The One About Improving Myself: Three Books And A Pie

HELLO!

When last we spoke I was languishing during this region’s second hottest summer on record.  You see, I’m not a “hot weather is great” person. Daily temperatures over 90ºF do me in, quickly.

BUT now that the weather in my part of the northern hemisphere has turned autumnal and cool and fresh + the final 2021 Mercury retrograde is over, I’m feeling more focused on getting my act together and doing things, good things, again.

At the risk of sounding cliche, I love the fall [except for pumpkin spice in coffee– that’s just wrong].  I’m feeling happy and agreeable, relaxed, and open to the idea that with some effort I might be able to become a better me.

It could happen.

Thus I’ve read three self-improvement books AND I made a delicious new-to-me pie.  So without further dithering, and bless you if you’ve read this far, here are the books I read and recommend + the deets about the pie I made.

THREE BOOKS

Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life by Anne Bogel

This book is filled with great advice, useful questions that prompt personal insight, simple worksheets, and a positive vibe that didn’t insult my intelligence, while nudging me to get to the heart of what matters to me.

The Writer’s Process: Getting Your Brain in Gear by Anne Janzer

This practical well-researched book explains that there are two aspects to writing: the scribe and the muse.  Each is your writing friend once you know how to engage with them, and therein is the crux of the book.  Pay attention to which part of your brain you’re using as you write that which you must write– and you’ll make progress.

Wake Up to the Joy of You: 52 Meditations and Practices for a Calmer, Happier Life by Agapi Stassinopoulos

This book, a compilation of short essays/personal stories + a meditation for each, focuses on 52 different aspects of life.  The tone of the book is encouraging.  It’s centering, quietly profound, without being icky inspirational sweet. [Hat tip to Nicole at GIRL in a BOY HOUSE for recommending this book.]

ONE PIE

In the photo at the top of this post [and isn’t it a cute one?], the wedge of pie the dragon is about to eat is called Atlantic Beach Pie.  Last summer when I saw the recipe for the pie in Southern Living magazine [LINK HERE] I had to try it.

Had to.

It was easy to make*, tasty if you like lemon-lime flavor, but what makes this pie interesting is that the recipe calls for saltine cracker crumbs.  You use them, not graham cracker crumbs,  when you make the crust.  Now how unusual is that?

AND IN CONCLUSION 

Having said all I can think of to say I shall end this post by asking you, my gentle readers, a few simple questions– because that’s kinda what I do here.

Have you read any self-improvement books lately that you’d recommend?  

Have you made any pies recently?

Have you discovered something unusual in your world?

Tell all in the comments below.  You know you want to.

* If you make the pie I used whole wheat saltines, because that’s what was on hand, and I made 1/3 of the whipped cream which seemed like plenty.  Wedges of the pie froze nicely, tasted great after defrosting at room temperature.

In Which A Good Friend Suggests I Am A Bad Influence, As If

Catching up with a friend. Talking about what’s new with her…

FRIEND: I got thrown out of Bible Study.

ME: Wait what? YOU were in a Bible Study group? You? WHY?!!

FRIEND: I know, it’s hard to believe. It’s not really my thing, but my older sister’s high school best friend made me join.

ME: Wait what? HOW did she make you do this?

FRIEND: Oh, she asked me to join so I did. She got credit for bringing in new members. She got thrown out of Bible Study, too. Because of me… AND YOU, really.

ME: Wait, hold the horses. How did I get you two thrown out of Bible Study? I didn’t even know you were doing it, let alone in the group.

FRIEND: You told me about Cosmopolitans.

ME: Huh? Like back when Sex and the City was on TV? Those drinks?

FRIEND: Yep… and I think you were to one who suggested seeing the movie Sideways. The one about drinking wine.

ME: How does any of this have anything to do with you getting thrown out of Bible Study?

FRIEND: My older sister’s high school best friend and I were to arrange a Saturday night Bible Study get together. It was at her house. She provided the location and I provided refreshments and a movie. It was so we all could bond, or something.

ME: Uh huh.

