What I’m Into – July 2014

We found this beauteous rug this month online at Joss & Main. It complements our dining room and blue china perfectly–and we got it at a steal-of-a-price! Maybe this decorating business isn’t so bad after all!


July flew by in a blink for me.  Seriously, where did the time go??

Its the last day of July as I type this.  Unfortunately, I’m laid up in bed with a nasty throat/cough/cold bug.  I haven’t been sick in quite awhile, and just recently, I was mentally patting myself on the back for that…touche.   While I’m feverishly (no pun intended) trying to get well ASAP to perform in the next two weekends of Phantom shows and attend an upcoming blog conference next weekend,  today is a treat with a pile of books, a huge mug of hot tea, and reading all this month’s  What I’m Into linkups to my heart’s content.

This month has gone a million miles an hour for me, and I’ve really enjoyed the ride.  We hosted my in-laws and some friends for the 4th of July, Phantom was rehearsed and opened, and we began the {somewhat daunting, yet fun} task of decorating our new home.  With the absence of a vacation this summer, my husband and I have been loving trying out restaurants in our new neighborhood, and I’ve curled up with a good book as much as possible.  All good things.



What I Read

 Traveling With Pomegranates – Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor


This book was the perfect example of a great read that came to me at the exact right time.  Being that its summer, I’m yearning  to travel even more than usual, but my schedule of rehearsals and musical show performances {that I’m grateful to have} isn’t allowing any time away from home until the fall.   Luckily, I’m a big fan of the travel memoir, so my reading has taken me to far and luxuriously distant locales this summer.

I was also drawn to this memoir because it is written by a celebrated author, Sue Monk Kidd, and her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor.  Told in alternating voices and chapters, it chronicles both the literal travels, and internal journeys this mother and daughter have over a period of years, and intertwines their personal journeys with those in Greek mythology.

This is a specialized read for sure, and the specificity of the content may not be for everyone, but I was entranced more and more with each chapter.  It made me long to travel, it reminded to always go deeper into my internal pilgrimage, and it reminded me of the burning desire to write that won’t go away no matter how I try to stuff it down.  A beautiful read–one of my favorites of the summer.

Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton


My reading list last summer could’ve been described as ‘the best food memoir books that will make you stop everything you’re doing to read them straight through.’  {Or, umm, something like that.}  Actually, I have been working through a list of suggested food memoir reading in the appendix of my favorite book last year, Bread & Wine.  Blood, Bones & Butter was one of the last books on the list I just couldn’t bring myself to read for a few different reasons.

I unfortunately read of the disastrous turn the author’s life took right around {or after} this book was published.  I don’t say that in a spirit of judgment at all, but let’s just say the gory details (that I will spare you of here) made me not excited to pick up this book.

When I found a copy at my local library this month, I was just bored enough to give it a shot, and I’m so glad I did.  Hamilton’s writing style is compulsively readable, and her story is very interesting.  I immediately momentarily abandoned all of my other reads to finish this one, and it didn’t disappoint.  Her lifestyle, her choices, and her own particular path do not echo mine, but her story is gritty and fascinating and riveting on the page.  If you love food memoir, don’t let the title, the cover of the book, or events in the personal life of the author deter you from this read – its first rate. 

At Least You’re In Tuscany by Jennifer Criswell

Being that I LOVE all things Italy and Tuscan, this read was a no-brainer for me.  Criswell is a lawyer from New York City, who decided to trade in the legal briefs for life as a writer in the small Tuscan town of Montepulicano.

Unfortunately, her dreams and the reality of her first year as a Tuscan resident did not marry well, but she tells both her woes and her victories with such humor, whimsey and grace that I couldn’t put this book down, and cheered for her all the way to the end.  According to her blog, she’s working on a follow up book now, which I’m excited to read whenever it releases.

Criswell also has a lovely way of including a lot of Italian words and phrases amidst her story {told in English} that made me wish for an Italian Rosetta Stone kit for Christmas.  I’ve always thought the Italian language is so beautifully musical!  A perfect light, summer read–highly recommended.


What I’m Reading


Let’s All Be Brave by Annie Downs, Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy by Frances Mayes,  Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah, Tables In The Wilderness by Preston Yancey, An Altar In The World by Barbara Brown Taylor, Attachments & Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell & The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.

Interesting Interweb Reads

Tsh Oxenreider at The Art of Simple:  On Resisting the Digital & Embracing the Analog 

I’m back to writing more analog-style. I loved rediscovering in Tuscany my love for journaling, so I’m reacquainting this simple habit back to my real world.   In fact, right now I’m writing this entire post with a Bic pen and a Moleskine notebook. At 3:30 a.m., no less (jetlag and all).

Michelle DeRusha:  Why You Need To Take A Real Vacation  &  Tell The Truth As You Understand It {a post for Incourage}  

We need to hear the whole story. Not just the pretty, shiny, fancy parts. Not just the moments when we make the right decision, or offer grace or parent with patience or turn the other cheek, but the moments when we fail to do so, too.

Because these are the moments that make us real and relateable. These are moments that earn trust, gratitude and empathy. These are the moments that assure others that we are flawed, just like they are. These are the moments that have us nodding our heads in recognition and encourage us to be courageously authentic, too.

Fiona Lynne: On Taking Selfies

It’s hard work, this fast and surreal growth into motherhood. But as my wise man keeps reminding me, hard does not equal bad. And those selfies help me to see the good in this hard. They help me to see past the bags under my eyes and the stains on my top and recognise the transformation happening in me and see that it is good.


