One Week

It’s been one week since I left the office for the last time.  So many emotions and so much fun has been had over the past seven days.  It’s not that I’m not sad to move on or anything like that, but I choose to embrace the madness and the excitement of moving forward. That isn’t to say I don’t have tough moments, but by and large I’m feeling good!  I started my first week off with a brilliant session at the salon with my girl Daniela and Jenja.  Nothing makes a girl feel better than a fresh hair cut and a nice brow wax.

During the intervening days, I had the occasion to meet several former colleagues and friends for lunch and drinks.   A fantastic time was had by all.  As an aside, I went to Farmer’s Table for the first time for lunch.  The food and service were absolutely brilliant.  Fortunately, Farmer’s Table’s menu had several amazing gluten free options.   I quite enjoyed the spasta with meatballs – spaghetti squash with marinara and chicken meatballs.  It was absolutely amazing.  I can’t wait to go back.  The next day, I had an amazing meal at Taverna Trela in Delray.  This meal was equally amazing.  I thoroughly enjoyed my steak, mushroom and onion rice bowl.   Another menu with some great gluten free options.  I look forward to going back there as well.

gLW1QJLwQ5Kq4uXg8lcCXQ

Friday also brought a doctor’s appointment, where my doctor noted how much happier and relaxed I looked.  My blood pressure was pretty freaking phenomenal too.  They see me all the time there on account of the regular bloodwork I need to get down for the thyroid, so it was encouraging they noted the change.  It was also encouraging that my thyroid is starting to approach the normal range!  Yes – victory is in site my friends.

pjnYQqk+QfCGq47TvFX1%w

The weekend brought happy hours, another massage and some mini golf.  I thoroughly enjoyed my blueberry martinis at Burt & Max’s.  The lettuce wraps were pretty freaking good too.   Of course, the Chipotle at the end of the night was pretty good.  Admittedly, it was the first time I’ve had Chipotle in years.  I enjoyed the steak tacos on a hard shell.  It brought back memories of driving across the University of Minnesota on game nights to get to the only Chipotle close to our house because it was the best thing since sliced bread. Now that Chipotle is on every corner and they’ve had a couple e-coli scares, the novelty has worn off a bit.

Sunday night we hit the mini golf course with J&M2 also known as Jake and Mel.  .  Even though we went in the evening, it was still hot as hades on the course.  By the time we finished, I felt like I had been sitting in the sauna for an hour in my jeans.  Fortunately, the club house had the same temperature as the Baltic Sea.  In 5 seconds flat, I went from near heat stroke to hyperthermia.   If I’m being honest, mini golf isn’t my sport, but we had a blast.  I’m also declaring victory having ended a mere 13 above par.  Over previous efforts, this represented a serious improvement in performance

Meanwhile in Minnesota, the boys are living their best lives with their cousins.  They’re having a blast hanging out with their cousins and chilling on the boat with their Uncle J.  The Mayor loves tubing with his cousins, while Goalielocks is enjoying fishing the Minnesota lakes.  He caught a nice sized large mouth bass on Lake Minnetonka Sunday.  Last week, their cousin X and his soccer team were playing in the USA Cup in Blaine.  Needless to say, given the heat indices in Minny last week, I’m thrilled my boys play hockey.  I’ll never be sitting by a sideline in an 115 head index.  Suffice to say, if you asked the boys, they would tell you there’s no better passage of summer than one spent in Minnesota.

Goalielocks is also enjoying lessons with his former goalie coach from the Hawks, Coach Ryan, who is now coaching with MEGA Goaltending in Minnesota.  It’s fun for the boys to reconnect with Coach Ryan and to get back on the ice.  Since Goalielocks went on a growth spurt, we’ll need to buy him a full set of gear upon his return to Florida.  Oh the expensive joys of the hockey mom life.

Today is my father’s 66th birthday please join me in wishing him the happiest of birthdays!

