Thursday, October 28, 2021

Things I Like - October

Happy October!  I am leaning hard into fall seasonality this month, a month I have really come around to liking, especially before our recent turn in weather where we had 75° days and nights perfect for sleeping with the windows open.  We made it a whole TWO WEEKS between the last time we turned on the AC and the first time we turned on the heat!  That's almost a record!

I always enjoy hearing what works for other people and I like sharing things I like, it's part of the reason I have a blog.  I've been doing these monthly posts for 9 years and they also provide a nice little snapshot in my life at a moment in time! See more here!  Some affiliate links may be included!

1) The Office Ladies pod Halloween mug
Here's the thing, I've been listening to The Office Ladies pod for 2 years and enjoy it.  Last year they put a Halloween mug for sale in their merch shop and I debated buying it THE WHOLE MONTH OF OCTOBER.  I had it open in a browser window on my phone.  I never bought it and then regretted it once it was no longer listed.  Well, I like having a bit of a mug schedule, certain ones I use certain months and I am ALL ABOUT changing things with the seasons (within reason) and therefore started checking their shop for the Halloween mug again about mid-September.  It finally showed up and I ordered and it has delighted me every morning I have used it since it was delivered.  I got the 15 ounce one and will be sad to put it away November 1st.

2) Feelin' Amped Essie Nail Polish
I think this came about because I needed something else to hit a spent $25 get $5 gift card deal or something (I clearly wasn't very close).  I give myself a set of nail polishes to choose from for each season and my fall colors were 2 very close navy blues and this green.  I obviously needed ANOTHER blue option (besides my spring and summer blue options).  This is so fun and has been in heavy rotation.  I really like having my nail painted, rarely going more than a few hours between taking off one color and putting on another.  

3) Battery Organizer
Sherry from Young House Love talked about this for months and since batteries were one of those things I could never seem to get organized, I convinced Matt we needed one.  You all, it might be the most grown-up thing to get excited about a BATTERY ORGANIZER but it really has been amazing.  I still claim to my kids that I can't change batteries and we still use mostly rechargeable batteries (many of which are stored here too) but it made such a difference in our battery mess.  And I really appreciate having a tester built right in, one of those things I could never seem to keep track of.  It hangs in our basement and was definitely worth the less than $20 we paid.

4) Essie Expressie Air Dry Nail Polish
Yes, two new nail polishes, I don't quite know how that happened. This one is much more grey and than blue so makes a better neutral than many of my blue-blues.  This gives me 4 colors to rotate through in the fall, just enough for some variety without too many!

5) Curious George Boo Fest!
I don't know how I've had young kids for this many falls without ever mentioning "No Noggin'".  Luke was just starting to grow out of watching this fall Curious George classic right as Sam was growing into it (Sam is literally watching it as I type, quiet time has been a bit of a disaster lately.).   I try to limit screen time but am a little more lenient on seasonal things (how many times can I mention seasonal things in this post?) since we only watch them for a small window of time each year.  We watch this via our DVR that we recorded off PBS 5 years ago but you can also get the DVD from Amazon, check your library or PBS listings.  We even have a "No Noggin'" that Matt & the boys made that goes in front of our house every October.  It's the perfect amount of "scary" for little ones.

What have YOU been liking?

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

{9} Pumpkin Picture Books

My thoughts on Halloween have varied over the years but I have always been in on the pumpkins.  Even though, in my late 30s, I've still never carved one.  There is just something so festive about a bunch of pumpkins sitting on the front and back steps that makes me happy and feeling fall festive.  I also appreciate the color orange, especially in the fall, and like how orange contrasts with blue (the color of our house) so the color combination is especially delightful.

Pumpkin books can also range from mid-September through Thanksgiving, depending on how "Halloween-y" they are which makes them more versatile than the books we only read the month of October (some of these are still Halloween based but not all!).  I really enjoy our Halloween book collection but there is something nice to have ones that last a bit longer than those!

Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White, illustrated Megan Lloyd
Rebecca Estelle HATED pumpkins, hated them.  She had a lovely garden but then some pumpkins accidentally get planted and ended up taking over her yard.  Now she still hates pumpkins but has to deal with a whole lot of them. 

Pick a Pumpkin by Patricia Toht, illustrated by Jarvis
The fall companion to the popular Pick a Pine Tree by the same author and illustrator.  Lovely verses about picking out a pumpkin, having a carving party, eating good food, putting on costumes and trick or treating with friends.  This is one I'd like to buy. 

We're Going on a Pumpkin Hunt by Goldie Hawk, illustrated by Angie Rozelaar
This has been a big favorite in our house this year, one of the earliest Halloween books we got from the library and it's been in heavy rotation since.  A take on the classic "We're going on a bear hunt" except this is Halloween and they encounter (gently) creepy things along the way.

The Ugly Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz
This is a FANTASTIC book for the transition from Halloween to Thanksgiving.  This Pumpkin is feeling very left out, nobody wanted to pick him (he should have befriended Stumpkin) and he can't quite figure out where he fits in.  Year round at our house, whenever anyone says "Oh my gosh!" the automatic response is "I'm a squash!" thanks to this book.

The Pumpkin Runner by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrated by Brad Sneed
This is based on a true story of an older gentleman who ran a real long distance race in Australia in the 1980s maybe?  This older man only eats pumpkins and pumpkin dishes and is putting all these younger, more traditionally trained runners to shame.  (This still won't convince me to eat pumpkin.)

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara
A classroom lesson about counting the seeds in a pumpkin (that sounds like a lot of counting) and not underestimating people OR pumpkins.  I actually learned something from this!

The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin by Stan & Jan Berenstain
We love Berenstain Bears year round and this is another great transition book from Halloween to Thanksgiving.  The Bears, mainly Papa, are trying to grow the biggest pumpkin in Bear Country for the annual contest.  They don't win but there are still things to be thankful for!

Runaway Pumpkins by Teresa Bateman, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman
Luke rode a school bus (driven by my Dad!) to the pumpkin patch in kindergarten and it was especially memorable so we enjoyed this story of kids riding the bus to a pumpkin patch and how they all pick their pumpkin.  EXCEPT the chosen pumpkins go rogue until the neighbors bring them back, in different forms!, for the party. 

Little Boo by Stephen Wunderli, illustrated by Tim Zeltner
Do you know what can be scary?  Pumpkins.  Do you know what pretty definitely is never scary?  Pumpkin seeds.  And this little pumpkin seed just wants to scary SOMETHING.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Travel: Amelia Island

 This summer we knew we wanted to go to the beach.  Or I knew I wanted to go to the beach and since I do all the planning and booking...my vote counts for the most.  Matt is pretty willing to go most places and the boys are literally along for the ride!  So after traveling nowhere in 2020 and having a great (but cold) time in Michigan in 2019 and going to two big cities in 2018 (NYC & Vegas)...we were overdue for a beach vacation.

The Plan
As I said on Tuesday, I looked at what felt like every beach condo in our price range from Texas to Florida.  There I wanted to be walking distance to the beach, have a pool & 2 bedrooms.  Those were the main criteria besides price.  By the time we decided we felt safe going somewhere there weren't many somewheres available.  So I expanded our search to the Atlantic coast and looked at SO MANY PLACES from North Carolina down to Florida.  This might be the broadest search I've ever done for a trip (although I am usually looking much further in advance and our last 2 beach trips have been during the school year).  

We finally settled on fewer days (due to what was available) and the Atlantic coast, again, due to what was available.  That's how Savannah ended up factoring into our travel plans, we wanted somewhere else to go besides just our few days at the beach!  I was unsure about the waves on the Atlantic but the Google Map pictures seemed reasonable and the reviews were good.  We've experienced big waves in the Outer Banks and gentle swells like the Gulf in Miami so we were expecting somewhere in the middle since this was, literally, in the middle of those two.

