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Archive for the tag “travel”


Over at Callapidder Days they have begun the Fall into Reading 2012 Challenge. With all the excitement in my life, I’ve found that this year I cannot participate, however, I am following the Challenge, and especially, the questions posted. I especially liked the first question, so I decided to blog along.

Is there an author (or authors) whose books you are always watching for? Do you jump to snatch up the latest literary offering from certain specific authors? In other words, who are your go-to authors?

  • David Baldacci- I discovered his books one summer, and I read through everything he had written up to that point. Since then, I always pre-order his latest offering, a carry over from my grad school days when I could read more than one or two pages of a book for fun without falling asleep and it took me six months to read it. Now I still pre-order them, but save them for vacation. [Ironically enough, when I popped onto Amazon this morning, they notified me that Baldacci has a book available for pre-order. Pretty sure I’ve found my reading for Christmas vacation.]
  • John Grisham- Yes, I know. Judge me if you will, but I still read John Grisham. I don’t love his latest offerings as much as I did his original work, but it still worth it.
  • A.J. Jacobs- his non-fiction writing is witty, and tends to take an unusual approach.

Fun question. 🙂 So, who are your go-to authors?



Weekend Recap: A trip to the zoo

This weekend I headed south into Jersey to spend time with my sister and my nephew. It was a preplanned trip- Sharyn had called me a few weeks ago and asked if I would accompany her, Little Man, and a friend’s daughter to the zoo while she ran a table of information for her job. I was definitely not passing up the chance for some time with them, and for one of Little Man’s first trips to the zoo.

Arriving at the Turtle Back Zoo early so Sharyn could set up for the event, we had the chance to look around and semi-plot our course of action. First up was a train ride: Little Man is a huge Thomas the Tank Engine fan, so we knew there would be multiple train rides throughout the day, but we decided to start while the line was short. The train ride runs through the reserve adjacent to the zoo, along the water. It was a beautiful ride and a fun start to the day.

Then we started through the exhibits. Little Man’s favorite exhibit, without question, was the monkeys and the gibbons. They were high up and moving around quite a bit each time we passed by, and he would watch and squeal each time. He did a pretty good monkey call- he got the attention of all the monkeys with one squeal. Being the climber that he is, I was not at all surprised that the monkeys were his favorite.  What surprised me is that it was my favorite exhibit of the day as well. It made me laugh- you looked up and saw the moneys up high, and then looking down, there was a huge tortise at the bottom. How did he get in there?

Turtle Back Zoo has a fantastic play area, with ducks and frogs to climb on, a spider web, a nest, and a big sliding board. Kids can also see the prairie dogs at their level, with plastic bubbles for the kids to put their heads up through. Little Man ran from the duck to the frog, and climbed in and out of the nest a few times before starting to slow down just a bit.

The zoo has a small stage and a grassy area beside it, and because there was an event, they had a live band. We enjoyed our lunch on the grass and danced to the band.

After the event ended, we rejoined my sister for a stroll around the zoo with Little Man…who proceeded to fall soundly asleep, exhausted from all the playing and exploring he had done. He stayed asleep right up until dinner at a great Tex-Mex/Cajun restaurant in Fairfield. But he was definitely awake enough to steal some of his aunty’s pumpkin milkshake when we stopped at an ice cream a little later.

It was a fantastic day, and I am really kicking myself for not having a camera- this one was totally a pictures worthy experience. It was relaxing to just meander around the zoo and enjoy what a beautiful fall Saturday it was, even if I was meandering with an active 15 month old boy. I highly recommend the Turtle Back Zoo for those who are local and looking for a fairly inexpensive way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Weekend Recap: A few hundred miles and four days later

A bit of home.

This past weekend was a travel weekend, thus my delayed weekend cap and my lack of Anna Karenina posts. I had been hoping for a trip to Maryland to see family and friends this summer, and that opportunity finally came this past weekend.

Friday was a travel day, logging 255 miles of road time, 2 bottles of water, 3 snacks,  6 different radio stations, and 1 stop to stretch my legs. Arriving at my destination (my Mom and Stepfather’s house) was glorious, and not just because there was steak, baked potatoes, and salad waiting for me. 🙂
Saturday was a day for sleeping in, although I didn’t, and just having the chance to spend time with people. After hanging out with my Stepdad, and their new Yorkie Molly in the morning, I headed over to the local farmer’s market and bought three pounds of amazing Furnace Hills Coffee (I highly recommend their coffee, which I regularly have shipped to New York). I also got to meet the staff behind the coffee- Dave Baldwin, Erin Baldwin, and Lia Moore, which was amazing! Thanks for taking the time to chat!

After meandering the Farmer’s Market, and then stopping by a local salon for a haircut, my parents and I headed to Wegman’s for my great gluten free adventure. Assembling the necessary ingredients to bake, or even finding a decent package of gluten free cookies can be a bit of a challenge. My Mom, after some research, discovered that Wegman’s had an amazing gluten free section, and so we headed for a shopping spree. I now have 4 or 5 gluten/corn free cookie and cake mixes, gluten/corn free all-purpose flour, bread crumbs, graham cracker crumbs, pasta, and corn free tomato sauce.

