Currently | November

Happy end of November! Thanksgiving is behind us and just like that, we're less than a month away from Christmas. I thought I'd get in one last November post to share what I've been up to lately using the What's Happening Wednesday format (that I thought was this week-- whoops!). I'm also linking up with Kristen & Gretchen for What's New With you.

What I'm eating: After Thanksgiving I haven't felt like stepping foot in the kitchen, but my brother sent our Christmas gift early and I'm so excited to make a few recipes from the Skinnytaste Fast & Slow cookbook.

What I'm reminiscing about: I have season 1 of The OC on DVD, but I haven't watched it in years. Earlier this week I came across a random channel and it was playing the first episode so I thought I'd watch it for a minute or two... but I got sucked in and ended up watching the first two episodes and now I think I might fire up the old DVD player to watch the rest of it because it gave me so much nostalgia!

What I'm working on: In blogland, I'm working on finishing up the last changes to my newish design. I've been putting off updating my labels and figuring out what categories I want to focus on, but I'm really happy with how everything has turned out so far.

What I'm excited about: So many things-- my parents are coming to visit for Christmas and I'm more excited than I can express!

What I'm watching: I didn't think it was possible, but I think I overdid it on the Hallmark movies. Aside from a couple favorites they all kind of blend together with the same story lines and very little diversity, so I'm more than ready for all of the Christmas classics. I'm also looking forward to the new season of Top Chef & Fixer Upper.

What I'm listening to: The Mariah Carey holiday station was really disappointing me, so I went into the holiday stations and came across Hipster Holidays, and it's the best thing ever. Festive and chill all at once.

What I'm doing this weekend: Hopefully making gingerbread loaf & making a big dent in our holiday shopping.

What I'm looking forward to next month: I'm going to go with the obvious answer for this one and say Christmas!

What else is new: Our Christmas tree has so much character this year and I'm loving it. I've grown to appreciate getting a real tree more and more every year, but I'm pretty content just getting the first tree we see that looks like the right height. This year our tree has some super long branches sticking out in random places, and some branches missing in other places.

What have you been up to lately?
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Finding Fall | The National Arboretum, Union Market, and Carrot Cake Cookies

mason dixie biscuit co, national arboretum
Remember last week when I said I was over fall and ready for all things Christmas? I think God was telling me to slooow down, because we had the most perfect fall weather this past two weekends ago in DC. I've been wanting to go to the National Arboretum for a while, but it has always seemed kind of out of the way for some reason, so we've never made going a priority. With the stellar weather forecast, and knowing that miserably cold days are ahead, I wanted to take advantage of doing something outdoors, so it was the perfect excuse to head over to the Arboretum.

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Carly Reads Here | November

I only have three books in this post, which is probably not a bad thing because I have more lengthy reviews for two of them. One of them being probably the worst book I've read all year, and another one that is easily in my top 5 books of the entire year- how's that for balance? Linking up with Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books.

Today Will Be Different | This was one of my most anticipated books of the fall and unfortunately it left me really disappointed. I read Bernadette (also by Semple) at the end of last year and remember enjoying the writing and voice, but not being totally crazy about the storyline, so when I read the synopsis for Today Will be Different I was really excited. It's told over a single day in the life of Eleanor who swears today will be different and she won't be such a mess. Sadly the story didn't quite achieve a level of momentum that held my interest and I found myself bored and honestly have already forgot just about every detail. 

It Ends With Us | I've only read one other Colleen Hoover book and it wasn't my favorite, but I liked it enough to really want to read It Ends With Us, especially because it has over 4.5 stars on Goodreads with over 35,000 ratings! The tagline is, sometimes the one you love is the one who hurts you the most.

I hate to be critical but this book was not for me... I found it cringeworthy over anything else, from the dialogue to the descriptions and the foreshadowing. The characters had zero depth-- I didn't know if I was going to make it through another second if I had to listen to Lily mention that Ryle was a neurosurgeon or comment on what he was wearing one more time. Their love story was weak and the dialogue didn't seem remotely realistic... and when you don't buy into the story or the characters, that makes it really hard to care... even about tough topics.

Through all the shallowness, the book focuses on domestic violence and abusive relationships. I appreciated the afterward when Hoover talks about how personal the story is to her, and I think it's important to raise awareness to domestic violence, but I personally did not care for the writing, the story, or any of the characters. I've come to the conclusion that I'm one of the few people who are not a huge fan of Colleen Hoover. If you've enjoyed her other books, I'm sure the star rating and outstanding reviews are going to be more of your speed. 

Homegoing |  This book took me an unusually long time to read and I'm not sure why because I loved every bit of it and it was amazingly captivating. It was the October choice from the Beyond Words Book Club, and I didn't know too much about it before reading it, other than that it had received a lot of praise. I also knew it was about two half-sisters- one who is sold into slavery and the other one marries an Englishman. When I started reading it I assumed it was going to switch back and forth between their two storylines, but after the third chapter I consulted the table of contents and realized it was a new POV with every chapter so I went back and read the entire synopsis and realized that it's a generational story. So it's kind of like a new story in every chapter and I was continually amazed at how Gyasi could make me so invested in every new character in so few pages. It's a weird feeling to want a chapter to end because you're anxious to see what comes next, but to feel sad at the same time because you want to continue with the character you're currently following. I really can't do the book justice, but highly recommend to everyone.
We believe the one who has the power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history, you must always ask yourself, whose story am I missing? Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too.  [yaa gyasi, homegoing]
What books are on your radar to read before the year is over? 
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What's New

Fall is pretty much over in my mind and I'm ready to go full force into all things holiday. I managed to check off almost everything on my fall to-do list. We saw Girl on the Train and were both a little unimpressed. I've read the book (my husband hasn't), but we both thought it jumped around a little too much to ever build any real suspense. I made caramel corn for the first time ever and it was delicious, but I think I actually prefer caramel apples a bit more. We took our traditional trip to the apple orchard and drank overpriced hot cider, got a couple of mini pumpkins, and picked a few apples. I made an apple crisp, which is perfect because you can kind of make as much as you want without having to make an entire pie or go through a lot of work. Lastly, we're on the fence about running a Thanksgiving 5k, but have a couple of weeks left to decide.

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