Advertisements

Transitions

Life is full of transitions, but when you’re a parent of teens they seem to come non-stop.  The youngest two seemingly look, sound and appear older each and everyday.  I can’t wait to see how much they’ve grown since heading to Minnesota earlier this month.  They won’t be back in town until right before school starts in early August.  Yeah, early August.  I know what you’re thinking (and you’re right) Palm Beach County Schools start schools entirely too early.  Each day I call to speak to the boys, their voices seem to have shifted another octave lower.  I’ve resorted to asking discrete identifying questions to ensure I know which one I’m talking to on the phone.

The Boys
Now and Then: 2012 and 2019

5F0F4803-D358-4800-9FCD-0ADB83CA40A1.jpg

Meanwhile, Jake is deep in preparations to join the Air Force.  We met with the recruiter as a family late June to discuss the Air Force as a possibility.  Consequently, we’re pretty excited for Jake and the future the Air Force will bring him.  As a mom, it’s brought many mixed emotions as I’m excited that he’s got a solid road map for his future.  On the other hand, my boy is leaving the nest for good and joining the military (a bit scary.)   All in all, this fall promises to bring a major transition.

390DbTxZRGq78dYePA0hig.jpg

Today marks the start of new beginnings as I close out my ten year career at KHE.  It is with mixed emotions that I move forward.  I will miss the work family that I have cultivated over the last ten years, but am very excited for what the future holds.  To all of my colleagues both current and former, thank you!  To keep in touch, hit the follow button on the blog. After all, everything maybe changing, but relationships don’t have to change.

IMG_1328.JPG

Given this week’s transitions, I’ll be fundraising much more aggressively for the Mayor’s trip to Europe next summer.   You can find the link to donate here: fundraising link

Memorial Day 5k

Better late than never, last Monday Jake, the Mayor and I ran the Memorial Day 5k.   This was my third race since being cleared to work out again.  Although I’m not sure my doctor will be thrilled when I tell her about it Tuesday, but we shall see. She did after all give me the clearance to exercise…

Race morning, I was filled with the usual pangs of regret as my alarm went off last Monday for the Memorial Day 5k.  After all it was 5:05 am and usually I’d get up, take my Synthroid and go back to bed for another hour or two before finally crawling out of bed. Meanwhile the bookends and I headed to Boca by 5:45 am to get our run on.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, this run started at 7:00 am, which sounds early, but is the only way to beat the South Florida heat.

mUq+wqXaThO0Kg73cCR7LQ

The run itself went really well.  Fortunately, there were no bridges to contend with like in the Mamacita Mimoas 5k two weeks ago.  The Mayor went out guns blazing, which is never a recipe for success when running distance.   We ended up running together for the first two miles before I ended up pulling away.  I was thrilled that I was able to complete mile 1 in less than 10 minutes.   It felt like a huge accomplishment.

IMG_0934

Mile two was slower, but not by too much.  It was difficult and the water stations kind of through of my mojo a bit.  They had stations every half a mile, which is nice, but it slows you down a bit.  By mile three, however, I was struggling.  In fact, an old guy with a limp, who was power walking the race passed me as we approached mile 3.  I cannot tell a lie: that was quite the hit to the pride.  I was resolute, however, that I would finish before him come hell or high water.  In the end, I had enough in the tank to finish before him and 2 two minutes faster than the previous weekend’s 5k.  Yay!

I quickly found Jake post race as he waited for me at the finish line.  The Mayor, however, took another four minutes to cross the finish line.  Apparently, he had made a friend along the course and took to socializing instead of running.  Nonetheless, he still covered the 3.1 miles and logged some decent cardio.  Afterwards, we waited for the mile run to finish, so we could watch Jake get his award for taking second place in his age group.  As for the Mayor and me, we were just happy to get our finisher pie.  We then headed home with our three finisher apple pies because that’s exactly what you need after a hard fought race.

Here’s our gear:
Shoes brought to you by Asics – my go to running shoe.  I love my Gel Kayanos and am on my fourth pair.  They’re the perfect shoe for serious runners.  My little man loves his Asics GT1000.  

