sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

January 10, 2019

early january unraveling
posted by soe 1:50 am

Early January Unraveling

Yesterday it was so warm I spent the early part of the evening sitting outside at my local coffeehouse with my book. I had a tshirt and sweatshirt on and added a scarf while I was sitting there after sunset, but didn’t need to break out my hat or mitts from my bag and I certainly didn’t need a coat. Today it blustered a lot and snowed a little (not enough to stick, but still).

Anyway, this was what I was reading yesterday, but it was so charming that I was quickly done with it. If you enjoy historical fiction (it’s set in WWII London) that mostly (see previous parentheses) ends on an up-note, do check it out.

I’ve tried starting both An American Marriage and Washington Black, but I don’t want to read bleak but Important stories right now. Which I recognize makes me the worst type of liberal White reader, so I’ve just put them to the side for now rather than taking them back to the library just yet in the hopes that I can get out of my own way in the near future. I pulled out (carefully, because it was under my holiday light display) the illustrated version of the third Harry Potter film and picked up where I left off back in the fall, figuring it may help me over my reading hiccup. Or it may not, but at least I’ll have enjoyed it.

My knitting is also experiencing a hump. I could show you the various skeins of yarn I’ve pulled out of storage (quite pretty!), the older projects I’ve moved closer to the couch but haven’t otherwise touched (I could have FO’s with so little work!), or the six rows I actually knit on the beginning of that blue shawlette I thought would be done by (this, rather than next) New Year’s, but none of it is really knitting, but knitting-approximate, and we all know the difference.

Anyway … maybe by next week.

Head over to Kat’s where you can see what people who actually pick up their needles are making.

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January 9, 2019

top ten upcoming releases i’m looking forward to
posted by soe 1:37 am

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday asks us to share our most anticipated releases for the first half of 2019:

  1. Early Riser by Jasper Fforde. He’s coming to Politics and Prose the week of my birthday next month, so no one ask me to do anything on Feb. 18 because I am busy! (I know someone on Twitter who has read an ARC and she says it’s less thrillerish than it sounds, which is good because I was very nervous about the description.)
  2. Angie Thomas’ On the Come Up. Her The Hate U Give was the best book I read in 2017, so I’m definitely on board for her sophomore effort.
  3. Deanna Raybourn’s latest Veronica Speedwell mystery, A Dangerous Collaboration. Something INTERESTING happened at the end of the last novel, so I’m excited to see where it goes.
  4. Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. They have a new series!!!!!
  5. Elizabeth Acevedo’s With the Fire on High. I’m loving The Poet X (so much so that I nominated it for a Cybil without having finished it) and look forward to Elizabeth’s next book.
  6. Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America, edited by Ibi Zoboi and Tracey Baptiste. I want to like short story collections more than I actually do and I’m a sucker for this kind that features a bunch of authors whose novels I like.
  7. Local author Kosoko Jackson has a queer historical fiction novel, A Place for Wolves, coming out this spring and even though describing anything as “[X] meets Code Name Verity” sounds like it’s going to be desperately sad and therefore not my cup of tea, I want to want to read it, but this could be a game-time decision.
  8. Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Okay, so I hadn’t heard of this until I started looking at publication dates, but I am all in for a romance between the First Son (his mom is President) and the Prince of Wales.
  9. Watch Us Rise by RenĂ©e Watson and Ellen Hagan. I enjoyed Watson’s last book and this sounds like it will carry on the themes of some of my favorite books from 2018.
  10. Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner. This YA novel sounds like it should be a wild ride.

Rainbow Rowell’s graphic novel, Pumpkinheads, isn’t due out until the end of August, but the release date for her latest regular novel, Wayward Son, hasn’t been announced yet, other than sometime this year. If it’s sooner, I will definitely be reading it, too.

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January 8, 2019

bout of books 24: days 1 & 2
posted by soe 1:43 am

I’m doing the Bout of Books again this week and it’s not too late if you want to sign up!

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01 a.m. Monday, January 7th, and runs through Sunday, January 13th, in whatever time zone you are in.

Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 24 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.

– From the Bout of Books team

My goal for the challenge is to read every day, to finish An American Marriage and Dear Mrs. Bird, and to share my top ten reads from 2018.

