Welcome to Round 46 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.
- I first heard about the Lemon Tree Trust project from Floret a few years back, and I was immediately drawn to the charity’s mission and service. The Lemon Tree Trust uses grants and donations to fund community and personal garden projects in camps of displaced refugees. The nonprofit gives out seeds and info packets and helps with infrastructure costs, and they even run a really fun competition each year in each of the camps where people can win prizes and awards for having the best garden design, tidiest garden, most productive garden, etc. I totally love everything about this project, and I’ve been following along with their journey ever since I heard about them. The charity just released info on the prizewinners from this year’s competitions — along with photos of the winning gardens and gardeners — and I love seeing the resilience of the human spirit and the resourcefulness and creativity of gardeners everywhere. You can check out the article on the competitions HERE, and if you’re able and want to, you can donate to the trust’s cause HERE.
- Finding church dresses that are long enough for my girl has always been a challenge — I prefer dresses slightly longer than knee length since she’s still relatively young and doesn’t always remember to sit properly, but the only success I’d previously had in finding any was just sizing her up to the next biggest size to get the length we needed. Not anymore — I found this affordable and really cute dress line on Amazon, and my daughter has loved everything we’ve ordered thus far.
Current and Recent Reads
Now that our flower farming season is winding down, I finally have some time to finish all the books I’ve been in the middle of for months. You’ll notice that this list is pretty heavy on the nonfiction because while I do tend to be in the middle of around 7-8 books at a time, almost all of them are nonfiction since it’s easier for me to keep them separate that way 🙂 Lots of five-star reads lately!
Effortless by Greg McKeown
McKeown’s first bestseller — Essentialism — was a huge favorite of mine, so I eagerly snatched up this follow-up read as soon as I found a good deal on it. Basically, his book Essentialism talks about WHY you should stop focusing on a million different things at once and narrow your priorities way, way down, and this latest book Effortless talks about how you can get there with the least amount of effort, energy, and resources. I wasn’t sure this would live up to his first book, but he had me convinced by the end — so many important nuggets of wisdom in this, and so many permanent mental shifts this helped me to have. Definitely worth a read if you’re into productivity books, if you’re a business owner or in management, or if you just want to figure out how to do stuff better. (Tip: If you frequently check Kindle deals, you can maybe score this one for a pretty decent price. I believe I was able to snag it for just $2.99.)
Insights From a Prophet’s Life: Russell M. Nelson by Sheri Dew
In my faith, we believe that prophets have again been called by God on earth in our day, and President Russell M. Nelson is our church’s current prophet. I’ve been wanting to read this biography of his life ever since it came out, and I’m so glad I took the time — I found it so uplifting and inspiring, and now my husband is also eagerly reading his way through it. With all the pictures and stories from his long life, the book reads very quickly, and I found all of his pioneering research on open heart surgeries to be utterly fascinating.
Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull
We’ve been making our way (slowly) through the Fablehaven series for our latest family read alouds, and although I’d never read the books myself before, I find that I’m enjoying them nearly as much as everyone else. Basically, the series is about two siblings discovering that their grandparents’ property is actually a secret preserve for magical creatures and then getting caught up in all the dangers and threats that that fact inevitably presents, especially when it’s discovered that a long-standing secret society is trying to take down ALL the magical preserves still on the earth. Some fun stuff in here.
The Private World of Tasha Tudor by Tasha Tudor
I can’t remember how I first heard about Tasha Tudor, but once I picked up this book last year that’s all about her garden, I was totally hooked…and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. In fact, it was so much on my mind as I thought about my own flower farm/garden that I finally just purchased it for myself a couple months ago, along with this other book about/by her. Like thousands of other fans of Tasha Tudor, I find her utterly fascinating, and I love how she is 100%, absolutely herself, with no apologies. Loved this one too, though the book on her garden will always remain my favorite.
