A monthly list of good things to do, buy, read, watch, and more.
Some links in this article are affiliate links and if you click on them I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.
Happy March! The two longest months of winter are behind us (even though one is the shortest month, it still seems long, doesn't it?) and I am so ready for spring.
We've actually had some great weather with many sunny days in February, so I really can't complain too much - especially with many of you still under snow. We are about half of our rain count, though, so I'm thinking we may be in for a wet spring - Oregon does have a way of making up for lost time.
I've got some fun things for you this month, plus reviews of eight of the ten books I read (two were smaller biz books, so they didn't make the list) and a movie we really enjoyed. I hope you can find something to add to your good things this month!
Good Things List
Getting ready for spring in the garden.
Like I mentioned, we've had some great weather (on one of the last days of the month it was mid 50s and sunny!) so I've been doing some early garden clean up. Since I rarely do any clean up in the fall, the flower bed and containers really needed it.
I'm pretty happy with how the bed above is coming along - especially since the brick wall came down (it was in the upper right corner in the picture above, behind the bed).
I basically cut everything back and pulled a few weeds. It was a lovely hour spent in the sun. Next up is laying down newspaper and topping that with a compost mulch. Once I do that, I won't have to do anything else to this bed other than water, trim in summer, and maybe pull a weed or two. That layering is really key to low maintenance beds!
Farmhouse kitchen beam in place.
This was a couple months in the making believe it or not. Brian had to draw plans, submit it to engineering, wait for a response, adapt plans, wait for a response, and then submit it to the county on our permit. And - you guessed it - wait for a response.
Happily, we got the okay and Brian, my brother, and our friend got the heavy beam up in the space where the wall to the enclosed porch used to be. I guess it doesn't look like much right now, but every step we get closer to the end goal is a good thing. 🙂
Now, use your imagination to see our future kitchen:
- Picture walls going to the back wall on both sides (to the left is the laundry/mudroom, to the right is the furnace and will be a pantry).
- Now, center a range and hood on the back wall with a cabinet on either side.
- Add a window on each side of the range hood.
- Lastly, imagine a large island with the sink, dishwasher on the range side and stools on the other with pendant lights.
Oh, and a ceiling of course to hide all the ducting, lol.
Levi's signature jeans for curvy figures.
Finding pants that fit right has always been a struggle with my figure. I have a smaller waist and larger hips - the typical "pear" shape. When manufacturers came out with curvy jeans a few years ago, I found some that fit okay though I usually still had to take in the waist, but I've noticed they aren't selling them any more (well, Old Navy got rid of theirs at least).
I haven't bought a pair of jeans in more than a year and I don't even try Old Navy anymore. I pretty much had a rule that I couldn't do online pants shopping - they had to be tried on.
But that all changed when I found Signature by Levi Strauss & Co Women's Totally Shaping Skinny Jeans (shown on the right above) and Signature By Levi Strauss & Co Women's Curvy Straight Jeans (on the left). I don't even know how I found them on Amazon, but I'm sure glad I did. They have great reviews for the most part and so I took a chance.
They may be the best jeans I've ever bought.
Here are the details:
- The shaping skinny jean is form fitting, but really comfortable with the lightweight stretch material. You'll want your regular size for these. They are more of a waist-high jean versus mid rise. I think I will still need to take in the waist a little, though, as I find myself pulling them up a lot.
- The curvy straight jean is looser, which is something I was looking for (I'm so tired of legging-like jeans!), but I would probably get a smaller size if I bought another pair. They are definitely high waisted, coming to my belly button, but I don't need to take the waist in at all! The material is also light and stretchy so they are super comfortable.
- The washes on both of them are nice - dark without too many crazy crease markings (I got "gala" in the skinny jean and "awaken" in the straight - which are the two shown above).
If you have a shape like mine and have found it hard to find jeans, I hope you'll try these out. Especially because you can return them for free (which I did have to do with a black pair I tried - isn't it odd that a different wash would fit differently in the same size and style?).