My running pants and shirt: Call by Carrie Underwood Shop at Dicks Sporting Goods

20% OFF ENTIRE ORDER with code: WELLNESS20. Plus Free Shipping over $45! Pharmaca.com. Coupon Code: WELLNESS20

 

Consistently Inconsistent

I’ve got to admit I’ve been consistently inconsistent in maintaining the blog over the past twelve months. It’s not for a lack of trying, I assure you.  Rather it’s a function of pure exhaustion and competing priorities.  As May winds down and we approach the end of school, I’m looking forward to the relief that the start of summer begins.  Our schedules slow down and life becomes somewhat calm and balanced.  Of course, calm and balanced in a house of three boys probably doesn’t fit most people’s definition of calm and balanced.if-you-could-ywky2o

Since the corporate run, I’ve continued to train using the Couch to 5K app to gradually increase my mileage and running time.  Due to the May heat, most of my training has been inside on the treadmill.  Fortunately, my AirPods and closed captioned episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm have carried me through the nine weeks of training.  Last week, Jake and I ran a 5k in Delray.  I’m still slow, but was still managed to take two minutes of my time from the corporate run.

bWUSnROTQROYRcdit3PNqQ.jpg

For the past week, the weather here has dried out considerably, so the Mayor and I have been running in the evenings.  It’s significantly more difficult to run outside versus the treadmill, but it feels great.  There’s nothing better then running with my boys and our little Piggie.  Athena has transitioned back to running quite well.  Although much like mom, she’s also out of shape.  Since Maya’s cancer scare, we’ve been reticent to take her out running in the heat.  After a course of antibiotics and some CBD oil and CBD treats from Honest Paws, Maya is doing amazing.

Tomorrow Jake, the Mayor and myself will run another 5k.  Since the summer heat is here, the run will kick off at 7:00 am.  Undoubtedly, I’ll be lamenting my decision to run when I have to wake up tomorrow at 5:15 am.   Of course afterwards I’ll feel much better and be happy with my decision, but getting out of bed is going to suck.

ZCPk1FOZSY18lDmYQjQ

Today we’re laying low in anticipation of running tomorrow morning.  Fortunately, I was able to meet up with my dear friend Jessica last night in Palm Beach.   I met her this year on Momcation 2.0 (Cayman Island edition) and we hit it off right away.  We had some fabulous drinks, food, conversation and laughs.  It was an awesome night.  I’ll write more on the beauty that is Momcation in a different post later.

We are, of course, like most hockey families counting down to the start of tomorrow night’s Stanley Cup Finals.  It’s lamentable that we’ve had to go so long without hockey at nights.   I’ve tried to catch as much as the World games (Go Finland!,) but it’s tough when you don’t have the channels playing the games.  Nonetheless, tomorrow hockey returns and we cannot wait. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Bruins come out tomorrow after  quite a bit of downtime.  On the other hand, I’m curious to see how the Blues’ rooking goaltender Bennington is going to handle the pressure.  Should be awesome!  Who are you cheering for?
The Blues are Stanley Cup Finals Bound - shop for Western Conference Champs Gear at Fanatics
Boston Bruins Eastern Conference Champs Gear
Continue reading “Consistently Inconsistent”

Corporate Run

Last Thursday was the annual Mercedes Benz Corporate Run in Fort Lauderdale. I was excited to participate for my third running. This year was a bit different though since I haven’t run a 5k in over a year. Unfortunately, after tearing a tendon and a subsequent diagnosis of Graves’ disease, I was sidelined for what feels like forever!

Thankfully, my doctor was able to clear me for exercise once my thyroid finally stopped functioning in February. Yay! Nonetheless, a 5k was a tall order. I trained as much as I could, but with a hypoactive thyroid my energy is nonexistent. Meaning, instead of a normal, rigorous training schedule, my body needed 2-3 day breaks in between workouts. This itself represented a massive departure from my grandiose expectations for my recovery.

