Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Monthly Medley: October 2017

Part two of my "Football Town Foods" article appeared in this month's issue of Texas Living Magazine. I wish I could continue covering (after visiting, of course) the best culinary establishments in college towns - talk about a fun and delicious assignment!

I find myself in yet another reading rut. Two books in which I reached the halfway point in September have sat - untouched - on my nightstand for weeks. I started three books in early October and have yet to make it past page 50 in any of them. I just reserved four new books at the library though, and I have high hopes that I can find time during the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks to lose myself in a good novel!

I'm also looking forward to my annual December read of The Christmas Train. This book has been a favorite of mine for more than a decade and I highly recommend it if you like stories with an interesting plot, a little mystery, a little romance, and great characters!

Documentary film night has become one of our favorite nights of the week! In October we enjoyed Living on One Dollar, Imba Means Sing, and Growing Up Wild, but then last week we deviated slightly from our usual plan in favor of our annual showing of The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and Toy Story of Terror. With regard to the documentaries, all three kept us engaged but I think Growing Up Wild earned my #1 spot.

A few years ago, Tom and I took the kids to a children's choir concert at a church in Bryan. As it turns out, the choir that performed that evening was affiliated with the same African Children's Choir organization on which the Imba Means Sing documentary was based. The kids loved looking back at at the pictures of the concert we attended while watching a "live" version on our television.

Next up: Being Elmo

Listening To
If you like the movie Clue, you will LOVE the podcast Deadly Manners. This 10-episode "dark comedy murder-mystery series" follows the events of a snowy winter evening in 1954, when during an affluent family's dinner party, guests begin meeting their demise. The best part about deadly manners is that the characters are voiced by familiar celebrities: Kristen Bell, RuPaul, Anna Chlumsky, and David Cummings all have roles, and my beloved LeVar Burton reads the part of the narrator.

If Tux starts the night outside and at some point meows to come inside, I can ignore him by putting a pillow over my head to muffle the noise.

However if Tux starts the night inside, he often wants/needs to go outside - to relieve himself, I believe - between 4:30am and 5:30am. Because I worry he will choose to pee somewhere I don't want him to pee if I don't let him out, I always climb out of bed and open the door for him...and thereby ruining the rest of my night's sleep. (Tux has incredible staying power. He can sit and meow loudly next to the bed - just like the kids, he ALWAYS chooses my side of the bed in the middle of the night - for HOURS.)

For months I have tried to figure out how to allow Tux the freedom to go in and out...without having to wake me up or require me to get up off the couch once I've snuggled in for the evening. And until a couple of weeks ago, I thought I would have to put in a cat/dog door, an option I didn't find all that attractive because of the work and cost required.

But then Hallie and I strolled - almost accidentally - into an open house and saw this:
This "kitty door" is inserted into the
open space when a window is pushed up.
So quick and easy! So cost-effective! So an invitation to Tux to bring me more mice!

We might not be trying/using this product after all...

On a completely different note, I just ordered our Christmas cards and this year I used a new vendor called Simply to Impress. I opted to use this company because the systems associated with Shutterfly and Tiny Prints - the companies I have regularly used in the past - wouldn't let me put my Christmas letter on the back of the card. (I could put small amounts of text on the backs of cards, but not one big text box with everything I wanted to share.) I haven't received my cards yet, but I have high hopes - I'll let you know!

I have no affiliation with nor did I receive any compensation from this company for sharing their name. 

As I type this paragraph, I have on flannel pajama pants and a sleepwear sweater, which makes me as happy as...well, about as happy I get. I love fall, I love winter, I love cold weather, and I love cold weather clothes.

On a more entertaining note, a couple of weeks ago I met my mom and sister for a girls weekend.  My sister and I arrived wearing the same necklace...and then discovered later that evening that we had brought the exact same pajamas - black and red checked pajama pants, black shirts, and this Athleta sweatshirt (scroll down to "wearing") - and the same two outfits to wear on our shopping days. Apparently it's not just our daughters who have a tendency to dress alike!
Identical pajamas (I hadn't put on my black shirt yet).
Identical choices in the dressing room.
Also of note, my mom and I arrived wearing almost identical outfits (dark skinny jeans, brown ankle boots, flowy shirts with white polka dots on them, and small cross-body purses). Apparently the tendency spans generations...
Thank you, Ikea, for the use of
your mirror to document our twinning.
Here are the new, worth-noting recipes we tried this month!
  • This Apple Pecan Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting is perfect for fall! I used about 1 1/2 c. of sugar, replaced half of the oil with unsweetened applesauce, used walnuts instead of pecans (simply because that's what I had in the pantry), and put the all of the chopped nuts on top of rather than in the cake.
  • These Coconut Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars also went over extremely well. I cut the brown sugar to about 1/2 c., but other than that I followed the recipe exactly.
  • This simple Creamy Italian Crockpot Chicken Pasta helped make one of our Friday nights in October run a little more smoothly. I skipped the bay leaves and used basil and oregano instead of Italian seasoning, and because the kids don't like cheese, I served them before I added the cream cheese (which I cut down to about 4 oz.) Everyone had seconds!

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

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