Advent: Chanuka Version

I haven’t blogged in a very long time. No apologies- in the meantime I started school and earned my teaching certificate in French and English. I start working as a sub after my orientation next week- and slowly I am emerging from the life of a stay at home mom into my new career. It’s been… Hectic.

But this past week since school ended has been beautiful. Despite a bad cold, the weather is gorgeous and I can spend a little more time with Gabe at the park and doing puzzles on the floor, and just enjoying him. No more babysitters (for the moment). He’s a sweetheart and he loves his preschool- he’s the mayor of his class! Oldest and most extroverted – and already kissing the girls. We’re in for quite a life with our life of the party child. 

I said I would revive my blog for Sprite and her Advent tour. In my home we are Jewish and atheist, and our traditions blend both my background (Chanuka!) and my husband’s (a very secular Christmas). We are a little slow with decorating this year since I just finished classes and we’ve been traveling but we have some of our goodies up. And the holiday music is ongoing.

And of course, every night we light the Chanukiah.

Today is the last night of the holiday- wishing you all a miraculous, or at least light-filled holiday season! Finally, my favorite (Jewish) holiday tune.


I haven’t posted since taxtime, but I’m still here chugging along. Lately I’m knitting all the hot pink laceweight I can find (seriously- both in cashmere and Wollmeise) and I’ve been cross stitching. But mostly I’ve been reading. I’ve read forty books so far this year! Mostly this has to do with my new interest in romance novels, but also I’ve just been reading at a fair clip knowing school starts August 1 (eeks, presumably) and then reading is going to take a way-back seat! Here’s my faves so far:

Euphoria by Lily King (!!! So good!)
The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand (romance, but I needed a dash of Paris. Did I mention I passed the French PRAXIS? I think I’m going to be a high school FRENCH teacher…)
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (kids book, in verse, about love and basketball. Wow)
Hot Head by Damon Suede (because I read anything- and actually this was very nicely written. I learned a lot about male body parts, though. M/M erotica… who knew?)
A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare (more romance, super adorable)
the rest of the Neapolitan books thus far, by Elena Ferrante (I need the next one pronto)
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (I’m a KonMari convert… if you can be a convert and still be in the early stages of tidying)
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer (the other two books were not as excellent, but the first is a thriller-y spec fic must read)
The Martian by Andy Weir (read it before the movie!)
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mendel (the anti-post-apocalyptic novel)

And a bunch more that were either not quite as good or just aren’t as interesting. It’s been a good year. I read a LOT of the Tournament of Books… books… this spring, but have read I think only a single book that came out in 2015 thus far. Which makes me pretty sad. Sometimes it’s not for lack of trying- wait lists are long, and hardcovers are so much less appealing than kindle ebooks most of the time for me. But I’m doing my best. I’m also still working on the Read Harder challenge, and doing pretty well with it. More than half done, I think.

Mount to-be-read is ridiculous right now. I have at least two dozen books on my kindle (ahem, darn you Smart B*tches, Trashy Novels for most of that), and a huge stack from the library in paper form. Including:
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman (a series is coming??!!)
St. Lucy’s home for girls raised by wolves and other stories by Karen Russell
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
Half of a yellow sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (I really actually want to read this one)
Book 1 of My Struggle
Barefoot Gen Vol.1 : a cartoon story of Hiroshima by Keiji Nakazawa (almost done with this)
The Rosie project by Graeme Simsion

Goodness. 3 weeks until school! Read on.

How’s your summer reading??

Don’t think I ever blogged this sweater- which is a pity. I wear it all the time, or rather I did from the minute I finished it until this week, when DC decided it’s finally spring. I love it- I think it looks pretty smashing, it definitely doesn’t look “homemade” though of course it is handmade. Great and fun pattern- and the yarn is so springy and soft! Too bad it’s discontinued (wah wah). Not only is this a FO, but it’s from deep and important stash- the first time we went to Rhinebeck, we also stopped at WEBS, and I picked up this yarn there. I used all but two balls of what I bought for this sweater, and the rest for a gift. So that yarn is OUT of my stash! Huzzah! It just took a while. No awesome photos, but photo proof of my new favorite sweater (Acer is still in heavy rotation, of course):


Poor Blog

Neglected as always. Here’s the current state of things:

      • Gabe is flirting with giving up his nap. Oh the agony.
      • I’ve been studying for the French PRAXIS, which I am not confident I will pass, but hey! I have to try! I will re-take it later if I can, but realistically I won’t have any more time to study than I’ve had these past few months. So unless you want to pay for me to spend a weekend in Paris, it will have to do.
      • I have been knitting, off and on. I swatched for Cockatou Brae (Braun in my case) and my swatch lied. Nevertheless, I am persevering with the first sweater sleeve and it’s 1/3 done.
      • Still cooking, mostly from my new favorite cookbooks! Bittman’s Fast book is still a hit, but I’ve made a number of misses from it as well. At least, misses for the boys. I’ve had more luck with the Skinnytaste Cookbook- so much so that I finally returned my library copy and bought it! I really like her slow cooker meals thus far, and it’s been pretty well received overall
      • Running has been really sad-sack for months. I was super sick for a while, and then I was lazy, and then I was studying. Now I’ve been attempting to get more consistent, and got sick again. I hate you spring! I hate you… life with a messy toddler!
      • Gabe keeps getting cuter. I hear this is a biological mechanism, to avoid the otherwise dark and awful consequences of his two year old behavior. He’s a good kid, when he’s not running into the street, ignoring Mommy, or usually doing both at the same time. Testing boundaries is cool and all, but if ever there were a kid who needed a leash, he’s it. NB: I still don’t actually use a leash. But he gets carried and put in the stroller a lot more lately!
      • At least I’m killing my daily goal on the Fitbit all the time. And yet weigh more than I have since Gabe was wee. I hate Passover.
      • I’ve been adding lots of vintage patterns to the Etsy site (really! go see the fun goodies over there!)

