What I’m into (October 2014 edition)

orange tree

October has been a wonderful month, although I’m aware that a part of me is working to keep the frantic feeling that sneaks up on me this time of year at bay. October has a down-to-business feel about it: the kids’ school is in full swing, so is work, and our household is as crazy as ever.

It’s just occurred to me that it’s been almost six months now since we moved in to the new house, which blows my mind. We’re making progress, even if we aren’t anywhere near done. But I successfully located all my cold-weather clothes, have knocked a couple more projects off the list, and finally got that kitchen table I wanted to find within weeks of moving in. Hey, it’s even been six weeks or so since I accidentally made the turn to go home to the old place a mile away.

Because my life isn’t crazy enough: NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow, and I’m still thinking about doing it. I just picked up a copy of No Plot? No Problem! and I’m not sure if that book is going to talk me into it or out of it. (If you’ve ever participated, I’d love to hear your tips.)

Speaking of crazy: I finally heeded my stylist’s advice and ordered the high-speed blow dryer she’s been telling me to get for a year or two. (I have fine, thick hair that takes forever to blow dry.) It might be changing my life. Or at least my morning routine.

Northanger Abbey

What I’m watching

For once, I have something to report here.

I watched all of Outlander in two nights while Will was away.

And I finally watched the BBC’s 2007 adaptation of Northanger Abbey, done by Andrew Davies of P&P 1995 fame. (I can’t believe I didn’t realize till afterwards that Carey Mulligan plays Isabella Thorpe.)

We finally started Parenthood.

We stayed up way too late watching the World Series, and letting our baseball-loving kids stay up, too. I’m still tired.

I want to watch Death Comes to Pemberley, but haven’t quite gotten there yet.

tea and cake

In the kitchen

I haven’t been up to anything too exciting in the kitchen—I’m holding out until we get to bona fide pot roast weather. (I can’t wait.) I’ve been trying out recipes from my new Cooks Illustrated Slow Cooker cookbook, and have been drooling over Martha Stewart’s new One Pot cookbook.

What I'm into | Modern Mrs Darcy

What I’m reading

My kids are reading Heidi and Anne of Green Gables for school, so I should, too. Right? (Right.)

Also reading: The Butterfly and the Violin, The Blue Castle, The Happiness of Pursuit, The Haunted Bookshop, and Outlander.

I just started Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (the last book in the Outlander series). I’ve really enjoyed the series, but I’m looking forward to being done with it. Reading all those pages is really time consuming! As much as I don’t want it to end, I’m looking forward to having more hours to devote on non-Outlander reads.


On the blog

A smokin’ deal on Mrs. Meyers, Method, and Yes to Carrots products from ePantry. (Just for MMD readers.) Because streamlining household maintenance means more time for the important things. Like Outlander.

Halloween: love it or hate it?

Are you a savorer or a speed reader?

How to keep a great series from ruining your life. A counterintuitive but effective trick that will help you just say no to one more chapter (or episode).

“A Diamond is Forever” and other fairy tales.

Books so gorgeous they just might turn me into a collector.

And I had a post up at Simple Homeschool, though it’s not just for homeschoolers, or parents: Self-care for the highly sensitive parent.

Best of the web

How to be efficient. This Big Life Advice from Dan Ariely is the most practical thing I’ve read all month. Worth a read (and a re-read).

What’s behind the great podcast rennaisance? “When you have Ira Glass going on The Tonight Show to talk about podcasting, something is a little different.”

The conversation bloggers are having about you. (Yes they are.)

We are all quants now. A thoughtful look at the existential implications of big data analysis.

What book should you read next? Putting librarians and algorithms to the test. Not all humans trump all algorithms, but when it comes to book recommendations, there’s a place for the human touch. (YES.)

What were you into in October?

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

more posts you might enjoy


Leave A Comment
  1. Tiffany says:

    I miss doing Nano! It’s always fun to see what pours out on the page. And all the utter crap that I write in that month too 😉 It’s been years since I’ve gotten to do it, because my blog sucks up my time. But I did complete 50k words 5 years in a row. My best advice would be don’t edit. Ever. And get in your 1667 words a day. It’s also a good idea to be a little ahead before Thanksgiving. (Also, as much as I love Nano, I didn’t love the book No Plot, No Problem. It’s not nearly as fun as doing the writing.)

