December Favorites

december-favorites

 

Podcast

sword-and-scale

Sword and Scale – Another true crime podcast I have become obsessed with? Shocking! Though Sword and Scale just ended their third season and is on a break until January, the archives are full of fascinating episodes.

TV Show(s)

This Is Us & American Housewife – My two new favorite shows couldn’t be any more different. This Is Us is thought provoking, feel good, and world changing. To even begin to describe the premise of the show would ruin a big surprise and plot twist. I admittedly cry at almost every episodes. The writers of this show better clean house at all awards shows in the near future. It’s that good.
American Housewife is just politically incorrect enough to be fantastic. AH follows a plus size mom of three kids with a well meaning and supportive husband. She has to navigate her way through the social hierarchy of a status hungry, and debatably always hungry, suburban oasis. Great to help you lighten up from all that true crime podcast binge listening.

Show I’ve Been Netflix-ing

miss-fishers-murder-mysteries

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries – Think Samantha from SATC meets Hercule Poirot, set in the 1920’s in Melbourne. Smart, yet salacious, this lady detective deals with past and present injustices in an always entertaining way. Great for a binge watch, or treat yourself to an episode an evening to avoid going through the three seasons so quickly.

Wine

Trader Joe’s Tusk ‘N Red – My corkscrew betrayed me a few weeks ago. I am awaiting my new one as a Christmas gift and in the mean time, I had to find a great wine with a screw off cap. My favorite rosé’s from Trader Joe’s have screw tops, but it’s winter after all I love a good red at the end of a long week! I bought this on a whim and it’s a great red blend. Let it breathe a little before drinking and you’ll be downing a couple of glasses in one sitting!

Recipe

Katharine Hepburn’s brownies – extremely gooey, easy to make, and delicious. If you like really rich brownies, these will be your new favorite.

 

Advertisements

Small Acts of Sustainability

small-acts-of-sustainability

Sustainability is an interesting topic to bring up this time of year. The holidays are about consumption. Buying more to prove you care for your loved ones. Buying them gifts they don’t really want or need just to get them something, anything at all. This year, why not take steps to break that cycle?

So. Let’s talk gifts. Christmas, birthday, all of it.

When you are getting gifts for those on your list, put a little more thought into it. Brainstorm. What do they really need? A person only requires so many mugs from Anthropologie or posters or cheap tshirts with funny phrases on them. I don’t often buy gifts for friends nowadays. I follow the rule of always sending a card, but I only send them a gift if something really catches my eye as something special for them. They know I am thinking of them, yet they don’t accumulate more things they don’t need. I appreciate when they do the same for me. Easy gift ideas? Your favorite book or a classic you think they might enjoy. A gift card, which I know people hate on, but as an adult-ish individual I can confirm nothing gets me more excited than a Starbucks or Target gift card. As long as you know a place they frequent, I think a gift card is perfectly acceptable. Do they have a pet? Throw in a toy or bag of natural treats for their fur baby. Overall, just attempt to buy smarter. Less money wasted, less stuff wasted.

Next up, look at what you bring into your home.

As Christmas fades out and our mind shifts toward New Year’s Resolutions, I encourage you to take small steps toward being more mindful of your own daily purchases. For me, that means I intend to focus on better clothing purchases. The clothing industry is the second most toxic industry world wide, second only to the oil industry. Reason being: fast fashion. If you are interested in learning more about this, I recommend the Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast episode on fast fashion, as well as the documentary The True Cost. The overall message is, buy quality. Not only clothing quality, but companies of quality that treat their employees fairly. This article is a fantastic resource for companies that do just that. One other thing I want to do in the next couple of years is get a higher quality washer and dryer. Our current one isn’t high efficiency and is hard on our clothes. Plus, knowing some basic mending skills, or a good tailor, helps your clothes last and last.

Finally, focus on your daily activities.

Think manageable steps. Like I really hope no one still leaves the water running while they brush their teeth do they? For us, I try to use reusable rags for cleaning, microfiber cloths for dusting, and cloth napkins at dinner. It saves money and paper products. I haven’t purchased a plastic bottle of water in I don’t even know how long. We have a Brita pitcher filter and I take a glass water bottle with me whenever I know I’ll be gone for a while. Plus, throw in a lemon or lime wedge and it tastes far better than your average bottle of water anyway. Run your dishwasher and washer when you have a full load. Turn out unnecessary lights. Buy the large container of yogurt instead of individually wrapped ones. Have your own little garden when it warms up, or grow what you can indoors. Keep the heat lower if you can, we can’t really do this ourselves. With a six month old, we keep the temperature a couple degrees warmer than usual to ensure he’s comfortable. The changes you can implement may differ from mine, the goal is to think of a new idea or two. No matter how small.

As this year ends, we should do what we can to make 2017 better for everyone. And better for our planet.

Small Acts of Education

You know the meme about how the internet lets us have the knowledge of the world at our finger tips, yet we use it to look at cat videos? Well it’s true. As a society we have unprecedented access to documentaries, history videos, articles, and newspapers, yet we very rarely engage in this activity. We instead choose to use our online hours scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or, my guilty pleasure, the humor section of Pinterest. There’s nothing wrong with using technology as relaxation, but I encourage you to branch out in your weekly scrolling to learn a thing or two.

small-acts-of-education
Image Source

Coursera.org is an amazing resource. I stumbled across the site while we were living abroad and I wanted to ensure my weekdays were spent productively while everyone was at work. You can enroll in college courses, taught by actual professors, and learn through weekly videos and quizzes. You choose any topic of your liking and complete the course within the given time frame. As a history enthusiast, I take as many history courses as I can. I am currently enrolled in a class about the Constitution and Supreme Court cases and find it very enjoyable.

YouTube can be used for good and evil. One of my favorite things to do is to search for videos on topics that pique my interest at the moment. Just be aware of the video source! Obviously anyone can post anything they like. There are a number of old History Channel style documentaries out there, my favorite channel for quick and interesting lessons is Crash Course. I am making my way through the U.S. History playlist.

Read for pleasure. Read for knowledge. I will reread Harry Potter for decades to come, but I am aware that does little to expand my knowledge of society. Previously, I could make my way through a book a week. I have always loved reading, however my pace has slowed recently. Currently I finish a book a month, and I try to balance the topic. If I read a lighthearted book one month, I shift to a mystery, then a history book or two. My best literary purchase was No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is a book about FDR, Eleanor, and their presidential and personal history. Though over six hundred pages long, I was fascinate from beginning to end. I bought the book on a whim from the clearance section of a Barnes and Noble. Go to book stores or scour online vendors, Half.com has great items too. Read things you agree with, read things that challenge your views, and don’t be afraid to choose something you originally wouldn’t have given a second glance. That’s where a lot of the gems are hidden.

Engage in civil debates. This one can be tricky, as a number of topics make people very heated very quickly. Shying away from controversial topics often only breathes more life into them, as does going into a conversation ready for a verbal battle. Listen. Process. Respond. The hope is both parties come away with something new to ponder.

Podcasts. Each month I try to include my favorite podcast, some are for fun, but most are inspiring and educational. True crime listening is still where my heart lies, but you can learn quite a lot from those as well. Look up what piques your interest in each episode of your chosen show.

Lastly, research constantly. Whether you are simply looking up a new word or delving into economic policy, don’t hesitate to question what you hear. Wanting to learn more keeps your brain working in new ways and, hey, it can make for more entertaining dinner conversation as well.

Read up!