What I Read: September ’14

Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple; I really liked this book! I thought it was engaging and loved how Semple interwove various ‘primary’ documents to expose different points of view on the narrative. I was rooting for the Fox family at the end, which I think is so important in connecting readers to characters. I get why this is on everyone’s list now!

The Talent Code: Unlocking the Secret of Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Math, and Just About Everything Else by Daniel Coyle; Coyle argues that talent is not innate but grown in our brains in the form of myelin, once thought to be inert coating for brain cells. I found his writing to be clear and approachable and he offers some easily transferrable take aways for mastering skills or talents.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin; I wish I remember who’s GoodReads this popped up on so I can say thank you! While filled with tragic experiences, Zevin manages to weave together a jaunty narrative that never sags under it’s own weight. She’s filled this novel with wonderfully compelling book people who will remind you why you love your local book store.

What I watched: Only Lover’s Left Alive, Muppets Most Wanted, The Lego Movie, The World’s End, Hocus Pocus, Bad Words, Her, X Men: Days of Future Past, Muscle Shoals

Hocking Hills State Park

M had a surprise weekend off so we took off for a spur of the moment camping trip. One of the things he needed to see as someone who wasn’t a child in Ohio was Old Man’s Cave and the Hocking Hills.

We stayed in the state campground and spent Saturday morning hiking between Old Man’s Cave and Ash Cave. I want to tell you it was so pretty (which – it was) but I am incredibly disappointed in this particular state park experience. There were exactly ZERO Rangers or Naturalists at any of the sites. No one to encourage sound camping practices (so I saw our ‘neighbors’ washing diapers in our clean water…so I walked an extra 1/4 mile each way for the rest of the weekend) and there was no one to interpret the history, ecology and geology of the site. I consider this to be the crown jewel of our state park system and I was expecting so much more. On Sunday, we hiked around Rock House and that trail had much less litter.

State parks are the lay person’s entry into nature. It the job of those who manage this INCREDIBLY VITAL RESOURCE to interpret it’s significance for visitors; to explain why it is important, how to engage with it safely and why is worth protecting.

I will save my rant about being allowed to hunt in state parks for another day.

Oh yeah, we did take some pictures too.hocking hills state park~thecomynspace.com hocking hills state park~thecomynspace.com hocking hills state park~thecomynspace.com hocking hills state park~thecomynspace.com hocking hills state park~thecomynspace.com

10 Books That Have Stayed With Me

This list has been going around Facebook and I knew I wanted to put together my list. However, I also knew I needed a bit more time than a quick status update to put together just ten books!

  1. La casa de los espiritus by Isabel Allende: I read this in English in high school and in Spanish in college. This is book that made me fall in love with Allende and magical realism.
  2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: My first thick Russian novel, but not my last. What a desperate, passionate love story and a wonderful entry point to Dostoevsky and Pasternak.
  3. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant: This is a radical re-telling of part of the book of Genesis, from Dinah’s perspective. I fell so hard for this book I devoted a 1000 word essay to it (no, you may not see it) and have sought out everything else by Diamant.
  4. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: What a beautiful voice. Hurston is incredible at building a real world with her writing.
  5. The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin: While I did read this recently, this non fiction book really challenged me to relish my blessings and make room for more of what makes me happy.
  6. Power and Powerlessness by John Gaventa: This is an academic look at why social movement spring up in some times and places but not other with ‘worse’ oppression. It is also the only time I devolved into a pile of angry tears in class because my rich suburbanite classmates just did not get it. [They still don't]
  7. The Unconquerable World by Jonathan Schell: This exploration of the history and place for non violence to make the will of the people known was essential for shaping some of my most deeply held beliefs. There is a way forward, one that does not include violence to solve all the worlds problems.
  8. The Giver by Lois Lowry: This was probably the first ‘sci fi’ book I picked up on my own and I adored the story. Something about ‘watching’ the world turn to color spoke to my pre-teen self.
  9. Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie: The Diary of Hattie Campbell, The Oregon Trail, 1847 (Dear America Series) by Kristiana Gregory: This is the only book I have ever reread over a 100 times. I broke the binding.
  10. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: ‘nough said.

