Books · summer

Summer Reads Audible Style

Is listening to an audiobook “reading”?  While not “reading” in the traditional or neurological (due to different processing in the brain) sense; but an excellent alternative when you are driving, exercising, otherwise engaged in an activity where you are unable to “read.”

As an avid reader, I often have several books started at any given time and one of them is likely to be an audible book.  This summer I’ve listened while painting, weeding, exercising, and driving.  As confession is good for the sole, I confess I’ve listened to some excellent books and then there are the duds.  My summer thumbs up / thumbs down list follows.

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Those on the thumbs up list all share common features.  They had an engaging plot, likeable characters and were well written.  Park Avenue Summer and Down River are not to be missed.  They are excellent!  So, thumbs up for:

Park Avenue Summer

Down River

The Mulberry Tree

The Spitfire Girls

The Malta Exchange

The Girl From Berlin

Single Malt Murder

Honorable mentions to :  The Mother in Law and Berlin Calling

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Those earning a thumbs down also shared certain characteristics including a wandering plot, need for a good editor, and characters who were not rootable. Both The Golden Hour and Wunderland held so much potential.  Yet, they both fell flat.  I kept thinking get on with it!

 

Holiday · summer · Travel

Ashford Castle and Tea

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I love tea and I wanted to stay in a Castle .  On my recent trip to Ireland I combined a few of my favorite things and spent an amazing afternoon at Ashford Castle.

Ashford is that fairytale Castle of your dreams.  The Castle has hosted Kings, Presidents and, most recently was the  site of golf pro Rory McIlroy’s nuptials, it has a wonderful golf course, excellent fishing, clays for shooting, falconry, a spa, beautiful gardens, and amazing food.  I now understand the concept of eating until you pop.

On a recent rainy Sunday, I was fortunate to spend the entire afternoon curled up by a fire having tea and champagne with my favorite gal pal.  Two pots of tea, four glasses of champagne and nibbles was the perfect setting to spend the afternoon.

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I opted for the Irish Wiskey-Cream tea.  Described as the “extravagant flavor of Irish whiskey with a hint of cocoa blended with a malty Assam tea” it lives up to its description as delicious.  Nibbles included chicken salad sandwiches, salmon, ham and cheese, scones with lemon curd, clotted cream, and strawberry and rhubarb jam.  The tip from the server was lemon curd with the cheddar cheese scone.  The pairing was perfect!  The sweets course included eclairs and other tasty sweets but the cheddar cheese scones were my favorite.

What an amazing setting to spend a rainy afternoon.

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Family · Food · summer · Travel

Going Home, Charleston, SC

 

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I’m on my way to the 47th annual family reunion in Charleston.  Every summer growing up we planned a visit to Charleston for my Mom’s family reunion.  Held on Sullivan’s Island, the family with all the cousins would gather for a vast lunch, sno cones, the beach, and lots of fun catching up.

As the ladies of the family were wonderful cooks, lunch was always a treat.  Ham, Charleston red rice, shrimp, fried chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs, coleslaw, and macaroni salad were among the traditional dishes found on the table.  The dessert table was not to be overlooked with poundcake, pies, and cookies.  Add in plenty of homemade sweet iced tea and good conversation and it was always a delightful day for all.

It’s been years since I’ve been able to attend but I’m headed there this year.  I’m so excited to be back in Charleston.  Flying in there was this sense that I was home.  From the plane I could see the marsh and the peninsula.  The humidity and heat enveloped me as I exited the plane bringing a large smile to my face.  This is the place I loved as a child.

With the passing of my grandparents, I opted for a reservation at Charleston Place Hotel. Located in the heart of downtown Charleston, it was ideally located for a walk to the battery and the waterfront parks, shopping on King Street, and a visit to the vegetable market.

King Street was always the place for a shopping expedition and continues to be the location for delightful boutiques.  I (re)discovered Ben Silvers and Sara Campbells.  A trip to Charleston would not be complete without a walk through the market to look at the sweetgrass baskets.  They are individual works of art and I always find creative uses for them at home.

Sullivans Island is a barrier island off of Charleston and home of Fort Moultrie, used in the Revolution.  White sand beaches and beautiful old homes mark it as a lovely location for a family gathering and a swim or day at the beach.

 

She crab soup, beautiful iron work, great food, and family, I’m going home!

Beach · Fashion · Skin care · summer · Travel

Swimsuit Attire

 

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I love the beach and pool and opt for any chance to spend time there.  Recently I decided it was time to replace some of my favorite pieces.  After years of constant wear they’d seen better days.  That begged the question – what to replace them with?  I’m also very conscious of the sun.  My father suffered from skin cancer and was my partner in crime when it came to the beach so I opt for sunscreen, hats, and sun shirts when I’m thinking out side.  For more on my sunscreen odyssey see my post at Sunscreen plus the hat!    As an update I’m going with COOLA!

The swim suit.  I love Tory Burch’s suits and have worn the ones I have out.  They hold up well even after years of use.  I wanted something new though.   I tried a new one made by Marysia.  I loved it enough to purchase a second.  One tip I got from a friend was to purchase the same suit in different colors so the strap lines are in the same place.  I’ve taken that tip to heart.  I have the same Tory suit in navy and black and now the same Marysia suit in white and black and a two piece with the same top.

After settling on a new swimsuit, I decided I needed a refresh on my coverup.  They were also showing signs of wear.  I decided that I wanted a sun shirt.  I purchased a lovely swing style one from Mott with a 50 spf and I found a men’s long sleeve sun shirt in the tennis pro shop that I’ve co-opted.  I wear it with a terry polo mini skirt I’ve had for ages. The mini skirt needs a refresh but I’ve not found a replacement for it – yet!  Although not a sun shirt I also found a lovely tunic style shirt to wear for yoga that I’m giving a trial run as a cover up.  My favorite new addition, however, is a lovely tunic from Gretchen Scott.  It is hand embroidered and simply lovely.

