Thursday, December 17, 2015

Tis the season for Cookies and Books!

  Hello there, everyone! 
Just for fun, I thought I'd share my recent artsy cookie baking endeavors.  A week ago, I made and decorated these Hanukkah cookies below, for a Temple book club Hanukkah party.  (More about the book club and books in a little bit.)
Then, this week I baked my annual batch of gingerbread cookies, using my husband's family recipe.  I'm not a huge fan of gingerbread, but I do like making these every year.  (Though it took me way too long this year.  Maybe it's because I really don't know anything about cookie-decorating; I just make it up as I go along and hope it works.)  Anyhow, I made a wonderful big mess in the process, and I hope you like the results!   
So about the book club...  I'm actually in TWO book clubs; I've been in one for about 20 years, and joined the Temple group after I retired.  So I've read lots of books I might never have discovered or chosen on my own - some I've liked, and some... not so much.  And I've met some terrific women through both groups.  Both book clubs take a little reading hiatus in December, opting for food instead of books, and also take a meeting break in the summer.  I use that time to read books waiting by my bed that I've picked up along the way.  (Yup, I actually read actual books!  There's something tactile about books that I love.  I have no desire to use an e-reader.)
I want to mention a few books that have made big impressions on me in recent months.  In one group, we recently read West With the Night by Beryl Markham, and in the other group we are now reading (though I've already finished it) An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine.   I'm a big fan of books that are told with a unique voice; both of these books fit that description.  One is non-fiction, and the other is fiction, but I give highest recommendations to both.  They are non-typical, and really special.
Meanwhile, I've independently read a couple of those books on the night table that were NOT book club picks.  I was especially intrigued by The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman.  A little dark and creepy, but I'm a fan of Hoffman's magic realism, and I enjoy books that are a little bizarre!   And this is definitely on that list...  
 A few others from recent months that I really enjoyed reading for my clubs:  The Language of Flowers by Vanessa DiffenbaughThe Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, and Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.  And has anyone else read A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka? It was a fun little book that I picked up at a book sale. 
 Have you read any of these books?  Did you enjoy?  
Do you have any other fun book recommendations to pass along?  

Happy Reading, Happy Baking, & Happy Holidays!! 


  1. Your cookies look fantastic Phyl! I haven't done any holiday baking yet; you've inspired me to get out my cookie cutters and give it a go.

  2. My last three finished books were: The Orphan Train, All the Light We Cannot See by Doerr and The Nightingale by Hannah -- loved all three. For a little break I am reading Sue Grafton's latest, X right now. I have read all her alphabet books throughout my life and feel I have to stick with them until she reaches Z!
    LOVE your decorated gingerbread houses -- I can almost smell that wonderful scent that gingerbread gives a house!

    1. All the Light We Cannot See is actually on my night table as next month's book club book, to read when I finish Caleb's Crossing. I have been very rebellious about the book - I begged for us to wait to read it until it is published in soft cover, but I was outvoted. I hope I like it better than the last large hard cover I was cajoled into for book club: The Goldfinch. ieveryone else liked it, but not me.

      I'll have to look into The Nightingale - I know nothing about it!

      Thanks about the houses - I was afraid they weren't as good as last year, because I had run out of green icing.

  3. So sad you didn't like the Goldfinch, Phyl! I really liked it and didn't want it to end. Oh well, different strokes for different folks! Have you read, The Art Forger? Really liked that one too!

    1. Ah, Pat... there were things about the Goldfinch that I liked, but I thought it could be cut by 1/3 without hurting it. And while I'm not usually bothered by 'tough' books, I was overwhelmed by the focus on the extensive use of drugs and alcohol. I thought it was overkill and took away from the story.

    2. By the way - I have NOT read The Art Forger. I'll have to check it out!