Friday Five: YouTube Funnies

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

I don’t know about you, but I need a laugh after this long week. And nothing makes me laugh like YouTube (other than Daniel Tosh). Here are five of my favorite videos — most of them are old, but still hilarious to me. I managed to find five g-rated hits where no one gets hurt. It’s a YouTube Miracle. Have a laugh on me and enjoy the long, holiday weekend.

5. Go Gata’ — The Best Use of Subtitles Ever

4. Reno 911’s DUI stop

3. MTT and the Missed Cue (probably only funny to musicians or NWS staff)

2. Puppies + Mirrors = Best Thing Ever

1. Two Words = Grape. Stomp. #forevermyfav

Also, many thanks to everyone who has reached out with support and condolences after this week’s tragedy. Both Joe and I appreciate it very much.



# sudden

Written Tuesday, August 27:

I was going to blog this week about hair dye. About reluctantly turning older and dragging my feet in my family’s footsteps by turning grey in my 30s. Yesterday I looked at the box of Clariol sitting on my bathroom’s windowsill and imagined all the things I could say about it – all light and witty. Laughing at myself and the misfortunes of my aging silvery threads.

And then I woke up this morning to the sound of my name. It’s in these moments that you realize how little your spouse actually says your name. How foreign and urgent is sounds compared to the slew of nicknames and terms of endearment normally in its place. There was an edge to his voice that made my eyes shoot open, knowing I was not going to like what was coming next. But there’s no way I could have prepared for what it was.

Last night one of his band students was killed in a horrible accident on campus, the details of which you can read here. The weight of that moment will live with me a long time. It felt like all of the air had left the room and we just sat there in bed, glassy-eyed, saying “ohmygod” over and over and over. It didn’t seem real.

We immediately pulled out a computer to connect with other faculty and find out any other details not mentioned in the email. And there was a doozy. The report released the time of the 911 call…and it was right after the end of Joe’s band rehearsal. His trumpet case in hand as he came down the hill. The thought of it brings me to my knees. And it was the first day of school. A day normally filled with such joy and promise, marred by such a senseless tragedy. It makes my heart break.

USU was incredible by quickly putting together a memorial service this afternoon for grieving students and faculty to join with Eric’s family (including 6 of his 7 siblings) to share stories and sadness. It was so needed for everyone still reeling in shock.

There were many wonderful things said by the USU faculty, Joe included, but what was so powerful to me was hearing from his father, brothers and sister. Less than 24 hours after losing their beloved son and brother, they were standing in front of an auditorium full of people thanking them for being Eric’s family away from home and comforting us…US!…with their faith. I was floored. Their raw strength and love for one another was so palpable.

The band is honoring Eric by leaving his spot open on the field for the season. They’ve also given his parents his uniform. Such sweet reminders of the incredible loss to the program and the student body. Thursday is their first game and the band’s performance will be preceded by a moment of silence and a dedication to Eric. The students will also be wearing ribbons on their uniform. I wish I could be there, but I’ll be watching from home and thinking about this young man and the legacy he’s leaving behind in the hearts of his family and friends.

Eric Anderson

So, I won’t be blogging about my hair. I won’t be complaining about growing older. The grey only means one thing: life. A life lived. A life enjoyed. And I realize now just how precious that really is.

Please be thinking of Eric’s family and friends, Joe and all of the kids in the band, and the young men slacklining that day who I’m sure are overcome with their own grief and guilt. There are many articles about the accident online, but this one has great photos and speaks with his friends and fellow band-mates. Rest in peace, Eric.

# band camp 2013

Band Camp7

Exciting news from Utah: We have survived Band Camp 2013! No matter where we live, this week is, and always will be, one of the most stressful of the entire year – just the nature of the job. The days start around 6 and end around 9, and then Joe comes home and stays up all night writing drill for them to learn the next day. It makes for a long week, but luckily Joe had younger brother Lee here to help. They make up one half of The Brothers Falvey, but they pack a powerful punch as a teaching team.

