≡ Menu

February/March: What I Read

February March 2018: What I Read | http://www.roseclearfield.com

I skipped last month’s reading update because I would have spent most if it talking about Harry Potter. I’m back with two months worth of reading and am excited to share my recent reads with you today.

In February and March, I listened to:

  • But Seriously by John McEnroe. I enjoy most celebrity memoirs, as long as they’re well written, even if I don’t know much about the celebrities, haven’t been avid fans of their careers, etc. But Seriously was no exception. In this book, McEnroe chronicles his post-career years (he wrote another memoir focused more around his career). It makes for a nice mix because he does still throw in a few flashbacks to iconic matches, memorable moments in the spotlight, etc. He’s also removed enough from his career now that he can be more objective about it.

 

  • Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris. I know that there are a lot of mixed or downright negative opinions about Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk. First, if you’re at all familiar with Sedaris’s sense of humor, you shouldn’t be surprised that the tales in Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk are pretty dark. Second, I know that the illustrator Ian Falconer illustrated the Olivia books. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk is not an Olivia book. It wasn’t promised to be an Olivia book. I’m sorry people are disappointed by that fact. I found the book highly entertaining. It made for a great quick listen while driving to and from Chicago.

 

 

  • Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon by Peter Ames Carlin. I’ve been a huge Paul Simon fan my entire life. As such, I wanted to love this book. I didn’t love this book. It’s one of these well-researched but not well-written situations. Carlin just plods from one researched point to the next with no engaging narrative. Unless you’ve researched Paul Simon’s life extensively yourself or know a lot of background about all of his music, you will learn a lot reading this book. I certainly did, which was enjoyable.Also, I’m not one for celebrity gossip. But I find the whole Paul Simon/Carrie Fisher on again/off again relationship fascinating. If you do, too, read her book Wishful Drinking. Her narrative about their relationship covers everything Carlin discusses in Homeward Bound and then some and is ten times more entertaining.

In February and March, I read:

  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance. J.D. Vance presents one of the most refreshing perspectives on culture, family, religion, education, and life in general that I’ve read in a long time. He isn’t trying to solve all of the world’s problems nor is he trying to excuse them. He writes candidly without being preachy or trying to invoke sympathy.

 

  • Beartown by Fredrik Backman. I’m not sure that Beartown quite lived up to all of the Fredrik Backman hype, but I’m still glad that I read it. (I know that A Man Called Ove is a much bigger deal, and most likely I will read it, too, at some point.) I love the premise of the book. I don’t love where he goes with it. Backman is trying too hard to make a point instead of tell a story. I also think he spends too much time setting up characters without really bringing all of them together in the end. The ending was better than I expected, which was redeeming. Additionally, I think as always, something gets lost in the writing style during translation. The writing isn’t bad, but I’m sure that the original reads more smoothly.

 

  • Wild Bird by Wendelin Van Draanen. I really enjoyed Van Draanen’s Flipped and was excited for the recent release of Wild Bird. It didn’t disappoint. The plot could’ve been cliched and obnoxious with predictable characters, but it wasn’t. Van Draanen does a great job weaving the current narrative with bits from the past, taking the entire length of the book to bring everything together. It left me wanting to know more about the characters and what happened next. I feel like she could have fleshed out a few characters like the counselors, who clearly have their own stories to tell, a little further. It’s just my own curiosity; the lack of those stories doesn’t detract from the book.

 

  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell. I’m glad that I didn’t read Landline first because if I did, I wouldn’t have read any of Rainbow Rowell’s other books. I loved Eleanor and Park and Fangirl and really liked Attachments. Landline was disappointing. The characters are underdeveloped, just one-dimensional stereotypes, and the plot is hopelessly predictable with lots of cliched writing. I found myself wanting to skip over the pages and pages of stupid dialogue, which basically never happens to me. There is potential for the story structure she creates, but she just doesn’t do anything worthwhile with it. Skip Landline, and go read Eleanor and Park and Fangirl.

In February and March, I re-read:

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling. / Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling. / Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling. I don’t feel like I need to write separate commentary on each Harry Potter book. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the books re-reading them so many years later, but I still love them. J.K. Rowling has such a great writing style. Also, can we talk about how every. single. character has a fantastic name? I don’t know how she does it. Not surprisingly, I re-read the first three pretty quickly and am taking more time with the remaining four.A few quick thoughts: Gilderoy Lockhart is one of the best parts of Chamber of Secrets and he gets some of the best lines. Prisoner of Azkaban remains the strongest book in the series for me. J.K. Rowling packs so much into the plot without the length of the later books but without it feeling rushed. I feel like the length is justified in Goblet of Fire because there is so much to the Quidditch World Cup and then each of the Tri-Wizard tasks. The later three books drag on a bit more. I’m just taking my time and not feeling like I need to rush through any of them.

