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Monday, September 4, 2017

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Hello, dear friends.  Happy Labor Day.  Boy, it feels great to be back.  After sharing my home with at least two guys aka subcontractors at any given time, I am relishing the silence in my home.  Every once in awhile the faint soothing snore from one of the hooligans is heard coming from under my chair.

This post covers the two months that I took off.  To tell you that the time was uneventful would be an understatement.  There were a few highlights, though.   But for the most part, if you have trouble sleeping at night, this post would be a helpful sleep aid.  Forget the bottle of wine and Tylenol PM.  You've got this post.  

The good news is that I can cross off all my annual check-ups for the year.  I was poked, prodded, pricked, squished, flossed, and weighed.  Through this process, I have made a few observations about myself. 

First of all, the older I get, the more nervous I become a month before the mountain of annual tests I am having. Worry becomes a second nature to me.  

I begin to spin the worst scenarios in my mind.  I picture myself breaking the bad news that I have some terrible disease to the Mister and my girls.  Before I know it, I find myself wrapped up in palm-sweating, paralyzing, heart-pounding daydreams.  I visualize my #1 laying claims on my jewelry.  Meanwhile, my #2 starts designing a dreadful diet for me consisting of kombucha and seaweed.  But the most disturbing vision is the one that shows the Mister sitting at the computer searching Match.com for a younger, newer model.

Another observation.  You know you are getting old when the first question your doctor asks you is "Have you taken a fall since your last visit?"  Really?  Am I at that stage of my life already? Even if I have taken a little tumble, I'm not admitting it to my 30-year-old doctor. 

The last thing that bugs me is when I mention my creeping weight gain to my 100 lb. doctor who could be a stunt double for Padma Lakshmi.  She does not even lecture me!  All she says in her sweet voice is that excess poundage is perfectly normal for post-menopausal women.  

Years ago a friend of mine told me that she had a very blunt doctor.  Need I tell you he was male?  Didn't think so.  When she mentioned that her body was beginning to take on a totally different shape, he responded cooly "You begin as a pear, and end up as an apple.  That's life.  Have a good day." 

The good news is that my tests came through clear and according to my doctors, I am good for another 100,000 miles.    

Now that I have that over with, I wish that I had photos of a luxurious vacation or that I was breaking the news that I have been training for a marathon.  But no, as you will see, I spent an unhealthy amount of time sitting on my duff watching lots of some TV,  reading a few good books, and taking in some good and some not-so-good movies at the cinema. 

Here's the rundown. 

I loved B.A. Paris' first book, Behind Closed Doors.  It was chock-full of suspense, and there was never a dull moment.  The Breakdown is also a good read but in a different way.  It moves slower, and the tension builds gradually.  The only criticism I have is that the book tended to drag in the middle. 

I've read all of Mary Kubica's books.  The Good Girl was my favorite.  Every Last Lie told an interesting story and held my interest.  The problem I had with it was that I found the main characters to be unlikable.  Even the little kid.  Shame on me.  Not a bad read, though.

This book reminded of Orphan Train, which I enjoyed tremendously.  Before We Were Yours is based on true life events.  I embraced all of the characters.  I highly recommend this little gem of a book.    

Speaking of good reads, another novel that I recommend is The Salt House.  The story revolves around a family recovering from a devastating event.  The parents, as well as their children, are believable with real human flaws and handle grief in their own individual ways.  It is a story of love, loss, sadness, and new beginnings.  This one is a good one.

By the way, if someone asked me to cast the two main characters for a movie, I would hire (a younger) Dennis Quaid and Naomi Watts.

Ugh.  I listened to And Then She Was Gone, and I was bitterly disappointed.  It baffles me that 52% of the Amazon readers gave it 5 stars. The story centers around two teenage boys who are wannabe detectives.  Obviously, the author has not hung around teenage boys much because the dialogue is positively ridiculous.  The teens use cornball phrases like "gee whiz" and "golly gee" throughout the book.  I can't believe I actually finished this drivel.

Gee whiz, Mr. Greyson, you need to get out more.  Maybe you could volunteer your time by teaching at a high school.

There is a spoiler alert in some of the reviews of this book.  I had not read them beforehand, and I'm glad that I didn't. The book begins with a woman meeting the "perfect" man.  He is a successful author, wealthy, a father of two children, and a widower.  Did I mention that he is drop dead good looking?  They fall madly in love, but then things begin to fall apart.  That's all I'm going to reveal.  If I tell you, I'll have to kill you.

