What I’m Into December 2013

What I'm Into

How is 2013 practically over already? And, for that matter, how is Christmas break almost over? December’s been a great month, once I got through the first week of end-of-term crunch. It’s been great to take a break from schoolwork and visit with friends and family, read fiction, watch TV, and do absolutely nothing intellectually challenging for a few weeks. As I do every month, I’m compiling a recap of things I’ve been into in December and linking up with the lovely Leigh Kramer.

Books:

  • The Internment Chronicles Book 1 by Lauren Destefano. I enjoy her books, but I found the premise for this series (an island in the sky, which cut off all contact with the ground), a bit implausible.
  • Uglies, Pretties, and Specials by Scott Westerfeld. I couldn’t put this series down. However, I’d be happy to never hear the words bubbly, bogus, and icy again.
  • Son by Lois Lowry. Like every other North American public school graduate, I had to read the Giver for school (twice, actually). I read Gathering Blue and Messenger a few years back, and found out in last month’s link-up that there was a fourth book in the series. I enjoyed the way this book tied together so many different societies from Lowry’s dystopian world, and the chance to get a birthmother’s perspective. I’d found them intriguing when I read The Giver.
  • Enclave, Outpost, and Horde by Ann Aguirre. Again, I could not put these down. I’m a sucker for a good dystopian YA novel.
  • The Big Over Easy and The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde. These books were so much fun. I’m looking forward to reading his Thursday Next series. If you like mysteries that are clever and funny, I definitely recommend Fforde.
  • The House at Riverton by Kate Morton. This was a sad read, but I couldn’t put it down. I had to find out what actually happened to the R.S. Hunter.

Movies:

  • Frozen. This was so adorable! The songs weren’t on par with Tangled. but I loved the characters and the exploration of sisterhood. This was the first Disney movie in years that managed to come up with a plot twist I didn’t expect, and I just about cheered when the male lead asked the female lead’s permission before kissing her.
  • The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug. This was very part-two-ish. I’m looking forward to seeing how There and Back Again ties things up. It’s been so long since I read The Hobbit (10 years, give or take) that I forgot most of the plot.
  • Sleepless in Seattle. Just watched this for the first time with my husband and my in-laws. It’s worse than the typical romantic comedy tripe as far as the actual love story goes, but amusing. And goodness gracious, those computers…so dated.

Food:

Music:

  • Jennifer Knapp’s greatest hits definitely takes the prize for most listened to this month. I bought it after falling in love with Martyrs and Thieves on Youtube and, while it’s still my favourite track on the album, it’s got some pretty stiff competition.
  • Speaking of Youtube, Aaron and I have been enjoying Anthem Lights’ acoustic covers and medleys of pop songs, and we downloaded their cover albums on iTunes for road trip music. I defy you not to get this Taylor Swift mashup stuck in your head.
  • I also stumbled on a pre-Christmas music sale at the bookstore I used to work at, and stocked up on Christmas music for next year. Favourites include Hillsong’s We Have A Saviour, Amy Grant’s A Christmas Album, and Josh Wilson’s Noel
  • And, of course, I got some new CDs for Christmas/with Christmas money that I’m super excited to listen to: Gungor’s I Am Mountain, New Life Worship’s Strong God, Laura Story’s God of Every Story, and more.

TV:

  • Aaron and I are still going strong with our Gilmore Girls watch-through. We’re into season 4 now, and I spent most of season 2 and 3 railing at Jess for being terrible and railing at Rory for being a jerk to Dean. I also want to slap Emily for acting like such a spoiled brat toward Lorelai sometimes, and Sookie is still who I want to be when I grow up.
  • And oh. my. goodness., the mid-season finale of Once Upon a Time. I was so proud of Rumple and Regina for doing the right thing, at great cost to themselves.
  • I also watched a few episodes of Extreme Cheapskates, only to be completely repulsed. It’s a whole different way to  have an unhealthy relationship with money. I do, however, enjoy laughing at the people who say dumb things like “I estimate that I save about 30 dollars a year by not buying toilet paper.”

