sunday brunch

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If we were having brunch today, I’d tell you that I am super happy that the husband is coming home from his long weekend away tonight because bad things happen when he’s gone. I mean the house is super clean and all of that…but it’s so quiet I simply fill the time with an endless binge of Veep and GoT until I crash on the couch and have to put myself to bed. On the other hand, I did have the time to pick up and get started on a truly amazing freelance job, go to a wine tasting with good friends who have moved into the neighborhood, and head over to Findlay Market for some casual girl talk and fancy food browsing with one of my closest girls. So there’s the good with the bad. Though really, is a TV binge ever really a bad thing?

If we were having brunch today, I’d tell you that it’s finally truly fall here and I’m kinda not ok with it. I know, I know. Last month I was raving about all the fall things. But it’s been rainy and gloomy ALL WEEK, I had to break down and turn on the heat already, and my vitamin d pills can’t keep up. Yes, it means the boots and scarves can be on heavy rotation, but that also means they’ll have to be on heavy rotation until, say, April. UGH! Maybe I just need more pumpkin spice?

If we were having brunch today, I’d tell you that I’m basically counting the minute until I get to go to Florida in a few weeks. A spur of the moment airfare deal presented itself, so I’m heading down south for a week to visit with my bestie, hit up Disney World for some Everest action and a whole lot of food and wine thanks to Epcot’s glorious Food and Wine Festival, and head over to her fab beach condo for some reading and relaxing and vitamin d replenishing. I cheated and looked at the Food and Wine menu…so much money will be spent and I’m pretty sure I’ll gain 5 pounds in a night. WORTH IT. This getaway is so, so needed after a few stressful months at the office.

If we were having brunch today, I’d tell you that I’m missing my long hair. That’s the way it goes right? You have long hair, you want the pixie. You have the pixie, you miss the days of the top knot. And I really do miss the messy hair-don’t care top knot. It’s going to be a long year of trying to get that back…

If we were having brunch today, I’d tell you that I started following IKEA on Instagram and whoa, I need a house project. It’s been WAY too long since I’ve done anything and the houses they feature are making me feel some serious envy. Should I find some furniture to redo? Maybe get started on the lower level? Some DIY artwork? Small kitchen updates? I don’t know what I really have in mind at this point, just that I need something to work on after this freelance job is over. Y’all got any ideas? I still don’t even have a bathroom mirror and it’s been like 6 months, so that should probably be the first priority. And it should tell you the pacing and effort level we like to give around here (aka, neither are good).

What’s going on in your world? Let’s gab!

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what i love: september

September: where’d you go? You were a blur. A blur of football and pumpkin beer and boots and smiles. I’ll admit, these extra few weeks of 80+ degree weather have been much appreciated. I’d love to stock up all this vitamin D for February. But my coats and scarves have been whispering my name and the few leaves that are slowly turning red have me love love loving fall. Here’s what’s making me smile this month:

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1. I’m feeling a lot of wanderlust right now. I want to hole up in a lake house with some comfy throws and coffee and books and go canoeing and hiking. I’m thinking Lake Louise up there looks nice for this, yeah? That water is gorge. Sadly, the husband is going to a wedding one weekend and I’m out of town another, so no wandering with my favorite travel buddy for the next few weeks. Maybe an anniversary weekend getaway can be managed? Someone whisper in his ear…

2. I’m totally dying over football this year. It’s on pretty much 48 hours straight every weekend and we sadly watch SO MUCH (seriously, it’s borderline gross) of it but haven’t really made any football food. I KNOW. This is a travesty. I blame the sun and late-summer heat because who wants to cook or be productive in any way when you can sit on your deck and read in the sun or go on 5 mile walks with your friends? So weather, don’t get too cold yet, but just enough so I can make some merlot chili which looks ridiculous. I want to eat it all.

