What I’m Into March 2015

what-im-into

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

Books

My favourite reads of the month were Melissa Cruz’ The Ring and the Crown (I loved the fact that the ending felt realistic, unlike pretty much every other book ever featuring royal/commoner star-crossed lovers) and Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. I also just decided a few days ago to give Kindle Unlimited a try, so I’ve started reading through the Harry Potter series for (shamefully) the first time. I realize I’m super behind on literally every other person my age who grew up with the books, but I’m enjoying them so far.

Movies

Aaron was away at a men’s retreat this weekend, so I binge-watched a ridiculous number of romantic comedies on Netflix. My favourite was definitely What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which had me tearing up more than once. I also watched two movies in theatres this month: Cinderella (visually stunning, but a somewhat insipid heroine, and I missed the talking mice), and Insurgent (I’m reminded as I see them in theatres just how far short this series falls of The Hunger Games).

TV

I’ve been keeping up with all the usual TV this month, although I’m not wild about the direction Once Upon a Time is going. I’m hoping the creators mercifully wrap things up and let everyone live happily ever after already. And of course, March was the month The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt released on Netflix. We binge-watched the whole thing within 48 hours. No regrets! I also watched through the first season of Galavant (a musical comedy set in medieval times) twice, and really enjoyed it. The first few episodes are only ok, but the  latter ones had me in stitches. I’m definitely keeping “If you have more children than teeth, you might be a peasant” in my back pocket to pull out during a lecture someday. Aaron and I have also been watching through Mom and finding it surprisingly enjoyable, although it’s been odd seeing Allison Janney playing a character like Bonnie Plunkett after getting used to seeing her as CJ Cregg on The West Wing.

Music

Aaron and I travelled to Toledo, OH this month to see Rend Collective, Tenth Avenue North, and Chris Tomlin in concert. Rend Collective now has the distinction of being the only band I’ve seen more than once, and they’re well worth seeing, They radiate this infectious enthusiasm every time they’re onstage. Tenth Avenue North, on the other hand, was a bit disappointing live. I love their discography, but the lead singer turned out to have a surprisingly douchey stage persona. The whole rock star thing he was trying to cultivate really didn’t mesh with Tenth’s catalogue.

I’ve also downloaded the Galavant soundtrack and have been playing it a lot on my commute. It’s good fun.

Food

I couldn’t let Pi Day pass by without a Pi Day pie party, so I took the excuse and made three different pies. My favourite was unquestionably this fabulous lemon blueberry cream pie. So good! I also loved this key lime pie trifle, although it turns out that juicing key limes is a really annoying task. As usual, you can find my favourite recipes of the month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest Board.

That’s it for me for the month. Be sure to head over to Leigh’s blog for more link-up submissions. They’re always a great way to find new music, books, recipes, and more.

What I’m Into February 2015

what-im-into

Once again, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this month. February’s been cold, cold cold, and I’m hoping that March brings us a bit of spring. It could always be worse, though. My family back home has been getting unbelievable amounts of snow, almost enough to make me glad I’m not there right now. Below is one of the many pictures Buzzfeed gathered.

View image on Twitter

Books

Inspired by this xoJane article on black female YA authors, I decided to try diversifying my reading list. And when I say diversifying, it’s still 50-75% dystopian YA, the settings are just more varied. I read Nalo Hopkinson’s The Chaos (set in Toronto, but with Caribbean folktale undertones), Alaya Dawn Johnson’s The Summer Prince (set in futuristic Brazil. I loved the setting, but could not get behind the characters’ sexual mores. Apparently futuristic Brazil is one gigantic orgy), and am in the middle of Nnedi Okorafor’s The Shadow Speaker, set is a fantastical dystopian Niger. I also read and enjoyed A.G. Howard’s Ensnared, the final installment in her Wonderland-inspired Splintered series. Howard wins for neatest love triangle resolution I have yet to see in a YA novel.

TV

You guys, that Parks and Rec finale! Be still my heart. I’m going to miss that show so much, but I also do think it went out at the right time, on the best possible note. Leslie Knope will forever be my role model. I’ve kept following the rest of my usual shows as well. My favourites: Jane the Virgin (that Sin Rostro reveal!) and Call the Midwife (still cannot even get through an episode without crying.)  I also added Fresh Off the Boat (I love Eddie’s relationship with his dad) and Hindsight (mainly for the 90’s nostalgia, even though I was, like, 4 in 1995) to the watch list. For binge-watching purposes, Aaron and I have been going through Orphan Black (you guys, Tatiana Maslany is a genius!) and I’ve been watching through 18 to life, about a couple that marries out of high school. Basically, I watched so much TV this month that I have no idea how any work got done.

