What I’m Into November 2017

what-im-into

Another month is up and my teaching responsibilities are coming to a close, which means I can’t put off getting back to my dissertation anymore. Before I do, though, I’m linking up once again with Leigh Kramer to talk about some of what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

November was a bit of a slow reading month for me, but I did get a few books in. Of these, A.G. Howard’s Roseblood was a fun take on the Phantom of the Opera mythos, though I still prefer her Wonderland trilogy. And Charlie Lovett’s The Lost Book of the Grail was the usual mix of a contemporary storyline that blends with a literary/historical storyline. This one took me a bit longer to get into at first because I found the main character a bit hard to like, but once the plot picked up I couldn’t put it down. You can keep track of my reading for the year here.

Watching

I’ve been keeping up with my usual shows, and I’ve also gotten into another one: Great News. It’s produced by Tina Fey so it very much has that feel to it. One or two episodes went a bit far, but overall I’ve been enjoying the whole awkward workplace comedy schtick.

In live shows, we saw two this month, both amazing: the Mirvish production of The Curious Incident of the Dog at Nighttime and the Drayton production of Beauty and the Beast. I especially enjoyed the latter–the cast did great work with familiar and beloved material, and the sets were just stunning (even if the library was a bit underwhelming).

Listening

I’m not much of a podcast person, but I’ve taken to listening to a few while I drive or cook. I remain absolutely delighted by Good Christian Fun, a podcast that analyzes mostly nostalgic artifacts of Christian culture from the nineties and early aughts.

It was on GCF’s Kevin Porter’s recommendation that I started listening to Julien Baker, and I’ve found both of her albums just stunning. They’ve been in pretty heavy rotation for me this month.

I also made a gag thrift store purchase that turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable, so much so that I also bought the first album in the series on iTunes. I especially liked the Gregorian chant reimagining of Circle of Life.

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During that same thrift store trip I also picked up a copy of the Smalltown Poets’ self-titled album and it’s been the car CD ever since. My CCM tastes are nothing if not current.

Cooking

I got to bake for a church event this month, something I’d really missed. I made some squares for a special Bible study on Jesus as interpreter of Scripture in the gospel of Mark. The study was great and the squares were well received. I especially enjoyed the lime squares.

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I also tried my hand at another bread recipe and thought it turned out just lovely. It was no knead and not very complicated at all.

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Breaking out a kitchen tool that I haven’t used before is always a pleasure, and I got to use my set of Wilton mini cake pans, which turn the amount of batter needed for an 8 inch two layer cake into an impossibly tall and skinny layer cake. I used them twice: once for a chocolate raspberry cake with chocolate frosting and once for this chocolate cinnamon layer cake with salted honey buttercream.

 

Possibly my favorite recipe of the month, however, turned out to be deceptively simple. These almond pesto green beans by Smitten Kitchen were stunning with overcooked frozen green beans, and I can only imagine what they’d be like when green beans are in season. As usual, you can find all my favourite recipes of the month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest Board.

IRL

My sister and her husband came for a visit this month, which we just lovely, and we all went to a paint night together (basically, all our loved ones are getting pictures of giraffes on the sunset for Christmas this year).

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I also did some more crafting on my own, including this Mean Girls Pixel People cross stitch, which is now on my shelf along with the others I’ve completed in the series.

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

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What I’m Into October 2017

It’s early November, and I feel like I’m finally getting to the other side of a string of deadlines, so I’m taking a break (let’s call it the extra hour I’m getting tonight) to link up with Leigh Kramer as usual and share some of what I’ve been into in October.

