Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Wednesday list

1. Homemade Chex Mix in the house! Now if I can just keep from eating it all before Jeremy gets home.

2. Brandon Sanderson's Oathbringer released yesterday (the third in his Stormlight Archive series). It'll probably be a few weeks before I dive in (and since I hit up the library for some unneeded books last week, I have plenty to occupy me in the mean time), but I'm looking forward to it. Fall seems like a good time of year to dive into a doorstopper fantasy novel.

3. Still working on the shawl I started at the beginning of October. It's my first foray into lace knitting, and I've unsurprisingly (for me) had to backtrack several times. At first it was mostly frustrating, but now I'm reminding myself about how much I'm learning and how much practice I'm getting in. Let's hope I can keep that perspective...and finish before the cool weather is gone!

4. Speaking of yarn arts -- my friend Stephanie and I are planning knit/crochet weather scarves next year. We have seven different colors of yarn that each correspond with a 10 degree temperature range. Each day of 2018 we'll knit/crochet two rows that correspond to the high temp for that day. At the end of the year, we'll have one colorful, LONG, fun, wearable memory.

5. I had a feeding-people-at-your-home realization the other night (I'd say entertaining, but that makes me think fancy dinner party, and no one's fancy dinner partying around here). One of the best ways to make hosting someone for dinner relaxing and enjoyable: fix food that can mostly be prepped before people come (and cleaned up). Here's two examples: chili or other soups, make your own pizza bar. Everything can be prepped ahead of time. Clean up after eating is minimal. So you get to spend more time with your friends! Win, win, win.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Wednesday list...

1. Last week I read Maggie Stiefvater's latest YA novel All the Crooked Saints and it is fantastic. The story of a family who helps people face their own darkness but ends up getting lost in their own. It's a story of love, hope, family, courage, and honoring the past by forging a new future. One of the things that really struck me reading this book was how it felt like no word was wasted -- every word specifically and deliberately chosen. So fantastic.

2. Jeremy and I went to see Thor: Ragnarok yesterday I absolutely adored it. It's getting rave reviews and that is no accident. Amazing action? check. Pitch perfect performances by everyone from the small cameos (Matt Damon!) to the lead actors and actresses? check. Delightfully unconventional superhero soundtrack? check. Comedy? check. Brothers united against their evil big sister? typical family drama but with super powers and set in space. The perfect mix of the absurd and the grounded? check and check.

3. At the movies we saw a preview for Marvel's upcoming Black Panther (introduced in the last Avengers), and I have one thing to say: sign. me. up. That movie looks amazing.

4. Speaking of previews....thanks to a glut of commercial viewing watching the baseball World Series (Go Astros!) last week, I got to see a lot of previews for a new January show called 9-1-1 starring Connie Britton, Peter Krause, and Angela Bassett. I'll say it again: sign. me. up. Fingers crossed it's good because I love all three of those actors/actresses.

5. I've got a pretty annoying cough this week, meaning my return to a normal post-baseball (go Astros!) sleep schedule has been interrupted by lots of attempting to sleep, but not so much actual consistent sleep. Fortunately, we're stocked up on coffee and Earl Grey (today's afternoon treat in honor of the cooler weather and gray skies).

6. Next on the book and viewing docket: Finish, by Jon Acuff. Black Wolves, by Kate Elliott, and Stranger Things 2 (which we started finally this week).

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Reading... Girl in the Blue Coat


Girl in the Blue Coat Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse is a fantastic historical fiction novel set in Amsterdam during World War II. Hanneke, like many people in Nazi occupied countries, is simply doing what she can to protect herself and her family. Her personal form of rebellion is selling sought-for items on the black market, such as extra meat, coffee, chocolate, and cigarettes. When a client asks Hanneke to help her find someone close to her who has disappeared, Hanneke resists, not wanting to get involved in anything personal, anything more dangerous than her small-time black market delivery. However, her conscience gets the better of her and she starts to look into the girl's disappearance, and gets pulled into broader resistance efforts. As she begins to learn more about the missing Jewish girl and her life before the Nazi occupation, she begins to face her grief and guilt over the death of her boyfriend. 
Girl in the Blue Coat is poignant and heartbreaking. It's a quiet story, but one with tension and stakes that feel very real. I enjoyed getting to read a story set in Amsterdam, someplace I'm not familiar with, and a somewhat non-traditional setting for a World War II novel. The author also does wonderful job with the characters, particularly Hanneke. I felt like I got to go on a journey with Hanneke, one that felt organic and realistic.

