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What I Was Up to this Month–July 2014

August 5, 2014

We traveled for over three weeks in July–it is becoming an annual occurrence I think I could get used to.  While last year we covered a large swath of the US, this year we only headed East.  However, I found more places to add to my ever growing list of places I love and will dream of returning to.

Before I send us traveling on though,  I can’t go without mentioning the annual neighborhood Fourth of July parade and pool party.

IMG_2846The littlest is decked out in all the 4th of July accessories he could find.

IMG_2792The oldest left for the East Coast a week before the rest of us.  Her brother was sad to see her go.  I had a bit of anxiety as well (as did she), but everything went just fine!

DSC_3918Swimming at Lake Catherine State Park in Arkansas.  We stayed in campgrounds this trip instead of hotels and it was absolutely.wonderful.

DSC_1314My brother and his fiancé took M to a safari park.  Pure bliss for my animal lover.

DSC_4002Because this is how croquet is supposed to be played.

IMG_0060Someone in New Jersey had a sense of humor.  We were stuck in traffic on the way to the shore.  This was our entertainment.

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Cape May Lighthouse–evening walk home.

DSC_4249My boy has discovered the joy of photobombing.  I love this picture.

IMG_3099Cloudland Canyon State Park in Georgia.  Creek time is good for weary travelers.

DSC_4322…so is staying in yurts!  I love yurts!

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Books:

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  This was our book club pick this month.  I missed book club since we were gone over 2/3 of the month, but I read the book.  I had read Little Friend by Tartt years and years ago for another book club (I think), so I was wary going into it.  I loved this book though.  It was sad and depressing and a train wreck at times, but I found myself thinking about it over and over.  I kept trying to sneak stories from it into conversations (but managed to stop myself).  It’s a long, long book and a lot of people don’t like it.  I liked it and would recommend it.

How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill.  I noticed one of my neighborhood (swim team) friends reading this at the practice.  It caught my attention, mostly because of the evening prayers from Celtic Daily Prayer from the Northumbrian Community that I say with Madeleine every day.  I loved this book.  I learned so much about the fall of Roman civilization and the crucial role the Irish played in preserving Western civilization through their love of words and manuscripts.  At one point, Cahill says the church would have done well to incorporate some of the traditions of Celtic Christianity instead of squashing them, such as the end of slavery (the first culture to do so) and allowing women to not only lead churches but be bishops as well.  I couldn’t agree with him more.

The Light Between the Oceans by M.L. Stedman.  I was kinda lukewarm on this book.  I didn’t love and I didn’t hate it.  It was one of those books that halfway through I was thinking, “this can’t end well.”  I must say though, the book ended better than I envisioned it ending.  It was well written and a much lighter read after the Cahill and The Goldfinch.

That’s it.  There may have been one more book I read earlier in the month, but I just can’t remember what it was.  In my defense, I was on vacation with three kids and The Goldfinch was a mighty long book.  Next month friends.

Food:

On our trip to Virginia, we would stop daily for ice cream.  I was excited to find a cute little neighborhood in Nashville where we got ice cream.  The ice cream was ok, but the neighborhood was fabulous and quickly turned Nashville into a city I would like to spend more time in.

I ate doughnuts.  What can I say?  I was on vacation.  Favorites were from Fox’s Pizza/The Baker’s Dozen in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  Their boston creme doughnuts are pure perfection.  They really couldn’t be better.  My dad picked us up doughnuts from Dot’s in Ocean City as well (however, I learned post trip that there is another Ocean City establishment I need to tell my dad about in two years for another doughnut experience).

I ate at one of my favorite Harrisonburg restaurants with Madeleine–Bowl of Good.  Yum.  I also got food from Sheetz and Wawa–convenience store food doesn’t get any better than either of these places.  Why haven’t they expanded to Texas yet?  Other than the excellent food we had our family meals at the beach houses in Cape May (homemade bagels, homemade tiered s’mores cake, homemade fried chicken, fresh fish, homemade klobasneks–aka sausage kolaches, and pork barbecue to name a few), my favorite food in Cape May was a little shop called Bliss where I had an incredible affogato (espresso with homemade vanilla ice cream).  I also had a Philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia, however it wasn’t from the “right” place, but from the Philadelphia Zoo.  It was still awfully good.  We also stopped for bathrooms/snacks at Savage’s Bakery in Birmingham, Alabama which was wonderful and at a bistro/espresso bar in Athens, TX that was also an antique store (with strict instructions on the door that all children’s hands must be held).  The atmosphere at the Athens bistro was fabulous, but that’s about all I can say about it.

Phew.  I cooked a little–fresh summer vegetable meals such as Ottolenghi’s tabbouleh and a kale salad from Food and Wine using kale from my parents’ garden.

Otherwise:

You don’t really want to know.  I listened to four books on CD’s–all kid appropriate and three of them Newbery Medal winners–The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (which paired perfectly with our trip to the zoo), Maniac McGee by Jerry Spinelli which inspired us to try TastyKake’s Butterscotch Krimpets, Danny, Champion of the World by Roald Dahl (my favorite Roald Dahl book), and Holes by Louis Sacchar.  We also listened to Veggie Tales Silly Songs one too many times.  My nine year old still loves them and I must admit, the first couple of times we listened to it, I laughed.  I bought a Billy Bragg album to listen to.  However, I listened to way too much that kept my kids happy and not nearly enough of my choices.  I guess that kept me happy in the long run.

I watched World Cup soccer on TV and that was absolutely it.  Sad.  I know.  We watched The Lunchbox way back in the beginning of  July and both Curtis and I enjoyed it (although we had a hard time getting the English subtitles to show up).

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Linking up at the last minute with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into

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