No pun intended, but Little Beach Street Bakery is one sweet little story.  This was my book club's pick this month.  It takes place in England and centers on a woman who decides to move to an obscure small village for a new start after breaking up with her fiance and filing bankruptcy.  That's all I'm going to tell you except it involves baking bread as a therapy and a very handsome, charming, Southern gentleman bee keeper.  If you're looking for something light and fun with darling characters, pick this one up.  

By the way, I went to a wonderful book club gathering at the most charming house on the water.  I look forward to seeing those lovely ladies every month. 

If you've read my blog for awhile, you know that I like to listen to suspenseful books on my walks.  There are two reasons for this:  they make me walk faster, and when the numerous times come along when I don't feel like walking, I'll make myself get out there because I'll want to find out what's happening in my book.  Liar had me captivated from the first page and never let me go until the last.  The story begins with the ending, and it's a gruesome one.  The pages are filled with twists and turns with the biggest one happening on the last page. 

Stillhouse Lake is about a woman who was married to a world famous serial killer and never knew it until the cops showed up at her doorstep.  Let's just say I've been suspicious of  Mister's every move.  It's a good one.

The publisher sent me a copy of Alan Alda's latest books to review.  I was happy to do it because I am a huge fan of  Hawkeye's.  As I read it, I could hear Alda's voice in my head.  He gives great tips on communicating, and his stories are charming.

I positively loved Gabrielle Zevin's first book, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.  News flash: Young Jane Young is nothing like it.  It's even better.  Zevin writes with humor and heart.  Great story sprinkled with quirky, lovable characters.  I didn't want this one to end.  
I'm hoping for a sequel.

Lilac Girls is this month's book club pick.  I was curious because it has been out for awhile and has received great reviews across the board.  I am about three-quarters of the way through, and I am enjoying every minute of it.  The author does an exquisite job telling colorful stories about three strong, compelling women.  This makes for a delicious read on a Fall afternoon.

Guess who picked this one out?  There are two hours that I'll never get back.  The worst movie I have seen in a long time. 

Did I say that the Atomic Blonde was the worst movie?  Forgive me, I misspoke.  The House wins that award.  We ended up leaving half way through, but the Mister didn't mind because he had his fill of popcorn.

I can't even recommend watching these two movies at home for free.  The only way that I would tell you to watch these two deplorable flicks is if somebody paid you.  A lot of money.  And then I would tell you to turn the sound down, close your eyes, and split your loot with me. 

I wasn't expecting much from The Big Sick.  I was more than pleasantly surprised by the humor, fabulous writing, and stellar acting.  When watching a comedy, I'm not a laugh-out-loud kind of girl.  I admit to experiencing a few belly laughs in this one, though. Especially the scenes involving the parents.

I read The Glass Castle a long time ago and enjoyed it.  I can honestly say that I liked the movie just as much.  I would not be surprised if Woody Harrelson gets an Oscar nomination for his performance.

Blind was supposed to come out in the theaters, but I found it On Demand.  This is a great rainy Saturday afternoon movie catching up on chores like folding laundry.  It will never win any awards, but I thought it was an interesting tale with a good love story.

On a side note... wow Demi Moore looks great.
I'll have what she's having.

One of my sweet readers, Charlotte, recommended this Netflix movie and I'm glad she did.  Both the Mister and I enjoyed it tremendously.  It had a little war mixed with a sweet love story which made it the perfect movie for both of us.

Thanks, Charlotte.  
Keep the recommendations coming.

My #2 recommended Friends From College to me.  I think you can figure out what it's about by the title.  It's got some awkward moments, but I thought it was pretty good.  I enjoyed it. 
Warning:  salty language

I really enjoy Suits.  
The acting is top notch, and the writing never lets me down.
The new season started last month.  

I binge watched Offspring last year and loved every moment of this darling dramedy which chronicles an Australian obstetrician, her love life, and crazy family.  Finally, Season 6 was released in the US this Summer and the Mister and I lapped it up like a gooey hot fudge sundae. 

Thanks to my friend Ellie who recommended Indian Summers to us.  Both the Mister and I enjoyed both seasons of this series.  It has everything - intrigue, history, and of course love.  The only negative thing I have to say about this series is that there won't be a third season. 

The best thing that the Netflix series, Gypsy has going for it is Naomi Watts.  The story is far-fetched and convoluted, but that's never stopped me before.  I finished the series for the mere reason that I was desperate and Naomi's wardrobe was stunning.

Spoiler alert:  I love Jason Bateman.  When he teams up with Laura Linney in a suspenseful series about money laundering the chemistry is pure magic.

