A monthly list of good things to see, do, buy, read, watch, and more.
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Well, hello spring! The crazy weather is full-on spring - one day sunny and warm, the next drizzle. And of course the days that see warm, sun, snow, hail, and rain all in one.
This month is about finishing up some inside projects (hello office makeover - see more on that below) and getting the garden in shape and planted with spring crops.
And enjoying watching the flowers and trees bloom and plants come back to life. So very life affirming, right?
My office makeover is done! Well, for the most part (isn't that always the case?).
The shot above is almost exactly the shot you saw of the office before - now with a ceiling fan (really needed in this upstairs room in the warmer months, so no fun light fixture), trim all around the floors and closet/nook, new closet shelf and stenciling, and newly organized.
Still to come is the shelf Brian made to fit the old gym locker baskets that will live between the tall shelves. It's built and just waiting for me to finish painting and sealing it.
I also think I will add some curtain panels to close off the office nook when we have guests, because the other part of this room acts as a second guest room for us:
The daybed was the major purchase for this makeover so that we could use it as another place for people to sleep. I searched and searched for an inexpensive bed with a trundle that would popup to be able to hold a couple as well as work as just a twin.
I found this one and we have been pleased with the sturdiness (no squeaking when our daughter slept on it) and that it wasn't too hard to put together.
I got two of these 8-inch mattresses to fit the top and the trundle and our daughter said they were comfortable to sleep on.
This side of the room is what I fondly refer to as "the wall." You may remember that it looked like this when I decided to tear off the sheetrock to see if it was tongue and groove wood like so many other walls in our old farmhouse are.
It was not nice tongue and groove, sadly. So we embarked on a way to salvage some of it that took many more days (so much caulk and paint...) and a lot more money that I thought (wood prices are high, even for little 1-inch pieces of molding).
I was hoping the daybed could go here to show off more of the wall, but it was too big for the area (the doorway is right to the left), so the dresser and my corkboard had to go here.
The irony is that after all the extra work and money on this wall, hardly any of it is visible. Life is funny sometimes.
I do want to paint the dresser and my sewing machine table to match and to stand out against the wall. I'm thinking of the green I've used in the other parts of the house - what do you think?
This photo reminds me again that I should be starting the peppers at least 2 weeks earlier than the tomatoes.
These were both started at the same time and you can see how much smaller (like waaay smaller) the peppers on the lower right are than the tomatoes in the back.
On the lower left are marigolds I'm growing as companion plants in the vegetable garden.
Speaking of seeds, I found a new seed company I'm loving (and that's saying a lot, because I've tried many and usually go back to my two or three favs).
It's called Botanical Interests and was started in the 1990s by a couple who were frustrated at the lack of information on the seed packets. I totally understand that - I've gotten some packets that literally have just the name and sometimes I can't remember anything about it.
It's especially irritating because you usually need the info when you're out in the garden and want to plant the seeds, so you're not really able to look anything up.
So not only do their packets open up to include a TON of information on the plant, they're beautiful and reasonably priced.
Plus, look at the great packaging - and they included a free packet of a lettuce blend I'll actually use!
I was so thrilled to find this company and will definitely be ordering from them each year (oh, they still had quite a bit in stock the last time I looked, too).
Nice Wool T-Shirts
After testing the quality of Bombas merino wool socks and finding them better than the cheaper wool socks I compared them with, I decided to try their merino wool t-shirts. (Apparently, Bombas only sells the long-sleeve shirts like I show in the fall and winter and now the options are just short sleeve. The short sleeve are great for travel, too, and I plan to get one.)
I am cold most of the winter and had tried cheaper wool t-shirts in the past that just itched too much around the neck for me. But I loved the warmth, so I had high hopes the Bombas shirts would be softer.
I ordered one (using a 25% off coupon helped the price), wore it and loved the feel and that there was absolutely no itching around the neck!
So of course I ordered another, lol.
They have been on steady rotation all through the winter and now they will become one of my layers in an upcoming trip we're planning.
Merino wool is great for travel as it doesn't hold odors, wicks away moisture, and dries quickly.
For both winter warmth and spring travel I feel like I hit the jackpot with these shirts, even with their higher price tag. There are a few places I'm willing to spend more and this is one of them (offset by the $14 jeans I just got at Old Navy!).
Speaking of travel, I don't think I've shared this product I've used for our travels the last few years instead of having to carry a big liquid foundation and powder.
It's Burt's Bees Mattifying Powder Foundation and it works great as a substitute for those two items for me.
It's especially nice when flying, since this means one less thing in my liquids bag.
I did have to try two different colors before finding that Bamboo was the best for my skin - I wanted a lighter color, more translucent versus darker. I find in areas I'd like more coverage, I can just add another layer.
Have you tried a powder foundation like this?
Mythos, Stephen Fry. Brian and I listened to this on our car trips and it took us a couple months to get through it - it's long. Some of the myth stories are familiar and some were new to me, but hearing them through the lens of Stephen Fry made them clever and funny. He has asides that helps you understand any backstory and reads the audiobook in such a way that you find yourself chuckling at some of the absurd situations - of course.
