Quiet: The Power of Introverts

I’m so excited to get this book. I’ve been eying it for ages, but I watched Susan Cain’s TED talk and it completely convinced me. I even wept a little at the end of the video (a good sign for this sentamentalist). Oh yes. This is going into my Amazon shopping cart right away!

Hers: Design with a Feminine Touch

Bows. Chiffon. Polka dots. Lace. Florals. Satin. There are certain textures and patterns that just exude femininity. I want more of them in my life. So I bought Jacqueline deMontravel’s new book Hers: Design with a Feminine Touch. I think it’s going to be just the thing. Whether you’ve got a whole apartment to yourself or you’re sharing a home with two boys and a hubby, one always needs a room of one’s own.


Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

I asked for this book for Christmas. I really really really want it. I want it so much that I’m hoping my mother will read this post and rush out to buy it for me. The New York times called Mindy Kaling the next Nora Ephron (hello? I love her!!) and Tina Fey’s cool little sister (who wouldn’t want to know her?). Here’s the scoop on the book:

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”
Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

Between the Lines: Hector and the Search for Happiness

The Dust Jacket: Hector is a young psychiatrist in Paris who does not understand why his patients in this most beautiful of cities are unhappy. So he decides to take a trip around the world–from Paris to China to Africa to the United States–and to keep a list of observations about the people he meets, hoping to find the secret to happiness.

Combining the winsome appeal of “The Little Prince” with the inspiring philosophy of “The Alchemist,” Hector’s journey around the world and into the human soul is entertaining, empowering, and smile inducing–as winning in its optimism as it is wise in its simplicity.

My Take: Hector and the Search for Happiness is a novel. It’s self -help. It’s….awesome. Even though I couldn’t manage to figure out where this should be shelved at a bookstore, it certainly didn’t confuse me with its message. Happiness. We’re all after it. Reveling in it. Lusting after it. It’s what every good parent wants for their child. But what makes a person happy … or unhappy for that matter?

Perfect For: Your self-reflective friend who’s always on the hunt for an ah ha moment.

Between the Lines: I Remember Nothing

The Dust Jacket: Ephron writes about falling hard for a way of life (“Journalism: A Love Story”) and about breaking up even harder with the men in her life (“The D Word”); lists “Twenty-five Things People Have a Shocking Capacity to Be Surprised by Over and Over Again” (“There is no explaining the stock market but people try”; “You can never know the truth of anyone’s marriage, including your own”; “Cary Grant was Jewish”; “Men cheat”); reveals the alarming evolution, a decade after she wrote and directed You’ve Got Mail, of her relationship with her in-box (“The Six Stages of E-Mail”); and asks the age-old question, which came first, the chicken soup or the cold? All the while, she gives candid, edgy voice to everything women who have reached a certain age have been thinking . . . but rarely acknowledging.

My Take: While I was reading I Remember Nothing, I changed my facebook status to, “April Overall idolizes Nora Ephron.” That’s how much I liked this book. That’s how much I adore Nora Ephron. If you’re not familiar with her, she’s the mastermind behind When Harry Met Sally, Julie & Julia and Sleepless in Seattle. And yes, I think “mastermind” is the perfect word. Nora has a way of sharing her rose coloured glasses with her readers (and viewers). She immortalizes loved ones with dogwood trees and bread and butter pudding. She makes us laugh and read bits of her writing out loud because when you read Nora you want to share the love. My favourite story of the bunch was “My Life as an Heiress.” Enjoy! But try not to read the whole book all in one night like I did. Savor it!

Perfect For: When you’re feeling in the dumps. When you’re feeling happy. When you’re feeling peckish (Nora’s a foodie!).

Between the Lines: Room

The Dust Jacket: To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It’s where he was born and where he and his Ma eat and play and learn. At night, Ma puts him safely to sleep in the wardrobe, in case Old Nick comes. Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it’s the prison where Old Nick has kept her for seven years, since she was nineteen. Through ingenuity and determination, Ma has created a life for herself and her son, but she knows it’s not enough for either of them. Jack’s curiosity is building alongside Ma’s desperation — and Room can’t contain either of them for much longer… Told entirely in the inventive, often funny voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of the resilient bond between parent and child, and a brilliantly executed novel about a journey from one world to another.

My Take: I really thought this would be an incredibly depressing book. It wasn’t! Hooray! How in the world can a book that’s about kidnapping, rape and the ramifications of the two be anything but a sob fest? When it’s narrated by a five year old, it seems to turn out alright. What blew my mind about this one was the concept of reality. Imagine growing up in a room for your first five years of life. Life beyond it wouldn’t exist. While the TV gives you a  glimpse of the outside world it’s mostly just a fabrication of life. A slanted view on humanity and the world. So imagine being thrust into the world. Every experience would be new. There’s no way to ease in. What would be real to you? An amazing read.

Perfect For: The train ride home for the holidays. It’s a fast read.

cream of fresh tomato soup

The temperature has begun to dip in Ottawa. It’s not quite cool but there’s no mistaking the chill in the air. I feel a little guilty for not enjoying summer more. And so I’m resolved to thoroughly enjoy fall. Candlelight, a new fall coat and warm, comforting meals are in order! First up is Ina Garten’s Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup from her cookbook Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics.


Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves) – I used 4
5 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste – I used 2
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves
3 cups chicken stock – I used vegetable broth instead and used 3 1/2 cups
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
3/4 heavy cream
Julienned fresh basil leaves, for garnish


Heat the olive oil in a large, pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.


Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir will. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.


Add the cream to the soup and process it through a food mill into a bowl, discarding only the dry pulp that’s left. I personally just pureed the soup in a food processor. Then reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with julienned basil leaves.

Of course I couldn’t leave Libby out. She partook in some grub of her own.