A monthly list of good things to do, buy, read, watch, and more.
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Welcome to November – the official start of the holiday season! Have you downloaded your free Holiday Planner to help you decide the most important things you want to do? It’s also a great way to track what you did and liked (and didn’t like), what you made, gifts you gave (we don’t want repeats, right?), and the foods you ate.
While planning and writing everything down seems like it wouldn’t be as simple as a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach, I feel the same about the holidays as I do about planning for life (using my Flexible Planner, of course!) – I do not want to look back and realize I was just reacting to life. When I let life just happen to me, all that seems to get accomplished are the little urgent tasks and I lose sight of the big picture. That has happened so many years to me at the holidays – thinking I had to do.all.the.things.
Taking time to plan helps me focus, talk with my family about what they like, and prioritize the things we enjoy while dumping the things we don’t. I hope the planner helps you do the same thing, too!
On to this month’s good things, which include some travel, my 2018 Christmas decor plan (there’s that planning thing again, ha!), the most comfortable boots I’ve ever owned, the books I read and things we watched. I hope you find something inspiring on this list!
Good Things List:
At the end of the month, Brian and I made a 2-week travel loop from Oregon to Cincinnati, Ohio and then on to Arizona for our annual visit with my Dad. We visited old friends in Ohio and they took us to what they described as “the Disneyland of grocery stores” – Jungle Jim’s International Market (there are two in the Cincy area and we went to the second location).
In case you think that’s an odd place to take visitors, let me assure you it’s not your regular grocery store! It has it’s own Wikipedia page where you can see some of the shows and publications where it’s been featured. The owner has purchased lots of things to make the store a visually fun place to be, like the monorail and the gorilla at the entrance above. Inside the store there is a full sized car, boat, firetruck, and so much more – I can’t even remember.
The thing I do remember, though, is the huge variety of foods available in this giant store. They don’t just have an Asian section – it’s broken down into Japan, Korea, China, Vietnam, Thailand, etc. Same with other parts of the world – if there’s a cuisine, you can find the ingredients here. There’s a huge fresh seafood area with fish on ice and in huge tanks that reminded me of Seattle’s Pike Place Market – in landlocked Ohio! Plus every type of fresh produce you can imagine, from all over the world.
And the samples! We pretty much ate lunch there. There is a little theater where you can sit to watch the story of how the store came to be (it started back in the 70s) and the doors to the bathroom (made to look like port-a-potties) have been featured in a lot of places. They also have 29 cash registers (the most I’ve seen) and our friends said there are times when all of them are in use.
It was a really fun place to visit – I just wish I had room in my carryon for more than the chocolate and sausage we ended up buying since their prices were also pretty good. I highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area. Anyone lucky enough to be able to shop there regularly?
It’s time for the 2018 Christmas Decor Plan! For the last few years I’ve liked to put together a simple plan for anything new I’d like to add to our Christmas decorations, both to help me plan and to maybe offer you a bit of inspiration. (Hint: you can pin the image above to your Christmas boards to remember!)
This year I’m building off the galvanized theme of last year and adding black buffalo check, a darker green, frosted leaves like lamb’s ear and eucalyptus, and touches of gold. The items pictured above are things I’ve bought or already have that will work together to create this year’s tabletop, shelves, tree, and soft decor. I still don’t have a mantel to decoration, so I’ll be getting creative with where to put things.
Here are the items shown above with links (left to right, each row):
- Buffalo Check Pillows.
- Small Galvanized Houses – I made some last year that I will be using again. Here is where you can buy similar.
- Lamb’s Ear Garland.
- Joy to The World Wood Sign.
- Galvanized Metal Bottle Caddy (no longer available) from Hobby Lobby.
- Slim Gold Candlesticks. The link is similar to the ones I already have – also look at thrift stores.
- Galvanized Tags.
- Buffalo Check Ribbon.
- Frosted Leaves & Pearl Garland.
- Green Cotton Tablecloth. I bought this from H&M Home, but it’s no longer available in this color. Here’s a similar one.
- Galvanized Holiday Greens Container.
- Bottle Brush Trees (plus regular small faux trees). I have a collection, you can find similar here.
- 12 Buffalo Check Napkins.
I’m not trying to push – I know it’s just the beginning of November – but I want to get the plan out there so if you see something you’d like to add to your decor, there’s time to get it. I won’t be decorating until the end of the month – don’t worry, I’m all about enjoying Thanksgiving! So stay tuned to see how I use all these items in our home.
The MOST comfortable bootie! I had given up on finding comfortable booties, just wearing the two I had for short periods of time before the toe-rubbing got too bad. But my brown bootie was falling apart and I had a DSW reward, so I started looking on their site. I found this Me Too Zoey Bootie and the reviews were amazing with almost everyone saying it’s the most comfortable bootie ever.
I ordered them and you count me just as amazed! Straight out of the box I wore them for a couple hours around the house and couldn’t believe how comfortable they were – no pinching or rubbing. Then guess what? I wore them on our trip, through day-long airport travel which included a lot of fast walking and sometimes running, as plane travel often does. They are SO wonderful – no pinched toes ever. I immediately tried to order a black pair, but they were out of stock. As I was putting this list together I saw they are back in stock, so hurry if you’re looking for comfortable booties! (Note: I wear a size 9 pretty consistently and the 9 fit great so they run true to size).