Bottom line: a thoughtful and also suspenseful historical fiction novel, perfect for picking up during cold weather.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Thursday list

1. I made a command decision this weekend that even though we hadn't quite landed into fall weather yet, it was soup season darn it, and I was going to start making soup. I love soups/stews, mostly because it can be an inexpensive, easy way to make a meal with tons of flavor and lots of good-for-you stuff inside. Can you make expensive soups/stews full of stuff that isn't quite so healthy but delicious? Of course. But the beauty of soup is that there are so many options! This week's soups: chili (obviously), Italian sausage and chickpea stew, and butternut squash soup.

2.So, I think I mentioned recently that I started a new knitting project. Well, knitting means one of two things: audiobooks or television. I haven't started any new audiobooks lately, but I have been enjoying the return of This is Us, Superstore, and The Middle. My latest Netflix watch has been Longmire, and I'm really enjoying it. It's based on a book series, which Jeremy has read. I read the first book several years ago and liked it, just never got around to picking any more up. They're essentially police procedural mysteries, but the small-town Wyoming setting gives it a unique flavor. The setting is almost like a character, and the show does a good job of translating that. And as far as the show goes, the actors are really top-notch, so it's worth a watch if you enjoy mysteries, small-town settings, or the American West.

3. You know what makes for a great day? Noticing that you have enough rewards on your Starbucks card for a free drink. Yay!

4. Last year I decided to try reading the Bible through chronologically this year. A couple of friends had done it in the past and really enjoyed that kind of read through. While I usually enjoy an in depth study now and then, I felt like I was past due for a good big-picture, broad view reading of the Bible. The Bible app I use (YouVersion) has a chronological plan so I didn't have to buy anything or do any special research. It just tells me what to read every day. I've loved it! It really helps keep things in context, especially the prophets. Everything feels like part of a whole, not just isolated books or chapters or stories. Highly recommend doing a chronological plan at least once in your life (maybe more than that!).

5. Finally picking up All the Crooked Saints today! I had a review book I was plowing through last week, so All the Crooked Saints has been sitting on my table calling to me (the review book, incidentally, was actually a pretty interesting sci-fi book -- C Square. It leaned pretty heavily on the science part of the science fiction, and on philosophy and characters. It was a little rough around the edges, but not bad for an independently published book).

Until next time!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Wednesday list

1. I've come to another spot in my current knitting project where I need to try and fix a mistake. I've never used lifelines in my knitting, but I definitely thing this project is going to be one that needs one. Once I fix this mistake I'll be getting into the lace section and something tells me my current method of winging it won't be quite as reliable.

2. The weather has finally, finally cooled off a little bit. It's all relative of course -- this is Houston after all -- but I've been relishing the cooler mornings and evenings and lower humidity.

3. I recently discovered the artist Ellie Holcomb (and didn't realize until I heard an interview with her that she's the wife of Drew Holcomb of Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors) and I am really enjoying her newest album Red Sea Road. That and The Lone Bellows -- another new band discovery -- are on heavy repeat these days.

4. I've gotten three birthday books the past couple of weeks! The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner (nonfiction), Black Wolves by Kate Elliott, and All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater. Now the only problem is picking which one to start first! (This is not actually a problem. I mean...it'll still be hard to pick, but it's the best kind of problem).

5. One thing I inherited from my Granny is a love of pens and pencils. I started bullet journaling this year -- which is proving to be a pretty consistent form of journaling for me -- but it also means I'm hyper aware of my writing utensil situation. Anyway, I just bought some new pens and I'm loving them (Bic Atlantis Exact).

