Some Things I’m Loving Right Now

As of today, there are just 50 days until Dave, Smudge, and I get on the plane to Prague!

For now, I’m literally touching every object in our house and deciding which pile—take, store, sell, donate—should be its new home. I packed 10 boxes of books—cookbooks, photography books, design books, comic books, graphic novels, massive hardcover coffee table books ohmygoshthey’resoheavy—that are now ready to be taken to a used bookstore in Boston, and I have a shelf in my kitchen that’s slowly being filled with trinkets that are dear enough to make the trip across the ocean.

The best news, as far as I’m concerned, is that in the maelstrom of all this decision-making and preparation, Dave and I have kept our commitment to yoga. It’s such a treat to walk down the hill into town and remark on the weather (still cold and snowy), then spend 75 minutes working out the kinks in our muscles and imaginations. It’s easy for the worry center of our brains to go into overdrive, and yoga helps us refocus on the fun parts of our big adventure.

I’d thought it would be nice to share some of the things that are feeding my mind and body this week—maybe you’ll like some of them, too!

What Should I Read Next?

Ever since I had the great good fortune to be a guest on What Should I Read Next? podcast, I’ve been listening to back episodes of the show on my walk almost every day. It’s so nourishing to listen to other book lovers talk about books, and I particularly loved this episode in which Anne Bogel and her guest discussed what makes a great heroine in literature. They so beautifully articulated why a character like Jane Eyre endures and touches so many people.

The Fat Burning Man Show

In food-related listening, I was recently a guest on the Fat Burning Man show, where I talked with Abel James at length about my current workout life, how to manage meal planning to you’re not always in the kitchen, and what it’s like to be growing older. This quote pretty much sums up my motivation these days:

Dietland

On a sorta related note, a book that I read recently has stayed with me; I find myself thinking about it at random moments, and I want to re-read it soon, just to process the ideas that sank their hooks into me. It’s Dietland by Sarai Walker, and it’s angry, funny, moving, motivating, shocking, and endearing. It’s challenge my thinking about body image in a way that a lifetime’s worth of magazine articles and self-help exercises never have. I loved this book so much I’ve written two fan letters to the author; I have no pride when I’m enthralled by someone else’s art.

This is one of the passages that stopped me dead in my tracks. It’s spoke by Plum, the heroine:

“In one year, it would be possible to lose more than 200 pounds, but I wouldn’t go that far. I wanted to weigh 125 pounds, and then I would be happy.”

Anyway, if you haven’t read it, do. And if you want to jump in with something shorter, Sarai Walker has written a short story starring Plum (a.k.a. Jennifer) from Dietland. It’s just $5 and the profits are donated to Planned Parenthood.

Cryptonomicon

I mentioned my current read in my last newsletter, and I’m still reading Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. I’m not usually attracted to science fiction, but this book tells two interconnected stories about World War II code breakers and late ’90s computer geeks. While doing some roogling (reading+goggling… you do that, too, right? Google stuff in the books you’re reading?), I discovered that there’s a massive trilogy—The Baroque Cycle—that’s set in time before Cryptonomicon and shares some of the same characters and locations. I’m not saying I’m going to read the additional 2000+ pages immediately, but I do think I’ll read them sometime. (There’s even a Wiki for The Baroque Cycle. So nerd-tastic!) For now, I’m almost 80% into Cryptonomicon, I’m still enjoying it, and I’m also looking forward to the other books I have on my TBR pile.

Hamilton

This week, I finally listened to the soundtrack from Hamilton—I know! I’m so late to the party—and of course, I ate it up and can’t stop singing “My Shot” as a stomp through my house. Here are some of the men of Hamilton at the White House (although the real star is Eliza, is it not?!):

The Magic iPod

And for something completely different, spend some time playing with The Magic iPod! It gives you the magic power to create an on-the-fly mash-up of a hip hop track and an alternative rock song. I mixed “Real Slim Shady” with “All Star” then “99 Problems” with “Bring Me To Life.” It was pretty dope. (Sorry.)

The Migraine Relief Plan

f you or someone you know suffers from migraines, I recommend you check out the new book The Migraine Relief Plan by Stephanie Weaver. I’ve read the book and was honored to give Stephanie my endorsement:

Mediterranean Spreads from Sesame Kingdom

These luscious spreads are made from smooth-as-satin sesame butter and flavorful Mediterranean ingredients like dates, figs, pomegranate, and za’atar. I often eat a banana with Sunbutter at breakfast, but since my sample jar of Fig with Cardamom arrived, I’ve been fancying up my banana with that instead. It’s light, silky, and not too sweet. Maybe best of all, the company is a small family business; check out the story of founder Gadi Friedman. Here’s a tasty tidbit: “Food was more than just fuel for us. It created a bond between family members and friends… We gathered daily around the kitchen table and shared something special about our day. It was a bonding and healing experience.” Learn more and shop at the Sesame Kingdom web site.

