Terse and to the point!

No zombies. No vampires. No angels. No self-help. No horror.



16 Tasks for the Festive Season --11




It is time for Hanukkah!

Square 8.

Eight Days

Eight photos 





The task is:  Light nine candles around the room (SAFELY) and post a picture. I know what the task says but unfortunately, it doesn't work that way around here. 


Third night:



 Second night:



First night:



Most households light just one hanukkiyah. We light one for each person in the family-- the two of us, our three children and, now this year, a 6th one for the new addition, our grandson. 

WooHoo!! Another Half Price Sale on Audible
A Hologram for the King - Dave Eggers, Dion Graham Thursday the Rabbi Walked Out: A Rabbi Small Mystery, Book 7 - Harry Kemelman, George Guidall The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics - Pete Larkin, John Pollack M. Butterfly - David Dukes, John Lithgow, David Henry Hwang, Tony Wong, Margaret Atwood, L.A. Theatre Works

My 2018 TBR is slowly but surely filling up thanks to all of the sales that Audible is having. Any time I can get a book for less than the cost of a credit, I consider it a good price. So, today I went through my wish-list picking off a few titles that appealed.



2018 TBR Continues to Grow
The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World - Grover Gardner, Randall E. Stross Meditations - Duncan Steen, Marcus Aurelius Tuesday the Rabbi Saw Red: A Rabbi Small Mystery, Book 5 - Harry Kemelman, George Guidall The Lighthouse Keeper - Kate Rudd, Cynthia Ellingsen The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Jeff Woodman, Mark Haddon Mrs. Pollifax, Innocent Tourist - Barbara Rosenblat, Dorothy Gilman Monday the Rabbi Took Off: A Rabbi Small Mystery, Book 4 - Harry Kemelman, George Guidall Amadeus - Peter Shaffer, L.A. Theatre Works Cosmos - Ann Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, LeVar Burton, Seth MacFarlane, Carl Sagan

WOW! I am going to have a lot of fun reading in January and February! Nine books here and a few more that I have already mentioned. Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! -- Well, except on the days we are traveling. 



16 Tasks for the Festive Season --4

Square 5


UPDATE:  Task complete. Grandson has arrived. Grandparents are over the moon with joy. Mother and baby doing well. 




Tasks for Advent: ...OR– “Advent” means “he is coming.” Tell us: What in the immediate or near future are you most looking forward to? (This can be a book release, or a tech gadget, or an event … whatever you next expect to make you really happy.)



My friends, this task is without a doubt a complete "NO BRAINER." 

Having finally reconciled myself to the fact that, after so many years of trying, there would be no grand-child, my daughter announced on Mother's Day that they were reaching the end of the first trimester and due at the beginning of December. We are busily preparing for the birth, scheduled for just two weeks from today. 





From the Audible Sale Pile
Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space - Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery - Henry Leyva, Sam Kean Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY and the Lost Story of 1970 - Sean Runnette, David Browne Redefining Reality:The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science - Steven Gimbel

I've been shopping the sales again and working up quite a TBR for January. 