Online:

  • This list of cookie cutters on Buzzfeed is pretty awesome.
  • This guest post over at Christena Cleveland’s blog on the church and people with mental illness had some great food for thought.
  • There’s less in this section than usual, mostly because a) everyone taking a blogging break for the holidays and b) the Internet was kind of dominated by posts that began with the words “I know the last thing anyone needs is another post about Duck Dynasty, but…”

IRL:

  • I got super lucky at the beginning of this month and won the Merry Christmas to you giveaway hosted by Be Mama Be, The Cardigan Way, Little Did She Know, State of Hospitality, Barefoot on 45th, and Beauty School Dropout. I won so many lovely goodies, and everyone was really great about finding alternatives that would ship to Canada where necessary. Thanks so much to all 6 of you 🙂
  • We hosted a board games and Christmas cookies party in our apartment just before we left for home. It was the most people we’d crammed into our apartment, and it was a lot of fun. Even if I did discover that I am not, in fact, unbeatable at Balderdash.
  • Of course, the highlight of every December is the extended trip home to see friends and family. Despite being snowed in by no less than three major snowstorms (I am never singing songs about white Christmases again), we’ve managed to see just about everyone. I even managed to get in to my old high school and speak to a former teacher’s history class about going on to grad school in history, which was a lot of fun. We also arrived just in time to help my parents with their move into a new house, and I have confirmed that I never want to move in winter, and especially at Christmastime. It’s a lot of added stress for my parents, but they’re troopers and are making great progress.
  • Vacation has also provided me with the opportunity to take up cross-stitching again. I had modified an alphabet sampler design to make an eshet chayil cross stitch chart back in the summer, and after about 15 straight Gilmore Girls episodes of working on it, I’m about 60 French knots away from finishing it. I love it, and I’m super excited to post pictures of the finished product on my Twitter feed and on next month’s What I’m Into.

That’s about it for December for me. I’m looking forward to my in-laws’ New Years’ Eve get-together tomorrow, and I’m planning on squeezing every last bit of relaxation I can out of Christmas break. Happy New Year, and be sure to check out the other posts over at Leigh’s blog.

What I’m Into November 2013

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How is it end of term already? Time to procrastinate even more than usual, which means it’s the perfect time to put together a What I’m Into post for November. As usual, I am linking up with the lovely Leigh Kramer.

Books

I read 4 books not for school this month (plus a few for school, like Carlo Ginzburg’s The Cheese and the Worms and Emmanuel Leroy Ladurie’s Montaillou, that had been on my to-read list for ages).

  • Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey—I’d been looking forward to this book for months (it’s one of the few titles I’ve actually bothered to preorder) and it was lovely. If you follow her blog at all, it was very her. Not confrontational, but invitational.
  • When We Were on Fire by Addie Zierman—So good! I lost a ton of sleep because I had to finish it all in one sitting, but it was totally worth it. I understand that it’s been named one of Publishers Weekly’s top 5 religion books of the year.
  • Allegiant—My turn finally came to borrow the library’s copy of this, and I have so many feelings about it! I still can’t believe that Veronica Roth ended the series the way she did, and I’m kind of conflicted about her decision, but the trilogy is well worth a read. And the movie trailer looks promising as well.
  • Love is an Orientation—This one’s been on my to-read list for ages, and Benjamin Moberg’s recommendation over on Addie Zierman’s blog bumped it up to the top. I really appreciated it, and the central point that, at the end of the day, individuals stand on their own two feet before God and we don’t get to micromanage their faith journey is a necessary reminder.

Food:

As usual, I’ve created a Pinterest Board with some favourite recipes for this month. I particularly liked the salted chocolate shortbread and the cider Dijon pork chops. I also loved Argo Tea’s pumpkin chai rooibos latte, but I still haven’t perfected recreating it at home. It’s a work in progress.

I’ve also started to gear up for Christmas baking (one of my favourite things to do) and I love the fact that my church and my program are small enough that I can bake for everyone. I’ve baked and frozen some cookies and the dough for others already, and I’ve got at least one more good baking day to go. I’m particularly looking forward to trying these dark chocolate pistachio shortbread cookies.

TV Shows

Clearly, I watch far too much television. I’ve continued to keep up with new episodes of Downton Abbey (it’s nice to see Robert and Cora back to normal, even if nothing else is), Once Upon A Time (it finally occurred to me after the last episode that I don’t like Henry much. I think it’s because he’s not really all that bright. Does that make me a terrible person?), Big Bang Theory, Drop Dead Diva, How I Met Your Mother (the rhyming episode was kind of adorable, actually), Parks & Recreation, and Modern Family.

Aaron and I have also started watching through Gilmore Girls at the recommendation of a friend from church. I was skeptical because I’ve never been particularly fond of Alexis Bledel as an actress (she manages to seem completely emotionless no matter what’s happening) but on Gilmore Girls it totally works, since Rory balances out Lorelai. We’ve also started watching through the British comedy Miranda, starring Chummy from Call the mIdwife. It’s a bit over-the-top at times, but good for a laugh (or should I say “what I call a laugh”).

Movies

I saw two movies this month, both in theatres. Ender’s Game and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire were both excellent and definitely did justice to the books they were based on. I’ve also discovered that I cannot even look at Mags or Rue’s face without starting to cry. Rue especially—she reminds me so much of my own little sister at the same age.

