Friday, July 31, 2015

A Month in Reviews -- June and July

Merrifield Garden Center
Last month, instead of a typical monthly wrap up, I discussed the books in my life over the first half of 2015. But I missed my monthly update due to this (and the holiday) so here we are, the end of July, and I'm going to throw a bunch of links at you covering the past two months. 

What's been going on? A lot!

June was a quick month for me. After returning from my late-May vacation, I had to get back into the swing of things and before I knew it, I was reaching the end of the month and with it a two week telework schedule for my job. Aside from these two weeks that I worked from home, I managed to come down with a horrible two week cold to go with it, followed by a four day vacation in the name of patriotism and my birthday. Still, the two weeks I was able to work at home were probably the most restful two weeks of my work career. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself!

The beginning of June we spent plenty of time outside. A local garden center was a hot spot for the beau and I as we filled up our tiny garden and created an herb garden for our porch. If you're ever in Northern Virginia and like flowers, I would highly suggest you visit the Merrifield Garden Center. Rumor has it that their Christmas displays are awesome and I hope to check that out in the next few months as well. It's just such a pleasant place to go (I should just write a Wanderlust Wednesday about this place!) We even took my parents there for a visit while they visited for a long weekend.

World War II Memorial

We also made a trip out to Washington, DC to show my parents many of the monuments they never had the opportunity to see. This was an important trip for me as both of my parents have ties to the war memorials on the mall. My father's dad fought in the Korean War and he has many friends who fought in Vietnam. My mother's father and all of his brothers fought in World War II (this being one of the newest memorials on the mall). It was important to see this memorial particularly since my grandfather passed only a few years ago and we still miss him so very much. 

It was a hot day and we were sunburnt to the extreme, but it was still lovely. The beau and I also cooked for my parents and his: a pork roast covered in an herb rub (fresh from our garden)! It turned out delicious and was well worth the effort.

It was so exciting to have my parents here. They live in Pennsylvania and do not often come to Virginia but having them here was lovely. It also gave us the opportunity to put our guest bedroom to use for the first time. Luckily, we have plans to fill that room up with guest many more times this summer. Hosting can certainly be fun! (Particularly if it means we get to spend money on extra flowers for the house -- I love filling the house up with flowers!)

Love Won during June as well. As an LGBT ally, I was so thrilled and am still joyful over the news. Already we have a couple wonderful weddings to look forward to in the future. June was just such a happy month, filled with love for all and I'm so proud of my country for this (finally).

Love wins!

June also was the month for storms (but July seemed to be as well). Typically, Virginia is filled with humidity and heat during the summer. The sun beats down on everything, making it wilt and die. I kind of hate it. All winter I look forward to warmer weather where I can go outside to take walks, hike in the woods, or any other various activities. Then spring arrives and we have a few weeks of perfect weather before suddenly, bam, there's the summer heat and we have to hide indoors. But this year has been particularly soggy. We've always had good thunderstorms roll in here or there but never anything too extreme. June, however, presented us with a number of heavy storms and even a tornado warning. 

That was just fun in a bun, let me tell you.

But then we were catapulted into July. My birthday month and that start of "my favorite holidays of the year." I love the Fourth of July. As a child, the Fourth of July meant parades, BBQs with my neighbors, slip and slides and sprinklers, and fireworks at night. It also usually meant birthday cakes and presents as my birthday is just after the Fourth. I loved preparing for the holiday and now, as an adult, I still enjoy it. I always have to do something for the Fourth, as annoying as that is to those around me who do not have the same level of joy for the holiday as I do. In the past I've attended the Capital Fourth festivities on the lawn of the Capitol. Last year, I went to Colonial Williamsburg. This year... it rained. But I was lucky enough to go to Old Town Manassas and see their firework show. I was blown away (pun not intended). It was a great firework show for such a small town and I hope to go back next year. It's a lot more manageable and less annoying than going into DC. 

The weekend was a long one for me because I fully believe in taking time off for your birthday. It was the best decision, I haven't had that relaxing of a day in ages. But prior to my birthday, we roadtriped for the day and visited various small towns in Northern Virginia: The Plains, Middlesburg, and Leesburg. I love small, historic towns and going to little shops. I love doing this at just about any time of the year and find it to be a really fun way to spend a Saturday or Sunday. We had a lot of great food that day as well and even had time to go home for a nap before dinner. 

July was both busy and lazy. The first half of it was lazy, at the very least, with some time off and a chance to relax. I could have filled those days with activities but I was vying for a break because I knew once mid-July hit, things were going to get crazy.

We went on bookstore dates and I worked on a quilt that I was giving to friends as a gift. Fabric stores were a friend as I visited them repeatedly for more and more fabric. A friend also surprised me with an awesome messenger bag that she had made herself! Later on in the month, I sat down and put together a messy skirt for a woodland fairy outfit that I hope to wear when I go to the Pennsylvania Ren Faire this summer.

But I wanted this, the weekends and weekday nights that were lazy and all that I had to do was make dinner or read. I did both and I enjoyed each moment.

Why was I so desiring of time off? Because on July 13 I began graduate school. Having taken courses before toward a copyediting certification, I knew how little free time I would have and I expected it would be even more hectic since this is graduate school, right? At the beginning of class I struggled to find a balance with all of the different things that were vying for my attention. School, work, personal matters were all clambering for attention and I felt a little lost.

Being granted a third day to telework helped a lot and I began to ease into a more consistent schedule as the month came to a close. We also took an impromptu trip to Pennsylvania to help celebrate a new home and surprise my parents for an early birthday present!

Book Reviews:

So many book reviews in two months!
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
Poetry of Lang Leav
Shadows on My Heart by Lucy Rebecca Buck
Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Paper Towns by John Green
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Other Posts:

Big Basin State Park in California
Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia
Six Months of Books
Anney's Book Nook

And I have a NEW Tumblr that you should give a look/follow.

Must Reads from the Web:

Build the ultimate reading chair with a built-in bookcase
My friend published a book! Check it out!
A Rare Look at Shakespeare's First Edition at DC's Folger's Library
In reference to fans of YA literature and authors
The man who builds up private libraries -- book by rare book
11 Ways to make your rainbow bookshelf look extra-gorgeous to celebrate pride
Biloxi teachers transform old lockers into literary work of art
26 literary landmarks in America to visit before you die
Thoreau, the First Decluterer
Book Lovers on Instagram vs. Reality
First Chapter of Go Set a Watchman
Boy Who Couldn’t Afford Books Asks Mailman For Junk Mail To Read; Mailman Responds Spectacularly
Bakers Around the World Celebrated JK Rowling's Birthday With Incredible "Harry Potter" Cakes

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