The Glass Hotel, Emily St. John Mandel. I'm not sure what I was expecting from this story - maybe more of something like her other popular novel, Station Eleven (which is being turned into a series for HBO I think). Not that it would be an apocalyptic setting, but that the story would progress in the same way. Not so - this is all over the place, time-wise. Like all over. Forward, back, in-between, forward again and so on. I'm not sure why or what this was supposed to accomplish. What it did for me, besides feeling confused (um, especially on audio - this is the type of book you need to read, maybe?), was to make me feel disconnected from the characters. There were a lot of characters, but because we'd go so long between seeing them - and so much would happen we weren't privy to - I didn't really care. And the story just didn't seem to matter, either. Obviously, not a fan, ha.
House Lessons, Erica Bauermeister. I can't remember where I heard about this book, but it was a fun memoir about a family falling for an old house in Port Townsend, Washington (I've been there, so that was fun to picture the area) buying it and then the saga of fixing it up. Right up my alley after dealing with the farmhouse (also made me feel better because there were worse houses out there, lol). I wished there was more on the house and less on their family and the family dynamics - especially at the end. But it was really interesting.
The Midwife's Revolt, Jodi Daynard. I've had this book in my Audible library for a long time and finally pulled it out during a Saturday gardening session. This is my type of historical fiction - a lot of history with a fictional main character weaved in. The fictional midwife is friends and neighbors with Abigail Adams during the beginning of the Revolutionary War and I enjoyed reading this and remembering the biography I had read on Abigail a few years ago. This author did such a good job - I really felt the fear, hunger, heat, cold, and confusion of the times. That's the mark of a good historical fiction book for me.
How (Not) To Read The Bible: Making Sense of the Anti-Women, Anti-Science, Pro-Violence, Pro-Slavery and Other Crazy-Sounding Parts of Scripture, Dan Kimball. I included the whole subtitle for this book because I think it's a super important book for both Christians and non-Christians who are curious to read. This answers many questions that I've had, and I was so surprised to learn about the many places on line making fun of the Bible. I just didn't know that was a thing to the extent it is.
The author lists "rules" for reading the Bible that we should always follow:
- Never read a Bible verse (alone, without context).
- The Bible is a library with many genres that go beyond surface readings (there's poetry, history, literature, etc).
- Study the Bible and research to understand it as a whole, not just OT or NT or sections.
- The Bible was not written TO us, but only FOR us. It was written to the people at the time - who obviously were very different from us.
I bought this for our daughter and for my sister's teens and I'd highly recommend it for anyone you know of that age, since they will be exposed to the memes and sites online making fun of the Bible and they should be armed with knowledge.
The Rose Code, Kate Quinn. I've had this on my library holds ever since someone told me they thought I'd like it - and I did. I've read other code-breaking books on WWII, even specifically Bletchley Park and wasn't sure another one would hold my attention, but this author brings enough drama and good characters into this that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I especially liked the friendship of the three women and how it developed among people who would've never even met pre-war. I wished some of the sad things didn't happen (and I'm not sure I believe one storyline could've happened), but overall it was a book I kept wanting to get back to and will think about for awhile.
Frontier Grit: Unlikely True Stories of Daring Pioneer Women, Marianne Monson. This was recommended by a reader who knows I enjoy history, and she was right. This is a short book with each of the 12 chapters highlighting a different pioneer woman, so it was easy to read a chapter before bed each night. The women are all quite different - one helped save hundreds of Chinese girls from slavery in San Fransisco's China Town, one became an outspoken ally for Native Americans, another was a frontier doctor. There is lots of inspiration here in just seeing what they were able to accomplish.
Unoffendable, Brant Hansen. Crystal Paine recommended this book as something every Christian should read, and she's absolutely right. This book is so perfect for our currently divisive time in history, that I was surprised to learn at the end that the book was written in 2015. Saddened, actually, that in seven years, things have gotten worse in this offended by everything cancel-culture world, not better. Especially with Christians.
Basically, the author reminds us that as flawed people, we always think we're right - we can't be trusted and don't always know other's motivations (or even our own!). However, God knows, so let go and leave it to Him.
I wrote these in my reading journal:
-It's not that I think potentially offensive behavior is right or good - not even close. It's just that it's not about me. I'm not going to be threatened or scandalized by someone else's immoral behavior.
-What if Christians were known as the people you couldn't offend?
-That we led with love and not anger, like Christ did?
Severance, Apple+. This is Brian's favorite show right now. It's crazy, visually amazing, and keeps you guessing. The premise is a group of office workers who've voluntarily decided to have a chip implanted that separates their work memories from outside life memories. Imagine if you had no idea what your life was like at home - or visa versa. So good.
CODA, Apple+. I was so glad to see this sweet, inspiring, feel-good movie won best picture at the Oscars - it's about time! If you haven't seen it, do what you can to watch. You'll be happy you did.
Don't Look Up, Netflix. This has gotten pretty negative reviews, but Brian and I enjoyed it - it really skewers all parts of our society right now and I was there for that. Also, I wouldn't have known it was supposed to be some statement on climate change unless Brian told me - it was about an asteroid to me.
Psych 3: This is Gus, Peacock. We watched this with our daughter - is pure silly and nostalgic for us. It can still make us laugh, though.
Lucy & Desi Documentary, Amazon. I enjoyed this Amy Poehler directed documentary a lot more than the recent movie with Nicole Kidman. This really highlighted the amazing things they did together and how the show and Desilu impacted their lives.
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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