Literary Thursday: What’s on my list this week

I’m taking a bit of a Southern and Agriculture focus in my reading ideas for the next few weeks while also working on BookRiot’s Read Harder Challenge, so this week’s post is based on those thoughts. I wanted to include some new releases for you, as well as some of the Read Harder inspired books and some of my agriculturally geared books. Reading “Letters to a Young Farmer” definitely sparked my agricultural reading vibe into action. So without further ado, here are books we should all consider reading!

Greg Iles is a well known author of southern based novels. Would you believe I’ve not picked up any of his books yet though? I decided maybe this needs to be my start. I actually enjoy finding books with male main characters. It lets me look into the minds of the elusive guys! You can find this book here:

Cemetery Road: A Novel

As I was reading “Letters to a Young Farmer,” I kept seeing people reference Wendell Berry. They’d read Wendell Berry. They’d talked to Wendell Berry. He WAS Wendell Berry writing to the future farmers. So you know I have to read some Wendell Berry now! I downloaded this onto Kindle last week. Anyone care to join in? You can purchase it here:

The Art of Loading Brush: New Agrarian Writings

The Read Harder Challenge includes a goal to read a book about Oceania by someone from Oceania. Not familiar with that term? Neither was I! Oceania encompasses Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Isles. Christina Thompson is a dual citizen of the UK and Australia, and her writings explore Oceania. Sea People caught my eye as one that might help me to learn more about Polynesia itself, and I’m really excited to read it! You can get your copy here:

Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia

Ok. So I’m being slightly humorous here. But this totally wins the internet this week, and Game of Thrones will be back next month. Don’t you want to read Hodor’s story in Hodor’s words, all 98 pages of him? HODOR!

The autobiography of Hodor: My Journey North

The White Tiger is one of Stephen King’s top book recommendations and it looks like a really interesting read! The book follows the driver of a wealthy Indian family. I feel like it will offer a new look into Indian culture for some readers. It is a Man Booker Prize winner which also speaks volumes.

The White Tiger: A Novel

I’ve read One Hundred Years of Solitude a couple of times. Let me make a confession. I’ve read all of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s books at least twice. Yep. He is one of my top five authors and I am reading this again for the Read Harder Challenge. His Autobiography is also very profound. Get your copy, join me in reading it, I’ll even help explain his writings! This is another on Stephen King’s list. Need I say more?

One Hundred Years of Solitude (P.S.) (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)

Do you want to read some true crime without being scared to go to bed at night? This is the one for you! I’m planning to read this for the Read Harder Nonviolent True Crime category. At some point I promise I’m going to give you a review of Gulf, which I have referenced before. This book once again ties back to topics that stemmed from me reading that book. In Gulf, there is a huge discussion about the giant drops in numbers of coastal birds in the early 1900’s thanks to fashion markets purchasing feathers in droves for ladies’ fashion. The Gulf coast was one of the largest sources of the feathers that designers purchased. The Feather Thief reviews a museum heist that maybe wouldn’t make sense to many. Feathers are something of a fancy commodity in certain circles, and just like ivory and tiger skins, there are black markets for fashion designers, collectors and more. I’m excited to read this and see what the drive actually was behind the thief.

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century

Semi-agricultural in its exploration in the wisdom that food crops can instill in us, and semi cultural through it’s look at Indigenous beliefs, Braiding Sweetgrass is on my necessary list. I haven’t even read it yet and it is on my necessary list. Native Americans and other Indigenous people historically have been so balanced with Earth and Nature in their living, food production and their persona lifestyles. We are at pivotal points in history when it comes to the preservation of our earth while still producing sufficient food. I think this book will be vital for those interested in agriculture. This book isn’t available via Prime shipping yet, so if you want an immediate read, grab the Kindle version.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Super Easy Cinnamon Breakfast Pull Apart Bread

Picture this. It’s 8:00 A.M. with mist hovering over the backyard, and outside the birds are singing an early morning chorus. You are up before everyone, coffee in hand and suddenly a hungry toddler comes into the kitchen and you’ve been so focused on the birds you didn’t cook the eggs! Ok that might be a bit of a silly scene, but some realistic scenarios include everyone getting up at the same time with everyone starving, a busy day where quick and easy is essential for breakfast, or you need something made ahead so you can grab a slice and run out the door to make it to work on time. Right? So this is a reality for me very frequently, and last year I discovered this really delicious breakfast pull apart bread that is made using a can of biscuits and some melted toppings to make a sweet, filling and quick option for breakfast. You can’t beat this!

I love making this in a bundt pan because the slices stay discernible and I can pull a section off, slap it on a napkin and go. When you originally make it, make sure that some of the sweet melted goodness seeps down between the slices so you have hints of it throughout your bread.

