Tuesday, July 26, 2016

{book report} My Latest Reads // July

As my part of my Learn goals for 2016, I'm reading a variety of styles and genres of books in the attempt to discover new ideas and expand my horizons.  My goal is to read at least 25 this year, of which I'm keeping track on Goodreads.  Are you over there?  Let's connect!

Chateau of Secrets by Melanie Dobson
Dare I admit that I picked this one up solely because of the cover? It reminded me of Downton Abbey.  This book is a historical novel based on a devout Catholic woman named Genevieve Menke.  It moves back and forth between the past and present and having read a few books this year with this format, I'm growing a bit wary of it.  The story line was a little predictable and some characters more relatable than others, but I did enjoy the Catholic references done in a positive way (a rare find for me!).  

The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan
Written by a journalist, the goals of this book are twofold: tracking the life of American food by taking undercover jobs on the fields, at WalMart and at Applebees, while also exploring the challenges Americans face when trying to eat fresh, healthy foods on limited incomes.  While parts of this book were a bit slow, I did come away really thinking about the complexities of food and the small role I can play to help others less fortunate than me with fresh ingredients.     
One quote that really stuck with me: "An emerging body of psychological and sociological research suggests that because the poor must rely on others to provide a range of needs that the wealthy can pay for, they are also more empathetic and have stronger social skills.  Correspondingly, those in the upper-income bracket are found to be less capable of reading others' emotions and hence are less empathetic." - footnote on pg.35

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
I chose this book for the Modern Mrs. Darcy book challenge, a book written before you were born (1962).  In one word, I thought this book was weird.  It's a Gothic mystery about two sisters, but it seemed too anti-climactic to me.  I kept reading waiting for the big surprise, but was left disappointed.  However, according to the reviews on Goodreads, I'm in the minority on this one.  Maybe I just didn't get it?

My Reading in Numbers

Books Read this Month: 3
Total Books Read this Year: 23
Books Read for the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2016 Challenge: 5
A book published this year
A book you can finish in a day
A book you've been meaning to read
A book chosen for me by my spouse
A book published before I was born

Friday, July 22, 2016

{around here} Weeks 28/52 & 29/52: Weeks of 7.11.16 & 7.18.16

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.

Around here, I have been:

bringing a family a meal to celebrate the birth of their fourth baby (and first daughter!).  The dad is a friend of Mark's, so he went all out: BBQ ribs, homemade baked beans, his special coleslaw and homemade macaroni and cheese.  I stayed out of his way and just helped package everything up, hah!

working on house projects. Nesting is in full swing already and I was happy to knock a few things off the list:
+ Finally hung curtains in the kitchen (just simple ones from Ikea, my favorite)
+ Went on a date with Sophia to Homegoods and picked up a big basket for dirty laundry (to go in the upstairs hallway) and found a lamp for my office.  Now I can hop in and work even after dark - game changer!
+ Picked out a ceiling fan and kitchen/laundry room lighting for our electrician to install

ordering a bassinet on Amazon Prime Day.  Our old one officially bit the dust and I didn't really want to commit to an expensive one at this stage in the game.  So lucky to have found a nice one with good reviews and a small footprint for less than $80!

reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle (finished!) and The Cuckoo's Calling.

spending a week on vacation in Maine!  We got a few new things for the 10-hour trip: this car topper and color-coordinated LLBean duffle bags for each of the kids (we waited for a sale, plus 2% back on ebates!).  Other favorites: puddle jumpers for the little ones, a Pirates of the Carribean audiobook from the library and fluffy striped beach towels.

staying at our family's camp right on the lake.  The weather was warm, but definitely not Virginia unbearable, so we loved it.  We swam for hours multiple times a day.  It was so surreal to have my children experience one of my favorite childhood memories.

filling our days making lots of memories.  The highlights: delicious Italian sandwiches and Whoopie Pies, swimming morning, noon and night, spending time with extended family, playing Pie Face! (a huge hit!), a quick Freeport trip while the big three enjoyed their first baseball game with cousins, and a visit to the farmhouse.

enjoying a new ice cream spot - we went two days in a row because it was so good!  I had mint chocolate chip and coffee heath bar...still dreaming about it.

laughing at our sweet, sweet Sophia.  Her latest is calling watermelon, "waterlemon".

