Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Five: {5} Things I'm Doing to Start the Year Right

Besides that fresh start feeling at the beginning of the year that I just L-O-V-E (because it makes me want to clean out all my closets and cupboards)....I also kinda like the whole process of starting fresh with a new year.  I realized I have quite a few things that I'm doing every January-ish to roll over the calendar (literally) to a new year.  I find this strangely enjoyable after the hustle and bustle of Christmas to just settle in, get things ready for a new year, and start on a "I can do this all!" note!

1) Addressing Cards
 
I wrote about this last year and did it again this year!  I drug Luke along to the Dollar Store (it was literally dragging by the end, he was NOT thrilled to be waiting while I picked out over 50 cards) and bought most of the cards I'll need for the year.  That included birthday, anniversary, bridal showers, weddings, graduations, baptisms, and new babies.  I bought $38 of Dollar Store cards.  And then addressed, return addressed, and put them in chronological order so at the start of each month I can pull out the ones I'll be sending that month, just add a stamp!  Now, I'm in trouble if anyone moves (besides my little sister who is getting married and didn't have her new address when I did the cards...she's the only one!) or if they do it'll just be hand delivered (likely late).  But it feels good to have these at least started (I write notes before sending)!

2) Filling in the Calendar
My aunt has been doing family picture calendars for many years and I so love seeing all the extended family hanging on my wall all year.  It's a large family (70+??) and so there are a lot of dates filled with birthday and anniversary pictures but I don't mind fitting in our other dates around those (although, maybe we can have babies some time other than April?  It's very birthday heavy on all sides of the family!).  I quiz myself in adding all my in-laws' birthdays to the calendar (missed 1 of 50+) and this year I took it a step further and color coordinated things which I was/am pretty excited about.  Birthdays in one color, my work in another, wedding activities get their own (we have 4 this year, including my baby sister), and a few other categories.  Makes it so much easier to look at the calendar at a glance!

3) Wrapping up the Photobooks

I keep feeling like I'm new to this photobook thing and then realize I'm about to order #10...so I guess I have a little experience.  I do keep up with ours and Luke's throughout the year but at the end I still have to do the title page, the cover, do the Instagram collage for the back, make sure all the pages are filled and that I didn't miss any month-end summary pages.  I do final edits and read through everything I wrote.  It's not super time consuming since I do so much work on these through the year but still always feels good to get it ordered!

4) Back-up and format memory cards
I keep very regular with backing up pictures, probably obsessively so.  I pull pictures off memory cards/phone almost immediately and other than vacation pictures (which take a few days to go through), things are curated, sorted, and tagged right away.  I back-up our digital picture files ~3 times a month and clean off (not completely) my phone camera roll once a month.  We take a lot of pictures in a year - in 2016 it was 5,379 taking up more than 17 gigs (Luke was, shockingly, only in 45% of those...but still 2,451, thank you super tagging system).  Anyways, every January I format the memory cards on our two (non-phone) cameras.  We mostly use those on vacations but we can still get close to running out of space by the end of the year.  I find it kinda exciting to clear those off and start all afresh in January!

5) Taxes & Budget

At the beginning of the year I go through my Money software (so handy for so many reasons!) to figure out our deductions - things like charitable donations and property taxes paid.  My years at a public accounting firm taught me about using Excel worksheets to cross-check to my completed tax forms, something I still do.  I fill in the deductions that I didn't during the year (I add in auto excise tax and others as we pay them).  I add our interest earned for the year from the December bank statement.  Then I'm pretty much just waiting on W-2s to file.  We haven't itemized since paying off the mortgage so it is a pretty quick process but one I'm glad to have done so as soon as we get those W-2s I can file and, hopefully, get some money back. 