Retinol cream for night.
I've been trying different night time creams and serums over the past six months and so far nothing has been amazing. This reasonably priced retinol cream, though, is coming out on top, both for its price and the results.
Side note: can I just say how crazy the cost of some of these products are? Yikes.
It's called BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz Retinol Cream Moisturizer 2.5% for Face & Eyes and also contains Hyaluronic Acid so after cleaning it's the only thing I use at night. It had a ton of great reviews and so far I'm loving how my face feels after using. There's been no sensitivity issues at all and I think it's really helped with the flakiness I'd been having.
Hanging luggage scale.
Where has this useful gadget been all my life? We are taking a trip soon and will be required to carry only a certain luggage weight (7kg/15 pounds) for one of the airlines and I was kind of freaking out. If you are over the weight at the airport you will be charged a lot.
Enter this Etekcity Digital Hanging Luggage Scale I found on Amazon that is portable, low cost, and has great reviews.
Brian and I did a trial packing and used the scale to see that we can fit everything we need in the requirements - yay! Plus, it's helped us not to worry about it - we'll be bringing it with us and can use it for all our flights.
If you are traveling where luggage weight is an issue, I highly recommend this.
I read and listened to ten books in February, though one book I had been reading for a number of months and another was started in January.
I was able to finish the rest as I worked in the garden, cleaned, and traveled to Portland. I always count print books the same as audiobooks - your brain sees them as the same.
If you haven't checked out audiobooks I encourage you to download a library app like Libby to use with your library. If you don't have a library, you can visit LibraVox for free classics and think about a membership to Audible. (TIP: I started with the free trial, kept the monthly for awhile, and now have downgraded to $14.95 every other month which allows me to take advantage of the monthly free books and the daily sale books.)
The Library Book, Susan Orlean. My daughter gave this to me because she thought I'd like it and she was right, even though I've never heard of the story of the Los Angeles Library fire. It was so interesting, not just about the fire but the information the author shares about libraries in general - the history and use - and how the L.A. Library functioned as a community place. Reading how the neighbors all came together to try and salvage what books they could - and what that entailed (freezers!) - was heartwarming.
While it bogged down a bit in the middle, it was so full of great information and characters that I'd recommend it to anyone interested in history, libraries, and books.
Rediscovering Holiness, J.I. Packer. Like many of this author's books, this is pretty deep. Yet I appreciated how he works to keep things applicable to our everyday lives. After delving into what holy means and what the Bible says about holy, he then helps us to live up to God's words, "be holy as I am holy" by giving some clear examples of ways to do that.
This book challenged me to cultivate a repentant heart daily and to grow in grace by becoming more Christ like through reading the Bible, accepting God's sovereignty, doing good, and investing in relationships.
Rules of Civility, Amor Towels. This was the first book I read for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. It filled the category of a debut novel and I had read good reviews of it - so much so that I had already purchased it on sale and it was sitting in my Kindle app.
It was just okay. I never really connected with the characters so it was hard to understand their actions and motivations. The settings and history was good, but there wasn't much of it since it was a character driven story. And it was just kind of sad to me, the way they lived their lives.
Beneath A Scarlett Sky, Mark Sullivan. This was a book Brian and I listened to together on car trips and we both loved it! It will be on my best of the year list I'm sure.
This is a WWII historical fiction book that's based on the incredible experiences of 17 year old Pino Lella. The author met him when he was an old man and spend 10 years recording his experiences, interviewing others, and researching documents. He then built the dialog and drama around these activities into a moving story that is both happy and sad.
We learned a lot about the war in Italy, sometimes called the forgotten front, and how devastating it was to civilians. I just can't imagine living under those circumstances. Even when the war ended, you weren't safe from men taking advantage of lawlessness. And the epilogue is really detailed giving as much information as the author could find on what happened to many of the characters. This is just really a good book!
