Favorite Things | January
I was fortunate enough to finish a lot of really great books this month. I attribute it to more time spent in my car, and the ability to listen to free audiobooks from the library app Overdrive. I'm hoping it makes me a more interesting person to talk with, but it's possible I'm just a bigger nerd now. My husband and I also watch a a bit of television, but not anything more than an hour or so, about three nights a week. (So it really has to be worth it to occupy our time.)
The kids and I have spent more time in the kitchen together since the holidays are over and the weather is colder than ever. Lastly, we finally dragged out the treadmill! Along with the rest of the world, we Konmari-ed our home last year and cleared a lot of space in our garage. I have put together a playlist of some upbeat, blood-pumping songs to keep me motivated while I walk a few miles in the cold corner of our garage.
Have you ever experienced that one book that really stuck in your heart and your mind, and you wanted to tell everyone? Just take them by the shoulders and say "stop... stop everything and read this!" Or how about when you fumble for just the perfect recommendation after a friend finishes their latest bestseller? Don't you wish you could just keep a list in your pocket and say "YES! I do have another one like that!"
Well, here are mine:
- The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, by Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally
- Once Upon a Farm, by Rory Feek
- I Feel Bad About My Neck, by Nora Ephron
- The Au Pair, by Emma Rous
- One Day in December, by Josie Silver
I want to mention, I think it's perfect timing that I'm giving you my top 5 list as the month of Valentine's begins, since in some way or another, all these books are really love stories at their core. I bought The Greatest Love Story Ever Told for Matt at Christmastime, but I ended up getting it on audiobook for myself. This is the love letter everyone wishes their spouse word publicly proclaim about them. So beautiful and so funny, delivered in an unexpected back-and-forth conversation. Really quite lovely in every way possible.
Once Upon a Farm is an uplifting story and love letter from a man to the memory of his late wife. It encourages faith even when you don't know what direction things are going.
I've never read any of Nora Ephron's other books and have only seen her most popular romantic comedies like Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally. I wasn't sure what to expect when it was chosen by a member of my book club. I was pleasantly surprised by this collection of essays that are very poignant for women, especially those of us over the age of 35 or 40. I really think it's a love story to yourself and to your fellow sisters in arms.
To label The Au Pair as a love story is a bit of a stretch, I know. It has a little bit of everything: mystery, family drama, two different timelines and an interwoven family tree. It's also about falling in love with the wrong people, the choices you make for the love of your children, and learning to love yourself in spite of your mistakes.
Lastly, I really cannot recommend One Day in December enough. The format is really similar to Bridget Jones's Diary. The themes revolve around love at first sight, friendship and fate. It's snarky, witty and still gives you all the wonderful feels of those great romance movies like The Holiday. I especially loved the audiobook version... their voices were so dreamy! And I swear, the leading male sounds just like Jude Law! You can picture the characters so vividly and I think that is the mark of a great book!
- Spy School: Secret Service, Stuart Gibbs
- The Optomist's Guide to Letting Go, Amy E. Reichert
I'm so thankful my husband trusted me and decided to give Outlander a shot. Or rather, it was more like he said he would play a game on his phone while sitting next to me on the couch as I watched it, but he was quickly hooked! The final episode is coming up and I am so sad we need to wait for another season! On the flip side of that coin is my enthusiasm for my husband's favorite shows. A true comic book geek, he fills me in on the superhero universe. We finished binging on The Runaways, (think Veronica Mars but with superpowers and more money), Titans (a very dark look at the lives of the "side kicks" in a Batman/Wonder Woman world), and Punisher (a brutal, gritty, anti-hero's vengeful path). All addictive!
A few surprising rentals this month:
- Skyscraper starring Dwayne Johnson. It reminded us of Die Hard; even more unrealistic but we were anxious with anticipation!
- The Meg, a little cheesy but really entertaining.
