November. proper noun. In which we give thanks, despite the dark and chill of approaching winter.
It’s time to share what I loved in November! Read on for all the recommendations, and click over to Leigh Kramer’s site if you are nosy about how other people spend their time!
Fish in a Tree – Linda Mullaly Hunt. A sweet story about a girl with learning differences who discovers how to succeed with the help of a wonderful teacher. A little too happily-ever-after for me, but it might give some kids hope for the future.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – Mark Haddon. I “read” this via audiobook on my commute. It follows the story of a boy who has Asperger’s Syndrome. He discovers that a dog has been killed in his neighborhood and sets out to solve the mystery of who killed him – but he ends up unraveling an entirely different, more personal mystery instead. Getting an inside view into how Christopher thinks was fascinating, and the characters are heartbreakingly broken and real. (Warning: plenty of adult language.)
After Ever After – Jordan Sonnenblick. I started reading this book, about a survivor of childhood cancer, aloud to a class while student teaching and never finished it. Then a student accidentally spoiled the ending for me…so I listened to this audiobook to get the whole story. Jordan Sonnenblick is one of my favorite YA authors – he handles serious topics with humor and insight.
Scarlet – Marissa Meyer. Lately I’ve been avoiding series because they feel like too much work and cliffhanger endings are annoying. I’m making an exception for the Lunar Chronicles since I enjoyed Cinder (the first book in the series) so much. This one, which continued Cinder’s story and added in a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, was also excellent. Don’t let the premise of the series – dystopian fairy tale retellings? – scare you off. It’s not my typical fare and I still adore these.
Currently reading: The Hound of the Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle (audiobook); We are All Made of Molecules – Susin Nielsen; Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas.
Hamilton’s America – As if I didn’t want to see Hamilton in person already. After seeing this documentary, I’m desperate. So good.
The Crown – This new Netflix original about Queen Elizabeth II is gorgeous. It’s like Downton Abbey without the breakneck soap opera drama. I’m three episodes in and have no complaints, only love.
10 Things I Hate about You – I now understand why my sister adores Heath Ledger. Thank you, Brita.
Ladyhawke – My dad has mentioned loving this movie, but none of his children had ever watched it. It tells the story of a couple who is cursed and can never be together – the woman appears as a hawk by day, and the man she loves turns into a wolf at night. It has the same sort of campy feel as The Princess Bride but less of the satire. Be warned: the 80s soundtrack is amusing to millennial ears.
Gilmore Girls. Sort of. I HAVE NOT WATCHED THE NEW EPISODES. NO SPOILERS. I’m still in the beginning of Season 5 and am slowwwly catching up. I might get to the new ones by December. Of 2017.
Niall Horan – This Town. I don’t hate 1D. Not at all. No shame.
The Popcast podcast is quickly growing on me. I also subscribed to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, and catching up on the news is becoming a favorite part of my weekend routine.
Christmas music…I barely caved before Thanksgiving. Just enough to know that you should check out Another Neighborly Christmas by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors and A Pentatonix Christmas.
This is the single funny thing to come out of the Internet after the election. Cracks me up every time.
Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick. I (like to think that I) am pretty frugal, but I am willing to splurge on makeup that won’t make me break out. I use Bobbi’s tinted moisturizer on most of my face, but I’ve never committed strongly to a concealer. It was recommended that I use their foundation stick as a concealer to cover up occasional cystic acne (and the resulting red spots that hang around forever), and it’s worked amazingly. It’s irritatingly expensive, but I’m praying it will last a long time.
Beef bourguignon from The Recipe Critic. It’s not Julia Child’s recipe…but you can make it in a slow cooker! And it’s frighteningly delicious.
These photos are unexpectedly beautiful.
Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Jo-Jos. Or Candy Cane Jo-Jo ice cream. You can’t lose here.
Apple pancakes from The Original Pancake House. It surprises me every time just how good – and how gigantic – these Dutch-style pancakes are. Bring your family to steal bites from your plate.
Attending my sister’s last band concert! My sister plays French horn in her university band and graduates in December, so it was a treat to attend her final concert. We snuck in after she prayed to open the concert…but at least we made it for the musical rendition of Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Seeing an opera for the first time ever. The boyfriend watched The Valkyrie, part 2 of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle opera, when he lived in DC. The Rheingold (part 1 of the series) came to town and he couldn’t resist attending. I expected it to be something that was edifying and cultured but maybe not enjoyable. I was wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The music and staging were gorgeous.
Attending a dinner hosted by Intellectual Takeout. Teachers don’t attend a lot of fancy dinner fundraisers, but when your boyfriend’s office sponsors a table, you go and discover that you, too, can act professional and use the correct fork.
I hosted my siblings for brunch one Sunday, and the boyfriend and I had friends over for dinner later that same day. It’s a good thing I am learning to enjoy cooking and that all of the company was excellent.
Thanksgiving break! My siblings and I made it home in time to make pumpkin bread with my mom’s cutie kindergarteners before my parents’ break started. We proceeded to eat and eat and eat, play many (too many?) rounds of Dutch Blitz, and watch old favorite movies like Nacho Libre and You’ve Got Mail. The boyfriend and I fit in time at my house and his cabin, and it continues to be confirmed that he’s delightful company on road trips.
School. This month was the month of trying to cram in too much (Write essays! And again! Review connotation! Read poetry! Practice vocabulary in context! Find your missing work!), grading all the writing assignments, and trying very hard to see all the good in my classroom. It’s absolutely there. But I’m also not complaining that we have a teacher work day so I can catch up.
One thing that made me laugh this month: I had a student who was convinced that peacocks were male turkeys. After I tried to prove him wrong, he drew me this.
My days are rarely boring, that at least is certain.
What have you been into this month? Just as important – what are you looking forward to during the Christmas season? Here’s to garlands and cookies and Christmas playlists!