New York Times bestselling author, slow cooking expert and mommy blogger next door
  • Subscribe to newsletter
  • Follow me on Pinterest
  • Follow me on Twitter
  • Become a fan on Facebook
  • Follow me on Google Plus

Totally Together

Summer Plans

April 30, 2009 by  

purple-flowers Every year right around this time, I get an itch and become super eager for summer time. I want to be out more than in, I want to play more than work, and I want my kids home. I get impatient with rules and I-should-reallys and daydream about gardening and swimming and reading and playing and daydreaming. yup. I daydream about daydreaming. I love daydreaming. and  napping.

We don’t  have any elaborate plans for the summer, and are staying close to home. I haven’t signed the kids up for any classes or camps, and other than BlogHer, we don’t have any travel plans.

it’s going to be lovely. I think. I hope. I’m going to have to check back in August when I’m tired and hot and cranky. 😉

flowers-around-the-tree The kids and I planted a bunch of new flowers surrounding the front walkway last week, and around the front yard tree. I love the circle of flowers around the tree, it reminds me of a pixie circle, and if I allow myself I can see little fluttery beings living under the colorful petals and leaves, collecting dew drops to make secret potions and magical elixirs.

Yesterday afternoon we tackled the backyard, and purged the existing flower bed to make room for a teeny vegetable garden. I had already chicken-wired the bottom of the bed last summer thanks to a VERY. COURAGEOUS. gopher who taunted me pretty much daily before I wised up and put in the wire. He’s moved on to the lawn now. He may accidentally be killed with a pick ax. Soon.

Our backyard now boasts seven 4-inch plants: 3 types of tomatoes, a watermelon, a green bell pepper (totally wanted a red one, but the garden supply store was  out indoor-garden-out and the kids insisted they’d eat the bounty, and I bought it even though I know they were completely lying because it was on sale and I had another foot to fill), an eggplant, and the cutest little corn plant I ever did see. We also planted some pea and corn seeds. Kernels? Pods? whatever the dried peas and corn are called.

I hit the school supply store with my youngest yesterday and through an act of extreme restraint I didn’t buy everything in sight, and instead decided on workbooks from the Never Bored books—a series I hadn’t seen before. I got one for 7-8 year olds, and one for 4-5 year olds. I usually do the Summer Bridge books, but the kids get terribly bored after about 3 days, and I get annoyed and then I get annoyed at myself for getting annoyed. It’s a vicious cycle. This Never Bored seems to be what I was looking for—the activities don’t seem “schoolish” but involve problem solving and creative thought. My 4-year-old has done 6 activities in the past two days, though, so it doesn’t look like it will last the whole summer. I also got each kid a blank writing journal with appropriately-spaced lines.

My four-year-old BABY! dragged out the reading book, and we did 5 of the lessons last night in under 10 minutes. I guess it’s time to do it for reals.

And we hit the library. I had asked Karen a few weeks ago for some grown-up book suggestions, and she started a thread on BlogHer with some ideas. I library-bag printed out the list, and headed to the library. I wasn’t able to find all the books listed, but checked out a few that excited me. I have wanted to read The Poisonwood Bible for quite some time, but didn’t carve out the time to so. I’m about 100 pages in, and so far I’m liking it, although I find the jumping from character to character a bit annoying. I really like Kingsolver, though, and am pretty sure if I find a peaceful corner of the couch I’ll get sucked in and not want to walk away. Adam and I took a literature class together in college (back when we picked out classes together. calculus cured me of this romanticism.) and we were assigned The Bean Trees. boy I loved that book.

We checked out Old Town in the Green Groves which is totally tripping me out. It’s a “lost” Little House on the Prairie book, written by an author who pieced it together from reading unpublished journal entries Laura Ingalls Wilder let behind, chronicling two years that take place between On the Banks of Plum Creek and By the Shores of Sliver Lake.  I’ve read the kids the books up through Little Town on the Prairie, and we were excited to go back and read about Laura when she was 8-10 years old. In the second chapter, Caroline (Ma) gives birth to a baby boy, Charles Frederick (Freddie). Nine chapters later, he dies, at age one. I had NO idea there was another baby in the family. Laura never mentioned him in the other books, and now I want to learn more. This book doesn’t say how he died,  just that he did, and where he was buried.

The Television (insert creepy dum dum dum music). In past years, I’ve canceled the cable (we acutally have satellite,  but whatever) for the summer and we don’t watch any tv other than DVDs. We’ve already cut back on our cable (DISH) package due to the economy (I hate that phrase) so we’re already not watching much as it is. I don’t know what’s holding me back from going cold-turkey this year, but I think it might have something to do with The View and Oprah, which is probably not something I should share out loud. But I feel like they’ve been better this year! And I get to sit and drink coffee and veg while I fold laundry! ugh. I’m still decidering.

