A monthly list of good things to do, buy, read, watch, and more.
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Oh my goodness, friends, did February throw you for a loop like it did me? I’ve actually read a number of bloggers who are writing monthly wrap-ups along the same themes – they’ve been hit by sickness, storms, busyness, or just the winter blues. Thankfully, we were not sick in our house, but we did get more snow than our area has had since 1969 along with a power outage that lasted 6 loooong days for us (some have been without power even longer in sub-freezing temps – yikes).
The days in February seemed dark and long, and work – whether for the website, the farmhouse, or homemaking – seemed to drag on. It’s weird, I just felt like I was trudging along – and still do, to a degree. Needless to say, I’m ready for spring!!
One bright spot was an online Bible study I participated in (notice how I didn’t say finished, lol) called “It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way.” It’s based around a book by Lisa TerKeurst of the same name and hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries (I didn’t finish the book in February, so look for my review of it in the next edition of The Good Things List.). It’s about living with disappointment, understanding God’s view and taking comfort in His word, and it was good for me. If you are living with any type of disappointment you might enjoy it, too.
On to this month’s good things!
Well, February went out with a bang. It started snowing on the last Sunday of the month around noon, but didn’t stick. I remember telling Brian, “Western Oregon is the only place it can snow for hours and not stick.”
Famous last words.
We woke up to a foot of snow – and more coming down. Unfortunately, our power went out around 2 am, so it was freezing in our house and we really couldn’t enjoy it. It was heavy, wet snow and limbs were coming down all over the place. We lost one of the flowering cherries in front, a huge branch from the back cherry, and a ton of branches from the little oak forest. We were so glad that none of the trees or branches are over any of our buildings!
Without power (the electric company was telling us it would be days to restore) we decided to leave and go to my sister’s house in town who still had power (my brother, other sister, mom and aunt all has lost power, too). By the time we left another foot of snow had fallen, completely covering our outdoor table.
It was crazy. Like, this is not where we live crazy.
At my sister’s we got to stay in this adorable tiny cottage my sister and her husband built in their back yard that they use for both family and Airbnb guests. It was such a blessing that it was available for us! There is a loft and a murphy bed, so there was plenty of room for all three of us.
It was warm and cozy and we got to spend a lot of unplanned time with my sister and her family which was a huge bonus, plus my nephew’s family who came to stay and get warm while they waited for their power to come back on. It actually turned into such a sweet family time! While I don’t wish for six days without power again, I will definitely look back on that part with joy.
If you’re looking to stay in a rustic tiny cottage in Eugene, here is the Airbnb listing for the “Knotty Cottage.”
I meant for this to be the lead for February’s Good Things, but that was before the record snowfall! To help break the midwinter doldrums, Brian and I rented a cabin up the McKenzie Highway (just about an hour from us) on the Horse Creek Lodge property. It was close enough to get to easily, but far enough away that we felt like it was a true getaway. We only stayed for two nights, but it was just what we needed.
And we were pleasantly surprised at the accommodations. This was an Airbnb find, and it was outfitted like a hotel room with lots of fluffy comforters, pillows, and towels. There was a kitchenette stocked with coffee, tea, and spices and other touches like split kindling and wood for the fireplace and candles.
And of course that nice forest view from the cute porch. By the way, I know that looks like water in the distance, but it’s actually snow leftover from a little bit that they had a few days before. I was so glad we were there before the big snow storm hit!
This whole trip happened because Brian randomly announced one day in January that we should find a cabin somewhere to do puzzles while listened to audiobooks. I was like, “What?” (This from a guy who’s never been interested in puzzles much.) And then immediately, “Why are we not doing that?”
It was a quiet, simple, and fun interlude from our winter routine. I’m pretty sure it will become a new tradition!
Ever since “Konmari-ing” our household before selling a few years ago (I thought I wrote about this, but can’t find anything other than this podcast – suffice to say, we got rid of a LOT in the year before putting our house on the market), I have been on a mission to keep paring down my clothing. I want my closet to be full of things that I love and think look good on me and not just what I think I should be wearing or what others say.
Case in point: I like black. I think I look good in black and I feel great when I wear black. But for years I’ve thought I need to have color in my wardrobe because that’s what we’re told. So I’d buy things I didn’t like all that much because they were on sale and I “didn’t have anything in that color.” Duh. You can imagine what happened to those items.
The other thing I want to focus on is quality – I’m done with the $10 sweaters that aren’t all natural fibers and start pilling right away. Or t-shirts, for that matter – have you noticed how hard it is to find 100% cotton t-shirts anymore?
Anyway, I’ve always wanted a cashmere sweater and one day I just started searching online for one, curious about how much they were now. I discovered J.Crew Factory’s affordable cashmere sweaters and bought my first one – in the style you see above, but in black of course!
At the time I searched, there was a sale of 60% off and I signed up for emails so got an addition % off (I can’t remember if it was 15 or 20% – but one of those), bringing the sweater under $40. I love it – the fit, the softness, and how warm it is. (I should mention that cashmere is a type of wool, so if you are sensitive to wool, you may not think it’s the best thing ever like I do.)
I was going to unsubscribe from the emails, but they’re always running great sales, so I didn’t. And then they ran another sale on their cashmere sweaters (all were half off), so I bought another style – but this one I did get a pretty burgundy color (because they were out of black, ha!).
So if you’d like quality sweaters, too, check out J.Crew Factory for affordable cashmere – and sign up for the emails for more savings.
A Sweater Shaver that Really Works
Speaking of sweaters, I think I’ve tried 3 or 4 of those sweater “shavers” over the years to remove the annoying pills you get with wear. The last was a cheapy $3 thing that never even worked at all.
