So…March was…strange (as I’m sure you can all relate to). My husband and I are now on day 20 of quarantine, and I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I worry about things like finding a new job and being able to go to my friend’s wedding this summer. I also miss hanging out with friends and going to my favorite community spots, and I feel general anxiety over the state of the world. But in the grand scheme of things, I am only moderately inconvenienced by the quarantine, and (although I feel spoiled saying this) some positive things have come out of the extended time off – like realizing that it actually isn’t too complicated to work remotely, and having more time than usual for yoga and reading.
I’m currently reading Actress by Anne Enright. So far, I am loving the author’s writing style; the plot has not compelled me as much as the writing, but I’m not very far into the book so things can still change. I also plan to read Red at the Bone, The Most Fun We Ever Had, and A Thousand Ships this month.
Another post from Ashley Leia, which nicely synthesized information from public health experts re: the COVID-19 pandemic
I also want to shout out the bloggers who are reading through the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist! It has been wonderful to read their takes on the novels, and to feel a sense of bookish community. You can find some great WP longlist coverage on Rachel, Callum, Gilana, Naty, Hannah, and Corey‘s blogs.
The title of the post is pretty self-explanatory, but I’ve decided to discontinue my “Year of Yeh” cooking and baking project. The idea was to cook my way through Molly Yeh’s cookbook Molly on the Range, and to post about my experience trying each recipe – kind of like Julie & Julia, but with a different cookbook and a less ambitious timeline. The project was fun at first, and it resulted in some awesome meals, but for a few reasons – i.e. quarantine changing the way I cook, the project limiting my creativity in the kitchen, and realizing that I didn’t enjoy blogging about the project – it just wasn’t working for me anymore.
If you followed my blog because of the Year of Yeh project, I’m sorry. I still love cooking and baking, and want that to continue to be a part of my blog, just a smaller part of it. I’m not sure what form my cooking/baking content will take in the future, but in the meantime, here are some fun things that I cooked and baked (using online recipes or my own creativity – not the Molly on the Range cookbook!) in March:
Happy New Year!!! The celebration of a new year can feel like an artificial way to mark the passing of time…but that being said I truly wish everybody reading this the best in 2020. December moved very quickly for me: wrapping up the last quarter at work and celebrating the holidays with friends, families, and coworkers. I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked (do I ever?) but it was a rewarding month, and 2019 was a rewarding year.
This month, I finished reading The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf. Although dense at times, this biography provided a riveting account of the life of Prussian scientist Alexander von Humboldt, who essentially came up with the concept of ecology. Humboldt was centuries ahead of his time in his hypotheses about nature and the world, and it was amazing to learn just how many famous thinkers and scientists he influenced.
I also read The Wall by John Lanchester, a dystopian fiction novel that imagines what life might be like if serious actions aren’t taken against climate change soon. I personally loved this book, but I understand that it’s not for everyone.
Bakes inspired by the books:
I am still so back-logged on bakes. I read a ton of books in November, and my baking never caught up. Early in December, I baked cupcakes inspired by Little Fires Everywhere (a book that I read in early November) – they were chocolate flavored with passionfruit buttercream frosting, and they were delicious!
I also baked chocolate shortbread cookies with chocolate glaze last month, inspired by Ali Wong’s nonfiction book Dear Girls. These cookies were decadent and delicious, and a lot of fun to decorate.
Books in progress/up next:
I am currently reading Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham. The book is a detailed, nonfiction account of the now-infamous Chernobyl nuclear disaster. I didn’t know much about Chernobyl prior to reading this book – other than the fact that it happened – and the book provides fascinating historical context for it.
I would also like to read Circe, Mobituaries, and Girl, Woman, Other this month. I hadn’t planned on reading Circe this year – not even this spring/summer when the book was hot – but it ended up on a lot of peoples’ “top 3 books of 2019” list, so I’m curious to read it and see if it lives up to the hype. Mobituaries is a nonfiction book about people or things that are no longer with us, but who should be remembered. The author hosts an excellent podcast by the same name, so I’m really excited to read the book. And I’m interested in Girl, Woman, Other because I’ve heard very good things about it (including the fact that it won the Booker Prize).
Shout-outs to some great blog posts:
Chaz wrote about his experience participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) – if this is something you are considering, I highly recommend his post which detailed the time and planning that goes into it
Ashely explained the science of herd immunity, and why it makes anti-vaxxer logic so harmful to society
And Aho wrote a lovely piece about the Polish mushroom dumplings known as Uszka (and the preparation that goes into making them)
Happy December, everyone! Thanksgiving has passed, and it is starting to snow where I live…it really feels like winter! The first two weeks of November were relaxing, then the second half was a bit crazier. My husband and I went to an impromptu one-week-early Thanksgiving dinner (driving 6 hours each way) the third weekend of November. And we spent the last week of the month in London and Amsterdam!
