Welcome to my new blog series, Five Things To Tell You... In addition to my Currently Loving posts, I wanted another way to share random info and updates, so if this is your thing too, you’re welcome! 😉
One: The Little Things
While many things have changed, some have stayed the same, including the beginning of Vermont’s creemee season. Like many small businesses, local creemee stands have pivoted to make sure that they can offer their products in a safe way and we have been making the rounds. We were there for Cookie Love’s opening day, which is an annual tradition for our family.
Today marks the beginning of the seventh week of our COVID19 Quarantine. The longer this has gone on, the more we really have settled into a new routine. Some days it is hard to remember what it was like before all of this. Has this happened with any of you?
During the first few weeks, I had a lot of anxiety because there was just so much unknown in addition to the anticipation of what things would look like, both locally and globally.
While there is still a lot of things we don’t know, it feels easier in some sense that things have settled into a bit of predictability again, even if this all would have been almost unrecognizable a few months ago.
Q&A Part I
I get certain questions on DMs and emails quite frequently that I thought might make for a fun blog post! These are some of my favorite things to read online because I like knowing random things about the people I follow along with!
I thought I would be able to answer all of these in one post but when I shared I was going to do this on Instagram stories, I received some more questions, so I am going to do a Part II soon!
Q: What kind of photography do you do?
A: I work for my friend Kristy who is a family portrait photographer! She specializes in family photos, lifestyle newborn sessions, high school senior portraits, and professional headshots. I do a lot of her behind the scenes work including culling and editing her sessions. It’s the best! We also teach photography classes in the late fall through early spring when the photography season in Vermont is a little quieter!
Q: Did you go to school for photography?
A: No! I majored in psychology and had no plans for going back to school after. I ended up learning DSLR photography kind of by trial and error and a lot of watching YouTube videos and searching things online when our first son was a baby. I am a visual learning and I learn best when watching others so this was great for me. I fine-tuned some things later on through the workshops on Clickin Moms which is a great resource!
Q: What kind of camera do you use?
A: While I do have a “professional-grade” DSLR (a Canon 5d Mark III) that I use in our workshops, I primarily use my iPhone!
I am a huge “documenter” and I like that I always have it with me to capture daily life. I do edit them a little, usually, by bumping up the exposure, and adjusting the temperature (warmth) and contrast a bit..all these things you can do right from your phone (I use Lightroom for regular editing).
Q: Do you have a book that you’ve tried to read multiple times and just can’t get through it?
A: I usually just DNF (do not finish) books that I am not able to connect with. There are too many books to read one that you aren’t enjoying!
I do have a harder time with this when it is a book that has come highly recommended. I have tried multiple times to read Harry Potter and Recursion because they have been recommended to me SO many times…but I just can’t get into them! I keep trying though…
Q: Do you read any books you don’t like? It seems like you mostly rate books 4 & 5 stars!
I think I kind of answered this one above but I have no problem giving up and moving on to my next book if I am not enjoying something. I also do a lot of research with my book selections and have a lot of a book reviewing friends that have similar tastes in genres so that information helps with my success rate with books!
I do try and finish books that I have chosen to review so that is where some of my lower ratings will come from. You can read more about how I rate books in my FAQs section HERE.
Q: What made you start a blog? I want to start but it seems like it is so much faster(easier?) to just share on Instagram!
That’s a great question! I started my book blog a year ago because I was feeling like I wanted a centralized location for sharing reviews, recommendations, photos, etc. I had previously just been sharing on @genthebookworm on Instagram. I think because I am someone who likes to write with a lot of details, I really liked the idea of not being restrained by a maximum amount of text and photos.
I also used to be a blogger and I started a decade ago! Some of you were around for that, but I spent the first 5 years of pregnancy and parenting blogging all about my experiences as a new mom. I stopped blogging (and also made it private) once our older son started Kindergarten. It just didn’t feel like it was my story to share anymore.
So blogging isn’t “new” to me but this format is very different than my old one which really was more of an online journal. Blogging has also changed so much in ten years, and so have our kids who are obviously much older now.
I love having a place to share that is devoted to my specific interests (reading, podcasts, favorite products, LL Bean sweatshirts…) and I like that it is my space to do whatever I want even if it is totally random.
And while I LOVE social media, I am fully aware that it can (and does) change all the time. I love the consistency of having your own spot on the internet that you can direct people to no matter where the internet tides go with algorithms, etc.
Blogging does take a lot of work. It isn’t particularly hard(and I kind of love doing it!) but it time-consuming. I have also been trying to implement SEO which takes me forever but I think it is worth it!
My Life Motto…
I try not to overthink things too much because when you do that, you end up never doing anything! I am terrible with typing too fast and spelling a million things wrong so I often have to go back and revise these posts a bunch of times. I do use and love Grammarly and it helps a lot!
Q: What are your favorite books from childhood?
Ohh this is a tough one! My favorite childhood picture book is Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. I also loved Matilda and The Witches by Roald Dahl! As I got a little older I loooooved The Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High and basically every book by Judy Blume.
Q: How do you have time to read so much?
I get this question A LOT, and I totally get it, I do read quite a bit. I think it is just like any other hobby or interest, I just really prioritize it. I bring my books (or Kindle) everywhere, and I do a lot of reading while I wait. I also read every night before bed instead of watching TV.
I don’t have any problem with TV, I would just rather read! And when I do watch something (Lucas and I get into documentary series sometimes) I ended up reading less because it is hard to do both!
I also listen to audiobooks when I am working on the computer, doing things around our house (like cleaning or folding laundry) or commuting to and from work, so this really adds up.
Q: What percentage of your monthly reading are audiobooks?
This depends a little (I listen to a lot more audiobooks during the school year because in the summer I am never commuting alone!) but I would say I listen to 3-4 audiobooks a month and read the rest!
Q: What are your favorite sweatshirts?