Below is the recipe for my delicious Cinnamon Breakfast Pull Apart Bread.

Ingredients:

1 can of your chosen brand of biscuits (I prefer Pillsbury Grands, the extra flaky ones)

5 tbsp of butter melted

1/2 cup maple syrup (I try to use craft brands but any brand you prefer works great)

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 tbsp. cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Separate your biscuits and put them into a bundt pan. You can use a loaf pan, I just don’t find the layers as tidy for separating later. Set this aside.

In a small sauce pan, combine the butter, maple syrup and sugar. Melt these down to a good thick liquid. You can add more butter or maple syrup to your liking. Butter is a good option if you like a little more trickle in between your layers, since it is a bit thinner than the maple syrup once it is melted down.

Pour the melted liquid over your biscuits evenly. Make sure to let it sit a minute so the liquid can seep in between your layers a little. Sprinkle your cinnamon on top and pop it in the oven! Cook to the appropriate time listed on your biscuits (temperatures may vary per brand as well). Another variation to this that I love is to add some chocolate chips once it is out of the oven and cooled a tad, but do it while the top is still a little sticky so the chocolate chips stay put.

Voila! This will keep covered or in the fridge for a couple of days, which makes it great as a snack, or breakfast on the go in the mornings. Or you can enjoy it with some bacon on a nice relaxed weekend day.

Literary Thursday: Twain’s Feast

This Literary Thursday I wanted to focus on Andrew Beahrs’ “Twain’s Feast”, which I listened to on Audible and will be reading the print version of in April. This book is a wonderful book for the southern foodie or food historian. Andrew has done a beautiful extensive study on the types of foods Mark Twain enjoyed and experienced in the historical south. While the foods that are shared are not all Southern based, the atmosphere of the book remains that of the Southern Gentleman savoring meals across the U.S.

One of the reasons I really enjoyed the Audible version of this (besides that Nick Offerman reads it) is that we get to hear from the people actually living with the foods day to day, as well as the environmental sounds. My favorite was listening to hounds baying in the coon hunt. I love listening to hounds ya’ll. We get to listen to the raspy words of a farmer, the trickle of the rivers as fishing is discussed, and duck calls. It brought so much feeling to this food anthology and I really appreciated that.

Andrew guides readers through preparations and servings of some of Twain’s favorite dishes, including, yes, coon. Other dishes include lake trout, duck, baked apples with cream, coffee and my personal favorite, sheepshead, which takes a center stage in the book.

In the Audible version, Nick Offerman and company sit down over a meal of Twain’s favorites, discussing the taste, visuals, smells and the history of the dishes. Each dish has a unique story to go with it, including the history of the food, real life harvesting of the foods and interviews with those who make it every day. I’m so excited to see how the in print version reflects this, but I imagine the Audible is hard to beat. It has been hailed in various publications across the U.S. and is worth several listens. I’ve linked both versions below. I hope you’ll join in with me and maybe we can discuss it together, or try the foods!

Rustic Kitchen Decor Ideas

The kitchen is one of my favorite places to spend time, and it is somewhere that many of us spend a lot of time. I’ve always loved a cozy farmhouse feel, and these items create a kitchen farmhouse vibe that I love while remaining subtle to let you add color pops of your own.

Mason Jar Sconce Rustic Wall Sconces, Rustic Home Decor,Wrought Iron Hooks, Silk Hydrangea and LED Strip Lights Design for Home Decoration (Set of 2)

These mason jar wall sconces are some of my favorite decorating items. The silk hydrangeas are a soft color, and the lights give a romantic glow. These would be great over a hutch, or on either side of the kitchen window!

MyGift Rustic Dark Brown Wood Wall Mounted Mail Sorter Key Hook Organizer Rack w/Memo Bulletin Chalkboard Sign

How cute is this mail sorter and key hook?! I love the chalkboard addition. You can write appointments yes, but how about the menu for the day? Or a cute note for your kids!

Chicken Wire Paper Towel Holder

I’m actually probably going to have to own this for myself in the future. I cannot stand when paper towel rolls get loose, or unravel! This offers easy storage of the roll and lends a farmhouse feel with the chicken wire around the outside. Too cute!

MyGift 12-Hook Rustic Wall-Mounted Wood Coffee Mug Holder, Kitchen Storage Rack, Brown

Now y’all all know that us country gals have to have a place for our coffee mugs. Because every morning we are drinking at least one cup of that magic bean juice! This offers a great storage option, as well as a little self control by creating a limited space for mugs. Surely we don’t need more than twelve right? But hey, you can always get two shelves!

FirsTime 10066 Shiplap Wall Clock White

How beautiful is this rustic wall clock? I like this clock particularly because it is a bit bigger than the standard wall clocks at 18″. I’ve been watching for larger wall clocks because I’d eventually like to have a big one for display over my hutch. While this isn’t as big as I’m hunting for, how pretty would this be over a coffee bar or doorway!!

