As always, linking up with my friend Leigh Kramer to share what I’m into.
On the whole, November has been a lovely month. Last year at this time, it was seventeen degrees and the snow started falling before the leaves did. This year we’ve had more than our fair share of sunny sixty degree days. (That is NOT a complaint.) I feel like this month we got to enjoy all the low-key fall things we were too busy for in September and October: we made apple crisp, raked dozens of leaf mazes, took family walks, and rode our bikes.
This month we also had to start thinking about big-picture decisions for next year, especially for the kids. Not my favorite thing.
As I’m getting read to hit “publish” on this, the kids are looking for Freddy and asking if they can eat their Advent calendar chocolate before breakfast. Lots to look forward to in December.
What I’m reading
I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately. (Yep, it happens to me, too.) Lots of false starts. Lots of abandoned books.
But when I look objectively at the books I read, it’s been a good month for reading. Among my favorites:
• I inhaled Robert Gailbraith/J.K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike series. (Thanks to those of you who subsequently recommended this episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour.)
• I finally read some Graham Greene, which I’ve been meaning to do for twenty years. The End of the Affair was fantastic on audio, thanks to Colin Firth’s narration.
• Winter was a satisfying conclusion to the Lunar Chronicles quintet.
• Coming Clean by Seth Haines was absolutely fantastic, far exceeding my expectations.
• I adored Ruth Reichl’s new story-driven cookbook My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life.
• I had lackluster expectations for Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear but it blew me away.
• Ed Cyzewski’s new handbook for writers of faith Write Without Crushing Your Soul was packed with answers to the questions I didn’t even know I was supposed to be asking.
I’ve been eagerly anticipating Rebecca Stead’s new novel Goodbye Stranger, and my feelings on it are … complicated. And I abandoned The Passage at the halfway point because it was giving me nightmares. I didn’t read the reviews before I picked this one up, and if I had, I would have skipped it. (My apologies to the friend with good taste who recommended it. I tried.)
What I’m making
I finally finished a literary craft that’s been six months in the making, thanks to a crafty girls’ night in. Pictures to follow.
What I’m not making but want to be: I am completely inspired by my friend’s paper village pictured above. Maybe one day this holiday season I’ll get out my scissors, fire up a holiday movie, and get to snipping.
What I’m watching
This turned out to be a much longer list than I expected, because we all got sick over Thanksgiving break and watched way more movies and tv than we usually do.
While I was sick, I watched the French film Amélie, which has been on my to-watch list for ages. I wasn’t sure if my brain could handle the subtitles, but it was whimsical and warm and drew me right in. Heads up: even though most of the film is sweet and charming, it’s rated R for good reason.)
Will and I watched a documentary called Spinning Plates, which gives a behind-the-scenes look into three wildly different restaurants, their unique challenges, and the people and personalities that make them what they are. I’ve been fascinated by the Chicago restaurant Alinea since I first read about it in Michael Ruhlman’s chef trilogy and head chef Grant Achatz’s 2012 memoir Life, on the Line. I loved getting to peek inside the kitchen through the eyes of the filmmakers.
We’re all caught up on The Blacklist. I was less than enthusiastic about the fall finale, but we won’t find out what happens next until new episodes resume on January 7. After binge watching two and a half seasons on Netflix, watching one week at a time kind of stinks.
And finally, Will roped me into re-watching Friday Night Lights. (I was a willing victim.) Seriously, episode one is among the best pilots ever made. So good.
What I’m cooking
We had a crazy November, and then we were doing Thanksgiving prep, so we’ve been all about those recipes that consist of plunking chicken into sauce and call it dinner. And if the sauce is pre-made from Costco, so much the better.
We’ve also made the first of many batches of these addictive spiced nuts, which make my house smell amazing.
I hope you had a lovely November, dear readers. What have YOU been into lately?