Read Watch Play #9

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Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, and the Sunday Post. Read, Watch, Play is a monthly round-up of bookish and non-bookish entertainment going on in my home this week. Feel free to join in and let me know what fun you have had recently!

What I’m Reading

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I have recently been reading more memoirs that I typically do, and this is the first one this year that I am truly enjoying. Although this was published back in 2009, I have found that NOW is exactly the right time for me to be reading The Happiness Project. 

I recently finished both The Mysterious Affair of Styles and The Secret Adversary, the first two books ever published by Agatha Christie. I don’t plan on doing a full review for either of them, and wanted to mention them here!

The Mysterious Affair at Styles is the first Hercule Poirot novel. While it was an enjoyable read, I had forgotten the problematic and subtle racism and anti-Semitism that sometimes pops up in Agatha Christie’s mysteries.

The Secret Adversary is a Tommy and Tuppence mystery. This my first time reading a book about these two fictional detectives, and I look forward to devouring the other Tommy & Tuppence books! It was a fun little tromp into a light espionage story, and very different from most of AC’s other mysteries.

What I’m Watching

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Lion. If you see this one, make sure to bring the box of tissues! Since I am currently going through my own personal reunion process as an adult adoptee, the emotional turmoil underlying Dev Patel’s character hit quite close to home. Dev Patel does an incredible job of bringing this true story to life on the big screen. I can’t wait to read the book.

What I’m Playing

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In our house, science experiments are so much fun they are considered play! In December, M received a 12-month gift subscription to Little Passports Science Expeditions subscription box. She has received the first two boxes so far, and they have both been fun, educational, and entertaining! Experiments included so far: forensic fingerprint analysis, DNA extraction from fruit, a volcano set, make your own snow, a magnet lab, electromagnets, and a reproduction of the northern lights! Additionally, each box comes with a new mystery to solve with characters Sam and Sofia. I highly recommend it for 8-10 year olds who have an interest in STEAM or STEM.

What are you up to on this lovely Sunday and longer President’s Day weekend?

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Read Watch Play #8

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Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, and the Sunday Post. Read, Watch, Play is a round-up of bookish and non-bookish entertainment going on in my home this week. Feel free to join in and let me know what fun you have had recently!

It has been ages since I have done a Read, Watch, Play post! Life just gets in the way sometimes. Now that the holidays have passed, the snow days are gone (hopefully for a while), life is starting to get back to normal in our house, and I actually have a little more free time!

What I’m Reading

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Hillbilly Elegy is my book club’s pick for February. I have to admit I had misplaced expectations going into this book. I thought it was more of a research-based analysis than a memoir, but it is actually the opposite; a memoir with a tiny bit of research thrown in.

What I’m Watching

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I just read The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie’s very first novel. Of course, I then had to watch the corresponding episode from the Poirot TV series!

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We also watched Room last night. Usually I don’t like to watch the movie before reading the book, but I have been intrigued by this one ever since Brie Larson won an Oscar last year. Word of advice: don’t watch without a box of tissues nearby!

What I’m Playing

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Not quite a game, but I bought this Ultimate Dot-to-Dot book by Gareth Moore last week as a relaxing activity to do with M, once I saw that there was a good chance of snow days in the near future. This is a great dot-to-dot book! The dots are color coded, and I’m using the Staedtler 36 Colors, Triplus Fineliner Pen Set to complete the pages.

What I’m Cooking

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We’re doing the Whole 30 this month! In some ways, it hasn’t been as challenging as I thought it would be. In other ways, I am getting thoroughly tired of some of the food that we usually eat that has been cut out this month! And I miss cheese. And wine. And chocolate. And bread products.

If you haven’t heard of the Whole 30 by now (although I am sure most of you have!), it is 30 day “diet” meant to help reset your body on a path back towards healthy eating. We’ve been eating out a lot more than we usually do, and it seemed like a great time to give it a try, as a kick-start back to our normal, healthy way of life.

A month of Whole 30 is similar to Paleo, and means a whole lot of fruits, veggies, meats, eggs, and seafood. What it does not include: alcohol, dairy, grains, legumes, corn, soy, and sugar.

Here’s a sampling of some of the meals I have made over the past 9 days:

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Breakfast:

  • Breakfast tacos with homemade sausage, butterleaf lettuce, scrambled eggs and hot sauce (pictured)
  • Sausage patties with sautéed apples and cinnamon
  • Egg casserole with tomatoes, spinach, and Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausage
  • Scrambled eggs with lox and sautéed butternut squash, seasoned with Ras el Hanout (pictured)

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Lunch:

  • Israeli Salad, pistachios, melon with prosciutto (pictured)
  • “Nachos” – plantain chips, mango, rainbow carrots, leftover pulled pork, and guacamole (pictured)
  • Leftovers
  • An assortment of salads with smoked turkey, prosciutto, dates, slivered almonds, and vinaigrette dressing.
  • Trader Joe’s Lime Chili Chicken Burgers with guacamole, and a side of fruit or veggie.

