Month in review: March 2020

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.

Books read:

Books in progress/April reading goals:

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.

Posts that stuck with me:

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.

Cat photos!!!

Month in review: December 2019

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.

Books read:

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 liked this book (especially the first part) but I completely understand why some people won’t.

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)

Photos!

Month in review: November 2019

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!

Books read:

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)
  • Rachel at pace, amore, libri shared a list of anticipated 2020 book releases – many of which I am excited about too!

(a few good) November photos:

Sunshine Blogger Award #2

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):

  1. 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).
  2. Do you genre hop when you read or do you tend to stick to the same genres? I try to genre hop!
  3. 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!
  4. 2019 release you’re most excited about reading? Hmmmm…maybe Frankly in Love by David Yoon.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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).
  8. What’s your favorite kind of weather? I love a sunny, crisp day in the 40’s or 50’s (Fahrenheit).
  9. Favorite book you read as a child? I absolutely loved Harry Potter, and read certain books in the series over 5 times.
  10. 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).
  11. Are you a pumpkin person? In desserts – yes. In my coffee – absolutely not.

My questions for you:

  1. Do you find it easy to advocate for yourself?
  2. Do you consider yourself to be a risk-taker?
  3. What do you want to do before the end of 2019?
  4. Do you enjoy the winter holiday season? Why or why not?
  5. If you could pick up any new hobby or habit in 2020 (and it would definitely stick) – what would you choose?
  6. What is your favorite dessert?
  7. Describe a time when you faced a fear.
  8. Do you prefer text, phone calls, emails, or face-to-face communication? Or something else?
  9. Are you easily embarrassed? What types of situations embarrass you?
  10. How do you think you have changed over the past five years?
  11. What is your favorite quote?

Tagging:

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!

Month in review: October 2019

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:

Books read:

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.

For Frankissstein, I made chocolate linzer cookies with cherry jam and lime curd. These were delicious and made me feel much better about the Lab Girl meringue fails. I also got to use the rest of the lime curd that I had made for the meringues.

Books in progress/plans for November:

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.

Photos:

Sunshine Blogger Award

Thank you to Mathew at Blog of the Wolf Boy for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award! Mathew consistently posts interesting and thought-provoking content, including poetry and motivational writing. Recently, he posted a letter from the perspective from his 13-year-old self to his present-day self; it was really moving!

The rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to him/her.
  • Answer the 11 questions provided by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post.

The questions (complete-the-sentence style):

  1. I love it when…a challenging bake turns out well!
  2. If I could, I would…move into a completely different field of work in the next 1-3 years.
  3. Not too many people know that…I love dancing, and I met my (soon-to-be) husband through swing dancing!
  4. What really gets to my nerves…is when people lack awareness of their surroundings in public spaces, especially public transit.
  5. I can’t comprehend why…people still listen to Fox News.
  6. My fantasy job would be…something creative.
  7. If I were a color, I’d be…a purplish-blue shade.
  8. Sometimes when I’m by myself…I think about what my life would be like if I had made completely different choices earlier on.
  9. This may sound crazy but…here’s my number, so call me maybe. Just kidding! I don’t know how to answer this.
  10. The funniest thing about me…(according to my partner) is the way that I talk to our cats. I use a lot of baby-talk, but then other times I try to lecture them earnestly as though they are humans.
  11. It doesn’t really matter if…people follow a rigid “path” to their career or lifestyle (or what career or lifestyle people have, as long as they are not hurting anyone).

Questions for the next round:

  1. What food could you not live without?
  2. How frequently do you remember your dreams?
  3. Do you prefer warmer or cooler weather?
  4. What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
  5. What grosses you out?
  6. What book has influenced you the most, and how?
  7. Do you consider yourself a creative person? Why or why not?
  8. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
  9. Describe a quirky trait about yourself!
  10. What relaxes you when you’re feeling tense or stressed out?
  11. What is your favorite game?

Nominees:

I am breaking the “rules” of this award and nominating anybody who wants to participate! Or if you don’t want to do a full post, feel free to share your answers with me in the comments!

Blogger Recognition Award

Thank you so much to Reasons2Stay for nominating me for the Blogger Recognition Award! According to their post:

“The award is a way that we recognize and support each other as bloggers, and especially to show that we appreciate how much time, work, energy, and effort goes into producing and maintaining a high-quality blog. It is a humbling experience to be recognized from my fellow blogger.”