2017 Books---- 188 and counting....
  1. Cottilion -- re-read
  2. The Corinthian -- re-read  [TIED LAST YEAR]
  3. The Convenient Marriage -- re-read
  4. Come to Grief -- re-read
  5. A Civil Contract -- re-read
  6. The Chequer Board --re-read 
  7. What the F -- re-read
  8. 1421 --re-read
  9. Write It When I'm Gone -- re-read
  10. The Thin Man -- re-read
  11. Sacred Treasure, the Cairo Genizah --re-read 
  12. The Masqueraders --re-read -- 
  13. Charity Girl -- re-read
  14. The Breaking Wave -- re-read
  15. Break In -- re-read
  16. Bolt -- re-read --
  17. Blood Sport -- re-read
  18. Black Sheep -- re-read 
  19. The Black Moth -- re-read
  20. Beyond the Black Stump  -- re-read
  21. Behold, Here's Poison -- re-read
  22. Bath Tangle -- re-read
  23. Banker -- re-read
  24. Arabella --re-read
  25. April Lady -- re-read
  26. A Man Called Ove -- re-read
  27. Murder on the Orient Express -- re-read 
  28. Tragedy of Z -- NEW69
  29. Sourdough -- NEW68
  30. The Year of the Hare -- NEW67
  31. Engines of Change -- re-read
  32. Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast News -- re-read
  33. They Do It with Mirrors --re-read
  34. Splendid Solution -- re-read
  35. The Secret Adversary -- re-read
  36. The Remains of the Day -- re-read
  37. Prisioners of Georgraphy -- NEW66  HISTORY15
  38. Hickory Dickory Dock -- re-read
  39. The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam -- re-read
  40. Magyk -- NEW65
  41. Safe Passage -- NEW64  HISTORY14
  42. Einstein -- re-read
  43. Drama -- re-read
  44. Packing for Mars -- NEW63 SCIENCE6
  45. Evans Above -- NEW62
  46. Death on the Nile -- re-read
  47. Alexander Hamilton --re-read
  48. And Then There Where None -- re-read
  49. The Sirens of Titan -- NEW61
  50. Secretariat -- NEW60 HISTORY13
  51. My Favorite Universe --NEW59  SCIENCE5
  52. American Ulysses -- NEW58  HISTORY12
  53. Gulp -- re-read [book club read]  SCIENCE4
  54. After the Funeral -- re-read
  55. Rocket Men -- re-read  HISTORY SCIENCE
  56. The Day of the Jackel --re-read
  57. 13 Things that Don't Make Sense -- NEW57 SCIENCE3
  58. The Stranger -- re-read 
  59. Murder Most Frothy -- NEW56
  60. 4:50 from Paddington --NEW55
  61. A Man of Some Repute -- NEW54
  62. Latte Trouble -- NEW53
  63. 10 Lb. Penalty --re-read
  64. Whip Hand -- re-read
  65. Venetia -- re-read
  66. The Unknown Ajax  -- re-read
  67. The Unfinished Clue -- re-read
  68. Twice Shy -- re-read
  69. Trustee From the Toolroom --re-read
  70. Trial Run -- re-read
  71. The Toll Gate --re-read
  72. To the Hilt -- re-read
  73. These Old Shades --re-read
  74. The Talisman Ring -- re-read
  75. Sylvester -- re-read
  76. Great Courses: The Mysterious Etruscans --NEW52 HISTORY11
  77. Great Courses: A Skeptic's Gide to American History --NEW51 HISTORY10
  78. Great Courses: Privacy, Property and Free Speech --NEW50
  79. Great Courses: History's Greatest Voyages of Exploration -- NEW49 HISTORY9
  80. Great Courses: An Economic History of the World Since 1400 --  NEW48 HISTORY8
  81. Persons of Interest -- NEW47
  82. The Portrait of Dorian Gray -- re-read
  83. Great Courses: Cycles of American Political Thought -- NEW46 HISTORY7
  84. The Invention of Nature --NEW45 SCIENCE 2
  85. Great Courses: Cultural Literacy for Religion NEW44
  86. Great Courses: Industrial Revolution NEW43 HISTORY6
  87. Sprig Muslin -- re-read
  88. So Disdained -- re-read
  89. Smokescreen --re-read
  90. Shattered --re-read
  91. Second Wind --re-read
  92. Ruined City -- re-read
  93. Round the Bend -- re-read
  94. Risk -- re-read -
  95. The Reluctant Widow -- re-read
  96. Regency Buck -- re-read
  97. Reflex -- re-read
  98. Rat Race -- re-read
  99. The Rainbow and the Rose -- re-read
  100. The Quiet Gentleman -- re-read
  101. Proof -- re-read
  102. Pastoral --re-read
  103. An Old Captivity -- re-read
  104. Odds Against - re-read
  105. The Nonesuch -- re-read
  106. No Highway --re-read
  107. Nerve -- re-read
  108. The Masqueraders -- re-read
  109. Longshot -- re-read
  110. The Lonely Road --re-read
  111. The Relic Master --42NEW
  112. Louder Than Words -- 41NEW
  113. Notorious RBG -- 40NEW HISTORY5
  114. Landfall -- re-read
  115. Lady of Quality -- re-read
  116. Starman Jones -- 39NEW
  117. The Secrets of Wishtide -- 38NEW
  118. Hidden Figures -- 37NEW HISTORY4
  119. Nothing to Fear -- 36NEW HISTORY3
  120. Bad News -- 35NEW
  121. Mrs. Fortescue Steps Out --34NEW
  122. Great Courses: American Ideals: Founding a 'Republic of Virtue' --33NEW HISTORY
  123. Anansi Boys -- 32NEW
  124. The Great Decision --31NEW HISTORY2
  125. What The F -- 30NEW
  126. The Crime at Black Dudley -- 29NEW
  127. Great Courses: The Illiad of Homer --28NEW
  128. Cairnaerie --27NEW
  129. In the Wet -- re-read
  130. In the Frame --re-read
  131. The Illiad & The Odyssey -- 26NEW  Bucket List
  132. Great Courses: The Odyssey of Homer  -- 25NEW
  133. Hot Money -- re-read
  134. High Stakes --re-read
  135. Spaceman --24NEW SCIENCE1 HISTORY
  136. Tess of the d'Urbervilles -- 23NEW
  137. Luck and Judgement -- 22NEW
  138. The Jungle Book --21NEW
  139. The Grand Sophy -- re-read
  140. Words on the Move -- 20NEW
  141. Frederica -- re-read
  142. Friday's Child --re-read
  143. Double Whammy -- re-read
  144. The Foundling -- re-read
  145. Flying Finish -- re-read
  146. The Spaceship Next Door --19NEW
  147. Great Courses: From Plato to Post-Modernism -- 18NEW
  148. Great Courses: English Grammar Boot Camp -- 17NEW
  149. Faro Daughter -- re-read
  150. The Far Country -- re-read
  151. False Colours -- re-read
  152. Even Money -- re-read
  153. Enquiry -- re-read
  154. Driving Force -- re-read
  155. Bloodline -- re-read
  156. Devil's Cub --re-read 
  157. The White Cottage Mystery -- 16NEW
  158. The Eyre Affair -- 15NEW
  159. On What Grounds -- 14NEW
  160. But for the Grace -- 13NEW
  161. Great Courses: The High Middle Ages 12NEW HISTORY
  162. Decider -- re-read
  163. Dead Heat --re-read
  164. Dead Cert --re-read
  165. The Danger --re-read
  166. Crossfire --re-read
  167. Cotillion --re-read
  168. The Corinthian -- re-read 
  169. The Readers of Broken-Wheel Recommend -- 11NEW
  170. Sunday the Rabbi Stayed Home -- 10NEW
  171. An Accidental Death --9NEW
  172. A Convenient Marriage --re-read
  173. Come to Grief -- re-read
  174. A Civil Contract -- re-read
  175. The Chequer Board -- re-read
  176. Charity Girl -- re-read
  177. The Breaking Wave --re-read
  178. Bret Farrar -- 9NEW
  179. Great Courses: Find Your Roots -- 8NEW
  180. Break In --re-read
  181. Great Courses: The Great Debate -- 7NEW HISTORY1
  182. Great Courses: 36 Books That Changed the World -- 6NEW
  183. Speaking American --5NEW
  184. You're Saying It Wrong --4NEW
  185. We are Legion (We are Bob) --3NEW
  186. Great Courses: English in America --2NEW
  187. Midnight Riot (aka A River in London) --1NEW
  188. Bolt -- re-read (continued from 2016)
Today's Daily Deal
Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat - Alison Larkin, Bee Wilson

