Wednesday, October 31, 2018

No.192: My Latest Reads // October

This post contains affiliate links.

BIRD BY BIRD: SOME INSTRUCTIONS ON WRITING AND LIFE by Anne Lamott 
My Rating: ★★

There is ecstasy in paying attention.  You can get into a kind of Wordsworthian openness to the world, where you see in everything the essence of holiness, a sign that God is implicit in all of creation. (p.100) 

Anne Lamott is a bit of a quirky writer, but I liked this book from her about writing.  While I'm not a fiction writer nor do I have any aspirations to someday be published, there were still plenty of inspiring moments.  I also have a handful of new tips to share with my kids as they mature in their writing too.

THE QUEEN OF HEARTS by Kimmery Martin
My Rating: ★★

“The other thing that I loathed was the complete inability of most people to think critically. They accepted as gospel all kinds of things without ever objectively examining for themselves why they so fervently believed them.”

My dear friend Shelly sent me her copy of this book in the mail and I couldn't wait to get started!  She described it as Grey's Anatomy in book form and I found that to be a pretty accurate description.  I liked the first half of the book better than the second half, but it was well paced and I flew right through it.  Solid three stars.


THE STORY OF ARTHUR TRULUV by Elizabeth Berg
My Rating: ★★

He stops his rocking to look over at her. “But what we need are readers. Right? Where would writers be without readers? Who are they going to write for? And actors, what are they without an audience? Actors, painters, dancers, comedians, even just ordinary people doing ordinary things, what are they without an audience of some sort? “See, that’s what I do. I am the audience. I am the witness. I am the great appreciator, that’s what I do and that’s all I want to do. I worked for a lot of years. I did a lot of things for a lot of years. Now, well, here I am in the rocking chair, and I don’t mind it, Lucille. I don’t feel useless. I feel lucky.” (53%)

The Story of Arthur Truluv is a sweet book about a new widower who befriends a hurting teenage girl.  It's sort-of reminded me of A Man Called Ove, but with a much less curmudgeon-y main character.  I flew through it in days.  This book also made me miss my grandmothers so much.

CALLING ME HOME by Julie Kibler
My Rating: ★★

The heart is a demanding tenant; it frequently makes a strong argument against common sense.

Calling Me Home is the author's response to learning a piece of not-well-known family history: her grandmother once fell in love with a black man in a time when a relationship was both forbidden and dangerous.  It's was one of those books that was just so incredibly sad and heart-breaking, but in the best way.  I cried at the end and I rarely do that.


____________________________

MY 2018 READING IN NUMBERS

Books Read: 57
Fiction: 34  // Non-Fiction: 23
Kindle Books: 34  // Paper Books: 23
Original 2018 books "to-read" total on Goodreads: 443 // Current "to-read" total: 425

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

No.191: Five October Favorites

This post contains affiliate links. The Five Favorites linkup has been suspended indefinitely due to lack of interest, but please feel free to comment your faves in the comments!


1 // UP AND VANISHED PODCAST
Sometimes I get a notification on my phone from the Stitcher app that recommends a podcast I may enjoy.  Up and Vanished was a recommendation and thanks Stitcher, you were right!  I started with Season One, about a 30-something single high school teacher who disappears in a small southern town.  I was hooked and blazed through the episodes.  Currently on Season Two and enjoying this one too.  The woo-woo aspect definitely is creepy though.

2 // HONEYCRISP APPLE BUTTER
Talk about fall in a jar!  We were gifted a jar of honeycrisp apple butter and it was so delicious.

3 // "I LOVE LUCY" RERUNS
When we chose "I Love Lucy" as a family night show, the kids were skeptical, but quickly became fans.  Most of the jokes are just as funny and it's 95% clean, which is rare these days.  The kids have become so into it that Sophie and TJ now frequently play "Lucy and Ricky," complete with dress and tuxedo jacket.  Hysterical.  

4 // LEATHER BOOTIES FOR FALL
As usual, I'm super late to the trends!  I used some of my Poshmark earnings to finally buy myself a pair of Toms booties.  They are SO comfortable and cute too.  I love them. 

5 // PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are one of our fall staples.  We've made them four times so far and they're gone in minutes!  #bigfamilyproblems  They taste best the day you make them, so I don't feel too too bad.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

No.190: Sending Christmas Photo Cards with Basic Invite

This post is sponsored by Basic Invite, but as always, all opinions are my own.

If you've read here for any length of time, you know how passionate I am about snail mail.  With abundant technology, it seems to be a dying art, but I'm not ready to let it go!  With Christmas right around the corner, this time of year is a good time for everybody to join in on the fun.  So when Basic Invite invited me to check out their custom holiday cards, I couldn't say yes fast enough!