The Brothers Falvey

Lee was our Best Man three years ago, when he proved there’s at least two Falveys who can put up with a manic Marci under stress. 🙂 He’s the Boomer to my Sooner and such a funny, sweet guy. Here’s Lee doing his thing…

Band Camp11

…and here’s Lee being, well…Lee.

Band Camp10

I love to hear Joe called Dr. Falvey. I’m not sure when I’ll get used to it, but it hasn’t happened in three years.

Band Camp3

Band Camp14

You can finally see the mountains!

Band Camp13

For the most part they had gorgeous weather–it can be so beautiful here. Just incredible.

Band Camp12

Band Camp8

Band Camp2

Until the last few days of the camp when we had some serious rain showers.

Band Camp15

The best breaks are those spent resting in the grass.

Band Camp1

This is pretty  much what every night looked like at our place. Exhaustion, backpacks and puppy cuddles all around.

Band Camp16

Come back soon, Lee! We loved having you here and insist you visit again so we can show you more of Utah than the band field and our house! #Boomer #Ripcord #WeLoveYou

Band Camp4

Friday Five: Movies That Make Me Cry

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

I’ve already established myself as a moviephile and I’ve been known to cry a time or two at Hollywood’s best. Usually it’s just a stray tear here or there, but I do have a list of movies that bring me to my knees, that sock me right in the emotional gut, that tug my heartstrings with a ball and chain. And these are them. It’s no coincidence that these movies all have incredibly powerful scores – they could probably make me tear up all on my own. Here are the top five movies that release the waterworks. (And, for the record, I cried each time I watched these movie clips.)

5. Julie & Julia

I love me some Nora Ephron. Really any of her movies could make me tear up, but these are all “Bliss Tears,” not “My-Heart-Was-Ripped-Out Tears.” Very different. You’ve Got Mail? Sleepless in Seattle? When Harry Met Sally? All charming. Nora was the true sweetheart behind Meg Ryan. I mean, one of the best movie lines ever has to be “I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” I love that scene…but it’s not the movie that made the list!

I think “Julie & Julia” was Nora’s last film. (I’m too lazy to Google this right now.) And to me it is her best. This opinion may have something to do with my love affair with Julia Child, or the fact that it’s a true story, or because it’s a movie that didn’t slaughter its original book which I also loved. I think it’s sublime. My favorite, tear-jerker scene was nowhere to be found on YouTube. It’s where Julia finds out she’s getting published – after all the humiliation and defeats, she realizes she’s made it. And, my god, does Meryl Streep nail this scene. It’s beautiful. Here’s another winner:

4. Steel Magnolias

Another winner. Another movie that I’d stop everything to watch, even though I’ve seen it a million times. (Same could be said for #5’s J&J.) This movie has one of the best casts of all time and really portrays the beautiful relationships women can have with one another. The laugher, the support, the tears, the love – all the best parts of friendships captured in one gem of a film. This scene will forever shred my heart into a million pieces. You’re spot on, Sally, as per usual.

3. Million Dollar Baby

When Joe and I lived in China, we watched several movies a day. Without spelling out all of my illegal activities overseas, I’ll just say they were cheap and plentiful. This movie was one of them. It marks the first time Joe saw me “ugly cry.” I just couldn’t stop choking on tears after we watched this. And I haven’t been able to watch it since. This clip is a major spoiler alert, so don’t watch it unless you already know what happens and have ugly cried yourself to sleep.

2. Titanic

This one seems a bit cliché, I’ll hand it to you, but it still makes the cut. I saw this in the theater in high school and, yes, I knew what was going to happen…I knew that no happy ending was coming out of this 3+ hour film. But who wasn’t moved by watching that ship sink? To know that this. actually. happened. Families were ripped apart in the middle of nowhere, in the dark and cold. The screaming, the panic, the destruction. And, to top it all off, Rose loses Jack. It was all too much for my fragile 15-year-old heart to handle. Okay, it’s still too much for me to handle. Don’t make me watch it again!

