Finally Outside

comments: 149





We had really nice and strangely quiet little Fourth of July yesterday — Andy's fighting off some sort of hanging-on virus, I was really tired, and the pets were pretty stressed about the constant fireworks. Our sweet neighborhood friends Katie and Tim invited us for a little BBQ at their house across the street, and that was just perfect.

I feel like I'm starting to get back in the swing of things. I could use some help, though: Do you have a good 1) fish taco recipe and/or 2) spy-thriller-type book recommendation?

(I added the vanilla buttermilk cake recipe here! This was delicious, but definitely best the first or maybe second day. Eat it fast!)


My husband grills small white fish fillets (perch, white bass, tilapia) over charcoal, seasoned with salt and ancho chili powder. I make pico de gallo (tomato, green onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt) and guacamole (avocados, garlic, cilantro paste, lime juice, salt). Eat it all in corn tortillas with a lime juice twist.

Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon series fits right into the spy thriller genre. The Kill Artist is the first book in the series, and he's about to release another called The Fallen Angel. It's one of my absolute favorite series of books ever!


I'd like to recommend Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith.

I'd like to recommend Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith.

Spy-thriller-type recommendations -- yes!

Have you read An Ordinary Spy, by Joseph Weisberg? It's sooo good and very unusual, I thought.

I'm in the middle of The 500, by Matthew Quirk -- definitely a thriller, not sure about the spy part, but very entertaining so far...

Also no spies, but thrillers, if you allow for a loose definition:

The Yard by Alex Grecian
Pocket Kings by Ted Heller
The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

I highly recommend all of them, truly!

"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" by John LeCarre is pretty darn good--a bit thick in places, but riveting.

"In the Woods" and its follow-up, "The Likeness" by Tana French are wonderful, and her prose is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.


For the pets next year, give them half or a quarter of Benadryl--seriously! Our vet recommended it for our corgi, and she was fine last night--just mellows them out.

My favorite fish taco recipe comes from The Southwest cookbook from Williams Sonoma ( It is a bit of work and you need to marinate for a couple hours, but it is SOOOO yummy!!

I just saw the recipe by Marcus Samuelsson in Everyday Food and it looks yummy too.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier comes to mind. A thriller set in 1930s England. Very romantic with a mysterious gentleman and a big old house next to the sea. Saw the movie afterwards—the book is so much better!

I love me some good spy fiction (and films!!).

In terms of author series to look out for, I definitely recommend Clive Cussler and Daniel Silva (The Rembrandt Affair was good!).

Other notable books/series:

-The MIlo Weaver Trilogy (Steinhauer)
-Hornet Flight (Follett)
-Code to Zero (Follett)
-The Cure (Cook)

Centsational Girl says: July 05, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Hi Alicia, wanted to recommend my fish taco recipe, especially if you love a little spice!
Love your blog!

The blue Hydrangeas are gorgeous! I just finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, a total page turner, and you don't know what's going to happen until the end, I loved it.

Oh yes, Gone Girl, I meant to put that on my list for you but I forgot. I second the rec, though!

Gone Girl is great! I couldn't put it down.

I felt like my last batch of fish tacos fell flat so no rec there, but for a spy-thriller type read, I recommend "The Informationist" and sequel "The Innocent" by Taylor Stevens. Both great reads!!

Spy thriller recommendation: try the books by Vince Flynn. It's a series, so you may want to start at the first, but the individual books do stand alone. Try "Memorial Day" first if you don't feel compelled to read chronologically.
I don't have a fish taco recipe %^(
I enjoy your photos so much! If I ever move from New England, I really want to move to your neck of the country!

No fish taco recipes from me. But, I can highly recommend anything Tana French to fit your spy-thriller-type book.
IN THE WOODS, THE LIKENESS, or FAITHFUL PLACE. The fourth book, BROKEN HARBOUR, is due out in 2 more weeks!! I hope Andy is feeling tip-top in no time. xoxo, i

If you have not read the books by Sig Larsen, I highly recommend them...Definitely read them in order...
You have probably heard of them: The girl with the dragon Tattoo, The girl who played with fire, and The girl who kicked the hornet's nest...

Please let us know about the fish taco's when you make them...


stacy'smom3 says: July 05, 2012 at 11:47 AM

I love these fish tacos from patio daddio

Also loved the Dragon Tattoo series from Steig Larssen

OK, I was late to the party on these ones but maybe you have not read them yet. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books! SO GOOD, all three. Could not stop reading. Gave up sewing time to read. So. That tells you what you need to know.

jeannette says: July 05, 2012 at 11:55 AM

this sauce sammy makes is so good you'll want to put it on everything.

I like some of the older spy books. A long-time favorite author is Helen MacInnes and favorite titles include "Above Suspicion" and "The Salzburg Connection."

Recommend any of the Daniel DeSilva books - great spy thrillers and very good summer reads!

I have to second Tinker, Tailor. There's a companion book that has glossaries, etc. that is really helpful for digging through it, called Smiley's Circus, and you can get it used through Amazon (or Damazon, as my dad calls it.). We rely on this NPR article for our Fish Taco recipes:

Having lived in San Diego for six years, I feel very fond of the fish taco, and this article says that the fish taco is to San Diego is what the cheeseteak is to Philly, and that appeals to my Pennsylvanian husband!

Novels I recommend: World Made by Hand, and its sequel, The Witch of Hebron, both by James Howard Kunstler. The setting is rural upstate New York in a near-future world where the economy has collapsed due to no more oil coming from the middle east. People have to re-learn how to live and how to structure their communities. Good stories that make you think... Hard to put down.

Hi Alicia.. looks like a mellow and nice 4th you had. I just posted photos of the 4th of July parade we had here in Corbett, hope you can find time to pop over and see. Isn't the weather perfection? Gorgeous!! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.