I decided to go onto Amazon to be able to read reviews and this is the shaver that popped up as the best. It was more than $3, but obviously I was tired of throwing away money. I ordered it and when it came immediately used it on my most pilly sweater – a handmade 100% wool one that is a bit fluffy so pills more than normal.
And it worked perfectly! All the pills were gone and I started shaving everything in sight, ha! I will say that I find it works best without the little fabric protector thing they have on it, so if you get this, too, do test in an out-of-the-way area to see how it works on your item. Click here to see it and read the reviews.
Becoming Mrs. Lewis, Patti Callahan. This is the author’s fictionalized account of Joy Davidman Gresham and C.S. Lewis’s friendship-turned-romance. It is subtitled, “The Improbably Love Story of Joy Davidman & C.S. Lewis” and it is that – improbable. I remember watching the movie Shadowlands about this topic and have always been curious about it, especially after reading A Grief Observed and realizing what Joy meant to Jack.
The author used letters from both of them as well as their families. She researched a lot of Joy’s past and quite a bit of her writing was included, which was enlightening. So while fiction, it’s definitely historical, which pretty much is my favorite wheelhouse. And I loved both the story and the book! The way we see the two characters come together slowly, as a meeting of the minds way before a meeting of the heart. To see how she so fit into his lifestyle and interests, I can see how they finally connected in such a deep way. It’s really a beautifully uplifting book, even though we know the sad ending.
Underground Airlines, Ben H. Winters. This is such a fascinating story, but it is also pretty sad and can be a bit dark. The premise is that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated before being sworn in as president, so the emancipation proclamation never happened. Slavery has continued in the US, becoming entrenched and legalized in the constitution and every level of government – but only in the south and mainly in “The Hard Four” (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Carolina as one state).
The protagonist is an escaped slave who’s been recruited (i.e., forced) and trained to capture runaway slaves in the north. The irony is clear. We follow him on a mission that sees him reevaluating everything while returning to the states he had escaped from. It’s a seat-of-your-pants story that Brian and I listened to while we worked the puzzles in our rented cabin. And it’s sickening to think how people can treat each other – and important for us to revisit so we can be sure this doesn’t continue in some form or another now and in the future. Sadly, it didn’t really end fully – there must be a sequel coming. (Warning: language and some disturbing scenes of beatings, etc.)
Disappointment with God, Phillip Yancy. So you can probably tell from the Bible Study I mentioned above and this book that I’m looking to understand how to cope when life doesn’t look like the way you dreamed and imagined it would. This book was recommended to us by a pastor at our church (it’s a 30 year old book) and I’m so glad I read it. It reads as well today as it did at publication, touching on the hard questions we ask around the “whys?” Why is this happening? Why should we pray? Why me? And then, What to do with it? How to go on? What does the Bible say?
I told Brian that although I didn’t think there was anything in this I hadn’t heard before, it was so good for me to hear again. To know in my heart the truth and that the Bible is my key to knowing how to live in a new reality. If you are struggling with disappointment of any kind, I highly recommend this.
Vinegar Girl, Anne Tyler. I haven’t read anything by Anne Tyler before, though I’ve heard a lot about her. I picked this up mainly because it’s a retelling of Taming of the Shrew, which is a favorite Shakespeare play of mine. And guess what? I really liked this – it’s a funny, modern take on the story, plus it’s clean and cute. Anne’s Kate isn’t quite as ‘shrewy’ as Shakespeare’s, thankfully, but she does rub people the wrong way and tends to think of herself, though she is the caretaker for her father and sister and connects with her preschool charges sort of against her will.
The does-she-love-him-or-not plot is spiced up with a Greencard-like (did you ever see this 1990 movie? It’s one of my favorites!) plot device of Kate’s father’s research assistant’s visa expiring so he needs to find a way to stay in the states. How about marriage? Throw in a teen sister, escaped lab rats, and an absent-minded father and you’ve got a fun, quick read.
Victoria season 3 on PBS. I enjoyed the latest season, which of course had to end with a foreshadowing of Albert’s ill health and early death. Sigh – I guess we all know how the story goes, right?
Jersey Boys, directed by Clint Eastwood based on the Broadway play. This was our daughter’s pick one Saturday night and while the film was just so-so (I was kind of surprised this was a Clint Eastwood movie – I expect more from him), it made up for it in the music scenes. Especially how some of their classic songs came to be. We all wished there were more of them singing.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, directed by Gus Van Sant. This is a biopic about cartoonist & paraplegic John Callahan who was from Portland. Brian picked this as he remembered his work, which can be either funny or in really bad taste – and often both. He made a name for drawing irreverent cartoons and didn’t care if people hated him for it. The movie started out about a hopeless drunk who becomes a quadriplegic – and I didn’t have high hopes at that point. But most of the movie shows his emergence from that and the AA group that shows him the way. It ends up being a funny, dark, sad, sweet, and actually sort of inspirational movie. Plus Joaquin Phoenix does another fabulous acting job. (Warning: language, some paraplegic sex talk and scenes, and of course the cartoons.)
Plan 9 From Outer Space Rifftrax. This is the kind of thing you watch in my house if Brian picks the movie. As background, Rifftrax is an offshoot of the Mystery Science 3000 group – they basically record themselves make jokes about old movies. And Plan 9 From Outer Space is considered the king of bad sci-fi movies. Well, I can pretty much tell you that’s true after watching it, ha – even with the jokes, it was a terribly done movie. Enter at your own risk.
That’s it for another addition of the Good Things List! If you’d like to see more of what I’m enjoying, you can check out all the Good Things Lists here. I’d love to know what you think – if you’ve tried any of these or what you’d recommend. Leave a comment below with your thoughts!
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