It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (November 29, 2021)

Happy Monday, friends! How were your Thanksgiving weekends? Ours took us clear across the country – on Thursday the 18th, we flew out to western Colorado to spend the holiday, and the week prior, with my brother and sister-in-law and their menagerie. We don’t see them nearly enough, and it was so good to have all of that focused time together. We stayed up past midnight, twice, drinking wine and talking about fun and serious stuff just as hard as we could. We ate incredible meals and tramped around western Colorado and the national parks near Moab, Utah, and it was perfect. (Lots of stories coming, but not until after I finish up Shenandoah and Seattle.) Flight logistics dictated that our family head home on Black Friday, so we reluctantly said goodbye to Dan, Danielle, Ollie and Marlin (the dogs) and Pancho (the cat). As sad as we were to leave, it was probably a good idea to give the kids the weekend to decompress and get back on Eastern time after all that exhausting fun; we made it a low-key weekend. Saturday was devoted entirely to bumming around the house, cleaning out and restocking the fridge, and getting ready for another busy week (including a business trip for me, it never rains but it pours). On Sunday, we made time for a little more fun – swim class, of course, and a very short hike on our favorite trail, just to get our hiking legs back after the flight. A little cooking and a cozy couch evening on the couch – perfect way to end a weekend and set myself up for a long week of work.

Reading. Some reading week – it was light, but all over the place. I had to set Framley Parsonage aside for a week, rather than carting a heavy doorstopping hardback to Colorado, so spent the flights over a different doorstopper instead – Romola, on my kindle. I’m about a third of the way through, thanks to plane reading, but set it aside to return to Framley when we got home. I finished Framley Parsonage on Saturday night, and spent Sunday over Banana Yoshimoto’s classic Kitchen. (Nice slim fast read – just what the doctor ordered.) I’m off on a business trip – more flights – so I’ll be charging up the kindle and returning to Romola with an eye to finishing it up this week.

Watching. Not much – I was too busy talking and catching up with Dan and Danielle all week. On Saturday, I did spend a few hours watching some of Miranda‘s Christmas videos on YouTube – trying to break through a post-travel grinchy mood and get in the holiday spirit. It’s starting to work, I think.

Listening. Mmmm, not much. I started In the Crypt with a Candlestick, a fun mystery by Daisy Waugh, on Audible – but I’m not into it yet. Other than that, just one episode of my favorite podcast, Shedunnit, on Josephine Tey. (So good.)

Making. It was actually a creative weekend, who’d’a thunk? In addition to a cleaned and restocked fridge (just in time for me to turn around and head back to the airport), I made: progress on Christmas knitting; gluten-free and almost-Paleo banana bread and mini muffins with sous chef Nugget; the beginnings of Christmas cards for mailing; more that I can’t think of right now because someone is whining in my ear.

Moving. It was a hiking week, for sure! Dan and Danielle showed us so many of their favorite spots – from a fun hike in Colorado National Monument, practically in their backyard, to iconic hikes in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks outside of Moab – and more. Plenty of stories and pictures coming soon; stay tuned.

Blogging. November’s reading roundup is coming for you on Wednesday, and on Friday – back to Shenandoah on a warm summer weekend. It’s cold here, so looking through my pictures from Labor Day is warming me right up.

Loving. A bittersweet one. I can’t tell you how much I loved spending the last week with Dan and Danielle. Steve and I love them both so much and we don’t see them nearly enough – and it had been way too long since the kids saw their uncle and aunt. It was an incredible week, full of beautiful vistas and the joy of being together, but that made it all the sadder to leave. I like to joke that I’m an emotionless stone, but there were some tears. Fortunately we’ll be seeing them again soon – and we all agreed that we need to make a point of getting together, whether on visits to each other’s homes or meeting up in some other location for a family getaway – at least once a year. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that time together is precious and we will never let work schedules and everyday responsibilities (oh, and a pandemic) interfere with our family time for so long again.

Asking. What are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (November 15, 2021)

Yawn. Morning, friends. How were your weekends? Mine was wonderful, but tiring – I could use another day. I haven’t said that many times since starting my new job, but it’s definitely true this time: we were on the go all weekend, and I need a day to recover from all the rushing around. It was a very kid-centric weekend, which was nice – fulfilling. On Saturday, we were up and out the door early for Nugget’s final soccer game of the season. He has loved playing this fall, and I’m thinking of finding him an indoor league to play this winter, although I haven’t decided yet. Both kids also take swimming, and I am thinking of signing them up for indoor ski lessons (yes, that’s a thing!), and I don’t want to overschedule us. So the jury’s still out on indoor soccer. Anyway – the weekend. The game was a total blast (and much warmer than last weekend’s!) and after the game, the coach passed out donuts and trophies. Each kid got his trophy individually and the coach had prepared individual remarks for everyone – it was the sweetest. I tried to video Nugget’s, but screwed up and somehow pressed stop right away, but the gist was – “soccer lover” Nugget came to every game with the biggest smile, worked hard and learned so many new skills, and never, ever, got tired. Sounds about right! After soccer, we rushed home for a quick lunch, and then Peanut and I were back out the door for a Brownie activity at Green Spring Gardens, a beautiful park near our old house. The girls learned about letterboxing, made their own letterboxing log books, and then took a group walk to locate the park’s letterbox. Fun!

Still with me? Saturday was exhausting, and we moved slowly on Sunday morning. I had big plans to go for a long run, but ended up crashed on the couch with my earbuds in, listening to my audiobook. Not a bad way to start Sunday. By late morning, I had zero motivation but had to get off the couch and get the kids to swimming – same old story. But we had fun afternoon plans – a meetup with my law school BFF, Carly, and her husband and kiddos. Carly had her eye on a new-to-us playground near the National Cathedral; it was gorgeous. The kids had a ball running around, trying out the “flying fox” zipline and a steep, fast slide – and more – and Carly and I caught up on the past several months. There’s nothing like a few hours spent with a friend who gets it. We shared joys and vented frustrations, and it was good to talk and listen and be in a safe space with a friend who understands my struggles (and won’t judge) and knows that I understand hers (and won’t judge). It was needed.