    • Anne says:

      I didn’t know you’d done NaNo! Thanks for the tips. I have to constantly fight the impulse to edit as I go, and it sounds like that would get me in all kinds of trouble in November. 🙂

  2. Ooooh! Thank you for the reminder about the smokin’ good deal! I need to do that before it’s up! 🙂 Outlander – What did you think of the show? 🙂 I was pretty impressed with the overall production and how well it worked! But seriously bummed we have to wait so long until the rest of the season! I’ve been meaning to check out Death Comes to Pemberley as well, but life keeps getting in the way. Hoping you have a fabulous November!

    • Anne says:

      I thought Outlander was really well done. The scenery and music were absolutely gorgeous and added so much to it. I spent a ton of time looking AWAY from the screen though (and sometimes with the volume turned waaaaaayyyyy down. Jack Randall (and Frank!) were amazing–so amazing I just couldn’t watch for many parts of it!

      And I’m with you: how long till part 2? (too long!)

  3. Vanessa says:

    NaNoWriMo is awesome! You should definitely try it! And I agree with Tiffany, don’t edit at all during November. Getting ahead before Thanksgiving is also super helpful. It is a lot more doable than it might seem, especially if you enjoy the process of writing and don’t stress about perfection. My husband and I do it (and have for 5 years or so) and it’s so much fun to talk about plots and characters. Go for it! And if you do, let us know and then a bunch of us could be writing buddies!

  4. Lori says:

    I decided just this week to give the NaNoWriMo and try! Let’s see how it goes… I’m hoping it is the push that I need to get the writing process started!

  5. Tim says:

    I’ve been into reading Karen Swallow Prior’s new biography of Hannah More, the 17th-18th century abolitionist and reformer who worked with William Wilberforce and others to end slavery in England. The publisher sent me an advance copy so I got to read it and post a review on my blog before the book’s official release this past Tuesday.

  6. Kristen says:

    oh I love that version of Northanger Abbey, did you like it?? I watch it at least once a month. So cute. And you should really watch Austenland (or have you already?) has Tilney is in it!! 🙂

    • Anne says:

      I did like it. (It reminded me of Walter Mitty. Is that strange?) And I haven’t watched Austenland yet, but I want to. I’ll get there eventually… 🙂

    • emily says:

      Wise words, Debra! I love the show, but can’t watch until after the kids are in bed because I turn into a complete bawl-baby (I have 3 boys and they just don’t get it). I’m also completely destroyed over the fact that this is the last season.

  7. I’ve NaNo-ed twice. The first time I only lasted a week. The second — last year — was my own special modified attempt, which I called Fake-o NaNo. 🙂 I aimed for 1500 words a day six days a week.

    I wrote a disaster of a manuscript but it was utterly necessary (my other manuscript was with my editor, and I needed to get cracking). For me, the hardest part of the writing process is the creating something from nothing stage. Once I have something, it’s much easier because I have words I can toss or add to. When my editor told me this July she’d need my next manuscript by the end of September to keep to the schedule spelled out in my contract (!!), I had something to work with. Though the last few months have been intense, that junky draft I wrote last year was such a help. I saved about half of it.

    Here’s a post I wrote about the experience last year: http://carolinestarrrose.com/five-things-i-learned-from-nanowrimo/

    Happy writing!

    • Anne says:

      “For me, the hardest part of the writing process is the creating something from nothing stage.”

      ME TOO. It’s encouraging to hear that you found NaNoWriMo helpful with this. And thanks for the link. 🙂

  8. Ariel says:

    You should totally do NaNoWriMo! I’ve done it the past 5 years, but this year I wrote during the summer because even I won’t try to write a novel in a month when I also have 8 exams in 4 weeks.

  9. Delphine says:

    I am 90% through a book that I think that you, who love efficiency and are always trying to improve systems, would love. It’s a Japanese book on tidying and de-cluttering that is surprisingly insightful and even spiritual. The NY Times wrote about it, here:


    I just picked it up yesterday and I plan on putting it into action tomorrow, so I can’t say yet how it works in practice but this is probably the thing I’ve been most into all October.

