#93: The Color Purple

I recently finished “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker, which won the Pulitzer for Fiction in 1983. The book is written as a series of letters: letters from the main character to her sister and vice versa, and from the main character to God. I wasn’t sure initially if the peculiar narrative style was my jam but I got used to it. There didn’t seem to be a plot, really, as the letters followed this particular woman throughout her life.  I was very close to losing interest but pushed on until the end, and can say without a doubt that this is one of the most redeeming books I’ve ever read. Never have I been so glad I’ve finished a book! I would definitely recommend it, but only if you are intent on finishing it (though who starts a book without the intent of finishing it?) Just do it.

I’ve now read seven on my Pulitzer list; 79 remain. See my original post here.

Things I learned this weekend

Zesting a lemon makes your house smell like you just cleaned it. So fresh and lemony! I don’t know how it took me so long to buy a microplane – zesting is so much easier with one. Really, kitchen gadgets are generally worth the hype. A microplane, citrus presses, and a potato masher have changed my life. I used the zest in a batch of lemon-blueberry scones, which turned out wonderfully thanks to my friend Google, who taught me that…

All-purpose flour is not the same as self-rising flour. My scones called for self-rising flour, which I do not have. I was prepared to swap in all-purpose flour and run with it when a little voice in my head said I may want to Google the difference, just in case it was a make-or-break kind of thing. And turns out it is: self-rising flour already has the leavening agent included, whereas you’d have to add it to all-purpose (makes sense). Fortunately, it’s easy to use all-purpose flour in place of self-rising: for every cup of all-purpose flour, add a teaspoon of baking powder and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Easy! Good thing I checked or those scones would’ve looked pretty sad.

Happy scones

A fresh chicken on sale can cost less than a rotisserie chicken from the deli! Whole chickens were on sale this weekend for $0.79/pound, making the total cost under $4. Mind. Blown. I spread a mixture of fresh lemon (zest and juice), olive oil, garlic, mustard and fresh herbs all over it and roasted it with carrots, butternut squash, shallots and red potatoes. Best Sunday dinner ever.

I do not like aged beef. Mark and I went to our favorite Seattle burger place on Friday night, Uneeda Burger in Fremont. We’ve been to Uneeda many times before and I always get the same thing (the “classic”) so I know what I’m getting. I’m basically an expert in the classic. Don’t mess with my classic. As soon as they placed it in front of me, I knew something was off. I could smell it – almost a rancid smell. I initially just chalked it up to pregnancy hormones – beef can smell odd sometimes and still be perfectly fine. So I took a bite. NO GO. It tasted like it smelled: on the verge of going bad. I then did what any good wife would do: shoved it in Mark’s face and asked if he smelled anything weird (he didn’t) and then had him taste it to see if he thought it tasted off (he thought it was normal). Then I took a bite of HIS burger: salty Uneeda heaven and exactly what I had been expecting. I took a couple more bites of mine to confirm whether I was crazy or I would do the unthinkable: return it to the kitchen. After a passionate discussion of the pros and cons, I sucked it up and returned the burger to the kitchen, explaining that it tasted bad and could I please have another one. A minute later, the Uneeda cashier came to our table and explained that I’d gotten the special 21-day aged beef patty by accident (normally you pay extra for it), which accounted for the “sweaty” taste (his word, not mine, though accurately descriptive), and he was so sorry about that and here was a coupon for a free burger the next time we came in. Long story short, I eventually got my replacement burger and it tasted amazing and exactly how I wanted it. But now I know. Aged beef: never again.

#93: To Kill A Mockingbird

I've already updated my original post by crossing off the 1961 classic To Kill A Mockingbird. I remember this book was on my sophomore year reading list in high school but for whatever reason, our class didn't get to it. It's an important book - I really liked it. I haven't decided what book is next. Steinbeck perhaps?

#93: Read through the list of Pulitzer-Prize winning nonfiction and fiction books

Time to finally get a post up that I can refer back to when I cross a book off my reading list! I'll come back here and edit the list whenever I finish another one. A separate post will be dedicated to the nonfiction list.

