Welcome to Round 28 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.
- Okay, so it being my birthday month…I may have gone a *little* bit over the top with letting myself splurge on book-related things. I already talked about my newfound love of Bookroo for the kids in this book round-up post, but for myself, I got sucked into the allure of Book of the Month, and I’m kind of loving it. (If you don’t know what that is, the company basically gives you a choice of five hardback new releases to choose from each month, and you choose the one you want them to ship to you for $15, or you can skip as many months as you want, too. Basically it’s a way of giving me access to new releases for waaay cheaper than I’d get them anywhere else, and I love that I’m not obligated to buy anything at all. If you sign up through my referral link, you can get your first book for just $9.99, and shipping is always free!) I also mentioned in the last book round-up post that I was ordering a bunch of books from Biblio, which has become my new go-to source for used books. I got all five of the books I’d mentioned in the last book round-up for around $34 with shipping, which works out to less than $7 a book, most of which were hardbacks and in fabulous condition. Anyway, I won’t be doing all these things forever (esp. because we’re about to have a house payment again soon), but they’ve sure given me a lot to look forward to during this weird time!
- After reading this book, I was thoroughly motivated to stop with the always-in-yoga-pants narrative and start actually putting some effort into looking my best every day. (Yes, this may have involved me ordering two more pairs of these jeans from Target in different colors because I loved how they fit so much, as well as me knowing their midi dress selection waaaaay too well now…) However, I’ve gone through phases of actually forcing myself to get ready every day before, but one thing that IS new? Wearing legit pajamas to bed. I got this pair from Target (but they’re not my favorite because I should have sized up—there is definite gappage in the buttons across the chest area), and I got this pair from Kohl’s (which I LOVE and want to buy in every color now!). I can’t describe exactly why getting into actual pajamas makes such a difference, but it really does—it’s like it sends my brain definite signals of when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to get going for the day, and it also makes me feel, well, a little luxurious. Question: Are you on the “real pajamas” train? And are the effects just all in my head, or are these results legit?!
- Getting my first smartphone last month has been an interesting experience (and probably warrants its own post, honestly). There are some things I don’t like about it (starting with the fact that it’s HUGE), but there has been a lot to love about it too, like how fun it’s been to Marco Polo with friends and family near and far, have a GPS to use whenever I need it (which is apparently a lot), and have a convenient and quick way to capture waaaaay more videos of my kids than I ever did before. I’ve also tapped the wisdom of my sister (who is Queen of All Things Savings/Coupon Deals) and given in to her suggestion to download the Ibotta app. I’ve used Rakuten for years and loved it (and will be getting a cash back check for over $40 from the last couple months alone from them), but Ibotta is new to me. If you have the patience to take the extra steps to upload your grocery receipts and scan a couple product codes, you can save a ton (and it’s all totally free)—my sister has gotten over $2,200 back since she started using it about five years ago! I’ve earned almost $20 back this month by just doing my regular shopping this month so far (and we’re only two weeks in!). If you haven’t tried it out yet, I *think* you can get an extra $5 back just by signing up through my referral link (let me know if you try it and it doesn’t work!).
- I’ve been prepping Matt’s lunches and dinners for the week every Sunday afternoon (since he’s staying away from us during the week to be closer to work rather than having to commute for 2.5 hours a day), and I am in love with my latest food blog discovery—Budget Bytes. Have you heard of this one? I know I’m late to the party, but MAN, there is so much good stuff on there, and I love that there’s a whole big section on meals that are good for weekly meal prep on there! If you need another good recipe blog in your life, this one is definitely worth checking out.
Current and Recent Reads
What You Wish For by Katherine Center
Summer is usually the time when I read all my “lighter” reads (which includes anything that could possibly be categorized as a “romance,” which this one is), but the problem with THIS summer was that we moved…and so all my books that were on hold at our old place had to then be put on hold at our new library. All that is to say is that I’m JUST NOW starting to get to many of the titles I’d intended to read in the summer, of which this was one. This novel could definitely be categorized as a “romance,” but there’s enough substance in this to not make it feel too fluffy. Basically it tells the story of how an elementary school librarian is shocked to find that her beloved former principal (who tragically dies in the first chapter of the book) has been replaced by someone from her past…a person who was the whole reason behind her moving away from her old job in the first place. While the ending on this one veers into “eh, pretty unbelievable” territory, I still overall enjoyed this one, and it provided a nice distraction from my massive to-do list of the moment.
So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
This was Newport’s first major published work, and while the ideas in it are excellent, I found that the whole book really could have been much more condensed than it was—I could just tell he was trying to fill a minimum page number allotment for his publisher, and so the writing was kind of clunky and repetitive. I definitely recommend his two more recent works–Deep Work and Digital Minimalism, which were both five-star reads for me–over this one, but this publishing debut of his, which seeks to debunk the traditional career advice to “follow your passion,” was still worth a read, even if it took me a long time to get through it.
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
I’ve heard fabulous things about Brene Brown for years (and have read a few of her shorter essays and been impressed), but this was the first of her full-length books I’ve picked up. And wow, talk about a life-changing read! The good news was that as I read, I could tell that I’d done a lot of personal work on myself over the past several years to become more “Wholehearted,” as she put it, but there were definitely sections in it where I was like, “Yeah, um…I need to work on that. Yikes.” A very enlightening look at vulnerability and shame and how to be more resilient. Excellent read, and one I wouldn’t mind owning someday.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
This book should come with a warning: Only Read If You Are Prepared to Change Your Thinking Forever. Period. This nonfiction read written by lawyer Bryan Stevenson has been on my to-read list for years and years, and you know it’s life-changing when I started Googling “volunteer opportunities at local prisons” even before I closed the book. Seriously, this book will forever change the way you view the U. S. justice system, and it will make you want to fight for a better and fairer way to protect the most vulnerable in our society. I can see why so many people say in their reviews of this that this book should be a must-read for everybody. (Warning: This is not an easy book to read, as it deals with a lot of case studies of people who have gone through some pretty horrific things. However, I will say that this book ends with a LOT of hope, and it will definitely make you want to be a better, more compassionate human.) Five stars for sure.
Blasts From the Past on the Blog
Going into family photos season, I’m seeing a big resurgence in the pinning and sharing of these two posts, so make sure to check them out if you’re planning on taking family pictures soon!!
- What Your Photography REALLY Wished You Knew About Taking Family Pictures
- How to Take Professional-Looking Portraits of Your Kids At Home
All right, lay it on me—what things have you been loving and learning lately? And what are your latest reads? GIMME ALL THE BOOKS!!! 🙂