What I Liked About August

Cucumber Watermelon Salad

Cucumber Watermelon Salad

Lots to like and only a little not to – as usual!

In brief, the not-so-good:

My neighbour put up a chain link fence to keep her dogs in her yard. That’s OK – but then she moved out a year ago and left the house vacant. Someone comes by to mow the lawn, but that’s it. I am aggravated by the goldenrod and ragweed that have grown 6 feet tall against the fence, seeding themselves into my lawn. So finally I asked if I could weed them myself. The owner’s BF was a little surly, but agreed. It took me 10 hours to weed the 80 foot property line. Over the course of the month, I did another 8 hours weeding in my own yard! I don’t know if it’s wise to wish they’d put the house up for sale. A mildly negligent neighbour is better than an actively bad one 🙂

On a related note, the weather was cool this month and I “only” had to mow the lawn 3 times at over 90 minutes per. The lawn mower is acting up again, although I paid for two repairs this year already. I dread replacing it. I’m hoping it will last the season, until about November 15. I had such a laugh this month when I commiserated with a male co-worker about mowing the lawn. He was shocked that I mowed my own lawn and exclaimed, “Where is your husband?!” (Ahem, where indeed, Rom?) But it is all women who mow the lawns in my neighbourhood.

Besides the less-than-summery weather, I worked overtime this month to cover for co-workers, and worked the Saturdays of both long weekends, August 2 and 30. When added on to last month’s library renovation project, I feel like summer has passed me by. Fortunately, I like Fall best!

What I Liked:

I came up with a little plan to reach my target weight before my Fall vacations. The purpose being to allow me some leeway to put it back on, while eating better food elsewhere 🙂 I completely gave up snacking after dinner, and decided I would go out for ice cream or a dessert if I felt like it. We don’t have desserts with dinner, and stopped buying ice cream (to store in our own freezer) this summer because it had become a daily habit. I am really not fond of cake, cupcakes or brownies, but I like cheesecake, gelato, and other things I don’t make at home. So we had desserts a couple of times at my parents’ place, but that’s all. Had no desire whatsoever to leave the house at 7 or 8 or 9 pm and sit somewhere eating desserts!

I had a hard time at work after trying a Clif bar from the vending machine. They were so good I craved them every day! But I stopped at two. So I sat in my (freezing) office at work all month drinking coffee and eating peaches and I met my goal. (And finally fit into those cargo pants I bought in March and had to set aside for 6 months!)

Exercise-wise, I worked out 14 out of 22 work days, and commute-walked 78 km out of a potential 132, so that was good enough. Especially when adding in the gardening!

I found a great salad recipe, which has been featured in ads in all the food magazines this summer. It’s new to me, anyway. Cube equal amounts of cucumber and watermelon (I used about 8 ounces/240 g of each) and sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese and mint leaves. That’s it! Summer in a bowl.

For those of you who follow the Reading Down the House challenge, I struck out. I saved a short “chick lit” book for the last week of August, but it was so bad I couldn’t read it. I liked the authors’ previous novel The Nanny Diaries, but strongly urge you not to read Citizen Girl.

The (better) books I read in August were:

Movie_Fault Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. A young adult novel about kids with cancer who fall in love. I was prepared to find this treacly but I was pleasantly surprised. Smart-ass kids who don’t feel sorry for themselves and who seriously discuss the meaning of life (albeit in somewhat over-the-top, sparkling dialogue). I loved this book. Now afraid to see the movie.

Love Is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield. Following last month’s audio book of Just Kids, read by the author, I decided to listen to another of my favourite books in the author’s own voice. It didn’t really work to listen to the titles of the songs on the mix tapes. If you don’t know this book, you should read it and not listen to it (if possible). Listening was probably for hardcore fans and the print-challenged only. But having read all 3 of Rob Sheffield’s books, I am pretty hardcore.


The Village: 400 Years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues by John Strausbaugh. A social history of Greenwich Village in preparation for my upcoming New York trip. Loved it!

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton. I am behind schedule on the alphabet series – W is now in paperback, and X is due out by the end of next year.  V was OK, not brilliant, but I need to fill in the gaps and finish out the series.

Book_Summer Book

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson. An adult book by the creator of Finn Family Moomintroll! I didn’t know it existed until this summer, and a new copy was gifted to the library, so I got to read it. What a little gem! It reads like a parable: a strong-willed 6-year-old and her equally strong-willed grandmother live on a remote island in the Gulf of Finland, both antagonizing and understanding each other. Normally I dislike books that describe nature, but the setting was so important to the story that I was hooked. It reminded me of how differently I felt about the natural world when I was six.

Book_Pirate Penguin

Pirate Penguin vs Ninja Chicken Volume 1 by Rob Friesen: I needed a little levity!

Book_Advanced Style

Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen: a street fashion book (there’s also a blog) focusing on “women over 60” but most of the subjects are 70 to 100 years old. Most impressive!

I recently wrote a post on raising a transgender/genderqueer child, and was surprised to find there are some parenting books now available for us! I read Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son and Gender Born, Gender Made: Raising Healthy Gender-Nonconforming Children. Reviews to follow in another post.

I don’t see many movies, but I watched two DVDs this month:

Movie_Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club. The character Ron repulsed me to the point I almost didn’t watch the movie, and it’s too bad a transgender person never gets a transgender role, but the performances in this movie were excellent. Like everyone else, I was grotesquely fascinated by McConaughey and Leto dropping down to 136 and 114 pounds respectively for the sake of their craft.

Movie_American Hustle

American Hustle. I never counted myself a fan of Christian Bale until I saw this. Great plot! A crime-comedy?