    Here’s the link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/The-Life-Changing-Magic-Tidying-Decluttering/dp/1607747308/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1414760577&sr=8-1

  10. jen says:

    I loved your post! I’m reading through the What I’m Into link ups and you’ve just reminded me that I have Death Comes to Pemberley waiting for me on my DVR. I’m hesitant to watch a “continuing story,” but Matthew Goode is a nice encouragement to check it out.

    You’ve also encouraged me to look into NaNoWriMo – it sounds so daunting, but would be a fun challenge; an end of the year resolution!

    I look forward to reading more of your blog and I’m glad I found it through the link-up!

  11. Monica F says:

    I’ve done NaNo four different times, and succeeded three of those times. My best tip is don’t skip a day. Ever. Even if that means churning out filler or writing scenes out of order, keep writing. It’s much easier to keep up with your word count than it is to catch up after a couple of days off.

    Best of luck if you decide to do it this year! I’m not able to NaNo this year, but I’ve had a blast every time I have.

  12. Anne says:

    I guess I’ve mostly been into my 31 Days series (Letting Stuff Go), and it has been good! It’s really greased the wheel of letting stuff go. It got easier to do so as the month went on, and there was a perspective shift in *having* to find something to let go of. So, I’ve been thinking and pondering stuff, organization, and what I want my home to feel like.

    I started Death Comes to Pemberley the other night. Only 40 minutes in! Otherwise, I haven’t watched much or even read much.

    I was also very into another woman’s 31 Days Series because of my schlumpadinka status right now: http://semidomesticatedmama.com/31-days-of-pinterest-inspired-fall-outfits-for-busy-moms-on-a-budget

    I religiously checked her page every day. I have realized that *specifically shopping for items from an inspiration Pin* may indeed be the way I actually get some new clothes purchased! Otherwise, I just flail about.

  13. Allison S. says:

    What an AWESOME copy of the Haunted Bookshop you found! Where did you find that? Love a good old book! Enjoy- I liked that one. 🙂

  14. Lindsey says:

    Ahhh! So many good links here, Anne. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    (You get a few mentions in my “What I’m Into” post too! I shared your simple homeschool post, and I also really loved the episode of the Influence Podcast that you’re on.)

    I have always wanted to try NaNoWriMo, but I’m just not sure I have a solid novel idea. I’m also not sure if I’m up for the challenge at this point!

  15. Dana says:

    I did Nano 2 years ago and ended up with the first draft of a pretty good short novel.
    The first half was more detailed that the second half as I was determined to at least get the whole plot/story done in a month. I have done a second draft of the first half and I am working on “filling in” the details on the second half. I am in a writing group that meets every Wednesday and I have done a lot of work on the story there. I enjoyed the Nano process and it really made me sit down every day and get at least my minimum word count. The story had been in my head for a while but I needed the pressure of one month to keep my butt in the chair. I found that I really enjoyed the process. If I got stuck I would just ask myself “What would I want to happen next if i were the reader?” Doing that keep my fingers moving and offered some surprising turns that were quite good.

    My recommendations are :

    Don’t skip a day and try to make it up. I did that one day and it was tough.

    Just keep going. Write the story you would like to read.

    Don’t worry too much about details, just get the story finished. It is a remarkable feeling when you are done!

    Get the support of your family and friends.

    Let us know how it goes!

  16. Dana says:

    I have a couple of books by the same author to recommend: Broken For You and Sing Them Home, both by Stephanie Kallos. Both stories were profoundly moving and unlike anything else I had ever read. Beautiful writing and interesting characters. They are both in my Top 10 Best Books ever.

  17. Amy says:

    I’m doing nanowrimo for the first time and I am shaking in my boots!

    And I hated Death Comes to Pemberley, so I will be curious to hear what you think of it!

  18. Polly says:

    I’m planning on doing NaNo this year, it’ll be my fourth time. I’ve only made it to 50K words once, but I have found it very helpful. I agree with others, taking a day off makes it super hard to get caught up. I found it helpful to write as soon as the kids were in bed, and have a reward waiting for me when I finished my word count for the day. (Reward= something small, like a piece of chocolate or watching an episode of something good with my husband.)

