Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Reading List

The past two New Year's Eves I have shared lists of all the books and plays I read that year. Here is my list from 2015. As always, only books or plays that were read all the way through have made the list (nothing skimmed or unfinished).

For 2015 I also challenged myself to complete this reading challenge. I've been wanting to branch out in my genres more, in addition to just reading more books. So, while I've still organized my reads by Non-Fiction, Fiction and Plays, next to each book you'll see the category that it fulfills from the challenge.


Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman -- a nonfiction book


The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, Volume 1 by Jaques Tardi -- a graphic novel
The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story by Lemony Snicket -- a book set during Christmas (well, Chanukah and Christmas really)
The Martian by Andy Weir -- a book that became a movie
All Other Nights by Dara Horn -- a book your mom loves (this one might be stretching it a little, but she did send this one to me after she read it!)
Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver -- a book published this year
The Sapphire Rose by David Eddings -- a book with magic
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty --a book with antonyms in the title
Rav Hisda's Daughter Book 1 Apprentice by Maggie Anton -- a book set in a different country
Tortall and Other Lands by Tamora Pierce -- a book of short stories
Petals on the Wind by V. C. Andrews -- a book with a love triangle
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern -- a book by a female author
The Ruby Knight by David Eddings -- a book from an author you love that you haven't read yet
Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews -- a book by an author you've never read before


Fuddy Meers by David Lindsay-Abaire -- a play
Red Riding Hood by Mike Kenny -- a book with a color in the title
Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Shanley -- a book you can finish in a day
The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan -- a book more than 100 years old

Unused Categories:
-a book with more than 500 pages
-a classic romance
-a book with a number in the title
-a book written by someone under 30
-a book with nonhuman characters
-a funny book
-a mystery or thriller
-a book with a one word title
-a popular author's first book
-a book a friend recommended
-a Pulitzer Prize-winning book
-a book based on a true story
-a book at the bottom of your to-read list
-a book that scares you
-a book based entirely on its cover
-a book you were supposed to read in school but didn't
-a memoir
-a book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
-a book that came out the year you were born
-a book with bad reviews
-a trilogy
-a book from your childhood
-a book set in the future
-a book set in high school
-a book that made you cry
-a book you own but have never read
-a book that takes place in your hometown
-a book that was originally written in a different language
-a book written by an author with your same initials
-a banned book
-a book based on or turned into a TV show
-a book you started but never finished

I'm hoping to do even more reading in 2016! I have so many books waiting to be read, and there are lots of categories from this year's challenge that I didn't even touch. Here's to a great new year of reading!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 12.27.15

After the holidays, our fridge is full of delicious leftovers! I like how easy that makes meal planning for the week. Here's what we're planning to eat:

Sunday: spaghetti squash alfredo

Monday: leftovers - borscht

Tuesday: bratwurst & veggies TBD

Wednesday: leftovers - duck, stuffing etc

Thursday: slow cooker chick-pea stew

Friday: leftovers - chick pea stew

Saturday: more leftovers? dinner out?

I'm also planning to make these Cranberry Apple Danish to use up some of the cranberry jelly I made for Christmas. The jelly itself was definitely a winner, so I'm betting these danish will be fantastic too!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 12.20.15

It's looking like a pretty low-key week for us this week. We'll be having Chinese on Christmas Eve, and then we will be having a small Christmas dinner with just the two of us -- it's a fun chance to try all the fancy recipes I see in my Martha Stewart magazines that aren't practical to try out on Sean's 30 person family gatherings! And because we'll have a huge amount of leftovers after Friday, I'll be keeping the beginning of the week fairly simple. So here's what we're planning on eating this week:

Sunday: leftovers

Monday: leftover borscht

Tuesday: ravioli & artichoke pesto, salad

Wednesday: leftovers -- get some containers out of that fridge!

Thursday: Chinese food

Friday: duck with cranberry-orange sauce; butternut squash stuffing; brown sugar glazed carrots; creme bruleed pumpkin pie

Saturday: leftovers!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Family Room Decor

When going through my Chanukah decor pictures yesterday, I realized that I never posted pictures when I finished painting the family room/breakfast nook/kitchen! I painted it months ago, I can't believe we never actually photographed it! So for today's house update, here are some pictures of the family room.

I showed you this one with the nutcrackers and "Hanukkah" garland on the mantle yesterday:

Living Design Family Room Decor

Real life with a gray cat and off-white couches: we keep a blanket over her favorite spot at all times to make fur removal easier. Yep, that's a TARDIS blanket for the Whovian cat. The couches are slipcovered, so they are fairly simple to wash, but tossing the blanket in the laundry is even simpler and minimizes wear and tear on that one cushion.

Living Design Family Room Decor

Here's a better, less glare-y shot of the art behind the TV. Those are two vintage travel posters for Siena, Italy. Above the center speaker are a couple record covers, for My Fair Lady and Camelot.

Living Design Family Room Decor

The built in bookshelves have books, movies, art and other cool things. Here's our "superhero" shelf, with our collection of Marvel movies and our little Captain America and Baby Groot.

Living Design Family Room Decor

On the other side of the fireplace, I also have sections of shelf dedicated to Tolkein (both books and movies), Tamora Pierce books and David Eddings books. And a section of Arthurian legend/British pre-history since after doing my MFA "thesis" on Camelot I have a lot of Arthurian books!

And that's the family room! I'll take updated pictures of the kitchen and breakfast nook next and share those soon.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Chanukah Decorating (2015 Edition)

I had plans to post my Chanukah decor before the start of the holiday. But we were so busy with celebrations that I'm not actually getting it up until today, the last day. Oh well, better late than never!

This year, since we just finished the dining room and we were hosting a large group of friends for latkes and brisket, we did a lot of holiday decorating in the dining room.

Living Design Chanukah Decorating 2015

The frames above the sideboard now have photos in them, but the package hadn't yet arrived from Shutterfly when I took these pictures.

Living Design Chanukah Decorating 2015

Living Design Chanukah Decorating 2015

You can never have too many dreidels!

And here's the dining table all set for 10! It was so fun to get out all of our wine glasses for a fancy party, it's not something we ever had room for in our old place!

Living Design Chanukah Decorating 2015

We hung the felt menorah in the living room.

Living Design Chanukah Decorating 2015

And did a little mantle decorating with nutcrackers and a glittery "Hanukkah" garland in the family room.
Living Design Chanukah Decorating 2015

Living Design Chanukah Decorating 2015

We also put some dreidel garland up the staircase, but with the snowy weather over the weekend I haven't had good light to take a picture. Hopefully the sun will cooperate so I can share that before December is over, but we will see.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 12.13.15

We had a busy weekend filled with parties and friends, so I'm planning on some simpler meals this week, and working on cleaning out some of our leftovers too.

Sunday: leftover brisket and latkes

Monday: quiche and salad

Tuesday: borscht

Wednesday: leftover chicken curry

Thursday:leftover borscht

Friday: finish off leftovers

Saturday: date night

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 12.6.15

Happy Chanukah! It's time for latkes, applesauce and donuts around here.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday: slow cooker chili & corn bread

Monday: leftovers

Tuesday: pasta with chicken & salad

Wednesday: menorah lighting at the community center

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: latkes and applesauce, brisket

Saturday: holiday party at work