"The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." -Buddy the Elf and Leigh Kramer
Read and Reading
I know I've demanded you read a good number of books this past year but this one, truly, must be at the top of the list. And I'm not just saying that as someone who used to work for hospice. Being Mortal (Gawande) is profoundly insightful, well written, and engaging. These are good things to think through NOW. If you haven't talked to your loved one about their end of life wishes or yours, this is the time to think through it and start the conversation. Gawande didn't start out in the place of understanding he came to and he had the same questions and resistance many of us do when it comes to the hard talks and that's part of why this book works so well. Trust me.
Lizzy and Jane (Reay) was a quick, enjoyable read. While I love Jane Austen, I'm not much for Austen-inspired fiction. Austen does show up in Lizzy and Jane, it's not a thinly disguised P&P. I had some nitpicky issues with some of the cancer and grief plot lines but there was some really good stuff in there about the reality of cancer and caregiving, too. What I liked the most about it was the emphasis on food and cooking, as our main character is a chef. This took the novel in interesting places and provided its backbone.
Gabrielle Hamilton, chef and author of one of my favorite food memoirs Blood, Bones, and Butter, has come out with her own cookbook Prune. It is gorgeous, a true chef's cookbook. I loved reading through the crisp, clean ingredients and precise instructions.
We'll be discussing Disunity in Christ (Cleveland) next month on The Red Couch. My introductory post will be up next week. I can't stop thinking about this book and hope you'll join us for the discussion.
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), Celibate Sex (Smith), Homemade Decadence (Joy the Baker), De Niro (Levy), The Andy Cohen Diaries (Cohen)
(I read 7 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
I binge watched all 3 Librarian movies and started watching the new TV series it spawned: The Librarians. So delightfully nerdy.
I continued to watch all the Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies, of course. A Royal Christmas was my favorite of the lot.
I kept up my traditional viewing of Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God at the Ryman. It's not really Christmas until I go to this show. This year's surprise appearance was made by Jon Foreman of Switchfoot. So fun!
Listen to the What I'm Into 2014 playlist.
I continue to enjoy listening to Start Up, especially because of episodes like We Made A Mistake. What company ever discusses an error so candidly? Also, it provided an interesting look at the way we use social media.
I also like Start Up- or rather Gimlet Media's first podcast: Reply All. I'm learning lots about Internetty things that I didn't even know existed.
Did you know Molly Wizenberg has a podcast?! Spilled Milk was a joyous discovery.
AND NOW LET'S TALK ABOUT SERIAL! (Spoilers ahead so skip on down if you're not caught up.) I thought the ending was perfection. I got teary when Sarah Koenig said, "as a juror, I would acquit Adnan Syed." His trial was a mess and he shouldn't have been convicted based on the evidence. And then she followed that up with her doubts about his innocence, which is where I land. I'm not sure he's guilty but I can't say he's innocent either. (Though, let's be real: his letter during episode 11? HEARTBREAKING.) Also, I find Deidre Enright's work to be fascinating. A serial killer? Maybe. Could that be who Jay is really afraid of? I'm glad there's some new direction with Adnan's case and I hope that whatever comes out of it, ultimately brings peace and closure to Hae Min Lee's family. I do have to say episode 10 enraged me and this article says why- that's been my biggest issue with Serial all along. Still a fan of what Koenig has done but hello, white privilege.
Things I Love:
- Annie Downs and I have talked about getting coffee for ages and it finally happened. So great to spend time together in town, instead of at a conference or event.
- Lindsay Landis and I bonded over books and decided we'd have to meet up once we finished reading First Impressions (one of my favorite fiction reads of 2014). Great discussion and lunch at Local Taco!
- I went to a candlelight vigil for Eric Garner. One of the most powerful experiences of my life. We marched all over Nashville and reclaimed our streets, declaring Black Lives Matter. This article explains more about the vigil and why we're speaking up.
- I met Joy the Baker! She signed copies of Homemade Decadence at Parnassus. I let her know her Spinach and Artichoke Grilled Cheese recipe changed my life and then we bonded over being single ladies who like brunch.
- I was gifted tickets to see Amena Brown, Ann Voskamp, and Ellie Holcomb's Christmas event. Best of all: I got to take my best friend Tracy with me! We sat with my good friend Amanda and her mom and caught up with Amena afterward. I wish I could listen to Amena recite her poetry every day.
- My friend Melissa Greene is the worship pastor at GracePointe. She invited me to their Christmas concert and I was blown away by it. (You might have caught Melissa on The Sing-Off this month! Her group Timothy's Gift performed and were the true winners in my book.)
- I stopped by Anne's house on my way back to Chicagoland. Always a treat to catch up with her and her family!
- Loved catching up with family while I was back in my hometown. This Christmas was different, with relatives missing at each gathering. It's surprising it hasn't happened sooner, I suppose. Still good to be with everyone there.
- And I'm super grateful for how many friends I got to see! Thanks, everyone, for making time for me. xoxoxoxo
- I got together with two friends from college and met Melissa's twin baby boys. Auntie needed to get some snuggling in and they were happy to oblige. (Danielle, I still can't believe you drove all that way for such a short time! You win all the prizes.)
- My Aunt Kathy gave me a gorgeous fit-and-flare dress that belonged to her mother-in-law. I'm looking forward to wearing it when the weather is warmer.
- My best friend Erin and I returned to Little Goat, for what is becoming our traditional Christmas outing. Such a great restaurant! We also saved just enough room to try a dessert that featured chocolate covered homemade Cheez-its. AMAZING.
- Megan's cat Leo. He is the silkiest, sweetest thing.
- I drank my favorite teas (Irish Morning and Ginger Cider) at Serene Teaz. I love that shop so much.
- The cozy cardigan I found at Savers I'll be wearing it all winter.
(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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