We ordered curry one night, and ate everything except a few tablespoons of curry sauce and some rice and one naan. I saved those items and the next day made something that was a bit like curry. I made this in an Instapot, but you could just use a large pot on the stove.
Mix all these ingredients:
One cup red lentils
One sweet potato
Handful of chopped kale
Two garlic cloves
Tsp garlic powder
Tsp onion powder
Tsp garam masala
Leftover curry sauce (probably 4 Tbs)
I served it with the leftover rice and naan. It was so good! I’ll definitely do this again next time, and of course you can use whatever veggies are in the fridge.
Apparently I have an issue with online classes, and that issue is that I want to take all of them. Two classes I’m taking start this week. One of those started yesterday and I was so involved in it that I was a little startled this morning when I got an email confirming that my new book is now available for purchase!
Wolf Moon exists in the universe of my previous series, Vampire in the City, but takes place four years after the events of the last book in that series. Some of the characters from VitC are actually in it, but the main focus is a new protagonist. One other thing I’ve really proud of is the cover, which I designed myself!
This September, I made two decisions, one of them being a major, life-changing decision. My older son has been alive for over ten years, and he has been asking me for a dog for almost that long. I had always resisted. Even though I grew up with many dogs (hard to remember, but maybe six), I only had a good relationship with one of them. Of the others, four barely tolerated me, and two actively hated me. Years went by, and I started to develop allergies to various animals. I’d sneeze all the time, but if a dog licked me, I would break out in a painful rash in that spot. Hence my hesitation. Also, I didn’t want to get a dog to just spend only about four hours a day with it (already did that with my kids).
Then I started working from home and was home all the time with my kids (you know why–I don’t have to say it, right?). And I thought if I were to get a hypoallergenic dog, I could manage. And then I mentioned it to the kids and could no longer back out. So in September, we added Ms Ziggy Stardust the Wheaten Terrier to our family. She was only three months and I realized I’ve never had a puppy before, and it was almost as overwhelming as having a newborn human for the first month or so.
Now, she is seven months old and almost a doggie teenager (I think?). My kids hug her fifty seven times a day, and she gets so excited when I put on my shoes, and loves laying on top of me to take a nap. I cannot imagine my life without her. I can’t wait to take her to the beach and camping!
Also, the day before I met Ziggy, I dyed my hair blue! I’ve always wanted to dye my hair an unnatural color, and it was very freeing and self-actualizing to do it. It was also fun to go, in 24 hours, from a redhead without a dog to a blue-haired person with a dog. I occasionally like to shock my brain in such a way. Don’t be complacent, brain! Most recently, I dyed the front part purple for some more color, and I really like it!
In 2019, I read 70 books. In 2020, I read just 30 books. I had a really hard time concentrating on reading, and the time that I had previously reserved for reading (during my commute) was no longer a time that ever happened. Regardless, these are the few books I read this year. While I hope to continue to never commute in 2021, I do intend to find other moments to read.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. 4 Stars. First book of 2020! I picked up this book in the hopes that it would confirm or refute my theory that I’m an introvert. I think I’m an introvert?
The Family Upstairs, by Lisa Jewell. 3 stars. It was a fun afternoon read but nothing terrific.
A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea, by Masaji Ishikawa. 4 stars. One true and very depressing but well-told story.
Sunny Rolls the Dice, by Jennifer L Holm. 4 stars. This is a graphic novel I bought for Samir. As he gets older, his reading materials get more interesting. This was about a girl in the 1980s playing D&D with a bunch of guys. Some of us have already been there in real life!
As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner. 4 stars. There is something overly dramatic about reading this while in bed with the flu that I appreciate (note that this was read in January).
Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez. 4 stars. I was over being sick, so this wasn’t as dramatic, but I enjoyed the reverse murder mystery of it all.
The Witches: Salem 1692, by Stacy Schiff. 4 stars. This is a dense tome about the Salem Witch Trials, a period of history that has always held my interest.
Journey into the Whirlwind, by Evgenia Ginzburg. 4 stars. This is a nonfiction book about a woman’s life in Stalin’s Russian prisons and labor camps. Compelling and depressing.
Hex Wives, by Ben Blacker. 3 stars. A graphic novel about witches that is nowhere near as good as the new Sabrina.
Gardening Basics, Time-Life Books. 4 stars. Yes, I did read this from cover-to-cover and it was very helpful.
Fake Blood, by Whitney Gardner. 3 stars. My son got this graphic novel from the library. It looked interesting, but I can’t remember much, so I guess it was not all that interesting?