What are you loving right now? Share in comments!

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Comments

  • Lydia says:

    I don’t remember if I mentioned this to you–so remember half a lifetime ago I spent half my lifetime of luck on those tickets to see the Stray Cats? =D Well last year I spent the other half of my lifetime of luck getting tickets to see Hamilton with the original cast. I was fortunate enough to discover the phenomenon before it got super huge so actually snagged two tickets, center stage second row (the first row is reserved for lottery winners). It was amazing and yes, although Eliza might not be the protagonist, she is very much the hero of the story.

    What am I loving right now? Well, now I’m loving the fact that you’ve joined the ranks of Hamilton fans obvs, but I’m really loving how you are sharing your experiences of these days leading up to your exodus to Prague. Thank you and I’m so happy for you!

    • Holy schmoly! That’s so awesome! Now that I’m a convert, I’m bemoaning the fact that I’ll never get to see it on stage, but it’s such an ear movie, that I don’t feel TOO bad about it. But how lovely that you get to have that memory. I can vividly conjure up the memory of seeing Jane Eyre: The Musical, and it’s such a treat to relive it when I listen to the soundtrack. Nice that you get to do that with Hamilton! XOXOXO

  • Robin says:

    Mel, so glad you are digging. Neal Stephenson! I haven’t read Cryptonomicon all the way through yet, but I can highly recommend both The Diamond Age and (my favorite) REAMDE. BTW, I’m still on the waiting list for Chuck Wendig’s Invasive. I read & enjoyed Blackbirds, but don’t think I have the emotional strength to read the rest of the Miriam Black books. Thanks for hours of entertainment reading your blog posts & book recos, plus hours of happy eating!

  • Linda Sand says:

    Of course I do roogling. Doesn’t everyone?

  • Brenda says:

    What I’m loving right now is your writing. I love to read your blog posts…they’re soulful and intelligent and heartfelt and fun. Thank you for sharing your heart and your journey and of course your delicious recipes. I want to take up yoga but am a little afraid because I am seriously so inflexible. But there’s something about it that keeps calling to me. I’m on the quieter, contemplative side and gyms with their deafening music and sensory overload make me want to poke out my eyes AND ears with an ice pick haha! Do you think it’s too late to start yoga at 56? Thanks again for your awesome blog posts and I look forward to following you on your journey to Prague.

    • Well, aren’t you nice! Thank you very much. I’m glad you like it.

      I *just* answered another comment question about yoga, and I’m going to re-post here, in case you missed it. Short answer: Yoga is for everyone. You’re literally never too old to start. TRY IT! XO.

      First, you should know that I’m not very flexible at all. I’m very tight in my hamstrings, hips, and shoulders. Plus, my big boobs get in the way of a lot of poses. It doesn’t matter at all! You don’t need to be flexible to do yoga; there are always modifications and the whole point of yoga is to tune into your body and provide it with as much flexibility as possible for YOUR body. So… you don’t need to fret about that, but I understand why you would wonder that. All the yoga photos make yogis look like pretzels 🙂

      I started with Gaia.com and the app ‘Yoga Studio’ so I could just do it on my own. That is very convenient, but now that I’m going to classes regularly, I much prefer the live instruction and sense of community in the class. So my advice would be to try some classes locally, if you can, because you can’t beat having someone cue you and gently re-align body parts as needed. If that’s not a possibility where you are, Gaia.com has EXCELLENT yoga videos across all styles and experience levels.

      I also recommend Yoga With Adrienne. She’s a fantastic instructor and offers a wide variety of classes on her YouTube channel. http://yogawithadriene.com/

      Generally, hatha is a good place to start because it’s mostly about alignment in poses and you hold them for a while, in contrast to vinyasa or vinyasa flow, in which you’re moving between poses which elevates the heart rate and gives you less time to get into position. Once you’re more experienced, you can try flow.

      Hope this helps! Let me know if there are any other questions I can answer for you!

  • Megan says:

    I highly recommend The One Man by Andrew Gross. It was enthralling and as I read the book I kept picturing then turning it into a movie. I did bypass some of the physics talk but overall a wonderful book about WW2. I didn’t see/hear it mentioned on the podcast so you may not know about it.

  • Laurel says:

    Mel, you can get tickets to Hamilton in London much easier and less expensive than NY. It opens in November and you”ll be in Europe, so maybe you can have a little weekend getaway. I’m such a fan that I bought tickets online for May 2018! And I live in Toronto!
    Thanks for sharing the books you love. I am listening to the audiobook of The Historian and I love it! And it is a book I never would have picked up on my own. I’m enjoying What Should I Read Next, I just need more time to read.
    Last night we had a taco night using the recipe from you Weeknights book. I will never buy a package of taco seasonings again. Your recipes are delicious!

