words of radiance

What I’m Into: April 2014 Edition

Linking up with Leigh Kramer again this month for her What I’m Into series.

What I’m Reading:

I actually finished Words of Radiance this month even though I slipped into last month’s round-up, but now I sort of regret doing that because my book list feels short. So I’m just going to re-mention that I finished Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance this month and it was even better than the first one and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

bread and wineBread and Wine by Shauna Niequist is a book that had been on my digital bookshelf for a few months. This month I finally got around to reading it. Let me tell you, this book was a balm for my soul. Through years of struggling with my “relationship” with food, I have come to believe that there is something deeply significant about what we eat and in the communal aspect of sharing food with others. Niequist’s book made me feel validated in these feelings. It especially helped me to articulate for myself how I feel about food and my consumption choices in a world where more and more people are becoming ardent food-evangelists for a particular way of eating. (I wrote about that here). At it’s core though, this book is about food as an avenue for community and about hospitality, both of which are increasingly important values in my life.

cuttingThe Cutting Season by Attica Locke. I’d seen this book on a lot of bestseller lists and was in the mood for something different. Genre-wise I’d classify it as a literary mystery. The plot is built around a murder, but the book isn’t designed as a classic detective or crime novel. Overall, I thought it was a good book, not a great one, but the basis of its appeal for me was that it’s set in the present day on a plantation in South Louisiana, actually just an hour or so from where I grew up The plantation is kept as a historical site and the main character is in charge of renting it out for events and running tours. I’ve rarely read a book, even one set in Louisiana, that brought me home so completely. This book made me miss Louisiana, which is strange for me since I’ve never felt particularly tied to it

thousand daysThe Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale is a YA fantasy book I decided to read this as a quick and relaxing story while I tried to decide which larger book to get into next.. It served its purpose. No great shakes, but it was mildly entertaining. I’m generally a fan of the retold fairy-tale genre when it’s done well.

I’ve just started reading The Wise Man’s Fear which is the second book in the Name of the Wind series by Patrick Rothfuss. So far it is just as enchanting as the first one was.

What I’m Watching:

Divergent: Jonathan and I saw Divergent in theaters a few days after it came out here in Korea. In his words, “I liked it more than I thought I would.” Having read the books, there are a lot of gaping plot/logic holes to the story which can be irritating if you think about them too much. But if you can put all of that to the side and just go with it, the movie was entertaining and the acting was pretty good. And Shailene Woodley’s hair was absolutely the star of the show.

Noah. I know a lot of people have strong opinions about this movie. Frankly, I don’t understand the people who were getting their panties in a wad disowning it because it isn’t biblical. What did they expect? These are secular filmmakers making a movie they hope will entertain people and make money. Their goal was never to make a biblically accurate story. All of that aside, there were a few things I really liked about the movie – like the way that God speaks to Noah once and then he is left clinging to that, forced to have faith that his encounter with God was real and meaningful. There are times when God doesn’t give us constant amazing displays of his power and presence and sometimes we have to trust God and have faith in our past experience of God even when He is silent. What I didn’t like so much is the portrait of this t God who doesn’t intervene even when Noah gets fixated on the idea that they aren’t meant to survive. I didn’t like how the other characters, even Noah’s family, treated the whole thing like it was Noah’s God who only existed in his head rather than a God that they could also communicate with. I heard many complaints about the strong environmental message, but I didn’t find that problematic personally. I think Christians, more than anyone else even, should be concerned about how we care for the earth and could stand to think about conscientious consumption and what it means not to take and use more than we need. All in all, I didn’t think it was a terrible or offensive movie, but I also didn’t think it was a great movie. I was just like, “Meh.” Though the special effects of the actual flood were kind of cool.

As far as television goes, I can feel summer coming as we reach the season finales of New Girl, Mindy Project, Parks and Recreation, and Modern Family.  I’ve continued to be hooked by Nashville and am completely emotionally exhausted after this season of Parenthood. And of course, there was the series finale of How I Met Your Mother which I had conflicting feelings about and which left me feeling like I’d lost some of my best friends. Is that sad? I’m also more than halfway through Call the Midwife which I am both fascinated and repulsed by. During ever labor scene I swear I will never, ever do that and then every time they successfully deliver a baby, I cry at the miracle of life, so I don’t know where that leaves me on the baby thing…

 

What I’m Listening To:

Ingrid Michaelson’s new album is wonderful (like everything about Ingrid). I also stumbled onto this gem recently and have become completely obsessed with it. This is an unrecorded song that she sings at live shows sometimes with her husband, fellow musician Greg Laswell. I can’t even deal.

