What I’m Into June 2015

Happy Canada Day (an hour late), dear readers! I am, as usual, linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

To be honest, I’ve pretty much lost count of how many books I read this month. I’m blanking on most of them, so they can’t have been that memorable. My favourites were Tear You Apart by Sarah Cross (a follow-up to Kill Me Softly, also set in Beau Rivage), Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge (it wasn’t quite Cruel Beauty, but she still rocks the redone fairy tale), and A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan (a fantasy novel with the feel of a Victorian memoir–great fun!)

Watching

Since it’s summer, most of my regular shows have been on hiatus and I haven’t quite known what to do with myself show-wise. I ended up watching through the new season of Orphan Black, the first season of The Good Wife (I love a good legal drama, but I can’t help but think how much simpler Alicia’s life would have been if she’d just broken up with Peter before the show even started. Seriously, he’s the worst). I’ve also been watching through Full House for the first time and finding it surprisingly enjoyable. The scene where Jesse and Joey follow Stephanie out the door on her first day of school while singing Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof is pure gold. I’m also 95 percent sure that, if this show had aired 20 years later, Jesse and Joey would have become a couple.

I’ve also watched a surprising amount of movies this month, thanks to rediscovering the library’s DVD collection. Judi Dench was phenomenal in Philomena, and I held back tears through the whole second half of Saving Mr. Banks. And then, pf course, I had to watch Mary Poppins again. Aaron and I also went to see Inside Out with friends, and I cannot rave about it enough. The whole audience was alternately in stitches and in tears. Pixar has outdone itself, for sure (and the casting was spot-on, too). Also, Sadness is my spirit animal. This is me, all summer.

Eating

This month, food-wise, I’m  majorly into strawberries. Summer is unquestionably my favourite culinary season. I can barely bring myself to touch imported out-of-season strawberries, but in June I’ll happily spend a premium on a beyond ridiculous amount of fresh, juicy strawberries. Food photography isn’t my forte, but I assure you that this pan-fried halloumi with strawberries and mint was to die for

I also loved this chocolate cake with Nutella, strawberries, and whipped cream.

I’ve also taken advantage of rhubarb season, and I think this rhubarb custard tart with pecan shortbread crust was my favourite experiment on that front.

As usual, you can find all my favourite recipes of the month (and there are more than usual, because summer!) on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest Board.

IRL

June hasn’t been the jet-setting month May was for me, but it’s been a good kind of busy in its own way. We’ve done a lot of having people over for food (I need to find people to help us eat all these desserts I’m making while fruit is in season) and games (this just in, Hanabi is wicked hard, but addictive). It’s shaping to be a quieter, more stay-at-home summer for us, and I’m looking forward to it.

That’s 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 May 2015

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I’m linking up a little later than usual this month with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into this month, and what I’ve been into has been mostly travel. I had the privilege of visiting family in Germany and France and seeing parts of Switzerland and Italy while I was across the Atlantic. I actually wrote most of this post at O’Hare waiting for my last flight home before my laptop battery ran out.

Books

I read surprisingly little this month, considering how much time I spent in transit, but most of my favourite reads of the month were recommendations that Leigh and Mary from Giving Up On Perfect made last month (the book recommendations are the reason I started following this link-up in the first place). The Collectors’ Society brought together a number of characters from beloved works of fiction and put them in a new setting, and Scarlet is a new take on Robin Hood. I can’t give the twist away, because it’s a major plot point, but it’s definitely worth a read. Also, I could not put down Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies. So good! I pretty much just want to read all. the. things. by her now.

Food

I didn’t get to do a whole lot of my own cooking and baking this month because of my travels (though this Cherry, Goat Cheese, and Prosciutto Pizza, Pulled Pork Pizza with Roasted Garlic and Maple Barbecue Sauce, and this Salted Honey and Meyer Lemon Shortbread Tart all come highly recommended), but I definitely enjoyed the chance to eat my way across Western Europe. Both my aunt and my uncle are, as it turns out, pretty excellent bakers, so I got to entirely too much of these lovely cakes.

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Other culinary highlights of my trip include this spectacular chicken and couscous from A l’Orientale, a Tunisian restaurant in Strasbourg and this potato, sausage, and zucchini flower pizza from Grazie a Dio e Venerdi from the Monti district in Rome.

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I also got to visit my sister’s favourite tea shop in Lyon, where we enjoyed some rhubarbade and fabulous millionaire shortbread bars.

