Chirped by Cass (and Tina)
This month’s favorites are a compilation from April, May and June since “life” got away from us and we are behind on posting our monthly highlights. So let’s begin.
Favorite Books of the Months
The Dry by Jan Harper is a compelling murder mystery set in a fictional, drought-plagued, small Australian town that I read in a day and kept Tina busy on the flights to and from the Galapagos. She finished it just in time for the “you may now unbuckle your seat belts” ding, and had the flight attendant grilling her about who dunnit?!
Painted Hands by Jennifer Zobair describes the friendship of some young Muslim American career women and all the different ways that cultural traditions, stereotypes, political climate and well-meaning aunties shape their decisions and feelings about love, commitment, family, and career choices. We always love a novel that gives us insight into a culture or time that we know little about, which also brings us to our last recommendation…
Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross. This is a historical fiction based on the legends of a ninth century woman who disguised herself as a man and was ultimately elected Pope. Apparently there is significant evidence to suggest that it is based on a true story. It paints a vivid and wrenching picture of life and social restrictions for women living in the Dark Ages.
Adventures in Felting!
Tina took a felting class at a local craft gallery and created a cute little frog. Something new for her crafting repertoire! First project took a lot of time and patience but it’s amazing what you can do with some wool and a barbed needle! Plus, she picked up some tips along the way that might speed up the process next time around. When can we start getting serious about making Christmas ornaments??
In late spring I get to start enjoying the overgrown wisteria, nicknamed “Medusa”, that blooms over our pergola. The sound of bees, the birds nesting and the scent of the flowers are so relaxing. In the summer, the wisteria provides shade from the hot sun. I have my morning coffee, family dinners, and book club evenings sheltered beneath Medusa’s leafy tresses. Definitely my favorite place in the backyard.
Reunions with Chicks!
For some of us newly-minted empty nesters, May and June mean our chicks come home for the summer. Life may be a bit busier when they are around, but it makes the few months they are home special. And the pups are so pleased to have their pack members returning to the nest!
When the whole flock is together, it’s great to squeeze in a summer adventure. Tina’s family trip to the Galapagos was amazing – and she would highly recommend putting it on your bucket list. To read more about the trip and see some amazing wildlife photos and videos, check out her recent post: Galapagos Getaway…
Easy Side Dishes
Our favorite recipe for the month is a couscous spinach salad. It’s quick and easy and would make a great side dish to any lackluster main course – though it’s also great as a light vegetarian option for a hot summer night. Takes about 8 minutes, total! We used Near East 5-minute Parmesan couscous, cooked according to the package instructions. In a separate sauté pan we quickly browned some sliced almonds and pre-minced garlic (comes in a jar from the grocery store, easy peasy!) in a little olive oil, tossed in a handful of craisins and a couple of tablespoons of water, then added a whole bag of fresh baby spinach. Cover and stir occasionally until spinach wilts, then spoon over couscous. Pretty and delicious!
If you like to cut out interesting recipes from magazines and newspapers and don’t know where to store all those pieces of paper… we have two solutions. One is a Flip Stand Recipe Keeper Tina found at a kitchen store. It has plastic sleeves to hold those torn out pages and a fold-back cover that lets you prop up and view the recipes while you cook. Another even simpler option is just recycling an old 3-ring binder, filling it with plastic sleeves, and adding tabs to organize all those promising dishes.
I am slowly going through my parents’ house, which is no easy task. Not only is it sorting through all the stuff and deciding whether to keep, donate or sell it…you also bring up all the memories of your past as well as theirs. Little things like Mom’s Collector’s Club Longaberger basket with all the years that she was a member tagged on it… the rotary phone that was in the kitchen with the long cord so we could talk privately by stretching the cord into the hall closet… all of Dad’s hand tools that we split up for the five grandkids to have as a set of tools for their own future projects. Little, simple things that make us smile and remember those we love.
On a beautiful day, when we both have some time, we love to walk by the lake with our pooches. Not only is it great exercise for the dogs and us, but it allows us to catch up on each others’ lives, soak in some vitamin D, and acclimate our two alpha males to hanging out together in peace and harmony!
Community Beautification Projects
You might remember the giant flowers from our Yarn Blooming post being referred to as “teasers” for an upcoming mural in town? Well the first installment of the 10,000 Flowers Project mural is almost finished, with the help of community volunteers who pressure-washed a long retaining wall behind the borough hall and then colored in local artist Tim Gibson’s outlines of the first 85 of a planned ten thousand flowers to be “planted” in small towns all over the country. Tim is now completing the outlining, shading, and finishing touches before he moves on to the next location, with the goal of connecting communities through the shared art of one giant cross-country mural. Pretty awesome, and what a cheery addition to a boring old wall!
Despite all the stressors we deal with in our lives from day to day, we hope the last few months have given you some happy things to cheep about, too! (-:
– Cass and Tina