Tag: travel


Sunday Salon: Where Does the Time Go?

Posted 7 August, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging

sunday salon books

Time // 8:15 PM EDT

Howdy, ho friendly readers! The past couple weeks have been a blur, things are busy at work and at home. Two weeks ago I second-chaired a particularly nasty trial against a particularly nasty defense attorney. Last week I had usual court things to do as well as prepping for a trial that will likely go sometime next week. The week after that I leave for Europe for two weeks, when I come back I’ll have to hit the ground running again because I’ll be up for jury trials again.

I went to see a regional production of Lin Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights on Friday and it was surprisingly excellent. I was extremely pleased and can definitely recommend The Aurora Theatre in Gwinnett County.

At home, The Girl starts kindergarten tomorrow so there have been the usual school prepping for her with handwringing from The Husband (Dad) and Grandmother. I’m sure she’ll be fine.

Around the blog, I’ve created a login for Katie who will start making posts as she feels the need, so get ready  for a new voice, y’all! I’ll wait for her to get up and running before I say more.

How was your week, Reader?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Weekend Cooking: The DeKalb Farmers Market

Posted 29 March, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

I’m Weekend Cooking with Beth Fish Reads! This week I have something that’s a little different. I ‘discovered’ the local ‘farmers market’. I’m using farmer’s market in the loosest possible sense. 

Your DeKalb County Farmer’s Market: A World Market has the feel of an old world (read: European) street market and a Costco. The Costco feel comes from the market being housed in a large warehouse-style building, the old world feel comes from the vast selection of items that can be purchased there. 



Let’s start with traditional fare of a farmer’s market – produce. 


Ten aisles (maybe more!) of all produce you can possibly imagine, there were at least four seperate types of yams, fresh lemongrass, sugar cane, all the normal stuff you would see in a grocery, and things that I couldn’t even identify. (Large signage was helpful with that). 

Next up! Seafood. I grew up in Florida, so I grew up with fresh off the boat gulf shrimp and fish. My husband who is totally clueless doesn’t understand, scoffs and swears that you can’t tell the difference between fresh and frozen shrimp. The nerve. Anyway the DeKalb Farmer’s Market solves those problems. LIVE CRAWFISH, the video is a little creepy crawly. I’ve probably eaten triple my body weight in poundages of crawfish over the years, but weirdly, I’ve never seen them live. Here’s the video I took for you!



Also like old world markets they had tanks of farm raised fish swimming around waiting for your execution order. I took a peek at the cod and the catfish, though there were other varieties available. They weren’t nearly as crowded as the fish that I saw when I was in Budapest (picture below). The cool thing here is that the employees at the DeKalb Farmer’s Market will clean the fish for you. Buyer’s choice! They’ll just clean it, and leave the head on, clean it and take the head off, or even filet it for you.  Talk about fresh. I think that there will be fish and chips in our future.


The selection of meat was also vast. There were fresh cuts of the usual suspects – beef, pork, chicken, lamb (to be cut to your specification by a butcher). But there was also goat (I don’t even have a recipe for goat!) rabbit, and bison. Also! Fresh sausages made on site!

Cheeses from all around the world, you know this made me happy. (Who knew Australia produced anything but Foster’s?) The bakery consisted of several aisles, everything from croissants, to naan, to breads I’d never considered. There was a whole room that just had chocolate in it. There was freshly ground flours of all types, rice, flaxseed, wheat. Fresh pasta, fresh pizza dough

But the coup de grâce was the pâté and the wine selection. It’s no secret that I love foie gras, the picture I snapped below was just a small selection of the different kinds of pâté available. The wine selection was completely international and there was a whole shelf of just sake (I hate sake). The beer was almost as impressive. I just hate that Georgia state law prohibits liquor sales in ‘grocery stores’ because I would love to see the liquor selection these people could bring in.


Final Thoughts
The prices were very reasonable. Since I know my (cheap) wine, I found some of the brands that I knew you could get at Wal-Mart and the prices were competitive. (Definitely cheaper than Publix) Everything else seemed very reasonable as well, but I know my wine price points best. 🙂 (Don’t ask me what a gallon of milk costs.) 

I also picked up all the ingredients that I need to make my grandmother’s seafood gumbo, so be watching for a post on that in the future!

