Sunday Smatterings

Sunday Smatterings! 3.11.18

Hey, folks! It's me, The Kerr. We're halfway through J.T.'s annual sabbatical—she comes back in only three weeks! She wants me to let you know she misses you desperately, but she's getting good work done on the next Brit book.

Her brain never shuts off, y'all. It's amazing to watch.

I hope you had a great week. In the realm of food, I absolutely did. Fair warning: I'm about to nerd out heavily over Tex-Mex. 💃🏻

What I'm Eating


I was born in South Texas, and I was drinking salsa before I could walk. Smoky meats, hot salsa, and fresh-from-the-comal tortillas are my comfort food. 

But I live in Nashville now. Nashville isn't Texas. And there aren't any good Tex-Mex places here. 

Except for Uncle Julio's.

I heard from another transplant that Uncle Julio's was worth a visit. So armed with cautious optimism, on Wednesday I went to Uncle Julio's and ordered a huge platter of beef fajitas, nestled them in little corn tortillas, topped them with guacamole, sour cream, and pico... and reveled in the tangy meat bliss. 

I couldn't believe it. They tasted like the fajitas from my childhood. They were so good.

Yes, it's a chain. No, I don't care. If someone serves me delicious fajitas, I do no question where they came from. Plus you know it's legit if they serve homemade tortillas.

And if fajitas aren't your thing, Uncle Julio's has all kinds of Tex-Mex classics: enchiladas, tacos, margaritas, the works. Their table salsa that's different than a straight roja—they char their tomatoes and chiles over an open flame, and it is excellent. Across the dining room I saw a few folks getting tableside guacamole. I'm springing for that next time.

Other Texas transplants, do you have the same problem finding good Tex-Mex joints? How do you get around it? I've found one way to fix it: make my own Tex-Mex... (see below)

What I'm Playing (in my ears)


You can tell a lot about a person by the podcasts they listen to.

Here's what I've listened to this week:

Food and TV and artists. If someone starts a podcast about greyhounds, that'll be the pinnacle of podcast perfection.

What I'm Reading

Since my trip to Uncle Julio's, I've been clawing the walls for more Tex-Mex. 

So I picked up my worn copy of  The Homesick Texan Cookbook, and decided to get cooking.

This time every year, when the earth is waking up, my taste buds wake up too. I crave chiles and onions and cilantro, and I'll stop at nothing to put them in my mouth. 

Texas transplant Lisa Fain wrote a book that helps me fulfill that mission. I've never made a recipe from this book I didn't like—and I've cooked my way through this book more than once. 

This week, I'll whip up a few quarts of Lisa's escabeche, a spicy blend of jalapeño/carrot/onion pickles that pack a wallop of pucker and heat. I'll mix together some creamy green tomatillo salsa to put on my eggs and chicken... and to squeeze into my mouth whenver I feel like it.

My personal recommendation: make her enchiladas. Whether you pick her cheese enchiladas (tuck some onions in there, folks) or her sour cream chicken enchiladas, you can't go wrong. And if you have guests coming over, even better—it's a cheap dish for a crowd, and they'll love them too.

And for quick access to her food, check out Lisa's blog. Try at least one recipe—she has all kinds of meats and sauces, breads and desserts. Let's find new Tex-Mex favorites to gush about!

What I'm Watching

Today I'm dragging my little sister to the movies. We're going to watch A WRINKLE IN TIME.

Confession: I have tried to read A WRINKLE IN TIME no less than five times, but I always put it down. Between the physics and magic and crazy dimensions, it's goes too cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs for my wee little brain. 

I hope the powerhouse acting of Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling will help me finally understand what on earth is actually going on with Meg Murry, and if she actually finds her father. We'll see. I'm paying $11 to find out. 

(Also: going to one movie is more expensive than a month of Netflix. A month, people. Let that sink in.)

Dog of the Week

Talk to the feet—it’s Friday. 🤫

A post shared by J.T. Ellison/The Kerr til 4/1 (@thrillerchick) on

Crockett was over it by Friday. 😂

Have a Tex-Mex dish you love? A great podcast I should listen to?
Let me know in the comments—and have a great week!

Sunday Smatterings: The Kerr Edition!

Sunday Smatterings 3.4.18

Hey, folks! The Kerr here, reporting for duty while J.T. is on sabbatical. She's been in Florida this week. I'M NOT JEALOUS OR ANYTHING.


Let's talk about fun stuff on the Internet!

What I'm Eating

This toasted sesame ginger seasoning is magical. I am serious, you guys.

I tried it at my friend Laura's house. Laura lives in Florida, which means she knows how to make good fish—I think it's a state law. Laura rubbed this seasoning on some ahi tuna, seared each side for two minutes, and voilà. I am telling you, it was one of the most amazing things I've ever eaten. So simple. So delicious.

Since Laura is a saint, she sent the seasoning home with me. This week I sautéed some broccoli and garlic, and sprinkled this stuff on top. 

Game. Changer.

