What I’m Into September 2017

what-im-into

September has come and gone and, as usual, I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been into this month. It’s been busy–I’ve been teaching a course by myself for the first time–but also good.

Reading

I got somewhat less reading done this month than usual, but I’m at 90 books for the year so far, so I should hopefully still make my goal of 100 for 2017. My best book of the month was a Leigh recommendation–Hunted by Meagan Spooner, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I will read any fairy tale retelling, and this one was really good. As usual, you can see the books I’ve read so far this year here.

Watching

Our regular shows are starting to air again, which is super exciting! My favourite so far is The Good Place, though I await the new season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend with bated breath. We also went to a premiere party for the new Star Trek (more my husband’s thing than mine, but promising-looking so far) and, since I can’t pass up a themed food opportunity, I made these Star Trek cookie bars.

2017-09-24 17.14.41.jpg

Cooking

This has been a month of getting to use kitchen gear for the first time. We had a board game party, and I was able to use both my mini cupcake stand and my cookie shot glass mold.

I even busted out my ravioli mold and my pasta roller and made these butternut squash and goat cheese ravioli. They took 4 hours but were totally worth it. The picture doesn’t do them justice (and the sourdough breadcrumbs were so good it took all my self-restraint not to eat them all while I was making everything else.)

2017-09-16 21.23.21

Perhaps most satisfyingly of all, I was finally able to bust out my commemorative Martin Luther cookie cutter, which I expect to get even more use out of in October.

2017-09-03 11.38.27

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

IRL

As I mentioned, I’m teaching this term and really enjoying the opportunity. The students are interested and engaged, which is always a pleasure.

I also made it to a day of the Global Reformations conference in Toronto, which was a lot of fun (especially because I didn’t have to write my own paper). I need to find more early modern art historians to follow on social media, I think.

I was also able to make a whirlwind trip to New Brunswick to celebrate a dear friend’s wedding this month, which was just delightful, and I’m looking forward to travelling to Saskatoon in a few days for another friend’s wedding.

That’s it for me for the month. You can find more link-up contributions over on Leigh’s blog.

Advertisements

What I’m Into August 2017

what-im-into

The end of August/beginning of September is probably the biggest month transition for me. I know the new year technically starts in January, but in academia it’s really September. The end of August is when you realize your summer is almost gone and you still haven’t accomplished all you hoped. It took a few more late nights than I’d have liked, but I’ve finally finished drafting the dissertation chapter I promised myself I’d finish by the end of August, so I’m taking a break and linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I was into last month (when I wasn’t dissertating).

Reading

The best thing about library holds (print and ebook) is that they give you a deadline to finish a book, which makes reading for fun even with other deadlines looming a bit easier to justify. I continued my read-through of Tamora Pierce’s oeuvre and made it through the lioness quartet in about two days.

My library copy of Sarah Maas’ A Court of Wings and Ruin also came in at the beginning of the month, and I devoured it almost immediately. It was nice to see Feyre and Rhysand get a happy ending.

I also borrowed Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer, and I’m interested to see where she takes this next. I have a theory that Lazlo is Azareen’s son. I’m not quite sure whether the math works out but I think it would be fitting.

Roxane Gay’s Hunger was every bit as stunning and gut-wrenching as advertised.

My surprise read of the month was Sasha Martin’s Life from Scratch, which was part memoir part food writing. The way she wrote about processing her difficult childhood while cooking a recipe from every country in the world for her blog Global Table Adventure was really beautiful (and I’m slowly making my way through the blog and pinning all the things).

Watching

We’re anxiously waiting for all our favourite shows to start up again. In the meantime, we’ve been watching through Baby Daddy. It’s not the best thing we’ve ever seen (I could deal with 100% fewer Riley used to be fat jokes), but it’s a comedy and it’s something to watch in the evenings when there’s nothing else. I continue to be open to recommendations.

In the theatre, we saw two plays this month. The Stratford adaption of Twelfth Night (my favourite Shakespeare play) was just delightful! We also got tickets to Drayton’s One for the Pot, and we were in stitches the whole time. Next month our Mirvish subscription for the coming season starts, and we’re quite excited for that also.

Listening

This hymn, which I had heard before but had never really stopped to listen to.

