Book Review: My Irish Table

Screen shot 2014-07-21 at 4.53.24 PMOkay, you guys should know by now that I have a deep, intense love for cookbooks and for food. I also have Celtic roots. What better way to combine the two than with a cookbook by an Irish chef?

This book is about so much more than the recipes. In fact, my very favorite part of the book was the first section. It contains Armstrong’s (the chef’s) backstory and some really interesting little tidbits – Julia Child included, y’all. The photography is also beautiful. And maybe this is only me, because I’m a writer working with print publications, but the quality of the printed book is really, really high. I would definitely buy this book in print over an ebook. It’s just gorgeous to look at.

The recipes themselves are super interesting. I didn’t have a very good concept of what Irish food was (you know, outside of the potatoes). I feel much more educated now. There are some really, really delectable-looking recipes for special occasions, such as Easter and Christmas. However, I need to say that the majority of the recipes are quite complicated. Definitely not an everyday cookbook, but I think that once the holidays roll around again, I’ll be whipping up something from My Irish Table.

I selected a brussels sprouts recipe to try. It was amazing and delicious, because, duh, bacon. My photo doesn’t do it justice, but here it is anyway:

Photo Jul 13, 7 10 30 PM

Anyone out there an Irish cook? What sorts of food do you make for your everyday fare?

Note: I received My Irish Table from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. If you’re a blogger, check them out!

A Peek at My Running Gear

I’m 4 months + 1 day away from my half marathon! Thanks, readers, for the tips and words of encouragement you’ve offered me since I’ve opened up about my training. Now it’s my turn to give back! When I began running, I know one of the most intimating things for me was the wide array of running gear available. Now that I’ve been training for a couple of months, I have some preferences down. Here’s what I currently run with:

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Mid-Mod Masterpiece Update: The Master Bedroom & Bathroom

Dear readers. I have been avoiding the mid-mod updates a little bit because many of the remainder of the rooms have a lot of work to be done. I know, hypocritical since I keep going on rants about not hiding my mess and pretending like everything is perfect. So for this update, I decided to take a plunge and show you the most personal part of my home: the master suite. Heads-up: the bathroom is a hot mess.

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Vacation.

Last month, A and I went to San Diego. Sigh. Do any of you have places that are not your home, but you feel like they should be? Or places where a little piece of your heart is always living? That’s what San Diego is for me.

We stayed a bit north of San Diego, right on the beach, and used public transport to go into the city. We had an excellent time. Here’s a bit of photographic evidence:

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Training Notes.

Hello, dear readers! I’ve just returned from an absolutely fabulous vacation with a pretty epic ending, which I plan on writing about soon. I also haven’t forgotten about my Mid-Mod update posts. But today, I wanted to drop in and give an update on my half-marathon training!

Just like last time, I’m going to list my runs first, but I’ll start the numbering where the last post left off, in case you’re following along:

  1. 1.9 mile in 20:06
  2. 1.95 miles in 20:59
  3. 1.97 miles in 20:40
  4. 2 miles in 22:49
  5. 3 miles in 35:06
  6. 2 miles in 20:44
  7. 2 miles in 21:22
  8. 3 miles in 33:46
  9. 2 miles in 22:08
  10. 15 minute interval training: 1 minute sprints, 1 minute walks/slow jogs
  11. 2 miles in 22:01
  12. 3.5 miles in 38:44
  13. 2 miles in 20:44

I’m getting faster, and running longer! I feel like I’ve moved from the “I’m just trying to get back into the swing of running” stage to the “I’m actually training for a half marathon” stage. It’s both exciting and terrifying. I’m scheduled to run 4 miles tomorrow. Eeek!

Some lessons I’ve learned during my training so far:

It’s not actually that hard to get up and run in the morning. You feel soooo much more accomplished on the days you run than on the days you didn’t. I doesn’t matter what else you get done those days; at least you ran!

Don’t eat or drink coffee right after you run. Just don’t.

Vacation running is awesome. I ran my 3.5 mile run on the beach. Puh-leaze can I go back?!

Interval training is the best/worst. I’m going to try to do it every week. You’d think it’d be ok, because it’s just a quick 15 minutes, but by the last sprint, I was really glad I was running so early in the morning because I was making some really questionable noises. But I got faster in my longer runs!

Just take it one step at a time. Positive self-talk, focusing on form, and just keeping one foot in front of the other goes a long way toward keeping you in a run that’s proving difficult. It sounds cliche, but it’s true!

Hey runners: any half-marathon training tips? Should I get fitted for running shoes or forego that cost?

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls

Before I jump in to the review, I just want to take a quick second to brag: It’s my two year blog-o-versary! Thank you to everyone who reads! If you want to see my most-read posts, definitely start out with my Black Friday post, which was Freshly Pressed, then look at this one and this one.

Now on to the review:

Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls

Source: Goodreads

I recently finished Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. I know, I know. I’m a late David Sedaris bandwaggoner, but I had attempted to read Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim several times and just couldn’t get on board. I’m so happy I gave Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls a shot, though, because it did not disappoint.

The book contains several essays that are hilarious, zany, inexplicable, and sad. My favorite essay is about a taxidermy shop where Sedaris considers buying a murdered pygmay’s skeleton. Yeah. Let that sink in a minute.

While that essay is probably the most off the wall in the book, it does illustrate the thing I liked best about Sedaris: he is undeniably, unapologetically, quirky. You know those weird habits you have when you’re alone in your house, that you’d never admit to anyone else? Sedaris specializes in writing about stuff like that. It’s almost like the more weird the stories got, the more I identified with him. I love that in a writer.

He also loves satire, which I was on board with, but I must say that the thicker he laid on the the sarcasm, the less I liked the story. The last bit of the book is also more fictional, and Sedaris takes on other characters. I thought this was a bit confusing at first, and I have to admit I liked the first chunk of the book much better. Sedaris is at his best, in my opinion, when he’s being heartfelt.

In all, I would recommend this book to almost anyone. It’s hilarious most of the way through, and I finally overcame my David Sedaris block and had a lot of fun. What more can you ask for in a book?

Have you read any good books lately? Any plans for good summer reading? Any suggestions for what I should write about in my third year of blogging?