Sunday, December 31, 2017

December Wrap-Up and Plans for January


I finished Middlemarch, and a little ahead of schedule.

My favorite new mug.
Reading Challenge List: Nothing. I didn't quite finish this list. Of my 10 titles, I read most of them except A Little Life, which is now on my TBR Pile Challenge for 2018. I also started and put down White Teeth by Zadie Smith because I just couldn't get into it. If I hadn't had something else compelling to read at the time, perhaps I would have kept with it but it's so long and wasn't really grabbing me. I read in most of the subject areas I wanted to cover, except for travel/adventure and class/income inequality (I read Hand to Mouth by Linda Tirado, but since it was a re-read I didn't count it because the point was to read something new to me.)

CBAM: This month's selection was Wuthering Heights which I had hoped to get to, but I didn't. Otherwise, I read all of the CBAM titles that I intended to this year.

Romance: Nothing this month

Nonfiction: Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman, and In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero

I really wanted to read Sense and Sensibility before going to see the stage adaptation, but I only got about 2/3 of the way through it before giving up. I don't know how much of my problem was because I was on a deadline, and how much was because I was also reading Middlemarch. (At any rate, I enjoyed the show Sense and Sensibility show, which was fun and inventive.)

I only finished 4 books this month, but one was Middlemarch, and I started two books that I didn't finish. Plus, I'm going into the new year in the midst of a book and an audiobook. I really hate doing that, but the only other options are to cram and try to finish and post about them, which I've been in no position to do recently, or just to not start something new close to the end of the year and that's just ridiculous.

On January 1st I'll be posting my list of everything I read this year, which is a slightly smaller list than it has been. Stay tuned!


Our little tabletop tree.
I've mostly been listening to podcasts. A couple of times I was going to start an audiobook, but somehow wasn't interested enough to do so. Not because of the books, but because I just haven't been feeling like it during my commute recently. But then I suddenly got inspired to listen to a teen book and downloaded The Jewel by Amy Ewing. It's like a combination of The Selection and The Handmaid's Tale, which is pretty much what I'm in the mood for right now.


The Great British Baking Show. We finished season 1 and then I decided to take a break before launching into season 2 because otherwise I wouldn't get any reading done. I also really wanted to watch Alias Grace, which I did. It was good, but I didn't love it the way some people do.

At the end of the month I went out with friends to see Pitch Perfect 3. It was super fun! They could continue to make PP movies until the end of time and I will continue to watch them.


One thing about The Great British Baking Show is that I don't want to do anything else while watching it. (Except possibly eat baked goods.) And I haven't had an audio book so I've done very little knitting. I did some while finishing The Good Place, and I think one other day I sat down and knit a little while listening to a podcast, but otherwise I just haven't been in the mood that much. Near the end of the month I ramped up again while watching Alias Grace.

All this to say that I finished the body of my sweater and then got through the better part of the hood. I've got two sleeves to look forward to in the new year, and by "look forward" I mean that I'm wondering if it could work as a sweater vest. (I'm pretty sure the answer to that is no.) I'll need to find a good knitting-while-watching show for January.

I've got two pairs of black socks I knit for myself a while back and they're both getting very worn in the heels. I should just darn them, and perhaps I will, but I've also ordered some sock yarn from KnitPicks and if I can ever manage to finish my sweater I'll be knitting more socks this winter.


Spiral pies took forever, but were delicious!
A lot of unhealthy stuff, and then I suddenly got inspired to cook. I checked out the new cookbook Smitten Kitchen Every Day and made three recipes from it. I really liked the marsala meatballs with egg noodles and the spinach and feta spiral pies. I also made baked oatmeal with carmelized pears and vanilla cream, which was very good but spending that amount of time on breakfast is a little ridiculous. I also maintain that it's more dessert than breakfast. Everything took forever to make, but I'll be trying the meatballs and spinach pies again and I'm hoping it will go quicker now that I'm more familiar with the recipes.


The first weekend of December was my family Thanksgiving in Maine. We celebrate Thanksgiving based on when people don't have to work, since so many people in my family work in hospitals/nursing homes and they obviously don't close for holidays. We had a good time! The only photo I got was of my niece's son, below, but that's ok because he's much cuter than the rest of us.

I sent Christmas cards this year, which felt like a win. We only decorated a little, with some tiny lights and a little tabletop tree. We're having a New Year's Eve party for the first time in a few years, so I wanted to be sure to have some decorations.

Earlier this month I spent hours researching and agonizing over which planner to buy for 2018. I've been using a bullet journal, which was great, but I've decided that I need more structure. I ended up getting a Passion Planner which has the structure I want but also lot of blank pages that you can use however you want. With the bullet journal, I just got tired of having to create it as I went along - in theory it was great, but in reality it was tough to make the time to fancy up the new pages at the time that I needed to create them. I also got tired of having to copy things over and over, and I really want to be able to look ahead a couple of months at the monthly calendar, rather than waiting to create it when I get there. With the Passion Planner, there is still room for plenty of creativity if you want to fancy it up, but the structure is there when I need it. It also focuses a lot on goal-setting and doing things every week that feed into those goals. This is a little weird for me as I'm terrible at even figuring out goals, but I like that it has space to note your focus for the week, and questions at the end of each month to evaluate how it all went.

My niece's son at our
Thanksgiving get-together.
I had planned to lament about my lack of goal-achieving in 2017, but I'm kind of over it. My goals were silly and superficial - I wanted to get another tattoo and learn to put my hair up in a way that wasn't a ponytail. Totally worthwhile things, but apparently I couldn't manage to watch a few YouTube videos because my hair is SO not a priority. It's one of those things I want to be better at, but magically, without taking time to devote to it because I don't actually find it interesting or enjoyable. As for the tattoo, I do now have a Pinterest board for tattoo ideas, which mostly means my ideas are even less narrowed-down than before.

My goals for 2018 are more life-impacting and meaningful, if slightly unfocused. Hopefully the new year will find me stepping up my cooking game a bit, and keeping in better touch with people in my life.

Plans for January

We've had a crazy cold snap, so my December has ended in a very unambitious survival mode. I just want to curl up in sweatpants under an afghan and drink hot chocolate and then go to bed at 9pm and sleep as late as possible. It's cold, I'm tired, and I can't even think about leaving the house to exercise. It's not the best way to start 2018, but I'll get through January however I can.

At work I'll be spending the month trying to hire someone to replace my coworker Jenny who just left. These are pretty big shoes to fill and I suspect we won't find someone with the exact magical combination of skills and abilities that makes her so fantastic, so I'm trying to go into the process with an open mind about other unique qualities we may find in our candidates.

I'm doing something I never do, which is end the year in the middle of a book AND in the middle of an audiobook, so they'll both go on my 2018 count. I want to make sure I start strong with my TBR Pile Challenge, but I also have a lot of books I want to read from the "best of" lists from 2017 so I may need to plan my reading carefully.

How was your December, and your 2017?

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