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Dinners: 

  • Coconut Curry chicken with riced cauliflower and sautéed kale (pictured)
  • Pork Postole with Tostones and roasted potatoes (pictured)
  • Turkey curry meatballs with lemongrass coconut cream sauce and roasted veggies
  • Hamburger (all of the meat we buy is grassfed) with lettuce bun, guacamole, green beans, and Alexia Smart Classics french fries. And a pickle, once I realized that the dill pickles in our fridge had no sugar! (pictured)

As you can see, we have been busy cooking here! What are you up to this weekend?

Sunday Salon & a November Wrap-Up

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Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, and the Sunday PostI am foregoing my weekly Read, Watch, Play post so that I can do a wrap-up for November! 

November was an incredibly busy month, so I was only able to read 5 books. I’m hoping for double that in December! I will be reading quite a few books for the #DiversityDecBingo Challenge. I am also hoping to also polish off one or two more books from my 2016 TBR pile.

TOP TWO BOOKS I READ IN NOVEMBER

OTHER BOOKS I READ IN NOVEMBER

YEAR-LONG TBR CHALLENGE

I read one more book on my TBR list, The Bookseller of Kabul. 

Completed: 15/24. I always aim for 12 completed, with anything extra an added bonus!

PRIMARY LIST

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald FINISHED 22 February 2016

2. Roots by Alex HaleyReview here.  FINISHED 21 September 2016

3. Native Son by Richard Wright

4. Rebecca by Daphne du MaurierReview here.  FINISHED 30 August 2016

5. War of the End of the World by Mario Vargas Llosa

6. A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes FINISHED 21 April 2016

7. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis StevensonReview hereFINISHED 11 Oct 2016

8. My Antonia by Willa Cather FINISHED 6 June 2016

9. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri FINISHED 27 January 2016

10. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri FINISHED 17 January 2016

11. John Adams by David McCullough

12. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami FINISHED 16 May 2016

ALTERNATE LIST

1. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan FINISHED 25 April 2016

2. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler FINISHED 13 June 2016

3. Dawn by Octavia Butler

4. Autobiography: Story of My Experiments With Truth by Mahatma Gandhi

5. Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk

6. The Algebra of Infinite Justice by Arundhati Roy

7. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle FINISHED 7 July 2016

8. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

9. Standing Alone by Asra Nomani FINISHED 6 January 2016

10. Cataloochee by Wayne Caldwell FINISHED 15 April 2016

11. The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne SeierstadFINISHED 3 November 2016.

12. Fasting, Feasting by Anita Desai

How do your reading plans look for December?

Read Watch Play #7

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Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, and the Sunday PostRead, Watch, Play is a round-up of bookish and non-bookish entertainment going on in my home this week. Feel free to join in and let me know what fun you have had recently!

Whew! The last few days have been a whirlwind! We have had loads of family in for both Thanksgiving and M’s 9th birthday, which was yesterday. Very little reading, but lots of fun to be had. We went to the NC Zoo yesterday, a birthday request, and M and her cousin both had a blast.

One of the cutest – and funniest – moments of M’s birthday happened during the birthday gift opening. Her excitement and exuberance over receiving all of her gifts was contagious, but her reaction to opening one of them was priceless. She asked for a 2016 Hillary Clinton Funko! Pop, and when she opened it – OMG! She literally cried tears of happiness, jumping up and down and hugging it to her chest. The reaction was so over-the-top and genuine she had everyone in stitches. Even the Trump supporters in the family!

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Who knew a little Hillary could give so much joy to a 9-year-old? She looks up to Hillary – and the historical aspect of her campaign and what it represents – tremendously. It was all incredibly cute and a little bittersweet – when we bought the HRC Funko Pop!, we were hoping it would be a gift representing the newly elected Madame President. It still stings a bit.

In case you’re wondering what to buy a 9-year old this holiday season, these were all big hits:

  • My First Lab Duo-Scope Microscope
  • AmScope Prepared Microscope slides
  • Walkie Talkies
  • Lego Friends Heartlake Grand Hotel
  • LilGadgets Wireless Headphones
  • Beados Sweet Scoop ‘N Mix
  • Harley Quinn Mini Action Figure
  • The Blank Comic Book Panelbook (for drawing and writing your own comics)
  • Usborne Write and Draw Your Own Comics –do you see a theme developing?
  • Mindware Extreme Dot-to-Dot: Animals
  • Books: The Land of Stories: An Author’s Odyssey by Chris Colfer, Big Nate Blasts Off by Lincoln Peirce, and Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky.

BLOG ACHIEVEMENT!!!

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Woohoo! I reached 100 followers a few days ago! A BIG thank you to everyone who follows my blog!

Now, on to Read, Watch, Play!

What I’m Reading

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The Exclusive Edition from OwlCrate, of course!

What I’m Watching

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Stars Hollow is back!!!! Filled with nostalgia, I have watched two of the four revival episodes: Winter and Spring. It is so cozy and fun to be back with Rory and Lorelei.

No spoilers on the last four words, and the real ending, until I finish the final two episodes, please!

