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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

julies bookshelves book stack

I’m starting 2016 off right – with a few good books. Here’s what I have been reading so far this month:

After You, Jojo Moyes
The sequel to Moyes’ blockbuster Me Before You finds Louisa Clark stuck in neutral after losing the man she loved. When a lonely, angry teenage girl turns up on her doorstep, Lou is forced to make some tough choices. Compulsively readable, like all Moyes’ books, though I was consistently frustrated with Lou and her decisions.

The Witches of Cambridge, Menna van Praag
Hiding in plain sight among the spires of Cambridge (England) is a group of witches: sisters Kat and Cosima, Heloise and her daughter Amandine, outspoken Noa and shy George. During a turbulent year, they employ a little (white) magic to help each other through personal challenges. Fluffy and enjoyable; sprinkled with gentle magical realism. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Feb. 9).

The Hired Girl, Laura Amy Schlitz
Joan Skraggs longs to better herself and to see the world, but she knows she’ll never do either working on her father’s farm. Running away to Baltimore, Joan changes her name to Janet Lovelace and ends up working for a wealthy Jewish family. I loved Joan’s narrative voice – guileless, plainspoken, often funny. Also a sensitive exploration of faith, both Jewish and Christian. Recommended by Shelley and Nina.

Heirs of the Body, Carola Dunn
Daisy Dalrymple’s 21st case hits close to home: helping her cousin Edgar, Viscount Dalrymple, find the heir to the family estate. Several potential heirs from various countries make up an ill-assorted house party, and when one candidate ends up dead, Daisy and her detective husband Alec must help solve the mystery. Reminded me of the first season of Downton Abbey (with a mystery angle). Really fun.

Flight of Dreams, Ariel Lawhon
On May 6, 1937, the airship Hindenburg met a spectacularly disastrous end when it went up in flames over a New Jersey airfield. The cause was never clear, and the ship’s fate has long been a subject of debate. Lawhon brilliantly weaves the facts together with several intertwined narratives of passengers and crew members, over the ship’s three-day journey from Frankfurt to the U.S. Taut and well-crafted, with complex, vividly drawn characters. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Feb. 23).

The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook, Ellen McCarthy
As the weddings reporter for the Washington Post, McCarthy interviewed hundreds of couples, and gleaned some solid advice for how to find “the one” and make love last. She shares what she’s learned through wise, often hilarious anecdotes, with glimpses into her own love story. Funny, smart and so readable. Recommended by Anne.

The Year of Miss Agnes, Kirkpatrick Hill
Teachers don’t stay long in Frederika’s remote Alaskan village. The smell of fish and the lack of amenities drive them away. But Miss Agnes is different. Fred tells the story of Miss Agnes’ time in their village, and how she makes everyone see the world in a new way. Fun and fresh and well told. This is the first pick for the Reading Together Family Exploration Book Club, co-hosted by Jessica and Sheila.

Ruby Red, Kerstin Gier
Gwyneth Shepherd comes from a family of time travelers, but she never expected to become one. But when she suddenly finds herself thrust backward in time, she has a lot to learn: about her own history, a secret lodge of time travelers and an infuriating (but handsome) time-traveling boy. A reread, and so much fun.

Links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

What are you reading?

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katie jer maine view

To celebrate being married for seven years (and because we really needed a vacation), the hubs and I recently took off for a little trip to Maine.

When we go on vacation, we like to wander and we like to eat. (I also like to sleep in and poke into every bookshop I can find. My morning-person, not-quite-so-book-nerdy husband handles both of these things with great patience.)

studio apartment rockland

We rented a tiny studio apartment in Rockland, a short walk from downtown. There was really just enough room to turn around (or snuggle on the loveseat watching Modern Family on DVD), but it was all we needed for a weekend.

rockland maine main street

Mid-coast Maine is full of little towns with ridiculously cute Main Streets. We browsed the shops in Rockland and Camden to our hearts’ content: books, toys, yarn, T-shirts, cool things carved out of wood.

camden maine harbor

The harbor views are stunning.

camden maine public library

We also explored the Camden Public Library, because I cannot resist a beautiful library.

