Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Let's all agree that Amy Poehler is adorably great.  I love the shows she has appeared in (Arrested Development), starred in (Parks and Recreation), and produced (Broad City).  She never seems to hold back, always giving an honest and unapologetic performance, especially as Leslie Knope in Parks and Rec.  After reading the cover of Yes Please in Target, I decided it had enough Poehler fun and honesty to check out from the library.

Before I go any further, I really need to confess that the blatant disregard of that comma in the title upsets me.  This irritation has not lessened over time, and if I had not finished this book and this post sooner, I really cannot say what might have happened.

I have read very few memoirs.  In fact, I'm not entirely sure what a memoir is.  The only one I know I've read for sure is the wonderful The Glass Castle because it told me it was "a memoir" right on the cover.  Having never read a comedian's memoir before, I did not really know what to expect.  It was a collection of the experiences that have led her to this moment, the moment where she is famous enough and old enough to write an entire book about her journey and have people actually interested in reading it.  A criticism I had while nearing the end was the question of audience.  Who exactly was supposed to be reading this?  It seemed like a very long letter to Poehler's closest friends, which provided a nice intimate tone but felt slightly exclusionary.  Then after reading this great review, I agreed with this blogger that Amy Poehler was writing for herself.

Yes Please reads almost more like an advice book than a memoir, and there were several quotes or mottoes that resonated with me.  A favorite about knowing her own tricks: "I am really onto myself.  I've got Amy Poehler's number."  Another, in regards to choices women have to make as parents and career people: "Good for you. Not for me."

This book was quick, mostly light, and funny with a lot of charming photos.  If you like Poehler, you should read it and become your friend circle's Amy Poehler expert.  And if you've never checked out her "Smart Girls at the Party" video clips on her website, go! Do it!  Here are some good ones:

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Cookie Butter Hot Chocolate

Happy V Day, sweet people!

In the spirit of V Day, I want you to do something for me.  Do something today to show yourself that you love you.  Maybe it's watching your favorite movie.  Maybe it's spending the day with your favorite person.  Maybe it's making a donation to an organization that means a lot to you.  Maybe it's wearing your favorite outfit or getting that ear piercing you've really been wanting.  Maybe it's doing yoga and drinking more water.  Maybe it's making a cup of cookie butter hot cocoa for you and your Galentine.

Yesterday I made this hot cocoa for my Galentine Jill.  This recipe came from an intense need for cookie butter and a severe lack of pretzels.  While gingerbready cookie butter goes great with spoons, that seemed like a lazy Galentine's treat.  The gingerbread flavor is subtle but adds creaminess and a bit of spice. Try it; it's nice.

Cookie Butter Hot Cocoa
makes two

2 1/2 cups milk (any kind)
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons Speculoos cookie butter
2 tablespoons agave nectar or white sugar
whipped cream or marshmallows

Put the first four ingredients in a saucepan and heat on low, whisk til the cookie butter and cocoa powder are incorporated.  Pour into two cute matchy mugs and swirl in ice cream-like Cool Whip or float tiny marshmallow dots.

Remember how wonderful and lovely you are, wear cozy socks, and sip chocolate when you aren't eating it.  Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Review: Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

Narrated by an unnamed young man who moves into Holiday Golightly's humble New York apartment building, the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's is an account of Miss Golightly's last months in New York City as told from her quiet upstairs neighbor's perspective.  "Fred", as Holly calls him, chronicles their friendship from the aspiring writer's move-in to the first time Holly climbs in through his window in escape of a drunken, boring lover.  He ends his story with the last time he ever sees this woman, mysterious as she is stylish, as she flees the city in a lonely taxi.

I was excited to find that Breakfast at Tiffany's reminded me of The Great Gatsby in a lot of ways.  Capote's nameless first person narrator is a peripheral one very similar to Nick Carraway.  Both are the young, introverted, and slightly aimless new neighbors of two seriously chic characters.

Holly Golightly's personality could be considered a combination of those of Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby.  She is flighty and sweetly dismissive while being smooth and grandiose.  One important difference out of many between Holly and Daisy is that Holly is a "liberated woman" of the 1940s who doesn't care what people think of her, and in fact, she enjoys shocking them.

Both Mr. Gatsby and Miss Golightly fuel their exciting lifestyles with money earned in less than honest ways.  They both move to New York City and alter their names to hide the lowly pasts that embarrass them, but they trust their stories' narrators enough to admit their secret histories.  Nick Carraway and "Fred" are fascinated by their melancholy neighbors, and though they disapprove of many of their decisions, their concern for them, whether motivated by pity or friendship, is apparent.

I didn't read this book.  I listened to someone read it to me.  Breakfast at Tiffany's was one of the first audio books I have ever listened to, but they feel familiar because they remind me of my mom reading aloud to my sisters and me.  They remind me of sitting around the living room, or more often squished in one chair, listening to the tales of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Louisa May Alcott.  My mom made sure to read us stories about brave, hard-working, and compassionate girls, and Jill and I would daydream about living in a log cabin and wearing bonnets and lace-up boots and having a fourth sister who died of scarlet fever.  You know, all that fun 1800s stuff.

With audio books, the work of reading is gone and you are a kid again with few responsibilities.  (Just kidding, you still have to do the dishes, but at least you can listen to the audio book while you wash!)  While audio books manage to feel both nostalgic and time-efficient, I have noticed that I don't hold on to the details of the story as well when I don't have the visual memory component of words on a page.  Still, audio books are great for "reading" books I probably wouldn't have read to myself.

Breakfast at Tiffany's was one such book.  I once saw the opening of the film adaptation, but I wasn't very interested in Holly Golightly beyond Audrey Hepburn's iconic black dress and dark shades.  Nevertheless, when Breakfast at Tiffany's popped up as my first Audible suggestion, I decided to give it a listen, and with the great dialogue that dominates this short novel, it turned out to be a great choice.