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We went to see Doctor Strange on Friday, it was so good! Marvel movies – comic book movies in general – can be hit or miss for me. This one was so much fun to watch. I am admittedly not well-versed in this Marvel character’s storyline, so much of it was new to me! I love the magical and mystical components, different from the pseudo-science I was expecting. It definitely made me want to dig up some Doctor Strange comic books to learn more about the character’s book storylines!

 

What I’m Playing

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We always get out the Apples to Apples Jewish Edition when my in-laws come to visit!

What are you up to this week? Let me know in the comments!

Read Watch Play #6

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Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, the Sunday Post, and 5 Things on Sunday.

This fall has been crazy busy!! I look forward with glee to December when I will hopefully have two weeks of quiet and calm, and can go into winter book hermit mode (although it’s not actually that cold here yet in North Carolina – I don’t usually go into seclusion mode until the cold weather blows in!).

Right now, I am gearing up for Thanksgiving, a holiday that almost always also overlaps with M’s birthday. Every year, we host a multitude of family for both Thanksgiving and birthday celebrations. Don’t ask me about the year of Thanksgivukkah – that one crazy year (2013) that I had 3 holidays in 3 days: M’s birthday, Thanksgiving, and Chanukah all rolled into one! So much fun…and so exhausting!

This year, we have 10 family members coming to visit, beginning to arrive on Tuesday, and hopefully I will still be sane on the other end of things! Too bad our bathroom renovation is about one week behind schedule, and will not be done by Thanksgiving. I am sobbing tears of defeat over that one!

In other exciting news, I am only 4 people away from 100 followers!! Who knows, maybe you will be my 100th follower! It would be wonderful if I reached that milestone today!

What I’m Reading

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We had a great book haul from the library this week! Above is a selection of books that both M and I are reading.

M’s books:

  • The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
  • Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty (I will be reading this, too!)
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell. M loves this one so much she has probably already read it 3 times, and we are currently reading it aloud together, as well.

My books:

  • eleanor & park by Rainbow Rowell. I finished this a few days ago, and hopefully will have my review up before Thanksgiving!
  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer – Squeee!!!
  • a platter of figs and other recipes by David Tanis – I always like going back to this cookbook when I need new ideas for dinner.

Even more exciting news, my November OwlCrate came in the mail Saturday evening! Here’s a sneak peek:

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Excuse the poor lighting, I didn’t open the box until I returned home from dinner last night!

What I’m Watching

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The Hunting Ground (Documentary) – This documentary takes a look at college rape, and how it is handled by various universities…and hits the bull’s eye. It is an influential documentary that deserves all the attention it has recieved…as do the amazing young women who were brave enough to confront university and athletic programs head on and demand change and reform.

What I’m Playing

My reward swag bag finally came in the mail for my team finishing 1st Place in the Women’s Relay for the JJF Virtual Triathlon!!

You can read about the Jimmie Johnson Virtual Triathlon in one of my earlier Read Watch Play Posts, but look at this cool swag!

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Here’s what came in the Swag bag:

  • An awesome medal and Congratulations note for completing a 140.6 mile triathlon!!
  • A Lowe’s Nascar hat – My dad would love this, so it will be passed on to him.
  • Under Armour Coldgear running gloves – They have touch-screen fingertips, which will be perfect for cold weather bike rides and walks to/from M’s school!
  • Sports towel – I can always use  more of those!
  • Mission EnduraCool Instant Cooling Skull Cap – I’m not sure if I will use this or not, so it might be gifted to my father-in-law, who runs and bikes and lives in the very hot, very arid desert near Phoenix, Arizona.
  • $10 Gift Certificate to Dick’s Sporting Goods! Yes!!

What I’m Cooking

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I am participating in the 5 Things on Sunday meme for the first time, hosted by Kendra @ Reads and Treats. This week’s theme is a Thanksgiving freebie, which fits in perfectly with what I’m cooking this week!

I tried to switch things up this year and prepare some new dishes for our Thanksgiving feast. I received a resounding, PLEASE, NO!!! from almost every family member. My daughter loves my sweet potatoes and would be devastated if I switched out the marshmallow topping for pecans. My brother-in-law would consider it sacrilege if I tried out a new stuffing recipe. And so on and so forth.

So, here are five tried and true dishes that I make on Thanksgiving, and apparently are well-loved by my family!

  • Cranberry, Sausage and Apple Stuffing – made with a mix of whole wheat and farmhouse white bread that I buy at Great Harvest Bakery a few days before.
  • Cranberry Sauce – a quick 10-minute skillet recipe that only uses 3 ingredients: cranberries, sugar, and orange juice. Easy, and delicious!!
  • Turkey – We buy local, heritage turkeys as often as we can, and brine it overnight. We added the brining step a few years ago, and never looked back! I’m not a big turkey fan, but brining brings out the moisture and really adds to the flavor.
  • Sweet potato casserole – I don’t make the sweet potato as sugary sweet as other people do, but we do pile the marshmallows on the top!
  • Pumpkin Pie – my secret? I don’t use pumpkin, I use butternut squash! When we lived in Australia, sugar pumpkins (or canned pumpkin) was hard to come by. I substituted butternut squash one year, and loved how easy it was – especially compared to stringy pumpkins – and have done it that way ever since!

Happy Sunday! What are you up to this weekend?