Reading. So, I have an achievement to share! Last week (or the week before?) I hit my Goodreads goal for the year. I always set a goal of 104 books (sounds random, but it’s not, it’s two books per week) and I’m now sitting at 106. To celebrate, I obviously decided to read a gigantically long book. After finishing Blitz Writing midweek, accordingly, I turned to the next book in the Chronicles of Barsetshire, Framley Parsonage. I’ve been rationing these, because I love them so much. Framley Parsonage is wonderful – I’m reading it slowly and at press time am a little more than halfway through – although I think I still love Doctor Thorne the best. But Framley has the benefit of several beloved old friends appearing – the Grantlys, Greshams, Proudies, Miss Dunstable, and even Mr Harding all make appearances. So fun! And then around the margins, I’ve been listening to The Sittaford Mystery on Audible; I’m about two-thirds done and forming all kinds of suspicions.

Watching. Speaking of suspicions, the whole family is getting into Miss Marple. Steve won’t admit it, but he’s hooked. We’re working on A Murder is Announced right now. When not solving crimes, we’ve watched another episode or two of The Great British Bake-Off, and several episodes of a Pokemon cartoon (the kids got their first COVID-19 vaccine doses, and we let them pick).

Listening. As noted above, audiobook time. And lots of music, especially when driving the kids places, because they are rudely intolerant of Agatha Christie. Who are these little cretins I am raising?

Making. Progress on Christmas knitting – I made a big error in the infinity scarf, but I fixed it and I hope (???) it looks even cooler now. Please don’t tell me if it doesn’t, lucky or possibly unlucky recipient.

Moving. A little of this and a little of that – a couple of runs (I’m getting my feet back) in the cold, and some walking with my audiobook, and some yoga. Good stuff all, just need more of it.

Blogging. Well, the plan is to have pictures of fall colors at Green Spring Gardens for you on Wednesday; I took my camera and had a lovely time snapping away. But I have to upload and edit them, so we’ll see. And then on Friday, more Shenandoah. The travel posts may continue for many weeks to come and I’m not even mad about it.

Loving. It was so much fun to play in the shadow of the National Cathedral on Sunday! It’s been awhile since I have been up this way, and I forgot how much I love the neighborhood. The National Cathedral reminds me of something I’d have seen in Europe; it’s so beautiful. Peanut asked what a Cathedral “looks like inside,” so I explained it was like “an extra big and glorious and amazing church.” She nodded, said “That’s what I thought,” and went about her business – but I think we will need to make another trip out here soon, and go poke around. It’s been too long since I stepped inside.

Asking. What are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (November 7, 2021)

Morning, friends, and happy new week to you. I hope it’s a good one! For me and for you – goodness knows I could use an upswing. Last week was not bad, per se, but not my favorite. On Tuesday we voted in elections for state offices – Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General – and for our House of Delegates members, while the entire country watched. I try not to get political on here, so I won’t say much about it, other than that I hope the result doesn’t do too much harm after all the progress we’ve made in the last decade. The new governor-elect is actually from my town, and his underage son attempted to vote – twice – at my polling place; it sounds like things got contentious. These are the times we’re living in. And the week didn’t get much better – a couple of unpleasant Friday afternoon surprises (nothing I can’t handle) and a personal bummer on Saturday made for a grumpy weekend. I hate grumpy weekends; I want my weekends to be happy and glorious all the time. But that’s not quite realistic, is it?

It wasn’t all bad. We had soccer on Saturday morning – the penultimate game of the season; it was supposed to be our last, but since we were rained out last weekend the league is allowing makeup games. As you can see, it was frigid. The entire field was frosted over and there were a bunch of little red-nosed soccer stars running around. I spent most of the game hopping up and down and hugging myself, and conducting a lengthy Halloween post-mortem with Nugget’s friend M’s mom Kate. Nugget did well but his feet got pretty cold; by the fourth quarter he was begging to switch to the other field, which got more sun (at his age, the kiddos play four-on-four over two small fields). The coach was reluctant to put him in, because – as he explained – they were trying to keep the score relatively even between the teams, and it was already lopsided in our favor, and Nugget is just too good. I pulled all my persuasive skills out of my bag and talked the coach into putting Nugget in on the sunny field anyway; he just had to promise to only play defense and not score more than two goals. (See, Nugget, never say having a lawyer mom didn’t do anything for you.) It took a few hours to thaw out after the game, but by midday the temps had climbed and I headed out for a run (!!!) – and not just any run: my favorite run of the season, the Marine Corps 10K (virtual again this year, thanks for nothing, ‘Rona). And then I figured I had earned a couch potato afternoon – after Nugget and I put a pound cake in the oven. Yum.

Sunday was, if anything, busier than Saturday – not the fun kind, though. After swimming, Peanut was invited to a birthday party at Dave and Busters (which necessitated a Target run to buy a noisy game for the birthday boy). Y’all. My twenty-month birthday party-free streak has ended, long live the birthday party-free streak. And guess what we found out! Dave and Busters is the new Chuck E. Cheese! Peanut hated every second, but she showed up for her friend. And we left as soon as the party was over. I was just grouchy all day – the lingering effects of the unpleasant Friday surprises at work and the personal disappointment. Well, can’t win ’em all… next week should be better.

Reading. If it wasn’t the best week in reality, at least it was a good week in books. I finished Paper Girls Vol. 1 on Monday and am already looking forward to continuing on with the series; it’s as weird-interesting as you’d expect from Brian K. Vaughn. Then I spent most of the week slowly reading Murder by Matchlight, one of the ten or so E.C.R. Lorac titles that the British Library has recently brought back into print. I loved it! After really enjoying Crossed Skis, which Lorac wrote under an alternate pen name (Carol Carnac) I started stockpiling other titles, and am looking forward to curling up with each of them in turn. Then Saturday was for the latest issue of Slightly Foxed; it was wonderful from cover to cover, as usual, but the final essay was the best. I also churned through Meet Mr Mulliner this week – between a couple of commuting days, a few walks, and dinner/dishes via Alexa – I finished the entire book, and cackled consistently throughout. (Augustine Mulliner was my favorite.) And finally – last but not least, I’m just in the beginning stages of Blitz Writing, but can already tell it’s gorgeously written and I’m going to love it.