3. You guys. I’m pretty sure this bourbon and cider cocktail is the best thing ever. Is it bad I only buy apple cider to make cocktails? Don’t answer that. Anyway, it’s delicious and only slightly more difficult (though a thousand and one times tastier) than my default concoction of cider, bourbon, and ginger ale. Plus you can make it in a pitcher, perfect for a lazy football day or a night by the fire.

4. Umm…who knew Land’s End was making cool things? Last time I checked it was my grandma’s favorite store. (Tied with Talbot’s obvi.) But they made this fall dress guide and everything is so freaking cute. I want all the outfits for my closet as well as these shoes. I need those, right? Right. And this jacket. NEED. NOW. YES.

5. I am so thankful for the red lipstick review on Oh Happy Day earlier this month. Finding the right red lipstick is like searching for the Holy Grail. For years it has eluded me thanks to some very pink skin that magically turns any and all lipstick to an even brighter shade of pink. I honestly can put on the reddest stick you can find and in 3 minutes it will look magenta. It’s…frustrating. But I stubbornly wanted red lipstick for a wedding so I read over their tips and tried a few out. And guess what, I found one that stays red. It’s a miracle. Now the miracle would be having enough time in the morning to do makeup, but I’ll settle for having the perfect pretty pout for fall date nights.

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nerdy girl reads: the vacationers

I know, I know. Stop the presses! Another book review so soon? I got off my lazy butt (just kidding, I’m writing this on my ipad while watching Orange Is The New Black and drinking wine…it’s a hard life I lead) to write you a special review of a book you simply HAVE to read before the summer’s over. And time is ticking guys! We’ve got like a week and a half before Labor Day – the perfect amount of time to race through Emma Straub’s The Vacationers. Though you probably won’t need it, it’s that good.

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I know I say this about every book, or at least the ones I deign worthy of a review, but I loved this book. It is absolutely perfect to read at the end of summer. It’s light and funny and packs a heartwarming emotional punch that leaves you nostalgic and so, so happy. It’s simple in theory; The Vacationers follows the Post family on a two-week vacation in sunny Mallorca. First of all, it sounds like pure paradise. A gorgeous private villa in a small Spanish island town surrounded by mountains and cliffs and spotless beaches. Uh, yes please. I can catch the first flight in the morning. But of course, life for the Posts is not paradise. Jim and Franny are trying to figure out how to deal with the aftermath of his affair (and disgraceful lay-off) after 35 years of marriage. Their daughter Sylvia just wants to get through the last few mind-numbing weeks before college – oh, and lose her virginity if at all possible. Their son is secretly hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and stuck in a dead end relationship with a woman ten years his senior who no one likes. Soooo tension. Add a super hot Spanish tutor and a famous tennis player (modeled after Rafa Nadal perhaps?) to the mix and things are ripe to blow up into some delicious family drama.

This book is oh so fun. The characters are delightfully flawed and just the perfect amount of self-absorbed. And you can tell Emma Straub really loves them. I loved them too. Sylvia is quick and sarcastically witty, obviously hiding her vulnerability in teenage surliness. Franny loves to cook enormous amounts of delicious food to try to keep everyone together and make them love her. Carmen (the noxious girlfriend) avoids her disappointment in her life in endless burpees (shudder). They are so complex and truly make this character drama sing. As if it could get any better, Straub’s writing is so buttery-smooth and enjoyable to read. This Goodreads review says it so well because there’s so much to enjoy: “I loved many, many other things about this book—the food, the weather, the atmosphere, the dialogue, the sexy moments, the characters’ wonderful little quirks. (I’d love to quote you some specifics, but immediately handed the book over to my mom upon turning the last page.) But one of the things I loved the most is that all the braided plotlines were resolved in really satisfying ways, and it felt like everyone absolutely got what they deserved—both good and bad. That was really a relief for me; maybe I’ve gone soft, but I’m sick to death of reading about crummy characters who win, or wonderful characters who get fucked (in the bad way). ” I agree. The ending is so great and I want everyone to experience it too.