This makes me LOL because I don’t think there has been a time that I have posted an IG story video without someone asking about my sweatshirt or pullover. My goal in life is to basically be able to wear a sweatshirt or pullover everywhere I go so this makes me so happy that there are other sweatshirt lovers out there. LLBean is my GO-TO!
I also LOVE my Goodthreads Sweatshirts from Amazon and I am wearing my Pale Grey Heather one right now! I posted about these on my Bookworm Gift Ideas post but I have to share about them again because the light blue, medium grey, and charcoal grey are on sale! They are the coziest and I have been wearing them around the house like loungewear, over my tank top on the way to barre and out and about with jeans.
Q: Where do you shop? (I know you want to answer this!)
Ha! I do love talking about Talbots. But seriously, I do buy most of my clothes at Talbots(The T by Talbots collection is THE BEST!) I also get my jeans there and I love that they have petite lengths in the store!
Q: What is your favorite book?
The Most Fun We Ever Had was my favorite book of 2019 and probably ever. I also LOVED American Dirt (publishing on 1/20/20). If you pre-order any 2020 books, this should be it, it was amazingly powerful and I also COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN.
Q: How did you start reviewing books?
The #bookstagram community is very active on Instagram and that is where I first started writing about books (around 2015). In 2018 I started my public IG feed @genthebookworm as well as this blog so I could have a more organized and specific place to share my reviews. You can review books on many different social media outlets but I have found that Instagram is the most interactive and really feels like a community.
As far as how to get books to review, for a few years, I just reviewed books that I either purchased or borrowed from the library or the Libby app. As my readership has grown, book publishers, publicists, and authors now send me books to review which is such a great honor.
In 2018 I also became a member of NetGalley and that is how I get many of my ARC of E-books. Anyone can join and you just request books and you are approved individually by the specific publisher of the book.
The more exposure you can provide the more likely you will be approved. I will say that I was approved for many books just by posting on my @genthebookworm account on Instagram so you definitely don’t have to have a blog to get started. The more you do the higher your reviewing percentage is so that helps too when they are looking to approve you as a reviewer.
It is such an amazing way to read books before they are published and I love providing feedback that not only is helpful to the publisher and author but also helps other readers when they are deciding what to read next.
Q: How do you grow a following online?
I am not sure if I am super qualified to answer this but I really feel like slow and steady is the way to go. Consistency is key and finding your audience. I would rather have people that are really interested that are following along than just high numbers so I really think quality over quantity wins here.
I also love engaging with others and I think it helps when it feels like it is a conversation. Everyone handles this totally different but I will say that the people I know that DO have a large following, put A LOT of work and energy into it.
Q: How do you monetize a blog? Do you make a lot of money with your affiliate links?
I also don’t think I am the person to ask about this question, haha. There are many ways to monetize a blog. When I started blogging in 2009, sidebar ads were the way to go. Now sponsored posts and affiliate links are king and there are blogs and social media feeds that make A LOT of money.
I did add affiliate links this past spring because I was linking to everything anyway and figured, WHY NOT? Of course, it totally depends on what you are affiliate linking, but my links generally are for books.
The commission rates are higher for certain items and lower for others. For instance, higher end fashion and beauty products can have a commission of around 10% of the purchase price! Books are lower, I think around 3 or 4% so this means that if you do buy a book through one of my links, I will make around $.25-.50 as a commission on that sale(it does not change the price you pay!)
So on average, I make around 10-15 dollars a month. While I appreciate it, I definitely am not doing this to try to replace my regular work income. My goal right now is to cover the costs of my WordPress site, hoping this will happen in 2020! 😉
Alright, I am going to do the rest of my Q&A is another post next week, so stay tuned. And thank you for taking the time to send a question, I appreciate it. <3
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission that helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you!
What’s On Your Nightstand?
Welcome to another edition of The Nightstand Series! It’s been so fun to have this series back in the swing of things and today I have another book-loving friend sharing her reading list and book recommendations!
Today I am Excited to Introduce you to Mandi!
Mandi and I have known each other since our early 20s and she has been a part of my adult reading life for almost as long as I can remember. We have always swapped books and it has been fun to watch our reading tastes grow and change over time. Mandi has always had an impressive amount of books and I could always count her to have a bookshelf full of amazing recommendations…and she is still that way today!
I hope you enjoy getting to know more about Mandi today!
Nightstand Series Introduction:
My name is Mandi AKA @mandireads and I live in South Burlington, Vermont with my husband and our yellow lab Chance.
I enjoy being active (hiking, spinning, group workout classes, walking), being on the lake in the summer, music (if it’s live, even better), spending time with friends and family, eating candy, true crime, podcasts and obviously reading.
I love traveling both within the US and abroad and have been fortunate enough to have been able to travel to some incredible places. I have a real soft spot for our annual trip to Maine every fall and after our destination wedding in April, Barbados is my favorite island that I’ve traveled to.
My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, hands down. (I LOVE FOOD!) Growing up my parents would make whatever we wanted as a birthday dinner; my request was always a full Thanksgiving meal (thanks Mom)!
What Kind of Reader Are You?
I have always been a reader. I had to take a little hiatus during grad school (there just weren’t enough hours in a day with school, a full-time job, and life), but once I graduated I jumped right back into reading!
I have been known to read a book cover to cover in a day. In the 7th grade, we had to do a book report on a trilogy or three books by the same author. I was the kid that read three John Grisham books!
Favorite Genres & Ways To Read
I love a lot of different genres, some of my favorites being true crime, mysteries, thrillers, romance and military (true stories or works of fiction). I am a mood reader and try to be open to different types of books and joining #bookstagram and Book of the Month has helped with that. That being said, I can’t seem to get into or enjoy time travel, sci-fi, and dystopian type books.