Watching. For a week that was kind of cruddy, comfort viewing is required, and that’s all I watched. Three episodes of The Great British Bake-Off, more Miranda on YouTube (I’m almost through the backlist, whatever will I do) and some Gardeners World. It was all I could face.

Listening. As you can see (above) I am back on audiobooks after a short podcast break. After Meet Mr. Mulliner, I fired up The Sittaford Mystery, by Agatha Christie. Am only about fifteen minutes into it, so just breaking the ice. And on Sunday I wasn’t even in the mood for “convalescent literature” – only music would do, and specifically The New Pornographers. “In the Morse Code of the Brake Lights” on repeat. Can confirm loud singing.

Making. Creative juices were flowing this week. In addition to the regular rotation of home-cooked dinners: Nugget and I made this pound cake (from a Dorie Greenspan recipe – the classic “Perfection Pound Cake” out of her Baking: From My Home to Yours cookbook). We ate it with clotted cream and jam like Proper English People (please note I am neither proper nor English) and it was everything. Also made: progress on Christmas gift knitting – I’mma do it this year, people, just watch – and a completed 2020 family yearbook, because punctuality is for dorks. I haven’t ordered yet, but I will soon – my stackable coupons expire next week. I just want to let it percolate for a couple of days before doing a final proofreading.

Moving. All right, here – I finally have something to tell you. It was race week! (Sort of, because as noted above the Marine Corps 10K was virtual again, thanks to the stupid endless pandemic.) I planned to drive over to run it on my favorite trail, but in the end couldn’t be bothered to get in the car and just ran in my neighborhood instead. I even ran by the home of one of Peanut’s friends from Brownies and waved like a weirdo. Rest of the week – less exciting. Walks. Yoga.

Blogging. I have a lovely long Elizabeth von Arnim quote for you on Wednesday, and the first of a series of Shenandoah hiking recaps on Friday. Tally ho!

Loving. If you’ve been reading for a hot minute, you have probably figured out that I am in almost constant motion. Now that I am finally out of the trenches of new motherhood, and free from the soul-crushing dazed dread of a career I am only just beginning to realize I truly hated, I am back to my natural high energy levels and not a bit mad about it. But sometimes I do want a lazy afternoon on the couch (especially after a freezing cold soccer game followed by a 6.2 mile run) and I had the best one on Saturday, because of this mug and the tea that was inside it. Starting with the mug, it’s from Sussex Lustreware and I’ve had my eye on it for months, but it was sold out. They finally restocked and I pounced. Isn’t she lovely? The picture does it no justice; the pink is absolutely luminous. And of course I love the message. As for the tea inside it, I am spoiled: my best friend, Rebecca, sent me a sampler pack of August Uncommon tea for my birthday, and I broke into it on Saturday. I tried a smoky black tea with burnt sugar and banana notes, and it was delicious. August Uncommon is Rebecca’s favorite tea – she says she loves it even more than Mariage Freres. I’m not sure I’m prepared to take such a drastic step, but am willing to be persuaded. It was certainly a beautiful tea, and made more so by the love with which it arrived. I have the best people.

Asking. Why is it so much fun to crunch dry leaves? And what are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (November 1, 2021)

Happy Monday, y’all! And November. Shut the front door. How was your Halloween? Are you a trick-or-treater, or more of a door-opener, or do you turn off the lights and hide? By inclination, I am more of a door-opener, but we get exactly zero trick-or-treaters (it’s my curse in life) and I have two to walk around, so we were out roaming the streets. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Halloween aside, it was a low-key weekend. Soccer was cancelled because of weather (we had torrential rainstorms on Friday, which caused soggy messy fields and the league cancelled both Friday practices and Saturday games) and swimming was also off the calendar because it was the fifth weekend in a month, so the swim school was closed. With all that extra time on our hands, we barely knew what to do with ourselves. So we spent Saturday bumming around the house – we were all a little tired, I think. I know I was; it was an especially hectic week at work with two depositions, a mediation, and a big urgent project (a classic “your lack of planning has now become my emergency” situation). I was out of sorts all of Saturday, made worse by a political campaign volunteer (we’re in the middle of a hotly contested gubernatorial election – kill me now) ringing my doorbell to pitch his candidate. I wordlessly pointed to my “No Soliciting” sign, and he then tried to argue with me about whether the sign applied to him. As I told Steve later, I would have been annoyed at being bothered no matter whose campaign the volunteer was from, but I was much more annoyed because the kid who disregarded my sign, dragged me away from my book, and then tried to argue with me was… there on behalf of the candidate I am very much not supporting. Anyway, that minor irritation knocked me out of sorts way more than it should have.

On Sunday, we all needed a break from the lazy Saturday; one day of bumming around the house and we were legit climbing the walls. So we hit our favorite county park for a morning hike (no avian excitement this time, but lots of pretty leaves), and then the kids and I banged out a couple of jack-o-lanterns in the afternoon, before the veterinarian and baseball player headed out to gather up their loot. They did very well, and dragged their heavy bags home in the gathering dusk; a successful Halloween indeed.

Reading. Quite a reading week! I don’t get all in on the Halloween reading the way I sometimes do with Christmas, but I had some spooky reading planned for the weekend, anyway. First up: finishing The Daughter of Time, which I absolutely loved – definitely a highlight of the year. Then I spent the rest of the workweek over The Story of the Country House, a new release that I’m not ashamed to admit I bought entirely because of the cover. (I mean. Look at it.) Really enjoyed it, although it was more focused on the architecture of the different periods in country house history; there was less upstairs-downstairs, food, sporting, and suchlike than I expected. Still great though! As the weekend rolled around I turned my attention to Halloween reading: first up, I scared the pants off myself with The Manningtree Witches (literally, I had nightmares). On Halloween evening itself I curled up with my traditional (for the last few years, anyway) cozy read – Pumpkinheads, by Rainbow Rowell, which is utterly charming. And then for good measure I started Paper Girls, a comic by Brian K. Vaughn that begins on the day after Halloween, so it seemed like a good choice. Plus I’ve been meaning to try it out for ages.