The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green
I’d heard rave reviews about this latest release from the well-known YA author across the board, but I wasn’t sure at first if I would be among the fans. Now I totally get it. This compilation of essays is unlike anything Green has published before (which was helpful for me actually, since I’m a bit ‘meh’ about a lot of his other books). Basically, Green takes the idea of giving everything 5-star ratings to a whole new level in this book by rating and reviewing everything from Diet Dr. Pepper and the Penguins of Madagascar to more serious issues like climate change and the pandemic. The first half of the book was decent enough, but it was the back half that made me go WOW. This was such a beautiful exploration of what it means to be human, and the messiness and joy and heartache and triumphs that come along with that. Heads up for some profanity, but this is a general recommend for sure, especially if you’re looking for something thought-provoking yet ultimately hopeful.
Messy Minimalism by Rachelle Crawford
While the world didn’t perhaps *need* another book on minimalism, I appreciated how this author approaches her minimalism in much the same way as I approach mine — not as trying to reach any sort of aesthetic or unattainable level of perfection, but as just trying to cut down on unnecessary stuff and consumerism as much as possible and not beat yourself up if your house is still not tidy all the time, even after you’ve gotten rid of massive amounts of stuff. I’ve been pursuing a more minimalist lifestyle for years, but as I feel like I still have a dreadfully long way to go (always…), it’s good for me to pick up new books on it now and again to get re-inspired to keep going. There were some surprisingly thought-provoking little nuggets in here, and all in all, this was a solid 3.5-star read.
Will this epistolary novel change your life? Probably not. But it is a short, delightful little escape into a slower world, and the little cooking and foodie bits throughout are just fun if you like that kind of thing in your reading (which I do). Basically, a years-long friendship between two women starts when a young, aspiring writer pens a letter to one of her favorite food columnists. Over time, they share more and more about their lives on the page, from their relationships and marriages to their professional aspirations to the delightful little daily wonders that give life meaning. This book made it onto my Summer Reading List for the year, and I’m glad I gave it a try. Three and a half stars.
Garden Maker by Christie Purifoy
I’m definitely a niche reader, and one particular type of book I will always gravitate toward is anything that waxes poetic about the gardening life. Now, flower farming and gardening are two very different things, but sometimes it’s good for me to read about the romantic raptures of a gardener in order to re-infuse my flower farming with a new passion again. I’d read Purifoy’s memoir Roots & Sky ages ago (about her first year after moving to her new home in the countryside), so I already knew I enjoyed her contemplative, more spiritual writing style. When I’d heard she’d written a compilation of essays on lessons she’d learned from gardening at her farmhouse, I knew I was all in. This is a lovely book with gorgeous, moody photographs, and there were quite a few sections that made me totally think of many aspects of the gardening life and of growing things in general in a totally new way. Not sure if this book would widely appeal to everyone, but if you’re seriously into gardening, you’d probably enjoy it.
Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter
This YA rom-com was so much fun, I finished it in around 24 hours, and I would have been seriously tempted to give it five stars if it wasn’t for the excessive profanity that seems to be ever-present in many young adult books. In fact, I haven’t had this much fun reading a romantic comedy since I read the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy several years ago. Liz Buxbaum has always been seriously obsessed with all the classic rom-com movies, especially since they were one of her favorite memories she had with her mom before she died. Now that she’s entering into her senior year, she’s determined to finally have a movie-worthy romance herself…except nothing seems to be going according to plan. This was hilarious and witty and a total page-turner. I loved it.
Plant Dreaming Deep by May Sarton
I’m a total sucker for memoirs that talk about moving to a new place, maybe just because I’ve moved so many times, or maybe because I’m still totally guilty of getting caught up in the romantic ideals of a brand new start in a brand new city. What I did like about this one though was that it was about much more than that initial honeymoon stage of a new house — this memoir talked about it all, from the Big Dreams to the coming-down-to-cold-reality to the acceptance and finally embracing of a new community. I appreciated that she didn’t try and make it seem all perfect, though, even after several years — I like that she frankly talked about the moment she realized that her “romantic, quaint little town” was just an imperfect place filled with imperfect people, like everywhere else. There were so many fabulous ideas and thoughts in this slim book, and while it’s definitely a slow-paced kind of read, I loved every page of it. Five stars for me, though I’m not sure how much it would appeal to the masses.
Okay, now it’s your turn! What have you been reading, watching, or loving lately? Drop a comment below and share!