For a long time, I was strictly a physical book reader and put off getting an e-reader for a long time. When I finally cracked and got my first Kindle I understood all the hype! You can read anywhere and anytime without having to carry around a ton of books. You never have to worry about running out of something to read when you’re traveling either!
What Time of Day do you do Most of Your Reading?
During the week I get most of my reading done in the afternoon and evenings. I don’t watch a ton of TV and can tune out background noises so I can read while my husband watches sports or one of his shows. On the weekends it always depends on our plans, but rarely is there a day I don’t get some reading in.
What Books Are You Currently Reading?
I am currently listening to Call Me God, about the DC Snipers in 2002, through Audible. I just finished Daisy Jones & The Six (thanks for letting me borrow it Gen!) and need to figure out what to start next.
Some books I loved so far this year have to be Beyond The Point by Claire Gibson, Verity by Colleen Hoover, Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes. I could add so many other books that are worth picking up, but I’ll try and keep this short 😉
What Are You Reading Next?
Off the top of my head, the books I’m most looking forward to reading in the next few months have to be The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett Graff, Regretting You by Colleen Hoover, Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin and The Swallows by Lisa Lutz.
Are There Any Books You Read and Didn’t Love?
Lock Every Door was a miss for me. I loved Riley’s other books (Final Girls and The Last Time I Lied especially) but this one fell short for me. My Friend Anna is a book I went into with really high expectations (the overview sounded so good) that also fell short. It was an interesting read but I had a hard time connecting to it.
What Are You Listening to?
I love podcasts and listen to a few. I get my morning news highlights from ABC’s Start Here and my True Crime fix by listening to True Crime Garage and Crime Junkie. My foray into podcasts was Serial (again, thanks to Gen) and I was instantly hooked. A few other true crime podcasts that I always recommend are Dirty John, Up and Vanished(especially the first season on Tara Grinstead), 22 Hours: An American Nightmare and The First Degree.
Audiobooks are something I got into this summer. I typically listen to them when I walk the dog, which is a lot and has helped pass the time with all those miles and sniffs and pee breaks and on solo car rides (when I’m not giving a concert anyway)!
What Else is on Your Nightstand?
You will always find my kindle, whatever physical book I’m reading, lotion, chapstick, water and my apple watch charging up for the next day. Sometimes you’ll find a book sleeve, books I want to read soon and whatever hair tie or clip I used that day. For the most part, I am pretty minimal and don’t handle clutter well (especially on my nightstand!)
Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Mandi! You certainly made my TBR and podcast list even longer!
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission that helps support this blog at no cost to you.
Good morning!! I am trying to become more efficient (and not overthink these posts) because you guys were so great when I asked for more feedback over on Instagram. I too love reading random daily life updates and so I am going to try and commit to sharing these once a week! I am very externally motivated so when I know someone is expecting something of me I am all in, ha.
(image from Reddit)
The last couple of weeks have had some ups and downs. My life has so many wonderful things, and it also has some painful and sad parts. I do try to be real on here, but also keeping in mind that this is a very public space. I love the image above so much because it is so very true and it is something that I try very hard to keep in mind when interacting with the world around me.
I am a glass half full person. I think because I have such great supports and self-care practices in place, it helps me focus on the good parts BECAUSE I am able to process the tougher stuff when it comes up. This is a work in progress of course, but I think it is important to mention as these posts are definitely more of the “highlight reel” kind of recaps. Okay, moving on!
I am a little off schedule today because Lucas was away for the night at his family’s deer camp. He isn’t a hunter but going to camp is one of his very favorite things to do this time of year. He ends up bringing the kids with him a lot because we try and coordinate it with when Kristy and I are teaching on the weekends so this was a nice adult only visit for him!
Normally Sunday mornings are my barre and grocery shopping time, sometimes mixed in with a visit to Target to peruse the bookshelves. Last weekend I got together with one of my reading buddies and we had a great Pure Empower workout with Lauren and then walked around Target and caught up. My friendships are so very important to me, and there are certain times when you just need them a lot more and this is definitely one of those times.
By mid-month, the boys already had TWO snow days. I think they are much easier to take this time of year than in say, late March but I was still a bit surprised. The boys were super excited of course and it was a reminder for us that it was time to pull out (and FIND) all the winter gear.
Currently Wearing…ALL the Winter Gear
It doesn’t matter how much you label the crap out of your kid’s stuff, some of it WILL go missing and it hurts a bit less when at least you know you got a good deal on them! We have also had great luck with LL Bean gloves for the kids!
For socks, we LOVE Darn Tough socks and they are guaranteed for life! I love the Women’s Stripe Micro Crew Cushion style that is the perfect height and feel snug enough without feeling like they are cutting off your circulation on your ankles!
Bogs For Life
We are big Bogs fans around here. Bogs Boots are our go-to footwear for our whole family from late October until the end of April. I updated mine this year after having my pair for 5+ years and I went with the Women’s Whiteout Bogs that are super easy to slip on and off (A MUST for me with winter boots) are so warm and cozy and waterproof. I loved my Plimsoll Bogs but these have even better traction for better grip on ice and snow. I am ladies size 8.5 in most shoes and I size up to a 9 in Bogs. I find that having a bit of extra room is super helpful, especially when wearing heavier socks this time of year.
While I could never be a fashion blogger (LOL) I can talk for days about winter outwear and basically anything from LL Bean or Talbotts…
You can find the Kids Rain and Winter Boot Bogs HERE.
You can find the Women’s Whiteout Bogs HERE.
You can find the Men’s Classic Bogs HERE.
Beating The Winter Blues in November
When you have the right winter clothing, getting outside this time of year is the best! One of my favorite ways to get together with friends is to go for a walk. Kristy and do this on our lunch break at work because she has some great trails right behind her house.
I have been trying to prioritize this lately as I have a bit more flexibility during the work week now that photography season is slowing down a bit and it is so good for our mental health…there really is nothing like some fresh air and sunshine.
