Welcome to Round 19 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 may get a small percentage of any sale made at no extra cost to you.
- I’m pretty cheap when it comes to buying any kind of beauty products for myself (though I do make an exception when it comes to my Mary Kay cleanser and moisturizer, which I’ve been using and loving for years)—basically, I just have my drugstore favorites for my makeup routine, which rarely change, and then for my hair, I usually just buy whatever’s on sale between a few brands. Well, my sister ended up getting me this shine and repair hair treatment for my birthday, and…I’m kind of hooked. It totally smooths down my (very thick) hair, and it’s been drastically cutting down on my straightening time. Plus, it makes my hair look much richer and glossier than usual. I might be needing to work this into my regular beauty budget now…
- You might already know I have a weird thing about audiobooks, but Matt was able to purchase me two new ones for my birthday that have fit right into my strange little guidelines for listening to them. Did you ever read the Little House books growing up? Well, now that Raven is a bit older and starting to understand more of Harry Potter (which is what we usually listen to nonstop in the car, in an endless loop), I figured I’d better get her some that are a little more age-appropriate (as she’s just 4). Matt got me the Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie audiobooks (narrated by Cherry Jones), and they have been FABULOUS—and my daughter has loved them. She usually complains about us listening to Harry Potter all the time, but with these, she keeps shushing her younger brother and telling us to stop talking so she can “listen to the book again.”
- If you missed your chance to get the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle earlier this year, the Ultimate Bundles team is offering a flash sale on Wednesday and Thursday of this week (10/16 – 10/17) ONLY. After that, it’s gone!
Current and Recent Reads
All the books I’d requested from the library to fulfill my Summer Reading List FINALLY came into circulation, so I’ve been feverishly trying to finish titles right and left as I’ve had as many as 8(!) holds come in at once. I knew this short memoir of one family’s year of minimal spending and consuming and attempts to practically apply the concepts of downsizing and minimalism would probably be a shoe-in for me. I’m constantly seeking out others’ stories of pursuing less stuff and consumerism in favor of higher priorities, and this definitely fit the bill. So many books on minimalism are written by people without families or people who pursue a very extreme version of downsizing (i.e., the tiny home movement), but I like that this family’s story mirrored our own in many respects. This wasn’t earth-shattering, but it gave me what I was looking for.
This book was a delightful surprise. I mean, I’d heard a couple positive reviews on it, but it hasn’t gotten much buzz, so I was taking a chance when I asked the library to purchase it for me. I’m SO glad I did! I expected this book about a single 40-year-old woman who was unexpectedly given a month-long paid leave to be fluffy and entertaining and not much more. What it ended up being was a surprisingly thought-provoking look at friendship in adulthood, and all that means. The numerous gardening/tree references might get annoying for some, but as that’s an interest of mine, I felt like it all served to enhance the story.
I’ll admit, I almost didn’t finish this one—it was a really slow start, and I was trying to decide about 25 or 30 pages in if it was worth making myself burn through it quickly (before it was due back at the library) or if I should just let it go. I’m SO GLAD I chose the former option because this actually ended up being one of my more memorable reads of this year for sure, and one that I think will stay with me for a long time. Cussie Mary is one of the last of the rare blue-skinned people of Kentucky (this book is based on actual things in history, btw), and although her father is feverishly trying to marry her off, she decides to take on a job as a traveling librarian. I not only learned a ton about a bit of history I knew almost nothing about, but this book also was a poignant look at race and class, love and sacrifice, and it even had a bit of a love story that didn’t make me cringe (which is pretty hard to do). High recommend. Hot Tip: This book is half off right now on Amazon, in case you’re interested.
I’ve been following the FIRE (Financial Independence/Retiring Early) movement for a couple years now, so I was surprised when I only just heard about this book published almost 30 years ago, which kind of started the whole thing apparently. This book outlines nine steps you can take immediately to get yourself on the track to financial independence and includes tons of real-life examples of the steps at work. While the information in this is excellent, I think I found the book at the wrong time—had I found it three or four years ago, it would have been paradigm-shifting. As it is, I’ve been hearing about these same principles for years as I’ve followed numerous FIRE blogs, so it wasn’t quite as earth-shattering as it could have been. If you’re just starting out your own research into the FIRE concept, however, this is a great place to start.
I love it when a book surprises me in the best way, and this was another delightful little gem this last month. The premise sounded intriguing—a 30-something woman whose brother went missing when she was 16 starts receiving mysterious chapters from something called The Guidebook soon thereafter and then is offered The Truth about these pages (and, she hopes, about her brother as well) decades later–but I didn’t expect the book to be such a whimsical and emotional ride. The writing style in this was fabulous—fresh and different, yet without seeming like it was trying too hard–which is always something I look for. Another highly enjoyable read.
I just started this memoir about a writer whose life turns upside down when she nonchalantly sends in an Ancestry DNA test, which makes her question her identity and everything she’d known about her family. Seeing as how I am fascinated by all things heritage and genealogy and such, I think I’m going to really enjoy this one.
On the Blog
One Year Ago: Books That Have Made Me a Better Parent
Two Years Ago: Our Basement Bathroom Mid-Process (+ Before/After Pics)
Three Years Ago: How I Cut Our Food Waste in Half
Four Years Ago: Why I Haven’t Bought a Smartphone (Note: I still don’t own one!)
Five Years Ago: Apple + Carrot Casserole (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!)
What have you been loving and learning lately?
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P. P. S. If you want to see what I’m reading in real time, make sure to add me as a friend on Goodreads! I do reviews of every book I finish, and I LOVE seeing what YOU are reading, too—it’s where I get many of my book recommendations, in fact! (For the other sources I use to get my book recommendations, you can click on this post.)