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Reading woman

Books & Kisses’ BKReadAThon seamlessly follows up last weekend’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon, from Monday April 28th – Sunday May 4th. Though I will be mostly updating in my native language this week because it is a Dutch event, today’s post is in English due to another announcement.

They say it takes three weeks to form a new habit. Kicking one is much more difficult, but ‘da brains’ are good in acquiring something new. Hell, then re-establishing a familiar routine in 21 days must be a piece of cake! Right?

BoB RaT

Bout of BooksThere once was… a me that could be defined as a reader. But for several years now I’ve been trying to crawl my way out of a reading slump. So I’m signing up to be a BoB RaT from May 12th to 18th, participating in the Bout of Books Read-a-Thon. You may think that gives me a week off between readathons, but NO: if I manage to keep up my pace during the interlude, the BoB readathon will work as a a way of anchoring. In total it’ll be three weeks to kick in the ‘new’ habit! I *want* that happy ending.

My readathon goals will be generally the same as in the Books & Kisses RaT:

  • read every day of the week for at least 30 minutes;
  • finish the book I’m reading when the readathon starts;
  • provide for a change of palate to keep me motivated (i.e. alternate short works with longer);
  • [added] read from my real life folder of paper cuttings and such for 5 minutes each day;
  • make sure I’m well into a new book once the readathon ends;
  • (last but not least) HAVE FUN.

Of course there may be changes when May 12 comes around. Will keep you updated!

B&K Readathon

Kuki posing for TS Eliot's Cats

I wasn’t particularly looking forward to today’s book, Cats by T.S. Eliot, because I don’t really like reading poetry – and maybe whimsical poems even less. So I was pleasantly surprised when I immediately felt sympathetic towards the first poem: The Naming of Cats (Hoe noem je een kat? in Dutch, ranslated by Gerrit Komrij). It’s about cats needing no less than three names.

[..] But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover–
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.

[..] Maar inzonderheid is daar die naam nog, die ene,
En dat is de naam die je vindt voor geen goud;
De naam door geen mensenverstand bij te benen–
Die ALLEEN DE KAT ZELF KENT, en stug voor zich houdt.

Drawing of cat on sofa by Edward GoreyThat said, the first poem was also the best of them all (as far as I’m concerned). Of course there’s no way of telling how close the translation is to the original, having to do with rhyme, rhythm, alliteration and wit.It is probably not for nothing that the 1939 original was translated to Dutch until 1985! Anyway, while the drawings by Edward Gorey are very much worth looking at, this genre is just really not something I enjoy spending time on. If I have to, I’d rather choose something by our very own Annie M.G. Schmidt.

Today’s Summary

  • Current read
    x
  • Pages read today
    64
  • Books finished today
    1: Cats: Kobus Kruls parmantige kattenboek (Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats)  ~ T.S. Eliot
  • Time read
    0:41
  • Books read so far
    Crossing to Safety ~ Wallace Stegner
    Cats: Kobus Kruls parmantige kattenboek (Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats)  ~ T.S. Eliot
  • Total of pages read so far
    432
  • Total of time read so far
    4:46
Prosecco wine with mandarin licueur

A toast to a successful readathon!

So. The bed is made, a load of laundry is running and the dishes of dinner, snacks, breakfast and lunch can wait a while longer while I write up this second-and-last update for the April 2014 24 hour read-a-thon. Let me say first: I had such FUN! My go-with-the-flow attitude was just what I needed to make this readathon a success. I am very grateful to my reading buddy Kuki whom stayed with me (or rather on top of me) most of the time. She even tried to wake me up before the alarm to continue reading ;) Her being so faithful made me less sad about my former readathon buddy Juno isn’t here any more.