 

  • Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. Modern Romance was on my short list of books I listened to and wanted to read the second time around. But then I wanted an audio book before a day trip when I had nothing ready from my library queue and ended up checking out the audio book again. I would still like to read it, but it will be a while now. Anyway, Modern Romance was just as good the second time around and definitely worth the re-read.

[Disclaimer: There are a few affiliate links in this post. Thanks for your support!]

What have you been reading and loving lately?

I’m always looking for new suggestions!

Previous reading posts:

January: What I Read | http://www.roseclearfield.com

January: What I Read

2017 Reading List + Tips for Reading More Books | http://www.roseclearfield.com

My 2017 Reading List + Tips for Reading More Books

What I Read: October/November/December 2017 | http://www.roseclearfield.com

My Final Reads for 2017!

{ 0 comments }

Coconut Rice with Vegetables and Chicken Sausage | http://www.roseclearfield.com

It’s been a minute since I’ve posted an original recipe. My hat is off to all of the food bloggers out there with little kids. I still do a lot of cooking from scratch with a kiddo. But it took me over eight months to begin to figure out how to make and photograph a recipe, you know, beyond a quick Instagram stories snap. And this first one post-kid is a really good one. I’m so excited to share my coconut rice with vegetables and chicken sausage today.

Coconut Rice with Vegetables and Chicken Sausage | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Coconut rice with vegetables and chicken sausage came about because I can’t stop eating coconut rice.  I first started making coconut rice for Jessica’s pineapple cashew fried rice. I would rather eat pasta than rice any day, but I can’t get enough of coconut rice. Pineapple cashew fried rice has quickly become a weekday lunch staple. Coconut rice with vegetables and chicken sausage is one of the first of what I’m sure will be many of my own recipes with coconut rice.

Coconut Rice with Vegetables and Chicken Sausage | http://www.roseclearfield.com

I decided to pair coconut rice with sweet potato, butternut squash, cauliflower, and chicken sausage to create just the right mix of sweet and savory. As many of you know, my go-to roasted vegetable combination is Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. But I wasn’t feeling Brussels sprouts with coconut rice. Instead, I paired cauliflower with butternut squash and sweet potato for that ideal flavor balance. I kick up the sweet factor a little bit with chicken sausage. Feel free to use whatever type of sausage you’d like if prefer a hint of smoke, spiciness, etc.

Also, can we talk for a second about the magic of coconut oil? I’ll be honest, I was way late to jump on the coconut oil train because I thought it was overpriced and trendy. I’m so glad that I finally tried it. Coconut oil is worth every penny and makes so many recipes better. Once you have it in your pantry, you’ll find you use it in your cooking and baking all the time.

Coconut Rice with Vegetables and Chicken Sausage | http://www.roseclearfield.com

I realize that making a dish for lunch with this many steps is annoying. But you’re not just making lunch for one day. You’re making lunch for the entire week. And you can break up the steps as you like. Prep the rice and roasted veggies ahead of time, and then throw the whole dish together when you’re ready for lunch. You can even chop the veggies early in the day and roast them later. Or make the entire recipe on Sunday, and divide it up in individual containers for a week’s worth of lunches to grab while heading out the door.

Coconut Rice with Vegetables and Chicken Sausage | http://www.roseclearfield.com

The same concept works for dinner. If you know you’ll have a busy afternoon or evening, get your ingredients prepped earlier in the day or even the day before. With the rice and veggies ready to go, you’ll have the entire meal on the table in 20 minutes or less. Even when you’re not rushed later in the day, it’s so nice to have that flexibility.

One of the beautiful elements of the coconut rice with vegetables and chicken sausage is that the leftovers taste great reheated in the microwave or on the stove. When I have the time, I like to reheat it on the stove, so the rice, veggies, and sausage crisp up a bit. However, the flavor is great in the microwave, too, making it an ideal option for lunch at work.

Coconut Rice with Vegetables and Chicken Sausage | http://www.roseclearfield.com

There are so many possibilities for customizing this recipe to fit your tastes and preferences. As I mentioned previously, don’t feel limited to chicken sausage. Just about any type of sausage works well. I like the notion of maintaining a sweet-savory balance to fit with the coconut rice. Too much savory doesn’t work well. Butternut squash and sweet potato are both natural sweet choices. In addition to cauliflower, they pair well with spinach, kale, beets, onions, and black beans.