In the end, this is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together. It makes you love your family and appreciate the imperfect life you’ve made for yourself. And of course, the occasional trip away to strip away the all the lies. Go read it. NOW.

Rating: 9, Just shy of perfect (Can’t put it down! Well rounded with exceptional characters and style.)

nerdy girl reads: short summer reads

Last night I realized that these sweet summer days are quickly passing us by when the husband got a text about his fantasy football draft in a few weeks. What the what? I can’t even. (Though let’s be real, I am super pumped for football season and already want pumpkin beer. It’s a sickness.) But thankfully, we do still have more than a month ahead of us before Labor Day’s arrival – plenty of time to soak up the sun and get some reading done before the pool closes! Because I love you all so much, I’ve read a bunch of shorter reads you can fly through in a weekend or two and reviewed them all here. Hope it helps you find a new fave!

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
A-Hundred_SummersIn the mood for some pure chick lit fun? A Hundred Summers is for you. I first read Williams’ work in Overseas, and was excited to check this one out. Set in a beach town in Rhode Island in 1938, we follow socialite drama at its best. Lily Dane is shocked and hurt when Nick and Budgie Greenwald show up unexpectedly for the summer. They are her former best friend and her former fiancé, now recently married. Sucks right? Budgie insinuates herself back into Lily’s friendship with an overpowering talent for seduction…and an alluring acquaintance from their college days, Yankees pitcher Graham Pendleton. But because it’s chick lit and a little formulaic, Lily and Nick can’t stay away from each other, and the two are drawn back into their long-buried feels, despite their heartbreak. I really enjoyed this story and despite its somewhat sappy and contrived plot, I was hooked because I love love stories and historical fiction. Williams does a great job of weaving in flashbacks to the main story and you really will love Lily and feel her heartbreak. Like I said, pure chick lit fun for the summer!

Rating: 7, Darn good (Highly recommended book that is well paced and enjoyable with a few flaws.)

Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith
Trains_and_LoversI can’t believe I had never read an Alexander McCall Smith book before this year! Not only because he’s written SO MANY, but also because they are all so British and I love British things. Anyway, Trains and Lovers. You guys, it is so cute. I know that sounds lame, but there’s really no other way to describe it. The book itself is tiny in size and the cover is an adorable watercolor of a train with pretty hand-lettered type. And the story is just as sweet. Basically, four strangers meet on a train and tell each other their love stories on the journey. It is incredibly sentimental and not for anyone who isn’t the most hopeless of romantics. There’s really not much in the way of plot – the characters are just riding a train after all – but the writing is so gentle and intelligent that this quick read is like sitting by the fire and enjoying a pleasant warmth. It sticks with you much like the rocking of a train and makes you happy to be in love.

Rating: 8, Excellent (Memorable and above par, highly entertaining.)

Lonely Planet A Fork in the Road
Fork_in_the_RoadI love travel writing, especially if it involves food. The best parts of Eat, Pray, Love are by far when she talks about the food she eats in Italy and The Sweet Life in Paris was a wonderful romp through French cuisine. So when A Fork in the Road‘s cover caught my eye in a library display, I snatched it up. It’s not really a story, more of a collection of essays written about the intersection of food and travel and its impact on famous foodies’ lives. I’ll admit, it wasn’t my favorite read of the summer. Some of the essays sparkle with life and wit and some fall pretty flat. I naturally loved the stories from well-known chefs and authors like Curtis Stone and Michael Pollan, but some of the hidden gems were from people I had never heard of talking about disastrous stays at a Tuscan villa, a comedic family lunch in a small town in France, and how an exotic dish brought a girl and her estranged father together despite her uptight Asian family. If you are a fan of the genre, you will enjoy its humor and sentimentality and it is perfect for when you only have 10-20 minutes to read because you can skip around the chapters as you want, knock out an essay, and feel immense amounts of wanderlust!

