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What I was Up to this Month–July Edition

August 1, 2013

With 5000 more miles on the car and three weeks that seem to have just disappeared, July is over like that!


A few highlights from our trip:

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Some of the best cousins ever.

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Madeleine discovered the joys of moss.  She decided this moss covered rock would make a good bed if she was going to live in a forest.

DSC_0176We visited one of my favorite cities.  You really can’t beat St. Louis for a kid-friendly city.

DSC_0336The Primate House at the St. Louis Zoo.  The St. Louis Zoo is free and ranked one of the top zoos in the US.  We thought maybe these monkeys would fit right in with the ones we saw inside.  They did.

DSC_0893Some more the best cousins ever, plus spouses (which includes me) and kids.  Curtis took the picture, so he was missing.  We have plans to photoshop him in. I just need to learn how to use photoshop….

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We spent almost a week walking around through these.  I love aspen and the relationship between aspen and pine/fir trees.  Aspen are first trees in a forest.  They provide the shade for the pine/fir trees to grow.  One the pine/fir trees get too large, the aspen die because of lack of sunlight.  In a few years, the pine/fir trees get old and die.  Then the aspen come back and the cycle starts again.

DSC_1005We spent three nights in a one-room cabin.  We had a full kitchen and half bathroom (no hot water though).  We were all in each other’s space all the time.  For three nights and two full days that was just fine.  It would be a stretch to live like that all the time.  I’d be kicking the kids out of the house a lot, but in the mountains of Southern Colorado, that would be easy to do in the summer.  The winter would be another story.

Phew.  And now we’re home.

Books:

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.  I started this book and almost immediately started complaining inwardly about it.   I decided I wasn’t going to read it, but since I had bought it electronically and it was the only thing I could read in dark hotel rooms after my kids went to sleep, I ended up reading the whole thing.  It was way better than I expected.  I still didn’t like the characters based in Hollywood.  However, I loved the ones who spent time in the Hotel Adequate View.  I missed our book club meeting (because of that trip mentioned above), but discovered one of the cousins read it for a book club she was in.  We had our own little book club, complete with wine, sitting on a deck overlooking the sunset in the Rockies and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

A Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny.  This book I found on a recommendation from a friend.  I liked it ok.  It is a mystery, set in Northern Quebec in monastery which is famous for its Gregorian chants.  What I loved about the book was the bit of Quebecois culture that was infused throughout.  My husband went to college in Montreal and it was nice to get a bit of a glimpse into the culture.  I liked the mystery as well and I didn’t find that any part of the book to be offensive.  This book is part of series though and as I read I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing things.  The ending was never resolved with one character, leaving me instead the promise that the next book in the series is coming out this fall.  Meh.

The Thirteenth Tale by Dianne Setterfield.  After I bought the book, I read one of the reviews on the back which compared it to Rebecca.  I hated Rebecca and I wondered what I was thinking when I bought it.  This book was also somewhat of a mystery.  I found it mostly unlike Rebecca, thank goodness.  This was not a book about victims.  It was a book about wondering what really happened in the past, with the story slowly being unraveled.  Things weren’t ever as they seemed.  I ended up really liking this book and I haven’t quite decided if it was going on my sell-to-the-used-bookstore pile or not.

Restaurants:

Well, most of my restaurant visits occurred outside of Austin.  Here’s my favorites from the past month (McDonalds’ did not make the list, nor did a restaurant in Lexington and in St. Louis that supposedly were very good, but nothing special to us).

Baker’s Dozen Donut Truck in Harrisonburg, VA.  Yum.  Warm doughnuts made on the spot.  I ended up a getting the best chocolate cake doughnut I’ve ever had from them.  (I normally hate cake doughnuts because they are dry and tasteless.  This one was not).  I had a great conversation about pies with the owner as well.   The special the week we were there was Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake doughnut.  Mmm…this is fast becoming a stop I have to make whenever I am at my parents’.

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in St. Louis.  I first had Ted Drewes custard when I was in St. Louis four years ago.  I have honestly thought about the custard a lot since then.  Yum.  We stopped there after a hot morning at the St. Louis zoo and it helped us back into our transition to driving for the afternoon.

Duffeyroll in Denver, Colorado.  We met the cousins here to caravan to the cousin house outside of Beaver Creek we had rented for the weekend.  We ended up spending an hour there, eating multiple rolls and drinking a lot of coffee.  I loved their sticky bun–I am more of a sticky bun person than a cinnamon roll person.

Pagosa Bread Company in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  On our way out of town to head home, we stopped here for some coffee (no Starbucks in P. Springs).  Curtis asked if I wanted a pastry and I told him to get me whatever.  After checking out the place, he told me I had to get out of the car (where I was waiting with the kids), to see this place.  Love.  Curtis and I both got stuffed foccacia (which we shared).  I tasted Madeleine’s croissant and the boys’ cinnamon rolls, all of which were also fabulous.

Live Oak BBQ.  Ok, one local place snuck in.  When we picked my brother up from the airport (he drove to VA with us, Curtis didn’t come for a week after we got there), we stopped for lunch on the way back to our house.  A friend had told us about Live Oak BBQ and I decided it would be good to check out.  We loved it!  It had the feel of a small town bbq place–not a fancy, big city, get written up in Bon Appetit/Food and Wine feel.  The food was great.  They had run out of a lot of the meets by the time we got there, but the sides were incredible!  I want to go on one of the special Saturday 2:00 specials.  Each week, they bbq a different dish, just for Saturday afternoon.

Cooking:
I cooked a lot in kitchens that weren’t mine.  I made monster cookies at our house, for the trip.  I also managed to can Pizza Sauce and salsa before we left town.  Other than that, I stuck to easy recipes that didn’t need much spices.  In our little cabin we had Taco Salad and Pasta with Easy Summer Sauce.

For my viewing pleasure:

Not an awful lot this month, too much traveling and reading.  Since we got home from our trip, we watched 42, which we both loved, and The World is Not Enough, which we thought was not one of the better Bond movies.

This posted is linked up with Hopeful Leigh’s What I Was Into post.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 6, 2013 9:40 pm

    I’m impressed by all the traveling you did! Wow. St. Louis is such a fun city, though it’s been quite a few years since my last visit. My best friend went to grad school there and we loved going to the dueling piano bar and the vineyards whenever I’d visit her. I read The Thirteenth Tale several years ago and it still haunts me. So good. I wish the author would write another book already!

    Thanks for linking up with What I’m Into!

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