Summer Reading

Since I just finished a book I thought it time to share my summer reading list with you.  Please be warned that a majority of the stack are food related.  Whether an actual cookbook or not, most do contain recipes.  Food and words, now we're jamming with my love language.  So here we go with a list of what I've read or am reading as of late:
1."Delicious" by Ruth Reichl
I have only recently discovered the genius of Ms. Reichl but she definitely had me at hello, or "Delicious" in this cases.  Simply remarkable food descriptions.  I could taste and smell and see in intricate detail each and every spice and flavor in this novel.  And with ten years experience at Gourmet magazine it's no wonder.  She tells a story intertwined with food and history and love and love of food.
2. "Delancey" by Molly Wizenberg
Stumbling upon her blog, Orangette, I was immediately enchanted.  Not only with her style of writing but her recipes and passion for food and sharing that food with her people.  "Delancey" is a memoir of the journey the author and her husband took in opening their Seattle based pizza restaurant, Delancey, named after the subway station in New York.  I laughed, I had my sanity questioned, because even after reading this tale I still secretly want to open my own restaurant.  Don't tell.
3. "Notes From a Blue Bike" by Tsh Oxenreider
This might be my least favorite read in the stack.  Oxenreider is the creator of a site that speaks to living life more simply and practical ways in which to do so.  The book is a collection of stories and lessons learned while living abroad with her family.  While I can appreciate the author's experiences and the desire to live simply  and most certainly the living in Turkey it may have just been her writing style that didn't sit well with me.  We read this book for our book club selection and I must say that certain chapters sparked some great conversations.  I do think it was lacking in continuity for me.  All that to say, not every book we choose will be our favorite.
4. "The Extravagant Fool" by Kevin Adams
Disclaimer here, Kevin and his family are personal friends of ours so what you read below may sound biased, it's not, or maybe it is, either way I say BUY this book.  And not just one copy, but two, one for yourself and one to give to someone you love.  This story challenges one to redefine faith. Through personal struggles and God sized miracles Kevin shares his heart for Jesus.  Passages such as this are underlined in my copy and highlighted and re-read often; "Faith isn't about living each day as my last, but about living as if each day belongs to God, and remembering that not one person ever walked away from Jesus, unloved.  Welcome to post-salvation life."  Kevin even provides what he calls, "back-pocket proverbs" for his son, Tyler.  I won't share the story, Kevin tells it so much better.  What I will give you is an invitation to "hear the living, breathing testimony offered by the extravagant fool, a man who staked his welfare-and future-entirely on the goodness of God."

5. "Love Does" by Bob Goff
Husband Jared and I had the privilege of hearing Bob speak at the Storyline Conference we attended back in February and let me just say this man is the real deal.  A genuine soul with more than hugs to share.  He actually printed his personal phone number in the back of the book.  Better yet, he answers the phone anytime it rings, even when he's on stage!  We received a copy of his book at the conference and had already purchased one prior to attending.  I had read portions of it and when we returned home we began reading it as a family.  In short, this book is about loving God and others.  I'm sure you're familiar with the old adage, actions speak louder than words, well in this case love does.  Bob shares stories from his life and how his former way of thinking has been recalibrated. 

6. "Tender at the Bone" by Ruth Reichl
I read this memoir of Ruth's after reading "Delicious" and I was craving more of her story telling.  This is described as her memoir and the story is fascinating.  Weaving recipes into memories and people into specific places and meals.  I was left wanting to know more.  More about her, more about the food she makes.  Just more. 

7. "Moment Maker" by Carlos Whittaker
On the wave of storytelling and living life and loving people this book caught my attention with it's title.  Husband Jared and I quite often remind the Things that it's about making memories.  In that same spirit we are responsible to some degree for the moments we do create, both for ourselves and others.  And that is what Carlos shares in his book.  How to live intentionally while paying attention. What stood out the most to me though was the manner in which he speaks of  his wife.  So tender and real. 

8. "Dinner a Love Story" by Jenny Rosenstrach
I can't do this book justice by simply calling it a cookbook, which is what I originally thought it was.  It is so much more.  Jenny gives such insight into a home kitchen's potential.  For nine years she kept a meal journal.  Documenting every meal she ate, prepared, each and every dinner party she hosted.  Down to the finest detail.  Even the amount and type of wine, liquor, beer, etc.  Oh and the result, such as what dish was liked, what worked, where said items were purchased.  You get the picture.  At first I thought this a bit over the top, and then as I read more and understood the impact of this practice I loved the book that much more.  The recipes speak to me and the photographs of her children in the kitchen with her cause me to become nostalgic and remember when the Things would be sitting on the counters helping me mix or chop.  Oh and I already have a few recipes dog eared, ready to put on the menu rotation in this house.

9. "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown
I have only just begun this book but to say that I am devouring the words of Brene Brown would be an understatement.  So much truth and conviction in every paragraph.  As of page forty five this has been hitting me hard, consistently, "Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity.  It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability and authenticity.  If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path".  Yes and yes.  If you're up for some soul searching and challenging reading I'd say this is right up your alley. 

Alright peeps, that's all for  now.  As you can tell my selections are all over the map.  And just to keep it real, I usually have at least two or three books I'm reading at the same time.  Not to mention the magazines and online reading I do.  Everything from serious, to satirical, newsworthy, mommy blogs, lifestyle, etc.  You name it, I want to read it.  Well usually.  Trying to include some poetry in the mix, any suggestions?  Pass them along.  Up next on the docket some Victor Frankl and Rachel Held Evans.  Husband Jared and I are hoping to read "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand as well this summer.  What's on your list?  Or on your nightstand? Maybe your coffee table or kitchen counter?  Tell me, please. 

