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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I did a ton of Christmas baking this year. I handed out plates of cookies to classmates, professors, neighbours, and friends from church. Christmas baking is easily my favourite holiday tradition. I tried a bunch of new recipes this year, and my favourites were the dark chocolate pistachio shortbread cutouts, the chocolate chunk eggnog cookies, and the hazelnut shortbread with the chocolate drizzle.
- I’ve also been enjoying the usual series of turkey dinners, although I’ve eaten more than enough pie to last me until June, I’m sure.
- Although I haven’t had the chance to cook anything from it yet, I’ve been drooling over my recently acquired copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perleman. I want to make pretty much every recipe in the breakfast section.
- I only got to cook for the first few weeks of December (one of the downsides of vacation, imo), but you can find my favourite recipes I made this month on my What I’m Into Pinterest board. I particularly liked the honey mustard pretzel chicken, the strawberry balsamic pizza with chicken, sweet onion and applewood bacon, the butternut squash cider soup (with some fresh sourdough on the side), and the apple cider cream pie (although I recommend using your own favourite crust recipe rather than the one listed).
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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…”
- 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.