Products and Books I'm Enjoying in April 2019
Book Recommendations, Loving and Learning Lately, Products I Love

Loving and Learning Lately {12}

Welcome to Round 12 of this little series I started of all the things in life I’m loving and learning lately! Here you’ll find everything from the books I’m currently reading to the products I’m loving to the shows I’m watching (which, spoiler alert–won’t be very many or very exciting, since I’m not a huge t.v. or movie watcher). If you want to check out past editions of the series, click here.

Note: There are affiliate links in this post, which means I get a small percentage of any sale made at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting To Love and To Learn!

Loving Lately

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  • My back is sloooooooowly starting to feel better since I’ve started diligently wearing my SIJ support belt 24/7, but one thing I hate about it? The fact that, because I have to wear it so tight, it makes it look like I have the worst spare tire/muffin toppage in the world. (Seriously, it’s bad.) So I decided to use some of my Old Navy Rewards (combined with a 40% off sale they did recently) to buy three loose shirts in a larger size than I’d normally wear. One I need to alter slightly (the shoulders/neckline are too wide), one’s just a basic tee, but this v-neck luxe tee? I’m a BIG FAN. I’m half tempted to use the rewards I’ll have coming on my next statement to buy another one or two, also in black, so I’d have three of the exact same shirt, ha ha :). (On a random note, I have been half-seriously toying with the idea of just only wearing loose, long black tunic-style shirts over jeans every day and calling it my “uniform.” I seriously love the idea of not having to put any thought into what I’m wearing! I mean, I’ve done the capsule wardrobe thing and liked a lot about it, and now I’m tempted to go full-on crazy and just only buy black shirts and jeans! WHO AM I?!)

  • Even though I bought my new tripod months ago, it’s only been recently that I’ve started playing around with it a lot more. (Before, I’d just been using it every Sunday for when we take our weekly family portraits.) I’ve been trying to go back in my archives and update some of the photos, especially in the really old recipes posts (some of which have positively TERRIFYING pictures of the food, ha ha.) Although I’m still figuring out all the bells and whistles of my new tripod, I’m SO GLAD I finally bought one. I thought that since I’d been getting on fine without having one for so many years that I really didn’t need one, but it has already made SUCH a difference in certain kinds of pictures (like food photography, or in self-timed pictures). Also, a shout-out to the wireless remote I purchased at the same time, which means I no longer have to run back and forth while the light blinks faster and faster, trying to get back into the frame—I can just set a 2-second delay, push the button, and smile!
  • Last Sunday, for the monthly family party my mom and stepdad host, my mom planned out a St. Patrick’s Day “Green Feast,” where all of the food we ate was green. This isn’t a new idea (and it’s actually one that we’ve participated in before, with Matt’s brother and sister-in-law), but since Raven’s been getting super into all holidays, I figured it’s a ridiculously easy way to inject some extra fun into that day. If you’re looking for one possible green food to try a Green Feast yourself, you could try this creamy broccoli soup I just made up last night (inspired by a couple different recipes). It’s meatless (and can be made vegetarian), super easy, and pretty healthy, to boot. Oh, and with a side of salad and (green?) breadsticks, you’ve got yourself a well-rounded meal of deliciousness 🙂

  • My 9-month-old has been getting ear infections like crazy since he was born (and we’ll probably have to start looking into long-term solutions if it doesn’t get better), but one thing that’s helped a ton that I wish I would have known about sooner? Liquid silver. Apparently silver has been used as an antibiotic for centuries (I know a lot of you probably already knew this, but this was the first I’d heard of it!), and you can safely put some in each ear every time you worry that your baby has an ear infection. You have to keep them on their side for 6 minutes straight so the silver has a chance to kill off all the bacteria and you have to repeat it for at least 3 days straight, but it’s already saved us SO MUCH MONEY in co-pays and antibiotics (I’m estimating easily around $150 by now). Anyway, definitely worth passing on! This is the kind that we’ve been using.

Learning Lately

Current and Recent Reads

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

I know I have a tendency to take my own reading tastes far too seriously, so occasionally I will pick up a book that I know will be fast-paced and a bit, well, fluffy. Moriarty’s stuff isn’t nearly as fluffy as most, but as my tastes definitely skew more literary and often serious, I need even my “fluff” reads to feel clever and to be written well. As expected, I flew through this drama in about 2 days, caught up in the story of 9 strangers who all come to a health resort to transform their lives, only to find that something is, well, OFF about the place (especially the owner). If it weren’t for the fact that this book had so much strong language, it would have gotten a solid four-rating from me (out of five possible stars), but as it stands, it ended up getting 3.5.

I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

I don’t read very many collections of essays, but an essay collection all about books and the reading life? Yes, please! While this book might not change my life, I was positively delighted to find that many of the sentiments expressed therein were things I’d felt in my own life, but that sometimes I felt a bit weird about because there aren’t very many other people I know in real life that are as obsessed with books as I am. Some favorite gems? The part where she talks about how once you’ve started tracking your books, you will wish you had started much, much earlier (SO MUCH, YES), and also the part where she talked about how sometimes CHOOSING or reading ABOUT the books to read next is almost as much fun as the reading itself (seriously, I thought I was the only one who felt that way!). All in all, a solid 4-star read that any book lover would probably relate to and enjoy.

