These links and recommendations come from conversations, podcasts and Facebook posts I came across in January. I love lists, so I thought you might enjoy reading about what I stumbled on this month. Add your own in the comments!
All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
I stuck with this even though it took me until about 2/3 of the way through to get into it. The main reason I did was because the writing is so wonderful that you get caught up in the sheer beauty of the images, even though you don’t feel like they’re actually leading you anywhere. Not my favorite, but it was certainly worth the read.
Wild in the Hollow, by Amber C. Haines
This is a memoir of a woman moving from her wild past into womanhood and the way she carries her past into her present. Boiled down, it is not a new story, but it is so well–written that I read it in two days. Amber studied poetry and it really comes through in the writing. Her images are startling at times, but their newness brings so much freshness to the way she talks about God and family. It is a beautiful story.
Magic Lessons, by Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert is like a cheerleader for artists. Listening to the first two podcasts helped give me permission to pursue this compulsion I’ve had lately to write. They’re only 20 minutes each and wonderful for anyone who is feeling guilty about pursing art (you’ll stop that).
Episode 1: Do What Ignites Your Soul
Episode 2: Cheryl Strayed to Moms: Pursue Your Passions Like a Mofo
This American Life
These two podcasts really got me fired up. I mean, I wanted to call senators, write letters and jump into protests. They are about segregation in America and about a few communities that have either chosen or been forced to integrate the schools. As a child who grew up under forced integration in Tampa, FL, and later was a teacher in a magnet school that bused kids at least an hour out to go to school in a white neighborhood, I found these to be fascinating. And horrible. Please, if you listen to anything this year, listen to these two podcasts.
Part I: The Problem We All Live With
Part II: The Problem We All Live With
Walk Off the Earth: Adele, “Hello,” cover
This is thanks to my friend, Roxanne, who posted it on Facebook. Thanks–I’ve had this song in my head for the past week! This is a new group to me and I love their creativity. This one is pretty awesome, too–they all play the same guitar!
Infinitely Polar Bear, with Mark Ruffalo
This was a fun indie film about a man who is bi-polar and trying to parent his children while is wife is away getting a degree. It takes place in the late 70’s, so I kind of felt like I was watching Sesame Street from my childhood years in the 80’s. It didn’t change my life, but it was heart-warming and entertaining.
Sisters, with Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler
I’m actually kind of embarrassed to admit that I saw this. Okay, it was hilarious, but very raunchy. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone unless they were on their first girl weekend away in Chicago without kids in four years (like I was;-) )
Loving this British mystery series about a murder in a small, beautiful coastal town in England. Adam says it reminds him a lot of The Killing, which I haven’t seen. We’re really enjoying the filming, music, pace, acting and scenery.
Recipes, all from Cookie + Kate:
Spinach Artichoke Lasagna
This is a really unique dish. Not surprisingly, my son actually gagged when we made him take his obligatory one bite, but don’t let that deter you. I really liked that it uses cottage cheese instead of ricotta since I’m not a huge ricotta fan. And the artichokes give it a tangy flavor. I’d make it again.
Homemade Vegetarian Chili
This was surprisingly good for not having meat. And it wasn’t too spicy–my one year old even ate it! It’s a good go-to chili dish.
Thai Red Curry with Vegetables
I was really excited about this one because I love coconut milk, but it was a little disappointing. It was just missing something. Can’t say what, but if I make it again, I may add more red curry paste and add the red pepper flakes straight into it while it’s cooking. My kids didn’t eat it anyway, so I may as well have made it spicy the way we like it.
Healthy Banana Bread!
I almost made another loaf using my regular recipe just in case this was awful, but it was actually really good! I’m not sure if I would actually call it “healthy,” because it still has a good amount of honey and/or maple syrup (I used half of each), coconut oil and of course I had to add chocolate chips. But I was pleasantly surprised. You couldn’t even tell it was 100% whole wheat flour. I’ll be making this again.
Sweet Corn and Black Bean Tacos
This was probably my favorite of the new recipes I tried this month and as a bonus, my kids actually ate it! I didn’t trust fresh corn this time of year, so I just let the frozen corn thaw as it marinated and it tasted fine. I also used whole wheat flour tortillas instead of corn ones because that seemed redundant with the corn filling. This dish has all my favorite ingredients: cilantro, lime, corn and feta! Yum.
Recipe, Food Network:
I made some changes to this one: Since I don’t like ricotta, I cut up mozzarella cheese sticks and used those instead (delicious after they were warmed by the soup!), I also didn’t top with Parmesan cheese (since I used mozzarella), skipped the cream because I didn’t want it to be so rich, and in the last few minutes of cooking, I put in a few handfuls of fresh spinach to increase the veggie quotient. So good. This was delicious and I think it would freeze well, so it would be an easy recipe to double.
Daily list of deals on either free or super cheap ebooks. Haven’t downloaded any yet, but it seems good so far.
This is a very pared-down version of a daily news update delivered to your email inbox. I wouldn’t use this as your only news outlet, but it simplifies it enough that it is very easy to understand. My main complaint is that it reads a little like it’s “news for dummies.”
NY Times morning briefing
Loving this so far. Just short snippets of news with links to articles if you want to know more.
Articles from the Web:
Aldi is Fixing its Biggest Weakness–and that should terrify Whole Foods
How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe and Winter 2016 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project
The Christian Introvert
A Question of Environmental Racism in Flint
“Tragedy” in Flint
Clothing bales and hurting more than we help
January’s most-visited post: What Love Looks Like After Five Years of Marriage
New weekly series for writers and artists: Thursday Thoughts for Writers
Visit my first published article at Velvet Ashes, an online magazine for women serving overseas: When You Feel Spiritually Dehydrated…Again
What did you come across this month that you’d like to add to the list?
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