I'm not even sure why I bought it exactly but it got good reviews, so I took the plunge. My 2018 pile of new reads is developing nicely.

16 Tasks for the Festive Season --10

Square 3: St. Martin's Day -- make a batch of gingerbread men,




Well, I don't make gingerbread men but I do make a mean ginger snap cookie and I whipped up a batch this afternoon for Thanksgiving dessert. Of course, I forgot all about this task until just now, so I don't have any pictures of the process and the finished produce is wrapped for the night, so proof of the pudding is going to have to wait until I can snap a picture of them.  In the meantime, here is the recipe (from Irma Rombauer's Joy of Cooking)


Recipe notes. Bake for 18-20 min at 325°F. I don't grease the pan. I do not put marshmallow or icing on them--the don't need the extra sugar.  (For those in the US, I get my spices from Penzey's; their freshness makes a real difference.)


16 Tasks for the Festive Season --3

I finally sat down with the complete list and marked off the tasks that were in my bailiwick. Here is my next contribution, for Square 4.




Post your favourite turkey-day recipe:


Here are two recipes that have been on our Thanksgiving table for the past 50 years. Mom worked, so she found recipes that she could make ahead and freeze.



Both are cooked in 2-qt casserole dishes (that go from freezer-to oven (after defrosting!) to table).



Mrs. Breit's Rice Casserle


1- large yellow onion—diced

2/3-- stick of butter

1 -- large can of mushroom stems and pieces (drained)

2 cups -- Uncle Ben's converted rice (not instant rice)

3 1/3 – boiling water with 2T Chicken Bouillon granules or 6 cubes (taste test to make sure that it strong enough)



Pre-heat oven 350°. In a large frying pan, saute the diced onion in the butter until golden. Add the rice and stir until it is coated. Add the mushrooms and stir. Scrape rice and mushrooms into the casserole and add the bouillon.


Cover and bake for 1 hour.