It was a family affair as we browsed Basic Invite's options and chose our favorite cards.  Everybody had a favorite!  Here's what we picked:

ASHLEY'S CHOICE

I chose the Vintage Bouquet Christmas Card, which is so me.  Clean, simple and so beautiful, right?  I played with complementary envelope colors and picked a deep berry color, named Cardinal Shimmer. 

SOPHIA AND TJ'S CHOICE

The Jolly Print Christmas Card is such a cute one.  We were able to adjust the colors of the words, "Holly Jolly," adding a little blue to match the boys' pajamas.  I love how this one turned out.

MARK'S CHOICE

Mark went back to his Lone Star roots (and I guess ours too as Virginians) with the Southern Hospitality Christmas Card.  Simple and it lets the photo stand out.  I really like the fonts used on this one.

THE BIG BOYS' CHOICE

The three biggest boys picked the Cheery Elf Christmas Card.  They didn't like the word "cheeriest" and changed it to "merriest" instead.  I love that it was took less than a minute to easily make the switch.  The boys also chose a colored envelope called Sorbet.


A few other cool things about Basic Invite:
  • Almost Unlimited Colors // Basic Invite has over 180 different colors to choose from!  Once you select a design, you are able to change the color of every little detail, making it completely unique.  I also love that you can see your changes immediately as you go.
  • Custom Samples //  Basic Invite allows the ability to order a sample of the actual card you created, so you can see exactly how it looks before investing in a bunch.  It's a great way to feel the paper quality and see the colors.
  • Over 40 Different Colors of Envelopes // There are over 40 envelope colors available, which is one more way to make your card or invitation a little more unique.  All of the envelopes are also peel and seal, so you don't have to lick a single one!
  • Address Capturing Service // Basic Invite also offers an address capturing service that allows customers to simply share a link on social media to request their friends and family’s addresses.  This information is then stored in the customer’s account and can be selected during the design process. Recipient address printing is offered for free on all Christmas card orders.  How cool is that?!

If you're in the market for Christmas photo cards, I highly recommend Basic Invite!  And bonus: right now Basic Invite is offering 30% off with the coupon code, HOLI30.  I can't wait to hear which design you pick.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

No.189: A 100 Little Things Check-In

This post contains affiliate links.

Time for a 100 Little Things two month update!  The current total is 7.5/100, which is pitiful, but big things happen little by little, right?  Here's what I've accomplished so far:

#4. BAKE THREE NEW KIND OF COOKIES. (2/3 COMPLETE)
  • In mid-August, we made Oatmeal Toffee Cookies.  I slightly tweaked the recipe with a tad less brown sugar and a bit more flour, used my big ice cream scoop and baked for 13 minutes until just golden brown.  
  • At the end of August, we tried Toasted S'More Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I modified it a bit and just made my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe instead.  The kids added the s'mores toppings at the end of the baking time and it was perfect.  Definitely sweet, but so good.

#17. CREATE A PHOTOBOOK WITH THE INSTAGRAM PHOTOS FROM OUR 2017-2018 SCHOOL YEAR.
Last school year, I took a photo every day, showing what the kids made or learned, and posted it on Instagram.  IG is a great place to keep them all together, but what good is it if they only stay on the app?  I used the Instagram Photo Book from Blurb, easily uploaded my photos, and made a little 7x7" book in no time.  Simple but filled with memories.

#44. BUY A NEW PAIR OF JEANS.
I've been in desperate need of a new pair of jeans but always procrastinated because...what if I suddenly lost a lot of weight?!  HAHAHA.  Since that's a ridiculous reason (and apparently not happening anytime soon), I found and bought a pair of Kut from the Kloth skinny jeans on Poshmark in my current size for less than $20.

#48. MEASURE FOR NEW (NON NURSING) BRAS.
This took more time than I planned.  It was a little hit or miss - I used three different infographics online and got three different sizes!  Thankfully, I finally found the right fit, but I think I may go for an in-person measurement next time.

#55. HANG A GALLERY WALL OF KIDS ART IN THE BASEMENT STAIRWELL.
We've had these Ikea frames stacked in our coat closet since we moved in last June!  I finally dusted them off, replaced a few art pieces with more recent ones and hung them up.  It took less than an hour.  Such a satisfying project and bonus, it was free!

#57. FIND A LAMP FOR THE HALLWAY CONSOLE TABLE.
After browsing for months, I found the perfect little white ceramic lamp for the hallway - and it was on sale too!

#68. BUY NEW DRYER BALLS.
My previous set of dryer balls somehow didn't make the move last summer.  I've had this task on my to-do list since we moved in and am so happy to have finally made it happen!  I ordered these dryer balls and have been pleased so far.

#89. BRING SOPHIE FOR HER K IMMUNIZATIONS.
Since we're homeschooling, I had been dragging my feet to get this accomplished.  She was terrified, but so brave!

