Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Rad Summer Reads

Hi all,

Summer is an optimal season for several reasons.  The suns warmth, beckoning one outdoors.  Offering up loads more potential reading locales (as opposed to winter, when reading must be relegated to indoors).  The days are longer, giving one more hours to be wiled away between the pages of a gripping book.  Vacation!  Way more people have time off, which goes hand in hand with plowing through fantastic plots.  The beach, lakes, the ocean, all ideal backdrops for relaxing with book in hand.  Typically during summer, people are out and about more.  Doing significantly more socializing.  This can include engaging, lengthily discussion of all the awesome reads you're devouring. 

Enough said.  Now for the list of recent recommended reads!

Wired for Story by Lisa Cron.  This one is a great read for anyone remotely interested in writing stories.  Cron argues that contrary to the advice we hear often about "great writing and prose being the be all, end all," that in fact, good storytelling is sometimes even more close to being the opposite.  In this book, she presents the argument and thoughts that instead, what sells books is good storytelling.  What keeps the pages turning isn't incredible prose but instead is a gripping, semi-believable, relatable, thrilling read.

This one is more likely to be enjoyed by the ladies, though I don't discriminate.  I am sure there are many guys out there who would find it entertaining and fun as well.  Though I don't read "chick lit" (I hate that expression) often anymore, J Courtney Sullivan is one author whose books I love.  Two of her others, The Engagements and Maine, are excellent.  Such great, relatable, page turning, engaging reads.  This one, though I am 3/4 of the way through, is no different.  It follows the trajectory of four women who met in college, and the paths their lives take after graduating.  Each one fascinating within itself, all totally different.  I'm flying through and loving it.

David Richo is an excellent author and philosopher.  One of his other books, How to be an Adult in Relationships (I believe that ones an international bestseller) is hands down one of the best relationship books I have ever had the pleasure of reading.  Inspirational, thought provoking, wise, fascinating, I loved it.  This one is similar.  Though not about relationships, I find his insights and thoughts incredibly moving, inspiring and uplifting.  This read has life changing potential for its readers, depending on who you are and how you take it in.  Very worthwhile.

What Love Is and What It Could Be by Carrie Jenkins.  This book had a bunch of really excellent, outside the box, thought provoking things to suggest, point out and muse on love about.  A lot to offer in terms of giving people some new ideas for considering what love could be, if our societal idea weren't so rigid and judgemental about how it should be (basically, one way).  I liked how she wrote it, almost like a philosophical conversation.  Definitely some gems in here.

I love this cookbook.  So many of the recipes sound absolutely delicious and don't need tons of ingredients.  In fact, most are pretty simple to make.  Typically I find Paleo to require a lot of ingredients and as a result, often costing more money.  This book didn't seem to follow that usual line, which is why I think its great.  75% of the recipes in here look super tasty.  Also unusual for a cookbook, as usually there is a just a handful of recipe that look awesome.

This book is great.  A how-to on memoir writing, but somehow the author manages to make it a really engaging and interesting read, weaving in stories from her own life.  Some of which are humorous, other emotionally moving.  If you're even remotely into non fiction writing, I highly recommend this book for some great inspiration.

This is a unique cookbook, to say the least.  She talks about cooking with ingredients and making dishes that fit to your body type and nature type (earth, air or fire).  The recipes are earthy and humble, yet many of them sound awesome.  This book also just makes for an interesting, informative, intriguing read.  There were several things in here that I didn't know.  Many of the entrees combine ingredients I never would have fathomed pairing, but which sound and look excellent.  I recommend checking this one out.  At least paging through it on your next visit to the bookstore.   

Friday, August 18, 2017

Weekly Wanderings in New England

A smattering of photos from my wanderings, experiences and days in the time Ive been back in the US  (just a couple days shy of being two weeks).

Pancakes and some excellent philosophical reading :-D

Pumpkin Tumeric Pancakes.  The bomb diggity.  Try em.  You wont be disappointed.  I promise.  In fact, you'll likely be hooked.

This would be Sid.  My sister and her roommates dog.  Look at that face, my god.  Quite possibly the biggest goof I've ever met.  Love him.

Breakfast on the dock with my mom :-D

Alex and Sarah <3

Summer Squash Quinoa entrée.  So yum.  Light.  Healthy.  Rich in flavor.  Easy to make.  Delish.

Paleo Cinnamon Zucchini Bread!  The batter above.  The finished product here.  Grain free, dairy free and sugar free.  Here's the recipe.