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Reading

I read my 100th book of 2017 this month! I picked NK Jemisin’s The Fifth Season and it definitely lived up to the hype. It’s unsettling and not particularly feel-good, but haunting, and I was proud of myself for figuring out a few things before they were officially revealed in the book. Into the Bright Unknown, book 3 of Rae Carson’s Gold Rush trilogy, was also really satisfying. It’s a minor touch, but I’ve enjoyed how she got the title of each book from a different hymn that she incorporated into the plot. Joining a Mennonite Church has turned me into a bit of a hymn nerd. Melissa Pimentel’s The One That Got Away was a fun take on Jane Austen’s Persuasion, though I think there was one plot point near the end that could have been handled with a bit more sensitivity. My absolute favourite read of the month, though, was Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere. I read it in one sitting on the plane from Kitchener to Calgary, and then I sat and pondered it for the rest of the flight. It was even better than her debut, Everything I Never Told You. So many complicated characters who make choices that sometimes cause others pain, and yet you empathize with every one of them. You can keep track of the books I’ve read so far this year here.

Watching

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Jane the Virgin are back! I love both shows, and I’m excited to follow the heroines’ adventures again. I may or may not have been humming Let’s Generalize About Men to myself off and on all month. I’ve been following all my usual shows and also tried a few more. Kevin (Probably) Saves the World has been offbeat but fun, and I found the exploration of blended family dynamics in Me Myself and I really touching. In the theatre, Aaron and I saw productions of the Canadian classic Saltwater Moon and Rock of Ages, one of those plots designed to fit an 80s rock soundtrack. It was really interesting to see the band actually onstage instead of hidden away the way they usually are.

Listening

I was reminded at the beginning of the month how much I love Joel Plaskett’s Nowhere With You, so naturally I listened to it on repeat for days before I finally took pity on my poor husband.

John Mark McMillan’s Mercury & Lightning was another album I played a lot this month, and after we went to see Rock of Ages 80s rock compilations were in pretty heavy rotation as well.

I also started listening to the Good Christian Fun podcast, which reviews Christian pop culture from the 90s and early 2000s, and it has been a nostalgic delight. I devoured every back episode in only a few days, and I’ve also been nostalgically listening to the music they reviewed: Jars of Clay, dc Talk, even Jump5. I aspire to be a guest on the show one day. I’m not famous or anything, but I could for sure draw on my four years of Christian retail expertise.

Eating

Aaron and I got to travel twice this month: to Saskatoon for a wedding and to Milwaukee for a conference. I’ve decided that my favourite part of travel is rating every city’s ice cream offerings, and I loved what I found in both Saskatoon and Milwaukee. Saskatoon’s Homestead Ice Cream featured an amazing Chocolate Chai flavour, and Kopp’s Frozen Custard in Milwaukee absolutely lived up to the hype.

The rest of our culinary travel adventures were also delightful–Mader’s German Restaurant had good food and, at least at lunchtime, wasn’t ridiculously expensive or busy, and the Konga Cafe in Saskatoon had really good Jamaican food.

In my own kitchen I also had the chance to try a few new things this month. I was pleased with the results of my first attempts at challah rolls and macarons

Since I’m a sucket for themed food I cut a sheet cake into a onesie for a friend’s baby shower and made some spider cookies and pumpkin patch brownies for our Halloween board game party.

And, since my class had a test on October 31st, I couldn’t resist the urge to bring in some themed baking for them as well. I made Halloween and Reformation-themed cookies, and also threw in these amazing sea salt and olive oil brownies for students with gluten and dairy allergies.

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

IRL

At the beginning of the month, Aaron and I travelled to Saskatoon to celebrate the wedding of one of our dear friends from our college days (whose new wife turned out to be the daughter of one of my mom’s college friends, so it’s a small world). We had such a great time celebrating with them!

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We travelled again to Milwaukee at the end of the month and managed to combine business and pleasure–I had my annual Reformation history conference (where I managed to pick up a new pile of sale academic books–a rare find) and we were able to visit Aaron’s brother and his wife, who live nearby.

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Since I spent so much time in transit, I also had the chance to finish up some cross stitch projects, including my sister’s wedding present (a bit late, but in my defense she had a very short engagement). I splurged to get it professionally framed, and I’m so pleased with the end result. The picture doesn’t quite do the green in the inner frame justice. If you need something custom-framed in the K-W area, definitely check out the Framing + Art Centre.

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I also finally finished up the last part of this three-part project, which I started about a year ago.