I'm counting the minutes until Season 2.

Another lovely reader suggested "Anne with an E."  This mini series is based on Anne of Green Gables.  I highly recommend to anyone who has pre-teens and is seeking a clean, wholesome, heart warming show.  Or to an adult like me who likes to watch sweet, uncomplicated stories before she goes to sleep.

My #2 recommended The Keepers to me.  It revolves around two women who attended a Catholic school in Baltimore together in 1970 and had a beautiful, young nun as a teacher.  During that time, the nun was murdered and the case was never solved.  Years later, the two ladies teamed up as amateur sleuths and conducted interviews and tirelessly researched in an attempt to solve the case.  If you want to know if they were successful, you'll have to watch it.

The Last Tycoon is one of the best mini series that I have seen in a long time.  This one has got old Hollywood glamour, great acting, fabulous costumes, and an enthralling story.  Kelsey Grammar and Lily Collins steal the show, and Matt Bomer delivers the eye candy.

Whenever the Mister and I take long car rides, we like to listen to entertaining podcasts.  We have been listening to Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! and it has become one of our favorites.  It is NPR's weekly event quiz that serves up plenty of laughs. 

I went to a couple of entertaining Suppers with the Authors hosted by Buttonwood Books and Toys.  These get-togethers are always a delight. 

We also attended a lovely dinner hosted by my buddy, Anne, and a fabulous lecture by one of my favorite authors, Amor Towles, author of Rules of Civility and A Gentleman from Moscow.  I am working on a post about this magical evening.

We ventured out for some lovely lunches.

We also we spent the day in beautiful Falmouth.


I hosted a few happy hours in the 'hood.  I got lots of compliments on the salsa that I whipped up with the help of this fun cookbook, Gumbo Love.  The publisher sent it to me in return for a review, and I decided to give it a whirl.  It's got recipes that even I can make!

We also hosted a couple of small dinner parties.  
Lucky for our guests, The Mister wouldn't let me cook.

And last but not least... 

It was a positively gorgeous Summer which prompted me to take a few walks around my 'hood.  

Please leave me a comment if you have any show or book recommendations for me.

Enjoy your Labor Day!

Until next time...

Preppy Empty Nester
Preppy Empty Nester

I'm Katie. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am an empty nester meandering through my middle-aged years while entangled in the never-ending process of renovating an antique home on the South Shore of Massachusetts. I love to write about books, movies, TV, celebrities, decorating, and weekend adventures. My favorite writing material is derived from my family: the Mister, my girls, #1 and #2, and my two untrainable, rambunctious pups, Chowdah and Chili.


  1. So glad that you are back!
    I commented on your IG that I read Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk and thoughtful it was a delightful read. Earlier this week I put a library request in for Before We Were Yours and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I read that Reese W. bought the movie rights to Eleanot Oliphant. Did you read A Man Called Ove?
    I watched all of Small Big Lies this summer. Hope they make a second season.
    Always envious of The Mister's magic in the kitchen when you have guests over. Preparing food for others stresses me out.
    Enjoyed your post.

  2. Glad you are back. I will have to check out some of the good reads.
    Sounds like a relaxing summer which is a good summer to me.

  3. Sounds like you had a wonderful summer! I saw a lot of movies this summer and the worst was HOUSE!, we left during the "take-outs"! Enjoy what is left of summer.

  4. Welcome back from your lovely summer! Reading lots of books like you did sounds like perfection to me. I read it The Little Beach Street Bakery last year and thought it was a sweet read too. The bird drama was a bit far fetched though :-)

  5. Welcome back!! How I missed your wit! So many fabulous reads and recommendations for viewing that I so appreciate! Very happy you kicked back and soaked in the summer!

  6. Welcome back! I've missed your recommendations. I think you would enjoy Mrs. Saint and the Defectives by Julie Lawson Timmer. I just finished it and thought it was wonderful. I really loved The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor but it may not be for you. My husband and I were disappointed Indian Summers did not get a season 3 and we enjoyed The Exception as well. Megan Follows will always be Anne of Green Gables to me. I was so disappointed with the one on PBS with Martin Sheen as Matthew that I've been afraid to try the one on Netflix. I look forward to your next post.