Lake life <3

Our home :-)

Hampton Beach in New Hampshire.  Despite being slightly trashy, worn and just with a generally dirty sheen to its atmosphere, there is also a charm and nostalgia to the main promenade through town.  The arcades and old style shops.  The hoards of people strolling.  The flashing lights haha.  Something akin to a mini oceanside Vegas.  This beach is childhood for me.  Coming here a lot while growing up :-)

Hampton Beach

Hampton Beach.  Will you look at that sky!

Hampton Beach.

Totally fabulous fun getting lessons from my moms dancin friend, in front of oh, maybe 200 people.  Right in the Hampton Beach Bandstand area ;-)

This night was a total blast :-D

Robert Alberta Tyrone.  Or, for short (in my words), Robert.  For short in my moms, Tyrone ;-).  The cuddliest little guy.

Tea from my favorite Frankfurt Café, Sugar Mama <3 missing it.  A gift from my friend, Amira :-).  Drinking this daily out of a mug that reminds me of all the adventures still waiting.  A gift from my friend, Alex :-)

Robert wants to sample the tea as well ;-)

My brother, Spencer and me :-).  He is the best.

With Spencer, down in Boston on his night of arrival (August 10).  He flew over from Michigan to surprise me!

Awesome little get together/celebration with some of my favorite people <3.  A cut throat and gut busting game of Cards Against Humanities commenced soon after this meal ;-) so great.

Boston! <3.  My mom and Spencer just ahead while I take photos.

Boston Harbor.



A snippet of summery Boston nightlight.

Gorgeous, seaside Boston.

Boston seaside happenings.

And, back to our humble little abode on the lake.  My sister on the dock, retrieving ice cream from the ice cream boat!!!  How sweet and adorable is this!?  No joke, an ice cream boat.  They tool around on the lake on sunny afternoons, their tiny boat bell tinkling, looking for waving customers to whom they bring ice creams!!

There goes the ice cream boat!

A slightly gray, chillier, dark day on the lake.  Check out the dudes on the boat.  Loons.  The guardians of Pleasant Lake ;-).  They commence on this exact boat, like 4-7 of them, every single day.  Awesome.

Where my mom and I eat dinner most nights.

Brother and Sister <3

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What Ive Learned and Observed in My First Week Back in the USA

After living abroad for the last four years in Europe, I expected returning to the US to be, at the least, jarring and disorienting.  At worst, depressing, a total regret and feeling as though I stick out like a sore thumb.  Instead, I am surprised and delighted to report not feeling any of the latter.  There have been loads of cool, interesting, fun things I have experienced and observed.  Along with a few not so awesome ;-)

Marblehead, MA.  One of the many gorgeous small cities here in New England.

Yes, there have been snippets that have felt briefly jarring, strange and slightly disorienting.  Venturing into Target was totally weird.  Overwhelming.  Too much.  All fluorescent lights and miles and miles of aisles.  Didn't love it.  There have been moments of overhearing others talking and realizing in shock that they are speaking in English!  (In Europe, hearing English akin to having stumbled upon a soulmate.  Finding myself thinking, oh my gosh, someone like me!).  Temporarily forgetting that now, this is the norm once again.  Hearing my own language ;-). 

Having to really search out healthy food in the absolutely monstrous grocery stores (now those are intense.  Never notice it prior to living in Europe, but the grocery stores here are INSANELY huge), and then finding it relegated to a teeny, tiny section as well as each item costing double what it did in Europe.  Sometimes triple.  Also, I am finding myself sitting a lot more than I did when living in Germany.  When living in Germany, even when not working (on weekends or during vacation), I was doing a ton of walking.  To the train station, around town, going to meet friends, just randomly throughout the day in going places, etc.  Here, I have been doing far too much sitting.  Granted, I have a bomb view of a stunningly gorgeous little lake, but still.  And lets not even go there regarding Trump.  Good god.  Now that is depressing, to say the very least.

However, there have been lots of awesome and aspects moments too.  Far more awesome than strange/negative.  Such as: canned pumpkin only costing $1.50!!!  In Europe, 4 euro a can.  Insanity.  This was a thrilling discovery.  Upon finding it, clutching the can to my chest, swooning.  Seeing two of my closest friends here again was absolutely awesome.  So excited to start back up again making memories with them in person again beginning now.  There are also several friends whom I haven't seen yet, but who I am really looking forward to seeing and reconnecting with! 

Spending time with my mom has been fabulous.  Lots of laughter, great conversations.  Cooking and eating together.  Exploring cities close by with her.  Sitting out on the dock.  Playing games.  Exercising together.  I have loved every minute with her.  My brother, Spencer visiting was the absolute bomb diggity.  He was here for four days.  Lots of silliness, laughing, great conversation, eating good food and playing games together.  I miss him already.  Hes the best. 

