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What I’m Into: June 2015 Edition

It’s that time for the monthly round-up, otherwise known as What I’m Into. As always, this is a link-up with the lovely Leigh Kramer.

I know I try to be all about living in the moment and embracing where I’m at, but to be honest I’m feeling pretty ready to kiss June goodbye. In the Korean school year, the first semester runs from March to July and in spite of this being my second summer here, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m supposed to be on summer vacation right now. I realized that I keep thinking of the time we leave Korea (August 14th) as the beginning of summer since that will be our first break from teaching and we’ll be going home. In reality, it will be the very end of summer, especially since Jonathan has to be at school on August 18th. (Yes, that is correct. We have 3 days to arrive in the US, get all of our stuff out of storage and drive it 12 hours from Louisiana to South Carolina while severely jet lagged. I feel tired just thinking about it.)

Here are all the things I’ve been up to in June while trying to avoid thinking about the move and how I still don’t have a job or a place to live.

What I’m Reading:

I read a lot of 3-star books this month (not typical for me since I can be a picky reader), but thankfully I ended the month with a bang. If you’re on Goodreads, I’d love to connect with you there!

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. This was my first Ishiguro book and to be honest, I wasn’t wowed. This is a sort of dystopian novel along the lines of The Giver but set at an exclusive boarding school in England. Even though there is a first person narrator, I felt disconnected from her and from the other characters to the extent that I didn’t really care that much what happened to them. There was also a moment towards the end that is set up as though it’s a big reveal, but I personally didn’t find the information surprising as I’d assumed it all along. I also found it irritating how extremely non-curious the characters were about the world and their role in it. I know this book is pretty highly acclaimed, but for me it was just OK.

Mariana by Susannah Kearsley. Kearsley writes a lot of semi-historical novels set in England and Scotland. In this one, Julia Beckett buys a centuries-old Wilshire farmhouse on a whim, but she discovers that her draw to the house may be more than random chance when she starts to slip back in time, experiencing the life of Mariana, a woman who lived in this house in the 17th century. This book was so similar to the only other Kearsley book I’ve read, The Winter Sea, that I couldn’t help feeling like maybe she’s a bit of a one-trick pony, but I liked it fine. I didn’t feel like I really knew all that much about the protagonist since the book is more driven by the plot than by character development, but there was still something pleasant about it. Like a not-as-good Kate Morton novel.

Interrupted: When God Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity, by Jen Hatmaker. This book challenged me, in a good way. I’m planning some posts on this in the future, but the central message of this book is what the Gospel is really about and whether we ought to be going out and being among people in need instead of trying to get them to come to us.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. I’m so proud of myself for finally getting around to this book! I don’t know what took me so long to read this since it has great reviews and it sounded like the type of book I’d like, but now that I’ve read it I can confirm that this is a great book. This novel is based on actual historical figures, Hetty “Handful” Grimke, a slave in a prominent Charleston household, and Sarah Grimke, the master’s daughter. The story begins on Sarah’s 11th birthday when Handful is given to her as a present and continues on through the two women’s lives as each woman strives for freedom in their own way.

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer. This is YA book that I literally read in one day while traveling. It was cute enough and the writing wasn’t distractingly bad or anything, but it was kind of a take-it-or-leave-it book for me. It won’t stick with me.

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) Brandon Sanderson. Reading this took me as long as all of the other books combined, but even at a whopping 825 pages it was worth it. This book picks up a year after the fall of the Final Empire (where the first book ends) in the series and I liked it even more than the first one. If you’re into big fantasy series, definitely give this one a go.

What I’m Watching:

In theaters this month we watched Spy and at home we watched the movie Chef. Spy was much funnier than I expected it to be, but I also feel very uncomfortable recommending it to anyone as I know that they will judge me because this movie was VERY crude. It’s totally not my usual type of humor, but I admit that I laughed. A lot. But I’m not condoning it. And Chef was very touching. Plus I love movies about food.

On TV I finished the current season of Nashville, and am current on Pretty Little Liars. I’ve also made it to season 4 of The Good Wife and Jonathan and I have been watching a lot of Frasier together in the evenings now that most of our regular shows are off for the summer.

What I’m Listening To:

Podcasts, man. First my friend Josh turned me on to the Gilmore Guys podcast  which is literally two guys who go episode by episode through Gilmore Girls and discuss everything they like and don’t like about each character and each episode. And they are serious. They are not being sarcastic at all. And then my friend Josh started his own podcast with his friend Kayla. It’s called Podcast! The Musical and is a podcast dedicated to discussing musical episodes of TV shows. It’s great! And then hubby and I started listening to Spontaneanation which is an improv Podcast done by Paul F. Tompkins. Each episode starts with him interviewing a special guest. The interviews are not always that interesting, but they use the information from the interviews in the following improv. And the improv is hilarious. My recommendation if you are first trying it out is not to judge it til you’ve listened all the way through the improve part. You’ve just got to muscle through the weird intro and the interview. It’s worth it. My favorite one I’ve heard so far was A Secret Society.

What I’m Eating:

I’ve managed to make June a pretty healthy eating month and can now fit in my summer clothes without assistance. I’ve made two food discoveries this month that have made eating mostly plants more enticing. The first is green smoothies which are simply some sort of milk (I use soy or almond or coconut or a combination, but you can use cow milk, too) plus whatever frozen fruits I have (usually one frozen banana plus a handful of something else) plus a big handful of spinach. If it’s not sweet enough I will add a dried, pitted date or two. You can’t taste the spinach, I swear, and they give me a lot of energy. Of course, I don’t eat a bunch of fruits the rest of the day on mornings I eat that, since it still ends up being a lot of sugar, but I’ve been really enjoying that!

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And my other food obsession is making mini eggplant pizzas. Just slice and roast your eggplant in the oven for 15-20 mins, then top with tomato sauce, toppings and cheese and broil til the cheese melts. Super easy. Super yummy.

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If you want to keep up with what I’m cooking and eating, follow me on Instagram and Pinterest.

On the Internets:

This guest post on my friend Brett’s blog about responding to difference.

This interview Rob Bell does with Elizabeth Gilbert

This post from my friend Sara about the temptation to live a safe life instead of embracing opportunities and then being left with regrets.

This post, which is not new, but which I just read again recently and still love about when you doubt your faith.

This post from Sarah Bessey about being a secret-keeper even though you are a writer, blogger, and over-sharer. I could relate so completely it was eerie.

On the Blog:

I went on 4 new adventures for my 52 weeks of adventure series (23, 24, 25, and 26). I wrote about fictional character crushes, books and place, middle child books, and YA fiction. I hosted Thankful Thursdays posts from Crystal Tripp, Kelsey Munger, Cara Meredith, and Meredith Bazzoli.  I wrote about being an introvert, my battles with trust, and rediscovering music.

This month I published my most-read post of all-time, On Getting Married Too Young. It got shared around on Facebook and mostly got a great response which was exciting. It isn’t WHY I write at all, but when you guys comment and share my posts it makes me feel like there’s value in what I’m doing here and I appreciate you all.

What I’ve Been Up To:

We celebrated our 5th anniversary with a weekend trip to Busan. We said good-bye to friends who were leaving for the summer and won’t be back before we go. We made a list of all the things we want to be sure to do before we leave Korea and started trying to sell some of our things. I picked up a couple of freelance gigs that will hopefully help cushion the blow as we move into a no-income situation. We did an awesome photo shoot with our friend, Laura. And we celebrated Jonathan’s 28th birthday the right way – with Indian food and homemade cake.

What have you been up to?