Monday, July 30, 2018

Summer Reads and I'm sorry, some ranting

I have finished 3 books this summer and it feels good. I know some of you are prolific readers, but this is the hobby that has suffered the most in the past years. Time. Never. Enough. Time.

Anyhow this is what I read and my general feelings.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.
This was a real page turner for me. I had a 2 hour flight between Copenhagen and Split and I literally read over a hundred pages easily. I loved the flow of the writing. Ishiguro's style is classic show don't tell. The ability to allow specifics to be revealed through description and subtle indicators in plot is always a joy, especially when a story is being told first person -- which can easily devolve in being told what is of value.

It's an odd dystopian memoir fiction piece that may not make any sense, but it's better that way. I promise you. The truth is it really focuses on human relationships, human nature and the odd dynamics of friendship through the years.


Magpie Murders: A Novel by [Horowitz, Anthony]

I really wanted a nice little murder mystery for my travels. I had started this book a while before, but never got around to finishing it because you know, life. Well I was so pleased to pick it back up during my holiday. I really enjoyed it in the beginning it had a great familiar feel to it. It alludes to Agatha Christie, Midsommer Murders and a bunch of other British Mysteries. It captures that old "village vibe" and went with some British commentary.
I am glad I read it. I was fine with the finish, but there were a few times when I felt like it was trying a bit hard, but I liked it. Also maybe my attention span was waning because I was hurrying to figure out who did it. I read a lot of this in the car.

If you love murder mysteries as much as I do, I'd add it to your list. I have it on my kindle and I can imagine in a few years rereading it because I probably won't remember who did it. Old Age or a creature of habit that likes all things to feel like a favorite cardigan?

This is like YA RomCom. This was potato chip reading. This was best read alone at the kitchen table with a bowl of soup for lunch where I literally laughed out loud every few paragraphs. Goodness High School was such an awkward time. The FEELINGS!! So Many Feelings!!

*most of these feelings are embarrassment, confusion and frustration.

As I mentioned I hear my sister's voice as the narrator because though my sister is very quiet, she's actually a Feeler and when they get her going she can be a little all over the place. I'm just very loud and expressive. She's just chaotic emotion. Feels one way, it comes out another. Also, my sister expressed more interest in boys than I did at that age. Oh I was boy crazy in my brain but I tried to be really cool about it. My sister had bona fide BOYFRIENDS in High School.

I'd lend it to her right now but she's on my poop list. I love her, I'll be over it in another day. I should've been over it in 2 hours, but I don't work like that.

Anyways, you see? It's made me think and feel all the feelings, just like a high school Celine Dion and here we are. AutumnGeisha mentioned there is a series. So here I am, waiting for the rest of my books to come so I can decide what I think of the entire series and tell you. I do not think I'll be reading YA RomComs on the regular, but I am enjoying this.

I want my son to read it because he's an actual High Schooler so I'm sure he'll tell me what is ridiculous and I am secretly trying to infiltrate his cool guy genres of Sci Fi and Action Movies and "Art". (All of which I love too, but his Dad is really feeding some B grade stupid stuff to him and some things that require a little more focus in my opinion. But what can you do?)

I made them watch When Harry Met Sally for my birthday. And everyone was reluctantly admitting it was cuter and better than they thought it would be. I'm not super gushy, but you know, no one likes a snob. If you try different things a few times then you might have a more credible explanation of why you don't like it.

Anyways the movie is being released on Netflix August 17th. Very excited. This is how I will be spending my Friday night. AND Crazy Rich Asians is being released in the movie theaters the same weekend. In my entire life I can't remember 2 mainstream (not subtitled ART) movies featuring Asian Leads opening within the same year let alone the same weekend. This is kind of a big deal to me. 

I was hoping the Kid would read the book before he watched the movie, but I'm not going to push it. He's reading another YA right now, and he still has a bunch of summer assignments to finish so I shouldn't fuss. But ... JUST FOR ALL THAT MAKES THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE, READ. PLEASE JUST READ!

Sorry that capitalized Mom moment was brought to you by teenage parenting. If you ever would've told me that one day this child would need to be reminded to read I would've given you the "what?" face. 

Oh parenthood, you tricky tricky beast.

He can cook for himself, so see you are all my witnesses and it is now documented, I mother of H has said something positive about him, as he is not just what he can do or what he should do. Nominate me please as petty parent of the year and I will make you all feel infinitely better about whatever job you are doing yourselves.