The Art of Simple Podcast:  Nerd Is A Good Thing & A Chat With My {Tsh Oxenreider’s} Literary Agent  

The Declare Conference Podcast:  How To Benefit From A Conference Writing Session – An Interview with Denise Hughes


What I Listened to/Sang

The Fault In Our Stars – movie soundtrack

Phantom (Yeston/Kopit version) – original cast soundtrack

Yes! – Jason Mraz

I listened to a smattering of songs on the various albums listed above, along with a few other gems.  I put together a short playlist for this month on Spotify – follow all of my playlists on Spotify here.

I am over-the-moon excited to soon be a part of a local regional production of the musical Fiddler On the Roof, starting rehearsals next month!  Listening to this beautiful montage from the Tony’s a few years back is so inspiring!


Stitch Fix Jackpot


I’ve been getting a Stitch-Fix box delivered to my door for the past few months.  Though I haven’t had a chance to blog about it yet, I’ve usually only kept one thing each month.  I seem to have had a different stylist every month, probably because they could see from my comments that sizing and style issues kept happening, where I didn’t like the bulk of the fix.  

But color me happy, this month, I hit the jackpot!  They not only sent me 2 maxi skirts {my favorite item of summer clothing), I loved all of the patterns and colors, and kept my first pair of earrings in a Fix.  I wasn’t sure if the earrings were too big for me, but thanks to my friends on Instagram weighing in on my goofy selfie above, I realized they were a perfect fit.  I kept three items in this month’s fix, and I’m looking forward to my next Fix in a few months.  I also think my stylist had a lot more information to go on from my Pinterest Stitch Fix Inspiration board. 

Summer Telly-Watching

I’m still watching Covert Affairs each week on DVR, along with my summer favorite, SYTYCD. My hubby and I are watching Food Network Star, and I recently discovered Poirot – a Masterpiece Classic mystery that’s getting me excited for the returns of Sherlock and Downton Abbey.

Other Favorites

The SheReadsTruth App


I’ve been a fan of SheReadsTruth.com since the beginning.  They launched their free iPhone app this month, and its a beauty!  I especially loved downloading these screen savers.

Favorite Insta-Moments   {follow me on Instagram here.}


This big, beautiful library is literally minutes from our new home, and I’ve been thrilled with the kindness of the staff, the varied selections, and the quickness of their interlibrary loan.  Their automated notification emails are even cute with fun text!  Color this book nerd a happy camper.


I also discovered a most lovely cafe, in walking distance from the library.  There’s a plethora of tables, soft chairs, and writing nook tables, good wifi and the perfect coffee shop atmosphere.  I’m hoping to write many-a-blog-post inside these walls.


Being that I usually make my coffee and tea at home with my trusty Keurig, getting cold coffee, or in this case, hot tea drinks out and about is a treat.  I thought this honey vanilla red tea latte was beauty in a cup.


Reading The Nester’s fabulous decorating book has given me the chutzpah to embrace my love of quirky decor.  I found this bust at HomeGoods for $14.99, and thought it would be fun to give her a coat of paint in my favorite Annie Sloan color.  I was amazed at how quick a process it was!  In around 10 minutes, this became…


 …This!  I left some of her hair white for a quirky touch {and also, if I’m honest, as a reminder  and inspiration that I wish to live to be an old, old woman}, but I’m unsure if I’m happy with the look.  I think I’d also really like the whole bust one color.  We just installed a white shutter on my study window, so I’m going to see what she looks like on my desk next to the window.  I hope to share more pictures of my office/study, as it comes together.  {I also love the quirk of this bust next to my favorite lamp–another find at Joss & Main.

Phantom fun


One of my main activities this month was rehearsing and performing in one of my favorite musicals, the Yeston/Kopit version of Phantom. {Not to be confused with the much more famous Andrew Lloyd Webber version on Broadway and on tour}.  

Truth be told, its been a bit of time for me, since I last rehearsed and performed full time. {In the last couple of years, I went back to school for my degree, among other life events.}.  All that to say, I definitely have ‘all the feels’ about this.  I’ve been writing privately about my experiences in this show, performing, in general and my love and passion for the musical theatre stage.  I’m hoping to share these words soon on my blog, but for now, they need to percolate and bloom, as I sort them all out.  I’ve wanted to write more publicly about my performing life for some time, so this is a gift and a privilege, and I want to do it right.

 Being a part of this wonderful piece of theatre has most definitely been a highlight of my month.


What I’m Looking Forward To in August

Going to a blogging conference in my own backyard {The Declare Conference}–while performing in the closing weekend of Phantom, starting rehearsals for Fiddler On The Roof, writing more blog posts (linkups are great and all, but I really want to be publishing content here that’s speaks to my writing passions}, having a cooking/dinner club night with friends and squeezing out every last drop of summer.

What are you into lately? 

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3 comments on “What I’m Into – July 2014

  1. So much to check out! I was hoping we were attending the same conference this weekend … but we’re not. Have a great time and congrats on the Fiddler cast!

  2. That rug is gorgeous! Great find. Blood, Bones, and Butter is one of my favorite food memoirs! Glad you gave it a chance. It’s not for everyone but Hamilton knows how to tell a story. Glad you hit the Stitch Fix jackpot! They’re the best. I think you should write more about performing life! Go for it/break a leg.

  3. This is so great! I really want to read the Traveling with Pomegranates now – I haven’t read much travelogue literature, but I think it would be my thing. I certainly love the places in this one!

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