Music

I’d forgotten to check on Anthem Lights’ new covers for awhile, so I had a whole new album’s worth to enjoy. Their songwriting skills need work, and even their videos are getting hokier now that production values are higher, but those guys can harmonize!

Also, I know I’m a year behind on this, but I finally checked out Postmodern Jukebox this month and I love love love them. Seriously so much fun to hear these old-fashioned covers of modern hits.

Food

This Nutella Berry Bruschetta is pretty much my favourite party food ever. So cute, so delicious, and really easy! I also loved these Meatball Biscuit Sliders and these Deconstructed Burger Skewers. As usual, you can find all my favourite culinary ventures of the month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest board.

Online

Lyz Lenz’s essay on Swinging with Absalom on The Toast has been haunting me ever since I read it. I’m finding it hard to verbalize how it makes me feel, but it’s sticking with me.

Also on The Toast, I read through and loved the “How to Tell What Novel You’re In” archive. (Sample, from “How to Tell if You’re in a Victor Hugo Novel“: “You come across a stranger in a darkened alley by a cathedral—but is it a stranger? No! For there are but twelve people in all of France, and you have long and complicated histories with all of them.”)

These famous paintings superimposed with Mean Girls quotes might be my favourite thing ever, except for possibly this history of Henry VIII as told by Taylor Swift.

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

What I’m Into January 2015

what-im-into

Once again, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this first month of the new year.

Books

Out of the 10 or so books I read this past month, my favourites were all time-travel themed. I know it’s a theme that’s played out, but both of these had a new take that I appreciated.

Kindred by Octavia Butler: This book is set half in the antebellum South and half in Los Angeles in 1974. The main character, Dana Franklin, travels back in time and becomes part of the lives of her great-great-grandmother (a slave) and her great-great-grandfather (a plantation owner). It was a bit of a tough read, but also really good.

The Chronos Files Series by Rysa Walker: This one is more YA standard time-travel fare, but I love it because in this universe a) time travel is invited by historians to facilitate research (want!) and b) the religious movements historian goes rogue and alters history to create his own religious movement (complete with an apocalypse he tries to engineer himself), which is a completely believable conflict to me.

Movies

January 2015 was the month of movies in the Moss household. I saw no fewer than 3 different movies in theatres: Into the Woods (recommend), The Imitation Game (not bad) and Selma (definitely recommend). I also watched The Other Woman on TV and found it surprisingly enjoyable (mostly because I find movies about jerks who get what they deserve deeply satisfying).

TV

You guys, that last Parenthood episode! Aaron called it and I didn’t want to believe him. I’ll miss the show, but I’m especially glad to see Joelia back on a solid footing again. I’ve also been watching through Happy Endings on Netflix, and just started Jane the Virgin, which I’m loving. The narrator makes the show, imo.

Music

I just downloaded Bethel’s new album We Will Not Be Shaken, and I’m especially liking No Longer Slaves

I’ve also been listening to Bellarive’s Before There Was and really enjoying the whole album. They don’t have a lot of it up on Youtube, but this track is one of my favourites (though I’m not sure how much I care for the video).

And of course, since watching Selma, I have not been able to get Glory by John Legend and Common out of my head. So good!

Food

I tried so many favourite new recipes this month, it’s hard to pick just a few. These Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Chamomile Whipped Cream were stunning, as was this Mixed Green Salad with Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette and Bacon-Wrapped Roasted Pears and this Lasagna Dip (to be enjoyed with homemade baguette crisps). As always, you can find all my favourites of the month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest board.

IRL

I got right into the academic swing of things after Christmas break, as I had a conference at the Newberry Library in Chicago. I enjoyed getting to see the city again and presenting and meeting other grad students at the conference. I experienced a bit of culture shock, however, when I realized that the Newberry Library had to put no firearms signs on all its doors. I also came home to a clean apartment and these lovely flowers in my office. Did I mention that my husband is the best?

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

Mvoies

What I’m Into December 2014

what-im-into

I’m sending off 2014 by linking up once again with Leigh Kramer for another What I’m Into monthly recap. 2014 was a hard year in parts, but good overall and filled with friends and family and new experiences. Here’s hoping that continues in 2015.

Reading

I did a ridiculous amount of reading this month. I lost count exactly, but I ended up reading about 30 books (vacation is good for that). I’ll spare you all a detailed list, but highlights include Mallory Ortberg’s Texts from Jane Eyre (a quick read, but so funny), Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (which was hysterical. There were times I could barely breathe, I was laughing so hard), the Partials series by Dan Wells (pretty good as far as post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction goes, but I’m kind so over love triangles in YA fiction). My very favourite reads of the month were For Darkness Shows the Stars and Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund. Peterfreund writes reimaginings of Regency and Victorian literary classics as postapocalyptic YA novels, and I could not put them down. I definitely recommend them, and I especially liked how she gender-swapped the leads in her take on The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Movies

I saw two movies in theatres this month: the third Hobbit movie (which was only ok. I live in fear that Peter Jackson will decide to make a ten-part movie version of The Silmarillion next) and Annie (the soundtrack didn’t quite measure up to the original, but Quvenzhane Wallis is pretty brilliant). I also spent Christmas with my in-laws this year, which means I was introduced to a bunch of new-to-me Christmas specials. My favourite was the Muppets’ Christmas Carol.