I also tweak our budget every year.  Somethings go up (health insurance, hopefully our incomes), some just change year to year (vacation budget based on number of trips and destinations, house projects planned), some pretty much stay the same (gas, groceries).  I look at what we spent in each category the year before and adjust accordingly.  I leave some unbudgeted money for various surprises (usually car repairs or house projects that don't go quite to plan...i.e. all of them).   Then we try to stick with it.  Some categories we're really good about (groceries!) others, not so much (household expenses). 


Getting those things all taken care of makes me feel decently ready to start a new year on the right foot.  Helps with the whole "start as you plan to go!" thing or maybe just appeals to my "loves crossing things off the to-do list" thing...  What do you do to start the year right?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Day in the Life #6

It's once again time to record and reflect on how we spend a day around here!  I really enjoy reading these old posts and seeing how much things change even when it feels like they don't.  An obvious change in the seasons in the last 6 months but also in our routines and how Luke has grown!  Most of these that I've done have been on days that we haven't left the house which are really nice but not necessarily  all that typical (although still once or twice a week).  I picked this day because we were supposed to have a birthday party in the morning but then got canceled due to sick kids so...turned out to be a day we were home all day anyways.  Oh well.  I guess of all the types of days we have, staying home is the most commonly occurring!

Monday, January 16th, 2017
7:15am - Get up, change into workout clothes, make bed, downstairs to throw a load of (pre-sorted) laundry in and start the space heater in the basement for my workout (I don't know that it helps that much but it makes me feel better, mentally, and put off working out less), back upstairs to get shoes, talk to Matt a bit between us both getting ready.
7:28am - Workout while listening to podcasts.  Matt leaves.
7:54am - Finished working out, read e-mail while waiting for laundry to finish so I can switch and start a new load.  Do that once it's done.
8:00am - Upstairs to start getting the bathroom ready to shower (which includes turning on another space heater), remember I needed to wash my workout shirt so back in the basement to throw that in, grab supper ingredients from pantry/freezer while down there.
8:04am - Hear Luke stirring in his room so I jump in the shower, had planned to dry shampoo hair but getting a shower started before he's downstairs is more important.  He comes down, throwing open the bathroom door and making all my precious heat leave, before I'm out.  Talk to him while showering and getting dressed/around.  He decides to leave on his jammies. 

8:33am - I'm all dressed, hair done (ish, probably due for a wash but not happening), make-up on.  We go upstairs together to straighten up his room (fold blankets, put books away), make sure the upstairs space heater is off (my morning apparently revolves around space heaters).

8:39am - We have breakfast together.  Luke makes "forts" of the boxes most morning ever since I told him my sisters and I used to do that growing up.  I read my devotional, forgot to on Saturday and Sunday so I'm a little behind...  While Luke finishes eating I get supper in the crockpot (chicken taco soup), put away dishes that had been in the drainer overnight, brush my teeth, switch the laundry, clean the toilet, and talk to Luke.  He might be a slow eater but I don't mind on mornings we aren't rushing out the door.


9:15am - Luke is playing.  I clean out my recipe binder and then make blueberry muffins.
9:55am - Muffins are halfway through baking, I talk with Luke and we play the Squirrel game (more on that coming...)
10:08am - Luke is back to playing on his own and I spot clean windows and mirrors (per my weekly cleaning schedule), clean the bathroom, and, for some reason, organize part of my gift stash.  Take the last load of laundry out of the dryer, peel/slice/core an apple for Luke, per his request, I eat a muffin.

10:40am - Scrub the tub.
10:55am - Read for a bit while Luke is using the bathroom.
11:10am - Fold socks/towels/rags/washcloths while Luke crawls over me, quite literally.

11:40am - Put away the just folded laundry, take some pictures for the blog, straighten up a few things, package ThredUp return to ship the next day.

