2023 and My Intentional Gluten Free Year

After last year’s whirlwind of reading, I found that I really missed blogging and connecting with all of you. I wanted to blog, but just didn’t have the time to do it. And when I was able to sit down and visit your virtual world my comments were being rejected so some of you never even knew I was there. And…I didn’t have time to figure out how to fix it. And I spent to much time on Instagram. I love taking photos for IG, but I don’t feel the same connection there as I do with my fellow bloggers. I miss the long form, intentional connection.

Just as I missed intentional connections I missed intentional reading. Too many books that I chose were fast reads or once read were too easily moved on from. So, I’m going to take a deep breath between books and I started a book journal with my first book of the year. I’m only writing quotes that touch me in some way, but just the pausing has been satisfying. And in the spirit of that I’d love to get back to writing about all the books I read. I’m not going to make that a hard and fast rule, because I’m trying to take any reading pressure off of myself this year to focus on my big goal. To that end, I set my Goodreads reading goal at an easily achievable 105. In my pre-homeschooling days this would have been a stretch, but not so much now.

I’ve started my reading year with On Tyranny Graphic Edition: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century and am LOVING it! Exactly the kind of book I wanted to start my year with. And to start off the year with a winning hand in my one big resolution I also started The Ultimate Soup Cleanse, which is more than just recipes and a great read for winter.

I discovered a few years ago that when I ate too much gluten I felt terrible and it causes bloating. But I LOVE bread and pizza and fast food, and…the list is quite long. Gage is already gluten free, so this is the year I’ve decided to make it my goal to get through 2023 without gluten. I admit that I’ve gone without gluten for short periods in the past, but old habits are hard to break and I’ve never been able to maintain it long term. Hopefully, this will be the year I change that! Any other gluten avoiders out there?

I’m wishing you all a fantastic 2023 and hope to see you around here more often!

2022 Reading Stats & Reflection

What a reading year I’ve had! 417 books is my best year yet, quantitywise. I’m not sure about quality because I was reading so much and, you know, raising and teaching a kid and carving out time for a husband, and volunteering 🙂 I rolled over my book a day challenge from 2021 and made it until April 15 and also was a first round judge for the Cybils Awards and both of those things made this total high.

For the first time since I started blogging, I’m not choosing a top 10 for books or movies. I just don’t have it in me. I’m burned out. I did post my 5 star reads and that will have to suffice. I did do some statting (honestly, I’m making everything a verb these days, so why not?) and here’s what I found…

Books read 417

Publication year most read 2022 with 168 titles

Oldest Book Anatole & the Cat by Eve Titus (1957)

Non-fiction 286, Fiction 131

Top visited countries France (17), Canada (12), Australia (10)

Fave Covers

Continued series 9

New series 10

Trilogy read 1 (Darkness Rising by Kelley Armstrong)

Longest book Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught (708 pages)

Most read author Lemony Snicket with 9. Gage and I ready to start book 10 of the Series of Unfortunate Events books next week.

Favorite Books (Elementary Picture Books) (Middle School-YA) (Adult)

Okay, tell me your FAVORITE book of the year in the comments and I’ll add it to my 2023 reading list!

This Week- Covid and Christmas

On December 1, Gage started his yearly advent book tree. Luckily I had finished it a few days early because on that afternoon I started to feel awful and spend the next few days fighting fever and headache thinking I had the flu. I tested negative for covid that first night, but by December 4th I tested positive and the next day Gage fell ill too. So, I spent a week and a half isolated upstairs with Gage while the healthy man in the house was at our beck and call. I didn’t feel normalish until day 8 and it was about the same for Gage.

So, now we’re getting all of our decorating and shopping done a little late and we’re looking at a laid back season this year.

Cybils Awards I’ve been reading like a madwoman for the first round of Cybils judging. I’ve been a finalist judge the last few years, so the sheer number of books for the first round has been daunting. I’ve read 156 nonfiction elementary, middle, and high school titles. It’s been crazy. There are nine judges for this panel and we’ve met four times over Zoom to discuss the books and narrow down the finalists. We’re thisclose to finishing. For any of you considering applying next year, I recommend doing it, but be prepared for the time committment. I’ve had fun being a part of the process.

Posts this week

Birding Basics

Food Journeys with a Side of Covid

Plans for the week Gage has tutoring and a few online classes this week, but we’re not doing anything extra, so I’m counting them as half days. But that does give me a change to start my end of the year lists and I’m so excited. I’ve read 399 books so far and doing stats and choosing favorites is a happy place for me. I’m still in the middle of about six books so that number will go up.

