A monthly list of good things to see, buy, read and watch.
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I keep reading things like "January had 74 days" that people keep posting to show how long the month seemed.
I don't know - it seemed like a normal January to me. It always seems slower after November and December, but I kind of enjoy the slow and quiet after all the hubbub.
And of course, if you've been caught in a lot of snow and below freezing temperatures, then there's cabin fever and the month may have indeed felt loooong. Thankfully, we get cold temps sometimes, but not much in the way of snow.
Anyway, all that to say it is time to say goodbye to January and hello to February which is actually a literal short month -yay.
So let's get to some good things!
Good Things List
Growing Baby Lettuce Indoors
After years of thinking about growing lettuce indoors during the winter (and seeing a head of lettuce for $8.99!), I finally got a tray started and was surprised at how little time it took to plant AND how quickly the seeds sprouted (the photo above was taken on day 9, but the seeds were coming up by day 3).
Here's the easy steps I took to grow lettuce seeds indoors - and you can, too:
- Hung a short fluorescent light on a tiered greenhouse that I set upstairs on our landing. You can also hand the light under a cabinet. These are both in my Amazon gardening shop.
- Use a seed starting tray - the kind with no holes that normally hold your cells and pots like these 20-inch trays or these slightly shorter trays to be the water-tight base for your smaller containers.
- Grab a 13x9 inch foil pan from the dollar store and poke holes in the bottom of it for drainage. I used a small screwdriver.
- Fill the foil pan with moist sterile seed starting mix to the top and set the pan in the seed starting tray, saving a couple handfuls for topping the seeds. (It's important to moisten the seed mix thoroughly - that stuff is dry.) Note: You can use a quality potting soil mix as well, and it may be better to feed the starts. I will probably be feeding these with a liquid fish fertilizer.
- Sprinkle baby lettuce seeds (I used this variety from Botanical Interests) evenly over the soil (no need for rows or anything!) and then sprinkle with the soil saved over the top to just barely cover the seeds.
- Use a gentle spray from the faucet to water in from the top down.
- Place the tray under the lights (I didn't cover the tray). Set the light timer to be 16 hours on and 8 off.
This took me about 20 minutes, including rounding up all the materials which will only happen once this season. Can you believe it?
In a few minutes of time with some checking and watering every couple of days for a few weeks we can have fresh, cheap, safe greens in the winter? WHY haven't I done this before?
We will be able to cut this a few times (aka, "cut and come again"), letting it regrow between cuttings. My plan is to start another pan after the second cutting and try to keep us in baby lettuces until I need the lights to start my outdoor seedlings for spring.
Have you grown lettuce for salads indoors in the winter before?
A Fun Feature
No, that's not an ad above, lol - I was asked to be a part of Go Solo's Entrepreneur Stories by answering a few interview questions and the image above is from the feature on their site.
GoSolo's list of entrepreneurship stories gives a little insight into the lives of the business owners and some of what their path to success has looked like. If you are interested in starting a business, checking out these stories is both inspirational and educational.
I'm always honored to be asked to participate in things like this - and they often cause me to really think about my business and where it is vs. where I started. And here's what I come away with: gratefulness. Thank YOU for reading, using the site, and following along!
New Closet Baskets
I have been looking since we moved to the farmhouse almost two years ago for a few specific baskets to replace a mishmash of cardboard, plastic, and old canvas boxes. It wasn't horrible looking, but bugged me everyday (and I'm big on making what you see and use beautiful, not just what other people see).
But, sheesh, why are simple baskets so expensive?? $12-25 for one is the going rate and I needed four of one size and one of a larger size. So I spent a lot of time searching thrift stores (a big no - I needed a certain size which is always a sticking point at thrift stores, plus wanting four of the same) and discount stores (not much discount).
I finally bit the bullet and just ordered them! The long, shallower basket you see above replaced a plastic under-the-bed bin that hung over the shelf. It holds my hats and garden/workout clothes and it's SO much better.
I found it at Target for under $20, so was pretty happy about that.
The four bins I needed for Brian's clothes were harder to find since our shelves are twelve inches long but only ten inches high.
I actually ordered a set probably six months ago that I returned because they were so floppy, so I knew I was looking for sturdy bins that had a metal frame.
Buying these hyacinth baskets in a set of four brought them down to less than $12 each when got them and they are a nice sturdy basket with a metal frame.
They do the job and look WAY better doing it. Plus I'm so glad to not have that bugging me every time I walk into the closet!
Who Do I Think I Am? Stories of Chola Wishes and Caviar Dreams, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes. We love the comedy of Anjelah Johnson-Reyes - it's the kind of real-life observations told from her point of view, similar to what we enjoy in comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Jim Gaffigan, plus it's always clean. So when her new book came out, I grabbed it with an Audible credit and Brian and I listened to it together. Overall it's a very good book, with the stories from her growing up and her path to success the best parts (she was a regular extra on Friends during it's last season and things like that). We were so impressed with how honest she was about her faith and how she worked to live it out in a profession that doesn't make it easy. Sadly, by the end of the book she pretty much throws her faith under the bus, stating that she now views the Bible as just some stories to learn from, wishes she hadn't waited until marriage to have sex, feels liberated to swear among her friends, and tells how freeing it is to "deconstruct" her faith. I just wanted to hug her and let her know it was all good how she lived her faith before. (And that she needs to read Alisa Childers book below...)