Where We Stayed
I was hoping for a beach view like we had in Miramar but then I looked at what that place rents for during the prime season (we went late September last trip) and I realized that was outside of our budget.  We ended up at a condo on property of the Omni resort.  We didn't get a beach view but it did have a treehouse feeling to it, being literally surrounded by gorgeous trees.  

We had two bedrooms and two bathrooms even though the light was so bad in the "master" shower that we all pretty much used the boys' shower the whole time.  But having two toilets was a huge plus!  We also had a washer & dryer (crucial for a beach vacation, in my opinion) and a full kitchen.  There was a pool we could see from our balcony (helpful for when one of us went up to start lunch or supper while the other stayed at the pool with the boys.  Very easy summoning!).  Again, the tap water was disgusting (worse than Savannah) but we bought a new Brita pitcher on our second day and that greatly helped!

The beach was about a 5 minute walk away, even with a 3 year old.  The only downside was that the only outdoor shower we found to rinse off at post beach was all the way around by the pool which meant walking all the way around our building when coming back from the beach.  It wasn't far but when you are sandy and salty...that extra minute or two of walking right past your door is annoying. 

The Omni Resort was HUGE and most of it wasn't available to us but Matt & I each ran twice while we were there and that was pretty fun.  Running with a view of the ocean at times and through the winding paths.  I got lost SO MANY TIMES on my first run, if my phone didn't have GPS I might still be out there wandering around but it did make for fun running!  Even though my pace was abysmal.  (I blame the heat & humidity.)

What We Did
We did exactly what I wanted to do on a beach vacation which was spend time at the beach and relax and read a lot and catch up on sleep and generally just enjoy vacation.  The waves varied by day but they were never so big that the boys couldn't play in them (although Luke did enjoy them more than Sam).  

We were only there 4 nights which meant 3 full days at the beach.  We spent a good chunk of each late morning/early afternoon at the beach, playing in the waves and the sand.  Most evenings we also went back to walk along the water and sometimes the boys and Matt played in the water too (I was done being wet by that point in the day).  We picked up A LOT of shells, the boys especially enjoyed this.  

It was pretty much exactly what I was looking forward to on a beach trip.  Nobody needed a sweatshirt or pants the whole trip, I got in a lot of reading, we slept 8 hours a night, ate sweets and played at the beach.  It was the first time to the Atlantic for the boys and the last time Matt & I saw it was from Ireland 9 years earlier.  It had been 4 years since a beach vacation and it was so calming and rejuvenating to get our feet back in the water.  There was something so healing about being back at the beach and just taking in the vastness of the ocean.  I realized that I don't want to go that long between beach trips again, it was so good for my mental health. 

We had some time to waste between checking out of our Savannah apartment and checking into our Amelia Island condo, even with the 2 hour drive so we spent about 90 minutes at Fort Clinch State Park on the north part of Amelia Island.  We spent most of that time at a secluded playground we had to ourselves for over an hour.  The boys really enjoyed that part even if I was on the lookout for gators the whole time (we saw exactly zero the whole trip).  

The drive home was the trickiest part of this trip.  We did the drive to Amelia Island in 3 chunks - Home to Cincinnati, Cincinnati to Savannah and Savannah to Amelia Island.  Now we were driving home in one long stretch. (Who decided this would be a good idea...very cheap people, that's who.)  It was a 20½ hour drive home, leaving at 7am and getting home at 3:30am.  Part of that was a slight (hour) detour to visit The Bookshelf in Thomasville Georgia which I had been supporting via Patreon for years and with book purchases since the beginning of the pandemic.   I had a quick 40 minutes to browse and buy a few things and it was SO EXCITING to be there in person after listening to the podcast for nearly 5 years.  But that also threw us in Atlanta traffic at 3:45pm on a Friday in the rain.  SO...I don't think Matt will be letting me make that detour again anytime soon.  Then there was more traffic, a stop in Cincinnati for our laundry bag, TOO MUCH driving around by that hotel to find ANY gas station at midnight, a few missed exits and somehow I messed up the drive home from Dayton that I did a couple dozen times in college (in my defense, it was 1:30am by that point and it was also dark).  So, the drive home was a pain but we did it and learned we never want to drive that much at once.  

