Yesterday, I finished off three books through which I have been working my way. The first was a Twinkie read, Susan Wiitig Albert's Tale of Hill Top Farm, which is a delightful and simple romp through the Lake District with a fictionalized version of the author/illustrator, her new neighbors, and all of their talking animals. It wasn't much of a mystery and talking animals are a bit precious, but I enjoyed the ambiance . . . I even learned about arval, or funeral, cakes, and other details of rural life at the turn of the 20th century. I had started the book during my long test at the doctor's office and finished it off yesterday.
I also finished another book I had read at that long test at the doctor's office (I got tired midway and changed genres), Vivian Swift's watercolored memoir, When Wanderers Cease to Roam. Swift, who had traveled extensively, settled down in Pelham, NY, and recorded both her observations of life in her village and reminiscences of her world travels. I liked the little illustrations and her art journaling of types of mud in March and snowflakes in December and her "memoir in five moments" where she reflects on different times she's been on a beach or been in the rain. And she likes cats. I've been experimenting with different kinds of journaling, having recorded my days each evening or so for years and also learned more doodling. It's best to read her book a page or two at a time, or just a month; I read too much of it in one sitting, which didn't invite close looking. I'd actually discovered it because I loved Susan Branch's A Fine Romance, an illustrated memoir of her extended travels through England and readers recommended Swift. Of the two, I still prefer Branch, but I plan to read Swift's memoir of France soon.
Lastly, I also finished Lisa Graff's A Tangle of Knots, which was our mother-daughter book club read this month. I'd actually started it just a day or two before and had tried to read it during an insomniac bout but found it too complicated. There are a dozen or so characters whose lives are, unbeknownst to them, entwined--I just got confused at 3 a.m. But in the light of day, it was a great story. Each of those characters (well, most of them) has a special Talent, which is almost a magical ability to do something--whistle, tie knots, hide between walls, knit, even divine a person's perfect cake. There are even cake recipes interspersed between the chapters.
So when our book club met this evening, we sampled a few of the cakes. Three, to be exact: yellow cake with chocolate frosting, peanut butter cake, and lime pound cake. Beautiful and delicious (I had a bite of each, smaller than my thumbNAIL, just crumbs really, and will be curious to see if I suffer for the gluten and dairy.) The recipes are in the book--and on the author's website. We also played a game at the end--guess your mom's perfect cake. A couple of the girls guessed "nutcake," which struck me as funny, and none of them guessed correctly, and then Sis stood up and said, "My mom's perfect cake is orange chocolate." And you know what? She is right. I guessed that Sis would be either chocolate molten lava cake or yellow cake with frosting--she clarified that the frosting would be melted chocolate chips.
Which we had just made yesterday! We tested a GF (gluten-free)/DF (dairy free) King Arthur Flour yellow cake, made into cupcakes. Wonderful! And not just wonderful for GF/DF. (Or I've gotten desperate in 2 weeks.) I had mine with marmalade and Sis had hers with . . . melted chocolate chips. It was nice to bake together, which is one of our favorite shared pastimes. Sis has been great about the whole restricted diet thing.
And it helps that there is cake.