A monthly list of good things to see, buy, read, watch, and more.
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Here we are in October - one small slide into November and the holidays, right?
I'm not quite ready to go there yet - there are still things I want to get done outside before the weather turns completely.
Especially because if we don't, we will be dealing with a mud pit (as you'll see below). That's motivation to get things done for sure!
There were some really good things for September - including six books read and reviewed below. As always, I'd love to hear about any good things you can share in the comments!
New Ladder Blanket to Hide Electrical Panel
When we extended the back of our farmhouse, we had to have the new electrical panel moved from the outside to the inside and the only place we could afford to have it moved was the new master bedroom.
I didn't realize how big it would be and originally thought I'd just hang a large painting or mirror to hide it.
But not only was it really too big for any print I would like, it also stuck out from the wall about an inch (don't ask - we couldn't figure out how to make it flush).
Enter a DIY blanket ladder:
It only took us a year and a half to get done, lol, but now that it's done, I'm loving it.
Brian used 1x4s to create a ladder that would reach to the top of the panel (none I found to buy were tall enough) and I stained, sanded, and finished it.
I'm so glad I did this instead of a print - I think it's more unique and brings warmth to the room - plus I can change out the blankets if I want for a new look.
Cement Poured in the Garden
After having the broken cement pad/retaining wall removed earlier in the summer we were finally able to finish the area with a new, simpler sidewalk-retaining wall to transition from the drive to the sunken garden.
I'm now able to finish off this area's rock wall beds and lay the gravel we want for a new fire pit area.
We also had a walkway and stairs added from our repositioned back door up to the cement pad where we park our cars (the dirt to the right is the area we need to cover to avoid a mud pit this winter).
This was probably the most exciting part of our cement process - no more dodging mud and puddles or slipping on black plastic on our way to the car!
It also finally helps make sense of our reconfigured back of the house (you can see the farmhouse renovation story here).
The other major area we added cement to was the front of the barn/shop. It had been a badly poured slab that didn't have any finished edges so was usually a weedy mess.
This looks cleaner, will function better, and can hold tables better for entertaining.
Now I can't wait to paint this, add classic 'X's' on the doors and generally make it look like a cute barn. That whole DIY domino effect is going on in my head for sure!
Grove Carpet & Upholstery Stain Remover
I was using this the other day and realized I've never talked about it here - and I should because I'm super happy with it!
If you own a small dog, you know it's hard to keep them off of furniture - much more than it was to keep our larger dog, Samson, off things.
We don't even try with our Maltese mix dog, Jynx, and so she leaves foot prints often on our lighter colored bedspread and couch cover, whether mud in the winter or just dirt in the summer.
This non-toxic stain remover from Grove gets them out every time and smells good doing it. I just soak the area with the spray, dab it a bit with a rag and when I come back after drying it's usually gone.
So far its worked on the dirt/mud situations as well as the occasional vomit (what is it about little dogs and vomit?). When we were potty training her, it removed the stains from accidents on our carpet as well.
You can go straight to the stain remover product page here, but if you're new to Grove, you can get a free gift set with your first order by using this link and then search for the stain remover.
Coraline, Neil Gaiman. Brian and I listened to this as we were driving throughout August because we just really enjoy Neil Gaiman's storytelling and his narration. The story about a girl who finds an alternate reality of her life behind a initially bricked-off door that's just a little off gets darker (of course, it's Gaiman), but never gets scary. We always know she will get out and save others, it's just how will she do it and what will she encounter along the way. Clever as always.
(Note: I will say we tried listening to The Sandman, Gaiman's classic graphic novel that's being turned into a series now and it was too dark for us, so we don't care for everything he writes even though it's all well done and clever. Our favorite remains Neverwhere, after that is The Ocean At The End Of The Lane - always on audio with his amazing narration.)
Rural Diaries, Hilarie Burton. This was totally not what I thought it would be when I bought it on a 2-for-1-credit sale from Audible. I thought it would be a story of starting a farm similar to some other books I've read.
This book is more of a memoir of some actors I didn't know (I had to look them up when I realized this about 1/4 of the way through) who left Hollywood for a large property in upstate NY and some of their experiences turning it into a farm. There's also the story of the small town life they found as well as a new business they acquired with another couple (Paul Rudd was part of that, and he I did know...). It was an okay read.
How Sweet It Is, Dylan Newton. This was just a fun, light romance though it was more open door than I expected (luckily this was an ebook, so I could skim!). An event planner for weddings is called in by her friend to help with a book launch of an author who writes horror, so not quite her specialty. There are a lot of funny scenes that are included with heavier issues and I thought it was balanced fairly well.
The First Men in the Moon, HG Wells. This was another book Brian and I listened to while driving around and it's one of those old books where you have to keep reminding yourself that none of the things HG Wells describes in this moon mission existed yet! The things he describes - creating a substance that was able to build a rocket-type round ship, what it was like to travel in zero gravity, what landing on the moon was like (though he thought you could breathe without help) - were so brilliant if you think about the fact that it as ALL new. Just amazing. There are people on the moon, well underneath the moon, which creates a lot of drama and tension. It was slow at parts, but overall very creative.
Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus.
I saw this book all over social media over the summer so I put a hold on it at the library and finally got it in September. I'm not sure what I was expecting - I think more of a chick-lit romance type book? This wasn't that. It was more a story of a strong woman in a time that didn't celebrate strong women. There were some hard to read moments (triggers for assault and early death), but seeing the lead character's resilience and how she opens up to people when it's not easy to her was inspiring.
Leaving Everything Most Loved (Maisie Dobbs 10), Jacquline Winspear. This wasn't my favorite book in the series, even though the mystery of the murder of two women from India in London was good and twisty. There was a lot more introspection from Maisie, especially about her wanting to travel alone and whether she should get married or not. I just think her fiancé was a saint to put up with her selfishness - she hardly ever thought about him or what it was like for him to be left dangling for years, just what things were like for her (and he had is nerve to be worried when she went off to meet dangerous people and almost get killed - sheesh).
Only Murders In the Building season 2, Hulu. Brian and I don't find this to be as good as the first season, but it's still fun watching Steve Martin and Martin Short together.
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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Hi Jami, I really enjoyed this newsletter! It was full of good things to think about and to do. I did buy the lotion bar because I struggle with split fingers all winter in our very dry climate in Northern NV. My doc told me that as women get older we tend towards a loss of vitamin D, especially in winter, and that contributes to the dryness.
About the pillows…I am not a fan. It’s purely a personal opinion but I think it looks too random and not seasonal decor.
I still have a ton to do in the garden. It’s still warm here so my greenhouse is loaded with tomatoes and we are still getting zucchini and cucumbers from the outdoor garden, as well as tons of lacuna to kale and Swiss chard. I am going to make the green tomato salsa recipe you sent earlier this week and I am freezing the heck out of the greens for winter. I’ve also found that your idea for shredding zucchini for freezing works amazing for one of our favorite winter comfort dinners- zucchini butter pasta. Did you already publish this recipe? I can’t remember where I hit it, but it has become one of our favorites. I also use zucchini butter on toast, like avocado toast, as a nice breakfast. I think it was originally a Julia Child’s recipe for the zucchini butter.
Anyhow, just wanted to send you a note to let you know how enjoyable this week’s newsletter was for me.
I'm so glad you found some good things here, Michelle! (see how I got that in there? Lol)
I didn't know that about vit. D - one more reason to take that vitamin.
I love that zucchini pasta, too - it was a Smitten Kitchen recipe I linked to in a newsletter, I think. Perfect use for frozen zucchini since it drains as it thaws!