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Friday, February 08, 2019

Reading My Way Through 2019

I'm a bit of a compulsive reader, and I have been since forever. I was that girl who spent nearly every penny of her (meager) allowance and (likewise meager) birthday money on books. And it was the seventies and eighties, so reading was most decidely not cool.

This year I'm returning to logging my books, because I was a total slacker last year. For the most part, I have absolutely no idea what I read. I'm also going to track my audiobooks, because I've developed a bit of an audiobook addiction, too. (You'll see!) So here we go!

January 2019

Books read
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
Art Journal Workshop by Tracie Bunker

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (Pink Carnation #1) by Lauren Willig
The Masque of the Black Tulip (Pink Carnation #2) by Lauren Willig
The Deception of the Emerald Ring (Pink Carnation #3) by Lauren Willig
The Seduction of the Crimson Rose (Pink Carnation #4) by Lauren Willig
The Temptation of the Night Jasmine (Pink Carnation #5) by Lauren Willig
The Betrayal of the Blood Lily (Pink Carnation #6) by Lauren Willig
The Mischief of the Mistletoe (Pink Carnation #7) by Lauren Willig
The Orchid Affair (Pink Carnation #8) by Lauren Willig
The Garden Intrigue (Pink Carnation #9) by Lauren Willig
The Passion of the Purple Plumeria (Pink Carnation #10) by Lauren Willig
The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla (Pink Carnation #11) by Lauren Willig
The Lure of the Moonflower (Pink Carnation #12) by Lauren Willig
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
Not Alone by Craig A. Falconer
The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
Undone by Karin Slaughter
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues & the Heroes who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright
Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn
West Cork by Jennifer Forde and Sam Bungey

February 2019
Books Read


Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris
Emma by Jane Austen

In Progress

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brönte
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
Making Habits, Breaking Habits (audio) by Jeremy Dean
Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir by

In the Queue

Bridge to Terebithia
Heart of the Artist by
Nightborn by Lou Anders

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge Accepted

Back in mid-July, I discovered the Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge. I was intrigued by the variety it offered, so I decided to plunge in. For convenience, I decided that any book I had read that month or which I read for the rest of the year was eligible.

A lot of people complain that fifty-two books – one a week, on average – is too many. (There are fifty entries, but one entry is "a trilogy," bringing the total to fifty-two.) But I routinely read over a hundred books in a year, so I figured I could do it. More than half a year, less than half my usual total.

Without further ado, the list . . .

Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge

A book with more than 500 pages
Tower Lord (Raven’s Shadow #2) by Anthony Ryan (11/2015)

A classic romance

A book that became a movie
On the Beach by Nevil Shute (06/2015)

A book published this year
Shadows of Self (Mistborn) by Brandon Sanderson (10/2015)

A book with a number in the title
The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan (12/2015)

A book written by somebody under 30
Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth

A book with nonhuman characters
Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman (08/15)

A funny book
Raising Steam (Discworld #41) by Terry Pratchett (08/15)

A book by a female author
The Mischief of the Mistletoe (Pink Carnation #7) by Lauren Willig (11/2015)

A mystery or thriller
On What Grounds

A book with a one-word title
Sick by Brett Battles (audio) (12/2015)

A book of short stories

A book set in a different country
Sold by Patricia McCormick (09/2015)
Set in Nepal and India

A nonfiction book
Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs by Rosemary Gladstar

A popular author's first book
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice (06/2015)

A book from an author you love that you haven't read yet
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (06/2015)

A book a friend recommended
The Art of Fermentation

A Pulitzer Prize-winning book
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (09/15)

A book based on a true story
Desperate Passage by Ethan Rarick (10/2015)

A book at the bottom of your to-read list

A book your mom loves

A book that scares you
The Tommyknockers by Stephen King

A book more than 100 years old

A book based entirely on its cover
Whole Body Barefoot by Katy Bowman (12/2015)

A book you were supposed to read in school but didn't
Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup (12/2015)

A memoir
A Long Way Home (07/2015)

A book you can finish in a day
Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress by Shelley Mazzanoble (08/15)

A book with antonyms in the title
Live Free or Die (Troy Rising #1) by John Ringo (07/2015)

A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

A book that came out the year you were born
Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry (11/2015)