I was back at my doctor’s office early last week for my six-week check-in. She made some adjustments to my medication, which should help immensely. Honestly, the effortless weight gain, the absolutely no energy, the absolute exhaustion and the absolute inability to sleep properly have gotten old. On a positive note, my blood work supports my symptoms, which in my doc’s words “means we can fix it!”  My doc is a rock star and is taking good care of me through out my treatment. Unfortunately, it’s just part of the process as we figure out the right Synthroid dosing.

img_0612img_0595

She did reiterate my ability to work out, but added a caveat about common sense. Clearly, she doesn’t know me. I did ask about the 5k, to which she responded “I hope you lose – meaning I hope you walk.” As I got up to leave, we compromised on a solid effort in the first mile with common sense dictating mile two and three.

In the end, I was nervous and excited for my first 5K in over a year. I went into the race with reasonable expectations and the hope that I’d finish somewhat respectably. As the race neared, we entered the start corral, which was huge. The corporate run had over 9,000 participants this race. Fortunately, it was a chip to chip race.  Consequently, my time was not negatively impacted by being encumbered by mobs of people behind the start line. img_0615

It felt amazing to be racing again! The first mile went pretty smooth and I felt pretty good. As I promised my doctor, I was conservative over the remainder of my race. In the end, with my foot asleep and pride swelling in my heart, I crossed the finish line. While my heart was swelling with pride, my right foot was coming back to life, after falling asleep on mile 2, as I waited patiently for my post race free beer.

img_0598

My time this race was the slowest I’ve ever logged at a 5k, but it will forever be the one that gives me the most pride. After a torn tendon, a diagnosis of Graves’ disease, subsequent treatment and no exercise for nine months, my time of 37:23 is pretty damn good! Moral of the story, winning isn’t always about getting a PR every race. Sometimes winning is not being afraid to show up and do your best no matter what cards you’ve been dealt. 

img_0597

Lastly, I had to share this photo from last year’s race as it included Paul.   My associate director Paul was someone who embodied perseverance.  While he wasn’t with us this year physically, he was definitely therein spirit.  We miss you Paul!

Just Another Saturday

It was just another Saturday spent at the rink. Goalielocks had five games to referee this morning while the Mayor had a marathon practice for Peewee Quebec. Today’s games were Goalielocks first travel games. Fortunately or rather unfortunately, they were mites or as we call them now U8.

For the uninitiated, hockey parent craziness seems to be inverse to the age of the kids. Meaning as the kids age, the parents tend to mellow. At U8, however, every kid is going to the NHL and every game brings an intensity from the parents you only wished to get out of your players.

It’s been awhile since we’ve been in mite hockey, but the cavalcade of cowbells quickly brought me back. I found my seat in the bleachers next to the hubby, so we could anonymously watch him ref.

giphy.gif

Honestly, I only made it through one game. Refereeing is hard enough because of all the rules and all the responsibilities that go with it. When you add crazy parents screaming at you and you’re only fifteen, it’s a whole different world. At least from a mom’s perspective. I think the best part is watching them scream at both refs for not calling penalties forgetting that penalties are assessed at the end of the game. I left, but my husband was quick to point out this cycle continued. How quickly people forget….

img_0055

My ref was good with it, which is why refereeing is so good for our kids. You learn so many viable life skills. On the otherhandn I headed home to take care of the laundry and grocery shopping since I had no desire Not wanting to get into a fight. Goalielocks did end up having to eject his first parent. No surprise here, but it was a goalie dad. We goalie parents are a special breed. Long story short, my boy enjoyed his day refereeing.

Midway through Goalielocks’ marathon ref session, the Mayor’s Peewee Quebec practice started. His practice ran from 11:30-5:30 with Coach Shawn putting them through two on ice sessions and off ice. I missed the practice, but the hubby was able to watch most of it.

We’re so excited that our Mayor’s been given an opportunity to play at Peewee Quebec. Goalielocks did the tournament three years ago and it was one of the best trips ever. I love Quebec City, especially old town, so I’m bummed I’m going to miss this trip. Nevertheless, someone has to hold down the fort in Florida!

The best part about the last practice before the tournament is getting all the swag. My Mayor was wearing his new hat all night! The pin bag brings back great memories for both Goalielocks and I. I know the Mayor will love trading pins.

