What I’m Into January 2016

This month has gone by so much faster than I wanted it to. It was my last month at home for a little while. This Thursday, I head to France to do archival research for my PhD and I don’t get back until the very end of April. I’m a bit apprehensive about leaving my community here, and especially my husband, who will only be able to visit for a few weeks in the middle. But January has been a whirlwind month, as I’ve tried to pack in time with as many people as possible before I go. As usual, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been into this month.

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Watching

Aaron and I have started watching though The Office together (it’s my first time, his second) and I’m loving it. We even stopped in Scranton for lunch on the way back from our NYC trip this month, although that turned out to be a bit of a letdown. I also saw the New Star Wars movie in theatres and and enjoyed it, although I still think Darth Vader should have used his force ghost powers to set Kylo Ren straight ages ago.

Eating

My favourite thing I cooked this month was this ridiculous caramel banana layer cake, which got all the compliments at our church’s brunch. You can see some of my other favourite things I cooked on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest board.

I also got to eat some amazing restaurant food while I was in NYC. If you happen to be catching a Wednesday matinee on Broadway, I definitely recommend Pergola des Artistes on 46th street. Their matinee menu is reasonably priced and amazingly delicious. I had the leg of lamb with a red wine and rosemary sauce and Aaron had the spinach and cheese ravioli. We also tried out some pie from four and twenty blackbirds (I especially recommend the black bottom lemon pie) and had burgers and one of those huge fancy milkshakes from Black Tap (good, but I’d recommend waiting until the buzz dies down so you don’t have to wait in line for 40 minutes before the restaurant opens in order to get a seat).

Touristy Things

As mentioned above, Aaron and I visited New York City together for a few days this month. I’d never been, and we were able to find Wednesday matinee tickets for Hamilton at not resale prices back in November, so we got them as a Christmas gift to each other. Hamilton was, of course, phenomenal! I was blown away by just how much of the company was onstage at any given time–I think I nearly gave myself whiplash trying to take it all in. We also ended up getting tickets to Something Rotten (which was a lot of fun) and Fiddler on the Roof (which was a non-stop cryfest, especially since the guy who plays Tevye looked so much like my dad from where we were sitting). We even got to catch up with old friends from Fredericton, who are now living in NYC. We enjoyed our trip and I would definitely do it again sometime, though probably when the Canadian dollar is in better shape relative to the American dollar.

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

What I’m Into December 2015

Greetings from my in-laws’ house, where I’m been doing lots of eating, watching Netflix, and cross-stitching. As usual, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this month.

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Reading

Surprisingly little, actually, for vacation. I’ve mostly been taking advantage of our Kindle Unlimited subscription. I read all of Salla Simukka’s Snow White trilogy, a YA mystery series set in Finland. It didn’t quite have the fairy tale tie-ins I was expecting, but I loved the setting. I also just finished Mary Weber’s Storm Siren, and I think I may need to shell out for the rest of the trilogy (which is sadly not on Kindle Unlimited) or, better yet, convince my local library to do it. It’s a Thomas Nelson publication, but I didn’t realize this until the end of the book. There are no blunt religious tie-ins, just a good story.

Watching

I’ve been doing a lot of TV-watching (because hey, Christmas break, and I’ve started several new cross-stitching projects lately. I watched all of Cristela (seriously so bummed that show was cancelled) and season 1 of About a Boy, in addition to following my usual shows (I have all. the. feels. about Once Upon a Time and Jane the Virgin).

I’ve also been watching a lot of movies with family over the holidays: The Proposal, The Impossible, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (my ideal happy ending involves Andi moving to DC and not putting her life on hold for a guy she’s known all of 10 days), Confessions of a Shopaholic, and Identity Thief. None of them (with the exception of The Impossible) were especially compelling, but my cross-stitches are coming along very well.

Cooking

I didn’t do my usual full spate of Christmas baking this year, but I did give these white chocolate and pistachio-dipped brown butter sugar cookies a try, and they were lovely. I’ve also been taking full advantage of pomegranate season. My favourites were this impossibly easy and serious amazing six-ingredient chocolate pomegranate shortbread tart, and this honey pecan pomegranate chicken salad.

