What I’m into (November 2014 edition).

thanksgiving table

November has been wonderful and completely crazy. It’s been apparent for months that this month was shaping up to be a perfect storm of big projects, all hitting at once. We’ve managed, but I’m looking forward to taking a breather come December! (I’m hoping that’s not just wishful thinking…)

When things get crazy, work-wise, I start crafting up a storm. I can’t explain why; I just know I’ve always done it. Luckily, this is a great time of year to get crafty: I’ve been making a book page wreath and cloth napkins, helping the girls knit their Christmas projects, and painting everything in sight.

Speaking of crazy, I’m almost done with my NaNoWriMo novel, and I think I’m gonna make it. (Knock on wood.) As of Friday morning I’m at 45,060 words out of my required 50,000. They’re truly terrible: everything Anne Lamott ever said about first drafts applies to mine.

And for those of you who asked, I am not a Black Friday shopper. (With one exception: I’ve purchased a significant portion of my kids’ wardrobes at Gymboree’s Black Friday sale for going on ten years now. ONLINE. There is nothing that could drag me to the mall today.)

Today we’ll be staying home and decorating. (And writing 1,667 words for NaNo, of course.)

What I’m watching

We’re enjoying Parenthood. Season 2 is in the books; we just started season 3 this week.

The kids have completely fallen in love with Jimmy Fallon. Last night, post-Thanksgiving feast, we were sitting around our fireplace in our jammies, fire burning. (Such a quaint little scene, right?) And we were watching clips of Jimmy Fallon. (This is their favorite.)

After the kids went to bed, Will and I looked at each other and said So is this what we do as a family now?

spiced nuts

In the kitchen

We had fun cooking up a storm for Thanksgiving (and we don’t even host!) and now the kids are dying to launch into holiday baking. (After Will and I both had health assessments done last week, we’re resolving to swear off sugar—that should be an interesting combo.)

We got started last week with a spiced nuts bonanza. We made three different long-loved recipes so we could determine which version our family liked best. I’ll share the results and a recipe on the blog next week.

what I'm reading November 2014


What I’m reading

Like I told you in the newsletter, I’ve been attacking my to-read pile now that I’m finally done with (all 8979 pages of) Outlander.

Books I blew through this month: The Sweetness of Forgetting (love), Small Victories (sob), The Accident (un-put-down-able), The Rosie Effect (it’s complicated).

Currently reading: The Life Intended, The Brothers K, The Geography of Memory.

It’s almost December, and I still have two books I’ve been meaning to read to finish before the year is out: Chance or the Dance and On Writing Well. I would honestly much rather be reading fiction, but I’m bumping them to the top of the list anyway.

Always learning

I’ve been slowly working my way through Ruth Soukup’s self-directed Elite Blog Academy. Registration for the fall session closed a couple of months ago, but is open for one week only (today through December 5) at the introductory price. The next (more expensive) session will be begin in the spring. This has been a great course so far.

If you don’t want to shell out the moolah for the course, I recommend Ruth’s ebook How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to read this!

doodle crate sample crate

What the kids are into

The girls are in serious Christmas crafting mode. They’re making blankets and scarves and notebooks and novels and all manner of things for their friends and relatives. (If you’re one of them, brace yourselves.)

We also tried two of Kiwi Crate’s new lines this month: Doodle Crate and Tinker Crate.

Doodle Crate is aimed at the creative and crafty, and Sarah and Lucy loved it: they are checking the mailbox every day to see if our next month’s box has arrived yet. (That’s a photo from the crate above: it was a paint-your-own-pouch and design-your-own-notebook project.) Doodle Crate is aimed at 9-16 year olds, but Sarah and Lucy (9 and 7) didn’t have any trouble with it.

Tinker Crate is a new STEM-focused crate: each month delivers a science experiment to your door. The first month’s project was to build your own battery, and Sarah was underwhelmed. (She couldn’t get it to work, and quickly lost interest in the troubleshooting process.) Our next crate is supposed to arrive in a few days, and I’m curious to see how that one goes.