Rating: 6, Above average (Recommend with reservations. Entertaining, but lacks a certain je ne sais quoi.)

Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues by Martin J. Blaser
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Ah yes, a learning book. And a kinda scary one at that. But hear me out! Not everyone likes all this schmaltzy stuff! And this isn’t like the summer reading you had to do in high school – it’s waaay more interesting than Machivelli or Greek plays. (Anyone else have to suffer through that?!?) I saw Blaser on The Daily Show and knew I had to get his book. After waiting forever to get it from the library, I hustled through this quick science-y read. I love learning about our human biology, especially when it comes to bacteria and our digestive system and our health. (See Cooked and this past month’s edition of Eating Well for more fun!) As someone who is also suspect of taking any and all medications, I wanted to learn more about the damage that overuse of antibiotics is doing to our health, you know, small things like contributing to the rise of obesity, asthma, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. Gah! For hundreds of thousands of years bacterial and human cells have lived in a peaceful Garden of Eden that is responsible for the health and equilibrium of our body and we’re ruining it! Blaser skillfully combines technical data from the lab and his conclusions without getting to science-y for the lay reader and offers really good solutions for how we can start to fix it. I’ll warn the hypochondriacs out there that there was a chapter I had to stop reading in the middle because it was freaking me out (antibiotic-resistant MRSA anyone?), but I think this is a worthwhile read for anyone who wants to make smart decisions about their health and medicine.

Rating: 8, Excellent (Memorable and above par, highly entertaining.) (Ok, maybe not entertaining, but important!)

Goodnight June by Sarah Jio
Goodnight_JuneOk, back to the schmaltz! Y’all know I love Sarah Jio. Blackberry Winter is still one of my fave chick lit reads. Unfortunately, I think her editors are doing her a disservice by having her crank out at least one book a year because her two latest have felt under-developed to me. Goodnight June could have been great because the story premise is great: burned-out and heartbroken financial guru June moves to Seattle to take over her deceased aunt’s failing bookstore and finds out she was confidantes with Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon, and inspired the famous story, thus saving the store and finding love. Like I said, sounds great, yes? The writing is a little flat though, especially when it comes to the love story. You know it’s unmemorable when you can’t even remember the love interest’s name! But, it’s worth reading if only for the letters between June’s aunt Ruby and Margaret. They come alive and their friendship really becomes the love story and heart of the novel. I loved the literary bent of the book and I credit Jio’s imagination for coming up with such a clever and beautiful backstory for such a beloved book. Again, perfect to pick up and read by the pool for some easy-going chick lit!

Rating: 6, Above average (Recommend with reservations. Entertaining, but lacks a certain je ne sais quoi.)

What are you reading this summer?

sunday brunch

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If we were having brunch today, I’d tell you all about my fab week at the beach. It was awesome, y’all. I am both happy and sad to be back home – happy because my skin desperately can’t handle any more direct contact with sunlight for awhile and sad because well, no one ever really wants vacation to be over, right? It was the perfect weeklong binge of good food, even better alcohol, sunlight so perfect it makes your heart hurt with happiness, laughter and smiles, beautiful books to read, and enough gorgeous runs and walks on the beach to avoid gaining 10 pounds (as opposed to the five or so I brought home as a souvenir). I am so thankful to have the amazing parents I do and that they let the husband and I crash their party this week.

If we were having brunch today, I’d tell you that I am super lame and have made a “summer bucket list.” I know, I embarrass myself too. It includes things like “make homemade ice cream” and “go to a Reds game” and “go on the [brother-in-law’s] boat.” Ok, and a lot more food-related items I’m leaving off because they make me realize just what a fat kid I really am. But I can’t help it, I am just SO excited for summer to get here and to be one of the best yet because last summer the husband and I didn’t really get to enjoy anything thanks to all his health issues. This summer is going to make up for it in spades, I can tell.

