things I like

right now – July

July 30, 2013

Summer evening Luxembourg river

July has been a glorious summer month. We’ve had wall to wall sunshine nearly the whole month for which I am so grateful. We had a visit from my parents, multiple long evenings on the terrace and discovering rivers to swim in with friends. And my spirit feels light. All that vitamin d is doing me good.

This month I’ve been mostly…

reading.

I read and LOVED The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky. I don’t read much young adult fiction but this was brutally beautiful. The characters are all broken and flawed but you find yourself desperately wanting them to be ok. It’s written with deep perception and vulnerability. (I’ve not seen the film btw)

I also (finally) read and really enjoyed Daring Greatly by the wonderful Brene Brown. I’ve watched her two Ted talks over and over, and my sister had given me this book for my birthday back in April, so it was about time I cracked it open. I’ve been underlining every other line, and reading whole paragraphs out to Rasmus (who then asks me to email them to him coz he likes them so much too). Everyone’s been reading this recently, so I’m not sure what to add, except that this is pulling together so many thoughts I’ve been having/reading over the last year on vulnerability and living with courage and wholeheartedness.

Most of the rest of my reading this month has been for the two sermons on Abraham (last Sunday and next) that I’m preaching at our church. I finally got my hands on Walter Brueggeman’s Genesis commentary and it was worth the search – his approach and comments were exactly what I needed (thanks Kelley for the recommendation!).

watching.

This has been the month of long nights spent drinking wine on the balcony. Hence, no films seen, no TV watched. It’s rather marvellous actually.

I did watch this TED talk this month by Pico Iyer. He talks about what it’s like to live in a country that’s not your own, to not even find it easy to pin down where “home” is. I found a lot of his thoughts really interesting, especially when he explored the idea that “movement is only as good as the sense of stillness that you can bring to it to put it into perspective.”

eating.

These fish tacos with avocado-mango salsa (which was a revelation! so good!).
There was this peach frozen yoghurt.
The night Rasmus cooked up a huge shoulder of pork on the BBQ there was also this white bean, pea and mint salad.
This roasted aubergine (*eggplant) and pepper dip was devoured in minutes.
And then the red wine burgers. Yum.
And the best little lemon hazelnut cookies in the world, from a Danish cookbook.

 

July Events

in and around Luxembourg.

We enjoyed the Nuit des Merveilles at Bettembourg Castle when my sweet blogger-friend Amanda and her husband came into town for the weekend. Lots of acrobats, tightrope walkers and some naked chefs (no it’s not just a turn of phrase, they were actually naked. it’s a long story.)

We’ve paid a number of delicious trips to Bargello’s, the newest ice cream parlour in town. But this is “l’arte del gelato fiorentino”. The pistachio is to die for, I promise you.

We took a day trip north to Maastricht in the Netherlands. It’s a fantastic city: the river, the ancient walls and churches, the great shopping – and what has been voted the world’s most beautiful bookshop, in an old church!

When my parents were visiting this past weekend we took another day trip south into France to Metz. It’s such a lovely town – the shabby grandeur of so many French towns. We wandered around the churches, found the old battlements, enjoyed the covered market, and were very relieved to find somewhere serving ice coffees when we were about to collapse of heat-exhaustion.

There was also the Blues & Jazz Festival, and the Rock am Knuedler festivals to enjoy. Luxembourg really comes alive in the summertime!

first radishin the garden.

This month I got to eat our first radish, straight from the ground. It was a happy moment indeed! The second batch of radishes though have been decimated by caterpillars. This means war. Four caterpillars have already been dispatched over the side of the balcony…

Our tomatoes have gone CRAY-ZEE! We’re still waiting for the first green tomatoes to turn red but there are going to be dozens!

preaching.

After my first sermon at our church back in February, our pastor asked me to cover two Sundays while he is on holiday. The first was last Sunday, the second is next Sunday. It’s such an honour and a joy to preach. It’s hard work pulling together all my reading and research into one twenty minute sermon that will make sense and be useful and helpful to the people listening. I know I still have a lot to learn, but goodness I love it. I feel so alive when I’m speaking.

(And in case you’re interested – and I’m a really nervous to give you this – but here is the link to the podcast of my sermon last Sunday, on Genesis 15).

things I love.

  • ice coffee, with frozen coffee ice cubes (thank you pinterest). 
  • staying out until the last rays of light disappear from the sky.
  • knowing I need to put the kettle on for cups of tea from my parents as soon as they walk in the door.
  • skype calls with good friends far far away and the promise of more.
  • our new bio bin. In the absence of a compost heap, we ordered a bio bin from the city council. They pick it up once a week. I feel about ten points greener already.

on the blog.

I’ve been a lazy blogger this month with all the sunshine to distract me. My most-read post was the only one I got around to writing last week: Glory Days: “This summer is full of glory moments. And there are also the moments where my chest tightens like a vice and I wonder how to feel safe again. And they come together. The glory and the pain.”

 

That’s about it. What have you been up to this month? I’m linking up again with Leigh’s fabulous monthly What I’m Into post. If you blog, link up there too, or let me know in the comments what you’ve been reading/watching/listening to/cooking…

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  • Evelyn

    Music: Do you know Michael Kiwanuka? Home Again is mellow lovely.
    Sophie Madeleine – Take Your Love with Me (Ukelele Songs); also her cover of Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice is delightful.
    If you’re grinding to a halt I also recommend exploring soundtracks or re-discovering hits from your youth. We’ve had fun with both in recent months.

    PS Want to get together when we’re back in Lux next week?