Literary Thursday – Books for March Reading

I want to start introducing a weekly literary focus, so this month I am going to start it with a group of books that I think are amazing options for March reading. Some of these are books I’ve read and feel we should all be reading. Each book has a direct link to Amazon for easy access for you guys! Some of these are books that I myself really want to read! Please add your recommendations in the comments!

How to be a Good Creature is actually a book that I got to read to my son, but I feel it is geared towards any age group. It is one that I hope to read this month and then share with him over the coming months. \

Daisy Jones and the Six is on my list because it is on Reese Witherspoon’s book club list this month and I have yet to be let down by her choices!

Speaking of Reese’s picks. This is a prior pick of hers that I absolutely loved. I could not put this twisty mystery down. It will be great spring reading for your first afternoons outdoors in the sunshine!

If you haven’t heard of Marie Kondo yet, where have you been? I watched a few episodes of her Netflix show and now I want to read the book. Her concepts speak to me. The idea of making your items visible so it is easy to track things down is so elementary but it is something that we don’t even think of! With Spring cleaning on our minds, this is the perfect time to snatch her book up for a quick read.

So I have to admit to you guys, I’ve been very slow on the uptake with Chip and Joanna. I really just didn’t know a lot about who they are. I got to flip through a few pages of Magnolia Table the other day and I really want to read the entire thing now.

If you have not read Hillbilly Elegy, I really must impress on you the need to get a copy of this book and read it. It is necessary. Why? Because there is an entire lower income culture tucked away in the Appalachians that people have forgotten. This book is a reminder that there is no one set group of people suffering in this nation, but entire groups who need ways to find futures. This book was beautiful and tragic all at the same time for me.

The Autobiography of Gucci Mane. Wait. What? Yes you read that right. I actually listened to this on Audible last year and was very impressed. I really love getting inside the minds of musicians, and this offered both a look at him as an artist, and a look at him as a musician struggling to climb above the world of gangs, drugs and alcohol. Definitely worth your time!

I cannot express the many various forms of inspiration I’ve gathered from this book as even a home gardener. The contributors have books, articles and essays that I want to read. The letters themselves are a wealth of knowledge as well as a huge source of professional inspiration. Further, this book offers a great introspective look at where agriculture stands today, and the path that lays before society as a whole.

I listened to this on Audible. I will be buying a paper copy of the book and re-reading it. This is another very necessary book. It was captivating and heartbreaking. It is a must read.

If you can spare the time to listen to Twain’s Feast, do it. It is funny, fun, and beautiful. As Nick Offerman and the other narrators and contributors introduce meals and their sourcing, you get to listen to the dogs bay, listen to the sounds of the forest, listen to the rasping voices of farmers and old grandmothers who have cooked for generations. This was such a fun listen for me.

St. Augustine in Photos

In January, my family took a trip to St. Augustine, and I took some time to wander and take photos. I had not finished editing until recently. Here are the results. Enjoy!

Many buildings have been restored, I love the contrast on many of the buildings.
Government House recently restored. My company actually restored this building and the King of Spain visited when it was finished!
How beautiful was this flower? I haven’t been able to identify it, it was actually a tree!
One of my favorites!

March Wish List

Welcome to another round of the monthly wish list. I’m going to try to start doing an early and later in the month, just for fun and inspiration. I hope you find something that speaks to you! I’ve continued some of our simple southern decor themes. I’ve really enjoyed finding the beauty in items of nature that are generally overlooked, like an Oyster shell or a Palmetto frond. So you’ll continue to see a bit of that. There are a few new books, and I’ve worked in some fashion and food items this time around as well! Enjoy!

Oyster Print by ArtByAlexandraNicole on Etsy

I told you I like the Oyster decor! I love the vibrant colors that Alexandra uses to bring out the color variations that can be seen on the inside of oyster shells once they are clean. The contrast against the black background makes this image really pop! I keep envisioning this in a southern restaurant, or a home entertaining area! This print is available in varous sizes from 8×19 to 30×45. Prices vary based on the size. You can find this print here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/671234511/oyster-print-stunning-print-of-three