Television

We’re still watching through The West Wing and Fresh Prince, but I also watched through both seasons of Mr. Selfridge on Netflix. My husband ruined it for me a little by pointing out just how similar Jeremy Piven’s take on Selfridge is to the fake Santa in The Santa Clause II. I enjoyed the show and I’m looking forward to season 3, although the ITV writers really need to find new ways besides adultery to inject drama into their characters’ lives.

Music

The songs on Taylor Swift’s 1989 have been ridiculously catchy.  I especially like Wonderland, which is one of the more underrated tracks on the album. I also picked up a copy of Steffany Gretzinger’s The Undoing mid-month and have been listening to it obsessively ever since. Cecie’s Lullaby is probably my favourite track.

Food 

I didn’t get to cook much for most of the month, since I was away from home, but I did get to do some Christmas baking before I left. My favourites included these Nutella Pinwheels, Banana Pecan Coconut Oil Shortbread Cookies, and these Chocolate and Toffee Bit Shortbread Cookies. I also had a chance to try my hand at this spectacular Pretzel-Crusted Schnitzel. As usual, you can find my favourite recipes of the month over on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest board.

IRL

We spent this Christmas with my in-laws and, while I missed having my parents and siblings around, I enjoyed getting to experience their traditions more fully (although I’m still not down with this whole getting up early on Christmas morning business. German Christmas traditions are way more night owl-friendly). I also really enjoyed getting to know my eldest niece better, now that she’s old enough to carry on a conversation. She’s a lot of fun.

That’s it for me for this month. Be sure to head over to Leigh’s page to check out more link-up submissions. Happy New Year!

What I’m Into November 2014

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I’m taking a few minutes at the end of a busier than anticipated month to link up with Leigh Kramer and share what I’ve been into this November.

Books:

First Impressions by Charlie Lovett–This was my favourite read of the month. I read Lovett’s debut this past summer at Leigh’s recommendation and enjoyed it, but liked First Impressions even more. Recommended for anyone who liked books, Jane Austen, and a good mystery.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld–This was another novel within a novel, although the two plotlines didn’t interact as much as I expected them to. I read it in one sitting, but I’m not sure how much that speaks to its quality and how much I just didn’t want to do anything productive that day. I did enjoy getting a look behind the scenes at the process of writing a YA novel.

The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa–another fun read that’s cost me entirely too much sleep this month. It’s pretty standard YA fantasy material, but good fun with a likeable heroine (although I’m not particularly wild about how the romantic triangle was resolved. I’d have preferred for the other guy to win out)

Altered by Gennifer Albin–I wasn’t wild about this sequel to Crewel. I found it exacerbated Crewel’s weaknesses but didn’t have any of its redeeming qualities, and when she threw in Albert Einstein it was just too much. I expect that’s why there was never a third book.

TV

After binge-watching seasons 2-4 of Being Erica on Netflix at the beginning of the month (verdict: I still liked Ethan), I stuck to keeping up with the usual shows–Downton (curse you Fellowes–the Christmas special had better be happy), Once Upon a Time (not a fan of the direction Rumple is taking), New Girl, The Mindy Project, Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, and Parenthood (rooting oh so hard for Joel and Julia and growing increasingly frustrated with the lax way Adam and Kristina parent Max).

Movies

Aaron tried to introduce me to Big Fish this month, and I felt like a bad wife for not loving it as much as he did. I found the storyline muddled and was not a fan of Ewan MacGregor’s fake southern drawl. I do get the references in that Yellowcard song now, though.

We also made it to the theatres with friends to see Mockingjay Part 1. Much as I would have preferred for them not to stretch it into two movies, I thought they did a good job realizing the book more fully. Aaron has barely stopped singing The Hanging Tree since.

Music

I’ve mostly been listening to all things Christmas, particularly the Rend Collective Christmas CD and Pentatonix’s two holiday albums. The first part of this especially is perfection.

There were also a few album releases this month that I’d been eagerly anticipating, including Citizens and Saints’ The Strife Is Over and Brooke Fraser’s Brutal Romantic, both of which I’m still savouring.