That said, I do like TV series on DVD and could actually use a new one, if anyone has any ideas. In the past few years, Adam and I have cranked through the following (and loved them):

The Wire, Veronica Mars, The West Wing, Commander in Chief, Arrested Development,  Weeds, Entourage, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

We just finished the last Weeds Netflix has to offer last night. There is nothing in the queue. It’s kind of depressing.

So those are our summer plans, or lack thereof. What about you? Big plans? Staying close to home? Any DVD recommendations?

Turtle and Skittles are enjoying the overgrown grass and fresh air, too. guinea-pigs

Post a comment · 50 Comments »


50 Responses to “Summer Plans”

  1. Gillian on April 30th, 2009 12:53 pm

    Extras, The Office (british and american versions are both awesome), Sopranos, Northern Exposure, Firefly, Deadwood (no children should hear the filthy language in this fantastic series), Six Feet Under, and the hub and I just recently went all the way through Seinfeld from beginning to end. Fantastic.

  2. Betsy on April 30th, 2009 12:58 pm

    You should check out Rosanne on DVD, it is truly a great series. I feel the same way! :) Homework? forget it! lol I also wanted to thank you for all your work. I have really enjoyed all that you put out there. And look forward to your books

  3. Emily on April 30th, 2009 12:58 pm

    I highly recommend the DVD’s of 24. It is addicting!!

  4. Angela on April 30th, 2009 1:06 pm

    Dexter. Seriously Dexter. And a million others. I’m a big TV person and it seems our tastes are similar. Life is also really good. Firefly.

  5. Stephanie on April 30th, 2009 1:26 pm

    WOAH! You guys are fast! I don’t know Firefly and Dexter, I’m going to look them up, and completely forgot about Northern Exposure. good ideas. THANK YOU!

    here’s my thing with Deadwood. I tried it, but in the very first scene they pull the guy’s legs and you hear his neck crack, then they kill the prostitute after she tries to defend herself, so I freaked out and yelled at the tv and ejected the disc. I’ve heard *such* wonderful things about the show, though. I should probably try again.

    I forgot to list the Sopranos. We did watch a lot of that, though not all the way through. Same with Sex and the City.

  6. EG on April 30th, 2009 1:34 pm

    I should try to get caught up on Weeds this summer. We’re several seasons behind and it’s a really entertaining show. I’m having a baby this summer, and although I remember not being able to watch an entire movie end-to-end after #1 was born, Weeds might must be the right length.

  7. Sarah in Georgia on April 30th, 2009 2:17 pm

    We just watched the first episode of _Breaking Bad_ (and there is only 1 season on DVD so far …) and I liked it. Have you tried _Mad Men_? Also, only one season available so far, and another one we liked. We’ve enjoyed _Heroes_, too, but we will only watch it when the complete “chapter” is available–too much drama to wait week-to-week (also my opinion of _24_). On Hulu, we watch _In Plain Sight_ and _Burn Notice_; I don’t know their status on Netfilx.

  8. Carmen on April 30th, 2009 2:59 pm

    We love the Little House on the Prairie DVD’s…we own them all and rotate through them. It takes about 2 years for us to get through the series. The kids love it! We’ve been reading through the Bible as a family…we’re on the one year plan but we’re about a month behind due to lots of sicknesses and a crazy schedule. We’re working on getting back on track. We are also reading a series of books based on animals in the midwest. One of them is Mitt the Michigan Mouse….through Mitten Press. We are gardening…starting from seed…it’s a lot of work but I think the kids will appreciate it! It’s still a bit chilly here in northern Indiana so our garden can’t get planted for a few more weeks. Love your blog…and the crock pot blog!!

  9. stephanie on April 30th, 2009 3:01 pm

    My husband and I love Heroes and Chuck. And you can watch almost all (except for the current season) of The Office on Netflix view instantly thing. :)

  10. HW on April 30th, 2009 3:23 pm

    Try “Monk”. It’s a tv series about an obsessive-compulsive homicide detective and very funny and pretty family-friendly for older kids.

  11. Summer on April 30th, 2009 3:27 pm

    I felt the same way about Poisonwood Bible. I had a tough time getting in because of the constant switching of characters, and also because there is not a lot of dialogue in the book, but I ended up getting hooked and not being able to put it down!

    I agree with people who have said Dexter – I loved that show! I also recommend the Tudors, it’s a Showtime series. I’ve been really into Tudor history, and would also recommend to read anything by Philipa Gregory.

