Happy December! As someone who dreads winter, I’m always surprised by how excited the first day of December makes me! Christmas is by far my favorite holiday, and I have always loved the anticipation of hearing Christmas music everywhere you go and seeing all the decorations go up in our neighborhood. And now that I have kids — wow! It’s amazing how much more fun the holidays become. Graham has a very tight list of things that he’s asking Santa for, and every day he asks if Christmas is tomorrow! Even Harrison recognizes Santa Claus (“hoho”).
It feels like we are going at a breakneck pace preparing for Christmas and our annual Ugly Sweater Party in mid-December, and I love doing these weekly roundups because it helps me take a minute to appreciate things that I’ve enjoyed or felt grateful for, even during a busy week.
AN OBVIOUS LIFE HACK
I learned something this week that I should have known a long time ago, and I’m really kind of embarrassed to share that I didn’t know it, but it actually changed my life with how much quicker I can sort through/edit photos. When I upload photos from my phone or camera, a lot of them need to be rotated. I used to go through them and ROTATE THEM ONE BY ONE. Then, I found out you can highlight the ones you need to rotate and there is a left-click option to rotate them en masse clockwise or counterclockwise! A seriously life-changing and embarrassingly obvious trick. I sound like an 87 year old.
Somehow, I found the time to finish two books in two weeks, and I’m really confused as to where I found the time between everything else that has been going on, but I’ll take it!
The first is Julie and Julia, which I’ve had on my bookshelf for a while and finally got around to reading. Considering its huge popularity, I had a lot of trouble getting into it! It wasn’t until the middle of the book when the author’s story gained some momentum that I really wanted to keep coming back to it. In the beginning, the authors voice (although very funny and charming in a self-deprecating sort of way) just started to feel too predictable and the story felt really mundane. But it did pick up, and it was a very REAL story about how it feels to make changes in your life (lots of bumps and dips). Now, I’d like to see the movie.
I got this book for $3 at the grocery store the other day (I can never resist a bargain books bin!). The story oscillates between narrators — first three members of an immediate family, and then hopping between all the members of their vacation party — slowly revealing important recent events that have affected the family dynamic and just-under-the-surface judgments on each other. It drew me in right away and I zoomed through it in a few days. Here are a few excerpts I enjoyed:
I love a good novel about families that explores the funny/sad nuances of the super close yet still confusing relationships between the family members (it reminded me of Monkeys by Susan Minot in that way, but more on the feel-good, lighthearted beach-read end of the spectrum). Buy it here if you’re interested.
My mom has always used a rice cooker, but I never did. Steve is a master at cooking the creamiest, most delicious rice (secret ingredient — butter), and he taught me his ways, so we always made it on the stove top. I was really excited when my mom recently gifted us a rice cooker though, for a few reasons. It makes rice that is so different than what we make on the stove top — it is light and airy and fluffy, and pairs so well with steamed vegetables and stir fries. It is also super quick and totally foolproof. And, as an added bonus, it has a steamer tray so that you can steam 1-2 servings of vegetables. I can’t tell you how much this has come in handy this week! I’ll write more in a post later on, but we have our kitchen floor torn up and we are tiling this week (on the few days Steve is not working), so our stove is unplugged and forlorn, sitting in the dining room. It’s been so hard finding ways to cook healthy food for me and the kids, but this rice cooker has really come to the rescue (that and the microwave — thank god for those steam bags of veggies!). Thanks, Mom!