Then, feeling uninspired by the next cross-stitch project in my queue, I picked up some friendship bracelets instead. The heart one I used to incorporate a favour I received at a friend’s wedding last month (purple and yellow were the wedding colours).

I also did a bit of bargello and made myself a new earbud case for my purse.

 

Finally, we hosted a Halloween board game party and I got to realize a costume idea I had back in June–turns out Weird Al Yankovic and I have very similar hair. We also got to try out Magic Maze, a new cooperative game and one of the Spiel des Jahres nominees for 2017 (Kingdomino ultimately won out, but Magic Maze is also a lot of fun.)

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

What I’m Into September 2017

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September has come and gone and, as usual, I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been into this month. It’s been busy–I’ve been teaching a course by myself for the first time–but also good.

Reading

I got somewhat less reading done this month than usual, but I’m at 90 books for the year so far, so I should hopefully still make my goal of 100 for 2017. My best book of the month was a Leigh recommendation–Hunted by Meagan Spooner, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I will read any fairy tale retelling, and this one was really good. As usual, you can see the books I’ve read so far this year here.

Watching

Our regular shows are starting to air again, which is super exciting! My favourite so far is The Good Place, though I await the new season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend with bated breath. We also went to a premiere party for the new Star Trek (more my husband’s thing than mine, but promising-looking so far) and, since I can’t pass up a themed food opportunity, I made these Star Trek cookie bars.

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Cooking

This has been a month of getting to use kitchen gear for the first time. We had a board game party, and I was able to use both my mini cupcake stand and my cookie shot glass mold.

I even busted out my ravioli mold and my pasta roller and made these butternut squash and goat cheese ravioli. They took 4 hours but were totally worth it. The picture doesn’t do them justice (and the sourdough breadcrumbs were so good it took all my self-restraint not to eat them all while I was making everything else.)

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Perhaps most satisfyingly of all, I was finally able to bust out my commemorative Martin Luther cookie cutter, which I expect to get even more use out of in October.

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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

As I mentioned, I’m teaching this term and really enjoying the opportunity. The students are interested and engaged, which is always a pleasure.

I also made it to a day of the Global Reformations conference in Toronto, which was a lot of fun (especially because I didn’t have to write my own paper). I need to find more early modern art historians to follow on social media, I think.

I was also able to make a whirlwind trip to New Brunswick to celebrate a dear friend’s wedding this month, which was just delightful, and I’m looking forward to travelling to Saskatoon in a few days for another friend’s wedding.

That’s it for me for the month. You can find more link-up contributions over on Leigh’s blog.

What I’m Into August 2017

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The end of August/beginning of September is probably the biggest month transition for me. I know the new year technically starts in January, but in academia it’s really September. The end of August is when you realize your summer is almost gone and you still haven’t accomplished all you hoped. It took a few more late nights than I’d have liked, but I’ve finally finished drafting the dissertation chapter I promised myself I’d finish by the end of August, so I’m taking a break and linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I was into last month (when I wasn’t dissertating).

Reading

The best thing about library holds (print and ebook) is that they give you a deadline to finish a book, which makes reading for fun even with other deadlines looming a bit easier to justify. I continued my read-through of Tamora Pierce’s oeuvre and made it through the lioness quartet in about two days.

My library copy of Sarah Maas’ A Court of Wings and Ruin also came in at the beginning of the month, and I devoured it almost immediately. It was nice to see Feyre and Rhysand get a happy ending.

I also borrowed Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer, and I’m interested to see where she takes this next. I have a theory that Lazlo is Azareen’s son. I’m not quite sure whether the math works out but I think it would be fitting.

Roxane Gay’s Hunger was every bit as stunning and gut-wrenching as advertised.

My surprise read of the month was Sasha Martin’s Life from Scratch, which was part memoir part food writing. The way she wrote about processing her difficult childhood while cooking a recipe from every country in the world for her blog Global Table Adventure was really beautiful (and I’m slowly making my way through the blog and pinning all the things).