Hallelujah Anyway, Anne Lamott. This is the second or third book of Anne Lamott's that I've read and I just have to admit, she's not my cup of tea. Especially when she reads her own audiobook (there's slurring of words and lack of emphasis - it's a bit monotone). She's been through a lot which I can appreciate, and giving and receiving mercy is an important topic, but I just can't get into her style or her seeming flippant remarks on people, the Bible, and life. But I do think it may be just me, lol, since she's pretty popular.
Still Life, Louise Penny. This is another book I finished for the MMD reading challenge for the category of "outside your normal reading genre." I'm not a reader of mysteries or thrillers- it's just not my thing. But I had read Anne Bogel (Modern Mrs. Darcy) write about this series of mysteries by Louise Penny for years. She enjoyed the character development and the small town setting as well as the mysteries so I thought it would be a good pick for the category.
And it was, even though I thought it was just okay. I'm not going to be a convert to mysteries from this, but I'm glad to have tried something new (which is what the challenge is kind of about I think). I kind of thought the characters were one dimensional and the police procedural part didn't really grip me. I especially thought the end was a bit hackneyed. I did like the setting, the chief inspector and how there was character development of the staff that I can see will continue through the series. Who knows, I may pick up another one just to see what makes them stay in Three Pines!
Hero of The Empire, Winston Churchill & The Boer War, Candice Millard. After writing about how much I enjoyed learning about President James Garfield in Candice Millard's Destiny of the Republic, a reader emailed that I might enjoy the author's other book on Winston Churchill as a young man in the Boer war, so I grabbed the audiobook at the library.
While not as interesting (or amazing) to me like Destiny of the Republic, it is a good story and a wonderful picture into the late nineteenth century and how war was thought of and conducted then. It was a bit disturbing to see how the English just decided to take the land from the Boers (after diamonds were found of course) and what words they used to advocate for it.
And Winston Churchill! I had no idea he felt so destined to be Prime Minister one day - so much so that he thought he couldn't be killed. He had no fear in battle even as his friends went down around him. He did seem to have quite a bit go his way, so maybe he was right?
Nice: Why We Love To Be Liked & How God Calls Us To More, Sharon Hodde Miller. This was such an interesting book to me and something I've not heard before or even thought about. I have read the author's contributions to She Reads Truth, so when I saw this book come up in my library app (this time Hoopla), I downloaded it to listen in the mornings as I get ready.
In this book, Ms. Miller states that there is an "epidemic of niceness" in the Christian church which she defines as people just wanting to get along, not ruffle any feathers, and be seen as someone to like. This is a "me, me" focus versus what Jesus espoused - kindness, which is a caring for others in action and deed. I had never really thought of the difference between nice and kind before and how one is rooted in a need for approval and the other is simple compassion for others. Really good stuff.
Unbelievable, Netflix. Wow, this was intense and so sad to think it is a true story. I'm hope things have changed because of this. (Warning, there are disturbing scenes of rape, though not graphic, and it's aftermath if that's a sensitive area.)
I also finished Sandition and just had to mention how awful the ending was. Sheesh. As if we needed another reason to know it is NOT a Jane Austen story! Anyone else feel cheated?
I also watched the first 6 Harry Potter movies after finishing listening to the books. While it was fun to see some things I had struggled to picture while reading (quidditch, anyone?), the books are much better in my opinion - much more depth to the characters.
JoJo Rabbit. I hadn't heard anything about this movie, but Brian wanted to see it. Let's just say it's weird. It reminded me of a Wes Anderson movie, but much sadder. The silliness with the horribleness of war and death was hard for me, though I do get that is is clever and really well done (it was nominated for a few Academy Awards).
Knives Out. We had heard so many good things about this movie and they're all true - we really enjoyed this! It was clever, and unusual in today's movie market that it's not based on anything, it's just its own story. It's a who-done-it like an Agatha Christie, the cast is amazing, it's not gruesome, and only has a couple of swear words. Definitely see this if you can!
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!
Disclosure: affiliate links in this article will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price. Click here to read my full disclaimer and advertising disclosure.