Tonight we grilled some flank steak fajitas (recipe below) and served it with grilled onions and roasted peppers for a healthy low carb dinner. Well, mine was low carb as I used romaine lettuce as my tortilla. I know what you’re thinking, I’m taking my life into my hands using romaine lettuce and you’re probably right. The Mayor was deeply offended by our gross dinner choice, so he made himself pizza rolls.

Make it here:

Steak Fajitas:

1 flank steak

1 juice of one lime

2 onions sliced

1-2 lbs of mini bell peppers, sliced lengthwise

Olive oil

Pepper

Salt

Instructions:

If using a charcoal grill, get it started.

Onions:

Cut the onions into slices.

Coat the onions in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place onions on the grill and cook for 15-20 minutes until they’re tender.

Peppers:

Pre-heat oven to 450

Slice peppers lengthwise

Coat peppers in olive oil and season with salt and pepper

Roast the peppers for 20 minutes and remove from oven once the edges have started to turn black.

(If using regular bell peppers, I prefer to cook them on the grill with the onions.)

Steak:

Use the juice of one lime and olive oil to coat both sides of the flank steak. My hubby prefers to rub the steak with olive oil and freshly squeeze the juice over the steak. Use the salt and pepper to flavor as desired and set aside until the grill is ready. Don’t let it sit for too long or it will get mushy.

Once the grill is hot, cook five minutes per side. We cooked ours for about ten minutes and it was medium rare, which is how we like ours.

Let the meat rest 5-10 minutes before slicing at a 45 degree angle against the grain.

And then assemble. I should have taken a picture of the final product, but I ate it too quickly! It’s so simple and so good!

Just Like That

Just like that we’ve made it to Sunday evening and are now staring down another Monday.   Sunday evening shares an odious border with Monday morning.  No matter what is on the weekend docket, it seems to fly by!   Friday ended late with hellish traffic on the turnpike and 441.  By the time I picked up Goalielocks from his friend’s house, it was well after 7:00 pm.   When I finally got home it was after 7:30 pm.  Friday night was such a blur, I can’t even tell you what we had for dinner.

kA2lfi3.gif

Saturday brought a busy schedule with a stretch session at Massage Envy in the morning and two games for the Mayor in the afternoon/evening.  Since my injury and diagnosis, I haven’t been able to do much at all.  Consequently, I’ve been quite stiff.  Teodora is a gem, thought, she gave me a nice, easy and effective stretch.  It would have been great to have an hour session, but I wasn’t sure how I’d tolerate it.  Simply put it felt amazing to stretch and be stretched.

IMG_5469

No sooner had I gotten home then we had to head up to the rink for the Mayor’s games.  Thankfully, his two games were local this weekend.  After coaxing with a trip to the Apple Store, Goalielocks joined me for the games.  The first game, against our organization’s 07′ team, was quite close.  The Mayor opened up scoring with a nice shot in the first period.  Fortunately, I not only had the goal horn queued, but it worked almost immediately.  That contest ended in a 2-2 tie.   Bottom line is we needed at least a point out of that game and we got it.

Between games, my plan was to go home, relax and have my groceries delivered, but with a little coaxing I quickly changed my plans.  We headed to the Brass Monkey, our favorite dive bar/restaurant near the rink with some of the Mayor’s teammates.  Fortunately, for me and my sparkling chardonnay, Jake was home to receive the grocery delivery (#crisis averted.). The food at the Monkey is quite good, but the service is less than stellar.  Saturday’s performance was no exception to these rules.  I think my favorite part is when the server charged all of the bills on the wrong credit cards.  Unbelievably, our bill and the family whose bill we paid were within cents of each other. It was, however, quite entertaining.

fullsizeoutput_3204

Post dive bar dinner, we headed back to to rink for game two.  I was hoping it would be a good game, but we didn’t play our best.  We ended up giving up two short-handed goals due to silly errors.  Again I had the goal horn queued, but sadly wasn’t able to use it for our boys.  I wish I had more photos and videos to post, but I was playing music at the Mayor’s request.

