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I am “caked out"! Birthdays for both of the boys within five days has me swearing off chocolate. You can see the cakes above; yes, the emergency delivery of fudge marble cake mix came just in time. I know it’s a mix, but I found that it came out much better this time as I beat the eggs into the oil and water with a whisk, and I actually measured the batter for the fudge part of the mix instead of guessing. My husband constantly tells me that baking is chemistry and science. Well, I was never great at science, which may be the reasons that my baking skills definitely require measuring, often twice.

At last week’s “Bookaccino Live” event, people commented on the background in my office studio. Remember how I said I would not shelve books by color? Confession here: The backdrop of my set for “Bookaccino Live” and “Bookreporter Talks To” interviews is all blue books. Here’s why. First of all, the aqua wall behind the bookshelves is not getting repainted. So we already have color there. We tried various books as backgrounds, but realized that shelving in one color or blocks of color was less distracting, and it made it look more like a solid wall, especially against the aqua. Also, when you light a room for video, it’s amazing how light will reflect off of white or metallics. So in mid-November, Greg and I traipsed around the house and collected all the blue-toned books. And it worked! The family room also has a number of books in it, and now a lot less blue ones are there.

And just like that, we are halfway through the month of January!

We watched Alex Trebek’s final episode of "Jeopardy!" last Friday night, and it got me thinking about tsundoku, which was one of the clues/answers. Its definition is “acquiring reading materials, but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them.” It also refers to books for reading later when they are on a bookshelf. Alex mentioned that he was guilty of this, made all the more sad as he passed away shortly after taping this final episode. I found kinship with him. While I am a very quick reader, there are hundreds of books here at the house that I still want to read. Last night, I did recycle a huge pile of newspapers that I finally admitted I will never get to. While I do not read books online, I do read newspapers online. My husband reads them in print. I also get no magazines here at the house. I know I will not read them. I also read them online, because no, even for $5 a year, I do not want to get Vanity Fair here.

It’s nice to be back after a very needed and much-enjoyed break; it was lovely to not have a schedule for a few weeks. That said, I was thinking of you all as I read and watched lots of programs on streaming services.

I also learned something very interesting: butter on the west coast is packaged differently than butter on the east coast. It’s still a 4-oz stick, but on the east coast it’s long and skinny, while on the west coast it's shorter and fatter. I bought butter at Trader Joe’s, which is headquartered on the west coast. I got home and started baking and was confused looking at it. Greg walked into the kitchen and said, “Oh, you have west coast butter.” My son, the traveler, once again jumps in with a random fact. I think that I baked one batch of cookies with twice as much butter as a result, since I thought it was just a half stick. But if I did, no one seemed to notice.