Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Monthly Medley: September 2020

The September issue of Texas Living Magazine includes a fun article I wrote about Texas Ferris Wheels. I pitched this idea almost two years ago and wrote the article 14 months ago, so to see it finally appear in print was rewarding and provided me with the closure I needed (articles that haven't run yet make me feel the same way I do when I'm waiting for my kids to finally get home for the evening - just a little unsettled). 

I started FOUR different books in September and I didn't finish a single one of them. Two were popular, highly-recommended novels, one was a mystery that came across my feed in a "because you liked..." post, and one was a "self help" book I saw advertised on Facebook and purchased from Amazon in a late-night moment of weakness. I made it anywhere from 25 to 100 pages into each, but in every case I just couldn't muster the strength to go on. (I don't plan to publicly share the names of the books, because 1) it doesn't feel right to speak ill of a book I didn't finish, and 2) I may at some point pick these books back up again. If you really want to know the names of the books, feel free to send me an email at erinlferris@yahoo.com and I'll let you know.) I can't say for certain if this situation is the result of my current mental state or just my poor choice in books; I guess I'll see how October goes before I make that call.

For the last seven months, I have done the majority of my television watching with someone else. Will and I are deeply invested in The Mentalist, Hallie and I love Friends and romantic comedies, and Tom and I laughed our way through both Tiger King and Space Force. But this month I felt the pull to find a show just for me. I considered The Home Edit and Queer Eye (both of which I plan to eventually binge), but decided instead on Sweet Magnolias on Netflix. Based on the novels by the same name, Sweet Magnolias is a girly drama and the kind of show Will, Hallie, and Tom would have no interest in, so it's perfect for me to watch all by myself. I'm only about four episodes in, but so far I enjoy the three protagonists, despise the two main characters the writers want me to despise, and am intrigued with a few of the secondary characters. I don't expect the plot to take any crazy twists or turns, but given 2020's real life twists and turns, I'm ok with losing myself in predicable, comfortable storylines on television right now.

Hallie and I continue to work our way through the romantic comedies of the last three decades. She's gotten SO good at predicting how these movies will end - less than five minutes into The Proposal she called the ending!

Our list needs a little updating - quite a few great movies haven't yet been included (though not everything will make the list, given that Hallie is only 11 years old) - and by next month I'll have all of this "information" in a Google doc so it can be easily shared...or ignored, if romantic comedies aren't your jam. 😉

Red = watched previously
Blue = watched in September
Black = yet to watch

The Wedding Singer
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit
13 Going on 30
A League of Their Own
Miss Congeniality
Legally Blonde
Pitch Perfect
50 First Dates
Now and Then
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Miss Congeniality 2
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
17 Again
The Prince and Me
Pitch Perfect 2
Pitch Perfect 3
Bring It On
The Princess Bride
Big Daddy
Mean Girls
A Cinderella Story
Sweet Home Alabama
27 Dresses
Life As We Know It
Fever Pitch
Save the Last Dance
The Holiday 
Never Been Kissed
That Thing You Do
The Proposal
Grease (Live)
While You Were Sleeping
Uptown Girls
The Wedding Date
The Wedding Planner
Ever After
The Prince and Me 2
Ice Princess
Life Size
Mamma Mia
Father of the Bride
Father of the Bride 2
Father of the Bride 3(ish)
Runaway Bride
My Best Friend's Wedding
Bend it Like Beckham
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
The Cutting Edge

Listening To
As I skimmed my podcast library, I noticed Serial had added new episodes. Assuming and excited that a fourth season had dropped unexpectedly, I opened up the show and discovered that no, Serial hadn't released a new season. Instead, Serial had shared a five-part series called "Nice White Parents", about the impact white parents have on public school systems. While this series wasn't what I expected to find that day, I knew immediately that I had to listen.

"If you want to understand what's wrong with our public schools, you have to look at what is arguably the most powerful force in shaping them: white parents."

I found the podcast well researched, clearly presented, historically educational, and eye-opening, especially for me...a "nice white parent". I highly recommend it for those who are trying to better educate themselves about the history of race and segregation - and the impact our past has on our present - in our country. 

First a quick recap of a few of my favorite follows I've shared in the past, prior to creating this category:
  • Emmanuel Acho (@emmanuelacho) His web series Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man is fantastic, and I can't wait for his book by the same name.
  • Laurel Bristow (@kinggutterbaby) My go-to infectious disease researcher for all things COVID, vaccine, and science-related.
  • Jessica Vosk (@jessicavosk) This Broadway superstar has the most amazing voice (perhaps the best Elphaba to ever grace the stage), but is also as kind, funny, and endearing as they come. And I love her dog, Fred.  
  • Tank's Good News (@tanksgoodnews) This site offers exactly what you'd expect given its handle. I always feel better after checking in here.

Now a couple of new follows for this month:
  • Katherine and Jay Wolf (@hopeheals) "Disrupting the myth that joy can only be found in a pain-free life."
  • Go Clean Co (@gocleanco) Anyone else like to watch other people clean? This woman and her team provide lots of great tips and tricks (they also created an inexpensive e-book that will teach you how to clean ALL the things) and inspire me to take better care of my house.

After using a mishmash of hangers for my entire adult life, I decided to splurge (and by  "splurge", I mean purchase the cheapest of the nice(r) options) on new and matching hangers for my closet. The swap forced another closet clean-out, which made the space look even better and more coordinated. I chose these hangers, and then I also bought these clips

I didn't buy a single new t-shirt this month. I did, however, win a t-shirt from Lacey Ray Designs (she's local to me here in BCS, and does really nice work), so you can decide if that keeps the quarantine t-shirt trend alive or not. 

In other "wearing" news, I pulled my jeans down off their high shelf for that one beautiful fall day, and then wore them a few more times on less miserably hot days. Such a simple but appreciated wardrobe shift...

  • These BBQ Salmon Bowls w/ Mango Avocado Salsa were delicious! I omitted the cilantro (three out of four Ferri don't like it) from and used one mango instead of two in the salsa, but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. I know we'll make this salmon again, and I'll likely make the salsa again too, though next time I might serve the diced mango on the side; I prefer the savory avocado and jalapeño flavors - rather than the sweet mango flavor - to shine.
  • If you're looking for SWEET and CHOCOLATE, look no further than these Cosmic Brownies, which Hallie made for us. Will and Hallie ate their dessert "as is", while I had to scrape the frosting off before I ate the brownie - not because the frosting wasn't good (it was), but because I needed a little less sugar in each bite.
  • Hallie and I also made these Orange Cooler Cookies, which were, in my opinion, a perfectly lovely treat for a warm, end-of-summer afternoon. (Because starting October 1st, we switch over to fall baking.) My only edit is to note that you don't need two cups of powdered sugar for rolling - one cup will do you just fine. 

Feeling Good About
First, let me say that I'm not feeling good about the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. But in the hours, days, and weeks following her death, I've seen a number of stories and photos that have lifted my spirits.
Hope you had a great month, friends!

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