Crafting 

I’ve been on a roll with the cross-stitching this month. I’ve completed several Pixel people cross-stitches plus this fun Christmas one from steotch. Currently I’m working on a massive nativity silhouette, so I’ll let you know in 2 years when I finish it.

I’ve also had fun working with my sister to DIY some lampshades for her new apartment (her first!).

Gaming

The party game of the month for us has definitely been Telestrations. It’s a hit every time, even with people who don’t especially care for games. It’s basically a mash-up of telephone and pictionary, and I have yet to finish a game without laughing until my sides hurt.

We also really enjoyed giving Abracada…what? and Timeline a try with a friend at the board game cafe in Fredericton (which also happens to serve up some stunning grilled cheese sandwiches). We’re now in the process of trying to rope people into helping us try out the new games we got for Christmas.

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It’s nice to finish off the year spending time with our families. Aaron and I are pretty lucky that both sets of parents live only 2 hours apart, and we don’t have to choose between them on our vacations. We’re also looking forward to January, which will involve an NYC trip (I’ve never been) to go see Hamilton (!). If you have any must see free or cheap attractions, or food recommendations, I’m all ears.

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

What I’m Into November 2015

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I can’t believe it’s already the end of November/end of term! Basically, I’m putting off a ton of grading and writing to put this post together, but it’s all good. I need a break. I am, as usual, linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

Not a lot, which is sadly typical for November. Winter, the last of the Lunar Chronicles books, released this month, and it was as excellent as the other books in the series (plus, a happy ending at last!) I also read The Rose Society, the newest book in Marie Lu’s Young Elites series. I couldn’t put it down, but the whole dark protagonist thing is pretty chilling. I also enjoyed E.K. Johnston’s A Thousand Nights and Erin Bow’s The Scorpion Rules (which dispensed with the love triangle it had set up refreshingly quickly).

Watching

On the big screen, Mockingjay Part 2 (still not over Finnick). On the small screen, every Gilbert and Sullivan DVD in our public library. Also watching through Psych, The Good Wife, and Master of None (Aziz Ansari is still a bit annoying as Dev, but less so than as Tom Haverford), and keeping up with new episodes of Big Bang Theory, Fresh Off the Boat, Once Upon a Time, The Mindy Project, Modern Family, and Jane the Virgin (okay, I totally see how I still have so much marking to do).

Listening

All musical theatre soundtracks, all the time. Hamilton, Gilbert and Sullivan, In the Heights, Tim Minchin’s Matilda, every Alan Menken Disney project…

Eating

I’ve been enjoying all the pomegranates coming into the grocery store, so I’ve been experimenting with those a lot. My favourites were definitely this Pomegranate Orange Bread and these Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Reduction and Pomegranate (so good!). As usual you can find my favourite recipes of the month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest board

Wearing

This fabulous dress from Torrid. I’m so excited that they finally have a Canadian location, even if it is a bit of a drive or train ride away, and the staff at the Eaton Centre location is super friendly and helpful.

Playing

We got some friends together to play Diplomacy (a game we’ve since we’ve been married, but that i hadn’t played yet). I think I like being liked a bit too much for this game. I spent the first 6 turns basically just holding my territory. We also got a chance to try Ladies and Gentlemen (which felt super complicated when we were trying to figure out how to play, but actually wasn’t once we got to it), Camel Up (so much fun!), and Flash Point: Fire Rescue (another good cooperative option for me and Aaron to pull out when we don’t feel like competing against each other).

Crafting

I took up cross-stitching again this month! I completed this firefly cross-stitch, which is adorable (but I can’t manage to take a good picture of mine).

I also found a box in our attic with all my middle school craft supplies, and decided to take up friendship bracelets again, so here’s a visual of what procrastination looks like:

That’s it for me for the month, be sure to check out Leigh’s blog for more submissions. I’ve found so many great music, book, and recipe recommendations through this link-up.