Finally, Rom and I visit Link in Toronto and Rom’s parents in SE England every year. With both of our jobs, limited vacation time, and our relatives’ schedules, the trips are difficult to book. We were not able to fit in a trip to NYC last year despite saving for it for two years! So this Fall we are going to the UK in September AND New York in October. I am feeling very privileged but will enjoy every minute. Thanks to everyone for your suggestions of where to go and what to see!

What was your August like?


  1. What I like about August? The tomatoes.

  2. I’d rather have an empty house and cope with the extra weeding!….. you know how much neighbour trouble we have from the “Little Widow woman who butter wouldn’t melt” I definitely rather have weeds x

  3. Fiona

    10 *hours* of weeding! That is Beyond the Call. I think I’d be hoping for a sale, but subtly vetting the prospective purchasers and encouraging / discouraging them ‘as required’, lol!

    I’ve read Nanny Diaries and thought it was hilarious. But I won’t read Citizen Girl after that recommendation! When in September are you off to the UK? I’m so excited for you 😀

    • All of my other neighbours are fine. I actually feel really bad for the owner. *Gossip* She had a baby last year with a man who lives far across town and they moved in with him; but she has kept her house – because she is unsure of the relationship. So I don’t mind helping her out.

      UK tomorrow 🙂

      • Fiona

        Oh wow – have a great trip!! And after hearing the context…that’s great that you have helped so much with the garden work 😀

  4. We just watched (and loved!) American Hustle this last weekend. You’re right, Christian Bale was excellent.

    August has been all about settling into our new home and finding new routines. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m getting there. I can’t wait to hear about your travel adventures 🙂

    • I was going to say that American Hustle was the best thing I’d seen in ages, but since I watch so few movies, that’s not really relevant. I thought it was terrific!

      Happy to hear you are starting to get settled.

      The pound is up 20% against the Canadian dollar since I started visiting the UK, so that will temper my spendiness!

  5. I’ve been eating a lot of peach (or nectarine) and tomato salad, and melon with ancho pepper and lime. I’m rationing the beer, which is more of a problem than dessert.

  6. Gam Kau

    Sounds like you have had a productive August! This summer has flown by and I don’t feel I’ve been productive whatsoever. I do cut the grass though. With a reel mower. 🙂

  7. Sounds like you had a great August. I want to read the Fault in the Stars as I love John Greene, the writer. He’s smart and witty and I love his work on YouTube and Mental Floss.

    As for me, mine was filled with cake! Hahaha. Highlights include the season premier of Doctor Who! I also finished the Divergence series this month, two of Anthony Bourdain’s books, Hunger Games 1 and 2 books. I have the third one out from the library which I plan to read this weekend. Shouldn’t take me very long as I’m a fast reader.

    • You will have to blog what you think of the new doctor! I haven’t read Anthony Bourdain since Kitchen Confidential so I should catch up.

      • I’m not that much ahead of you… I only read Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour recently. (I was in the waitlist for the library borrow for the LONGEST time for both books. And they both became suddenly available at the same time!)

  8. Wow! 10 hours to mow someone else’s lawn is impressive.

    My favorite part of August was all the delightfully fresh produce in the farmers’ market. Loved them all. I’m not a big TV person but now you have me fascinated by American Hustle

  9. Holly

    Great recap. My favorite part of August was a long visit from family (and helped with my flower gardens, what a bonus!) followed by a condo stay in a resort area with my three “kids” and one and only grandson. Very nice and relaxing, and the wine wasn’t bad either. For produce: tomatoes, corn, and beets. Also we got the good news my husband is headed home from the hospital the end of this week. It’s been a long haul, since July 3. Even though that’s a September thing, we got the news in August so I’m claiming it for last month. 🙂

  10. My mother LOVES to mow, and I don’t think my father has ever done it (though my brothers have). I’m yet to have a home that needs it done!

    My August buzzed by oh so fast. I still don’t really know which was is up with work, and it’s effected most all other parts of my life. So much so, my non work, voluntary stuff, meant I just had to say ‘no’ to a weekend away to capitalise on the BF’s work commitments in a great city. I think I need some career goals, just do I’m looking at more than one foot in front of the other…!

  11. Glad the pros outweighed the cons. Same here. Salad looks good.

  12. Sounds like a great month, and lots to look forward to this month and next! I’ve heard a lot of praise for The Summer Book and Dallas Buyers Club – glad to hear you agree – they are both on my list! 🙂

    Yay for all that exercise! I started strong but diminished as the month went on.

  13. I love your plan of only eating dessert if you leave the house, that would totally work for me as well, as I basically don’t like leaving the house at all. The cucumber and watermelon salad sounds very good as well, I’ll have to give it a go when summer rolls around here.

    My August was fairly crazy despite not actually working much – I went to Melbourne to visit my family, then was sick with the flu for two weeks and then went to two conferences. I’m thinking September will be a little more low-key 🙂

  14. My kids loved the Moomintroll books–very happy to learn of another book by the author!
    My husband and I have been making banana/yogurt freeze for 30 years–definitely rings one’s ice cream chimes: freeze bananas, mix with yogurt. If you do it in a processor it takes on consistency of soft serve. If you use a blender, it is more like a shake. No kidding. I used to have a terrible ice cream addiction (eating a quart in a sitting….). Recipe is from Fast Vegetarian Feasts by Martha Shulman–not that you really need a recipe.

  15. The salad sounds delicious and as it is now spring, I’m looking forward to trying it! Congratulations on fitting into your pants 🙂

  16. What a great set of books (and wide ranging as usual)! I will definitely give some of those a look–you make an awesome librarian! 🙂

  17. Pingback: August: It’s a Wrap! | An Exacting Life

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