Cat

My sweet reading buddy Kuki – yes you may kiss the screen ;)

The statistics…

Cover Crossing to SafetyI’ve been reading just one book and wasn’t able to finish it in time: Crossing to Safety ~ Wallace Stegner (ebook)

Percentage of book read: 51%

Amount of time spent reading: 7 hours and 35 minutes

Amount of time spent socialising: 1 hour 30 minutes

Mini-challenges: just the kick-off and end of the event memes

Tools: the readathon spreadsheet that Jenn of Jenn’s Bookshelves provided, Timelytics app on my phone

End of Event Meme

24 Hour Read-a-Thon button

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you?|
    The first few… I was looking forward to it so much and then I something came up that made me miss out on the first six hours. So in fact I got an eighteen hour twentyfour readathon ;) Had to adapt a little and try not to be too disappointed. Also, when I went to bed at 1:30. I had planned on reading a while longer but my eyes fell shut even before my head hit the pillow.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
    YES! I’ve only been reading Crossing to Safety and time flew! I can definitely recommend it to everyone.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
    Nope.
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
    My own attitude of going with the flow and just enjoying the event, taking part in the community stuff. I may not have made that concious decision if Andi hadn’t mentioned it in one of her video blogs!
  5. How many books did you read?
    One.
  6. What were the names of the books you read?
    Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner (1987).
  7. Which book did you enjoy most?
  8. Crossing to Safety obviously ;)
  9. Which did you enjoy least?
    -
  10. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
    -
  11. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
    I want it to start RIGHT NOW! Reader and unofficial cheerleader (like I did now).
Late night snacks

Late night snacks: toasted nori, assorted nuts, potato chips, lemon olives, chili rice crackers and tomato juice

According to my e-reader I need only 3 more hours of reading to finish the last 27% of Crossing to Safety. If.. I had started at the right time I had made it. So I am a little tempted to steal that time right now but on the other hand there are several tasks waiting for me. Appealing my self-discipline. ;)

Anywayz, I have enjoyed myself SO MUCH that I’m determined to make reading part of my daily routine again (and play on my phone less). Thanks to Wallace Stegner I already know I want to read Bill Bryson’s Walk in the Woods next. Yay for getting out of my reading slump!

THANK YOU Dewey and all the awesome people behind the 24 Hour Read-a-Thon!

Juno

In memory of my beloved former readathon buddy Juno

24 Hour Read-a-Thon button

This first update is going up much later than I thought while writing my start-up post. The day took an unexpected turn and -going with the flow- I only got to join in the fun at ten to seven tonight. It’s eleven now and I’m a bit tired, but also happy that I got to read at last!

Cover Crossing to SafetyCurrently reading: Crossing to Safety ~ Wallace Stegner (ebook)

Books finished: 0

Pages read: no page count but I went from 22% to 39% read – progress!

Running total of pages read: ?

Amount of time spent reading: 3.00

Running total of time spent reading: 3.00

Amount of time spent on socialising: 0.27

Other: I only did the kick-off meme mini-challenge. Concerning reading spots: I first hung on the couch with Mr Gnoe reading next to me. After dinner (a simple tomato soup) I changed to our lazy chair where I lounged with Kuki on my lap. Had a glass of orange coloured prosecco (with a drop of mandarin liqueur) on the occasion of King’s Day. Staying with just the one because it makes me sleepy and we can’t have that, now can we? Snacked on grapes and banana, drank tea, coca cola light and water. Now I’m going to light some candles, make another pot of tea, grab a cat and continue my book.

See you later?!

24 Hour Read-a-Thon button

Kick-off meme

  1. What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
    Utrecht, The Netherlands, Europe!
  2. Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
    Finishing Crossing to Safety and finally reading We the Animals.
  3. Which snack are you most looking forward to?
    Haven’t prepared any but I cleaned a whole bowl of grapes so… Looking forward to that!
  4. Tell us a little something about yourself!
    I’ve read so little for a long time lately that I hardly dare call myself a reader any more. My choice of books is literature (rarely Dutch though) and mysteries. Some of my favourite books are Mr Sandman by Barbara Gowdy, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami, A Pale View of Hills and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and ANYTHING by David Mitchell. I love both reading from paper as on my Kobo Glo. I just don’t like that I can’t choose fitting bookmarks to accompany the different ebooks. :(
  5. If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?
    I didn’t participate in October’s readathon but I was here for the one in April 2013. Today I’m NOT going to read as many hours nor books as possible and I AM going to connect with the community fun a lot.

