What I’m Into March 2017

Another month has wrapped up, so as usual I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this March.

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Reading

This month I found out that there’s a Liane Moriarty book I hadn’t read yet, so of course I had to get my hands on it. It was surprisingly difficult to find a copy of Three Wishes (not in the library system, not available via Kindle Canada), but I finally found a secondhand copy online. It was as unputdownable as Moriarty always is, and Cat’s husband Dan is the actual worst. I also finally got to read the library copy of Jane Steele and, despite having heard so many good things about it, was really surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It was probably my favourite read of the month. As usual, you can find everything I’ve read so far this year here.

Watching

I am scraping the bottom of the barrel on Netflix Canada, guys. If you have any tv comedy recommendations for binge-watching, I’m all ears. Currently, I’m keeping up with the usual shows. I’m slowly reconciling myself to the new reality on Jane the Virgin, and I’ve really been enjoying Superstore and Speechless.

Movie-wise, we went to see the new Beauty and the Beast, and really enjoyed the way it kept all the best parts of the original, including all the songs (what’s with this nonsense of Disney remakes without songs? I heard a horrible rumour that Mulan won’t be a musical). I still maintain that Hugh Bonneville would have encapsulated the essence of Cogsworth better than Ian McKellen, though. McKellen is just too dignified, and Cogsworth wants to be, but is more bumbling than anything.

Listening

We’ve been anxiously awaiting the Come From Away soundtrack since we saw (and absolutely loved) the show in Toronto before it went on to Broadway. It’s been great to relive the show through the music. How good is this song by Jenn Colella, who plays American Airlines Captain Beverley Bass, one of the pilots who landed in Gander in 9/11?

We also went to see two musicals this month: Book of Mormon in Toronto and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in Cambridge, and the soundtracks have been pretty steady fixtures around the house and in the car since then. The Joseph Megamix is pretty much guaranteed to get me in a good mood instantly.

Eating

I cannot gush enough about this recipe for Atlantic Beach Pie, which was so amazing (and surprisingly easy) that I made it twice this month. It’s got a Saltine Crust and a creamy lemon filling and a whipped cream and fleur de sel topping and it is possibly one of my top five desserts of all time. It’s actually been a pretty citrus-heavy month, since Meyer lemons finally showed up in stores and of course I had to buy like 4 lbs. We’re still working through them. This Meyer Lemon Ginger Curd was particularly good, as were these Meyer Lemon Bars with a Poppyseed Shortbread Crust. On the non-citrus front, I really enjoyed this Sausage and Halloumi Bake, and I expect it’ll be even better when tomatoes and zucchini are in season (it’s actually a What I’m Into Link-up find from last summer. Thanks Fiona!) As usual, you can find all my favourite new recipes of the month over on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest Board.

That’s pretty much it for me for the month, be sure to head over to Leigh’s blog and check out some of the other contributions. You never know what book, tv, music, or recipe recommendations you’ll find.

What I’m Into February 2017

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Another month, another link-up. This month I was mostly into working to finish a draft of one of my dissertation chapters, but I also managed to get in some reading and TV watching and baking in between writing bursts. I am, as usual, linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

I didn’t quite match my January high of 14 books, but I did make it through another 9 this month. My favourites were the Jewel trilogy by Amy Ewing. It’s somewhere between dystopia and fantasy, and the jacket advertised it as Handmaid’s Tale meets Keira Cass’ The Selection. I devoured book one on Kindle in one night and enjoyed it so much that I immediately found the library’s ebook copy of book 2  and stayed up for another few hours. Definitely recommended for fans of YA fantasy/dystopia. I also enjoyed Kathryn Purdie’s Burning Glass, a YA fantasy novel that takes place in a Russia-esque setting, pre-Revolution. You can see all the books I’ve read so far this year here.

Watching

On the live theatre front, we caught a community theatre production of Seussical, which was a lot of fun. I’ve also been keeping up with the usual TV and also giving Riverdale, the CW’s new series, a try. I’m not a fan of some of the places they’re taking the arcs (it’s much darker than your average Archie comic), but I’m somewhat intrigued so far. I loved loved loved the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season finale, and I’m super pumped to see where they take it in season 3. And Jane the Virgin had to go and crush my heart into a thousand tiny pieces (I seriously don’t think I’ve ever been this upset by a TV event), but I’m still keeping up because the writers and the cast are so fantastic.

