November Highlights!

I cannot believe it’s already December. Back when I was pregnant I felt like the year was dragging on but now I’m feeling like I just wrote my post about October and now the year is a few short weeks from being over. Thinking back to where I was a year ago, I can’t believe so much has happened in just twelve months!

November was my first full month as a new mom. It’s been hard. Babies are a lot of work, in case no one has ever told you. Even if you have been told before, you won’t believe it until you actually have your own infant attached to you for what feels like every hour of the day. But that’s ok, babies still bring you so much joy even while they’re sucking out all your energy (the sleep deprivation has made me a  little sarcastic lately…).

Anyway: highlights!

I read 5 books (and DNF 1)

Trouble With Destiny openroadsummer Me Before You The Truth About Forever LifeIntended

Most Popular Post:

October Highlights
Ever After’s Château de Hautefort (I can’t wait to go back one day!)

What I Watched:

BrooklynNineNine

Yeah, we binged watch this whole show between the last week of October and the end of November. After all the stress from having a baby and Thanksgiving and family visiting, this was the perfect way to relax and have a few (actually, a lot of) laughs.

Favorite character? Probably Terry, although Boyle is hilarious and I really love Jake, too.

What I Listened To:

James Morrison.jpg

I started listening to a James Morrison station on iTunes Radio last month and it’s pretty much all I listen to nowadays. Probably because his songs are relaxing and they actually went really well with the books I was reading last month.

Highlights:

  • Killian’s 1 Monthiversary! – I can’t believe my little sweet cheeks is already a month old (technically he’s 6 weeks now).
    12273663_10153666390688886_6291913064583256970_o
  • Thanksgiving – We had an interesting Thanksgiving week. Killian was sick and we ended up having to postpone our actual Thanksgiving meal until Saturday. But my parents and both of my siblings were here with us so it was fun having family time :)
  • Reading some quality books – I read some books that made me cry from laughing and others that made me cry so hard it was more like sobbing (I’m looking at you, Me Before You). But I only read one book that I didn’t like, and I didn’t finish it because I just don’t have time for books I’m not into!
  • Decorating for Christmas! – We have to take down our tree before we go to France for 2 weeks (fire hazard), so we were anxious to get it up as soon as we could after Thanksgiving. We finally got to break out the Christmas ornaments we used for our wedding decorations 4 years ago, but most of our ornaments ended up being Hallmark ones that my mom and sister gift us in bulk every year. We love them :)
    You've Got Mail.png

Looking Forward in December:

  • The Broke and Bookish’s Annual Secret Santa Event!! – I’ve purchased just about everything for my Secret Santa, I just need to run to Target and buy some chocolately goodies. I’m really excited to find out who my own Secret Santa is!
  • GOING TO FRANCE FOR CHRISTMAS! – It’s been about 16 months since we left France, and 3 years since we’ve had Christmas in France! Yeah, it’ll be hard flying with a newborn, but the fondue and raclette and family time will be totally worth it. Plus, my sister-in-law just had a baby this week so I have a new niece to meet!
  • Seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 3 years ago we find out that the newest Star Wars movie is being released on our 4th wedding anniversary, so Matt decided a long time ago what we would be doing to celebrate. I’m nervous about having someone watch Killian for those few hours, though. It’s too soon to leave him!

Who else is excited about Star Wars?? I’ve already decided I like Kylo Ren, even though he’s on the Dark Side and we don’t know anything about him. The mystery makes him cooler :)

November Highlights

Oh my gosh, it is December already!? Whaaaat!

October was a big month for me, but November was just as busy and eventful. This month brought some great, new changes to my life, and it was also a bit of an awakening for me as well. My blogging and reading time entered a bit of a lull, but if you keep reading on you’ll see that it’s been worth it :)

November Highlights!

This month I read 7  books! (Which might not seem like a lot, but it surprised me because I felt like I hadn’t read anything this month)

thebeautifulamerican thetroublewithflirting waroftheworlds thewonderofallthings
            robinhood weddingnight somethingstrange

I still need to get my review up for The War of the Worlds, and later this week I will be hosting a blog tour for The Beautiful American, which I am so excited to talk about!

What I Watched In November

Like I talked about last month, Matt and I have been binge watching Supernatural. We watch a couple of episodes most nights, and right now we are halfway through Season 5. The first two seasons were amazing! I am totally in love with Sam and Dean and I LOVE their relationship. I think the fact that they are brothers as opposed to best friends makes the show so much better. But seasons 3 and 4 were kinda disappointing. Season 5 is better, but honestly, every time Castiel pops up, I know the rest of the episode is going to go downhill (except for the Trickster one! Oh my gosh, that’s one of my favorite episodes so far).

