Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Monthly Medley: November 2017

Does the text for my Christmas card count? Pulling together so few words shouldn't require me to sit in front of my computer screen for such a long time.

Back in the saddle again! I finally finished a book: Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown. The story revolves around the disappearance - and presumed death - of a seemingly popular, outgoing, and happy wife/mother who doesn't return from a hiking trip to a remote region of the Pacific Crest Trail. The premise and writing style are simple, but the plot twists and turns just enough to keep the reader engaged all the way through to the end of the book.

Our Tuesdays filled up quickly - we spent one Tuesday evening watching The Illusionists Present: Adam Trent and one driving to Arkansas for Thanksgiving - so we only fit in one documentary this month. All four of us loved Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, about the rise of puppeteer Kevin Clash and how he created one of the most iconic Sesame Street characters of all time. The film - and Clash himself - had far more depth and heart than we expected, and Elmo's "creation story" made all of us miss the good old days when Sesame Street aired on PBS and was available for everyone to watch and enjoy.

I made it to the theater for the first time in a few months, this time to see A Bad Moms Christmas with friends. It was the "most rated R" movie I have seen in years (probably since I saw the original Bad Moms), but if you can handle the adult-only components, this second installment is full of laughs and shows off its big heart when the movie comes to an end.

I really hope we can find time to visit the movie theater again in December - the kids and I are looking forward to Wonder, Coco, The Star, Ferdinand, Star WarsJumanji, and The Greatest Showman, and I can't wait to sing my way through Last Call Pitches with my friends.

Listening To:
A few of the podcasts I've listened to in years past have returned with new seasons, so when I caught with up my "regular" podcasts, I popped back over to season two of Someone Knows Something. SKS resembles Serial in many ways - the podcast delves deeply into one unsolved case over the course of a season - but with one small difference: the Canadian accents. I love a good "eh" every now and again...

My Christmas cards, which if you recall I ordered from a new company - Simply to Impress - this year, arrived and they look lovely. I don't tend toward embellished, elaborate cards, but I do want a finished product that looks clean and professional and Simply to Impress came through for me.

As I mentioned last month, I have no affiliation with nor did I receive any compensation from Simply to Impress. I'm just a happy customer! 

At my sister's recommendation, I picked up this Kenra Platinum Blow-Dry Spray at Ulta in Chicago. It claims to protect hair from heat-related damage and breakage; help detangle, smooth, and soften; eliminate frizz and boost resistance to humidity; and decrease blow-dry time by 50%. Based on my experience, the product does not decrease blow-dry time by 50% (for my hair) but it does provide protection from heat, serve as a detangler, increase softness, and decrease frizz. It also smells lovely and feels very light so it doesn't weigh my hair down. Give it a try!

Again, I have no affiliation with nor did I receive any compensation from this company. I'm just a hair novice taking recommendations from my more product-experienced sister. :)  

It's the perfect season for pumpkin spice everything...or so says my new shirt, a gift from a friend for my birthday.

Does anyone else want ALL THE HOLIDAY SHIRTS? Or is that just me? Every fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas t-shirt with a clever phrase printed in a unique script calls out to me, but because it's Halloween ($), Thanksgiving ($), Christmas ($$), and the season of travel ($$$) and unexpected expenses ($$$), I can't buy any of them. Maybe next year...

I have stalled on my 50 States of Cookies baking for a few reasons. First, with so little time right now, I generally bake cakes and pies because they're simpler and require less time and attention overall. Second, during the holidays, I tend to bake recipes with which I'm familiar because I don't want to give as a gift something I haven't yet perfected. And third, I've realized that about half of the cookies on the list either don't sound good to me (some of the recipes are kind of quirky) or can't be made in my house because nuts are a key ingredient. I plan to continue powering through, but my progress has slowed...

Regardless, we did try a couple new, worth-noting recipes this month!
  • I made this Southern Caramel Cake with about half of the called-for sugar, a decision that worked out perfectly because this cake's frosting is the sweetest I have ever tasted. It melted in my mouth in the most heavenly way, but it also gave me a gut ache after I ate a little too much the first time around. Make this cake and its frosting ASAP, but keep your pieces small!
  • I made this Honey Beer Bread for Tom's office Thanksgiving luncheon and the entire large loaf disappeared within minutes. Neither Tom or I had the opportunity to try any, so I went home and made a second load...and even Hallie loved it, which means more than just about anything else I could say to encourage you to make this bread immediately. The only adaptation I made was to use two tablespoons of melted butter instead of four on the top of the unbaked bread.

What's new, good, and/or interesting in your life this month? Please share!

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