Over the course of the last few years, I have established that clichÃ©s help me through the day and I have chosen to share some of them with you here. Like, "All criticism is self-praise," which I use when a salesperson is insulting (which is often), or when someone expresses any dissenting opinion on my writing. The following is - for all intents and purposes - advice. Take what you will, leave what you won't. Since most advice is freely given, and repetitive, you are bound to hear it again in the future.
Floss. It will extend your life span by six months.
Don't leave your child where you wouldn't leave your purse.
When in doubt about gift giving, give.
Don't ever pass up a chance at a night out.
Look forward to tomorrow; it makes today brighter.
Reading is my favorite pastime. Pair a good book and a good snack, add an ambient atmosphere and if heaven be a physical place, I have found it.
At times, I find myself in social settings where I have little to say - be it a combination of disinterest and exhaustion, I know not. What I do know is that when I am faced with a group of semi-strangers, I struggle with suitable dinner tÃªte-Ã -tÃªte subjects. However, my time honored conversation starter question has always been, "What are you reading?"
It's a surefire way of motivating an inert table of neighborhood folk because I discover that almost everyone I know is reading something. Recently, however, I had to employ my reliable query, and for once it didn't work. I was left speechless.
I am a snob. No apologies. I do not judge people on how they look or what they are wearing, but rather on two more fundamental criteria: how one smells and what one reads. "Hygienic" and "interesting" are the only traits that one needs to get into my good book - not that it's a club that people are struggling to get into, seeing as I am founder, president, secretary, treasurer and sole member. I am also advocate for its continuation.
I digress. Back to the dinner party. I asked said question and was made speechless because the husband did not respond, which I assume meant that anything you can get from a book you can get twice as quickly and in surround sound from a television. The wife - now this is what threw me off - mentioned that she was reading some trashy, drugstore paperback with Fabio on the cover.
I didn't know how this chasm would be forded. Was there any leap big enough to get me over this exchange and safely to the other side without embarrassing all involved?
My husband, seeing my distress, stepped in to save the day. Let's discuss current affairs, he thought, and he asked the roundtable what they thought of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's latest tirade. This time he was left gob-smacked by the retort: "Achma-dina-what?"
As I said all criticism is self-praise and all of the above was most definitely self-praise.
Read! It's a requirement - for yourself, your significant other and your child. Reading will take you to times and places you can never hope to see in one lifetime. It will teach you empathy and sympathy, expand your vocabulary and your knowledge.
This summer my family will journey around the world with Phileas Fogg, travel to the bottom of the ocean on Moby Dick's back, see Lilliputians from over Gulliver's shoulders, slip down the rabbit hole with Alice and fly over Big Ben holding Peter's hand; all this without leaving the comfort of our home.
Summer reading suggestions:
East of Eden by John Steinbeck. His writing is so fresh, it feels as if he penned his great American novel just this week.
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. Chick lit, with amazing actual history from the courts of Henry VIII thrown in.
The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh. An extraordinary epic that takes you on a journey through three generations of a family living in Burma, Malaya and India.
Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross. Once you pick up this book, set aside two days of no interruptions. You will not be able to put it down.
Kahlua Chocolate Mousse
When reading and snacking, it is imperative that the snack enable you to continue reading while eating. Pair this chocolate mousse with a good book and I'm not sure which of the two will be more indulgent.
150 gr. really good dark chocolate broken into pieces (I like the Callebaut. Sixty-three percent cocoa solids can be found in specialty baking stores springing up throughout the country.)
3 Tbsp. Kahlua
1 Tbsp. real vanilla extract (Consider making your own. Take three whole vanilla beans, a cup of vodka and a clean jar. Combine. You'll have fresh vanilla extract in one week. Keep topping up the vodka for a near-endless supply.)
3 large eggs, separated
2 Tbsp. sugar
100 ml. (1/2 a cup minus one Tbsp.) Rich's Whip
Set up three separate bowls, one should be microwave safe. In the microwave-safe bowl (make sure it is completely dry and clean), place broken up chocolate. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until completely melted. Add the Kahlua and vanilla, mix, then add the egg yolks and mix well. Set aside.
In second bowl, using hand-held electric beaters, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks begin to form. Add the sugar half a tablespoon at a time until eggs look glossy and stiff. Set aside.
In the third bowl, whisk the Rich's Whip with beaters, until thick and the patter made by the beaters is pronounced. Add the chocolate mixture to the whisked Rich's Whip and beat until well combined. Using a spatula, mix the egg whites in thirds into the chocolate Rich's Whip mixture until all the egg whites have been incorporated.
Divide the mousse between six small bowls or coffee cups and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.