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

It’s taken me longer to get through this than I would like (and I’m still only about halfway in) because other holds keep coming in at the library that need to be prioritized (since this one I can keep renewing). One thing about Ivey is that her writing is slow, but vivid—both this and her book The Snow Child have been slow burns, but I have a feeling that both will stay with me for a really long time. She also includes elements that are close to magical realism in her books, but you’re never quite sure if they are real until the end, which is a fun twist. If you need something fast-paced, this isn’t for you, but if you like books with settings so breathtaking and real that they seem to be a character in the book themselves, then you might give her work a try. All in all, I think this will net between 4 and 4.5 stars, depending on how the ending goes.

America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money by Steve Economides

I love reading about frugality and frugal hacks (hence one reason why I blog about those topics myself), and this was one I stumbled across one day while looking for books on frugality (for my Pinterest board on Financial Matters) and was delighted to discover that my library actually carried it, which is not always the case. I’ve only just started this, but I’m excited to dive in to see which frugal suggestions I haven’t tried yet, as well as hopefully feel motivated to be a bit more careful with our spending than we have been lately.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Uggggggggghhhh…I am SO ready to be done with this book that I started back in NOVEMBER for my self-assigned reading, but I’m having a hard time. I’ve been burned out from the dystopian genre for a couple years now, and this particular dystopian world is even more strange and disturbing than most. This is definitely one of those classics that will get a star rating based on impact rather than likability, because if I only gave out star ratings for how much I enjoyed it, I would give it a one (just as I would have given Lord of the Flies a one). But, as the book has the potential to stick with me for much longer, it could potentially get a rating of as high as 4 stars, though I’m assuming it will probably hover somewhere around 3. (This ranking system makes absolutely ZERO sense to my husband, but for me, a book’s impact on me and my thinking HAS to be taken into account when I rank it, which is why many classics that I actually hated reading have decently high ratings. Is that weird?)

Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller

I picked this up for my recent book round-up of books that will help you get your house in order, but I didn’t have a chance to start it until today. I’m always a bit nervous including a book in a round-up that I haven’t read yet, but so far, I think I’m right on the money with this one—it’s a book about a girl who grew up in a household where her dad had severe hoarding tendencies, and while I feel I will get much more from the book than this, I DO feel like it will definitely want to make me clean and declutter my house, which is why I included it under the “inspiration” portion of the book round-up :). Anyone read this one yet? (Hot Tip: This one’s only $5.99 right now on Amazon (it looks like that’s for either the Kindle version OR the actual book!))

Homebody by Joanna Gaines

I put a hold on this one ages ago, and of course it came in at the library right when alllll my other holds came in…so I’ve barely scratched its surface. However, since I have definitely been in an “update the house!” frame of mind, now is the time to dive into this one. (Note: I also included this one on that decluttering/organization book round-up.)

Blog News Lately

  • I’ve been slowly but surely updating some old posts from the archives to make them fresh and relevant (and not have scary, scary pics in them, like some of the old recipe posts had/still have). The best way to see those when they come up? Follow the blog on Facebook! I usually post those links that have been updated there (and sometimes nowhere else), so it’s an easy way to get more (and improved!) stuff from To Love and To Learn in your life.
  • Also…I drank the Kool-Aid and enrolled in Elite Blog Academy last week, and you guys, I ALMOST THREW UP FROM THE ANXIETY OF DROPPING SO MUCH MONEY ON MY BLOG. However, blogging has been a passion of mine for the last 8 years (and I’ve actually been blogging for over 10), so it’s obviously not going away anytime soon, and I figured, why not? Why not try to turn this passion hobby of mine into a side income for my family?
    • HOWEVER, I do want to promise you that while you will notice some changes (like I’ll start offering some freebies like printables and such and perhaps doing sponsored posts down the line or even attempting ads on my page), I still plan to do this MY way. For me, blogging is first and foremost about connecting with YOU, and that’s not going to change. I want this space to be somewhere where you can turn for ideas, inspiration, and the feeling that you’re a little less alone in life, and I want what I produce to be relevant. I plan to conduct another reader survey soon (as it’s been a year and a half since I’ve done one), so be on the lookout for that!
    • (And, in case you’re curious, I am LOVING the course so far! I haven’t felt this motivated about my blog in YEARS.)
  • Have you signed up for my email list yet? My first newsletter actually goes out tomorrow (Wednesday 3/13), which will include an exclusive book list that’s not currently available on the blog. If you haven’t signed up yet but want in (I promise I won’t be sending you a bunch of emails–this will probably just be a few times a month at most), go ahead and sign up here!

Linking up today with Steph and Jana as part of their Show Me Your Books series!

Life According to Steph