My Summer Reading List

I kinda wish that work gave us a summer reading list the way that school did. Of course it would be great if they gave us work hours to read the books on our list and even better to be able to discuss with colleagues. Guess it would be like a business related book club. Sounds like a good idea…maybe I should start one.

I was the nerd in high school who always looked forward to seeing which books were selected for the summer reading list. I don’t know why I thought summer reading was so much better than regular school year reading. The books were more sexy…but they were still homework and who wants to deal with that – especially in the summer. I even looked forward to the discussion groups during the first week of school. I may have been the only one who actually did the reading. Don’t you think it’s so interesting how perceptions and interpretations can vary from person to person? There is nothing better than breaking down a book to it’s most simple elements and even then the interpretations can vary wildly.

My junior year of highschool, I had a hippy teacher who was going through a divorce and she taught us about falic symbols…that year I searched for falic symbols in all that read. How bizarre…or maybe not for a 16 year old girl! I digress.

I have a million books on my  “for fun” summer reading list. I’ll never get to all of them so here are my top five:

1. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
2. Going Away Shoes by Jill McCorkle
3. Little Bee by Chris Clee
4. The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood
5. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Today I started The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo. I’ve heard mixed reviews on this one and I’ve heard the translation is a little weird at points. Apparently it’s a real page turner. I’m not normally a thriller girl, but I’ll give it a shot. I always like to read the NY Times Best sellers for conversation purposes. It’s always good to have a conversation starter in your back pocket. And I have vaca next week and plan to blow through a couple of books sitting by the pool and the beach.

I am so happy that I love to read. There is nothing better than flipping the pages in a great book(besides noshing on some great chocolate while flipping the pages!). And what could be better than to be transported to places you’ve never been, meeting characters that make you laugh and discovering a world quite different from your own?

What’s on your summer reading list?

mission control – aka my office

Do you remember the green computer screens of the 80’s- worked with the DOS operating systems? My high school library still had them in the 90’s. How about the apple computers that had the computer terminal and the monitor all in one? The screen was about a 6 x6? I thought those were fab because they could be transported. How about the first lap tops that had a roller ball mouse and of course a noncolor screen. I thought it was the coolest thing that I could fit my laptop in my back pack like a notebook. I can remember taking my laptop to a peaceful mountainous overlook to write a paper…the battery lasted 30 minutes…which was less time than it took for me to get to the location! Baby we’ve come a long way!

Now we have all kinds of crazy technology to shuffle with in the office. Just a couple of years ago I would have laughed at the option of using two computer screens…like a nasa mission control center. Well today I officially turned my office into “mission control”. That’s kind of funny…not sure what I am controlling, but the screens sure do look good. I already wonder how I lived without two. Yes- it makes work easier because you can compare documents and you don’t have to toggle back and forth. BUT…how about those moments when you are on a boring conference call and you can have the reference materials on one screen and something more interesting on the other. Not that I would ever do that…I’m just saying….

What’s going to be next….walls of screens or a screen that spans the wall?

The cry of a baby

Baby crying. It’s 4:30 am. Am I dreaming?  What a startling first. I woke straight up and wondered what was going on. At first I thought it was a nightmare…not ready for a baby. But then I realized it was a real baby. Not my baby…but my sweet niece who is with us for two weeks!

What an interesting first. It’s also a first to come home to a screaming child. Don’t get me wrong, she is very dear…but all the screaming? It’s quite rattling at the end of a 12 hour day and I’m not even the one caring for her- feeding her, bathing her, entertaining her. Yes – my MIL is a saint.

This is definitely a good test…I am failing miserably. Not quite ready for all that comes with a baby.

Water or A.C. – too hot for anything else

I made it home from my whirlwind DC trip and girls weekend…a little tired and needing some serious rest before a big work week. It’s about a million degrees outside in Gville so any activity that does not involve either water or AC is out of the question….unless it’s a means to an end. C. decided we needed a little exercise so today we road our bikes to the pool to have lunch and relax (ok…so the distance from the house to the pool is about the equivalent of a DC block or two …don’t discredit the fact that I, AGH, road my bike to the pool). I couldn’t decide whether I should feel empowered and proud to wheel into the country club on a mountain bike or to feel a little embarrassed and unsophisticated. I decided in the end to feel proud for giving my heart a little exercise…I mean it was up hill on the way back. That counts. Not to mention the fact that we were very green in our activity!


My roommate in college was Presh. Yes – that is short for Precious. No – that is not her real name. Yes – she is PRECIOUS! This weekend we had our annual girls get together in Lake Summit, SC. One of the girls is lucky enough to have a house on the lake and we have been getting together there for years. It’s one of the most relaxing places I’ve ever been. Our raging parties in college  have turned into girl gab fest. Someone made an astute comment this weekend, “I think we could spend 24 hours a day together for the rest of our lives and still not run out of things to talk about.” It doesn’t matter how long its been since our last visit, it’s like we were never apart. I’m sure you have friends like this. What would we do with out them?

