A monthly list of good things to do, buy, read, watch, and more.
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Hello friends, how did May treat you? It was a good month for us with sweet family time around a number of birthdays (including mine!) and lots of surprising sunshine. Of course we're drier than we normally are in spring, so that means more watering sooner, but I'll take it!
I'm excited to share with you one of our top family traditions - game night. Ours doesn't really look like the recent movie, but it's just as fun and a great way to be sure you see people you want to see regularly. Also, one of the funniest texts ever - and from a stranger.
I bought a couple of things in May that were so good I wanted to share - 3 skirts for the price of 1, and 3 earrings for just a few dollars more than the price of 1 (gift idea alert!). And guess how many books I read last month? A LOT (you'll have to read to get the actual number, ha!) - and I'm sharing the best with you below - and the one highly-rated novel I couldn't finish, plus the TV shows I watched, and a cute movie.
Not the movie that I loved so much last month, but an actual game night at our house. Have I ever mentioned that we host a game night for our family twice a month? It's really one of our family's favorite traditions that we started years ago when the kids were in middle school and high school.
Originally it started as "grandma game night" because the kids and I wanted a regular time to get together with my mom who happens to love games. But then other family members joined in when the kids went to college. Now that they're both graduated, but still living in the area, they're coming again.
All this to say, it's ebbed and flowed a bit through the years but we've been going strong for almost 10 years now. It's been such a positive thing for us that I wanted to share how we do game night so that if you'd like to start this tradition you'd have some sort of starting point.
Here's what game night looks like in our house:
- We have game night every other Monday. Do any schedule that works for you - weekly, monthly or even every other month.
- We start between 6 and 6:30 (depending on work schedules)
- I make an easy dinner (think tacos, pulled pork, potato bar, soup or stew). While you could just do appetizers or have everyone bring something, I do dinner as a way to entice my kids to keep coming for some "mom food."
- We choose a game from our stash each week. Many times it's card games but we've also played Yatzee (this classic Yatzee is just like what we have!), Rummikub, Bananagrams, and Guestures.
- We end around 8:30.
Hopefully you'll catch a little inspiration from this, though I know that game nights have grown in popularity the last few years. In fact, when our family was trying to schedule a BBQ that also fell on game night in a group text, a wrong number chimed in who cracked us all up:
I love people with a good sense of humor, don't you?
I really like wearing skirts in the summer instead of shorts. They feel airier and I can choose knee-length which just looks a lot better on me. I needed a few for the summer and decided to try ThredUp again because:
- I hate shopping. Ugh, going to all those stores, looking through all the racks to find something, and trying on clothes - I am so over that being fun at all. And even though I love thrift stores, looking for specific things there always guarantees I won't find it.
- I'm cheap and would like to get the most for the least.
- I like the idea of buying used and helping the environment.
- ThredUp makes it really easy to search for specific things - sitting on my couch with a cup of tea!
I ordered the five skirts you see above and three fit nicely (I sent the other two back - it's free if you get store credit, so I used it to order a couple kimonos for summer, too). The white eyelet skirt second from right is an Ann Taylor and it was brand new with tags! There are a number of items like that and you can even search only for new if you'd prefer. You can also search only the brands you want to see, certain colors, sizes, and more.
All told, I got the three new skirts for just under $35, which is near to the price of a new skirt (at least a name brand like Ann Taylor). Plus the shopping was relaxing - definitely a win-win for me.
Have you shopped at ThredUp yet? Did you like it? If you haven't and you'd like to try it, you can use my referral link here to get $10 to spend on your first order.
Inexpensive Opal Round Stud Earrings
I just had to share these earrings I found on Amazon! I had a pair of white opal earrings I got years ago and when I lost one wanted to replace them. Most single pairs were around $10 and for just a few dollars more I could get this set of three in green, white and fire opals, which was a no-brainer for me. I knew I could keep them all or use some for gifts (which is what I did!). They come on separate cards, so it's easy to gift them, which is a great option.
The posts are brass coated with Rhodium, which is hypoallergenic. I've been wearing mine 24/7 since I got them and have no issues sleeping in them or with any reaction. Go here to see them if you'd like a great stud earring to either wear or gift.
Oh my gosh, I can't believe that I read and listened to 11 books in May - 11!! That's the most ever. A few of them were shorter business or self-help type books, but most were just regular books. I just really like listening to books now while I'm gardening and with the turn of weather, it's just easier to get in more reading.