12:12pm - Luke tells me he's "going to school" and that I'm going to "cry for real, with tears" (which will probably happen when he actually does go to school), which really just means he's going up and down the stairs with a backpack filled with toys.  I read.  Luke dumps out most of his downstairs toys and refuses to clean them up.  I supervise while finishing my book.
12:30pm - Wash muffin dishes while Luke, super slowly, picks up his mess.  Help him finish.
12:45pm - We eat lunch together.  I had leftovers (last bit of this) which is strange enough to have Luke question it.  It's probably been 2 years since I had leftovers for lunch.
1:25pm - Luke is down for quiet time which isn't all that quiet.  I make myself a snack and eat while reading.
1:40pm - I read on the couch and then check Instagram.  I hadn't been on in 3 days so it takes about 15 minutes.
2:45pm - On computer to sort & tag weekend pictures and then work on this blog post.
3:40pm - Go upstairs to get Luke.  He's still busy doing Duplos in his room so I leave the doors open while I try on some sweaters that were just delivered.  I take waaaaaaay longer debating this than I should.  I ask Luke for his opinion. "You look beautiful!".  Thank you, son.  Luke goes down to get his supercape and mask and tells me he's fighting the giant ants in our closet while I continue to debate clothes.  When done trying outfits I figure I might as well put on my PJ leggings and yoga pants...I did wear jeans most of the day...

4:15pm - Get Luke's room straightened up (Duplos picked up) and we go downstairs to play two rounds of the Squirrel game.  I sneak some dark chocolate macadamia nuts before playing.

5:05pm - Matt is home, with two computer monitors in tow...a lot of random computer stuff is in and our of our house...  I finished getting supper around while he changes.
5:20pm - We eat supper.  Luke actually eats without complaint! 
5:40pm - I wash the crockpot and supper dishes while Matt fills our (just collected) recycle bin with the LAST of our Christmas recycle.  Some of that will have sat in our garage for a month before we finally had space for it. #recyclingproblems.
5:55pm - We all go in the basement to do a little organizing (Matt and I) or hitting boards with a hammer (Luke).  We really are making progress down there, we really need a garage sale now to clear out a lot of stuff! Sister and I start texting about when we should have the garage sale (today I also made plans for April and May with that same sister...we're really into planning ahead today...).
6:25pm - All back upstairs for some Squirrel game (mine and Luke's 5th for the day) and then some Monkey in the Middle and random kicking of soccer balls.  Luke laughs a lot.
7:00pm - Matt supervises bathtime.  I work on computer - mostly blog work.
7:40pm - Luke, clean and shiny, is in my office to watch some old home videos with me.
7:47pm - Upstairs with Matt to say prayers and read a story.  Matt goes downstairs.  I lay with Luke for awhile then get him his requested "A bunch of Berenstain Bear books!".
8:10pm - I am back downstairs, brush teeth, work on this blog post (It's rather meta to be blogging about how I spent my day writing this very post...although it's easier to keep up with it throughout the day than all at once the next day when I've forgotten a lot of the details I didn't write down!)
8:25pm - Work on another blog post, take a 15 minute Facebook break (hadn't been on in a few days, a lot of scrolling...), blogging, up with Luke for a few minutes (he's still awake...).
9:39pm - Computers off to fold laundry together while watching two epsiodes of It's Always Sunny. (It's a sometimes funny show about horrible people.  Really, their general horribleness cannot be overstated...I wouldn't recommend yet we've been watching it forever so we keep watching new episodes.)
10:30pm - TV off, Matt showers, I get a few things ready to run errands the next day, put away my laundry, check on Luke and make sure he's covered up.
10:47pm - read in bed
11:17pm - Lights out, at least until my 3am alarm goes off to take someone to the bathroom.  Yay night training...
 
And that's our day!  Turned out to be another one at home.  My morning cleaning took longer than I would have liked but it's hard to focus on that when I want to give Luke attention too.  Fortunately, I do the bulk of my cleaning on Mondays so the rest of the week is a little lighter and we get more time to play together.

Even if you don't want to share with the internet, I highly recommend doing this from time to time!  It's so interesting to see where your time goes, how much time you spend on things, and how life changes.  It's been a lot of changes since I started doing these! 