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Hands down my favourite thing I ate on this trip, though, was the gelato from Gelateria Fatamorgana in Rome. If you’re ever there, this gelato is unmissable! My favourite flavour was definitely the Basil, Honey, and Walnut gelato, but I also really enjoyed the Ginger, Chestnut Honey, and Lemon Gelato and my sister was a big fan of the Punch Paradise flavour (strawberry, lemon, and white wine).

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Travels

I flew in and out of Dusseldorf on my Europe trip, but I also took the chance while I was over the Atlantic to buy a Eurail pass and see some places I’ve always wanted to see.  I ended up visiting Trier, Strasbourg (new favourite city? I think so!), Lyon (where my sister has been working as an au pair for the past year), Florence, Rome, Avignon (another unmissable spot, and easily managed in a day), and Geneva. Here are some of my favourite sights:

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The Porta Nigra in Trier

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Ile de France, a lovely corner of old Strasbourg that dates back to the early modern period

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The view from Croix Rousse in Lyon (you can see the basilica on top of the next hill. Related, walking in Lyon is less fun than enjoying the view from the hills.)

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The view from Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence.

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The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome

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The Papal Palace in Avignon

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Lac Leman and the Jet d’Eau, as seen from the Jardin Anglais in Geneva (seriously, the parks in Europe in general are gorgeous. I also really liked the Jardin de l’Orangerie in Strasbourg and the Parc de la Tete d’Or in Lyon).

Exciting sightseeing aside, though, the best part of my trip was definitely the chance to see my aunts and uncles and cousins and to spend a week of quality time with my sister/BFF, who is an au pair in southern France this year.

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With my cousin at karaoke at the Irish Pub Trier (let the record reflect that I hit every note in Defying Gravity, in the original key)/at the Parc de la Tete d’Or with my sister

Also, hours on the train meant time to cross stitch, so after a long lull I actually finished two pictures this month:

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Now I’m back home, missing my family across the Atlantic but happy to be with my husband again, and my fridge is groaning under the weight of our travel magnet collection.

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

What I’m Into April 2015

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April is drawing to a close (and on a lovely note–we’ve had absolutely gorgeous weather the past few days), which means that it’s time once again to link up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been into this month.

Books

As I mentioned last month, I set about rectifying a tragic oversight from my childhood and read the Harry Potter books for the first time, and you guys, I can’t believe I waited this long. They’re so good! (Although they did remind me of how much I don’t miss high school.) I don’t think I’ve ever identified as much with a character as I did with Hermione, and I bawled and bawled and bawled when Dobby died. I also watched all 8 movies (verdict: not nearly enough Dobby, and it’s a shame that Hugh Grant had to pull out of playing Gilderoy Lockhart at the last minute, but otherwise good). I also feel like I now understand a good 25% of the pop culture references I had previously been missing.

I also read Octavia Butler’s Earthseed books (slightly unsettling because they’re set in a frighteningly plausible near-future dystopia), Stacey Jay’s Of Beast and Beauty (a novel take on Beauty and the Beast), and a few other YA novels.

Games

We acquired several new games on Kijiji (Canada’s Craiglist) this month, and I’ve been eagerly roping people into trying them out with us. We played several rounds of Bang!, an Old West dice game that’s sort of a cross between mafia and Yahtzee, and really enjoyed it (although I believe I have yet to win). I also tried and enjoyed Citadels, Alhambra, and San Juan, all strategy-lite games that involve building cities or palaces. I think my favourite new game of the month, though, was a trivia game called Wormhole. It’s basically like Trivial Pursuit, but tailor-made for me, because it focuses mainly on my best areas (geography, history, and culture) and all but ignores my worst(sports and dated pop culture).

Food

We’ve been home visiting family for about half the month, so I didn’t get the chance to cook as much as I usually do (except for pizza. I made pizza three times while I was home), I can, however, enthusiastically recommend this oven-roasted chicken wings recipe from Martha Stewart and these hazelnut butter chocolate chip cookies. As far as pizza recipes go, my favourite new one was definitely this sausage, pear, basil, and goat cheese pizza. As usual, you can find my favourite recipes on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest Board.

IRL

As I mentioned, we spent over half the month at home with our families. it was a great, restful time, and we got to meet our newest niece for the first time and snuggle with her a little. I also got the chance, while I was home, to go to a small retirement get-together for one of my undergraduate professors. He’s been a fabulous mentor for me ever since my first year (in fact, he’s the reason I majored in history in the first place) and it was lovely to see him again and to wish him well.

That’s about it for me. April’s been lovely, but low-key. Stay tuned for next month’s post, in which I will tell you all about my upcoming European travels. Two more weeks to go! Be sure to head over to Leigh’s page for more posts.

What I’m Into March 2015

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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