Design

Four Fun Things

Mark your calendars: The release of Catastrophe’s fourth season is just one week away on March 15th. The show follows an Irish teacher (Sharon Horgan) living in London as she falls for an American advertising exec — and all their ups and downs as they build a life together. It’s so funny, even just seeing Rob Delaney’s giant head, above, makes me laugh out loud.

Berndnaut Smilde clouds

Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde makes clouds in unexpected places, using just smoke and water vapor. Something is so moving about them, don’t you think? They have such childlike personalities but are so vulnerable and ethereal.

my sister the serial killer book

Have you read anything good lately? I’ve been tearing through My Sister, the Serial Killer. Part thriller, part dark comedy, the pulpy plot keeps me up late reading every night. The book is a “scorpion-tailed little thriller,” says the New York Times; and Marie Claire calls it “the wittiest and most fun murder party you’ve ever been invited to.”

chocolate banana bread

We are having some friends over this Sunday morning, and we’re been brainstorming something sweet for everyone to nibble on. Any recommendations? I’m leaning toward this chocolate banana bread, which seems surprisingly easy and uses mostly pantry ingredients.

P.S. More fun things, and three great books.

  1. Lidia says...

    Thanks to your recommendation, I downloaded My Sister The Serial Killer on my kindle and devoured it in two days! My sister is my best friend, so I was immediately fascinated by the relationship between these sisters. A quick read that left me wanting more!

  2. Sinds says...

    Hi I made that banana cake and WHOA. Highly recommend.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so glad to hear it!!!!!! we ended up making a fruit salad and getting apple cider donuts, but next time that cake it mine :)

  3. Deborah McColley says...

    Such a brilliant show. So sad this is the last season.

  4. Quinn says...

    Just laugh cried through the Catastrophe trailer. That show is absolutely brilliant. So excited to watch but so sad it’s over.

  5. Kaitlin says...

    In Honor of International Women’s Day I have to suggest “Good and Mad” by Rebecca Traister. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39939208-good-and-mad I loved, loved, loved this book. It’s non fiction and about how women (and our anger) have propelled movements and history. I was cheering the author on, angry by how much I learned for the first time while reading this book, and utterly inspired by it’s message. I think you guys will love it too!

  6. Sasha L says...

    I’m reading Dear America, Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas. It’s just incredible, I can’t put it down. Required reading for compassionate hearts in this age.

  7. ashley says...

    Is anyone else bothered by “…the most fun murder party you’ve ever been invited to”?

    • Alix says...

      Thank you for saying this. Yes, I find it incredibly insensitive. My best friend was murdered at age 22 in a senseless act of random violence. This book description, along with shows like CSI or podcasts like “My Favorite Murder” seem to glorify violent crime. I am envious of people who find this type of content entertaining, because it implies they don’t know what it feels like to lose someone to murder.

  8. Laura D. says...

    I’m currently reading “Kid Gloves” by Lucy Knisley. I’ve loved her since you recommended “French Milk” many moons ago. In fact, as I was reading her new book about motherhood last night, I was thinking that it would be so cool to see you do a Week of Outfits or Beauty Uniform with her. She is unconventional, she seems so accessible and cool, and I’d be really interested to see her responses.

    • Danielle says...

      Yes! I love Lucy so much. Her instagram is just the best.

  9. Linda says...

    I love the whimsical cloud photos.

    The book, on the other hand, sounds like the epitomy of abuse, codependency, and toxicity. Not sure why it’s being recommended.

  10. Claire says...

    I have a book rec for mystery/ thriller fans: The Current, by Tim Johnston.
    I loved the writing and the characters.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! we were saving it for the link list, but it will be up soon :) i LOVED it. he’s amazing and his quotes were really beautiful.

  11. Julie S says...

    Just finished Where the Crawdads Sing in less than 3 days. Loved it!

  12. Heather McMuniga says...

    “The show follows an Irish teacher (Sharon Horgan) living in London as she falls for an American advertising exec — and all their ups and downs as they build a life together. ”

    This is so not how I would describe Catastrophe!

    More like “An American advertising exec and an Irish teacher get knocked up and decide to give it a go. Hilarity ensues.”