Day in the Life 1 - November 2013 (Luke 7 1/2 months)
Day in the Life 2 - June 2014 (Luke 14 months)
Day in the Life 3 - November 2014 (Luke 20 months)
Day in the Life 4 - January 2016 (Luke 2 ¾)
Day in the Life 5 - July 2016 (Luke 3 ¼)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

ThredUp Box #9

I've mentioned my love of ThredUp multiple times around here.  I ordered my first box last summer and 8 more since.  It combines my love of online shopping (LOVE being able to narrow down my search by style, size, color, price, etc.) and getting a bargain (cheaper since it's often used).  Plus, the whole picking it out on my computer/phone and having it delivered to my door is SUPER appealing for this introvert who likes being home.  (Almost all the clothes I buy from Target I also order even though I go to the actual store about once a week.)  I get higher quality clothes for the same price I'd pay at Target or Old Navy (where 75% of my wardrobe was from before starting to use ThredUp). 


With those 8 boxes I've gotten 59 items but have only kept 14 - everything that's shown above.  I thought it'd be interesting (??) to share all that I have bought and not just what I've kept.  I've seen others do it with StitchFix so why not ThredUp?  Sure, I pick it all but it feels similar to me because I'm trying things I wouldn't necessarily pick out at a store.

I return a lot (75%) for a lot of reasons.  Often it is not being sure how different brands' sizes will translate.  I'm pretty consistent in my sizes at Target and Old Navy but I've tried a whole bunch of other brands through ThredUp with a whole lot of different sizing issues.  That's a big reason why things go back.  Also, sometimes I just need a few more items to get to free shipping.  Or I buy 3-5 dresses with the intent of only keeping one but need/want multiple options.

So, the 9 items in my most recent order.  I kept 3!  That's pretty good for me!

1) Nordstrom Leggings, new with tag.  
Retail: $48 | I paid: $20.70

I've been toying with buying leggings to wear as pants (as opposed to the leggings I wear UNDER pants), with the right top of course.  I saw these Nordstrom ones with the tags still on and immediately added to my shopping cart.  And I love them.  Super comfortable and pretty thick (so no see-through happening).  I kept these.  

2) Old Navy sweater  
Retail: $33 | I paid: $9.90
Ok, the "retail" price isn't so accurate because that might be the list price but you don't have to be too smart to realize you NEVER have to pay that at Old Navy.  I bought an identical sweater, same pattern, in a different color a few weeks ago and paid $17.  It's now $15.  So maybe not even half off BUT I have this sweater in 2 colors, it's held up well, and I had been looking for a green one and, with three options, this one won. 
 
3) Gap Outlet sweater  
Retail: $36 | I paid: $9.00
The other green sweater option (and a 3rd from Target that is going back).  This one just didn't fit as well and was only 3/4 sleeves which isn't quite as warm in the winter.  I do like that color though.

4) Old Navy "sweater"
Retail: $33 | I paid $11.70
Ok, first the "retail" price is obviously high (I'm pulling all of these from the ThredUp listings) and, second, this is most definitely not a sweater.  I was hoping it was a pullover sweatshirt but it's a long-sleeved tee.  Way to be VERY generous on the listing, ThredUp.  It went back.  I don't need a $12 long-sleeved tee.

5) Lulu's Casual Dress
Retail: $60 | I paid: $15.30
This dress is the whole reason I actually placed an order.  Sometimes I browse and put things in my cart but if there is nothing that is "oh my goodness, amazing" I don't actually order.  This dress made me order.  I LOVE the color and was optimistic...but then I tried it on and it was really short.  I told Matt I am too old to be wearing a dress that short.  He said it was fine but...I'm 6 months away from being a great-aunt.  My almost mid-30s is too old for that dress.  If it had been a few inches longer I probably would have kept it.  Back it went.  (Not saying you can't wear short dresses in your 30s or older...the cut of this + the length just seemed to juvenile).