Corn Chowder Salad

I came across this when I was looking for ways to eat up some of the delicious corn we’ve been getting! It comes together pretty fast but it does make the counter a mess-you’ve been warned! I love the smokiness from the bacon and the creaminess from the potato of corn chowder-give it a try!

warm corn relish2 warm corn relish1

You’ll Need:
2 tbp olive oil
3 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 pound red or white boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cups fresh corn kernels (5-6 ears)
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tbsp cider vinegar
red pepper flakes

Heat oil over medium low heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel to allow the fat to drain. To the bacon grease, add the potatoes and cook. Toss occasionally but let cook until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add in bell pepper and season with salt. Cook about 5 minutes more, until both are tender. Add in corn and cook until hot, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with onion, vinegar and bacon. Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes. It’s great hot but is also delicious chilled.

Fall ’14 Bucket List

Inspired by my Summer ’14 Bucket List, I thought I’d put together a list of things to do intentionally this fall. Here’s some of those quintessential fall things I want to make time for.

  • go apple picking
  • go to a pumpkin patch
  • fall camping
  • spend a day sewing/crafting before November to get a head start on Christmas
  • memorize my pie crust recipe
  • go to Cincinnati’s Octoberfest
  • take a long motorcycle ride to see the fall colors

And because who doesn’t like to look at at the fall pretty…

fall leaves

Summer ’14 Bucket List~How’d I Do?!

Like everyone else who owns a calendar, I can’t believe it is SEPTEMBER! How did that happen?! I didn’t manage to hit everything on this list and boy-oh-boy do I have a bucket of excuses! M’s schedule changed so he was working more weekends that I anticipated but we still managed to soak up as much summer sun and friend time as we could. I’m marking that down as what matters :-)

family vacation 2014~thecomynspace.com

  • Go to a drive in movie (there’s actually one with THREE SCREENS in Columbus! How awesome is THAT?!) –ahhhh we never made it a point to go, maybe this month?
  • Spend a day lounging at a lake
  • Run a race (probably just a 5k this year…my first without a half since 2009) — nope :-( but we’ve scheduled a half in February!
  • Go to the Ohio State Fair (No state so fair, no fair so great!)
  • Spend a day at Zoombezi Bay
  • Take M to Cedar Point (an Ohioan right of passage)–many more summers for this!
  • Eat something I grew (or um…M grew) — yes! our little container garden has been gangbusters!
  • See the sea caves in Lake Superior — this didn’t happen our trip up there this summer :-(
  • Go to a baseball game
  • Go to a soccer game

Some awesome summer things that WEREN’T on the bucket list but were awesome-sauce regardless: a free outdoor bluegrass concert, a banging Fourth of July Party and fireworks, road tripping across the Midwest including stopping in Indy for an afternoon, and one hot A/C-less evening at Arcade Super Awesome.

Ohio History Connection~Cheap Date Idea

Because my mom and I answered three trivia questions correctly at the Ohio State Fair, we each one a free ticket to the Ohio History Connection! Although, at $10 a pop, it is still an incredibly reasonable way to spend an afternoon! M and I went for a lazy Sunday afternoon and we checked out (nearly) the whole thing!

ohio history connection~cheap date idea~thecomynspace.com It was the Vintage Baseball weekend! We watched a few innings in the rain and looked like so much fun! Although, I could not handle playing without a glove!ohio history connection~cheap date idea~thecomynspace.com

The Ohio Village! ohio history connection~cheap date idea~thecomynspace.com ohio history connection~cheap date idea~thecomynspace.comA battle flag from the 45th Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry. This exhibit was incredibly moving – you can see several battle flags from various drafted and volunteer regiments from Ohio.
ohio history connection~cheap date idea~thecomynspace.com ohio history connection~cheap date idea~thecomynspace.comA few gemstones from the collection that caught my eye.