What I’m Into April 2018

After a weirdly brutal April (we had a historic ice storm mid-month), the weather is finally looking nice, and it feels like spring has finally arrived. I am, as usual, linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this past month.

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Reading

Since I loved C.J. Redwine’s The Shadow Queen last month I immediately borrowed the next two books in the series (The Wish Granter and The Traitor Prince) from the library and devoured those too. I definitely recommend the series for fans of redone fairy tales. I also really enjoyed Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network, which finally arrived for me at the library and came highly recommended. I’m always a sucker for interweaving past and present (or, in this case, past and more past) storylines. Corine Duyvis’ On the Edge of Gone was really well done, if unnerving near-future dystopia and well worth a read if you like fiction that ponders big questions. I also read Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Accidental Saints as part of an online book club, and it led to some really great conversations about church. As usual, you can see everything I’ve been reading here.

Also, while I haven’t started it yet, I had the delightful experience of finding a book on my to-read list at the thrift store *and* opening it to find the author’s autograph.

Watching

This month, when we haven’t been catching up on currently airing shows, Aaron and I have been watching The Goldbergs. We loved it so well that, when we caught up to the present, we just went back and started watching again from the beginning. The combination of 80s references, bizarrely over the top but also sweet family relationships, and occasional glimpses of the real family that inspired the show is so much fun. If, like me, you didn’t really love episode one, stick with it. It gets so much better! It’s also been very exciting to have Corner Gas back with the new Corner Gas animated series, though it’s been jarring to have someone else voice Emma (RIP Janet Wright).

I also cannot say enough good things about the new Netflix movie Come Sunday, featuring Chiwetel Ejiofor as Carlton Pearson, a Pentecostal megachurch pastor in 1990s Tulsa who lost his church after his beliefs on hell changed. It was so well done and compassionate to all the people it portrayed. The scenes between Ejiofor and Jason Segel, who played Pearson’s best friend and ministry partner, were especially well done.

Onstage, we saw two new to us productions this month. The Drayton production of The Drowsy Chaperone was delightful and I have never related to a character as hard as I related to the man in the chair. He listens to musical soundtracks the way I listen to soundtracks. I mean, minus the musings on his acrimonious divorce, but the dramatic facial expressions and the pauses for pedantry are spot on. We also saw the Mirvish production of An American in Paris, and the staging and choreography was delightful, although I’ve never wanted a character to get the girl less. I am very over the whole “guy relentlessly stalks a girl until she falls in love with him” trope.

Listening

Musically, April began with Easter, my very favourite part of the church year. The music is so joyful and trimuphant! My church has an annual tradition of ending the Easter service with a mass choir rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus that anyone can join, so I listened to the soprano part on Youtube until I knew it and joined in, and it was such an amazing experience. I can’t think of another line of music that gives me chills as reliably as “the kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of the Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever.”

I also found a couple more favourite older CCM CDs at the thrift store this month that have been in heavy rotation: Avalon’s A Maze of Grace and Michael Card and John Michael Talbot’s Brother to Brother.

On Kendra‘s recommendation, I checked out Joseph, a folk-rock sisters trio and really enjoyed their stuff (this link-up has been such a boon for my music collection. I’m pretty sure it’s how I started listening to All Sons and Daughters too.)

Listening to Joseph also reminded me that a lot of people whose music tastes I respected like The Civil Wars (I know, I’m very late to the party), so I decided to check them out as well as Joy Williams’ later solo stuff (I had some of her old stuff from her CCM days, which I liked fine, but wow, this is so much better!)

After watching the Goldbergs so much, we were delighted to find that there is also a Goldbergs Mixtape featuring Erica’s 80s covers and Barry’s raps, and it is amazing.

Eating

We celebrated Easter by sharing a potluck with friends, and my contribution was this easy but delicious mini egg brownie trifle.

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Easter also meant finding whole lot more mini eggs on sale the next day, so I tried out all manner of cookie, brownie, and blondie recipes to use them up.

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My efforts to cook a new recipe from each of my cookbooks continue apace. On the savoury front, I particularly enjoyed this taco salad in a tortilla bowl and coulibiac (salmon, wild rice, and mushrooms wrapped in puff pastry).

On the dessert front, I was particularly pleased with these tricolour icebox cookies and these pies (margarita pie with a pretzel crumb crust and purple sweet potato pie in a gingerbread crumb crust)

It’s sparser these days because I’m getting so many recipes in print rather than on the Internet, but you can still check out my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest page to see some of my favourite recipes of the month.