Watching. The usual! Lots of Monty Don, Miranda Mills, and the latest Bake-Off episode. We also watched Black Panther with Nugget, and it was just as wonderful as I remembered. He loved it.

Listening. I’m still on a bookish podcast kick; multiple episodes of Shedunnit – my fave – and Tea or Books. I’m on a kick of taking long rambles around the neighborhood with my earbuds; it’s keeping me going.

Making. I finished my lace infinity scarf – haven’t blocked it yet, though – and started in on my Christmas knitting; hoping I can keep this streak going and have some handmade gifts for my favorite ladies. Also made a few fresh, healthy dinners – as usual – and because ’tis the season, a batch of roasted pumpkin seeds.

Moving. Sigh. I was hoping to tell you that I had finished my virtual MCM 10K, but I just… didn’t do it. There’s still a week to go, though, so I’ll get it done this week.

Blogging. October reading round-up coming atcha on Wednesday, and the last Adirondack recap post on Friday. Check in with me then!

Loving. My extended disco birthday continues – this weekend I opened a slightly belated gift from my BFF, Rebecca – a sampler of August Uncommon teas. She says she likes them better than Mariage Freres, which is high praise indeed. I can’t wait to try! And I am so blessed to have these people in my life, who send me tea and love for another trip around the sun.

Asking. What are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (October 25, 2021)

Good morning, friends! What a weekend – actually, what a week. I did a decent job of staying (mostly) current on work while I was in Seattle the week before last, but spending Monday on a plane wrecked it all. I had almost a hundred emails by Monday evening, and with more pouring in every day I spent the week working feverishly to catch up. I finally did, by Friday evening, but the early part of this week is another busy one, which means that by Thursday I’ll be hopelessly behind again. Ah, well – such is life, and at least my job is fun! I’ve certainly had jobs that were just as busy and much less enjoyable, so I’m not insensible of my blessings, for sure.

One of which is the ability to close my laptop on a Friday evening and spend the weekend enjoying family time without worrying about work (most weekends). That’s what I did this weekend. On Saturday, I wanted to head down to Old Town to check out the Halloween decorations and see Old Town Books’ new bigger digs. So we rolled out late morning, enjoyed brunch at one of our old favorites – Virtue Feed + Grain – and spent a few happy hours wandering around King Street and the surrounding neighborhood. When we got home, Steve wanted to watch Formula One and Peanut wanted time to herself, so Nugget and I went out and hit up a fall festival at a nearby garden center (he loved it and I hated it – too many people, made me nervous) and then wandered over to his favorite local playground, where he taught a gaggle of toddlers to play soccer and I read one of my new acquisitions that I plucked off the shelf at Old Town Books earlier that day.

Sunday was, if anything, even more quintessentially fall. After a lazy morning at home, we drove out to the country to pick pumpkins at our favorite patch. Narrowly avoided a pumpkin avalanche (the farm is on a hill), filled a wheelbarrow, and ate freshly baked apple cider donuts on a haystack – how can you go wrong? I ended the day with a late afternoon neighborhood walk while chatting on the phone to my Aunt Maria, followed by homemade shrimp curry with kale and coconut milk – yum. Happy new week, y’all.

Reading. Well! Despite being a busy week of playing catch-up at work, I did manage to do a fair amount of reading. Most of it was backloaded toward the end of the week and over the weekend, but such is life. I finished Come, Tell Me How You Live early in the week, and then spent a few days glorying in Frenchman’s Creek, one of the few Daphne du Maurier novels I’d not yet read. I thought a pirate love story would be a good choice for the lead-up to Halloween, but it turns out the action all takes place at a sultry midsummer – not so much chilly autumn nights. No matter! I adored it anyway. Over the weekend, I steamed through the last seasonal anthology from Melissa Harrison, then polished off Ghostways: Two Journeys in Unquiet Places in one sitting (I loved one of the sections; was less fussed by the other). Finally, on Sunday morning I turned to The Daughter of Time, Josephine Tey’s most famous mystery novel, and was immediately swept up in it. I can already tell this is one I’ll be sad to finish…

Watching. More of the usual – you all know what I’m about to say. Some Great British Bake-Off, some Monty Don, and more Miranda Mills YouTube videos while doing the unending round of house chores. All delightful.

Listening. I’m still on a podcast kick. I finally finished going through each downloaded show and deleting the episodes I’m not going to listen to, and now I’m just working my way through my backlog. Still on old bookish podcast episodes, but I’ll start sprinkling some parenting content in again one of these days.

Making. It’s that time of year – creative juices are flowing. I finished up the knitting portion of my sloppy scarf (still need to weave in the ends, block it, and figure out a way to hide all the mistakes I made) and moved on to a new project – an infinity scarf with a modern, simple lace pattern. I’m testing out this idea with the thought that if it works, I might make a few to give as Christmas gifts – stay tuned. (For that reason, I won’t show you the scarf – either on the needles or the finished product – until after I’ve decided whether the pattern is gift material.) Then I’ve made some progress, finally, on a 2020 family yearbook; I’m gunning for a deadline of November 15, because I got some epic Shutterfly coupons that expire that day. Oh, and lots of homecooked dinners, per usual. Maple and mustard-glazed chicken thighs, with maple-roasted carrots were the highlight of the week.

Moving. Sigh. A busy workweek is just the kind of week when I should make movement a priority, to feel good – but (you can see this coming, a mile away, I know) I just didn’t. Next week? Let’s hope. I did at least get out for my daily walks, so that’s something. I’m on a streak of 10,000 or more steps every day and have kept it going since June 3, so I can’t stop now.