If we were having brunch today, I’d tell you that this girl really needs to whip her butt back into shape. Not only to get rid of that pesky “souvenir,” but simply to feel better. I’ve been kicking butt with my running, no issues there, but since I stopped lifting with a trainer twice a week and fitting in some yoga a few times a month (seriously…don’t even remember the last time I pulled the mat out of the closet), I’ve been feeling a bit off. One of my besties started a “yoga everyday” challenge and has totally inspired me this past month. Maybe I should make up a challenge for summer. I can surely do something everyday, right? Right?

If we were having brunch today, I’d tell you I picked up A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at last year’s used book sale at work (OMGITSTARTSNEXTWEEK!!!!) and started reading it a few days ago. You guys. How did I not read this before now? It’s so beautiful. I got about 10 pages in before turning to the husband at the beach and waxing poetic about how I already loved it. The imagery and tone are simply beautiful and I have totally fallen for Francie. Go read it.

If we were having brunch today, I’d apologize for my radio silence. I’m so sorry guys. Truth is, I’ve been feeling uninspired and you, my dear readers, paid the price. For some reason or another I would try to come to this space and write creative words about books and my house and music and nerd power and I couldn’t. I can’t promise to be back here wholeheartedly in the weeks to come, this is just a hobby and creative outlet after all and let’s be honest, no one wants to sit at a computer when there’s so much summer to enjoy, but I can promise not to be such a stranger. Deal?

Your turn! What’s going on with you this month?

what i’m loving: january

Anyone else got the winter blues? Yeah, me too. It’s just. so. cold. I don’t even want to think about what this month’s energy bill will be. It will definitely be record-breaking for this house. But hey, I’ve got a house so the privilege of paying to keep it warm is something to remember. The ground hog better not let us down, I think we all need spring in a bad way.

Truthfully, I’m not sad that January sped by as all the months seem to do lately. Work has been busier than I ever could have possibly imagined when I took the position 18 months ago. The sheer amount of things to do is exhausting. Thankfully, while there has been much on my plate, my non-design coworkers have been understanding and so very helpful and I honestly have surprised myself with how well I have performed. Even better is that I’ve stayed primarily stress-free, something that doesn’t come easy to me. Also thankfully, it all should end in a few weeks when hopefully I have a new partner to share my load. Here are some of the things keeping me afloat (though not making me any warmer in this never-ending frigid air)!

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1. Two words: Enchilada Pasta. Yeah. This is so good. I am constantly trying out new recipes from the web and a lot of them are failures (the recipe or me? who can ever know?). The husband has learned a diplomatic trick from my dad: after a meal that was not really stellar or downright gross, he’ll simply say, “you don’t have to make that again,” and then I know he hated it. It’s very polite, no? But this…he wants again. It is creamy (though not super unhealthy is you sub in non-fat things like I did) and delicious and makes a TON, which is perfect for leftovers. One word to the wise: the recipe as written is not very spicy or flavorful. I doubled the chili powder and cumin, salted a lot and then we both liberally dumped hot sauce on our servings. It’s perfect to warm you up on polar vortex nights.

PS: I hate the polar vortex. Anyway…

2. Can we talk about something serious here: when are boot cuts coming back? Don’t get me wrong, I like skinnies just as much as the next girl…but I really miss some good old flares. How chic does she look? It’s fabulous (though I question those shoes). I just feel like boot cuts and trouser jeans are more flattering for more women and look more professional and polished. Am I right? Maybe that’s my calling in life, to bring back to boot cuts. Give me that adorable striped shirt and a pretty red pashmina and I’m ready to conquer the world!

3. I’ve done so much daydreaming this month. The husband and I are really starting to talk about the Italy trip, even though it’s definitely not happening until at least spring of next year. Doesn’t mean we can’t dream right? (Or buy Italian wine to start “learning,” right?) This view of Positano takes my breath away and the whole set of photos is incredible. Amalfi Coast, here I come…in 2015.