6) Three Dots tank top
Retail: $16 | I paid: $7.12
This was the first clearance item I've ever bought but it turned out to be ok.  I had to keep it because it's non-returnable but I probably would have kept it anyways.  I've been expanding my tank tops for summer and this one was comfortable, cheap, and fit well.  That's enough for me!  Kept it.


7) Ann Taylor Factory tank top
Retail: $18 | I paid: $5.40
I was SUPER close to keeping this because, again, I love the color but it was just enough too big that I don't think I'd be reaching for it often to wear.  If it was one size smaller I probably would have kept it, especially for that price!

8) Express short sleeved blouse
Retail: $50 | I paid: $12.60
 Honestly, this was a "I need to get to free shipping and this looks possible" item and so I wasn't really expecting to keep it.  It ended up being too big, or just too blousy that I didn't care for the fit.  I've been trying to expand my church-y tops a little and I love the color of this, but it just didn't work.  Back it went.

9) Lands End scarf
Retail: $36 | I paid: $9
 
I've been eyeing this scarf from Nordstrom but $25 is out of my comfortable price range for a scarf so when I saw this for much less I thought it might work.  Turns out it's more of a cold weather scarf and not so much a fashion scarf.  Just felt too heavy and bulky to wear besides with a coat.  So back it went.


There you have it, the 9 things I recently tried from ThredUp and the 3 that I kept.  My favorite part: how much blue and green was in my order.  I posted this to my IG stories after I opened my box and went all heart eye emoji on the colors.

Those are the most common color in my closet, after neutrals.

Have you tried ThredUp?  Do you have a better than 25% keep rate?  If you're interested, here is my referral link which will get you (and me) $10 off your first order.  I'm a fan!!  (And I would share this regardless of the free $10, maybe I'm just nosy but I like to see this kind of stuff from others!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Beast of a Blanket

I've mentioned a few times that I am frequently (always) cold in the winter.  Any excuse to wrap up in a blanket or sit in front of a space heater, I will take.  Conveniently, I was also thinking we needed some sort of throw blanket to put over the back of the couch.  Naturally, I decided I could make such a thing much cheaper than buying one.  (That may not have actually worked...pretty sure this was just as much as anything I would have bought.)  So, off to Jo-Anns I went. 


I had initially thought of something plaid, like I had used to make scarves but I wasn't struck by any of the patterns and that wouldn't have been very warm anyways.  Then Luke and I wandered over to the fleece which, as almost always, was on sale.  I picked out this sweater-pattern-ish one and bought 2 yards, thinking I'd double fold over the ends so the raw edges would be hidden (ala these blankets).


I brought my huge piece of fabric home and promptly put it over the back of the couch.  I used it as a blanket on and off for a few days, not getting around to pinning and sewing anything yet.  Then, I had the HUGE revelation that adding a second layer of fleece would make it twice as warm.  And that sounded easier than just double folding over the edges.  So back to Jo-Anns it was to pick out another 2 yards of fleece, still on sale.  I really considered red because I use that as an accent color as Christmas but my blue-loving heart just couldn't do it.  I bought navy which I think was the better choice. 

Brought that home and washed all 4 yards of fabric.  Now it was time to make a massive blanket.  I took absolutely zero pictures of this process but it was super, duper easy: 

Laid my two fabrics on top of each other on the floor with the correct sides facing each other. 

Trimmed so the edges matched up (but didn't square up the corners because I just didn't care that much). 

Pinned the heck out of it. 

Sewed with about a 1" seam allowance, leaving about 1 foot opening. 

Turned it right side out.

Pinned the opening shut. 

Sewed around the entire edge with about a ¾" seam allowance. 

And DONE.

(The exact same method I use on burb cloths, just with a larger opening.)

