Cooking and Booking III

Well, I can officially check goals #9 AND 10 off my 30 before 30 list! Since making the list, I have cooked 30+ new recipes and read 30+ new books.

I’ve already listed 30 recipes in previous blog posts, but here are a few additional recipes that I’ve recently discovered and fallen in love with. These are seriously good and have officially made it into my regular recipe rotation!


And now for the books:

21. Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove. (Lonely, grumpy old man finds joy and a reason to go on living. Will seriously warm your heart.)

22. Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See. (My favorite book in the gigantic category that is WWII fiction.)

23. Brock Clarke, An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England. (Comments on the back claimed this book was “funny” so I feel like I should warn you that it was actually a lot darker than I expected.)

24. Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train. (Dark psychological thriller. Reminded me a lot of Gone Girl.)

25. Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar. (A young woman’s mental breakdown. Probably semi-autobiographical. Definitely brilliantly written.)

26. J. D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy. (Memoir. Reflections on growing up in rural white working-class America.)

27. Paul Fleischman, Seedfolks. (A community garden brings a neighborhood together. Kid lit, but I think every adult should read this one too.)

28. Garth Stein, How Evan Broke His Head. (Father reunited with long-lost teenage son. Coming to terms with secrets he’s kept inside for years.)

29. Sarah Gruen, Water For Elephants. (Drama and intrigue in an early 20th century American traveling circus.)

30. Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner, Find Me Unafraid. (Nonfiction/Memoir. Overcoming adversity and working for social justice and community empowerment in Kibera.)

And a bonus: The book I’m currently reading, which by the way I highly recommend to anyone and everyone in my (millennial) life stage…

31. Beth Kobliner, Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance In Your Twenties And Thirties. (Title says it all.)


Check out Cooking and Booking I and Cooking and Booking II for more recipes and books, and My 30 Before 30 List for the idea behind these posts.


Another awesome Swahili resource

It’s been a while since I posted about language learning! Because I love languages and learning and Kenya, and because learning to speak Swahili is on my 30 before 30 list, here I am sitting down with a glass of white wine and my little green notebook and an awesome online Swahili curriculum my husband shared with me. It was created by a friend of his as part of a pre-departure orientation for a nonprofit organization in Tanzania, but it is very generously available to anyone interested. The curriculum includes both written and audio explanations of Swahili grammar, along with listening comprehension exercises and worksheets. I posted a while ago about some helpful youtube channels for learning Swahili, but this resource is more comprehensive. Check it out, my fellow language nerds!

30 before 30 update: green thumbs, brown thumbs

Goal #20 on my 30 before 30 list: “Keep a plant alive for more than a year.” This one’s going to be a real challenge for me, people. I have owned many plants over my twenty-seven point something years of existence and they have never managed to survive longer than a few months. You could say I have a brown thumb. I am ze plant killaaa. But I am determined to overcome this challenge.

Two months ago, I bought a succulent and another cactus. I figured I should start at a nice easy level. Succulents are supposed to be hardy and low maintenance, right? Every basic millennial seems to have one, and let’s be real we’ve barely figured out how to feed ourselves and get out of bed in time for work. I can do this.

Here they are, lookin’ pretty with an instagram filter, awww. New plant babies!!!


Well, that was two months ago. Fast forward. The bigger cactus is looking okay, but the smaller one has some droopy yellow and brownish looking leaves. It looks a bit sickly. I’m thinking the little pretty square glass container I originally planted it in might not have been the best home for it. So my little cactus family has now moved into new homes: less pretty but more functional flower pots with room to grow and drainage holes at the bottom.


Here’s hoping they hang in there! Because I can’t help thinking of this Dmitri Martin comedy moment: “About a month ago I got a cactus. A week later, it died. I was really depressed because I was like ‘Damn! I am less nurturing than a desert.'”

Too real. Too real.

This ivy thingy, on the other hand, seems to be doing quite well. I was given this one as a housewarming gift and told to throw a cup of water in it every Saturday and otherwise leave it alone. I’ve done that and it’s thriving! This might be my first plant to make it past its first birthday.