1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button / Forrest Gump

Surprise! You get a bonus movie in the list. Actually, you don’t. These are actually the same film.

Mr. Button and his Curious Case was curiously surprising to me. I am not a fan of Brad Pitt and have seen very, very few of his movies. (Maaaybe just Thelma and Louise and Mr. and Mrs. Smith??) So I had prepared myself to hate this film. But there I was, wrapped in a ball on my couch, crying so hard I had to hit pause because I couldn’t keep up. It’s the only film that Joe’s stopped and asked me if I was okay. No, I wasn’t, but we made it through – a little saltier and puffier for wear. I can’t even remember a specific scene that did it…and I won’t be watching it again to refresh my memory tear ducts.

And then there was Forrest. This movie makes me want to wrap Tom Hanks up in a blanket and hold him. His performance just makes my heart teeter totter between pure joy and heartbreak. And, this scene? Forgetaboutit. I’m a goner.

What scenes/movies/film scores make you fall apart? #behonest

# facetime fun

Today was the last day of summer for my niece Lily and, while we “Facetimies” all the time, we do a special Summer-Send-Off session before she goes back to school. It’s tradition. This girl made me “Aunt NoNo” five years ago and it baffles me that she’ll start kindergarten tomorrow. Today she met her new teacher and I thought that’s what she wanted to tell me about, but she had other plans. Here’s a glimpse of today’s conversation with my favorite girl. (These quotes have not been altered to protect the innocent.)

Lily header

Hi, NoNo, want to put on these glasses and look at my sharks?


Can you see?


Andguesswhat? This is my remote. Wanna watch a (pretend) video about my new teacher?


Let’s watch it.




Hi, NoNo.


Guess what? My new teacher has FIVE cats…


…andguesswhat? ONE pig. Named Otis Steven.


Okay, now pretend you’re asleep.


Now, wake up and act surprised!




Andguesswhat? I have a fourth wiggly tooth! Can you see it?


Can you?


*sigh* I can’t wait to be a big sister. (Baby Boy arriving November 2013!)


Oh, NoNo…


Andguesswhat? Wanna come to my room and watch Love It or List It?? (Blair Witch Facetime now commencing)


Okay, let’s turn it on. Sissy with the Wings is the TV. Designer Hilary tries to make them love it, but David tries to make them list it. “List it” means they sell it. “Love it” means it’s their house. (Hahahahah! Turn off the HGTV, Booh!)


Andguesswhat? My Momma said it’s time for lunch. Want to watch me eat?!?!


Here’s some blue jello I made with my Daddy.


Now, tell me about your adventures, NoNo. I’d love to hear them. (She sounds just like Booh.)


**insert tales of Utah, mountains and skiing** Maybe I’ll ski with Daddy and Mikey Joe and you and Momma can stay inside and drink hot chocolate. (She’s on to something here.)


Momma: NoNo has to go, tell her you love her very much.
Lily: Bye.


Oh, Lily. I hope you have a great first day of Kindergarten tomorrow. …andguesswhat?… I love you very, very much.

# high-altitude baking and a coconut cake


Bam! Finito! My first high-altitude baking adventure is in the bag…and much to my surprise, it wasn’t a complete failure. I did my fair share of research on the subject since we are now a whopping 4,500+ feet higher above sea level than our last home. That has to make a difference, right?

Seems like this lower air pressure that gave me such fits upon arrival, also gives baked goods the same fits. (I’m glad we’re in on this together.) There’s a myriad of things you can do to counteract the difference, like…decrease the leavening, increase the flour, decrease the sugar, increase the liquids, increase the baking temperature, decreasing the baking time….are you still with me? As I was reading this, I started wondering if all my cookbooks were going to have margins filled with changes and notes. It made me sad. I just wanted to bake and not think about or stress over it any more than already required.

