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

Loving and Learning Lately {44}

Products and Books I'm Enjoying in April 2022

Welcome to Round 44 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

  • Okay, I know I’m behind the times and air fryers are hardly a new thing. I’d even owned one for a super long time without ever having used it! However, I finally took some time last month to figure it out for the first time, and my husband and I are just a little bit obsessed. We now make homemade french fries probably two or three times a week, and as soon as flower farming stuff dies down in June, I’m planning on trying a whole new slew of things in it. But here’s where I’d love your input — if you have an air fryer, what’s your favorite thing to make in it? Do you have any particularly great recipes or recipe sites for air fryers particularly? (And in case you’re wondering, we have this Gourmia air fryer and have been really impressed with it so far, esp. since it’s super easy to clean and also easy to figure out.)
  • Considering that the majority of my waking hours at this point revolve around flower farming stuff, it should be no surprise that I have to mention something having to do with gardening 🙂 Last month I taught a cut flower gardening crash course to my local church group, and in it, we got off on a huge tangent about why I’m so obsessed with fish emulsion and why I use it every single week to fertilize my seedlings and plants. There are so many reasons I love this stuff, but here are the key points: 1) it comes in a concentrated form and you only need about a tablespoon per gallon of water, so this huge container goes a really long way, 2) fish emulsion is a natural, organic fertilizer that is great for promoting a healthy, sustainable garden. It is safe for children and pets (not that they’d want to come close — it’s pretty stinky), and it also contributes to the healthy bacteria in your soil. But best of all, 3) it is just extremely, extremely effective at helping everything to put on a ton of growth. I used to produce pretty sad looking seedlings because I didn’t realize that plants literally need “food” other than sunlight and water, and fish emulsion is a great source of that. I use it weekly on my seedlings that are under grow lights, as well as weekly on my seedlings I’m trying to establish outside. It’s amazing!
  • Maybe like me you’ve discovered that kids aren’t always the best at asking for toys that they’ll actually play with a lot. We’ve bought all sorts of toys over the years, but usually the ones that have had the most staying power are things that we as parents decided our kids would like. However, I was pleasantly surprised this last month. My daughter, who just turned 7, asked for this kids camera for her birthday. I didn’t know if it would go the way of so many other electronic toys and just be forgotten after the initial excitement had worn off, but she’s still going strong with her interest in it over a month later, and I’ve also been really impressed with how well it holds up to all sorts of things, like accidentally being left in the sandbox overnight, or being dropped on a hard floor. Basically, the camera is definitely made with kids in mind, and it seems to be pretty indestructible. It also comes with a memory card that holds a really good number of pictures (we haven’t had to delete any yet, and my daughter has taken hundreds!). In fact, it’s been such a big hit that our middle child, who’s about to turn 4, is now asking for one in blue for HIS birthday.

Learning Lately

  • The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
    • I thought I’d read the entire Little House series as a kid, but now I’m not so sure…maybe I just read the first few over and over again 🙂 At any rate, I had no recollection of ever having read this story of the series, which is about the brutal winter the Ingalls family suffered when Laura was a young teenager. This definitely wasn’t as lighthearted as most of the others in the series, and after watching a documentary about further details about what really happened that winter, I realized that the actual winter was even worse. However, I love the Little House books because they are powerful odes to the strength of family and hard work, and I’m always amazed at how people survived way back when. It makes me want to become a lot more self-reliant and capable, at any rate.
  • Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
    • This is the next book in the series after The Long Winter, and I do have to admit, these ones when Laura is older (she’s studying hard to become a schoolteacher in this one and just starting to be courted by her future husband) definitely don’t have the magic of the earlier ones. I’ve been reading the series as a family read-aloud, which was particularly good on this one (as opposed to just having my oldest listen to the audiobook) because there are clear cultural and mindset shifts that have happened since these were written, especially concerning Native Americans and people of color. The scene in this one where the townspeople did a blackface comedy routine was hard to get through, but it also gave me a chance to explain to my daughter why it was inappropriate and unkind, and why it’s good that things have changed.
  • The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg
    • I don’t remember how I heard about this one (having never read anything by this author before), but I must have heard enough good things about it in order to want to buy it for myself when I saw it come up for sale at a local used bookstore. I’ve been in a reading slump for quite some time now (basically since 2020, it feels like!), and I was looking for a quick win. As this one is fairly short and easy to get into, it fit the bill. This novel follows the protagonist’s first year of grieving, growth, and feeling out how to move forward after the loss of her husband to cancer. While I wouldn’t classify this as great literature, it was reasonably well done and made some thought-provoking points. Three stars.
  • The Complete Gardener by Monty Don
    • Gardening and flower farming books seem to be the only things I haven’t experienced any kind of slump with–my problem with them is just continually trying to stop myself from buying them all 🙂 This one was my Mother’s Day gift, and it’s just what I look for in my gardening books nowadays — packed with gorgeous photos and practical, in-depth advice, but also infused with a lot of character and banter and philosophizing on the gardening life.
  • Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean
    • This one was pure fun. Sure, it was basically a riff off of The Princess Diaries (except set in Japan), but I still loved the escape. I’ll never care for the profanity and crudeness in most young adult books (including this one), but I did like the character growth throughout, as well as the quick-moving plotline. The sequel to this actually comes out this month, and I’d considered adding it to my summer reading list (which I just posted this week), but I think I’ll wait until I can get my hands on a free or cheap copy first, which might take awhile.

Now it’s your turn! Drop a comment below with what you’ve been loving and learning lately!

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