To me, the most exceptional thing about the DeKalb County Farmer’s Market is it’s location. I never in a million years would have expected to find something so cool, so international in (near) Atlanta, Georgia. We’ve been here nearly three months and I’m beginning to think that I have misjudged this city. Even the suburb that we live in is surprisingly progressive in events that happen, people that are welcome, and diversity of ideas and shops. Maybe Atlanta is to Georgia what Austin is to Texas. We’ll see. Foodies coming to town, I’d highly recommend a stop by this ‘farmer’s market’. Foodies nearby, I’d recommend a day trip out here. 
 
Who’s coming to visit me, Readers?


April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Finding Yourself Friday: ‘Double Happiness’

Posted 31 January, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Double Happiness: One Man’s Tale of Love, Loss, and Wonder on the Long Roads of China by: Tony Brasunas

Source: Author
Synopsis
At twenty-two, Tony Brasunas had never left the United States, nor taught a class on anything. The  journey that changed him forever, that broke open his heart and awakened his mind, began in a high school classroom in hot, coastal Guangzhou, China, and culminated on the plateaus of Tibet.

A journey into the heart of a changing China and through the soul of a young American, Double Happiness is a groundbreaking story of spiritual awakening in the era of globalization.

This is a tale for armchair travelers, English teachers, China buffs, adventure backpackers, young people in their twenties and thirties seeking a place in this shrinking world, and readers of all ages curious about a young man’s coming of age in a foreign land.

Since I love to travel and have long had a fascination with China I jumped at the chance to read Double Happiness. I’m glad that I did. This is a memoir and a travelogue but it’s also more than that. Honestly, it reads more like a novel than it does a memoir, which is good. There is plenty of action and crazy things happening, but underneath it all is a sense of peace and understanding.

Brasunas gives readers a peek into ‘authentic’ China. This is great for readers who know that they’re never ever going to backpack across China with nothing but a few sets of clothes and a single Herman Hesse novel on their backs. 

A particularly powerful and poignant moment in the memoir is where Brasunas goes to Tiananmen Square for the celebration of the British transfer of Hong Kong back to China. The soliders marching forward to clear the square in a phalanx formation, Brasunas ‘befriending’ the soldier and helping to move families out of the path of the People’s Liberation Army it’s a scene that feels like it should be out of a novel, proving the old adage correct once again that sometimes truth really is more interesting than fiction. 

But as much as this is an adventure story, it’s also a story about understanding and respecting other cultures, recognizing the beauty in the world, and being at peace with oneself and others. Brasunas’ interaction with the Buddhist monks in the latter half of the book exudes this feeling of peace out to the reader. 

Perhaps because the memoir was written after the author had found his inner peace, the parts referencing to pushing people away didn’t ring quite true to me. I’m not saying they’re not true, I’m just saying that the tone of the narrator throughout is self-possessed and lacks the despair that these moments seem to be trying to convey.

Overall this is an excellent read and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys travelogues, memoirs, or journeys towards enlightenment. 


This is the last day of the Book Tour, but that’s just more awesome news for you because you can go back and check out all the other excellent bloggers that have something to say about this book! 

The author is giving away three copies of his book and you can still sign up to be included in the giveaway! a Rafflecopter giveaway.

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Monday Memoir: Deer Hunting in Paris

Posted 9 December, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Monday Memoir: Deer Hunting in ParisDeer Hunting in Paris by Paula Young Lee
Published by Travelers' Tales on November 19th 2013
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Essays & Travelogues, Hunting, Personal Memoirs, Sports & Recreation
Pages: 360
Goodreads
four-stars

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

What happens when a Korean-American preacher’s kid refuses to get married, travels the world, and quits being vegetarian? She meets her polar opposite on an online dating site while sitting at a café in Paris, France and ends up in Paris, Maine, learning how to hunt. A memoir and a cookbook with recipes that skewer human foibles and celebrates DIY food culture, Deer Hunting in Paris is an unexpectedly funny exploration of a vanishing way of life in a complex cosmopolitan world. Sneezing madly from hay fever, Lee recovers her roots in rural Maine by running after a headless chicken, learning how to sight in a rifle, shooting skeet, and butchering animals. Along the way, she figures out how to keep her boyfriend’s conservative Republican family from “mistaking” her for a deer and shooting her at the clothesline.