Music

On the 17th, Aaron and I drove down to see Rend Collective and Audrey Assad in Rochester. The place was packed—apparently there’s nothing quite like the words free concert to draw in every youth group from a 100-mile radius—and both Audrey and Rend Collective were stellar (not that anyone’s surprised, really). The Campfire album has been playing more or less nonstop in our car since then. They also played a song from their upcoming album (which, coincidentally, releases just in time for my birthday. I’m dropping copious hints) called My Lighthouse, which I just love.

I’ve also had a recent obsession with an older song of Jennifer Knapp’s: Martyrs and Thieves. I’ve played it so often that I’m sure Aaron’s thoroughly tired of it by now.

And of course, the holiday season is upon us, which means it’s time to pull out all the Christmas favourites, both the nostalgic ones (there may or may not be a lot of Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant coming from my speakers in the next month) and some favourites, like Jenny and Tyler’s Love Came Down: A Christmas EP or High Street Hymns’ Love Shall Be Our Token. I’m also busting out GLAD’s In the First Light, because it’s not Christmas at my parents’ house unless my dad breaks out his guitar and leads us in singing that song. It’s still one of my favourites.

Online

There was so much goodness on the Internet this month, I couldn’t possibly list all my favourites for you, but here are a few pieces I loved.

  • Luke Harms (a US veteran) had a great piece on Memorial Day over at A Deeper Story
  • Micah J. Murray’s satirical contribution to Sarah Bessey’s Jesus Feminist synchroblog on How Feminism Hurts Men became so popular it crashed his site. I feel like being all hipster about it and pointing out that I read it before it took off. (Side note, I also made a contribution of my own to the synchroblog, on how I am a Jesus Feminist because of my dad).
  • How cool is this cake pan shaped like an open book or this set of snow globe salt and pepper shakers?
  • And finally, if you’re looking for some gift ideas, especially for children, I recommend checking out this list of onesies, this list of toys that encourage learning, and this list of gifts for girls compiled by the American Association of University Women. And yes, I am totally becoming that aunt who only gives books or educational toys. I may as well own it.

IRL

At the very beginning of November, I was fortunate enough to visit Chicago for a workshop on Early Modernity in Global Perspective at the Newberry Library in Chicago. It was great to be able to meet so many other premodernists at once. We went out for drinks, and the first topic of conversation was Judith Bennett’s book on female brewers in the Middle Ages. It was wonderful. I did learn, though, that if a restaurant is in the Waldorf Astoria, I should assume it’s expensive no matter what my little tourist handout says. I also learned that I should always have a number for a cab company, even if I’m sure I won’t need it. If one gets off the bus at the wrong stop and has no idea where one’s hotel is, it could save one walking half a mile on the highway in the dark and the pouring rain. Hypothetically.

We also had to privilege to see some friends from church get married on the 16th. It was a lovely ceremony, and I also loved watching how family and church friends pitched in before and during the ceremony to pull it all together. I got to help with sandwiches for the reception, and it was so much fun. Even if I never want to open another tuna can ever again 😛

Last Thursday, we got together with friends from school to celebrate American Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. As it turns out, turkey, pumpkin cookies (like these pumpkin snickerdoodles), latkes, and chocolate coins are a really good combination.

And finally, I’ve been enjoying doing all my Christmas gift shopping and making. We decided after talking it over with our families that we’d make some donations to charity and give each other only small, homemade gifts where possible, and it’s made Christmas gift preparation so much more fun for me. I may even have busted out colour-coded charts to figure out what to make for whom.

Anyway, that’s it for November. December is shaping up to be a month of paper writing (ugh), holiday celebration (yay!), and spending some time back home in New Brunswick (double yay!). Be sure to check out some of the other What I’m Into submissions over at Leigh’s blog!

That’s Church–Cross Stitch Chart

So, a week and a half ago on Twitter (as recently catalogued on Rachel Held Evans’ Sunday Superlatives), this happened:

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And since I love all things cross-stitch, I naturally volunteered.

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It’s not actually stitched yet, but I have a paper to procrastinate, so I did put together a chart. Depending on what count Aida you use, I figure it should make a largeish bookmark. 

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Yes, I made it in Paint. What can I say, I’m technologically challenged. Also pattern creation software is kind of expensive. I didn’t assign specific DMC colours, since a variety should work ok, The church at the top is a modification of a house pattern from Kooler Design Studio’s 2006 booklet “80+ Cross-Stitch Kind Thoughts,” and the alphabets I used were from their “A Big Collection of Alphabets in Cross Stitch” booklet. I’m not sure of the year.

Given how my list of cross-stitch projects usually works, this could be done within the week or it could take weeks. I do also have a Dr. Horrible cross stitch and an Eshet Chayil cross stitch to work on. Thank goodness for Christmas break, right?