Since Joe’s birthday was the week we arrived in Utah and my baking pans were being cracked and man-handled on a moving truck, it has taken me this long to accept the challenge. Per tradition, I let him pick the cake and he chose a beautiful coconut cake from Joanne Chang’s Flour cookbook. This thing has never let me down, so now it was my turn to impress her. I knew that if this didn’t work, it was all on me. And somehow, that was comforting.

After speaking with a few of Joe’s new colleagues that also love to bake, they suggested first just turning up the oven an additional 15 degrees and cooking it for a little less. Doing so “sets” the cake or cookies before they have a chance to go out of control. Works for me. Aren’t you only supposed to change one variable at a time when conducting an experiment anyway?


So, I did just that. I upped the oven temp and shortened the cooking time by 5-7ish minutes and it looked (and smelled fine). I should also mention that I added an extra egg white to the batter, which was another suggestion I found in my research. It already had 6 in there, so what’s one more?


I’m no expert baker (or trimmer), so don’t let this domed snowball-esque mass fool you. It tastes great. I’m more of a cream cheese frosting girl, but this light buttercream probably pairs best with the light coconut cake. I usually just end up scraping most of the frosting off anyway. #cakeconfessions


Keeping with another tradition, I topped Joe’s piece with our Bavarian Inn friends and, because my niece said so this morning, I had to toss on a few sprinkles. Apparently, it’s never a birthday cake without sprinkles. I couldn’t have it be unofficial after all that work.


And then he was 33.


Happy (baking-belated) birthday, sweetheart. Thanks for always extending my comfort zone—whether it be baking, or moving across the globe. Turns out my comfort zone is wherever you are. (And you thought this post couldn’t get any sweeter?!)


White Coconut Cake with Coconut Frosting

From: Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe
Serves 8 to 10

2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into two-inch pieces
6 egg whites
1 cup coconut milk*
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1 ½ cups sugar
6 egg whites
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into two-inch pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
⅔ cup coconut milk*

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, placing the rack in the center. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans, or line them with parchment paper.

Sift the cake flour into a large bowl or the bowl of a heavy stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar, baking powder and salt. Combine for a few seconds, setting the mixer speed on low. Add the butter and beat for about 1 minute, until coarse and crumbly.

Combine the egg whites, coconut milk and 1 cup shredded coconut in a medium bowl. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into this mixture.

Add half of the coconut milk mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium-high until combined, about a minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining wet ingredients at beat for 30 seconds, until the batter is light and fluffy. Divide between the prepared cake pans.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the tops are firm and golden. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans on a wire rack.

To make the frosting: Whisk the sugar and egg whites together in a small heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water (the bowl should NOT touch the water) and whisk for 6-8 minutes, until hot to the touch. The sugar will melt, thinning the mixture.

Remove the bowl from the heat and scrape the contents into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whip attachment, set the speed to medium-high and whip for 6-8 minutes, until a light color and cool to the touch. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter a few chunks at a time. Turn the speed up to medium and mix until completely incorporated, about 4-5 minutes. The frosting will look curdled at first, but keep whipping — it will come together.

Add vanilla extract, salt and coconut milk to the frosting and whip another 1-2 minutes; the frosting should be smooth. Use the frosting within 30 minutes or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, though it must be beaten until smooth before using. It can also be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature and beat with the stand mixer using the paddle attachment until smooth before using.

Remove the cakes from their pans and level the top of each cake with a serrated knife. Place one cake layer onto a cake plate or pedestal. Put 2 cups of frosting on top and spread it evenly to the edges using an offset spatula. Place the second layer top-side down on top of the first. Smooth about 1 cup of frosting on top and down the sides of the cake. Refrigerate for 20 minutes (this sets the crumb coat).