Think that’s about it. I also have decided to start cross stitching again, because that could be fun. And I’m doing a basket dash for the StashDown Ravelry group- since clearly knitting 13 hats in February and taking March off means it’s time for another challenge! I don’t intend to finish everything, but I’d like to work on a bunch of UFOs and WIPs, in the hopes of finding some mojo for some of them. Two of them are my Rhinebeck projects (Cockatou Braun and Catoctin). Here’s my basket of goodies! Whee! I also realized I have a pair of socks that are already on the second instep- why haven’t I finished those? Seriously?


And how have YOU been?

I lied last week when I said I was finished with 2014 finished objects. I covered all the knits, but I never posted the quilt that I made for my sister. I started it sometime after I moved in with George, so between 5 and 6 years ago. I pieced the top pretty quickly, and then I was too scared to try machine quilting for a very long time. Then I made Storm at Sea, and a baby quilt… and realized it really wasn’t that scary at all. So I quilted this one, and mailed it off to Alaska so she could finally enjoy her Christmas quilt. She said she likes it, and she was stunned that I had the time to make a quilt with a baby!

Ha. Should I tell her that it was a work in progress for half a decade? The quilting (and borders and whatnot that were left to do) were finished in a few days while vacationing at my parent’s house last May, and then I did the binding at home the ten days after that. So this may be my fastest quilt ever in hours worked on the actual quilt, but one of the longest in terms of start to finish dates!


I think I am finally caught up on finished objects from 2014!! Woohoo! This last one was a quick knit in the last few weeks of December, because my mom decided Gabe really needed mittens. From Mommy. And since she loaned me the best mitten book, I figured I could sacrifice for her whims. They came out very cute, and they fit, but Gabe pretty much avoids all mittens. Even the handknit ones from Mommy.

So there, Mom.


He did survive wearing them a few times, briefly- so at least there’s photo proof!

ToB 2015

Hurray! Huzzah! Tomorrow is the kickoff to the Tournament of Books for the year. It really is one of my favorite events all year long… book geek that I am. Last year I read 8 of the books… but I think I only read 4 or 5 before the tournament was over. This year I’ve read 8, started two that I decided not to read (at least, not anytime soon), and have begun another already. Brilliant! Here are the 16 books with my take on them. Because.

Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball – I started this and meh. I only made it 5 or 10 pages before I decided that it might be worth reading a long time from now, but certainly not before the tournament.
A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall by Will Chancellor – I made it 50 pages in this one and hated the two protagonists. Boom! Done! Life’s too short, it’s not like I don’t read a variety of literary fiction, right?
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – on my Kindle, but I haven’t read it yet. The buzz is great!
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante – I haven’t read this, the third in the series, but I liked the first. Not at the beginning, but by the end. I’m very excited to read book 2, but am stuck in an endless loop of holds at the library, so it’s pretty unlikely I’ll get to this until much later in the year.
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay – read this before the ToB list was announced, and found it hard to read but very well written. Also, Roxane Gay is on GoodReads and reads a TON- I’m constantly seeing her reviews on there!
Wittgenstein Jr by Lars Iyer – this book would be super interesting if you took philosophy in college. I did not, so the in-jokes were lost on me. Definitely not a fave, and I think it will get creamed in the ToB.
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James – I got nothing.
Redeployment by Phil Klay- Oh, short stories. I found it interesting, and I liked the new perspective on veterans and what war really means now. But not my fave.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – My top pick thus far. I can’t help it, this is squarely in my wheelhouse. Post-apocalyptic? Check. Shakespeare and literary references? Check. Characters who are interesting (if not very likeable?) Check check check. I really did love it.
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell – Haven’t read, again with the library holds (I had it out once but couldn’t get to it timely… oh well). I’m sure I’ll like this one, and it’s likely to do well in the tournament.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – I’m sorta meh on this. We read it for book club, pre-ToB announcement, so bully for us. I think it won’t go far.
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill – Marital drama. A very quick read (bonus!) and enjoyable. How many books in this tournament are about professors?!
Adam by Ariel Schrag – Just finished this, and enjoyed it. I can see why it gets a lot of hate for its depiction of transexual issues, but it’s YA that deals almost entirely with trans and gay issues. Come on! Also funny as heck.
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters – Apparently this isn’t getting a lot of love, but I just read her Tipping the Velvet and liked it very much. So I’ll get to it soon. Probably won’t last in the tournament, which is a pity.
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer – This was good enough that I have started book 2 of the trilogy after reading book 1 last week. Yep. Don’t know how it will play out for the ToB… it’s a lot of suspense and wackiness, but it was a good read!
All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld – Huge positive press for this one, and I’m enjoying it. But since I only started it last night, I will neither finish it before the Tournament nor be able to give a real review.

Only one book has really escaped my radar since they announced the shortlist. I’ve also read a few others on the longlist (and have another out from the library, which I started before and put aside for the sake of the nominees). Oh my do I love the ToB and my own brand of March madness! I’ve already read 15 books this year… I guess 45 is a pretty doable annual goal after all, hmm?? My knitting has certainly suffered as a result (hats notwithstanding) but it feels really good to be reading again. Even if I’m not reading nearly as critically as I would have a decade ago. I wonder if I enjoy the books more or less by not engaging with them all in as great detail as I did as a student?

I’ll post about the Read Harder challenge another day. For obvious reasons (15 books!) I’m doing pretty well on working through that challenge, too!