Michael Card’s I’m Not Supposed to Be Here, which resonates deeply with my theological journey.

Eating

This peach, Brie, and prosciutto tart was super easy and combined many of my favourite flavours.

2017-08-02 18.19.16

I also took full advantage of all the in-season fruit to try out a whole bunch of sorbet recipes. This raspberry and red currant one and the cherry, grapefruit, and basil were some of my favourites

Another great way to use summer fruit is these burgers with Brie, bacon, arugula, and a homemade blueberry barbecue sauce.

2017-08-28 18.23.56

Finally, I got to put my cupcake skills to the test again for a friend’s birthday party. I particularly liked the coconut lime cupcakes (I subbed all purpose gluten-free blend for flour, earth balance for the butter in the frosting, coconut milk for the buttermilk, and coconut oil for the butter in the cupcakes to make them gluten-free and dairy free, and they still turned out). I toasted the coconut, because there is no reason to ever skip that step.

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

IRL

I got to preach this month at the church we’ve been attending for the past year, and it was a huge privilege. I’ve missed it! My friend Bruce snapped this picture for me.

20728163_10156575486231038_8161437612955693991_n

My parents and brother were visiting, so they got to hear me preach for the first time, and we had a lovely visit with them.

Also, Aaron and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary with a weekend trip to Ottawa. Would you believe that until this month I had toured the capitals of more than 10 other countries but never the capital of Canada?

Also, I guess it’s technically the opposite of IRL, but I got Snapchat and Bitmoji on my phone this month and I’ve been having entirely too much fun with them. The you’re dead to me cross-stitch is absolute favourite bitmoji, though it’s a bit hard to think of appropriate venues to use it.

This coming month, I’m particularly excited to teach my first course as a sessional instructor, so I’m finishing up prep for that before Thursday. It’s a great opportunity and I’m really looking forward to it.

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

What I’m Into June and July 2017

It’s been a busy summer so far–my sister get married at the beginning of July, so I didn’t get out a June post in time and I’m playing a bit of catch-up. I am, as usual, linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been into these past two months.

what-im-into

Reading

June started off on a high note because I finally got my hands on the library copy of In the Sanctuary of Wings, the fifth and final book of Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent series, and the final twist completely blew my mind. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series–they might be my favourite books of the last several years–if you enjoy fantasy or historical (ish) fiction with convention-defying female leads, I highly recommend them.

I also read through Victoria Aveyard’s King’s Cage at a record pace, and felt ambivalent about the ending until I realized the series was a quartet, not a trilogy, so hopefully closure (if not happiness) is still to come. I especially enjoyed seeing Evangeline Samos become a more complex character.

Another favourite series for June/July was the duology composed of Seraphina and Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, set in a world where dragons can take on human form, and the protagonist is half-human, half-dragon. I couldn’t put down either of the books–it was a compelling world with compelling characters, and I particularly enjoyed the dragon characters trying to understand humans.

July was also the month of playing catch-up with fiction most of my peers loved as teenagers. I tried reading Squire, the third book in Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small quartet, when I was about twelve and wasn’t able to fully appreciate it at the time, but this time I devoured the entire series in a matter of days. I especially enjoyed the way Keladry, despite being more of a tomboy by nature and one of the fiercest warriors in her cohort, deliberately wore dresses to dinners to remind her peers that there was nothing wrong with femininity.

Finally, I got my hands on the newest book by one of my very favourite authors from childhood, Gail Carson Levine. The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre is set in the same universe as The Two Princesses of Bamarre, but several centuries earlier, and features some of the same magic items and one common character. As someone who loved The Two Princesses of Bamarre and re-read it over and over, I was especially moved by the last lines of The Lost Kingdom.

As usual, you can see all the books I’ve read so far this year here.

Watching

Aaron and I finished watching the fourth season of Brooklyn 99 on Netflix, and we are now quickly running out of comedies to watch together before our favourites start back up in the fall. I feel like we’ve pretty much scraped the bottom of the barrel in terms of what Netflix Canada has to offer. I did watch (and absolutely loved) Playing House, and its touching exploration of female friendship, but I’m now caught up on that as well. Recommendations welcome!