I also highly recommend upping the veggie content or pairing the recipe as is with leftover veggies or whatever you have on hand. I purposely left the rice-veggie ratio a little higher than I’d like because one, I didn’t want to bother with making less than one cup of rice and two, I knew I’d end up adding other veggie with the dish throughout the week. For example, after preparing a side of spinach for dinner, mix in the leftovers when you reheat this dish.

Coconut Rice with Vegetables and Chicken Sausage | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Print Recipe
Coconut Rice with Vegetables and Chicken Sausage Yum
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 1 hour
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
4-6 servings
Ingredients
Coconut Rice
  • 1 cup white rice (or the rice of your choosing)
  • 1 14 oz. can lite coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
Roasted Vegetables
  • 1 sweet potato cubed
  • 1 small butternut squash chopped
  • 1/2-1 head cauliflower chopped (either 1/2 of a medium-large cauliflower or 1 whole small cauliflower)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil melted
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I love basil or garlic olive oil, regular extra virigin olive oil works well, too)
  • freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
Chicken Sausage
  • 5-6 cooked chicken sausages chopped
For Stir Frying
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 1 hour
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
4-6 servings
Ingredients
Coconut Rice
  • 1 cup white rice (or the rice of your choosing)
  • 1 14 oz. can lite coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
Roasted Vegetables
  • 1 sweet potato cubed
  • 1 small butternut squash chopped
  • 1/2-1 head cauliflower chopped (either 1/2 of a medium-large cauliflower or 1 whole small cauliflower)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil melted
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I love basil or garlic olive oil, regular extra virigin olive oil works well, too)
  • freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
Chicken Sausage
  • 5-6 cooked chicken sausages chopped
For Stir Frying
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Add one can lite coconut milk and one cup water to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add one cup of rice. Cook for 30 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid.
  2. White the rice is cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop your vegetables into bite-sized pieces. I like to put the sweet potato and butternut squash in the microwave for a couple of minutes each to soften them before chopping.
  3. Coat the vegetables in two tablespoons melted coconut oil, two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, and freshly ground salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until the veggies are fork tender. Stir the veggies halfway through baking, so they don't stick to the pan.
  4. When you're ready to finish your dish, chop the chicken sausage. Add two tablespoons coconut oil to a large frying pan. When it's melted, add the rice. Break it up into large chunks and cook for 5-6 minutes or until it's crisped a little. Add the veggies and sausage. Cook for 2-3 minutes to crisp up the veggies and give the sausage a slight char. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

Leftovers may be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Coconut rice recipe very slightly adapted from Jessica of How Sweet Eat's coconut rice: https://www.howsweeteats.com/2013/06/pineapple-cashew-fried-rice/

Share this Recipe
 

Coconut Rice with Vegetables and Chicken Sausage | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Whichever way you decide to make your dish, one thing is for sure: coconut rice for the win. You’re welcome.

Coconut Rice with Vegetables and Chicken Sausage | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Did you make the coconut rice with vegetables and chicken sausage?

I want to see! Tag your recipes #RoseClearfield on Instagram or Twitter.

More healthy recipes:

Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts

Pineapple and Mango Coconut Smoothie | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Pineapple Mango Coconut Smoothie

Homemade White Bean Cannellini Hummus | http://www.roseclearfield.com

White Bean Cannellini Hummus Dip

{ 1 comment }

Asia in Bloom Orchid Show, Chicago Botanic Garden | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Late last month, Tommy and I made a quick trip down to Illinois for the annual orchid show, this year’s theme Asia in Bloom, at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Somehow before last year, I’d never been to the botanic garden, or only had many many years ago, which is ridiculous, considering how many years I’ve lived within an hour of it. So I’m making a point to go at least once a year now.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

April Showers Bring May Flowers Baby Shower - April Baby Showers via Oh Happy Day | http://www.roseclearfield.com

via

Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but I’ve always loved the “April showers bring May flowers” theme. I’ve been working on “April shower bring May flowers for Mother’s Day” cards for years and will be sharing my newest version in my DIY Mother’s Day card post next month. But today I’m focusing on an April showers bring May flowers baby shower theme. I love anything rained themed and think that the decor scheme and party ideas for it are just perfect for a baby shower any time in April or May.

April Showers Bring May Flowers - Cloud Baby Shower Invitation via Better Homes and Gardens | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Kick off the April showers bring May flowers baby shower theme with rain drop / cloud invitations.  You know that I’m all about really simple cards. This raining hearts baby shower invitation from Better Homes & Gardens is right up my alley. It’s adorable, and you can get a whole set of them put together in a single afternoon. Of course, you’ll find a wealth of great baby shower invitations on Etsy, too. Check out this tag style baby invitation from LittleIndieStudio.

