Products and Books I'm Enjoying in November 2021
Book Recommendations, Loving and Learning Lately

Loving and Learning Lately {39}

Products and Books I'm Enjoying in October 2021

Welcome to Round 39 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

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  • While I definitely preferred my trusty overalls in the summer, I have basically been living in these joggers from Old Navy for weeks and weeks now. They feel like sweats but don’t quite LOOK like sweats, and even though they’re definitely not the fanciest get-up, I am in love. In fact, I’m planning on using my Rewards points to pick up another pair (or two) so that I can basically just wear them on repeat all winter and never have to change out of them.
  • Tall black boots have always been a wintertime staple around here for me, but because I basically wear the same pair every day in all kinds of crazy winter weather, I tend to wear through a pair in about two years, to the point where it no longer keeps the water out. Finally a couple years ago, I requested that Matt get me these Jambu Duck Boots (in black) for Christmas, and they are AWESOME. They basically have not worn down at all, and they’re nice-looking enough that I can get away with wearing them most places during the winter (even to church!). They can be a bit tricky to find, but if you find a pair, they’re definitely worth picking up!!
  • This might seem random, but have you hopped on the wool dryer ball train yet? You basically use the wool balls in place of fabric softener sheets in your dryer, and I LOVE them. I’ve been using them for several years, and I love that 1) I never have to worry about buying fabric softener sheets again (frugal!), 2) I didn’t like the scent of a lot of of the dryer sheets before, so I love that these are unscented (though I know some people put some drops of essential oils on theirs if they do want a fragrance), and 3) I like that these are by far better for the environment since you’re not producing waste every time you do a load of laundry. We got a 6-pack of these ones, and they’re still holding up just as good as they did for the very first load 3 or 4 years ago!

Learning Lately

I skipped doing this roundup last month because I hadn’t read hardly anything (yet again). It’s been such a hard year for reading for me — I’ve had less time than I’ve had in years due to starting the flower farm, and I’ve also still struggled with reading anything too depressing or heavy since the pandemic hit. However, over TWO months I’ve finished a few things, so I’m happy to have a few great titles to share with you below!

Current and Recent Reads

Orchard House by Tara Austen Weaver

I bought this book used several years ago — soon after Tara Austen Weaver published it, I think — because I’d followed her blog for years and absolutely loved her writing style and her focus on simple, ordinary pleasures (especially food!). For one reason or another, I didn’t pick this memoir up until now, and I’m actually SO glad I waited — this was the perfect thing for me to read right now. Basically, Orchard House is a memoir about how Weaver and her mother and her brother started working on strengthening their family relationship after years of drifting apart through tending a large, neglected garden at a property her mother bought to be closer to Tara and her brother. While their family dynamic is messy and at times a bit uncomfortable, Weaver takes it all and, just as they did with the garden, manages to make it beautiful while still keeping some of its wildness.

Lovely War by Julie Berry

A WWII book has to be REALLY amazing nowadays to tempt me to read it–since I got pretty burned out of the era after reading so many books right in a row about it over the past several years–but since I’d seen nothing but glowing reviews about this one, I figured I’d best snatch it up when I saw it go on sale as a daily Kindle deal a few weeks back. This book’s unique structure — as a narrative told by the Greek gods and their hand in the story that unfolds — was just the cherry on top of this sweet wartime love story. Sure, there were some harder themes and sadder moments in the book, which made it a little hard to read at times. But all in all, the love story is beautiful, the plot interesting, and the book well-paced. Four stars.

Related Post: 15 Amazing Historical Fiction Reads that are NOT Set During WWII

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

I’ve always been fascinated by the various aspects of different Asian cultures (I follow quite a few Asian vloggers, mostly from South Korea and Japan), and I especially gravitate towards memoirs where food and the part it plays in culture is a big focus. While parts of this memoir definitely could have used more polish — and definitely more time/chronological markers so that you could more easily follow along if something was happening during the current narrative or if it had happened years before — I still enjoyed the immersive experience in Zauner’s cultural upbringing of having a Korean mother and American father, and of her grief and worry over losing the “Korean” part of her identity after her mother passed away. There is profanity in this one (fair warning), but I overall found it a solid read. Four stars.

Work Optional by Tanja Hester

Now that we are officially pursuing financial independence by 50 so that my husband can retire from the traditional workforce and pursue other types of work that he’s more interested in, I’ve been reading up even more than usual on all things FIRE (financial independence/retire early). While the second section explaining all the passive income streams you can invest into got a little tedious, I’ve really been enjoying the sections on designing your life and figuring out your WHY before you rush headlong into early retirement. While we don’t plan to retire from work at 50 (because we both enjoy working), we want to be able to have more options and more freedom over how we spend our time, and this book has provided some excellent questions and ideas to explore so that we can better nail out some particulars that we can work towards specifically.

Mitten Strings For God by Katrina Kenison

Kenison is one of the ultimate comfort reads for me, and once I’ve finished this collection of essays by her (probably by the end of the week), I will have read 3 of her books. While my favorite still remains The Gift of an Ordinary Day, I’ve enjoyed this look into young motherhood themes such as nurturing, play, and secret places, each of which is the overarching topic of each chapter. I’ve been reading an essay or two on most nights, and I find that it’s the perfect way to make sure I’m continually reflecting on what’s most important, as well as to help me slow down and process the day.

Tell me — what books have YOU been reading lately? Anything worth sharing?