In terms of live theatre, June and July were really good months. In June we caught Showstopper: An Improvised Musical in Toronto and it was just delightful. Basically, they take audience recommendations for plot and musical stylings, then make up a musical on the spot. They had the whole audience in stitches. We also caught the Drayton production of Thoroughly Modern Millie and the Stratford production of Guys and Dolls, and both soundtracks have been in pretty heavy rotation ever since. I especially enjoy Adelaide’s Lament from Guys and Dolls.

Listening

In addition to the Guys and Dolls and Thoroughly Modern Millie soundtracks, I downloaded the soundtrack of the new Broadway production of Anastasia and I’ve been enjoying the nostalgia, though I was disappointed to see that they’d replaced Rasputin and Bartok as the antagonists. I suppose the flying bat and the disintegrating limbs are harder to replicate onstage.

My very favourite album of the past two months, however, was definitely Nichole Nordeman’s newly released Every Mile Mattered. Nichole has been one my favourite songwriters ever since I heard To Know You on WOW 1999 (the very first CD I ever owned) and all these years later, even though the contours of my faith have shifted somewhat, her music resonates as much as it ever did.

Cooking

June marked the start of strawberry season and, if you’ve been following my monthly recaps for awhile, you’ll know that strawberry season is second only to peach season in my books. Favourite recipes of the season included this strawberry and goat cheese bruschetta and these chocolate coconut waffles with strawberry sauce.

Peach season is only just starting out now, but I’ve already tried a few recipes, most notably this lovely peach focaccia.

20374692_10159075769775414_836627200233972807_n

Another food-related highlight of my summer so far has been the sudden ubiquity of iced tea. I got this iced tea bottle from David’s Tea, which also lets me make my own at home very easily, so I’ve been trying all kinds of flavours and staying hydrated without much difficulty.

19113936_10158822989750414_5332617343031331076_n.jpg

Unquestionably, however, my biggest culinary accomplishment of the summer was baking the cupcakes for my sister’s wedding. I’d never done anything on that scale before, but I wanted to give it a try as a gift to my sister. It was a bit of an adventure: my sister was, of course, mid-move, so I used her kitchen to bake the cupcakes but gathered ingredients and equipment from a wide variety of sources, and since her apartment isn’t air-conditioned I ended up frosting the cupcakes in the church lobby, which I’m sure was an odd sight for visitors to the church office, but they turned out so well and I was really pleased with them. The cupcake varieties were gluten-free dairy-free vanilla, browned butter and peach with peach cream cheese frosting, maple bacon French toast with maple cream cheese frosting, chocolate with hot chocolate frosting, and lemon with raspberry frosting. My new brother-in-law and his father designed a lovely birch stand to display them. You can’t quite see it in the picture, but the white cupcakes on the bottom rung spell out “The Adventure Begins.”

As usual, you can see my favourite recipes for June and July on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest boards.

IRL

June and July were wonderful, but busy months. One of my best friends came to Toronto for a visit at the beginning of June, so we met up there, toured the ROM, grabbed gelato, and saw Showstoppers. It was delightful.

19105744_10158824893640414_2100609056126069108_n

In mid-June I went down to Harrisonburg, Virginia for a conference at Eastern Mennonite University entitled Crossing the Line: Women of Anabaptist Traditions Encounter Borders and Boundaries. I went to present some of my dissertation research, but the conference had a rich diversity of presenters, and I was particularly inspired listening to women leaders from Mennonite churches in Africa and Asia talk about their experiences. It was spiritually life-giving for me, and gave me hope for the Church, which has been in pretty short supply for me lately.

While I was nearby, I also took the time to visit DC, which I had never seen before. I spent the day at the Smithsonian Museums of American History and the American Indian, and I enthusiastically recommend both. If you get the chance (and don’t mind a lunch that’s a little on the pricey side), I also recommend the Mitsitam Cafe at the Museum of the American Indian. The plum agua fresca in particular was amazing.

19366215_10158854408300414_1679954546791616045_n.jpg

July, of course, was marked by my sister’s wedding, which was lovely. I particularly loved this candid shot my aunt took of me and my sister before she left for her honeymoon.

19875577_10158960826220414_6232405094982497261_n.jpg

While we were back in New Brunswick, we also had the chance to spend quality time with friends and family, which was great. I particularly enjoyed spending time with my oldest niece and hearing all about the robots she plans to design. I fully expect her to become rich and famous and support all of us someday.

And finally, July brought a lovely and unexpected professional opportunity: the chance to teach a course by myself in the fall. I’m really looking forward to it: I know the material well, and I’ve loved my TA-ships and my mentored teaching unit, so this is a great chance to take it to the next level. I’m enjoying all the prep work already and excited for the actual classroom component to start.

That’s it for me for the past two months. Be sure to check out some of the other posts in the link-up!

What I’m Into May 2017

what-im-into

Another month has come and gone and, as usual, I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

I mostly read fiction these days (excepting academic obligations), which I can breeze through in a day or two, but this month I took some time to read some nonfiction as well. Several people from my church took part in a pilgrimage for indigenous rights, in which they walked 600 km from Kitchener to Ottawa to express their support for Bill C-262, which calls for Canada to fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. They stopped at churches along the way and conducted teach-ins. I was not up to walking 600 km, but I did want to take the time to learn more about the issues facing aboriginal people in Canada, so I picked up Indigenous Writes by Chelsea Vowel, which I highly recommend. It was accessible and informative, and answered every question I had and many more I didn’t think to ask.

Fiction-wise, my favourite read of the month was fan-fictiony but delightful. Lara Ormiston’s Unequal Affections imagines that Lizzy accepts Darcy’s first proposal and tells the story from there. I thoroughly enjoyed it (other than the fact that Ormiston sometimes slips up and uses contractions). You get to see Lizzy and Darcy’s character growth a bit more explicitly than in the original, and Wickham gets a comeuppance, which is quite satisfying. As usual, you can see the books I’ve read so far this year here. Also, I’ve now met the goal I set for myself of 50 books this year, so yay for setting unambitious goals, I guess.

Watching

On the small screen, we watched through all of the new season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and the gospel song version of the theme song (unbreakable/he’s alive, damnit/it’s a miracle/Jesus is strong as hell) is possibly my favourite TV joke of all time. I have also had Titus’ song about California stuck in my head pretty consistently, unfortunately. We also watched through the new Anne series, which, minor liberties with the source material notwithstanding, was fantastic, and started on Brooklyn 99 and the Handmaid’s Tale.

Onstage, we watched the Stratford Production of HMS Pinafore (I will take every opportunity to watch a Gilbert and Sullivan show, because they’re just so good) and the Mirvish production of Strictly Ballroom: The Musical (a little light on plot, but some truly fantastic dance numbers and costumes). (Also, in exciting theatre news, we just purchased 2017/2018 Mirvish main season subscriptions, so we are now officially those people).

Eating

I tried my hand at one of those no-knead, baked at a high temperature in a Dutch oven bread recipes, and I was super pleased with the result, which was gorgeous and delicious.2017-05-14 23.48.29.jpg

I also went on a bit of a prosciutto appetizers kick. These pear, prosciutto, goat cheese, and honey appetizers were super simple but absolutely delicious, and these mini prosciutto cups filled with goat cheese were a hit at our board game party this month. I also thought these domino potatoes were really fun, because food is automatically better when it’s served in a ramekin imo.

2017-05-02 18.46.29.jpg

I even tried my hand at recipe development this month, which is a rarity but always fun. I came up with these sugar free (sweetened with honey) spiced chocolate cutout cookies, and they were a big hit. (I also got to break out some new cookie cutters I’d acquired, which is always an exciting occasion).

2017-05-03 17.53.32

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

IRL

The big exciting news of the month, which has taken my family by storm, is that my sister got engaged. The wedding is July 8th, and I’m a bridesmaid and on cupcake duty (which I’ve never tried before for an event of this size, and I’m so excited to get into it). Also, in the process of trying to find my bridesmaid dress, I ended up also finding this one in my size. I’m terrible at outfit selfies, but it’s bright and colourful and in my size and makes me happy.

2017-05-21 17.53.31.jpg

That’s it for me for the month, be sure to head over to Leigh’s website and check out what everyone else has been into.

Honey-Sweetened Spiced Chocolate Cutout Cookies

2017-05-03 17.53.32.jpg

I only very, very rarely try my hand at developing my own recipes, because there’s so much already out there on the Internet that I want to try. But every once in awhile the inspiration strikes me. I wanted to make cookies for an event and, because of dietary restrictions, they needed to be refined sugar free. Luckily for me, I have ready access to some high-quality local honey from Bee Quest Honey, which my aunt and uncle run. And I had previously served these Mexican chocolate shortbread cookies to rave reviews, and I knew that the unique taste of honey as a sweetener would offset the hint of cinnamon and cayenne pepper just perfectly. Using the Mexican chocolate cookie recipe and this recipe for honey cutout cookies as a base, I put together this recipe for sugar-free spiced chocolate cutout cookies. The recipe yielded about 4 dozen cookies (ymmv, depending on the size of your cookie cutters). I was super pleased with how they turned out, and I got the chance to use some recently acquired cookie cutters. Enjoy!

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup honey, depending on how sweet you want your cookies to be
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground coffee
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups flour

Cream the butter and honey together, and beat in the egg and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients and stir them into the honey butter mixture. Flatten into a disc and refrigerate 30 mins. Then roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and bake 15 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Enjoy!

What I’m Into April 2017

what-im-into

As April draws to a close, I’m once again linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

Well, it’s looking like I’ll have no trouble meeting my 50 book pledge for the year, since I’m already at 44. This month, after hearing raves about it forever, I finally read Walter Brueggeman’s The Prophetic Imagination, and it feels as timely as ever. I also really enjoyed Princess Ben, which is a middle grade novel (Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Kindle deals have been broadening my horizons) with a really compelling lead. It reminds me of Gail Carson Levine’s books, and she was my absolute favourite growing up. I also just finished The Circle, and am feeling pretty unsettled by it still. I expected it to be dark, but it was even more so than I thought it would be. I did call Kalden’s identity pretty much as soon as he showed up though, and I can’t decide whether that means I should be proud of myself or that it was too obvious. As usual, you can see all the books I’ve read so far this year here.

Watching

We saw two plays this month: Singin’ in the Rain in St. Jacobs and The Bodyguard at the Princess of Wales theatre in Toronto. Both were lovely, but I’m even more excited to see HMS Pinafore in Stratford on Friday.

TV-wise, I watched all of Dear White People and Thirteen Reasons Why on Netflix (TRW was compelling cinema, but I totally understand the issues people have with it. If you’ve got kids watching it I’d definitely recommend having some in-depth discussions with them about the content.)

Listening

Easter is unquestionably my favourite time of the church year musically. I love how lovely and haunting the Good Friday songs are and how beautiful and joyful the Easter morning songs are. Aaron and I joined the Good Friday choir, got ever so slightly better at reading music, and learned a whole bunch of new songs. This one was probably my favourite. We sang the English version (Ah Holy Jesus), but the Berlin choral rendition was the prettiest one I could find on Youtube.

Then on Easter morning we sang one of my favourite Easter songs (A Toi La Gloire/Thine Be the Glory) and I found out that my church can really rock a congregational rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus. It’s apparently a tradition, so we’ve that to look forward to next year as well.

On the not hymns front, I started listening to the Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack, and I’ve really been liking it.

Eating

My favourite thing I made this month was definitely this cream cheese and prosciutto-stuffed chicken. This Mediterranean chicken with roasted red pepper sauce was also pretty great, and this chocolate chip cookie dough cake was a big hit when we had friends over for dinner. As usual, you can see all my favourites on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest board.

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

What I’m Into March 2017

Another month has wrapped up, so as usual I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this March.

what-im-into

Reading

This month I found out that there’s a Liane Moriarty book I hadn’t read yet, so of course I had to get my hands on it. It was surprisingly difficult to find a copy of Three Wishes (not in the library system, not available via Kindle Canada), but I finally found a secondhand copy online. It was as unputdownable as Moriarty always is, and Cat’s husband Dan is the actual worst. I also finally got to read the library copy of Jane Steele and, despite having heard so many good things about it, was really surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It was probably my favourite read of the month. As usual, you can find everything I’ve read so far this year here.

Watching

I am scraping the bottom of the barrel on Netflix Canada, guys. If you have any tv comedy recommendations for binge-watching, I’m all ears. Currently, I’m keeping up with the usual shows. I’m slowly reconciling myself to the new reality on Jane the Virgin, and I’ve really been enjoying Superstore and Speechless.

Movie-wise, we went to see the new Beauty and the Beast, and really enjoyed the way it kept all the best parts of the original, including all the songs (what’s with this nonsense of Disney remakes without songs? I heard a horrible rumour that Mulan won’t be a musical). I still maintain that Hugh Bonneville would have encapsulated the essence of Cogsworth better than Ian McKellen, though. McKellen is just too dignified, and Cogsworth wants to be, but is more bumbling than anything.

Listening

We’ve been anxiously awaiting the Come From Away soundtrack since we saw (and absolutely loved) the show in Toronto before it went on to Broadway. It’s been great to relive the show through the music. How good is this song by Jenn Colella, who plays American Airlines Captain Beverley Bass, one of the pilots who landed in Gander in 9/11?

We also went to see two musicals this month: Book of Mormon in Toronto and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in Cambridge, and the soundtracks have been pretty steady fixtures around the house and in the car since then. The Joseph Megamix is pretty much guaranteed to get me in a good mood instantly.

Eating

I cannot gush enough about this recipe for Atlantic Beach Pie, which was so amazing (and surprisingly easy) that I made it twice this month. It’s got a Saltine Crust and a creamy lemon filling and a whipped cream and fleur de sel topping and it is possibly one of my top five desserts of all time. It’s actually been a pretty citrus-heavy month, since Meyer lemons finally showed up in stores and of course I had to buy like 4 lbs. We’re still working through them. This Meyer Lemon Ginger Curd was particularly good, as were these Meyer Lemon Bars with a Poppyseed Shortbread Crust. On the non-citrus front, I really enjoyed this Sausage and Halloumi Bake, and I expect it’ll be even better when tomatoes and zucchini are in season (it’s actually a What I’m Into Link-up find from last summer. Thanks Fiona!) As usual, you can find all my favourite new recipes of the month over on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest Board.

That’s pretty much it for me for the month, be sure to head over to Leigh’s blog and check out some of the other contributions. You never know what book, tv, music, or recipe recommendations you’ll find.

What I’m Into February 2017

what-im-into

Another month, another link-up. This month I was mostly into working to finish a draft of one of my dissertation chapters, but I also managed to get in some reading and TV watching and baking in between writing bursts. I am, as usual, linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

I didn’t quite match my January high of 14 books, but I did make it through another 9 this month. My favourites were the Jewel trilogy by Amy Ewing. It’s somewhere between dystopia and fantasy, and the jacket advertised it as Handmaid’s Tale meets Keira Cass’ The Selection. I devoured book one on Kindle in one night and enjoyed it so much that I immediately found the library’s ebook copy of book 2  and stayed up for another few hours. Definitely recommended for fans of YA fantasy/dystopia. I also enjoyed Kathryn Purdie’s Burning Glass, a YA fantasy novel that takes place in a Russia-esque setting, pre-Revolution. You can see all the books I’ve read so far this year here.

Watching

On the live theatre front, we caught a community theatre production of Seussical, which was a lot of fun. I’ve also been keeping up with the usual TV and also giving Riverdale, the CW’s new series, a try. I’m not a fan of some of the places they’re taking the arcs (it’s much darker than your average Archie comic), but I’m somewhat intrigued so far. I loved loved loved the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season finale, and I’m super pumped to see where they take it in season 3. And Jane the Virgin had to go and crush my heart into a thousand tiny pieces (I seriously don’t think I’ve ever been this upset by a TV event), but I’m still keeping up because the writers and the cast are so fantastic.

Listening

I’ve been alternating between the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend songs and All Sons and Daughters for most of the month, which is honestly makes for a bit of thematic whiplash, but they’re both so good in their own ways.

Cooking

February involved a bit more ordering out than usual (hello deadline) but I still found time to try some new things. My favourite part of February is the specialty citrus that starts to show up in grocery stores. I haven’t tracked down any Meyer lemons yet, which is a pity, but I did find some key limes and blood oranges. I used the key limes in these lovely lime and ginger scones, and the blood oranges in this to die for blood orange olive oil cake (I swear, Deb from smitten kitchen is a culinary Midas. Every recipe she comes up with is stunning.) As usual, you can find all my favourite recipes of the month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest Board.

IRL

Last fall, when I sprained my ankle and took up swimming because I couldn’t do anything else, I signed myself up for swimming lessons for the winter to work on improving my different strokes. It turned out to be a fabulous decision. It’s been such a long time since I really took the time to learn a new skill, especially a physical one, and I’ve been enjoying tracking my progress each week. I think I need to start looking for other fun classes in the future.

I’ve also been working away at this cross stitch for a friend and cackling to myself as I do it. It’s a lot of fun.

imag0080

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

What I’m Into January 2017

what-im-into

Well, there’s month one of 2017 down. It’s been a hard month to watch, on the world news stage, and then culminating in the mosque shooting in Quebec City, a city I lived in for seven years. There are a lot of hurting people in the world right now, and I’ve been feeling pretty helpless to do anything about it. I’ve been emailing my Member of Parliament and my husband and I are now recurring monthly donors to the ACLU (which would have horrified high school me, but here we are), but I’m absolutely looking for suggestions if you can think of anything more a Canadian can do to help out at home and around the world. Also, in the meantime, I’ve actually found myself reading/watching TV/listening to music more than ever. I find I need to take the news (and consequently Twitter and Facebook) in smaller bursts than usual. Anyway, here are some small ways I was able to rest/find joy this month. I am, as usual, linking up with Leigh Kramer.

Reading

I read more books this month than I have in a really long time. A friend challenged me to sign up for a challenge called 50 Book Pledge (my account, which shows you books I’ve read so far and books on my to-read list, is here: http://www.50bookpledge.ca/user/10157994127980414k/c/2017), and it inspired me to make 2017 the year I reclaim reading for fun. Anyway, I ended up getting through 14 books this month, so I don’t think hitting my goal of 50 will be a problem. Some of my favourites were Marissa Meyer’s Heartless (redone classic tale + villain’s descent into madness novel? Sign me up!), Sarah Maas’ A Court of Mist and Fury, Liane Moriarty’s The Last Anniversary, and Alexandra Bracken’s Wayfarer (bless Bracken for tying things up and giving her characters a happy ending after two books. I love closure and dislike interminable series.) Books one and two of Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy weren’t exactly fun reads, but they were disturbing and thought-provoking, which I think they were meant to be. At least, unlike Parable of the Talents and Parable of the Sower, they don’t feel like realistic near-term futures.

I also want to plug Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Great Kindle Deals email list. I heard about it on this link-up, and it’s been a great source of inexpensive new reads. The books aren’t always also on sale in Canada, but they often are.

Watching

I’ve been staying on top of the usual shows for the most part, but I think my favourite of the month has been Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. It’s had some pretty great songs lately (this power ballad spoof is my favourite).

I also watched through and enjoyed season one of One Day at a Time and Life in Pieces on Netflix. I started episode one of Riverdale and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. Archie comics were a childhood staple for me, but I’m not a huge fan of how they updated Miss Grundy’s character especially.

I also saw two movies in theatres this month: Hidden Figures and La La Land. Hidden Figures was amazing and definitely lived up to the hype and everyone should see it. However, I was decidedly unimpressed by La La Land. I mean, it wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t that amazing either, and any chorus member on Broadway could have outsung Stone and Gosling. All this to say, I will be decidedly unimpressed if the La La Land songs rob Lin-Manuel Miranda of his Tony for Moana.

Listening

Besides listening to the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend songs a whole lot, I’ve also been playing Measha Brueggergosman’s new album Songs of Freedom on repeat a fair bit. Songs about how God is still at work in the world even when things seem dark and will bring about justice one day are my jam right now.

Cooking

After spending weeks in other people’s homes, it was great to be back in my own kitchen in January. Some of my favourite things I made this month include this Bailey’s Chocolate Sheet Cake, these Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites with Spicy Sour Cream Dipping Sauce, and these Cleveland Cheesesteaks with Pretzel Hoagie Rolls. I was particularly pleased with how pretty and delicious these Caprese Orzo-Stuffed Tomato Cups and these Earl Grey and Roasted Blackberry Petits Fours were. As usual, you can find all my favourite recipes of the month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest Board.

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

What I’m Into December 2016

what-im-into

So December has been a pretty busy month this year, between working hard to finish up a translation project for the first half of the month and celebrating holidays and visiting with family and friends for the second half. We’ve got a few days left in New Brunswick and we’re enjoying the time we’ve had here but also looking forward to getting back to our apartment and settling into our routine. I am, as usual, linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been into this month.

Reading

Surprisingly little, actually. I did read through Empire of Storms, the latest installment in Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series (which has been good, but I like my stories wrapped up with happy endings so I’m looking forward to the sixth and final installment.)

Watching

We caught Moana and Rogue One in theatres this month, and loved both of them (Aaron has had “You’re Welcome” stuck in his head pretty much since we saw Moana).

For our live theatre date of the month (it’s pretty much a thing for us now), we went to see the Drayton Entertainment production of Sister Act: The Musical in Cambridge and really enjoyed it. I found myself suprisingly moved by it for reasons I couldn’t immediately articulate. I think it’s because, at its core, it’s a story of a woman who didn’t have any female friends suddenly finding herself surrounded by women who love and support her. Female friendship is such a gift, and I loved seeing it celebrated onstage.

Listening

The Sister Act soundtrack, on repeat. I’ve also really enjoyed some of the Advent hymns we sang in church, particularly this one. 2016 has been such a dark and difficult year on the world stage, and I’ve badly needed the reminder that God is still at work in the world, bringing about justice and peace.

Eating

 I got a bit of Christmas baking done before I headed home, and I think these peppermint bark cookies were my favourite.

15541183_10157865557225414_4054313497772919906_n.jpg

I also made this flourless chocolate cake with lime raspberry salsa as the dairy-free and gluten-free option for a friend’s wedding reception (the original recipe wasn’t dairy-free, but I subbed coconut oil for butter and omitted the cream from the ganache and it worked beautifully) and I was immensely pleased with it. It was simple and delicious and really pretty, even if my food photography skills leave something to be desired.

15356713_10157843906935414_364848459709776908_n

Other favourite things I made this month include this three-cheese roasted grape pizza and these pork chops with a pear and ginger sauce. As usual, you can find my favourite recipes of the month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest Board.

On our date night at the theatre, we stopped at the Cambridge Mill and had their pre-theatre menu for supper, and it was delightful. I could have (and almost did) filled up entirely on their bread, which was light and airy and buttery and salty and delicious. I also took advantage of being on the East Coast to visit all my favourite local restaurants and chains. We had (excellent as usual) lunches at Isaac’s Way and The Chess Piece in Fredericton, and tried out Cinta Ria, a fabulous Malaysian restaurant in Moncton for the first time. And of course I had to make stops at Relish Gourmet Burgers, Greco Pizza, and Monkeycakes. I maintain that the best way to experience a region is through its food.

Playing

Being home always provides us with an opportunity to inflict our new favourite games on our family. Codenames, a party word game that won the 2016 Spiel des Jahres award was a hit with my family. We also got to try out some new games, including Luther: The Board Game (a gift from my aunt in Germany, released for the Reformation’s five hundredth anniversary). Aaron put his German skills to the test, with help from my sister, and won the game. We also got to try out some new games at the Riverview Unplugged Board Game Cafe, and I particularly enjoyed King of Tokyo (doesn’t hurt that I won both rounds) and Survive: Escape from Atlantis. I did abysmally at Lotus, but found the artwork absolutely gorgeous.

IMAG0060.jpgIMAG0059.jpg

IRL

Being home has provided us with the opportunity to spend some quality time with friends and family, whom we don’t get to see often enough. I particularly enjoyed getting to spend some quality time with my sisters and with my nieces, and getting to meet my nephew for the first time. And we loved celebrating the Christmas holidays and everything that comes with it: the services, the songs, the family time, the food.

15726564_10153978275965826_1219769657310572281_n.jpg

That’s about it for me for the month. I hope that you all had lovely holidays and I wish you the best in 2017. Be sure to check out Leigh’s blog for more link-up contributions.