What I’m Into July 2016

what-im-into

Happy civic holiday, folks. July has wrapped up and, mercifully, the last few days haven’t been so hot that I felt like I might die. I was even able to use my oven! I am once again linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

I devoured Jessica Khoury’s The Forbidden Wish in one sitting. It was a stunning take on Aladdin. If you’ve been following my WII posts for awhile, you know I’m a sucker for redone fairy tales, and I’m pretty sure this one cracks my top 10. Definitely recommended.

Watching

I caught The BFG with my sister in theatres earlier this month, and thought it was delightful. My other movie of the month, Christian Mingle: The Movie, was much less delightful, but I fully expected that and just wanted something to hate-watch. It did not disappoint on that score.

TV-wise, I’ve been catching up on this season of UnREAL, and it’s so much darker than anything I’m used to. Simultaneously fascinating and terrifying. Rachel’s character in particular scares me because of how she convinces herself that all the manipulation and awfulness is really for the greater good. My husband and I also watched through all three seasons of Silicon Valley (I enjoyed it, but also found it painful to watch at times, because so many of their problems could have been very easily avoided with just slightly more social or business competence). We then started on Veep (amusing, but I miss the optimism of The West Wing) and the new season of Orphan Black.

Listening

My sister introduced me to I Am They and I’ve really been enjoying their music. It’s something between Rend Collective and All Sons and Daughters.

Cooking

Peach season has officially started! I celebrated by making this grilled peach and bacon salad with buttermilk dressing.

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I also made and loved this pavlova for my husband’s birthday. The lemon curd folded into the whipped cream took it over the top. Or, if you’re looking for a healthier summer dessert (and gluten and dairy free), these chocolate-covered kiwi popsicles were pretty adorable. On the side dish front, these green beans with frizzled prosciutto and gouda (I used smoked gouda) were stunning. As usual, you can find all my favourite recipes of the month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest board.

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

No Churn Basil, Honey, and Walnut Ice Cream

Last year, my sister and I visited Rome and I fell in love with a small local gelato chain called Gelateria Fatamorgana where I had hands down the best ice cream I have ever eaten in my life. They had such a wide array of mouthwatering flavours that it was hard to try everything that looked good. One surprisingly delicious flavour was a basil, walnut, and honey gelato, which I raved about to anyone who would listen for months.

This year, I (like many others on the Internet, apparently) have been obsessed with this no-churn ice cream recipe. It’s the easiest thing in the whole world: whip two cups of cream, fold in a can of sweetened condensed milk, add desired flavourings, freeze. I’ve made 8 or 9 variations on it already. It’s no Fatamorgana gelato, but it did give me the opportunity to recapture some of that delicious flavour in an easy to make at home way. I made this while out at the cottage with some friends, so I didn’t have time to stage any fancy photographs, but I assure you it’s delicious.

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To make this ice cream, you’ll need:

  • 2 cups cold whipping cream
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Whip the cream in a mixing bowl. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, process the basil, walnuts, and honey into a paste. (I threw mine into my Nutri-bullet with the condensed milk). Fold the condensed milk and the basil mixture into the cream. Freeze until set (7-8 hours) and enjoy!

What I’m Into June 2016

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Happy Canada Day! I’m sitting here wondering where June went and trying not to think about all that I still need to get done this summer. As usual I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

This month I had a chance to catch up on new installments in a few different YA series I’d been following. Victoria Aveyard’s The Glass Crown was as gripping as The Red Queen, and I look forward to seeing how she’ll finish up the series. I also mostly enjoyed Morning Star, the conclusion to Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy. The whole trilogy was rather darker than I tend to like, but I suppose that’s par for the course when you’re essentially trying to recreate Roman history, but with deadlier technology.

Non-fiction wise, I read and sobbed my way through the entirety of Rachel Held Evans’ Searching for Sunday. This book sat on my shelf for far longer than it probably should have, but I definitely pulled it out at the exact right time. I was a whole lot more optimistic about the whole church thing when the book just came out, but now I’m feeling pretty burned out and discouraged about the whole thing and need to be reminded why it’s still worth it. I’m so grateful for people like RHE who are willing to wrestle with their faith and their relationship with the church publicly. I’m sure it’s a difficult thing to do, but it makes me feel so much less alone in all of this. Also, her husband Dan reminds me a whole lot of my husband Aaron, and I’m so grateful to have him as a partner as we work out our faith together.