Currently read: 7
To go: 79

List of Pulitzer Price fiction winners, as taken from Wikipedia:
  • 1917: no award given
  • 1918: His Family by Ernest Poole
  • 1919: The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington
  • 1920: no award given
  • 1921: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  • 1922: Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington
  • 1923: One of Ours by Willa Cather
  • 1924: The Able McLaughlins by Margaret Wilson
  • 1925: So Big by Edna Ferber
  • 1926: Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis (declined prize)
  • 1927: Early Autumn by Louis Bromfield
  • 1928: The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
  • 1929: Scarlet Sister Mary by Julia Peterkin
  • 1930: Laughing Boy by Oliver La Farge
  • 1931: Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes
  • 1932: The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
  • 1933: The Store by Thomas Sigismund Stribling
  • 1934: Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller
  • 1935: Now in November by Josephine Winslow Johnson
  • 1936: Honey in the Horn by Harold L. Davis
  • 1937: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (read in 2011)
  • 1938: The Late George Apley by John Phillips Marquand
  • 1939: The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (read circa 1995-1996)
  • 1940: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • 1941: no award given[3]
  • 1942: In This Our Life by Ellen Glasgow
  • 1943: Dragon's Teeth by Upton Sinclair
  • 1944: Journey in the Dark by Martin Flavin
  • 1945: A Bell for Adano by John Hersey
  • 1946: no award given
  • 1947: All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
  • 1948: Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener
  • 1949: Guard of Honor by James Gould Cozzens
  • 1950: The Way West by A. B. Guthrie, Jr.
  • 1951: The Town by Conrad Richter
  • 1952: The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
  • 1953: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (read in 2000)
  • 1954: No award given
  • 1955: A Fable by William Faulkner
  • 1956: Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor
  • 1957: No award given[4]
  • 1958: A Death in the Family by James Agee (posthumous win)
  • 1959: The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters by Robert Lewis Taylor
  • 1960: Advise and Consent by Allen Drury
  • 1961: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (read in 2014)
  • 1962: The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O'Connor
  • 1963: The Reivers by William Faulkner (posthumous win)
  • 1964: No award given
  • 1965: The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau
  • 1966: The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter by Katherine Anne Porter
  • 1967: The Fixer by Bernard Malamud
  • 1968: The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
  • 1969: House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
  • 1970: The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford by Jean Stafford
  • 1971: No award given[5]
  • 1972: Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
  • 1973: The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty
  • 1974: No award given[6]
  • 1975: The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
  • 1976: Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow
  • 1977: No award given[7]
  • 1978: Elbow Room by James Alan McPherson
  • 1979: The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever
  • 1980: The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer
  • 1981: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (posthumous win)
  • 1982: Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike
  • 1983: The Color Purple by Alice Walker (read in 2014)
  • 1984: Ironweed by William Kennedy
  • 1985: Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie
  • 1986: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
  • 1987: A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor
  • 1988: Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • 1989: Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
  • 1990: The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos
  • 1991: Rabbit at Rest by John Updike
  • 1992: A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
  • 1993: A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler
  • 1994: The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
  • 1995: The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
  • 1996: Independence Day by Richard Ford
  • 1997: Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser
  • 1998: American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  • 1999: The Hours by Michael Cunningham
  • 2000: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • 2001: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
  • 2002: Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  • 2003: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (read in 2010)
  • 2004: The Known World by Edward P. Jones
  • 2005: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  • 2006: March by Geraldine Brooks
  • 2007: The Road by Cormac McCarthy (read in 2010)
  • 2008: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
  • 2009: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  • 2010: Tinkers by Paul Harding
  • 2011: A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  • 2012: No award given.
  • 2013: The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

oh hey

Remember me?

I barely do either!

In the months since I last posted (July... embarrassing), we've done some traveling to the UK, dealt with a home robbery, and celebrated our 5-year anniversary! I want to say it's been super busy around here but that hasn't really been the case. I think I like to say I'm busy (sometimes I think I really AM busy) when really all I'm doing is making turkey stock (watching a pot boil) and gasping aloud on the couch whilst reading about some other character's death in the "Game of Thrones" series. I know. My life is really exciting!

In other news, I've been able to knock out some items on my 100 List - see, I accomplish things. So I'll be back, and hopefully not six months from now!

