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Currently | 12.31.20
Life in the Age of the Queen
[Explaination of the name in April’s Currently.] In November’s Currently, I wished for the 3 weeks between my Thanksgiving break and Christmas to go by quickly, and for the most part, they did. I had a couple of busy weeks at work closing out my 2020 program and prepping for our 2021 kickoff and was able to get some reporting done and clean-up some to-dos. Both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were uneventful, we didn’t even have a “special” meal, just a giant pot of soup with fresh vegetables from the farmers market.
A few days before Christmas we decided to splurge on a Christmas-New Years-Andi’s Birthday treat: sushi-grade ahi tuna and salmon that we planned to turned into sashimi. It didn’t quite turn out as planned. The weekend after Christmas we prepared the fish but ended up making poke with it. While our seasoning was great, the fish just wasn’t top-notch (although we paid top dollar) and it was a bit of a disappointment. I enjoyed the cup of sushi rice I made more than the fish! Of course, it has been more than a year since I had rice as it doesn’t fit into our low carb lifestyle and I now eat cauliflower rice as a substitute. Still, I relished my cup of rice and mourned the fact that we couldn’t go out for sushi.
I am privileged (and grateful, and do not take it for granted) to live in a bubble. The only time I leave the house is to walk in our wooded neighborhood. Mr. Misadventures goes out weekly to grocery shop (super early in the morning). When we have ventured out it has been to remote spots that are off-season. Earlier this week I went to a UPS store to ship some boxes and had a little [internal] freak out. I had to touch a public keyboard and mouse, hand my credit card to the clerk and receive it back and sign a credit card receipt. Dozens of people had used these things (except my credit card) before me and I was panicking inside! When I returned to our truck I sanitized everything and left my mask on and the windows down for a while. The whole experience was yucky and my heart breaks for all the essential workers who expose themselves every day.
Midweek we went out to an area off of Albemarle Sound along the Scuppernong River (I spoke about the amazing grapes from this region in September’s Currently) to check if the bird migration had begun. Millions of birds pass through North Carolina in the winter heading south. Primetime is later December through February, so we were trying our luck. It was a gorgeous, clear crisp day, but cold. There were tundra swans in the hundreds, but the wind was up so they were pushed into coves that were harder to access. Didn’t matter, we soaked up the time as the rest of the week leading up to the end of my holiday break is going to be rainy.
The perfect crummy ending to a crummy year.
Now, onto December and what’s been going on in the Misadventures world!
Watching | Mandalorian, Agatha Christie + more
> We got Disney+ for free for one year with our new cellular contract so we were able to watch the first season of Mandalorian without issue. But that year ran out and we decided to wait until season 2 was complete to -resubscribe for a month. We re-watched season 1 on a Saturday and then watched season 2 on a Sunday. While I was glad to watch new content, I find the storyline to be too slow and the dialogue is absolutely terrible, but the cinematography is spectacular, I love Jon Favreau and the Star Wars tie-ins are really great. The fact that season 3 doesn’t come until December 2021 doesn’t crush me, I’ll watch it, but I hope that the Obi-Wan series is better.
We finished watching Maigret (police detective series with Bruno Kremer on Amazon Prime [they have English subtitles if you are interested]); Le sang de la vigne/Blood of the Vine (murder mystery series that all take place in and around wineries in France with Pierre Arditi [better stage actor than TV actor…] on Amazon Prime [they have English subtitles if you are interested]) and my absolute favorite, Les Petits Meurtres d’Agatha Christie/Agatha Christie’s Criminal Games (also on Amazon Prime with English subtitles). If you love Mad Men, you will totally dig this series set in the ’50s and the clothing and deco are to die for!
The Christmas holiday was actually like Christmas as we had 3 new films to watch! But I feel like I got a lump of coal instead. George Clooney’s Midnight Skies (Netflix) was beautifully filmed but the story was not great and there were flaws. Gerard Butler’s Greenland (iTunes) was the typical world-ending disaster film where the hero saves his family despite all odds and Wonder Woman 1984 (HBO Max) was bad, very, very bad.
Reading | The Address Book
> I finished reading The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang but was ultimately disappointed in it. It was a bit superficial and the story would make a better movie than a book. That seems to be a trend for the last couple of books I’ve read. After The Wangs, I read Sourdough by Robin Sloan. Towards the end of the year at a large organizational meeting, we had a bit of a break from business, and 3 colleagues “presented” on the bread they bake with their starters, all of which had names, etc. And 2020 has seen a lot of home baking as my own Instagram feed details with friends baking up a storm, so I thought why not? The book was mildly entertaining, a bit strange and ultimately infilling although I did enjoy the San Francisco/Alameda/Berkeley backdrop to the story.