And yes, the rumors are true.  I am loving how much friendlier Americans are than Germans.  By a longshot.  (Of course, this is a blanket statement.  I have several German friends.  All of whom are open, friendly, absolutely lovely.  Just like there are loads of closed off or unfriendly Americans as well.  But the stereotype exists because there is truth within.  In general, Americans tend to be more open and friendlier than Germans).

Our dock <3 <3

My mom and me <3

Two of my BFFs here :-D Alex and Sarah

With my brother, Spencer <3

So, without further ado, some of the interesting things I have noticed in being back over the last week:

1.  American bacon is superior in every regard.  Really though.  Any bacon I ever sampled while in Europe didn't come close to measuring up to the bacon you find here.  Thick, luscious, juicy, slightly crunchy, flavorful slabs.  Mouthwatering.  So delicious, just, whoa.  And finding them with ease, on offering abundantly in any grocery store.  Perfection.

2.  Yes, its true.  In general, Americans are friendlier, more open and polite by leaps and bounds.  Sorry, Germany.  On my second day here, I was approached by three men, plus had conversations with several warm women when out and about in Concord.  Gosh, was that refreshing and lovely.  A welcome departure from the chilly silence and nonexistent approaching one another over in Germany.  This is not only weird but incredibly lame.  Over here, people actually smiling at one another and talking to each other in the community.  I am loving this.  And dang did I miss it.

3.  Food and things in general at say, Target, are expensive.  For example, facial wipes for removing makeup in the evening or for after the gym cost about 1 euro in Germany.  Here they cost roughly 3 or 4 dollars.  Buckwheat flour in Germany costs about 1.99 euro.  Here in the US?  Roughly 6-7 bucks.  Ahhhhhhh!  (Clutches sides of face and screams in terror).

4.  The New England landscape is where. its. at.  The lake at my moms?  Peaceful, serene, charming, scenic, quiet and idyllic.  Absolutely lovin it.  These NH towns (Portsmouth, Newington, Concord), all so lovely.  Picturesque.  Sweet and inviting.  Still happening spots with great food and fun things to do, but with major charm.  And all within a stones through of gorgeous mountain ranges, the ocean, forests, hiking and ski trails, romantic B&Bs nestled into these fantastic spots.  All of it just gorgeous.  I have missed and am totally loving being back here in that regard.  I am waiting with bated breath for autumn-the explosion of color on the trees, the brisk air, all things pumpkin flavored, apple orchards, country fairs, and all the autumnal activities that come with it (haunted hayride, here I come!).

Portsmouth, NH

Boston, MA

5.  Ok, just gotta say it.  People do not dress very well over here generally.  Again, I realize this is a sweeping generalization which of course, isn't true of everyone.  Not even close.  There are of course loads of people in the US who dress well.  Just like there are Europeans who dress totally dumpy.  However, in general, Americans are not great dressers.  Kind of schlumpy and lame in their dress.  Europeans, while not typically glam or over the top in their fashion by any means, tend to put in a tad more effort.  Nicer shoes and pants.  They just look a bit more well groomed and classier, with not that much additional effort.  Here, jeans and t-shirt tend to be the rule of thumb for the majority of occasions.  And don't get me wrong, I am by no means a standout dresser.  Often times, far from it.  I am just calling what I have observed

The above (seen often, especially when out and about in NH)


The below.

6.  Americans are far more polite than Germans.  When out and about, in grocery stores or just meandering about town, I have heard so many "have a great days," "whoops, excuse me, I'm sorry," "can I help you with something?"  And "thank you so much!"  Just, wow.  Again, like a cool drink of water after departing from the stony silence, the shoving by, and the blank stares typical of Germans.

7.  Cafes.  Oh how I miss them (as I knew I would).  I have been delighted to see a few of them here and there.  Especially in Portsmouth, where my mom and I passed by a handful of charming, cozy little cafes on the day we went exploring Portsmouth.  However in general, a café isn't a thing over here and that's a sad thing.  A café is somewhere you can go, order one drink, and sit without pressure or agenda, for as long as you like.  The goal isn't to rush in (and out) as many people as possible.  Instead, its to create an inviting atmosphere, a respite where people will love to come and thus, will continue coming.  Its to be welcoming and hospitable.  I love this concept.  I love cafes.  Why don't we have more of them here??

8.  Not the state the obvious, but really missing my friends back in Germany.  Each of you.  You know who you are :-).
This sucks.  I think of you guys every day.