  13. Tonia says...

    Can’t beat a bundt cake and coffee for a late morning gathering with friends.

    • Claire says...

      I am on a mission to instigate a coffee cake comeback. I find them superior to muffins and scones. Ok, not really, I just said that to be dramatic, so no need to reply with a pro-muffin political statement, but I do love a good coffee cake and they seem to have been relegated to the dusty archives of my mother’s generation. And I, for one, think they deserve more. (I am the norma rae of coffee cake!)

    • Amen to Claire on the coffee cake revival. Can this be a cookbook? (Or my future band name..? Haha.) I secretly want to start a monthly baking club where we all bring variations of coffee cakes and hang out on weekend mornings.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “my future band name” = hahaha, i would totally listen to coffee cake revival!

    • Sasha L says...

      I really love the idea of a cookbook titled, Coffee Cake Revival. Here’s my dear friend Stacie’s grandma’s recipe, it’s amazing. She makes it for me whenever I come visit.

      Grandma Nell’s Coffee Cake
      Mix all together:
      1 cup flour
      1/2 cup sugar
      1 1/2 tsp baking powder
      1/2 cup milk
      1 tsp oil
      1 egg
      1 tsp vanilla
      1/4 tsp salt
      Pour into 8 inch square sprayed pan.
      Melt together 1/2 c butter, 1/2 c brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and pour in swirls on top of batter. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes and serve warm.

    • Claire says...

      Posie- terrific band name, and I love the bake club idea. Also now I think I should open a coffee shop called Coffee Cake Revival. Thanks, Sasha for the recipe. I saved it and will give it a go. Here is a recipe that I have been making since I was a girl, from my mother’s old 1950’s University of Chicago cookbook.

      Apple Coffee Cake w/ Streusel topping
      Sift together:
      1 1/2 cups flour
      2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
      1/2 cup sugar
      1/2 tsp salt
      1/2 tsp cinnamon
      beat together:
      1 egg
      1/2 cup milk
      1/4 cup melted butter
      Pour wet into dry ingredients and stir to combine just until everything is moistened. Stir in 1 1/2 – 2 cups peeled chopped apples (I use Granny Smith or McIntosh because they are kind of tart)
      Turn into well greased 8 inch square baking dish.
      Add streusel topping: 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tablespoon softened butter- worked together w/ fingers to make a crumbly mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes (test it w/ toothpick to make sure apples are soft and the batter isn’t still gooey)

    • Sasha L says...

      Claire, omg yum!!! Saving your Apple cake recipe for our next cake occasion, like the day being Friday.

  14. Claire says...

    Love all of these fun things, and I can’t wait for Catastrophe season 4.

  15. Julie says...

    This is essentially a clafouti, it’s so easy to make and you can use whatever seasonal fruit your heart desires.

    https://smittenkitchen.com/2013/10/purple-plum-torte/

    As for books, I just finished Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars and I’m about to start The Dry, by Jane Harper.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that looks SO good.

  16. Sue Harris says...

    Currently reading The Library Book by Susan Orleans. Love her writing–The Orchid Thief is one of my all time favorites.

    • Sasha L says...

      Thank you for this!! I heard a fascinating podcast about her books a while back and wanted to read them, but then forgot! Just put both on hold at my library.

  17. Lauren E. says...

    I freaking LOVE Catastrophe! Sharon Horgan is a queen.

  18. Jean says...

    I’m in the UK so I’ve already seen Catastrophe 4, no spoilers but it’s bittersweet :(

  19. Kelly says...

    Banana bread is great, but I particularly love these: https://food52.com/recipes/15110-cinnamon-sugar-breakfast-puffs

    My dad made these in mini-muffin tins when I was a kid, and the littles can help dunk each in the melted butter and sugar. He always added a little nutmeg to his sugar, too. They taste like donut holes.

  20. Andrea says...

    I wish Catastrophe would spin off a series that just followed Chris of Chris and Fran. What an amazing actor he is!

    • Julie says...

      I love EVERY scene with Chris!

  21. omg omg omg CATASTROPHE and Queer Eye on the same day!? Beyond excited ;)

    PS Joanna: is it possible to sign up ONLY for the comment replies to your own comment instead of the entire post?