My beach attire would not be complete without a hat, flip flops, and sun glasses.  I usually take both a large floppy hat and a baseball cap or visor in my bag.   The cap and visor are great when the wind whips up and the floppy hat goes flying.  The floppy hat with a wide brim is my preference though to keep the sun off my face.  I’ve used a black hat for many years but at the end of last summer I discovered Peter Beaton’s hats. I have a lovely new one with a wide brim, black blow and pink under rim.  It is amazing. I opt for Channel sunnies.  There is something about the lens they use that makes them perfect for use outside.  For flip flops I am addicted to Tory’s basic black.  I have the traditional ones and the wedge ones.  The wedges are amazing and add a little something to the outfit.

My final mention is to Buckhead Betties for my suit bag.  There is nothing worse than carrying a wet suit.  I discovered a travel pouch designed for carrying your wet suit at Buckhead Betties.  The lining is waterproof and perfect for a wet suit (or your wet hair towel).

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Beach · Family · Food · summer

Egg Salad: Comfort Food

 

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Growing up summer at the beach included egg salad sandwiches for lunch.  I have fond memories of Mom boiling eggs and turning them into deviled eggs and egg salad sandwiches.  She knew they were a favorite we shared.  Egg salad, chips and a coke and lunch was served.  I have so many fond memories of those lunches.  White sandy beaches, heat, heat, humidity and fun.

Although I never thought about it, the egg salad seemed to be seasonal.  The sandwiches would start appearing after Easter and end sometime after Labor Day.  These days I look forward to my egg salad at the Masters.  There is something about their version of the egg salad sandwich that takes me back to Mom’s.  I’ve  been trying to decode their recipe for years now.  Today as I mixed my egg salad for sandwiches on the beach, I finally came close!

 

 

One dozen eggs – hard boiled and dumped into an ice bath to make pealing easy.

Peel eggs, slice and mash

Add salt and pepper to taste

Mix in 1/4 of mayo to start, add additional as needed.  I used lite mayo,

Add a tablespoon of mustard.  I used Frenches

Spread on bread of your choice and enjoy!

Beach · Books · summer

Summer Beach Reads

It’s that time of year again!  With Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer I think of the beach, pool, and nights playing tennis.  I also think of what I’m going to load to my kindle or iPod to “read” at the beach or pool.  These are some of my recent favorite reads!

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Kristy W. Harvey is my new favorite author.  If you like Alice Monroe or Dorothy Benton Frank, you will love Harvey.  Her Peachtree Bluff trilogy is can’t put down.  I love the mix of the southern beach town with a hint of New York City thrown into the mix.  The story of strong women facing and overcoming the challenges in their lives.  Run, don’t walk to grab these for your beach bag.

 

 

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I devoured the Discovery of Witches trilogy.  It was different, fun, compelling and historical – even for someone who doesn’t run to stories of vampires, witches and demons.  This is the latest.  It is Marcus’ story and it does not disappoint.  All my favorite characters are back in the mix, Diana, Matthew, Baldwin but the focus is on Marcus as Matthew’s son and his upcoming marriage.

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If you enjoy that WWII suspense, espionage book, this and the Alice Network are books for you  I “read” (listened) to both with the audible versions.  I highly recommend the audible version for a long car trip (say to the beach!).  The Alice Network is set in occupied France while the Huntress takes a slightly different turn moving back and forth between post war Boston, post war Austria, and the Eastern front.  Both feature the work of brave women in the war.  The Huntress takes an unusual turn by featuring a woman as a sought after Nazi war criminal.

 

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If you’ve not found the Maisie Dobbs series yet, now is the time. The series began with Maisie in WWI and we’ve now progressed to WWII and the London blitz.  The latest, The American Agent, provides wonderful insight into the beginning of WWII and America’s take on a new world war.

 

More recommendations to come!  I think this is going to be a huge reading summer.

Family · Holiday · summer · Travel

The Homestead

Do you ever need that weekend away to simply relax?  I do! I love that over night or long weekend when you get away from home, sleep in, and simply enjoy some needed peace and quite.  The Homestead, also now known as the Omni Homestead, is one of my favorite places for a quick trip away to recharge.

Nestled in the Virginia mountains, it has been there in one form or another since 1766.  Known for the hot springs in the area it was a place to “take the waters” – and you still can!

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The rooms are beautiful, the people phenomenal and the food a gourmand’s delight.  And, oh, did I mention the spa?  You can hike, swim or ski, depending on the season, golf, enjoy zip lining, falconry, hiking, or, my personal favorite, curl up with a book or a deck of cards in the library or on the front porch.  Then there is the great hall where you can enjoy the fire places.  I’ve enjoyed many an afternoon playing cards – yes, I mean playing with an actual deck of cards – with my Mom and enjoying a refreshment.

The spa is excellent; the garden pool, adult only, features a lovely heated pool and hot tub along with one of the original hot springs.  The aqua thermal suite is the perfect place for an afternoon and then a massage.  There is also a gym, indoor pool, and, in the warm weather, a family pool with a lazy river.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the food.  It is spectacular.  I feel like I roll away when I leave the table.  The breakfast buffet leaves nothing to the imagination.  Dinner options do not disappoint.  The wedge salad at Jefferson’s is a favorite.  I’ve eaten in the dining room, formal, Jefferson’s, casual, room service, and Sam Sneeds.  Each meal was to die for.

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