The month of August has been a whirlwind of experiences and emotions involving more transportation than I think I’ve ever crammed into such a short time (10 flights in 19 days, two of which were 12-14 hours long). As of last night I am back in Korea. I have one more short trip scheduled for September 7-10 and after that I’ll be settling in for a much more normal routine, hopefully including more regular blog posts.
It feels appropriate to pick up blogging again with my monthly re-cap of What I’m Into. As usual, I am linking up with Leigh Kramer for this post. I like to read through posts by other bloggers from this link up for ideas of new things to read, watch, listen to, make, think, and do. If you like that kind of thing be sure to check out some of the other bloggers on her link-up.
This Month in Numbers:
75,000 (at least) calories eaten
25,000 miles traveled
600 pictures taken
15 times I cried this month (I’ve been feeling a lot of feelings. And hey, only 3 of those were ugly crying).
11 American restaurants visited
10 flights taken
8 lbs gained
7 movies watched
6.25 books read
5 countries traveled through
4 days without luggage
4 trips to Target, just to bask in its glow
2 monkeys that sat on me
What I’m Reading:
I admit, my reading this month was a little all over the place, from really light fluffy books to spiritual memoirs to investigative non-fiction. But that’s the beauty of books, really. There’s something for everyone. (Or in my case, something for each of my personalities).
Three Wishes, Liane Moriarty. Like other books I’ve read by this author, this book was a perfect relaxing read. Part domestic drama and part romance – easy reading but with more complex characters than many beach-reads and a plot that was a little predictable without being stupid. Also, this book is about a set of adult triplets, two of whom are identical and one who isn’t. I actually know someone who is part of a set of triplets like that and I’ve always thought that dynamic was unique and interesting.
Attachments, Rainbow Rowell. During last month’s What I’m Into link-up people kept mentioning Rainbow Rowell so when I saw this book on sale for kindle I decided to try it. Told mostly through email correspondence, this book was light, easy, and feel-good. You could almost read it in one sitting. There was nothing particularly compelling about it, but it was sweet.
A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Rachel Held Evans. Somehow, I had never gotten around to reading this book in its entirety even though I read a lot of Rachel’s other writing and have read excerpts of it. I’m glad I finally read it. It was interesting, funny, thought-provoking, and informative all at once. Each month Rachel tackled one biblical virtue for women and tried to observe it as strictly as possible. She also interviewed women of different faith backgrounds for perspective (an orthodox Jew, an Amish woman, a family who practices what they believe to be “biblical marriage” through polygamy). While Rachel is well-known for being an outspoken feminist, this book is a very honest and gracious exploration of the nebulous concept of biblical womanhood and, I found, a very fair consideration of various points of view on the subject. I was particularly moved by the chapter that explored the iconic Proverbs 31 woman, evangelical saint of womanhood, and learned how in the Jewish tradition it is the men who learn this poem in order to recite or sing it to their wives as a blessing.
Love Does, Bob Goff. Goff has a lot of great stories. And I absolutely love the core message of this book – that real love is active. That we shouldn’t be afraid to take risks and live a big, loud life loving others. That we shouldn’t let the constraints of others’ expectations or even, sometimes, practicality, keep us from dreaming God-sized dreams. But, Goff doesn’t address the fact that many of his stories of jet-setting around the world at a moment’s notice are only possible because he has a stable, well-paid job as an attorney and has both the finances and flexibility to do these things. I find Goff’s spirit infectious and inspiring, but this is not the first time I’ve closed a book like this frustrated, wishing the author would at least acknowledge that their circumstances aren’t universal. I want someone to tell me what it looks like to live that kind of life when you work a regular job making 25k with two weeks of vacation time a year. Because that is reality for most of us.
Freefall to Fly, Rebekah Lyons. I wanted to like this book. I really did. I deeply respect the author’s honesty in talking about her struggle with severe anxiety and panic attacks in the midst of trying to do ministry in a new city and raising young children. My problem was that I just couldn’t really understand what she was saying changed for her. I know this kind of book requires extraordinary vulnerability, but I felt that she talked around her issues rather than naming them directly and this made it very hard for me to understand what it was that changed in her life and brought transformation.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan. This book follows the food chain from one end to the other for four different meals. The industrial food chain which produces the McDonald’s chicken nugget (which, you will learn, is largely composed of corn, rather than chicken). The industrial organic food chain where grass-fed beef and non-chemical fertilizers and pesticides are used to mass-produce organic food for places like Whole Foods. The local organic food chain where all of the food is raised locally using sustainable practices and intentionally not traveling far from where it was produced. And finally a meal from a forager’s food chain where all of the food was personally grown or collected by the consumer. This book was fascinating and enlightening and convicting and will certainly challenge you to think about where you food is coming from and what you are putting into your body from an ethical standpoint more than a health one. I genuinely think this book will impact my food choices in the future. (After Korea of course. Because frankly right now I feel good about myself if I get home from the store with anything resembling what I was looking for).