 

What I’m Eating:

I’m still loving the zucchini lasagna, but strawberries being in-season here led me to try a strawberry cream cheese chocolate chunk bread recipe that I cobbled together out of a few recipes I found on Pinterest and then turned into strawberry cream cheese muffins. They were a rousing success. I also turned my love of adding zucchini to things to my baking and tried a lemon zucchini bread. I don’t like using oil in my baking, but there isn’t any applesauce here (which would be my normal substitute) so I used sour cream instead. It made the texture slightly gummier, but it also cut out about 800 calories, so I say worth it.

zucchini bread

Check out my Pinterest boards for the basic versions of these recipes (I always end up changing things). I’m also obsessed with pistachio ice cream right now. I can’t get enough of it. But sadly, I think I bought the last pint from our local grocery store this week. I may be the only person who ever bought it so I’m not confident they will be re-stocking any time soon. So much weeping…

Best thing I’ve read:

One of my favorite writers, Addie Zierman’s, wrote a courageous post about depression.

And Emily Maynard wrote this beautiful, thought-provoking post about God and gender. Parts of this really resonated with me. Parts of this were confusing to me. I wasn’t 100% sure what she wanted us to take away, but i think it’s worth a read. I’m still mulling it over.

Finally, my friend Briana Meade’s post about tricking the YMCA into thinking she works out so that she can take advantage of a few hours of childcare and free coffee cracked me up. I’m obviously not a mom yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing things like that too.

 

Best thing I’ve written:

My most-read post this month was the one I wrote about the sacramental nature of food and why I don’t really believe in Paleo. The thing I am most proud of is probably my spoken-word poem from the beginning of the month that was a guest post for my friend Briana’s blog. I don’t think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, but it was way out of my comfort zone and I felt good about trying something new.

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In other news, we are kicking off May in Korea with a bang. My parents have arrived in Korea for a visit! They’ll be here for the next 10 days and we are off of work on Monday and Tuesday for Children’s Day and Buddha’s Birthday respectively, so we’ll have extra time to gallivant around the country.  And in case you missed them, pictures from our trip to the green tea fields and cherry blossom season are up on Two Sore Thumbs!

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What I’m Into: March 2014 Edition

I am linking up with Leigh Kramer for her What I’m Into series (a few days late). Since the new school semester started at the beginning of March I have been much busier than I was in January and February which means I’ve done a lot less reading/watching/listening, etc. than I would like. So, I’m including a few from February as well to round out the list. I am very excited to have a guest post for Briana Meade coming out very soon, so stay tuned for that!

 

What I’ve Been Reading:

Way of Kings

Words of

Blue Bike



 

 

 

 

