No-Knead Bread Diary Vol. 2

Now that actual bread and baking season is among us, I found that my spring bread entries were still waiting to be published. Other than the standard Cranberry, Sunflower, Seed, and Orange loaf, the other two were good, but not necessarily standards. I’m already in process of attempt #10. More actual bread pictures will follow (hopefully).

Attempt #7 – May 26, 2015 – Cranberry Sunflower Seed Orange

24 hour first rise. 15 mins covered. 25 mins uncovered. Maybe the long first rise was a bad idea because this loaf came out too wet. For the first time, it was so stuck to the dutch oven that I had to rip it out in half. Not much rise. Still tasted good.

Attempt #8 – May 30, 2015 – Toasted Grains – Quinoa, Flax, Millet

1 tablespoon of butter
1 cup mixed grains (quinoa, flax, millet)

Idea taken from Girl Versus Dough. I rinsed the quinoa earlier in the day and let it dry. I melted the butter (more than 1tbsp maybe?) and toasted the grains on low-medium heat for about 10 minutes. I used way too much butter, but it smelled fantastic. Proceeded with my usual recipe (almost one third WW flour).

First rise was about 20 hours. The smell of the bread was even more lovely this time because of the toasted grain.

Attempt #9 – June 13-14, 2015 – White Loaf

Idea taken from The Kitchn. I only used white AP flour, same yeast/water, but I added 11g of kosher salt (accidentally poured too much). After the first rise of about 14 hours, I shaped it into a loaf and put it into my 10×6″ silicone Ikea loaf pan. Even with the silicone, I lightly oiled it with canola and put wheat bran in it. The oiling was not necessary, but the wheat bran made a nice crust. Second rise was for over an hour. I put it in oven for 30 minutes, turning it half way at 15 min. It did not have a good vertical rise (most my breads don’t for some reason).

It was a bit too salty as expected. Crust was still good, but more delicate than usual. I’d do this loaf again though 430g of flour seems a lot for a small loaf.

Monthly Movies – October 2015

The Avengers: Age of Ultron (16 10 15) – A bit long. Hawkeye really grew on me; Jeremy Renner shone in this movie. I like Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch. Everything else was standard Avengers fare.

Trainwreck (26 10 15) – I really enjoyed this. While there were a few scenes that went on too long, most of the movie worked for me. There aren’t enough good romantic comedies like this anymore. Schumer and Hader were wonderful. I thought Schumer did well in her dramatic scenes. The supporting cast was fun. Swinton! At the end of the movie, I wanted more and to follow these characters. A sign of a good movie.

Pitch Perfect 2 (27 10 15) – I knew this would not be as good as the first movie which I really enjoyed. I even have some of the songs on my phone. This second movie was slower paced and I wasn’t as engaged. It had some nice moments and songs, but not enough of them. Not essential viewing.

Rewatched Movies

Groundhog Day (20 10 15) – Was feeling a bit sick so movie time. I read a FiveThirtyEight article on most rewatched movies. Many commenters noted that this was not on the list, but it should have been. I agree. I love the spiritual aspect of this, and it’s my favourite Bill Murray movie.

Home by Marilynne Robinson

I wish I could write like Marilynne Robinson.

Robinson’s works are internal. Not just in terms of the character’s inner lives and thoughts, but the setting. Gilead is the internal, spiritual workings of one man. Housekeeping has this surreal setting of home life and Home continues that setting. All of them have this focus on home life, house life, and the mind of the characters. She somehow captures what it is to be like an introvert so deftly.

I would even say it can almost be a bit clausterphobic how good she is with that isolation people often experience. In this novel, the moments between the family remembers felt almost too real as if I was watching real people talking together. It was very raw and incredibly candid that oddly, during one scene at the end, I wanted to look away.

Very few writers capture the rawness of emotions she does and in a way, the humanity of it especially with respect to the family dynamics. As usual, not much in way of plot happens, but I appreciate the amazing character writing.

Read October 18-20, 2015.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

This was my first time reading Kinsella’s young adult work. I did not know that when I requested this book from the library. It took me awhile to get use to because I kept expecting Kinsella’s adult chicklit and romantic comedy style. However, I gradually began to warm to the characters and the writing.

There is definitely a cuteness to the dialogue and the romance that is typical of Kinsella’s style. I think she also captures the often unique and crazy antics of a family. The title and the young adult nature reminded me of the books by John Green, but less maudlin.

It’s a cute one sitting novel. I think I’ll stick more to Kinsella’s adult novels though.

Read October 17, 2015.

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

The Sleeper and the Spindle

Another beguiling and gorgeous book from Neil Gaiman.

I enjoyed the fairy tale style and illustrations. I love the protagonist and her troop of Dwarves.