FRIEND: So we’d just been talking in Bible Study class about Jesus turning water into wine and I remembered the movie about the vineyards. It seemed relevant to me. Then I remembered how Carrie and her girlfriends loved their Cosmopolitans so I made those the drink of the night.

ME: Ok.

FRIEND: But the thing is that I didn’t know this get together was supposed to be alcohol-free so almost no one wanted my drinks. It was Saturday night for goodness sake. Who doesn’t drink then?

ME: This group of women apparently.

FRIEND: I think they would’ve overlooked the booze except for the movie. Well, one part of the movie. I’d forgotten there was nudity in it.

ME: There is?

FRIEND: Yep a full frontal shot of a naked man running down a street. You can see his junk and this shocked most of the girls. They left immediately.

ME: No kidding? They just left?!!

FRIEND: Yep, but those who stayed drank the Cosmopolitans and we had a good time watching the movie. They understood how it was about wine, something Jesus made. It was fine with them.

ME: So how did you find out you’d been thrown out of Bible Study?

FRIEND: An email on Monday morning told us. My older sister’s high school best friend isn’t upset. She says she’s relieved to be free from it… and them.

ME: And you? How do you feel about this?

FRIEND: Oh I’m fine with it. It was something to do for a while, but now it isn’t something to do.

ME: There’s that.

FRIEND: So tried any new drinks lately? Seen any good movies? You always know the most fun things!

ME: Uh huh.

~ The End ~

As June Begins, I’m Doing Not Much Of Anything Enthralling

WHAT DAY IS THIS?

I’m scattered this week. I tell ‘ya, begin a week with a Monday holiday and I’m confused, more than normal, for days after. But then what kind of weirdo who isn’t? Hmmm…?

Anyhow, the title says it all. Well, everything except the deets about the Not Much Of Anything Enthralling. That’d be things I’ve done, or tried to do, or hope to do.

I read The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisnero and it’s wonderful. Originally published in 1984 I can’t believe I’ve never read it before. Oddly enough I thought of each short succinct chapter as a blog post; the style of this book is prescient vis-à-vis today’s blogosphere. This book was part of my own unique 2021 reading challenge.

We’ve been enjoying Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs [thanks Katie] and Corn and Black Bean Salad [thanks Dorothy]. If there’s one good thing about the pandemic, it is that we’ve tried many new recipes and that’s fun in my worldview.

We’re on Season 20 of Midsomer Murders. Almost every night this spring we’ve sat down to watch one episode. They’re charming and light and often have an unexpected twist that’s plausible. Also, if we can’t travel to England, then we can look at it and listen to posh accents.

I skimmed through The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. It’s a deep academic book about trauma; there are many extensive case studies. While I found some of the chapters interesting, like the ones about how yoga and meditation help you release the negativity/emotional hurt in your body, the rest of the book was too deep for me.

I revised my About Ally Bean page and added a Blogging Hints page. I’m contemplating having an old-fashioned blogroll page again, but don’t know if there’s a need. I’d base it on the results of the Bean Personality Quiz that I shared in my previous post. Where do you stand on blog rolls? Yay or nay?

I’m hoping to go to the Le Creuset outlet store to look at, and maybe buy, new coffee mugs. I broke my favorite orange coffee mug this week and had a sadz. But then I decided I wanted to buy four new mugs that all match and are the same color. [Can you imagine?] There’s no better place than to see all the colors available than at the outlet store.

We’re hoping to to go to Summerfair at Coney Island, an outdoor art show. It’s this weekend and is an annual event that we missed last year because of… oh you know why. I like going to this particular art show because I enjoy walking around outside by the river; seeing, perhaps buying, some art; and indulging in some kettle corn freshly made in front of me.

LET SUMMER BEGIN!

~ ~ 💚 ~ ~

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING LATELY? ANYTHING ENTHRALLING?

~ ~ 💚 ~ ~

In Which I Explain How I Created My Own Unique 2021 Reading Challenge

I’ve been meaning to write about how I arrived at my personalized 2021 reading challenge, but somehow got off track. I was probably reading a book…

For those of you who enjoy numbers: this is a 12″ high stack of 12 books with a total of 4,248 pages that I plan on reading in 2021. 🤓

~ ~ • ~ ~

I barely read any books in 2020. My focus was too scattered, my anxiety was high, and I couldn’t stick with it.