This week Buzz and I met my friend Elisa for a walk at Shelburne Bay and went on a lunch hour walk with Kari up Mt. Philo. All of these walks take less than from start to finish so they are perfect to add in during our day when we don’t have a long block of time available.
Currently Embracing…Weekend Walks
We are also embracing the slower-paced time of this year on the weekends. Being cooped up with kids is not for the faint of heart so getting everyone outside at least once a day is necessary no matter what the weather conditions are. While we love to walk in the woods around our house, it is hunting season now so we stick to parks and places that off-limits for that until it is over in December.
A Night Out With Friends
It is rare that I do something at night (besides our Better Together Book Club!) because I am not a night owl, and especially this time of year when it gets dark out at 4pm. But when Sonja at Owl Feet Studio announced she was having her first Ladie’s Night Out, I was going to be there!
When I told Lucas I was going to attend a Shibori night, he definitely chuckled. Shibori is a cloth dyeing method originating in Japan in the 18th century and utilizes the incredible properties of the indigo plant (This is Sonja’s great description, not mine!) It is a similar process to tie-dying but because you use indigo, it results in beautiful shades of deep blue.
As a photographer, I am definitely a creative person, but I also like things just so(hence why I spend my work life in Lightroom and Photoshop, ha)
So going with the flow isn’t the most comfortable thing for me. I like having a concrete plan and detailed instructions! It ended up being such a fun night and it was also great to get a little out of my comfort zone. I can’t wait for her next Art Night Out!
Currently Loving…Barre Book Club!
I know I talk about barre all the time, but it is just such a positive part of my life (and one of my biggest forms of regular self-care). The Pure Barre community is definitely the number one reason why. I am a group exerciser for many reasons (motivation because of signing up ahead of time is one of them) but I also love how it brings me together regularly with such a wonderful group of (mostly) women.
I love arriving a bit early to have time to catch up and love that we now have an (unofficial) Barre Book Club! In addition to chatting about all sorts of random things, our local studio has become an awesome place to share recommendations and also to exchange books!
And whenever I post a photo with my barre socks, I get asked what kind they are! A barre studio opened near my friend Sarah’s house recently and she asked me if I had recommendations for my favorite sticky socks and these are it! If you haven’t been to a barre class before, most barre studios have you wear socks (no shoe) that help you grip the floor, which especially comes in handy during planks and pushups.
The Tavi Noir Chloe ones are my current favorite. We started having them in our studio last spring and the pair I bought them have held us amazingly well and are still super sticky and grippy! They are super comfortable and the criss-cross straps stay put and don’t dig in at all like I worried about when I first saw them.
An Amazing Homegoods Find
The other weekend, Flynn and I hit up Homegoods to browse the aisles, and we walked away with this Quilted Eddie Bauer Dog Pullover for Buzz! Pullovers are necessary when you have winter weather for 6 months of the year (they are pretty much all I wear…) and I couldn’t resist this one for him when it was under $15…and now we can match!!
I mean, is there anything better than twinning with your dog? I don’t think so!
Currently Becoming…A Harry Potter Fan
I have to admit, I have never read the Harry Potter series…and I don’t know that I really want to…
A few years ago my friend Kari recommended the Illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to get our family going on the Harry Potter train. Well three years later, our 9-year-old decided to dive in…better late than never right?
He is loving this version so much that has taken to reading right after school which isn’t the norm around, that’s for sure. Both of our boys have really grown to love reading but it is normally something they do in the evening before bed.
They have a boxed set right now of books 1-3 that is a great deal and would make a great holiday gift!
Currently Reading and Listening to…
After much apprehension, I started The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes this week! I often get a little wary of books that are SUPER HYPED UP but this one really is amazing. I have been alternating listening to it on Audible and reading Kristy’s hard copy Book of the Month copy and am just loving it.
Fireside Reading (and Napping!)
While this time of the year can be tough with the lack of daylight, it is also such a wonderfully cozy time of year. There is nothing like cuddling up next to the fire and reading an engrossing novel or taking a nap on the couch. After Thanksgiving next week the full rush of the holiday season will be upon on us so I am trying to soak in the quiet moments like this.
I hope you have a wonderful rest of your weekend! I have some great book reviews in the blog line up and another What’s On Your Nightstand? post coming your way soon!
Disclosure: Some of the links above are Amazon affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission that helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you!
Are you a podcast fan too? I regularly share about podcasts in my Coffee Talk | Currently Loving…posts but I haven’t shared a full blog post dedicated to podcasts since this past January. Along with audiobooks, podcasts are one of my favorite thing to do while doing tasks around our house, completing errands, commuting or doing computer work.
Podcasts are the perfect companion for so many reasons and because they cover such a wide variety of topics there is a podcast for pretty much anyone. My favorite podcast series tend to cover motherhood/family life, true crime, book chatter, personal development and topics of connection with others. Today I am going to recap some of my favorite recent episodes from the last few weeks, so here goes!
I have subscribed to Goal Digger for a couple of years now. I don’t listen to a lot of her episodes with guests, but I love the ones about social media and business/work life when she is just chatting by herself. The Instagram Hashtag Deep Dive episode was so illuminating, especially because I am someone who uses social media at work and personally and basically everything I thought I knew about hashtags was wrong, ha.
It’s no secret that I enjoy a good true-crime series. I tend to go for the deep dive ones where they go in deep about one specific event or person. Gangster Capitalism, Believed, 22 Hours: An American Nightmare and Man in the Window are some of my favorite series.
More recently I have gotten into a few series where the podcast hosts share about all different stories, like The Housewives of True Crime. I enjoy the banter between Gretchen and Tabitha and this episode was highly entertaining (especially as someone who also lives in a small town)although it’s definitely a little explicit if that kind of thing bothers you…
If you are looking for something a little more wholesome but still thoroughly entertaining, Sarah’s Book Shelves Live is a must. It is one of the only podcasts I play while the kids are in the car with me, and they actually even request it which is pretty cute. I especially love the mini-episodes where she features Bookstagrammers. This episode with Elizabeth AKA @samandscout was especially amazing and I loved her perspective as a teacher so much.