There is also a slight creepiness or darkness to Gaiman’s works which is really nice. It’s not over the top most of time and raises the stakes and suspense level. It makes it oddly realistic in a fantasy work.

It’s always a pleasure to read a Gaiman book.

Read October 17, 2015.

Monthly Movies – September 2015

About Time (06 09 2015) – Absolutely wonderful. I wish films like this were more popular. I loved everything about this movie. I think it’s one of the most romantic films I’ve seen in a long time. It’s probably one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. I found it incredibly touching, moving, and simply perfect. Even with the plot holes! I’m a sentimental and introspective person so this movie was right up my alley. Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy are good in everything, but this is definitely some of their best roles for me. Now I have to add Gleeson to my ever growing list of actors whom I adore. Definitely a movie for rewatching in the future.

Man of Steel (06 09 2015) – I can see why this movie didn’t do well. It’s a bit grim and much too serious. However, I really like Henry Cavil as Superman and I think Amy Adams is good Lois Lane. I was satisfied.

The Parent Trap (14-15 09 2015) – Lindsay Lohan really did have a great screen presence. Not sure why I missed this movie since Lohan and I are the same age, but I grew up watching the original version. Even then the idea of those parents divorcing and splitting the girls up annoyed me. In any case, a fun family movie though I got a bit bored toward the end with the shenanigans.

Pollyanna (15 09 2015) – Hayley Mills was on my mind, and I’ve never actually read the book or seen the movie. It was a bit slow in parts, but I enjoyed it. I like how Mills looked like such a real child. She was pretty, but she’d scrunch her face up like a kid. You don’t really see that kind of look in child actors anymore. Jane Wyman was beautiful. I liked the storyline of her being this repressed matriarch.

Wet Hot American Summer (21 09 2015) – Watched because I wanted to see the show, but this movie was a bit meh. It’s silly and at times amusing, but a lot of it wasn’t that funny for me.

Eyes Wide Shut (21-22 09 2015) – I started this years ago and decided to finally finish it. Boring. Well directed, but very slow paced. I would have preferred to see more of Nicole Kidman, but instead watching Tom Cruise being mauled by various women like he’s a sex god. I understood some of the themes, and I think it would have been alright if the pacing was better.

To Die For (22 09 2015) – Nicole Kidman is good in this. What an underrated role for her. Joaquin Phoenix is pretty too.

Bimonthly TV – August and September 2015

Select TV shows, more specifically marathon TV shows, that I watched in August and September. I am going to try to limit myself to one to two (if I have holidays) TV series a month from now on unless I am sick or on holiday.

Episodes (August 2015) – As someone who isn’t a completeionist and find it difficult just to make time for all my consumption and hobbies, I dropped this after watching two seasons. Yes, it had funny moments and I did enjoy the acting. However, I grew a bit wary of the industry jokes and watching Leblanc’s character make an arse of himself. I’ve heard the later seasons get even better so maybe I will revisit. In the mean time, I do think it’s an enjoyable and underrated comedy.

Breaking Bad (August – 20 September 2015) – This show grew on me. I know a lot of people loved it, but I was not particularly engaged with it the first couple of seasons. In fact, I felt like I was watching more because of its place in pop and TV culture rather than because I liked it. It isn’t to say that I disliked it in the beginning, but I didn’t love any of the characters. I think I started to like the show with S3 and S4. The latter is my favourite season because I liked the Gus and Mike characters. At this time, I had grown to appreciate the Jesse Pinkman character and Aaron Paul’s acting. I really liked the characterization and acting in the series. Even the sparse, southwest landscape and direction grew on me. I even managed to feel pity for Walt in the last two episodes! From the beginning, I found him weak and immoral. I never rooted for him until the last episode. I didn’t enjoy the villains or the bleakness of S5, but I did really like the ending. I do not necessarily think it’s the best show ever or even for everybody, but I am glad that I watched it.

Ongoing Shows this month:

  • Great British Bake Off
  • Great British Menu
  • Switched at Birth – I’m back at it, though I still think the show still has many issues
  • The Flash – A couple of reruns so that I am caught up for S02. New show for me.
  • The Muppets – It’s not perfect, but I’m enjoying it a little bit. It’s got major nostalgic factors for me.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

When reading this book, I saw the weaknesses with some of Rowling’s writing. Notably her overuse of certain words (in this case, I counted “salubrious” twice early on) and plot holes. I think her editor could have caught a couple of things. Though I do wonder because with big name authors, editors seem to be less open to suggesting things. In any case, these are minor quibbles.

The mystery was fine. I had an idea who the killer was early on, but Rowling kept throwing lots of red herrings on the way to throw me off. I am noticing that fame and envy are big themes in this series. Cormoran’s own life has themes of these with his family history and his relationship history.