    I’m a HUGE library rat and love to read, so here are some other book suggestions:
    – Shopaholic series (frivolous, easy to read)
    – The Twentieth Wife
    – The Feast of Roses (sequel to Twentieth Wife)
    – Graceling
    – The Hunger Games
    – The Book Thief
    – The Uglies series (there are four books)
    – Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
    – Kabul Beauty School
    – Water for Elephants
    – Kite Runner
    – A Thousand Splendid Suns

    I could go on and on…… :)

  12. Jen from KY on April 30th, 2009 3:28 pm

    We loved the BBC series Monarch of the Glen (it’s not like Masterpiece Theater stuff) – it was so fun and the characters were great – when we finished the last episode on the last disc of the last season…both my husband and I felt like we lost some friends (geeky I know) – but it’s great!

  13. Denise M. on April 30th, 2009 3:38 pm

    DEXTER!! We love that show and am holding my breath for the most recent season to become available. I just got through Life and really liked that one. I wanted to share mainly because we have been without cable/dish for about a year now. We really look forward to the Netflix, but have found more time doing better quality things without the constant annoyance. I used it for background noise, which has been replaced with some really good cds. The music seems to keep all of our spirits up. I especially like Jamie Soles as it playfully goes through various Bible stories that are quite catchy. I listen to talk radio for news during dinner prep and am reading the paper- some, but hard to find a good one round these parts.

  14. Suzer on April 30th, 2009 4:07 pm

    Madmen! Sex, lies, retro fashion and a really hot leading man. Nothing better! Season 2 comes out on DVD in July!

  15. Kathleen S. on April 30th, 2009 4:16 pm

    Baby Freddie died from the same fever that made Mary blind. Laura’s publisher made her remove 2 years from her chidlhood at some point in her books. In Little House in the Big Woods, Laura is meant to be 5, when in fact she was 3. These lost 2 years get By the Shores of Silver Lake back on track timewise.

    My DH and I have set up a Facebook page to honor 3 ingredient dip – you know, the ‘mommy crack.’ We’d love to have you as a member!

  16. Jenny on April 30th, 2009 4:30 pm

    Hey Steph I can’t wait for summer either because it means I will finally have this baby! I feel like I’ve been pregnant for 20 months! Unless you have a pool already set up for your summer fun I have open access to my Aunt’s pool and would love to have you join us! To all of you who wonder if Stephanie is really as funny and genuine in person as on her blog – let me assure you that while I don’t know her well, she is totally together :) and her kids are wonderful!

  17. DeeDee on April 30th, 2009 6:59 pm

    The X-Files
    Gilmore Girls
    The Office

    Oh. books…how I LOVE books.
    I just found a little gem : “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” By Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
    It’s so sweet and perfect and interesting. I love it.

    (oh, my Zukes are sprouting. I love the summer veggie garden!)

  18. Christina on April 30th, 2009 7:09 pm

    Oh, TV on DVD…

    Currently, I am watching library copies of JAG, and will move on to NCIS next.
    Recently, I went through The Shield and LOVED it.
    Northern Exposure is on my wishlist.
    I recently did season 1 of Picket Fences with a friend, and I want more.
    Watching Harper’s Island (on network TV) has inspired me to watch more short-run shows/long miniseries type shows. I recently watched Taken, and V, and have Twin Peaks on order from the library. All are good for weekend marathons!
    M*A*S*H is one of my comfort food favorites.
    Another is Strong Medicine.
    I’m watching Firefly on Wednesday nights with a friend, and in a similar vein, we’d watched Jack of All Trades last year.
    We have also watched, together: Battlestar Galactica (old and new series); Space: Above and Beyond; Alien Nation; Kyle XY; Brisco County, Jr.; Wonderfalls; and lots of other good shows I can’t think of.
    Another friend and I plan to watch X-Files on Sunday nights next fall.

    I hope at least something on my list appeals to you! :)

  19. Carrie on April 30th, 2009 7:16 pm

    I love your guinea pigs! Don’t they make the best pets?! I had them as a kid and I would love to have another except my wiener dog thinks that all critters smaller than her are chew toys or dinner…

  20. Sarah on April 30th, 2009 10:13 pm

    TV on DVD: You MUST get psych…it’s a show about a fake psychic who really solves crimes. And has Dule Hill from West Wing. My toddlers LOVE it. (it’s one of the few shows we watch while they’re awake)

    Also, I see your Chuck and Gilmore Girls and raise you a Burn Notice (a show about a burned spy trying to get his life back, but he helps all these people along the way. And it has the girl from Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, all grown up and a munitions expert. FUN!)