  7. Welcome back! Your summer reading list, movie list, and travels too have me wondering what I do with my time. Wow, I'd say you were very productive. I've made note of some of these titles. I appreciate your recommendations.
    Your dinners with authors are obviously very special. Glad you had a good summer even if you had to stay close to home. New updated baths is a huge incentive! Wish I could say the same for my summer, but sadly the same tired baths greet us. ;-)

  8. I read several fantastic books this summer, Sis, and have fired all of them at my pal. She's recovering nicely. However, I can't remember the titles. Silly me. When I get them back from her I'll faithfully record the titles and let you know. As for flicks, I also loved The Big Sick. Thought Holly and Ray were brilliant. Nice to see the latter in a serious role. Also watched The Trip To Spain. Just as good as the previous two trips I thought. Went with Francine (95 in 3 weeks) and my M (23) and all 3 generations enjoyed it but for different reasons.

  9. Katie,

    Welcome back....I am so glad you have returned. I don't know where the summer went, but I am happy to report that fall is my favorite time of year so I am going to enjoy it. I read Beartown, Saints for all occasions, and The Midwife's Confession. All three were fiction and very enjoyable. I really enjoyed An Invisible Thread--a non-fiction story about a friendship between a career woman and the homeless boy she befriends. It's a very sweet, true story about their relationship. Does your heart good. Take care and will look forward to catching up.

  10. Welcome back, Katie. Will we get to see what great renovations were done to your home this summer? My family also liked Anne with an E, even if it didn't stay exactly true to the book. Hubby and I also like The Crown on Netflix, and we're waiting for the new season. So glad to hear that you're in optimal health!

  11. Read your whole post and I'm still awake! I'm just so darned glad you are back. I missed your posts this summer. (I don't always miss everyone's posts!) And your book reviews (Bakery and Lilac Girls are both on my list!) Life is good when Katie's back!

  12. Our book club selection for September is a Gentlemen from Moscow. Better get to reading :-0

  13. Just stopping by to tell you I love reading your blog and enjoy all the recommendations. I've been reading Biographies all summer so I've been looking for a good novel or two to read.
    I've just ordered a couple of the novels you recommend here.

  14. Welcome back. I've got lots to watch this fall. Regarding you'll have what Demi Moore is having...she's my go to explanation when treating myself to drinks or snacks...I could have Demi Moore's body if I wanted to (I COULD!) but I enjoy life and all it's wonderful flavors too much.

    1. Carol... scratch Demi's diet... I'll have what you're having! Sounds like so much more fun.

  15. Katie, It's 3:20 AM and I'm awake, obsessing over a doctor's appointment I have tomorrow afternoon! I was hoping your promise of lulling me to sleep would work but I'm more awake than ever thinking about all those interesting books and now I want one of those delicious looking little asparagus tidbits your Mister prepared for your lucky guests! That is not going to help me tomorrow! We were hooked on the Father Brown series on Netflix this summer (watch for Lady Felicia's outfits!!) but we haven't been to the actual movies in a long time. My hubby is afraid I will actually smack someone next to me who gets on their phone during the movie. So good to see you back! When you can face it please give us a recap of your reno adventures. Linda

  16. It's great to have you back, Katie. Can't imagine getting anything done other than supervising workers on any given day, but kudos to you for your summer reading and watch list. Show us the bathrooms, please!
    Oh, the list of well-visit appts (at least we hope so)....I should've scheduled mine a little closer together, as it seems never-ending. I can relate to the anxiousness leading up to the appts. At this point, a hair or lunch appt can even seem an inconvenience!
    Love the farm stand - honor system, it appears. That must mean you have few or no druggies in your 'hood - a good benchmark for a good 'hood. Mpw, if we could just get them to quit painting signs for runs. ;)

  17. It's about time! No more breaks for a while for you, my friend!

    1. Debbie... unless the Mr. and I win the lottery, I am not planning any more breaks. Enjoy your week.

  18. Good morning girl! It's so good to see you back. No books or movie recommendations from me. We've been too busy moving, unpacking, and settling in. My book club is meeting at my house in a week and I haven't read the book yet. Better get on that! I would love to know how you find so many wonderful book related activities. That would be wonderful to me!

  19. I'm so happy you're back! I've been following you on IG, but it's so much better reading your posts, with your great sense of humor and the latest antics of the "hooligans". :-)
    I just downloaded A Gentleman from Moscow to my Audible queue. I need to listen to Louise Penny's latest Inspector Gamache book first. So many books, so little time.

  20. Glad you're back! Funny I took a summer break from blogging as well and am trying to get back on. Regular schedule. You and I read and watch so many of the same things! Love this post!

