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Friday Fun! (February: DC Trip and Winter Activities)

February 28, 2014 Leave a comment
Walking in just one of the many lovely snow-covered parks in Boston.

Walking in just one of the many lovely snow-covered parks in Boston.

Hello my lovely readers!

It was quite the busy month for me.  Early in the month, I went on a business trip to Washington, D.C.  I was sent with a friend and co-worker to go to a training at the National Library of Medicine.  We just barely managed to take off in the middle of one of the many storms that hit Boston this month.  We flew right out of the storm and into a chilly, but snow-free DC.  In the limited free time we had, we saw the Smithsonian’s American Indian Museum and the Botanical Garden.  I had never been to DC before.  My impressions were that everyone is quite friendly and talkative.  The city is surprisingly empty with things spread further out than I was anticipating.  The architecture was interesting, and I enjoyed the museums (and the fact that they’re free!).  I’d like to go back to visit in warmer weather when the plants are in bloom.  Perhaps more as a stop-over on my way someplace else, though.  I can’t imagine spending an entire vacation there!

In the middle of the month, I of course opened my new Etsy shop.  I’m so excited to have another creative venue!  I’m still doing some stitching and art just for fun and for friends and family too, though.

Baking a loaf of bread every weekend is now a thing.  I also made an apple pie to try to beat back the winter doldrums.  I started doing more yoga as a home practice, since it gets me moving but I don’t have to brave the cold to do it.  I also did my taxes, and I’m pleased to say I’m getting a refund!  I finally completed the first step toward getting my driver’s license in Massachusetts as well.  I went to the Social Security office and filed for a replacement card.  Bafflingly, in MA, you have to have your social security card in addition to a photo id to get your learner’s permit.  You aren’t allowed to even just give them your social security number.  So, although I know my number, I still had to file for a replacement card.  But that step is done!

I’m pleased to say my reading pace has been going well.  I’m actually ahead of the one book a week goal I set for myself.  I’ve also so far read 2 books for the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge, as well as 2 of the 12 review copies I accepted for review here this year.  There is a giveaway still running for the second one, the horror book The House of Azareal, if you are interested in entering.

I must admit, February can be a bit of a depressing month for me.  I’ve noticed that pattern over the last couple of years.  But my partner has been very supportive, for which I am truly grateful, and that along with yoga, books, and snuggling our cat has helped make the month pass.

Happy reading!

Friday Fun! (January: Freezing Cold and Baking)

February 1, 2014 1 comment

breadHello my lovely readers!  I hope all of your new years started off well.

I’m sure most of you are aware of the intense cold snap that hit the United States this month, and Boston was certainly no exception.  There were a few nights where, even with our heat cranked all the way up, it still wasn’t exactly what you’d call warm inside our apartment.  The few times it did warm up, we got snow.  In fact, the month rolled in with quite the blizzard.  I got to get some exercise in shoveling out our steps and portion of the sidewalk, not to mention my boyfriend’s car (obviously, this was a joint venture).  With it being so cold and me having a 30 minute walk as part of my evening commute home from work, I’ve had to get creative in how I bundle up.  My dad had bought me some fleece-lined tights, and those have become my base layer.  So cozy!  Like wearing your jammies under your work clothes (but looks professional).  However, when I tried to get more, I couldn’t find any for less than $20 plus shipping, so I’m stuck washing them a lot.  Thankfully, today was our first warm day in weeks (43 degrees F!!) Yayyyy

Since it’s been so cold, and also since my dad gave us a Kitchen Aid for Christmas, I’ve been doing a lot more baking.  Basically anything that will let me run our oven for justifiable reasons, since that heats up our studio apartment.  I’d been struggling with getting my bread to come out right, so when we visited my dad back at Thanksgiving, he went over the process with me and caught two errors.  First, I wasn’t letting the yeast grow enough before adding the flour (I’m an impatient person), and second, I wasn’t kneading it long enough.  Well, the second problem was easily addressed with the Kitchen Aid.  The first was addressed by setting a timer with a set amount of time to wait before adding the flour.  My first loaf done with these tweaks and the Kitchen Aid came out perfect!  I was very excited.  Another recipe I finally perfected this month was vegetarian Thai red curry.  I read a tip that combining soy sauce with seaweed replicates the flavor of fish sauce better.  I also started using full fat instead of low fat coconut milk.  It came out much more authentic.

Coming up on the blog this month, I’m hoping to read another one of my 2014 review copies and offer up another giveaway (enter the one currently running if you haven’t had the chance yet).  I’m also hoping to read another book for the MIA Reading Challenge.  I’m glad I already got one read for the challenge and enjoyed it!  I’m also hoping to make an announcement this month of another project I’m working on, but I need to finish up some behind-the-scenes work first.

Happy reading!