08 December, 2016

Favorites: November 2016

Photo: Pixabay

I've decided to try something new for today's blog post, based on several inspirations. As well as being an avid blog reader I also follow many wonderful creators on YouTube (including Robowecop, Michael Aranda, Hannah Witton, Abi, Ash Hardell and more), several of whom are participating in Vlogmas, in which participating creators make videos (vlogs) every day in December (or maybe it's only up until Christmas). While I'm certainly not committing myself to blogging every day, I've decided to use their inspiring energy to motivate myself to simply blog more often in December. You'll notice I got my first post in a month and a half out a few days ago, and now I'm riding the wave of accomplishment that publishing a post always brings in order to work on the next ones.

Having been inspired by videos from Hannah Witton and Abi, I've decided to write about some of my favorite things from the month of November. Especially given the fact that November brought some not-so-positive things, I think focusing on positive things is important for keeping life in perspective. So in no particular order, here are my November favorites.

Favorite Habit: Lack of Social Media 


This one isn't really a thing as opposed to the absence of a thing, but I've been somewhat purposely using social media much less recently, and the impacts on my life have been at worse neutral and at best very positive. I'd been steering away from Facebook for some time already, and even deleted my account a few years ago, but I've also been mostly absent from Twitter these days and I don't miss it. I haven't cut it out completely because I still use social media to share my blog posts and keep in touch with friends and family, but cutting it down has not been a hardship and has made me realize that the time I was spending on social media wasn't resulting in any real net positives. Facebook was getting way too political and divisive, and Twitter was making me feel like I wasn't as "good" of a blogger as the other bloggers I follow and was causing some seriously negative feelings. Plus, now that I'm not spending a significant part of each day scrolling through various social media feeds I have time for other things (which have ended up not being the most productive things sometimes but the point stands).

Favorite Book: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides



One thing I've been using my social media time for now is reading. Also inspired by Hannah Witton, I finally read Middlesex. I've been wanting to read it for years, since the title got thrown around a lot in my gender studies classes at Mount Holyoke, and I'm so glad I finally did. The story spans multiple generations of a Greek-American family, ultimately leading to the protagonist's realization that he, who is raised as a girl until age 14, is intersex.

In addition to the topic being incredibly interesting, the writing style was also captivating. I loved some of the comments the narrator makes and the often cutting observations about life and human nature. Although the novel is over 500 pages, it kept my attention and I couldn't wait to keep reading. I felt like it ended rather abruptly, and I was left to fill in some gaps myself, but all in all it was a great read.

Favorite Music: Shinedown and Pendulum 


Shinedown and Pendulum are two of my favorite bands, but they belong in this November listing as well because I've "rediscovered" them this past month. After a few months of listening to a vast variety of music, some of which, like jazz and classical, I don't usually listen to, in November I grativitated back towards some of my old favorites. Shinedown, treading the line between rock and metal, and Pendulum, drum-and-bass with beautiful vocals and wonderfully enigmatic lyrics, are always a good bet when I want something emotionally charged (but not just sad) that I can sing along to. A few of my favorite songs are "If You Only Knew", "How Did You Love" and "State Of My Head" by Shinedown and "Crush", "The Island - Pt. I" and "Witchcraft" by Pendulum. I've put together a Spotify playlist including the songs I just mentioned plus a few others that I like for anyone who is interested in checking it out.


Favorite TV Show: Keeping Up Appearances


This is one of the not-so-productive things I've been spending my time doing now that I've freed up my usual social media time. Keeping Up Appearances is a British TV show from the 90s that I used to watch all the time as a kid, and for much of the month of November I rewatched all the episodes in order. The show is about a socially ambitious woman named Hyacinth Bucket ("pronounced 'bouquet'") and her dutiful but overburdened husband Richard. Hyacinth comes from a working class family but desperately cultivates the image of a well-to-do, well-connected socialite and goes to extreme lengths to make people think she's important and even aristocratic. Hilarity ensues as Hyacinth's carefully crafted image inevitably collides with her "embarrassing" family.

Favorite Items:


Cloth menstrual pads


Over the past few years I've been giving much more thought to reducing the amount of waste I produce, and a huge thorn in my side when I thought about this was disposible menstrual products. I felt so guilty about throwing away a small mountain of tampons and pads every month, so about two years ago I took the plunge and bought a reusable menstrual cup. I like the idea of resuable menstrual products because they are better for the environment and for the body, and this month I completed my collection of reusables with my most recent purchase of reusable cloth pads.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that using reusable products has helped to completely change how I think about my period. I used to hate it and have nothing but negative thoughts and feelings about it, but now that I don't have to worry about buying and wasting tampons and pads I feel so much more positive about it. I highly recommend resuable products to anyone with a period. They are healthier, more sustainable and better for the environment, plus they are ultimately cheaper in the long run (especially in the U.S. where tampons and pads are ridiculously expensive). If you are in North America I recommend checking out GladRags (U.S.) or Lunapads (Canada), and if you are in Europe you can get an overview of some available options here (website in German).

Blender


Technically this should belong in "December Favorites," since I've been using it just in the past week, but it's one of my new favorite things so I can't not include it. I've been wanting a blender for a really long time, and Maxim and I finally got one as a somewhat belated wedding gift. (We would have had it sooner if I hadn't taken so long deciding which one I wanted.) I can finally make the soups, smoothies and sauces I've been saving recipes for, and it's so exciting! This past weekend I took the blender for it's first few test runs and I was very happy with how things came out. I can't wait to try other recipes and see how it handles pie filling, pesto, hummus, falafel and anything else I can think of.

Over-Ear Headphones 

 


I've owned these for a few years but haven't used them much because I was afraid of breaking them if I brought them anywhere. For the last few weeks, though, I've thrown caution to the wind and have started using them during my commutes between Hildesheim and Hamburg. The sound quality is so much clearer than with my Apple EarPods, they block out much more external noise, and they stay on my ears much better (the EarPods have a tendency to move around and even slip out when I move my head, especially when I'm wearing a scarf and a coat). Now that it's gotten cold, they also double as very effective ear warmers. And since I purposely chose a pair that fold up, they are much easier to transport than I originally thought.

And there you have it, my favorites from the month of November! Let me know in the comments if you like this type of post and if you would like to see more of them in the future.

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