Cover Crossing to SafetyCurrently reading: Crossing to Safety ~ Wallace Stegner (ebook)

Books finished: 0

Pages read: 0

Running total of pages read: 0

Amount of time spent reading: 0

Running total of time spent reading: 0

Amount of time spent on socialising: 0

Other: -

24 Hour Read-a-Thon buttonHello! Long time no see! I’ve been having a blogging burnout and reading slump, but today I’m trying to fix both.

2pm local time brings the kick-off for the spring edition of Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon. I desperately need to finish my IRL book group’s read, so I’m jumping in! However, I will NOT be reading for 24 hours, nor will I be reading as much as possible: I will spend a serious amount of time happily mingling with the other participants on social media. Last year I didn’t do that at all because I felt it distracted me too much from actually reading. But, like Andi says, the readathon is all about the community! So why miss out on the fun?!

Retro plaid bag I bought

I haven’t prepared at all for today so I’m just going with the flow. WOAH that’s such a different mindset from other times I participated! The one thing I did do in anticipation of the readathon is start King’s Day celebrations early… yesterday :) It’s our very first King’s Day after Queen (now Princess) Beatrix abdicated last year and while I’m not much of a royalist, this is A National Event. And a good way to enjoy the lovely spring weather – ha! ;) The king-size jumble market in town traditionally starts at 4pm the day before and goes on all through the night and next day. So I got to go and scavenge for treasures! Like that neat retro British plaid bag I scored for 5€. :D

(Any tips on getting a musty smell out?)

But I digress. Here’s what I’ll probably be reading.

Cover Crossing to Safety

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner (ebook). I need to finish it before my book group meet-up on May 12th. I’m currently at 22% and really enjoy it but I’ve had problems picking up my book and holding on to it for longer periods of time. Something to do with an iPhone, Instagram and what not… *coughs*

When I get it done — or need a change of palate, I may pick up one of the following (or anything else that tickles my fancy).

Pile of books

Nicely colour-coordinated, don’t you think? ;)

Now let’s get that #readathon hashtag a trending topic on twitter again!

 

Vegan MoFo button 2013

Friday Try-out

Friday seems a good day to try things. Like those unfamiliar ingredients I bought on a whim, or that instant dessert I got sent but haven’t dared dip into yet. And don’t forget about the vegetables I don’t like much and need to find tasteful recipes for. Like beetroots, for example…

Gonna beat those beets!

Beets & I, we don’t get along very well. Can’t blame them because I used to HATE them as a child -of course that was in the time the only beet dish we knew in Holland was (over) cooked- but it beats me what my excuse is. Love their colour. ;) Okay, I guess I just don’t like the combined flavour of sweet and “earthy”. I’m more of a spicy, savoury kind of grrl; not too fond of a sweetish dinner.

Over the years I’ve found a few beet recipes that I can appreciate: beet risotto, red beet hummus, cooked beet salad or roasted beet salad, even chocolate beet cake. Still, each time those red veggies pop up in my CSA I go like: uh-oh. And I give them to my aunt. So the search continues until I root for beets!

Beet ‘n Berry smoothie

Beet & Berry Breakfast Smoothie
Time to try a beet smoothie. I found this rather attractive looking recipe on Choosing Raw combining beet with orange (juice) and frozen berries. Many of the ingredients I usually have at hand… unfortunately not today. I was not to be deterred though and experimented with substitutes from my pantry.

Ingredients
Serves 1 (about 1 litre)

1 medium beet, steamed (cooked), cooled, peeled & roughly cut
3 handfuls frozen mixed berries & strawberries (about 200 ml)
200 ml apple juice
250 ml vanilla soy milk
splash of rice milk
1 teaspoon of almond butter, heaped
1 tablespoon hempseed
1/2 tablespoon flaxseed oil
1 teaspoon sucanat (or other sweetener)

Preparation
Blend all ingredients together in a high speed blender. I have a multi-purpose kitchen machine with blender option in which it took less than a minute.

The Verdict

Although it was not as delicious as my favourite breakfast smoothie, I rather liked this beet breakfast. I barely noticed anything earthy; only when the liquid starting warming up it appeared. Of course nothing beats the flavour combination of beet and orange of the original recipe so next time I’ll definitely try that. Still, apple juice complements quite nicely as well. I would have loved to use dates for sweetener but I hadn’t planned that: they need to be soaked for several hours. I’ve tried using dates dry once and I tell you: my immersion blender did not like that. At all. O_o Of course you need to cook, steam or roast your beet in advance as well, and give it a chance to cool down. So unless you’re using the pre-cooked kind that gives you enough time for soaking too.

