Books Archive



March 2014



Modern Pioneering – Interview With Georgia Pellegrini and a Giveaway!

Written by , Posted in Book Reviews, Giveaway

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with chef and author Georgia Pellegrini. I had just added her second book, Girl Hunter, to my Kindle when I found out about the interview so it felt a bit like kismet. Not only does Georgia believe in being a responsible omnivore and “paying the full price of the meal” by hunting for the main course herself, she wears lip gloss and Burberry scarves while doing it! (Love her great post on 10 Things for Women to Wear Outdoors!)

Georgia Pellegrini

 photo credit Terry Allen

After college Georgia started out with your typical 9-5 job in finance and left it all behind to pursue her passion for food at the French Culinary Institute in New York City. “The silver lining is when you’re not happy you think about what you’re doing when you are happy-and it was always food and cooking for me.” True that. I know a lot of people, me included, that have tossed around the idea of leaving their current job to pursue something they’re truly passionate about – and that can be a really scary thing! Pellegrini stuck with her “fearless approach to the world” and along with “a lot of blood, sweat, tears and serendipity” she turned her life into her career.

Georgia’s latest book, Modern Pioneering, was inspired by her Adventure Getaways (more on that to come!) and is the absolute perfect read to get you in the mood for Spring and Summer. Full of gorgeous photos to go along her inspiring recipes and how-tos, Modern Pioneering truly embodies Georgia’s philosophy of “manual literacy”, the idea that not everyone may be able to get out to the field and go hunting or grow a huge garden, but “there are ways both large and small that we can all get back to the land and use our hands again and get some dirt under our fingernails.” With recipes like Pellegrini’s favorite Red Wine Popsicles and her Watermelon Keg how-to, you’ll learn a little something about fun drinks too! “I didn’t want it to be a coffee table book. This is a true manual where you can really get messy with it.”

Modern Pioneering Cover

Once you’ve read her books and just can’t get enough of this amazing “girl hunter”, you can pack your bags and join Georgia April 3-6 at The American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin for one of her Adventure Getaways – no experience necessary! “The women often say they feel a little taller after they leave. They get this Amazonian look in their eyes, they sort of transform.” Cooking classes coupled with morning yoga by the lake followed by fly fishing or a day interacting with nature followed by a tall glass of red wine…sounds like an amazing alternative to the typical spa weekend if you ask me! Georgia agrees that “it’s girl bonding at it’s finest”. Get more information on the getaway here.

And now, a few questions for Georgia:

LF: I know a lot of people like me that live in the city and don’t have a whole lot of green space. What are the best ways for city dwellers to get back to the land?

GP: Land can be a patio planter or it can be a fire escape. You can grow 25 lbs of potatoes in a garbage bag, or in the back alley of your apartment building. You can be a guerrilla gardener and throw seed bombs out your window. There are ways to do more with less and have fun in the process, even though we’re all starved for time. Do something like making your own fresh butter in 15 minutes while you’re checking your email or while you’re out for the day you can make fresh mozzarella or a fresh homemade cheese and let it drip while you’re out. Our grandparent’s generation had all of these skills and we’ve really lost touch with a lot of that DIY, can-do spirit.


LF: I’m planning on growing my first back porch garden this year. What are the best vegetables for a first-timer?

GP: Radishes are super easy and delicious-I have a great recipe for buttered radishes in book. Lettuces are quite easy, any kind of greens like watercress or spinach or kale or lettuces. Think about what you eat a lot of-people often overlook that.


LF: What are your favorite Spring ingredients or recipes?

GP: The Pea Pancakes on the cover of the book. Fresh Spring peas are phenomenal and they’re such a fun, whimsical thing. The pancakes are great because you can make small versions of them as little canapés or appetizers, add a little crème fraiche and ham. I also like ramps and wild garlic. There’s a recipe for wild garlic soup in the book. Wild garlic is something you can just pull up from your lawn – it grows everywhere. Purslane is another weed you can pull up. My grandmother used to love that – it has a ton of omega-3s and it grows in the sidewalk cracks. Spring strawberries are also fantastic. There’s a recipe for strawberry, champagne, and black pepper fruit roll-ups in the book which is really fun and a great way to preserve really delicious fruit.


LF: If you could cook one meal for anyone, who would it be and what would you cook?

GP: I’d probably cook for my great-grandfather who I never met. He was a well-known writer and my grandmother, his daughter, read my books about a year ago, all in one sitting, and she called me and said it was so strange because she felt like he was talking to her. We have the same cadence in the way our brains work – shows you the power of DNA because I’ve never known the man. We would probably cook something really simple. My family still owns land he lived on so maybe honey from our honey bees, asparagus that he probably planted, wonderful summer tomatoes, a purslane salad because my grandmother always looks for it in the garden there. We have an amazing rose arbor that he built so maybe the Rose Petal Hazelnut Cake in my book. You scatter rose petals in the batter and on top of the cake because rose petals are edible. And some kind of delicious meat, because I’m a meat girl.


LF: Best advice?

GP: Make sure you’re always being authentic and that what you’re doing is a natural extension of who you really are and the life that you really want to live. You don’t want to live a version of a life that someone else wants you to have because it’s going to sell well. People are smarter than that. My readers and my fans relate to me because I am real with them and I’m authentic with them and that’s important I think-to really live the life you promote.