    I’ve also noticed that I have to be careful with what I read and watch while I’m seriously writing. Those stories have a way of influencing what I’m writing- so I try to only read and watch things that are vastly different from my tone and topic.

  19. Thanks for including my post about blogging. The comments from readers (mostly all non-bloggers) were so interesting, I’m still chewing on some of them.

    I tried NaNoWriMo a few years ago and it was a disaster. This year instead I did a 30,000 words challenge on my blog in October. Today’s the last day (obviously) and I’m just a few thousand words short. I’m pretty proud of that, given that I kept up my blogging schedule and had a week of houseguests. I learned that about 1,000 words a day is the best I can do right now. Maybe when I’m better at long form writing (it’s hard to break concise blog habits!), I could do more. Good luck! I bet it’ll be great.

  20. Maria Ribas says:

    I just came across your blog from the Influence Network Instagram, and I love it! Those Heidi and Anne of Green Gables covers designed by Rifle Paper Co. are so gorgeous.

    I’m a Literary Agent by day and a blogger by night, so it’s so nice to read all the different NaNo experiences people have had. Good luck to everyone this year!!

  21. Leigh Kramer says:

    I was going to ask what you thought of Outlander but read your response to Ginger. I figured you’d be looking away a fair amount! I don’t know why it’s easier to read about some of those things instead of watch them. I cannot wait for the season to resume!

  22. Stephen says:

    You should so totally do NaNo! This will be my seventh year doing NaNoWriMo and it has been amazing to see what comes out of my fingers. Here are my top 6 tips:

    1. Keep all your novel notes in one place.
    2. Carry a notebook with you at all times.
    3. Write everyday
    4. Only read back one paragraph before writing the next day.
    5. No editing!
    6. Write with other people (virtually or in person)

    Also, here is the link to the semi-official highly inspirational song for NaNoWriMo: http://youtu.be/78mvUeBw7MM

      • Jennifer says:

        I love it. I agree with no editing and no skipping days. Also, checking in/reporting to someone was helpful to me.

        I didn’t get much from “No Plot No problem.”

        Last, google docs saved my life. I could work on my document on any computer anywhere and I didn’t have to worry about hitting “save.”

  23. I love doing NaNoWriMo! My one tip would be to just write. Don’t worry about going back and fixing mistakes or rewriting scenes…write something everyday even if some days it’s just a few sentences. Most importantly – have fun with it!!

  24. JainaKay says:

    I’ve done (and won!) NaNo for the last 9 years and am hoping to make a nice even 10 for 10 this year. I love it. I don’t always make time for writing, but November is the one month out of the year that I set everything else aside and make writing my #1 priority.

    My advice is to plan for days you won’t write. Yes, you want to write every day, but something will ALWAYS happen and you will miss a day or two. If you build up a little bit of a buffer, those days don’t knock you out of the running.

    In fact, the last couple of years I have planned one day a week of no writing. If I made it all the way to the end of the week without missing a day, I didn’t have to write at all on Sunday if I didn’t want to. And if I did want to, I got more buffer. That system worked so well that I plan to use it again this year.

    I love to see more people doing NaNo! It’s such a wonderful event.

  25. Melanie E. says:

    I guess I’ll be the first to comment on your new hairdryer! haha I have the same one and it was amazing how much of a difference it made! I had no idea. I heard of that dryer on The Small Things Blog, where Kate said that most hair dryers are just heat and not fast air, so you’re basically trying to just fry your hair with heat, but with a good hair dryer you are actually blowing it dry and you often don’t need to have it on the highest heat setting!

    I also bought this product, which I believe does help cut down the blow drying time!

  26. I’m contemplating Nano this year, too, in a really half hearted I haven’t actually started yet and I’m not too worried about that so am I actually participating or am I just saying I plan to write more this month? kinda way.

  27. Ruth-Anne says:

    Was almost afraid to read Death Comes to Pemberly because Pride and Prejudice is an all time favorite. But I thoroughly enjoyed the book even though I didn’t have time to reread P & P before I started the sequel. Can’t wait to see TV version. I really want to love it too. Hope it’s in the Colin Firth tradition!

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