We could've had a cat. Cats are so cute you don't care if they don't do dishes or leave the convection door open ... EVERY. DAY.

Think like a Positive Mom Says: He went for a walk on his own today and took out the compost, recycling and trash and gave me a morning hug without being asked yay. (I know his hugs are a bit bonier than a cat snuggle but I'll take it.)

Alright enough venting. What are you all reading? What movies are you looking forward to seeing? What's in your Netflix queue?

OOooo maybe next post will be a media one ...

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Wednesday Whatknot

I'm happy so many of you enjoyed my travel / packing commentary post. Kathy mentioned she was going to share it with her boys and I have to say I really enjoyed packing the boys. They require extra socks and lots of adapters, cables and expensive @ss noise cancelling headphones. We used to have one pair that were supposedly a birthday present of mine. In 3 years I have never worn them as someone else needs them more. That's ok with me. I'm very happy with my little earbuds, the other noise doesn't bug me as much.

Have knitting will travel with a smile.

What else? Well it seems nature is having her way with the Nation's summer temperatures ... again. Flooding, ridiculous heat. I worry for people that do not have the necessary access, support and infrastructure for such extremes. Some areas have patterns so they are prepared, some ... not so much.

Well not to humble brag, but I'm gonna. Here's a tweet regarding the bubble I live in:

For the record. July is never warm in SF. It's infamously foggy. You get sun from 11 am - 4pm -- maybe in SF proper. I would say our warmer month is end of August - first week or so of October but I may be recalling my youth and not the shift that we've been recently experiencing.

Look at me, full blown grown up chatting about the weather. Ha! 

I am reading YA right now. "To All the Boys I Loved Before." It's young, so easy and makes me laugh outloud. For whatever reason the main character reminds me of my sister. It's told first person, so that's the voice I hear when I read it. You could read this thing in like 4 hours, but I'm busy! I will finish it this weekend for sure. Then I will give you my final verdict on this summer read, along with a book I finished on vacation. I know, I will have read two books. WHO AM I?!?!

I am knitting a pair of socks, meaning I'm knitting 2 pairs from the same yarn for a mother / daughter team. One pair is done, I'm half way through the first sock of the second pair. Give it a little time kids. I'm working on it. I'm a very monogamous knitter these days. It's odd.I used to be such a project slut, but you know there's no shame here. Knit your life how you want to as long as you're enjoying yourself and all projects are consenting.

There are some people I think that were hoping for a few items a while ago, but it is what it is. I never made promises. I have to follow the knitting mojo.

Whats your whatknot? What's got you happy and what's got you fraying and fretting?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Ellen's Travel Items

If you're anything like me, you like to keep it efficient when you pack. Even if I over pack a tad, I want to know there was a specific purpose I expected out of an item. In this post I'll discuss winning travel items, and things that weren't used.

So this was a cross between a site seeing and beach vacation (though technically the coast of Croatia is very rocky. )


This thing was easy to pack, easy to carry in 2 ways and took a beating. Love it. Very reasonably priced for the quality. Can be used for carry on I think, Quick weekend get aways, and yes, in my 40s still dragging my laundry to our parents house when we visit. (City apartment living, man)

These were light weight to pack, though I wore them home -- I threw away a pair of Sketcher wedge mules I had worn and then beaten up on the way over. These sandals were surprisingly manageable on the cobblestones and were flexible with shorts and dresses for dinner.

3, Linen

I wore 2 linen dresses from Madewell and a pair of shorts from Marine Layer. I wear the dresses regularly at home when the weather is right and I figured I might as well have a nice pair of shorts if I'm going to wear shorts, because ugh, shorts give me some seriously unhappy middle school insecure feelings. But I think I conquered my issues this trip, at least for travel in warm weather. Don't think you'll see me sporting them to the grocery store.

4. Leggings
Whatever you like, these and a tunic shirt make for a feeling much like traveling in your jammies but a little more put together. I admit, I like expensive high waisted leggings that hold everything in if you know what I mean. There are leggings with pockets now. Did you know that? Did you know Spanx makes leggings?!?

Oh the irony. I was actually going to donate this 2 months earlier because I never used it. I bought it last year for my trip to Germany to visit Mom and I used it very little (because my mother is always pulling things from her closet she thinks are better. "Ellen, that is too small, what can you put in there? One Euro? EEGADS!"

