A monthly list of good things to see, buy, read and watch.
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.
Welcome to November! For us here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon we've finally gotten measurable rain (with nothing but rain in the 10-day forecast), so it's seeming like fall at last.
Just in time to start thinking about Christmas and winter, ha!
Ah well, November has many things going for it - I love the focus on gratitude that comes with the Thanksgiving holiday and the colors of the trees around us as they fully embrace their life cycle before letting the leaves go.
Creating menus with hearty soups and homemade bread is a benefit of the cooler weather, too. If I'm all about salads in the warmer months, I'm also happy to eat soups, stews, and chilis most of the colder months.
Okay, on to this month's good things!
Gravel in the Garden
After getting the cement walkways, retaining wall, and stairs, the next job was to lay gravel in this sunken area next to the house including the deer resistant flower garden paths and a new large patio for a fire pit area.
We've been working all month building rock walls and beds, moving and planting herbs and shrubs, scraping up the previous wood chip path, and laying heavy duty plastic - all trying to beat the rain from making the area a huge mud pit (which we just did!).
The view above is from the farmhouse's back door - it's so neat and tidy now! Whatever will we do with out the rocks and boards to trip over or slick plastic to slide on?
The view above is from the walkway to the front door. Now this whole sunken area is defined by the cement walkways that start from the front door and go around to the back - it just makes so much sense now.
You'd think I planned it all carefully, but no - it just happened in stages and now that I see it I'm so glad it all worked out.
If some of you remember me talking about our mole problem and not wanting to do gravel (hard to fix when moles burst through with all their dirt), we decided to lay the thickest plastic we could find and not skimp on the gravel. We laid a full 2-3 inches everywhere, especially the bed edges where they tend to come up.
We're hoping the heaviness will keep the moles confined to the bed areas and moving on through. We'll see.
Next month I hope to be able to show you the fire pit area with chairs and our new pit/stove!
New, Larger Living Room Rug
Oh, man, you won't believe how long I've shopped and thought about a better, larger rug for the living room. More than a year, I think.
I'd search styles, colors, and materials (I prefer natural fabrics like wool and jute), then get frustrated with the lack of choices and high price and ignore it for months.
Then the cycle would repeat.
Here's what I needed:
- 9x12' size - the previous 8x10' fit all the front legs of the furniture so it didn't float in the middle, but it just didn't fill up the room like it could have. It made the living room part of the main room feel small.
- Lots of colors to cover up the dirt and wear we create, but NOT blue, gray, or red (which seem to be in most rugs). The lighter rugs I'd gone with previously always looked dirty really quick and were hard to clean.
- Easy care. The jute rugs I've had are NOT easy to clean and take forever to dry. I have a jute-wool combo that shows everything and again isn't easy to clean.
- Not cost an arm and a leg. Natural fiber oriental rugs (pretty much the style I need to have lots of colors) are thousands of dollars. Ouch.
I kept going back to the colors in this Instagram darling rug I'd see everywhere - olive, tan, black, and rust. It's been around awhile and so had some great reviews as to the color and how it wears.
It's not a natural fiber, but it didn't smell or anything. It is really thin, which I knew, so to make it softer I purchased a 1/4-inch 100% felt rug made in the USA with no glues, pvc, or latex.
I do love it - the bigger size is perfection, as well as the colors. The slightly distressed look will go a long way to hiding wear over the years, as will the darker multi colors.
The price for this rug is all over the place (from $600+ to less than $300 sometimes). I purchased it at the lowest price I could find, which seems to be at the lower end for polyester rugs this size.
I really think it just makes the room!
Here is the link to where I bought mine - it shipped quickly, too:
Now I just need to decide on a couch - another issue I've been debating for a year or more and that definitely do not ship quickly.
Is This Anything, Jerry Seinfeld.
Brian and I listened to this in the car and it was so funny - we just always enjoy Jerry Seinfeld and this was no different. This is a collection of jokes that he's kept in folders throughout his career and it's structured by decades. In the audio there is a woman with an English accent that introduces each joke theme which was completely unnecessary and distracted from the audio experience, but it didn't diminish the humor. And we both just loved having something fun and lighthearted to listen to.
All Fired Up, Dylan Newton.
This was a follow up to the lighthearted romance I read last month, How Sweet It Is, with the best friend in that book as the heroine in this story who becomes involved with the brother of her friend's sister (so two characters from the first book). It as just okay, though there was the nice happy ending - oh and the title refers to the male lead's occupation as a ceramics studio owner. I just never really connected with this character and there weren't as many laugh-out-loud scenes as the first book. It was nice to have extended time with the first book's main characters though (they have a baby we're there for) though I probably won't read anything else by this author.
Truly, Madly: Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier and the Romance of the Century, Stephen Galloway.
This was quite fascinating - I've always been saddened that the Olivier's marriage didn't last, the sad ending to Ms. Leigh's life and her struggles with mental illness in a time of misunderstanding when there wasn't a lot of treatment beyond shock therapy. Reading this with the insight of personal letters and friends (or children of friends, as many aren't alive anymore) gives a more thorough picture. Vivien was much more mentally ill than anyone was led to believe since that would've hurt her movies and plays. In so many ways it was so sad. It was also really interesting to hear about the movies and plays of the 30s through the 60s that they were involved in - I never realized how big a couple they were in the industry and society.
Henry VIII: King & Court, Alison Weir.
I got this audible edition on sale mainly because I love most anything by the historian Alison Weir. I've read and watched many things on Henry the VIII, including Weir's previous The Six Wives Of Henry VIII, so there wasn't a lot new here, although the background is always interesting and the emphasis on the court and the monetary expenses for even just feeding the number of people was staggering (all the numbers were put into modern day equivalents - wow). There were a few things she debunked from previous biographies like paintings that were seen as one person weren't.
It was very long, but easy to listen to during baking and gardening sessions.
Lucky Man, Michael J. Fox.
I couldn't believe I had never read this 2002 memoir before, as I had always wanted to. It was as good as I had hoped it would be with details about his growing up that helps understand some of his success later and about his TV and movie career, as well as of course his Parkinson's diagnosis at 29. Some revelations I've remembered: His middle name doesn't start with a J, he though it sounded good; he worked steadily his first three years and yet was hungry much of the time from lack of food; he was on Family Ties at the same time as he was shooting Back to The Future which resulted in 2-3 hours sleep a night for months - and so he doesn't really remember much of the shooting of the movie which happened at night. I really enjoyed his positive outlook on life, his diagnosis and all he has accomplished. Highly recommended if you're like me and haven't read it yet (I've got his most current book from 2020 on hold now).
The View Was Exhausting, Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta.
The premise of this sounded like the type of lighthearted romances I enjoy: a fake relationship turns not-so-fake after years of friendship. It was okay, but there weren't enough scenes of them together for me to really care one way or the other, though the theme of the main character's struggles as a British-Indian actress was interesting. And it took soooo lonnng for the heroine to see the truth of herself (pretty selfish) and come to grips with everything, that I kind of wanted to skip to the end about 3/4 through (there are also a couple of open door scenes that I fast-forwarded through).
Abbot Elementary Season 2, ABC/Hulu. I'm so glad this is back and still as funny as ever.
News of The World, Amazon. The book by Paulette Giles made our best books of the year list when Brian and I listened to it, so we've been waiting forever to see this adaptation with Tom Hanks. It was finally available to rent (it had only a buy option previously - I do NOT understand why they do that...), and it was really good. They changed a few things, especially the beginning and how they come to be traveling together, but overall it was like seeing the setting of the book come to life.
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.