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Matryoshka last won the day on June 10 2019

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About Matryoshka

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  1. Honey, maple syrup, and agave, while less processed than white sugar, are still full of sugar. I like stevia. If baking with it, I'll use 2T to maybe 1/4 cup of one of the sweeteners above, or blackstrap molasses, and replace the rest with stevia - I like to use one without all the bulky fillers to make it the same volume as sugar - I have a handy conversion chart.
  2. Our range is probably even a bit bigger... it's not at all unusual to have a couple of days in winter with the lows below 0°F, and a few summer days over 100°F, though not necessarily every year. We've also got high humidity, not sure about 100%... 😅
  3. Wow, what reading vitamins did I take last week - apparently I finished 5 books, if you include the one I finished yesterday, which I'd normally count towards this week, but since I'm just updating now... 15. House of Names by Colm Tóibín (audiobook) - Another story covering the aftermath of the Trojan war, though the Trojans are never mentioned. The Greeks really were big on the revenge killings! Agamemnon starts it off by sacrifice-killing his daughter Iphigenia, which causes his wife to spend years plotting to kill him in revenge, which causes his other two children to plot to kill the mother to revenge that. And added side-revenges for dessert. Told from Clytemnestra's, Orestes', and Electra's points of view, in the audio version each narrated by a separate narrator. I didn't know that much about this particular part of the story, so can't speak too much on how well it stuck to the source material or not, but I thought it was well done. 4 stars. 16. Cien años de soledad/ One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez - Yes, I finished it! Was not as much of a slog as I was worried it would be, but neither did it blow me away a la Moby-Dick. Glad I read it, finally. I tried reading the introduction and some of the footnotes in my annotated edition after I was done, but I was not enlightened by what makes this so awesome other than the magic realism thing hadn't really been done that way before, so it was groundbreaking. Having read sooo much magic realism before, it didn't do the same for me, although I guess props to García Márquez for starting the whole thing. 3.5 stars. 17. Wilder Girls by Rory Power (ebook) - a quick YA read; read it because it was written by the niece of a friend and made a bunch of end-of-year lists last year. Bunch of girls at a an all-girls boarding school on an island in Maine are quarantined after some mysterious ailment causes them, and all other life on the island, to metamorphose in strange and violent ways. The cause is not left completely mysterious at the end like Annihiliation, but I wasn't wholly satisfied by it. 3 stars. 18. The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull - had a sudden revelation mid-week that SciFi book club was this Tuesday and I hadn't started either book. So this was the first. Aliens arrive over the US Virgin Islands. They say they come in peace, but they'd also just as soon kill you as look at you, and it isn't at all clear what they're really here for. It covers the time leading up to their arrival, a period a few years in where the main characters are the mysterious alien ambassador and her human assistant, and his family and friends who we met in the pre-arrival part. I thought it was a well-done and interesting book, much, much better than Lagoon, where aliens perch above Lagos, Nigeria. 4 stars. 19. Golden Child by Claire Adam (audiobook) - I decided to ditch The Mosquito and instead pick an 'available' audio while waiting for my other holds to come in. This one continued my sojourn in the Caribbean, this book is set in Trinidad. A family has twin sons, one of which was oxygen-deprived at birth and considered 'slow', and the other who is a star student. Plot overview from GR: "When Paul goes walking in the bush one afternoon and doesn't come home, Clyde is forced to go looking for him, this child who has caused him endless trouble already, and who he has never really understood. And as the hours turn to days, and Clyde [the father] begins to understand Paul's fate, his world shatters--leaving him faced with a decision no parent should ever have to make. Like the Trinidadian landscape itself, Golden Child is both beautiful and unsettling; a resoundingly human story of aspiration, betrayal, and love." 3.5 stars. Currently reading Gehen, ging, gegangen/Go, Going, Gone, and have started An American Marriage and The Last Policeman, which is supposed to be done by SciFi book club tomorrow night(!). I'd been thinking of skipping it, but then I noticed on GR how many of you had liked it, and when I started reading I realized the setting is quite near to me... And listening to The Other Americans, which finally arrived on Overdrive.