The Stacks is another amazing book podcast and this episode with Jami Attenberg, author of All This Could Be Yours was awesome. I loved Traci and Jami’s conversation so much and Jami’s idea that everyone brings their own experiences to art.
I often find that people react so differently to books when they can relate to the topic a lot, or not. All This Could Be Yours is a dysfunctional family saga (you can read my review HERE) and I loved how she masterfully shared how situations like this are rarely cut and dry.
Morbid is another one of those series that discusses random crimes and I have recently gone down the rabbit hole with this one! I think Ash and Alaina are hilarious together and they discuss true crime with the perfect amount of humor while also having so much compassion for the victims.
If you are looking for a new true-crime podcast to binge on, this is it! The episode they released today was just mind-boggling and I love how they discuss high profile cases as well as completely obscure one like this one.
Farnoosh and I go way back. She was one of the first podcast series that I got into the outside of Serial…and when I saw she was interviewing Eve Rodsky, author of Fair Play (you can read my review HERE) I couldn’t listen fast enough!\
I loved hearing their conversation about Fair Play as they are both working mothers and because I am kind of obsessed with both of them, it was amazing hearing them having a conversation together!
I first learned about The Double Shift on The Best of Both Worlds Podcast when they interviewed the host Katherine Goldstein back in the spring. I recently was going back through older episodes and realized I have never listened to this episode…On Not Having It All.
I appreciated so much Goldstein’s vulnerability and openness to share both her personal, family and work challenges. I think we often see others address “problems” online and on social media once they are resolved. But we often don’t see the in-between moments of struggle and sometimes hopelessness. So many of us are in the middle of something, and knowing this can help make us feel less alone, even if our struggles are very different.
I was so excited when I saw that the third season of Committed was started this fall. I love Jo Piazza as an author (hello Charlotte Walsh Like to Win!!) but did you know she is an amazing podcaster and interviewer as well?! I love hearing about other people’s relationship dynamics so it is no surprise that a podcast all about relationships is right up my alley.
While I have so many favorite interviews in this series, this episode was one of my very favorites. Piazza is such a connector and you can see this with how she is able to talk with such ease with so many people about topics that aren’t always “the norm”. This episode was eye-opening and also such a great reminder about acceptance and realizing that what works for you might not work for others and vice versa.
Best of Both Worlds
The Best of Both Worlds Podcast is one of my old podcast standbys. I started listening to it right from the beginning and I have loved seeing it develop over the last two years. I love how Sarah and Laura unapologetically talk about how they make work and life fit together but also all the guests they have introduced me to.
Their recent episode about cooking for a family with Cassy Joy Garcia was fantastic! If you ask most parents, dinner time is one of the biggest stressors of family life, it certainly is at our house. Garcia discusses her tips and tricks as well as sharing about her book Cook Once and Eat All Week which has amazing reviews.
I first listened to Laura Tremaine back when she was on the Sorta Awesome podcast. I have followed her over the years (her BIAS series on The Smartest Person in the Room was AMAZING!) So when I heard that Laura was started another podcast geared towards connecting us with ourselves and each other, I was on board!!
I don’t think there has been an episode that I haven’t loved but this recent one about tips to organize your photos with Miss Freddy was excellent! Kristy and I teach a workshop about photo organization and I still learned some new ideas!
And because I love 10 Things to Tell You so much…here are three other episodes that I just enjoyed so much and cover basically my favorite topics ever, books and skincare(you can read my post about my own skincare routine HERE)
Ep. 31: Best Books Lately with Alyssa Hertzig (Alyssa is one of my Bookstagram at @Alyssaisbooked)
Ep. 38: Books for Growth
Alright, I think that covers it for now! Do you have any podcast recommendations? I would love to hear!
Disclosure: Some of the links above are Amazon affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission that helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you!
Hello! These posts always are one of my last priorities here, not because I don’t like sharing them, but because they are so random. I do still love that old journal type blog sharing of 10 years ago..but I wonder, does anyone like reading these but me?
Now that I share a lot of book content, I wonder how much I should step outside of that…I love getting to know the person and interest of the Bookstagrammers I follow myself, and because this is my space, I suppose I can post whatever I like…but I do think about that…and if you know me you know I love to overthink things like this! Alright…moving on!
I am my best self first thing in the morning. Over the years I naturally have fallen into waking up early. Now that the kids are older they stay up later and so the early mornings are my sacred quiet time. It’s when I do most of my book blogging, emailing, etc. I work over a big mug (or two) of coffee and my current audiobook, it’s lovely!
Lucas leaves for work early so we have a daily rhythm that works well for this (getting in bed at 8pm for instance, ha). I can hang for a bit if we aren’t home at night but if we are here, I can barely keep my eyes open past 9pm.
A Night Out With Friends!
Speaking of being out past 9pm (I think we got home around 10!) we had a much needed night out the other weekend with some of our favorite friends. This gettogether was a long time coming. With the coordination of everyone’s schedules (and babysitters) finding a date that works for everyone isn’t easy. We finally made it happen and headed down to Middlebury. We had a drink at Two Brothers and then had an amazing dinner at The Arcadian. I hope it isn’t another 4 years until we make it happen again…ha!
I actually really love November, but it can be a hard time with the lack of daylight. I can easily get a little down this time of year with the time change and just the amount of darkness. I know this about myself so I try to be proactive and implement the things I know that help. Getting outside every day, even if it is just to walk to meet the kids at the bus with Buzz is something I really try to prioritize.
Speaking of Buzz, there is nothing he likes more than when he hears the school bus coming up the hill. He likes me a lot, but he LOVES the kids.