What I’m Into October 2015

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Another month, another What I’m Into post. Once again, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer.

Reading

I didn’t get as much reading done as I’d hoped this month, but I did get started on Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows (so excited she decided to revisit the Grisha universe) and loved Cara Nicoletti’s Voracious. Recipes and meditations on great books? Take my money, please!

Watching 

Jane the Virgin is back! I am so excited it’s not even funny. I’m also still following Once Upon a Time, Modern Family, Downton Abbey, Big Bang Theory, and The Mindy Project (and, thus far, less annoyed with the Mindy as a mom arc than I thought I’d be). I also watched Melissa McCarthy’s Spy on the plane and, while it was a bit much at times (I miss Sookie, the best character MC ever played), I just about died of laughter when British spy douche takes off in a huff on a sea-doo, not realizing he’s on a lake, not the ocean.

Listening

All Hamilton, all the time. It’s bad, guys. I have about 90% of the soundtrack down word perfect. Yesterday, I hit a new low and didn’t even turn the soundtrack on. I just sang it to myself. My husband, bless him, has been very longsuffering through this. All this to say, you should listen to the Hamilton soundtrack because it is amazing, but also be warned that it will take over your life.

Eating

I spent nearly a week in Vancouver’s West Side, so I got to check out some of its culinary offerings while I was there, My favourites were the Breka Bakery on Davie/Hornby (the most amazing panini selection, plus a to die for slice of cake with pistachio cream and chocolate ganache), the Banana Leaf on Davie (a Malaysian eatery, which was a whole new type of cuisine for me), Pizzeria Ludica (a board game cafe and Neapolitan Pizzeria, which is basically all my favourite things in one place), and the Patron Cantina, a fabulous Mexican place on Robson. In my own kitchen, my favourite thing I made all month was this gorgeous Pear, Chocolate, and Cardamom cake (which does take considerably longer to bake than the recipe calls for, but is amazing). I also tried this Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce for Thanksgiving, and I think it may be my new go-to. As usual, you can find all my favourite recipes of the month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest board.

Games

I got to try Colt Express (the 2015 Spiel des Jahres) for the first time this month and really enjoyed it–I love that it’s genuinely a different mechanism than every other board game we own. I also got to try the card game Guillotine (which I enjoyed, but will need to play a few more times to really get a feel for it). Aaron and I also got really into Fluxx: The Card Game (which I can report is also a big hit with the Mosses over in Vancouver). The basic gist of Fluxx is that players can constantly play cards that change the rules or the win condition for the game, which makes things really unpredictable but really fun. It’ll definitely be one of the games we bring home at Christmas.

IRL

As I mentioned, I was in Vancouver this month (my first time on the West Coast), which was super exciting. I went for my field’s major annual conference, and it was a great experience. I got to see some really great panels and managed not to shame myself or my supervisor when giving my own paper, so I’d say it was a success. I also got to see some friends who had moved to Vancouver and spend time with family who live in the area. We also hosted a last-minute Thanksgiving dinner earlier in the month, which was good fun and surprisingly not too difficult to pull off even though I only decided to do it like 3 days ahead of time. We’re hosting friends again tomorrow, this time for a Halloween board game party, so I’m scrambling to finish cleaning the house and decide what lazy costume hack I want to settle for.

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

What I’m Into September 2015

What I’m Into September 2015

After a week of ridiculously high temperatures at the beginning of September, it looks like fall is finally here to stay. Once again, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

Not much this month. I read the second book of Erika Johansen’s Tearling series, and it explained some of the world-building that was lacking in book 1. I also read The Word Exchange by Alana Graedon and started on the new Sarah Maas book (which is book 4 of 6 books, when she had originally planned on a trilogy. I have mixed feelings about this. Turns out I really like swift closure.)