  4. Typo - she means Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Pérez, which I also just read and can't shut up about. So everyone just go read it, already, lol. (The audio read by the author is also great, imho, but I know at least one person who said they had a bit of trouble with her British accent, so know thyself on that one).
  5. That's another good idea - when my dd was working in Europe last year, we got both her one-way tickets with dh's frequent flier miles for almost nothing.
  6. Icelandair doesn't charge any more for a one-way than each leg of a round-trip, and it's also one of the cheaper carriers to Europe. You just have to land (and often change planes) in Reykjavik.
  7. Excel is good for when you need the calculating ability of the program, but I've never understood why people use it for text files that need tables. Not realizing that Word has tables? The table feature in Word is super-easy to use, and so much cleaner to read, and so much easier to get in the format you want. Just the number of rows/columns you want (though you can also add and delete at will) Heavens, and I thought I held out for a long time before getting a smartphone! 😉 While I do love the ability to add books on the go, or also check my lists while out at the library or bookstore, the website database alone is also really, really great.
  8. Yeah, the problem I had with a paper system was the inability to sort or add things to the beginning or middle of a list. But I could still print out the doc in it's most current form whenever I wanted to get physical with it - like marking it up.
  9. I used to just have a big Word file that I'd update. I know you didn't want an online solution, but for my own personal booklists post-homeschooling, Goodreads has been a total game-changer. It of course didn't exist back when I was homeschooling my younger kids with huge booklists. I actually still use both systems together - I put to-read books in Goodreads as soon as I hear about them (and you can add 'shelves' to sort them, and sort them all sorts of other ways as well) - that has finally put an end to the 'scrap of paper' problem, which I used to also have. But I still find Word, especially with tables, to be the best way to organize them when I have more focused goals - like I'm currently doing a 'read around the world' challenge for myself. I have a Word doc for that.
  10. Thanks, that's very helpful. Canned non-cooked tomatoes come three ways here mostly - whole, diced, or crushed. I think the crushed would approximate a chunkier passata...
  11. These look really yummy and I think I may try a couple, but first I need to know what in the heck "tomato passata" is...? Is that a fancy British way of saying "tomato paste"??? I'm just blanking on whatever else it could be...
  12. I have been lax about updating here... Wintermom, I'm a bit jealous about the fun in the snow. Here it's cold, but there's been very little snow this year, so it's just kinda muddy with icy/slush patches. Yuk. Soror, great job on the pull-ups!! Still just OT here... we had a 2000m benchmark on the rowers last week. It was after they gave us a few days that killed the legs - I'm almost never sore anymore, but my legs were killing me last week, and then they threw in that benchmark! I didn't think I'd manage to improve from my last benchmark, but I actually managed to beat it by 1 second! (7:57 min) For PinkTulip, my fellow rower here, on the water rower I'm managing to maintain just about a 1:59-ish split time, so on a Concept 2 that same "2000m" would take me a lot longer. I know over that distance I can maintain something like a 2:20 split or maaaybe a little below that. The only time I've gotten below a 2:00 split on a Concept 2 is on, say, the first 5 strokes of a 100m sprint. After the first 10-20 strokes I can't maintain close to that. That's why I know the times on the water rower are bogus - so it is nice to have those benchmark days where I can compare against my own previous times, so at least it's apples:apples.
  13. At least since I've been keeping track since joining BaW a few years ago, my reading is usually very close to 50/50, with a percentage or two over to the male side. First half of last year was tracking that way, skewing a bit female, at 55%. But then somewhere after June I apparently read a lot of men, enough so that my end-year total was only 43% women. This was not on purpose, and neither is this quite-female run at the beginning of this year. That's why I think it's perhaps just an evening out again - should look back mid-year and see if I measured the last year from June/June instead of calendar year if I'd be back to the midline... Apparently most people read many more men, and many more books by men are published and reviewed (with the exception, apparently, of the romance genre). I think of myself as somewhat preferring female authors (or at least I certainly don't have a preference for male authors), so the fact that I'm only about even is interesting.