#18: Attend my 10-year high school reunion

Well… 10 years went by pretty quick.  Not sure how I feel about that. We flew to Colorado at the end of June to hit up my 10-year reunion and get in some family time. Second time to Colorado in two months! That must be some sort of record since college. Since there was a snowstorm in May while I was there, I hoped for some great weather and my wish was granted! It was absolutely gorgeous the whole time. This was also Mark’s first time to Colorado in the summer. I KNOW. How is that even possible? Many of his trips have looked something like this:

I kept telling him, Mark, it’s SO NICE in the summer! Like SO NICE. Now he can finally believe me. I wanted to go to the mountains at least once but the weekend proved a little too busy, plus the weather didn’t look that great up there anyway. On Friday I got to have breakfast with a friend of mine and visit her house in Denver. One part of growing up that I’ve really enjoyed is seeing childhood friends create lives and families of their own. I don’t know why I find it so interesting; I guess I just think back to third grade and even though my friends are 28, I can still see the 8-year-olds in them! Friday night we went out with Richard to a couple of bars in downtown Denver, one of which had live music. And there was a thunderstorm! We don’t get those very often in the northwest.

The next day we headed to Greeley for the reunion. It was a small turnout – eight people (out of a class of 26) plus spouses and kids. There were more kids than there were graduates! Even though it was small, I really enjoyed getting to visit with the friends who came. A couple I hadn’t seen in at least eight years. We held the event at a park so people could come and go and bring their families if they wanted. It worked perfectly – kids had room to run around while their parents chatted and caught up.

After the reunion was over, we headed back to my mom’s place to have dinner with her and my uncle. The original plan was to stay the night in Greeley and go back to Denver on Sunday but it ended up being easier to just go back to Denver with Richard on Saturday night.

On Sunday Richard took us to the most delicious Creole café for brunch! It seemed very popular (tons of people outside waiting) but it didn’t take long to get a seat. I had the Cajun breakfast, comprising poached eggs (I GOTTA start poaching me some eggs), red beans with meat, potatoes, and the most amazing biscuit you’ve ever tasted. If you’re in Denver (they also apparently have locations in Fort Collins and Boulder), you have to go! Reasonably priced, too.

I had a great time in my homeland! My friend is going back to Denver for her high school reunion next weekend and I want to stow away… maybe I will.

#9: Attend soccer matches in South America and Europe

When we visited Florence last year we had the unique opportunity to attend a soccer match of Italy’s top division, Serie A. We arrived in Florence around 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning, plenty of time to arrange transportation to the afternoon match. We stayed in the apartment of a local girl, who we found on Airbnb (I should write a post on our experiences using this website). She was a great host, especially when it came to helping us find the ticket office by bus. Nothing Google can’t solve but it’s nice to have a local on your side! Transportation was so easy – hop on a local bus and end up at the ticket office. The line for tickets to the match was already out the door. We waited in the group outside for a while before finally being let inside the office – where we saw a sign that said that passports were required to buy tickets and ours were back at the apartment. Luckily we had just enough time to run out of the office and catch the bus back to the apartment, grab the passports, get back to the ticket office, wait in an even LONGER line and get our tickets all before the game started.

Waiting in line was… interesting. A guy cut in line near us and someone noticed and got angry. I have no idea what was being said but I have to tell you it was quite the experience being the only tourists in a group of locals! Very entertaining.

Fiorentina is the local team of Florence but I don’t remember who they played. It was a beautiful day for a match! I loved being able to see the rolling hills outside the stadium. I highly recommend going to a local event like this as a tourist. It’s a good opportunity to get away from the typical touristy haunts and rub shoulders with the locals. It was easily one of my favorite experiences of our whole trip.

Some differences between an Italian stadium and an American stadium:
  • The visitors’ section was literally fenced in by sturdy plastic, presumably so the home fans can’t throw objects at the visitors? Or maybe it’s the other way around?
  • No alcohol in sight – it’s prohibited within the stadium.
  • As I mentioned earlier, you need a passport to buy a ticket. I think Mark said this makes it easier to keep the rabble-rousers out if they’ve caused trouble before. Your identity can be tracked.
All in all, very fun. Does anyone have any recommendations of non-touristy experiences during their travels? I’m thinking local markets and the like, anything that gets you into the heart of the culture!