Into the Beautiful North


Into the Beautiful North: A Novel Into the Beautiful North: A Novel by Luis Alberto Urrea

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I loved, loved, loved this book. His language and descriptions are just heart achingly lovely. Such an experience it was seeing the world through the character's eyes. A little funny, a little sad - altogether very atmospheric and just wonderful.

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Summer trip redux


We headed up to the Wasatch Front to see Dave's family and some friends. We stayed in Evanston with Dave's dad and it decided to be cold. Which sounded novel at first since Austin was scheduled to be triple digits, but the rain and cold kept us from the mountains, one of our main activities when we visit, so that was a little depressing. But there were lots of cousins and aunts and uncles to see and since it's been two years since we've been up, it was really great to catch up. We did get a good day in Salt Lake with balmy weather to see friends and enjoy the parks. Plus another day in Salt Lake at the zoo - so many childhood memories there. And we had a lovely day at Lagoon. I took Tessa on her first roller coaster and now she seems to have caught the bug. It was beautiful on the Wasatch Front for sure, so much green on those beloved mountains.

Sylvie the pioneer girl. I bought her a bonnet at This is the Place State Monument because she insisted and just because she's incredibly cute. Of course, once I bought it she refused to wear it ever again.

Sylvie did not deal well with the onslaught of cousins and aunts and uncles to coo over her (she's the baby of the family). She spent most of the time at the family party in tears or burying her head in my shoulder. Tessa on the other hand was on cloud nine with so many kids to play with. She spent the night with her cousins several times and was pretty much in no need of her parents.

A Sunday drive up to the mountains to see real live snow. After touching the white stuff, Sylvie asked to go now and see snow since this "ice" was too cold.

Tessa became a roller coaster queen. I think she topped out at 9 by the end of the day plus lots of other rides too. She said her favorite was the Wild Mouse which just ends up making me feel bruised from all the tight turns. Sylvie was pretty hesitant about the whole ride scenario, but had some fun on the kiddie rides. She loved the Sky Tram which I took her on 4 times, and a smaller version of the Tidal Wave which I think she rode 6 times. Thank goodness for anti-nausea meds.
More pics of the week over here.

Utah - the land of burgers and shakes

So this trip to Utah has got me thinking that some of my most potent memories in Utah, the have to go spots, are food related. I'm sure this says something about me but I don't really want to do that level of analysis today. Today, I want to make a list (surprised?) of my favorite joints.

Salt Lake edition:
  • Crown Burger - I don't eat beef any more but this one still makes my mouth water. Best fries and fry sauce ever! Fry sauce is probably the number two thing I miss since leaving Utah (number one being those gorgeous mountains).
  • The Pie - the original in Salt Lake. Not that silly knock off in Ogden.
  • Pier 49 San Francisco Sourdough Pizza in Sugarhouse - the Embarcadero is my fav.
  • Snelgrove's
  • ZCMI's bakery - do they still have this? Those mint brownies made me want to cry.
  • Hire's Big H - mmmm, those buns are so yummy.
Ogden spots:
  • Jake's Over the Top - I don't think I've ever found a shake as good, or as big.
  • Warren's - I worked there my senior year in HS and their deep fried mushrooms still set the standard. Lime Rickey's too - yum.
  • Burger Bar - for when you want a test of your stomach's capacity
  • Country Boy Dairy - so sad when this one went away. Moment of silence please.
  • Lee's Mongolian BBQ & Eastern Winds
  • Ligori's - ah, what to say here? Spent a lot of good hours here. Big smile.
  • Arctic Circle - just 'cause it's so *Utah*
  • Special place on the list here for Village Inn, Hardee's, Taco Faker and the like. Terrible food, but definitely good times since they were open late after the games.
What did I miss?

The Other Boleyn Girl


The Other Boleyn Girl The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was great. I was swept through the pages and was completely caught up even though I knew the outcome. She did such a great job making already sensational historical events into something very real and just jaw-droppingly thrilling. The characters were immaculately drawn and incredibly sympathetic. Lest I recommend a book that might corrupt someone, be forewarned that there is some pretty intense sensuality. This is Henry VIII after all.

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Tunes for Traveling vol. 6 - Family Style

I'll post this one retroactively. Dave was concerned about announcing to the world that we were going on vacation - so if anyone is contemplating burgling my house, know that we are home safe and sound with the dead bolts locked.

We took a family trip up to Utah/Wyoming the past week. And thank you Wasatch Front for all the rain. (Said with angry sarcasm.) Normally it would have been welcome, but we were hoping to spend more time in the Uintah Mountains. Oh well. I'll post pictures soon and hopefully a witty little travelogue.

Here is was my iPod set list for the week:
  • Beck
  • Bon Iver
  • The Bottle Rockets
  • The Concretes
  • The Cure
  • Eels
  • Elbow
  • Elvis Costello
  • Emiliana Torrini
  • Gillian Welch
  • The Gourds
  • The Greencards
  • Ikon
  • Iron & Wine
  • Johnny Cash
  • Joss Stone
  • M. Ward
  • My Morning Jacket
  • Neko Case
  • Over the Rhine
  • Patty Griffin
  • Radiohead
  • Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
  • The Shins
  • Sigur Ros
  • Slaid Cleeves
  • Snow Patrol
  • Spoon
  • Sufjan Stevens
  • Tift Merritt
  • TV on the Radio
  • Van Morrison
  • Whiskeytown
  • The White Stripes
  • Wilco

A Wild Sheep Chase


A Wild Sheep Chase A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Whoa! His books are always a little on the not-so-tied-to-reality side, but this one got pretty weird in places. But the crazy thing is I'm always swept through his books, completely caught up and wanting to know what's next. Just amazing story telling, even if I have no idea which way is up by the end.

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Story time = summer


Now it feels like official summer because we are back at story time. Our local branch specializes in "big kid" story time during the summer months and today the girls are making their own story books from library discards. So fun.

A Walk in the Woods


A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
There was so much I loved about this book. His wit and pace is incredibly wonderful, just highly enjoyable. But unfortunately he book lost some steam for me about 2/3 through, just about the time his own pace with the AT seemed to lose power. But still a fun book and one I'm very glad I read. I'm looking forward to picking up a few more of his. A Short History of Nearly Everything is still one of my all time favorites.

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One Year


Wow! It's hard to believe but it's been one whole year in Austin. One year ago today I flew with my girlies across a whole lot of desert to reach our new little home. I have fallen much in love with this beautiful and crazy city. Just feels like home already - a place I don't want to ever leave. I've recently finished a continuing education course series on native gardening and it's made me feel even more connected to Austin. It's just wonderful to be somewhere that people take such pride in the spirit of a place - looking forward and back at the same time. I never expected to love Texas of all places. But Austin just fits.

And I love my house.

And I love the trees. Always with the trees.

Another crazy book girl


Last year Tessa read the first Harry Potter book and begged and begged and begged us for more. Her being such a young pup we were hesitant to let her plow through all seven books. So we told her that she could read one book each summer break. Well, today was the first day of summer break and she read the whole book clean through. It's going to be a long summer now :-)