Thursday, September 12, 2013

Relishing Life // A Book Review

When I picked up Daphne Oz’s book, Relish: An Adventure in Food, Style, and Everyday Fun (purchase here), I was instantly intrigued by the idea behind the book (making the most of your everyday life) and the gorgeous glossy photos inside. It was still in hard back, and contained a LOT of content, a little more expensive than I (the thrift-a-holic) prefers to spend on books… but somehow I couldn’t keep from buying it, or make myself return it. For some reason I needed to keep this book. Even after I bought it I kept it on my shelf for several months before I finally started reading it on the flight home from our most recent vacation. Once I dove in, I couldn’t stop reading. I think I read about half of it on the two hour flight and then about another fourth in the week following. I took a break while packing and moving… but once I felt relatively settled I picked it back up and the end of the journey flew by. I truly relished this book.Relish is part cookbook part lifestyle guide and all very interesting. Oz ranges from the topics of cooking to maintaining friendships, Beauty to Travel and many places in between. I felt that I could really relate to Oz and her zest for life. I loved her positive outlook and her desire to make the most of even the most ordinary day. She advocates for indulging in wholesome delicious food, including dessert and taking time to relax and try new things … not just on the weekends.The recipes are partially exotic, slightly gourmet, a little bit healthy with some home-style thrown in there. Some are a little too out there for me to start with, but others I can’t wait to try like the Chile Jam Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Peaches, Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies and Fudgy Banana Muffins.  I'm guessing that the more I cook from the book, the more I will branch out and try the recipes that are farther from my comfort zone!! She gives tips and tricks with each recipe and a description of why she included the particular recipe. I can’t wait to try some of them out and review them for you! I hope that it will add some new favorites to my rotation.Oz is a girl after my own heart, in the lifestyle sections of the book she shares her love of shopping in flea markets, entertaining her loved ones and exploring the world around her both near and far. I loved the way she designed her sections, because it wasn’t just cut-and-dry tips and tricks, it was filled with stories of her actual experiences both funny and insightful along the way. She shares a lot about her family, which I loved. There is nothing quite like the wisdom that we inherit from our relatives. I especially loved her story about her mother holding a dinner party when the family cat decided to come inside with a snake in his mouth. She turned it into one of the most memorable parties that they had because she went with it, and didn't let it ruin her evening. I loved that, and hope that I can remember the story when I feel the panic of imperfection seeping into my everyday life. (I’m a panic-er… I’m working on it..). These moments don't have to set a negative tone for the rest of the day! :)One section that I honestly didn’t expect to get much out of was the one on friends, family and romantic relationships. In general I feel like I’ve got a solid family life, definitely an extremely solid marriage and my friendships have been pretty inconsistent and oftentimes frustrating. So I just wasn’t really interested, but it turned out being one of the chapters that I’ve reflected on the most, specifically the friendship part.Oz explains the difference between having standards and having expectations of your friends (and other relationships). This is honestly something I’d never thought about before, but I found extremely helpful in my own relationship struggles. You’ve got to have standards for the people in your life (ex. My friends will not steal from me, my friends won’t insult me etc.), if they don’t meet them then they aren’t good for you. If you have a friend who breaks a standard that is really important to you, then that person doesn’t make the cut as a great friend! That might sound harsh, but really it helps you take care of yourself. That is a choice that you can make and a situation that you can control. But expectations are a whole different thing. Expectations are based on the actions of others, and the end results are not cut-and-dry. There is too much wiggle room that leaves you disappointed or hurt by others, you’ve lost the power of your own happiness. For example, if you expect your friend to show up for every get-together you have, and she doesn’t, YOU will end up feeling hurt, when the expectation is not something that you can control the outcome of, you're stuck upset and wondering what to do! I don’t know about you guys, but I tend to set expectations all the time, for me, for others and they are rarely fair… and almost never within my control. Reading this section actually helped me feel really free about a difficult situation going on in my own life! I no longer feel torn about how to act, feel or interact with someone who betrayed my friendship standards in the past (even if I didn’t know about this idea at the time). I really wish I’d read this back then...but I’m feeling so good about finding it now! It’s very interesting. In addition I read a great post by a blogger (& Singer/Songwriter, Brooke White) I follow that was related and just as helpful! The combo has really made me feel better. You can read her post on friendship break-ups here.Ultimately I think that I was meant to find this book even if just for this one passage. It has been so tremendously helpful in my healing process. 

Check out Daphne Oz's book Relish, you'll learn so much and really enjoy it!

Have you read Relish? What did you think?

Have you tried out any of her recipes yet?!?

What are you reading? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading! :) 



  1. great to hear your thoughts on this book, alexandra! so funny that a lot of what jay + i have been discussing lately relate to the power of unmet expectations and how somethings, in marriage and friendships, we don't even know we're going into the relationship with these expectations. then something happens and we're so upset and confused as to why! haha i felt like i was reading a conversation i just had. this book looks great! hope you're having a good christmas season!

  2. How funny! I don't know I guess I'd never thought about it that way, so once I read it I was like WOW! I feel so much better! :) Glad you are able to work through it too. :) Same to you! Merry Christmas. :)


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