  14. Appears I forgot to update last week! So, finished 5 books over the past two weeks: 10. Just Mercy by Bryan Steveson (audiobook) - read by the author. This was a fantastic book. And a bit depressing, but hopeful by the end. Very highly recommended. 5 stars. 11. The Diamond in the Window by Jane Langton - a middle-grades book that I'd never heard of before that someone said was their favorite as a child, and it's set in nearby Concord, in fact probably about 2 blocks from where I met dh, so thought I'd give it a quick read. Sweet book, might have given it more stars if I'd been the targeted age when I read it? Now I'm just middle-aged, rather than middle-grades and I'll give it 3 stars. I think I drove by the house used to inspire the cover - I may take a pic to compare with the cover... 12. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson (audiobook, read by the author) - Not about Jason and the... but rather a somewhat stream of consciousness memoir about the author, her transgender husband, and motherhood (one of their kids was his from a previous relationship; the second she had by a donor). While there were a few times she got a bit too TMI for me about details of her sex life and preferences, overall it was a good book if you're looking for something touching on this subject matter. 4 stars. 13. Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin - Read this for a new IRL bookclub I found; the meeting was on Friday. I liked the meeting; it was at a local independent bookstore and moderated by someone there who is also a writer. The people were nice and the discussion interesting. The general thoughts on the book were similar to mine, which was that it was a nice read, but not super-well written and a bit clunky in its plot machinations - it was supposed to be a Muslims-in-Toronto take on Pride & Prejudice, but it was mostly that it stole verbatim some of the most famous quotes from that book in a few key places. It read kinda YA, though it's supposedly not aimed there - I read it in a day. 3 stars. Next month we're reading American Marriage. 14. What You Have Heard is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance by Carolyn Forché (ebook) - One day the cousin of a friend of the author's shows up on her doorstep unannounced with his two kids, having driven to California from El Salvador. He tells her he wants her to come to El Salvador to see what's going on down there and write about it. She says, 'why me, I'm just a poet' - and he says yes, that's why. He spends three days there, and leaves again, and when he sends her plane tickets, she goes. No one is sure who this guy is or what his exact agenda is - not even her friend, his cousin. He takes her all over the country - he has her meet the poor working the land, and people high in the military and government. He never explains anything, but just tells her to observe. It's quite a compelling read, and some good background on why there's such a migrant problem still. 5 stars. Almost finished with Cien años de soledad. After listening to a book that sounds like a Greek myth retelling but isn't, I'm listening to one that doesn't sound like one but is - The House of Names by Colm Tóibín - and quite liking it, in spite of all the inevitable Greek Tragedy. Also reading Wilder Girls by Rory Power, which is written by the niece of a friend, so I had to read it in spite of its being YA. Somehow reminiscent of Annihilation and Vita Nostra. Hopefully we'll find out in the end what's causing the weirdness. Interesting side-note, since my reading was more male-heavy than usual the 2nd half of last year - Just Mercy was the first male-authored book I've read this year - Cien años will be the second. This must be some kind of cosmic evening-out...
  15. None of my kids have decided to do the Honors programs at their schools. One started out in the program, which was nice because she got to live in the nicer Honors dorms freshman year, but at both of their schools the programs mostly seem extra busywork. Most of the honors classes are extra seminars not related to their majors. But they've all taken Honors courses when they were interested in the particular course or wanted the extra challenge in that particular subject. At least at their schools, it's not required to be in the Honors program to take an Honors course. I know some schools have Honors programs that are way better set-up than the ones at their schools, but still, I certainly wouldn't prolong a kid's time at school or pay over $10K extra for it. Yikes. My most academically-inclined kid who's hoping to go to grad school (just got the first acceptance, but don't know about $ yet) spent time doing extra research projects as independent studies 1:1 with profs instead.
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