I always get annoyed with myself that my Bookmark Lit Bulletin wrap-ups are too long and that no one wants to read that much. I get carried away on all sides – the bookish and the personal. So! My solution was to create Lauren Lately to highlight all of the personal happenings in my life: events, activities, shows I’m addicted to, things I’m obsessing over, and goals for the next month. I decided to space them out so this wrap-up happens around the mid-point and the bookish one happens at the end of the month. (After all, I base all of my book stats around the month ending anyways and my personal life is more flexible 😉 )
✨ Check out my most recent bookish and bloggy wrap-up HERE ✨
Thanksgiving was another busy holiday for Chris and me. Unlike Christmas, we only had to hit up two houses that day. As long as I’ve been alive we’ve had Thanksgiving in the morning/early afternoon with my family. My mom is a Cowboys fan and they always play at 4:30, so we’d have to get our asses home in time for the game. It works out perfectly because Chris’s family tends to do things later in the day. We went to my Nana’s house at noon and had Thanksgiving with them, then we went to Chris’s parents house at 4:00 for the second meal. I loved all the food – as usual – and it was great to see everyone!
The long weekend after Thanksgiving was a much-needed mini-vacation from work. My boss was out of the office the entire week so it was really like a full week off for me 😉 I had the office to myself 100% of the time and it was glorious. She told me to leave early on Wednesday night so I made it down to Chris and his sister’s tattoo appointment without missing much. On Friday, we spent hours deep cleaning our apartment. It felt GREAT. We spent a few hours that night house-and-cat-sitting for my dad. I loved having Ollie to cuddle with and we were overall lazy for a few great hours. The rest of the weekend was a mix of activities, like getting errands done on Saturday (when Black Friday craziness sort of subsided), having dinner with Chris’s family before his sister went back up to school, and watching lots of football. I also had lunch with my friend and her boyfriend on Sunday, who were down from Boston for Thanksgiving. I miss her but we made plans for a couple weekends ago.
We had our annual holiday ConnLUG meeting at the end of November, where we get a lot of free Lego and plan for the next year. It’s definitely the best meeting we have, then we have December off. Before the meeting, we did a bit more hiking
than we planned that weekend up on Soapstone Mountain. It’s in our hometown and you used to be able to climb up the lookout tower. Apparently it’s since been closed off and they’re working on revamping everything. We ended up getting lost in the woods and on random streets near the mountain, which was a really fun four mile walk back to the mountain’s parking lot…. Good times. Ugh.
We went on another hike to the Roxbury Mines and trail in Roxbury, CT. First of all… cutest town in the middle of nowhere! Second of all… coolest hike ever! There was a lot of ~variety~ throughout the trail: flat spots, steep spots, near water, in the middle of the woods, over rocks, etc. We never knew what we’d find around the next corner. I loved it and totally wish it was closer (it’s over an hour from where we live). There were some historical aspects too, since it used to be some kind of iron/mine situation. There were signs and big, old brick buildings they used.
Christmas decorating happened over the final week of November into December. We waited until that first weekend of the year but I totally would have gone sooner if Chris let me. We decorated little by little and finally have everything up! (Of course now Christmas is 10 days away – eek!) I love that we decided to go with multicolored lights this year on the outside window. It’s more fun than the white lights, plus I put those around our headboard on the bed. It’s perfect because they’re light enough to read by but not too light that it would keep Chris up.
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: This show is pretty funny! I enjoyed watching it over the last month but I have to say… it doesn’t really make me laugh out loud. I’m not sure if I’m just getting pickier or what? I love Kimmy and think the premise is so funny overall. I’m definitely a fan but I’m missing the LOLs (much like The Good Place).
Parenthood: I recently started this one! I’ve never seen it before and feel like it’ll be up my alley. It’s been compared to Brothers & Sisters and This Is Us sooo that’s perfect. I’ve only seen a few episodes so far but definitely can see myself getting addicted at some point.
The Office: Chris and I have been watching this one over the past few months and I love it so much. I only saw the first few seasons back in the day before I stopped watching, so we started from the beginning. We unfortunately just got to the part where Michael leaves the office and I know there are some shitty episodes ahead, but I also know there will be some gems in the last season. My heart isn’t ready though.
My classic Christmas movies: My favorite holiday movie, easily, is The Santa Clause with Tim Allen. I watch even the shitty sequels because I just have to. I got started fairly early with some of the Christmas classics, like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and the claymation movies we all love. I made it a point to focus on trying to watch a few Christmas rom-coms too, like The Holiday and The Family Stone, that I enjoyed in the past.