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Wednesday list

1.Texas A&M v. Alabama. Jeremy and I got the chance to go to College Station with some friends to see the game. My very first "big" college football game, and I have to say, despite the loss it was a great game and a lot of fun (Alabama is the number one team in the country...so we were prepared for the point spread to be much larger. But the Aggies fought hard). I don't watch a ton of sports on tv, but I love live sporting events.

2. Mascara. I've decided I'm just going to claim my go-to brand as Cover Girl. I'm not a big makeup person, but I do wear mascara every day. I'm also prone to "ooh, shiny!" moments anytime I see someone recommend mascara, whether it be a friend, a magazine article, or someone on Instagram. But lately, I just keep coming back to Cover Girl. I think I'm going to re-claim an inch of my limited amount of decision making brain space and just stick with what I know works at the price point I like best.

3. Smoothies. I've finally convinced the kids that they like smoothies. It took them a few tries to get used to the consistency, I think. But now they are hooked, which is nice for two reasons: 1. It gives us another healthy snack option and 2. I can jump on the eat-more-greens-by-shoving-them-in-smoothies bandwagon. It's a good bandwagon.

4. I recently read the book The Wedding Shop, by Rachel Hauck on the recommendation of a friend, and it was a really nice book. It's a back-and-forth romance -- one story set in the 1930s, one set in present day, and both connected. I like those kind of stories, but my only complain with this one was that I wanted more of each story, particularly the present day. It may also be worth noting that it's my preferred kind of Christian fiction: it's all about telling a good story, not beating the reader over the head with a message. The Christian and faith aspects are just woven in as a realistic part of the characters' lives.

5. The next book on my fiction list is a new one I picked up by Kristin Higgins, one of my favorite romance authors. I've also a bit back logged on my non-fiction books. I need to read a few more chapters in Business Boutique, need to read Finishers, by Jon Acuff, and Audacious by Beth Moore. So many books, so little time...

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Monday list

1. It's one of those Mondays that just feels weird. Time seems to have no meaning (how is it 2:30 already? Yet I'm sure 5-7 p.m. will feel like a hundred hours), and we get to wake up to another horrific tragedy. I've got a case of the Mondays, but not in the usual sense.

2. My grocery spending has gone up the past few months, and I just can't put a finger on it because for the most part I'm shopping the same way, the same stores, etc. Maybe the kids are just eating more? I really don't think so, but it is possible. Or maybe I'm not shopping as frugally as I think I am? (that seems like the obvious answer). Whatever the reason, it prompted me to spend a lot of time researching lentil recipes. Fun fact: there are a lot of recipes that substitute lentils where you would traditionally see ground beef, like Shepherd's pie, chili, tacos...

3. I listened to a bonus deep dive episode of The Popcast with Knox and Jamie podcast. They delved into ABC's T.G.I.F. from the 80s/90s. You remember...Full House, Family Matters, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Boy Meets World, Perfect Strangers, etc. It's a great episode about the evolution of tv, some of the best and worst shows to appear in the T.G.I.F. lineup, and lots of fun facts. Plus classic Knox and Jamie hilariousness, obviously.

4. My laptop is being weird today. Not amused.

5. I just started Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty and and just a couple of episodes away from finishing the first season of The Crown on Netflix. I am OBSESSED with that show. Really good and so fascinating. I've never been more than casually intrigued by the British royal family, but the show makes me want to go out and do a bunch of research.

6. I discovered a relatively new and definitely new to me coffee shop just around the corner from my neighborhood. It's super cool, and clearly run by people who love coffee and know their stuff (you can get coffee brewed in ways I've never even heard of). I think they might be Turkish? Turkish coffee is billed as their specialty, although you can get all the standard espresso drinks, cold brew, and other brewed coffee (Chemex, Aeropress, siphon, and the aforementioned ways-I've-never-heard-of). Anyway, I'm excited to spend a lot of my writing hours there, plus maybe a few date nights too. We can bring books or card games and pretend we're dating in college again.