A monthly list of good things to do, buy, read, watch, and more.
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Well, here we are saying goodbye to summer and hello to fall. You know, summer is the one time of year that's always seemed to go fast no matter how old I've been. You know how things seem to go slower when you're young and then move at the speed of light when you're an adult? Yeah, summer has never lasted long enough for me. It's always over way too quickly.
There are lovely things about each season, though, so we'll just enjoy the nice weather we often get in September here in western Oregon and embrace all the good things of fall.
We're looking forward to Oregon Duck football, fall gardening, a few more kayak trips, and the return of casseroles and soups. Oh, and eating all the tomatoes (we're swimming in them right about now - thankfully!).
What about you?
Saying Goodbye to Our Girl
So, while this is not a good thing for my mama's heart, it is a good thing for our daughter and so it's making the list: we saw our daughter off for a year in Australia in August.
I'm so proud of her for organizing this so well. She had to research and plan where she could live and work and thankfully Australia has a plan for twenty-somethings to spend a year in their country (there isn't anything equivalent in Britain, which was her first choice).
She's getting settled, meeting up with contacts and taking a tour of Perth - and just enjoying the experience. And you can probably guess that a future good things list will include a trip to visit her down under!
Composting in Place Experiment - The Rock Wall Garden Bed
I mentioned in the Good Things List No.14 that I was trying a composting-in-place treatment for the rock wall raised bed. I wanted to follow up on that after seeing how the plants did.
To recap: My usual raised bed layers consist of cardboard, composted barnyard manure, hay (if I have it), soil, and then fine garden compost as a top layer. For this compost-in-place technique I added two more layers in between the manure and hay layers: chopped kitchen scraps and shredded paper.
They weren't full layers, but I made sure to distribute the scraps and paper as evenly as possible, then added hay and a good 3-inch layer of soil.
The result: The plants didn't do well the first month after planting. Like really yellowing. Some of the basil took off and then stopped growing, losing a lot of leaves. And the marigolds were stunted.
It wasn't consistent, either - basil planted on the left fared the worst while the plants on the right never really got the yellowed leaves as bad. This is why it led me to believe it was the fresh compost - whatever ended up on the left didn't play well with the basil.
Thankfully, all the plants started to perk up the beginning of July and the basil is beautiful now and producing like crazy as you can see in the photo above.
Final thoughts: I won't do this again as a layer in spring, but I will experiment with other types of compost-in-place like digging small holes next to plants and layering in the fall so there are months in between planting.
Have you tried this technique? Have any tips for me?
Also, did you catch this raised bed vegetable garden tour of the garden in its first year?
To Strip or Not To Strip
We found an old house being renovated in town that was selling all the 100 year old doors. We need 100 year old doors (ha! need?), so we bought them for cheap. I really want the look of wood doors and so decided to see about stripping them myself.
I did a lot of research, watched a lot of videos and thought I had found THE thing after seeing this blog post about easily stripping doors just like these.
I gathered my materials and decided to test three different paint strippers. Maybe I would hit on the perfect combo and could share it with others?
Let's just cut to the chase, shall we?
Um, no. No to all of them. No to all of it.
I have spent hours on these three doors, all of which had 4-5 layers of paint. And a load of money because the products pictured only cover one side of each door. That's about $15-20 dollars for just 2-3 of the layers on one side.
And that miracle plastic wrap idea did.not.work. I don't know how all my tries could be so different from the blogger's I linked above, but it never worked and in fact sometimes made it harder to get off (I think I must've left it on too long?).
This is so sad to me, but I'm not willing to pay more, along with all my time and all the huge mess. We are looking into a dip and strip place in Portland, which is a two hour drive for us. Sigh. How much do I want natural wood doors?
So why did this make the "good things" list? Well, we all learn from failures, so it's all a good thing, right?
The Joy of Built-In Bra Clothing
I mentioned buying the strappy dress on the right for our Caribbean vacation at the beginning of the summer, and I liked the fit of this built-in bra dress so much that I bought the top on the left, too. Seriously, where have these been all my life?
Because these are not your run-of-the-mill shelf bras, which is actually not the most flattering look (mono-boob anyone?). The line from Uniqlo where I bought these have actual built-in bras with a little padding and they are SO comfortable. No bra straps to worry about or dig in and no worry of show through. They're not expensive, either.
And let me just say when it's hot, these have been saving my summer life. So nice.
While these two specific items aren't available anymore, you can go here to look at the bra clothing options Uniqlo does have - there are tanks as well as regular dresses with sleeves. And there will definitely be more next spring, as these are pretty popular items.
Transitioning Summer Clothes to Fall (and Later to Spring)
I like the dress above so much I wanted to see how I could wear it for longer than our couple months of warm weather. I bought the the leopard print tie-hem blouse above from H&M a few weeks ago and it's a perfect layer!
It adds just the right amount of cover as the weather's turning cooler, and I can see being able to wear it in the spring, too, as the weather warms again.
Plus, leopard. Yum - I'm so glad it's an "in" thing this season - it's always been a favorite of mine!
Field Notes on Love, Jennifer E. Smith. This was a fun, light read from a Young Adult author I hadn't read before but had heard good things about. The premise is actually kind of unique - a recent high school graduate, one of a set of semi-famous British sextuplets, is going on a train trip with is girlfriend across the US to the university she'll be attending.
