Book, 51

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:

Chocolate Rose Cake. I’m just getting around to posting this from Scout’s birthday mid-month. This recipe/tutorial was written by a lousy cake froster for a lousy cake froster like me — seriously, I try to enlist Pippin to frost cakes so I can pass the lousiness off as charming. And after all that reading and diagram studying, J ended up doing the fancy icing for me after I put on the crumb coat. But I’m not mad about the results!

Strawberry lemonade punch. I used half raspberries because that’s what I had in the freezer. The children descended like hummingbirds.

Crispy pork belly. A friend accidentally bought seven pounds of pork belly in a Costco frenzy, thinking she’d scored seven pounds of bacon, and didn’t know what to do. In hubristic naivete, I accepted the challenge, did some reading, and took a whack and preparing it. It wasn’t difficult, only time-consuming in places, and the results were pretty spectacular. J has never loved me more.

Also: Frittatas. Salads. Pestos. My usual go-to dishes for using up random vegetables.

What I’m reading:

  • The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kidsby Sarah Mackenzie. I include the subtitle because though the book sparkles with ideas and inspiration and humor, she must use the words “meaningful,” “lasting” and “connect” approximately 32,000 times each. It would make a dangerous drinking game, that’s for sure.
  • I read Future Home of the Living God and it was about as weird as you’d expect a novel featuring dystopian-post-apocalyptic-reservation-life-adoption-drama-with-a-side-of-St.-Kateri to be, and as beautiful as I’d come to expect Louise Erdrich to be after loving her reflection on motherhood and writing. The narrator, Cedar Hawk, reflects on pregnancy in just lovely images:

“And I am all around you. I am your home, a land of blood and comfort.”


“Without act or will on my part, I am creating a collage of DNA and dreams, all those words made flesh, and I am doing it even in my sleep.”

A friend once said to me that she’s glad it’s not up to her to form each part of her baby: remembering eyelashes, or accepting an extra round of vomiting so that the baby can have all ten toes. It’s stuck with me: what a blessing that it’s all accomplished without will on our part!

  • Abbey and I have started our Summer of Flannery. So far we’ve done Wise Bloodbut I also took a look at O’Connor’s essays recently for a project. Here’s a great snippet. DOMESTICATED DESPAIR, guys.

“At its best our age is an age of searchers and discoverers, and at its worst, an age that has domesticated despair and learned to live with it happily.”

{{from Flannery O’Connor, “Novelist and Believer,” 1963, in Mystery and Manners}}

“For some people, contemplating the possibility of the thylacine’s survival seems to make the world feel bigger and wilder and more unpredictable, and humans smaller and less significant. On a planet reeling from the alarming consequences of human activity, it’s comforting to think that our mistakes may not be final, that nature is not wholly stripped of its capacity for surprise. ‘It puts us in our place a little bit,’ a mainland searcher named David Dickinson told me. ‘We’re not all-knowing.'”

Time machine:

3 thoughts on “Commonplace Book, 51

  1. I’m neither a mother nor a Catholic, but I really enjoy your writing. Can’t remember how I found your blog now (I think Tumblr?) but so glad I did!


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