I also started The Blacklist, and I think I’ll be binge watching the rest of Season 1 next month (I have SO MANY QUESTIONS!).

I saw The Maze Runner finally (and broke my cardinal rule by seeing the movie first), and loved it, but I also saw Nightcrawler with Jake Gyllenhaal and was creeped out. Good movie, but not the kind of thing I want to see twice.

Most Popular Blog Post

My most viewed post from November was my update on my 25 Things list! I’m slowly crossing off things from my list of 25 Things For My 25th Year, and I’ve done some pretty big and exciting things throughout the past couple of months!

Favorite Memories From November:

  • I GOT A JOB! Woooooo! I talked about this in my 25 Things Update post, but I’ve been employed for nearly 3 weeks now and I love it so far. My husband and I are very thankful for God’s provision.
  • YALL Fest!!! I could go on and on about this amazing experience, but I sort of already did that ;)
  • Thanksgiving! This was my first Thanksgiving in 3 years that I got to spend in the States, and since it is my favorite holiday, I was very excited about it! My grandfather came to visit us for the long weekend and it was really nice getting to spend some time with him. I spent Thursday morning watching the parade and cooking up all my favorite dishes from last year.
    thanksgiving

Biggest Challenge From November

NOT ENOUGH READING TIME! This is the one downside to working full-time: I don’t have as much time to read and blog. My commute to work is about 1 hour and 15 minutes, so I’ve been listening to audio books to make up for it, but not all of the books I want to read for reviews, for example, are available on audio book. Hopefully this month I can catch up on my TBR pile :)

December To Be Read:

I listed most of my TBR for next month on last week’s Top Ten Tuesday post, but I also plan on finishing the books on my Back to the Classics list, which includes North & South, The Journey to the Center of the Earth, and For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Things I’m Looking Forward To In December:

  • Matt and I celebrate our 3rd Anniversary later this month! Hopefully we can spend a 3 day weekend somewhere nice.
  • CHRISTMAS! But mostly Christmas decorating! I love Christmas, but I really love getting ready for Christmas. Usually we would have gotten our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, but we were busy visiting family, so we’re doing that one night this week instead and I AM EXCITED! Matt and I have a tradition of decorating the tree, making Christmas cookies, and watching It’s A Wonderful Life :)

What were some of your favorite moments/books from November??

Thanksgiving in France!

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am a little late in publishing this post, but there is a perfectly reasonable explanation…I have been rereading Catching Fire and Mockingjay and for any of you who have already read those novels, you can understand my procrastination. But tonight I’m abstaining from reading until I get this post up!

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my husband’s family the Sunday before the actual big day, and for my first time solo-cooking/baking, everything turned out exceptionally well! Understandably, there were some dishes that weren’t a hit with everyone (pumpkin pie is a very American dish, after all), but there were also a couple that were nearly wiped clean! Here was our menu (for future Thanksgivings):

Turkey – I combined these two recipes (here & here), and although I was a little grossed out from handling raw turkey, the meat was perfectly moist and Matt has already told me I have to make it like that again next year. Putting the vegetables at the bottom of the tray made the entire kitchen smell like delicious turkey soup all morning :)
Mashed Potatoes – very simple recipe here. Mashed potatoes are one of the easiest things to make.
Browned Butter Sweet Potato Casserole – I made this recipe twice (we celebrated two different Thanksgiving meals last week). With my in-laws I didn’t brown the butter (mainly because I was pressed for time), and honestly I thought it tasted worlds better without that browned nutty-butter flavor, but it’s up to you. Everyone raved about the plainly melted butter version, so that is the one I’ll be sticking to for future Thanksgiving meals.
Green Bean Casserole – I take it back, this is the easiest thing to make since you don’t even need to follow a recipe. If you’ve ever had green bean casserole, it’s extremely simple to make yourself. We found fried onions at a Lidl here a few months back, and although they don’t have cream of mushroom soup here, they do have mushroom sauces, which probably made it taste better. This was the second favorite dish of the day, after the sweet potatoes.

Thanksgiving Plate

Oh my, just looking at this photo makes me want to eat it all over again!

Apple and Onion Stuffing – Recipe here. Originally I wanted to make these into muffins, but I only had paper muffins cups and no muffin tin so the muffins wouldn’t hold. I think I was the only one who really liked this dish (I loved it, actually), so next year I may have to make two different types of stuffing…oh darn ;)
Cranberry Sauce – Because we couldn’t find fresh cranberries here (not very French apparently), I found a recipe using dried cranberries instead. It wasn’t my absolute favorite, but it was still decent. Next year I may have to have my mom mail over the good old-fashioned canned cranberry sauce (seriously though, I love that stuff).

