Monday, August 24, 2015

best of summer

Monday, August 24, 2015
I am probably in the minority here, but no one could be more excited than me that summer is nearing its close. Facebook was deluged with "first day of school" pictures with accompanying sad face posts lamenting the end of summer, and while I am sure it's only a matter of time before everyone starts talking about pumpkin patches and football and pumpkin spice lattes (OF COURSE), most people actually hate to see summer go.  

Even as a kid, I didn't love summer.  I may have enjoyed the blissful lack of responsibility that comes in the first few weeks without school, but after that I was ready to see my friends again.  Growing up on a ranch was more than a little crippling on one's social life.  I was also one of those ridiculously annoying children who loved every second of school, and didn't even hate homework that much.  I missed crisp white notebooks and pencils and schedules.  

Now that I have a kid of my own, I find the reality of summer daunting.  My little guy thrives on a routine.  I genuinely believe he feels better, mentally and physically, when his life is predictable. There are some aspects of summer that are undeniably lovely-long days stretching into the early evening means lots of light for scooter rides at the park, the (PRACTICALLY DESERT-LIKE) heat that makes swimming so refreshing and exhilarating, weekly trips with Daddy to the ice cream shop.  It's been fun, but the combination of frequent traveling, friends and family being away on vacation, and the general interruption to regularly scheduled programming is tough.  

Despite my overly enthusiastic welcoming of a new season, there were definitely some great highlights to the summer.  Fun beach jaunts, fishing in Colorado, train rides and train museums, water parks and swimming pools.  Of course, there was good entertainment and eats to enjoy, too.  Here are some of the things that made summer a little easier to get through:

best reads:

Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals that Brought Me Home, Jessica Fechtor-I have a food memoir/food writing problem.  Cannot get enough of these types of books.  I packed my spare copy (the fact that I HAVE a spare copy should tell you something) of A Homemade Life in my shiny new emergency kit (for earthquakes and the zombie apocalypse, of course).  
Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie-One of our book club's reads for the summer, and I loved it.  I haven't felt so thoughtful during the course of reading a book and after in a long time.  It felt especially relevant to read such a book at this time in our country, too.  
Broken Monsters and The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes-Terrifying and entirely refreshing. As my dear SIL puts it, "like Stephen King but better."  
In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume-Oh, Judy Blume!  I loved what Duana, a regular contributing critic at my beloved Lainey Gossip, had to say about it.  "People always say that Judy Blume's books prove she still understands what it was like to be a young person and a teenager.  I agree, of course-that's what got me into her books in the first place-but I feel more as though she's helping me to be an adult." (

The Martian, Andy Weir-Matt Damon and the creative social marketing campaign for the upcoming adaptation of this book intrigued me.  I'm so all over the map with my reading this summer!  Sci fi! Horror! Memoir! Judy Blume! Anyway, it was actually a riveting read, IMHO.  I was genuinely anxious multiple times, and it was especially easy to invest in the main character knowing he'd be played with panache by Matt Damon.  

best tv:
Jane the Virgin-An absolute gem, a DELIGHT.  I adore this show and can't wait for the second season to begin.  Diverse, funny, and heartwarming without being overly sentimental.  Gina Rodriguez (Jane) is wonderful.  
Halt and Catch Fire-A much more serious, but equally strong show about the motivations and machinations of a trio of tech-savvy geeks and entrepreneurs in the "Silicon Prairie"-Dallas in the 1980's.  I haven't seen characters as compelling or been as genuinely invested in a show probably since watching The Wire.  All three of the leads are fantastic (and fairly unknown), but the supporting cast is solid.  Lee Pace, in particular, is infinitely watchable.  It's hard to look away when he's onscreen.  

best treats:
These need no elaboration.  They are all incredibly delicious, and with the exception of mashing crackers up to make a pie crust (in the case of the lemon pie), all quite easy.  Only the exorbitant price of limes could keep me from making the limeade every day, and I have become an utter devotee of the homemade popsicle. 
-Bill Smith's Atlantic beach lemon pie, courtesy of Food 52. 

best guilty pleasures:
Taylor Swift's Bad Blood-Delightfully over the top and ridiculous, I have watched this video more times than I should mention.  My little guy too. Yikes.  He loves Taylor Swift and is inexplicably drawn to this song.  Side note: I don't mind your friend collecting, T, but you lose points for including Jessica Alba in your star-studded video. 
Entertainment Weekly subscription-I'm supporting the print industry! 
UnREAL-I haven't finished it yet, so I can't offer any final commentary, but so far I am hooked on this take on reality television.  It's a behind-the-scenes look at a faux Bachelor-style show, and not nearly as funny as you might think based on that description.  It's on Lifetime, if you can believe it, and considered a sleeper hit of the summer.