Beat the remaining frosting with a spoon to keep it creamy. Spoon it on the cake, spreading it on the top and sides. Press the remaining shredded coconut (1 cup) onto the top and sides of the cake.

The cake can be stored in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 3 days.
*Note: Coconut Milk commonly comes in a 13.5 oz. or 14 oz. container. Either size yields enough for both the cake and the frosting. And, make sure you don’t by the Coconut Milk for beverages! I find mine on the international aisle at the grocery store.*

Friday Five: Back to School

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

And, here we are again…back at Friday. This is exactly why I needed a weekly post on my plate, to ensure I at least write something every week. That’s how the black hole of blogging starts, my friends. Skipping a week here and there leads to dusty, untouched blogs clogging the interwebs. I should know…I have two of them. I realize my weeks won’t all be multiple-post packed, but the good news is that it’s about to get more busy. And more busy = more posts. At least, one can hope. Coming up this week? Band Camp! Our First Visitor! Baking! (Because three people eating a cake will always be better than two.)

I want these Friday Fives to be both random and timely. What better subject for today than Back to School? I did, after all, just survive a Wal-Mart trip yesterday afternoon during the school supply running of the bulls. I’d love to do a list of my five worst school photos, because there are some doozies in the mix, but that will require some digging. I’m instead going with teachers. Teachers to which I owe a lot…teachers I’d love to see again. Teachers are about as special as they get. Despite coming from a family full of them (and being married to a great one), I was not blessed with the teaching gene so I appreciate them that much more. Here are the teachers that rocked (and shaped) my world.

5. Cheryl Coll-Gallup: 10th Grade Math/Calculus

I would thank Mrs. Coll for being one tough cookie. Everyone in our class enjoyed and respected her—not an easy feat when teaching high school. The greatest lesson I learned from her was to never just memorize math’s laws/theories/equations. Always know the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of any situation and you’ll never worry about your memory drawing a blank. Seems pretty simple, but it was sound advice that took me well beyond her classroom.

4. Tanda Roden: 8th Grade English

Everyone probably has one of those crazy teachers imprinted in their memory forever. Well, this is mine. Here are some of the highlights I remember from this class: dressing up like Jackie Kennedy with way too much black eye shadow for book reports, making a paper-mached boy behind barbed wire and playing the theme from Schindler’s List on my violin for the entire school while studying the Holocaust, and how she self-admittedly graded our papers while drinking copious amounts of wine resulting in unreadable, slurred suggestions scrawled across the pages. I most remember doing ridiculous drills through the entire SAT word list. I’m 100% sure she’s responsible for 75% of my current vocabulary.

3. Bob Early/Ted Bachmann/Alton Royer: Band

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention those that first put a horn in my hands. Bob, Ted and Alton were incredible influences on me as a person and a budding musician. I know I’m lucky to have had five years of their guidance and about, oh, almost 20 years of their support and friendship. They have sculpted many a life across Oklahoma (and Texas & Louisiana) and I’m so glad I was one of them.

2. Ginger Sadler: 4th Grade

Between two school districts and two degrees, I’ve had a lot of teachers to consider for this list, and none of them had the transformative power of this lady. Somehow she took 20-something kids with not a lot in common and turned us into each other’s best friends. That classroom became a family and we had some of the craziest adventures…like when she built a plane out of plastic in the school library for us to board. She was a godly woman who used her faith to inspire us as she championed creativity, individuality and demanded we reach higher than we ever thought we could. It all left a tremendous mark on me. Her love and support of us knew no bounds and we all felt it and loved her for it, too.

1. Peter Landgren: Horn

And then there is Peter. There will always be Peter. I can’t imagine what my life would look like as a person or as a musician had I not studied with Peter in college. There are a lot of great horn teachers out there, but Peter invested in us wholeheartedly. He cared about my studies, my family and my thoughts as much as what scales, etudes and excerpts I had prepared. I needed that and he knew it. He continues to be an amazing friend and mentor (and now the Dean of CCM!), but I’m thankful for our time in little Studio 407 and how he made me love life, laughter and horn more than I ever dreamed possible.