Not all were great, but most were good with the exception of one book that is recommended everywhere that I put down (threw down?) mid-way through when I couldn't take it anymore. Here are the highlights:
Morning Star, Pierce Brown. Oh the stress of this last book in the Red Rising sci-fi series I gushed about here and here. Whew! Brian and I really enjoyed listening to the whole series together and the conclusion was satisfying. Apparently the author is writing another trilogy that picks up 10 years later and the first book in that series is out now. Our daughter read it and told us not to - it's depressing and not as character-driven as the first series. We're taking her advice because I liked where it ended want to remember it like that!
The Saturday Evening Girls Club, Jane Healy. Oh this was such a sweet book! It's the story of a group of four friends who are daughters of immigrants in early twentieth century Boston. They meet at a girls club and have stayed friends. It's just their story which is quiet and thoughtful while being interesting and life-affirming. I was really thrilled to learn after reading that it's based on a true girls club and some of the characters were actual people. The only downside was I felt the end kind of left us hanging about the girls' future and I read that the author doesn't plan a sequel. Oh well, I'll just have to use my imagination, ha!
You Learn By Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life, Eleanor Roosevelt. I had heard a lot about the wisdom in this book, so I picked it up for my kindle when it was on sale. It's a pretty quick read and some of the keys she talks about aren't very applicable to me (getting involved in politics...), but there are some gems here and a ton of common sense.
Emma: A Modern Retelling, Alexander McCall Smith. Some of the modern retellings in this current group of Jane Austen books by popular authors really haven't been my thing (I stopped Eligible after only the first 2 chapters...it was not clean) but I enjoyed this one. It was purely fun and a nice listen while gardening - and also thankfully clean.
The Angry Chef, Anthony Warner. I didn't know anything about this author, who apparently has a blog by the same name and is known for his, uh, colorful language about food fads and pseudo science that proliferates on the internet now. I read an article in The Guardian and bought the book based on that. While I do not agree with everything he says, could've done without his snarky attitude, and wish he didn't feel the need to swear, there were many things that were eye-opening in this book. Especially the origins of health practices and advice we take as solid truth because it's been repeated so often. I think it's important to read dissenting voices like this in the food climate we're living in because it seems like fad diets are the "it" thing these days.
If you know anything about my weight loss story you will know that I agree with this statement from the author's epilogue 100%:
Eating well is about pleasure, balance, and the creating of memories. It is a fine way to embellish the most important moments of our lives, adding richness and texture to precious times and enhancing moments of joy. The more we break food down, the more we try to define it by the chemicals it contains, the more we label items as clean, good, immoral, contaminated or pure, and the more we attach guilt or shame to our choices, the further away we get from the sensible, balanced relationship we need.
The Great Divorce, CS Lewis. I've started listening to CS Lewis books in the mornings as I get ready and while I've read a number of his books in the past, I've never read this allegory before. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it was not the easiest book to get into. Maybe because I was listening? It was hard for me to envision what he was describing many times. But I did totally get the people who were so caught up in whatever was their "thing" (sometimes a wrong done to them, a hurt, or a sin) that they weren't able to see the beauty before them to reach out and claim it. And I got that staying where you are just because it's what you know and are used to can get you into serious trouble. The moral for me was to be generous, kind, and look for the good, stepping out of your comfort zone often.
So...wondering about the book that I chose not to finish? Yeah, that would be The Kitchen House. I love history and historical fiction and can take bad things happening with the best of them - as long as it's realistic. I've read other slave-era books that were important and told the stories with both truth and hope. There was none of that in this book. It was just one terrible, terrible thing after another with no hope and no break - and not really a happy ending, either (I stopped about halfway and read the end, which made me glad I stopped). Seriously, it was relentless.
I know I'm not the only one who felt this way about the book, but I know I'm in the minority and that most people love it and some say it's their favorite book (um, sorry - try The Color Purple for a book that is both very realistic and yet hopeful). But there it is - I couldn't do it. I was just waiting for the next bad thing and then it would happen (she's swinging, of course she's going to fall and die...she will lose yet another child...the bad men will rape her...etc., etc....). I just don't have time for this in the world of books!
I started watching season 2 of The Crown in May and finished The Voice - I really liked Kelly Clarkson as a coach and was happy she was the first rookie coach to win a season! Any of the finalists could've won and I'd have been happy, they were all pretty good. Did you watch? What did you think?
We didn't make it to a theater to watch a movie in May, but we did see this really cute rom-com that my daughter recommended on Netflix - The Night We First Met. It's kind of an updated Groundhog's Day, except it's a magic photo booth that sends the lead actor back in time to try meeting his "soul mate" again. The ending may surprise 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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