Book Club Caviar

January 30, 2012

Book club is fun.  Not only because it is interesting to all read the same book and then come together to discuss what you thought of it, but also because the hostess always has snacks and a dessert.  Interesting discussion and good food — a winning combination.

One snack that has been served numerous times is called Texas Caviar.  And it seems like everyone has a slightly different recipe, but they are all good.

So being the “sheep” I am, I made the “caviar” when I had the club here in November.  Mine was copied from one of the others’ recipes and was delicious.  And I served it with both tortilla chips and thin slices of garlic bread.  I liked it on the bread best.

In case you would like to try this yourself, here is the recipe I used.

Book Club Caviar

1/2 large white onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

6 green onions, chopped (AHA!  I can use my home-grown green onions next time!)

1 T. minced garlic (from a jar)

2 average-size jalapeno peppers, with seeds removed, diced

1 pint cherry tomatoes, diced

15 oz. black beans, drained and rinsed

15 oz. black eyed peas, drained

1/2 t. ground coriander

8 oz. zesty italian dressing

1 bunch fresh chopped cilantro (amount to taste)

Mix, cover, chill.  Best if made a day ahead so that flavors can blend.


Myrtle’s Easter Eggs

April 13, 2011

At book club last night our friend *Myrtle told us a really cute story:

When Myrtle’s children were little they were going to have an Easter egg hunt with the neighbors who had four little children of their own.  The adults had hidden eggs all around the yard and were now sitting in lawn chairs enjoying watching the children doing the hunt.

The neighbor’s youngest, about three, was a little young to really get into the hunt, and was just wandering around watching the other children find eggs.  He finally wandered over to where Myrtle was sitting, and Myrtle told him that she knew there were still some Easter eggs to be found and he should just look harder.  He stood there a minute apparently finally understanding a little of the concept that the eggs were hidden and he would have to guess where they were.  So with this new idea of looking for something in a place not expected, he reached up and patted Myrtle’s chest.  Nope, that wasn’t one, so he wandered off to look in other places.

We all laughed long and loudly at Myrtle’s story.

Later in the evening, we were discussing books in general, and how much harder it was to lay in bed and read a book if it was a large, heavy one. Myrtle was lamenting how hard it is to balance a heavy book on your rib cage while lying down.

At which time another friend commented, “And, of course, you want to be careful that the book doesn’t fall over and break your Easter eggs.”

I love my book club.  They not only enjoy reading books and discussing them, but they enjoy laughing together too.

*Myrtle’s name has been changed to protect the privacy of the owner of the “Easter eggs”.

Literary Lappers will not be lapped!

April 2, 2011

I am participating in a fundraising walk for the Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana again this year.  Linda, a member of my book club, works for that organization, so members of the book club are walking as a team.  We call ourselves the Literary Lappers because we’re cool like that.

So if any of you would like to sponsor me in my walk for this worthwhile cause, here is the link to where you can donate.  I’d love to reach my goal of raising $200!

It’s always hard to ask for money. But it’s alot easier when you know it’s for something as important as cancer research.

A Hospital Survival Kit

November 10, 2010

On Monday evening, two days before my surgery I went to my monthly book club meeting and they surprised me with a “survival kit” for my upcoming hospital stay.  What a wonderful gift!

So, I would like to pass on that idea to any of you who may have a friend preparing to have a hospital stay.  And, since I’m actually having the experience right now, I’ve made some adjustments to the list that I think might make it even better.

I would include:

. a package of Wet Ones that are great for a quick sponge bath

. a good Lip Balm (they gave me Carmex and it is great)

. a good Body Lotion because the hospital air is so drying, although avoid something with a strong fragrance that might aggravate nausea.

. a Mirror with some way to stand itself up, so that the patient can see just how bad they look whenever they like! (and see if their hair is standing straight up on top of their head even though no one bothers to mention it)

. cute Slipper Socks. They are handier than slippers because you can leave them on when you’re in bed if you like, and they can be washed.

. a pretty Spiral Notebook that the patient can use to keep notes all in one place about things to ask, remember, etc.

. a Book of Games to be a diversion for any “loose end” moments between therapy and meals!

. a Retractable Ball Point Pen, so that there’s no need to keep up with a cap

. an Automatic Pencil, so that no sharpener is required

. an Extra Eraser in case the one on the pencil is used up

. a Good Book.  The club gave me two — a Nora Roberts and a Janet Evanovich.  They will be enjoyed not just while I’m in here, but during my recuperation at home.

. a small Battery-Powered Light, preferably one that can stand alone or clip onto something.  Especially right after surgery, it isn’t always easy for a patient to reach light controls, so if you make this small enough, it can just stay on the bedside table, in easy reach.

. and finally, a couple of Energy Bars.  I certainly haven’t gone hungry during this time, but it is always nice to have a little something around that can be eaten without any preparation or mess.

That’s it.  My idea of a perfect gift for a friend going into the hospital.

Thank you, book club friends!

A walk in the park

June 7, 2010

The Literary Lappers (members of our book club)

Saturday was the Fundraising Walk for the Cancer Services of NE Indiana that I told you about here.  Thank you so much to those of you who supported me with your contributions.  I accomplished my goal of $100 with your help.

Ever the optimist, I started out with my sun visor on.  But it was an overcast day (really, perfect for walking!) so I carried it most of the time.