# veggies are your friend

Well, Sean and Wallis are gone now – back in Ohio safe and sound – and I’ve been thinking about how wonderful it was to spend 6 weeks with some of our best friends.  It was truly special in every sense and we bonded over the things we normally bond over: good food, humor, dogs, craziness. But, this time we bonded over something else. Are you ready for this? Plant. Based. Eating.

After rooming with a “flexitarian” and hanging around a “vegetarian,” they decided to try it for themselves. It was awesome – I have never really been around someone starting it for the first time (other than myself) and I enjoyed watching them experience the high that is eating plants around the clock.

As a veg head, I’ve done my research. I know that plant-based eating is really good for you, but I’m not one to shove my lifestyle down anyone’s throat. “Everyone gets to choose,” as my momma always says. It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been vegetarian for almost six years.  !!  Wallis couldn’t believe it at first. “You haven’t had a cheeseburger in 6 years?!”  Well, no. Not one made from meat, at least.

In the beginning (and maybe I’ll write a post about that time), I gave myself two weeks. Two weeks of no pressure, no meat…a “let’s just see how it feels” period to experiment and I. Loved. It. I felt better, slept better, lost weight, had so much more energy. *Results may vary*  I still have never said the word ‘for-ev-er’ when it comes to not eating meat, but I haven’t felt any urges to go back, either.

A few weeks ago Sean showed me and Joe the documentary Forks Over Knives. It followed patients that were battling diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure that were prescribed a vegan diet. It was eye-opening amazing – their symptoms, their numbers, their red lines on the charts all decreased in a matter of months. (Spoiler Alert!)  To the point they were no longer taking pills everyday just to live. I highly recommend watching it – we found it on Netflix, but I’m sure it’s also on iTunes. Here’s the trailer:

Again, this blog is not a judgment zone of any kind. But I know there are people close to me battling these issues right now and, as a total foodie, I’m proof that good eats don’t have to include any meats.

Feel like giving it a spin?  Here’s what we had for dinner tonight. Try it sometime!

Cilantro Pesto and White Bean Quesadilla

*Adapted from The Grit Restaurant Cookbook

Handful of cilantro (they call for “the leaves of 12 cilantro stems” – ain’t nobody got time for that)
½ c. walnuts, chopped and toasted
½ c. parmesan cheese
a couple cloves of garlic (to taste), grated
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
1 (15.5 oz.) can white beans, drained and rinsed
butter or vegetable oil (or neither, if you have a non-stick pan)
4 large whole wheat tortillas
3-4 c. white cheddar cheese, shredded (we prefer queso fresco, crumbled)
your favorite salsa/sour cream/guacamole/pico de gallo

In a food processor, combine the cilantro, walnuts, parmesan cheese, garlic and black pepper. Pulse to combine. Slowly add just enough olive oil while motor is running to make a thick paste. Puree until smooth. In a medium mixing bowl, gently combine the pesto with the beans.

Place a skillet (lightly coated with oil or butter if not non-stick) over medium-high heat and lay a tortilla inside. Cover with a handful of cheese and a layer of ¼ the pesto and bean mixture. When cheese begins to melt, fold the tortilla in half. Brown each side as desired. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Serve with salsa, sour cream, guac…whatever favorite non-meat (ha) toppers you have in your arsenal.

Maybe serve a little Mexican Coleslaw on the side?  Yum.

I’m proud of you, Sean & Wallis, and look forward to sharing this adventure with you. Anyone else feel like trying it out?

# wallis’ photo fun

Yesterday Wallis and I headed up to USU to experiment with some headshots — basically my friends are kind enough to let me practice my photography on them. She’s incredibly patient with me as I figure out everything and also incredibly beautiful so I had to share some of my favorite shots of the day.

