A monthly list of good things to do, buy, read, watch, and more.
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Here we are at August already - how is your summer shaping up?
Here in Western Oregon things are hot and dry. It's a daily battle to keep the things I planted in the spring watered - and there are a few baby shrubs that look like I'm losing the war.
Thankfully, the DIY watering system we installed in the vegetable garden is keeping up and it's on our list of things to add to the sunken garden area next to the house, so in the future watering should be a bit easier.
I know some of you in other parts of the world are dealing with a lot of rain - if it's not one thing, it's another, right?
The constant is that we keep on dealing with what the weather brings because producing food is worth it and flowers bring joy - which I think we need more of in our world, don't you?
Hopefully, this list of good things will bring a little happy your way, too!
Painted & Roofed Farmhouse
If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that July was all about getting the exterior of the farmhouse in tip-top shape.
We had a mid-July date for painting and in preparation we checked off a number of things from our to-do list:
- Added the battens to the board-and-batten siding sections.
- Removed rails around porch.
- Trimmed out porch posts with molding to cover metal concrete holders.
- Installed wood strips to porch ceiling to cover old plywood.
- Replaced standard "brick" molding around front and side door with 5-inch wide molding to match the windows.
- Various filling, caulking, etc.
We were ready by the time they came to paint - and what a great finish to our farmhouse's transformation!
A week later, the roofers came to finish installing the roof - we had done the back half of the house when we added the 8 feet onto the back a couple years ago.
And I got to have my favorite thing: a metal front porch roof.
Be still my heart.
She kind of looks nice with the side garden now, doesn't she?
Though I've gotten a number of comments from people who think we're "done" now. Ha! We still have a list of things to finish downstairs and a whole upstairs to do...
Smith Rock State Park
Our family spent time with my dad and sweet stepmama at their place in central Oregon for his birthday and one of the days we visited Smith Rock State Park located just outside of Redmond (north of Bend).
Our daughter had just visited the 5 state parks in Utah and she was wondering why they had so many and Oregon has only 1 - especially because many of the Utah parks all look similar.
She thought Smith Rock could easily be a national park - and so different from our other park, Crater Lake.
But we decided we like it as it is - it's cheap (just $5 for a day pass), and not as crowded. Plus, you get to watch people rock climbing.
It's really an Oregon gem and if you ever get a chance to visit, you should take it!
Natural Skin Care
I got to try out some new-to-me skin care from Made On, including a sore muscle stick and tinted lip balm.
I had previously used the Bee Silk lotion bar (made with beeswax) as a great air travel option. It's solid so there's no need to worry about the liquids limits, but it smooths on like lotion when it hits your warm skin.
There have been a number of times I've come in from working outside or woken up with sore shoulders and was able to use the menthol-peppermint muscle balm stick. While it didn't take away all the soreness, it did seem to sooth it!
I haven't had a chance to use the rash cream (thankfully!), but I'm really enjoying the tinted lip balms! They are moisturizing just like plain balm, but have just a hint of color (don't let the labels fool you!) which I love instead of heavier lip color.
I can't really tell the difference between the two colors, Crimson Rose and Copper Glow. I think one should have more of a pink tint, but really the color is so light it's hard to tell - both would be good for any skin color.
Have you used Made On skin care products?
USA Bakeware Pans
Goodness, I am in LOVE with these pans! I purchased USA Bakeware loaf pans a couple years ago and saw immediately how sturdy they were and how my loaves didn't stick at all anymore.
Since then I've wanted to upgrade my well-used sheet pans to USA pans and I finally bought a set of two sheet pans. They are amazing.
No need for parchment, liners, or greasing. See those cookies above? I just plopped them on and they slid right off with no residue at all.
What magic is this?
They are a heavy gauge pans with a corrugated surface design that facilitates air circulation for evenly baked goods and quick release, plus they have a light silicone coating thats PTFE, PFOA and BPA free.
I have had the loaf pans for more than 2 years (and I bake a lot of bread if you haven't guessed...) and they look and work just as good as when I got them, so I have high hopes for these.
Plus, while they are more expensive than cheapo pans, they aren't crazy expensive like some (especially if you can grab this 6-piece set - cookie sheet, half sheet, loaf an, 9 x 13 cake pan, 8 x 8 x cake pan, and a 12 cup muffin pan - for about $14 for each piece!).
Have you used USA pans?
I just had to share this cute summer dress I found on Amazon. With it's A-line shape it's super flattering and hits right at my knees, so isn't too short (I'm 5'5" for reference).
It's made of mostly cotton (the plain colors only), which is harder to come by I found when searching, and it's a nice weight cotton - not too light or heavy for summer.
