Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Monthly Medley: December 2018

I have articles in the December and January issues of Texas Living Magazine, have knocked out five short articles for the neighborhood magazines to which I recently started contributing, and started writing my first article for Roots and Lace. December was a good month!

I read - and enjoyed - The Lying Game by Ruth Ware. I have heard her novels described as psychological crime thrillers, and while this story started off a little slow for my taste, it definitely picked up speed throughout and ended with a satisfyingly massive bang.

The kids and I visited the community library in Bryan on a dreary day last week, so all three of us are once again stocked and ready to delve into our fictional worlds!

Fuller House, anyone? I just adore this show, both because it brings back such fond memories of my own childhood (eating pizza, drinking orange juice, and watching TGIF with my family on the hide-a-bed every Friday evening) and because Hallie loves watching it with me.

Beyond Fuller House, we watched mostly our holiday favorites in December: Home Alone, Home Alone 2, Elf, and...Clue. It wouldn't be Christmas without a viewing of our favorite murder mystery, and this year's showing was particularly fun because we let Will watch for the first time.

I just realized I haven't watched Love Actually yet this season...I'll add that to my to-do list for January.

Listening To
I find myself in something of a holding pattern with my podcasts right now - I'm caught up on almost all those I listen to regularly, and I haven't yet found a new winner. My list of podcasts to try includes Homecoming, Casefile True Crime, and A Murder on Orchard Street.

As a quick summary, and to remind you of the podcasts I like in case you are currently shopping for something new... I'm caught up on and waiting for new episodes of the stories Gone, The Phenomenon, and Lake Clarity. I'm caught up on and waiting for new episodes of This is Love, Criminal, and Young House Love Has a Podcast. I've listened to all three seasons of Serial, the first season of Cover Up (not sure of the status on a second season) and the one season story, Deadly Manners. I enjoy both For the Love with Jen Hatmaker and Mama Bear Dares, but I don't listen to every episode or follow either podcast chronologically.

Anyone else having a hard time transitioning back to regular clothes after Christmas break? I wore (almost exclusively) pajamas, leggings, sweatshirts, and athleisure attire for two weeks straight, and having to put on clothing with zippers and buttons made me a little sad.

I picked up these deeply discounted athletic shoes at Marshall's in Madison over the break. They are perhaps more fashion-oriented than fitness-oriented, but with the addition of my arch support inserts, I know I'll be able to wear them for at least a few miles at a time.

My sister bought me these Stella and Dot earrings for Christmas, and they're just so fun - what a great idea, creating one product that can be worn so many different ways!
Each part of each earring is reversible so they can be assembled
and worn with quite a few different layering and color combinations.

As I do almost every late December, over Christmas break I reignited my love for puzzles. With a little help from others here and there, I finished three 1,000-piece puzzles, one of which I plan to hang onto to assemble again next December.
This one was so hard!

As I mentioned in my Christmas Recap post, I did A LOT of baking in December...and many of those recipes ended up in the winners column. Here are a few that went over well with my people!
  • Laura Bush's Texas Governor's Mansion Cowboy Cookies I cut both kinds of sugar by a 1/2 c. and left out the pecans because I wasn't sure of the recipients' allergy profiles. These cookies baked a little flatter than I like, but the flavor was amazing.
  • Soft and Chewy M&M Cookies Once again I cut both kinds of sugar, this time by a 1/4 c. I don't usually like M&M cookies myself, but these tasted better than I thought they would and were a huge hit with the kids.
  • Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies I cut the sugar by a 1/2 c. but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. Another hit, with kids and adults alike.
  • Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies The only change I made to this recipe was using dark chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Will prefers dark chocolate, so I thought he would like the cookies better with this slight adaptation; I was right, and he ate more than his fair share.
  • Nothing Bundt Cakes Copycat Red Velvet Cake I also tried this red velvet cake recipe, using milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Don't make this change unless you have to (my mom only had milk chocolate chips and it was too late on Christmas Eve to go to the store), as the milk chocolate chips melted into the cake - rather than holding their shape - more than the semi-sweet chocolate chips would have. The chip switch didn't affect the flavor though, and the cake disappeared quickly on Christmas!
  • Orange Fanta Cupcakes Last but not least, I made these orange Fanta cupcakes for Hallie's Mini Company Director's birthday celebration. (Each time the recipe called for Crush I used Fanta instead.) I didn't eat one myself, but two people who did told me these were the best cupcakes they'd ever tasted. I made slightly different frosting - using half butter and half cream cheese instead of all butter - which I think really sealed the deal.

Feeling Good About

How as your December? Anything fun or new to share?

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