A People’s Tragedy: A History of the Russian Revolution, by Orlando Figes. 3 stars. Honestly, I cannot really remember what prompted me to borrow this from the library last February.
The Mechanical, by Ian Tregillis. 4 stars. I don’t read a lot of fantasy, but this was really great, and I’m reminded I want to read the next book in the series whenever the libraries in NYC reopen.
Graveyard Shakes, by Laura Terry. 3 stars. Another book my son got out from the library.
Compost, by Clare Foster. 3 stars. Can you tell I tried composting last year?
The Garden Organic Book of Compost, by Pauline Pears. 4 stars. I guess I liked this one a bit more.
The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understand the Cosmos, by Leonard Mlodinow. 5 stars. Super interesting book about human evolution. The last book I read on the subway.
Cat Among the Pigeons, by Agatha Christie. 3 stars. It had been awhile since I read a Christie. Always entertaining.
An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good, by Helene Tursten. 2 stars. I read this for a book club, but I didn’t like it.
The Plague, by Albert Camus. 4 stars. Because sometimes it’s best to lean into things? The plague in this book lasted only three months.
Pax, by Sara Pennypacker. 5 stars. My husband bought this book for my son, but a lot of very disturbing things happen right at the beginning and he refused to read further. I loved it, though.
Then She Was Gone, by Lisa Jewell. 3 stars. I read this for a book club and enjoyed it.
Piranesi, by Susanna Clark. 5 stars. I really enjoyed this book and was sad it was so short and thus over so soon.
Stealing Home, by Sherryl Woods. 1 star. I read this for a book club but it is absolutely not to my taste. Every character was awful.
Crooked House, by Agatha Christie. 3 stars. A fun afternoon read.
Tomboyland: Essays, by Melissa Faliveno. 4 stars. I usually don’t read books of essays but this was free for Pride Month and I really enjoyed it.
Out of the Silence: After the Crash, by Edwardo Strauch Urioste. 4 stars. For some reason, I’ve always had a mild obsession with the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed into the Andes in 1972. This book was actually really beautiful, especially when the author spoke of having a spiritual connection to the Andes.
Sapiens: A Graphic History: The Birth of Humankind, by David Vandermeulen. 5 stars. I got this for my son, but I think it’s above his head for a few more years. I want to buy the actual book as well.
I Want To Be Where the Normal People Are, by Rachel Bloom. 4 stars. An autobiography. I think I’ve read very few of those.
The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. 3 stars. I think I missed reading this in high school, so I thought I would give it a shot. That said, I didn’t love it.
It has been years since my Vampire in the City series was completed, but now I’ve finally started a new series! As you can see from my very beautiful cover art, the series is called Werewolves in the City, and the first book is Wolf Moon.
Also, to continue with the tooting of my own horn, I also designed the cover for this book (did I mention that I think it’s very beautiful?). Since I’ve been doing a lot of art lately, I had to confidence to make my own cover this time around.
Tomorrow, I will have to get back to work on final proofreading but for today I’m basking in my sense of accomplishment!
Like many others, I decided to try my hand at some new hobbies in 2020. I was always under the impression that I had no time for hobbies, but this year seems to have altered my perception of time and now I have a ton more hobbies.
In the spring, I started gardening and bird watching. In the winter, I am obviously not doing much gardening, but I have plans for next spring. I also started drawing, after wanting to do it all my life but convincing myself I would be no good at it so why even try. Now, I draw very often, and it become very therapeutic for me. (And if you like my drawings, feel free to follow me on Instagram @donna_photo_phylactery) However, I haven’t drawn much in the last month, as I was inspired to finish the first draft of a book I started a long time ago! This is very exciting but I still have a good month of editing, so I won’t talk about it that much.
These new hobbies got me to thinking about other stuff I have always wanted to try but put off until “later.” One of those things was learning to play the piano. I have no good reason not to play the piano, as we actually own a piano, and my older son has been taking lessons for about three years. I didn’t want to spend any money on hobbies, since I will never become a concert pianist, so I just use a piano app and the old piano books my son has long since graduated from.
Since all this was not enough, I decided to learn a language in a game-like setting. I have, in the distant past, taken four years of Spanish. I decided Spanish would be a good language to learn now, since I may remember a little, I live in NYC and a lot of people speak it, I very occasionally come across it at work, and maybe someday I’ll even get to travel to a Spanish-speaking country again. Uno puede soñar!
