What I Did on My Summer Vacation: 2011 Version, Part 1

TV Quote: "The human mind is like Van Halen. If you pull out one piece and keep replacing it, it just degenerates." Topher in Dollhouse

Life: This was one of the best summers I've had in a long time. I watched my son graduate from high school, went on a writing retreat, celebrated my dad's 70th birthday with my siblings and their families, went camping at Assateague Island, visited Burlington, Vermont, and actually wrote some of my middle grade novel.

I was completely healthy all of July and mostly healthy in August. Sure I woke up achy every August morning — like every grass pollen season — and I still lacked energy,  but my mind was clear and headache-free. It was a wonderful change! All it took was allergy shots, saltwater rinses, a gluten-free diet, and taking Zyrtec every 12 hours — piece of cake. 😉

Local Produce– The farmer's market experience has exploded in my area.  This summer I decided to buy all my produce at the farmer's markets instead of the grocery store.  We feasted on delicious cherries, blueberries, cantaloupe, peaches, and watermelon. 

Gardening– Martin grew cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and basil.  We loved having fresh cut up cucumber sticks in the frig all summer long, basil to sprinkle on our pizzas, and enjoyed eating zucchini slow-cooked in olive oil and sprinkled with feta cheese.

Biking- I've been walking to the grocery store for two years now.  In August I decided to ramp up my exercise level and started biking to the store some too.  I learned that gears are essential for biking on hills and that I can carry a watermelon, cantaloupe, and peaches in a backpack and still bike home.

Exploring Gluten-Free Grains– I learned to love my rice cooker this summer.  We now know the difference between jasmine and basmati rice and have discovered tasty filling quinoa (pronounced: keen-wa).  I also learned to make gluten-free chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies that tasted just like the regular kind.

Homemade Frappacinos–  I created this recipe based on what I thought the store bought Frappacinos were made of.  To make your own yummy cold breakfast drink: (1) disolve a 1/4 cup of sugar into 3 cups of  hot coffee, (2) pour into a container (I used empty glass cranberry juice jars), (3) add 3 cups milk,  (4) put lid on and shake, (5) put in refrigator over night. 

Jazz Dance Performance Class –  My dance teacher — the quietest, most polite supervillian I've ever met — convinced me to take her performance dance class.  I spent ten Sunday mornings — and countless evening crash-sessions by myself — learning our dance routine to Bob Fosse's "Big Spender".  We performed it to a packed house at the studio's small stage.  I enjoyed performing so much, I might actually try it again next summer.

Writing Retreat – Spent a few days with three writing friends in a large modern cabin tucked in the woods of Appalachia.  We chatted about books, TV, and writing.  Plus, I got some excellent advice on streamlining my projects and getting serious about actually finishing a novel.

Camping at Assateague –  I took the daughterling and two other teens camping at Assateague again.  The beauty of  this trip is how smoothly everything seems to go.  The girls are fun and capable, the weather turned out to be sunny, and there wasn't a single storm.

Vermont–  The daughterling and I visted Burlington, Vermont and loved it.  The lake is beautiful and the town has a fun bohemian-college feel that's pedestrian friendly.  We went on boat cruise, toured a teddy bear factory, visited a farm that makes its own cheddar cheese, and watched chocolate being made at the Lake Champlain Chocolate Company. There were all kinds of good restaurants, each with plenty of gluten-free options — as well as vegetarian and vegan choices– so I was able to eat crepes, pizza, and some sort of tasty polenta dish. Yum!

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