If you want to give these a try, now’s the time: get your first crate for $7.95 (instead of $20) with the code MERRYSUB. Get 40% off all shop items with the code MERRYSHOP. We’ve used their individual holiday crates—like the gingerbread house and swirly ornaments—as fun December activities for our own kids, and great gifts for our far-away nieces and nephews.

On the blog

Simplicity, productivity, and the personal uniform. 129 comments so far about people who wear the same thing every day, or want to.

How to make a latté at home without an espresso machine. This would be a good gift idea for the coffee geek in your life.

A very bookish Christmas countdown.

39 stocking stuffers that will actually be appreciated, don’t feel like a waste of money, and won’t be broken/forgotten/destroyed by New Year’s. This post from last December went viral this month.

Best of the web

Listen to Kristen Bell and Straight No Chaser’s “Text Me Merry Christmas.”

12 children’s books with non-princess female protagonists.

10 habits that make everyone hate you on social media.

Mr. Darcy was supposed to walk out of the lake naked.

How to raise girls to be better at negotiating.

What were you into in November?

Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately. 

more posts you might enjoy


Leave A Comment
  1. Adding more books to my GoodReads list, for sure! I’m sorry to hear that the new Rosie book is “complicated.”

    Our boys love Jimmy Fallon clips, too! Lip sync battles are their favorite, but they loved that Daniel Radcliffe bit as well. 🙂

    Wishing you a wonderful December!

  2. Sarah M says:

    I just started Anne’s book this past week. I read everything she comes out with, and then I tap my toes for a year or two between books. Love her work.
    The Rosie Effect is on my list, too.
    Sarah M

  3. Lina says:

    I am always amazed to read how much you do. Definitely give yourself a heads-up for that!
    Lately I have been really enjoying the lively show, the simple sophisticate and a better life. Podcasts are just so convenient to listen to while being inspiring (win-win).
    And I totally get you on not going shopping today. I don´t live in the US but whenever we have huge sales here or just open stores on Sundays, I make sure to stay clear from malls.
    Wishing you that you do get to relax in December 🙂

  4. liz n. says:

    Best Jimmy Fallon moments, to date: He and Justin Timberlake’s History of Rap, the lip synch-off with Emma Stone, and the Alan Rickman impersonations with Benedict Cumberbatch. Absolutely adore Jimmy Fallon.

    Just finished Matthew Kneale’s “English Passengers” and am about to start another of his novels, “When We Were Romans.” However, there are Thanksgiving leftovers that need to be turned into soups, casseroles, and quiches, so I will reward myself with chapter one when I’m done with the annual Day After Cooking Fest (Because We Don’t Do Black Friday). It’s rather a long name for a family tradition, isn’t it? I really should come up with something better!

    And, because the obsession with “Frozen” WILL NOT DIE, laid out on my sewing table are pattern pieces for not one, not two, not three, but FOUR sets of dolls for my grandson, nephew, and nieces. By the time I have sewn, stuffed, and dressed four Elsas, four Annas, four Kristoffs, four Olafs, and four Svens, I think I will be very happy to not stitch another strand of doll hair for awhile.

    And Christmas prep begins tomorrow, when aforementioned small children converge upon my house for a day of salt dough ornament making. There will be glitter everywhere.

    And I will have to take a look at the blog course…provided I remember to do so!

  5. Lacey says:

    Did you read the summary of Corduroy on that non-princess protagonist list? Hysterical:

    “Young girl gives bear a home and practices valuable skill, mother has incredible posture, both are financially responsible.”

    Incredible posture! Now that is something to emulate.

  6. Leigh Kramer says:

    Let me know what you think about Geography of Memory. It’s been on my To Read list for ages. I love how crafty your kids are! Also, I have a theory about why you resort to crafting when you’re stressed and it starts and ends with Type Nine.

    • Anne says:

      “I have a theory about why you resort to crafting when you’re stressed and it starts and ends with Type Nine.”

      What?! I need to know more.

  7. Kelly says:

    We love the Daniel Radcliffe clip on Jimmy Fallon, too! I love your cloth napkins. I’ve been meaning to make some for years – just never on the agenda to get it done. What size did you make yours?

  8. Kris Petersen says:

    Hi. I realize I am asking this about an older post…but I just (happily) discovered your blog! I am curious about the china plate pictured here. Is it a pattern?

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