I did a not-100%-successful experiment roasting my beet in the microwave… It seemed logical: if you can make jacket potatoes in it, the same goes for beets? Well, guess again (or smell my kitchen). Next time I’ll just nuke it in a normal way or cook it on the stove. If you’re lucky to have a Vitamix you can just blend beet raw!

Another thing: next time I’m going to use only frozen strawberries or raspberries. A smoothie should be velvet-y and the hard seeds of other berries annoy me. But your hearing me right: I’m talking about next time!

If you can recommend any beet recipes I’d really appreciate it!

* This post will be updated later to share whether this breakfast took me all the way to lunch or if I got hungry before that. *

Banner Vegan Month of Food 2013

VeganMoFo brings you a Month of Vegan Food. Bloggers all around the world share their favourite recipes, mouthwatering food pics, quick cooking tips, nutritional info and anything else food related to show that vegan living is awesome. It’s the best choice for animals (dûh), our planet and people! Check out the blogroll and drool… Or better yet: join us!

* Due to circumstances MoFo posts #3 and #4 are currently missing but will be updated as soon as possible *

Vegan MoFo button 2013
One of my reasons for joining VeganMoFo is that I seem to have lost my appetite for cooking and blogging. VeganMoFo combines the two and may be just the thing to get my mojo back!

The same goes for bentoing… Might this bento be a whole new beginning and not just the start of a new week???

Meatless Monday VeganMoFo Bento #210

A Meatless Monday VeganMoFo Bento” — now THAT’s a mouthful!
And a tasty one as well haha (yup, bad joke). A lunch that I happily dug into during my break.

Meatless Monday VeganMoFo Bento, 02-09-2013

Carbs tier
Pasta salad (chilli pasta with sundried tomatoes, spring onion, black kalamata olives, parsley and a pesto vinaigrette) on iceberg lettuce.

Veggie tier
Corn cob (freezer stash), cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper and radish to dip with houmous.

On the side
Houmous in the small container, carrots and two sandwiches with apple butter that are not shown in this picture because they were not in the box but in snacktaxi baggies.

Local & organic: corn, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, parsley
Organic: cucumber, olives, sundried tomatoes, pasta, apple butter, ingredients vinaigrette

What did YOU have for lunch on this VeganMoFo Meatless Monday? Have you ever made a bento?

Banner Vegan Month of Food 2013

VeganMoFo brings you a Month of Vegan Food. Bloggers all around the world share their favourite recipes, mouthwatering food pics, quick cooking tips, nutritional info and anything else food related to show that vegan living is awesome. It’s the best choice for animals (dûh), our planet and people! Check out the blogroll and drool… Or better yet: join us!

Banner Vegan Month of Food 2013

VeganMoFo 2013

It’s that time of year again: VeganMoFo has returned to your homes! And what could be better than a Vegan Month of Food than to revive this blog? If there’s any life left in it, some good food should do the trick ;)

Carnegie's Cottage

Today I had lunch in an ‘ordinary’ restaurant called Carnegie Cottage, located in the beautiful rural area of Hoge Veluwe. We were celebrating my mother-in-law’s birthday and it was her treat. When she called a few days in advance to make reservations, she didn’t only ask whether they’d be able to provide something vegan, she was bold enough to request I’d have a choice! Wow, who doesn’t want a MIL like that? :D As the restaurant assured her that would be no problem at all, I was excited to see what I’d get!

Carnegie’s Cottage restaurant “review”

So, how was it?

Carnegie Cottage certainly didn’t disappoint me: there were two vegan options for me to choose from. Which I couldn’t… so I took both!

My vegan lunch at Carnegie's

Yes, there’s a bite taken out of that sandwich ;) My nephew who was hungry! There’s celeriac soup and a salad with green asparagus and chantharelle mushrooms. On the side some Waldkorn bread and a vinaigrette made of superior olive oil. It looks good, don’t you think? It was delicious! Both soup and salad tasted of fall, bearing the full flavours of their ingredients. Needless to say I enjoyed my lunch very much.