What I'm Playing

I listened to Jon Acuff's new podcast, Creative Slide. If you don't know Jon, you should fix that. He's a hilarious guy who's written a slew of nonfiction about how to grow as an artist and business person.

(PS: I think Jon's goal is to be the Stephen Pressfield of the next generation. He too loves The War of Art—one of J.T.'s favorite books!)

Jon's first guest is prolific screenwriter Brian Koppelman, the co-creator of Showtime's Billions (which is fantastic) and some movies I know you've seen: Rounders, Runaway Jury, Ocean's Thirteen, among others. Jon and Brian have an easy rapport, which made their conversation, despite poor sound quality, a good listen. They talked hard work, insecurity, and the reason creatives should help other creatives. I even listened to Brian's interview with Jon three years ago on Brian's own podcastthat's how much I enjoyed listening to them talk. 

What I'm Reading

I just started Barbara Brown Taylor's Learning to Walk in the Dark. I've heard some of my favorite writers talk about how lyrical Taylor's writing is—and they're right, she doesn't disappoint. Very poignant stuff so far.

What I'm Watching

The Brit streak continues! I just started Death Comes to Pemberly on Netflix. Have you read the book? I didn't, but I'm making up for it. The show stars Matthew Rhys as Darcy, which is basically why I'm watching it. I like Jane Austen as much as the next girl, but I love The Americans even more. (The Book Nerd police are probably going to revoke my card now. 😬 Don't hold it against me, Anne Bogel.)

Matthew Goode is also in Death Comes to Pemberly. He's a dashing young lad who's been in basically every British show in the past decade, but has also starred alongside Mr. Rhys in a highly underrated program called The Wine Show. Which is exactly what it sounds like—utterly delightful.

And I don't care if he's married to Keri Russell—I love Matthew Rhys.

I'm *ahem* going to get off my soapbox now. 


Dog of the Week

Somebody is thrilled it’s Friday. 🤗

A post shared by J.T. Ellison/The Kerr til 4/1 (@thrillerchick) on

Eaten anything good? Watched anything great? Let's chat about it below in the comments! 

Sunday Smatterings: The Kerr Edition!

Sunday Smatterings: The Kerr Edition!

Hey, folks! It's me, The Kerr, still filling in for my boss, who's on her annual sabbatical. Welcome.


Are y'all ready for some links? Here's what I've been into this week.


What I'm Eating:

I'm a snacky person. Working from home is good for snacky people, because (A) your kitchen is three feet away, and (B) there is no one around to judge your snackiness.

Around 3 p.m. every afternoon, I get a hankering for apples and Justin's maple almond butter. I like the packets, because they're super easy to grab when I'm on the go. Don't get me wrong—apples by themselves are sweet and juicy, but there's something about maple almond butter that makes them seem indulgent. Sometimes we need indulgent at 3 p.m. on a Wednesday.

What I'm Playing:

How could you not love a song with a haunting harmony?

Recently I found The Secret Sisters (who are, in fact, actual sisters, so I guess I spoiled their secret) and I have fallen in love with their voices. They sound like singer/songwriters of generations gone by, and have killer lyrics. I've played "Tennessee River Runs Low" (the first track on their new album) no less than 35 times. Not making it up. It's hypnotizing.

What I'm Reading:

This week I've been devouring a nonfiction book, DECISIVE: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work. Because I am a classic over-thinker.

I like it so far—it's interesting to recognize patterns of thought I've adopted without even noticing. And especially insightful: it's better to brainstorm by yourself than with a group. I'll report back with more soon!

What I'm Watching:

As part of my lighter TV streak, I'm watching a lot of British shows. And I'm okay with this

This week I started The Paradise (a BBC/Masterpiece series streaming on Netflix), a show set in the 1890s and chronicles the lives of staff working in one of the UK's first department stores. It seems to have Mr. Selfridge vibes without all of the unnecessary drama—perhaps just the right amount. Some of my favorite characters from other BBC/Masterpiece shows are in The Paradise (like Olivia HallinanSarah Lancashire, and Ruby Bentall), so it's like homecoming with your favorite TV characters.

BONUS! If you're a sap for British period pieces like me, you'll go mad for the trailer for the upcoming The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society movie. There are quite a few Downton Abbey alums in the cast (Sibyl! Rose! Cousin Isobel! Henry Talbot!), and I'm so pumped. Hollywood, TAKE MY MONEY.

Dog of the Week:

Crockett wants you to know he had a very busy week.

What have you been into lately? A good snack, a great TV show? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday Smatterings: The Kerr Edition!

Sunday Smatterings: The Kerr Edition!

Hello, good people, don't spit out your coffee. It's The Kerr, JT's assistant. I'm filling in while JT's on her annual social media sabbatical for Lent. It's a time for her to rest and recharge, and focus on her writing (which we can't argue with, can we?). Trust me: she misses you guys terribly. 😩

But worry not! She'll be back on April 1, when I'll slither back into my dark den to watch TV and eat snickerdoodle ice cream. But until then, you're stuck with me. But I think we'll have fun.

My Smatterings is different from JT's, so please indulge me. We're going to talk about the fun things I've discovered lately.

