November 2021 | Recap

Oh, November! Lots of fun holiday celebrations, lots of work, and some pandemic scariness that now feels like a never-ending part of life. Who can relate? Here’s what I got up to in November!

Where was I in November?

  • Countries: USA
  • Cities: Lansing, Ann Arbor, and Holland, Michigan
  • Flights: 0
  • Days on the road: 2
Posing with Marshall on a day trip to Lake Michigan!

November on the blog…

I finally got back to blogging in November (you can read about why I took a 3 month break here) and it felt SO good! I published three posts and updated one post.

I’ve been meaning to write these posts for a long time. Short disclaimer… gift guides aren’t my favorite type of post to write (I prefer posts like this one where I can wax poetic… but not as many people read lol). But a lot of people ask me for my advice and this is a way to group that all together without repeating myself in lengthy DMs. Additionally, I’m hoping they’ll bring in some affiliate income. I still have a few more gift guides planned to publish in December. Check them out here:

My parents and I during our day trip to Lake Michigan. This was technically at the end of October, not November, and was a belated birthday celebration 🙂

November adventured like…

Re-reading Harry Potter: After Dan took me to the Harry Potter studio tour in London in September, we decided to re-read the whole series together. I got majorly into it in November and finished the second, third, and fourth books! The last time I re-read the entire series was after my high school graduation. I definitely think I’ve picked another “turning point” of life to re-read the series… (sorry for the vagueness)!

Surgery recovery is slow: I’m still recovering from my major excision surgery in August, and I’m now over a month into pelvic physical therapy. Even though I’m objectively sooo much better and stronger than I was even a month ago, I feel more frustrated. I’m still pretty weak and although I can walk long distances I can’t run. I’ve given myself a couple injuries by pushing it too hard. I know I need to be more patient, but it’s hard!

Attending a massive football game: Earlier in November, my dad and I went to a Notre Dame (his alma mater) football game together. It was kinda freaky to be in such a big stadium with sooo many people, but it was also extremely fun and had a sense of “normality” (although we wore masks apart from when we were seated).

Thanksgiving celebrations after a year off: Thanksgiving is arguably a bigger event in my family than Christmas. We didn’t celebrate together last year in 2020 due to the pandemic, and it was honestly kinda sad (as hard as we tried… Zoom is not the same). This year, we had our big “pie night” celebration where we all get together and make Thanksgiving pies (and drink). Then, Thanksgiving morning we ran the Turkey Trot 5k (I walked) and made brunch, and then got together for a big Thanksgiving feast (which was 100% gluten free this year). Everyone was vaccinated except for the 1 year old, 2 year old, and 5 year old. It felt weird to be gathering but it felt so, so good. Until…

A rather sickly trip to Holland: After Thanksgiving, I took a short weekend trip with my parents to Holland, a cute Lake Michigan beachside town. We did some holiday shopping, ate some amazing deep dish gluten free pizza, even saw a movie in an actual theater for the first time in 2 years (wearing masks). Then…. I got horrifically sick that night! At first I thought I was glutened from the pizza, but my parents also got sick (not quite as badly). Turns out we must have contracted some stomach flu because some family members from our Thanksgiving gathering also got sick. Well, we are really lucky it wasn’t anything more serious but it really puts into perspective how easily a virus can spread at a simple gathering. We are feeling a little more cautious, hesitant, and frustrated about Christmas now!

Dan’s flights are booked: For those of you following our long distance relationship saga, including 370 days apart this past year due to closed borders, you’ll know this is super exciting news! Dan has booked his flights to visit me in Michigan for the first time since 2019. Plus, it’s only 3 months after we were previously reunited in the UK. Things are looking up!!

The packed Notre Dame stadium for the football game we attended in November. Our seats were amazing! (My dad had to remind me of the rules throughout the game lol).
Some beautiful fall colors during a craft tour in Michigan earlier in November… before the snow settled in and ruined everything! (Yes, we have 3 inches on the ground right now).
I did a LOT of dog walking for my neighbor in November, including this trip to get her dog’s nails clipped. The dogs were just so excited for a field trip in the car lol!
One of the famous “pie night” pies! This one was a gluten free apple cranberry pie.
This photo does not do justice to how good these Thanksgiving pies looked! Of course I had to take one slice of each as everything was gluten free!

Upcoming in December…

I am so excited for Dan to visit at the end of December! He hasn’t seen my family for a very, very long time. However, we are super nervous due to the new omicron variant. The USA only just re-opened borders to the UK after 20 months earlier in November, and I fear that they are going to slam closed if the variant continues to spread. Honestly, we are just crossing our fingers and hoping for the very best… please send us some good luck vibes!

After the post-Thanksgiving stomach flu catastrophe, I’m also not sure how my family is planning to celebrate Christmas this year. I guess we will wait and see for now, but I’m curious about how all of you are navigating gathering with family for the holidays this year?

There’s also a lot of life admin I need to sort out in December that is moderately stressful. Think: work stuff, health insurance enrollment, car repair, etc. Being an adult is annoying lol! However, I’m hoping I have some exciting news for you come January so… stay tuned (again, sorry for the vagueness).

How were your Novembers? Hopefully you are coping with the transition to cold weather better than I am. I’d love to hear what your plans are for December and how you are tackling the holiday gatherings this year wherever you are in the world!

Looking for more?


  1. So happy for you that your boyfriend is coming soon
    I have lots of festive plans for December,and November was great because I got to visit my best friend in Germany

    1. Thank you! I’m so happy too. I just can’t believe it’s been this long but thank goodness our borders are now open. That is so exciting you got to see your friend in Germany!! I have way too many friends I haven’t been able to see since the start of the pandemic and the reunions are going to incredible. I hope you have an amazing December Tanja!

  2. I love your thoughtful posts – those and ones like them are the reason I read blogs 🙂
    So exciting about Dan’s upcoming visit! Our mums are coming and meeting us for the holidays in the UK (so long planned and unable to cancel) so I am also feeling a little nervous on everyone’s behalf as well but hoping it’ll be just fine.

    1. I know, same here! My favorite kinds of posts to both read and write. Good luck – I hope your reunion goes ahead in the UK in December! I guess we will all be crossing our fingers together… it’s nerve wracking!!

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