Listening

I’ve been alternating between the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend songs and All Sons and Daughters for most of the month, which is honestly makes for a bit of thematic whiplash, but they’re both so good in their own ways.

Cooking

February involved a bit more ordering out than usual (hello deadline) but I still found time to try some new things. My favourite part of February is the specialty citrus that starts to show up in grocery stores. I haven’t tracked down any Meyer lemons yet, which is a pity, but I did find some key limes and blood oranges. I used the key limes in these lovely lime and ginger scones, and the blood oranges in this to die for blood orange olive oil cake (I swear, Deb from smitten kitchen is a culinary Midas. Every recipe she comes up with is stunning.) As usual, you can find all my favourite recipes of the month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest Board.

IRL

Last fall, when I sprained my ankle and took up swimming because I couldn’t do anything else, I signed myself up for swimming lessons for the winter to work on improving my different strokes. It turned out to be a fabulous decision. It’s been such a long time since I really took the time to learn a new skill, especially a physical one, and I’ve been enjoying tracking my progress each week. I think I need to start looking for other fun classes in the future.

I’ve also been working away at this cross stitch for a friend and cackling to myself as I do it. It’s a lot of fun.

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That’s about it for me for the month. Be sure to check out Leigh’s website for more link-up contributions.

What I’m Into January 2017

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Well, there’s month one of 2017 down. It’s been a hard month to watch, on the world news stage, and then culminating in the mosque shooting in Quebec City, a city I lived in for seven years. There are a lot of hurting people in the world right now, and I’ve been feeling pretty helpless to do anything about it. I’ve been emailing my Member of Parliament and my husband and I are now recurring monthly donors to the ACLU (which would have horrified high school me, but here we are), but I’m absolutely looking for suggestions if you can think of anything more a Canadian can do to help out at home and around the world. Also, in the meantime, I’ve actually found myself reading/watching TV/listening to music more than ever. I find I need to take the news (and consequently Twitter and Facebook) in smaller bursts than usual. Anyway, here are some small ways I was able to rest/find joy this month. I am, as usual, linking up with Leigh Kramer.

Reading

I read more books this month than I have in a really long time. A friend challenged me to sign up for a challenge called 50 Book Pledge (my account, which shows you books I’ve read so far and books on my to-read list, is here: http://www.50bookpledge.ca/user/10157994127980414k/c/2017), and it inspired me to make 2017 the year I reclaim reading for fun. Anyway, I ended up getting through 14 books this month, so I don’t think hitting my goal of 50 will be a problem. Some of my favourites were Marissa Meyer’s Heartless (redone classic tale + villain’s descent into madness novel? Sign me up!), Sarah Maas’ A Court of Mist and Fury, Liane Moriarty’s The Last Anniversary, and Alexandra Bracken’s Wayfarer (bless Bracken for tying things up and giving her characters a happy ending after two books. I love closure and dislike interminable series.) Books one and two of Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy weren’t exactly fun reads, but they were disturbing and thought-provoking, which I think they were meant to be. At least, unlike Parable of the Talents and Parable of the Sower, they don’t feel like realistic near-term futures.

I also want to plug Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Great Kindle Deals email list. I heard about it on this link-up, and it’s been a great source of inexpensive new reads. The books aren’t always also on sale in Canada, but they often are.

Watching

I’ve been staying on top of the usual shows for the most part, but I think my favourite of the month has been Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. It’s had some pretty great songs lately (this power ballad spoof is my favourite).

I also watched through and enjoyed season one of One Day at a Time and Life in Pieces on Netflix. I started episode one of Riverdale and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. Archie comics were a childhood staple for me, but I’m not a huge fan of how they updated Miss Grundy’s character especially.

I also saw two movies in theatres this month: Hidden Figures and La La Land. Hidden Figures was amazing and definitely lived up to the hype and everyone should see it. However, I was decidedly unimpressed by La La Land. I mean, it wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t that amazing either, and any chorus member on Broadway could have outsung Stone and Gosling. All this to say, I will be decidedly unimpressed if the La La Land songs rob Lin-Manuel Miranda of his Tony for Moana.

