AK Monthly Recap: December 2022

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Here we are at the end of the year! I’ve said so much about 2022 in my year-end recap posts that I won’t go on any longer. Let’s just take a look at the month.

More than anything, December was all about Christmas — and you’ll see it in the photos. I ended up celebrating Christmas unexpectedly across four countries this month.

I also read a lot of good books, found some kickass dining chairs, and welcomed a kitty to our home temporarily.

Let’s take a look at what went on in December 2022.

Kate and Charlie toasting gluhwein mugs with hats on in front of a bright yellow palace with a Christmas tree.
Celebrating the Christmas season at Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna!

Destinations Visited

  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Vienna, Austria
  • London, Coulsdon, and Watford, England
  • Reading, Revere, and Wakefield, Massachusetts
  • Nashua, New Hampshire
People strolling outside a pop-up bar in a market covered with Christmas lights.
Spittelberg Market in Vienna, an adult-oriented market with lots of pop-up bars.

Highlights

A fantastic Christmas market trip to Vienna. Surprisingly, Charlie and I have never been to Austria together! We’ve both been to Vienna several times, and it’s never been one of our absolute favorite cities, but we decided to check out their legendary Christmas markets.

Well, they were FANTASTIC. Some of the best I’ve ever visited in Europe. A good amount of diversity in markets (some more adult-oriented, some better for handmade gifts, some more art-oriented). Tons upon tons of flavors of gluhwein and punsch, making cities that serve one single flavor of mulled wine look like a joke.

We also got to hang out with our Vienna friends, Becki and Markus, as well as Becki’s dad, and enjoy a market evening, followed by their favorite local Irish pub.

My biggest recommendation? Wear thermals. It was VERY cold (temperatures hovered just above freezing, which is not even as cold as it can be there). My Uniqlo thermal top and leggings kept me actually enjoying the trip, and I would have been miserable without them.

The World Cup. I watched SOOOOO much of the World Cup, and how incredibly satisfying was it? A truly wild match up until the end, and I was so happy for Argentina and Messi.

We bought a funky retro dining table and some equally funky chairs. They’re mid-century modern pieces originally designed for the 1958 Brussels Expo. Despite that, they were all quite affordable.

It’s so hard to find secondhand furniture in the Czech Republic that isn’t IKEA. I’m quite pleased about these.

A dark gray cat sitting on a boring wooden chair next to two funky dark wood chairs with rounded tops, a small opening in the back, and cushions covered in a wild jewel-toned geometric pattern.
Baliček the cat and our new chairs.

A Friendsmas dinner at Kantyna. Kantyna is OUR PLACE in Prague — it’s part restaurant, part butcher shop, dishing up outrageously good steaks and the best burger in the world. Kantyna also puts on a butcher’s dinner called Dinner Off the Bone, where they serve you odd cuts.

They paused Dinner Off the Bone when COVID hit but FINALLY brought it back! We decided to do it for Friendsmas and feasted on crispy pigs’ ears, soft pigs’ brains, and honestly, the most delicious tripe I’ve ever had.

(The one non-hit? The room-temperature meat in aspic. Ugh. But our friends’ nine-month-old baby couldn’t get enough of it!)

Spending my first Christmas with Charlie’s family in the UK. Seeing how much his sister decorates her house and helping Charlie cook a truly insane volume of food were two of the highlights.

Lewis and Murray made a new furry friend. Baliček, our friends’ cat, came to stay with us for 10 days. We were curious to see how our cats would react — they haven’t seen other cats since they were in their foster home.

It took about five days for them to warm up to each other, and required some partitioning and litter box jiujitsu, but they seemed to get along pretty well by the end! (I think they’re glad to have us to themselves again, though.)

Baliček is the sweetest, most loving cat in the world, and it was nice to watch a movie with him purring away in your lap!

Three gray tabby cats -- one large and dark, two smaller ones with white bellies and white paws -- standing a round a white coffee table.
Left to right: Baliček, Lewis and Murray.

Challenges

I wasn’t planning to visit the US at the end of the month, but sad news from home had me booking a same-day flight to be there for a friend. I won’t go into detail beyond that.

I’m grateful to have had miles stashed away so it cost me $200 instead of $1500. If you live far away from loved ones, you might want to do the same.

And if you’re not into miles, just having a robust emergency fund is so important. For awful times like these, you don’t want to add financial stress on top.

An AI-generated image of Kate as a pirate wench in a hat and peasant blouse in front of a seascape. The AI gave her huge boobs for some reason.
Like everyone else, I got into AI this month. I’m a pirate!

Blog Posts of the Month

December is all about my Best of the Year posts — with a little extra thrown in.

My Favorite New Destinations of 2022 — Naples took the top crown, but where else won my heart?