Are you a stats person? Do you like doing yearly favorites lists?

Birding Basics (and how to thwart those pesky squirrels)

Birding Basics: Tips, Tools & Techniques for Great Bird-Watching by Noah Strycker. 5 stars. 256 pages, pub. 2022

Targeted to beginners and beyond, National Geographic’s fun, inspiring guide to the art, craft, and science of bird-watching combines practical know-how and expert knowledge. Browsable and bursting with helpful illustrations and photographs, Birding Basics offers new ideas for when, where, and how to get to know the birds in your world.

Not a field guide but a primer in best practices, authored by birding expert Noah Strycker, this breezy book features easy-to-follow advice on what to look and listen for, how to use field guides and birding apps, the best equipment to start with, and ways to engage with other birders around the world. Filled with fun facts and seasoned advice, this useful book will help you attract birds to your backyard, master bird identification, name a bird by its song, and witness the magic of migration. Sidebars feature fun facts, identification tips, and easy projects for exploring the world on the wing. from Goodreads

Gage and I have become a little obsessed with our backyard birds in the last few years and this book is going to help us take it to the next level. This book is full of gorgeous photos and information to turn you from a bird-watcher to a birder or bird nerd. It recommends field guides and how to use them. I’ve already downloaded the two recommended apps (Merlin & eBird) and have several websites marked to visit. The middle section where it talks about how to track and identify the birds you see was so helpful.

Even though there are over 10,000 species of birds, only around 700 are found in North America. Gage and I have been using a midwest bird guide for our backyard birds, but we’ll definitely talk about the different ways to track what we see and buy a more comprehensive guide for when we travel. I’m excited to make this part of our homeschool curriculum.

A few quick tips: when birding don’t point and don’t wear white. If you want to keep the squirrels out of your feeder sprinkle the food with chili powder. Birds don’t taste the spice, but the squirrels do.

I can’t recommend this enough for bird enthusiasts.

I want to thank TLC Book Tours for inviting me to be part of the book tour and sending me a copy of the book!

Food Journeys with a side of Covid

Well, covid finally showed up at our house and it hasn’t been great. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I spent 2-3 days in bed with a fever before transitioning into different yuckiness for about 9 full days. I finally tested negative on day 10. Gage joined me in isolation on day 4 and he’s pretty much run the same schedule, but he’s had chest discomfort. He’s on day 9. He’s bummed that he’s missing his last art class today and his last nature class tomorrow, but the doctor said he shouldn’t go even if he tests negative. Jason managed to not get it. Covid has really put the Christmas cheer and shopping in jeopardy this year.

Needless to say, I’m behind on a few reviews, so let’s get to the first one. I LOVED this one.

Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe, second edition, by National Geographic, 320 pages, 2022

Few experiences are as satisfying as a chance to explore the world through food. Compiled from the expert travel writers at National Geographic, Food Journeys of a Lifetime scours the globe for the world’s best dishes, markets, and restaurants that are worth traveling far and wide to savor.
In this fully revised and updated edition, find the best of the best, including:

Tokyo’s famed fish market and its 226 Michelin-starred restaurants–the most of any city in the world
The ultimate Philly cheesesteak from the city of brotherly love
The perfect cup of tea in China
The spice markets of Marrakech
The juiciest cuts of beef in Argentina
The freshest pasta in Italy
And the ultimate Swiss wine route
Featuring more than 60 new bites and destinations, this book is the key to building a foodie traveler’s ultimate bucket list. Within the flavors and tastes of every cuisine, you’ll find unique stories about the places, cultures, climates, and chefs that produce these extraordinary dishes. A wide selection of recipes invite you to try new cooking techniques and obtain flavors from abroad at home; top 10 lists offer side trips from chocolate factories to champagne bars.

Filled with a dazzling array of diverse recommendations, each page of this inspiring book will make your mouth water–and spur your next gourmet vacation. from Goodreads

If you are looking for the perfect gift for the foodie and or traveler in your life, look no further (Amazon can have it delivered to your door by Friday!). It’s a beautiful book to have on your coffee table or in your kitchen. When I was sent the book, I was expecting restaurants in different countries and while it has that, it’s so much more. It’s full of all of the wonderful things you’d expect from National Geographic. Gorgeous photos, exotic locales, and the details to bring the food alive.