Hit or Miss?

It’ll come as no surprise that I do want to recommend this restaurant to vegans. I especially like that the staff immediately knew what veganism entails and was easy about getting me something plant-based. AND that was no empty promise — which has happened to me a few times. Carnegie’s Cottage has a pension as well so maybe I’ll go and stay there for the weekend sometime! It’s really a gorgeous area, especially suitable for outdoor recreation. But there’s cultural heritage to be found in Hoge Veluwe National Park too. Just perfect!

As a bonus they’ve got a special tea menu as well! I have no choice but to go back now because I only got to try two today: sencha lemon and sencha cactus & fig. Who doesn’t want to enjoy nice ‘cuppa’ like this?

Sencha lemon green tea at Carnegie Cottage

And an even bigger bonus… there’s a cute Carnegie Cat! So friendly that when I tried to photograph her on the table where she lounged, she immediately jumped off to say hi. :D Alas, as we’re kindly requested not to feed her we have no way of knowing whether she likes to eat vegan too. ;)

The red cat of Carnegie Cottage

Did YOU do anything special this Sunday?

Vegan MoFo button 2013VeganMoFo brings you a Month of Vegan Food. Bloggers all around the world share their favourite recipes, mouthwatering food pics, quick cooking tips, nutritional info and anything else food related to show that vegan living is awesome. It’s the best choice for animals (dûh), our planet and people! Check out the blogroll and drool… Or better yet: join us!

The little monkey in my brain is saying that this is bento number 210 because there’s been a sloppy no.209 a while back. But I can’t find any pictures of it (looked everywhere!), so we’re back to the old saying: “No photo? No o-bento!”

Ergo: meet today’s office lunch — my easy summer meal bento!

Easy Summer Meal Bento #209

Right tier
Leftover gado-gado with tofu, bawang goreng and pickled white onions.

Left tier
Emping, summer fruit harvested on my own balcony: strawberries and raspberries. Fresh basil for colour.

On the side
Leftover pickled salad (not shown) and an apple.

Shabby seems to be my new style.. :\ That’s because I’ve been lacking inspiration to make bentos. Not only that; I rarely feel like doing anything food-related lately. Uhm except eating of course. O_o I hope it’s just a phase that will pass soon!

Readathon button

We’ve got a little more than an hour to go of the 24 Hour Read-a-Thon but I realised that I no longer feel like reading. So I’m going to quit! I’ve read for an embarrassing total of 3:15 hours (*hides in shame*) but that’s more than I’ve read in a long time and I got halfway The Book of Negroes -a chunkster- so I’ve met my goal. ;)

You can laugh.
You can point your fingers at me.
You may argue that I’m not a worthy readathonner.

BUT I’M HAPPY WITH WHAT I’VE DONE! And I know you’re all nice people and won’t think anything bad of me anyway! :D

A big THANK YOU to the organisers, mini challenge hosts, cheerleaders and all participants who made this spring 2013 read-a-thon possible. I hope to see you all around next fall!

Early End of the Event Meme

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
    The first few hours when I had expected to read a lot in one stretch before I needed to go to a birthday party but didn’t . :(
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
    Well, the book I have been reading today is definitely one of those: The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill!
    Another would be Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami or Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending for a shorter novella.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
    Not really, everything runs so smoothly! Except maybe that I don’t like mini challenges that take up a lot of reading time but are too tempting to resist. I’ve had issues with those in previous years and now I tend to ignore the challenges as a whole so I won’t get distracted.
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
    I can’t think of anything that went better than other times!
  5. How many books did you read?
    (*whispers*) Not even one: just the first part of The Book of Negroes; books 1 and 2.
  6. What were the names of the books you read?
    Ha! I already mentioned that several times and I don’t think you want to hear me say it again! LOL
  7. Which book did you enjoy most?
    Well, THAT one. ;)
  8. Which did you enjoy least?
    -
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
    -
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
    Yes please! Looking at my results I shouldn’t challenge myself beyond reading though…

Sunday Salon logoThe Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, blogging about bookish things of the past week, visiting each others weblogs, and oh — reading books of course ;)

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