I forgive myself for slip sliding away from reading for pleasure last year because I am still here in one piece, healthy, relatively sane– and with a renewed sense of purpose when it comes to reading.

Allow me to explain.

As some of you know I’m a fan of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s blog and get her newsletter. When I saw that she had created a questionnaire that I could use to make my own CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN-ADVENTURE-STYLE reading challenge I downloaded the worksheets.

By answering her simple questions, I set my 2021 intention, evaluated my reading needs, and then made a list of twelve prompts that resonated with me based on the concepts of variety and escapism. As Modern Mrs. Darcy says: “Remember, your goal isn’t just to get through this challenge. This challenge is a tool to develop the reading life you want.”

Hallelujah!

But then after further contemplating the reading life I wanted, I had a brainstorm, one in which I devised a way to make this reading challenge more personal– and a bit less costly. Please keep in mind that just because I didn’t read much in 2020 doesn’t mean that I didn’t buy books in 2020.

Thus I found myself thinking back to a decade ago when I read a wonderful memoir, Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill.

In this book Hill writes about her decision that for one year she would only re-read books already in the house. That is, she read what she had on hand, then mused upon what her life was like the first time she read the book. This practical approach to deciding what to read next made an impression on me.

Obviously, I guess.

Anyhow, to be clear, I won’t be re-reading anything this coming year, but I will be reading what is here in the house, pre-purchased in good faith you might say– and meant to be read by me, dammit.

~ ~ • ~ ~

MY 2021 CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN-ADVENTURE-STYLE READ-WHAT-YOU-HAVE-IN-THE-HOUSE-ALREADY READING CHALLENGE

a thriller

a memoir

a fantasy novel

a cozy mystery

a book of short stories

a recent NYT bestseller

a novel previously abandoned

a NYT bestseller from a while ago

a novel based on something literary

a non-fiction book set where I live now

a non-fiction book set somewhere I’ve never visited

a book I’d never heard of yet is on many required reading lists

~ ~ • ~ ~

Do you do any reading challenges? Have you ever made your own? Inquiring minds wanna know.

In Which I Read A Book, Then Hit The Wall

A Cautionary Tale from my Daily Life

YOU SEE, I WAS IN BED READING A BOOK. I had a LED clip-on light attached to the book and I was involved in the story, eyes wide open. However my eyes got tired and started to blur so I stopped reading and put my spectacles aside.

I got up from bed, walked over to the light switch on the bedroom wall to turn off the overhead light [yes this one], then walked into the dark bathroom to avail myself of the facilities therein.

As one does.

I thought I could safely walk to where I needed to be in the bathroom, but I was temporarily blinded after turning off the lights in the bright bedroom and then walking into a pitch black bathroom. Thus it came to be that I walked smack dab OH MY GOODNESS TO THE GRACIOUS into the bathroom wall.

Yes, I hit the wall, literally.

Naturally being the mature woman I am I started yelling for Z-D to come help me because I KNEW THE END WAS NIGH. I was convinced I’d broken my nose and would be shuffling off to a hospital where I’d not be able to wear a mask because of my broken nose– and I’d catch Covid-19.

It was perhaps an overreaction, but during these dreary days of the endless pandemic one cannot be sure about what is going to happen to oneself after a bathroom wall willfully gets in your way.

To his credit Z-D did not immediately start laughing when he found me holding my nose and jumping up & down like a crazy person. In fact he turned on a light, politely examined my unbloodied, undamaged nose that never even got black and blue, THEN he started laughing like I was the lead character in the funniest Marx Brothers movie he’d ever seen.

And he would. not. stop. laughing.

Asking me over and over again why I didn’t turn on the light in the bathroom before I walked in.

Then laughing. some. more.

Finding this whole ridiculous slapstick incident much too entertaining, IF YOU ASK ME.

Happy Weekend, everyone. Try not to hit the wall.