A list of good things to do, buy, read, watch, and more. This month's list includes a visit to Magnolia Marketplace, my new Amazon shop with personal recommendations, short reviews of 7 books, plus the true-story movie you have to see.
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Happy April! We can officially embrace spring even though some parts of the country have snow and other's 93 degrees! I'm hoping to be out in the yard more, working on creating that vegetable garden and just trying to get things on the property in better order. I've definitely got gardening on the mind.
We also hope that April will at last see us started on the farmhouse's foundation fix. We will have the official plans in a week or two and then go to the county for the permit needed. Brian's talking with some people we've found who have an excavating business and hopefully can help steer us in the right direction.
Which reminds me that I haven't shared about the goldfish on the property yet - that's a whole other story! I'll get all the photos together and share it in next month's Good Things List. Hopefully it will still be a good thing, ha!
Okay, on to our good things list number 3!
AOC has an Amazon shop!
When Amazon invited me to have a place (aka, shop) on their site where I could gather many of the items I've talked about, use and love from Amazon - and then share it with you all, I jumped at the chance! This is for all the people who've asked me where to buy things I've mentioned through the years. I'm still adding to it, but I have a bunch of great things up already including the stainless steel canner that changed my canning life, the food processor I'd wished I bought sooner, and the garden hose and quick connects I use that save a lot of time.
The really great thing about this new page is the little gray comment boxes in the right corners of each item - see where I have it circled in the image above? If you see one of those with the product it means I've written a comment about it and you can click to see why I'm recommending it. So I'm not just listing things I like, I get to tell you about it, too. And you can see prices right on the page to decide if it's for you or not.
I just think it's a easy way for me to pass on good information and a convenient way for you to find them and buy if you like. Let me know if you think so, too! CLICK HERE to go check it out.
Visiting Waco and Austin, Texas.
If you've listened to this podcast or read this article about the terrific easy garden ideas that I got from my visit to the Silos in Waco, then you know all about it. If not, here's a quick recap: I had a blogging conference in Austin and Brian came with me so we could wrap some vacation days around it. Neither of us had been to Texas before, so we wanted to take advantage of the trip.
We got to see a lot of downtown Austin, including the Capitol and the bats, and we ate a lot of great food (we hit all the bases: BBQ, Tex-Mex, Pub food, and Texas chili). We also felt the Austin music vibe from staying in the Red River Cultural District where live music plays many nights.
And we rented a car and drove north one and a half hours to Waco to visit Magnolia Marketplace at the Silos. It is amazing what Chip and Joanna Gaines have done to a formerly down-and-out area. It's really a destination spot and there were families enjoying the large lawn area and games provided as well as eating at picnic tables.
Even though it was crowded and the lines long, if you're a fan of the look, shop, or show, it's a fun trip. (Tip: I wouldn't bother waiting in the long line for the free shipping, though - most of the items are available online for just a flat $7 shipping fee.)
Here are the three things I bought that could be carried home in my carry-on bag (Remember, we only travel with carry-ons, even if we're staying 1-3 weeks. Here's how I do it.).
- A cotton stem to remind me of our trip south.
- A bundle of realistic looking faux cabbage roses.
- A sweet little stoneware creamer painted to look like tin (I actually needed this - I can't find our little creamers anywhere after moving!).
I also bought an adorable copper old-fashioned alarm clock for our daughter as a thank you for house/dog sitting, but it's not available online (one of the few things that aren't, actually).
Speaking of our daughter, she had a birthday this last week and asked for this incredible Bible that she had discovered. She's an artist and graphic designer, making it a perfect fit which we were so happy to give her. It is the ESV Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling Edition, with beautiful gold illustrations by Dana Tanamachi. There are also large side margins to add your own art journaling.
Not only was I super impressed with the book, but also the price! This would be such a special gift for anyone you know who would appreciate it.
With all the traveling and projects we did this month I was really able to listen/read a lot of books - 7 in fact! I think that's the most in one month so far since I started making goals for reading.