Watching

I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit that the season premiere of The Mindy Project brought me to tears. I’m still apprehensive about the whole Mindy as a mother arc, though. We’re also continuing to watch through Psych. My favourite thing I watched this month, though, was live. We live about half an hour from the Stratford theatre festival, so we’ve been taking advantage of their student matinee pricing to see some shows. At the beginning of the month we watched their production of the Sound of Music, which was absolutely lovely. The nuns’ numbers in particular are gorgeous. We also watched Taming of the Shrew and, while the acting was masterful, the whole Kate/Petruchio arc makes me super undcomfortable. We’re going to Stratford one last time tomorrow to catch a staging of The Alchemist.

Listening

The Hamilton soundtrack all day every day. It’s just so brilliant! I’m not even particularly invested in the American Revolution (cause, you know, Canadian/German here), but I can appreciate Lin-Manuel Miranda’s handling of the historical material, from the hilarious rap battles in cabinet between Jefferson and Hamilton (we signed a treaty with a king whose head is now in a basket/would you like to take it out and ask it/should we honour our treaty King Louis’ head?/”uhh, do whatever you want, I’m super dead”)

to stirring battle montages that make me temporarily forget my pacifist leanings

to numbers that are just beautiful and make me tear up.

It’s embarrassing how much of the soundtrack I’ve already memorized, and it’s probably better for my students that I don’t teach the American Revolution, because otherwise my lectures would be 25% me butchering these raps.

Eating

Sadly, September marked the end of peach season. However, I’ve still been in the kitchen trying out lots of different recipes. My favourites were these blackberry cheesecake brownies and these feta-stuffed garden salad burgers. As usual, you can find my favourite recipes of the month on this Pinterest board.

IRL

I’ve started co-teaching a class this fall, and I’m really enjoying it so far. The students are engaged and creative and really good sports about the 3-hour once a week block.

We also had a good friend from New Brunswick visit us on his way out West. It was lovely to catch up with him, and we may have broken a personal record for most games played in one evening.

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

What I’m Into August 2015

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How is it September tomorrow? Seriously, how? I can’t believe summer is over already (although I could go for the cooler temperatures of fall right about now). As always, I’m finishing up the month by linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

We road tripped this month, so I got a chance to read a bunch of YA I’d been meaning to get to. My favourite book of the month was probably Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes, a fantasy novel in a pseudo-Roman empire setting. Then I read (and enjoyed, mostly, although I had to suspend disbelief a lot) Pierce Brown’s Red Rising and Golden Son (2 parts of a dystopian trilogy set in an interplanetary futuristic pseudo-Roman empire) and decided that the Roman motif is getting a bit overdone. I also read Lady Thief and Lion Heart, the two sequels to Scarlet, and loved her take on the Robin Hood mythos. Most recently, I just finished Archetype by M.D. Waters and am in the middle of the sequel, Prototype. I’m enjoying the setting (vaguely A Handmaid’s Tale-ish. Come to think of it, enjoying is perhaps the wrong word) but driven to distraction by the fact that the main character/narrator doesn’t use contractions. I think it’s a deliberate choice and linked to the big reveal at the end of book 1, but it’s never explicitly addressed and it makes the dialogue feel a bit stilted.

Watching

TV-wise, we’re mostly watching through (and loving) Psych right now. It’s refreshing to have a procedural show that doesn’t take itself so seriously. I love how deliberately over-the-top it is (although, let’s be real, Shawn is a terrible person and Juliet should never date him, but probably will).

Listening

August featured new releases from two of my favourite acts ever: Nichole Nordeman (first new album–ok, EP–in 10 years, woot!) and Rend Collective, so those have been pretty much playing on a loop for the last week or so. I’m especially loving Rend Collective’s Every Giant Will Fall.

Eating

We spent a week this August road-tripping to Minnesota and back, so there was a lot of eating out this month. Favourites were Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza in Chicago (obvs) and deep-fried breaded Wisconsin cheddar curds at a roadside A&W (don’t judge. They were fabulous.)