It has lots of Top 10 lists, like Top 10 Places to Catch Your Supper and Top 10 Unusual Food and Drink Festivals. If you want to live vicariously there’s even a list for Bank-Breaking Cocktail Bars. Anyone want to join me in Northern Ireland for $105 Singapore Sling at the Merchant Hotel? All of my fellow Clevelanders will be happy to know that Heinan’s downtown made it on the 10 Historic Food Shops list!

The categories range from Great Food Towns to Specialties & Ingredients and you visit so many gorgeous places. We are planning a trip overseas next year and you can be sure that I’ll be using this for the planning. It also has lots of American mentions so I guess I should check it for our next road trip too.

There are so many sections with phot spreads and so many lists. I’m pretty sure we’ll be reading this for months to come. Honestly, this is on of my favorites from National Geographic.

I want to thank TLC Book Tours for sending me the book!

The Rise of the Black Quarterback: What It Means for America by Jason Reid

The Rise of the Black Quarterback by Jason Reid, sports history, 4.25 stars, 282 pages, 2022

As a football fan, I was so excited when Trish asked if I’d like to be part of this book tour. I’m a Buckeye and I think it goes without saying that attending Ohio State means that you are going to be bombarded with football in the fall. Now that I live in Cleveland the Bucks help make watching the Browns more bearable.

If you’re thinking you have to like football to like this book you’d be mostly right. This is a book about the start of the NFL and other professional football leagues as they got started in the early 1900s and about the black players, but you can’t tell that story without talking about that period of time. I found the first half of the book just as interesting historically as anything else. Reid does an exceptional job of painting a portrait of the men. I really felt like I knew these men who broke barriers, like Fritz Pollard.

Even though I’m not completely naive to the the history of racism in the US and how it still rears its ugly head, I was surprised to see the barriers put up for black quarterbacks, like a 13 year period when some unspoken rule kept them from the NFL. But even after this ‘ban’ lifted so many great black athletes were passed over and the ones who weren’t faced so much backlash from fans. Warren Moon, the only black quarterback in the NFL Hall of Fame, was booed by his own college fans for years, before leaving to play in the Canadian league. He had to win up there for 6 years before an NFL team was willing to bring him home. This was the early 1980s. And the hate mail and death threats around that time period for many of the men were still shocking to me and I’m an 80’s kid!

There’s so much more here, but I can’t tell all of the stories! I am so glad I read it. Reid did a skillful job of telling the stories of the past and tying them to the current day NFL and it’s crop of black quarterbacks. He brings it full circle. I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Chicago Bears Justin Fields who is having a standout season after only two years removed from THE Ohio State University 🙂

“In September 2019, ESPN’s The Undefeated website (now Andscape) began a season-long series of articles on the emergence of Black quarterbacks in the NFL. The first article in the series was Jason Reid’s enormously popular, “Welcome to the Year of the Black Quarterback.” The series culminated with an hour-long television program in February 2020, hosted by Reid himself. The Rise of the Black Quarterback: What It Means for America will expand on Reid’s piece—as well as the entire series—and chronicle the shameful history of the treatment of Black players in the NFL and the breakout careers of a thrilling new generation of Black quarterbacks. Intimate portraits of Colin Kaepernick, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Kyler Murray feature prominently in the book, as well as the careers and legacy of beloved NFL players such as Doug Williams and trailblazing pioneers Marlin Briscoe and Eldridge Dickey. Reid delves deeply into the culture war ignited by Kaepernick’s peaceful protest that shone a light on systemic oppression and police brutality. Fascinating and timely, this page-turning account will rivet fans of sports, cultural commentary, and Black history in America.” from Goodreads.

I want to thank TLC Book Tours for sending me the book!

This Week – Vampires, Michael Jackson and Very Tired Eyes

That’s my vampire and his friend Michael Jackson trick or treating on a beautiful Sunday night. As has happened the last three years, our street set up outside before the city trick or treating began to spoil the kids. Gage turned 12 a few weeks ago (So hard to believe. I’m still in denial) so I wonder how many more years we have left for this duo.

What I’ve read this week

I’ve been reading for Cybils judging, my first time being a first round judge, and it’s no joke! I’ve read 81 books in the last month or so, with 98 more to go this month. And I’m reading books with Gage for homeschool. No idea how long it will take for my eyes to recover, lol.

I posted about my favorite October reads here, but I’ll post about my Cybils reading after the judging is over.

On the screen

Jason and I watched Enola Holmes 2 on Netflix last night and it was fun to see the cast back on screen.

Plans for the week

I’m working at the midterms on Tuesday. Please be extra kind to your poll workers 🙂