- I finally saw The Greatest Showman and cannot stop singing! I've downloaded so many of the "reimagined" versions on my Amazon music playlist. Speaking of songs, Im also in love with a few new ones (or new to my collection...)
- You Should See Me in a Crown, Billie Eilish (something about this eerie powerhouse of a song slowly builds inside me and makes my sneakers want to hit the pavement and stay in "the zone.")
- Come Along, Cosmo Sheldrake (that's right, I even Shazam cell phone commercials!)
- Dancing in the Moonlight, Toploader (not new, but newly remembered, and always makes me smile.)
- SO many Lady Gaga songs! I feel like I just found out about how amazing she is! After I watched A Star is Born, my girlfriend told me to watch the documentary about her, and I was mesmerised. On repeat: Always Remember Us This Way, Shallow, Million Reasons, A-Yo, Joanne.
- A Song for You, Ray Charles. I had read a chapter from Megan Mullalley, and she recalled watching Ray Charles perform at a Correspondence Dinner; she was so moved by it she was brought to tears. How could I not immediately Google the song and download it?! What a beautiful, beautiful piece of work.
- Legends are Made, Sam Tinnesz. I confess, when I first heard this (and for the next dozen times I worked out to it), I thought it was by Imagine Dragons. When my 9 year old corrected me, I just laughed. Well, if it is good enough for him, it's good enough for me!
- Glorious, Macklemore. I feel like everyone knows it, and everyone knows because it makes them feel good, too!
- High Hopes, Panic! at the Disco. Another fun, joy-ride kind of tune.
- The Other Side and A Million Dreams from The Greatest Showman Reimagined album. Something about these two songs in particular, I listened to obsessively!
- Golden Hour album, by Kacey Musgraves. All of this. Every song. Poetry set to music... it lifts me up and equally crushes me with intense sorrow, the track Mother in particular. Also Golden Hour, Wonder Woman, Love is a Wild Thing and Velvet Elvis I could listen to again and again. Oh, and Space Cowboy. And Slow Burn.
Here's my Spotify link, so you can hear them all in one place.
- We've really started using our Amazon Echo Dots more, now that we have a few of them in the house. Since they are connected, we are able to use it as an intercom system, have alarms set in each room, as well as timers for the kitchen (or timeouts), notifications about shipments and reminders to do things later. I have also added a few Amazon and Wemo plugs to our light switches. I think that's my new favorite Christmas present! Very slowly we are attempting to turn our home into more of a smart home.
- I'm addicted to this new scent I received for my birthday! I can't quite put my finger on it but as my girlfriend said… vanilla, orange and "grandmother?" She assures me it's "in the best way possible," all warm and comforting. At least it doesn't smell like mothballs! I'm not sure that's a five star review, but I'm going to stick with it!
- I swear these toothbrushes make my gums and teeth feel so much healthier! And at about $12 a brush, everyone in the family can have one.
- Obsessed with these boots! They've been in my Amazon shopping cart for ages, but I can't pull the trigger. I don't consider myself to be a "shoe girl" but I can't get them out of my mind! It must be love.
- I adore Instagram. Really. It's an endless stream of photos, custom tailored for my happiness. I don't follow many celebrities; mostly bakers, bloggers, and other moms with an incredible eye for decorating or gardening. The few celebs I DO follow tend to appear very humble and down to earth. I encourage you to take a look at Jennifer Garner (I live for episodes of her pretend cooking show!), Kristen Bell, Jessica Biel, Katie Lee and Megan Mullally. I recently saw this clip shared from Kristen Bell and cried only a few dozen times!
- I have a sweatshirt that states "Coffee til Cocktails", but the seasonal GTS kombucha flavors might make me reconsider the coffee half of my addiction! I swoon for the "Pure Love" and "Pink Lady Basil" flavors!
Well, there you have it... what I've been up to over the last month, in a nutshell. If you have any great book titles you'd like to pass along or songs that make your heart swell, please drop me a comment. I'm always on the look out for my next favorite thing!