Listening

Besides listening to the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend songs a whole lot, I’ve also been playing Measha Brueggergosman’s new album Songs of Freedom on repeat a fair bit. Songs about how God is still at work in the world even when things seem dark and will bring about justice one day are my jam right now.

Cooking

After spending weeks in other people’s homes, it was great to be back in my own kitchen in January. Some of my favourite things I made this month include this Bailey’s Chocolate Sheet Cake, these Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites with Spicy Sour Cream Dipping Sauce, and these Cleveland Cheesesteaks with Pretzel Hoagie Rolls. I was particularly pleased with how pretty and delicious these Caprese Orzo-Stuffed Tomato Cups and these Earl Grey and Roasted Blackberry Petits Fours were. As usual, you can find all my favourite recipes of the month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest Board.

That’s about it for me for January. Be sure to check out Leigh’s blog for more link-up contributions.

What I’m Into December 2016

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So December has been a pretty busy month this year, between working hard to finish up a translation project for the first half of the month and celebrating holidays and visiting with family and friends for the second half. We’ve got a few days left in New Brunswick and we’re enjoying the time we’ve had here but also looking forward to getting back to our apartment and settling into our routine. I am, as usual, linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

Surprisingly little, actually. I did read through Empire of Storms, the latest installment in Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series (which has been good, but I like my stories wrapped up with happy endings so I’m looking forward to the sixth and final installment.)

Watching

We caught Moana and Rogue One in theatres this month, and loved both of them (Aaron has had “You’re Welcome” stuck in his head pretty much since we saw Moana).

For our live theatre date of the month (it’s pretty much a thing for us now), we went to see the Drayton Entertainment production of Sister Act: The Musical in Cambridge and really enjoyed it. I found myself suprisingly moved by it for reasons I couldn’t immediately articulate. I think it’s because, at its core, it’s a story of a woman who didn’t have any female friends suddenly finding herself surrounded by women who love and support her. Female friendship is such a gift, and I loved seeing it celebrated onstage.

Listening

The Sister Act soundtrack, on repeat. I’ve also really enjoyed some of the Advent hymns we sang in church, particularly this one. 2016 has been such a dark and difficult year on the world stage, and I’ve badly needed the reminder that God is still at work in the world, bringing about justice and peace.

Eating

 I got a bit of Christmas baking done before I headed home, and I think these peppermint bark cookies were my favourite.

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I also made this flourless chocolate cake with lime raspberry salsa as the dairy-free and gluten-free option for a friend’s wedding reception (the original recipe wasn’t dairy-free, but I subbed coconut oil for butter and omitted the cream from the ganache and it worked beautifully) and I was immensely pleased with it. It was simple and delicious and really pretty, even if my food photography skills leave something to be desired.

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Other favourite things I made this month include this three-cheese roasted grape pizza and these pork chops with a pear and ginger sauce. As usual, you can find my favourite recipes of the month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest Board.

On our date night at the theatre, we stopped at the Cambridge Mill and had their pre-theatre menu for supper, and it was delightful. I could have (and almost did) filled up entirely on their bread, which was light and airy and buttery and salty and delicious. I also took advantage of being on the East Coast to visit all my favourite local restaurants and chains. We had (excellent as usual) lunches at Isaac’s Way and The Chess Piece in Fredericton, and tried out Cinta Ria, a fabulous Malaysian restaurant in Moncton for the first time. And of course I had to make stops at Relish Gourmet Burgers, Greco Pizza, and Monkeycakes. I maintain that the best way to experience a region is through its food.

Playing

Being home always provides us with an opportunity to inflict our new favourite games on our family. Codenames, a party word game that won the 2016 Spiel des Jahres award was a hit with my family. We also got to try out some new games, including Luther: The Board Game (a gift from my aunt in Germany, released for the Reformation’s five hundredth anniversary). Aaron put his German skills to the test, with help from my sister, and won the game. We also got to try out some new games at the Riverview Unplugged Board Game Cafe, and I particularly enjoyed King of Tokyo (doesn’t hurt that I won both rounds) and Survive: Escape from Atlantis. I did abysmally at Lotus, but found the artwork absolutely gorgeous.

