Month: March 2014

The Golem and the Jinni – a book review

Do you get emails from the big book chains telling you what’s new and offering free shipping? Well, I do and they lure me in big time. That’s how I came to order The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker’s debut novel. I’m also a total sucker for first novels so I had no defences for this one. And it is so good!
www.nestinthewest.comOtto Rotfield is emigrating to America and wants to have a bride with him. Unable to find what he’s looking for in a real-life woman, he consults with a mysterious man who creates a golem for him – made of clay and programmed to serve her master. Otto awakes his golem/bride mid voyage but does not survive the journey. The golem arrives in 1899 New York with no idea how to behave, what to expect and how to mix with humans.

Across town in Little Syria, a tin smith sets out to repair a battered copper flask he’s been charged with by a neighbor. When he erases one of the designs on the flask, out comes a jinni who’s been trapped inside for thousands of years.

The golem and the jinni face similar issues. They, of course, meet and recognize each other as what they truly are. One made of earth, the other of fire, a friendship develops and a mystery unfolds. No spoilers here!
www.nestinthewest.comBrilliantly told by Wecker, this story hooked me from the start…as in, making time to sit on the couch on a Saturday afternoon! Great characters working their way through moral issues and an underlying mystery with the best of intentions. The mix of Jewish custom, Middle Eastern mythology and historical New York setting works so well to ground this fantasy in reality…like maybe it could actually happen. And the ending is perfect!

Chalkboard cutting board DIY

www.nestinthewest.comAm I the only one still loving the chalkboard paint trend or do I have some company? There are so many fun projects to take on (as you may have seen here, here and here) that I’m still rolling with it. This weekend I whipped up a couple of chalkboard painted cutting boards which I think are ideal for labelling your offering at a pot luck or for a fun message at snack time.
The supplies are simple and readily available:

  • A cutting board
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Paint brush
  • Painters’ masking tape

www.nestinthewest.comUse the tape to mask off a portion of the board for painting. With larger boards, I left about a 3″ strip on one long edge. On the snack board I did a narrow strip on each short side following the pattern of the board. Wrap the tape all the way around the board as you’ll be painting the front, sides and back. Burnish the tape well onto the board. Now you’re ready to paint! I did 4 light coats allowing each to dry for about an hour between coats. Don’t be alarmed if your first 2 coats are a bit streaky. The later coats will even this out. You can set the wet board on top of the roll of tape to lift it off your painting surface and allow all painted bits to dry at once. When the final coat of paint is dry, remove the painters tape carefully. Allow the paint to cure for a good 24-48 hours. Then condition the chalkboard portion by rubbing a layer of chalk over the entire surface then brushing it off. This will leave a bit of a cloudy finish, which is good. This step is important! If you skip it, the first message you write on the board will never completely erase. Once you use the cutting board, just wipe it clean with a damp cloth, do not soak or put it in the dishwasher. How easy was that?
www.nestinthewest.comwww.nestinthewest.comThis is an ideal project for a day off. You can get all 4 coats of paint on in a day then let it dry overnight…or 2. I think they’d be good presents for weddings, housewarming or just for foodie friends…be sure to pass on care instructions too. I’ve had great luck finding bamboo cutting boards at the dollar store for less than $5 and I use Martha Stewart’s chalkboard paint, bought at Michaels with a coupon. Economical, functional and fun…my favorite kind of craft!