The Wind Up Bird Chronicle – A Book Review

Goodreads Summary–

“Japan’s most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II.

In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife’s missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan’s forgotten campaign in Manchuria.

Gripping, prophetic, suffused with comedy and menace, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a tour de force equal in scope to the masterpieces of Mishima and Pynchon.”

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SPOILER ALERT – if you plan on reading the book please stop here!

The Good–

The writing style is absolutely dream-like. Murakami builds the story line up slowly and tactfully and there is a reason for everything. The details in his descriptions are also on point and although the story line is slow to develop it still is somehow very captivating. I also don’t like magical realism but this did not feel fantastical or confusing. Anyone remember having to read One Thousand Years of Solitude in Lit? Definitely not my cup of tea. I was also a huge fan of the plot. It was a story about a man who had been abandoned by his wife. He meets many intriguing characters along the way, such as a 16-year old girl, a veteran, his wife’s crazy politically famous brother as well as a prostitute. All these seemingly unrelated story lines come together beautifully through the perspective of Mr. Okada who is trying to figure this all out as we are. It’s nice because it doesn’t feel like as the reader you are clueless. You are clueless but so is the main character so its like figuring out a mystery together.

The Bad–

The book is a bit slow to get a grasp on. There are times where you wonder what the heck is going on, like the first time Mr. Okada went into the well. There are also moments of utter confusion such as when he receives the bizzare mystery phone calls and visitors. Really though, the only bad part I saw was that I wasn’t used to Haruki Murakami’s style. But, once you get used to it and let your questions go, the story takes a natural progression.

Overall, I would rate this book a 9/10. Great read!

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A Grano’le Time at Hampden Pasta Bar

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To celebrate L’s science successes this week we visited a quaint little pasta bar in the Hampden neighborhood in Baltimore. I love this area. It has a lot of unique people walking around, lots of art, farmers markets and its a very tight knit community from what I can tell. We’re making more effort to head up there when we decide to go out for dinner.

This time, we headed to Grano and ate carbs to our heart’s desire. The menu is set up so you can customize your pasta–first by picking the sauce (both meat and veggie options) and then picking the type of pasta. They also had fresh bread, meatballs and salad options.

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It was a small galley like space and the chef was cooking up a storm right in front of us. It felt like we were on a cooking show as they transferred our freshly made pasta from the pans into the dishes in front of us. They also had some pretty cool glassware and the ambience was relaxed yet the quality was not compromised.

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The bread dipped in olive oil with roasted garlic was AWESOME. Very fresh and a perfect way to start a meal.IMG_4981

We also ordered meatballs because what is pasta without meatballs? We had no choice than to order a side since neither of us had ordered a pasta with red sauce. The meatballs were great but it’s not the dish that will have me going back to Grano. I’ve had better meatballs and I’ve had worse. If you are in the mood though, go for it! 🙂

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We were both needing some comfort food and this hit the spot. I ordered a Gorgonzola cheese sauce with walnuts sprinkled on top and it was served over fresh linguine. I’ve had fresh pasta a few times recently and it makes such a huge difference. Super delicious.IMG_4984

Of course we shared but, L ordered the Carbonara over fusili pasta. Probably the best carbonara I’ve ever had. Be warned–it is heavy and filling. You may need to take a break.IMG_4983

Once we gobbled all of that up, we went for it and ordered Tiramisu for dessert. I would have taken a photo of it but I like dessert too much and started eating and realized afterwards that I didn’t have a photo. Like most other things at Grano, the Tiramisu was super. Fluffy and moist and the bitter cocoa powder on top topped it off.

Are you hungry yet? 🙂

This is an excellent place for date night or a casual get together with friends.  I would highly recommend it!

Oxfords Oh My

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These bad boys were my first pair of Oxfords. I found them in a small boutique on NW 23rd Street in Portland, OR. I was stunned since the prices at those specialty stores are usually really high but for some awesome reason they were on sale for $13!

Since then, I’ve started searching for an additional pair with a bit of a heel and a little better quality. _10492892.jpg

I found these dotted ones with gold accents from Louise Et Cie. Aren’t they beautiful? Super elegant pattern and the heel makes your look a little more formal and polished.

I had bought them from Nordstrom last year and then was convinced by my wallet to return them. Still wish I hadn’t gone back and returned them but at the time it was the right thing to do. Soo, I’m still trying to find some replacements for my original pair. They don’t need replacing right away but I like to do my research before investing in a new pair of shoes.

Here are a couple that I’m looking at:

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Decisions, decisions…Maybe the Louise et Cie ones will come back in stock. Crossing my fingers 🙂

A Jewelry Capsule

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I wanted to share some of my favorites item in my jewelry box.  This capsule of pieces goes with pretty much anything and everything. It’s easy to pair and a good investment. Above is my favorite necklace from Gorjana. I bought it during a sale and got it for $40 so keep a lookout! It was a little bit shorter than I expected but it’s good quality and it’s gold plated so it doesn’t tarnish quickly like other fake jewelry. I would still try to avoid getting it wet in the shower to help it last longer.

I also have these Marc Jacobs studs which are good for work. Very flattering and easy to wear with  my professional clothes. They are a bit heavy but I’m sure there are lighter weight options. These are sold out but, here is a similar style.

