Another Austin Summer

It’s June, which marks my third summer back in Austin, and also the start of 90+ degree days and slightly cooler nights. I’m not complaining (yet). The heat reminds me of that great moment in Atonement (movie, not book, in this case) where Leon says, “What do you say, Cee? Does the hot weather make you behave badly?”

Birthday Cake Macaron and Topo Chico from Walton's Fancy and Staple.

Birthday Cake Macaron and Topo Chico from Walton’s Fancy and Staple.

The heat does bring a little bit of mischief, even if it’s just staying out a bit later due to those extra daylight hours, sneaking out for gelato once or twice… a week and slightly smaller clothing to combat the increasing temperatures. In a few weeks I’m sure I’ll be hiding indoors, thanking my lucky stars for air conditioning. But for now, I’m going to picnic like my life depends on it. And eat more gelato.

Breads from Easy Tiger, Cheese and Salumi from Antonelli's Cheese Shop and Barbecue from Rudy's Country Store.

Breads from Easy Tiger, Cheese and Salumi from Antonelli’s Cheese Shop and Barbeque from Rudy’s Country Store.

Posted in Books, Fiction, Movies, Restaurants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Year, New Resolutions II

Another year, another busy holiday season. This was a lovely year with the addition of my sweet niece Reagan, but it was not without its trials (i.e. My husband moving to Russia for SIX MONTHS). Things are finally starting to settle down, and I’m looking forward to a long weekend of sleeping, puppy snuggles and reflection.

I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole resolution thing, but it is nice to check in every once in a while, so here goes…

1. Dedicate time to writing at least five days a week, whether it’s a blog post or a writing project. (This certainly didn’t happen this year, but I’m going to give it the old college try again.)

2. Record all of the books I read throughout the year. This was a fun one for me last year, so I’ll be doing it again. You can follow my progress under “What I’ve Read.” (I’ve done some thinking, and I’m not sure this is the best tool. Instead, I’ve created a recommendations page, where I’ll curate a list of my all-time favorite reads, new and old.)

3. Continue renovations on the condo. Things are moving right along, and I have even more big plans for this year. (Oh dear, the condo. We are slowly but surely making progress. But condo renovations are expensive, so I’m going to say that slow and steady wins the race in future years.)

4. Cook more often, and try new recipes. This remains on the list. I tired a few new things last year, but it’s time to test out all of that fancy kitchen equipment from the registry. (Out of necessity (and lack of husband to cook for me), I did a lot more cooking this year. I didn’t make anything too fancy, but I did cook a Thanksgiving meal for the first time. I’m calling that progress.)

5. Be open to new friendships. This is always a goal for me, but I want to be more intentional about the people I spend time with, especially since I’m so protective of my time. (I’m going to mark this one down as a success too. Look at me go! I put myself out there this year. I strengthened some old friendships and I can see a few new ones taking shape. This will always be an important resolution for an introvert like me.)

6. Make healthier choices. I’m never going to be a health nut. I have too many guilty pleasures for that sort of lifestyle. But I do want to make healthier choices, even if it’s just drinking more water and getting on a regular schedule with barre classes. (Fail, and fail. But I’ve signed up for a Barre3 Challenge to kick 2015 off right. And I’ve already started drinking more water.)

7. Achieve balance. Overall, this is what I’m going for. More play, less work. More quality time with the people I love. More calm, less stress. (Important, and not easy. This stays on the list for the rest of my life, I think.)

And now, for a new resolution.

8. Learn more about the world of wine. For years I’ve been captivated by the rich history and complexity of the world of wine, which has only increased as I work with our clients to open new restaurants across the country. I’ve decided to take my interest in wine to the next level. I’m looking into different options for expanding my wine knowledge, and I’ll be taking a trip to California to learn even more in the hub of American winemaking. I’m not sure what shape this resolution will take, but I know wine will be a part of 2015.

So there we have it. Resolutions, old and new. And I’m hoping to keep track of them in my new Passion Planner. If you’re in the market for a planner, check this one out! It strikes a good balance between work and play. Also, you can download pages to try it out for free! What a great company and philosophy, right?

Cheers to 2015!

 

Posted in Resolutions | Leave a comment

Banned Books Week

Once again, it’s Banned Books Week! This issue is super important to me, as evidenced by my post last year. Lest you think this is a silly topic that has no relevance in today’s world, check out this completely tone-deaf (and poorly timed) move from Highland Park, just down the road from my hometown. Yes people, we are still banning books in 2014.

