Summer Retrospective

September 06, 2013Leave a comment

It’s possible this was the best summer yet. I spent most of it at home and by that, I mean actually at my house. I left two or three times when dragged away, but much of the time I could be found in my own backyard. There is no place I’d rather have been (except maybe the French Riviera). Last summer we lived amidst the dust and construction that made this summer a reality. With our new space complete, I spent entire afternoons working from my porch sofa. By evening, friends joined us under the lazy ceiling fans, often with glasses of chilled rosé in hand. Who needs to go anywhere?

And now it’s over. I greeted back-to-school and back-to-work with a decided readiness. I loved sleeping later and ditching our schedule, but it feels safe and comforting to return to the structure of a routine. We are once again alarm clock-waking, lunch box-making, homework-completing and bed time-abiding. Ice cream cones are no longer a daily rite. I already miss that part.

Before I fully embrace the new year, I’ll ease back into our conversation with a few summer photos and stories (Anyone wondering about that pile of pasta up top? A show of hands, please. Okay, hands down. You can find details on the pasta all the way at the end.).

My tush was parked here so often it’s amazing I didn’t get a ticket. The back porch sofa became our Sunday paper-reading-sultry-afternoon-fanning-iced-tea-sipping-card-playing everything spot. I am still trying to get a nap out here…there’s always next summer.

The most sincere delight of the season was spending one glorious week alone with each child (thanks, Mom and Dad for taking the other child!). I snapped this shot of the Washington Monument, currently encased in scaffolding, from the top of a double deck tour bus. My little guy asked to ride that bus during his week of mommy time. He and a friend giggled and sang silly songs while I watched them enjoy our city from canopy level. I’m not sure who had more fun.

My little guy also pointed out that the National Zoo, just blocks away, is without giraffes. He asked to see “a real giraffe” during our week. Luckily, they live nearby in Baltimore at The Maryland Zoo. There was even a feeding station! This is Caesar. He’s 6 years old. He likes to eat leaves and can stick his tongue in his nose.

My week of playtime with my big boy included a lot of boating activities. This is our view of the Jefferson Memorial from our pedal boat on the Tidal Basin. Guess who did most of the pedaling?

We also rented a kayak one day and rowed our way across the Potomac to Roosevelt Island, where we enjoyed a picnic. Guess who did most of the rowing?

Union Market hosted a movie series this summer. We devoured a market dinner on blankets out front before the show. Very cool and very DC. Loved it. If you live in DC and haven’t been to Union Market yet, shut down your computer right now and go. We’ll wait. [Insert hold music here…bow chicka bow bow] Okay, are you back? Yeah, you’re welcome. It’s perfect for an afternoon of tasting locally made treats or an evening of oysters and champagne (though I’ve been known to make that lunch). Be sure to visit Salt & Sundry and say hi to my girl Amanda.

I captured this sunset over Lake Charlevoix on our week in northern Michigan. It was the only week I wasn’t on my porch sofa daily. It was exactly the kind of fresh water, clean, family fun I love.

A trip to northern Michigan isn’t complete without fudge. I snapped this photo at Howse’s Fudge Shop in Harbor Springs. Can you believe I ran into a Weekly Greens reader just a block away? It was small world funny on many levels.

We rented a pontoon boat one day. After some trouble getting the thing started, we sailed across the lake to the town of Charlevoix. Ten minutes into our trip, Andy realized he dropped his phone in the water near our dock. We went back to get it and would you believe that 1) we found it on the bottom of the lake and 2) it was still working? (The trick: Remove the SIM card and put both the phone and the card in a bag of uncooked rice for 24 hours). We lunched in the adorable town of Charlevoix, where we watched a boat crash into a draw bridge. On the return trip home, our pontoon stalled yet again. WTF? We were stranded at this cute little marina, where I snapped a photo of these brightly painted Adirondack chairs. The full moon didn’t happen until a week later.

We took a day trip to Mackinac Island. There are no cars on the island, only horse drawn carriages. I captured this shot from a side street between licks of my drippy ice cream cone. The fort was a bigger attraction than the fudge, even for this hopeless sweet tooth.

This is your prize for getting all the way to the bottom. My boys started kindergarten and second grade last week. The morning was deliciously joyful. They were energized to see their friends and return to their wonderful school playground. It was nothing like last year’s teary first day (I’m talking about me – they were fine). I returned home with a smile and a question: what did I look like at these ages? Your answer is above. No further commentary necessary.

Want to see more photos? Follow me on Instagram @aliciasokol. Happy September, sweet readers! I missed you.

So about that pile of pasta up top…I spent a lot of time running this summer. This simple pasta dish became my go-to meal the night before a long training run. I like to call it bread-on-bread. Sounds healthy, right? It’s so easy you don’t even really need a recipe. Cook a pound of whole grain pasta (I like Barilla Plus Multigrain Pasta) in a pot of generously salted water. While the pasta is cooking, sauté 2 finely sliced garlic cloves in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss in a cup of halved red and/or yellow cherry tomatoes until just wilted, then set aside. Reserve a cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta. Toss together the pasta, cherry tomato mixture, 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup torn basil leaves using the reserved water to moisten as necessary. Season with sea salt. Makes 6 servings unless you’re feeding marathoners, in which case it’s just 3 to 4. Enjoy!

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