Friday, April 19, 2019

Reading Recap: March Edition

We're more than halfway done with April (hello tax day) and March feels like a long time ago, but here I am with my March reading recap.  Better late than never, right? 

I know, I know, I'm getting to it

The beginning of March I was so excited!  31 days!  This would be my biggest reading month ever.  But it wasn't.  My March number (5) isn't the most I've ever read, but it was a quality month with a new lifetime favorite, a classic I hadn't read before, and the beginning of a new series I think I really like. 

So, without further are my March books:

A Gentleman in Moscow
I bought this book when it first came out after I finished The Rules of Civility.  It was such a buzz book then, and the buzz has never really faded.  I've always felt kind of guilty for ignoring it. 

I went to lunch with a friend and we were talking books and life.  I said I was looking for something good, but not super depressing or dark.  She said she just finished A Gentleman... and thought it would be perfect. 

If you haven't already read it, please do.  It's a beautiful story about a man who is sentenced to living out his days in a fancy hotel in Moscow.  The characters have my whole heart and Count Rostov encouraged me to be more adventurous, optimistic, and adaptable. 

I love Russian Literature so much so I totally should have known I would love this...the references to birches reminded me War and Peace and the grand ladies the Count knew in his youth brought back memories of Anna Karenina.  If you've never read Russian Lit or aren't a fan, don't let that deter you: this novel was a million times more accessible than some of the classics.  What are you waiting for?  Go read it, don't be stubborn like me.

You Can't Touch My Hair
My IRL (in real life) book club pick for the month.  At first, I loved this book.  The author doesn't shy from difficult conversations or swears.  She managed to teach me important things about race while also making me laugh/blush.  I would have really enjoyed more anecdotes about her life because every time she talked about her parents or her real life as an African American female stand up comedian I was riveted. 

I wouldn't give this book to my Grandmother, or my mom (aforementioned swears), but I was glad to have read it.  And, I completely agree with Robinson's thesis that if we ever get an Eagle Eye Cherry greatest hits cd it would only have Save Tonight seven times and that would be perfectly acceptable.  I would buy it. 

the GOAT

The Enchanted April
The Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club pick for the month. I had never heard of this book until it showed up in my Page One subscription box.  "Hmmm, that sounds interesting," I said, and then set it on the bookshelf.  This fell into the category of A Gentleman in Moscow, a safe book where nothing really tragic happens.  When my real life gets real stressful these are the books I seek out like a thirsty man in a desert looking for water. 

The premise of this book is some women go on vacation to Italy in 1920's.  Probably the real reason I set it aside when I got it is that my first thought was, "Yawn."  But it turned out to be a lovely, quiet novel that resonated with me.  I love to travel but sometimes I forget that I love it.  I forget that I like the broader perspective, the adventure, the relaxation, the FUN.  I usually only think about the work of travel (packing, packing, adjusting to time zones, packing, and then unpacking). 

Italian Garden > My Garden

This book should come with a warning ⚠️ Prepare for maximum saltiness if you read this book and you don't have a trip to Italy planned ⚠️  Because I did get kind of salty about my lack of travel plans. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
I listened to this because it was available.  This falls into the category of "books bookstagram can't stop talking about."  I got Daisy Jones and the Six which is by the same author, Taylor Jenkins Reid and also falls into the same category as Evelyn Hugo

I don't think I'm this kind of reader.  With each month I learn about what I do and do not like.  I don't like modern voice dressed up as quality fiction.  My take on this book is that it was written ok, I was never annoyed by the writing and the author made it compelling, but it lacked some depth and the insight felt forced or obvious.  The characters weren't likable (to me) and I got the impression that it was written to be a movie.

Not for me, but if you told me you like well written Hollywood dramas, I would totally recommend this.  And Now I'm reading Daisy Jones. I'm a sucker for all the hype.  🙄
Save the drama for your Mama

A Study in Scarlet Women
Another audiobook that I was mildly interested in and that was available.  I was pleasantly surprised by this novel.  It was a fun read with a female Sherlock.  