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IRL

Being home has provided us with the opportunity to spend some quality time with friends and family, whom we don’t get to see often enough. I particularly enjoyed getting to spend some quality time with my sisters and with my nieces, and getting to meet my nephew for the first time. And we loved celebrating the Christmas holidays and everything that comes with it: the services, the songs, the family time, the food.

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That’s about it for me for the month. I hope that you all had lovely holidays and I wish you the best in 2017. Be sure to check out Leigh’s blog for more link-up contributions.

What I’m Into November 2016

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Boy, has November ever been a tough month! I’m not even American, but the election results left me dispirited and demoralized on a lot of levels, and I’m still not over it. It’s pretty hard to find the strength to hope, which I suppose puts me in just about the right frame of mind to observe Advent. At any rate, I still found moments of joy and distraction in the middle of it, and here are some of my favourites. I am, as usual, linking up with Leigh Kramer.

Reading

As a fun, light read I blazed through the City of Legends Trilogy by Cheyanne Young. There were a few typos that marred the reading experience for me, but overall it was an enjoyable superhero-inspired read. I tried reading a few chapters of Keith Donohue’s The Motion of Puppets and, while it was gorgeously written and I loved the descriptions of Quebec, it got a little creepy for my taste and after peeking ahead to see if the ending would fix things I had to return it to the library unfinished. I suppose I should have expected creepy from a take on Orpheus and Eurydice. And finally, my favourite read of the month as Liz Braswell’s As Old As Time, part of a series that examines alternate endings to Disney princess stories. This one was easily my favourite in the series so far, with a whole backstory on the kingdom and the enchantress (Belle’s mother) that I really enjoyed.

Watching

Like probably everyone else in this link-up, I watched through the Gilmore Girls revival on Netflix.  And yes, it catered a little to nostalgia, but I don’t mind that in the least. Rory is as insufferable as ever, but otherwise I enjoyed seeing the return of so many beloved characters (though I’d have preferred more Sookie), and I personally would have gladly watched an entire summer episode composed only of scenes from Stars Hollow: The Musical. Otherwise, I’ve been following the usual shows. Jane the Virgin is probably my favourite in the current rotation.

In terms of live theatre, we went to see Come From Away, a new musical about all the planes that had to land in Gander, Newfoundland on September 11th when US airspace closed, and it was spectacular. One scene in particular, where a Gander resident communicates with someone who can’t speak English by pointing to verses in their Bible, brought me to tears. It was just the tribute to hope and love and generosity in the face of tragedy that my soul needed. It’s playing in Toronto until January, and it moves to Broadway in February. I hope it does well there, and I definitely recommend seeing it if you’re in the right city at the right time.

Cooking

I found a few recipes this month that I really loved. This beef, Guiness, and blue cheese pie, for instance, was just phenomenal, and these roasted baby potatoes in a creamy mushroom sauce totally converted me to cooking with more than one type of mushroom at once (I thought it was a hassle, but it was so worth it). I also tried roasting a chicken upright for the first time (I didn’t have an upright roaster, so I used the insert of a tube cake pan, a substitution I’m particularly proud of). It was pretty bizarre-looking.

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As usual, you can find all my favourite recipes of the month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest board.

IRL

After spending September and October church-hunting, we’ve been attending the same church all month. It’s nice to feel like we can start to work on putting down roots again. We’ve landed in a lefty Mennonite church with an age-diverse congregation and a great social justice emphasis, and we’re feeling like it could be a good fit. We’re still learning all the new hymns, and I might even know how to read music eventually.

I also tried another paint night, and was reasonably pleased with the result, especially when I didn’t look at the instructor’s painting for comparison.

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That’s about it for me for the month. Be sure to head over to Leigh’s blog to see some other link-up contributions.

What I’m Into October 2016

October’s been a bit of an odd month. I fell and injured my ankle at the beginning of the month, and while I’m now well enough to hobble around my apartment without too much trouble, it’s still a hassle to do things like shop for groceries or go to campus. So it’s been a slower month on a lot of levels: less doing my own cooking, less going out and doing stuff (unless the stuff involved sitting down a lot), more coming into contact with my own limitations. It’s definitely been humbling. I am, as usual, linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been up to this month.