Watching

I’ve been keeping up with the usual shows (though the Mindy Project is starting to get a little tedious, tbh. I’m sort of over all the “Mindy annoys her coworker until he falls in love with her” arcs). I’ve also started watching Silicon Valley with Aaron (painful to watch, but also hilarious, and I definitely like Jared better in this than as Gabe in The Office). On my own, I’ve started watching through The Fosters (the amount of angst I feel when I see fictional teenagers making dumb decisions makes me never want to be a parent, ever). I especially like the way they handled the arc with Stef and her conservative evangelical father.

Listening

All Sleeping At Last, all the time, basically. Seriously, how hauntingly beautiful is this song?

Or this one?

And he does covers!

Eating

This month, I had the good fortune to stumble across a stupidly easy no churn ice cream recipe, so I’ve been experimenting with endless variations: nutella toffee and hazelnut, rhubarb ginger swirl, salted caramel pretzel, M&M cookie dough, etc. Next on my list is a strawberry balsamic swirl. I’m lucky to have so many people in my life who are willing to eat the food I foist on them. Also in the frozen dessert category, this dairy free chocolate ice cream is even better than normal chocolate ice cream if you have an ice cream maker (though I multiplied the sugar by 1.5 and I wouldn’t use any less) and these chocolate covered frozen banana slices were so easy and to die for.

I’ve also been loving all the affordable berries that have been starting to filter into the stores (yay summer cooking), and I’ve been using them in everything: salads, meat dishes, desserts. I’m particularly proud of this blackberry cardamom pavlova:

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

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

What I’m Into May 2016

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How is May over already? It’s been a whirlwind of a month, spent catching up with friends and family in Ontario and New Brunswick after being out of the country for three months. Once again, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been into this month.

Watching

Now that I’m back in Canada, Aaron and I have resumed our watch-through of The Office. I’ve been loving it, though we’ve now reached the end of Steve Carrell’s time on the show, so I’m a bit apprehensive about the last two seasons. I also watched through the most recent season of Grace and Frankie (Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda are amazing!). And of course, I’ve been keeping up with the usual tv shows. I have all the feels about that Jane the Virgin finale! (loved most of it, unimpressed with the twist at the end).

Listening

Aaron and I went to see Anything Goes in St. Jacob’s earlier this month, and the soundtrack has been a staple in our house since. I’ve also been listening to and loving the soundtrack to Shrek the Musical. Basically, my show tunes phase continues apace.

Eating

Much as I’ll miss the easy access to good and affordable cheese in France, I’m enjoying being back in my own kitchen with my own kitchen gear. Though I realize it’s horrifically un-seasonal, I ended up on a bit of a pumpkin kick this month. I opened a can of pumpkin to make this lovely chocolate pumpkin layer cake with browned butter frosting and needed to find creative ways to use up the rest of the can (many of which you can find on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest board). I’m particularly proud of these pumpkin spice latte cupcakes.

cupcakes

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

What I’m Into April 2015

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I know we’re a quarter of the way into May by now, but I’m back in Canada and finally mostly over jet lag so I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been into this past month.

Reading

I didn’t read a ton this month, but I did devour In The Labyrinth of Drakes, the latest installment in the the Memoirs of Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan. I’m pretty sure I’ve gushed about this series in this link-up before, but it is just wonderful. It’s a great mash-up of Victorian-ish fiction (simulated non-fiction, really) and fantasy with a delightful protagonist.

Watching

I’ve been finishing up a cross-stitch this month, so I got a lot of TV watching in. After I finished my Friends watch-through (it’s honestly hard to root for Rachel and Ross when they’re both such awful, petty people, but I was happy for Chandler and Monica), I watched through Freaks and Geeks, Outlander (having my cross-stitch on hand to mask my computer screen came in handy sometimes tbh, but I’m just mesmerized by the storyline. Falling through a time tunnel without my husband is my worst fictional nightmare.) and the second season of Agent Carter. I’ve also been keeping up with the usual shows: Jane the Virgin, Once Upon a Time, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, etc. I even got to catch up on some movies I’d been meaning to watch on the flight home: Spotlight, The Lady in the Van (Maggie Smith forever and ever, amen), and Joy (mostly okay movie, but I thought making Joy’s dead grandmother the narrator was a bit of an odd move).

Travelling

I managed to really take advantage of weekend travel opportunities during my last month in Europe. My travel magnet collection is this close to taking up my entire freezer door now, which is exciting.

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I made it over to Germany twice in the month to visit family (once to see my aunt, uncle, and cousins, and once to go to a family reunion) and I went down to Lyon once to visit the family my sister au-paired for last year. It was lovely to spend time around families with younger children–it was definitely something I missed about my home church while I was away. I also got to see some new to me cities. One my way back to France from Germany, I took a detour to spend a few hours in Aachen, the city of Charlemagne. I am a terrible photographer who couldn’t do it justice, but Charlemagne’s chapel was just breathtaking.

