A monthly list of good things to see, do, buy, read, watch, and more.
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Happy July! I'm still waiting for it to be fully summer here in the PNW, weather-wise. After are cool, rainy, long spring, we had a few days of 80s and low 90s and then back to cooler and some rain here and there.
Our little corner of the country is unusual in that, I read, so I'm sure for those of you who've been sweltering for a couple months now, 60s and rain seems like a good thing!
It all comes back to perspective, right? I love it warm and want to see the sun when I get up and most of our mornings start out gray and drab. Our time will come, though!
My list of good things this month starts with a summertime activity we were able to squeeze in before the cooler weather came back, an iPhone hack I discovered to ID plants, healthy pet treats, produce bags that actually do help keep some things fresher longer, and the books I read and things I watched in June.
I hope you'll share some good things with me, too!
We caught a good weather weekend when we visited my folks in LaPine in central Oregon.
We got to kayak while our daughter used her inflatable paddle board on a beautiful late morning in central Oregon. We started at Sheep's Bridge and then made our way to Wickiup Reservoir.
It was SO good to be on the water again, see the mountains around us, the birds flying (including a bald eagle) and just enjoy life.
iPhone Plant ID Tip
I was so excited to read about this feature in the newest iPhone updates (I think it was the one before last, but I didn't know about this part of it) - you can use the information icon under a photo to ID certain things like places of interests and...plants!
I had used this while in Ireland to look up names of the castles we saw (it was about 50-50 accuracy), but didn't know this could be used for flowers and plants, too.
Here's how to do it:
- Take a photo of the plant you want to identify.
- Go to your photo and pull up the picture.
- At the bottom you will see a blue circle with an 'i' inside it.
- If it's a plain circle, there is no identification available.
- If it has a couple stars to the upper left of the circle, tap the circle and it will take you to an identification page - tap the "Look Up" and you will be taken to the results page like the one you see above.
It's not 100%, but so far on par with any special plant app I've tried - you can see above that the first option isn't right, but the second is the latin name of the Peace Lily, which is what the plant is.
I haven't really been happy with plant apps and this is so easy and convenient that I think I will be using it a lot, especially with identifying weeds, lol.
Have you used this feature?
Shameless Pets at Grove
We've been giving our dog, Jynx, single ingredient treats of liver and salmon for a long time to entice her to eat and train her.
But her favorite is what I call her "healthy junk food" just because it has more ingredients - Shameless Pets 'Salmon Says Butternut' jerky.
When she's not eating well (little dog issues - the opposite of our dog, Samson, who we had to slow down eating!), I crumble a bit of this on top then she'll eat.
Needless to say, I would prefer not to be out of it, but when Imperfect Foods stopped carrying it, I had to order from Chewy and pay shipping or order a lot more than I needed (Amazon carries them, but they are a LOT more expensive).
So I was pleased to see that Grove is now carrying Shameless Pets treats at about the same price as chewy, but since I order other things from them, I don't pay shipping.
This is SO convenient just to add a bag to my regular order from Grove (usually laundry soap, dishwasher detergent, walnut sponges, and things like that), rather than make a whole separate order.
Just thought anyone with pets might like to know there are options on Grove, too! (Psst: if you haven't ordered from Grove before, which I love for their commitment to be plastic free, you can get a free gift set here with your first order!)
Bags That Keep Produce Fresh Longer
I stumbled on these Produce GreenBags while searching for something else on Amazon and the reviews and price enticed me to try them.
I've been using them for about a month now, and thought I'd share with you my results - they've been very good for some things, and not for others.
- The bags are thick and easily washable and reusable. I can see these lasting for years.
- There are three sizes and the bags are big enough for huge heads of lettuce and cabbage - the things that standard ziplocks can't hold (the other bags I wash and reuse).
- So far they've worked REALLY well for zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, apples and cabbage. Like, the zucchini I forgot about for two weeks didn't have any soft or slimy areas which would've been for sure in a regular plastic bag or shriveled in the mesh-type bags. I've kept whole peppers in them for more than a week and they weren't shriveled or soft.
- I thought the price was very good when compared with other similar bags - there are quite a few in the package.
- Storing the bags is tricky - they are slick when they come and after you've used them they are rather bulky. So far I'm using an old baggie box to hold them, but I'd like to find something better.
- They DO NOT work for leafy greens! All the greens I've tried (lettuce, kale, spinach) have been wilted after a day or two, almost like I just threw them in the fridge with no protection. I did read that some say leafy greens will work in the bags if completely dry and the bags left open to breathe, but there's no way I can make sure they are completely dry.
Based on my (unscientific) observations, I DO recommend them, since I love having bags that are big enough for large produce and keep some things fresher for longer.
You just have to know what to use them with and what not to - and I think just knowing I can keep zucchini from getting all slimy longer is a win for me!
