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What I was Up to this Month-November

December 1, 2013

Cold weather camping is FUN!!

Ahh…November is over and the month of daily (kinda) posting is over.  I spent most of my writing time in November being thankful, and sharing those things with you.  I didn’t manage to write every day, but I got closer than last year.  Small victories.

What did we do this past month?


Cold weather camping tree climbing

Well, we went camping.  It was quite cold (for Central Texas)–not out of the 30’s all weekend.  We managed to have a delightful time though, but were still thankful to be home on Sunday afternoon.  Other than that, it was a sustaining type of month.  I started the month with a nasty stomach bug.  Soccer seasons ended, for the most part, save an upcoming tournament for Madeleine.  Curtis’s 98 year old grandmother died.  He and John traveled to Iowa for the funeral while the three of us left at home decided to have our own special, fun weekend.  We rode the light rail, took in Formula 1’s FanFest, ate out, and went to see a movie.


The Infiniti Red Bull Formula 1 car. One like this won the F1 Race that weekend in Austin.

I think our back porch project is finished.  In the middle of the month we added a fire pit, which we’ve used a lot for warmth, marshmallows, hotdogs, and general coziness.  Thanksgiving weekend, Curtis hung strings of globe lights and added a new outlet (in other words, got to rewire and play with electricity).  I love our back porch.


I can’t get over quite how much I read this month. It was a good mix of fiction and nonfiction and I enjoyed all of the books.  Here goes:

Son by Lois Lowry.  This is one of two of the juvenile fiction books I read this month.  Usually my reading involves reading books the kids check out, but this one, I got just for me.  It is the conclusion to Lois Lowry’s Giver (series) which was a Newberry Medal Award winner in the mid 90’s.  It ties together the previous three books, showing how characters that didn’t necessarily seem connected were very connected.  The whole book builds to the last two pages.  There a bit of redemption and being willing to die for those you love (I love books with redemption!  We all need a new chance and forgiveness sometimes).  This wasn’t an easy read and the subject matter is more for middle school aged kids, than younger readers, as Lowry takes on the idea of evil without flinching.  She challenged me to think about what I would be willing to give up for my wants.

How to Seize a Dragon’s Jewel by Cressida Cowell.  This is the other children’s book I read this month.  I need to admit, I missed some of the middle pages because it was Curtis’s turn to read to John.  We would jokingly fight over who would put John to bed because we both wanted to read to him.  I can’t say enough about the How to Train Your Dragon Series.  We all love them–they are full of humor and villains, rich vocabulary and wonderful Viking like pictures.  We worry about the books being too dark and scary for John (Harry Potter still is), but Cowell presents the conflict with a lighter sense, not the foreboding sense of evil present in the Harry Potter series.  We can’t wait until book 11 comes out at the end of December.

Day After Night-Anita Diamont.  This is a historical fiction set in Israel immediately post World War II.  It was an enlightening and shocking book, as I learned about how the Jewish people who immigrated to Israel from WWII Europe were placed in refuge camps upon their arrival.  I’m glad I read this one, which I picked up on a whim as a walked by a shelf at the library (Anita Diamont’s name jumped out at me–She also wrote the Red Tent).

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbach.  I enjoyed this book.  I liked the idea of communicating using flowers and then, like all communication, that flowers can have multiple meanings–how we know something isn’t true for everyone.  While this book was a great read, at times I found myself thinking, “this is not realistic, this is too easy.”  However, I’d recommend it in a heartbeat.  It’s a good redemption tale as well.

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny.  I am now finished with Inspector Gamache series, as things appeared to tie up neatly at the end of the book.  The multiple story lines in addition to the murder that had been carried along since the first book (this was book nine, I believe) were resolved.  I couldn’t put it down and spent Thanksgiving afternoon finishing the book.  I’ve really enjoyed Penny’s writing and her outlook on life.

Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber.  Pastrix did not disappoint.  I read this book early in the month (thus, don’t remember lots of specifics) but I loved this book.  It was part spiritual memoir, part greatest hits of her sermons.  Since reading the book, I try to listen to her sermons online whenever I can.  I love Bolz-Weber’s humanity.  She doesn’t to pretend to be any better, any less than human than she is. Her insights to some of her sermons were different than what I read before and after reading I felt like I understood a bit more.  It’s all about love, friends–it’s all about us accepting God’s incredible love and then showing that love to everyone, no matter what.


Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist.  This was our book club book this month.  My friend and I co-hosted and made Niequist’s grilled cheese bar from the book (in the cupcake chapter, I believe).  I mostly enjoyed this book.  At times she lost me, but I kept reading and she pulled me back in.  She most definitely challenged me to be more hospitable and not as worried about perfect–whether it was perfect food or a perfect house or the perfect music.  The salad in the beginning of the book is yummy too!

Red Letter Christians by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo.  Ok, I need to admit I started this book in January or February and then set it down for a long, long time.  It wasn’t until I read Bread and Wine that I felt compelled to pick up this book again.  I know, you’re wondering what the connection is.  In one of the latter chapters of Niequist book, she mentioned having her friend Shane over when he was in town.  Lightbulbs went on in my head as she described and I thought, that sounds a lot like Shane Claiborne.  Sure enough.  So, I followed the path and picked up Red Letter Christians again.  The time away was exactly what I needed.  I found the last section inspiring and challenging.  I needed a reminder to think about the words of Jesus versus the words of institutional religion and my own beliefs.  I can’t recommend this book enough (and the Niequist/Claiborne connection?  He did an internship at her church and talks about that church in his book as well).

take this bread by Sara Miles.  Again, Bread and Wine led me to this book as well.  While Niequist doesn’t mention Miles, the idea of bread led me here.  I loved this book.


I’m trying to keep this short since I read so much (and consequently wrote so much about reading).  Madeleine, Isaac, and I ate lunch at Lucy’s Fried Chicken during our fun Austin weekend, and we loved it!  Didn’t love the pie, but everything else was fabulous!  And the collards there….I would go back to Lucy’s just for the collards.  We also had pizza from Southside Pies at FanFest which Madeleine decided was in her top five favorite pizzas in town.  A friend and I went out for lunch at the Steeping Room, which is always a favorite of mine–especially their buddha bowl and their curry bowl.

My two favorite recipe finds this month came from the Pioneer Woman Cooks–her Frito Pie was perfect cold weather camping food, eaten in mugs instead of frito bags like she suggests.  After failing with Niequist’s toffee recipe, I tried the Pioneer Woman’s and it was wonderful.  Shh…don’t tell anyone that may be one of my only Christmas treats that I make this year.  I also finally! (I’ve owned the cookbook for over 3 years) started attempting recipes from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart.  I’m quite pleased with my Italian bread successes.

Movies, TV and Music

I learned this month that watching Gravity in 3D while getting a stomach bug is a bad combo.  That said, I feel like I can’t really tell you how I felt about Gravity because I was half sick–all that spinning when you’re nauseous is not fun.  Madeleine, Isaac, and I went to see FreeBirds.  At times I wondered about the appropriateness, but overall it was fine.  The kids didn’t catch what I thought was inappropriate.  Curtis and I watched Thor the other night, during which I fell asleep.  We also watched Before Midnight, which we both liked and it was good springboard for conversation about marriage and getting older.  I’m on season 7 of Grey’s Anatomy in case anyone is still keeping up.  I also bought my yearly Christmas Album–The Crossing Choir’s Christmas Daybreak, in which my cousin’s wife is part of and has a solo (in Gabriel’s Message).  You should check it out if you like choral, modern music.


Happy Thanksgiving!!


I’ve linked up with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into.  She has new button that will be coming to my sidebar once I figure out again how to add sidebars.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 3, 2013 9:34 am

    Great post! I’m now excited to add Red Letter Christians to my ever-growing book stack. (Bread & Wine was one of my favorite books of the year). I’m SO excited to read Pastrix – it’s on my Christmas wish list. I also have Take This Bread from my friend to read – looking forward to it. We just moved back to Fort Worth, and are so happy to be back in Texas – enjoyed hearing about your camping, and the Austin places you went to. 🙂

  2. December 7, 2013 3:13 pm

    Pastrix and Take This Bread are both in my To Read stack. I’m anxious to read them both. I’m impressed with how many books you were able to read! Hope you’re fully recovered from your stomach bug.

  3. December 9, 2013 9:31 pm

    Wow. I am going to have to spend some real time here going through your books. So many I want to read. I was unaware of Anita’s book you mentioned. I will have to check it out. I so understand small victories- I just finished my 31 Days posts last week. Congratulations on more and better!!!! Keep at it! Merry Christmas, Amy

  4. sarahdpink permalink
    December 11, 2013 12:04 am

    I need to get Pastrix. I’ve read some of Nadia Bolz-Weber’s blog posts and really enjoyed them, so I’m sure I’d love it. Also? I loved The Giver, so I bet I’d enjoy Son. I’m so impressed with how much you read!


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