When I was getting dressed that morning, at the last minute I remembered there was a place on the back of the t-shirt where I was supposed to write the name of a loved one who is fighting cancer.  So I quickly wrote our little great nephew’s name, Cooper.  Too late I remembered that they call him “Super Cooper” because he is such a brave, happy little almost three year old, even with all he has been through.  So I added the “super” part.  That is my explanation for why this is so wayyyyy off center.  I wrote the “super” second, and actually from right to left.  Oh well, I “got’er done” and it felt good to get to visibly support “Super Cooper”.

It was a great day.  They raised alot of money and there were inspiring success stories in abundance.

I can’t imagine a more rewarding way to spend a Saturday morning.

“Teaming” with Success!

May 18, 2010

On June 5, my book club will be walking as a team, calling ourselves the Literary Lappers, in a fund-raising walk sponsored by the local Cancer Services.

What a successful way “walks” have become for worthy organizations to raise money.  And such a win/win for everyone — the organization raises money, and the groups of walkers have a good time taking  a walk together through a beautiful park.

Oh, and one more thing, I’m supposed to ask friends to “sponsor” me.  No, I’m not taking bets on whether I fall down or not.  But thanks for asking.

So if you would be interested in donating to the support of cancer treatment and research, mention that in your comment and I’ll e-mail you the information.

I’m looking forward to a walk in the park with the Literary Lappers but, lest you get the wrong impression because “lappers” somehow sounds like “runners”, let me just clarify that we will be walking, with no spandex and very little sweat involved!

Readin’ wit da fishes?

March 3, 2010


    You know how you hear about 1920’s gangs who simply wouldn’t allow their members to “resign”?  They instead treated drop-out wannabes to “a swim wit da fishes in a concrete suit.”!

Well, I am shocked to realize that I belong to a “gang” alot like that.  Only difference is . . . “de’s guys” kill you with kindness!

Oh and they’re so clever.  They have such an innocent-sounding name . . . the book club.  If they would at least call themselves something more sinister, like “the book mongers ” or “the bloody pages”, it might give you a clue that this is a tough crowd who “don’t likes no quitters”!

But no, this gang is much more subtle than that.  Let me explain.

As I remember it, there were four of us at lunch one day after our WW meeting about a year and a half ago.  Because we had attended the same WW meeting for about a year before that, and had become part of a fluid group of from two to six “lunchers” after the meetings, we had certainly become friendly and more than acquaintances, but still not probably honest-to-goodness “friends” yet. 

Anyway, during lunch (Do I hear you laughing?  Wellll, it certainly doesn’t make sense to eat before being weighed!) Jane mentioned that she thought we ought to start a book club.  The other three of us immediately liked the idea.  So we all contacted friends we thought might be interested, and we came up with a group of about a dozen women.  That patched-together group of friends-to-some and strangers-to-others became the book club.

So, we started having meetings once a month and it was really a great group of women.  Predictably, a few dropped out after the first meeting or two, but that was so early that I don’t think they ever really felt like members — they knew right away that this just wasn’t for them.  And several more joined in the following months, so the group stayed at about a dozen — a nice size.

But, even though I stuck it out for a year, I quickly realized that having a book to read each month was an awful lot like school, and I wasn’t crazy about that idea.  So at the end of the first year I decided to drop out.  And it was a tribute to how much I enjoyed the group of women themselves, rather than the books, that I had stuck it out that long.

So, okay — I quit.  And they were very nice about it.  End of story, right?  Nope.  This is when the “subtle persuasion” began.

They left me on the mailing list.  So, I received all the “correspondence” about meetings and books.  And I have to say my interest would be piqued occasionally by a book title or some comment one of the e-mails contained about a book.

And, not right away, but over the course of the six months since I (thought I had) dropped out, I have received e-mails from three or four different members.  Just chatty little notes that always included a little nudge that they missed me at book club.  And several stressed that you don’t actually have to read every book!  That thought had occurred to me but somehow it felt like “cheating”, because, after all, wasn’t that why we were meeting?  But, I gradually realized that the group’s attitude about that  was very relaxed, and that they didn’t all feel like you were only a “legitimate” member if you read every book.  Who knew!

It worked.

So, I hope they meant what they said, because tonight I’m going back to “the book gang”. 

And my reason for (re-)joining this time is different than when we originally started the club.  I’m going back now, not because of the books we’ll read but because of the great women who make up the “gang”, who still gently made me feel like a part of the “gang” even when I was resisting. 

So, “Book club may be the name but friendship is the game.”  I’m in it for the friendships this time, and if I read an interesting book or two along the way, that’s just frosting on the cake!

On my death bed I’m pretty sure it’s friendships that may cross my mind, not the names of great books I’ve read.

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If time is short, and the book is long . . .

August 31, 2009


. . . and you have a deadline to get it read, like a book club meeting, you may need to resort to this “formula” I was recently given for an abbreviated read of a book.

1.  Read the first and last chapters.

2.  Figure out how many pages are in between.

3.  Divide those pages by the number of days you have until you need to have the book read.  (I would vary this a little to make each day begin at the beginning of a chapter.  It seems like the beginnings of  chapters tend to do some summarizing and also tend to provide key information.)

4.  Each day, no matter if you were able to entirely finish the pages “assigned” to the previous day or not, start on the first page for that day and read as many of that day’s pages as you can.

If you do that each day, when you arrive at the day you should have the book read, you may not have read every page of the book, but you will have a pretty good feel for the essence of the book.

Of course, this is certainly not the way to “savor” a book, but, especially when you belong to a book club, I can picture it being a tool that might come in handy sometime!

Now, excuse me, I have to get back to reading — book club is in two days!