I’m currently a quarter of the way through The Goldfinch, so look for my quick review of that next month. While visiting home I picked up a few physical books I already owned but had had to leave behind so those are next up for me though I’m not sure what order I’ll read them in yet. Those books include Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer, I am also eagerly awaiting tomorrow’s release of Tana French’s new book, The Secret Place. I am a huge fan of hers.
What I’m Watching:
Besides racing through episodes of Veronica Mars, and (embarrassingly) all of Lipstick Jungle, all that flying meant lots of opportunities to watch movies. Before the trip we saw Guardians of the Galaxy which I enjoyed, but probably not quite as much as my husband who saw it two days in a row. On various planes I saw the Veronica Mars movie, Rio 2, and The Other Woman (Which I mostly slept through). I also re-watched Divergent and part of The Amazing Spiderman 2, and some episodes of Big Bang Theory. In America I went to the movie theater twice, once to see The 100 Foot Journey (which I ADORED – a movie about food, set in France. Recipe for perfection.) And I saw Daniel Radcliffe’s new rom-com What if? which I also loved because it was feel-good, but also quirky and endearing, which are my favorite kinds of light movies. In Bali I was able to buy a copy of the Fault in Our Stars which I watched last night and which resulted in the 3rd of my ugly-cries this month in spite of having read the book and knowing the ending. I loved the book and the movie was a good representation.
What I’m Eating:
Besides the copious amounts of restaurant food we ate in America (Bloomin’ Onion from Outback, Chili’s southwest eggrolls, Chipotle burritos, and an extravagant, delicious steak dinner with my family) we also got to eat some amazing Indonesian food while in Bali.
At home I baked two cakes, one was this lemonade cake that became a favorite of mine a few years ago.
Image from: cookinglight.com Click photo for recipe!
The other was the absolute best carrot cake in the world from my mom’s recipe.
I also had at least 7 different kinds of ice cream. I tried to rank them for you, but it was impossible. So I will just list them. If you have an opportunity to eat any of these, do it!
Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chocolate chip
Graeter’s Coconut Chocolate Chip
Haagen Dazs Caramel Cone
Bluebell Magic Cookie Bar
Bluebell Red Velvet Cake
Bluebell Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Ben and Jerry’s Salted Caramel Core
Are you drooling yet?
You can follow me on Pinterest for other things I’m cooking/eating.
What I’m Writing:
This has been a quiet month on the blog though I did have the opportunity to celebrate the birth of our dear friends Josh and Laura’s daughter, Genevieve, in this post. And I asked for you to share your stories of how the church talks about sex here. I am planning to curate a series of guest posts on this topic, so if you are interested in contributing, please let me know! (lily.e.dunn at gmail.com)
Supposedly, a slightly revised version of my 4 Lies the Church Taught Me About Sex article was reprinted in the newest edition of Relevant’s in-print magazine, though I haven’t actually seen it. But hey, somewhere my name is theoretically in print!
I’m working on an article for Explore God though I’m not sure in what capacity it will be used and I have a few guest posts set up for this fall. By the beginning of August I was beginning to hit a wall with writing, feeling drained and tired and stuck with the projects I was already working on, but I’m hopeful that the combination of time away and the coming fall weather will rejuvenate me.
What I’ve been up to:
Our grand adventure included 5 days visiting my family.
My family at our fancy dinner. Aren’t they really, really ridiculously good-looking?
Five days visiting Jonathan’s family, during which my best friend flew out to Ohio to see us.
I don’t always make this face… but when I do it’s because I’m with Christina.
And an amazing few days in Bali where we got to see some beautiful parts of this glorious world, stay in a gorgeous villa (that was cheaper than a Motel 6), drink coffee that was once civet cat poop, and also hold this monkey.
Entrance to our villa. It was like being a queen.
Sunset at Tanah Lot
Just chllin’ like a villain with our boy Marcus. (I feel certain that’s his name).
We’ll be sure to get a full post with a lot more pictures up soon over at Two Sore Thumbs!