For the Minimizing Game Day 29, I went through a stack of magazines that have piled up over the last few years. I don’t subscribe to any magazines currently, but I did subscribe the The New Yorker a few years ago, so I had a bunch of those, plus some other magazines I seem to get for free sporadically without wanting them (usually Parents, Cooking Light, and maybe one by Rachel Ray). I don’t really have the time to read these, so I just pile them on a certain shelf. The pile was larger than 29, but I didn’t count, because I went through them all and tossed them as soon as I finished each one, a project that took the majority of two months.
My favorite season to go camping is fall, and we usually go every year. I personally don’t like the winter at all (although both my kids love snowboarding and cold weather–go figure!), so the fall is my last hurrah in the nice weather before spring.
We were thinking about not going this year, with the pandemic and also the confusion of flu season starting, but camping, with being around hardly anyone else, is pretty low-risk, so we decided to go.
We only traveled about an hour and a half north of NYC, but the area we stayed was very sparsely populated. Now is where I admit I use the term “camping” loosely. We stayed in an airB&B. There was no one else around, and it was very peaceful.
I’ve always wanted to go apple picking, but this is the first year we managed to do it. It was as fun as you would imagine picking apples to be (which is only slightly fun to be honest).
We also went hiking to this neat looking cave that had an opening on the top that let the sun in. There was apparently a waterfall in the back of the cave, but the water on the ground was too high at the time, so we couldn’t access it.
And that’s all for traveling until the spring, most likely! It was more than I thought I would be able to do this year!
With all the pandemic/work from home/no summer camps, I have been very late in writing about the things I’ve been doing to live more sustainably. But since this has been one of the weirdest summers in my life, I’ll give myself a pass and just do one for July/August combined.
Actually, this has been one I’ve been wanting to do for awhile, but I’ve been genuinely terrified. I am talking about a non-plastic, non-disposable safety razor. Have you seen one? They look a bit scary. No, I am not talking about a straight razor, which seems too dangerous for home use.
A safety razor is exactly this. That is the actual one that I bought and now use. So far, I have not murdered myself unintentionally with it. I ordered the razor when I realized I was on my last disposable razor blade, and it took me about two weeks after that to use it. Yes, I go a bit slower when shaving with it, but not crazy slow.
Some caveats: my body does not seem to grow body hair quickly or in abundance. Thus, I only shave a few times a month. If I had to do more, perhaps going slowing would annoy me more. Second, I realize I never go out or see anyone, so I could not shave at all if I didn’t want to.
The notion that women shouldn’t have body hair is obviously sexist. However, I also believe that any person, whether they identify as male or female or both or neither can do whatever they want to their own body, including shaving. And I really don’t like seeing body hair on myself, so when I see it, off it goes. And now with a non-plastic razor.
Way back 20 years ago in January, I thought I would be doing a lot of traveling this year and thought how it would be great to start using this blog to write about my travels, almost the digital equivalent of a scrap book. I had a bunch of trips lined up for 2020, and had actually paid for a trip in March to Seattle (didn’t get any money back on that one), a trip in April to Disney World (got a refund for the hotel and vouchers for everything else), a trip to a farm in June (got the entire refund), and a trip to Lake George in July. I got into a disagreement with the AirB&B host in April when I tried to cancel, and someone from AirB&B tried to intervene on my behalf, but I still couldn’t get any money back. When it came time for the trip, we decided to go. We brought our own stuff with us and wore masks in public expect for the four times we dined outside.
Was it the vacation I intended? No, absolutely not. I had been to Lake George when I was a child and literally the only thing I remembered was the House of Frankenstein Wax Museum. So of course I was very excited to take my own kids to a place that has haunted me for more than 35 years. Alas, even though it was open, it was all inside, so we did not go. We also arrived on a Monday, when our reservation was Sunday, in order to let the place air out for a bit.
Anyway, that’s the bad stuff. The good stuff is that I went for five days without cooking once! I had intended to cook, but the apartment had no pots and pans or utensils for cooking. (Later, I looked at the reviews and saw this was mentioned in a lot of them.) There was a refrigerator and microwave and coffee pot, so we ate granola bars and fruit for breakfast in the apartment, and then usually had lunch out and either picked up dinner to eat in the apartment, or had our lunch leftovers for dinner.
As far as activities, we went to a historic fort and got to hear them shoot a cannon, went in the motel pool, went to the beach, took the kids on a ropes course and zip line that they loved but nearly gave me a heart attack, and found a hiking trail so secluded that we only came across one other group in four hours of hiking (my favorite day).
So despite the fact that I have horrible insomnia when not in my own bed and one night only slept for two hours, I am glad we got away. The kids had a great time and a change of scenery was good for all of us. I probably would have preferred a cabin in the woods situation, especially at this time, but we are thinking we might do that in the fall.