Games

I got to try out several new to me games this month and really enjoyed them. Disney Cranium is probably aimed at kids, but still fun for grownup Disney fans (the humdingers were always my favourite part of Cranium, and I know almost all of these). I bought Deck Building: The Card Game mostly for the excellent pun, but it was a lot of fun. Werewords (a cross between Werewolf and 20 Questions) is a good game for a larger group too, although I remain very bad at deceiving people. My favourite new games of the month, though were the two games Aaron and I tried in the Exit series. If you’ve ever been to an escape room, the exit series is an attempt to replicate that in board game form. They are single use only, since once you’ve solved the puzzles you’ve solved them, but they’re a lot of fun, and considerably less expensive than visiting an actual escape room.

Crafting

I’ve been busily cross-stitching away this month. I actually finished two projects, but the last one is still at the framer’s, so I’ll have to wait for next month to share the picture. I was really pleased with how this Alsatian village scene turned out, especially the backstitching detail on the houses.

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Online

These are some of my favourite funny things I’ve seen on the Internet this month.

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Also, I know I usually prefer to share funny online content and this isn’t that, but this study on the link between religious affiliation and suicide for LGBT people is really sobering, and something that churches need to take very, very seriously.

IRL

One of my goals for the year has been to have people over more often, and so far we’ve been averaging hosting about once a week, which has been busy but so much fun. One of the highlights this month was hosting a board game party and cramming about 20 people into our apartment (which, it turns out, is possible. Who knew?).

I also had the pleasure of seeing a friend from my cohort defend her dissertation, and it was great to cheer her on and hear more about her work. Here’s hoping that will be me sooner rather than later.

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

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What I’m Into March 2018

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Another month has come and gone and once again I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

This might be the slowest reading month I’ve had in years. I only finished three books this month (four if you count the Walter Brueggeman Lent Devotional I worked through, I suppose). I really enjoyed all three, though. Daniel Mallory Ortberg’s short story collection The Merry Spinster was a little scarier and more unsettling than I usually read, but you know I never pass up the chance to read anything he writes or redone fairy tales. Shadowsong, the sequel to Sunny Jae-Jones’ Wintersong, took me about a hundred pages to really get into but was unputdownable once I did. My favourite read of the month, though, was CJ Redwine’s The Shadow Queen, a riff on Snow White and the first novel in her Ravenspire Series. I look forward to getting the rest of the books in the series so far from the library. You can catch my reading progress for the year here.

Watching

On the TV front, I’ve been keeping up with the usual shows (Jane the Virgin is so good right now!) Aaron and I have also been watching though The Goldbergs and really loving it. We’re both too young to be properly nostalgic for the 80s, but we’re especially enjoying the show’s soundtrack. I also watched the first season of Timeless on Netflix and am catching up on Season 2. I’m a sucker for a good time travel show, though frankly I think they made Lucy Preston an expert on far too wide a swath of time. I guess they can’t just go and hire a different historian to travel to every era.

I also saw two movies in theatres this month: A Wrinkle In Time (enjoyed it, it made me want to revisit the book) and Love Simon (very sweet, and I recommend Tuesday afternoon showings if they work for your schedule. The theatre is nice and empty).

And of course we also saw a live show this month. The Drayton Entertainment production of Hairspray was fantastic. I laughed, choked up, and had to physically restrain myself from singing along on multiple occasions.

Listening

The current soundtrack of my car rides is Amy Grant’s Greatest Hits. It’s tough to pick a favourite track, but I think it’s between Takes A Little Time and Every Heartbeat. I am nothing if not current in my music tastes.

I also attended a delightful concert/storytelling event held at the Brubacher House (a local landmark/museum), featuring a series of folks songs inspired by the Martyrs’ Mirror, the famous early modern Anabaptist martyrology. I’m a sucker for a good concept album and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I came across this video of Ray Boltz singing The Anchor Holds post-coming out and found it deeply moving. It takes on a whole new resonance in light of his story for sure.

Cooking

March includes my very favourite culinary holiday of the year: Pi Day. I never pass up the chance to observe it, and this year we hosted a dinner party for some friends that involved pie for both the main course (chicken, leek, and Brie pie and sauerkraut, sausage, and bacon pie) and dessert (a chocolate almond marshmallow cream pie and spiced pear mini pies). Alas, I mixed up the last two digits of my Pi mini pie run, but overall I’m very pleased with how everything turned out.

We also had our first church potluck since I bought myself a three-tiered cupcake caddy, so I was very excited to debut it there. I made chocolate pomegranate cupcakes, pumpkin orange cupcakes, and apricot, rum, and brown butter cupcakes, and I made good and sure no one could use Lent as an excuse not to try one.

