Friday Five

Little Free Stoop Library. A few weeks back I’d mentioned I found the wonderful book All Creatures Great an Small on someone’s stoop. I had another great find recently. The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler begins on Pearl Harbor Day 1941 and ends on the same day 60 years later. We follow the story of Michael and Pauline Anton, from the sparks the moment they meet at an impromptu parade through their hasty marriage and slow realization that they were mismatched from the beginning. This isn’t the first Anne Tyler book I’ve read. What I always find riveting about her writing is her ability to present the nuances in the human condition and then let you identify with them. The disintegration of Michael and Pauline’s marriage is no one’s fault really, they were just “unskilled” as Michael puts it. That requires a light touch so as not to feel preachy or  pretentious. Tyler has a knack for making us sympathize with the characters despite their foolish behavior, eccentricities and narrow-mindedness. I think it takes a lot of guts to write a novel that spans the entire lives of two people, capturing the changes in their outlook as they age, the societal changes and their perceptions of them, yet maintaining their core personalities.  You might be familiar with author Anne Tyler from her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Breathing Lessons, or the movie adaptation of her book The Accidental Tourist. This one had me thinking long after I read the last page.

2. Ever since humans could tell stories, we’ve been trying to describe how it feels to be in love…from Shakespeare (“Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?”) to  J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield (“I was about half in love with her by the time we sat down. That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty… you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are.”) to Longfellow (“It is difficult to know at what moment love begins; it is less difficult to know that it has begun.”)

Here is the best description I believe I’ve ever read. This from author John Green’s new book, The Fault in Our Stars: “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

Are there any other authors whose description of love resonated for you? 


3. Birthday Short List # 1: Chocolate. Since yesterday was my big day, I got treated by my co-workers to Max Brenner, the chocolate emporium. If you can smother it, cover it, dunk it, drizzle it, or stuff it, this place does it with chocolate.

Warning: Food porn ahead. If you are of an impressionable nature or have diabetes, now is the time to look away.

One guess who ordered this one. It’s a Nutella crepe with bananas and caramel ice cream. You had me at Nutella, Max Brenner.

Want ‘smore? All the elements of a ‘smore…in a glass bowl. That’s toasted marshmallow on top.

Peanut butter chocolate sundae with peanut butter ice cream

Pour the peanut butter and chocolate sauces veeeerrry carefully.


4. Back to regularly scheduled programming…Once we were finished and in a serious, no-holds barred chocolate hangover (I will never, ever touch chocolate again for the rest of my life),  one of my co-workers asked an existential question that Socrates himself probably debated:

If you had to give up either chocolate or alcohol for the rest of your life, which would it be? Which would you choose? 

5. Birthday Short List # 2: Spa. I received a gift certificate to a local spa. How lucky can a girl get?

I decided to go whole hog and get the hot stone massage. Have you ever had this done to you? It feels like little angels kneading your back with their wings. As if that wasn’t enough, then you descend a flight of stairs to the tranquil “water lounge.” What is a “water lounge” you ask? It’s this:

Some light reading material.

The seas are a bit rough.

Enough of the water? Dry off in the sauna. Note the temperature outside the door is 159F. But hey, it’s a dry heat, you barely feel it.

It’s getting’ hot in here.

Note to self: look into combining spa and chocolate for next birthday.

Have a great weekend, everyone! 



    1. Thank you, Julia! It was an amazing day. I had such a good time.
      As for the chocolate/alcohol debate, I’m wondering if I can get around the answer by having chocolate spiked with something. I’ll get back to you on that one.


  1. Wow! What a birthday! Happy belated one to you, my dear friend! I don’t even know where to begin with those incredible pictures but I would have been ALL OVER that nutella crepe!
    I am fascinated by the Anne Tyler book (I’d not heard of that one) but it’s now on my list. Thank you for sharing that.
    Please give Reggie a big loving pat from me–I won’t ask if he got leftovers from the chocolate emporium 😉


    1. What a fabulous day! It was an absolute treat from beginning to end.
      Can I just say that the crepe was made WITH nutella and then rolled up around MORE nutella. It rendered me speechless.
      The Reginator did get a special treat on my birthday – a rawhide. He stamps his paws on the ground like he’s doing a Flamenco dance because he gets so excited.
      Have a great weekend!


    1. Oh, Tori. The peanut butter sauce wasn’t some rinky dink peanut butter flavoring. No, no. It was pure melted peanut butter.
      Talk about making your life better through peanut butter…


  2. Note to self: stop reading this blog at lunch time. I’m like the Incredible Hulk of chocolate right now. Don’t make me hungry for chocolate… you wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry for chocolate.

    Glad you had a great birthday! For your chocolate/spa combo idea for next year, consider the spa at Hotel Hershey. They have some amazing treatments using chocolate. I got a body scrub where they used crushed cocoa beans for the exfoliant, and I had really smooth skin and smelled like chocolate for the rest of the day. 🙂


    1. Leave it to Hershey’s to come up with the perfect combination: a chocolate massage. It would be great to smell like chocolate all day. Excellent subliminal marketing, Hershey’s!
      I wonder why someone doesn’t come up with a chocolate perfume. Hmmm…


  3. I love all of your birthday celebrations – fabulously appropriate indulgences! Your captions always make me smile – “The seas are getting rough!” I think I would give up alcohol before chocolate, but I like not having to make the decision… Happy, Happy Birthday, Jackie!


  4. Happy Birthday, Jackie!! The spa day and the chocolate treats both look scrumptious!
    I adore Anne Tyler. You describe what she does wonderfully: “Tyler has a knack for making us sympathize with the characters despite their foolish behavior, eccentricities and narrow-mindedness.” That’s SO well put. And it really is the core of what is so marvelous about her. The ‘story’ usually IS the people/characters in her novels.


    1. I’ve now read two Anne Tyler books and hope I have another serendipitous stoop find soon. 🙂
      Her writing is so subtle – like you wrote, “The story is the people/characters in her novels.” If I’d had a similar story idea come to me, I probably would have discarded it, thinking that it wasn’t enough to build a novel around, but that’s her forte.
      Next up: a Marilynne Robinson book.


  5. You had me at Nutella. I can eat it out of the jar, easily. What a great birthday! Happy Belated to you, Jackie. 🙂
    Love Anne Tyler. I think Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant is her best.


  6. A very happy belated birthday, Ms. C! I hope you had a WONDERFUL day! Sure sounds like it!
    Being it’s still so close to your big day I probably shouldn’t get all critical and such, but, well… the thing I HATE about your blog is that it NEVER makes me hungry! What’s the deal?!


  7. Happy birthday!!!!! I really enjoyed the food porn. Actually my mouth is watering. I haven’t read Anne Tyler yet, but the book sounds wonderful and now I am in search for a copy. I hope you had a wonderful weekend!


  8. I love Anne Tyler. I haven’t read this one but I’m looking forward to it. I also got The Fault in Our Stars. I’ve heard a lot of good things.
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! What a feast…


    1. Thank you for the birthday wishes! I felt very pampered after that weekend.

      I look forward to reading your review of The Fault in Our Stars. I found it to be very gripping and brought me near tears a few times.


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