What’s Making Me Happy: November 2017

Does anyone else feel like November zoomed by? Again? It feels that way every year, first with Thanksgiving and now Christmas approaching fast.ย And while November was relatively stress-free, I’ve been struggling to keep up with blogging because of changes in my work circumstances. I’m not sure how this impact the blog in the long term. But since I’m planning to take an annual holiday hiatus from blogging soon, the time-off might be a good chance to think about what changes, if any, might be needed for 2018.

But I shouldn’t get too ahead of myself, shouldn’t I? ๐Ÿ™‚ So let’s turn our attention away from what may be ahead to what we can already be thankful for. As always, feel free to share your joys of the past month in your comments. But for now, I’ll share with you the things that made me happy this November!

I Celebrated Thanksgiving With My Family on Cape Cod

After spending most every Thanksgiving in Maine with my mother’s side of the family, my parents (or, rather, Mom) decided to finally host their firstย Thanksgiving dinner ever. And what a lovely holiday it turned out to be! Two of my aunts traveled from Maine the day before, so we were able to spend time with them. Plus, not only was the meal was delicious, but the day itself was surprisingly relaxing. It was nice to stay in one place, visit with family, and not feel too rushed as four of us (me, my parents, and my great-aunt) took care of the cooking.

As for the food? Instead of listing the whole menu, I’ll share my favorite dishes:

  • Pumpkin soup, a homemade recipe Mom had gotten from a local gift shop that had served it during their annual holiday open house
  • Stuffed summer squash (a.k.a. “squash boats”)
  • Mashed potatoes with chives and minced garlic
  • Mom’s cinnamon rolls (the best cinnamon rolls in the world, in my opinion)

I’m Listening to Sara Bareilles’sย Kaleidoscope Heart

I’ve always had a soft spot for singer-songwriters, and one I’d been meaning to check out for a while was Sara Bareilles. Oddly enough, when I was imagining what musicians the protagonist for my current WIP would like, my intuition pointed in Sara’s direction. So I finally listened to several of her songs on YouTube and bought her 2010 album Kaleidoscope Heart.ย And I’ve been happily learning the lyrics and tapping my feet along ever since.

Genre-wise, Sara’s music is piano-based pop/rock with soul influences. Sometimes it’s playful and earnest; other times, it’s slow-burning and heartfelt. Her lyrics might be the real draw for me, though. She writes about heartbreak, relationships, and self-empowerment in a way that’s creative, vulnerable, and fearless, all qualities that get two thumbs up from me.

What’s my favorite song on Kaleidoscope Heart? Right now, it’s a tie – between four tracks, of course. *lol* But seriously, the ones I’ve listened to the most are “Hold My Heart” (see YouTube clip above),ย “Uncharted,”ย “The Light,” and “Let The Rain.”ย Each is unique from the others, so if you listen to all four, you’ll get a good idea of the range you’ll hear on this album.

I Went to My First Coffee House / Open Mic Night in a While (Though I Didn’t Participate)

I discovered in October that An Unlikely Story, a local independent bookstore about 20 minutes from where I live, holds a monthly coffee house (a.k.a. open mic night) in the store’s cafe. Yay! I hadn’t been to an open mic night in a few years, so I was excited to read some of my poems to a new crowd and become more involved in the local writing community. So imagine my disappointment when I developed a nasty canker sore on my tongue days before the coffee house, and it didn’t heal in time for me to talk (much less read poetry) without much pain that night. :/

I still went to the coffee house, though, and I’m glad I did. A few poets read their work, and several musicians played as well – and the overall turnout was great! The bookstore’s cafe isn’t huge, but it was overflowing with people who were there to support the performers, enjoy a hot beverage or bakery treat, and take in the warm, inspiring atmosphere. It was all the persuasion I needed to know I should sign up again for the next coffee house in January (and hope my mouth will be in top shape)!

I’m Wearing Beauty 360 Ponytailers

I like to pull my hair back on nights and weekends when I’m home. The only problem? My shoulder-length hair is very thick. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve snapped hair elastics just by trying to make ponytail! But on a recent trip to my local CVS pharmacy, I bought a packet of Beauty 360 light-hold “ponytailers” – and I already love them! They’re sturdy despite the “light hold” description, so they’re great for ponytails as well as partial ponytails and messy buns. Even better, I’m still on the first elastic. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Beauty 360 ponytailers come in three colors (brown, black, and multi-colored) as well as varying strengths, from soft fabric scrunchies to super-thick strong hold. They’re also really affordable. I bought a 100-count pack on sale for under $5!

I’m Sipping Wen Shen Bao Zhong Oolong from Mem Tea Imports

At this time of year, I typically prefer “fall-ish” teas, like black teas or anything with a mellow spiciness (think cinnamon or nutmeg flavors). But after opening a package of Mem Tea Imports’ Wen Shen Bao Zhong Oolong, which my Musician Friends gave me for my birthday in September, I almost don’t want to brew anything else!