  21. So nice to have you back! Glad to hear you're good for the next 100,000.

  22. Welcome back Katie.Sounds like your summer was very relaxed and your time was spent with friends and family. Doesn't get any better than that. I have been busy reading and binge watching Hulu. I am doing a free trial for a month. I love anything historical, and if it includes Royalty, I am hooked. A Royal Affair was the perfect movie for me. It is based on the life of the English Princess Caroline during her marriage to the Danish King Christian VII.Princess Caroline was only 15 when she was wed to the 17 year old Danish King. To say he was a nasty little piece of work is putting it mildly. To be fair to the Danish Royals, Christian had mental problems. Any hoo, The King goes on a year long journey through Europe, leaving the young Queen at home alone. When he returns he has a handsome young doctor in tow, who is the only person able to control the mad king. Before long, the Queen and the Handsome Doctor are having an affair. As you can imagine, this is not going to end well for all concerned. I enjoyed the story so much that I Googled King Christian VII of Denmark and his beautiful young Queen Caroline. I spent the better part of a Sunday morning reading their histories and following their family trees. On a much happier note, I see congratulations are in order for Prince William and his beautiful wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. They are expecting baby number 3.

  23. Have you watched Mozart in the Jungle on Prime? Loved it! I'd love some non-fiction recommendations. Welcome back!

    SUMMER IS OVER AND IT IS HOT HERE IN CALIFORNIA!Keep on ENTERTAINING US...........know one does it better than YOU!XX

  25. Thanks for a wonderful booklist I will now download in prep for hurricane Irma. I will be riding in the car while we evac!

  26. Hi dear Katie, Glad your back, you were missed! Your post has me doubled over with laughter about aging. Have to say I understand since I've been through all of it. Glad all your results were good. Been doing a lot of what you were doing, sadly the baths didn't get in on the facelifts. Another time for that, had it with do overs! Thanks for the book and movie list. I did do a marathon event watching Anne with an E and loved the sweet old fashioned stories. Sounds like you squeezed in a good times this summer........Happy week.

  27. Welcome back! Wow, your 'vacation' was packed full and now I have a long list of fall must read/watch! Missed you! xo

  28. I have been missing those pooches and your humor all summer Katie! Glad you are good for another 100.000. miles :) Thanks for all the reviews, I"ve been pinning away! Lucy Buffet has a couple of fun restaurants in our coastal area which are very popular

  29. Thanks for all the book recommendations. I loved BEFORE WE WERE YOURS, ORPHAN TRAIN, and THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY so I'm sure I'll enjoy the other stories you reviewed.
    GREAT blog.

  30. Hello my dear friend :)
    Happy belated Labour Day
    I'm so happy you are back, I really have missed you and although I don't have Instagram I followed you and the sweet doggies so I felt closer whilst you had your summer break. I do hope you enjoyed the lovely weather at least, even if the bathroom remodel was less fun.
    I have been saying prayers for all in Houston and the areas affected by the hurricane.its terribly sad.

    Thank you for all the TV and movie tips, I love suits the best it is my favourite show from the u.s.
    Now, Katie my dearest, the tv recommendations from this side of the pond are :

    Poldark, Victoria, comedy drana Cold Feet, drama Dr Foster, hilarious reality series Normal for Norfolk, a lovely show Great Canal Journeys, you may also like.
    I only saw one good movie this summer called 'begin again' with keira knightley and James Corden. ( always wonder if you like him? We think he is a pretty good actor)
    The time has really flown by, summer is too fast for me as a part time wedding florist its so busy.
    I do hope all your family and the doogies are well. Sending very much love to you all and delighted you are back
    Sally xxxx

  31. Hi Katie! So glad you are back! Since you have read the Little Beach Street Bakery, you will surely enjoy Summer at the Little Beach Street Bakery. Thanks for always being so entertaining. If you are ever down in the Philadelphia area, would love to meet you.

  32. Hi Katie! Welcome back! I missed your enjoyably witty blog!

  33. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  34. Sounds like a wonderful and well-read summer to me! Welcome back!

  35. Enjoy all your book, movie, and other recommendations! Have you read The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman? I think you would really enjoy it! I love reading your blog and really missed it this summer.

  36. That looks like a LOVELY summer vacation. So glad you're back.

  37. Hi...the summer was great. Mine not nearly as exciting as yours, but I did read a few of the books you have mentioned and watched a few of the shows. Since I live in the land of The Keepers, it was all over the news and all the talk of the town. Positively loved Ozark and we are enjoying a show on HULU called Chance. I am glad you're back, hopefully I will get my act together and write more than one post per month. Take Care.


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