My Best Travel Moments of 2022 — From getting engaged in Lake Como to sailing the bluest sea in Sardinia.

My Favorite Reads of 2022 — Just five books this year (and a far more digestible post as a result).

My Worst Travel Moments of 2022 — Aaaaaand everyone’s favorite post of the year. Yes, poop is involved.

A Visitor’s Guide to Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts — And a little guide to a lovely, underrated town on Martha’s Vineyard.

A cathedral in Vienna surrounded by modern buildings and blue sky.
We had one blue sky day in Vienna!

This Month on Patreon

On the Adventurous Kate Patreon, I publish exclusive content and never-told stories that you can access for $6 per month. We also have a private Facebook group and members get free access to the Book Club each month.

This month on the Patreon, I did a post about my favorite destination of 2022: Naples, Italy. Naples absolutely blew me away and in this post, I talked about what I love most about the city and the favorite things I did.

I also wrote a post about the posts that earned the most on Adventurous Kate this year — a deep dive into which all-time posts did the best, and which posts published in 2022 did the best, and why.

And I wrote a little note at the end of the year about what was going on.

A table set for Christmas with a red tablecloth, red and gold napkins, little christmas trees, Christmas crackers, and chair covers with Santa and his reindeer on them.
Charlie’s sister’s beautiful Christmas table.

Book Club This Month

Our next Book Club will take place on Sunday, January 29, 2023 at 1:00 PM ET. We will be reading and discussing Son of Elsewhere by Sudanese Canadian author Elamin Abdelmahmoud.

“At twelve years old, Elamin Abdelmahmoud emigrates with his family from his native Sudan to Kingston, Ontario, arguably one of the most homogenous cities in North America. At the airport, he’s handed his Blackness like a passport, and realizes that he needs to learn what this identity means in a new country. 

Like all teens, Abdelmahmoud spent his adolescence trying to figure out who he was, but he had to do it while learning to balance a new racial identity and all the false assumptions that came with it. Abdelmahmoud learned to fit in, and eventually became ‘every liberal white dad’s favorite person in the room.’ But after many years spent trying on different personalities, he now must face the parts of himself he’s kept suppressed all this time. He asks, ‘What happens when those identities stage a jailbreak?’ 

In his debut collection of essays, Abdelmahmoud gives full voice to each and every one of these conflicting selves. Whether reflecting on how The O.C. taught him about falling in love, why watching wrestling allowed him to reinvent himself, or what it was like being a Muslim teen in the aftermath of 9/11, Abdelmahmoud explores how our experiences and our environments help us in the continuing task of defining who we truly are.”

You can sign up here. Hope to see you then!

Kate and Charlie standing outside in coats in front of a sign reading "Portobello Road, it's the most wonderful time of the year"
Christmas posing on Portobello Road, London.

New Hampshire Way Update

My big achievement this month on my New Hampshire site, New Hampshire Way, was collecting TONS of email addresses for the newsletter. This was thanks to my new lead magnet, a downloadable calendar listing all the Christmas and holiday activities in New Hampshire in 2022.

Guess how many email addresses it got me? 537. That’s huge for a small site. I had to go up a new level on my ConvertKit plan!

Here are the new posts I published this month that I think you might enjoy: my post about the Mount Washington Auto Road, which is one of the coolest things you can do in New Hampshire, and if you’re a New Englander, you might want to check out the Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour in Jackson next year!

And I’m very excited for my first New Hampshire Way Mediavine payment to come in today or tomorrow! Finally, I get to touch the money the site’s making!

What I Watched This Month

The White Lotus! GOD, I LOVE THIS SHOW! I hope Mike White keeps making them for the next decade! So well written, such a great cast, a wild satire of the rich, and the COSTUMES.

Both seasons were good. I think the first was better about the interactions between the different guests. But the second one was absolutely stunning and I liked that they showed a good amount of Sicily beyond the resort, all in sun-dappled light. (Also, fun fact: the beach scenes were filmed in Cefalù, not Taormina.)

And guess what? Charlie and I booked a trip to Palermo in February before watching the show! I’m even more excited now.

Beyond The White Lotus, I enjoyed Glass Onion and Nope for films and An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life, a Netflix comedy special with Steve Martin and Martin Short.

The Prague Christmas markets, with viewing platform in front of a Christmas tree and church towers.
Prague Christmas markets: good, but not as good as Vienna.

What I Read This Month

I ended up finishing 2022 with 33 books read. The lowest number of years, and that’s okay. I did finish the year with a few fabulous reads.

Dirtbag, Massachusetts: A Confessional by Isaac Fitzgerald (2022) — “Isaac Fitzgerald has lived many lives. He’s been an altar boy, a bartender, a fat kid, a smuggler, a biker, a prince of New England. But before all that, he was a bomb that exploded his parents’ lives-or so he was told. In Dirtbag, Massachusetts, Fitzgerald, with warmth and humor, recounts his ongoing search for forgiveness, a more far-reaching vision of masculinity, and a more expansive definition of family and self.”