Most of the girls have babies…lots of baby talk. But somehow we managed to mix in a few strolls or stumbles down memory lane, a little talk of travel, careers and of course fashion. I don’t know how we all came to be friends back in college. We are all completely different. We weren’t in the same sorority, not the same major, didn’t live in the same dorm….I guess there was some crazy connection that brought us together.

So what’s new about this….not much. Sometimes it’s an afternoon, a day or weekend with old friends that is more interesting than something new.

BUT- I am committed to this blog and trying something new EVERYDAY so at 4:00 after a gourmet lunch of mediterranean panninis, orzo salad, fresh fruit and bahama mama’s and a leisure afternoon sitting lakeside, Presh and I got motivated and headed into town to the wine and cheese shop ( to find something new. And you know the drill….desparate times call for desparate measures….you guessed it- a new cheese! Actually two!

Presh and I spent a semester in southern France sampling lots of delish cheeses elegantly presented at the end of each meal served by our french mom. We both LOVED gouda. So we found an interesting gouda to try- a blend of Mediterranean herbes, olives, garlic and sun dried tomatoes….very tastey! We gobbled up almost the entire wedge!

We also sampled a locally made cows milk cheese-Juusto (in Sweden this is made with Reindeer mil!). Juusto  is a traditional Scandinavian cheese that is pan fried and developes a crust almost like french toast. It has a buttery, creamy taste and the neat thing is that it is served warm and is not runny or stringy. It holds its shape. I definitely will consider serving this at my next party. It’s so interesting…sure to be a conversation piece!

We enjoyed a late afternoon sampling of cheeses, a little red wine and great sunset…not to mention the bond of special friends with stories to last a lifetime!

Segways in the City

Life is definitely about perspective. Yesterday I reflected on how different Washington, DC seemed based on my own life perspective- as a teen, as a young adult and as a 30ish career girl. So to continue with this basic theme, I decided to take a look at the city from yet another perspective…from the wheels of a segway!

After several days of conference seminars, it was time to hit the city. I found a willing partner in crime and we headed out for a tour of the city. We had a great instructor who showed us the basics. Pink helmet on my head…looking very sporty, I must admit I felt a little intimidated by the two wheels vehicle. I heard all of the bad stuff that could happen if we leaned the wrong way or went too fast…Yikes. But I reminded that I had seen many many old folks touring around cities on these vehicles.

Do you remember when segways were unveiled? I remember the announcement being made on the today’s show (2001). Matt Lauer announcing to the world that these new vehicles would revolutionize the way we Americans and the world traverse to and from work, around cities, etc.  Guess that prediction was wrong. You may see a few tourists and a policeman or two cruising around on these things, but that’s about as far as this revolutionizing phenomenon goes.

Back to my adventure…I hopped on the segway and began circling our little area. Not bad. Not too hard. Actually the hardest part was getting on and off. My new friend, a Scottish gent, and I scooted all over the city, visiting all of the major monuments.  We had a BLAST. The segway tour is a MUST for any big city.

We visited the WW II memorial and the Roosevelt memorial- a first for me. When I lived in DC, the WW II memorial was quite a controversy. Many were vehmently opposed to the location, fearing it would interfere with the view from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument. I have to admit, it does interrupt the veranda…but in a fabulous way. I think the memorial is a beautiful tribute to those who served our country.

A fun adventure with a new friend. I highly recommend the segway tour!

BIG CITY…smalltown girl

My first visit to Washington DC was in 1989. We took the train from North Carolina to DC for my class trip. It was the first time I had ever visited a big city and I fell in love with our nation’s capitol. I think we were here for about 5 days and we visited every monument and most of the appropriate museums. I fell in love with the busy streets, the metro, the bustle of people, the monuments, the beautiful architecture, the restaurants (though I am sure we ate at really crappy ones- they seemed to this small town girl to be so sophisticated.), the smells of a city, the street vendors…everything. I knew that DC would be my home one day. I remember telling mom and dad that I was going to live in DC one day. So when I graduated from college, we loaded up the U-Haul and I moved to DC.

The DC of my early 20’s was quite different. I never really felt like I lived in a big city. I hated the metro and chose to drive or take cabs everywhere and I most certainly never went down to the mall unless someone was visiting and wanted to see the sites. But for sure I knew trendiest bars and hot spots…YOU BET. It’s so weird, I never really felt like I lived in a big city. I didn’t notice the hustle and I guess I became accustomed to the smell. It felt so small. I honestly can’t believe that I roamed all over this city like it was Mayberry!

Fastforward…I am a tourist again. And DC through my 30ish eyes seems scary and big and crowded and not friendly. The architecture and lure of history is still here, but I can’t believe that I lived in this BIG bustling city…and I liked it. I just can’t get over the fact that I jetted around this city. It doesn’t seem real.

