What I’m Into July 2018

what-im-into

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

Reading

July was a great reading month! First of all, I fulfilled a longtime goal and started an IRL book club. Turns out I had a good group of friends from church who were interested in being part of one, so we read Miriam Toews’ All My Puny Sorrows and got together to discuss it. It’s a really great group and I’m looking forward to keeping going. Also, I found out that our local library has a bunch of book club kits with ten copies of a book, so another reason to love them! I also read Sarah Bessey’s Out of Sorts for my online book club (which thus far has been a great opportunity to read books I already owned but hadn’t gotten around to reading).

A whole bunch of my library holds also came in this month, so I had a great excuse to spend whole days sometimes just reading. Favourite reads of the month included Nisi Shawl’s Everfair (steampunk set in the Belgian Congo), Victoria Aveyard’s War Storm (I somehow didn’t realize until this book that the series is set in some version of North America. I guess I didn’t really look at the maps before?), Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning (Navajo postapocalyptic fiction), Uzma Jalaluddin’s Ayesha At Last (a Muslim take on Pride and Prejudice set in modern-day Toronto), Rachel Caine’s Smoke and Iron (the latest installment in the Great Library series), Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens (a lovely retelling of Rapunzel that wove together the stories of Rapunzel, the witch, and Charlotte-Rose de la Force, the author who popularized the story), and Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone (a stunning fantasy novel set in the African kingdom of Orisha, which seems to be roughly Nigeria). We leave for vacation in a few days, so I expect August to also be productive reading-wise, though I’m holding off on library books for a bit in the hopes of making a dent in my owned but unread pile (digital and print). As usual, you can see the books I’ve read so far this year on my 50 Book Pledge page, and I’ve also begun updating my Goodreads page again.

Watching

It’s been a busy month for going out to see movies and shows. At the movies, I caught The Incredibles 2, Oceans 8, and Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, and I found all three thoroughly delightful. We also saw 4 (!) plays this month: the Stratford productions of The Music Man and Coriolanus (absolutely stunning! they did this cool modernized thing, and had a whole scene transmitted via text message), the Drayton production of The Little Mermaid, and the Mirvish production of The King and I.

On the small screen, Aaron and I have just wrapped up a 30 Rock rewatch. Having seen all seven seasons in fairly short succession, we can confirm that Dotcom is the best character and Jack’s Super PAC Americans for an American America is the best joke.

Listening

I found some great nostalgic items at the thrift store this month! Oxygen was on heavy rotation in my car for most of the month. I’m now so close to having a complete Avalon discography purchased from my local thrift store!

Wearing

I won a $150 gift certificate to Ricki’s, my favourite clothing store in the whole world, this month! Since it’s my favourite clothing store in the whole world I had already purchased all my favourite dresses of the season, but I had fun buying some matching necklaces and earring and I’m saving the rest for next season.

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I’ve also continued making a bit of jewellery this month. The nautical pieces I made to wear to The Little Mermaid, naturally.

Also, in the spirit of trying all the new fashion things at once, I tried some semi-permanent red dye on my hair. It’s mostly washed out now, except for a few highlights, but it was a fun experiment.

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Making

I finished two cross-stitch projects this month: Neptune, the latest in my planets series, and Beyonce, from my new book of feminist icons cross stitch patterns.

Eating

I took full advantage of the end of strawberry season by cooking and baking up a storm in between heat waves. Highlights included this strawberry basil jam (which formed part of this strawberry basil cake), chocolate-covered strawberry cupcakes, strawberry shortcake sundaes, and a berry tiramisu cake for Aaron’s birthday.

Later in the month, in the gap between strawberry and peach season, I tried a few less seasonal baked goods. These fresh mint chocolate chip cookies and butter tart squares were both stunning.

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

Online

The very best thing I saw online this month was this album of stills from Pride and Prejudice overlaid with headlines from The Onion

I also thoroughly enjoyed these tweets

IRL

This summer marks 10 years since I’ve graduated high school, which is hard to believe! I’m not going to be back in New Brunswick for the reunion, but I did get together with a few high school classmates for Korean BBQ in Toronto and it was a lovely time.

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Also, spot the 17 cringeworthy moments in my yearbook writeup.