I also enjoyed baking treats for the Bible study I’ve been leading every Sunday over Lent. I finally managed a proper batch of stained glass cookies (I think I might have ruined them in the past by not using enough candy, or maybe the fact that I used Silpats helped) and also got to break out my ninjabread men cookie cutters.

The most complicated new technique I tried this month was a cake collar for this Raspberry Bavarian from the Company’s Coming Decadent Desserts cookbook.

My quest to use my cookbooks this year has temporarily resulted in my using a lot fewer Pinterest recipes, but I still found some great ones there this month. In particular, this lentil, roasted veggie, and halloumi bake is possibly the best vegetarian dish I’ve ever tasted (though I strongly suggest halving the broth du the veggies and lentils aren’t swimming in the final product. As usual, you can find my favourite Pinterest recipes of the month through my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest board.

Crafting

I finished this welcome cross stitch with Wi-Fi info for a dear friend of mine and the most hospitable person I know.

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I took advantage of a custom framing sale at Michaels to get the two largest cross stitches I made in college properly framed. They turned out so well!

I also enjoyed working on this month’s picture in my colouring calendar.

Online

These are some of the funniest/best things I saw online this month.

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I’m particularly stoked about the idea of a live-action Prince of Egypt with Justin Baldoni as Moses. It needs to happen.

IRL

March is my birthday month, and it was a good one. I had lots of opportunities to do fun things around my birthday, and spent the day itself taking a break from my dissertation work and doing only things I enjoyed. It was a great day, and I received some thoughtful and unexpected gifts from friends and family.

I also really enjoyed leading Bible study at church throughout Lent. and I hope I’ll have the opportunity to do something like that sooner rather than later.

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

What I’m Into February 2018

February has ended and once again I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about some things I’ve been into this month.

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Reading

February was not nearly as productive a reading month as January. I made it through only four books, but all four were excellent. Two of those, Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger, I read in 48 hour period. I couldn’t put them down. They were a really fun YA adaptation of 1001 Arabian Nights. Sunny Jae-Jones’ Wintersong was an excellent addition to the “human girl falls for troubled immortal” genre. Finally, Kate Bowler’s memoir Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved was poignant and thoughtful and well worth reading. She tells the story of going through her own diagnosis of terminal cancer and living in the shadow of death, and she also draws on her expertise as a scholar of the history of the prosperity gospel. As usual, you can keep up with the books I’ve read this year here.

Watching

I saw two movies in theatres this month: Paddington 2 (Kevin from Good Christian Fun advertised it as “Paddington discovers the prison industrial complex” which was a really hard sales pitch to resist) and Black Panther (Shuri was my favourite character). I also quite enjoyed When We First Met, a Netflix romantic comedy involving time travel and a lead who’s initially pretty entitled but gets a lot better as the movie goes on.

We also saw two plays this month: a K-W Musical Productions showing of Shrek the Musical (one of my favourite soundtracks, and the guy who played Farquaad was especially good) and the off-Mirvish/Studio 180 production of King Charles III, a play in the style of a Shakespearean tragedy that imagines a possible future after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Sadly, it is a future without Meghan Markle, since the play was written before she and Harry started dating.

Listening

I found a copy of Jennifer Knapp’s Kansas at my local thrift store, and it’s been in pretty heavy rotation since then. It’s such a good album, there isn’t one skippable track.

I also recently remembered that Plumb exists, so I’ve been listening to her a lot the past week or so.

Eating

We hosted a board game party this month and, as a treat, I decided to try out a few winter lemonade recipes. This Spiced Vanilla Meyer Lemonade and Blood Orange Cranberry Lemonade were not cheap to make, but they were delicious. I do always enjoy the chance to go all out with party snacks.

I’ve also continued my efforts to use my cookbooks more, to good effect. This roasted tomato and broiled cheddar soup from the Smitten Kitchen Every Day cookbook was phenomenal, and I was frankly surprised at how flavourful and delicious this cream of barley soup from the Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook was.

These sweet potato chocolate chip cookies from the Joy the Baker cookbook were a flavour combination that would never have occurred to me, but they were really good (and incidentally dairy free). I brought them along to a Bible study I’ve been leading at church, because I am not above bribing people with food to come study covenants in Genesis with me. I also made these chocolate lime whoopie pies for the same purpose.

