What I’m Reading
I read a lot of books in December. Partly because I did a better job managing my library queue and having enough books and partly to make sure I beat my husband’s book count for the year (which I did, by 1 book). Here are 3 of my favorites from this month.
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Willow Chance is an atypical twelve-year-old whose life is suddenly filled with loss in an unspeakable way. She’s obsessed with plants and counting by 7s and through her grief must find ways to connect with the world. Rather than being sad or tragic, this book was so delightfully quirky as Willow narrates her world and the new unlikely band of supporters who find a way to help her make a new family. I was totally smitten with this book and found it oddly hopeful.
It wasn’t on purpose that I also read this book during December but Be Frank With Me has a similar eccentric child protagonist. This time the story is narrated by Alice, a New York editorial assistant who is sent to California to ensure that a reclusive novelist finish her long overdue second novel. When Alice arrives she finds her primary role is taking care of the author’s son, Frank, who greets her wearing a monocle and a top hat. Beautifully written and with nuanced characters, I loved this book as a mom, a teacher, and a writer. If you only pick one book from my list, it should be this one.
Miller is a pastry chef who was awarded a year-long fellowship to work on a novel. While the writing sometimes is a little choppy, I found myself totally wrapped up in the story of Livvy, a Boston pastry chef, who flees to a small town in Vermont to escape the embarrassment of setting her restaurant on fire. The cast of characters in the small town make for a delightful read with dessert making woven into this story will make you want to roll out your own pie crust. For fans of Ruth Reichl or Jenny Colgan.
What I’m Watching
I’m sure this is making lots of other lists but if you haven’t tried Netflix’s newest original drama series, you’re missing out. Queen Elizabeth II is the longest reigning monarch of any in recent British history and most of us can certainly picture this prim and proper matriarch, but do you know much about her backstory? Season one depicts her marriage to Prince Philip and the early years of her rule following her coronation in 1953. The acting is superb and you can tell the production cost big bucks for Netflix, but, man, is this a fun watch. If you’re a Downton Abbey fan or enjoy any BBC productions, you’ll appreciate this 10-episode series and be totally heartbroken to have to wait another year for Season 2.
What I’m Loving
I don’t know what etiquette experts would think of Amazon WishLists but I’m a huge fan. Our family keeps one for all of us year-round and I pop things on there as I read a great review or think of something I’d like. I use the comment features to add notes about sizes or colors and who the item is for (since our whole family uses the same list). I also have the Add to Amazon Wish List Chrome extension which lets me add things from other websites to my Amazon wish list. I can add things from Etsy, Target, etc and it shows up as a link in the Amazon WishList. Both our families love that they can always find ideas and I do try and clean it up after each birthday/holiday so it stays current. I puffy heart love that most of my family has their own list to look it and it makes it so easy to purchase things I know they really want. Returns are also easy for any item on your wish lists, even without a gift receipt. Anything that enables me to stay in my yoga pants while I shop from the couch gets an A+ from me.
For a few different holiday events this back in December, I needed to bring an appetizer. Rolling 30 canapes into the shape of a Christmas bell isn’t exactly my idea of a good time so I like to do easy and simple cheese boards with some crackers and olives. My new best friend, Aldi, makes that super easy and I’ve been consistently impressed with their selection of interesting cheeses that make it look like I’m trying harder than I really am. I’ve found goat cheese, brie, and havarti in seasonal flavors and all are less than $3.99 for a large serving. I can put together an impressive spread for under $15 and it’s my go-to dish to bring to a holiday party.
From the Blog
Podcast Recommendations for 2016 – In case you need something new to listen to this year, here are some of my favorites.
What Worked in 2016 – It’s always nice to think about what worked well over the course of the year. Here’s my reflection post on some things that made the year a little bit better.