Saturday, June 30, 2018

June Wrap-Up and Plans for July

It already feels like summer is flying by too fast!


I haven't completed anything from my TBR Pile Challenge this month. I finished A Short History of Nearly Everything at the very end of May, and I'm just now starting the next book for my challenge.

I read a couple of very new books - The Outsider by Stephen King and The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls by Jessica Spotswood. Another great book I read this month was Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck, which was quite timely as it dealt with immigration.

I only completed 6 books in June, which is a little less than usual for me, I think because the Stephen King book was so long. I really thought I'd start flying through my TBR list now that I don't have a book group and therefore have one less book to read per month, but it was a busy month.


My only audiobook was Forever, Interrupted, which is now my least favorite book by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Otherwise, it's been the same old music and podcasts. Oh! I did add one new podcast - Slow Russian, which is a Russian language-learning podcast. I've been wanting to brush up on my Russian but I don't necessarily want to just listen to the regular language-learning sources and their boring conversations about your flight and how to get to the museum or whatever. On this podcast the host, Darya, reads a short piece about some aspect of Russian culture. Then she goes through it sentence by sentence and explains things that might be unfamiliar. Of course, there are also words I should know but don't that she doesn't explain, but I'm trying to just let it go and soak in what I can.


The Handmaid's Tale might be slowly killing me. I'm so very worried about the state of our union right now and I love this show, but it doesn't help. I thought it would be over after 10 episodes like last season, but apparently it's going to go for 13. So my trauma is being prolonged.

We've started watching Poldark, one of those historical British shows that is right up my alley. I had heard of it before, but then a friend mentioned liking it a lot and told me more about it and it's actually something Eric and I are both interested in and can watch together, which doesn't happen often. It's great so far!

I also began watching Parts Unknown, the Anthony Bourdain show where he travels to different places and eats interesting things. I knew very little about him, but after he died everyone had such great things to say. I almost wish I had watched this while he was still alive, but then I'd be as upset as everyone else. What really spurred me to watch wasn't just his death, but the fact that my Cookbook Club at work is going to be doing his book for our next meeting, so I thought I'd try to familiarize myself with him a bit more. He's so incredibly unpretentious, which I love. On the second episode of the show he goes to Koreatown in Los Angeles and eats at a Sizzler. A Sizzler! No matter where he goes (so far) he loves everything he eats. The guy just loved to eat, apparently, which I totally understand.


Um. Let's move on.


Lots of pickles
There was a lot going on this month, so I haven't cooked very much. June started out with a birthday party that I threw for myself, but we had it catered because I didn't want to spend the entire day slaving over food. We also went camping one weekend, and there have been a few other social activities. The weekend is really when I have time for cooking so if I end up having a lot of plans on the weekend then I don't have as much time to cook.

I did make pickles for my Cookbook Club at work, which was easy and delicious. We were cooking from Flour, Too by Joanne Chang. I also tried a couple of new recipes from Melissa Clark's Dinner but no real favorites, I don't think. Below is a photo of a Colombian-inspired chicken dish that has a lot of great flavors, but was kind of awkward to eat so I'm undecided about whether I'll make it again.


As I mentioned, the month began with a birthday party for my 45th. It was great, but I stayed up waaay too late and spent the entire next day - my actual birthday - in my pajamas, eating leftover party food and feeling out of sorts. The following weekend I went to a friend's 40th birthday party, which was a 90s dance party. I was a bit concerned about being able to pull together a good 90s outfit, since I was determined not to buy anything, but I borrowed some boots from a coworker, found a pair of lace tights in my drawer (where the heck did they even come from?) and the outfit really came together from there. So, lots of birthday fun in June!

Eric and I also took our first camping trip since we adopted Petri. We bought a new, larger tent which I love. I had no idea how she would behave on a camping trip, especially with the potential for so many other dogs around, but she was surprisingly well-behaved and really liked sleeping with us in the tent. The trip was cut short because of impending rain and thunderstorms, but I wasn't sure we'd make it through more than one night anyhow so it wasn't too much of a disappointment. It also gave us some extra time back at home so we went to see Deadpool 2, which was pretty good.

At work, a lot of the month was spent in interviews for a new Assistant Director and Teen Librarian. I'm amazed that we managed to cram in 2 rounds for 2 positions AND keep the reference desk staffed (more or less) but now the worst is over. Interviewing can be so exhausting. I'll be hiring another person in my department later this summer, but it's a position we've been without for about 5 years, so now it feels like it's extra. Exciting times!

It's halfway through the year, and I've mostly done ok at sticking to my goals. I need to remind myself that part of the reason I wanted to become a better cook is to be healthier, because recently my eating habits have not been great. (Birthday = giant cake for days. Camping = s'mores with lots of leftovers and I've been toasting marshmallows on my gas stove.) I won't beat myself up for not doing a lot of cooking recently, because part of enjoying summer is making plans with people on those precious weekend days. My other major goal this year was to be better about getting together with friends, especially those I don't see often, and I have definitely been doing that.

From Dinner by Melissa Clark
I may have mentioned that this year I switched from a bullet journal to a Passion Planner, and I'm still trying to decide if this planner will work for me. I do love the setup and the focus on goals (although I admit I haven't been filling everything out recently and I need to do better on that!) but I don't have enough space for my daily to-do lists. There's not even a space for that actually, because the way it's set up every day is a schedule. I don't have a ton of scheduled events, so I've just been covering the time slots with washi tape. Unfortunately, it doesn't leave a ton of space to write so I have to try and write very tiny. I think the larger size planner would work better, but I'm not sure it would fit in my bag. I might try the larger size next year and if it doesn't work, maybe just incorporate everything I like into a bullet journal? I don't know, but I really don't want to lose the goal-setting aspects of this planner. I also really like the weekly quotes and directives, all of which are great reminders. For instance, the quote next week is "Sometimes you have to find the good in goodbye." Then it says "Let go of the negativity you have towards someone by reflecting on the lessons you've learned from them. Believe that your experiences have made you stronger and that your future deserves to be shaped by positive experiences instead of being weighed down by negative ones."

Plans for July

One annual activity that I always look forward to is a day on Georges Island, one of the Boston Harbor Islands. Some friends and I take the ferry over and just spend a relaxing day together, walking around, sitting in adirondack chairs staring at the ocean, and catching up with each other. Then we take the ferry back to Boston and usually wrap up with dinner at a local restaurant. I always end up exhausted and sunburned and it is totally worth it.

My same friend who organizes that excursion also has a birthday later in July and this year we'll be spending her birthday at a Janelle Monae concert. So exciting! We've seen her perform before when she opened for Prince back in 2013 and it was a great show. Her new album is fantastic and I can't wait to see her perform these songs.

I am hoping to do a little more cooking than I have been, especially since I've made a list of recipes I've been wanting to try but that are very summery. I've been waiting for in-season tomatoes, corn, and other produce so I want to be sure I make use of them while I can. I went to the Farmer's Market near work on its first day of the season and bought some rhubarb and chard for a recipe. I haven't gone in the couple of weeks since then, but would like to make it a habit.

How was your June? 

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