It was a lot of fabric to maneuver through and around my sewing machine and I broke a needle (into THREE pieces!!) while doing so but it was also pretty quick to sew up.  Now I have a super warm blanket that looks nice enough to throw over the back of the couch.  I think I've used it every day since I finished it and it's big enough for Matt & I to share if we are watching a movie together. 


I've made the fleece tie blankets and Luke sleeps under one every night (until he kicks it off) but for our main living space I like the cleaner edges of this one.  And, really, it may have taken the same amount of time to make as tying all those knots! 



I am super pleased with my massively huge and massively warm blanket.  It's where you will find me reading during quiet time or watching tv with Matt in the evenings.  And I'm finally, mostly, warm.  

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Quick Lit - January

It's once again that time of the month when I link up with Modern Mrs. Darcy and share everything I've been reading lately.  And it's a lot...I really have no good reason for that...  My New Years resolution was in part to read less but 15 days into the year and I've finished 6 books...so I might not be doing so well with that one.  As always, I'm very active on Goodreads so connect with me there! 

Other book posts from the past month:
Favorite {Grown-Up} Reads of 2016
Book Love: Mean Moms Rule: Why Doing the Hard Stuff Now Creates Good Kids Later
Friday Five: Children's Historical Fiction

And now, what I've been reading lately!



Winter Street & Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand
Some rereads!  I think I've read all of Ms. Hilderbrand's books and have enjoyed most of them, these among my favorites.  The third book in the trilogy came out in October (posted about here) and Winter Stroll (#2) made my "best of 2015" list here.  These are set around the Quinn family who run an inn on Nantucket and all of the things that happen to them around the holidays.  Lovely, cozy books I'll probably reread for many years to come.  4 Stars

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This is very much not the type of book I normally read.  The only other Sci-fy book I can think that I've read was The Martian and that was a completely different type.  This book takes place in the not so distant future (2044 maybe?) and revolves around this virtual reality most people participate/live their lives in.  Like attend school as an avatar while sitting in an abandoned van.  The creator of this game hid an Easter Egg that would give the finder/winner his billions.  Naturally, billions of people dedicate their lives to finding it.  There are a ton of 80s references and things like Star Wars comes up more than once.  It's a little terrifying to think about lives being lived completely virtually but also, not that much of a stretch.  I had some super weird dreams while reading this book.  I enjoyed it while maybe rolling my eyes a few times but I also got Matt to read it, which he is currently!  That's a pretty good sign if he's making it his single read for the year.  3.75 Stars

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
With all the hustle and bustle of Christmas I really like reading familiar books, ones I know I'll enjoy reading.  I don't want to waste my time on bad books that time of year, hence many of the rereads here.  This one is probably my favorite of hers and has grown on me a little more with each read.  The story of Lily Dane who is a socialite in the 1930s.  I so enjoy this book, especially around New Years when a large portion of the flashback part of the book is set.  4.5 Stars

Jesus Today: Experiencing Hope in His Presence by Sarah Young
This is the devotional I read throughout 2016.  I had read Jesus Calling in 2015 and so enjoyed it so asked for this one for Christmas to read last year.  Sometimes I need to be reminded to keep hoping and this was so perfect for that.  I'm reading another of her devotionals this year and then plan to circle back to Jesus Calling to repeat them all!  (Also, this one only has 150 entries so plenty of grace for the days I forgot...) 5 Stars

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
Having enjoyed the movie The Young Victoria I thought I would enjoy this book.  And while I did, I thought it wasn't fantastically written and when I read that the author was also writing the screenplay for the upcoming (starts this week!) PBS Masterpiece program, well that made sense.  I could see how this could translate better on screen since there wasn't a lot of emotion written into the book.  I have the DVR set to record the show so we'll see if I like that better.  It was interesting but if you aren't already interested in the British royal family, I would probably avoid. 3 Stars