So far, I’m about two-thirds of the way done with Dear Mrs. Bird, which I’m enjoying quite a bit and stuck in the first chapter of An American Marriage because bad things are going to happen and I’m not feeling up to it.

Monday’s challenge was to introduce yourself in six words:

How about this?

Would love to read for work.

Today’s challenge is to host a literary dinner party for five of your favorite characters.

Who do you invite and what food do you serve?

  1. Jo March
  2. Thursday Next (who will likely already know everyone else)
  3. Hermione Granger
  4. Charlotte Holmes
  5. Petrova Fossil

And I’ll serve breakfast for supper — waffles, I think, or crepes, in case someone (I’m leaning toward Hermione) really wants vegetables with her dinner. And ice cream sundaes, of course!

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January 7, 2019

first weekending of 2019
posted by soe 1:48 am

Dupont Sunset

It was a quiet weekend at the Burrow, with Rudi out of town pursuing a snowy ski hill for his team of young racers.

Georgetown Sunset

There were errands and chores, but they were interspersed with time outside, trips to the library, and hours of reading.


I thought about going to a free concert, but it would have required dressing up and getting over there, and in the end pj’s, French bread pizza, and videos on the couch with the cats won out. (A Christmas Prince: A Royal Wedding got better as I watched it, in keeping with the first one; Thoroughly Modern Millie was disappointing with its unnecessary and racist Chinese-American subplot. )

Love under Kale

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January 6, 2019

some weekends
posted by soe 1:18 am

Spray Roses

You just need to spend $5 on a bouquet of spray roses at Trader Joe’s.

Five Dollars

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January 5, 2019

tea time
posted by soe 1:56 am

Every year, in late February or early March, I place an order for a year’s worth of tea from a shop in New York City. I usually order somewhere around 8 pounds of tea across 10-12 types, but it varies, depending on what we’ve been drinking and what my tea supplier has in stock.

Tea Box

By January, I’m usually out of one or two kinds, but as you can see here, I’m still going strong, although I can see which teas I’m likely to be cutting it close on. (We bought a couple additional pounds during trips to New York City during 2018, so I’ll need to up my order for at least two kinds this winter.) And finishing up one or two types forces me to drink things I like, but like less than my normal six varieties.

I now know, for instance, that I need two pounds of Irish Breakfast tea to make it through the year. Keemun, which is the base for English Breakfast, was my go-to for a while, but a couple years ago there must have been a problem with the supply because the cost for the leaves went way up, and the English Breakfast blend is good, but not as good. Did you know that while English Breakfast tea is generally made from Chinese tea leaves, Irish Breakfast tea nowadays is a blend of two Indian varieties — Assam and Ceylon?

Refilling the Tea Tins

In case you’re wondering, the family go-to’s, in addition to our two breakfast blends, are Ceylon (if you buy the Ceylon from Porto Rico, skip the cheaper Ceylon OP for the Ceylon Kenilworth Garden (the name of the estate where it’s grown), because it’s a superior tea), Assam, and Yunnan. We also drink a lot of Earl Grey (my supplier makes a very nice version that has just the right amount of bergamot) and, depending on the mood, smokey Lapsang Souchong (that’s what’s in the ceramic jar) and Gurance, a citrusy Nepalese tea. We have a couple more in our rotation, including Java Santosa (an Indonesian black tea), Golden Kenyan (anything with golden in the name tends to mean it’s a less dark hues), and a custom blend from our second go-to tea shop in Greenwich Village (that has been in business since the late 1800s) that they say is the three-tea blend they made for Katherine Hepburn when she was alive.

Many Cuppas

I also have a large collection of Darjeelings, but Rudi and I have gone off them a bit in the last couple years (tea quality varies from year to year depending on the growing season and the drying process. I just hit a year that I didn’t love so much and can’t seem to force myself to drink it so I can buy a different year’s blend). They have the most number of grades you can buy, meaning you can pick your tea based on how big the leaves were before they started roasting them. In general, the more letters that appear when describing your Darjeeling, the better the tea. Nearly all the classifications (other than the lowest one, “D” for “dust”) end in “OP” which stands for Orange Pekoe. Orange Pekoe actually means tea leaf buds when used by tea growers, but the term seems to stand in for generic black tea when used by tea bag manufacturers these days.

Feel free to stop by for a cuppa!

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