camden maine library interior

We had a delicious dinner at In Good Company, where we shared several small plates: deviled eggs, stuffed peppers with goat cheese, crusty baguette with fancy butter and thin slices of Parmesan.

appetizers

We also had bowls of gingery carrot-beet soup, and finished with lemon cake drizzled with lemon-thyme syrup.

lemon cake

A little bit fancy and a whole lot delicious.

ocean view mt battie maine

On Saturday afternoon, we drove to the top of Mount Battie, just outside Camden, for some truly amazing harbor views.

jer mt battie view

This spot supposedly inspired Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem “Renascence.”

jer lulus ice cream

Ice cream, of course, is an important part of vacation. The wild blueberry ice cream at Lulu’s, in Rockland, was delectable. (J is enjoying strawberry-balsamic sorbet in this picture.)

Sunday was rainy, windy and cold, but we braved the elements and drove to Belfast to meet our friends Isaac and Katelyn for dinner.

friends dinner

We hadn’t seen them in a year, and we spent hours catching up on our lives, first over cups of tea, then over Italian food and glasses of red wine. The best.

We drove back on Monday (stopping in Portland for lunch), relaxed and so happy after four lovely days together.

selfie mt battie

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Seven years

katie jer beach san diego

Yesterday we celebrated seven years of marriage.

It feels like a lifetime (especially since we have been together for nearly 12 years) and a moment, all at once.

We met when we were 18, started dating when we were 20, got engaged at 23 and married at 24. Together, we have weathered most of our undergrad years (in the same town), graduate school (5000 miles apart), a cross-country move, multiple job changes in Texas and Massachusetts, and (most recently) a record-setting New England winter. We have welcomed new nephews and a niece, mourned the loss of friends and family members, served on worship and ministry teams at two very different churches, and traveled to (so far) four non-U.S. countries and multiple states together.

I keep returning to Lindsey’s words from last summer: “Marriage is about abiding. It is about remaining near.” As our careers and other obligations pull us in different directions, the constant work of marriage is to stay near to one another, to pay attention and take care of each other and be kind.

My mother once told me she married my father because he was the kindest person she had ever met. I am glad to be married to a man who is also deeply kind, who is funny and handsome and musical and hard-working, who makes me laugh and whose eyes light up when he sees me.

Happy anniversary, love. Here’s to many more.

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delancey molly wizenberg coverI’m back at Great New Books today, sharing my thoughts on Molly Wizenberg’s second food memoir, Delancey.

I adore Wizenberg’s first book, A Homemade Life (I’ve read it three times), so I snatched up Delancey soon after it came out. I loved it. Here’s an excerpt of my review:

When I picked up Delancey, I did look at the subtitle: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage. (It’s right there on the cover, after all.) But I had no idea how accurate it was, particularly the last phrase.

Delancey chronicles the process of opening and running the titular pizza restaurant in Seattle, which Wizenberg co-founded with her husband, Brandon Pettit. But while it is a book about food (and contains a handful of mouthwatering recipes), Delancey is fundamentally a book about marriage.

Early in their relationship, Molly knew her husband was a dreamer. Brandon was always chasing some big idea or other: a violin workshop, an ice cream shop, a career as a composer and music teacher. When he mentioned opening a pizza restaurant, Molly didn’t pay much attention: she thought it was simply another one of his crazy ideas. But when she finally realized Brandon was serious, Molly had to confront the truth: this restaurant would change the rhythm of their family life significantly, and she wasn’t sure she was ready for that.

Please click over to the GNB website to read the rest of my review. See you there! (And if you’ve read Delancey, I’d love to hear your thoughts.)

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Six years

k & j pei beach

Tomorrow we will have been married for six years.

We have been together nearly twice as long as that – we dated off and on (mostly on) through the majority of our college years. By the time I headed off to Oxford to earn a graduate degree, with J staying in west Texas to begin his own graduate program, we were engaged. We planned a wedding over nine months, across an ocean – a challenge I do not recommend, but somehow we made it to the wedding day itself, which was beautiful.

Lindsey recently noted on her blog that “marriage is about abiding. It is about remaining near.” I have thought of these words often over the last few weeks, as we circle around each other in the orbits of our workdays, then spend more sustained time together on the weekends and on our recent vacation. (The photo above is from our beach day on PEI.)