I also wanted to share this quote I found (in this article titled "The Need to Read") that perfectly sums up why I think it's important to read - and why I felt so sad about it when I hadn't.
Reading books remains one of the best ways to engage with the world, become a better person and understand life’s questions, big and small.
Note: This month I'm sharing how and when I read these books so you can get an idea of how to fit more books into your life (hint: audiobooks are the bomb).
1. In the morning while getting ready (also a bit while traveling), it was all about Wendell Berry's Port William series. I've almost finished it (I'm listening to the last one right now) and I'm just really enjoying the evocative picture Berry creates of a time and place that seem so true and elemental where the right things were valued (family, land, creating and taking care of others). I do think we've lost much of this, even though there are many things I'm happy not to deal with (plucking chickens, outhouses, etc.). Here are the titles I read in March:
- Andy Catlett: Early Travels, Wendell Berry. This was a super sweet, short novel following a young boy on his first solo trip to visit his grandparents. Made me totally remember the times I did things as a kid that made me feel grown up.
- A World Lost, W. Berry. Another short book about the same boy, Andy, set just a few months later when a beloved uncle was shot. A grown-up Andy narrates and attempts to discover what happened all those years ago.
- That Distant Land, The Collected Stories, W. Berry. With stories beginning in the 1800's and going all the way to the 1980s, this covers a lot of time and people I had heard just a bit about in the other books, which I really enjoyed. It was the longest at 10 hours for the audiobook, but went quickly.
- The Memory of Old Jack, W. Berry. Oh, I didn't think I'd like this because Old Jack wasn't the kindest of characters in the other books. He was just cantankerous. But his story is good and sad and resilient - and you get to see how he was shaped and then shaped all the people of Port William I've come to love.
2. At night before bed: Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt Is Not the Enemy of Faith, Barnabas Piper.
- This was a terrific short read and really gave me a sense of how I feel a lot of the times: I believe, and yet feel I fall short by doubting. The author illustrates with Biblical passages that this is the way of life as we live in the tension of the "now and not yet." Highly recommended.
3. While working on projects around the farmhouse (gardening, painting) as well as cooking: The Jane Austen Project, Kathleen A. Flynn.
- Okay, this book was a bit weird. I knew it was a time-travel book and thought that might be interesting to see how they'd portray Jane Austen. Plus I've liked some other time-travel/fantasy books. But this one didn't do it for me. In the end I didn't really care about the characters and ended up just skimming the last part of the book.
- Brian and I loved this book! It was exciting and thrilling and still had an incredible amount of emotion and depth. While the protagonist, Darrow, is just 16 in the book, it is not listed as a YA (young adult) title - he's married and those in his caste don't live long, so I felt it was like it used to be when you did hard labor all day long - life was just shorter. The book is set in the future on an inhabited Mars. The society is split in to color castes and the reds are at the bottom, basically slave labor. They are told they are preparing for the future of a planet where everyone can live. Then Darrow finds they are being lied to and what happens after that makes for a great story. It's a bit Hunger Games and a bit of the Iliad, if that makes any sense.
The new Jumanji was just a fun, fun movie that both adults and kids can enjoy.
I watched Breathe with my daughter recently (free with Amazon Prime!) and we SO enjoyed this, especially after we read that it's a true story produced by the son of the couple pictured, Robin and Diana Cavendish. It is a beautiful picture of love and marriage, no matter what the future holds, as well as how our obstacles can be a catalyst for great achievement (just the opposite of a book I pretty much hated, Me Before You.) Fun side note: it's the directorial debut of Andy Serkis, the man who played Golum. Highly recommended!
On TV, I'm watching the newest season of The Voice. I think Kelly Clarkson is a good addition, but I'm just not as into it as I used to be. I think I missed all the Battle Rounds, though the live show is always the best, I think. What about you - are you watching?
That's it for another addition of the Good Things List! 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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