where'd you go bernadette

girl

Name of the Wind

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Way of Kings and Word of Radiance. Books 1 & 2 of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Chronicles. Oh. Em. Gee. Some of the best books I have read ever. Period. And I have read a looooot of books. Beautiful writing, stunning world-building, interesting plot, complex characters, twists and turns. These books have everything. The only downside is that the second one just came out this month, so it will probably be another three years before Sanderson churns out his next 1,000 page masterpiece. Also, I’m cheating a little bit because I am not quite done with Words of Radiance, but maybe you can cut me some slack.
  2. Notes from a Blue Bike Tsh Oxenreider’s new book about living simply and creating the life you want to live. In many ways I was inspired by this book to evaluate and define what it is I want out of life. What are my priorities? What are the things that matter most deeply to me? What are the values I want to build my life around? And how do I make those things reality. You only live once and you can either whine the whole time about how life isn’t the way you wish it was, or you can find ways to intentionally create the life you want to live. Tsh gives examples from various times in her family’s lives when they have been  living in Turkey, in Austin, Texas and in a tiny town in Oregon. I mostly really enjoyed this book and its message. But then she wrote a chapter about traveling and how it’s important for their family and so they have found a way to make it work even after having kids. At first I was like, “Hurray! It’s totally possible, see?!” And then I read about how they spent a week in Paris with their kids and made compromises like barely seeing the Louvre and stopping at playgrounds so their kids could get out energy and foregoing a romantic picnic by the Eiffel Tower. And that’s where she lost me. Because all I could think was, “That sounds great, except for the part where your kids were there and you had to go to all of the playgrounds in Paris.” So, this confirmed for me that I need to go to Paris before we have kids.
  3. Girl at the End of the World. This is Elizabeth Esther’s memoir about growing up in and leaving a fundamentalist cult. It was equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful. Although not many of us have experienced the level of fundamentalism and abuse Esther experienced, I thought her story shed light on what spiritual abuse looks like in an extreme case which helped me understand what it can look like in milder situations. I also drew hope from the way Esther and her family were eventually able to make peace with God and find a way back to the Church. If anyone had a reason to give up on Church entirely, it was Esther, and reading her story gave me hope for my own.
  4. Allegiant– Veronica Roth. I read this because I read the first two books in the Divergent trio and felt compelled to finish the story. It’s easily the worst of the three books. In this book the narrative is told by two first-person narrators (Tris and Four) and chapters alternate between them, but the voices were so similar I constantly had to flip back to the beginning of the chapter to remember who was supposed to be speaking. The plot feels very fragmented rather than cohesive and in the end I still wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be hoping for.
  5. Gone Girl –Gillian Flynn. I read this as a quick read at the end of my vacation and I can’t say I liked it all that much. Without ruining the ending (even though I don’t really recommend reading it) I’ll just say that in my opinion, the author sacrificed an opportunity for complexity in the characters and some insights on relationships for the sake of sensationalism. Not a fan.
  6. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – Maria Semple. I read this book as a light vacation kind of read and I was not disappointed. It’s fun, it’s clever, it’s well-written. I didn’t guess the ending from page room. The characters are unique and interesting. If you are looking for something light but not mindless, I’d recommend it.
  7. Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. This is another long fantasy book, but the prose is stunning and the characters are great. In simplest terms, it tells the story of a young boy who loses his family to some mysterious forces and spends a lifetime trying to find out what happened to them and seek justice. With about a million plot twists along the way. If you are at all into fantasy, read it.

 

 

What I’ve Been Watching:

Movies:

Captain America – Winter Soldier: This was another typical superhero movie and I found it entertaining as I generally like superhero movies. I’ve always found the Captain America character in himself a bit bland since he is just sort of an all-around good guy without a lot of internal conflicts. I did think this movie added a little more complexity to the Captain America saga. And he’s easy on the eyes.

The Grand Budapest Hotel – What to say…it’s a Wes Anderson movie. While I LOVED Moonrise Kingdom, this movie was harder to categorize as something I “enjoyed.” Some parts of it were deeply sad, but were mixed in with Anderson’s characteristic quirky humor so that it was also amusing. But it was hard to say, “Oh I loved it!” when there were some very sad or upsetting elements. I do always love the look of Wes Anderson movies. Each shot is like a painting and I find them very visually interesting.

 

TV Shows:

Since finishing both Sherlock and Downton Abbey, I’ve been keeping up with my regular shows including Nashville, Parenthood, Bones (out of loyalty, even though every episode is essentially the same), and The series finale for How I Met Your Mother took me through an emotional wringer I may never recover from.

Jonathan and I have also started watching the IT Crowd and are trying to catch up on Scandal which we just started watching a few months ago. (Are we the only people who don’t find Olivia Pope to be all that sympathetic of a character, btw? I just spend most of the show feeling really bad for David Rosen). We also watch Parks and Recreation, New Girl, and Modern Family as they air.

What I’ve Been Eating:

I made a zucchini lasagna for the first time a few weeks ago and I am absolutely raving about it. It’s hands-down the best thing I have cooked since moving to Korea. You use the zucchini instead of lasagna noodles so it’s much healthier for you (though it does still have all that cheese). I’ve actually made it twice since I found the recipe and talked about it at least once a day. I’m that proud of it.

Zucchini-Lasagna

Also, I am maybe obsessed with pinot noir. I can’t seem to stop myself from buying it every time we go to Costco or Homeplus (the only 2 stores in our city that sell wine). It’s like I’m stocking up for the apocalypse. This wouldn’t be such a terrible thing, except that Jonathan doesn’t really drink wine. So it falls to me to finish all those bottles. I bravely soldier on…

It’s finally spring in Korea which means cherry blossoms everywhere! We are headed to the Jinhae Cherry Blossom festival this weekend and running a 10K in our city which we will hopefully write all about soon (with many pictures!) on our Two Sore Thumbs blog.

What about you? Anything you are into that I am really missing out on?