There is also some relief with the slowness of November. October is always a hectic month with the kid’s schedules, my work schedule, and all the festivities that month includes. It’s all great stuff but it can get a little exhausting. I am a creature of habit and enjoy the slower pace of “everyday” life. By the end of the month, I am ready for a little break before the pace of the holidays picks up again at Thanksgiving.
A couple of weeks ago I celebrated my 35th birthday. I have mixed feelings about my own birthday as it has always brought out a bit of sadness for me. I don’t like to have a big celebration about it, but it is fun to use it as an excuse to get your kids to take a selfie with you at school drop off, drink a maple latte, take extra fun photos at Pure Barre and have lunch with your BFF. Lucas picked up a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cake which really ended it all perfectly…
We also have another birthday in our family this time of year…our younger son turned 7! He celebrated the day before by having a low key birthday party with three of his friends. It was really more of a playdate with cake but he was thrilled! On his actual birthday, he had his favorite afterschool art class at Owl Feet (Sonja is THE BEST!) and then we went to dinner as a family at his location of choice, Asiana Noodle House…followed by ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s.
It has been nice to realize that doing lowkey things can be just as special. The longer we parent, the more we have realized how simplifying things can make life feel a lot more manageable and enjoyable.
Funfetti For All
Speaking of keeping it simple, is there anything better than Funfetti cake with rainbow chip frosting?? NO! And even better, my wonderful friend Kari (of the Lucky Clover Bakery!) helped me frost this boxed and not vegan cake…she tried watching me do it but just couldn’t’ handle it…I am no perfectionist, but she is, ha! She’s a good friend…
Sharing Good Books With Friends…
One of my favorite things about reading is sharing books with friends. Sometimes this means doing a book giveaway with a partnering publisher, and other times it means leaving a book on someone’s doorstep on my way to work. Although I love my Kindle so much, I will never stop getting hard copy books for this very reason.
Library Love & Book Club Planning
Our second Better Together Book Club meeting is this week and I am super excited to be discussing Small Animals by Kim Brooks. I met with Librarian Susannah last week for some book club extended planning (we can’t wait to discuss Fair Play by Eve Rodsky in early 2020!) and I also took home these books with me…
Quiet: An Introvert Life
Quiet was available right away on the Libby App (you can learn more about borrowing ebooks from the library through Libby HERE) and so far it is just fascinating! I love the detailed look at introversion as I often think it can be quite understood. I am quite social in many ways but have always fallen into the introvert category and this book really makes me feel understood!
I am especially loving her discussion on how if we can better understand personality types we can work better together in both work and personal relationships. The topic of how introverts can be much more prone to overstimulation makes so much sense and I am finding myself nodding along with so much of it. I am excited to share my full review soon!
I know some people get into decorating for the holidays right now but we always wait until after Thanksgiving. I have been very into organizing and decluttering though! Now that my work season is slowing down a bit at Kristy’s I am working more from home and I have a hard time concentrating if things are a mess. So I have been trying to be proactive and cleaning things out, donating what we don’t need and going shopping in my own house. Do you do that?
I love finding things I have stashed away or was using in another space and finding a new way to use them. I also decided 10 years was a good time to start using the silverware we registered for at our wedding…I had initially thought I would just save them for special occasions, but WHY? We host something like once a year and use our silverware every day…So I decided to take these out of the top cupboard in our kitchen and put them to everyday use, and it feels so good!
I am also way too excited about my new spin mop. I had seen way too many Facebook videos sharing this type of mop and am easily influenced by those things…When I saw it in person I knew it was a sign. So far it’s amazingly satisfying and works so well! I like that the shapes can really get into all the nooks and crannies and it is super easy to use.
I have been using this cleaner for months after seeing it at Kristy’s house way too many times and it is awesome! It cleans so well, doesn’t streak and smells amazing!! It is a concentrate and a little goes a long way so it lasts forever.
We recently put together an organization station on the back of our pantry door in our kitchen. I picked up the whiteboard at Home Goods but found everything else in my home office and repurposed them. The boys are at an age where they are becoming more independent in a lot of ways but we often have the last-minute drama of “where is that folder you need today for school?!?” right as we are leaving. Having this right in the kitchen, but also where it is hidden when you shut the door, is working so well for us so far!
I also have been doing a little decluttering which feels great, but it also means that when I go to drop things off to donate, I come back with some more books. One of my favorite weekend hobbies is roaming around used book sections and finding old books I loved to add to my collection. It is the ultimate treasure hunt and brings back so many reading memories for me.
Photography Workshop Season!
Now that photography season is winded down a bit here in Vermont, our photography workshop season has begun again! We taught our last workshop of 2019 this past weekend and are excited to get back into things full swing come January! We taught our first Your Life, Your Camera workshop back in January of 2014 and we have come a long way since then! You can read more about what that class looks like HERE, or see what else we offer HERE on Kristy’s website.
After our class, we had a much-needed dinner out together and it was fun to reflect this past work season and also talk about what is coming up! And we were home by 6:30pm which is pretty much my ideal night out…ha!
Deer Camp Life
While we were teaching the boys went to “deer camp” with Buzz, Lucas, his dad, and his brother. Their camp is up near Jay Peak so it is always a lot chillier and they get a lot more snow! The boys had a sneak peek of all the snow we will be getting (tonight!) and had fun playing outside, shooting the BB gun(at a target!) and eating lots of deer camp food. They always have the best time and I love that they get to make these memories like Lucas did when he was their age.
Cozy Sweaters & Woodstove Season
While the daylight is short this time of year, it is such a cozy time of year in so many ways. I love that the pace of life slows down a bit in the winter and we have more time to just “be’. We have our woodstove going all the time now and I am embracing all my favorite sweaters and pullovers.
I also like that I will have a bit more time to share on my blog and I have been working hard on getting my editorial calendar in place! I am planning on bringing back the Nightstand Series and I also have some interviews lined up with some really amazing people in my life so stay tuned!
