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

Loving and Learning Lately {32}

Products and Books I'm Enjoying in January 2021

Welcome to Round 32 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.

Loving Lately

  • If you’ve been around here for awhile, you’ll know that I’ve had back issues for a long, long time. While dropping hundreds of dollars on chiropractic work and a specialized massage therapist have helped a lot, I unfortunately now live far away from either of my go-to people. I needed something to tide me over in between appointments (which will now be few and far between), so I asked for this foam roller for Christmas. Now, while it doesn’t quite match up to the specialized work done by my chiropractor and massage therapist, it has seriously done WONDERS. And I can use it whenever I’d like! I pretty much use it every day (sometimes multiple times a day), and it has allowed me to maintain flexibility and a sense of alignment and has severely cut down on the amount of back pain I feel on a regular basis. Seriously, this might have been one of our smartest investments EVER. (Oh, and at $26.99, it’s MUCH cheaper than either my chiropractor or my massage therapist!)
  • Confession: We gave our “kids” a Classic NES System for Christmas, but it was really more for us (at least for now). Now, it might come as a surprise to long-time readers, but I was actually an NES champ as a kid—I spent many happy hours playing with friends and siblings, and I got pretty darn good at several of the games, too (I dare anyone to try and beat me at Dr. Mario!). Anyway, this was a total last-minute splurge gift that Matt got, but it has seriously infused so much fun back into our evenings. After the kids are in bed, we’ll play a few of the two-player games together (and when Matt’s gone, I play Legend of Zelda), and it has just been a surprisingly amazing way to unwind at the end of a long day. Who knew that this was what my life needed right now?
CYCSB 2021 Logo
  • As is often the case with January, I am all sorts of fired up to purge, declutter, organize, and do All The Things in our house lately. I’ve been posting some of my favorite sources of inspiration on the blog’s Facebook page (like that HERE if you haven’t already!), and I already posted about the first 160 items I’ve decluttered as part of my 1,001 Declutter Challenge HERE. If you’re feeling the same organizational vibes and want to ensure that 2021 is YOUR year to fully get your house under control, you’ll want to check out the Conquer Your Clutter Bundle TODAY before it’s gone forever. For under $30, you get hundreds of dollars’ worth of ebooks, online courses, planners, and more that are all aimed at decluttering, simplifying, streamlining, tidying, etc. I’ve loved every bundle I’ve ever purchased, and they come with a money-back guarantee, so make sure you check that out HERE before midnight tonight (1/15), when the deal will be gone!

Learning Lately

Current and Recent Reads

Finally, I seem to be over my dreaded reading slump! A new year always helps my reading life, as does the fact that we’re now a *little* more settled into our house (although our list of house projects is still overflowing). It also helps that I just added about 50 books (literally) to my TBR on Goodreads, as does the fact that I finally got a library card here in our new town.

2021 is going to be a good reading year, I just know it!

P. S. Even if you don’t “know” me in real life, I LOVE getting friend requests on Goodreads because it’s one of the main ways I find new books to read! If you want to check out my shelf and add me as a friend, you can do that HERE.

A Year Without the Grocery Store by Karen Morris

Along with unpacking and getting our new house in order, I want 2021 to be The Year of Food Storage. I’m working on a post all about what we’re doing to beef up our food storage and how we’re going about the whole process, but until then, you should check out this book on the subject. (I always recommend you check your local library for books, but if food storage is a subject that interests you at all, this might be one you want to own. Right now you can find it for $5.99 as a Kindle book on Amazon, but if you wait around for a deal (like I did), I’ve seen it go as low as $2.99 on Kindle.) While this book is slim at around 120 pages, it packs a TON of information, and I like that it basically tells you how to start from the ground up in building up a year’s worth of food storage for your family. It also included a lot of information on “holes” or “blind spots” that many people have in their emergency preparation, which I definitely, definitely need to work on. Anyway, this was well worth the read (and purchase) for me!