Monday, October 15, 2018

No.188: Intentions for the End of October


“Autumn is the season to find contentment at home by 
paying attention to what we already have.” 
-unknown

I'm entering my 34th year at a limp.  I'm still in the thick of a post-weaning funk/depression, although it ebbs and flows.  It's hard to talk about and I cannot wait for the clouds to lift for me.  I constantly remind myself that this is temporary, that my hormones will eventually stabilize, and that's a small motivator to keep going.  Good thing I'm a fighter, haha.  I'd appreciate your prayers.    


INTENTIONS FOR THE END OF OCTOBER

  • finish painting the headboards and add the topcoat
  • decide on a rug for the front hallway
  • send out Halloween packages
  • finish reading Estrogeneration
  • get the generator serviced (100LT #77)
  • call to have someone look at the dishwasher
  • increase Poshmark inventory to 85+
  • take out and work on my quilt using Memere's fabric (100LT #13)
  • buy lightbulbs for the dining room chandelier
  • look into supplements (maybe magnesium?)
  • give myself lots of patience and grace as I continue to fight through this hormonal mess

    PREVIOUS INTENTIONS

    If you're reading on your phone or in a reader, be sure to click over to see what I checked off the list!
    • run (no training plan, just for fun) three times a week (I took two weeks off to see if it would help some health issues, but I'm looking forward to starting again soon)
    • paint the little boys' headboards (started, but need to do the touch-ups and topcoat)
    • go on a birthday date (thank you Mom for babysitting!!)
    • buy gifts for D's birthday
    • send two letters in the mail (just sent one)
    • try a new soup for "soup night" (I made tortellini soup with italian sausage and spinach)
    • decide on outfits for our family photos (I'm going with a red, cream and navy blue vibe this time)
    • figure out the front porch staining situation 
    • call to have someone look at the dishwasher
    • buy new sneakers for M (we found a deal at Rack Room Shoes)
    • increase Poshmark inventory to 75+
    • finish reading Estrogeneration
    • read 100 pages in Don Quixote

    What about you?  What do you hope to accomplish in the next two weeks?

    Thursday, October 11, 2018

    No.187: 34 Things I Love // A Birthday Gratitude Journal


    the way the sun shines in my bedroom in the morning 
    sending surprises in the mail
    quiet car rides
    S's ridiculous "riddles" that crack everyone up
    glow-in-the-dark stars on the little boys' bedroom ceiling
    a husband who cherishes me
    pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
    the way P waves and says "bye Daddy" every morning
    drinking from my new coffee mug
    baby steps closer to financial freedom
    finally hanging frames on the walls
    the look of pride in J's eyes as he reads something easily
    making Memere's crepes
    back-to-back sales on Poshmark
    letting myself have a good cry (it's always cleansing)
    D's amazing grilled cheese sandwiches
    "I Love Lucy" reruns
    the way M cares so deeply for his siblings
    little touches of autumn decor throughout the house
    crossing a few things off my (never-ending) to-do list
    TJ's joy
    new boots, just in time for cold weather
    honeycrisp apple butter on toast
    cool breezes through open windows
    timing dinner perfectly to Mark's arrival (rare!)
    rocking on the front porch
    gorgeous red and orange sunsets through the trees
    the way a deer's coat changes color in the fall
    ending the day with a good book
    butterflies
    stacks of freshly folded jeans, in all the sizes
    giving old furniture new life with a coat of paint
    God's faithfulness
    another year to learn, grow and love my people

    Wednesday, October 3, 2018

    No.186: Five Reasons to Send a Letter in October

    This post contains affiliate links.

    If you've read here for any length of time, you know that I am a passionate supporter of keeping snail mail alive!  This is a monthly series that I hope will inspire you to start putting thoughts on paper.  There's nothing like finding a handwritten note among the piles of bills and junk mail.   
    _________________________________________

    PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH
    Sadly, we all seem to know someone who has lost a child through miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy, a stillbirth, or SIDS.  October is a month dedicated to them, so it's an appropriate time to jot a few words, letting them know you're thinking of them and that you are remembering their sweet baby in heaven.

    OCTOBER 7 // YOU MATTER TO ME DAY
    You Matter To Me Day was created in 2010 by Linda Jew. A friend and his son passed away and she realized that she had never told them, "You matter to me."  As she started telling people she knew that they mattered, she decided to start a day centered around the phrase. Write a letter to those people in your life who could use the reminder.  Only four words, but man, are they powerful.

    OCTOBER 12 // UN SPANISH LANGUAGE DAY
    Established in 2010 by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), this day was created "to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six of its official working languages throughout the organization". (source)  Brush up on your high school Spanish and write a card to a Spanish-speaking friend.  Better yet, send one to a non Spanish-speaking friend and have them work on the translation.  An educational challenge!