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Reading

Two of my long-awaited holds came in this month: Liane Moriarty’s Truly Madly Guilty and Glennon Doyle Melton’s Love Warrior. I read each of the books in one sitting. I have to say that it was bittersweet reading Love Warrior knowing that Glennon and Craig have since broken up, though. I was definitely rooting for that marriage. I also read Once Upon a Dream, part of a series of alternate fairy tale endings that follow the Disney movie storyline pretty closely until the point of divergence.

Watching

I watched through the entirety of Switched at Birth this month, and really enjoyed learning more about deaf culture. I often cross-stitch while I watch TV and don’t watch the screen super closely, so it was interesting to have to watch more closely, since so much of the dialogue is signed and subtitled rather than spoken audibly. I’m looking forward to seeing how they wrap up the series next year.  I also watched Queen of Katwe in theatres (so good! Lupita Nyongo and David Oyelowo are, of course, fantastic, and Madina Nalwanga did a fabulous job as Phiona), and all three Back to the Future movies (for the first time! I feel like I get so many more pop culture references now, and it’s amusing to see 1985’s take on 2015 in 2016) at home.

I also got to see a performance of Marathon of Hope: The Musical, which tells the story of Terry Fox, a Canadian legend who lost a leg to bone cancer and subsequently embarked on a run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. Nathan Carroll did just a phenomenal job as Terry Fox, and the rest of the cast rounded out the play well. This run at the St Jacobs Country Playhouse was the first run of Marathon of Hope, and I’m excited to see where it goes next.

Playing

I tried playing Stone Age for the first time, and really enjoyed it. I think it’s my favourite game in the Euro strategy resource allocation genre. It’s got a nice varied mechanic without being too complicated. It doesn’t hurt that I won, which often goes a long way to giving me a good first impression of a game.

That’s it for me for the month. Be sure to check out Leigh’s blog for more link-up submissions.

What I’m Into September 2016

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So September is over and I’m taking a break from looking at my to-do list for the term and panicking to share a few things that I’ve been into this month. I am, as usual, linking up with Leigh Kramer.

Reading

After months on the waiting list, I finally got to borrow Eligible from the public library. I enjoyed it a lot (and I particularly thought it was ingenious to break Wickham into two characters), though I do think the casual sex detracts from the Austen-ness of it all to be honest. I also read and loved Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger, and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys time travel fiction. I’d completely forgotten until this month to borrow the last book in Keira Cass’ selection series, and I totally called Eadlyn’s final choice. It’s not a particularly deep read, but it’s fun. And finally this month I read through Jojo Moyes’ One Plus One when I was fighting a cold and needed a break from work. I suspect if I knew more math it would have driven me crazy, but it was a nice light read. This coming month, I’m hoping it might finally be my turn to get my hands on Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies and I can’t wait.

Watching

I’ve been in search of a new show to watch while cross-stitching and, now that I’ve exhausted Netflix’s better offerings, Scrubs mostly does the trick. I’m super over the idea of serial sexual harassment being played for humour, though, so I’m hoping we’re not stuck with Todd for the entirety of the show. I’ve also started watching through Black-ish and I’m really enjoying it. Diane is my favourite. Finally, I decided to try following This Is Us in hopes that it might fill the void Parenthood left. So far I’m loving Randall’s arc, but deeply unhappy with Kate. It would be nice if there could be more layers to her character besides “fat and unhappy about it.” Like, we haven’t even learned what she does for a job yet, or whether she has any friends she hasn’t met through Overeaters Anonymous. I’ll keep giving the show a chance for now, but I’m really hoping it gets better.

Listening

All Great Big Sea, all the time lately. I don’t know if I’m feeling homesick for the East Coast or just like the catchy tunes, but I’ve listened to literally nothing else since we heard some buskers in Stratford play The Night that Paddy Murphy died.

Eating

When I got back from Europe in early September it was ridiculously hot, so I had to get creative with my dessert experimentation. I decided to give panna cotta a try (topped with a cinnamon plum compote). It was super easy! I have yet to try dairy-free panna cotta made with coconut milk, but I think that might work quite nicely also.

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I also took advantage of the fact that concord grapes have started arriving in store to try making this amazing concord grape cornbread with rosemary whipped cream, and it did not disappoint.

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As usual, you can see all my favourite recipes of the month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest board.