Watching

We’re anxiously waiting for all our favourite shows to start up again. In the meantime, we’ve been watching through Baby Daddy. It’s not the best thing we’ve ever seen (I could deal with 100% fewer Riley used to be fat jokes), but it’s a comedy and it’s something to watch in the evenings when there’s nothing else. I continue to be open to recommendations.

In the theatre, we saw two plays this month. The Stratford adaption of Twelfth Night (my favourite Shakespeare play) was just delightful! We also got tickets to Drayton’s One for the Pot, and we were in stitches the whole time. Next month our Mirvish subscription for the coming season starts, and we’re quite excited for that also.

Listening

This hymn, which I had heard before but had never really stopped to listen to.

Michael Card’s I’m Not Supposed to Be Here, which resonates deeply with my theological journey.

Eating

This peach, Brie, and prosciutto tart was super easy and combined many of my favourite flavours.

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I also took full advantage of all the in-season fruit to try out a whole bunch of sorbet recipes. This raspberry and red currant one and the cherry, grapefruit, and basil were some of my favourites

Another great way to use summer fruit is these burgers with Brie, bacon, arugula, and a homemade blueberry barbecue sauce.

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Finally, I got to put my cupcake skills to the test again for a friend’s birthday party. I particularly liked the coconut lime cupcakes (I subbed all purpose gluten-free blend for flour, earth balance for the butter in the frosting, coconut milk for the buttermilk, and coconut oil for the butter in the cupcakes to make them gluten-free and dairy free, and they still turned out). I toasted the coconut, because there is no reason to ever skip that step.

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

IRL

I got to preach this month at the church we’ve been attending for the past year, and it was a huge privilege. I’ve missed it! My friend Bruce snapped this picture for me.

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My parents and brother were visiting, so they got to hear me preach for the first time, and we had a lovely visit with them.

Also, Aaron and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary with a weekend trip to Ottawa. Would you believe that until this month I had toured the capitals of more than 10 other countries but never the capital of Canada?

Also, I guess it’s technically the opposite of IRL, but I got Snapchat and Bitmoji on my phone this month and I’ve been having entirely too much fun with them. The you’re dead to me cross-stitch is absolute favourite bitmoji, though it’s a bit hard to think of appropriate venues to use it.

This coming month, I’m particularly excited to teach my first course as a sessional instructor, so I’m finishing up prep for that before Thursday. It’s a great opportunity and I’m really looking forward to it.

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

What I’m Into June and July 2017

It’s been a busy summer so far–my sister get married at the beginning of July, so I didn’t get out a June post in time and I’m playing a bit of catch-up. I am, as usual, linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been into these past two months.

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Reading

June started off on a high note because I finally got my hands on the library copy of In the Sanctuary of Wings, the fifth and final book of Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent series, and the final twist completely blew my mind. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series–they might be my favourite books of the last several years–if you enjoy fantasy or historical (ish) fiction with convention-defying female leads, I highly recommend them.

I also read through Victoria Aveyard’s King’s Cage at a record pace, and felt ambivalent about the ending until I realized the series was a quartet, not a trilogy, so hopefully closure (if not happiness) is still to come. I especially enjoyed seeing Evangeline Samos become a more complex character.

Another favourite series for June/July was the duology composed of Seraphina and Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, set in a world where dragons can take on human form, and the protagonist is half-human, half-dragon. I couldn’t put down either of the books–it was a compelling world with compelling characters, and I particularly enjoyed the dragon characters trying to understand humans.

July was also the month of playing catch-up with fiction most of my peers loved as teenagers. I tried reading Squire, the third book in Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small quartet, when I was about twelve and wasn’t able to fully appreciate it at the time, but this time I devoured the entire series in a matter of days. I especially enjoyed the way Keladry, despite being more of a tomboy by nature and one of the fiercest warriors in her cohort, deliberately wore dresses to dinners to remind her peers that there was nothing wrong with femininity.

Finally, I got my hands on the newest book by one of my very favourite authors from childhood, Gail Carson Levine. The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre is set in the same universe as The Two Princesses of Bamarre, but several centuries earlier, and features some of the same magic items and one common character. As someone who loved The Two Princesses of Bamarre and re-read it over and over, I was especially moved by the last lines of The Lost Kingdom.