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That’s it for me for the month, be sure to check out Leigh’s blog for more linkup contributions!

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What I’m Into June 2018

what-im-into

June has come and gone (and, regrettably, is ending on a hot and humid note), so once again I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about some of what I’ve been into this past month.

Reading

I was pushing to meet a dissertation chapter deadline this month, so I didn’t get a ton of reading done (brace yourselves for July, though). I did, however, make time to read two highly anticipated new releases: A Storied Life by Leigh Kramer (yes, of the link-up), which was a great story about life and loss, and Rachel Held Evans’ new book Inspired, a meditation on the Bible that had me nodding vigorously in agreement on basically every page.

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I also read Carol Howard Merritt’s Healing Spiritual Wounds for my online book club and read all of Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game in one sitting. As usual, you can track my reading progress for the year here.

Watching

I actually saw a movie in theatres this month! Anticipating a deeply disappointing result to the provincial election (and sadly I was correct), I decided to skip out on night-of viewing parties and instead meet a friend to watch the new Melissa McCarthy movie Life of the Party. The confluence of election night and some major sporting event meant that my friend and I had the whole theatre to ourselves, something that has never happened before and likely never will again. It was a lot of fun, especially since we were free to make comments throughout. The other movie I watched was Coco literally the day it went on Netflix, and boy am I glad I finally got to see it.

TV-wise, I picked up where I had left off watching Schitt’s Creek and found the characters had really grown on me. It turns out that, if you start a show with characters who are objectively terrible people, every time they show a modicum of compassion or humanity or growth it’s enough to move you to tears. The season 4 finale had me a sobbing mess. I laughed my way through several seasons of drunk history on Crave as well as the new seasons of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (that mockumentary episode!) and Champions on Netflix. Most recently, Aaron and I have been rewatching 30 Rock on Prime. My favourite new TV of the month, though, was definitely the new season of Queer Eye on Netflix. That first episode with the mother and son and their church had me just weeping the whole way through.

Wearing

Ricki’s had a dangerous number of sales this month, which meant I ended up acquiring a bunch of dresses I’d been eyeing because I couldn’t pass up the deal. Aren’t these gorgeous? I found out that as a graduate student/adjunct instructor, I’m eligible not just for student discounts, but also for teacher discounts, so that helped.

Also, as you may recall from last month’s post, I got my ears pierced for the first time ever last month. I was going to be good and wait the recommended amount of time before switching out my studs, but I bought too many new earrings and got too excited. I have discovered, however, that earring selfies are a surprisingly difficult genre to master.

I’ve managed to excitedly buy so many earrings (can you blame me? I had the repressed excitement of a tween who’s finally gotten her ears pierced but the budget of a grown woman) that I ended up investing in one of those dresser-top jewellery carousels, and I kind of love it.

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Crafting

In addition to buying earrings, I have discovered that you can very easily make them with charms and baubles from Michaels, so I’ve been doing that a fair bit this month.

I also finished two more planets in my cross stitch series: Mars and Mercury

I’m also getting all sorts of ideas for when I finish this series. I went to the local embroiderers’ guild stash sale and found a bunch of cheap patterns, and I received a really great book of patterns as a thoughtful gift.

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Eating

While today was too oppressively hot to cook anything, I was lucky enough that the height of strawberry season coincided with a slightly cooler few weeks, so I got to try out some dessert recipes.

I also found a recipe for rhubarb lemonade that turned out to be absolutely to die for (I used the reddest stalks I could find so the colour also turned out gorgeous) and one for prosciutto-wrapped asparagus that was easily the best asparagus I have ever eaten.

My favourite recipes of the month can, as usual, be found on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest board.

Online

It’s been a pretty somber month online for obvious reasons, but here are a few things that made me laugh.

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IRL

This was a busy month–as I’ve mentioned, I was trying to meet a deadline, but we still had the chance to share meals with friends old and new, which is always a monthly highlight.

Just today, we met up with a bunch of my family to celebrate some milestones in a few of my cousins’ lives, and it was a pretty good way to spend the day, even in this weather. My uncle’s dog Mowgli looked about how we all felt.