Today Goalielocks and I endured iPhone warranty hell courtesy of Best Buy and T-Mobile.  The process to get it handled by insurance takes entirely too long.  While going outside of the insurance process costs entirely too much.  Ultimately, I ended up paying out-of-pocket, so Goalielocks could have a working phone.  Last Friday his school had a gas leak and his phone stopped working.  Fortunately, he actually knows my phone number, so he called me from his friend’s house.   After more than two hours, his phone was finally ready and operational.  He was ecstatic and I was exhausted!

Before venturing into iPhone repair hell, I made some blueberry muffins, as part of my meal prep, for the week.  Sadly, they didn’t make it past 12:00 pm.   Fortunately, I wasn’t the one that ate them all.   After fixing Goalielock’s phone, I came back to prep my meals for the week.  This week I made butternut squash noodles with lemon chicken sauce.  I adapted the recipe from a great recipe I saw on Facebook using spaghetti squash.  To save time, I opted for the pre-packaged butternut squash noodles. This saved forty minutes of cook time and cut down the work.  Here’s the recipe: Lemon chicken with butternut squash noodles.

IMG_6924

According to Myfitness Pal, with the butternut squash noodles and no added cheese, this dish has 229 calories with 16 net carbs, 20 grams of protein and 8 grams of fat.  Lastly, it is 3 Weight Watchers points.   If you try it, let me know how you liked it.   The meal prep containers came from Amazon and are available for purchase here.  Their top and bottom shelf dishwasher safe, freezer and microwave safe and free of BPAs.

My Favorite Referee

Since 2010, I’ve been a loud and proud hockey mom, now I’m mom to my favorite referee.  Oh yes, my Goalielocks has become a zebra.  The oft maligned position in sports is as critical to the sport as it is criticized.  It’s a tough position with lot’s of pressure in any environment.  When you throw crazy hockey parents on top of that it’s a lot.

There are a lot of great reasons for your kid to become a referee many of which I’ll cover here.  I’ll start with the obvious: they make good money as a teen.  I’m so excited for my second born to have his own income.  There’s no better way for him to understand the value of a dollar then by earning his own.  In order to make the same money at a normal “teen” job, he’d have to work more than double the hours.  With his intense school schedule and travel hockey schedule, refereeing is the perfect part time job for him.

lxcljpedrlwtilyx21mwha_std.original

Selfishly, it’s been nice because I’ve learned a lot.  We’ve got a couple of rule books around the house and I watched some of the modules with him.  Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about the rules from my referee friends.  (Extra bonus is that he now gets to work with these fabulous people.). Nonetheless, there’s still a knowledge gap. Thankfully, when I’m watching a game and have a question about a call or a rule, he can explain it to me.

It’s also a great way for hockey player to learn the game and see it in a different light.  Goalielocks has been in net for close to a decade and before that played out as a forward.  When you referee a game, you see it in a whole different way.  One that gives you appreciate and enhances your knowledge of the game.  What could be bad about that?

In addition, to enhancing their knowledge of the game, refereeing gives young referees the opportunity to learn important life skills. Hockey is a fast game and being able to see and make the right call is awesome.  The ability to make decisions under pressure is a crucial skill that will translate well into adulthood.

fullsizeoutput_3730.jpeg

Lastly, and I’m sure I’m missing many reasons, it teaches them conflict resolution.  There will be times that calls are made that coaches, parents and players will disagree with.  As a referee, their job is resolve that conflict as professionally as possible.  These conflicts can be highly emotional and aren’t always easy to solve, but this teaches a valuable life skill.  Where else can a teenager get that kind of on the job experience?

As for my young zebra, he refereed his first squirt game with his mentor.  It was his first full ice game, but he picked up quickly.  As his games progressed yesterday, it was fun to watch him grow increasingly confident in his role.  He capped off his day by scorekeeping a couple of rec games, so he could learn how to use the clock.

For all my Florida hockey parents, your kid can start refereeing at fourteen.  The referee seminars are held in the fall throughout Florida.  If you have any questions, let me know!

