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What I Was Up to this Month-August Edition

August 30, 2014

August firmly planted us back in Austin.  We prolonged summer as long as possible and then dove into the new school year.

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Someone had a birthday!  I made the cake–Julia Child’s Queen of Sheba cake.  It’s the perfect size for our family and one of our favorites.

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My cousin came to visit for not quite a week.  We did some very “Austin” things, like watch the Mexican Freetail Bats emerge, right across the lake from downtown.  It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen the bats emerge–it’s awe-inspiring and breathtaking every time.

 

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Someone did her first ever triathlon.  She chose not to train and still had a great time.  We’ll see if she ever decides to do another one.  We were super proud of her and her 47th place finish!

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We fit in a short weekend at the lake with friends.  It was worth every minute of the four hour drive in the car whose air conditioning chose to go the day we left (nothing like driving without ac when it’s 100 degrees out).  DSC_4528

Oh yes, that’s me tubing for the first time ever.  Forty isn’t too old to try things for the first time.  I loved it, but was sore for a couple of days.
DSC_4634And then…school started.  Off we went, all on our bikes.  I used the bike trailer just the first morning to lug the grocery bags full of school supplies.  Biking to school makes me (and the boys) happy.

Books:

It was an unusual month in that every single book I read I rated five stars on Goodreads.  Crazy good reading luck this month.

The Rule of Benedict:  A Spirituality for the 21st Century by Joan Chittister.  I’ve been reading this book since the beginning of May and will finish it on August 31.  Chittister uses St. Benedicts rule which was written 1500 years ago as the basis for four months of daily readings and reflections.  This has been a life changing book (more on that next time).  I loved it so much, I convinced Curtis to read it.  I found the reflections on humility particularly difficult (I can’t imagine why).  I will be starting this book again on Sept 1.

Walking Home:  A Poet’s Journey by Simon Armitage.  I enjoyed this book.  Armitage wrote about his decision and consequential walk on the Pennine Way, a 265 mile route connecting Scotland and England.  Armitage’s humor kept me interested in the book and I loved his descriptions.  I actually read this book at the beginning of July and forgot to add to July’s book list.

The House Girl by Tara Conklin.  This was our book club pick for the month.  I found the book quite enjoyable and thought about it for several days afterwards.  The story jumps between the story of a slave woman who wanted to escape and the lawyer who was contemplating her own future paths.

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley.  This the third book in the Flavia de Luce series.  I liked this book more than the previous one and I remain a Falvia de Luce fan.

The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit.  I never imagined I would like this book, even after I started it.  The voice is strange–I’ve never read a book written in first person plural before (a collective we).  I found it difficult to read at first because of the lack of an identifiable main character, however as I got used to the book’s format, I found the story intriguing.  I had never given much thought to the wives of the men who developed The Bomb.

Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road:  Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World by Brian McLaren.  I must admit, it’s kinda boring to write about all the books I liked this month.  I start feeling like a broken record.  This was a thought provoking book which encouraged me to think about how I share my faith (and what “kind” of Christian I am) in a different way.

Food:

I made up for lost summer eating out in about 2 weeks time.

Eastside King Hole in the Wall…yum.  I love Eastside King.  Hole in the wall has a similar trailer to their food truck, with the addition of ramen.  BTW, one of Eastside King’s food trailers was named one of the top ten new restaurants in the US last year.  Oh yeah.  I believe it.

Yeti Frozen Custard.  As far as frozen custard goes, this was fair to middlin’.  As far as the dessert I ordered went, it was fabulous!  I am picky about my frozen custard.  Frozen custard should me more than just soft serve ice cream.  Froze custard should have a rich, eggy taste and be smooth (not gritty or full of ice crystals).  The consistency of this was fine, but the taste was bland.  However, I ordered something special that with chocolate custard–chocolate custard plus Reese’s peanut butter cups, caramel sauce, pretzels and whipped cream.  That was mighty tasty.

Sway.  Favorite restaurant find of the month.  We went here for one of our two dates of the entire summer and it was worth being one of the dates.  Yummy, yummy Thai fusion food.  We got the tom kun soup and the stir fry with pears and brussels sprouts.  Fabulous!

IMG_3214Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza.  Normally, Curtis and I only really celebrate each other’s birthdays on years that are multiple of tens.  This year though, I was feeling like celebrating.  We drove out in the edge of the hill country to a ranch to eat pizza (also the home of Jester King Brewery).   Three other families joined us.  Our eleven crazy kids ran around, played in sand, and busted rocks while we enjoyed wonderful wood fire pizza and beer (and lemonade for those of  us driving).  Not often do I name things perfect.  This was perfect.  Good food, good friends.

drink.well.  This had the good friends part going for it.  That’s about it.  Food was definitely meh.  It was an mid-range (cost wise) restaurant where you ordered at the bar, which was a bit strange.  Won’t be going back or recommending this popular North Central place.

Dang Bahn Mi.  Another yum.  Very rarely can I go wrong with Asian food, in particular bahn mi sandwiches or ramen.  This order at the counter place opened in mid July up on the North part of town.  I had several incredibly busy days with no appetite, so this seemed like a good option.  The vegetables on their sandwiches were incredible.  And their Vietnamese ice coffee….see the picture below.  This happened then I poured it over ice I served myself.

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plus Ramen Tatsu-yaRoyer’s Pie Haven, and The Noble Pig again.  Still love all three of those places.  I’ve probably gotten 4 things off of Noble Pig’s small menu and have loved every one of them.  This time it was the curried egg salad sandwich.  Yum.  Tatsu-ya and Royer’s never disappoint me either (all though I wish the crusts at Royer’s had more flavor and not so much of the bland vegetable shortening taste).

 

Everything Else

We watched some movies, most of which I can’t remember.  My twenty year old cousin came into town so we had 80’s movies education nights.  We started with Weekend at Bernie’s (which I think the parts are funnier than the whole).  We also watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off which was just as delightful now as it was twenty to thirty years (!!!) ago.  Curtis and I watched Her, which I think I liked.  At the very least it was thought provoking.  We tried to watched Anchorman 2, but were unsuccessful–it just wasn’t funny.  Our kids watched all four of the Spy Kids movies, which they loved, but I thought were nothing fabulous.  I listened to Gungor’s Ghosts Upon the Earth a lot–it’s my stress music.

That’s it.  It was chockfull.

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