As usual, you can see all the books I’ve read so far this year here.

Watching

Aaron and I finished watching the fourth season of Brooklyn 99 on Netflix, and we are now quickly running out of comedies to watch together before our favourites start back up in the fall. I feel like we’ve pretty much scraped the bottom of the barrel in terms of what Netflix Canada has to offer. I did watch (and absolutely loved) Playing House, and its touching exploration of female friendship, but I’m now caught up on that as well. Recommendations welcome!

In terms of live theatre, June and July were really good months. In June we caught Showstopper: An Improvised Musical in Toronto and it was just delightful. Basically, they take audience recommendations for plot and musical stylings, then make up a musical on the spot. They had the whole audience in stitches. We also caught the Drayton production of Thoroughly Modern Millie and the Stratford production of Guys and Dolls, and both soundtracks have been in pretty heavy rotation ever since. I especially enjoy Adelaide’s Lament from Guys and Dolls.

Listening

In addition to the Guys and Dolls and Thoroughly Modern Millie soundtracks, I downloaded the soundtrack of the new Broadway production of Anastasia and I’ve been enjoying the nostalgia, though I was disappointed to see that they’d replaced Rasputin and Bartok as the antagonists. I suppose the flying bat and the disintegrating limbs are harder to replicate onstage.

My very favourite album of the past two months, however, was definitely Nichole Nordeman’s newly released Every Mile Mattered. Nichole has been one my favourite songwriters ever since I heard To Know You on WOW 1999 (the very first CD I ever owned) and all these years later, even though the contours of my faith have shifted somewhat, her music resonates as much as it ever did.

Cooking

June marked the start of strawberry season and, if you’ve been following my monthly recaps for awhile, you’ll know that strawberry season is second only to peach season in my books. Favourite recipes of the season included this strawberry and goat cheese bruschetta and these chocolate coconut waffles with strawberry sauce.

Peach season is only just starting out now, but I’ve already tried a few recipes, most notably this lovely peach focaccia.

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Another food-related highlight of my summer so far has been the sudden ubiquity of iced tea. I got this iced tea bottle from David’s Tea, which also lets me make my own at home very easily, so I’ve been trying all kinds of flavours and staying hydrated without much difficulty.

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Unquestionably, however, my biggest culinary accomplishment of the summer was baking the cupcakes for my sister’s wedding. I’d never done anything on that scale before, but I wanted to give it a try as a gift to my sister. It was a bit of an adventure: my sister was, of course, mid-move, so I used her kitchen to bake the cupcakes but gathered ingredients and equipment from a wide variety of sources, and since her apartment isn’t air-conditioned I ended up frosting the cupcakes in the church lobby, which I’m sure was an odd sight for visitors to the church office, but they turned out so well and I was really pleased with them. The cupcake varieties were gluten-free dairy-free vanilla, browned butter and peach with peach cream cheese frosting, maple bacon French toast with maple cream cheese frosting, chocolate with hot chocolate frosting, and lemon with raspberry frosting. My new brother-in-law and his father designed a lovely birch stand to display them. You can’t quite see it in the picture, but the white cupcakes on the bottom rung spell out “The Adventure Begins.”

As usual, you can see my favourite recipes for June and July on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest boards.

IRL

June and July were wonderful, but busy months. One of my best friends came to Toronto for a visit at the beginning of June, so we met up there, toured the ROM, grabbed gelato, and saw Showstoppers. It was delightful.

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In mid-June I went down to Harrisonburg, Virginia for a conference at Eastern Mennonite University entitled Crossing the Line: Women of Anabaptist Traditions Encounter Borders and Boundaries. I went to present some of my dissertation research, but the conference had a rich diversity of presenters, and I was particularly inspired listening to women leaders from Mennonite churches in Africa and Asia talk about their experiences. It was spiritually life-giving for me, and gave me hope for the Church, which has been in pretty short supply for me lately.