I would like Cormoran more as a character even he did not spend so much time thinking about Charlotte. I don’t like the idea of Charlotte or any character whose primary physical appearance is “beautiful” or so attractive that she made heads turn. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I’m irked by Charlotte’s behavior. Thankfully she does not show up in this book at all and Cormoran shows more character development by getting over her.

I do like the supporting cast a lot and not just Robin. I like Cormoran’s childhood friends and his brother Al. I like Cormoran more when they are around them too. I can only take so much of the anti-hero stuff.

Looking forward to the next book.

Read September 27-29, 2015.

Monthly Movies – August 2015

Selected films that I remember watching in August.


The Wind Rises (August 2015) – I cried. I love Hayao Miyzaki. Beautiful.

John Wick (August 2015) – I saw this in August. Loved it. Can’t wait for the sequel.

The World’s End (August 2015)- Hot Fuzz was better.

Only Lovers Left Alive (August 2015) – Tilda Swintonw + Tom Hiddleston = Love.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (August 2015)- Gorgeous. Ralph Fiennes in one of his most lovely roles. Lovely Saorise. Wes Anderson at his best. This may even eclipse my love for Rushmore and equal to Fantastic Mr Fox.

The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

This novel was okay. I did not hate it, but I did not think it was a credit to Agatha Chistie or a particularly great mystery.

Poirot is not quite Poirot. The character felt a bit forced, but I could overlook that. I had more issues with Detective Catchpool who is insecure, inept and I suspect, deeply repressed in some way. I found the character a very poor narrator and simply annoying. He never spoke up. He never wanted to trust in Poirot even though Poirot is well respected and well known. He seemed surprised Poirot was right. I do not how the author could make such a bad detective character. Christie’s novels have good police detectives who are great friends with Poirot and don’t display Catchpool’s incessant anxiety about his work and value. The ending suggested that the author would like to write more about the bumbling Catchpool which I will not partake in reading.

The mystery was alright until it became ridiculously convoluted. At the ending and resolution, I was trying to figure out why there so many random puzzle pieces. It made me miss Christie’s cleaner denouements and closing acts wherein all the facts were laid bare, but without all the extraneous details. Clever, but not cumbersome or padded.

The lesson here is that I need to read much more of Christie before I consider reading another of these adapted works.

Read September 17-18, 2015

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

This was a lovely novel. I finally found a Tóibín work I adore.

Set in the 1950s, the novel follows an Irish girl as she emigrates to Brooklyn, away from her family and friends. The prose is simple. The characters lightly drawn, but not overly simplistic. The period details were evocative. The themes were classic.

I related to a lot of this novel. Like the protagonist Eilis, I made a journey across an ocean to a place I’d never been, without family or friends, and it took me awhile to adjust. I experienced homesickness in a different way because I do not have siblings, and I chose to move away in away that Eilis did not. Still, living in a new place among st strangers and a different culture will always affect you.

Also like the protagonist, I fell in love for the first time when I went away and the moments Eilis shared with Tony reminded me of those times. It really brought me back. Eilis’s mother also reminded me of my own parents which was unnerving. I find the story very realistic to anyone who has been an immigrant before.

I read this novel in anticipation of the upcoming movie starring Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, and Domhnall Gleeson with an adapted screenplay by Nick Hornby. I knew the general story based on the trailer and this is a love triangle though it’s obvious what Eilis will do however tempting it is. I’m excited for the movie not only because I enjoyed the book. I adore Ronan and think she’s my curent favourite ingenue actress. She’s talented and beautiful. I have a crush on Gleeson, but I know his part will be small. My penchant for Hornby’s work has been documented on this blog before. I think he’s the right author to adapt this work.

All in all, a satisfied book experience in anticipation with what will probably be a satisfied film one.

Read September 6-7, 2015.

FO Friday: Katsura

These socks took me eight months to finish and then I delayed photographing them for another three months. All in all, it took me about a year to get this post up. I am not knitting as much as I use to be. When I started these socks, I hoped it would get me back into it. In the past, I could finish a pair of socks in two weeks even while working full-time. I blame myself for picking this pattern. The twisted stitches made these socks very slow. It’s too bad as these were my first pair of socks from this book.

Katsura, started September 2, 2014, finished June 2, 2014.Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Katsuara by Judy Sumner from Knitted Socks East and West Ravelry Pattern Page
Yarn: Froehlich Wolle Special Blauband – 50g/225 yards – 2 skeins – #74
Needles: US#1/2.25mm – 100cm circular

Modifications & Notes:

  • Judy’s Magic CO 2AAT on ML using La-Rink and La-Link for toe increases.
  • Fleegle Heel
  • Yarn came with reinforcing thread so I used it for toes but forgot the heels
  • K2P1 ribbing
  • Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy BO

Cost of Project: Yarn was Random Act of Kindness gifted from Ravelry. Thank you. Cost of book was around $10-15CAD probably.
Would I knit it again? No.