  21. Elana O'Neill on May 1st, 2009 6:08 am

    I went on a big Laura Ingalls Wilder kick when my daughter was a baby and I had some “free time” (by that I mean, sitting on the couch nursing constantly). There are several biographies that are very interesting reading. Also about her daughter Rose and who really wrote all those books. For the kids, did you know there are the series about her great grandmother, grandmother, mother, and daughter? Lots of fun reading all around.

  22. Natalie on May 1st, 2009 8:32 am

    I LOVE to watch TV on DVD too. I hardly watch any TV on TV anymore. Just the news, the weather channel. And I can get those on the internet, so really, I should cancel my cable too! I own a lot of sets on on DVD, but my taste is more towards the sci-fi/fantasy genre: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Farscape, Lost, Veronica Mars, BattleStar Gallatica, Buck Rogers (had to get it for the disco pants!), StarGate. Stephanie, if you like Veronica Mars, you will enjoy Buffy, seriously. They are the same, except with Vampires, lol!

  23. Jennifer on May 1st, 2009 9:13 am

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Still way fun, and my all time favorite.

  24. Amanda on May 1st, 2009 10:13 am

    What about the Felicity DVDs? I have all four seasons, and even my hubby likes it….okay, he watches it.

  25. Erin on May 1st, 2009 11:54 am

    Great thread here — I have already gotten a lot of ideas for myself…
    For books:
    As a librarian (children’s) I read A lot. But I have been reading tween books for my older readers to preview them. I am actually enjoying those books more than grown-up books!
    The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Newbery Winner this year)
    Animal Vegetable, Miracle by Kingsolver (awesome)
    Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (inspiring)
    Three Cups of Tea (Also inspiring, I am 1/3 of the way through it)

    For DVDs
    How I Met Your Mother
    Gilmore Girls definitely!
    Seventh Heaven (but not the last 2 seasons – it got ridiculous at the end)

  26. chichimama on May 1st, 2009 4:25 pm

    Arrested Development. I tell you, the funniest show ever, and also 20-25 minute episodes.

    In my cue is the Tudors, on my sister’s reccomendation. Also, I second the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my husband and I were addicted to it for a few summers. We just started watching How I met your Mother, and hubby loves 2 1/2 Men, although I have to say I don’t get it.

  27. Rachel W on May 1st, 2009 7:27 pm

    On the subject of peppers; no pepper stays green; green(including all of the bell peppers you see at the supermarket) is an immature pepper. Peppers can ripen to a number of different colors, but the most common is red. You probably got a pepper that will ripen to red if you give it enough time. Enjoy.

  28. Katherine on May 1st, 2009 7:30 pm

    Sports Night! It’s a pre-West Wing Aaron Sorkin project, with Felicity Huffman and the guy who plays Will on the West Wing as the most adorable sports-loving nerd in the whole entire world.

  29. Corrie on May 1st, 2009 8:11 pm

    A lot of the TV shows I was going to list are already listed. Firefly, Arrested Development, The Office, Burn Notice, NCIS, Monk, Gilmore Girls (although IMO the last season STUNK)… we also like Alias, Friends- which is a good fall-back, turn on when you’re doing other stationary stuff, etc. We like Big Bang Theory and Bones.

    Books: well, it depends upon taste. I love the Jack Reacher books, and the Repairman Jack books (by F. Paul Wilson). The first is more action, but using your head. The second is action and a bit of supernatural thrown in. I also love Ann Rule books- she write true crime, and BOY those are addicting! James Patterson is good, the lady who wrote The Mephisto Club is really good, and she’s written a whole bunch. Fluff wise, Janet Evanovich is hysterical!!

    I’m overseas right now, so I could not for the life of me tell you what’s hot on the bookshelves right now. And I know that when I DO get to hit up that glorious building known as the Public Library, I will carry out far more than I will ever have time to read. But I do love books.

  30. Corrie on May 1st, 2009 8:20 pm

    Me again. Is it just me, or did the price on the Totally Together Journal go up?!?!? I’m pretty sure I remember it being $6.95. And wasn’t it supposed to be released in April?? Now, I’m NOT fussing at you, Steph, but who’s butt do we need to kick to get in gear??

  31. gfe-gluten free easily on May 2nd, 2009 6:20 pm

    Summer always holds such promise. After I quit teaching, and, therefore, no longer had summers off, it took me a long time to wrap my mind around not having that long block of time! Love all your flowers and there are some great recommendations here. I had forgotten about Sports Night–that was a terrific show. Six Feet Under was awesome. I hear really good stuff about Dexter, but can’t bring myself to watch it–given the subject matter. I do a lot of audio books and recently I’ve listened to Elizabeth Berg’s The Day I Ate Everything I Wanted (short stories) and Dream When You’re Feeling Blue. Both were excellent. I’d read a lot of stuff of hers before, but was not familar with those. The latter one was very educational on how American familes dealt with World War II. I just listened to another Adriania Trigiani book, Queen of the Big Time. I love all her books. Very down to earth, but heartwarming. Enjoy!