Cross Creek – Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings has long stood as a monumental Southern writer, with her novel “The Yearling” taking forefront in her works. Many people don’t realize that her early cracker homestead still stands, untouched by time, in Cross Creek. “Cross Creek” is another popular work of her’s and one that I have started several times but haven’t finished. She has several other novels and also wrote “The Cross Creek Cookery” Which I have and plan to explore with you all. If you should venture to Cross Creek, you’ll find The Yearling restaurant, which has delicious frog legs, fried catfish and some excellent burgers. There are tours of Kinnan Rawling’s homestead, which boasts citrus orchards, a flock of chickens free ranging through the yards, and cooking demonstrations periodically. It neighbors a local boat ramp where you’ll see kayakers, airboats and bass fishermen heading out onto Orange Lake, Cross Creek and Lochloosa for fishing and bird watching. It is also one of my favorite places to watch birds, and also see alligators and Eagles. You can find this book here: https://www.amazon.com/Cross-Creek-Marjorie-Kinnan-Rawlings/dp/0684818795/ref=sr_1_26?qid=1551710617&s=books&sr=1-26

Flower Branch Wrap Skirt – LOFT

I absolutely love the crisp spring green in this wrap skirt. This is perfect for Easter, or just going out on a nice spring day! You can find it here: https://www.loft.com/flower-branch-wrap-skirt/486922?skuId=27132289&defaultColor=9770&catid=catl000017

Grandma’s Biscuit & Pancake Mix – Nora Mill Granary

I visited Nora Mill Granary in 2016 on a trip to Helen. Nora Mill is a rustic little mill on the border of town, sitting against the river. I loved walking through the mill and seeing the traditional way our grains have been made. The shop boasts their own products, jams, jellies and a plethora of cookbooks and cast iron. I really enjoy their biscuit and pancake mix, as well as their Crispy Mountain Batter Mix. They have an online shop, which makes replenishing easy! You can find this mix here: https://shop.noramill.com/Grandmas-Biscuit-Pancake-Mix-5-lb-plastic-bag-GBPM-5.htm

Custom Alligator Painting – CaseyLangteauArt

I found CaseyLangteauArt’s Alligator Painting while perusing Etsy a few weeks back and fell in love. Casey does such an amazing job of capturing the textures of the Alligator skin even in light paint tones. I love the alligator’s eye as well, fiercely watching the viewer. The background almost feels like cypress and grasses, which I also love! Casey customizes to your order, including variations of background and the sizing. This painting can be found at: https://www.etsy.com/listing/665890422/custom-alligator-painting-southern-art?ref=hp_rv&frs=1

Thank You For Smoking – Paula Disbrowe

Smoking is one of the longest standing methods of cooking in the south, and I cannot wait to read this book. Those of us who cook are always looking for new ways to add flavor, texture, a deep experience to our cuisine. The description for this book includes items like Ginger, Coffee, Whiskey, Wild Mushrooms and Smoked Peppercorns. It also appears to look further than meat, considering those who have a plant based diet and the desire to implement smoked foods into their diets. This book can be found on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0399582134/ref=s9_acsd_simh_hd_bw_b6_c_x_1_w?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-11&pf_rd_r=PJFPA9J7D71E788YCNEH&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=445db5c4-edab-5a2e-855a-8e89f103fbfe&pf_rd_i=6

Marnie Pot – Anthropologie

How pretty are these terracotta planters! These could lend a subtle Southwestern feel to any sunroom. I am a blue fan so the royal blue is of course a favorite, but I also am really loving the blue, pink and yellow accented pot. These vary in price based on size and style. They can be found at: https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/marnie-pot?category=new-home&color=102&quantity=1&type=REGULAR

Syrup Gift Crate from Blackberry Patch

Blackberry Patch was featured not too long ago by Garden and Gun Magazine. They have several three ingredient options including their premium syrups. I am dying to get my hands on these to try on baked goods and breakfast items. This crate includes all three flavors. They are Non GMO as well! Make sure to explore all of their other options too. This gift crate can be found at: https://www.blackberrypatch.com/collections/3-simple-ingredients/products/premium-syrup-gift-crate 

Artemis Wallpaper – Anthropologie

I’m quickly losing my heart to beautiful wallpapers. I keep seeing beautiful floral walls featured in my favorite books and magazines and I need them all! Imagine the beautiful Artemis wallpaper in a quiet room with couches and blankets and books. I keep envisioning bathrooms, living rooms, even closets with different wallpapers. You can find Artemis here: https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/artemis-wallpaper?category=wallpaper&color=011

Nine Lives – Dan Baum

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a little bit. New Orleans holds an enigma that many of us can’t quite penetrate. I love learning about the history of this multi-cultural and beautiful city. You can purchase it here: https://www.amazon.com/Nine-Lives-Mystery-Magic-Orleans/dp/0385523203/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=Nine+lives&qid=1551721592&s=gateway&sr=8-4

Keegan Droop Earrings – Anthropologie

While these earrings come in five different colors, I find these to be so calming and almost cooling. This color blue resonates with one of my favorite groups of blue colors, and they are great for dressing up an outfit or even wearing for a casual outing. They can be purchased here: https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/keegan-drop-earrings?category=all-gifts&color=102&quantity=1&size=One%20Size&type=REGULAR