November was an exceptionally busy month, spurred by high demand for my online English classes. I spent most of my time in Cambridge, with trips to South Boston and New Hampshire to spend time with my family. I also began the preparations for my move to Chile in earnest! Here is a recap of some of the best moments of November.
Appreciating Cambridge in the Fall
It is no secret that I have loved living in Cambridge over this past year. Since I know this is my last fall in Cambridge for a while, my walks, bike rides, and quiet moments reading in the park have been especially poignant. Since fall arrived a little late this year, the leaves continued to change well into November, and I captured them every time I went to Harvard Square for the farmer’s market or to enjoy the warm sun in the Sunken Garden at Radcliffe Yard.
Knowing that some of the more everyday, commonplace scenes I take in on a regular basis will soon be part of my past has helped me to pay more attention to the buildings, monuments, and signs that form the distinctive scenery of Cambridge.
Visiting South Boston
My mother came to Boston to visit us in November for her belated birthday celebration. This time, my brother and his wife took us out in South Boston, where they live. They love being so close to the beach, and wanted to show us the scenic coastline while we walked their new puppy. We happened to go out right before sunset, which made the walk all the more beautiful.
Sometimes it surprises me how different Boston feels from Cambridge. While I enjoy visiting South Boston on occasion, Cambridge is definitely the place for me, for now!
As I’ve mentioned before, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. This year, it was just me and my parents at their home in New Hampshire, which made for a very low key but delicious holiday. Because of the snowstorm in Boston the night before Thanksgiving, I made the very wise decision to stay in Cambridge and prepare a pumpkin pie, my favorite Thanksgiving dessert.
Of course, I had to make the whole pumpkin pie from scratch, including the crust. I prefer all butter pie dough, which is actually quite simple to make. However, most people are intimidated by homemade pie crust and opt to buy one to avoid any problems during Thanksgiving prep. As I prepared the dough, rolled out, and crimped the pie crust, I reminded myself to keep it simple and not to overthink it, as there was no reason to make the process more complicated than it was. This is a pretty good mantra for my life right now! Staying relaxed and not aiming for perfection meant that I enjoyed the whole process of making the pie, and it didn’t take long at all. As you can imagine, the pie was delicious (and it actually turned out perfect!).
My goal for Thanksgiving weekend was to really be present for the holiday. Although I have a lot on my mind with my preparations for Chile, I have given myself a couple of weeks in December to focus on all of these details. My mother and I spent the day after Thanksgiving decorating the house for Christmas. Some of our family’s traditional Christmas decorations have been in storage for at least a decade, so I decided to pull them out for this year’s family celebration. I particularly love this vintage Alpine Village that belonged to my grandfather.
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I headed back to Boston to celebrate Friendsgiving, hosted by a talented friend who made the absolute best garlic mashed potatoes I have ever had, and provided me with plenty of delicious leftovers which got me through most of the last week!
Sadly, November marks the end of the season for farmer’s markets in Boston. Thankfully, it was an extended growing season this year and the farmers were very successful. Over the last few weeks, I loaded up on a ton of multicolored carrots, apples, potatoes, colorful cauliflower, brussels sprouts, salad turnips, diva cucumbers, and winter squash.
In addition to bread, I am taking advantage of my last few weeks in Boston to make as much homemade pizza as possible. Pizza is definitely one of my favorite foods. I also continued my fall tradition of making pumpkin gingerbread, with half as much sugar and twice as many spices. This delicious quickbread fills the house with the smell of fall.
As you may have seen on my sidebar, I have challenged myself to read 30 books this year! I only have three left to go, and I should be able to finish them on schedule! I decided to borrow a Nook from the Cambridge Public Library to see if I liked using an e-reader. At first, I felt like I wasn’t really reading a book, but then I got really into it. I also carried it with me every day as it was so light. The CPL’s Nook came pre-loaded with books that are currently popular, and I devoured Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman and Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris.
After a month with the Nook, I decided to buy a Kindle, taking advantage of a Black Friday deal. I went for the Kindle Paperwhite because of its integration with Goodreads, but the Nook was just as good.
As I mentioned above, my business has been doing well and I actually picked up a number of new students in November. I love working with my new students and helping them sound more natural when speaking English. It is truly refreshing to be able to control my own schedule and teach students using the methods that I find most effective. Freelancing really is the best, and I have so many ideas for how to expand my business in 2015!
I also gave notice at my “morning” teaching job, and was blessed with an awesome, diverse, open-minded group of students for my last full month. December 5 was my last day; I can’t believe how fast the past 11 months there went by!
November was hectic because of all of my preparations for my move to Chile! Although I accepted the position back in October, I did not begin planning in earnest until November. For me, planning has mostly meant identifying and buying things that I’ll need during the next year in Chile. I learned a lot from living and traveling minimally in Peru, and I only want to bring the things that are truly necessary.
Speaking of Peru, I am actually going to visit Lima before I head to Chile. Since my new job begins mid-January, I decided to take advantage of my proximity to Peru and head there first! I leave for Lima on December 30, and I’m planning on spending most of my time in Lima, but I’m also hoping to squeeze in a few side trips to Máncora to enjoy the beaches, Casma to see the ruins of Sechín, and Paracas to see the sea animals. These were the three places I didn’t manage to visit before leaving in 2013, so I’m determined to get there this time!
This trip will get me back in the South American mindset; being around familiar faces as I ease myself back into my Spanish-speaking ways will hopefully diffuse some of the culture shock I’ll likely feel when I get to Chile.
In November, I finished writing my blog posts about my 2013 trip to Chile, and started writing about my travels around central Peru. I am particularly proud of my post about Vilcashuamán; this experience was incredibly empowering.
On a funny note, I found out about the amazing reality series 90 Day Fiance last month and have been watching all the episodes of the current season. This show has provided me with some much-needed perspective on the challenges of multinational romances! I also learned about the television series About a Boy, based on one of my favorite books (and movies), and flew through the first season on Netflix over the week of Thanksgiving!
While I haven’t managed to complete anything else on my Boston bucket list, I did have two more “only in Boston” experiences: I saw The Donkey Show, a disco-inspired version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and went on a fun, frigid nighttime ride with Boston Bike Party.
I can’t believe that I have less than a month left in Boston! 🙂