April Showers Bring May Flowers - Showers Up Ahead Sign via Prettiest Print Shop on Etsy | http://www.roseclearfield.com

When guests arrive, greet them with a cheery shower sign, so they know they’re in the right place. A printable baby shower welcome sign makes decorating quick and stress-free. Grab your “showers up ahead” printable sign from PrettiestPrintShop. Here are a couple of “welcome” door decorations for further sign inspiration: Catch My Party and Cook, Craft, and be Merry.

April Showers Bring May Flowers Baby Shower - Raindrops Backdrop via Close to My Heart | http://www.roseclearfield.com

A rain drops backdrop is so simple and cute. The backdrop makes for a wonderful display behind food tables or guest tables. It’s also ideal as a stand alone feature for photo ops. There are a few different common materials for clouds at the top of the backdrop, including balloons, stuffing or batting, and crepe paper flowers. The featured rain drops backdrop image is from Close to My Heart. I also love this backdrop from Parsimonia Vintage.

April Showers Bring May Flowers Baby Shower - Umbrella Floral Centerpiece via Hostess with the Mostess | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Another fun rain themed baby shower decor idea is to hang umbrellas from the ceiling or use them in centerpieces. Umbrellas add a whimsical touch on their own and work well in combination with other cloud decor elements. The umbrella floral centerpiece inspiration is from Hostess with the Mostess.

April Showers Bring May Flowers Baby Shower - Cloud Straws for a Baby Shower via Cutest Baby Shower Ideas | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Sometimes the smallest details bring the entire theme together. Cloud straws are a perfect example. Set up your drink station glasses ahead of time with paper straws and clouds to make the display festive and inviting. I love to pick up cheap paper straws from the dollar store or the dollar section at Target. The cloud straw inspiration is from Cutest Baby Shower Ideas.

April Showers Bring May Flowers Baby Shower - Cloud Cupcakes via Dicas pra Mamae | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Cloud cupcake toppers are quick and festive. I’ve seen April showers bring May flowers baby shower cupcakes with various combinations of white and blue (i.e. white wrappers and blue frosting), all of which work beautifully with the theme. The cupcakes I’m featuring are from Dicas pra Mamae. There are tutorials out there for cloud frosting as well, which is also cute for a shower. Your Cup of Cake has a great cloud frosting how to post.

April Showers Bring May Flowers - Cloud Cookies That Actually Rain via The Bearfoot Baker | http://www.roseclearfield.com

If you don’t want to make cupcakes, cloud shaped sugar or shortbread cookies are great, too.  Pick up a cloud cookie cutter, grab your favorite cut out cookie recipe, and you’re good to go. The Bearfoot Baker has a fun tutorial for cloud cookies that actually rain, which are pictured above. You can use her cloud cookie decorating tips for regular sugar cookies as well.

April Showers Bring May Flowers Baby Shower - Thumbprint Guestbook via Hipster's Hollow | http://www.roseclearfield.com

How cute is this thumbprint guestbook? I love the idea of creating a guestbook that you’ll want to display, instead of stick in a drawer and forget. This thumbprint guestbook is so simple and can be customized for virtually any theme. There isn’t a tutorial, but this concept is pretty self-explanatory. You can see the whole post over at Hipster’s Hollow.

April Showers Bring May Flowers Baby Shower - Thanks for Dropping By Favors via A House Should Be Homey | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Finally, send your baby shower guests home with a little something. I truly believe that party favor showers should be inexpensive and quick to assemble. You can’t go wrong with a classic “thanks for dropping by” favor. Attach your “thanks for dropping by” tag to a treat bag with a decorated cookie, candies, or other small treat. Check out an example from A House Should Be Homey. For an April showers bring May flowers baby shower, an umbrella shaped treat bag is really sweet. Creative Cynchronicity shares her umbrella favors and a free printable.

April Showers Bring May Flowers Baby Shower | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Have you ever thrown or attended an April showers bring May flowers baby shower?

I’d love to see your shower pictures or hear about other April showers bring May flowers baby shower ideas that you love.

More baby shower inspiration:

Woodland Themed Baby Shower | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Woodland-Themed Baby Shower

Laundry Themed Baby Shower Gift Idea | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Laundry Themed Baby Shower Gift Idea

{ 1 comment }

DIY Scrabble Tile Picture Frame

DIY Scrabble Tile Picture Frame | http://www.roseclearfield.com

The DIY Scrabble tile picture frame is the perfect project for those of us who spend way too much time on Pinterest and also love to display way too many photos around our homes. I don’t even like to talk about how many frames I have up in my house, how many different DIY frames and photo displays I’ve created over the years, and how many photo-related ideas I still browse on Pinterest all the time. It should come as a shock to no one that a DIY Scrabble tile picture frame is right up my alley.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }
© 2016, Rose Clearfield.