IRL

September has been a month of transitions for us. Our church went through a very difficult leadership change earlier in the year, and over the summer we came to the realization that even though we love the people, we were not sufficiently on the same page with the remaining leadership to serve effectively, and so we made the difficult but necessary decision to leave. Which means that we’re now in full church hunt mode, trying to find a place where we can fit well and serve well. It’s a bit of a challenge. I was already an odd duck for an evangelical four years ago when we moved here, and my theology has liberalized a fair bit since then. We’ll probably spend most of the fall trying out churches in the area. We’re committed to maintaining our friendships from our old church, though, and they seem to be weathering the transition fairly well.

September has also been a month of trying new things for me. I tried sushi for the first time, went to my first ceilidh (Irish dance gathering), attended my first paint night (where an artist walks you through making a painting step by step), and tried my hand at a new embroidery technique called bargello thanks to a free workshop at the public library. I’m trying to be a bit more adventurous with my free time, and I’m enjoying it so far.

That’s it for me for the month, be sure to check out some of the other link-up contributions over on Leigh’s blog.

What I’m Into August 2016

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Greetings from Strasbourg! August has been another jet-setting month for the Mosses. I had a conference in Bruges that overlapped with our 5th (!) wedding anniversary, so I decided to bring Aaron along and turn it into a bit of a European vacation. I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share a European-themed list of things I’ve been into this month.

Reading

One of the reasons I got into this link-up in the first place was for the book recommendations. Leigh always has such great book suggestions, and many of the other contributors do too. This month I read two books that I heard about from July link-up contributions. Sarah Prineas’ Ash and Bramble was so good–definitely a welcome addition to the redone fairy tales cannon. And as a book lover I enjoyed the suspense and book nerdery in Rachel Caine’s Ink and Bone, even though the premise was a little outlandish at times. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for both sequels. I also read and enjoyed Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, especially the relationship between Hermione and Ron and between Albus and Scorpius.

Watching

I watched Florence Foster Jenkins in theatres this month, and I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard all year. And yet I also teared up in other spots. If hearing Meryl Streep purposely butcher opera music is your thing (it’s definitely mine) I highly recommend it. Also, am I the only person raised on Veggietales who feels compelled to end every movie review with “I laughed, I cried, it moved me Bob.”

Listening

The Florence Foster Jenkins soundtrack, obviously (apologies to everyone I annoyed on the train with my muffled laughter). I’m also anxiously awaiting the release of All Sons and Daughters’ Poets and Saints and enjoying the songs they’ve pre-released on iTunes.

Eating

The first week and a bit of August was spent making as many lovely peach things as I could before we went away on vacation. My favourites were this Peach, Mozzarella, and Basil Salad (I made it with panela cheese, because North American grocery store fresh mozzarella is, let’s face it, not usually awesome) and I think I literally gasped when I tried the goat-cheese stuffed prosciutto-wrapped peaches that top this salad. They would definitely work as an appetizer as well. I even managed to find a few late-season Ontario strawberries and turn them into these absolutely amazing Strawberry, Lime, and Black Pepper Popsicles. I know it sounds weird, but trust me when I say they are phenomenal (and also vegan and gluten-free, so a great dessert recipe to have in your back pocket. I bet you could turn it into a granita or sorbet as well.)

Moreover, being on vacation in Europe means getting to eat out a lot more than we normally would. I have made it my mission to personally seek out the best gelato spots in Europe, and, while nothing can rival gelateria Fatamorgana in Rome, I absolutely loved Oyya in Bruges and Toscani Eiscafe in Essen. Also, if you’re a fan of sundaes, you absolutely have to make it to a European ice cream cafe. The variations with toppings, sauces, etc. are unreal. Also in the vein of amazing cafes, I discovered a hot chocolate cafe in Berlin called Nibs Cacao and their strawberry hot chocolate was basically the first thing ever. I’ve also discovered that the best way to get me to go to a restaurant is to advertise spaetzle (a German side dish, sort of between noodles and dumplings). The two best restaurant meals I’ve had here have been spaetzle based: pork chops and spaetzle with bacon chanterelle cream sauce at Repke Spaetzlerei in Berlin and spaetzle and roast duck with a Pinot Noir at La Corde a Linge in Strasbourg. I’ll be glad to be back in my own kitchen, but I’ve enjoyed getting some new food ideas here.