BUT the beach part of the trip (and the Savannah part) was absolutely wonderful.  It was by far the furthest we've driven with two kids and our first beach vacation with two.  It was a great way to kick off our summer and pack in some good family time!  We loved it.





Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Travel: Savannah

 

Welcome to this month's installment of "Diana catches up vacations" post.  Actually the first of two posts this week because time and length concerns.

The Plan
With 2020 being 2020, we didn't go on a vacation and then it took awhile into 2021 before we decided that we would be comfortable going somewhere (which turned into 2 somewheres) this summer.  I think it was around April that we decided that vacation would be a go and knew we wanted to go somewhere warm since our last trip, pre-pandemic, was colder (the UP, coming next month).  I spent what felt like FOREVER looking across the entire Gulf Coast (every state Florida to Texas) at anywhere available close to the water that was available our approximate dates and within walking distance of the beach.  It was A LOT of looking and some budget expanding.  I also had the secret goal of making it to the The Bookshelf if it wasn't too far out of the way.

We ended up finding a place on the Atlantic coast of Florida (that's coming later this week) and but we couldn't find anywhere with a full week at the beach available (at a price we were willing to pay) and so had planned on going somewhere else on our way to/from Florida.  I had been to Savannah, Georgia with my family in 2004, on my last family vacation, the last one with all 8 of us, and really enjoyed it.  It wasn't too far out of the way on a direct drive to our Florida spot and it seemed like a great place to stop on our way. 

Our trip started with leaving on a Friday night after Matt got home from work.  We just drove to Cincinnati, where OF COURSE we got stuck in traffic on I-75 (I've spent a good many hours on 75 and the times I haven't gotten stuck in traffic are rare).  I have great nostalgia for that drive with having gone to college in Dayton, done many trips to Kings Island, WGI trips with winter guard in high school, and a cousin getting married there.  It filled me with all sorts of warm fuzzies to be driving through there again, before getting stuck in traffic.  

 
Anyways, we got through Cincinnati and stayed at this La Quinta.  This is notable because I forgot our laundry bag there, which I remembered with a start when Matt had given me the chance to nap in the car two hours after we had left Cincinnati.  I seriously considered if we should turn around but instead called them and they found the bag and then I spent too much time stressing how to get it back the rest of the trip.  (We ended up adding 10 minutes to the drive home to go back through Cincinnati, instead of Indianapolis, to get it, picking it up at midnight, almost exactly a week after we had checked in.  I still remember the huge relief I felt picking it up again when I see pictures of that part of our trip home.  I practically skipped out of the hotel and that excitement helped me stay awake for the final 3+ hours home).

Anyways, we drove through 5 states on our way from Northern Kentucky to Savannah, Georgia.  

Where We Stayed
We've been staying at VRBO's since before AirBnB's were a thing.  I always look through both sites when I am looking for lodging.  In Savannah we stayed at this AirBnB which was easy walking distance from their main historical district but not so close that it was insanely expensive.  It had HIGH ceilings and fantastic light in the two front rooms.  Luke slept on the futon folded out and Sam slept on the trundle that slid underneath during the day.  Matt & I had our own spacious room that connected with the boys' and also the hallway, so we didn't need to pass through their room to use the bathroom.  The kitchen had everything we needed and the tv was already hooked up to Netflix which was helpful for settling down rowdy boys. 

The only downside of the place was the horrible tasting water.  We got through it with a lot of ice cubes but it wasn't good.  

We had easy street parking right outside the door and walked everywhere we went in Savannah until we had to be out of the apartment.  It was a fantastic place to stay and perfect for our family.

What We Did
The first night we ate supper, everyone showered, and we went to bed.  We had a VERY late night the night in Cincinnati and were all tired from a full day in the car.