I’m up to 71 books read in 2018 – I think I can safely make a goal of 75 books a year from hear on out, since my goal of 50 was met awhile ago!
It was an interesting month for reading for me. I returned my first book ever to Audible because I was so disappointed with it, I was disturbed by a classic book I thought would be wonderful, and completely inspired by an older memoir I had only see the movie of. Obviously I’d love your take on any of these – did I miss something or am I not alone in these feelings?
To Sir With Love, Rick Braithwaite. This popped up in my library app and I remembered really enjoying the classic Sydney Poitier movie so I decided to listen to it while gardening. I was completely inspired by this book! It’s a memoir set in the years after WWII as Rick Braithwaite tried to find a job in England after serving in the armed forces during the war. He is discriminated against because of his color and ends up taking a job teaching in a rough area where it’s hard to keep teachers. His ability to see the students as people capable of bigger things is what I found so inspiring, as well as his determination not to be beaten down by his circumstances. He does his best in a hard job, which I found refreshing.
The Search for God, C.S. Lewis. This is one more in the series of audio books I’m listening to in the mornings of C.S. Lewis’s talks and essays. There are so many “ah-ha” moments in these published essays – and this collection focuses on his theology, answering questions such as “What are we to make of Jesus?” (“There is no question of what we can make of Him; it is entirely a question of what He intends to make of us. You must accept or reject the story.”), thoughts on evolution, and classics like “God in the Dock.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck. I was so looking forward to this book. I had read that John Steinbeck viewed it as his favorite book and that it was full of Biblical symbolism – and I liked Grapes of Wrath. This book does get you from the first page – there is no doubt that Steinbeck is a great writer. But as I read, I was more and more disturbed by the images, the meanness, violence, and sociopathy. After about 3/4 of the way through, I gave up and skimmed the rest, reading the ending to see if there was some sort of redemption. There is a little bit. I don’t feel it made up for what came before and the wish to unsee some of the scenes. I’m sure some of you have read it – thoughts?
The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson. This goes down in my reading history as the first book I returned to Audible because I disliked it so much. It’s one of those dark humor books where you’re supposed to laugh at death and poor decisions. Over and over. It was too much in scope, trying to be a Forest Gump type story where this old man just happened to be in every major political moment in the past 50 years. And too much tongue-in-cheek, as in eye-roll obvious. Feel free to contradict me if you felt differently!
The Masterpiece, Francine Rivers. I’ve really only read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (which is one of my all-time favorite books), but I was able to get this on an Audible sale and started listening to it on the plane. Rivers is a really good writer, drawing you in from the first page like the Steinbeck book. In this case, I enjoyed the whole book and tried to find any time I could to listen. The main characters were very real to me and I was rooting for them the whole time. I’m not sure how to feel about the second half of the book where she got into a lot of heaven and hell symbolism (to the point demons were grabbing the lead guy’s leg to pull him down…and he had a wound and permanent limp later). And I wonder if the change in this character was a little too much, too soon after accepting Christ. But all-in-all, a good book I’d recommend.
The Good Place – NBC, (Past episodes are on Netflix, and Hulu). As Christians, we rolled our eyes when saw the trailers for this show when it came out a couple years ago. It seemed like another Hollywood attempt to laugh and demean anyone who believes in God. Then we started reading how good it was. How refreshing. How clean – a show about people trying to be better people. Huh? This article convinced us to give it a try. And we agree. There is still some obviously wrong theology going on here, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s clever and funny and really pokes fun at people who are self-centered and mean to others. It also is a bit intellectual, talking about philosophy and ethics and how to apply it to life. If you’ve watched, I’d love to know what you think!
The Good Cop – Netflix. I admit we watched the first episode of this (after hearing from our daughter that she read it wasn’t good) just to see Josh Groban act. He’s pretty good – and we actually like the show! The Tony Danza character can be annoying, but the old-fashioned production and the light stories (no gore or yucky police stuff) make it fun to watch. A Netflix show safe to watch with kids – who knew?
Homecoming – Amazon. Brian and I listened to this podcast last year and really liked it – it’s a puzzle thriller and was so well done. It was like listening to the old radio shows of the past. I wondered how it would adapt to a TV show. We’ve watched a couple episodes so far and it’s pretty good. It jumps back and forth in time with a wide screen showing the past and a narrower screen for present time. Julia Roberts does a fantastic job, though I do wonder why David Schwimmer wasn’t kept as the Colin character – I think he did just as well as the actor they hired instead.
The Romanoff’s – Amazon. We only watched one episode of this. It’s slow and odd – nothing about the Romanoff’s is mentioned and the episodes are all stand-alone with no characters repeating. Not really for us. Did you try it and like it?
We saw the newest remake of A Star is Born with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. It was really well done and I loved the concert scenes that I read were filmed before live concert audiences that were there to see Lady Gaga. It made it very real. The story is the same, so pretty sad – and I do wonder why they keep remaking it. The songs were nice, too and while there was swearing (we can’t seem to get away from the f-bombs, can we?), there was little of anything else to make you uncomfortable. Would love to know what you thought if you saw it!
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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