Life in the A-Frame

Life in the A-Frame

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sigh of Relief

I have finished A Thousand Splendid Suns and......I'd like to recommend it to you all. I almost didn't pick it because of my experience with the author's first book but I am so glad I did. It had a wonderful ending, even though the journey was tragic and unbelievingly realistic. It was worth becoming an empathetic voyeur for a brief time. The story of how these two women, from different backgrounds, became "family" is a universal theme that I couldn't ignore. So, I have spent several hours doing research on Afghanistan and I'm completely intrigued. I'm learning about the history,culture and food. I wonder where this leads?

I would welcome ideas.

Oh, and I would really be interested in some book suggestions. What do you recommend?

I'm still reading and still holding myself together

I am 3/4 the way through my book and I still have things in perspective. Yes, some of the events have been tragic, and there is foreshadowing of extremely heartbreaking situations, but I am beginning to really cheer for the 2 main characters. They have just received potentially good news ( a return from the dead so to speak). However, the Taliban has just come into power.
Dare I hope?

I  figured out why this book has not been such emotional torture for me, the way Kite Runner was. In Kite Runner, the main characters are children, totally helpless, vulnerable children, with their entire futures shaped by the events in their childhood.

This book has a major difference for me. The 2 main characters are women, still vulnerable in the Afghanistan society, but not completely helpless.

I have a glimmer of hope for them. I'll finish the book this morning, so I'll let you know soon.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's time for: an intense experience

I picked up this book from the library yesterday. I read the author's first novel, Kite Runner, a few years ago. He is an amazing writer but the plot was very hard to handle emotionally for me. It left me heartbroken and despondent the entire time I was reading. I experienced grief and hopelessness as if the events were really happening in front of me. That is a mark of a great storyteller. I never wanted to experience that again I go. On the cover, this book is proclaimed as "the saddest story yet". Great, wish me luck.

File:A Thousand Splendid Suns.gif
I read about 100 pages yesterday and I've been sad but I'm still able to put the story in perspective (as in,....fictional). I have a feeling that I'll be in trouble (deep empathy) when the Taliban comes into power. Why do I do this to myself?
Here's some information if you think you'd like to read this novel as well. Experience it with me if you will.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A Thousand Splendid Suns is a 2007 novel by Afghan author Khaled Hosseini, his second, following his bestselling 2003 debut, The Kite Runner. It focuses on the tumultuous lives of two Afghan women and how their lives cross each other, spanning from the 1960s to 2003. The book was released on May 22, 2007, and received favorable prepublication reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist, as well as reaching #2 on's bestseller list before its release.
The title of the book comes from a line in the Josephine Davis translation of the poem "Kabul", by the 17th-century Iranian poet Saib-e-Tabrizi:

Every street of Kabul is enthralling to the eye
Through the bazaars, caravans of Egypt pass
One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs
And the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls

Time magazine's Lev Grossman placed it at number three in the Top 10 Fiction Books of 2007, and praised it as a "dense, rich, pressure-packed guide to enduring the unendurable". Jonathan Yardley said in the Washington Post "Book World": "Just in case you're wondering whether Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns is as good as The Kite Runner, here's the answer: No. It's better."

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to the post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives—the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness—are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

What's for Christmas Dinner?

Here's what we had for Christmas dinner last night. What did you have?
Mexican shrimp cocktail with large chunks of avocado.

 Rib eye steaks that Mike grilled outdoors while it was 35 degrees. Thank you, honey.

A gift to myself: I spent a quiet Christmas morning in the kitchen making authentic Sticky Toffee Pudding while Ky played the piano then drew at the kitchen table. It was one of the best cakes I've ever made. I had always heard of it but had never tasted it. I cooked the toffee sauce until it was a little too thick but of course, it didn't change the taste. I will be making this again. Tell me about your special meal this holiday.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas shoebox swap: Joy!

It is really joyful, especially this time of year, to make a new friend. Thanks to All That I've Been Given at I got to participate in a Shoebox Swap. My new friend Helen ) and I were matched to swap gifts. This was a lot of fun! Look at the sweet items I received.

 Everything came in a pretty tote. I'm sorry to say that I sent her things in a plain shoebox. I hope what was inside made up for it. I was making gingerbread the day I received this and look at these 2 gingerbread garlands. Helen, how did you know?