 

Crafting

Did you know that there are cross stitch patterns for clocks? I was a bit skeptical, but I decided to try this one out and I really love how it turned out. The pattern suggested keeping the hoop and just attaching the clock movement to the fabric, but I wanted more support so I glued the fabric to a wooden clock face instead and finished it off with ribbon. I’m so pleased with how it turned out and it looks really good hanging in our dining room. You can find the pattern here.

In addition to working on the clock, I tried out another fancy friendship bracelet pattern, again with elephants. And, in case you’re curious, I finally found a use for all the bracelets I’ve been making lately–I use them as bookmarks and mark off the passages we’re studying every week in different Bible translations.

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And finally, I bought myself a colouring calendar at the beginning of the year, and I’ve really been enjoying working through these pictures as a small monthly project.

Online and IRL

I achieved a minor goal of mine this month and went viral on Twitter. Obviously there are different degrees of viral, but this was enough that I couldn’t possibly keep up with all the responses, which has never happened to me before. It’s slowed down to a trickle now, but I still get a handful of strangers sharing childhood anecdotes in my mentions every day, which is delightful.

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While, as I said, I couldn’t possibly keep up with all the responses, this one was my favourite of the ones I saw. It still cracks me up every time.

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Offline, all the major events in my life this month have been church-related. I got to preach again on the first Sunday of the month. The sermon was on the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman in Mark, a passage I find really challenging, and I appreciated the chance to grapple with it more deeply.

Then, just last Sunday, my husband and I were received into membership at our church. This was a big deal for us because until now the churches we’ve belonged to haven’t been accepting new members, so we were both still members on paper at our respective parents’ churches. Of course, in many ways this is a formality. We participated fully in the life of the other churches we belonged to, even if we weren’t members on paper, and even though we’ve only been at Stirling a year and a half we’re both deeply involved already. Even so, it was deeply meaningful to have our official status reflect the fact that we’ve come to call this community home, and we’re so glad that we’ve found a church home where our whole selves fit. The candles pictured below are a gift given to every new member as a symbol of our interconnectedness.

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That’s it for me for the month, be sure to link up with Leigh to see what other folks have been into.

What I’m Into January 2018

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January has gone by and, as usual, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been into for the past month.

Reading

I read a total of 10 books in January, mostly (but not exclusively) YA fantasy. My favourites in that genre were Katherine Arden’s The Girl in the Tower (the sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale) and Naomi Novik’s Uprooted. I also found Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder stunning, thought-provoking, and troubling. As usual, you can track my reading progress here.

Watching

I actually saw three whole movies in theatres this month: Jumanji, The Greatest Showman, and Lady Bird. A bit of an eclectic mix, but I enjoyed all three. We also saw a live production of The Lorax in Toronto and I especially enjoyed the way the team of puppeteers animated the Lorax.

TV-wise, I’ve been following all the usual shows. This new season of Call The Midwife looks amazing! And Rita Moreno definitely has my number in the latest season of One Day At A Time.

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Listening

This Is Me from The Greatest Showman gets me in the feels every time.

The Steven Curtis Chapman episode of Good Christian Fun had me feeling all nostalgic, so I did a lot of listening to his greatest hits.

And I found a copy of The Piano Guys’ CD at Thrift on Kent and I’ve really been enjoying it.

Eating

Blood oranges are back in stores, so I made these chocolate dipped blood orange madeleines

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I also made this apricot ricotta cheesecake (sugar-free!) for a friend’s going away party and it was delicious.

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This year I’ve also been making an effort to make recipes from my cookbooks instead of just relying on Pinterest. My favorites of the month were this pasta with arugula and ricotta pesto and these chocolate cherry biscotti.

For the online recipes I’ve tried this month, you can check out my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest page.

Crafting

I finished another cross stitch at the start of the month, and got it framed along with the cross stitch I finished last month. Honestly, getting cross stitches custom framed makes such a difference, I wish I were independently wealthy.

Also, I’ve discovered some new and exciting friendship bracelet patterns that blow the ones I learned as a kid out of the water.

And I did another Paint Nite with a friend, which resulted in this. As usual, they always look better when I don’t have the instructor’s example to compare it to anymore.

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IRL/Miscellaneous

Torrid had a massive sale on clearance accessories, so I picked up this awesome clutch and I can’t wait to break it out.

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And, after waiting for a week because it wasn’t available in Canada, but the Google Arts and Culture App finally made its selfie art feature available in Canada, so I had some fun finding my art doppelgangers.