This was my best month of reading in a while! Little Fires Everywhere is a fictional novel about a mother and daughter that move into a wealthy, hyper-planned community in Ohio. I absolutely adored this book and will be posting about it soon. Dear Girls is a memoir by Ali Wong in which she writes about her memorable life experiences, and draws advice from them. This book was okay – it taught me that I don’t really like reading books written by celebrities. Ashley Peterson’s books (Psych Meds Made Simple and Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis) take highly stigmatized and misunderstood mental health issues and provide nuanced, accurate information about these topics. Both books were great, and I can think of many people in my life that I wish would read them.
Bakes inspired by the books?
I baked something for Little Fires Everywhere over two weeks ago, but I still haven’t gotten around to posting it! That post is coming very soon. Still, I am a bit back-logged, with three books completed but no bakes for them yet. I have several bakes in mind, though, so get ready for lots of posting in December!
Books in progress/December reading goals:
I am currently reading The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf. This is a biography of the Prussian scientist Alexander von Humboldt, who came up with the foundations for the science of ecology and inspired many great thinkers of the 18th and 19th centuries (from writer Goethe, to revolutionary Simon Bolívar, to famous evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin). I’m about two-thirds through this book, and find it quite enjoyable.
I also plan to read The Wall by John Lanchester and Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham. If I get through all of these with time to spare, I’ll probably try to read more books from the Booker prize longlist (yes – I know that the winner was already announced).
Some (out of many) posts I enjoyed this month:
Jan Flynn wrote about how smart people can do stupid things, and why there is nothing wrong with this!
Ashley wrote an informative piece laying out the facts about how the influenza vaccine works (and importantly, debunking the myth that the flu vaccine will make you sick)
Thank you to Sarah for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award (over a month ago, but I’ve been behind on blogging lately). Sarah is an avid reader who talks about books spanning diverse genres. One of my favorite reads this year was Red, White & Royal Blue – a book that I first heard about through Sarah’s blog!
Rules of the award:
Thank the blogger who nominated them and link back to their blog.
Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated them.
Nominate 11 other blogs and give them 11 new questions to answer.
Notify your nominees and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your post.
Sarah’s questions (and my answers):
Do you listen to any podcasts? If so, what are your favorites? YES, I love podcasts! My top two favorites are Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (a funny news-based quiz show from NPR) and By The Book (where hosts Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer live by self-help books and reflect on whether or not they actually helped).
Do you genre hop when you read or do you tend to stick to the same genres? I try to genre hop!
What’s the best movie you’ve watched so far this year? I have only watched like two movies this year, but I really enjoyed Always Be My Maybe!
2019 release you’re most excited about reading? Hmmmm…maybe Frankly in Love by David Yoon.
What’s your favorite way to treat yourself? Once a week or so, I like to treat myself by getting a fancy coffee (such as a malted cold brew or latte) before work. Once a month or so, I like to get my nails done. And I try to sleep in a bit on weekends.
Describe your ideal home in as much or as little detail as you’d like! Big kitchen with lots of counter space; enough room for four cats.
Favorite snack? So…the snacks I most commonly eat are: toast, vanilla oat milk, olives, and cheese. But my absolute favorite snacks are the ones that I don’t actually buy (because I know that it would be disastrous for my health to have them in my apartment). Those are hot cheetos, dark chocolate cookie butter cups, white cheddar popcorn, and dried mangos (If you are thinking “but dried mangos are healthy” – not the way that I eat them).
What’s your favorite kind of weather? I love a sunny, crisp day in the 40’s or 50’s (Fahrenheit).
Favorite book you read as a child? I absolutely loved Harry Potter, and read certain books in the series over 5 times.
What’s your favorite thing about yourself? My favorite thing about myself is that I am kind (or at least try really hard to be as much as possible).
Are you a pumpkin person? In desserts – yes. In my coffee – absolutely not.
My questions for you:
Do you find it easy to advocate for yourself?
Do you consider yourself to be a risk-taker?
What do you want to do before the end of 2019?
Do you enjoy the winter holiday season? Why or why not?
If you could pick up any new hobby or habit in 2020 (and it would definitely stick) – what would you choose?
What is your favorite dessert?
Describe a time when you faced a fear.
Do you prefer text, phone calls, emails, or face-to-face communication? Or something else?
Are you easily embarrassed? What types of situations embarrass you?
How do you think you have changed over the past five years?
What is your favorite quote?
Okay, so I know this is kind of a cop-out…but I nominate anybody who is reading this and wants to participate! If you decide to participate, please let me know so I can see your answers! Or, if you want to participate but don’t want to publish your answers as a post – let me know some of your answers in the comments!
Happy November! While most of 2019 has flown by, October actually seemed to pass at a good pace. It was still a busy month though! Mostly because…I got married! Given that wedding planning is insane and all-consuming in the weeks leading up to the wedding, I am honestly shocked that I managed to get anything else done at all. Let’s reflect back on October:
I finished two books this month (which is honestly two more books than I expected to finish). Lab Girl is a memoir by academic researcher and university professor, Hope Jahren. As a young scientist myself, I loved this book for its honesty about the stress of trying to “make it” as an academic researcher, and also for its beautifully written passages about how trees grow. Frankissstein is a novel that ponders how technology will change life for humankind, and particularly how it will change how we relate to our bodies. Frankissstein was an interesting philosophical read, but at the same time I didn’t particularly care for most of the characters or their “love stories.”
