Fun Thing Number One: A Book
I discovered Fish In A Tree in a list of recommended books for middle schoolers when I was searching for a pleasurable read-alouds with quality writing for my read alouds with the younger two.
The book’s about regular people with ordinary lives and real issues, told without all the angsty sensationalism — sex, violence, abuse, etc — which seems to crop up in so many books. Not that I’m against books with those topics, but tackling a heavy read at the end of the day when we’re tired isn’t much fun, and bedtime reads, I think, should be all about the fun — something we can all look forward to, or, at a bear minimum, at least don’t dread.
Son: Gimme the book! I wanna hold the book!
Daughter: NO! I was the one who couldn’t read until I was thirteen
so I get to hold the book!
ANYWAY. The book was a smash hit, the kind that made me ignore the chapter divisions and plow right through. I even cried, which cracked my kids up because it’s not a sad book. My older daughter read it on her own, too, and loved it, and I recommended it to a friend — she told me that she started it as a read aloud with her son but then he got impatient with her for not reading it as often as he wanted and finished it on his own.
Fun Thing Number Two: A Conversation
Here’s a conversation that went down the other night between me — I was laying on the sofa feeling mildly punk and wishing for tea — and my husband who’d come over to chat with me.
Me, to my husband: Aw, thank you for making me tea. I didn’t even need to ask. So sweet.
My husband: I didn’t make you tea. I asked if you wanted me to make you tea.
Me: No, you didn’t.
My husband, voice rising: You didn’t tell me to make you tea! I said you should drink some tea.
Me, lying: I thought you made me tea.
My husband: Do you want me to make you tea?
Me: Yes, please.
And then our older daughter exploded. YOU GUYS. Your conversations are like roundabouts!
Now whenever my husband and I have one of our rapid-fire, nonsensical, exchanges, my older daughter yells “ROUNDABOUT.” She’s not wrong.
Fun Thing Number Three: A Good TV Show (Or Two)
After I finished watching Schitt’s Creek with my husband — my second time; his first (and now he recommends it to everyone) — we started two new shows: Community (Netflix) and Ted Lasso (AppleTV).
I heard about Community — an older comedy about life at a community college — from a couple friends, and I kept reading about Ted Lasso on the internets.
Turns out, both shows are smartly funny and have — Ted Lasso, in particular — a hefty dose of genuine goodwill and decency. Both my husband and I are thoroughly enjoying them, something that ought not be taken for granted since, for us, agreeing on a show is a rare occurance.
Final seal of approval: the other day my husband made a bold and uncharacteristically perky announcement. “I have a new role model,” he said. “Ted Lasso!”
And then he did a giddy little shoulder shimmy, I kid you not.
And that, my friends, is about as near a rave review as you’ll ever get from my husband.
Fun Thing Number Four: A Recipe Hack
I recently discovered an apple pie recipe that called for apple cider reduction: boil a cup of cider down to about two tablespoons of tart-sweet, intensely apple-y syrup to add to apple pie filling.
While you can’t detect the syrup in the pie outright, it adds a depth of flavor — “the x-factor,” one of my Magpie co-workers calls it — similar to adding chocolate to beef chili, or coffee to chocolate cake. It’s really quite brilliant, I think.
The cider reduction lasts for weeks (months?) in the fridge, so if you decide to make it, consider reducing a quart or two of cider. It boils down rather quickly, and then you’re all set for a whole winter’s worth of apple pies.