    • Kim says...

      I second this request

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’ll find out!

  22. Mac says...

    Ina Garten’s lemon yogurt cake 😋😋😋

    I love Catastrophe sooo much!

  23. Whitney Morrison says...

    Do the chocolate chip banana bread. We always place ours in the fridge after it cools to make it less crumbly. I just make a standard banana bread and throw a bunch of chocolate chips in. The girls love it and call it “mama’s famous banana bread!”

  24. Definitely Smitten Kitchen’s Big Crumb coffee cake. I swap out the berries and use raspberry jam instead (easier!) BUT my secret to getting this cake to bake properly is to bake just the cake until almost done and then spread the jam and crumbs on top for a few more minutes . Works like a charm👌🏻

  25. Nigerian Girl says...

    I just read and loved Evening in Paradise by the great Lucia Berlin. It’s atmospheric, lyrical and funny. Highly recommended. I’m now reading Don’t Cry by Mary Gaitskill.

    • Eloise says...

      I loved Evening in Paradise, too. Lucia Berlin was magic on a page.

  26. Adel says...

    Fresh Cinnamon buns!
    My little hack- buy Rhodes bread dough, defrost, roll out and up into cinnamon buns. Rise for 20 min, bake at 400 for 20 min. Bestseller every time!!

  27. Molly says...

    Bread looks good, but it will get all over your house!
    Make lemon bars for the lighter crumb. (It is still citrus season.)

    • Laura says...

      I made a double batch of Dessert for Two’s microwave lemon curd last weekend and it is spring in a cup and sooo easy. Maybe pair with cream scones from Joy of Cooking, also super easy.

    • RM says...

      We love this one too!

  28. Sarah says...

    So excited for Catastrophe but almost in a nervous way, if that makes sense. That show can make me pee laughing and then cry minutes later when it cuts to the bone with how effing hard marriage and parenthood can be. I just read the recent Vulture piece about Rob Delaney and had no idea he had experienced such an unimaginable tragedy and still made it through the fourth season. So I’m impatient to see it but also suspect I’ll be watching with my heart in my throat.

    On a lighter note, Smitten Kitchen MARBLED chocolate banana bread has never let me down. I just got a flat tire this week on the way to pick up my kid and when a fellow mom bailed me out by waiting 30 minutes with my daughter and then giving us a ride, I made a loaf for her as thanks. It fixes everything! Except tires.

    • Betsy says...

      I feel anxious just watching the trailer for Catastrophe for that reason!! In fact, true confession- I can’t watch it anymore because it’s too stressful. I am glad to hear I’m not the only one!

  29. Joy b says...

    Fresh warm bagels. A tub of scallion cream cheese. Some orange slices. And peach juice + champagne for peach mimosas!!! Xox

    • That sounds amazing! I wish I could bookmark your comment somewhere. I have to do this!

    • Rae says...

      Joy, that sounds so delicious. Why do I live in a rural college town with no good bagels for miles and miles and miles : (

  30. Emily says...

    I just read There There by Tommy Orange, which was STUNNING and will stick with me for a long time. I read it all in one sitting on an airplane flight — the best way to enjoy a great book, uninterrupted :)

    • Lynn says...

      This has been on my list forever and I think you just reminded me to pick it up…I sometimes find myself craving a long flight just for uninterrupted reading time. Sigh…

  31. Kelsey says...

    Sometimes, it just makes me so happy to find that y’all have curated the internet for me again. I don’t have time to hunt down all the things, but I can do a two-minute check of cupofjo!

  32. Christina says...

    ahhhhhh I love that you recommended My Sister the Serial Killer! Seriously one of my favorite books in a WHILE. It’s weirdly light-hearted and so fun to read! She captures the sister relationship brilliantly. And it’s pretty brief – don’t worry, all, it doesn’t drag on forever unnecessarily. Jo, are you following me on Goodreads? ;)

  33. Katie says...

    I loved My Sister the Serial Killer. I’m anxious to see what else this author does! I just read Milkman by Anna Burns, which was excellent, and My Ex-Life which was a fun, quick read. Up next I’m trying SciFi/Fantasy, not my usual genres, with Connie Willis’ Blackout.