Cool before freezing (I like to stir it up before I freeze it because sometimes the mushrooms float up to the top) . To re-heat, defrost completely (1-2 days in the fridge, take out morning of to finish defrosting), add ¼ cup water, cover and bake for 1 hour at 350°.


(Serves 6 people per cup of rice but for Turkey-day, with all the other starches on the table, 2 cups serves 20 people). (To clean the casserole, fill it with water and vinegar and let it stand over night).



Sweet Potato Puff



(Prepared in a food processor)


1 large can plus one small can of Bruce's Yams –drained

1 small can crushed pineapple with the juice (I use the unsweeten packed in its own juice)

dash of salt

orange juice



Process the yams in a food processor until very, very smooth. Transfer to a big bowl. Add the crushed pineapple and dash or two of salt. Stir well. Add orange juice (start with ¼ cup, you don't want it too liquid-y, just “nice and smooth.”)


Place in the casserole, smooth the top and cover with marshmallows ( if you are using the big ones, allow some space between them and make sure that they are below the rim of the casserole as the marshmallows will puff.)


Cover to freeze. Defrost 1-2 days in the fridge. Take out morning of to finish defrosting. Bake uncovered at for 1 hour at 350° having placed the casserole on something to catch the marshmallow overflow (hard to clean burned sugar out of the oven).




Update! Just finished his and her sweet potato puffs--although without the marshmallows, there is no "puff."  




16 Tasks for the Festive Season --9
1421: The Year China Discovered America (Audio) - Gavin Menzies

Square 2: Book themes for Bon Om Touk: Read a book that takes place on the sea, near the sea, or on a lake or a river...


I love this book!!


In 1421, just before a period in their history of isolationism, the Chinese treasure fleet circumnavigated the globe, carefully mapping their progress. Shortly after their return, the emperor had the archives expunged of the now 'unnecessary' information that the fleet had gleaned. 



1421 is Gavin Menzies attempt to prove that the Chinese had already beaten Columbus and Magellan to the punch --and that in fact, they had used maps that were based on what the Chinese had found out. The tale of how he went about his painstaking research is interwined with what he has learned, and continues to learn, and both are absolutely fascinating. 



16 Tasks for the Festive Season --8
The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett, William Dufris

Square 1: Dia de los Muertos

A book that has a primarily black and white cover













 Do I get extra points because it is a murder mystery?

Next in the re-read parade...
Sacred Treasure, the Cairo Genizah: The Amazing Discoveries of Forgotten Jewish History in an Egyptian Synagogue Attic - Marc S. Glickman

From now until January, it is all re-reads. My mind is just not up for processing new material. Besides which, I'm saving the new stuff for 2018.


For the next day or two, I will be immersed in the story of the discovery of the Cairo Genizah, its signficance, its value to scholarship, the problems faced (by librarians and the scholarly community) in cataloging and preserving what was in the genizah. Over one hundred years after the discovery of this trove of documents and books, scholars have barely begun to plumb its depths. 






I'm also adding this as ONE of my Hanukkah tasks for Square 8. The rest will have to wait for later. 


16 Tasks for the Festive Season --6

Square 12 --Book themes for Saturnalia:  OR– a book with a mask or masks on the cover. –OR– a story where roles are reversed.


This is one of my favorite Georgette Heyer books. Of course, the whole premise is silly but GH pulls it off with such eclat and they all live happily ever after. A delightful romp, especially if you don't take it seriously in the least. 


16 Tasks for the Festive Season --5






Here's to International Human Rights Day !!!!   


Cook a dish from a foreign culture


Once a year or so, I cook a paella, a Spanish dish. I would do it once a month if it I didn't gain weight just looking at a box of Uncle Ben's!! 





Please excuse that fact that this is an old picture but I don't remember if I got a picture of this year's adventure and this one was already up on a server that I could link to.


And please excuse this avalanche of posts but I am trying to get as many of these done while I have the time to do them--although a couple of them will have to wait until later because named tasks actually coincide with things that I have on the docket already for December -- like baking ginger snaps (which is as close to gingerbread men as I get).


Found on Facebook

16 Tasks for the Festive Season--2
The Breaking Wave - Nevil Shute

Posting task 2-- Square 3


Book themes for Veteran’s Day/Armistice Day: Read a book involving veterans of any war, books about WWI or WWII (fiction or non-fiction). 


A WWII story of a WREN ordinance officer and two Australian brothers, one a pilot and the other a frogman, in the lead up to the Normandy Invasion. 


Oddly enough, this book also counts for the Penance Day read in Square 4: ...where someone is struggling with feelings of guilt or with their conscience (regardless over what).