This memoir is warm and funny. It’s not crazy laugh-like-a-maniac funny like Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson but I think it’s because I was better able to relate to some of the moments of absurdity. (Choosing the proper chicken from a French butcher, for one.)


By her own account Lee’s memoir is not the traditional female travel journal. 

I wasn’t looking for love, drugs, yoga classes or any other “girl” narratives attached the stories about free spirits bravely traveling alone … When your trips abroad are being paid for by your father/divorce settlement/publisher, you’re not free. You’re expensive.

So true! This is one of the few recent memoirs that I’ve read that hasn’t had a blog precede it, which I think is kind of amazing these days. It means that the writing and stories have to stand on their own and for the most part they do. Her independence gives a bit of feminist flair to the book, though I’m not sure that this was necessarily her intent. 

It’s enjoyable how the stories are strung together with recipes ala Like Water for Chocolate, there are at least two recipes for venison heart, though since I’ve left Chicago I’m not sure I could find a butcher to supply me with one. In addition to the recipes, the narrative is also pulled together with information about artwork, language, literature, nineteenth century periodicals, and want ads in Uncle Henry’s. 

There are times that the passages on hunting seem to wax philosophical, but I didn’t find this overly intrusive or even inappropriate.  Lee’s description of removing the tenderloins from the deer carcass borders on a religious experience, she shows a deeper understanding and reverence for the deer than most modern Americans.  The passages on hunting and guns are written in a way that is accessible to those of us that can’t hit the broad side of a barn and prefer books to sunlight. (Yeah, both of those are descriptors of me.) 

She writes with an authority on food that makes my mouth water. I can’t imagine anyone but the hardest of hardcore PETA members taking any issue with the hunting portrayed in this book. Her willingness to slaughter and prepare animals ‘from scratch’ underscores a quiet courage and determination that pervades the entire book. 

I only had two real complaints with this book. The first was the title. I probably wouldn’t have even taken it off the shelf if I was just cruising a bookstore. Despite how much I love the cover, the title makes it sound like it’s written by someone with political leanings to the far right. Ironically, (though perhaps this was the author’s intent) this is the exact opposite of who Lee presents herself to be. Lucky for me, through the magic of review copies, I was able to get past the title and actually read the substance. 

My other issue with the book is that for the first three-quarters or so it’s difficult to pin down exactly how much time has elapsed between events or when exactly her childhood is taking place. This may be partially due to my casual reading, but I generally don’t have that issue. 

Overall, this book is an enjoyable read. Just make sure you have steaks in the fridge ready to grill. 

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April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Advanced Review: Karma Gone Bad

Posted 24 September, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Advanced Review: Karma Gone BadKarma Gone Bad by Jenny Feldon
Published by Sourcebooks, Inc. on November 5th 2013
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Cultural Heritage, Personal Memoirs, Women
Pages: 336
Goodreads
one-half-stars

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Made in America. Outsourced to India. At Home with Herself? A charming yet honest memoir of one Upper West side housewife who finds herself saying good-bye to Starbucks and all her notions of "home" when she and her husband are outsourced to Hyderabad. Jenny Feldon imagined life in India as a glitzy yoga whirlwind. Instead she found buffalo-related traffic jams. Jenny struggled to fight the depression, bitterness, and anger as her sense of self and her marriage began to unravel. And it was all India's fault—wasn't it? Equally frustrating, revealing, and amusing, this is the true story of an accidental housewife trapped in the third world.

Really, it only took me two days to finish this Karma Gone Bad? It felt like forever. 

Okay, so about this. I hated the narrator for the first 75% of the book, she came across as spoiled, xenophobic, and incredibly overprivileged. It was a string of complaints and insecurities. (Oh no! I can’t get a latte! Why are all these brown people staring at me?! Why can’t they wait in line properly like Americans?! My dog!) She manages to redeem herself the last quarter of the book by at least making the effort to enjoy and embrace Indian culture. 

I’ve lived abroad and yeah, things are done differently, it can be scary and uncomfortable. But the narrator seems to dismiss other cultures as ‘less than’ because they’re not American (or even western). Overall this book annoyed me more than it enlightened me.

I’ve never read her blog and I probably won’t. The writing itself is at the level you would expect to find in a memoir, meaning: not bad. If you want a ‘traveling the globe-finding myself memoir’, read Eat, Pray, Love instead. 

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April @ The Steadfast Reader

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