Let's get started!

What I'm Eating:

Sweet Potato Chili. If you are a chili purist, avert your eyes. I know it's sacrilege to add anything other than beans, or nothing but meat if you're a Texan. But I'm not the biggest bean fan, and I love the way sweet plays with smoky here. Sue me.

From chop to chomp takes only one hour. I use ground beef instead of turkey, and add loads of avocado to mine. It's warm and filling, even more so on rainy winter nights.


What I'm Playing:

Off Camera with Sam Jones. Fact: I consume too much TV. I know TV isn't bad, per se, but I'm more productive when I limit my intake. So like a school kid, I don't watch TV on weeknights. Instead, as I make dinner or vacuum the floors (the most tedious chore), I pop in my headphones and listen to podcasts. 

Off Camera features artists who talk about their craft and career journeys. It's a fascinating look inside Hollywood, and story after story is filled with tenacity.I love learning how a 21-year-old Jenna Fisher packed up her hatchback, lived in a sketchy apartment, and waited eight years for her big break as Pam on The Office. What!? This is my jam.


  Thank you, Jenna Fisher, for sticking it out to give us Jim & Pam. Because no one else could've played Pam Beesley.

Thank you, Jenna Fisher, for sticking it out to give us Jim & Pam. Because no one else could've played Pam Beesley.

What I'm Reading:

I WAS ANASTASIA by Ariel Lawhon. Oh my heavens, can Ariel Lawhon tell a story.

I am obsessed with the Romanovs, so cue my glee when I got my hands on this book. I Was Anastasia tells the last days of the Romanov dynasty from fifteen-year-old Anastasia's perspective. And a twist: superimposed is the story of Anna Anderson, who claimed for decades she was the lost Grand Duchess who escaped the bunker where her family was killed. From the first page, Anna asks readers to render their own verdicts: Is she Anastasia Romanov? 

It's compulsively readable, and I love the way Ariel writes--her cadence is hypnotic. Perfection!


What I'm Watching:

The Great British Baking Show. I needed a break from heavy shows (except you, This Is Us—I can't quit you). And The Great British Baking Show injected so much lightness into my day. English gardens, pastel KitchenAid mixers, delightful people whose greatest problems are over-baked cakes. Truth be told, I would watch for Mary Berry's blazers alone.

I. Love. It.

Dog of the Week:

Do you like anything I've talked about today? Any suggestions of things I should try? Tell me in the comments!

Sunday Smatterings

Sunday Smatterings 2.4.18

As I'm sure you've already heard, I've been felled by the flu. It's becoming an annual tradition, too, which is really getting to be old. They say stress influences the severity of your illnesses, and with two back-to-back deadlines, it's not surprising that I came down with a bug. But this – I'm telling you, folks, if you can get out of the flu this year, beg, borrow, and steal to do it. I had a fever for 5 days and could barely drag myself upright, much less care for myself. Had to cancel three events, too, much to my chagrin. That rarely happens.

World's greatest husband deserves a medal – he has it too, but sans fever. We've been nesting in our germ-filled house all week. But things are improving. They have to – because I'm heading to Catherine's this week to plot book 6 in the Brit in the FBI series. Yes, I will wear a mask on the plane. 

The edit of TEAR ME APART goes to my editor tomorrow. It's been an interesting experience. The book is better for the slow approach I've had to take, reworking just 25–50 pages a day, fever dreams that wake me with solutions to unknown plot holes, every word parsed because I had to read them four or five times to get it to make sense. I hope you like this one. It's different. Not as in your face as LIE TO ME. Of course, not writing the same book twice is a goal for me. 

Anywho, let's get on to the links!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

[video] Exactly the Same, Totally Different. A WORD ON WORDS is back! This week, my co-host Mary Laura Philpott talks with author Stephanie Powell Watts about her new book, NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE US.

Meet the NFL quarterback with his own book club. He even has a podcast where he talks to authors! I can't get over it.

Paramount is developing a TV version of Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam booksMore Margaret Atwood TV for us! (PS Margaret Atwood and I were on TV together once...)

Garbage collectors open a public library with discarded books. I don't know who would throw away a book, but this seems like a pretty good thing to do. Bravo!

Harry Potter Book Night is coming to the US for the first time. Hooray for us Potterheads! I will admit to watching a few HP movies this week. Comfort food.

Mapping Ursula Le Guin's Pop Culture Influence. Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Wonder Woman... her fingerprints are everywhere.

The Cat Cafe Trend Is Poised to Pounce on Middle Tennessee in 2018. Have you heard of cat cafés?! I'm so excited! Cats and tea – what could be better? A new site for us Mystery, Thriller, and Crime geeks coming soon!

Sunday Reads: This week's Sunday Reads is actually Sunday Watch, since I couldn't, for the life of me, focus enough to read a book. Instead, I indulged with a massive binge watch of Scandal, and trust me when I say, it was fun.

And closer to home:

Be watching the Bargains page tomorrow: I may have something new up there for you...

That's it from me! Wash your hands, eat some chicken soup, make some for a friend, and we'll talk again next week.