BannedBooks_RedBadge

So, in honor of Banned Books Week, check out the list of frequently challenged books (Harry Potter! Captain Underpants! The Catcher in the Rye! Of Mice and Men! You’re killing me, people!), and GO READ ONE!

Hooray for books! Hooray for freedom! And hooray for Banned Books Week, which has been fighting censorship since 1982.

 

Posted in Authors, Books, Current Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Literary Pennants From Out of Print

Just when I think I can’t love them more, Out of Print goes and creates these adorable literary pennants. I’m already looking for a place in my office to hang the Pemberley version, though Pencey Prep is also calling my name. Out of Print is my online retailer spirit animal.

Out of Print Pemberley Pennant

 

Which one is your favorite?

 

Posted in Bookish Finds, Home, Shopping | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Novel Goes to Spain

As I briefly mentioned before, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Jonathan in Spain for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. I’m still getting over the jet lag (ugh), but I’m so excited to share some of my bookish and not-so-bookish travel essentials.

First, let me say that Spain is amazing. I would endure any amount of jet lag to go back, even tomorrow. It was that great. We did a whirlwind trip with stops in Madrid, Seville, Málaga, Granada and Barcelona. Each city had its own merits, but I was captivated by Seville most of all, and the Gaudí sights in Barcelona.

 

Seville, Spain

 

Because this was my first European vacation (hopefully of many!), I did a lot of research about not only our travel destinations, but also on how to survive international flights. I’d love to share some of my travel learnings with you.

  • If you can afford it, spring for business class tickets. For someone like me who has trouble sleeping on planes, having a fully reclining seat made all of the difference in me not only getting sleep, but starting my vacation off on the right foot.
  • Even if business class isn’t in your budget, small things like a sleep mask, ear plugs and compression socks will make your life much easier. Also, even if you don’t like to wear pajamas or workout clothes in public like me, I highly recommend changing into something more comfortable on the plane before going to sleep.
  • Don’t skip your other nighttime rituals on an overnight flight. Taking the time to remove makeup, take out contacts and brush my teeth before settling down made me feel ready for sleep and also more refreshed upon waking.
  • Bring snacks. While airlines will provide snacks, they’re not always healthy or appetizing. Packing a few key snacks like trail mix, peanut butter, crackers and granola bars will keep you full and happy on a long flight, and they’re also great to have on hand between meals on the entire trip.
  • Charge your Kindle or bring a book. (You knew there had to be a bookish twist.) My international flights did not have wifi, so I made sure to download several books before leaving. Check with your local library to see if they have ebook lending. It’s been a huge bonus for me to be able to “check out” free Kindle books. I’m a big fan of paper books too, but as a quick reader, the number of paper books needed to sustain a ten day vacation would have taken up all of the space in my bag.
  • Find a travel guide you like, and bring it along. My phone didn’t have service in Spain, so we relied heavily on our travel guide and the included maps. I looked at a lot of different books before going to Spain, but the one I brought with me was from PBS legend Rick Steves. His books rank sights in order of priority, provide sample itineraries, and give practical advice about crowd-beating and cultural norms. While there were one or two misses (no one’s perfect), overall we found this book to be a lifesaver. When we go back to Europe, we’ll be bringing Rick with us again.
  • If you’re not a native speaker of the destination’s language, make an effort and look into language apps. We found everyone to be very gracious and helpful, especially when we made an effort to communicate in the native language. I also downloaded SpanishDict before our trip. Their in-app dictionary doesn’t require wifi, so it was great for looking up random words in the moment.
  • Just go with it! We were lucky to have minimal travel delays, but as with any vacation, there are always surprises or things that don’t exactly go your way, especially if there’s a language barrier. Having a positive attitude and not sweating the small stuff allowed us to make the most of this incredible vacation.

What are your international travel tips? I feel like we learned so much on this vacation, and I can’t wait to do it again!

 

Posted in Family, Spain, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What I Read 2013

I’m finally updating what I’ve read for 2014, so I decided to move 2013 over to a post instead. I’m sure I’m missing a few, but this will at least give me a good idea of my literary journey for the last year.