Thanks for stopping by. <3
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, it helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you!
Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur
On a hot July night on Cape Cod when Adrienne was fourteen, her mother, Malabar, woke her at midnight with five simple words that would set the course of both of their lives for years to come: Ben Souther just kissed me.
Adrienne instantly became her mother’s confidante and helpmate, blossoming in the sudden light of her attention, and from then on, Malabar came to rely on her daughter to help orchestrate what would become an epic affair with her husband’s closest friend. The affair would have calamitous consequences for everyone involved, impacting Adrienne’s life in profound ways, driving her into a precarious marriage of her own, and then into a deep depression. Only years later will she find the strength to embrace her life—and her mother—on her own terms.
Wild Game is a brilliant, timeless memoir about how the people close to us can break our hearts simply because they have access to them, and the lies we tell in order to justify the choices we make. It’s a remarkable story of resilience, a reminder that we need not be the parents our parents were to us.
October 15th, 2019
(You can find my referral link to Wild Game HERE)
Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur is a memoir that details the complicated and dysfunctional relationship Brodeur experienced with her mother, Malabar. This cycle spans several decades and although there is the storyline of how Brodeur became entangled in her mother’s affair, it wasn’t the most powerful part of this book for me.
What really spoke to me was how much this story shared the challenges of cycles repeating themselves in families. These complexities can continue to pass on generation after generation and Brodeur truly shows how hard dysfunction can be to break. The writing detailing how she confronted her past is raw and full of emotions and whether you can relate to this story or not, this is not a book to be missed.
Brodeur shares vividly, the complexities of their mother/daughter relationship, and how it has affected her from her childhood to now during middle-age. Whether it is in romantic relationships or the relationships she has with her own children, it heavily impacts her to this day.
Brodeur reflects so honestly about how challenging it was as she began to distance herself from Malabar as an adult. While she knew her relationship wasn’t “normal” or healthy, it was hard not to fall back into the paths which had been ingrained in her family for so long.
While this book wasn’t easy to read at times, I appreciated that it wasn’t black or white and Brodeur is able to look at this deeply conflicted relationship with humanity and empathy. I stopped and reread sections of the book because the reflections on the journey of finding herself while batting the undercurrent of her family dynamics were so insightful.
I also appreciated that she recounted the impact the other people in her life had had on her and her ability to move forward. Brodeur’s ability to share such introspection and poignant details amidst the difficulties she endured made this book what it was and it won’t be one I will ever forget.
Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an advanced copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Nine highly rated books from 2019
Reflection & Book Ratings:
Now that we are almost half a year into 2019, it has been fun to reflect on my favorite books from these past 5 months. As an avid reader, so much of my reaction to books is based on my own perspective. What I love doesn’t always mean someone else will, but that is what makes reading so wonderful. We all react so differently to things because everyone has such a different and unique life experience.
When rating a book, 4.5 & 5-star books mean that I enjoyed them and kept thinking about them long after I was finished reading them, and all of these books fall into that category. When looking at them all together, they are very different in many ways.
What I love most about being part of an online reading community is the exposure to so many books I might not have previously picked out on my own. So many of these books I chose to read after hearing amazing reviews from my reading friends. I hope this diverse selection of books opens you up to some new reading genres as well!
Goodreads Reading Challenge:
Are you a part of Goodreads? I have been a member since 2009 and I can’t imagine being able to keep track of the books I have read and the books I want to read without it!
While I have been rating books on there for years, during the past two years I have really tried to up my reviews on there as well. I receive so much reading inspiration from other Goodreads members so I try to do my part as well.
I don’t set really specific goals in the number of books I read, but I do tell to read more each year and I always find it interesting to see how they all add up at the end of December.
So with all that said, I am moving on to my top 9 books from 2019, so far! I am interested to see how these stack up at the end the year when I pick my overall favorites…
This story follows three generations of Palestinian women who live in Brooklyn and their struggle to break the mold that generations prior have set before them. We are lucky to live in a country where it’s easy for us to advocate and vocalize opinions but it is easy to forget how many people still live in oppression.
A Woman is No Man is heartbreaking and Rum’s writing gives a voice to the many women who are still struggling to find their own. This was an eye-opening read for me and it also was a powerful reminder of how hard it can be to break the cycles that have been set in families and communities for generations.
This story challenged me and opened my eyes to how important it is to remember where someone has come from because it makes a part of who they are today. It is never too late to change but sometimes the discomfort can cause this to be a much harder road than any of us might originally anticipate. This book is a thoughtful and honest portrayal of a family and the power of self-compassion and perseverance. I know this book will stick with me for years to come.
You can see my full review of A Woman Is No Man HERE.
Miracle Creek is an intricately crafted family and courtroom drama from debut novelist Angie Kim. I picked this one up after taking a self-imposed break with “suspense/thriller” books because they were all feeling rather similar and just couldn’t hold my attention.
Miracle Creek was a surprise hit, not only because it kept me guessing until the end, but because of it’s amazing depth and deep dive into so many important issues. While the courtroom drama was center stage, immigration, the hopes for experiencing the “American dream”, and caring for children with special needs was right there too. There were so many layers to Kim’s amazing storytelling. This wasn’t an easy read but it was so compelling and thought-provoking which was exactly what I had been missing lately with these “types” of books.
HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) was an entirely new concept to me and I found it added so much to the storyline. Kim was able to add so much emotion during this reading journey that I was able to connect with all the different characters perspectives, even when I couldn’t always relate to their actual experiences.
I am so impressed with Angie Kim and I look forward to reading what she comes out with next!
You can read my full review of Miracle Creek HERE.
Mrs. Everything is the highly anticipated release from women’s literature legend, Jennifer Weiner. Mrs. Everything covers the life of two sisters, Jo and Bethie, as they struggle to find their place and identity in an ever-changing America.