 Look at this sweet face!

 The tote itself is a beautiful gift.

 Yes! This is a Starbucks card and a coffee cozy. I've already used them Helen...and there was a Starbucks chocolate bar included but I bet you can guess what happened to that. I forgot to take a picture before I ate it----while I was reading these:

 Little Christmas books in the Mitford series. Thank you!

I already have  been using my candy cane soap and Vanilla hand sanitizer.

Thanks for this opportunity, and Merry Christmas to all my friends, old and new!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Treasures

This little family of snowmen decorate one of our shelves for Christmas. My daughter made all four. They have a lot of personality, don't they? Look at the one on the right. Her beautiful ponytail cascades over her shoulder as she sweetly gazes down upon Mr. Santa Bear.

 The large one in the middle stands there, very sophisticated because he knows he was made by the "older" artist. Ky had gained a lot of experience and technique by then, making him entirely from paper mache. The tall one with the jaunty hat is not jealous. He is special too, made at a church event.

 This  little guy is one of the oldest, made by the artist when she was a second grader. Look at his shiny green eye. The other eye is missing but still twinkles from tiny drop of dried glue. The little body is a painted baby food jar that used to contain hot cocoa mix.

This picture is the perfect background. Of course, you can tell that she had not yet developed a love for Santa Claus. Don't worry, she spent a total of 5 seconds on his lap, just enough time for her to start to cry. I love that the photographer snapped the picture quickly, before I even knew it, and didn't torture her by trying to get her to smile. I also love that my son sat there, not scared just patient, with his little hands folded. That is very precious to me.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Perfect Moment

You can bask in the peace if you want to.....I did. Shhhhhhhh, don't wake anyone up, especially the cat.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How I spent my birthday

It was a beautiful  night for my birthday celebration.I enjoyed supper at my favorite restaurant, warmed on the outside by a fire and  warmed on the inside by the Christmas decor. I tried the fettucini alfredo with chicken (I'm definitely having that again!). Then we went to "Central Park" and looked at the lights. I posed for pictures there but my favorite part was standing still, listening to nothing while the lights shone above me. In that quiet moment, we noticed the dozing, floating family of ducks and geese. I didn't disturb them by flashing my camera. We had dessert at home. I decided not to get a picture of us eating ice cream, on the couch, in our pajamas.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Birthday Cross

A really pretty cross arrived in the mail for me! My son and his girlfriend gave it to me for my birthday. I couldn't get the colors to show very well but it has a very pretty blue background. I now have it hanging in my kitchen window to remind me of them, and my birthday. I feel very loved.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ky makes Baked Eggs in Phyllo Squares

 My daughter made her own version of a recipe we saw on Martha Stewart. It was really delicious and easy. Our version is much simpler but if you would like Martha's original recipe click here:

Baked Eggs in Phyllo Squares
6 sheets of phyllo dough (found in the freezer section)
1 stick melted butter
8 oz. whole milk ricotta
10 oz. box of frozen spinach, thawed (squeeze out all the moisture you can)
1 small clove of peeled garlic
salt to taste
6 eggs

Place the ricotta, garlic and spinach in a food processor and mix until you have a smooth paste. Salt to taste.
Unroll the phyllo sheets and keep covered with plastic wrap while you work so the dough doesn't dry out.
Brush a cookie sheet with butter, place 1 phyllo sheet on the pan, brush with butter.
Make a stack of 3 sheets layered with butter.
Cut the stacked layers into 6 squares with a pizza cutter or sharp knife.
Place 1/3 cup ricotta filling in the middle of each square.
Use a whole egg to press an indention in each mound of filling.
Place an egg yolk into each indention (save the whites for another use).
Make another 3 sheet stack of phyllo brushed with butter. Cut it into 6 squares and place over the egg and cheese. Our mounds were very large and our squares were over stuffed. My daughter folded up the edges to cover the mounds of cheese. We found out that the cheese doesn't melt and run, so you really don't have to worry about enclosing it in dough. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-6 minutes. You can leave the eggs soft or cook them hard.

 Bake until the pastry is golden.

We wanted soft eggs but overcooked them a little because we wanted the pastry to be browned. The eggs were firm and it was really good.

We heated up the left overs the next day and it worked well. I think this dish would be very impressive for a Holiday brunch.