While I was nearby, I also took the time to visit DC, which I had never seen before. I spent the day at the Smithsonian Museums of American History and the American Indian, and I enthusiastically recommend both. If you get the chance (and don’t mind a lunch that’s a little on the pricey side), I also recommend the Mitsitam Cafe at the Museum of the American Indian. The plum agua fresca in particular was amazing.

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July, of course, was marked by my sister’s wedding, which was lovely. I particularly loved this candid shot my aunt took of me and my sister before she left for her honeymoon.

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While we were back in New Brunswick, we also had the chance to spend quality time with friends and family, which was great. I particularly enjoyed spending time with my oldest niece and hearing all about the robots she plans to design. I fully expect her to become rich and famous and support all of us someday.

And finally, July brought a lovely and unexpected professional opportunity: the chance to teach a course by myself in the fall. I’m really looking forward to it: I know the material well, and I’ve loved my TA-ships and my mentored teaching unit, so this is a great chance to take it to the next level. I’m enjoying all the prep work already and excited for the actual classroom component to start.

That’s it for me for the past two months. Be sure to check out some of the other posts in the link-up!

What I’m Into May 2017

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Another month has come and gone and, as usual, I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

I mostly read fiction these days (excepting academic obligations), which I can breeze through in a day or two, but this month I took some time to read some nonfiction as well. Several people from my church took part in a pilgrimage for indigenous rights, in which they walked 600 km from Kitchener to Ottawa to express their support for Bill C-262, which calls for Canada to fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. They stopped at churches along the way and conducted teach-ins. I was not up to walking 600 km, but I did want to take the time to learn more about the issues facing aboriginal people in Canada, so I picked up Indigenous Writes by Chelsea Vowel, which I highly recommend. It was accessible and informative, and answered every question I had and many more I didn’t think to ask.

Fiction-wise, my favourite read of the month was fan-fictiony but delightful. Lara Ormiston’s Unequal Affections imagines that Lizzy accepts Darcy’s first proposal and tells the story from there. I thoroughly enjoyed it (other than the fact that Ormiston sometimes slips up and uses contractions). You get to see Lizzy and Darcy’s character growth a bit more explicitly than in the original, and Wickham gets a comeuppance, which is quite satisfying. As usual, you can see the books I’ve read so far this year here. Also, I’ve now met the goal I set for myself of 50 books this year, so yay for setting unambitious goals, I guess.

Watching

On the small screen, we watched through all of the new season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and the gospel song version of the theme song (unbreakable/he’s alive, damnit/it’s a miracle/Jesus is strong as hell) is possibly my favourite TV joke of all time. I have also had Titus’ song about California stuck in my head pretty consistently, unfortunately. We also watched through the new Anne series, which, minor liberties with the source material notwithstanding, was fantastic, and started on Brooklyn 99 and the Handmaid’s Tale.

Onstage, we watched the Stratford Production of HMS Pinafore (I will take every opportunity to watch a Gilbert and Sullivan show, because they’re just so good) and the Mirvish production of Strictly Ballroom: The Musical (a little light on plot, but some truly fantastic dance numbers and costumes). (Also, in exciting theatre news, we just purchased 2017/2018 Mirvish main season subscriptions, so we are now officially those people).

Eating

I tried my hand at one of those no-knead, baked at a high temperature in a Dutch oven bread recipes, and I was super pleased with the result, which was gorgeous and delicious.2017-05-14 23.48.29.jpg

I also went on a bit of a prosciutto appetizers kick. These pear, prosciutto, goat cheese, and honey appetizers were super simple but absolutely delicious, and these mini prosciutto cups filled with goat cheese were a hit at our board game party this month. I also thought these domino potatoes were really fun, because food is automatically better when it’s served in a ramekin imo.

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I even tried my hand at recipe development this month, which is a rarity but always fun. I came up with these sugar free (sweetened with honey) spiced chocolate cutout cookies, and they were a big hit. (I also got to break out some new cookie cutters I’d acquired, which is always an exciting occasion).