The store in and of itself was an experience. I have never been in a store quite so large, or quite so crowded. In addition to the normal grocery store aspect (but think more high-end grocery store), there was also a massive food market/food court. You could get anything from coffee to baked goods to sandwiches to sushi. It was slightly overwhelming.

Saturday night, I was able to catch up with one of my best friends and her husband and kids. We talked, I got updated pictures, we watched some of the Olympics, and for a grand finale, we had a bonfire and toasted marshmallows.

Sunday was a little quieter, but not much. In the morning, Mom and I attended the church I grew up in. After church we hit Panera for lunch with friend, before I headed out to Columbia to see my Dad, Stepmother, and three sisters.

Waking up Monday was tough, particularly because I knew it meant returning to New York. After breakfast with a friend, a trip out to a local farm for some more produce (I couldn’t leave the area without cantalope, watermelon, and the amazing peaches I had tried), my parents and I loaded up my stuff for the trip back. Although the return trip seemed to move faster, it was still the return trip.

What made this trip home different was that I was different. I just finished grad school, and really, this was the first time visiting home knowing that I wasn’t living there because of school, but because I had chosen to live in a different place. It made me thoughtful, nostalgic, and a little sad. Especially since I know that these short visits are more the reality.


The weekend recap: Brooklyn, the Ikea of the Met, & a bit of the unexpected

This weekend was probably one of the most restful weekends I’ve had in awhile, even as it involved a bit of travel. Friday night I finished The Calligrapher’s Daughter and tried to watch a few shows in an attempt to empty the DVR…but I found myself wanting the quiet of a book and the cool of my air conditioned room more than I wanted the noise of the television and the humidity of the living room.

On Saturday, I headed out to Brooklyn to visit a friend. We batted a few ideas about how to spend the day back and forth before settling on a trip into Manhattan to visit the Guggenheim and then Metropolitan Museum of Art (henceforth referred to as the Met). I had never been to the Guggenheim Museum before, in spite of my deep appreciation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work, so we decided to start there.

In a word, the Guggenheim is amazing. It’s difficult not to be at least a little amazed by the the circular design with its grand height and winding ramps. The tickets to the museum come with a free audio tour,  so we spent two hours winding through the museum learning about and admiring art in the genre of Abstract Expressionism (or Art Informel) that developed in both the United States and Europe post World War II. I can’t say that I am a huge fan of abstract art and the fact that so much of it seemed so angry really threw me, but whenever I go to an art exhibit when its genre that’s not my favorite I find I learn so much more.

We followed up our time in the Guggenheim with a visit to the Met. I love the Met. I could easily spend days wondering the museum, but I find I usually only allow myself a morning, or a few hours in the afternoon to admire just a section or two. Usually, I wind up in the European painting, but on this trip I found myself in the newly renovated and reopened American Wing which I loved.

Among other things, the American Wing has period rooms which display the American domestic arts and handicrafts from the seventeenth century to the early nineteenth century. They were fun to explore, but by far my favorite part is this random section towards the back which displays art from the American wing that is not currently on display in glass cases. There were sections of furniture- with all the grandfather clocks or chairs not currently being used in a display being lined up and numbered. I called it “the Ikea of the Met” because it totally reminded me of Ikea and its serve yourself warehouse section with its letters and numbers. I jokingly started “ordering” pieces for my house.

Saturday was restful and fun and filled with art. Sunday had a bit more adventure to it as experienced some issues with my car on the way out of Brooklyn. But even with the unexpected car trouble, my weekend still managed to maintain an air of restfulness and relaxation, and I am ready for Monday in a way I haven’t been in quite awhile.

Were there many books this weekend? Not so much. Lot’s of discussion about books but not so much reading. A fabulous weekend regardless.

2012 Book Festivals

For a nerd such as a myself, it seems rather shocking that I have not yet made it to a book festival, particularly since I have had access to so many over the years- the Baltimore Book Festival, the DC Book Festival held by the Library of Congress, and in moving to New York, the New York Book Festival and the Brooklyn Book Festival. So many options…and yet the closest things I’ve been to is a library book sale. <Moment of silence>

Thus, my goals for the year have expanded to include a book festival. There are a few I missed in the spring, but never fear, there is a series of book festivals in September. So…here’s the line-up of those I am most seriously considering visiting:

– The 2012 Library of Congress National Book Festival, September 22-23, 2012

The National Book Festival is definitely the largest of the three book festivals I am seriously considering, spanning two days and 31 authors. A few friends have gone, and recommended it very highly. The added bonus is that its in DC and relatively close to my family in Maryland- so I could explore some of the museums in DC and visit family at the same time.

– The Brooklyn Book Festival, September 23, 2012

The Brooklyn Book Festival is the most likely candidate of the three that I will list because of its vicinity to my home.  This festival also comes highly recommended and has actually been on my radar for awhile. The difficulty is the fact that the festival takes place on a Sunday.

– The Baltimore Book Festival, September 28-30, 2012

Although this book festival takes place in my home city, its new to me. There are limited details on the website about this festival, and I don’t actually know much about it, making it the least likely candidate. But, hey, you never know.

If you’ve been to any of these book festivals, or would like to recommend others, please leave a comment. I would love to know what you think!

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