Weiner’s ability to transport you to a totally different time and place makes this book so engrossing There is a Judy Blume vibe in her writing that brought me right back to one of my very favorite adolescent reading favorites, Are You There God It’s Me, Margaret.
I loved the relationships and the powerful(and sometimes painful)issues that were covered. Weiners writing is always so relatable and raw and she is just such a gifted storyteller. If you are looking for a book that will inspire a great conversation with a reading friend, or are looking for your next book club pick, this is it!
You can read my full review of Mrs. Everything HERE.
I was blown away by this book. Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who shares her insights not only about her professional experience but her own journey through therapy. This book helps normalize therapy for everyone, and her ability to share the profound growth both she and her patients experienced was so honest and refreshing.
While Gottlieb includes many important psychological concepts, her writing is clear and conversational and easy for anyone to engage with. I found that there was a perfect balance with the personal stories that will also help her readers become more aware of their own obstacles and moments of growth as they move through this book.
As someone who has had therapy as part of my life since I was a child, it was amazing to see the progress and relatability of Gottlieb and her clients. Sometimes it is hard to see small changes in your own life, but as I read this, I connected with so many of the stories and struggles that were shared in such an approachable and real way.
I found I connected the most with Julie and John’s stories and their stories of loss resonated with me so so deeply even if I couldn’t relate to their exact situations. I rooted for them and I felt for them I didn’t connect as much with the other patient’s stories, but everyone has a different reaction and that was just my personal experience.
I especially enjoyed the chapter about her own therapy with Wendell and their journey together was so heartwarming and also so very real. Being able to see so many of these stories through two different lenses(therapist & patient) just made this such a masterpiece and I know I will continue to think about it for a long time to come.
As soon as I finished this ebook I order a hard copy edition to add to my personal library and I know this is one I will come back to again and again.
You can read my full review of Maybe You Should Talk To Someone HERE.
Ask Again, Yes was my first book by Mary Beth Keane. It was a wonderful introduction to her amazing writing and storytelling abilities. This book would best be described as a family sage and is told over multiple decades. Two families meet and their lives will never be the same. Many themes are introduced as Gleeson presents the lives of the Stanhope and Gleeson families and how they both intersect and collide over the years.
This was not an easy book to read and it may be triggering for some as there are many painful issues that are part of this powerful story. Friendship, loss, marriage, mental illness, alcoholism are all strong themes of this book and are exposed as the lives of these two families unfold. The past and how it affects how we move forward today, forgiveness and what makes a family were strong themes of this novel. The most powerful part of this book was the writing itself which was just amazingly done and very thought-provoking. Her character development was spot on and I felt immersed in the lives in these families while reading. I look forward to reading more of Keane’s work in the future.
You can read my full review of Ask Again, Yes HERE.
The Scent Keeper is a coming of age story with the element of incorporating the senses, in particular, the power of scent. The characters are raw and flawed, which I always find makes stories so much stronger. There are hidden secrets, self-discovery, and transformation, and the ending will leave you guessing but also feeling open to the power of your own imagination. When thinking of the genre this would fit into, it really is in a realm of its own.
If you enjoyed Where The Crawdads Sing and The Great Alone, I feel like this would be a wonderful addition to your spring and summer reading list. The Scent Keeper takes you away into a place you probably haven’t traveled to before in your reading world, and I can’t wait to read what Bauermeister comes out with next.
I had been looking forward to Juliet’s School of Possibilities since I first heard Laura Vanderkam mention it on the Best of Both Worlds Podcast last year. I love Vanderkam’s books about time management and this is her first novella. She incorporates her knowledge and expertise into a short fable about a woman named Riley who is spread too thin.
In a society where “busy” reigns supreme, Vanderkam’s books are a wonderful reminder about how we get to choose how we spend our time and energy and this book is such a fun spin-off. We meet Juliet who shares wisdom and helps Riley rethink this balance. “Expectations are infinite. Time is finite. You are always choosing. Choose well.”
You can read my full review of Juliet’s School of Possibilities HERE.
Motherhood is the hardest AND most wonderful thing I have ever done. While I am lucky to have had many conversations with the people in my personal life, never have I read something that explains the complexities of motherhood and marriage in such a profound manner until I read this book. The highs and lows of parenthood, the immense love and also the intense quest to reclaim ourselves as women and partners when our lives will never be the same are so real and valid.
To Have and to Hold spoke to me on so many levels. Millwood’s ability to write with both her voice as a professional and her voice as a mother was a perfect balance. It is relatable and real and I can’t stop thinking about it which is the sign of a 5-star book for me. If you haven’t already checked this one out I highly recommend and she was absolutely wonderful on audio.
You can read my full review of To Have and To Hold HERE.
I have always loved Camille Pagan’s relatable storytelling and this newest release is no different. I connected so much with the storyline of being a mom, wife, and friend. All of these things are wonderful and they can also feel so incredibly hard. The endless demands of parenthood, the amount of work it takes to keep a marriage humming along and also keeping up with the expectations of work can sometimes feel completely overwhelming.
When you add in friendships that can sometimes make you wonder “why does this feel so hard when everyone around me makes it look so easy?” it can be an easy path to thinking there is something wrong with you.
The thing is though, these things are hard for everyone in different ways, and we sometimes have no idea what is really going on behind the scenes. What someone presents isn’t always the reality and sometimes the people that have these “picture-perfect” lives need us more than we think.
“It takes courage to be yourself when everyone expects you to be someone else.”
I’m Fine and Neither Are You takes on some heavy topics including substance abuse, loss, family dynamics, infidelity, the struggles of long term relationships and finding your voice, all while being a completely engaging read. It was messy and real and this was the perfect book for me this week.
You can read my full review of I’m Fine and Neither Are You HERE.
I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my very favorite books from 2019. I would love to know what books have made YOUR list. <3