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

What I’m Into December 2017

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Hard to believe that another year has wrapped up. December has been a busy month full of family time, and I’m looking forward to what 2018 will bring. I am, as usual, linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

The ride to New Brunswick (and relaxed time spent with family at home) always means a chance to get in a bit more reading. I spent a good chunk of Christmas afternoon curled up on my in-laws’ loveseat reading The Hate U Give, which absolutely lived up to the hype.

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Other favorite reads of the month included Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (also lived up to the hype) and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (easily my favorite Gregory Maguire book so far.) I also really enjoyed The Starlit Wood (a collection of redone fairy tales by contemporary authors. The genre of the short stories varied widely, so they weren’t all favourites for me, but I loved many of them, and the short story format was perfect for a bit of reading before bed.

I read 114 books cover to cover this year (counting academic books I reviewed but not ones I used for reference), and keeping track on 50 Book Pledge definitely motivated me to read more.

Watching

I saw one movie in theatres this month: The Last Jedi, with my husband and in-laws. I enjoyed it, although I spent the whole thing heartbroken that Carrie Fisher won’t be back for Episode IX.

TV-wise, I got back into watching The Crown, and am now one episode away from finishing season two. Claire Foy’s Elizabeth is fantastic.

Live, I saw two plays this month: Honk! (a musical adaptation of The Ugly Duckling) and Candy Cane Lane, a Christmas musical featuring the daughter of dear friends. In both cases I was probably older than the intended audience, but the cast in both did a great job. All in all, Aaron and I saw a fantastic array of plays this year.

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Listening

December means it’s finally ok to play Christmas music, so this was a month of enjoying old favourites: Avalon, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith… My tastes never veer more toward traditional CCM than at Christmastime.

Eating

Traveling home for Christmas means that I do considerably less cooking, but I did get in some Christmas baking before we left. Since some of the people I bake for couldn’t have refined sugar, I found a base recipe for a sugar free shortbread cookie (1/2 cup liquid sweetener, 1 cup butter, 2 cups flour) and had lots of fun customizing it. I made Maple Nutmeg Macadamia Shortbread Cookies and Honey Orange Cardamom Pistachio Shortbread Cookies.

I even had the chance to take part in an online cookie exchange with other historians. I sent off some of my cookies and, in return, received these delicious chocolate and coconut macaroons.

I also brought some seasonal cookie cutters home, and my sister and I made this shortbread cookie Nativity, decorated with edible ink markers. I tried my hand at decorating a few only to bow to my sister’s superior skills and just watched her work.

Other favourite Christmassy recipes (okay, desserts) included this Pear Ginger Cheesecake and these Spiced Chocolate Cupcakes with Eggnog Buttercream.

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For savory recipes, I really enjoyed this roasted garlic Mac and Cheese recipe. I used smoked cheddar and added some diced roasted lamb to make it a full meal.

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As usual, you can find my favourite recipes I made this month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest Board.

And, of course, being home for Christmas has meant enjoying so many favourite New Brunswick foods and restaurants: my mother-in-law’s seafood chowder and Christmas cookies, market samosas, Monkeycakes cupcakes, desserts from The Chess Piece, and meals from the Palate (the most amazing beef and blue cheese fusilli) and Isaac’s Way (definitely try their sausage spring rolls with avocado mint sauce.)

Playing

My sister and brother-in-law gave us Jeopardy and Trivial Pursuit: The 2000s, knowing my love of all things trivia, and we got a chance to play both over the break. I liked how they reworked the Trivial Pursuit rules to even out the game.

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We also played a lot of Roll For It and Kingdomino with friends and family, and tried out Concept and The Twelve Days of Christmas at Unplugged, the board game cafe in Fredericton.

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We also got the chance to try out two different escape rooms: once with family (close but no cigar, as with the last time Aaron and I tried an escape room) and once with a friend (a win, made all the more exciting by the fact that we had three seconds to spare).

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Crafting

I finished another cross stitch this month, though I haven’t gotten around to framing it. I also all but finished another–picture to come next month.

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I also picked up some amazing-looking colouring books on sale and am really looking forward to starting on them.

IRL

Even though we were going to be gone over the holidays, we took the time to decorate our apartment for Christmas this year, and it definitely made the first half of December a lot cheerier.

We definitely got in lots of family time this Christmas, which was just lovely. We got to know my new brother-in-law a bit better, and we got lots of quality time with our New Brunswick nieces and nephew. A highlight was teaching my oldest niece (aged 6) a simple friendship bracelet pattern. She got really into it and made this one for me.

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And, speaking of nieces, we have a new one! Our youngest niece was born in Wisconsin on December 28th, and she is just precious! I can’t wait to meet her.

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

What I’m Into November 2017

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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.

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!