What I’m Into September 2014

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September is at an end, and it’s well and truly fall now. This is the view from my window as I’m typing. See the bits of colour starting to show on the leaves? As usual, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this past month.

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Books

I’ve finally finished going through the huge pile of books I requested from the library, which means I’m in the market for new reading material suggestions (here’s where you come in, other WIIers. i’ll be getting most of my new crop of suggestions from your favourite reads of the month). I read a total of 13 books this month.

  • Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. Devoured in less than a day, and I was really groggy the next morning. Totally worth it. The whole trilogy was fantastic
  • Enchanted and Hero by Alethea Kontis. Y’all know how much I love riffs on fairy tales, and these were a lot of fun. The first one is a Cinderella/Princess and the Frog mashup and, while I didn’t recognize the base story of the second one, it still had that fairy tale feel to it. I will definitely keep an eye out for book 3 (Dearest), which is slated for release sometime in the coming year.
  • The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I read this on Leigh (Kramer)’s recommendation and loved it. It’s set in a fantasy version of pre-Revolution Russia, and I’m a sucker for good world-building. My only qualm was that an unrealistic number of people were in love with the heroine.
  • The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. This is a debut fantasy novel that looks to be the first part of a planned series. I liked the heroine and the plot, but the world-building drove me up the wall. It felt like the author was making it up as she went along. It’s supposedly set in our future, on some new continent that magically materialized on Earth, but the tech level is medieval and there is absolutely no contact with the Americas or Afroeurasia. When I am supreme ruler of the universe. Every fantasy author will be required to begin their book with a brief history of the world they have created (and, if applicable, state exactly when that history deviates from our own). All that being said, I would still totally read the other books in the series when they come out.
  • The Revenge of Seven by Pittacus Lore. This is the latest installment in the Lorien Legacies series. I still want the authors to wrap it up already, but this one actually had some twists I wasn’t expecting. It was better than the past few books in the series.
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. It wasn’t bad, but who sets a romance between two teenagers in the 1980’s and then doesn’t tell you what happened to them in the modern day? I felt ripped off, a little.
  • The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine. This was a takeoff on Twelve Dancing Princesses set in 1920’s New York, which I read at Cara‘s recommendation. I enjoyed it but missed the magical elements of the story.
  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. I loved this book. It feels like a perfect choice for a book club read. I liked the ending but also liked that it didn’t arrive at its ending in too facile a manner, which it easily could have.
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me and Other Concerns by Mindy Kaling. I got some laughs out of this book, but it was a bit disjointed and overall I preferred Tina Fey’s Bossypants.
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. You guys, this book wrecked me. I kept hoping that it would end differently, and I was even sure it would until the last few chapters. Still a good read, but it takes an emotional toll.

TV

This month, I brought myself up date on back episodes of New Girl (did they really have to break up Nick and Jess? Really?). I also went back to The Mindy Project, and found it less annoying this time. I have to say, though, Danny was such a tool for most of season 2 that it was hard to properly celebrate their getting together at the end.

We’re also still watching through Fresh Prince and The West Wing and enjoying seeing some of our favourite shows start up again (hello Downton Abbey).

Food

I actually posted a recipe to this blog for the first time in nearly a year. These Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter Sugar Cookies were just too good not to share.

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Other favourite foods of the month included these Peach Shortcakes with Honeyed Whipped Cream, this Spinach, Turkey, and Butternut Squash Autumn Lasagna, and this Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova. As usual, you can catch my other favourite recipes I tried on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest board.

IRL

Grad students aren’t as affected by the start of the school year as undergraduates because a) we’re expected to keep working during the summer and b) many of us don’t have classes anymore. Even so, it changes your routine. I’m loving being back to TA work. Also, I have my written comps coming up in two days and my oral comps at the end of the month, so I’ve been trying to prepare for that. I’m not too worried. Goodness knows I can talk about Reformation history ad nauseum anyway, so this past month has just been a matter of going back over my notes and making sure my thoughts are clearly organized.

In lighter IRL news, I also had the chance to visit the new board game cafe in Waterloo, which I really enjoyed. We’ve already acquired one new game for our collection after trying it out there. It’s a cooperative board game called Forbidden Island, and it’s reminiscent of a simplified Pandemic (another favourite of ours). We’ll be going again with some friends on Wednesday night. Does it make me a dork that board games are my post-comps celebration of choice? Undoubtedly, but I embrace it.

Anyway, that’s it for me for this month. Be sure to head over to Leigh’s page to check out some of the other contributions.

Brown Butter Sea Salt and Nutella-Stuffed Sugar Cookies

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I know, I haven’t posted a new recipe on this blog in nearly a year. It’s mostly because I’ve discovered Pinterest, and Pinterest accomodates both my desire to share recipes and my laziness. But these are too good not to share. I got the base recipe from Cookin’ Canuck and decided to brown the butter, because when has browning butter not improved a cookie recipe? (The answer is never, by the way). The main innovation of this recipe was freezing the Nutella in small dollops before stuffing the cookies. I tried making Nutella-stuffed chocolate chip cookies once and, while they were delicious, they were a royal pain to assemble. Freezing the Nutella makes the process much more manageable. And the end result? Well, it’s absolutely beautiful. Just look at that Nutella centre!