Bakes inspired by the books:
For Lab Girl, I attempted to bake meringues with a lime curd swirl on top. As you might be able to tell from the picture, these meringues were a baking fail. But I posted about them anyway because I wanted to review Lab Girl, and I wanted to own the fact that sometimes my bakes aren’t successful on the first try.
I’m currently reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I resisted this book for a long time – I’m not sure why – but someone recently gifted it to me, and I immediately got sucked in. I already know what I want to bake for this book, and I can’t wait to post.
I also want to read The Invention of Nature and Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis – two books that I had initially planned (unrealistically) to read in October. Also, the comedian Ali Wong recently published a memoir and I might want to read that, too.
Great blog posts of the month:
I read so many great blog posts this month…but my brain was so fried that I forgot to bookmark my favorite posts. So here is ONE post that stuck with me so much, I remember it even without having bookmarked it: a heartwarming story called “Pizza it Forward” from Vee at Millenial Life Crisis.
For as long as I can remember, I have been incredibly reserved. As a kid, even when I wanted to “put myself out there” and tried to be outgoing, I was still quite reserved in what information I did share. This habit has never really faded; if anything, it has intensified to the point where it feels impossible in some situations for me to share my perspective. Even when I do have an opinion, I am so unused to speaking up that I’m not very good at articulating or expanding upon my thoughts.
This post is a baby step toward confidently sharing my thoughts with others: I am sharing five random opinions of mine. They are only opinions – I understand that others will not necessarily agree with them. If I were better at articulating my thoughts, each opinion could be its own essay/blog post. But I’m not yet at that point, so we’re going with a short paragraph for each opinion.
Millennials need to stop hating on Gen-Z
Millennials have received a lot of flak over the years from older generations, especially Baby Boomers. So much to the point that we are accused of “killing” certain industries, including golf, cereal, and diamonds (to name a few). This type of criticism is ridiculous, but we are good at defending ourselves. It is surprising to me, then, that some millennials then go and criticize the younger generation (Gen Z). Just like us millennials, Gen Z-ers experiences their own unique set of generational challenges that no previous generation had to face. Just because we do not understand their challenges, that doesn’t mean we should trash them as a generation. This is the exact same type of behavior that we detest in Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers.
There is a such thing as being too helpful
I have always considered myself to be a helpful person, and I still do. However, I am slowly letting go of my belief that being helpful is the most important thing a person can be. When you are overly helpful you risk burning yourself out to help other, neglecting your own basic needs, and being taken advantage of. Being helpful is important, but so is setting boundaries and making sure that your own needs are met.
The problem is rarely “everybody else”
Some people like to blame every other person in the world for their problems. It is human to feel annoyed at others, and it is also easier to blame other people than to look internally and try to change. But when I hear people blame everybody else for their problems, it takes all the self-restraint I can possibly muster to stop my eyes from rolling into the back of my head. The most common example of this is people who complain that everybody else they work with is incompetent. This is narcissistic and also statistically unlikely. Instead of getting mad at others for not reading their mind, these “blame-everybody-else-ers” should figure out 1) why the problem is “everybody else” and 2) what they can do to make things better. In general, when a problem you are experiencing appears to be everybody else, that is when it’s most important to look internally and examine how your own biases might be affecting your perception.
Anti-depressants help people way more than they hurt people
Any drug that is commercially available under a brand name has undergone extensive testing and is generally safe. Corporations want to make money (whether you take this to be a good thing or not is an entirely differently subject), and this means that it’s probably not in their interest to put out a drug that is going to hurt people. There are examples of peoples’ mental health symptoms worsening under anti-depressants…but if these were the majority of cases, there is no way that these drugs would be as widely prescribed as they are. I also think that when people cherry-pick the most extreme examples of anti-depressants having adverse effects, in order to claim that anti-depressants are unsafe, this is unscientific and irresponsible. Anti-inflammatory pain medicine (like ibuprofen) can be dangerous in some cases and people can even die from drinking water. But these examples are not the majority of cases, and that is why we (as a society) generally accept pain medicine (and of course water). We have so much more work to do on stopping the stigma against taking anti-depressants.
Most people are overconfident in their “knowledge” and “expertise”
I went to graduate school to study the biology of a plant pathogenic fungus. It sounds fancy, but the truth is that I gained a lot of knowledge on a very narrow topic. I know a lot about one particular fungus, but I am absolutely NOT an expert on fungi, broadly speaking. It bothers me, then, when people with even less experience and knowledge in fungal biology try to pose as experts, or make broader claims than they should based on their experience. More generally, it bothers me when people claim to “know that GMOs are unsafe” or that “anti-depressants make people homicidal” because of ONE article that they skimmed online. There is a famous quote by Socrates: “I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing.” If more people would set aside their ego and admit what they don’t know, I think that we could learn and potentially achieve a lot more as a society.