Once Upon a Wardrobe, Patti Callahan. I loved Patti Callahan's Becoming Mrs. Lewis, so I picked up this book as soon as I saw it. It's a clever combo of fiction and real life where the main character is a college-aged girl at Oxford who's little brother is ill and they read CS Lewis's 'The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe' together. Her brother then wants to know more about the story and author and so she contacts CS Lewis and comes to know more about the story - and life - through her encounters. While not as good (IMO) as Becoming Mrs. Lewis, it was a fun story that I really enjoyed.
Another Gospel? Alisa Childers. This book was written by a former member of the Christian group, Zoe Girl, who has since gone on to become a Biblical apologist with a podcast and now a book. This book is about her experience with a progressive church and how it spurred her to dig deep into the Bible, take classes, and solidify her faith with knowledge. There were shocking things that Christians she encountered said they believed (or didn't believe) and her book goes into depth on the truth of the Bible. I am so glad I read this - I learned a lot and it helped solidify my faith as well.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, Hank Green. Brian and I listened to this book together, as I thought it would be a fun sci-fi story. It begins when tall metal-like statues appear in major cities all over the world at the same time and the girl in New York who's the first to put a video up about it on social media. We thought it would be about the sci-fi story - what were the statues and how did they get here - but it was more about what happens to a person when they "go viral." It was okay, but we're not interested in reading the second book.
Book Lovers, Emily Henry. This is the newest book by Emily Henry and is getting a lot of buzz this summer about being a perfect summer book. It was okay - I actually enjoyed her 'Beach Read' book more - the characters there seemed more real to me. I thought this would be about people who bonded over books, but they were book editors, so maybe they liked books, but that's not what the "book lovers" part was about. It is still a fun read if you just want to escape a bit (and it does have a HEA, though I was worried about it for a bit at the end there, lol).
Where the Rhythm Takes You, Sarah Dass. I should've taken a clue from the wording on this book, 'inspired by Persuasion' rather than a retelling of Persuasion because I had a hard time seeing anything of Persuasion in it (which is my favorite Jane Austen book). And the characters are WAY too young for me to believe the concept - they were high school sweethearts who didn't communicate well and were separated. But they are still just 17...please. Still, it was lighthearted and took place on the island of Tobago, which is a fun, different setting for me. I do have to say that it was super repetitive (the main characters feelings over and over) so that I skipped a whole 3-hr section in the audio book and never even noticed it in the ending!
Happiness For Beginners, Katherine Center. This was a novel that surprised me - I thought I would enjoy the premise and the fish-out-of-water theme which is a favorite of mine (city girl signs up for a rugged outdoor experience). And I did - but it became about so much more, really exploring some depths of life experience enough that we could see and understand the characters growth through the story. I've read good things about this author and this was my first book of hers - and it won't be my last.
Vanderbilt, Anderson Cooper. This kind of history-memoir is a favorite of mine, and being written by the son of Gloria Vanderbilt meant it included some personal anecdotes and observations. Some of the information was jaw-dropping to me - the amount they spent on their houses that were then sold just 40-50 years later for just the land, or the amount in today's money the children inherited and spent. Just wow.
American Royals, Katharine McGee. Here's another lighthearted read (it's summer!) that I picked up because the idea of an alternate history where Washington became the first king instead of president was really intriguing to me. Sadly, it was more about the young royals behaving - either good or bad - and their friends and how it plays out on social media. I think I would like the story starting from the beginning so it would read more like history, lol.
Top Gun: Maverick. We saw this only after reading the good reviews and we were really impressed with the flying and stunts that weren't green screen. It made things feel so much more real. It was a "on the edge of your seat" type of movie, which was fun, and it did a good job of bringing more to the story than just a rehash of the first movie.
Tick, Tick…Boom, Netflix. I didn't really know much about this movie before watching, other than it was directed my Lin-Manuel Miranda and starred Andrew Garfield singing the songs. It's sort of a memoir told in song and is based on an off-broadway play that Jonathan Larson made before composing his award-winning play, Rent. We really enjoyed it, though it is sad.
Jerry and Marge Go Large, Paramount+. What a fun, fun movie! And based on a real story of a recently retired man who discovered a flaw in the state lottery game that was legal and allowed him to win. I love how his wife started helping him and it was their "thing" to do together. They went on to win for years, sharing the proceeds with family and friends and helping revitalize their small town.
Hustle, Netflix. This is about basketball (the name sounded like something totally different, lol) and stars Adam Sandler in a dramatic roll. It's being touted as the best movie about basketball ever and features a ton of real-life basketball players. The story is really good, even for someone who doesn't follow basketball, and is a definite feel-good movie.
Night Sky, Amazon (8 episodes). This series stars the amazing Sissy Spacek and JK Simmons as an older couple navigating old age and grief - with the addition of an otherworldly portal that allows them to travel to another planet. This is a slow meditation on relationships, growing old, and mental illness, with a bit of sci-fi mystery thrown in - in other words, pretty clever.
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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