The Fourth in Franklin

It seems as though every post I write lately is a catch up piece on the latest and greatest happenings. I'm determined for this post to be different.  There are no guarantees however. 
First, the youngest Thing was retrieved early from JAM camp in order to make the trek to Chi-town for a football tournament.  Husband Jared and said Thing left early the next morning for said tournament and I had the privilege of cheering on a sweet friend's daughter at the Special Olympics in Stillwater.  I can not even tell you the joy I experienced being witness to the events.  There was an Olympic Village, medal stand and crowds of supporters.  And given that the meet was in close proximity we celebrated the Olympian with none other than Nelson's Ice cream.  An iconic establishment that offers servings larger than my head.  I enjoyed my treat immensely.  As evidenced in the photo below.  Things 1 and 3 arrived a day later and we had quite the girls weekend.  Reality check.  They spent the entire weekend recovering from a week of late nights, studying the Word, swimming and all manner of camp shenanigans.  Thing 4 played well, had a field trip to the ER in Libertyville, thanks to an elbow to the head which left him with a concussion and unable to play in Sunday's matches.  Poor boy.  It was rough for this Mama not to be there.  He was in excellent care with Dad and they returned home the next day, thankfully.  The girl Things and I managed a trip to the food truck fest in Uptown where we sampled the fare and enjoyed some rather interesting people watching. 
Tough kiddo...
Gorgeous July day at the Food Truck Festival
Yes, that is one "small", it's all relative!
As a disclaimer I could not even finish the small cup.
So after that weekend Thing 1 jumped on a plane to LAX, well San Diego in all honesty, for her two week jaunt with the fam bam and the four remaining Hansons jumped in Sven and drove South to Franklin for the Fourth.  Which brings us almost current.  With the exception of the four hundred photos I have to share from Reggae Wednesday at the Shroom, Thing 4's lake excursion with his best buddy and our 4th of July celebration at Pappo and Grammy's house.  Here we go, buckle up or run and hide.  Your choice and don't say you weren't warned. 
Eden Prairie, MN to Summertown, TN.  Somewhere between Pickwick and civilization was the drop off for Thing 4.  We delivered the goods, kissed, gave firm instructions as to our boy's limitations with his recent concussion and high tailed it to Franklin.  There were nieces to see and Reggae Wednesday to experience.  An audible sigh filled the air as we exited the car and breathed the Franklin air in deep. 
Every Wednesday night at one of our favorite pizza joints on Main St. there is a reggae band and niece Gemma is quite the dancer.  Gpa, Mema and Uncle RJ (he was visiting from Cali) joined us as well.  Needless to say we indulged and danced the night away, filling our bellies and our hearts.
Auntie Leanna and Gemma

Autumn and her Daddy

Uncle Jared and Autumn
Uncle Jeff and Aunt Natalie
The following day began our resort style stay in the "Outhouse" at the Horels.  Pappo and Grammy welcomed us all and the pool side fun began. We picked fruit and veg in the garden, which has actually become more farm like each year, there were pool floats to test out and nieces to play with.  A fantastic start to the weekend.  Dining was strictly al fresco and the only rule was to have fun! 
Thing 3 and Gemma trying out the hammock
Husband Jared losing the battle with the swan float

The garden, where most of our meals came from while here!
The festivities continued throughout the next day, which was actually the Fourth of July.  Us adults went on an early morning walk together while the littles and Thing 3 rested up.  Preparations for the days' meals began shortly after breakfast, there were football matches, hello World Cup!, bocce ball tournaments, volleyball in the pool, family and sunning. 
Autumn checking out the bocce ball set up.

Gemma trying to catch butterflies

4th of July family dinner, Natalie's infamous ribs
Horels, Reeves and Hansons, (all related parties not in attendance)

Bocce Ball challenge

Playing in the pool
And then as soon as the sun set firework set up commenced.  Our light show is no joke.  Complete with a saw horse stand, mortars, and more pyrotechnics than I could dream of. It was fabulous until something went awry and all of a sudden there were sparks whizzing past us.  Game over.  Fire doused and all of us went safely inside.  Lights out. 

Gemma was quite mesmerized by the fire

Autumn's first go at sparklers

Crowd Control

Thing 3's first attempt at bottle rockets
Thing 3's fun with sparklers!
Kissing Sisters!
While us adults were looking forward to another pool day, more lounging, and some football viewing before preparing for the drive back up North, Thing 3 and her cousins were surprised with an impromptu painting session by none other than the resident artist, Pappo. Two hours later Thing 3 immersed from the studio with this masterpiece.

To say we were all impressed would be an understatement.  Under the careful instruction Thing 3 painted an incredible beach scene, which is now sitting proudly on our mantle. 
I just can't leave out this photo of Thing 4 and his buddies at the lake.  It does not feel like a stretch to say that he looks as though he was having a great time too!
Jake, Blake and Thing 4, just chillin'!
In the blink of an eye it was over.  Husband Jared and I reluctantly packed up, leaving behind Thing 3 and hitting the road solo.  Thirteen short hours later we were home.  And this was waiting for us.  One very sad dog who was missing his Things.  I feel you Polo, this Mama was missing them too.  Although I'd be lying if I didn't say that I was excited as well to have the house to ourselves for a week.