The challenge for me is in remaining near even when I am tired and frustrated. The work of marriage (and really, of all relationships) lies in being present, being thoughtful, being kind, when I’d really rather not make the effort. That is love, as surely as flowers and candlelight and elegantly wrapped gifts (though I do enjoy those gestures of romance).

Marriage is listening to my husband’s account of his days and checking in with him to share mine. It’s making plans and compromises, lists and dinner, balancing our priorities and needs and bank accounts. It is taking care of one another in a thousand small ways. It is a process I’m constantly relearning, and I expect to keep learning it for many years to come.

Six years in, we are still toward the beginning (I hope) of several decades together. But they have been good years, and I’m thankful for them – and thankful for the man who’s walked every step beside me.

j blue mussel lighthouse

Happy anniversary, love. Here’s to the next six, and many more.

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porter square books cambridge ma

The Divorce Papers, Susan Rieger
Criminal lawyer Sophie Diehl gets roped into working a high-profile divorce case. Told entirely through letters, emails, case law and other court documents, this is a wickedly funny, entertaining story of love, divorce and coming to terms with your past. (I’m no lawyer, but I enjoyed it.)

Delicious!, Ruth Reichl
Billie Breslin has landed a job at her dream workplace, the NYC food magazine Delicious!. When the magazine folds, Billie stays on to answer the phones and finds a cache of letters written to James Beard by Lulu Swan, a plucky young cook from Ohio, during WWII. A big-hearted, beautiful story of family, food, love, New York, and finding your way home. (Packed with mouthwatering food descriptions, as one might expect from Reichl.)

Landline, Rainbow Rowell
I loved Rowell’s Attachments and also enjoyed Fangirl. Landline is much more bittersweet: the story of Georgie and Neal, struggling to save their marriage. By some time-space fluke, Georgie discovers she can call Neal’s parents’ house on her mom’s landline and talk to his former self, giving her a fresh perspective on their relationship. Compelling, but somehow unsatisfying. (I received an ARC; this book comes out July 8.)

The Geography of You and Me, Jennifer E. Smith
I love Smith’s YA novels about unlikely love. This one was charming, but lacked the depth of her previous ones. Lucy and Owen get stuck in an elevator during a blackout in NYC, spend a wonderful evening together, then both abruptly move away. They stay in touch through postcards, while adjusting to big life changes. Whimsical and poignant.

Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage, Molly Wizenberg
Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life is one of my favorite food memoirs ever. This book tells the story of how Wizenberg and her husband came to open the titular pizza restaurant in Seattle. A slow start, but it has some great insights on marriage and workplace culture. (Also some delicious-looking recipes.)

Buzz Kill, Beth Fantaskey
When her school’s unpopular football coach is murdered, Millie Ostermeyer is determined to find out who did it – especially since her assistant-coach dad is a suspect. The (handsome) new kid helps her investigate. Cute and funny – scatterbrained, blunt Millie is the anti-Nancy Drew.

The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver
Kingsolver’s debut novel follows Taylor Greer, a smart-mouthed Kentucky girl who heads west and finds herself building a new life in Arizona. Full of eccentric characters; warmhearted, funny and moving.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Barbara Kingsolver
After years in Arizona, Kingsolver and her family move to Virginia and decide to try eating entirely local for a year. This involves lots of gardening, farmer’s markets, raising poultry, and longing for off-limits luxuries. Occasionally preachy, but highly informative and passionate. Includes mouthwatering recipes. A re-read and well worth it.

The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax, Dorothy Gilman
Mrs. Pollifax is off on another adventure, this time smuggling passports into Bulgaria and also managing to save a few lives. Full of wild coincidences, but really fun.

The Chapel Wars, Lindsey Leavitt
When Holly’s grandpa dies, she’s shocked to learn she’s inherited his Vegas wedding chapel, and that it’s in dire financial straits. Can she save the chapel, while possibly dating the grandson of the rival chapel owner next door? A smart, funny story of family, grief, first love and the wackiness that is Vegas (Leavitt’s hometown).

Links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

What are you reading?

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happy birthday love

katie-jer-harvard-yard

Ten years together has only made me love him more.

k & j san diego bay

Happy 30th birthday, love. You’re my favorite.

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