4. This month I’ve found myself really being drawn to and inspired by book covers. I mean, I’m surrounded by them all day long at work and then in my free tie I just look at them all over the interwebs. It’s sick. I love this alternate The Fault in Our Stars cover by Matt Clough. The illustration work is beautiful and he’s so clever to design it double sided for both Hazel and Gus. You can see all the images here. I wish this was the real cover…I’ve pinned a bunch of other book design collections, namely these gorgeously illustrated covers and this collection that just blows my mind. The design for The Night Circus alone is better than any version I’ve seen in real life. I wish publishers took more design risks, but that’s a post for another day.

5. OMG The Following. You guys. The husband and I can’t stop. We were bored on Netflix last weekend and decided to watch the first episode because what else was there to do? It’s really good. And one episode was so scary I actually screamed out loud. I don’t even do that for The Walking Dead! In a nutshell, The Following tells the story of an ex-FBI agent (Kevin Bacon, who is great) trying to stop a serial killer who has escaped after 9 years in prison. Said serial killer has formed a cult and it’s an elaborate cat-and-mouse story full of Edgar Allen Poe symbols and all-out creepiness. Sure, you have to suspend your disbelief because really, the FBI can’t be THAT bad at what they do and the serial killer can’t be THAT much of a genius mastermind, but it’s very entertaining. Love it.

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nerdy girl reads: summer reading list

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Remember summer reading? How great was that? NOT. Even for the nerdiest of us all, homework over the summer sucked. No one wants to read Machiavelli or Tom Sawyer or a biology textbook at the pool, am I right? Super lame. Reading at the pool or a beach if you can get to one, however, is not super lame. It’s pretty much the best thing in the world (especially if there’s a beer or two close by). My family knows, if we’re on the beach and I have a book or my Nook, they best stay away. I am busy. Luckily, as adults, we can pick our own summer reading. One of the few perks, ha.

Because I work in the library and my office just so happens to be right next to Acquisitions and Cataloging departments, I have to walk by all the new books several times a day on my way to the bathroom or the printer. Oh darn. I see all the new books before they are released, which is both a blessing and a curse. I see tons of new books I want to read daily…but I also see tons of new books I want to read daily. Half the time I’m at work I walk around thinking, “too many books, too little time.” When there are SO MANY books out there in the universe, how do you pick which ones to spend your time with?

Truthfully, I don’t know But you have to pick sometime or else you’ll be stuck not reading anything. And that’s just too sad. Here are the six books at the top of my Summer Reading List this year. Trust me, this is just the tip of the very large, Titanic-sinking iceberg that is my reading list

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1. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
I am literally trying to ration myself from this book because I am that excited to read it. My aunt said it made her laugh out loud and my bestie described it as “Arrested Development meets Carmen Sandiego.” Umm, sign me up! I have the feeling I am going to fly through this book and seeing as it’s my July book club book, I need to wait just a little longer! The Amazon synopsis can explain the plot better than I can, but I will say that I am most looking forward to reading this this summer for its humor and (I hope) sense of adventure. Plus, I just love the idea of a little girl wanting to go to Antarctica of all places!

2. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
I will admit, I am judging this book hardcore by its cover. In person, the cover is amazing. It stopped me dead in my tracks. You can’t tell it from the screen (duh Katie) but the yellow books on the cover are embossed and have a super cool, almost furry varnish. In non-designer speak that means the yellow parts are bumpy and have a cool texture. It’s sweet. The actual novel itself sounds great too! It’s a magic bookstore! Aaahhhh it makes me giddy and I haven’t even read it yet! I’m loving this for summer because, well, magic, and a little lighthearted mystery! {Amazon link}