The rules of the award:

  1. Thank the blogger that nominated you.
  2. Write a post to show your award.
  3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  5. Select other bloggers to give this award to.
  6. Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.

How my blog started:

I started reading as a hobby near the end of 2018, and the first book that I read (Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang) inspired me to bake a little cake. I toyed with the idea of making a combination baking/reading blog after that, and – with a lot of encouragement from my fiancé – I started this blog. After engaging with other bloggers, my blog has expanded a bit beyond just “bakes inspired by books,” and I’m excited to see how it will continue to change over time!

Advice for new bloggers:

1. Be true to yourself! Your blog is your place to express yourself. Write in your voice, about the things that you want to write about. Not only does it feel good to express yourself earnestly, but you will also end up engaging with people in a more genuine way.

2. Engage with other people/blogs! The more you put in, the more you get out. Personally, I find the experience of blogging to be MUCH more satisfying when I’m interacting and making positive connections with other bloggers. Read more than you post, and comment on other blog posts to build relationships with other bloggers. 🙂

My nominations:

  • Ashley Leia (I know that you don’t do tags, and you have posted before about how your blog got started…but I still wanted to acknowledge your blog here!)
  • Alphe
  • Jan M. Flynn
  • Naty
  • and anyone else who wants to share their story and advice!!!

Mystery Blogger Award #2

Thank you to Sarah for nominating me for the Mystery Blogger Award! Sarah writes amazing book reviews – her recent review of Red, White & Royal Blue moved me to add the book to my TBR priority list!

The rules:

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Answer the 5 questions you were asked
  6. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  7. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  8. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  9. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  10. Share a link to your best post(s)

Q&A:

  1. What’s the best movie you’ve seen recently? Always Be My Maybe on Netflix. (It is also the *only* movie I’ve seen recently, but I genuinely thought it was good).
  2. How often do you make music playlists? Probably once a month – I usually make playlists for road trips, new workout routines, or parties.
  3. What’s the last book you were gifted? Rising Strong by Brene Brown.
  4. What are you looking forward to right now? Life in general! A lot of good changes have happened recently (new job, new city, new adventures) and everything is very exciting right now!
  5. [weird question] If you could switch places with one with one actor in any scene in any movie/TV show, which would it be? Hmmmmmmm. Maybe Rachel Bloom in the masquerade scene in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Because everyone is dressed up so nicely and she gets to dance with Scott Michael Foster!

Three things about me:

  1. I recently moved to a big city and discovered my love of public transit! And reading on public transit!
  2. I am a vegetarian.
  3. I am that stereotype/cliché type of person who drinks cold brew coffee in all types of weather.

My nominees:

Questions for nominees:

  1. What books, movies, and/or TV shows have influenced the person you are today?
  2. What current trends in pop-culture do you love? Which ones do you dislike?
  3. What strange food combinations do you enjoy?
  4. Do you collect anything? If so, what?
  5. [weird question] If you had to give up one hygiene habit for the rest of your life, which one would you pick?

My best posts:

I’m not sure which posts are my best, but here are my three most recent!

Mystery Blogger Award

Thanks to Reasons2Stay for nominating me for the Mystery Blogger Award! Reasons2Stay writes a refreshingly honest personal blog, which includes great food for thought and daily doses of positivity.

How the Mystery Blogger Award works:

-List the rules.
-Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
-Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
-You have to nominate others
-Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
-Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice

Three things about myself:

  1. I am in the process of a major move (currently ~800 miles into a ~1000 mile road trip)!
  2. I recently started doing yoga to help with anxiety and insomnia, but it has also made me stronger and more flexible.
  3. I’m indecisive by nature, so I’m having a difficult time choosing a third fact!

Q&A:

  1. How long have you been in your blogging journey? Since December 2018.
  2. Do you like comics, if you do which one is your favorite? I love PhD comics!
  3. Do you think we are alone in the universe? Probably not! The universe is vast, so the possibilities for life beyond Earth (including life forms that we humans wouldn’t necessarily recognize as “life”) are also vast.
  4. Shower or bath? Shower all the way.
  5. London or Paris? Can I pick both?! I haven’t been to either, but would happily visit either or both.

My nominations:

I will nominate the following bloggers for the Mystery Blogger Award 🙂

Questions for my nominees:

  1. What book, movie, or TV show has changed your life?
  2. What combination of three fictional characters do you think describes yourself?
  3. Have you ever overcome a major fear? How did you do it?
  4. What has been the best day of 2019 for you so far? Why?
  5. What is your guilty pleasure?