Wallis headshot 1

Wallis headshot 2

Wallis headshot 4

Wallis headshot 5

Wallis headshot 6

Wallis headshot 3

Gorgeous girl! Thanks, RT, for the fun photoshoot! …can’t believe you & Sean leave tomorrow morning…. 😦

Shelf Life: Summer Reading

Summer to me equals books. Maybe it’s the schoolgirl in me, or the musician/non-profiter in me, but it’s the time when I get to read for myself. Doing so “during season” was never really possible, but come May? Bam! I have a book in my hand, and usually a new one every week, devouring the stack of must-reads that had accumulated on my bedside table.

This summer has been different for many reasons….most of my time was spent packing, unpacking, driving cross-country, exploring Utah with Joe or spending time with Sean and Wallis. Also, I noticed that I’ve spent more time outside than ever before. Probably because I’m used to 100+ degree, humid summer days that were never, and never will be, appealing. Here I didn’t mind sitting outside for hours, or spending an afternoon hiking.

So, those are the ways I’m justifying the ridiculously short list that is my summer reading. Summer, after all, is about to be over. And, my guess is that once this Utah winter hits….in a few weeks…that I’ll be spending my days and nights under a blanket with a book or two…or twenty.

Here’s what I’ve read this summer:

5. Game of Thrones Book Three: A Storm of Swords. George R. R. Martin

Granted, this 1200+ page tome should really count as at least three books. I had been waiting to find time to read this all throughout the season. Once that last performance hit, I sat down and read the entire thing before packing one box. Totally worth it.

4. Dad is Fat, Jim Gaffigan

It’s not my typical M.O. when it comes to book choices, but I do love certain comedians and Jim Gaffigan is one of them. This ended up being a really quick read that made me laugh during days I wanted to throw cardboard boxes and tape guns out the window. A must for any new parent, but enjoyable to those that aren’t.

3. And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini

You might know the name Khaled Hosseini from The Kite Runner, but what you may have missed was his incredible, incredible A Thousand Splendid Suns. It’s one of my top five books ever, so I was on pins and needles for his new book to come out. And, it was glorious. By far the best book I’ve read in a long time. There is something so beautiful and personal about his writing style that I can’t get enough of. The best part? This story deals with generations of family and friends, which is my favorite kind of story. (Also the reason I’m obsessed with One Thousand Years of Solitude and East of Eden — two others in my top five.) If this list inspires you at all, let it be to read this book.

2. Inferno, Dan Brown

A few years ago I got drunk on the Dan Brown kool-aid. I was stunned by The Da Vinci Code and knew that on some level this guy was a game-changer. (Much like John Grisham with his The Firm.) So, I kept reading Brown. I read his earlier stuff and I hung on through The Lost Symbol, even though it was by a thread. I think Dan just needed to stick with Europe, though, because Inferno was great. A little predictable after reading all of his other stuff, but good nonetheless. The guy knows how to make you turn a page.

1. Cookbooks / Photography books

I’ve been spending a lot of my free time studying up with King Arthur on my new altitude and how it’s going to affect the cakes, cupcakes, breads and cookies I like to bake. I’ve also been learning more about my camera, Photoshop and Illustrator, thanks to Scott Kelby.

I should really do a list of books I want to read, but there are a lot more than five of them. Here’s a sampling of what’s on my hardcover horizon:

Gillian Flynn. Have you read Gone Girl yet? AH-mazing. True genius. I can’t wait to read her Sharp Objects and Dark Places.
Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life
Charles’ Duhigg’s The Power of Habit
John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars
Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings
J.K. Rowling’s The Cuckoo’s Calling (She’s gets one…ONE…more chance after The Casual Vacancy.)
Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (I know, I know. How can I not have read this yet? I’m virtually hanging my head in shame.)

What are you reading? Any recommendations? Anyone read the Divergent series? I do have 7-8 months of winter to fill. Let’s fill ’em up with good reads.