1. While discussing serious matters at family dinner, the important topic of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream came up. To answer a burning question, we made an exception to the no-phones-at-the-table rule to google its origin story.
Here’s the version I like best: way back in 1984, an anonymous fan pinned his suggestion to the bulletin board at one of Ben & Jerry’s original Scoop Shops. The Burlington store churned out the flavor for several years, and it caught on. In 1991 Ben & Jerry’s finally made pints available to the larger public.
My kids wanted to know who to thank.
2. Also found while googling: that is real cookie dough in chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, and you can bake it into real chocolate chip cookies. Not the best chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever had, but real chocolate chip cookies all the same.
3. I may not recognize Elizabeth Bennet when I see her out of context. Will and I are racing through season 2 of The Blacklist. As the opening credits played for episode 14, I was thrilled to see Jennifer Ehle (of P&P 1995 fame) was guest starring in that episode. Immediately, I knew which character she must be playing—because she’d already played her once, a season before.
I can’t believe I didn’t recognize her the first time, but I’m so happy her career is doing well (a Blacklist guest turn is a pretty sweet gig these days), and that I got to see her again.
4. Speaking of thrillers, I was delighted to discover this week that Chris Pavone has a new novel coming out next spring: The Travelers, with a publication date of March 8. His third novel focuses on more of the same (and I mean that in an entirely good way): spies, secrets, conspiracy theories, and mad dashes across Europe. Put it on your TBR list, and read The Expats and The Accident in the meantime.
5. Creative people have really messy minds. If you feel like your brain is untidy, that’s not necessarily a bad thing: it means you’re good at blurring the lines between discrete mental tasks, which is a strong predictor for creativity and success across the board. Phew!
6. When I’m working on a big project, my own creative process looks remarkably like the storyboard shown in The September Issue, or the cover to this great organizing book. (Just don’t look at my desk. It’s a mess.)
7. Speaking of messes: this month I learned how incredibly messy stainless steel appliances are. Or rather, how messy my kids are, because they smudged up our shiny new appliances more than I possibly could have imagined. (We’re replacing our 1960s original appliances as part of our in-progress kitchen remodel.)
For better or worse, the first batch of appliances delivered to my house was apparently assembled by hungover teenagers on a Monday morning, and we had the opportunity to exchange them for a fresh batch. When we did, we changed finishes.
8. Reading about place is a powerful trigger for me (and not in a bad way); the reverse is also true.
I read Anthony Doerr’s Four Seasons in Rome this month and am dreaming about when I can see all the places he talked about in person. I was in Morningside Heights a few weeks ago and now I desperately want to re-read the Morningside Heights trilogy by Cheryl Mendelson (of Home Comforts fame). I just finished Water for Elephants and now I want to join the circus. (Okay, just kidding on that last one.)
9. My kids can walk farther than I ever dreamt was possible. When we took the kids to New York earlier this month, Will and I logged 22,000 to 28,000 steps every day. We estimate we walked 5,000 steps more than the kids every day doing things like fetching coffee or running errands while they rested. But—except for a few piggyback rides for Silas and Lucy—they walked the rest of the way. (And we only had ONE meltdown. I can barely believe it.)
10. A butterfly’s life span is only a few weeks. This differs by species, but most don’t come close to surviving through a whole summer. Sarah and I discovered this when we visited the butterflies at the American Museum of Natural History. Our favorite butterfly was the beautiful blue butterfly shown above, which is native to Australia.
11. Several NYC museums are pay-what-you-wish, including the Met, the Museum of Natural History, and (on Friday nights) the Whitney. Others are free to kids under 18, like the Museum of Modern Art. I’m sure there are more, but these are ones we visited (or thought of visiting) on our latest trip. If you have four kids (ahem), this takes the pressure off feeling like you need to death march your children through the museum so you can get your $168 worth.
12. Now that I know what bullet journaling is, I’m seeing it everywhere. The guys on the train, the woman at the coffeeshop, the man sitting next to me at a conference. I still haven’t taken the plunge, but I want to—and at least now I can recognize one when I see it.
13. I’ve been pronouncing “banal” wrong my whole life. Apparently it was one of those words I only read, and never needed to say. Now I know.
What did you learn in October?