Wen Shen Bao Zhong comes from Taiwan, and is a light-bodied oolong with a floral aroma and a buttery, citrus-like flavor. Mem Tea recommends a 3-minute first brew, but since I like to squeeze as much out of an oolong’s multiple steeps as I can, I do a 1-minute first brew and add 30 seconds for subsequent cups. I’m so glad I made that decision, because the 1-minute brews are DELICIOUS! It’s like sipping a warm spring day, with all its breezes, sunshine, and blooming flowers but no grassiness.

What were some of the things that made you happy in November? How was your Thanksgiving, if you celebrated it? What music have you been listening to recently? Did anything else pleasantly surprise you this month?

22 thoughts on “What’s Making Me Happy: November 2017

      • I’m thrilled to hear it, Sara:)). Lovely to hear that you are back into the swing of it with your writing as well – though I’m not surprised. There is a sense of happiness radiating from your articles, which is delightful to see, my friend.x

        Liked by 1 person

    • It was a relaxing holiday for us, yes. Hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving as well!

      Ohhhhh, what to say about Cape Cod without going on for hours and hours? *lol* It’s quaint and cozy in spots, and stunning picturesque in others. More so in the late spring and summer than right now, but some parts of it are still quite pretty with holiday decorations and lights. And depending on your hobbies, there’s lots to do down there: restaurants, shopping, beaches, wildlife sanctuaries, golfing, whale and seal watches, bike trails…

      Actually, when I got together with my DIY MFA colleague Elise in Boston back in September, she and her husband had just spent a couple days on Cape Cod. When we talked about it that weekend, she said that Cape Cod was like a fairy tale. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  1. Ah, I used to really like Sara Bareilles music…haven’t listened to her in years. Will have to dig out the couple of albums I have.

    It sounds like 2018’s going to be a busy year for you, and hopefully exciting too.
    the open mic night sounds good. I hope you get so speak/read next time. ๐Ÿ™‚

    November has been a month of NaNoWriMo. it’s been a fun, if challenging month.

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    • Glad to hear you like her music, too! I definitely want to check out some of her other albums in the future.

      We’ll see what happens in 2018. Right now the decrease in blogging time has been due to a mix of poor time management on my part, holiday preparations, and ongoing stress / uncertainty. Obviously the holiday preps are only temporary, but I’m trying not to jump to any decisions right now. And yes, fingers crossed for the January open mic night!

      How did you do with NaNoWriMo? Did you work on a new project? Or revise any stories you’d previously written?

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      • Sometimes it’s difficult to fit everything in. And sometimes you just need to give yourself time to work things out. I’m sure you will, though. Blogging is fun, bit it does take up a lot of time, which is why I can be quite patchy with it.

        I actually won NaNo at the last minute. ๐Ÿ˜Š I worked on a new project, a first draft that I’m trying to finish this December. Part of my feels like I should have kept going with a third draft I was working on, but the shiny new idea snagged me. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

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  2. I totally feel like November cruised by! Yikes, December already? Glad you had a nice Thanksgiving, sounds fabulous. And pumpkin soup- you know I’ve never had but it sounds kinda good??

    Thanks for sharing the music and tea as well. It’s always nice to discover new musical artists.

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    • You’re very welcome, Greg! ๐Ÿ™‚

      The pumpkin soup was a brand new recipe this year, so making it for company was a bit of an experiment. But it turned out delicious! Imagine it having the same spices you’d find in pumpkin pie (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger) but with some black pepper and garlic as well to give it a more savory flavor.

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    • It was! And the bookstore itself is such a warm and inviting atmosphere… and I still can’t believe how many people were there, in that small cafe space! But that made the desire to participate next time even stronger. Here’s hoping for January!

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  3. I’d love to try that pumpkin soup! Our Thanksgiving was good, though some of the family friends we invited couldn’t join us. It was a nice day, in fact much of November was nice though it sure flew by!
    I don’t know if I’m brave enough for open mic yet, but it does sound like a fun atmosphere to be in. I hope it goes well for you next time.
    You’ve reminded me that I need to start drinking more tea again! I’ve been stuck on coffee for a while.

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    • Would you be interested in the pumpkin soup recipe? I can get it from my mother the next time I visit her and Dad on the Cape. The only thing is, I’m pretty sure there’s cream in it… and you can’t eat dairy products, right?

      There’s nothing wrong with coffee if you like it. But tea does have all kinds of health benefits…. Plus, it’s delicious in its own way. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Glad to hear your Thanksgiving went well, btw. Can you believe Christmas is only a couple weeks away now??

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    • LOL! It is fun to say, yes! More fun than saying “stuffed summer squash,” which is what the recipe calls it. But after you cut the squashes in half lengthwise, blanch them, and fill them with the stuffing, they do sort of look like boats. Or maybe rafts. XD

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