Charlotte was such a fantastic character and I really enjoyed having all my preconceptions ("let me guess...she hates people, super intelligent, with a penchant for drug abuse and belittling everyone around her") turned on their ear.   Charlotte wasn't a complete misanthrope.  She was dynamic and funny.  She also liked to eat and I was surprised by how refreshing that was.  


I will definitely be reading the second in the series, which is already on my shelf!  

Those are my March I better go get started on my April post...

What did you read in March?  Or, since that was such a long time ago, what are you reading now?  

April showers and all that jazz

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

What Saved My Life in March

Tracking what is saving my life each month gives me an extra boost of gratitude.  I highly recommend it.  Sometimes, I'll sit down with my journal and the dog at my feet and think, "Nothing.  There is nothing good right now."  And then I will tell myself, "Look around you and find something good."  And then--it's there, waiting for me to notice it.

March was a weird month.  Weird weather.  Weird feelings.  My husband traveled a ton and our family rhythms had to change. But weird isn't always synonymous with "bad," and this month found us laughing hard and making good changes. 

Here are the things that helped me through March:

Fish Oil
I have mixed feelings about supplements but I heard someone talking about the benefits of fish oil so I decided to give it a try.  The effects of this supplement are subtle, but I feel good and doing something positive for my health each morning has a great psychological benefit. 

Water Challenge
I joined a facebook water challenge.  The goal was to drink half your weight in ounces of water each day.  At first, this seemed like a ton of water.  It was.  But I did it.  And I'm still doing it.  My skin is clear, my appetite is manageable, and my pee is the right color.

The caveat to this challenge is that you wind up going to the bathroom so much more.  This was annoying in the beginning.  My body has adapted a bit and I now think the cost of spending a few more minutes in the bathroom is totally worth it. 

My husband scored a Roomba on sale during Black Friday.  I scoffed and said he was foolish for investing in a machine that won't clean well and will break.  I was wrong.

This little beauty is a lifesaver.  We have a big dog and lots of girls so there is hair everywhere.  I just hit a button and Rosie (named after the Jetson's robot maid) gets to work.  My only regret is that we didn't buy two--one for upstairs and one for downstairs.  God bless Roomba.

Michael's Craft Stores
I took the kids to Michael's so one of them could get supplies for a school project.  While we were there, we found materials for crafts that we've been wanting to do and all the stuff I needed to make a super cute terrarium.  Plus, the spring decor can't help but make you feel happy.  I only picked a few little things to spruce up our house, but those things have made the weird weather of March seem much less depressing. 

I am a huge fan of reruns.  I often blog with an old episode of Psych playing softly in the background.  I rewatch Parks and Rec while I eat lunch.  My teen daughters and I are working our way through Friends and The Office

There is something so comforting about watching reruns.  I don't have a ton of time to get invested in a long series and the way people watch TV now is overwhelming.  I miss having only one episode release each week with breaks in the summer to catch up on anything you missed.  

Binging goes against my core beliefs that watching that much TV in one sitting will rot my brain or I fall asleep after more than an hour and a half max.  One of those things is definitely true.  

I don't feel bad about falling asleep with reruns on the TV.  I've probably seen this episode at least five times anyway. 

Army Guys
My son is always asking for ridiculous things like apple watches and iPhones.  Well, the other day he asked me for army guys.  I was like, "Is that some sort of war game for the PlayStation?"  But no, he wanted a bunch of plastic army guys.  I was like, "Wish granted."  When they arrived, he went to work setting up complicated battle scenes.  We couldn't use the dining room table, but he was quiet and entertained with something other than a screen.  I felt like the best mom, he used his imagination for five minutes.  Everyone was winning.

One Thing I Can Do
When my husband travels, I tend to let things go around the house.  This time I decided to spend any time I was home after 4:00 focusing on "one thing I can do."  I wouldn't look at the whole house because that would be depressing and overwhelming.  Instead, at 4:00 I started looking around me and saying, "What's one thing I can do here?"  I'm making dinner--I can wipe the counters when I have a free minute.  I'm done signing papers for school--I can tidy the family room.  Nothing major, just little things that kept our house from feeling like it was spinning out of control. 

Those are the good things I found in March.  What was something small that saved your life last month?