Products and Books I'm Enjoying in 2023
Book Recommendations, Loving and Learning Lately, Reading

What I’ve Been Loving and Learning Lately {3}

Welcome to Round Three of this new little series I started to compile all the things in life I’m loving and learning lately, 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. watcher). If you happened to miss my first installment of the series, you can check it out here, and my second installment here. Note: There are some 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

  • The last few nights of almost-regular sleep, as the baby has gone down for almost a 7-hour stretch followed up with a 3 or 4-hour stretch immediately after. I feel almost human again!
  • Editing the baptismal portraits I did for my niece over the weekend. Individual portraits are one of my favorite kinds of shoots to do, and this one turned out especially good, I thought! (If you want to see more, I have some right now on my Facebook photography page, and I’ll eventually post the whole session on my professional photography page).

  • Hearing from a friend that a new Salvadorian restaurant just opened up in our town. Firstly, there are hardly any restaurants in our actual town, so ANY new restaurant is awesome news, and secondly, having lived in El Salvador for 18 months, I sometimes really miss eating the food there, so I’m excited to go check it out!
  • Being MUCH less sore the second week into the Beginner portion of Kayla Itsines’s BBG Workout program! Seriously, I couldn’t walk down stairs normally for about five days after my first leg workout I did of the program, and I’m hardly sore at all now after yesterday’s leg workout. Major progress!

Learning Lately

Current Books

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I know I’m way behind the times on this one, but I was kind of burned out on dystopias for a few years and needed a long break from the genre. I finally decided to give it a try this year as part of my unspoken rule about summer being a time for me to catch up on popular-but-not-heavy fiction. Basically, this is a story about how the future is shaped by a deadly flu that rids the earth of the vast majority of the population and any kind of electricity, and those left behind are forced to stay in small communities with no access to modern technology as we know it, which causes some strange behaviors to go down. The story flip flops between perspectives but eventually gets around to showing you how everyone is related. I’m about halfway through this and am finding it enjoyable enough but I’m not to the point where it’s a real page-turner for me yet. I’m guessing this will be (yet another) 3-star read for me this summer.

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

I’ve seen this everywhere on social media with rave reviews, and though I knew I probably wouldn’t like it *quite* as much as some (as I thought the Gilmore Girls series was fun to go through once but not more than that), I decided to pick this up because I needed something light that I could dip into and out of frequently, as I was reading it in spurts every time I was nursing the baby. And my initial impressions were pretty spot-on—this was a humorous, easy read that offered a peek into the show biz world (but through the lens of perhaps one of the more unconventional actresses), and for people who are obsessed with GG, it had some fun commentary on both the original series and the newer 4-part special they did not too long ago. For me, it was a solid three stars.


Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith

Another book I’m currently about halfway through, this is a novel written by the same woman who wrote A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which is one of the few books I’ve given five stars to in recent years. I’ve decided that Smith has the ability to capture the FEELING of something so well that you can see yourself totally in the characters and the story, even if their circumstances don’t match yours at all. She captured the feeling of childhood perfectly in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and in this novel, she captures the feeling of early marriage so well that it’s excruciating to read at times (much like it was excruciating for me when I taught 7th grade to watch painfully from a distance the awkwardness of adolescence unfold in front of me daily). Although Carl and Annie’s marriage bears almost no resemblance to my own, the feeling of being newly married is captured so acutely that you feel like the book is about you anyway. This has the potential to be a 4-star read, for sure.


Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

I read this one years and years ago and was slightly obsessed with it (as I felt it hit all the right notes of humor, serious content, a powerful message, and snappy writing). I’d been considering re-reading it for several years now because this book had become the YA book that I’d compared everything to in the years since, but because I’m not much of a re-reader (it’s hard for me to justify it when I have so many unread books I want to take on!), I’d put it off. Well, luckily for me, my book club is discussing it for this month, so I decided to dig it out of storage and give it another read. And while my perspective on it is different now that I’m a full-fledged adult and not reading it while I’m in high school, I’m still enjoying it almost as much as I did the first time. (And good news: you can currently pick it up for just $6.99 from Amazon (gotta love those cheap YA books!)


Deliberate Motherhood by The Power of Moms

I mentioned this title in my last round-up, but as I wasn’t very far into it then and am almost 75% through it now, I thought it deserved another mention. The first section or two of this didn’t wow me (though I enjoyed them well enough), but as I’ve gone on, this book has proved to be EXACTLY what I need right now–a book on motherhood that’s not judgmental or condescending or know-it-all in its tone, yet a book that offers inspiration and empowerment and a few solid suggestions on how to be a more intentional parent (but which leaves you plenty of room to figure out what that looks like for you and you alone). I’m really enjoying this one, and so far, it’s definitely earning a solid 4 stars, maybe even five. I’m already thinking of purchasing this one for myself, as there are parts I know I will want to be rereading.


Links Worth Sharing

  • My blog post all about my recent challenge to save $1000 in 100 days was featured in this post on the blog Budgets are Sexy, which I just recently started following and loved from the get-go. Such an honor! (Also, it is thanks to that blog that I started using Personal Capital, a free site that tracks your net worth and monthly spending which I mentioned in my last round-up that I have fallen in love with!)
  • I’m a bit obsessed with the idea of how small actions completed daily are overall much more life-changing and important than a few huge spurts of expended energy and time done sporadically. That very concept is reviewed in this blog post I just read: Today is 10X More Important than Tomorrow (which also deals with another of my favorite obsessions–compound interest!).
  • As someone who, at other seasons in my life, cut down on my personal reading time because it didn’t feel “productive” enough, I really enjoyed this article, which included this gem: “Are we reading because we feel we “have to?” Or do we feel guilty about taking time for leisure and pleasure, so we need our leisure and pleasure to be measurable like the rest of our lives?”

On the Blog

One Year Ago: 7 Ways I’ve Been Saving Money Lately

Two Years Ago: My Summer Reading List (& Books You Should Read Next)

Three Years Ago: Life After My 50 Weeks to Organized Project + An Apartment Tour

Four Years Ago: Clean Eating Challenge: Report

Five Years Ago: Can You Ever Really Blog For Yourself?

Six Years Ago: Thoughts On Not Wanting to Want

Seven Years Ago: Wedding Wednesday: Our Engagement/Bridal Pictures


What are you reading/watching/buying lately that’s worth sharing?

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy today!

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