  32. Haley on May 2nd, 2009 6:24 pm

    Dexter and Firefly definately!

    And Deadwood when the kids are in bed.

    How I met your mother is soooo cute and funny. I didn’t get anything done over my christmas vacation because of it.

  33. Jessica Moore on May 2nd, 2009 8:22 pm

    ooh, I totally agree with the person who said Chuck! really good show : )
    and of course The Office.
    Have you read the Narnia series by CS Lewis? LOVED it. I was so sad to start reading the last one, because I didn’t want them to end! And they’re short, so you don’t feel like you have to really commit! LOL!

  34. Allie on May 4th, 2009 12:21 pm

    I am a HUGE tv on DVD fan. My sister and I are on our second run of Veronica Mars, so sad that it’s only 3 seasons! We also watch: Bones, King of Queens, Gilmore Girls, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill and sometimes, when we’re feeling especially teeny-bopper-ish, we watch Dawson’s Creek. Gotta love that teenage melo-drama! I think my next on deck is Desperate Housewives.

  35. Amanda on May 5th, 2009 10:27 am

    I absolutely love the series “Life”. There is only one season out on dvd so far, but the next season should be out within the next couple of months and my fiance and I are eagerly awaiting it. Its great!

  36. Sarah on May 5th, 2009 2:35 pm

    I have to put a plug in for my all time favorite series: Roswell. It’s on Netflix and is about 10 years old. It didn’t last too long but should have! Ultimately it is about teenage aliens trying to fit in with everyone else. If you liked Veronica Mars you will probably like Roswell too.

  37. Debbie on May 6th, 2009 12:36 pm

    Oh… I want to live your life.
    I’ve already done it tho…so now..on to the grandkids!! Grandma and summer fun, go together, right?
    love Barbara Kingsolver…. the PoisenWood Bible was really ….thought provoking.

  38. Bonnie on June 8th, 2009 5:42 pm

    so I’m a little late posting for this but I’ll offer my 2cents anyway :) If you love action def. try “24” it’s sooo good. I had to rent the entire 2nd season at one time becuase it’s that addicting! We also love all the CSI’s and Criminal Minds.

    If you like a good murder mystery I’d suggest Jonathan and/or Faye Kellerman books… my favorites!

  39. Lisa on May 20th, 2013 12:52 pm

    I can’t believe no one mentioned Downton Abbey! Mark and I devoured it! So addictive. :-). xi

  40. Lisa on May 20th, 2013 12:59 pm

    No one mentioned Downton Abbey??? It is AWESOME. You will want to watch all if the episodes all at once. It’s like a really good book! You can’t put it down.

    Hubby even loved it!


  41. Stephanie on April 30th, 2009 1:36 pm

    congratulations on your upcoming baby! I think netflix only has through season 3—they’re only about 20-25 minutes on dvd, which means I GET SO SUCKED IN and watch 4 a night. :-)
    oxxo steph

  42. Stephanie on April 30th, 2009 1:36 pm

    thank you, Betsy. xox steph

  43. Stephanie on April 30th, 2009 5:26 pm

    ooh, Summer, thanks for the book recs.
    xox steph

  44. Stephanie on April 30th, 2009 5:26 pm

    aw, thanks Jenny. xoxox steph

  45. Stephanie on April 30th, 2009 7:16 pm

    thanks, DeeDee for reminding me about Gilmore Girls. It’s my friend Nancy’s fav show and I totally forgot about it. My queue is growing! xoxo steph

  46. Stephanie on April 30th, 2009 7:16 pm

    Jag! Picket Fences! oooh, good ideas. I forgot about those. Harper’s Island? gonna look it up. thank you! xoxo steph

  47. Katherine on May 1st, 2009 7:30 pm

    Also Bones is great.

  48. Corrie on May 1st, 2009 8:14 pm

    About the Burn Notice girl- seriously!?!?!? That makes me feel so… so… OLD!!!! Holy cow!

  49. Carmen on May 2nd, 2009 2:46 pm

    Oooh! What is that series? I would love to read it?!

  50. Stephanie O'Dea on May 2nd, 2009 3:11 pm

    no, it’s not you. They’ve changed some stuff—I’ll update when I can.
    xoxo steph

Leave a reply