First off — I think we can agree this is far and away the best book title of the year! Fitzgerald is my age and grew up poor in rural North Central Massachusetts (My dad: “Was he in Gardner?” Me: “No, Gardner was where he went when he needed a city“). Strangely, I feel like this is a point of view not shared very often — most New England-specific memoirs are about urban life around Boston.

I love Fitzgerald’s voice, and how he makes the connections between the violence in which he grew up and a life that led him to bartending in San Francisco, smuggling supplies into Myanmar, and ultimately finding forgiveness for his parents. This is a great book and probably should have been on my best of the year list if I had finished it in time.

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel (2022) — This novel tells the stories of three characters — a 19th-century Englishman leaving for the Canadian wilderness, a 23rd-century writer living on a Moon Colony, and a 25th-century detective using time travel to solve a mystery that involves all three of them.

I fell in love with Emily St. John Mandel’s writing the month before with Station Eleven, and Sea of Tranquility is filled with more wonderfully comforting optimism in the face of a scary future. And beyond that, what is so good about this novel is how everything gradually connects to each other, nesting doll-style, eventually reaching a truly satisfying conclusion.

This is a good one.

An AI-generated image of Kate in a white blouse, her hair pulled to one side, looking placidly ahead.
Another AI image. This one was spot-on.

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan (2022) — Frida is a single mother reeling from her husband leaving her for a younger woman. But then she has a Very Bad Day — she leaves her 2-year-old daughter Harriet alone for a few hours. When authorities find out, they sentence her to a year living in the School for Good Mothers, a prison-like setting that teaches women how to parent.

What a freaky, weird book. The school itself reminded me of the movie But I’m a Cheerleader — it’s a strange sanitized “how to be” setting set on strict, almost cartoon-like gender roles. And it was depressing. From the moment Frida arrived, it was clear that it would take everything she had to reach their ridiculous expectations.

This book was part dystopian, part sci-fi, and much of it biting satirical commentary about women’s rights and views on parenting. Worth a read for sure.

Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on Becoming an American by Wajahat Ali (2022) — “Growing up living the suburban American dream, young Wajahat devoured comic books (devoid of Brown superheroes) and fielded well-intentioned advice from uncles and aunties. (“Become a doctor!”)

Now a middle-aged dad, Ali has become one of the foremost and funniest public intellectuals in America. In Go Back to Where You Came From, he tackles the dangers of Islamophobia, white supremacy, and chocolate hummus, peppering personal stories with astute insights into national security, immigration, and pop culture.”

I’ve followed Ali on Twitter for awhile — he’s a great follow. And this story is in some ways the memoir of every child of Pakistani immigrants who came of age over 9/11, and also a unique story about his family’s “curse” that sent his parents to prison, among other things. It’s a wild read, and well worth it.

I hope he gets on shows talking about more things besides Islam-adjacent topics. He deserves to.

An AI-generated image of Kate's face covered with pink geometric shapes, Picasso style.
Pink AI! Why not?

Rich as Fuck: More Money Than You Know What to Do With by Amanda Frances (2020) — “For too long, the subject of money has been shrouded in fear, secrecy, and anxiety. It’s time to look behind the curtain at money, while stepping into the empowered financial reality that is available to you. Reading Rich As F*ck is sure to ignite an avalanche of change in the most important areas of your life. Once you finally see money for what it is and realize your power over your finances, life will never be the same.”

I read this book mainly because several people I respect are huge fans of Amanda Frances. The book was decent, but nothing I hadn’t heard before.

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon (2012) — “Nothing is original, so embrace influence, school yourself through the work of others, remix and reimagine to discover your own path. Follow interests wherever they take you—what feels like a hobby may turn into you life’s work. Forget the old cliché about writing what you know: Instead, write the book you want to read, make the movie you want to watch.

Basically — a cute book, a short book, with a nice message. Take the work of others you love and use that to create into original work of your own. Stop pressuring yourself if you don’t feel original enough.

A big snowstorm in a park in Prague, a crenellated yellow building in the background.
Winter in Prague looks a lot like this!

Coming Up in January 2023

Nothing planned this month! Last year I came to the realization that January is a month where I’m inspired, goal-oriented, and ready to establish good, hard work habits for the year ahead.

In other words, it was a bit of a waste being in Mexico last January when I was in super hard-working mode. So that’s something I’ll keep in mind for the future. Let’s save the winter getaways for February at the earliest.

I hope we get a nice, big snowstorm and enjoy it while being cozy indoors.

What are your plans for 2023? Share away!

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