    • Thank you so much for this tip! I love that you already have tickets for May 2018. That is EXACTLY the kind of thing Dave and I like to do. (Example: we’ve already booked a trip to Scotland for December 2018 to stay at an AirBnB where we’ll run a bookshop for a week.) Anyway. I’m going to look at Hamilton tickets right now. YAY!

      Ooooo! The Historian on audiobook seems awesome. Maybe next time I’m going to read it, I’ll try the audio version. I’m glad you’re enjoying it; I love that book so much.

      Hooray for homemade taco seasoning!

      • Laurel says:

        Omg, I just googled hat airbnb in Scotland and it looks amazing! I would love to do that too. It looks like it’s all booked for the next few years. I’m retiring from teaching this year and that sounds like a fun adventure. I will keep checking the availability. Maybe in a few years!
        I would highly recommend the audiobook. There’s a male and female reader and they change their accents,for the different voices. It’s very well done.

  • Nicole says:

    I Absolutely loved Cryptonomicon. For a lighter read, try some if his older work like The Diamond Age.

  • Keith says:

    Mel, I have not used yoga much in my life but would want to start. My past involves power lifting, coaching wrestling and football, so my flexibility is not that great. Because you and your husband are great proponents of that kind of exercise, what would be a good source to use?

    • I love this question… YAY!

      First, you should know that I’m not very flexible at all. I’m very tight in my hamstrings, hips, and shoulders. Plus, my big boobs get in the way of a lot of poses. It doesn’t matter at all! You don’t need to be flexible to do yoga; there are always modifications and the whole point of yoga is to tune into your body and provide it with as much flexibility as possible for YOUR body. So… you don’t need to fret about that, but I understand why you would wonder that. All the yoga photos make yogis look like pretzels 🙂

      I started with Gaia.com and the app ‘Yoga Studio’ so I could just do it on my own. That is very convenient, but now that I’m going to classes regularly, I much prefer the live instruction and sense of community in the class. So my advice would be to try some classes locally, if you can, because you can’t beat having someone cue you and gently re-align body parts as needed. If that’s not a possibility where you are, Gaia.com has EXCELLENT yoga videos across all styles and experience levels.

      I also recommend Yoga With Adrienne. She’s a fantastic instructor and offers a wide variety of classes on her YouTube channel. http://yogawithadriene.com/

      Generally, hatha is a good place to start because it’s mostly about alignment in poses and you hold them for a while, in contrast to vinyasa or vinyasa flow, in which you’re moving between poses which elevates the heart rate and gives you less time to get into position. Once you’re more experienced, you can try flow.

      Hope this helps! Let me know if there are any other questions I can answer for you!

  • Michelle GK says:

    I checked out Dietland last week from the library and am about 3/4 through. What a fascinating book! So glad you recommended it….I haven’t read a good fiction book in quite a while. I usually read cookbooks!! Thanks.

  • Hahahaaa, I love the MagiciPod thing, thanks for mentioning that 😀 😀 😀

    I am currently reading a few books, alternating between them as I go (Autoimmune Solution by Amy Myers, Superbetter by Jane McGonigal, Grid by Angela Duckworth) and I have so many more in the queue… sigh… too many books, so little time.. 😀

    So excited to see you in soon, time flyes by like crazy!!! 🙂

  • I heard you last week on the Fat Burning Man Show, and finally got to look you up. I live in Prague, and likely will for the next year. Let me know if Ii can provide any information when you move here. I’d love to meet up for a coffee when you’re here!

  • Alexis says:

    I am a firm believer in “what is for you will find you”. So imagine my extreme joy when, as I was researching both one pot paleo stews (naturally, your page was the first I checked) and migraine relief (I’ve been recently diagnosed after a frightening, for me at least, event), to see you mention The Migraine Relief Plan. True confirmation I’ll never leave your site! *said in total fan girl”

  • Renee says:

    I always “roogle” too! I’m glad I’m not the only one! I was in the middle of Seveneves (also by Neal Stephenson) when it had to go back to the library. If I ever finish, I’ll have to check out Cryptonomicon, it sounds fascinating.
    And Hamilton. We love it! My son’s favorite song is My Shot too!
    I’m so excited about the migraine book! I’ve been struggling with migraines my whole life!
    And I just found Meatball Madness! Amazing!

  • Christine says:

    Do yourself a huge favor and begin The Baroque Trilogy. It IS long but you won’t be able to put it down. Especially since you’re moving to Europe– so much European history in this book. I feel so much more intelligent since reading it. This guy is amazing! What a wordsmith! I would read it before going to sleep and I would constantly read little snippets to my husband, they were so word-luscious!

    • I’m definitely considering it for a reading project in the future. I have a bunch of books queued up for what’s next, but I really enjoyed Cryptonomicon, and the Baroque Trilogy does seem like it’s my kind of thing. Thanks for the vote!