January Recap

January was a very interesting month where I spent far more time at home than usual. I got a new job in November; I'm the sous chef at a brand new patisserie & ice cream shop that's opening up downtown. Unfortunately, construction has taken way longer than our timeline originally allotted for (typical), so at the end of December when we moved out of the commissary kitchen we'd been working in we had nowhere to move into. We packed everything up and put it all into storage, and I spent the entire month of January "working from home"... which mostly just means I had a month off of work and lots of time to focus on personal projects and teach more yoga classes. For the first time in a really long time I actually had time to just relax. After years of putting most of my time into my work, it was quite a change to be able to step away for a few weeks and focus on, well, all the other things I want to focus on in my life. So January was a lesson in balance, gratitude, and grace. I did a lot of sitting on the couch, but I also got to spend more time with friends, I baked new things at home, saw new places in the city, and I got this 'ol blog up and running! I'm supposed to start back up at work on Monday, which is a relief because hot damn I'm ready to get back in the kitchen! Though I won't lie- being a stay-at-home cat mom housewife is definitely not a bad gig.

Podcasts

Of course right after I posted about my favorite podcasts, I discovered some new ones. In lieu of writing another post a few months down the line, I thought I should just include them in these monthly recap posts. I've been thoroughly enjoying listening to podcasts while cooking and doing dishes, and also on my walking commutes downtown. If you're local and you see me walking down the street with a huge grin on my face or laughing quietly to myself, chances are I'm listening to a podcast... or I'm just strange.

Live Wire Radio - My friend turned me on to this Portland-based show. I've only listened to a few episodes, but I like the guests that he has on the show. It's a variety show that has interviews, comedians, and music; you don't have to be a Portlander to enjoy it!

Savage Lovecast - Dan Savage has been a guest on a few other podcasts I've listened to, so I decided to check his out. Apparently he's the king of relationship/sex advice; listeners call in with questions and he takes his time answering them the best he can. Questions vary from "I caught my S.O. masturbating to photos of his ex- what should I do?" to "Should I keep dating a guy with a Hitler mustache?". I'm going to one of his Live Podcasts in March - can't wait!

Books

I started off strong this year and read three books in January! I actually started a fourth one but it's a bit of a slower read, so it will be on the February list. Something I discovered about myself this month... I really like sci-fi novels. I've always said I'm not a fan of fantasy novels, which theoretically sci-fi fits into in terms of genre, but apparently I've been lying to myself and others as there's definitely something about sci-fi and post-apocalyptic stories that just pulls me in and keeps me there. Well, now I know, and now you know!

Sourdough: A Novel - My favorite book from this bunch (I mean, there's bread in the title, how could it not be?); a whimsical story about a girl who ends up with a sourdough starter that is seemingly out of this world and she learns to bake it into the most amazing loaves. The starter takes her to some pretty strange places (figuratively and literally) and she finds herself reevaluating life as she knows it. I got this as one of my first BOTM books - it was quite fun to read, especially if you're into bread or science, though the ending felt a bit rushed to me.

The Four Agreements - My friend has had this sitting on her kitchen counter for the past year, and I've always been curious about it. I picked it up at the library and quickly read through it. Not much to critique here; if you're looking for a code of conduct or a perception shift towards more joy and freedom, definitely give this a read.

Severance: A Novel - There's a lot going on here... humor, romance, immigrant stories, a coming of age, and the apocalypse (so zombies too, in a sense). The novel weaves from era to era but it does so breezily and in a way that makes sense for the overall story. I enjoyed reading this, but the end came abruptly and left me wanting so much more. This description tells you next to nothing, but if it piqued your interest, check it out!

TV Shows

I don't watch a ton of TV; I'll put on an episode of something while I'm eating lunch or if I'm working on something and just want a little background noise. Aside from keeping up with new episodes of my usual lineup (This is Us, The Good Place, The Goldbergs) I discovered two series that stuck out to me this month.

Explained - My new favorite series on Netflix! Episodes are about 18 minutes long and each one focuses on a different topic (for example: music, the stock market, marijuana, cricket) and proceeds to educate you about the topic through interviews, facts, and fun diagrams. It's reminiscent of Adam Ruins Everything, if you dug that one. I learned so much about topics I wasn't even initially interested in! (Cricket, and Magic the Gathering, for example) These episodes are the perfect chunk of time to pique your interest about something new or to provide a bit more depth about things you thought you already knew. I'm a fan of anything that makes learning more accessible and fun, especially for adults!

How to Live Mortgage Free - The title of the series isn't completely accurate, because you never really learn how to live mortgage free, just that it's possible. Regardless, I really enjoyed seeing some of the homes that people have built for themselves and what it took for them to get there (in some cases lots and lots of money, in others, hard work, sweat, and tears). Shawn and I dream of having a small low-impact home of our own one day (with no mortgage), so it was inspiring to see how others have done it, sometimes with as little as $10,000!

Movies

I don't typically watch movies on my own, unless they're ones I've seen numerous times before. They're usually something Shawn puts on when he gets home from work and we watch them together. But he generally has good taste in movies, so I don't mind!

Bird Box - I wasn't kidding about diggin' post-apocalyptic stories. This one is about weird spirits that when looked at, force people to commit suicide all over the world. The remaining survivors end up having to wander with blindfolds on so as not to be affected. Tense for the whole length of the movie, despite moving quite slowly after the initial half hour. Good over all, but it didn't wow me.

IO - Another Netflix post-apocalyptic movie, this time the Earth's atmosphere has turned toxic and most humans have fled to a space station outside of Io, except for two people who are trying to make their way to the landing site. I'm always amazed by movies that have a small cast of characters that can carry the story well. The ending left me annoyed, but the movie itself was rather beautiful.

The Whole Truth - I'm not usually a fan of law movies, but Shawn put this on and I quickly got sucked in. (I mean, Keanu Reeves is in it, so...) It's paced very slowly but manages to leave you hanging until the very end. I can't say much about it without ruining the ending for you, so I'll leave it at that.

The Commuter - Liam Neeson in a typical Liam Neeson role, and you have to love him for it. Action-packed thriller-drama that takes place on a commuter train for the majority of the movie. Nothing too terribly unexpected here, but still fun to watch.

Self portrait

Taken on the last day of January, sporting a lovely thrifted shirt and messy hair.

#hillsteadkittehs

I started a hashtag for the kittens... here's my favorite photo of them from January.

What fun things did you do/see/hear in January?

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