The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp
I've mentioned this book before, purchasing it 6 months ago so I could read over the past Christmas season.  It goes through the Jesse Tree with reading and reflections for each day, December 1st - 25th.  It really did help me focus on the meaning of Christmas, while in the midst of all the shopping, wrapping, decorating, and baking.  I plan to read again this Christmas! 4.5 Stars

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
I've mentioned this book so many times as my favorite YA read ever and while I can now put it down easier than my first read (that one started at 11pm and ended at 3am with a finished book), I still manage to get through it pretty quick every time.  Eleanor & Park are unlikely friends who meet on the bus in the 80s.  SO perfectly captures those easy feelings of falling in love for the first time.  5 Stars

The Mothers by Brit Bennett
This book was very highly touted so I decided to read it.  It is about Nadia who "gets in trouble" with the pastor's son Luke.  They have to deal with the consequences.  I read A LOT of reviews on Goodreads trying to determine if the "consequences" involved having an abortion.  Spoiler: it did (which isn't much of a spoiler because it was first mentioned on page 2).  That gave me very mixed feelings about the book to start and...I don't think I would recommend it.  I did find the look at that church life (the "Mothers" refers to the older group of mothers at the church where Nadia and Luke met) fascinating but I couldn't connect with any of the characters.  Definitely not worth the hype for me. 2.5 Stars

Grace Grows by Shelle Sumners 
This was a reread, I think for the third time, so obviously one I enjoy.  It's not high literature by any means but every time I start it I have a hard time putting it down.  I think I read it this time in a little over 24 hours and that was fully knowing the plot and how it ended!  Definitely a super easy and enjoyable read for me.  4.5 Stars

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing my Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works by Dan Harris
I've enjoyed The Happiness Project and Happier at Home (both by Gretchen Rubin) so I thought I might like this one too.  It was a very different kind of self-help that was entirely centered around different types of meditation.   That's his theory for being happier: meditation.  Which, I don't practice BUT there was also a lot about living in the moment and fully participating in the moment without always thinking/planning ahead or looking back.  Which is a lesson I could definitely use.  Like appreciate how wonderful it feels when Luke holds my hand walking across a parking lot instead of going through my mental grocery list.  It was a pretty quick and easy read and the overall message was worthwhile. 3 Stars

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller
There were points where I really enjoyed this book.  There were also points I didn't really.  I loved all the food descriptions, those were fantastic but the plot was slightly predictable and a little wandering. But, I enjoyed it and still thought about the characters after finishing so there is that.  3 Stars

The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig
This book was a bear to get through.  I picked it up because she was one of the co-authors of a book I enjoyed (The Forgotten Room, mentioned here and here) and I was ready for some fresh books in my library baskets, seeing as I'm STILL working through the end of this pile from November.  I was also in a strange, unfocused mood when I first picked it up which did help me get into the book.  I thought the characters were pretty flimsy and the plot...I just didn't care.  It may have been my mood...but this certainly wasn't the right book for me at the time I was reading it.  2 Stars

Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill with Lisa McCubbin 
I read this on my aunt's recommendation after she saw I enjoyed The Residence a few months back.  I wasn't alive during the Kennedy administration, not by almost 2 decades but there are certain parts of that time that are still rather well known.  Clint Hill was the Secret Service officer assigned to Jackie Kennedy from right after the election until a year after JFK's death.  He recounts the time he spent with her and all the places he traveled with her, specifically covering being right there when JFK was shot in Dallas.  I don't know that the family would have wanted all those details made public?  From what I gather he didn't publish the book until Jackie had died.  Anyways, it was still a fascinating and interesting read, I got through it in a little over 24 hours and it's 300 pages (with pictures).  Recommend if you are interested in history or the presidency and those logistics.  (slightly associated reading: The Pink Suit) 3.75 Stars

Love hearing others' thought on books you've read also!  Or always open to recommendations!

December Quick Lit
November Quick Lit
October Quick Lit