Consider the Oyster by M.F.K. Fisher

This slim essay collection is actually part of a larger compilation I own of MFK Fisher’s writings called The Art of Eating, but as it’s technically a standalone book, I’m counting it as such in this round-up. I’ve long been a fan of Ruth Reichl’s writing, so when I started noticing that she mentioned Fisher as one of her biggest inspirations when it came to food writing and food memoirs, I jumped right on my TBR and started adding books like crazy. While Fisher’s style is definitely not as modern (she was born in 1908), I have been surprised to find that many of the essays that she’s written have really stuck with me, even when they’re about something I’ve never experienced for myself (say, like eating oyster stew, which she literally writes several essays on in this volume). Not many writers could write a whole book on eating oysters and make it interesting, but she is really that good, and the book was really that fun for me. (P. S. If you love to burrow into foodie memoirs and food writing like I do, check out the whole book round-up I did of some of my favorite titles in the genre!)

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman

This was my Book of the Month pick a few months back, which I chose for the cover (#truth) and because the premise sounded like a lot of fun and like the lighter fare I was looking for in my reading life. While the plot WAS fun and the book WAS definitely on the “lighter” side in many ways, this book didn’t quite live up to my expectations (although I do seem to be in the minority there, as this book has well over a 4-star rating on Goodreads). To me, the writing just fell flat—some scenes and characters didn’t feel fully fleshed out, there were a lot of cliched, generic descriptions, and there was quite a bit of profanity. This just wasn’t my favorite.

The Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton Morgan

Confession: I’ve never watched One Tree Hill and am happily out of the loop of nearly all things pop culture, so um, I kind of didn’t realize that Morgan was a famous actress until I started looking more into reading this. However, the premise of disenchanted-city-girl-turns-to-country-living seems to be a genre that works for me (I’m looking at you, Kristin Kimball), so I figured I’d give this one a shot. Now, I haven’t finished this one yet (I’m about two-thirds of the way through), but I can already tell you—this will be getting three stars at best, possibly only two. The writing really isn’t that strong, I’m having a hard time relating at all to the author and her experiences, and as much as I’ve tried to just get over it, her relationship with her husband just sounds WEIRD to me. Anyway, I’m sure if I had been a fan of her acting work I maybe would have enjoyed this more, but as the farm life memoir I was in search of, this really didn’t cut it.

Moments of Seeing by Katrina Kenison

Let’s end on a high note, shall we? I adored Kenison’s collection of essays The Gift of an Ordinary Day, so I jumped on buying this collection when I found a great deal on it secondhand. At 600 pages, this took me a long time to get through, but I loved keeping this volume on my nightstand and just reading an essay or two on nights when I needed an extra dose of comfort. Kenison writes essays on motherhood, getting older, finding joy and beauty in the everyday, and looking for wisdom and meaning in life’s ups and downs, and I have just found her to be such a comfort read for me. I’ve already ordered her book Mitten Strings for God, which now means (I think, anyway) that I own all of her books. I’m looking forward to having more Kenison on my nightstand again! (If you’re looking for more comfort reads, I did a whole book round-up on the subject a few months back, which you can find HERE.)

Blog News

I know 2020 was crazy for everyone, and the last six months felt especially crazy for our family as we were dealing with two moves and have also been dealing with my husband having to travel out of town for work every single week during that time.

As we’re (hopefully) nearing the end of this time when he has to be away from us so much, I have been tentatively but hopefully working on making some big plans for the blog. First up on the list? Starting up the exclusive email newsletters for my email list again! (You can sign up to be on that list HERE.)

I also have plans to bring back the Financial Friday series I had going on a looong time ago, start writing more personal essays again, and start showing you progress pictures of our new house already! I also have been itching to start posting again on my other, more personal blog, which has had to be moved to the back burner for the time being as I’m dealing with so much here on the home front as basically a single parent during the work week.

Anyway, thank you so much for being here. Thank you for reading and commenting and supporting and sharing and pinning and just showing up. I wish you all the best in this new year, and please, drop a comment below and tell me what is bringing YOU a little extra motivation and joy lately!

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