Also, while I continue to maintain that they can hardly call themselves Newsboys with Michael Tait at the helm (they sound more like a reboot of Tait’s eponymous band), I did enjoy their hymn covers in Hallelujah for the Cross

Food

I had so many new favourite recipes this month, it’s hard to decide which ones to highlight. This halloumi and roasted sweet potato couscous salad was probably my favourite of the month, but this pomegranate breakfast salad, these chocolate-drizzled potato chip shortbread cookies, and this apple cider pulled pork were also contenders. As usual, you can find all my favourite recipes of the month on my What I’m Into Pinterest board.

Fashion

I’ve been eyeing this dress on the Additionelle website for a month, so when they had all dresses 40% off on Friday I had to pick one up. Good thing too, as they’re sold out now. I’ve also discovered that I can make all my favourite sundresses acceptable winter wear by wearing them with leggings or tights and a shrug, so that’s mostly what I’ve been doing.

Draped Dress

Travel

I had a 12-hour layover in Dublin this month, so I took full advantage of the opportunity to see some of the city’s sights. I especially enjoyed looking around Christ Church Cathedral.

Life

The beginning of November was pretty rough for my family. My maternal grandmother passed away shortly after her pancreatic cancer relapsed. She was a wonderful woman, and we’ll miss her, but I’m so grateful to have had her for a grandmother and I’m thankful that my mother, sister, and I were able to join the extended family for the funeral. I’m also grateful that we had the chance to visit with her this summer, and that my husband was able to meet her. Next time in Glory, Omi.

The rest of the month was mostly just ridiculously busy. End of term tends to do that to you. I had the chance to preach again in church (lesson learned: dresses and portable microphones are not a good combination) and to give a lecture on women and the Reformation to an undergraduate class, I’m looking forward to vacation next month, when I can take the opportunity to relax and visit with friends and family.

That’s it for me for the month. Be sure t head over to Leigh’s page for more submissions.

What I’m Into October 2014

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October may just have been the busiest month I’ve had since I started this link-up. I wrote my PhD comprehensives at the beginning of the month and defended them yesterday, which means I am now officially ABD. In between, I gave a paper at the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference annual meeting in New Orleans. Here’s some of what I’ve managed to be into in between studying and paper writing.

Books:

Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, and Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. I really enjoyed these, but as someone who’s perhaps unreasonably fond of closure I was disappointed to find out that Heir of Fire was not, in fact, the third book in a trilogy but instead book 3 of a projected 6.  Still, this is really good YA fantasy if you don’t mind waiting for a few years before finding out how the story ends.

Crewel by Gennifer Albin. The premise of this book was a bit fanciful, but I’m a sucker for YA dystopian lit and I read this one in about an hour.

Unwind, Unwholly, and Unsouled by Neal Shusterman. This series taught me the limits of my love for dystopian fiction. The premise of this book was so completely implausible that I couldn’t get past that and actually enjoy the books. I didn’t so much read book three as I skimmed it to get a general sense of the plot resolution before returning it to the library.

Television

I’ve been keeping up with the usuals (Parenthood, Big Bang Theory, Downton Abbey, Modern Family, New Girl, The Mindy Project). I also started watching Being Erica on Netflix. It’s a CBC drama about a thirty-something named Erica who gets the chance to relive moments she regrets and behave differently. I’ve liked it so far, but I took a look at the blurbs for future seasons on IMDB and I may drop it after season 2 and save myself the disappointment of seasons 3 and 4.

Movies

Not much on this score, but I did get the chance to re-watch The Prince of Egypt (one of my favourites) this month, and I also half watched, half napped through How to Train Your Dragon II on the plane to New Orleans.

Food

I spent a few days in the middle of the month in New Orleans, so I got to try some fantastic food while there. By far my favourite restaurant I tried while I was there was a tapas place called Salu in the garden district. Their selection of flatbreads is phenomenal, as was their creme brulee. I also loved the blackened gator bites and cajun pasta from the Old Nawlins Cookery on Bourbon Street.

As far as cooking at home goes, I loved these honey ginger chicken tostadas with pomegranate salsa and this chocolate peppermint trifle. These sea salt and olive oil brownie cookies were a big hit with friends and family. As usual, you can see my favourite recipes of the month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest board.

Board Games

I’ve been really into Castle Panic this month. It’s a cooperative game (with a possible additional competitive element) in which you’re a team of soldiers defending your castle from an onslaught of monsters. It’s a lot of fun and I’m always in the market for a good co-op game recommendation.

IRL

As I mentioned, I spent a weekend in New Orleans for the SCSC annual meeting, which was fantastic. It was my first big conference, and I had a great time taking in as many panels as possible and seeing the city (fyi, I do not recommend Bourbon Street after 6 PM).

Also, I actually dressed up for Halloween this year (and even showed up to my comps defense in costume). I was Rosie the Riveter. It felt appropriate.

Rosie the Riveter

That’s it for me for this month. be sure to head over to Leigh’s blog for more submissions.

What I’m Into September 2014

what-im-into

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.

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