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You’ll need:

  • ~3/4 cup Nutella
  • 1 1.2 cups + 1/3 cup, divided
  • 14 tablespoons (1 cup minus 2 tablespoons) butter, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ~1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper. Dollop your Nutella onto the lined cookie sheet, and place in the freezer. You’ll want 3 dozen or so dollops, about a teaspoon each. If you have extra, you’ll just have to eat it. I know, life is hard. Next, brown your butter in a saucepan (here’s a handy guide, if you’ve never done it before). Transfer your browned butter to a heatproof mixing bowl, and let cool a few minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups sugar. Next, add the eggs one at a time and the vanilla, then stir in the baking powder and salt. Fold in the flour and mix until smooth. Wrap cookie dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Form your chilled cookie dough into 1-inch balls. One at a time, flatten the balls of cookie dough into 3 inch circles, and place a few grains of sea salt and a frozen dollop of Nutella in the middle. If the Nutella starts to thaw, put the baking sheet back in the freezer for a few minutes. Wrap the dough around the Nutella and roll the cookie in the reserved 1/3 cup of sugar. Place cookies on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 11-13 minutes, and let the cookies cool on the pan a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Enjoy!

What I’m Into August 2014

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Another month has come and gone, this one mostly on Canadian soil. I’m linking up once again with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this August.

Books

We road tripped to New Brunswick to visit family, which means I finished all 22 books I borrowed from the public library this month. I’m not even ashamed. Every  last one of them was YA, most of them were redone fairy tales. I think my favourite was Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross, a take on Sleeping Beauty with a few other fairy tales thrown in for good measure. Jackson Pearce’s series of fairy tale reboots set in Georgia was pretty good, but surprisingly dark, and I couldn’t put down Daughter of Smoke and Bone and its sequel. I’m nearly at the top of the library queue for book 3 and looking forward to it. Kerstin Gier’s Ruby Red series was pretty good as well (who doesn’t love time travel?), although I thought the ending was a bit much.

TV

I may or may not have binge-watched the entire sixth season of Drop Dead Diva in the first two days of the month. I’m glad they’ve finally wrapped it up and brought resolution to the whole Jane/Grayson arc (although am I the only one who wishes that Stacey and Fred could have stayed a thing? Owen’s nice, but I liked Fred better for her). Now, Aaron and I are watching through Fresh Prince (a re-watch for me, and I’m realizing anew how much Will is not as cool as he thinks he is) and The West Wing (which we’re loving. Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn is just so adorably earnest.) I’m also watching through New Girl on my own, mostly for all the schadenfreude.

Movies

We watched The Giver in theatres. I was prepared for disappointment, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see what they’d done with the book. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. I thought the whole boundary of memory plot line they added strained credulity, though.

Music

I’ve had a few new favourite music finds this month. I enjoyed the debut album by Colony House. It’s a band made up of two of Steven Curtis Chapman’s sons (and a friend), but they’ve grown and found their own musical sound since their earlier musical efforts as Stevenson. I really like what they have to offer, and the first single off their album has really taken off.

I’m also enjoying music from Citizens (now Citizens and Saints), a former worship band at Mars Hill (I know, it’s like I don’t even know myself. They’ve left the church, though, so I don’t feel so weird about it.) The first single off their new album is ridiculously catchy, and I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of it later this fall.

Food

You know what I’m really into? Being back in my own kitchen and making my own meals. Seriously, I’m loving it, especially since we made it back just in time for peach season. As usual, I’ve made up a What I’m Into Pinterest Board for the month with some of its culinary highlights. My very favourite recipes of the month include these phenomenal Strawberry Balsamic Grilled Chicken and Bacon Quesadillas, these Baked Peaches with Cardamom Streusel, and this simple but delicious Chicken, Sun-Dried Tomato, and Pesto Pasta.

IRL

We were able to take a week and a half and go to New Brunswick to see our families, which was lovely. We got to celebrate my niece’s first birthday, catch up with friends and family we hadn’t seen in several months, and see my sister before she went off to be an au pair in France for a year (I’m seriously excited for her, I think she’ll have a great time). Aaron and I also spent a day camping with my family. I can’t say I’m wild about camping, but I did like getting to spend time with my family, and the location (Deer Island, near the border with Maine) was gorgeous. Also this month, Aaron and I celebrated 3 years of marriage on the 20th. We didn’t do much to celebrate, as it came in the middle of a very short trip home and we wanted to make the most of the time we had there, but we’ll likely find a way to celebrate just the two of us in the coming month.

That’s it for me for the month, be sure to check out Leigh’s blog for more link-up contributions.

What I’m Into July 2014

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July is almost at an end, which means our time in England is wrapping up also. Sadface. As usual, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what my last month has looked like.

Books

I had several long train rides this month, so I got a ton of reading done. I devoured GIllian Flynn’s Gone Girl, but also found it really unsettling. I doubt I’ll be rereading it. I also read La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith, Jesus Is Better Than You Imagined by Jonathan Merritt, A Farewell to Mars by Brian Zahnd, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (pretty sure I didn’t stop cringing for the entire first half of that book). The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett (which was great), and Someday Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham (which made for fun, light travel reading). It was also the month of YA reading. I read Cruel Beauty and Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge at the recommendation of Mary from Giving Up on Perfect, who always finds the best YA and fantasy novels. These are redone fairy tales, a genre of which I’m especially fond. I did get a bit distracted by the world-building at times, trying to piece it all together. As far as I can tell, it’s set in an alternate version of Great Britain, which became the last bastion of an even more Hellenized (and never Christianized) Roman Empire, although when settings, outfits, etc. are described it seems almost Victorian. At any rate, I could not put these down. I also read four more redone fairy tales by Jessica Day George, (Her Twelve Dancing Princesses series, plus Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, her retelling of a Nordic fairy tale with Cupid and Psyche overtones). Lisa Bergren’s post-apocalyptic fantasy YA novel Remnants: Seasons of Wonder, released at last this month. I didn’t find it as good as her trilogy of the Gifted (which I loved loved loved), but I still devoured it in an evening. Evan Angler’s Spark, however, was mostly disappointing. He’s been dragging the series on too long, and it’s getting increasingly bizarre. This book featured a sentient Internet that secretly controls the whole world and does God’s bidding, so…

Television

I got into the FIFA World Cup in a pretty big way (used up my caring about sports quota for probably about 4 years). I was lucky enough to be in Germany for the quarterfinal game against France, and it was a fantastic experience. Here I am with my sisters after the game. Obviously, I was thrilled with the result of the tournament.

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I also finished binge-watching Ugly Betty, which I did enjoy, even if it was completely over the top.

Music

I’ve been loving this companion CD to Ragamuffin, the new movie about the life of Rich Mullins. Andy Gullahorn’s cover of Peace is probably my favourite track on the CD, but the only one that seems to be up on Youtube yet is Derek Webb’s cover of Creed.

I also got to listen to the Monster Ceilidh band perform at the Tramlines Music Festival in Sheffield, and they were absolutely delightful. I’m listening to their Mechanical Monster CD as I type this.

Food

I didn’t get a chance to cook much this month (being back in my own kitchen in a few days’ time will be nice), but I did make this phenomenal lime yogurt cake with blackberry sauce for Aaron’s birthday. It’s simple, elegant, and delicious. What can I say, Deb from Smitten Kitchen always knocks it out of the park.

Travelling

Aaron and I kicked off the month with a week in Germany, where we met up with my parents and siblings to visit my mom’s side of the family. We were even able to be there to celebrate my uncle’s 50th (last time we were all in Germany was for his wedding 12 years ago). It was so wonderful being able to spend time with everyone, especially my grandmother, who is in much better spirits than when I saw her in February at my grandfather’s funeral.

While we were in Germany, we also took the opportunity to see Munster (which has been on my bucket list for some time) and Cologne. 

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This is my uncle photobombing the Cologne cathedral, which may just be my favourite of all the lovely churches I’ve seen this summer.

Back in England, we went into Brighton for Aaron’s birthday, to watch a local performance of Into the Woods, which was great fun. We also visited the beautiful city of Bath, and got to hear evensong at Bath Abbey.

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We also got to see some Downton Abbey costumes at the Bath Fashion Museum, and I may have gone a bit fangirly.

We hit up the town of Stratford-Upon-Avon, where we visited a bunch of Shakespeare family houses and went for a short cruise on the River Avon 

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This is the church where Shakespeare was baptized and buried, as seen from the water.

Finally, last weekend, we went into Yorkshire to visit a friend who lives in Sheffield. She showed us around many of the city’s lovely parks and we spent quite a lot of time at the folk venue of the Tramlines Music Festival, which was just lovely. The next day we all went up to York, which is just a gorgeous city and well worth a visit. You can even walk along the city walls. And of course you should visit York Minster, the city’s gorgeous cathedral.

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We’ve loved getting to travel all over England (and I’m kind of starting to feel like a pro at navigating their rail system), but that’s drawing to a close. We’ve got this coming Saturday to tour London, and then we’ll be flying back to Ontario. I’m sorry to leave Great Britain, as I’ve loved my visit here, but I’m also looking forward to being home again, sleeping in my own bed and cooking in my own kitchen, not to mention being back in my own church (which has gained at least two new babies in the time we’ve been gone, I hear).

That’s about it for me for the month. Be sure to head over to Leigh’s blog to check out some of the other submissions.

What I’m Into June 2014

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Another month, another link-up. Once again, I’m joining with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this month.

 

Reading

I’m afraid that, despite luggage restrictions, I’ve succumbed all too often to the temptation of picking up books from English bookshops (because, hello, English bookshops). I loved Martin Sexsmiths’ The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, although the ending upset me so much I froze and nearly missed my train stop. I hope to see the movie with Judi Dench sometime. I laughed out loud at John Green and David Levithan’s Will Grayson Will Grayson and at the new (!) Adrian Plass book (Adrian Plass is a riot. If you’ve ever been part of a charismatic church, you’ll identify with his sacred diaries so much). P.D. James’ Death Comes to Pemberley was an enjoyable way to revisit the Austen universe. I also read Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath, the Testing trilogy by Joelle Charbonneau, Elizabeth Esther’s Girl at the End of the World, Generous Spaciousness by Wendy Gritter, and Elora Nicole’s Every Shattered Thing.

 

Watching

After anticipating them for months, I got a chance to watch Maleficent and The Fault in Our Stars. Both were good, although I’m having difficulty getting past the fact that Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort just played siblings in Divergent. I was also introduced to Sunshine Over Leith and its infectious soundtrack by friends here at the castle, which I enjoyed. I was less than enamoured, however, with Bridget Jones’ Diary and Legally Blonde II. My favourite watches of the month were definitely The Lizzie Benett Diaries (I tried to get into them when they first came out and couldn’t, but this time I watched them practically straight through. Watching the evolution of Mary Kate Wiles as Lydia was especially moving) and The Bletchley Circle (a bit formulaic at time, but who doesn’t love period dramas about smart women solving mysteries). Currently, I’m binge-watching Ugly Betty, which is occasionally over the top but fun  nevertheless.

 

Listening

Sarah Bessey mentioned this song a few weeks back, and I haven’t been able to stop listening to it. Such beautiful. So truth. Wow. (I’ve developed a bit of a habit of speaking in Doge lately, unfortunately)

I was also able to track down a favourite childhood album (Hella Heinzmann’s Die Hochzeit zu Kana) on itunes, which has made for an enjoyable stroll down memory lane.

 

Online

I loved Micah J. Murray’s 4 Reasons I’m Not Going to Heaven, and I keep coming back to this grace-filled post from Addie Zierman. So good!

 

IRL

We’re still loving all the day trip opportunities here in England. We kicked off the month with a trip to the lovely city of Oxford

The Ashmolean may just be our favourite British museum we’ve seen so far.

Double Decker Tour Bus Selfie

The Eagle and the Child, a pub frequented by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. I may have been fangirling a bit.

We also got in to Battle Abbey and the (purported) site of the Battle of Hastings

The doors were super low. I’m 5’4″ and barely had any clearance.

Our next day trip was to Canterbury, where I had to talk myself out of purchasing a teddy bear in Archbishop’s vestments for 85 pounds.

How ’bout that cathedral (although, is it blasphemous of me to say that I prefer Salisbury’s cathedral?)

Also, we decided to take the bus to Paris for a day and a half, because that’s totally feasible here. I know, right?

Stereotypical Paris tourist shots.

Cluny and the Middle Ages Museum–my favourite part of the tour (and they gave me free admission for studying history and have thereby secured my undying loyalty)

We also took a break from all the medieval history tourism to make a stop at Bletchley Park, an important place in computing history (this is what happens when a historian and a computer scientist go on vacation)

The WWII propaganda posters on the walls were my favourite. I think this is meant to be sung to the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It.

On the more professional side of things, I spent the better part of the last two weeks doing artifact processing (which is a fancy way of saying I washed medieval bone and pottery shards with a toothbrush) on an archaeological dig, which was a really great experience

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This was my view while I was working. Gorgeous, no?

I also had the chance to head over to Goldsmiths for an academic conference on early modern prophecy, which was a fantastic experience. I didn’t have a paper to present, so I just got to go and soak everything in. It was totally worth the daily commute into London for the duration of the conference.

I brought my new owl purse from Asda (British Walmart) to the conference, because it’s pretty fab.

And, in between working and day-tripping, I finally managed to finish a family tree cross-stitch I’d been working on. Just in time, too, as it’s a gift for my uncle’s 50th birthday next week.

That’s it for me for this month. Be sure to head over to Leigh’s page to see some of the other posts.

 

What I’m Into May 2014

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Once again, I’m linking up with the lovely Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been up to for the past month. May may win a prize for most eventful month (so far) of 2014. Here’s where I’ve been living for the past 2 and a half weeks.

Okay, strictly speaking, I’ve been staying in a dormitory a 5 minute walk away, but I take all my meals here, so that counts for something, right? I’m spending the summer as a graduate student researcher at the Bader International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle in Sussex, and it’s pretty fabulous.

More than anything, I’ve just been struck with how old (in the best possible way) everything in England is. I’ve eaten at multiple 600 year old pubs, visited ruins that are thousands of years old, and handled 14th century documents (so cool!). I had my first visit to the archive, and then my second, and feel a little bit less like crying when I try to read medieval Latin handwriting, so that’s progress, right?

That’s a medieval scroll. I know, right?! I’m totally geeking out over this.

Also, while I’m mostly doing historical research, I did spend a bit of time participating in some of the archaeology field school’s activities. Here we are mapping the remains of a WWII RAF camp.

And here I am, clad in this lovely massive poncho, ready to help clear a churchyard for an archaeological dig. I later managed to pull both hamstrings doing this and sort of put myself out of commission for the rest of the week, but it was still a really good experience.

I’m seriously regretting not buying that poncho in bright yellow. I think it would have made my outfit that much better.

Tourism

Since we’re in England, we’ve been trying to make frequent day trips and take in as much as we can. We’ve been into London, Kent, and Wiltshire so far, and we’re planning a trip to Oxford this weekend.

We got to see Hever Castle, the ancestral home of Anne Boleyn (more recently purchased and prettified by the Astor family)

We also scoured the British Museum on a day trip into London.

My personal favourite item in the BM: a late medieval English life of Christ from apocryphal sources. In the top right corner, parents are stuffing their children into ovens to keep them from playing with Jesus.

Also, how cool are these Egyptian rubber ducks from the gift shop?

And then, on our way back to the train station, we noticed that Wicked was playing at the Apollo Theatre and spontaneously got tickets (yay student discounts!) It was amazing. Seriously, the highlight of my month (and it was a really good month).

In other touristy news, we drove past Stonehenge. It looked bigger irl.

And we toured the Salisbury Cathedral, which was unbelievably gorgeous, notwithstanding the marks left by Reformation iconoclasm.

The inside. My 6’4″ husband doesn’t often feel small, but he did here.

TV

We haven’t watched a ton of TV since arriving in England, but we did finish watching Parenthood before coming here. The Joel and Julia storyline has been tearing my heart in half. Here’s hoping for a happy resolution in season 6.

Movies

I watched The Lego Movie twice this month, once on the plane and once with friends. I alternate between loving Everything Is Awesome and hating it with every fiber of my being. I also watched Anastasia (a favourite), Seven Pounds (would have been better if I hadn’t known the twist beforehand), In Time (fascinating concept, mediocre execution), Ten Things I Hate About You (not bad), Shakespeare in Love (meh. I still can’t tell the 5 old bearded guys from each other, and Colin Firth should never play a villain), and Once (loved the soundtrack, didn’t totally hate the ending).

Books

I have fallen prey to WH Smith and their seductive buy one get one half off book deals. At this rate, I won’t be able to get them all back to Canada. This month, I read John Green’s Paper Towns (light plane reading), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (stunning, although I found myself unable to cheer on the ending as much as I might have liked to), and Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (delightful). I just started on Greg Boyd’s The Benefit of the Doubt, which I’m really excited for.

Music

Thanks to Fiona Lynne’s What I’m Into post for last month, I discovered Chelsea Moon’s hymn covers, which have been getting a lot of airplay around here.

The Wicked Soundtrack has been another favourite, for obvious reasons.

Also, Audrey Assad has a new EP out, and I’m loving her copy of Death In His Grave

Food

I spent the first half of May trying to use up what was left in my fridge (which led to some delightful recipe finds, like this Maple Cardamom Salmon and this Balsamic Bruschetta Chicken), My favourite food finds in England so far would be the sandwiches at Boston Tea Party in Salisbury and the naan and lamb korma at Eastern Promise in Herstmonceux. I also recently started dipping Pringles in hummus, which, as it turns out, is pretty fantastic. You’re welcome for that idea. I’m not so much into cafeteria food, but it’s mostly tolerable (and I do love their custard, when they remember to add sugar).

Online

  • This piece on marriage  by Esther Emery is just stunning.
  • Jessica Valenti’s take on Eliiott Rodger and #YesAllWomen is spot-on
  • And speaking of #YesAllWomen, Micah J. Murray has been hosting women on his blog all week to tell their stories. They definitely come with a trigger warning, but they’re really powerful.

IRL

In addition to touring southern England, I’ve been loving getting the chance to connect with old friends and new friends at Kings’ Church Eastbourne. It’s helping the place to feel a bit more like home, since we are here for a whole summer.

Anyway, that’s it for me for this month. Head on over to Leigh’s blog for more What I’m Into posts, which are always great sources of new recipe, book, and music ideas.

What I’m Into April 2014

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April, as it turns out, has been quite the whirlwind. At the beginning of the month, I received an offer to do some archaeological and historical research in southern England for 12 weeks this summer, and we were able to work things out to my husband could come along for the whole time, so we’ve been running a lot of errands and making plans. Provided none of my worst customs nightmares come true (I tend to be a bit of a worrywart) we should be arriving at Gatwick the morning of May 10. I’m so excited for the opportunity, and my month has been dominated with planning and preparing. We also had the chance to make an incredibly quick trip back home to New Brunswick for Aaron’s grandfather’s 80th, and we enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with so many family members, however briefly. I’ve been so busy preparing errands that my media consumption has gone down some this month, but as usual I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into for April.

Books

  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple–this was a delightful, laugh-out-loud book. Well worth taking a break from school reading.
  • Reboot by Amy Tintera–This was your run-of-the-mill teenage dystopian novel. It’s no Hunger Games, but I enjoyed it.
  • Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber–I’ve been sitting on this one quote all week: “Every time we draw a line between ourselves and others, Jesus is on the other side of that line”

Music

  • I’m super excited for the new All Sons & Daughters release next week, and I downloaded the free single You Restore My Soul (King of Glory) over here. 
  • I’ve been looking at past clips from British talent shows (because, you know, England) and I am in love with this cover of Cher’s Believe by Ella Henderson from the X Factor. She actually makes it sound good.

  • I’ve also had this (much less beautiful but super catchy) song stuck in my head. 

Movies

  • I had a girls’ night with some friends at the beginning of April, and we watched Bring It On, which drove home for me just how long ago 2000 was. I mean, the movie featured cassette mixtapes and lines like “Come on Torrance, I can’t mack on you in front of the rentals.” I also ended up with Toni Basil’s Hey Mickey stuck in my head for a good week, thanks to the Bring It On credits.
  • Aaron and I watched Pitch Perfect because, acapella. The movie itself was only ok, but the soundtrack was fantastic.
  • I also took the time to rewatch Frozen and The Incredibles with my sister while we were home. It’s been odd rewatching The Incredibles now that Craig T. Nelson has basically become Zeek from Parenthood in my head.

Television

  • I’ve been keeping up on all the regular shows (Once Upon a Time, Community, Modern Family, Big Bang Theory, Parks & Rec) and I’m loving the softening of Regina’s character on OUAT.
  • I’ve also been watching through back seasons of Joan of Arcadia and Parenthood (which is a total sobfest, fyi), and enjoying both.

Food

I’ve been trying to draw down our stocks of perishable food in preparation for this trip, so I haven’t had the chance to experiment quite as much in the kitchen as I usually do (my usual What I’m Into Pinterest board is a bit sparse this month). However, these bacon, egg, and maple dijon aioli burgers were phenomenal, and I made a batch of one of my favourite cookies–Joy the Baker’s Buttered Popcorn Chocolate Chip Cookies (to which I added M&Ms, because why not?). Gluten and dairy-free friends might appreciate this Chocolate Olive Oil Cake (I used a canola/oo blend). I’ve also been really into discounted Easter chocolate (hello Cadbury mini eggs) and these Chicken Parmesan Crostini make great finger foods.

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Clothing

I’ve been doing some shopping in preparation for England (it comes in cycles. I can go a year and buy hardly anything, then suddenly I’m buying all.the.things), and I have a few new favourite items that I’ve been loving (pictures from store websites because I take truly terrible selfies).

I am in love with this top from Penningtons. It may be my favourite of all the tops I own.

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I am also loving my new raincoat, because purple!

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And finally, after a whole month of searching in vain for rain boots that actually fit (#widefootproblems), I finally found a pair I love at Marks Work Wearhouse

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Online

  • My sister introduced me to the (occasionally creepy) entertainment that is Kid Snippets. These are short films that are narrated by children who improvise skits, and then re-enacted by lip-syncing adults, They are hilarious, if occasionally unnerving. These are a few of my favourites.

I just die every time he shows off the “bacon pancakes”

“Yeah, she can have pizza. As long as it doesn’t have cheese, pepperonie, crust, sauce…”

  • This is totally adorable because babies are dancing!
  • I love Jayson Bradley’s thoughts on what we should keep in mind when we post our opinions on Facebook.

That’s it for me for this week. Be sure to head over to Leigh’s blog and check out some of the other linked posts. 

 

 

What I’m Into March 2014

Grab button for What I'm Into

Once again, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some stuff I’ve been into this month. 

Books:

  • Kiera Cass’ “The Selection” and “The Elite”: I started reading these at Leigh’s recommendation and could not put them down. I do love a good YA dystopian novel (although the love triangle in this one isn’t even a little bit compelling). I’m looking forward to the final novel in the series, which comes out in May.
  • Jo Baker’s “Longbourn”: This sounded like it would be so much better than it actually was. I found the novel unnecessarily salacious and the characters not particularly compelling.
  • When Spiritual but not Religious is not Enough by Lillian Daniel: I bought this book based on the strength of the title essay, which I read online and loved.  Daniel is a talented writer and gives a good sermon, I’m sure, but I found that none of the other essays measured up to the first one. I do find myself going back to her point that religion is spirituality with the addition of community and tradition.

Movies:

  • The Monuments Men: Apparently, I am unable to recognize Cate Blanchett without the Galadriel ears. I went to see this movie with a friend and enjoyed it well enough. It helps that WWII isn’t my time period, so I don’t get as nitpicky.
  • Dan in Real Life: This was a Netflix watch, and I am so over romantic comedies where the principals know each other for all of a weekend and think they’re madly in love.  I think I’m far too much of a romantic skeptic to properly enjoy rom coms.
  • Veronica Mars: I went to see this in theatres on opening night, and I’ve never seen the place so packed. I’d just finished the TV series and, as much as I feel terrible for Piz, it was nice to get something resembling closure for the characters (or at least a return to the status quo). And I have to admit, Jason Dohring has aged really well. I’m less agains the whole Logan-Veronica thing now. Although, is it just me or does the spinoff web series with Dick Casablancas as the main character sound like an awful idea?

Television:

  • Call the Midwife Season 3: I’m pretty sure I averaged about 7 ugly cries per episode. It was stunning, as usual, although I’m still bummed that even the poorest characters have nicer teeth than I do.
  • I also wrapped up both my Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls watch-throughs this month, which left me at loose ends. I tried Suits and Friday Night Lights, but couldn’t get into either (I will never understand why Americans love football so much. It bores me to tears.) I eventually settled on Parenthood and Joan of Arcadia, both of which I’m loving.
  • I’m also keeping up on the usuals: How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, Community, Big Bang Theory, Parks & Rec, and Once Upon a Time (which is shaping up to be another season of “surprise, they’re related” and “surprise, they’re not dead” twists)

Music:

I got a copy of Rend Collective’s new CD this month and have been loving it. Boldly I Approach is definitely my favourite track off of the CD.

I also got a physical copy of the Glaubenszentrum Gott und König CD and have been playing it in the car incessantly. My excuse is that I’m using it to teach Aaron German for our trip to Europe this summer.

Food:

I’ve been chocolate-free for Lent this year, which means I’ve compensated by going on a huge citrus kick. These blood orange and lemon curd cookies were my favourite experiment.

Meal-wise, I cannot rave enough about these roasted garlic mashed potatoes, this Zuppa Toscana (a soup with potato, kale, and sausage), this pulled pork mac and cheese, and these orange pancakes with orange berry sauce.

As usual, you can find my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest board here.

On the eating out front, I had a chance to stop by Schwartz’ deli during my brief trip to Montreal this month, and I can confirm that those smoked meat sandwiches live up to the hype. So good!

Online:

  • Matthew Paul Turner’s post on social media Christianity (following the whole red x to end himan trafficking trend) was phenomenal.
  • Ben Moberg’s posts (here and here) on the whole World Vision imbroglio split my heart wide open. I long for my fellow evangelicals to realize that it’s not our job to play triage for God, and that there is always more room at God’s table.

IRL:

Pi Day (March 14th) is quite possibly my favourite unofficial holiday. For the past few years, I haven’t let it pass without observing it in some way. This year it fell on a Friday, so I made a bunch of pies and had friends over for board games. Appearance-wise, I was particularly proud of this peach one.

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Clockwise from bottom left: Maple Nutmeg Custard Pie, Peach Pie, Coconut Cream Pie in a Meringue Shell, Peanut Butter and Jelly pie, and, my personal favourite, Raspberry Lime Italian Meringue Pie (recipe).

I also turned 23 this month and, as unspectacular-sounding a birthday as that is, took the opportunity to make a trifle. Birthday trifles are becoming a tradition in the Moss household ever since I made this Turtle Trifle for my husband’s birthday last summer (easily my most pinned/viewed post ever). This time, I went with this peaches and cream trifle and it looked just as lovely.

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On the non-food front, I went on a brief trip to Montreal for a conference this month, which I really enjoyed, and, while in the city, I also had the chance to meet up with an old friend for supper, which was absolutely lovely.

I also did my first stint in the nursery at church, and can now confirm what parents have known all along—that toddlers are little getaway artists. You wouldn’t think they could move that fast, but you’d be wrong.

 

Anyway, that’s been my March (well, that and endless snow and cold). Be sure to head on over to Leigh’s blog for more posts.

What I’m Into February 2014

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How is February over already? And how are we already halfway through winter term? I need to try not to think about this too much. But, as usual, I’m wrapping up the month by linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this month.

Books

  • The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith. This was the latest instalment in the Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books, and as charming as ever. I’m still bummed that BBC cancelled the tv show adaptation after 1 season.

  • Cress by Marissa Meyer. This is book three in a series called The Lunar Chronicles, which is a series of sci-fi adaptations of fairy tales. I’m not much for sci-fi, but I do love fairy tales, and Aaron’s the other way around, so this is a series we can both enjoy together. The premise sounds a bit lame, I know, but I’ve really been enjoying them.

  • Champion by Marie Lu. This is book three in Marie Lu’s Legend series, which I started in the summer and loved. I won’t give away the ending or anything, but I am glad I finally got my hands on book 3.

TV

  • Binge-watching: Veronica Mars (just finished, so pumped for the movie!) and Gilmore Girls (we’re on season 7, and starting to get bummed about the fact that none of the characters except for Logan and Mrs. Kim have shown any growth since season 1. Also, I would totally be up for a spinoff show about Lane and Zach).
  • Keeping up on: Parks and Rec, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory (go Amy Farrah Fowler!), Community, Modern Family, and Call the Midwife (Chummy’s back :D).

Movies

  • Slumdog Millionnaire: watched this one for the first time on the plane home from Germany at the beginning of the month. I’m a sucker for the trivia show as a plotline, although this is much darker than E.L. Konigsburg’s The View From Saturday.
  • A Goofy Movie: one of my favourites. We went over to friends’ for an afternoon of Disney movies, and this was my pick because Powerline.
  • The Great Mouse Detectives: Our friends’ pick for the Disney movie afternoon. I hadn’t actually seen it before, but it was pretty adorable.

Food

So many favourite new recipes this month! I loved these chocolate and pistachio sliced cookies, and this hachis parmentier (French shepherd’s pie, way better than the original) was to die for. And this Moroccan-spiced chicken with pistachio lemon couscous was absolutely amazing (and dairy-free,Leigh) and my husband was a huge fan of this pasta al pomodoro recipe. You can find these and all my other favourites over on my What I’m Into Pinterest board for the month.

Music

Just one musical obsession for the month: while in Germany, I heard a few songs from a group called Glaubenszentrum (think German Hillsong). Anyway, I loved their stuff, and I’ve been listening to their Gott und König (God and King) CD pretty obsessively since I got back. It’s also had the side effect of improving my grasp on German grammar.

IRL

  • As I’ve alluded to, I made a brief trip to Germany at the end of January/Beginning of February to attend my grandfather’s funeral and see the rest of my family. I was glad I could be there, but it went too fast. I’m happy to say that my family and I have plans to go again in the summer, so I’ll be able to spend more time with everyone, and maybe even take a few days to see some favourite historical sites.
  • I got to preach again this month. I was pretty much all over the place with my preparation, and had to cut out about three ideas that were too complicated to pull off in the time I had, but it went well. I’m so grateful to belong to a church that allows me the opportunity to preach (and grateful that I don’t have to do it every week, because it’s a lot of work. Props to the pastors who do).
  • And, on the cross-stitch front, I’ve been obsessed with the Pixel People patterns from the Wee Little Stiches shop on Etsy. Here’s what I’ve finished so far, please excuse the terrible photography, and please forgive me if you start quoting The Princess Bride and can’t stop. That happened to me too while I was making it.:

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Anna is my own design, I got tired of waiting for the pattern to be updated (it has been now, and you get both Anna and Elsa in their iconic outfits)

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That’s it for me for February, be sure to head over to Leigh’s and check out everyone else’s submissions.

What I’m Into January 2014

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I’m a bit late on this monthly recap, as I unexpectedly spent the end of January wifi-less in Germany (first transatlantic travel in 12 years!), but as usual I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of the things I’ve been into this January.

Books:

  • The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde, books 1-7. I really enjoyed these, especially 1-4. They’re quirky and there are a lot of fun references for literature geeks.
  • The Graceling trilogy by Kristin Cashore. I mostly enjoyed this series, although as a fan of committed monogamy I found some of the main characters’ sexual mores a bit cringeworthy. Also, am I the only one who completely doesn’t buy the claim that Katsa and Po are supposed to love each other so much, but they really don’t want to get married? Not just don’t feel it’s necessary, but reject it completely?
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey. This was my plane ride read when I realized I could not bring myself to be productive and read Heiko Oberman’s The Dawn of the Reformation. I regret nothing, and I only hope my chuckling to myself didn’t annoy my seatmates too much. If you like Tina Fey’s work as a screenwriter, you’ll like this book.

Movies:

  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty–not amazing, but pretty not bad, as my husband would say. And some gorgeous landscapes.
  • Despicable Me–I hadn’t seen this before and, while I think it may have been a bit overhyped, I did enjoy it.
  • Aladdin–A rewatch, since I recently acquired it (I finally have a complete collection of Disney princess movies!). I get the genie’s numbers stuck in my head way too often, but it’s all good
  • Legally Blonde: The Musical–Not strictly a movie, I went to see a local production of the play. Somewhat unfortunately, the two catchiest numbers are “Ohmigod You Guys!” and “Gay or European,” neither of which I particularly wanted to be caught singing under my breath, but I did enjoy myself. Aaron opted out of this particular show, and I went with some girlfriends instead.
  • Austenland–This was a plane watch on the Toronto-Pearson flight. It wasn’t a bad way to spend two hours (although I’m glad I opted out of shelling out to see it in theatres), but I don’t totally buy the love story.

TV:

  • I’ve been keeping up with the usual shows: Community, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, Parks & Rec, and Modern Family.
  • We also watched through season three of Sherlock in one sitting, which in hindsight may have been a bad idea, since we’re now left waiting another year for more..
  • Aaron and I have also been continuing with our Gilmore Girls watch-through and are just done season 5. I’m loving that Lorelai and Luke are a thing, but realizing how much I don’t like Rory (and don’t understand why everyone in Stars Hollow loves her so much. She’s self-absorbed, not particularly considerate, and honestly fairly unremarkable).
  • And, like Leigh, I finished season 1 of Veronica Mars this month. However, unlike Leigh, I’m thinking Team Duncan. Logan rubs me the wrong way–he’s kind of entitled.
  • Board Games:

    • I’ve been really into Ticket to Ride and Carcassone this month. I also played Dominion for the first time and managed to eke out a win despite having no idea what was happening.

    Food:

    Online:

    • I enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell’s thoughts over at Relevant on how he rediscovered faith.
    • I got chills reading Joy Bennett’s description of her ordination, particularly the Luther Lee quote she included.
    • And finally, Greg Boyd’s interview on Open Theism (or, as he prefers to call it, the open view of the future) over at RHE’s blog is well-worth a read. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Dr. Boyd. (Also, he answered my question!)

    IRL:

    I finished up the Eshet Chayil cross-stitch I was working on, as well as an ironic “Home is” one that I quite enjoy. Currently, I’m almost done the Disney Princesses pixel people cross stitch from wee little stiches, and toying with the idea of designing Anna myself to round it out.

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    I’m also having a ton of fun with my TA work. I was assigned to a course on Early Modern women, which is my all-time favourite subject matter, so I’ve really been enjoying myself. To give you an idea of how much I geek out over this, I already owned the textbook because I had asked for it for my birthday two years ago.

    Finally, on a less happy note, my grandfather passed away at the end of the month. It wasn’t unexpected, as he’d been quite ill for some time. I hadn’t seen him in 12 years, since he lives in Germany and my family hasn’t really had the money for transatlantic airfare for 6 in awhile, but my husband and I were able to come up with the money for me to head over to Essen for a long weekend and join my mother and her side of the family at the funeral. I’m so grateful I was able to go and to spend time with my grandmother and the rest of my German family. International travel tends to make me nervous, mostly because I tend to worry excessively at border crossings (I agonized for 10 minutes about whether to declare a Toblerone bar on the grounds that it was “sort of a milk product), but the border crossings went off without a hitch, and none of my planes crashed, and I’m not even terribly jet-lagged, so I’m going to call my first transatlantic flight in twelve years a success, even if the bathrooms on planes have gotten a lot smaller since I was 9.

    That’s it for me for January, be sure to head over to Leigh’s blog to check out some of the other contributions.

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