A book with bad reviews
Twilight by Stefanie Meyers (10/2015)

A trilogy
Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
Mistborn: Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
Mistborn: Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

A book from your childhood

A book with a love triangle
Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins (07/2015)

A book set in the future
The Hunger Games (Hunger Games #1) by Suzanne Collins

A book set in high school
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (11/2015)

A book with a color in the title
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (Pink Carnation #1) by Lauren Willig

A book that made you cry
Mockingjay (Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins (07/2015)

A book with magic
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (11/2015)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (12/2015)

A graphic novel

A book by an author you've never read before
Frostborn (Frostborn #1) by Lee Anders (in progress)

A book you own but have never read
Grave Peril (Temperance Brennan #6) by Kathy Reichs (audio)

A book that takes place in your hometown

A book that was originally written in a different language 

A book set during Christmas
An Undead Christmas

A book written by an author with your same initials
Foundling (Monster Blood Tattoo #1) by D.M. Cornish (in progress)

A play
Hamlet by William Shakespeare

A banned book

A book based on or turned into a TV show
Dead and Gone (Southern Vamp #9) by Charlene Harris (10/2015)

A book you started but never finished
The Ragamuffin Gospel by Rich Mullins

Unassigned Books 

The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sara Gottfried (11/2015)
The Alloy of Law (Mistborn) by Brandon Sanderson (09/2015)

*I never, ever shirked a reading assignment in high school or college; in fact, I always went above and beyond. For this entry, I chose a book that I should have read in high school but didn't. Fortunately, it's starting to pop up on high school reading lists.

† I don't know if this one "scares" me, but it certainly gives me the creeps!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A More Indian Masala Chai

atea masala spice blend: cloves, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice
I've written before about my love of masala chai. I've been completely addicted for nearly fifteen years! For most of that time, I've been using basically the same recipe, the one I adapted from The New Guide to Spices.

But in November 2011, I had the privilege of visiting India with a nonprofit group. I had chai twice a day—more if someone in one of the villages made us some! And let me tell you, it puts the bagged stuff to shame; even my homemade masala chai was kind of sad by comparison!

I spent my first two days home trying to return to Eastern Daylight Time, but after that I began a quest. I was going to make masala chai that wouldn't put me to shame if served to my Indian friends! I read recipe after recipe, watched a few videos, and finally concluded that I was doing it all wrong.

In India, every family has its own way of making "masala tea". In many cases, they don't brew tea with spices and then add some milk at the end. I discovered my favorite Indian masala chai is made with a mixture of milk and water, with the tea added for the last few minutes. Traditionally, the ground spice blend is added to the liquid and heated until the milk begins to steam. THEN you add the tea, turn the heat to low, and allow it to steep.

In the end, I'm quite happy with my recipe. It's not perfect, and I certainly can't call it "authentic," but the taste really says "India." Plus, it sure makes my husband happy!

Tea Masala Spice Blend
All measurements by volume
  • 3 parts ground cinnamon
  • 3 parts ground cardamom
  • 2 parts ground ginger
  • 1 part grated nutmeg
  • 1 part ground allspice
  • 1 part ground cloves

Light and heat cause spices to degrade in flavor and quality! Store tightly sealed in a dark, cool place.

Masala Chai
Serves 2
  • 1.5 cups milk*
  • 1.5 cups water
  • .75 tsp tea masala blend
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp loose black tea*

Combine milk, water, and spices in a saucepan.
Heat on medium high until small bubbles form around the edges.
Turn the heat to low.
Add sugar and tea; stir well.
Cover and allow to steep for six minutes.
Strain and serve.

*A few notes on ingredients . . .
I use whole milk. Until my husband tried non-homogenized whole milk, he never liked milk. Now he does! Plus, I think the chai tastes much closer to what I had in India—creamier and richer.

As for the tea, masala chai needs something flavorful. My favorite is Taj Mahal from Brooke Bond, which was recommended to me by my interpreter and the grocery store owner in Kakinada, India. Some of my Indian friends from church prefer Lipton Yellow Label. I have some at home right now (the international supermarket and both Indian grocery stores near me were out!), and it's good, too. But even grocery store loose black tea (or a good bagged tea) is better than pre-bagged chai, or (heaven forbid!) chai from packaged concentrate.