Any standouts? I have to say, for sheer joy of reading it, I loved The Night Circus. Other favorites include The Name of the Star and the Ruby Red trilogy. Any recommendations for this year?

 

Fiction:

Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski

Mao II by Don DeLillo

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magician King by Lev Grossman

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

 

Young Adult:

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

The Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Torment by Lauren Kate

Passion by Lauren Kate

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

The Elite by Kiera Cass

 The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

 The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Defiance by C.J. Redwine

Deception by C.J. Redwine

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

Ruby Red by Kerstin Geir

Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Geir

Emerald Green by Kerstin Geir

 

Memoirs:

MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche

 

Posted in Authors, Books, Fiction, Non-Fiction, What I Read | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Announcement and Gifts for Tiny Readers

Things have been quiet on the blog front lately, and for very good reason. My brother and his dear wife welcomed a sweet baby girl to the world. Her name is Reagan, and she has stolen our hearts.

 

Reagan

 

As the only aunt to this precious pumpkin, it’s my job to turn her into a little reader. I already told her I’d buy her all of the books she could ever want, but I rounded up a few more things I’d love to give to any future tiny reader.

 

il_570xN.537267398_n239

 

A onesie with a simple message, Read To Me.

 

As I’ve mentioned before, I love these board books of classic literature for baby.

 

Another favorite brand, Out of Print, also makes adorable book cover onesies. Is it weird to have matching clothes with a baby?

 

Ian Falconer’s classic Olivia in board book form.

 

And her very own Very Hungry Caterpillar.

 

 

Posted in Baby, Bookish Finds, Books, Family | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Novel Links

Another round of weekly links for you. This one’s a good one, if I do say so myself.

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 4.16.25 PM

 

I have to start with this. So many things to love in this interview with Mindy Kaling and Billy Crystal. Great talk about love, writing and When Harry Met Sally. Just wonderful.

 

And along the lines of truly good love stories, I finally got around to watching About Time, and I highly recommend it. It squeezes your heart a little, just like a real-life love story.

 

I’ll take Hemingway’s bedroom. Please and thank you.

 

I’m a firm believer in taking a break from work to indulge in yourself, and science agrees. A new study says that the more you engage in creative activities outside of work, the better your performance at work will be. So keep knitting.

 

I love this funny trick of rewriting headlines without sexism. Woman has legs!

 

We’re hearing a lot from John Green lately, and I like what he has to say about young adult fiction.

 

And finally, look at these angry baby lions learning to swim. They’re so vocal!

 

Enjoy the downhill portion of the week!

 

*Photo courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Novel Links

Novel Links are a little late this week due to some crazy life happenings, but we’re back on schedule and missing our world traveler husband/dog dad very much. Here you are:

 

Oh, if only I were in New York today for the Random House open house. Swoon.

 

Barnes & Noble’s book nerd problems are great. I was going to call out my favorites, but there are just too many.

 

As my friend Katie said, “Somebody give this girl a scholarship!”

 

I’m Dumbledore, and I’m totally good with that.

 

Let’s go to all of the coolest bookstores in the U.S.

 

Are you a fan of the shelfie?

 

On a final, more serious note, these familiar men are taking a stand against sexual assault. Bravo.

 

That’s all, friends. Also, we’re on official baby Reagan count down! Squeeee!

Posted in Baby, Current Events, Events, Family, Movies, Novel Links, Online Reads, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bookish Finds

Here in Austin we’ve bypassed spring and forged full speed ahead into “Holy hell, it’s hot outside” weather. The current temperature is 85 degrees, with the threat of 97 degrees on Sunday. Is it too soon to cry mercy? Because I’d love to have those two days of spring back from last week.

I’d like to say this weekend will be spent in air conditioner, or by the pool, but alas I have crawfish, country music plans. I’m also hoping to catch up on all of Jonathan’s Russian adventures, take Lola for a long (hot) walk and get some laundry done. I know, exciting stuff.

This shirt, one of my most recent bookish finds, will likely make an appearance. I love the heck out of this shirt, and also love people’s reactions to it. Some people just. don’t. get. it. Which makes me smile. I’m kind of wishing I had it in tank top form, based on the current weather forecast.

Ain't No Party Like a Gatsby Party

What are you wearing lately? Anything bookish? Happy Friday!

 

Posted in Authors, Bookish Finds, Books, Family, Shopping | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment