Hard to believe that another year has wrapped up. December has been a busy month full of family time, and I’m looking forward to what 2018 will bring. I am, as usual, linking up with Leigh Kramer to talk about what I’ve been into this month.
The ride to New Brunswick (and relaxed time spent with family at home) always means a chance to get in a bit more reading. I spent a good chunk of Christmas afternoon curled up on my in-laws’ loveseat reading The Hate U Give, which absolutely lived up to the hype.
Other favorite reads of the month included Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (also lived up to the hype) and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (easily my favorite Gregory Maguire book so far.) I also really enjoyed The Starlit Wood (a collection of redone fairy tales by contemporary authors. The genre of the short stories varied widely, so they weren’t all favourites for me, but I loved many of them, and the short story format was perfect for a bit of reading before bed.
I read 114 books cover to cover this year (counting academic books I reviewed but not ones I used for reference), and keeping track on 50 Book Pledge definitely motivated me to read more.
I saw one movie in theatres this month: The Last Jedi, with my husband and in-laws. I enjoyed it, although I spent the whole thing heartbroken that Carrie Fisher won’t be back for Episode IX.
TV-wise, I got back into watching The Crown, and am now one episode away from finishing season two. Claire Foy’s Elizabeth is fantastic.
Live, I saw two plays this month: Honk! (a musical adaptation of The Ugly Duckling) and Candy Cane Lane, a Christmas musical featuring the daughter of dear friends. In both cases I was probably older than the intended audience, but the cast in both did a great job. All in all, Aaron and I saw a fantastic array of plays this year.
December means it’s finally ok to play Christmas music, so this was a month of enjoying old favourites: Avalon, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith… My tastes never veer more toward traditional CCM than at Christmastime.
Traveling home for Christmas means that I do considerably less cooking, but I did get in some Christmas baking before we left. Since some of the people I bake for couldn’t have refined sugar, I found a base recipe for a sugar free shortbread cookie (1/2 cup liquid sweetener, 1 cup butter, 2 cups flour) and had lots of fun customizing it. I made Maple Nutmeg Macadamia Shortbread Cookies and Honey Orange Cardamom Pistachio Shortbread Cookies.
I even had the chance to take part in an online cookie exchange with other historians. I sent off some of my cookies and, in return, received these delicious chocolate and coconut macaroons.
I also brought some seasonal cookie cutters home, and my sister and I made this shortbread cookie Nativity, decorated with edible ink markers. I tried my hand at decorating a few only to bow to my sister’s superior skills and just watched her work.
For savory recipes, I really enjoyed this roasted garlic Mac and Cheese recipe. I used smoked cheddar and added some diced roasted lamb to make it a full meal.
As usual, you can find my favourite recipes I made this month on my monthly What I’m Into Pinterest Board.
And, of course, being home for Christmas has meant enjoying so many favourite New Brunswick foods and restaurants: my mother-in-law’s seafood chowder and Christmas cookies, market samosas, Monkeycakes cupcakes, desserts from The Chess Piece, and meals from the Palate (the most amazing beef and blue cheese fusilli) and Isaac’s Way (definitely try their sausage spring rolls with avocado mint sauce.)
My sister and brother-in-law gave us Jeopardy and Trivial Pursuit: The 2000s, knowing my love of all things trivia, and we got a chance to play both over the break. I liked how they reworked the Trivial Pursuit rules to even out the game.
We also played a lot of Roll For It and Kingdomino with friends and family, and tried out Concept and The Twelve Days of Christmas at Unplugged, the board game cafe in Fredericton.
We also got the chance to try out two different escape rooms: once with family (close but no cigar, as with the last time Aaron and I tried an escape room) and once with a friend (a win, made all the more exciting by the fact that we had three seconds to spare).
I finished another cross stitch this month, though I haven’t gotten around to framing it. I also all but finished another–picture to come next month.
I also picked up some amazing-looking colouring books on sale and am really looking forward to starting on them.
Even though we were going to be gone over the holidays, we took the time to decorate our apartment for Christmas this year, and it definitely made the first half of December a lot cheerier.
We definitely got in lots of family time this Christmas, which was just lovely. We got to know my new brother-in-law a bit better, and we got lots of quality time with our New Brunswick nieces and nephew. A highlight was teaching my oldest niece (aged 6) a simple friendship bracelet pattern. She got really into it and made this one for me.
And, speaking of nieces, we have a new one! Our youngest niece was born in Wisconsin on December 28th, and she is just precious! I can’t wait to meet her.
That’s it for me for the month. Be sure to check out Leigh’s blog for more link-up contributions.