New Christmas movies: I’m annoyed at myself for saying this but we haven’t expanded our horizons as much as I’d hoped by this point in December! We both have Christmas Eve Eve off from work so I really want some nonstop Christmas movies rolling through alllll day.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Like many Potterheads, I was cautiously optimistic about this movie. I have mixed feelings about how HP has continued loooong past what I expected, but I’m still always intrigued to see how it goes. Honestly, this movie was near perfect for me. I loved the subtle references to the HP world we know but that this movie stands on its own. I’m REALLY eager to see where the rest go!
Podcasts & Other Media
No podcasts at the moment! I haven’t been listening to anything because I want to get my reading challenge done for the year. Based on the number of books I read in November, I needed to beef my reading up a little bit to get 12 or 13 books (depending on if you look at my spreadsheet or the Goodreads challenge). This year I averaged around 11 books per month. So yes, more audiobooks and less podcasts and music!
Food & Drink Recipes
Bang Bang Shrimp Pasta // Bang bang sauce is my favorite and its so easy. The mayonnaise thing does bother me when I think about it, buuuut I try not to because the flavor is great. I’ve made bang bang chicken pasta before but I altered the recipe for shrimp. The outcome was good! I think I like it more than the chicken, but I don’t like leftovers of this sauce at all really.
Thai Pumpkin Curry Soup // My coworker made a variation of this recently and brought it into the office. I knew I needed to try it myself because it was so tasty and fall-like! I used parts of his recipe (from a cookbook I don’t have) and parts of the linked recipe. I made sure garlic and onions were added for some extra flavor and texture.
Baked Barbecue Wings // I always make wings in the crockpot and love it. But, for the days I have less time to set it up for Chris to get going on in the afternoon, I like these baked wings! They were easy and breaded with flour and spices. Seriously… so easy and so good. I can’t wait to experiment with buffalo and other sauces sometime!
Products & THINGS
Lularoe: Yes, I got a LITTLE back into Lula this past month. Ugh. It all started again when I determined that I needed a pair of the holiday leggings. Not sure how I actually got lucky enough, but I ended up with a pair! They’re super simple but exactly what I was hoping for. Some of the other designs are too much for me. I bought a couple other pairs of leggings I’d been looking for FOREVER and a couple of Irmas that I’ve also had my eye on. I ended up selling some of my TC leggings because I’m closer to OS now (and losing weight still). So, all in all, I’m glad I made some money back before I got addicted. ALSO I finally busted out the flying pig leggings I got my sister for Christmas to wrap. I seriously bought them back in the summertime and saved them this long (so unlike me!).
Etsy: I resisted the urge A LOT to buy myself shit from Etsy while Christmas shopping. There are so many bookish candles, bookmarks, and other paraphernalia that I need. I can’t wait for Christmas to be over so I can start shopping for myself hehe. Here are some shops I’ve been creeping on: Novelly Yours (candles I have and love already), LaneyBellDesigns (gorgeous hand painted signs of varying sizes), Skinny Hues (bookmarks), and Little Paper Mama (also bookmarks). This is just a drop in the bucket though if you look at my WL.
Reading Challenge Sign-Ups: I was creeping around like crazy to find some new challenges for the year. I ended up signing up for three from last year, plus one new one, plus the challenge I’m hosting with Erica. You can see the ones I chose from my post this week. Also worth noting? The Baby It’s Cold Read-a-Thon aims to help you finish up some books for your Goodreads challenge. Definitely signed up!
2017 Book Spreadsheet: Crini’s spreadsheets are my favorite. Seriously, they’re the #1 key to my bookish organization. I used them in 2015 and 2016 to track books and challenges, and of course I already started tooling around with the 2017 spreadsheet she posted. I make my own tabs for challenges, bingo, library book due dates, and other standard TBR things as well. But, the statistics and filters she creates are unreal. They help so much for making wrap-up posts and tracking your reading!
A Guide to Marvel Comics: I need to really read this more thoroughly, but I bookmarked it last month to investigate. Chris reads more Marvel Comics than I do, but I’ve been trying to figure out where to begin. Lauren wrote a blog post that gives you an overview of how to read the Marvel Universe comics.
