One Year After Whole 30: An Update
Favorite Fiction of 2014

What I'm Into (November 2014 Edition)

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Happy day after Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans! November strikes me as an especially patriotic month, starting with the election and ending with a table full of family and/or friends gathered around a turkey. I'll take it.


Read and Reading

I applaud Doughty's exploration of death and the funeral industry in Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory. Too few people recognize the value in these topics. When we ignore the reality of death, it hampers our ability to truly live and this plays out in myriad ways, from our healthcare system to Botox. Doughty has some unconventional thoughts about the post-mortem but I appreciated how she came to her conclusions and especially how she makes room for a difference of opinion over what should happen after we die. More than that, she makes room for honest conversation. Though I worked in hospice for several years and have attended funerals my whole life, I still learned a lot in these pages. If you're not familiar with the "death industry," you might not be prepared for the wacky sense of humor or what death looks like. And really, that makes the case for this book that much more. I wish everyone would read it.

I couldn't stop laughing, relating, and nodding in solidarity while I read Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without A Date (Heaney). Recommended for my fellow single ladies, no matter how much dating experience you have. 

I enjoyed First Impressions even more than Lovett's first novel- and that was a hard one to beat! Any book nerd will enjoy this look at Jane Austen's life intertwined with a present-day librarian trying to prove Austen didn't plagiarize Pride & Prejudice. I loved how the mystery unfolded and I especially loved learning more about the world of books and the many ways in which we love to read.

A friend gave me Truth & Beauty (Patchett) a while back and I have such complicated feelings about it. Beautiful and mesmerizing portrait of the author's friendship with Lucy Grealy. The writing swept me away but the content is haunting due to codependency, substance abuse, and ultimately loss. Their relationship was not a healthy one and yet it seems to be a gift they gave to each other.


You can see all the books I've read at Goodreads

Currently reading: We Make the Road By Walking (McLaren), Amazing Grace (Norris), New and Selected Poems: Volume 1 (Oliver), The Great Santini (Conroy),  As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride (Elwes)


(I read 11 books this month.)



Must-see TV: Madam Secretary, Jane the Virgin, Top Chef, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, Once Upon a Time, Project Runway All Stars

Watching all the Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies, of course.



New discoveries: Bill Deasy, St. Paul and the Broken Bones (these guys have been on my radar for the last year but I didn't pay much attention before Call Me), Birdy, Jon McLaughlin

Normally I don't listen to any Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving but Over the Rhine released the much anticipated Blood Oranges in the Snow. An exception had to be made.

Listen to the What I'm Into 2014 playlist.



When Slate Culture Gabfest discussed Serial, they mentioned another serial podcast that started around the same time: Start Up. I am fascinated by how a start up company comes together, especially when the person starting the company has no business experience. Each week we learn how or whether Alex Blumberg's company is coming together. It's meta and yet it's real life.

On Being with Krista Tippett featured an interview with Joanna Macy, one of the translaters of Rilke's Book of Hours. (There are other translations, of course, but this is considered by many to be the best.) It's one of my favorite volumes of poetry and it was such a treat to hear how Macy interacted with the poems, as well as learn more of her story and her relationship with Buddhism.

Just for fun: Charts for People Obsessed With Serial


Things I Love:

  • Picking up my last CSA share of the season. 2014 was the season of potatoes and sweet potatoes. I'll be eating them for all of eternity.
  • I hang out at my best friend's house a lot but lately my niece-in-love has taken to running toward me and exuberantly hugging me upon my arrival. I appreciate whatever inspires this great welcome.
  • Let the record show my nephew-in-love is, in fact, the cutest baby ever. He loves snuggling his auntie and has a most delightful smile and laugh.

2014-11-03 10.59.08Amena doing her thing

  • I was gifted a ticket to a conference, which took place in Franklin. It was fun seeing friends of the local and in-town-for-the-conference variety. My friend Amena Brown was amazing. If you can ever see her perform in person, you must do it. I told her I wanted to listen to For Margaret every night before I went to sleep. The other highlights were Annie Downs and Julie Rodgers.
  • I got to take care of the girl I nannied a few times this month and we both felt like all was right with the world again. We had a princess party one night (this made her happy) and met Santa another night (this made her sad.) She's doing really well but it's good to know I've been missed.
  • A friend introduced me to Slow & Low BBQ and life may never be the same again. I'm not much of a barbecue person but I have definitely been on a brisket kick this past year. This place is close to my neighborhood (no idea how I missed it before!), which is excellent and dangerous.
  • Catching up with Robin Dance. Not nearly enough time together but it was so good to see her face again.

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The Wave, choreographed by Travis Wall, my favorite dance of the season

  • My friend Kelley and I went to see the SYTYCD season 11 dancers perform at the Ryman and it was AMAZING. I screamed like the girl I am. They performed all my favorite routines and added some awesome new ones into the mix. This was truly the best season yet and I'm so glad Kelley and I got to further our obsession.
  • I took a break from social media for a little over a week and it was just what I needed. When I'm under a lot of stress, my struggle with envy/comparison knows no bounds and I have fewer defenses against it. Day 1 I felt so much lighter and more focused. It made me wish I'd started it weeks earlier! I'm back on Facebook and Twitter now but leaving both apps off my phone (FB is usually off my phone unless I'm traveling anyway) and only checking in once a day so I can stay on track. It's amazing how much work I can get done this way!
  • I've picked up a couple more jobs this month. I'm working as a virtual assistant (VA) for a couple of fine folks and I'm also helping out at the She Reads Truth office. Every day is very different!
  • I spent Thanksgiving with my best friend Tracy and her family. They are my second home, in more ways than one.
  • I made Dinner: A Love Story's Pork Shoulder Ragu and it will henceforth be my go to company's coming, take people a meal, I need comfort food meal. Basically I'm looking for excuses to make it again.


Favorite Instagram:

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I really need to make one of these. Teacup chandeliers are the BEST. (This was taken at Thistle Stop Cafe, one of my favorite places, for obvious reasons.)

(If you want to follow me on Instagram, my user name is leighkramer.)



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What have you been into this month?

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