Blogging. I have a Classics Club review for you on Wednesday, and the penultimate Adirondack summer travel post on Friday – check in with me then!

Loving. It was so much fun to be back in our old haunts this weekend – I love my little exurb town, but there are so many things I miss about living in Old Town. The best was seeing the new Old Town Books location and all their new square footage. (The classics section seems to have shrunk, though! But the nature shelf grew, so it evens out.) It’s a beautiful, light-filled space with blonde wood shelves stocked with delicious-looking reads, and the mural on the side of the store (reading “Alexandria: City of Readers”) is gorgeous. I wish I’d had more time to putter around in the shop; between Steve and the kids and an army of trick-or-treaters (apparently it was Halloween at the local businesses, a week early – poor planning on my part) the store was crowded and I didn’t really get in the good long browse I was craving. I may have to go back midweek when the kids are in school…

Asking. What are you reading this week?

It’s Tuesday Night (Hoo Boy)! What Are You Reading? (October 19, 2021)

Well! Hello. Tap, tap. Is this thing on? So – once again – I totally flaked on you yesterday, and I am sorry. In my defense, I was on! a! plane! heading back from a week and a half in Seattle. Last week, I mentioned that I had a business trip; what I didn’t mention was that because my birthday fell midweek while I had to be away, Steve and the kids came too! Major bonus points to my team leader, who didn’t bat an eye when I said my anklebiters would be joining me in Seattle, and major major bonus points to Steve for holding down the fort, parenting on Pacific time and working on Eastern time, from a hotel room, for an entire week – all so that I would have a good birthday. He is the best. Anyway, there will be full recap posts to come once I work through my backlog of travel posts (a very good problem to have, friends) but for a quick preview: after my conference wrapped up on Friday morning, and I finished up a few work tasks that couldn’t wait for Monday, we rolled out of Seattle and headed for two days of exploring Olympic National Park! We hit all three of the ecosystems in this “three parks in one” wonder – a cold and rainy walk down Ruby Beach on the Pacific coast; a snowy (!!!) and very quick visit to Hurricane Ridge in the mountains; and quite a few hikes in the breathtakingly gorgeous Hoh Rain Forest. We saw salmon leaping out of the Sol Duc River, hiked to two waterfalls, ate delicious food, got rained (OR SNOWED) on the entire time, and hated to leave. And since we didn’t see any banana slugs, marmots, or Olympic mountains (Hurricane Ridge was completely socked in) we’re definitely going back ASAP. Spent all of Monday on a plane heading back east and missing the rainforest terribly – but looking forward, rather, to a return to home cooking and running shoes and non-kindle books. And now here I am.

Reading. Well, it was such a busy week – between work and kids and PNW sightseeing – that reading took a backseat. Not a surprise. Agatha Christie’s memoir of her time on archeological digs with her second husband was a slim and engaging read but still took me the entire week to finish (in fact, I didn’t wrap it up until my plane was touching down at Dulles on Monday). I really enjoyed it, though!

Watching. We’re all caught up on the latest season of The Great British Bake-Off and back to staring at each other until the next episode drops each Friday. (What will we watch tomorrow, and Thursday?) And as always, Miranda Mills’ YouTube channel is the soundtrack to my house chores, and a lovely soundtrack it is.

Listening. Still enjoying my clean-ish (I have several shows still to tidy) podcatcher, and catching up on back episodes of Tea or Books? – it’s so much easier to listen to podcasts when my podcatcher isn’t a completely overwhelming morass.

Making. I’m onto phase three of my sloppy scarf. Basically I’m making it out of scrap yarn; phase one was seed stitch with a dusky blue worsted; phase two was a chunky oatmeal cable, and phase three is a very simple and modern lace pattern in a soft, deep purple. I’m on the hunt for some cool patches to sew on to cover all the mistakes when I finish. Do let me know if you have a source, thanks.

Moving. Oooooooof. So, I didn’t have room to pack my running shoes in my Seattle luggage, which means I have an uphill climb to be ready for the MCM 10K in two weeks (it’s virtual again this year; I’m thinking of running on Halloween). But I did a decent amount of walking, and quite a bit of hiking. So I wasn’t a complete conference room potato. But I feel stiff and grumpy and very much in need of a good run to clear the cobwebs.

Blogging. Fun week coming for you – tomorrow, I’m showing you a week’s worth of Whole30 dinners tomorrow, and on Friday, back to the ‘dacks. Almost done with those recaps, but I do have a couple more weeks for you (and then travel posts will continue; after we wrap up in NY, we’ll head south to Shenandoah, good?).

Loving. Y’all know I am not one for gift bragging posts, but can I just send some hearts Steve’s way? The best birthday gift was having him and the kiddos with me in Seattle. Even though I didn’t get to see them much, just knowing they were in the hotel room waiting for me to come back was magic. He had to work hard to pull that off, so hats off. And if that wasn’t enough, he fed my camera addiction… again. A few months ago I told him that after exhaustive research I had decided that I really wanted to go mirrorless (#IYKYK) but was torn between two different cameras. I wanted something to replace my dSLR for everyday photos, and both of the cameras I was looking at had very specific benefits (and very few drawbacks) – I was truly on the fence. So… he bought me both. (Completely over the top, yes, but I love photography and I use my cameras almost every day, so.) Birthday presents are unnecessary but very nice, and it’s lovely to be spoiled with new gear for something that I enjoy so much. I’m lucky indeed.

Asking. What are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (October 11, 2021)

Good morning and happy Monday – from Seattle! Not a normal Monday morning post, but one that took me all the way across the country. I’m here all week for work – a conference with my team, none of whom I had yet met in person before last night. (There was squealing and a lot of hugging when that changed.) Team activities officially start later this morning, but for various logistical reasons I ended up flying out way early – on Saturday morning – so I had the weekend for Seattle fun and I made the most of it. I’ll recap it all eventually (travel posts are piling up again, a wonderful feeling) but briefly: I hit the aquarium, Pike Place, the Great Wheel, and the Space Needle – and more. And now it’s time to dive into a week of team-building, workshops, and facility tours; I’m excited!