Right before the holidays, I began The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power by Deirdre Mask. I am fascinated by street names and always look at them as I walk or drive by and wonder how they got their names. What I didn’t realize is the history, some good, a lot bad, around the simple address. I have a whole new perspective on this process and the socio-economic implications that exist around the simple address. I am only halfway through the book, but also find the idea that the United States was a clean slate when it came to urban planning pretty cool as compared to other countries in the world with cities that are thousands of years old, it is much tougher for them to re-map a city than say for the planners of Manhattan or Philadelphia.
- The Art of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition: I have always wanted to read this book by M.F.K. Fisher (from the same era as Julia Child) and picked it up last week for $2.99!
- 41 Reasons I’m Staying In: A Celebration of Introverts by Hallie Heald, being an introvert myself, I am curious!
- The Cheffe: A Cook’s Novel by Marie NDiaye, the (not very easy) life of a female chef in France.
- A Promised Land by Barak Obama
Best Bite | Chia Pudding
> I know the chia pudding trend has come and gone, and we’ve moved onto air fryers and one pots (which I think we’re big in 2019, but with home confinement still continues), but sometimes it takes a while for the Misadventures family to join a bandwagon, we’re not really “joiners.” For the past month, we have made lots and lots of chia puddings as it is a fantastic low snack and the flavor combinations are endless! We are using 8-ounce and 10-ounce glass jars, 2 tablespoons of chia seeds (we use Anthony’s and Bob’s Red Mill); 2-4 teaspoons of erythritol (naturally occurring sugar substitute, we use Anthony’s); and a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk as a base.
We have added unsweetened cocoa powder (from Anthony’s); matcha powder, and extracts to make all kinds of flavors, like banana, butterscotch, chocolate banana, and orange (we are buying most of our extracts from Savory Spice). I also did a half almond mile eggnog with half regular almond milk and that was delicious too! Mix the base and flavoring and put it in the fridge overnight and presto!
Working On | Stories for 2021
> Since we aren’t traveling during this holiday break I am trying to do planning for stories I will work on in 2021. Given that we are not likely to travel until the second half of 2021, I am relying on the vast pool of travel experiences that I already have. Having been to Paris 50 times and being an avid Francophile married to a Frenchman, we retain lots of connections to France and I have lots of possibilities when it comes to stories. It will be glorious when we have fresh stories to tell!
Feeling | Hope
> I don’t think we are at the “light at the end of the tunnel” yet with the vaccine, but I see a flicker. Being under 65 and healthy, Mr. Misadventures and I are definitely in the phase 4 group for it, so guessing that is April or May timeframe. I am counting the days until I can get mine and can have a little more freedom. The possibility of international travel in the second half of 2021 is looking promising.
Planning | Travel
> We won’t be traveling anywhere the first half of the year unless by some miracle the vaccination process moves faster, so we are hanging our hopes (see above) on the possibility of travel the second half of the year. What happens when travelers can’t travel for 18-months, they want to go everywhere! We have lots of catching up to do!
Loving | Benamor Jacaranda Lotion
> If you wait long enough, eventually everything ends up on Amazon. I discovered the Benamor brand when Mr. Misadventures and I spent a few days in Lisbon ahead of our Duoro River cruise. It was in a Portuguese product pop-up inside the Time Out food hall. There were lots of lovely scents, but once I smelled the Jacaranda, I was sold and purchased a few of their small hand lotions to bring home. Little did I know that I wasn’t going to be able to get more after I finished my initial supply. Given how much the world has shrunk and you now can get just about anything anywhere, I fully expected to be able to buy more.
But alas, no. Benamor was available in Portugal, Spain, and a few shops in the UK, and online, but of course shipping to the US was outrageous. I did eventually find a boutique in New York City that carried the brand, but they did not have the jacaranda scent. I even asked my gal pal Kristin of Camels & Chocolate to look for some for me when she spent a few days in Lisbon, but she didn’t find any. I subscribed to their newsletter to keep up on the latest news from the company and dreamed of the day I would be in Portugal or Spain again to buy more.
Every few months I would also check Amazon. I was looking for something else this past month and decided to recheck Benamor and wouldn’t you know, the brand is now there! I purchased my beloved jacaranda scent and I sparingly (it’s not cheap) put some on every night before I go to sleep. With a smile.
Published in December
- French Food at Christmas: Le Gros Souper: A French Christmas Holiday Tradition
- The French 75 Cocktail
- How to Make New Year’s Resolutions for 2021
That’s my month, what’s CURRENTLY going on with you?
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