On some of our hot days I've worn it on it's own and then if I needed more coverage in air conditioned places, I added a white linen button down shirt.
If this is something you'd like, too, it's the Sleeveless Midi Dress Casual Flared Tank Dress. I got green (obviously), but there are lots of colors with good reviews.
Heir Affair, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. This is a fun follow up to the lighthearted book about an American who becomes romantically involved with the prince of England in line to the throne (The Royal We) and all that entails. That book ended with their wedding and this takes up in the days after the wedding that didn't go quite according to plan. There's how to negotiate as a new princess as well as fertility and infertility issues. It's not going to win any awards (and of course there's language and coarseness), but it's a fun read.
The Neil Gaiman Reader, Neil Gaiman. Oh, gosh - how about 27 hours of Neil Gaiman reading all his short stories - and a few excerpts from longer books - from 1984 up to 2018, 52 stories in all. Whew - Brian and I listened to this over the course of three months whenever we drove in the car. Gaiman is a writer we LOVE on a purely artistic and intellectual level. He's just an amazing writer with characters that are spot-on and come to life with his words. His descriptions are fantastical and his imagination beyond the norm. Plus - we always listen to his works if he's the one narrating, because he is simply fantastic.
That said, we don't love everything he's written - some is too horror for me or just distasteful. But very few are like that and many of his short stories really make you think about the point he's making (usually about human nature).
We really enjoyed most of this reader, but if you are interested, I'd suggest starting where we did with Neverwhere, an accessible fantasy that illustrates why he is such a popular author.
Unashamed and Unshaken, Francine Rivers. These are the next two novellas in the Lineage of Grace series looking at the women in the line of Jesus (after Unveiled about Tamar that I read last month). Unashamed is the story of Rahab, the prostitute who believed in the God of the Jews and helped them in Jericho. She had faith when many others did not, even though she wasn't born Jewish.
Unshaken tells the story of Ruth, the Moabite daughter-in-law of Naomi who follows Naomi back to Jerusalem when their husbands die. She again has faith in Naomi's God and does as she asks, becomes the wife of Boaz, and eventually a part of the family tree of Jesus.
I love how these two books illustrate how the women not only believed, but because of that were grafted into the family of God. Belief is what matters, not race, decent, or sex.
(Warning: I listened to these during my morning routine and I do have to say I probably would've enjoyed them more as paper books, as the narrator for all three books was SO.VERY.DRAMATIC. To the point of irritation, ha!)
War of the Worlds, HG Wells. I found an HG Wells compilation in an Audible BOGO sale last month and Brian and I listened to War of the Worlds on a weekend trip we took. We both were familiar with Orson Well's radio version and had seen a few movie adaptations, but listening to the original story that was written in 1897 was mind-boggling. How on earth did he think of all these things that we take for granted now? Aliens, tripod flying machines, heat ray guns - so many elements that are standard in science fiction started with HG Wells.
We were also surprised about how bleak it was, showing the dark side of human nature and with a dip into horror as the aliens drank people's blood to survive. That's usually left out of the adaptations we've seen - eek.
Faithful, various authors. Singers and authors including Amy Grant, Ginny Owens, Amanda Bible Williams, Ruth Chou Simons, look at the women of the Bible in order to find hope, encouragement and community. It's a quick listen/read that's interesting and inspiring. There is an album of songs, I believe, too, but I haven't listened to that yet.
Today, Tonight, Tomorrow, Rachel Lynn Solomon. In this YA book, two high school senior rival overachiever's relationship completely transforms over the course of 24 hours on the last day of school. I thought this would be a classic hate-turns-to-love story and that it would be fun and clean as a YA book. Um, no - I was disappointed at the cavalier attitude towards sex and the f-bombs dropping all over the place. The story was just okay, with lots of cliched characters.
The Duchess, Amanda Foreman. This is long, and it's not historical fiction, but true history taken from newspapers, letters, and other's writings of the time. There were times I lost where I was with the names and places, but the overall story of Lady Georgiana Spencer, the Duchess of Devonshire was as fascinating as I had expected. I love history and you really get a sense of how wealthy people lived in the late 1700s-early 1800s - and it's really different from us.
Fatherhood (Kevin Hart), Netflix. Even though it started with a very hard thing, this was a good movie that showed truth in parenting and the growth of the lead character as he learns to be a dad. Both funny and bittersweet.
Outside The Wire, Netflix. Set in the near future (?), this tells the story of a drone pilot who's only seen military action from the chair of his console and what he faces when he's sent into the field. It's an action movie (a Brian pick, lol), but the examination of the real cost of military action in the form of real people was the most interesting thing for me.
The Olympics of course - wasn't that 400m men's hurdles exciting?
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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