    • Tara Bee says...

      Loved Milkman after I slowed down to savor the prose.
      Try The hearts invisible furies- John Boyne another Irish author very witty!!

    • Katie says...

      Loved The Heart’s Invisible Furies! I think it’s one of my favorite books.

    • Claire says...

      Connie Willis is terrific. I read the Doomsday Book a long time ago, and could not put it down. Wish that one had been adapted to film.

  34. Olivia says...

    I read “All You Can Ever Know” (I think by your recommendation?) and finished it basically in a day.

    Also recently loved Unmarriageable by Sonia Kaimal. Its subtitle is “Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan.” Made for a slightly awkward conversation with my Pakistani coworker who didn’t realize that was also a famous novel, haha. Highly recommend, it was cute and also had a good message.

  35. Erin says...

    Monkey bread-so easy (frozen dinner rolls!) and guests are always so impressed : )

  36. AnnaVera says...

    Catastrophe is absolutely brilliant! I loved it. We‘ve already had the full fourth season here in the UK. So funny, but sad, too. I don‘t know who I love more, Rob or Sharon?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      agreed!

  37. Without a doubt, Sweet Laurel Bakery’s Vanilla Cake recipe (only on their blog, not even in their gorgeous cookbook), is a must have. It’s perfect for a fancy dinner, a sweet brunch nibble or the best breakfast ever. I’ve made it over two dozen times, it’s dead simple, beautiful and every single person who’s tried it has asked for the recipe. At this point, they call it Stephanie’s almond cake. http://blog.sweetlaurel.com/2017/10/04/our-classic-vanilla-cake-sweet-laurel/

  38. Rae says...

    I just finished Maid, Inheritance, and Becoming. Highly recommend all three. Next on my list are Work Wife, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, and Thrive.

    I love when you post about books. I always come across some good ones in the comments.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Maid and Becoming are next on my list! can’t wait.

    • Lily says...

      I just started Maid last night and am already almost 100 pages in–super hard to put down and go to bed! It’s so good (albeit heartbreaking) so far.

  39. Amanda says...

    Catastrophe is a riot. I love their messed up, but real, relationship.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! you can really see why they love each other, and you can also see why they drive each other crazy!

  40. Cynthia says...

    I just finished reading “Maid” by Stephanie Land. It’s a true story and I just couldn’t put it down. The chocolate banana bread looks good. All you need is a cup of coffee.

    • Sasha L says...

      Loved Maid as well. A book with real heart. You may also like Heartland by Sarah Smarsh, similarly memoir/social commentary/just great story telling.

    • Rae says...

      I just finished this too and couldn’t put it down either!

    • EPF says...

      I loved Heartland!

  41. You can’t go wrong with chocolate banana bread!

    Maybe for more of a brunch than something to nibble on, but we made Bon Appetit’s french toast casserole this past Christmas morning, and again in January, and I’m already yearning to make it again. The best I’ve tasted (so fluffy. And with orange zest and cinnamon and nutmeg, oh my!) and it was so easy to prepare the night before and then just bake it in the morning!

    https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/french-toast-casserole/amp

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yum yum yum, thank you for the rec xo

  42. celeste says...

    My son would like to bake this bread. He’s 9 :). At first glance it looks like a steak.
    I am reading “On the Come Up” by Angie Thomas – she recently was on The Daily Show with Trevor and it was very thoughtful. I read “The Hate You Give” but have not yet watched the movie.
    I’m also all caught up with “Mom” on Hulu and really enjoyed the character development that Alison Janney’s Bonnie has ADHD. Alison approached it well. I love a show with five women mains.

  43. Eloise says...

    I’m reading Daisy Jones & The Six, a fictional oral history of a fictional rock band. Started it yesterday and can’t put it down (currently fighting the temptation to dig my Kindle out of my bag at work).

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you!!!

  44. Lauren B says...

    Dear Toby,
    I got my 4 year old a Fizzy Apple on our last flight. You were right – he loves it! It is now his special airplane drink, and he can’t wait to order one to drink with his Biscoff cookie on our flight next week. Thank you for the excellent advice.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      this is so cute, i’ll tell toby :)