Looking for referee gear, you can shop his look here:

 

Reading My Way Back to Health

In order to keep myself sane and intellectually engaged,  I’ve been reading my way back to health.  Over the past eight months, I’ve been out of my normal routine due to injury and health concerns.  Sadly, I often found myself too exhausted to write.  Fortunately, I was able to draw my reading list off The Greatest Books.  First, of all I like the site because it has a thoughtfully curated list of the best fiction and non-fiction works of all time.  Secondly, I love that you can track what you’ve read and what you want to read.

img_5113

I’ve read some amazing works from a myriad of different genres and authors across time.  Since I’ve read some wonderful works of fiction, I’d thought I’d share some of them with you.   Here’s the list of my favorites:

If you’ve never read Wilkie Collins, your missing out.  He’s a one of kind author, who narrates his stories from multiple viewpoints.  His plot development and character development are amazing.   Collins was a contemporary and good friend of Charlies Dickens.  He was also a huge influence to Edgar Allen Poe.  Once you read both these books, I think you’ll find that the great Agatha Christie was influenced by him as well.

When I first picked up Ana Karenina, I was a bit intimidated.  It is a thick book. As I got into it, I loved it.  Tolstoy doesn’t waste a word.   I was happy to find that Tolstoy didn’t incorporate essays with in the books or long tangents like those found in his contemporaries works.  Both Ana Karenina and Resurrection are beautiful stories.  In Anna Karenina, he tells the story of the titular characters life and the consequences of her choices.  It’s a tragic story told beautifully.  In Resurrection, he tells the story of man confronted by the impact his choices had on someone he loved.   In the end, he finds his redemption in a most obvious spot.  Truly, after finishing both novels, I feel compelled to travel to Saint Petersburg and the rest of Tolstoy’s Russia.

After finishing Nabokov’s Lolita,  I needed a literary pick me up and a shower.  That book will leave you feeling dirty…. I turned to Hesse’s Siddharta.. Hesse, of German-Swiss descent, bring a unique east meets west perspective.   This novel follows the spiritual journey of Siddharta.  His quest for enlightenment puts him in places and situations he never could have imagined.  It’s a beautiful book.

I loved Narcissus and Goldmund, which tells the tale of two best friends who are diametrically different, but still love each other.  While Goldmund leaves the monastery in search of the meaning of life.  His mentor and friend Narcissus stays in monastic life.  Throughout their lives they take different paths, but eventually their paths reunite.  It’s a beautiful tale of friendship and life.

It took me awhile to get into Steppenwolf, but eventually I was pulled into the world of Harry Haller.  Like the other two Hesse books, this one explores the duality of human nature.  This time in main character Harry Haller and not two separate characters like in Narcissus and Goldmund.   At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with any of these books by Hesse.

Since I was heading to Scandinavia this fall, I wanted to read something that was Scandinavian.  After much research and a couple of recommendations, I decided to read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. While in Finland, I finally started reading the book and I couldn’t put it down.  I loved that I could imagine where they were in Gamle Stan in Stockholm since I was just there.

IMG_7706

It’s an awful tragedy that we lost Stieg Larsson before these books were publishes.  He turned in the manuscripts for the first three installments in the Millennium Series, but died shortly after.  His books are incredible.  There are few characters in literature as vivid, damaged and bad ass as Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander.

I’ve already read the first four books in the series and cannot wait to read the fifth.  Since Larsson’s premature death prevented him from finishing the Millennium series, David Lagercrantz took up the mantle.  I was worried that Lagercrantz’s take on Larsson’s characters would be unfaithful to the original.  Lagercratnz had huge shoes to fill, but he did it beautifully.  The continuity between the characters and stories between Larsson’s and Lagercrantz’s books is seamless. If you haven’t read this series yet, I highly recommend it.  If you love Daniel Craig, like I do, you’ll love him in the movie version.

These are just a few of the books I’ve read since last summer that really resonated with me.  I’ve included links to Amazon for each of my recommended books.  I’m always looking for good book recommendations.  What’s your favorite book?  What books do you recommend?