November has well and truly left the building, but I really didn’t want to miss out on this year’s final Little Loves. I have a few things I’d like to share before 2018 sneaks off and leaves us, and besides, what’s a day (or 6 for that matter 😉 ) between friends? November was a lovely month which saw us enjoying a winter getaway at Edinburgh’s Christmas markets and a tour around the city’s Harry Potter Trail (you can read all about that here if you’re interested). Nudging into December, we also picked up this year’s family Christmas tree – a bit early to be honest, but we wanted to get in quick after feeling a teensy bit disappointed with the tree we got (much later in the month) last year. Our intention was to keep it outside in the garden until we were ready to decorate but as soon as the kids got their mitts on it they wanted to see it all baubles blazing in the kitchen – yes, we were railroaded. It does look rather lovely though and it feels so comforting to see it twinkling in the corner on these frosty winter days. I just need to get the rest of the decorations up now and start the million and one other things the festive season demands – can you tell I’m feeling a little unorganised? So let me divert you (and myself…) for a while onto all the things I’ve been liking and loving lately in the shape of November’s Little Loves. Put the kettle on, grab that festive mug and let me take you through the things I’ve been reading, watching – and the usuals – from another month that’s oh-so-quickly disappeared.
November was a quieter month than normal for me on the reading front – you can read about that here and in this post I wrote for Book Week Scotland on one of my all-time favourite novels. Thanks to a recent library visit I do have a healthy-looking to-read pile, though, which I was tagged to share last week by a couple of friends on Instagram (thanks Hayley and Suzanne). Since then, I’ve finished The Tattooist of Auschwitz, which I raced through at the weekend – and which will definitely be making it onto my top ten books this year. I’ve also just heard that This is Going to Hurt is waiting for me in my reservations pile at the library – another one I’ve been excited about reading for a while. I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time with my nose in a book over the Christmas holidays – always a perfect antidote to the fever-pitch busyness of the weeks leading up to the 25th December. For the moment though, I’m reading Part One of A Court of Mist and Fury. I think I’m enjoying it even more than the first book in the series, the imagery, the writing, the romance – it’s just so good!
November was an exciting month for me TV-wise as it heralded the return of Outlander. It’s also a tricky one for me, however, as I have to watch it alone – and as any Mum will tell you, the opportunities for that are few and far between 😉 . I have managed to make it to the third episode though – mainly through grabbing 10 minutes here and there to watch a few scenes (mostly as a reward for reaching daily word counts on my book 🙂 ). I’m really enjoying it so far and like the direction the new season is taking – I’m particularly enjoying watching the developing relationship between Roger and Brianna. Having not yet read the book this series is based on, I’m curious to see how all the storylines pan out.
The kids and I have also been watching David Attenborough’s series Dynasties. It really is fantastic (you might have noticed the accompanying book making it onto my Christmas reading pile). I particularly liked the episode on the lions, but all of them have been amazing. Nature programmes can be tough to watch though – my youngest had to leave the room at one point during the penguin episode – parents and sensitive types beware!
Dipping into December again, we also watched the new Netflix offering The Christmas Chronicles. If you’re looking for something to put you in the festive mood, be sure to add this to your list. It has that feeling of Christmas movies from about 20 years ago (and I mean that in a good way). There just hasn’t been enough of this kind of thing in the last couple of decades, as far as I’m concerned!
November’s weather here in the far north was the usual mix of glorious, truly awful, mediocre and back to glorious again. Regardless of any of this, my dog always needs a walk and I’m so happy to find good podcasts to listen to on days when it might otherwise be a chore. I listened to some fantastic ones this month, and these are just a few of my favourites. I’ve actually listened to some of these twice, they’re so good!
Fearne Cotton’s new series of Happy Place (especially the episode with Gary Barlow 😉 ).
Oprah’s SuperSoul Conservations with Michelle Obama (thanks to Suzanne for the tip).
Dr Chatterjee’s chats on Why Being Popular Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be and The Truth About Plastic. (the second of these is a must for everyone – it’s really driven some changes in our family like trying to take our own reusable coffee cups on day trips and switching to bamboo cotton buds. My husband even contacted his staff canteen about single use plastics after listening to this in the car with me. For anyone looking to understand this whole topic better I really can’t recommend listening to this particular episode enough!)
What would December be without a festive jumper or three, eh? This is a photo from last year, but to be fair – I still wear this jumper, and this is still my favourite Christmas mug. The kids have their Christmas jumper day at school this week, and even Brody has been getting in on the action in his festive one piece. Again, this is a photo from last year (so lazy!), but the dog, the jumper – and even the touches of white we’ve seen this week – haven’t changed all that much since 2017.
The last few weeks have been all about making lots of warming winter comfort food. I’ve been eating a lot less meat lately and one of the recipes I’m loving is this yummy lentil bolognase. We go swimming one afternoon a week and there’s nothing better than coming home to a pot of this simmering in the slow cooker. I have to be honest though – the rest of my family are a bit less convinced by the switch away from mince!
I’ve also been making good progress on the second draft of my book lately. Those of you who read my blog regularly might remember I finished my first draft in the summer with a total of 40,000 words. Since August, I’ve been working on the second draft – which to be honest has been really onerous. I have found myself rewriting huge swathes of it and as such the word count has been creeping up at an exceedingly slow rate. I’d set myself a target of reaching 60,000 words by Christmas, and I’ve now done 57000 of them. I’m *pretty* confident I can reach my goal by the time the schools break up – after that I plan to take a proper break over the holidays – watch a few episodes of Outlander 😉 – and relax.
Speaking of relaxing, as I mentioned in the intro, this will be my last Little Loves this side of the New Year. I don’t join in in December – when I have my family around I like to (mostly 🙂 ) put blogging to one side 🙂 . I have one more post to write – my ten favourite books of the year – and then it’s chill time.
That’s once all the presents are wrapped, cards are written – and the mad pre-Christmas dash to empty the supermarket – is done of course. So I’ll see you again in January for another round up. Whatever you’re doing this Christmas, I hope it’s a good one, filled with lots and lots of festive Little Loves!
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As usual, I’m linking this up to Morgana’s site:
Hi Gail, I’m really glad you’re enjoying my lentil bolognese, it looks fab! Xx
I am Michelle, in fact I prefer it to a meat based one now! xx
I love that winter shot! I’m always envious of how many books you get through in a month – I’ve heard lots about The Tattooist of Auschwitz – just didn’t think it was something I’d like. I think I might give it a go. The Christmas Chronicles is on my to-watch list. Sending you Christmas wishes for the festive season – enjoy xx
Thanks Stacie! You should definitely try the Tattooist of Auschwitz – although it is a difficult read at times. We really loved The Christmas Chronicles – just the thing to get you in that festive mood! xx