    OCTOBER 29 // NATIONAL CAT DAY
    National Cat Day was originally founded as a way to bring awareness to the number of homeless cats in the United States.  Today is a great time to thank your local animal shelter and cuddle those orphaned kitties.  Maybe you can bring along a card and a few donations.  Don't forget about the obsessed cat ladies in your life too!

    OCTOBER 31 // HALLOWEEN
    We may be too old for trick-or-treating, but how fun would it be to surprise a friend with a card and a bag of her favorite sweets?

    _________________________________________

    A few fun snail mail related links:



    mail for sticker lovers.

    Tuesday, October 2, 2018

    No.185: New Habits, Little by Little: Cooking at Home (September 2018)


    September was a blur and made meal planning quite tricky.  How you eat healthily while running around town is beyond me!  We ate out much more than usual, but I'm trying to give myself some grace in this area.  We'll find some sort of groove soon...I hope.


    Week 62: 
    Saturday, September 1: roasted pork tenderloin with veggies
    Sunday, September 2: leftovers
    Monday, September 3: Labor Day! bacon cheeseburgers on the grill, chips
    Tuesday, September 4: chicken, apple, potato and brussels sprouts skillet over rice
    Wednesday, September 5: beef and broccoli ramen
    Thursday, September 6: breakfast for dinner - french toast
    Friday, September 7: french onion meatballs and mashed potatoes, strawberry cheesecake

    Week 63:
    Saturday, September 8: tacos
    Sunday, September 9: burgers after late Mass
    Monday, September 10: Mark's first day!  Little Caesars in between the boys' extra-curriculars
    Tuesday, September 11: oktoberfest sheet pan brats and roasted vegetables
    Wednesday, September 12: perfect pot roast
    Thursday, September 13: breakfast for dinner - crustless quiche
    Friday, September 14: frozen pizzas and strawberry cheesecake (celebrating TJ's birthday early!)

    Week 64:
    Saturday, September 15: out for burgers
    Sunday, September 16: Mark's chili and cornbread
    Monday, September 17: make-your-own sub sandwiches
    Tuesday, September 18: Mark business trip. leftovers and funfetti cupcakes
    Wednesday, September 19: TJ's birthday! out for pizza and choco-tacos
    Thursday, September 20: slow cooker parmesan honey pork roast, mashed potatoes and broccoli
    Friday, September 21: burgers and fries

    Week 65:
    Saturday, September 22: frozen pizzas and cookie cake (celebrating S's birthday early!)
    Sunday, September 23: white chicken chili, served with salsa and tortilla chips (I used a rotisserie chicken to make it easier)
    Monday, September 24: S's birthday! slow cooker beef stew
    Tuesday, September 25: roasted brats and vegetables
    Wednesday, September 26: we were supposed to attend "Food Truck Wednesday" but it was cancelled due to rain, so we grabbed burgers instead
    Thursday, September 27: meat and veggies paleo chili (we subbed the zucchini for butternut squash)
    Friday, September 28: leftovers

    Week 66:
    Saturday, September 29: roasted pork loin, broccoli and rice
    Sunday, September 30: pulled pork tacos with coleslaw

    Monday, October 1, 2018

    No.184: Intentions for the Beginning of October

    "Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale." - Lauren Destefano
    (Now if only Virginia would get the hint!)


    INTENTIONS FOR THE BEGINNING OF OCTOBER

    • run (no training plan, just for fun) three times a week
    • paint the little boys' headboards
    • go on a birthday date (!!)
    • buy gifts for D's birthday
    • send two letters in the mail
    • try a new soup for "soup night"
    • decide on outfits for our family photos
    • figure out the front porch staining situation 
    • call to have someone look at the dishwasher
    • buy new sneakers for M (why are sneakers so expensive!?)
    • increase Poshmark inventory to 75+
    • finish reading Estrogeneration
    • read 100 pages in Don Quixote

      PREVIOUS INTENTIONS

      If you're reading on your phone or in a reader, be sure to click over to see what I checked off the list!
      • SLOW DOWN - life is full, but letting it feel crazy is a choice (a work in progress - some days are better than others)
      • buy new sneakers for M
      • finish wrapping Sophie's birthday gifts 
      • reach 50 listings in my Poshmark closet (a big milestone for me as I grow my business)
      • sell at least 8 items on Poshmark (final total was 14!)
      •  order poly mailers and tissue paper (I went with my classic kraft tissue and these mailers)
      • send a letter in the mail
      • figure out the front porch staining situation
      • attend our local "Food Truck Wednesday" for dinner (they cancelled the event due to rain)
      • start Don Quixote (at over 800 pages, this is only slightly intimidating, hah! here we go!)
      • decide on a paint color for Sophie's room
      • decide on a paint color for the little boys' headboards (I'm going to try Rustoleum's chalk paint in Coastal Blue)

      What about you?  What do you hope to accomplish in the next two weeks?
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