Reading. Good reading week! It was mostly back-loaded, as I was busy preparing for a weeklong business trip – so earlier in the week, there was just less time for reading. I did finish up O, the Brave Music by midweek, and I tore through The Stubborn Light of Things: A Nature Diary (a collection of Melissa Harrison’s Nature Notebook columns for The Times of London, which I LOVED) toward the end of the workweek. I brought a fully loaded kindle with me on my business trip, and read most of Longbourn on the plane (finished it up on Sunday morning) and then turned to Come, Tell Me How You Live, Agatha Christie’s memoir of her time on archaeological digs with her second husband, Sir Max Mallowan. I’m only about 15% into it so far but really enjoying it.

Watching. Not a lot of watching this week – I was just too busy rushing around with business trip prep. There was a little bit of Great British Bake-Off, and several episodes of Miranda Mills on YouTube while folding laundry and packing (Miranda continues to make household chores an absolute pleasure).

Listening. I was back on the podcast wagon this week! I finally figured out how to hide played episodes on my podcatcher (don’t say ANYTHING, it was not intuitive, okay? Apple Podcasts keeps changing things) and it’s all so much tidier and less overwhelming as a result. I’m working my way through a backlog of bookish podcast episodes that I had been avoiding because it was too much to even think about facing the tangle of played, half-played and unplayed episodes before I figured out the hiding function. I still have to go through and delete episodes of parenting podcasts that don’t apply to my kids’ stages (and which I don’t need to listen to as a result) so maybe that will be a project for the plane flight home at the end of the week.

Making. Piles and piles of clean, folded laundry and a packed suitcase – that was the main thing. Also made progress on my sloppy scarf.

Moving. Ugh, don’t ask. It was such a busy week, I didn’t get in anything other than my daily neighborhood walks (last Monday’s was a highlight, as it included Rebecca – gosh, her visit seems like an age ago). And then walking all over Seattle the past two days, some of it schlepping heavy luggage (#strengthtraining). This coming week isn’t going to be any more active, but when I get home I’ll have a couple of virtual races coming up – so running will be very much back on the agenda.

Blogging. I have this month’s Themed Reads coming atcha on Wednesday, and more Adirondack travel on Friday. Check in with me then!

Loving. It’s so great to have business travel to a cool city, with some time built in for fun – and I can’t tell you how much fun it was to meet three of my colleagues (including our team leader and the teammate with whom I work most closely) last night! I have been loving this job so much, but the one thing that was missing was the chance to spend time with my co-workers. I’ve missed travel, and I’ve missed engaging with people at work (not on a screen – I see their faces almost every day but we’re all in little boxes on the computer screen, which is not the same). This week is going to be fun. 🙂

Asking. What are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (October 4, 2021)

Well, it’s Monday again! And October. Shut the front door. Y’all, I am drained today. It was a busy weekend – good busy, but I’m wiped out. Last Wednesday, my very best friend Rebecca arrived in town from Florida. She was here to attend a CLE (that’s Continuing Legal Education for you non-lawyers out there) conference in DC, and squeeze in friend time around the margins. I picked her up from the airport and she was able to welcome the kids home from school before I drove her to her friend Shannon’s house to stay closer to the conference for a few days. She rejoined us on Friday and stayed all weekend – YAY! It was nice to have her company because – another reason I am drained – Steve was out of town for a partners’ retreat with his law firm colleagues, and I was solo parenting for four days straight. I was supposed to attend the retreat with him – spouses were invited and he turned out to be the only one without a date, but all of our overnight childcare fell through. I wasn’t super sad about not traveling this weekend, but solo parenting two feral pandemic children wiped me out. Plus something always happens when one parent is alone. This time, it was a playground injury during soccer practice on Friday. We narrowly avoided a trip to urgent care, and were very happy to see Aunt Rebecca’s welcome face walk through the door. The rest of the weekend was lots of good running around – soccer, a haircut for Nugget, garden center (and bouncy castle!), a Sunday morning hike, swim class, neighborhood walks, cooking – the list goes on. We did a lot, and I’m tired now but I regret nothing.

Reading. Whew! Although I didn’t have much reading time over the weekend, I apparently made up for that during the week. Three print books finished (all total delights) and one audiobook (Richard Armitage reading Agatha Christie is everything, ladies), and I’m now well into O, the Brave Music and loving it. Bodes well for the week ahead!

Watching. I am deep down a Monty Don rabbit hole on Britbox and not even mad about it. I watched an episode and a half while Steve was out of town, and +100 would do it again. Nugget, who loves plants, indulgently watches with me. Everyone else grumbles.

Listening. Most of the week was given over to my audiobook – The Murder on the Links – but I did turn back to podcasts after wrapping that up. And Nugget is more of a tunes guy in the car, so there was a lot of singing along to Decemberists songs on the way to and from his haircut.

Making. Well, Nugget and Aunt Rebecca and I made a masterpiece of driveway chalk. Behold! It got a lot bigger than the above – this was just the beginning. Also made: progress on a rather sloppy scarf I’m knitting; a clean guestroom; a fairy garden with Peanut, and some BIG travel plans. I’ve hinted a few times that Steve and I had a big trip on the horizon in February. I was oddly reluctant to talk about it though, because I had a funny feeling it was going to fall through. It kind of did, and kind of didn’t, but the short story is that over a year ago we had booked – and fully paid for – a trip to Antarctica in February 2022, and we learned a few weeks ago that our trip has officially been pushed to 2023. After spending two weeks trying to find a solution to still travel to Antarctica in 2022, we finally accepted that we’re going to be waiting another year, and we pivoted to thinking about what we could do to make this feel okay. I’m deeply disappointed, but I was not letting myself get too excited about it to begin with, because I did sort of think this might happen. As a consolation we spent last week researching, and this week we booked a different February trip – so we will have something really cool to look forward to in February after all. Our reshuffled travel plans are basically the polar (har, har) opposite of Antarctica: we’re trading in parkas for board shorts and penguins for sloths – we’ll be road tripping around Costa Rica. I think this is going to happen – hotels are booked, and some of the adventures are already arranged, with more to come. I’m taking stock of my camera arsenal and plotting out the best way to see sloths. I love making plans, and the will-we-or-won’t-we aspect of our Antarctica trip (we will, but just a year later than planned) was stressing me out. But I’m feeling good and confident about Costa Rica, which is a strange – but nice – sensation.