Are You a Serial Hobbyist?: I LOVED this post on Boats Against a Current because I can totally relate. My entire life has been a revolving door of hobbies and sports teams. Book blogging and reading are the only things that have stuck around longer than a few months or maybe a year. It feels nice to find some kind of “home” or thing that feels right. I still find myself dabbling in new hobbies – planning, bullet journaling, making bookmarks, etc. – but this is what has lingered the longest.
How I Use My Bullet Journal to Keep Track of My Reading: I always love a good bujo post and Nick/Nereyda have some great ones. This post about tracking reading was especially timely, as I think about setting up 2017 year-long pages in my bujo. I like how I currently track books (maybe a post on this next year?) but hope to make new pages to list series, audiobooks I own and need to read, post ideas, etc.
Since Last Time…
1. Finish at least three holiday books. Success! I was able to finish one holiday novella plus two full-length books. I ended up DNFing another novel because I just wasn’t engaged with it. I’m currently reading a holiday book and have one more on my TBR as well. It’s looking like I will have finished 5-6 this year!
2. Consistently use my bullet journal and try new things. I’ve done okay with this. Not a complete success because I basically catch up on everything once a week. I don’t USE it as much as I’d like; so much of it is like “oh yeah, I did that thing, time to check it off.” We’ll see how I do later this month.
3. Get back into couponing. Complete fail. I haven’t even looked at a coupon this month.
4. Enjoy my lunch breaks and don’t go shopping all the time. I’ve been okay about this. It was probably a dumb idea to plan this during November and December when shopping is the number one thing I have to do during lunch… for presents and such. I’m almost done shopping and did a lot online, so I do think I’ll have a day or two where I can read during lunch instead of shopping. I work in a town with LOTS of big stores and malls so it gets crazy.
5. Figure out a budgeting tool again. I decided to subscribe again to YNAB at the beginning of the year, for a fresh start in 2017. It was pretty cheap to use and I totally need something that comprehensive. I like the way it was set up and just got too cheap to pay for it. So that’ll be a fun Christmas gift to myself, eh?
Goals Until Next Time
1. Finish at least two more holiday books. I did a good job with my goal of starting holiday books early, but I love sneaking a few more in before Christmas. It makes review turnaround way quicker than usual on the blog… but it’s worth it! I think everyone would like to see those reviews sooner rather than later, no?
2. Figure out my bullet journal situation for next year. I did an okay job of working on it in November and December. I used it to track holiday things, as I mentioned above, but have to figure out the weekly stuff. In any case, do I want to keep using this Moleskine until I’ve run out? Or do I want a fresh start in my new one for 2017? I like the idea of a fresh start but really don’t want to waste the first one…
3. Write out my bookish and bloggy resolutions and finish yearly wrap-ups. I already started drafting my end-of-year posts last month when I was bored, so now I just have to plug away at them. I’m one of those people who really hates working on them until my books are 100% READ for the year. I don’t want to miss anyone. I think it takes me longer to work on them than most people but I loooove this time of year in the blogosphere! Everyone’s end of year lists and challenge sign-ups and goals make me way too happy. I’m a creeper.
4. Write my TTT posts through the new year. I don’t know if this will happen, but what a nice idea. I usually have my TTTs done for the following two weeks in any given moment, but I’d love to get a few scheduled through 2017. It always gets busy during this time of year for the bloggy reasons I mentioned above, but I also never know how work is going to be. This would be a nice thing to get done this week.
5. Determine how much of my paycheck can go into savings each week. I know I should be doing this already, but I am terrible about saving money. Absolutely terrible. If Chris and I ever want to move and/or get a house, I should have a legitimate savings account. I’m hoping to pay some bills down in December/January, so then I can get a feel for how much money I can reasonably SAVE from each check.
Our office Christmas tree // Reading by the Netflix fire // Chris on our latest hike // #SockSunday under the tree
Coming Up in My Life
CHRISTMAS!!! I actually had this written in my post last month too because duh, I was already thinking about it before Thanksgiving happened. We’re officially decorated and ready to go. Only a few last minute gifts to buy, more movies to fit in before the day comes, and then a lot of relaxing for a few days off from work.
New Years? Not sure what my plans are yet. Last year we went to my friend’s apartment to just drink, eat, and hang around. We’ll probably do something similar with that same group of friends. It’s so great. Chris and I don’t really care about New Years and don’t usually get too excited, but those gatherings have been more fun lately.
Movies each week. We decided that we need to keep forcing ourselves out of the house during the week. We can get so lazy if its not a weekend! If the weather is okay, we want to see some movies on $5 Tuesdays. We have Moana and Collateral Beauty up on the list next!