Grave Descend, Michael Crichton writing as John Lange. This was another book Brian and I listened to together, one of Michael Crichton's early books that he wrote under a pen name (I assume because he was still working as an ER doctor?). It's a short book that's set in Jamaica about a diver hired to find a sunken yacht by people that don't quite add up to him. There's lots of questions, twists and turns and you can see the writer he will become as he really takes you into the area and places with his words. But it was just ho-hum and there was a big plot hole that we just couldn't get around (sinking a 2 million yacht for 1 million in diamonds??). Still a fun listen.
Live Your Truth (and Other Lies), Alisa Childers. This book is so timely! Alisa is speaking right where we are in this cultural moment and helps Christians to decipher what we hear in the news, books, and social media that may sound good, but ultimately are lies that will only hurt us in the end. Specifically how "live your truth" and "you are the boss of you" put ourselves on the throne which can only lead to anxiety and unhappiness. If you follow Jesus, HE is the boss of you and He says the Bible is also the boss. I wrote this quote in my Book Journal:
"The Bible isn't about you, or me either, it's not simply a book of wisdom to help guide us through life, nor an ancient spiritual travel journal written by people who were just doing their best to understand God...the Bible is a book about God. More specifically, it's a book about Jesus. It reveals the nature and character of God, His plan of salvation and His overarching history of the world."
She ends the book with: "Your truth doesn't exist. Your truth won't bring hope or save anyone...Truth is a person and He is your reward." Amen and Amen.
Death at La Fenice (Commissario Brunetti Mysteries, Book 1), Donna Leon. A reader suggested I read this mystery series after having branched into the genre a few years ago with the Three Pines stories and Maisie Dobbs. This was a decent mystery (though distasteful/icky when the victim's background was uncovered), and I can see how the author started introducing characters that will continue throughout the series. For me, though, it just didn't click. I never really felt I came to know the main character or his family. He seemed to work alone, so there was no friend angle to get to know him better. There's a lot of description of the city (Venice) versus other cities and I just didn't get these allusions (it's better than, people talk different, how they are viewed...etc.). This is just me, though - it's definitely worth a try if you enjoy the "cozy" type procedural mysteries.
How It Went, Wendell Berry. This book was a Christmas gift from Brian that I asked for - it's the most recent of Berry's Port William stories, this one centering around Andy Catlett's remembrances throughout his life. I think I've read all the Port William books (Hannah Coulter remains my fav), so it's lovely to visit the fictional town again and see the way everyone helps each other, grows together and their love for the land. There's humor, sadness, love and death - just like our lives - with the overarching ache for a land and time that used to be. This quote on the Amazon book page sums it up:
"Wendell Berry is one of our greatest living American authors, writing with the wisdom of maturity and the incandescence that comes of love."
The Modern Scholar Course: Medieval Mysteries: The History Behind the Myths of the Middle Ages, Prof. Thomas E. Madden. (How did Brian and I listen to three books together in a month? The Anjelah Johnson book was mostly listened to in December, the Micheal Crichton was a fairly short book and this one is a "great courses" type book of lectures, so fairly short, too). We were both amazed at what we learned in this book - what we had assumed was true and wasn't about the middle ages. The professor starts with King Arthur and goes through all the history that can be found that he may have existed on a much smaller scale and how the story grew and grew through the years, all the way to our current books and movies about him.
We learned that Robin Hood as we know him didn't exist, but there may have been someone on a smaller scale, like for Arthur. Also, there was no such thing as a chastity belt - the ones in museums are fakes from a later period! (And when you think about it - how could that actually have been a thing, physically-wise??). There was no "right of first night" and the inquisition wasn't nearly as what we've been led to believe (a lot of it was Renaissance era writers trying to paint the middle ages as ignorant). He ends with the Shroud of Turin, but just tries to trace it's history since it's an artifact that actually can't be explained even with modern technology(!). This kind of stuff is so interesting to both of us - if you enjoy history, try to find this or something similar.
A Man Called Otto, theater. I read the book this movie is based on, A Man Called Ove, and Brian watched the Swedish movie of the same name with me, so when I saw that Tom hanks was starring in an American version, I knew I'd want to see it. We both really enjoyed it - the female neighbor costar pretty much steals the show, she is so good. It hit all the right notes for us and followed the book as closely as it could while being set in America. If you like movies that are both happy and sad and full of hope and love, then this is for you.
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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Carol Johnson says
Thank you Jami for reviewing Live Your Life (and other lies). I know you probably will get some negative comments, but that usually happens when we share our faith. As one sister to another, I’m praying for you.
Thank you so much, Carol!