December is my favourite month of the year. Besides Christmas feasts and New Year festivities we also have a multitude of family birthday celebrations, including my own. It’s a joyful and festive time of year which usually takes us home to family and friends. This year, we celebrated with family over Skype, but were lucky enough to meet some extremely hospitable Iranian friends that went out of their way to make us feel like family. In the end, it didn’t feel like we missed out on much at all.
And without further ado, I give you the best of December…all the things that motivated me to get up and out of my pyjamas this month…
What i’m reading
I’ve never been a big fan of new year resolutions, I prefer to start things straight away. Having said that, I do believe that the new year is a perfect time to start something new, especially if it’s a hobby or a habit that you just haven’t managed to get around to…and even more so if it’s something that will truly and positively improve your life.
If you’re struggling for inspiration, I loved this article on 16 small habits that will improve your life. I can personally vouch for most of them. While I’ve always been a bed maker, over the years daily meditation, journaling and making sure to get better sleep have all made their way into my daily routine. I feel calmer, more focused and rarely let a bad mood get to me (and others around me!). Pick one that resonates with you and run with it!
What I’m listening to
Noisli, and official app of noisli.com For the past few months, I’ve been experimenting with noise…or, I should say, ambient sounds. I’m generally a ‘work in silence’ person, but after reading about the benefits of noise, especially white noise for concentration, stress reduction and improving sleep, I figured it was worth a shot. With Noisli, you can mix and match different sounds such as softly falling rain, wind and crackling fire. Some of the more unusual options include a bustling coffee shop, ‘rumbling train’ and dripping water (arguably one of the most annoying sounds in the world, right?).There’s also brown, white and pink noise which are said to help you fall asleep (or, block out annoying colleagues). My personal favourites are wind and running water which I like to use in combination. I can’t say I’ve noticed an improvement in concentration levels but it’s a nice change from the dead-quiet I’m used to. I also like the illusion of having a running stream right outside my window. The Noisli app allows you to play all the sounds offline and save your own favourite combinations. There’s also a timer function which is handy if you’re using it for sleep time.
Getaway of the month
Yazd, Iran This month we spent four days, including Christmas, in Yazd. Yazd is a sleepy town of about 500 000 people, located almost smack bang in the centre of Iran which means it’s surrounded by deserts and dry (but very striking) mountain plains.
Exploring Yazd requires a bit of imagination. The city is dotted with mud-brick houses, and domed ceilings; many of them crumbling to the ground. It’s amazing to imagine what life might have been like hundreds of years ago, when people lived within city walls, beneath mud brick domes. In Yazd we enjoyed some unseasonably warm days and spectacular sunsets from rooftop cafes.
Probably the most enjoyable part of our trip to Yazd was staying at Nartitee EcoLodge. The folks at Nartitee went out of their way to make us feel at home. They also insisted on preparing a special Christmas feast, complete with a spectacular 12 kg turkey prepared just the way my mum would have done back home (ok, maybe a bit better – sorry mum!). We had a Christmas tree, old-school Christmas carols playing (which were quickly switched out for traditional Iranian tunes) and ended the night with firecrackers. It was hands down one of the most memorable Christmas nights i’ve ever experienced.
Recipe of the month
I’ve already mentioned that Iranians possess a special skill for preparing eggplants. During out stay at Nartitee Ecolodge, we had a very special private cooking class where we learnt to make one of our favourite Iranian eggplant dishes – Mirza Ghasemi. It was surprisingly easy to make and oh so delicious. Recipe coming soon (the moment I have a kitchen to cook in)!
What i’m watching
After a month in Iran and having visited several local museums, I was feeling slightly overwhelmed with the complex history of war and revolutions in this country. Not feeling very motivated to read a book about it, I turned to YouTube and discovered Crash Course.
By the time i’d watched all the videos related to Iran and Islam, I was thoroughly hooked, so I continued watching a bunch more. These guys have videos on pretty much every major historical event you can think of, plus other topics like computer science, biology, and astronomy. I highly recommend this channel for anyone who likes to get their nerd on and learn something new once in a while.
Blog of the moment
because everyone needs a fun read every now and then. This is my favourite illustrated blog about everything and nothing, from professional procrastinator, Tim Urban.
Happy New Year Everyone!
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