surviving an exciting ride home.  We left at 1am and at around 4, our "low tire pressure" light came on.  We stopped at a gas station, filled the tire and thought we were home free...except 20 minutes later, the light returned.  On the second stop, we could hear a hissing from the tire - definitely a hole!  Mark called roadside assistance, who helped us with a very tricky spare, allowed us to follow him to the body shop and then plugged the hole.  A two hour delay, but thankfully the rest of the trip was uneventful.

settling back into reality.  We were so sad to leave (there were tears from a few of us!) but happy to sleep in our own beds and get back into a normal routine.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

{currently} 20 Things I Love: A Gratitude Journal vol.8

M's excitement about his very own library card
brand new maternity bottoms that make me feel just a teeny bit stylish
the smell of fresh tomatoes
starting the search for the kids' fall clothing: lots of good luck on Kidizen and ThredUp!
watching D's creativity as he creates stop-motion animation movies
vintage finds that are both functional and pretty to look at
TJ's slobbery kisses and cuddles
when Mark makes the coffee before he leaves for work
a newly mopped floor
a new favorite soap - so refreshing!
a good night's sleep
a high five from Sophie as she declares, "Girls rule, mama!"
feeling tiny baby kicks
new inspiration for sharing on Big White Farmhouse's Instagram 
dirty feet from being outside in the yard
watching the birds outside our window
blueberry peach cobbler
J's kindness toward his sister, especially when she invites him to her tea parties
easy dinners on the grill
this quote from St. Dominic Savio: "I can't do big things.  But I want all I do, even the smallest thing, to be for the greater glory of God."  

Friday, July 8, 2016

{around here} Week 27/52: Week of 7.4.16

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.

Around here, I have been:

celebrating the Fourth of July...sort-of.  Honestly, it was a bit of a bust - the cloudy, rainy weather ruined most of my plans and excitement.  Oh well, there's always next year!

baking blueberry peach cobbler twice.  It's definitely our family's summer tradition and just as good as I remembered.  We devoured an entire 9"x13" pan in one sitting.

finishing up my third 100 Little Things list to begin in August.  I'm so excited about it, I want to get started now!  Instead, I'm hoping to cross off a few more items on Round Two...one month to go!  On the list: a baseball game for the kids, new flavors of lemonade, and possibly breaking out the sewing machine to make Sophia pajama pants.  

working on a basic social media schedule for Big White Farmhouse's third quarter.  I nailed down some promos/sales and did some research about marketing.  So much to do and learn, there's never a dull moment in this business!

reading The American Way of Eating (which was really interesting...I'm still gathering my thoughts) and just starting We Have Always Lived in the Castle.  My "to-read" list on Goodreads is over 300 books, so I'm thinking I may need to reel myself in, stick to the list and cut that number down a bit...is that even possible?  So many books to read, so little time.  

having crazy, bizarre dreams - thank you pregnancy!  Some have been really scary and I've woken up in a sweat, praying every protection prayer I can think of in my semi-awake stuper.  Thankfully, though, most of the dreams are just random and involve family members, TV characters and even a few people I haven't seen since high school.  

working on our emergency preparedness kit again. Somewhere in the last six months, I misplaced my list and that task fell to the back, BACK burner.  But after our little power outage scare last week, I'm re-inspired!  First things to purchase are more cases of water and a battery-operated cell phone charger.  #priorities

loving how big TJ is getting this summer.  All of a sudden, just like his brothers before him, he is all about his "guys" and will play happily for 20 minutes (which is like forever for that little busy-body!) at a time.  He's also loving a Lego Superman movie we own and asks to watch it daily, complete with happy dance.  

watching a crazy squirrel intent on making it to our bird feeder!  He hangs on our screen and is oblivious to the kids smacking the window.  I think the poor thing is scared to death!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

{learn goals} Some Goals for July

Things to Look Forward To
- home improvement projects around the house
- making memories with extended family
- exploring the local farmer's market
- a new series to watch at night with Mark
- seeing our baby on the ultrasound machine

Things to Work On
- a new 100 Little Things list (to begin in August)
- making rest a priority
- less anxiety, more positive thinking and prayer about the future
- birthday ideas for my kids born in September
- exercising regularly again

Things to Think About
- a craft I'd like to make with the kids
- an encyclical to read
- a new flavor of lemonade to try
- an act of service to complete as a family
- fun ideas to help D practice his handwriting

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