Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Monthly Mash-Up: March 2016

March dealt us a few wild cards, but I feel a little more at peace today than I did at the beginning of the month. In like a lion, out like a lamb...right? I hope you and yours had a great month!

I didn't tackle any significant writing projects until the last 10 days of the month, when I finished two projects and took on four more...I may not have any links to share this month, but I should have quite a few to share at the end of April thanks to the full docket I just lined up for myself!

At the beginning of the month I read The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. The reviews I read called The Rosie Project a "romantic comedy", and while I understand this categorization, it wasn't the romantic twists and relationship turns that kept me interested until the final page. I started this book because a friend recommended it to me, but continued reading because I loved how Simsion exposed new elements of the characters' personalities, backgrounds, and motivations at every turn. He made me laugh and even coaxed out a tear or two, but most importantly, he taught me a great deal about how everyone sees and interacts with the world differently.  

This month I saw "Allegiant", "Eddie the Eagle", and "Zootopia" twice (not because I felt the need to see it twice, but because I took Will and Hallie separately, each while the other enjoyed a playdate with a friend). I consider "Zootopia" a must-see for kids and parents alike and "Eddie the Eagle" a well-spent 90+ minutes if you like sports-themed underdog quests for respect and acceptance.

Based on the third book of the same name in the Divergent series, "Allegiant" didn't follow the book storyline very closely. I expected as much so the "plot twists" didn't bother me, but diehard fans of the book might struggle with some of the liberties taken by the screenwriter and director. My plan is to read the book and watch "Allegiant" again before the final movie (the powers that be followed in the footsteps of the Twilight and Hunger Games series and divided the last book into two movies), "Ascendent", comes out next year.

Listening To
After a month of nothing but Pentatonix, followed by a month of nothing but Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, I took most of March off from singing along to the radio and the various mix CDs - don't knock 'em - the kids and I make. I take this kind of musical break once or twice a year, usually when I need a little time alone with my thoughts.

I did, however, turn on a couple of different podcasts this month. I loved the first season of Serial and keep up with Criminal, but in my quest for something a little less depressing, I found two fantastic options. The first - Stuff You Missed in History Class - streams short episodes focused on historical people, events, circumstances, etc. about which we may not know the entire truth. A few of my favorites include "Did someone really escape from Alcatraz?", "How the Titanic Worked", and "Why is there an underground city beneath Beijing?". The second - Mama Bear Dares - shares "the stories of women who love being called 'mom' but have shifted the paradigm that aims to stop there. Artists, entrepreneurs, creative visionaries, social change agents, activists - all women who have tapped their mama bears and dared to live full, joyful, multi-faceted lives". I happen to know the incredible women behind this podcast - lovely Leslie was a bridesmaid in my wedding - and am so proud of the work they have done to get this podcast off the ground and the recognition it's quickly gaining in the podcast world. Give it a listen!

Shortly after moving into our house almost five (?!) years ago, we replaced the carpet in the living room, dining room/office, playroom, and hallway. The cheap, boring beige needed to go, as it was dirty, stinky, stained in some areas, and discolored in others. Yuck. We decided to wait, however, on replacing the carpet in the four bedrooms, partly because it didn't look, smell, or feel as damaged as the carpet in the main living areas of the house, and partly because we didn't want to take on that expense.

Fast forward a few years, and we still haven't replaced the bedroom carpet because other house and yard projects have taken precedent. To buy myself even more time, I decided to have the carpets professionally cleaned...and then, to save myself a little money, I decided to try cleaning them myself. I skipped Resolve, as well as the homemade carpet cleaners I read about on Pinterest, and tried - at the recommendation of a friend - the Ava Anderson Pet Deodorizer. You guys, this stuff is AMAZING. It took out every stain and dramatically lightened the dingy, high-traffic areas in all three regularly-used bedrooms. The fact that the pet deodorizer smells heavenly is just icing on the cake.

Ava Anderson Non-Toxic has recently changed leadership and names - to Pure Haven Essentials - but the pet deodorizer can still be purchased until stock runs out. I just bought two more bottles last week, and if you'd like to try it, please let me know!

My jean-wearing days are numbered (because I can't wear jeans once the daytime high temperatures climb into the 80s), so I have donned one of my two favorite pairs nearly every day this month. I'll see you soon enough, dresses, skirts, and flowy pants...

I also tried, for the first time ever, wearing "beachy waves" in my hair. I had no idea what I was doing, but after watching a couple of tutorials on youtube I felt educated enough to give it a try. The final result looked a little quirky from the front, but holy perfect waves in the back, Batman!

I wish I'd taken a picture of what I looked like that night, after I'd worn these "beachy waves" on my walk to and from school, in the locker room before and next to the indoor pool during the kids' swimming lessons, and at Will's windiest soccer practice EVER. Not so "beachy" anymore...

I tried out five or six new entree recipes this month, and while Tom, Will, and I deemed each one edible (Hallie doesn't get a vote, given her track record of disliking all dishes that include more than two ingredients), none stood out as make-again winners. I did, however, find one fabulous dessert recipe. I knew this fresh strawberry yogurt cake would go over well at my house; so well, in fact, that I immediately sent 1/4 of the cake to our friends'/neighbors' so we wouldn't eat it all. Strawberry season is right around the corner, so now is the perfect time of year to try this delicious treat! (As always, I used less sugar - 1 1/4 cups - than the recipe called for. I also used plain, nonfat yogurt instead of Greek yogurt.)

On a related note, Tom and I strongly encouraged Will to try sugar cookies topped with a combination of frosting and hot sauce. He did NOT enjoy the experience.

I haven't done a particularly good job of increasing my water intake this month, so in April I plan to try infusing my water - at least a glass a day - with fruit for a little added flavor. I have lots of lemons in my refrigerator so I should probably start there, but if you have any tried and true infused water recipes, please share!

On a related note, I have decided to purchase, in preparation for summer at home with the kids, a counter top-suitable water/drink dispenser. I'm thinking about this this one or maybe this one - anyone have a favorite they'd recommend?

Happy March, friends!

These posts need a new title, as "Currently" is incredibly boring. I tried out "Monthly Mash-Up" this time around, but I don't love it - any other ideas?

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