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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

The big exciting news of the month, which has taken my family by storm, is that my sister got engaged. The wedding is July 8th, and I’m a bridesmaid and on cupcake duty (which I’ve never tried before for an event of this size, and I’m so excited to get into it). Also, in the process of trying to find my bridesmaid dress, I ended up also finding this one in my size. I’m terrible at outfit selfies, but it’s bright and colourful and in my size and makes me happy.

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That’s it for me for the month, be sure to head over to Leigh’s website and check out what everyone else has been into.

Honey-Sweetened Spiced Chocolate Cutout Cookies

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I only very, very rarely try my hand at developing my own recipes, because there’s so much already out there on the Internet that I want to try. But every once in awhile the inspiration strikes me. I wanted to make cookies for an event and, because of dietary restrictions, they needed to be refined sugar free. Luckily for me, I have ready access to some high-quality local honey from Bee Quest Honey, which my aunt and uncle run. And I had previously served these Mexican chocolate shortbread cookies to rave reviews, and I knew that the unique taste of honey as a sweetener would offset the hint of cinnamon and cayenne pepper just perfectly. Using the Mexican chocolate cookie recipe and this recipe for honey cutout cookies as a base, I put together this recipe for sugar-free spiced chocolate cutout cookies. The recipe yielded about 4 dozen cookies (ymmv, depending on the size of your cookie cutters). I was super pleased with how they turned out, and I got the chance to use some recently acquired cookie cutters. Enjoy!

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup honey, depending on how sweet you want your cookies to be
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground coffee
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups flour

Cream the butter and honey together, and beat in the egg and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients and stir them into the honey butter mixture. Flatten into a disc and refrigerate 30 mins. Then roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and bake 15 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Enjoy!

What I’m Into April 2017

what-im-into

As April draws to a close, I’m once again linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

Well, it’s looking like I’ll have no trouble meeting my 50 book pledge for the year, since I’m already at 44. This month, after hearing raves about it forever, I finally read Walter Brueggeman’s The Prophetic Imagination, and it feels as timely as ever. I also really enjoyed Princess Ben, which is a middle grade novel (Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Kindle deals have been broadening my horizons) with a really compelling lead. It reminds me of Gail Carson Levine’s books, and she was my absolute favourite growing up. I also just finished The Circle, and am feeling pretty unsettled by it still. I expected it to be dark, but it was even more so than I thought it would be. I did call Kalden’s identity pretty much as soon as he showed up though, and I can’t decide whether that means I should be proud of myself or that it was too obvious. As usual, you can see all the books I’ve read so far this year here.

Watching

We saw two plays this month: Singin’ in the Rain in St. Jacobs and The Bodyguard at the Princess of Wales theatre in Toronto. Both were lovely, but I’m even more excited to see HMS Pinafore in Stratford on Friday.

TV-wise, I watched all of Dear White People and Thirteen Reasons Why on Netflix (TRW was compelling cinema, but I totally understand the issues people have with it. If you’ve got kids watching it I’d definitely recommend having some in-depth discussions with them about the content.)

Listening

Easter is unquestionably my favourite time of the church year musically. I love how lovely and haunting the Good Friday songs are and how beautiful and joyful the Easter morning songs are. Aaron and I joined the Good Friday choir, got ever so slightly better at reading music, and learned a whole bunch of new songs. This one was probably my favourite. We sang the English version (Ah Holy Jesus), but the Berlin choral rendition was the prettiest one I could find on Youtube.

Then on Easter morning we sang one of my favourite Easter songs (A Toi La Gloire/Thine Be the Glory) and I found out that my church can really rock a congregational rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus. It’s apparently a tradition, so we’ve that to look forward to next year as well.

On the not hymns front, I started listening to the Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack, and I’ve really been liking it.

Eating

My favourite thing I made this month was definitely this cream cheese and prosciutto-stuffed chicken. This Mediterranean chicken with roasted red pepper sauce was also pretty great, and this chocolate chip cookie dough cake was a big hit when we had friends over for dinner. As usual, you can see all my favourites on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest board.

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

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.

what-im-into

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

what-im-into

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.

imag0080

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