 

Football

I can’t tell you how many times someone got hit in the face with the football…

After stuffing ourselves with all that goodness, we moved on to a couple of activities! Thanksgiving Bingo, which was fun but next time I’ll have to find something that lasts longer than 2 minutes. It was a good vocabulary exercise for all the Frenchies though ;)

After that we played some “paper football” (I guess that’s what it’s called?). It was fun seeing everyone flick a paper triangle at each other’s faces! We had a little tournament, which neither Matt nor I won, despite the fact that no one else had ever played before. But I always love those types of competitive games :)

Overall we had a marvelous Thanksgiving celebration. I’m so grateful that I was able to share my favorite holiday with my French family! They were really open and welcoming of my traditions and hopefully they’ll want to celebrate with us again next year!

And now it’s Christmastime!! If I don’t end up procrastinating again, tomorrow I’ll be posting about all of the decorating we did last week :)

30 Days of Thankfulness: Days 26-30

thankfulnessI have been rather busy this week and every night, by the time I get home, I have barely enough energy to put myself into bed. So my apologies for slacking so much on my thankfulness posts. I am still thankful for many things! So here are the last 5 posts of the month, all wrapped up nice and neatly in one simple blog post:

Holidays that revolve around family – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter…it’s always fun to celebrate holidays surrounded by family (and family also includes close friends!). I’m once again thankful for being able to celebrate Christmas with my family in the States this year! It has been 2 years since I’ve seen most of them!!

Seasons – I LOVE seasons. In Florida our seasons are limited: there’s summer, hotter summer, and then if you live up north you’ll get a cold, dry winter for a couple of months in between a short autumn and an even shorter spring (literally less than 2 weeks). But where I live right now we have equal seasons! What a concept :) I just love seeing nature change constantly but slowly throughout the year.

Owning a car – You don’t really need a vehicle to get around over here in the Grenoble area, but it has been such a blessing to us to own a car this past year. We went for about 6 months or so without owning a car and I remember quite vividly having to walk to the train station every other week because half of the tram line was out of service during the summer. But now we have a car :) and we’re able to drive other people around as well, something that I have always loved doing since my freshman year at FSU when I was dependent on other people giving me rides. So thank You God for blessing us with a car!

Christmastime – I admit, we decorated our apartment for Christmas Monday night, the day after our first Thanksgiving celebration of the week. I will try to have that post up tomorrow hopefully :) I have already been listening to Christmas music since mid-November! I couldn’t stop myself after the first snow fell, but we abstained from buying a tree until this week so we could have 3 full weeks of Christmas decorations in our apartment before we leave for the States.

All of you readers! – And last, but certainly not least, I am very thankful for all of you who read and comment on my blog! I am thankful for the friends I have made and the conversations I have enjoyed having through the blogosphere. I’ve had this blog for nearly 2 years now, but until this year I didn’t really keep up with my posting but I am thankful for doing that now :)

Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving and a wonderful November! May the rest of your year continued to be filled with thankfulness and blessings :)

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 23

thankfulnessToday I am thankful for my in-laws.

Tomorrow (really, that’s already today for me), we’re having a Thanksgiving feast with my husband’s family. And it really is going to be a feast; if all goes as planned, we’ll have turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, cherry pie, and my mother-in-law made a zucchini casserole, too (so France could be represented as well!). I know that is a whole lot of food for 8 people, but Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I couldn’t part with anything on the menu.

I’m thankful for my in-laws for so many reasons, the least of which being that they wanted to be apart of our Thanksgiving celebration and that they graciously paid for all of the food (my mother-in-law said that she’d rather pay for it than cook it haha).

But besides that, my in-laws have lovingly welcomed me into their family. And I’m not only talking about my husband’s parents, but his brothers and my sister-in-law as well. All of them have done so much in helping me adjust to living in France; there’s no way I could adequately thank them for that. I would honestly be lost and miserable if Matt and I had chosen to live in another region of France, one that was on the other side of the country where we couldn’t spend time with his family like we’re able to here.

I can’t wait to celebrate my favorite American tradition with my favorite Frenchies tomorrow, and I hope they enjoy the day as well :) Now off to bed because I have to rise bright and early to butter up the turkey!

Favorite Fictional Families

Ahh November :) I might say that this is my favorite month in the whole year, but then October and March are all like, “What about us?” and then I get confused and forget about what I was supposed to be writing about…oh yes! November:  one of my favorite months out of the year. And what do I love most about this month? Family time! There are plenty of opportunities to spend time with family. Combine Thanksgiving family time with all of the book reading I’ve been up to this autumn, and I started to think about some of my favorite fictional families, especially the ones I’d love to be apart of (for a day or so)!