Can’t wait to pick up a copy of Georgia’s latest book?? Guess what – you could win one right here! I have 3 shiny new copies of Modern Pioneering that will be going out to 3 lucky Lion + Maven readers! Just enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below by 11:59pm on 4/4/2014. US entries only.


a Rafflecopter giveaway



March 2014



Books Worth Reading: Eightysixed by Emily Belden

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Thanks in part to an entire day of jury duty and no glimpse of a courtroom, I poured through Emily Belden’s newly released memoir, Eightysixed: Life Lessons Learned, in under 48 hours. Eightysixed is definitely a page-turner and it felt a little bit like I was reading my own inner dialogue from my early-mid twenties…minus Emily’s “eat, pray, love” experience, unfortunately. I was super excited to interview this fellow Chicagoan and blogger for Lion + Maven’s very first author interview…read on!

Lion + Maven | Eightysixed by Emily Belden

Q: Your memoir, Eightysixed: Life Lessons Learned, debuted last month on Amazon as the #20 best-seller in Women’s Memoirs and #3 in the chef’s category. What can readers expect when they pick up your book?

A really honest and hilarious recount of what it’s like to navigate your 20s. I like to say it’s a blend of Mean Girls, Sex & The City, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and 50 Shades of Grey.

Q: Eightysixed actually started out as a post on your blog Total E-bag. How did you make the jump from blog to book?

I saw how well one of my posts did (the #37th most-visited WordPress blog in a day) and thought there was something to that. Maybe people would really be interested in knowing the backstory of it all. So I committed to the manuscript and never looked back.

 Q: You’ve enjoyed some pretty amazing meals in this city, including the experiences at Schwa and Alinea that you wrote about in Eightysixed. When you’re not dining at Michelin-starred restaurants, what’s your favorite “hidden gem” in Chicago?

My new favorite sweet spot is Beatrix. It’s right in the heart of River North and I swear by everything from their wine list to their 6-inch cookies to their turkey meatloaf. It’s my go-to spot for dinner with the girls.

Q: Your book isn’t the only thing that’s landed you in the public eye. You and your fiancé, Ryan, were on the Today Show after you glued 59,670 pennies to your bedroom floor last year to create The Penny Floor. How did you come up with the idea and were you sick of pennies by the end of it?

I was sick of pennies one-square-foot into the game! The idea came totally from Ryan, he’s the true creative genius between the two of us. One day I came home, and he was gluing money to the floor. So, I just thought, “Ok, I guess we’re doing this…”

 Q: In addition to writing, you also run an online greeting card store called Happy Happy Gay Gay. How did Happy Happy Gay Gay come about?

One of my gay friends got married in California right after DOMA got shot down. I wanted to send a card, but nothing was sassy, sexy, sarcastic enough. So I thought, what the hell, I’ll make my own. One card turned into 10, turned into a fully-functioning eCommerce site.

Q: Now that you’ve got your first book under your belt, any upcoming projects fans can look forward to after reading Eightysixed?

Eightysixed will be adapted to film, so I’m currently working on the infant stages of that process. After that’s squared away, I’ll start the work on my sophomore book, which I expect to be out sometime next year.


Now a few quick-fire questions, just for fun!

Q:  Favorite book?

Beautiful Boy

Q: Go-to cocktail?

A glass of Pinot Noir

Q: Guilty pleasure?

Vanderpump Rules on Bravo

Q: Best advice?

Do you.


Anxious to grab your own copy of Eightysixed? Lion + Maven readers can receive a 30% discount on the book by clicking here and using code QF73U now through March 24!

Lion + Maven | Eightysixed by Emily Belden



August 2012



Book Review-The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Written by , Posted in Book Reviews

When I wrote my first book review on my blog, I said that I wasn’t very good at reviewing books, but that I was going to attempt to do it anyways.  I read a good amount of books and have an opinion on them, even if its as simple as I liked it or I didn’t like it…so like other things I have an opinion on, why not share that on my blog?

So far, I feel like I’ve been able to do a decent job at my reviews-not getting all High School AP English analytical or anything, but I’ve been able to convey my opinion of the book and give my stamp of approval (or disapproval).  This week I’ve been on a roll, 2 books reviewed in one day?!  That’s crazy!  Let’s keep this thing going!

Well yesterday, on our long flight to Kauai, I settled in to “keep this thing going” and read, from start to finish, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.

Even half way through the book I knew that no review I wrote could fully explain my feelings towards the book and everything it is about.

The Fault in Our Stars is a story about Hazel and Augustus, 16 and 17, the former diagnosed with terminal cancer and the later NEC (no evidence of cancer) after a bout of osteosarcoma that claimed his right leg.  It’s about their love story, but also so much more.

I really don’t know how Green did it.  The book isn’t a long book, you don’t get much back story on the characters aside from their cancer, but I was immediately invested in them.  I felt like I knew so much about them, but at the same time I didn’t.  Is that getting too deep?  Too abstract?  Perhaps.  But it’s the best I can do.

Bottom line is this-the writing is fantastic, the story moving, and I highly recommend giving this one a read-just make sure to keep some Kleenex handy.


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