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And the best news of all is that, on the last day of the month, I did meet my deadline. I now have a completed draft for every chapter of the body of my dissertation, and boy am I ever excited to move beyond the staring at a blank page stage to the fixing stuff I already wrote stage!

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

What I’m Into May 2018

what-im-into

Another month has come and gone and I am once again linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this past May.

Reading

I read Ink and Bone, the first book of Rachel Caine’s The Great Library series, a few years ago, and the next two books, Paper and Fire and Ash and Quill were my favourite reads of the month. I remain a bit skeptical of the world Caine has built (mainly I don’t think Protestantism would exist in a world without a printing press), but the pacing and characters are just fantastic. I also enjoyed The Fates Divide, the sequel to Veronica Roth’s Carve the Mark (and let me just express my appreciation for standalone books and duologies. I like not having to wait forever for closure.) Jessica Day George’s Silver in the Blood was also a fun read. As usual, you can see the books I’ve read so far this year here.

Watching

This month, when I’m between other shows to catch up on, I’ve taken to watching through Schitt’s Creek on Netflix. It took a little while to grow on me but I love it now. I also loved the Brooklyn 99 finale and am so happy to know they’ll get another season after all. More Holt! I also watched the royal wedding (not live, though, I didn’t get up at 6 AM for my own wedding, why would I do that for someone else’s?) and Bishop Curry’s sermon was just lovely. It’s great to have a progressive Christian voice that is so excited about Jesus.

We also saw a possibly unprecedented four plays this month between Stratford and Mirvish. In Toronto, we saw Fun Home and Annie (starring Lesley Nicol, best known as Mrs. Patmore from Downton Abbey, as Ms. Hannigan, a role I also played when I was 11, albeit with considerably less skill). In Stratford, we watched Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband (hilarious, and I have a theory that Lord Goring and Lorelei Gilmore are basically the same person) and The Tempest, featuring Stratford veteran Martha Henry as Prospero. The festival made the decision to cast a lot of women in traditionally male Shakespeare roles this year and I’m loving it so far.

Listening

This month was very exciting as I found a CD I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for ever since I started getting most of my music from the thrift store a few months ago: Steven Curtis Chapman’s Speechless. I also found the Prince of Egypt soundtrack on the same trip, so the two have been on pretty heavy rotation all month. Just try not to sing along to Dive or Through Heaven’s Eyes. It’s impossible! I’ve also started reviewing CCM thrift store finds every Monday evening on Twitter, so if that’s something you might enjoy you can find me at @christinaemoss

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Eating

This month we were able to make it home to New Brunswick for a quick but lovely trip, as my mom had planned a surprise 60th birthday party for my dad. I volunteered to take care of food and I planned a selection of desserts inspired by my dad’s favourite flavours: lemon elderflower cake, mango coconut cupcakes, and chocolate ginger cookies. I was so pleased with how everything turned out.

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This month was also the first month we started to have local produce again, so I’ve had a lot of fun cooking with rhubarb and asparagus. As usual, you can see some of my favourite recipes of the month over on Pinterest.

Crafting

Since we spent so much time in the car to and from New Brunswick, I got quite a lot of cross stitching done this month. This puzzle heart was one I had worked on off and on since about Christmas, but I finished it and got it framed at the beginning of the month.

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Also, thankfully for my pocketbook, I have moved on to a series I can actually frame myself: a series of cross stitches of the planets framed in wooden hoops. I’m hoping my blanket stitch will have improved a whole bunch by the time I’m done. This month I finished Earth and Jupiter.

Online

Here are some of the funniest things I saw on the Internet this month:

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IRL

The highlight of the month for me was unquestionably getting to spend time with family in New Brunswick. Even though we were only there for the weekend we got to spend quality time with family on both sides, and even spend Mothers’ Day with both our moms. One of the highlights, as always, was spending time with our nieces and nephew. I may or may not have made this portrait of me by my oldest niece my new Facebook profile picture.

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I also made a spontaneous decision and got my ears pierced on a whim this month. Yes, for the first time ever–I planned to do it when I was 10 but chickened out, so here I am 17 years later finally getting around to it. I am very excited to be able to wear dangly earrings from Ten Thousand Villages in a month.2018-05-18 13.59.32

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 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.

what-im-into

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.

What I’m Into March 2018

what-im-into

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.