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What I Was Up to this Month-January Edition

January 31, 2014

This is how much snow/sleet it takes to cancel school and shut down our fine city.

The unheard of happened this month–not one, but two days off of school because of icy roads.  The kids loved playing outside, Madeleine made pretzels, they made movies using the Puppet Pals App, and played with a lot of legos.  Funny how unscheduled days off are more fun than the scheduled ones.  The day is an unexpected gift and naturally puts everyone in great mood.  The second day was especially sweet because the kids didn’t know it was coming.  Unlike the first day, they slept later than usual and were delighted with the surprise.

Other than that, it was quite an ordinary month.  No adventures or trips or trips were planned as we settled back into routines after our traveling Christmas break.  Needless to say, I did lots of reading.


Adventures in Loving Your Neighbor by Margo Starbuck.  This wasn’t my favorite book nor will it make it onto any of my recommended book lists.  That said, I still enjoyed it and found myself challenged by it.  I didn’t love the format of it, although it was unique for non-fiction (Remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books from elementary and middle school?  That’s how the book was set up…).  It did challenge me to think about how I spend my time and money and whether I am using both to glorify God.

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.  This one was significant and will be on my recommended lists for a long time.  I got this book from the library after Curtis recommended her TEDTalk.  I finished the library book, returned it and immediately ordered Daring Greatly and Gifts of Imperfection from Amazon.  The book helped me understand myself, my husband, and my children better.  I suspect it will impact my parenting choices more so than most books I read.  Read this book, or at least listen to her TEDTalks.

Seven:  An Experimental Mutiny of Excess by Jen Hatmaker.  Our book club read this book this month.  While I missed the meeting due to inclement weather and a husband (stranded) in Phoenix, I loved this book.  Read my thoughts about it here.

Selling Water by the River by Shane Hipps.  While I was looking for any of Brene Brown’s books at Halfway Price Books, I found this book.  I bought it because I knew he was a speaker in the Animate:Faith series we are doing in Sunday School.  This is book about Jesus, Jesus’s life and actions, and interpretation of the Bible.  In other words, with all the cultural, contextual and Greek references  it was right up my alley.  I wrote about this book in another post too.

Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey.  Yeah, I read this book two months in a row.  It was totally worth it.  I wrote about Jesus Feminist elsewhere as well.

Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl.  I actually form “To Read” booklists from what other people read on Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into link-up.  In December, several people talked about reading this book, so I put it on my library hold list.  I enjoyed this book.  I like Reichl’s voice and despite her living a very different life than me, I didn’t feel her coming across as pretentious or snobby at all.  Plus, she wrote lots and lots about food.  I like food.  One of the most interesting parts I found was when she was describing the first “foodies.”  My, we’ve made the ability to be a foodie so much more accessible than it was when they were first written about.  When I’m looking to add books to my “To Read” booklist again, I may add another of her books.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett.  This was another book I found on Leigh Kramer’s link up (if you are looking for book recommendations, this is a great place to start, friends).  Instead of a novel, like most of Patchett’s books, This Is a Story of Happy Marriage is a collection of essays that Patchett has written over the years for a wide variety of publications (I loved finding her connection to Reichl–she wrote for Gourmet, and Reichl for awhile).  I enjoy essays and the freedom that reading essays give me.  It’s easier for me to put down books of essays because there are definite stopping points.  If there’s an essay I don’t enjoy (like her long one on writing), I can skip it and go on to the next.  This was a delightful book.

What Alice Forgot by Lianne Moriarty.  One of my two grown up fiction books this month, What Alice Forgot did not disappoint.  The story was great–a 39 year old woman falls off the spin bike at the gym, hits her head, and forgets the past ten years of her life.  It left me with fascinating questions afterwards–would I recognize my life if I looked at through my 29 year old eyes?  How has the past ten years made me cynical?  It reminded me to look at things with a little more hope and a little less weight (metaphorical weight) than I feel sometimes.  This was a long book, but it didn’t take me long to finish.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.  This was my other fiction book, which I also loved.  There was  a lot of jumping around between times (1900, 1907, 1913, 1930, 1975, and 2005) and characters (Eliza, Nell, and Cassandra), but I found it much easier to follow than other books with similar structure.  Both this book and What Alice Forgot I found online on a booklist.  Maybe Sarah Bessey’s?  Both booked are good winter reading–not too dark or depressing.  Interestingly enough, substantial parts of both books take place in Australia.  (I also loved the brief reference to Frances Hogsdon Burnet’s Secret Garden).

Odette’s Secret by Maryann MacDonald.  Sometimes, I give in and read a book Madeleine is recommending to me.  This was one of them.  Odette’s secret is written as free verse poetry about a Jewish girl living in Nazi occupied France (both Paris and the countryside).  It is a Bluebonnet (Texas’s upper elementary reading award, the winner being decided by students) nominee for 2014-2015.  I am glad I read it and could talk to Madeleine about it afterwards.

TV and Movies

Hmm…not much here.  Spent my evenings reading, with the exception of the new seasons of Downton Abbey and Sherlock.  Thank you Sunday nights on PBS.  This will change in February with the Olympics.


The newest family crepe master. He was incredible at flipping the delicate lemongrass, coconut milk crepes.


Restaurants–Some restaurants I’ve been to before, like Frank and El Chilito.  El Chilito didn’t disappoint.  I only wished I was there for lunch instead of breakfast.  Mmm, their cochinita pibil burrito with guacamole….The kids and I went to Frank on their scheduled day off of school.  They enjoyed it.  I enjoyed my Southern Belle hotdog (hotdog plus pimiento cheese, fried green tomato and a couple of sauces).  Their poutine is not what I’ve been looking for.  However, I realized I normally don’t eat so much greasy, processed food when my belly slightly protested in the afternoon.  I was also on the eastside for a while one day and dropped into Hillside Farmacy–another one of my favorites.  I couldn’t decide what to get so I just had their fried egg sandwich.  I love runny yolks, especially when they ooze into perfectly toasted bread.

I also went to a couple of new restaurants.  Hands down, favorite restaurant I’ve been to in awhile was Bufalina.  We had wonderful, wood oven pizza–with brussels sprouts, seranos, smoked ham, and house made mozzarella.  There also an arugula and prosciutto pizza Curtis really enjoyed and the best ice cream I’ve had in Austin.  My girlfriends and I also went to Odd Duck, which was good, but shadowed by Bufalina.

At Home–I made my version of espresso shortbread cookies that I had in a restaurant once.  Wonderful.  We also made a new pizza dough recipe that Curtis cooked in his Big Green Egg.  We discovered the problem with our pizza in the past wasn’t the method of cooking it, but the dough recipe.  This recipe took substantially more time (it needs to sit overnight), but no more work.  We are hooked and can’t wait to make more pizza.  I think we may even splurge on better pizza ingredients because the dough makes it all worth it.  We also made Vietnamese Crepes again (I found enoki mushrooms at the nearby Asian Grocery Store) and decided we needed to have a monthly crepe night.


I’m linking with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into again this month.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2014 6:20 pm

    Did you hear Ruth Reichl has a novel coming out? If her fiction is as great as her nonfiction, we’re in for a treat! Glad you enjoyed What Alice Forgot and The Forgotten Garden. Kate Morton is one of my favorite authors. Read The Distant Hours or The Secret Keeper next.

  2. February 3, 2014 10:09 am

    Thank you for the book suggestions! I’m always looking for more! 🙂

  3. February 5, 2014 5:47 pm

    I just started Jen Hatmaker’s 7 study today. So many thoughts already. I am looking forward to reading yours. And well, expresso shortbread cookies! YUM!!!!

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