I am staying near the convention center in an area of town that really was sketchy and scary when I lived here. I am not really all that familiar with this part of town, so exploring this afternoon brought me down streets that I have never explored. When I lived here, this part of town did have some high rises with businesses but there wasn’t much residential and certainly not any shopping. Today, there is all kinds of shopping and restaurants. The city may seem so different because I am in a different part of town, but even Georgetown, my beloved favorite spot, seemed dirtier and busier!

So today, I explored DC with a new grown-up set of eyes. Visiting some of my favorite spots and some new ones. In my three years here I never just took a stroll on the mall. This afternoon was the perfect time for a stroll. After being cooped inside meeting rooms all day, I desperately needed to stretch my legs. It has been extremely hot here, record highs, and let me just say…Americans are not pretty on a good day….so on record high days…wow….Note to all Americans…just because you are vaca doesn’t mean you should dress as though you are doing yard work! Anyway- I strolled the mall, enjoyed the fresh air and said a little thank you that I now call Gville home!

face to face

Today’s business world enables us to work from virtually anywhere and we can now do business with people from anywhere. For instance, I have been working closely with our media planner and buyer for almost two years, speaking with him several times a week and working through planning, challenges and celebrating successes. But, I have never met him face to face. I’ve never even seen a photo of him. I know lots about him and he knows lots about me, but we have never met face to face. It seems so weird that I could work that closely with someone but never have met in person.

I arrived in DC (home of my media planner-N.W.) for a conference. I had a few hours to kill so I contacted N.W. to see if he could meet me for lunch. We met at one of my old faves- J. Pauls in Georgetown. There is always that weird moment just before you meet someone new and there is always, for me, this fear that we won’t be able to find each other- which is an absurd fear because it’s not like you are in a room filled with hundreds of people. It’s a small restaurant. I knew what he was wearing- kakkis and a lacoste shirt (like every other guy in Georgetown). Anyway- he greeted me at the door. We had a great lunch. Talked about our media plan and discussed old haunts in Georgetown. I’m so happy that now I can fill in the blanks in my mind when we speak on the phone.

I know you are wondering what he looked like. Did he look like I imagined? We’ve all had those terrible let downs at the movies…you read a book and have an image in your mind of what the characters should look like, only to be let down by the movie depiction. N.W. looked exactly how I envisioned more or less. He was taller than I imagined, but other than that, his voice and personality sounds like he looks!

Dinner is served

After a long day at work, I came home dreading “whipping” up something for dinner. My lucky day….my dear MIL had a fab dinner prepared for us. I think I like this in-law living. Clothes that I had in the dryer were neatly folded and placed on the stairway for us to take upstairs, dogs had been fed and walked and a gourmet dinner awaited. Can we stay forever?

I have to stay this is the first time I have ever come home from work with dinner prepared from start to finish and dishes done NOT BY ME from start to finish. This is the best new thing YET! For dinner my MOIL prepared grilled sockeye salmon with a light glaze, fresh corn and a spinach salad- and fresh fruit for dessert. Yes I think I can get used to this. The salmon was fresh from whole foods. Sockeye is red salmon or blueback salmon, and is an anadromous species of salmon found in the Northern Pacific Ocean and rivers discharging into it. It is considered endangered in some areas (hopefully not where ours came from). I’m not usually a fan of salmon but this was fresh, buttery and delish. Not “fishy” at all. She prepared it with a very light marinade that gave it just a sweet salty complement.

And as an aside….Salmon is a great food to eat 24 hours before a big event…a party, a meeting, etc. because it will give your cheeks a natural rosy glow.

Bon Appetite…and cheers to many more nights like this!

Year old bread…Delish french toast

Hope Town Light House

Have you ever been to the Abacos? (out islands in the bahamas) Time stands still in the Abacos. Pristine beaches, clear blue water and no development. Heaven. But there is something else that makes it heaven….Homemade bread from Vernon’s Market. Vernon is a fabulous baker. His specialties – bread and sweet key lime pie. But let’s focus on the bread. Melt in your mouth bread…best when it’s still warm.

Now before I continue I must tell you about Vernon’s market. Let’s just say it’s an experience. Hold your nose when you visit…its not uncommon to find rotten veggies. Most veggies and meats need to be shipped in from the states, so they aren’t the freshest and they keep them on the shelf as long as possible. Daily shipments don’t exist. And the Market does not have a big welcome sign on the door but rather, “When we’re here we are open and when we are not, we’re closed.” Despite the less than charming concrete floored market, we all love Vernon’s tasty treats.

Last year when we went over for our summer vaca, I decided I’d try to freeze some bread. I totally forgot about it, until I cleaned out the fridge for the move. So this morning in honor of Father’s Day we decided to give it a try. I forgot to mention that this bread makes the BEST french toast. This is unlike any french toast you’ve ever tasted.  I almost liken it to a homemade doughnut. And guess what? One year later the same spectacular flavor! I couldn’t even belive it.  Next trip to the Abacos….I’m bringing back a lifetime supply!