Except they break up. And she gives him all the info and tickets because it was her gift to him. Except everything's in her name. So he has to find another person with her name to go with him and be able to take the trip. And of course she's not a grandma, but someone his own age (lol...) so you know where this is going.
But it's a fun trip and not graphic or weird, though it's definitely for older kids, as they do sleep together (though it's not described).
Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning. I had heard a lot about this book and it's author so when it came up in my Hoopla library app, I grabbed it and listened to it in the mornings while getting ready. It's a hope-filled book, with an emphasis on love and grace:
The Bible is the love story of God with His people.
God calls, pursues, forgives, and heals.
He provides us with the power to live a life of grace.
It's a powerful message of acceptance and really looking at people without judging them first. While I didn't agree with everything in this book, its basic ideas are solid and gave me lots to think about.
The Only Woman in the Room, Marie Benedict. This is a fictionalized account of the early years of the actress Hedy Lamarr's life and it's fascinating. Brian and I listened to this as our car audio book (and then we watched the documentary below) and we both really enjoyed it. You learn not only about Hedy Lamarr and her family, but also about Austria and Hitler's increasing power in the run-up to World War II.
We think of Hedy Lamarr as just an actress, but she was also a brilliant, though untrained, scientist who developed radio transmission technology for the war effort that wasn't actually used until long after. It's since become the basis for the smartphones we use daily and it's only just coming out that she deserves some of the credit!
There are lots of other amazing things in the book - the dinners, palaces, and visitors - and I could connect some of what was happening politically in Austria to what was depicted in The Sound of Music (who said you couldn't learn through musicals?). Highly recommend both this and the documentary.
Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets, JK Rowling. I'm moving along with working my way through this series (for the first time) on audiobook. The stories move pretty fast when you're listening and the reader, Jim Dale, is fantastic.
I don't really need to "review" these, do I? One of the reasons I'm reading them is because it seems everyone else has already, lol. Looking forward to the next one (surprisingly, these are usually week's worth of holds at the library, even this far after publication...).
Screwball, Simon Rich (free Audible short story - one of the free monthly choices as a member). Brian and I listened to this short book after finishing The Other Woman in the Room and we didn't really know what to expect other than it was a retelling of the early days of Babe Ruth's baseball career, getting discovered, and his days on a minor league team. And that it was written by an SNL writer, so it would be funny (we hoped).
It was funny, but also a bit sad as it foreshadowed Babe's future problems with drinking and overeating. The book was read from the perspective of a very naive Babe who didn't seem to understand how people thought or acted. He looked on the best side of people, reading only good into whatever their intentions. At least according to this author.
It was really quite interesting and we both enjoyed it.
Romantic Outlaws, Charlotte Gordon. This is a biography of Mary Wolstencraft and her daughter, Mary Shelley. This is just the sort of book I love - historical accounts of lots of people I've read - and read about - throughout my life. Brian and I had listened to Frankenstein last January (which was very different than I had thought - much more a study in family, loneliness, and friendship than crazy horror) and I've read more than one novel that mentioned the "scandalous" writings of Mary Wolstencraft.
Mary Shelly was also married to the poet Percy Shelley and friends with Lord Byron, so there was a lot of interesting material around these women as much as within them. They both broke standards and mores of the time, and both paid for it with depression, ostracization, and poverty. Much of their lives were sad, and in fact the book starts with the death of Mary W. after having given birth to Mary S. at age 38.
While I enjoyed the material immensely, one thing I will note with the format that I had seen mentioned in reviews and totally agree with: the decision to flip chapters back and forth between mother and daughters lives is completely confusing. There was NO reason for this and so many of the characters are the same names (including the two principals - but also so many Fannys and Janes) that it's almost impossible to keep it all straight. In the beginning it wasn't so bad but as you got more and more into the book it was super distracting. Ugh - why do they do things like this?
And here's one book I'm embarrassed to say I didn't finish:
Under the Greenwood Tree, Thomas Harding. Why embarrassed? Because it's a classic that many people love. Thomas Harding isn't really known for light reading and happy endings, but this is one of those and I agree that there is much to like about this peek into rural British life in the 1840's.
But...I just couldn't get into it. It seemed to go on and on about walking somewhere or discussing the choir or picnic or whatever. I actually think it was the fact that I listened to this instead of reading. While you know I love audiobooks, this wasn't the book to listen to because the reader used a heavily accented Irish-type brogue and I couldn't understand much of what was said! It's too bad - maybe I'll try again with a print book. Have you read this? Thoughts?
Veronica Mars, Season 4. We've enjoyed watching this series over the years with our daughter. However, at the terrible ending of this newest season both my daughter and I were singing "we used to be friends" for real. Ugh, they just took the easy way out for the shock factor and it was w.r.o.n.g.
But that could be just us. If you watched it, what did you think?
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story. You guys - we had no idea about any of this!! This is the stuff I love learning about. We watched this after starting to listen to the historical fiction book I reviewed above and they worked well together. The book goes into more details and the movie goes into more of her sad later life (and sad love life).
Overcomer. Brian picked this for a date night and I hadn't heard of it so didn't know what to expect. Well, we had seen the Kendrick Brother's other movies (Facing The Giants, Fireproof, etc.), so I sort of knew. And this was definitely like them, except with each movie they get better.
The story is interesting and they always know how to bring the emotion - Brian and I were both crying at points in this movie. Is it great movie making? No, but it's honest and heartfelt and there's so much about forgiveness that it just hit home to us - and I think a lot of others since it made 8 million in it's opening weekend!
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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