    • fionalynne

      Thanks for the music suggestions – will go look them up now. And yes to getting together next week! We’re around until Friday. x

  • Fiona,

    I love these posts. They feel like a coffee date! I hope we can have a real one some day!

    “movement is only as good as the sense of stillness that you can bring to it to put it into perspective.” (this quote. yes.)
    Sounds like a lovely month!

    • fionalynne

      A real life coffee date would be wonderful!

  • Salmon tacos! So much more delicious than they sound, right?! And I’m definitely going to try that roasted eggplant dip — we planted a few this year for the first time, without really knowing what we could make with them. They should be ready to pick any day now. Yes!

    And lastly: I still can’t believe you PREACH. That makes you the coolest person ever. In my Mennonite community, a woman preaching is totally out of the question, so the very idea exhilarates me. Also, EEK! You sound amazing. I might have a hard time concentrated on what you’re saying, because I will be wigging out over your fantastic accent. (Is it a well-recognized fact among Brits that we North Americans find your accent that absolute best? I promise you it’s universal.)

    • fionalynne

      The only thing I changed about the aubergine dip was to add a little balsamic vinegar to add a little boost to the flavours, which I think worked well.

      And I still can’t quite believe I preach either 😉 It’s been so much fun the last years having people who have mentored me in this and helped me find my voice. I love it! (But I have to warn you, my accent is less than true-British after so many years living overseas. It’s kinda relaxed into mid-Atlantic, somewhere between English, American and South African!)

  • Hi Fiona!

    I’m looking forward to checking out the Pico Iyer video – I really love his books. Your garden sounds lovely – my tomato plants shrivelled up while I was in Canada (note to self – plant much, much later here, or stick to cacti and the like).

    I’ll have to whip up an iced coffee and listen to your sermon.

    Happy summer!

    • fionalynne

      Oh I haven’t read any of his books. Any you’d recommend in particular?
      Yes, I’m happy to at least be in the same general climate zone as I grew up in so I’m not having to start completely from scratch!

      • Sun After Dark is a collection of reflections on travel. I love it. He writes about jet lag in such a poetic way it sounds like something we all want to experience… There’s an essay in there about time he spent with Leonard Cohen, and it’s really cool. Abandon is beautiful. It’s a mystery and a love story (two of my favourites in one!), and it just flows. I think I’d start with Sun After Dark, though. His essays are wonderful.

  • Just added Perks of Being a Wallflower to my ever growing to-read list 🙂 Jealous of your garden…I wish I could grow things but I have a black thumb!

    • fionalynne

      Stacey, I used to think I had a black thumb too! All my indoor plants high horribly sad deaths. Somehow the outdoor plants have done much better (with lots of telephone support from my green-fingered mum!).

  • I love listening to TED talks. The last one I listened to and geeked out on was Amanda Palmer’s on the art of asking.

    I’m the only person in the world, I think, who hasn’t read Daring Greatly. I really, really must.

    • fionalynne

      Ooh, I’ll have to listen to that one. I love getting TED talk recommendations!
      Daring Greatly is definitely worth a read. Although you know, as shocking as it is, there are some people who haven’t even *heard* of Brene Brown (gasp!)…

  • I started reading Perks of Being A Wallflower, but stopped partway through for some reason or another. I want to go back and finish it now.

    • fionalynne

      Oh definitely do. The ending is good, which I think can be hard to do (so many books I loved most of the way through don’t end well)…

  • Love what you’re reading. I skimmed Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection in a Barnes & Noble a couple weeks ago and I’m looking forward to devoting more time/attention to her work.

    Summer is my favorite time for Mexican-themed seafood! I made shrimp tacos this month…I’ll have to try the mango salsa salmon ones soon.

    And props to you for preaching this month…SO COOL!

    • fionalynne

      Mmmm, shrimp tacos. That’s something I need to make soon! I lived one year in California and I so miss all the great Mexican food, it’s nearly impossible to get over here.

      Thanks for being here! x

  • I hardly ever read YA fiction but Perks of being a Wallflower really got me. The movie is utterly wonderful too. 🙂

    • fionalynne

      I’d like to see the film too. It looked good from the trailers – it’s what made me read the book in the first place!

  • Do you think Daring Greatly would be good for where I am in life right now? I have been thinking about reading a Brené Brown book, but haven’t yet .

    • fionalynne

      Jenny, I think it would be good for any moment in life! It’s strengths are definitely the way it helps to recognise how vulnerability is important for our ability to live wholehearted lives, even when things are falling apart. Hugs x

  • I’ve been wanting to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower for forever. I need to get on that! I am definitely making that eggplant spread soon and I love the thought of red wine burgers. Please tell the naked chef story soon! I’m so curious! Congrats on the gardening. I hope you will be victorious against the caterpillars! Love that you’re preaching again. Love, love, love.

    • fionalynne

      Love that you host this every month, it’s such a lot of fun looking at what everyone has been doing, as well as getting to look back over my own month and realising just how FULL life is (in a oh so good way). xx

  • I made some fish tacos recently with mango pineapple salsa. Delish! I love YA fiction and haven’t read The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I might grab it this week.

    • fionalynne

      Mango pineapple? Sounds so good! Might have to try that too…

  • Hi there! I enjoyed reading your What I’m Into post! I’m new to blog land and this was my first time to link up. I can’t wait to try the red wine burgers – they look delish! And I’m also a big fan of Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly! Such goodness 🙂

    • fionalynne

      Whoo, welcome to blogging land. It’s a strange and wonderful place 🙂