But I digress. This my friends is a winner. After getting pickpocketed 3 years ago, I made sure to get something with zippers, snaps and cross body. I think last summer I did find it a little small, but I'm carrying less so it worked this time around. I even managed to stick a sock in knit progress in there. Though that did take up a bit of space.

The husband and I each have one of these that we cart around to the beach, river, etc. They are super lightweight and way better to pack than a beach towel. I bought a pack of them on Amazon and gave one to each of the boys that were traveling. They all had their own color so it was easy to identify. On top of this, it served as makeshift blanket and folded pillow, scarf on the road and general comfort item.

7. AE Wireless bra

This is a mall discovery. I love this wireless bra I got on sale that is super comfortable and easy to pack. It's soft but has structure and it doesn't make my boobs look weird. I've got this thing about wireless, I've always assumed it was a young girl or for girls of a certain size game. Well, this works for me. My bestie who is small in body but bigger in boobs has found her own version from the same mall rat brand.  Hey if it works, it works.

Ellen's Losers:
1. I forgot traditional flipflops so I bought some over priced ones there, but my friend Mrs. B. helped me pick them out and that means they are pretty cute, ha!
2. Lightweight sneakers. Didn't slap them on once, yet I would pack them again. What if?!?
3. Long dress. Nice idea, but I didn't pack the right undergarments. Just too high maintenance. 
4. Scratched reading glasses. Check and double check. First day back to work I sent them out to be re-lensed. LOL
5. I never pack enough toothpaste. Dental hygiene is important.

Pro tip: Always pack the following in your carry on.
1. Freshies (clean underwear)
2. Travel Deodorant
3. Toothbrush & toothpaste
4. Hairbrush/hair band
5. Scarf/Wrap pashmina or turkish towel style
6. Purell and/or hand lotion
7. Refillable water bottle.
8. Pain reliever, anti-inflammatory of choice
9. Lip balm

1 set of  clean clothes in case your luggage is lost.

What are your essentials or lessons learned?

Friday, July 20, 2018

Summer Holidaze

Well, last time I posted I was speeding along in the beginnings of summer. Trying to enjoy some knitting mojo. I was also trying to prep at work and home for our family summer holiday.

We went to Croatia and met up with two families filled with good friends. Our boys all met in Kindergarten and brought us all together, and well it's been so fun growing up together.

For a few reasons, we couldn't all be out at the same time. One of the families was kind enough to chaperone H. for the first week or so until we were able to fly out.

The first week the families along with some other friends sailed along the Adriatic. Our friends were sweet enough to send us some photos and keep us posted on how everything was going. It sounded like the Kid did alright and was well behaved enough. (Though our friends are so polite and sweet, I doubt they would tell us if he was a little sh*t -- but I'm pretty sure he saves his tough stuff for us.)

Teenagers lounge a lot. It's exhausting you know, teenaging while on vacation. He said it was really fun and relaxing. Living the dream right?

When the husband and I got there we met them at their final port in Split. We drove to the Marina and met them for dinner on land, it was full of outside restaurant seating and happy tourists and World Cup being shown. We got a chance to say hello to some other people that would not be traveling on with us. The vibe settled it, we were on vacation!

The next week we drove up the north of the Croatian coast. Our friends had been there previously and so we just enjoyed their previous experience and were happy to follow along their itinerary. They are such easy going and fun people. It was nice to feel like we could all travel together. I hope they felt the same.

It's beautiful. None of us had ever been to the Adriatic. It was salty and blue and easy to float in. The dining was heavily influenced by the sea and Italy I want to say.

We had a 5 hour drive back to Split to fly out so we checked out a day before everyone else so we wouldn't be rushed to make our 10am flight. We had just enough time to wander around an odd neighborhood to find some late night eats and get a glass of wine in the hotel lobby.

The next morning we flew to Copenhagen where we had a 22 hour layover. It might sound exhausting but actually it was enough time for us to get a chance to explore the city center which is great for walking and biking. We had a nice dinner outside in the Meatpacking District and as an extra treat before returning home we stayed at a nice hotel. (Though to be completely honest, everywhere we stayed was pretty awesome in it's own way.)

My husband returned to work the next day and I took one more day off to shake off the jet lag. Unlike my young son and my early rising husband (they are both morning people -- gross), I don't bounce back quite so quickly.

I have not stop daydreaming about taking another trip since. I had such a good time with my friends and family. :)