Sightseeing

My tourism magnet collection has grown again. This time around, I properly visited Belgium for the first time (not counting a layover in the Brussels airport). I had a three day conference in Bruges, which kicked off this whole trip. Bruges is just lovely, a city of old buildings and canals. I played hooky for most of the last day of the conference so Aaron and I could explore the city a bit and celebrate our anniversary.

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We also added no fewer than three European capitals. We spent a rainy afternoon in Brussels touring the royal palace, the cathedral, and the city museum. I was pretty amazed by the sheer amount of chandeliers. We spent an afternoon walking around the main Berlin sights and then a whole day on museum island, which has some truly stunning exhibits. The Bode Museum and the Pergamon Museum in particular are definitely worth a visit. This is an actual wall from an Umayyad palace, nbd.

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And finally we spent an afternoon in Amsterdam, which I didn’t love, mostly because we didn’t really make it out of the red light district. But I’ll be staying at a hotel in a different part of Amsterdam before I fly home, so I’ll explore some more then. Also, Amsterdam was where I got my first ever misspelled Starbucks cup, which I’m ridiculously excited about.

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That’s my August in a nutshell. Be sure to check out Leigh’s blog to find out what other people have been into.

What I’m Into July 2016

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Happy civic holiday, folks. July has wrapped up and, mercifully, the last few days haven’t been so hot that I felt like I might die. I was even able to use my oven! I am once again linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

I devoured Jessica Khoury’s The Forbidden Wish in one sitting. It was a stunning take on Aladdin. If you’ve been following my WII posts for awhile, you know I’m a sucker for redone fairy tales, and I’m pretty sure this one cracks my top 10. Definitely recommended.

Watching

I caught The BFG with my sister in theatres earlier this month, and thought it was delightful. My other movie of the month, Christian Mingle: The Movie, was much less delightful, but I fully expected that and just wanted something to hate-watch. It did not disappoint on that score.

TV-wise, I’ve been catching up on this season of UnREAL, and it’s so much darker than anything I’m used to. Simultaneously fascinating and terrifying. Rachel’s character in particular scares me because of how she convinces herself that all the manipulation and awfulness is really for the greater good. My husband and I also watched through all three seasons of Silicon Valley (I enjoyed it, but also found it painful to watch at times, because so many of their problems could have been very easily avoided with just slightly more social or business competence). We then started on Veep (amusing, but I miss the optimism of The West Wing) and the new season of Orphan Black.

Listening

My sister introduced me to I Am They and I’ve really been enjoying their music. It’s something between Rend Collective and All Sons and Daughters.

Cooking

Peach season has officially started! I celebrated by making this grilled peach and bacon salad with buttermilk dressing.

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I also made and loved this pavlova for my husband’s birthday. The lemon curd folded into the whipped cream took it over the top. Or, if you’re looking for a healthier summer dessert (and gluten and dairy free), these chocolate-covered kiwi popsicles were pretty adorable. On the side dish front, these green beans with frizzled prosciutto and gouda (I used smoked gouda) were stunning. As usual, you can find all 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 contributions.

No Churn Basil, Honey, and Walnut Ice Cream

Last year, my sister and I visited Rome and I fell in love with a small local gelato chain called Gelateria Fatamorgana where I had hands down the best ice cream I have ever eaten in my life. They had such a wide array of mouthwatering flavours that it was hard to try everything that looked good. One surprisingly delicious flavour was a basil, walnut, and honey gelato, which I raved about to anyone who would listen for months.

This year, I (like many others on the Internet, apparently) have been obsessed with this no-churn ice cream recipe. It’s the easiest thing in the whole world: whip two cups of cream, fold in a can of sweetened condensed milk, add desired flavourings, freeze. I’ve made 8 or 9 variations on it already. It’s no Fatamorgana gelato, but it did give me the opportunity to recapture some of that delicious flavour in an easy to make at home way. I made this while out at the cottage with some friends, so I didn’t have time to stage any fancy photographs, but I assure you it’s delicious.

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To make this ice cream, you’ll need:

  • 2 cups cold whipping cream
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Whip the cream in a mixing bowl. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, process the basil, walnuts, and honey into a paste. (I threw mine into my Nutri-bullet with the condensed milk). Fold the condensed milk and the basil mixture into the cream. Freeze until set (7-8 hours) and enjoy!