When not on the road, I’ve been taking advantage of the fact that peaches are in season here in Ontario right now, and they are to die for. Seriously, definitely a contender for my favourite fruit. I’ve been trying to make one peach recipe per day. Probably my favourite was the first one I tried: Seared Halloumi, Caramelized Peach, and Cherry Arugula Salad. Also pretty freaking fabulous, Grilled Peach, Blueberry, Goat Cheese, and Arugula Salad, Peach and Honeyed Whipped Feta Crostini. As usual, you can find all of my favourites of the month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest Board.

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IRL

Aaron and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary this month. We spent the day in Chicago, enjoying some of the city’s museums and capping off the day with a performance of The Two Gentlemen of Verona in Oak Park (I may have found a Shakespearean protagonist I despise more than Romeo!). My favourite stop was definitely the Field Museum. We got there two hours before it closed and barely made it halfway through the permanent exhibits. There’s so much to see!

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From Chicago, we drove on to the outskirts of the Twin Cities, where we celebrated the wedding of Aaron’s youngest brother in a lovely nature park just outside Minneapolis. I was sorry not to get to visit my family the way we usually do in August, but I’m super excited for my BIL and his new wife.

Finally, this month, I got to watch my home church blow me away with their generosity as we collected school supplies and snacks for the children living in the local women’s emergency shelter. We folded the back seats down and still had to try to cram everything into my car. I’m so grateful to call Lamplight family. They are the best.

That’s it for me for the month. Be sure to visit some of the other link-up submissions over on Leigh’s blog.

What I’m Into July 2015

The end of July has come, along with a welcome respite from last week’s heat wave (I really should live in England. Cool and rainy year round really is my weather sweet spot). As usual, I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I was into last month.

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Reading

Last month, I started and loved A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan. This month, I devoured the next two books in the series: Tropic of Serpents and Voyage of the Basilisk. The Victorianesque memoir theme is a fun conceit, and Lady Trent is a delightful character. I’m pretty psyched for book 4 to release next year. I also enjoyed Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor a lot. Court intrigue is always good fun. I read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel  in one sitting and couldn’t sleep afterward. I think reading about the beginnings of the apocalypse in Toronto was just a little too close to home for comfort.

Watching

I watched two whole movies on Netflix this month (somehow I can watch 3 40 minute episodes in a row, but a movie seems like a huge time commitment. Not sure why this is.) I deeply regret wasting the time it took to watch the Maze Runner, which was basically a 2-hour video game sequence void of any real plot or character development. However, I loved loved loved Galaxy Quest, which I had never seen before. Fact: Alan Rickman makes anything he’s a part of 10 times as awesome.

TV-wise, I’ve been working through Psych and Full House. I’ve also been watching UnREAL, although the cynicism is getting a bit much for me. I like my shows idealistic (I miss you, West Wing!)

Food

Culinarily, July is a bit of an awkward month, because it falls smack dab between my two favourite growing seasons: strawberry and peach (you should see the recipes I’ve got on the docket for next month). I did manage to make the best of it, though. These Greek salad skewers are so much fun (and surprisingly healthy). I also love love loved this one-pot orzo with tomatoes, feta, and parmesan (I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of money on feta this month. No regrets). My friend Anna and I also rocked this recipe for laminated basil pasta with garlic brown butter sauce (I am trying to talk myself out of buying a pasta roller).The piece de resistance this month, though, was Aaron’s birthday cake: blueberry zucchini cake with lemon buttercream.

Aarons cake

IRL

I’ve been loving hanging out with friends at games nights, karaoke nights, and working bees (I’m not much a construction worker, but I justify my presence on the scene by providing dessert and childcare). I’ve also been taking a stab in earnest at getting my license, which means my longsuffering husband has spent hours and hours with me in the car. Tonight, after a good hour of parking practice, he begged me to stop and go home because “I’m getting motion sickness and this is like the world’s least exciting amusement park ride.” I am getting the hang of it, though. July’s been busy for us, and August is shaping up to be busier. We’re Minnesota-bound (with a stopover in Chicago for our anniversary) for Aaron’s youngest brother’s wedding and looking forward to driving through some parts of the continent we haven’t seen before.

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

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.

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