The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun, by Gretchen Rubin
Book description: Gretchen had a good marriage, two healthy daughters, and work she loved – but one day, stuck on a city bus, she realized that time was flashing by and she wasn’t thinking enough about the things that really mattered. “I should have a happiness project,” she decided. She spent the next year test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.
Each month, she pursued a different set of resolutions: go to sleep earlier, quit nagging, forget about results, or take time to be silly. Bit by bit, she began to appreciate and amplify the happiness that already existed in her life.
With lots of company on its way, I’ve been busy in the kitchen this past week. When I have time, I’ve managed to squeeze in a few more cookies for Christmas. Z rarely asks for me to bake something for him, so when he does, his requests are almost always granted. He asked, hopefully, for his favourite cookie ever, double chocolate cranberry. Now, I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about these yet, since they are the cookie I most often bake, but here you go. These cookies are rich and decadent, with a batter so gooey it’s more like cake. So good.
The Body Finder, by Kimberley Derting
Book description: Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies – or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world … and the imprints that attach to their killers.
Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.
I made my very first Christmas cookies of the year, and they just so happen to be a new recipe for me. I’m sure that Chocolate Peppermint Bark is an old favourite for many of you – and how could it not be? It’s layers of minty chocolate, which obviously equals amazing. I served these at last week’s Christmas party, along with my ultimate favourite Christmas cookies ever, Davy Crocketts. Here’s the (very simple) recipe for the chocolate bark.
C’est la temps des fetes, as my French family would say. Or is it too early for Christmas? Apparently not in this house, as I’ve already hosted a Christmas cocktail party/reading program for babies. If you imagined chaos in that situation, you’re not far off.
No, it wasn’t that bad at all. My sister, a soon-to-be librarian, hosted a reading program for babies and toddlers at my house, in part as a school project, and it went wonderfully. I decided to make it nice for the grown ups too, with wine and appetizers to tide us over. With eight babies ranging in age from 2 months to 2 and a half years, things just naturally got kind of loud. But goodness they were all cute, including the one little one who was really excited by the theme of the evening: “C’est Noel!”
The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius, by Kristine Barnett
Book Description: Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. At nine he started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may someday put him in line for a Nobel Prize, and at age twelve he became a paid researcher in quantum physics. But the story of Kristine’s journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. At age two, when Jake was diagnosed, Kristine was told he might never be able to tie his own shoes.
I think this is pretty much it for the renovations. For now. For the next few years, anyway, as we are completely tapped out. And there’s not that much more to be done. We decided to speed everything along and finish up the exterior before winter came. As you can see, we did this in the nick of time. The “after” photo of the front of the house was taken a day after the painters left. Thank goodness they were able to get everything done before the blizzard hit!
As a reminder, this is what the house looked like when we purchased it. I refer to the exterior colour as “Crayola Crayon Flesh Colour.” A friend of mine told me it reminded her of baby puke. Any way you look at it, it wasn’t particularly attractive.
We decided to go bold. I’m not going to lie, I chose this colour with trepidation, as it makes a statement. But I wanted a dark colour to shrink all the empty wall space, and I think this really updates the look of the house. We also painted the awful bare wood planter set along the front.
The result (and keep in mind this photo was in fact taken during a blizzard):