Welcome to Round 22 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.
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- Thanks to my mom agreeing to watch our kids, Matt and I got away for our first date night since the baby’s arrival. While our original plan of going to see the Mr. Roger’s movie at the dollar theater didn’t work out (I had looked up movie times for the wrong date on accident), we ended up deciding to go see Just Mercy there instead, since I chose it as my book club selection this year, and I thought it would be good to see the movie to have a comparison. And wow! While it’s definitely a heavier movie, it gave us a lot to talk about, and I overall found it very inspiring. I haven’t read the book yet, but I did just get my own copy of it, so I’m excited to dive in and compare the two! (The paperback is only $7.88 right now on Amazon, just as an FYI!)
- So my baking urge hasn’t let up too much, but it is starting to be tinged with a “last meal” kind of feeling because Matt’s in the process of trying to figure out if he has celiac (womp womp). We won’t know definitively one way or another until mid-March, so since he’s just supposed to eat normally until then…I feel like I need to try out allll the things. However, both of us are in the process of trying to lose a bit of weight (I still have about 15 pregnancy pounds to lose, and Matt has about the same “sympathy pregnancy pounds” to lose), so…we’ll see how it all shakes out. In the meantime, make sure to check out the recipe for honey muffins that I recently posted (so good, and it only calls for ingredients that will be found in most pantries!), as well as this post on 90-minute Italian Bread that I recently updated the pictures for.
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I've decided that having a newborn in the winter is kind of terrifying, esp a preemie. Despite leaving the house as little as possible, my 19 month old and I somehow came down with strep this weekend, and my preschooler has apparently come down with a cough. While Daddy and Little Man here are thankfully okay so far, I'm seriously starting to think we'd just better stay quarantined until spring. That's reasonable, right? #winterblues #sickhousehold #lifewithanewborn #preemie
- One of these days, I need to do a post about the best baby shower gifts to give, but until then, let’s just say that I don’t know how we ever got along without the Puj bath. You just put it right into your sink, stick the baby in, and then it unfolds and lies flat when you’re done using it. Genius. (And it’s waaaay easier to use than a traditional baby bath since you don’t have to wait for the water to fill up anything, which has come in handy many a time after blowouts.) The $45 price tag might mean you have to go in with a couple of friends or siblings to gift it at a shower, but trust me, it is WORTH IT.
Recent and Current Reads
I’ve always been one to be in the middle of several books at once, but lately it’s gotten seriously out of control–I’m currently reading ELEVEN (!) books. Of course, I think I’ll be adding two of them to my list of abandoned titles, and a few of them are “nightstand” books (which means I read just a few pages a night over the course of a few months), but still…Anyway, that’s all to say that I’m not including all the titles I’m in the middle of here–only the ones I’ve finished or almost finished, and only the ones I haven’t yet mentioned. (If you want to see all the book I’m currently reading, make sure to add me as a friend on Goodreads! I love connecting with people that way!)
Moriarty’s a good one to pick up when you want a page-turner and something that’s entertaining, though this one was surprisingly thought-provoking for me. I know I’m (very) late to the game on this one, but in case you’re even later than I am, this is the story of Alice, who comes to one morning at the gym after a bad fall to realize that she can’t remember the last 10 years of her life. When she wakes, she thinks she’s 29 and a giddy newlywed with her first baby on the way. She quickly finds out that she’s really 39, about to get a divorce, the mother of 3 children, and that her life is a complete and utter mess. The book is about how she pieces together how she went from one extreme to the other over the decade. While the amnesia card can feel gimmicky, I loved this one for making me look at my daily interactions and how “adulting” often makes us less able to see the fun in life. A solid four stars. (Warning: Moriarty does tend to use quite a bit of profanity in her books.)
Heather Lende is an obituary writer for a tiny town in Alaska, and this small book is a collection of short essays of life lessons she’s learned from having to sum up whole lives lived in a few paragraphs. This book is short, but it packs a punch, and it’s the kind of book that reminds you of The Big Picture, and of what’s truly important when all is said and done. Another solid 4-star read.
This is my first book by Robinson, but it won’t be my last. Gilead won the Pulitzer several years back, and it’s about a dying pastor who uses his last few weeks to pen a long letter to his young son. Meandering and slow, this book isn’t for everyone, but I loved how it explored themes of faith, forgiveness, and family ties, and there were so many thoughts I wanted to underline that I’m planning on buying my own copy of the book (which is almost unheard of nowadays for a fiction read). This is my second 5-star (fiction) book of the year, which already means we’re beating out 2019. (Related Post: What It Takes for a Book to Get a 5-Star Rating From Me + 10 Novels That Made the Cut)
Essay collections seem to be the trend of the moment for me, largely because most of my reading nowadays is done while pumping a bottle to feed my newborn, so I need books that I can dip in and out of pretty easily. Tell Me More is Corrigan’s collection of 12 essays that explore 12 different phrases that have been hard for her to learn to say, but that have greatly enriched her life (think: “I was wrong,” “I love you,” and “No”). If there wasn’t so much profanity in this, I would have considered bumping its rating up to 4.5 stars, but as it is, it’s still a solid 4-star read that doesn’t gloss over the hard parts of family life and marriage, but that still leaves you with hope that you can keep getting better at this thing called life. (Plus it’s quite humorous, which is impressive considering that the collection explores her feelings after the deaths of a parent and a close friend, among other things.)
I mentioned this one in my latest Suburban Homestead Diaries post, but I’ll include it here, too. I’ve always been fascinated by The Great Depression, and this nonfiction collection compiles stories and photos of people who lived through this period of history except, rather than focusing on just the hard stuff, this book focuses on how The Great Depression taught valuable skills, brought families closer together, and was a time when people truly “had everything but money.” Since this isn’t a page-turner, I’ve just been reading it in small doses here and there, but I’ve found it very inspiring—it’s made me want to be less wasteful, to be more resourceful, and to truly appreciate how good we have it on so many levels. An excellent read if you’re trying to live a frugal life and just need a good reminder that money really isn’t everything.
- So, I’m considering doing some vlogging on occasion. Is that something you’re interested in? I’ve already shot one video to answer a common question/comment we get (how we keep our grocery and household goods costs so low for our family of 5), but I’m still in the (daunting) process of trying to figure out how to edit it. Note: Keep your expectations LOOOOOW for these first several vlogs…I’m definitely no videographer, and the focus on my camera can be a bit hard to figure out!
- No, but really—do you watch vlogs? Do you follow any YouTube channels? If so, which ones? I only follow a couple, but I’d love to find some others!
- My plan is to get February’s blog letter out early next week, so if you haven’t subscribed to be on my email list yet, make sure you do that quick so you don’t miss that! I usually only send out one (maybe two) newsletters a month, and I definitely don’t want to spam you or fill up your inbox with sales pitches or useless filler emails, so I try to make them worth reading. Click here to sign up for that (and click here if you want a copy of my free ezine about 25 of the books on my reading bucket list)!
- Are you going crazy feeling cooped up at home all the time? Two posts that might help: My list of 11 ways to get out of the house in winter for free/cheap, and my first Loving and Learning Round-up for Kids, which is where I specified many of the (indoor) activities we’ve been enjoying lately. Happy wintering!
What have you been loving and learning lately? And which YouTube channels do you follow? I’m all ears!