3. The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio
No summer is complete without a little romance, right? I won’t lie, I love me some Nora Roberts on the beach, but when I can, I’d like to have maybe a little bit more sophistication. I devoured Jio’s other works The Bungalow and Blackberry Winter. They are pretty great romances/mysteries and definitely hook you. I think I read all three of hers over Thanksgiving weekend. Yeah. I have no idea what The Last Camellia is even about, I just know I want to read it immediately (but I’ll probably save it for vacation)! I highly recommend this one for anyone who is looking for a light read with a little romance! {Amazon link}

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4. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
Anyone out there a fan of The Paris Wife or American Wife? Well, I am. It’s no secret that I love historical fiction. It’s my default literary genre. And the 20s are my default time period (as in, I think I should have been in Paris in the 20s a la Midnight in Paris). I really don’t know much about dear Zelda, and though I know this is a work of fiction, I am looking forward to learning more about her story and her life with F. Scott. Also, the cover is beautiful. {Amazon link}

5. The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Alright, I guess I gotta include a classic on my list. It is Summer Reading after all. But this time let’s leave Dickens and Hardy and even Fitzgerald for some more serious times (see: winter). Let’s have a little fun and follow the antics of Sherlock and Dr. Watson! I won’t lie, the main reason I want to read the Holmes stories is to know what’s happening on the BBC show Sherlock. I also won’t lie, I will be picturing Benedict Cumberbatch the entire time, despite the fact that it’s obviously not set in modern times like the show.

6. The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz
I really tried to include a “learning book,” you guys. I really tried. I just…don’t want to. I’d rather just escape to Paris. That sounds nice right? Memoirs are great summer reads! Ok, not all of them. I’m sure Jaycee Dugard’s isn’t exactly sunny reading material. But one about a pastry chef living in Paris? Yeah, sounds like a tough life to me, mister. {Amazon link}

What are you packing in your beach bag this summer?

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nerdy travels: vegas baby!

Whew, I’m finally getting around to recapping our big Vegas weekend!

A few weekends ago, E surprised me with a much needed mini-vacation. In fact, he didn’t even tell me where we were going until a week or so before we left! He knew how much I love Cirque de Soleil and the Beatles, so he orchestrated this whole trip around seeing Beatles LOVE at the Mirage! The trip was truly a blast and we loved taking in the sights and the sun with Chris and Meredith.

The first of three days we were there was spent in the sun. Yes, pretty much the whole day. Cue the *whomp whomp* and bring on the aloe. I don’t think I’ve ever been that burned. That’s what you get when you’re already a few mojitos in at noon I guess!

That night we had a great dinner at Bouchon in the Venetian. The chef is Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and it was truly yummy French food. I’ve never had chicken cooked as perfectly as we did there. And after dinner, the show began!

LOVE was really wonderful and unlike any of the other Cirque shows I’ve seen. While it was shorter and had fewer of the more “cirque-y” acts like the crazy people who stand on each others heads, the music told a story that was captivating and real. The songs were mixed together so while you may have been ostensibly listening to “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” you also heard “Helter Skelter’s” discordant chaos and beats of “I Want You.” I believe there may have also been a few songs we thought would have been enhanced by some of the substances they enjoyed. Can’t confirm or deny. Highlights for me included the “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun” numbers…they were simply breathtaking and moving.

After the show we headed to the Cosmopolitan, Vegas’ newest casino and hotel. The interior is a designer’s dream. It boasts a huge collection of modern art and contemporary art installations, as well as beautifully designed bars. We hung out at Vesper and I wanted every single piece of furniture for my house. Not surprising; it was gray and yellow. One of the other spaces was built around a giant chandelier and housed a bar around it, in it, and over it. We also hit the casino floor, but at $50 Blackjack tables, we didn’t stay long…

Saturday was pretty much full of shopping because none of us could even imagine exposing our skin to the sun. Trying on clothes was excruciating enough. I am actually really proud of E, my horrible tightwad of a husband. For someone who really hates to buy clothes, and hasn’t for over a year, he bought basically a whole new wardrobe! I also bought quite a few pieces for myself…