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So, I don’t own these ear climbers but I’ve been searching for some good ones. I like the delicate and sterling silver look of these, which are found on ArtiKats shop on Etsy. LOVE these and am tempted to get them for my next present to myself.
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I also am a huge fan of these longer statement earrings. They are still simple but offer a little more interest to your outfit, especially when you wear your hair up. They can be found on Organikx Etsy shop and are also sterling silver. For anyone who has sensitive ears, stick with either sterling silver or gold plated. It may be a bit more expensive but will last longer and its better to invest in timeless pieces.
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It’s  also nice to have a necklace that’s sterling silver. I have this one from this artist in Baltimore called, Yummy and Company. I bought this necklace at the American Craft Council show but you can also shop online on etsy. This jewelry is awesome–delicate designs painted onto a piece of clay. It’s extremely durable and this is one of the pieces I have no hesitation about getting in the water or wearing through my shower. Highly recommend it. Also their prices aren’t wildly expensive so its great if you are tight on funds.
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As far as bracelets and statement necklaces go–you can always add a few more colorful or dramatic pieces to your collection but this is a good place to start.

My Heart Melts For You

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I confess. I have an ice cream problem. In the summer the problem gets a lot worse and I think it’s ok to have it every single day. Oops..

I got Mint Mountain with chocolate chips and Andes crushed in it. Super delicious and the mint flavor is super strong.

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Sitting in the warm summer heat outside of the Charmery in Baltimore with L…He says he doesn’t like ice cream but this face says otherwise.

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He got the Maryland Mud. Super rich and has oreos mixed in.

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Sometime there is nothing better than to get a waffle cone with your sweetie!

Stitch Fix Take 3

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My third Stitch Fix has arrived. Every box you schedule you receive 5 items. You can personalize sizing, price, style (kind of..) and they also have options for maternity wear and special occasion styling.

I requested mid price range clothing, casual clothes. I received a super bold skirt, a mint crossbody and 3 shirts.IMG_4609

I have tried Stitch Fix a few times and the first time was great. I got this pretty red halter top dress (something that I would never have chosen for myself) and a pair of jeans that somehow miraculously fit. But since that first time Stitch Fix has digressed from my style and preferences.

This was my third stitch fix and really the only reason I opted in to get one was because they waived the $20 styling fee. So luckily, since I didn’t like any of the items I sent them all back and did not lose out on my $20.

I received this white patterned shirt. Call me picky but I just was not into the fabric. It felt a bit cheap and scratchy. Also the pattern was not spectacular and definitely not worth $58.

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Then there was this skirt. Though I like the Lysse brand, this was just so out of my style. I would never pick this in store and it didn’t really fit that well either. A bit too bold for me and was not tempted to spend $88 on it.IMG_4608

The third item was this mint leather crossbody. Though I liked the color, I already own a crossbody with fringe and I think one fringe bag is enough. It was also a bit pricey ($58) for a purse that you could find at Target for much less.IMG_4604

Then there was this top. I actually was really drawn to the fit of this top. Peplum tops work pretty well on my frame but I was not a huge fan of the pattern or the fabric. My closet already has a few bold patterned tops and I didn’t need another one for $58.IMG_4605

Lastly there was this top. It was just ok…the style and embroidery wasn’t a drawback but the material felt cheap and thin. The price of this was $44.IMG_4606

Sooo..that was unsuccessful! But, it is fun to try Stitch Fix once if you have never tried it before. The first time around I received 3 items that I really liked and they were pieces that I would never choose for myself. If you do decide to keep something in your box then the $20 styling fee goes towards your purchase. But with the same token, if you send everything back you will loose your $20 (unless you get the fee waived! 🙂 ) Also a good thing to be aware of–I have sometimes found items in my box online for cheaper so make sure they are not over charging you!

Has anyone tried other clothes subscriptions? I’ve heard of Vetta Capsule,  Trunk Club but I’m not sure if those are any better. Would love to hear recommendations!

Pesto Please!

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For the last couple summers I have meant to make a big batch of pesto and this year, I finally got around to it. I wanted enough so it could last me through the whole year because I am a pesto fanatic. Love it on toast, pasta, mixing it with sauces, on pizza and more. If you like pesto (even just a little bit!) you should try out this recipe–

Start to finish in 20 min!

Ingredients: 

  • 9 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 6 cups basil (I used Thai basil which makes the pesto a bit sweeter)
  • Olive Oil (half cup)
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • pepper
Instructions
Remove all the leaves from the stems, place in bowl and wash throughly. IMG_4398
Add all the chopped garlic…IMG_4399
…and then the pine nuts.IMG_4402
Transfer into a food processor and add a bit of pepper. I kinda mix in the basil as I went since my food processor was a little bit too small.
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Add in olive oil as you go and it should appear something like this–
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Scrape down the sides and chop until it is the consistency you prefer. Then, add in the parmesan. Some people prefer having the parmesan added in by hand at the very end but since my parmesan wasn’t grated very finely I decided to throw it into the food processor.IMG_4407
Chop away and enjoy 🙂 Fresh pesto should keep well in the fridge for a few days but make sure you cover it.  I decided to freeze mine so I can enjoy this summery pesto all year long.
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