So without further ado, here are my Four Favorite Fictional Families (yes, I love alliteration!):

The_Weasley_Family_at_EgyptThe Weasleys (Harry Potter) – Who doesn’t love the Weasley family? (Except maybe those who haven’t read or seen any of the books or movies.) There’s so many of them that you’re practically guaranteed to like at least one of them ;)

Ginny was always my favorite. I loved being able to see her quietly mature throughout the series. In the beginning you hardly know she’s there but by the last couple of books she’s become a pretty active character, one who is no longer overshadowed by her older brothers.

Morning

Probably my favorite scene from all the films.

And then of course there are the twins. Classic pranksters through and through, but when someone they love needs help, they’re as reliable as anyone else. But of course, don’t expect them not to crack a few jokes here and there…

Then there’s Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, the most lovable adoptive parents Harry could have ever dreamed of. They’re quirky (Arthur) and emotional (Molly) but I love them all the more for that!

And, oh…they all have red hair. Awesome points :)

AnneThe Blythes (Anne of Green Gables) – Out of all the families on my list, this is the one I would like to resemble the most. The Blythes are very entertaining and insightful, and they all love each other so dearly.

I really enjoyed the later sequels in the series, when Anne became more and more of a secondary character and we were able to read about all of the adventures her children had, and anyone who is familiar with Anne knows that any child of hers is bound to have some wild adventures…and talk a lot:

Jem always thought Mother had such a beautiful, joyous laugh . . . answering innumerable questions. “Mummy, how far is it from here to the sunset? …Mummy, why can’t we gather up the spilled moonlight? …Mummy, do the souls of dead people REALLY come back on Hallowe’en? …Mummy, what causes the cause? …Mummy, wouldn’t you rather be killed by a rattlesnake than a tiger, because the tiger would mess you up and eat you? …Mummy, what is a cubby? …Mummy, is a widow really a woman whose dreams have come true? Wally Taylor said she was…Mummy, what do little birds do when it rains HARD? …Mummy, are we REALLY a too romantic family?

[Somewhat unrelated, but check out this genius blog–it’s Anne of Green Gables as told through Lego illustrations!]

AOGG

Eric MatthewsThe Matthews (Boy Meets World) – My favorite television show growing up; I wish they still made shows like this! And I hope the new spin-off is just as good :)

I remember staying up late with my sister to watch reruns on the Disney Channel when we were younger. And even now I’ll watch an occasional episode on YouTube (or spend well over an hour looking through Tumblr pictures to use for this post).

Eric was definitely my favorite Matthews family member. He’s so goofy it’s hard not to love him. “Good Lookin’ Guy” will always be the best personal theme song, and of course…who can forget about “Plays with Squirrels”?

And then there’s Cory, the character I probably relate the most to. He deals with real problems that every teenager can relate to, and his family is there to help him, support him, call him out on things. That’s what I love about them–they have real problems and they deal with them in realistic ways. And yes, this is a sitcom, but each of the characters are well-developed and serious when need be, including the parents; they aren’t absent or unimportant, and they help Cory make it through some tough issues.

Meet the RobinsonsThe Robinsons (Meet the Robinsons) – In my opinion, this is the most underrated Disney movie out there. There isn’t anything I don’t like about this movie: it’s geeky, quirky, very original, there’s a dinosaur, jazz frogs, and at the center of it all, there’s a crazy family that loves each other.

My favorite thing about this dorky family is that they embrace failures, because it means that they tried. Man, I just love that philosophy. And their familial motto (penned by Walt Disney himself), is “Keep Moving Forward.”

meet-the-robinsons-disney-quote

Oh, and I also adore the soundtrack :)

Who are your favorite fictional families?

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 1

thankfulnessI saw this post from one of the bloggers I follow and was instantly inspired to write my own “30 Days of Thankfulness” posts :)

Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year, and one of the reasons why is because we’re encouraged to celebrate all of the things we are thankful for (and I love being thankful for things). In fact, this is something we should do daily:

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” [1 Thessalonians 5:16-18]

Therefore, during the month of November I will take each day to thank God for a specific thing that I am thankful for, and I encourage you to do the same!

heart flourish

Today I am thankful for my job. These past couple of months have not been easy as I have been adjusting to my new job (one I never thought I’d ever have), but God has been really helping me become a better teacher. He’s giving me confidence in myself, patience with my students, and an earnest desire to see them learn. I have been asking Him to help me with that last one especially, because I don’t want to see this as “just a job.”

These last two weeks France has been on vacation, and I have had two different week-long vacation classes. This week I had a class of 4 very bright, very joyful little girls (THAT was a blessing in itself. Girls are so much easier and calmer than boys). I enjoyed teaching them so much that at the end of the week it made me sad to think I wouldn’t have them in my class anymore :( but I am thankful for my job and for moments like this, when my students bring me “presents”:

Artwork

What are you thankful for today?