Moving. Meh, not much movement this week. No running – lots of neighborhood walks; gotta get those 10,000 steps in – and just one short hike. Must do better next week.

Blogging. September’s reading round-up coming atcha on Wednesday, and back to the ‘dacks on Friday. Check in with me then!

Loving. Can’t say it enough – I love, love, love seeing my cherished friends! Especially during a pandemic, when we don’t see each other nearly enough as it is. It’s been wonderful having Rebecca for a few days. We’ve been cooking, walking, laughing, and wishing we could do this every weekend.

Asking. What are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (September 27, 2021)

Monday again – whew! How were your weekends? Ours was another combination weekend – a crazy-busy Saturday and a much more low-key Sunday. On Friday evening, Steve took Nugget to soccer practice; Peanut and I stayed home so she could get a head start on cleaning her room (don’t ask). Saturday came early; I mean really early. My alarm went off at 6:00 sharp so I could make coffee and rush out the door to my first starting line since pre-pandemic: the DC Bike Ride, 20 miles of car-free riding around the monuments. It was a bit of a bumpy ride (entirely my fault – the event itself was wonderful and seamless) – more to come on Wednesday. I rushed home with just enough time to slam lunch and pick Peanut up from Brownies, and then we rolled right back out the door for apple-picking. I’d actually thought ahead and booked tickets at a farm out in Loudoun County; we had to take a major detour to get to the orchard (because of a car accident entirely blocking one side of the highway – hope everyone is okay) but it turns out the farm country around the area is beautiful and we weirdly enjoyed the extra thirty minutes in the car. And of course, apple-picking was a delight, as always.

Sunday was much more low-key. I kicked around the ideas of a long run, and a long walk, but ended up not leaving the house/yard all day – except to take the kids to their weekly swim class, and later, to walk Nugget over to his buddy’s house in a cul-de-sac across the street. The rest of the day, I just puttered around – folding laundry, drafting and scheduling travel recap posts for the blog, making the first pumpkin curry of the season for dinner. I want to get a bit more organizing done this week, but it was a quiet day and I made a start, and that’s what I needed.

Reading. Not a bad reading week! After months of dipping in and out, I finally finished James Herriot’s classic memoir, All Creatures Great and Small, on Audible. Most of my page-turning hours were devoted to The Greek Myths, which I finally finished up on Saturday night. More to come on that, soonish. Sunday’s reading was my reward for finishing an eye-popping trek through the entire landscape of Greek mythology, and about as far from the homicidal, cannibal orgies of ancient Greek gods and heroes as it’s possible to get – Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life. I’m trying not to read too fast, because it’s a total delight and frankly, much more relaxing and enjoyable than The Greek Myths.

Watching. We’ve been letting Nugget pick the evening viewing lately (don’t feel too sorry for Peanut; she had a stretch of about two weeks of dictating TV) and it’s been Shark Central as a result. We did, however, carve out some time for the latest season of The Great British Bake-Off and watched the first episode – which just dropped on Netflix – over two nights. And I’m still keeping company with Miranda Mills’ YouTube channel as I wash dishes and fold laundry; I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself when I finish all the back episodes. I’ll have to go back to avoiding housework.

Listening. I’m on an audiobook jag! After I finished All Creatures Great and Small over several walks and one day of driving to work (!!!) last week I was on such a roll that I immediately downloaded my next Audible listen – The Murder on the Links, read by Richard Armitage (#swoon). I would literally listen to Richard Armitage read the phone book.

Making. Another busy week in the kitchen – par for the course when I’m Whole30-ing. I actually snapped pictures of every evening’s dinner so I could show you what I actually eat on Whole30, but it’s going to be a few weeks before that post goes live; I just have a lot of content pre-planned right now. I’ll get to it eventually, I promise. And with the onset of cooler weather – it’s been almost crisp in the mornings – I am starting to get the itch to take on a craft project. I’ve been eyeing embroidery kits online, although I’ll probably choose to be responsible and knit up some of the yarn I already have, instead. I’d like to make a pair of fingerless gloves.

Moving. Most of the week was light on movement, sadly. No running at all, as I was saving my legs for the DC Bike Ride on Saturday. I had big plans to get out for one more training ride before the event, and to meet my friend Dorothy for another morning of paddling, but weather and work interfered with both. But at least I got in one great workout – those twenty car-free miles through DC! Recap (!!!) to come on Wednesday.

Blogging. See above: on Wednesday I have a recap of the DC Bike Ride for you (just said that, heh). And on Friday, back to the ‘dacks for more summer travel – we’ll be doing that for awhile.

Loving. I’ve said many times that I can’t choose a favorite season; I am truly undecided as to whether I love summer or fall more. Growing up, fall was the clear choice – I’ve grown to love summer more in adulthood. Instead of mourning summer, or feeling bittersweet about the turn of the seasons, I am looking at the transition to fall as another phase in my favorite half of the year (although I adore winter too – spring is really the only season I could take or leave – so maybe it’s my favorite three-quarters of the year). Between apple-picking, pumpkin curry-making, and Halloween costume-shopping, I’ve embraced the new season. Nugget and I even had a grand leaf-stomping yesterday. Bring on woodsmoke, harvest moon nights, red leaves, crackling bonfires, little monsters begging for candy, spiced apple cakes, steaming tea, brisk bus stop mornings, and soft yoga blanket reading nests.