Dinner this night was our sort of “main event” for the weekend. We headed over to the Palms for dinner at N9ne Steakhouse. I honestly think this was the best dining experience of my life. The food was incredible and the wine pairing was perfection and everything was divine. Scallops, lobster, homemade gnocchi, lamb, filet…oh my! Not to mention champagne with strawberry ice cubes and flourless chocolate cake…

Oh, and we met Troy Polamalu. And I embarrassed myself by asking one of the richest men in Vegas (the OWNER OF THE PALMS) to take our picture. No biggie. Troy is very nice and polite holds doors for strangers. Just in case you wanted to know.

Please ignore my scariness in that last picture.

Anyway, After dinner we went up to the Playboy Club and the nightclub basically on the roof called Rain. The Playboy Club was actually much more fun than I expected and we spent about 20 minutes gambling away our budget for the night. Seriously, it goes fast. I did feel really cool there though. I kinda was hoping Holly, Bridget and Kendra would show up…but I guess they’re kinda out of the bunny loop now. Rain was also pretty fun, great dancing and the outdoor area looks out to the strip and is really beautiful all lit up.

Our last day was spent sort of in recovery…sleeping in was necessary! We went over to Old Vegas for lunch and to gamble a bit in the casinos where you don’t lose so much so quickly. $5 bets go further than $25 for sure. But alas, no winners for us. We rounded out the trip with a great dinner at the Paris-they have a great restaurant that has an outdoor area just like the cafes on the street of Paris.

Luckily, we got the prime table and watched the Bellagio fountains for a few hours. There was also some French onion soup. And chocolate mousse. It was the perfect end to a great trip!

christmas in florida

Last weekend Eric and I had the happy opportunity to go to sunny Orlando for our friends’ wedding. Though Amanda and Josh had already tied the knot a year or so ago, they wanted to have an “official” celebration with their friends and family. We took the chance to have a “mini-honeymoon” since we never took one after our celebration in October.

First of all, can I say how awesome it was to be warm in December. It was glorious.

After a treacherous hour+ ride to the airport in “snow emergency level one” conditions (we left 3 hours before the flight and at one point seriously thought we weren’t going to make it) e and I found our seats, sat in de-icing for awhile, and were off. We splurged for this trip and decided to stay in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. It was so adorable and was probably the only thing that felt “Christmas-y” among the palm trees. We even had bunk beds in our room!

Thursday night was the combined bachelor/bachelorette party. At Epcot. It involved drinking. And going around the world. You get the picture. Which is good, because I have no decent pictures since my camera has recently decided it never wants to take focused pictures. The night ended at a dueling piano bar with renditions of “Don’t Stop Believing” and Eric’s request, “Come Together.” Good times.

Since we were staying on Disney property, we decided that Friday would be spent exploring the other resorts to see all the holiday decorations. Here’s the highlight:

Yes friends, that’s a lifesize gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian. Well to be fair, the top right photo is of some random human-sized birdcage I thought was cool. Everything is food-based. The Mickey on the sugar window is chocolate. The poinsettias are icing. Pretty cool. It takes them over two months to bake and decorate everything.

See! Lifesize!

The next day was the wedding, which sadly, I have few pictures of. It was a rainy, rainy morning. Seriously pouring. Which for a bride planning an outdoor wedding was stressful, I’m sure. The ceremony went off without a hitch and we were off to Epcot for the reception at a banquet room in The Living Seas, the aquarium attraction complete with Nemo and Dory.

Have I mentioned yet that this wedding was “pirate themed?”

I haven’t?

Well, it was. We wore costumes. The reception had pirate-y things like a treasure chest and food with names like “Elisabeth Swann’s Raspberry Coulis.” Fancy.

Fave part? The scuba divers in the aquarium dancing with us.

Again, sorry for the blur. Blame the camera.

Does anyone know where I can find an Ariel tree topper?

kt