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Also, I took an impromptu day trip to the city of Metz (pronounced Mess, apparently) in Lorraine and it was lovely!

Finally, I took advantage of Strasbourg’s proximity to Luxembourg to visit a whole new country (I did once spend half an hour in the Luxembourg train station, but I feel like that doesn’t quite count). It was beautiful, if a little more hilly than I expected. The views definitely made up for that though.

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 March 2016

I’m a bit late joining in on Leigh’s link-up this month because I was over in Germany visiting family for the weekend, but as usual I’m linking up to talk about some of what I’ve been into this month.

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The number one thing I’ve been into this month is getting to spend half of it with my husband! It’s been hard being apart, and it was good to be with him here and show him around Strasbourg. He left last Thursday, and I’m looking forward to being back with him for good when I head back home at the end of this month. I also got to see more family this month. My aunt, uncle, and cousin visited me in Strasbourg, Aaron and I visited my cousin and his partner in Strasbourg, and then this past weekend I got to visit another aunt and uncle and cousins. It’s been great to get to know my family on this side of the Atlantic better.

Touring

I got to add a whole new country to my list this month. I was able to travel to Austria, specifically Vienna and Salzburg. Both were lovely, but I especially enjoyed Salzburg. It was hard, but I was able to restrain myself from singing the Sound of Music soundtrack.

Seriously, how about those mountains? Insert obligatory The Hills Are Alive Joke here.

And of course I had to have schnitzel in Vienna. Austrian cooking definitely has my preferred meat to non-meat ratio.

Speaking of amazing food, I also had the chance to visit Munich and Ingolstadt this month, and Bavarian cuisine is officially one of my favourites.

Also, for my 25th (!) birthday, Aaron and I spent a quick day in London. We got to see In The Heights at the Kings’ Cross Theatre, and it was phenomenal. I just found out today that the play won two well-deserved Olivier awards for choreography and best supporting actor (David Bedella as Kevin Rosario). Since we flew out of Basel, we also took the chance to explore the downtown core of that city and look at the cathedral.

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I’m building a great mini collection of fridge magnets here to add to my full collection when I get home. I’m unreasonably upset about forgetting to pick one up in Ingolstadt though.

Reading/Watching/Listening/Etc.

Surprisingly little other than watching my way through Friends. I’m halfway through season 10 now.

I also had the privilege of listening to this conversation between Julie Rodgers and Wesley Hill at City Church San Francisco on moral disagreement in the light of the cross. If you’ve got an hour and a half and care about loving the LGBT people in your church well please do listen to what they have to say.

That’s it for me for the month, please do head over to Leigh’s blog and check out some of the other contributions.

What I’m Into February 2016

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Hello from France! I am once again linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

Not much by way of books, unfortunately, due to luggage constraints. I did read some fun light YA fiction on Kindle, though: Amy Bartol’s Kricket series and Aya Ling’s The Ugly Stepsister. Neither was particularly stunning, but both were diverting enough train ride reads.

Watching

I have spent nearly every evening watching Netflix and cross stitching, so a lot. The Netflix selection in France is somewhat limited, so I ended up doing something I vowed I would never do: binge-watching Friends. I’m now on season 4, and it’s fun enough, though I actually really don’t like Ross and Rachel as a couple (mostly, I really don’t like Ross). I also keep watching for hints of the Chandler/Monica thing, which I know is going to happen eventually, but so far I’m not seeing the writers moving in that direction.

I’m also catching up on a bunch of currently airing television, and my favourites are Jane the Virgin and Superstore (which I just started watching and it is brilliant).

Listening

This French worship song (a riff on Psalm 23) is my new fave right now.

Travelling

I’ve taken advantage of my location on this side of the Atlantic to make quite a few weekend trips. So far, I’ve hit up Augsburg, Barcelona, and Madrid, all of which were lovely (I think Madrid was my favourite, of the three). Don’t let the coats the locals are wearing fool you, Madrid and Barcelona were both delightfully warm for February.

In the coming month, I’m looking forward to heading to Vienna, Munich, Basel, and a brief trip to London to catch a performance of In the Heights (happy birthday to me!). I am also really, really looking forward to seeing my husband again–he’s coming to visit for two weeks in mid-March.

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

What I’m Into January 2016

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

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Watching

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

Eating

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

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

Touristy Things

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

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

What I’m Into December 2015

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

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Reading

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

Watching

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

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

Cooking

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

Crafting 

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

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

Gaming

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

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

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

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

What I’m Into November 2015

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

Reading

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

Watching

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

Listening

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

Eating

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

Wearing

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

Playing

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

Crafting

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

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

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

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