Asking. What are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (September 20, 2021)

Well! Good morning. So that busy weekend that didn’t materialize last weekend, that I predicted would come in force this weekend? It did. In force. I’m not even sure I can remember everything we did, let alone summarize it all in one to three efficient paragraphs, but I’ll try. We kicked off the weekend with the first soccer practice of the season, after sitting out last week on the sick list. Nugget dove right into soccer as if he hadn’t had a week’s break since camp, and was proclaimed “a baller” by the coach. We got home late – this will be the story of Friday for the next few months – and treated ourselves to Peruvian chicken to celebrate the end of a loooooong week.

On Saturday, we were up early and out the door for Nugget’s first game – Honduras (his team) vs. Australia. I’m pretty sure no one kept score, which was a good thing because if they had we’d have gotten absolutely shellacked. But it was adorable, and Nugget had a fabulous time, which is what matters. No sooner did we arrive home from Saturday soccer than Peanut and I were out the door again – for a stop at the local office supply store to print her requisite forms for Brownies (the girl behind the desk, seeing that we were printing Girl Scout forms, asked us to please promise to come around at cookie time – this is why I love supporting my neighborhood businesses), and then off to Peanut’s Brownie investiture ceremony and first badge activity: a painting class at a local historic mill and museum. She came home with orange paint-encrusted fingers, proudly clutching a baggie with her investiture patch and her first badge. Then – after a morning dedicated to kiddo activities, Steve and I insisted on family time. We gathered the whole crew up again (grousing at not getting to spend the – beautiful, sunny – afternoon watching cartoons) and rolled off to Seneca Regional Park to challenge ourselves with a slightly longer loop than usual. Once they got over their dismay at being torn from the TV, the kids were surprisingly good, and a few miles of river and woodland views were very good for the soul, indeed.

Still with me? If not, I don’t blame you. I was apparently tired after this day of monumental activity too, because I sacked out at 9:30 on Saturday night (party animal) and slept until almost 8:30 on Sunday morning – nearly eleven hours! Guess I needed it. Anyway, I rolled out of bed and immediately laid out adorable outfits for the kids to wear apple-picking, which is what we’d decided to do on Sunday morning before their midday swim lessons. So it was my turn to be dismayed when Steve glumly announced that the orchard I’d intended for us to visit – the only one that doesn’t require advance reservations – was out of everything except Red Delicious. As we all know, Red Delicious is not delicious. (This is a fact, not an opinion.) So we postponed apple-picking until next weekend, reluctantly, and after I’d wrestled both kids into their cute orchard themed outfits, they refused to change and ended up hiking (our Plan B) in a gingham shirt and apple-print dress, respectively. And now everyone knows what they’ll be wearing next weekend. Follow me for more elementary school fashion tips! Anyway – we squeezed in a quick hike at our local fave, Riverbend Regional Park, then tooled off to swimming. And after all that, I felt like I’d earned a lazy afternoon at home, so that’s what I gave myself. I went for a walk, did some work, made Whole30-compliant golumpki for Sunday dinner, and read on the couch for hours. It was good.

Reading. ‘Twas another busy one! After spending most of the week over my re-read of Gwen Raverat’s delightful Period Piece, I blazed through three books between Friday and Sunday: first, Agatha Christie’s debut novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, followed by the slim but entertaining The House Party, a social history of upper-class “week-end” entertainment in the interwar years in Great Britain (mostly in England, but a dash of Scotland for good measure). And then polished off Business as Usual in a day and loved every word – another contender for the year’s top-ten list. I finished off the weekend by diving into Robert Graves’ doorstopping The Greek Myths (off my Classics Club list) and I do hope I’m sufficiently recovered from James A. Michener for the epic task ahead.

Watching. It’s been an all-over-the-place sort of watching week. We spent three nights over The Lizzie McGuire Movie – I had a hunch Peanut would love it, and I was right. Around Lizzie we tucked some Rock the Park (studying up for some travel we have coming up this fall!) and a “grown-ups movie night” featuring an episode of The Crown, because we’re well behind and need to finish this season before the next one drops. Oh, and I’m still working my way through Miranda Mills’ YouTube channel while washing dishes, and enjoying it so much that I often find myself cleaning unnecessarily just to watch another episode.

Listening. I have to tell you, listening to music in the car with kids is a complicated business. Nugget requested “tunes” on the way home from swimming. I asked what he wanted to listen to, and he said “Classical” so I obliged with Holst’s The Planets. But apparently by “Classical” he meant “something with singing” so I suggested Charlotte Church as the only classical music I happened to have downloaded that also involved singing. Dramatic gagging ensued. (What’s their problem with Charlotte Church, I ask you?) Then Nugget clarified that when he requested classical music “with singing” he meant The Decemberists. I started to quibble – The Decemberists are rock, after all – but decided it wasn’t worth it, and we listened to Your Ghost four times in a row. You see what I mean? Complicated business. Anyway, other than negotiating kiddo music choices, I’m pleased to report that I knocked another hour off my audiobook (All Creatures Great and Small) and listened to several bookish podcast episodes while walking around my neighborhood.

Making. Lots of cooking this week, as always with a Whole30, but the highlight was definitely Sunday evening’s Paleo golumpki. (Turkey instead of beef/pork; cauliflower rice instead of white rice; and tomato puree with almond milk whisked in instead of Campbell’s soup – and it tastes unnervingly like my grandmother’s.)

Moving. Bit of a lazy week, this one was. Just one run and two hikes, plus daily neighborhood walks – usually after the kids board the school bus. Sometimes I see them barreling along through the neighborhood if I time the walk just right.

Blogging. It’s going to be a good week! I have September’s Themed Reads coming for you on Wednesday, and continuing with Adirondack recaps on Friday. Check in with me then!

Loving. I recently found a new-to-me social media follow – @nattieupnorth on Instagram – and I can’t recommend her highly enough. If you’re an outdoorsy type and you’re around social, do check her out; she posts beautiful photos and stories about life in Minnesota (I’ve never been, but would love to go). I found her through YouTube, actually: her justifiably popular video about how she, one tiny person, hoists a 90-pound fishing kayak onto her car without help. Clearly a force to be reckoned with! I’ve been loving following her posts; they’re bringing so much extra beauty to my days.

Asking. What are you reading this week?