The next morning was Sunday and had time for breakfast AND left early for Mass.  It was CRAZY.  We walked through a few squares that morning and it really felt like we were on vacation and I had forgotten how much I missed exploring new places.  It was so exciting and wonderful.  We were less than a mile from the GORGEOUS Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, one of the places I remember visiting with my family 17 years earlier.  Also, I don't know the last time we left EARLY for Mass.  It remains the most crowded place I have been since pre-pandemic and being back in a church filled with people singing almost brought me to tears.  It was wonderful.  

We walked the long way home from Mass, walking through Forsyth Park and then picking up lunch to eat at our apartment.  We all changed and headed back out into the heat!  Matt so helpfully carried a backpack with water bottles (of gross water and lots of ice) for all.  

I had spent a lot of time in the weeks before the trip reading through blog posts found via Pinterest of what to do in Savannah.  Made a lot of notes.  Mapped out a plan.  We followed almost none of it.  We started back with Forsyth Park where the boys really enjoyed the playgrounds (and Matt & I competed on the monkey bars, we are always trying to outdo each other on those). 

Once we had them worn out and then re-energized with ice cream, we started walking towards River Street with plenty of time and nowhere we NEEDED to stop.  We walked through MANY of the squares Savannah is known for.  I wish I had taken pictures of the signs at each one so I could remember which all but I think we hit 14 of the 22 with no effort. Everything was so pretty and charming and just so nicely laid out.  Savannah is also a very pedestrian friendly city, with pedestrians given the right away crossing almost every street in the historic district.  We definitely got used to that right of way!

We did caught in a sprinkle which we could mostly avoid thanks to all the trees in the square we were in at the time.  But the boys loved the rain and it did cool the temps off by about 10° (got it closer to 80° than 90°).  It was a lovely afternoon just taking in the city.

We eventually made it to River Street where we took a free ferry ride across the river, seeing the giant bridge that I HATED driving over the day before (the boys took great delight in my fear, thankfully Matt was doing the actual driving).  It was also a nice way to sit for ~15 minutes!  We did some souvenir shopping along River Street and ate supper where we gulped down the water and refilled all the water bottles.  I think it was the first time we had eaten in a restaurant with the boys since we were in Michigan two years earlier.  (Pandemic or not, we don't eat out much, much prefer picking food up to eat at home or in a park or, when needed, in the car.)

 

One highlight for me along River Street was seeing "the stairs" that my sisters and I had posed on when we were there in 2004.  The picture of all 6 of us, in born order, was framed on my parents' mantle for many years afterwards.  So much so that Matt spotted the stairs before I did "because I had seen the picture on your parents mantle".  It helped that my parents had just been in Savannah in the spring, reminding me of the stairs and giving me a heads up as to where they were.  The stairs and the waving girl were the two things I remembered about Savannah besides the Cathedral and it was a bit surreal to be back there with my own family again.  It felt like time folding in on itself because it just didn't seem possible it had been 17 years since our last family of 8 vacation but now here I was, married and taking my own family back.  Time is weird.  

We found the one available bathroom on River Street (the visitor center and the only place that required masks on this whole trip) and eventually headed back to our apartment, finding an empty playground and more squares on the way.  We got everyone to bed even earlier, all having walked SO MUCH that day.  

The next morning we had to be out of our apartment at 10am which led to some FRANTIC packing and loading up the car, closing the door for the last time at 10:01am.  We drove and parked near Forsyth Park since we had some time to stall, even with the drive we couldn't get into our next condo until 4pm.  The boys played on the playground again (it was a great playground) and then we headed south!  

Our time in Savannah was brief but we all enjoyed it.  When people later asked where we went on vacation and I told them, nearly everyone (who had been there) said  "I love Savannah".  I would have loved more time to wander and it would be nice to go back someday but I'm glad we got a taste of it now.  It's not like home and it's always wonderful visiting and exploring new places, even if it's just in a different way or decades later than before.  I'm glad that's how our trip worked out, that we had time to go somewhere besides just the beach and we got to experience Savannah.


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Quick Lit - October 2021

 Happy mid-October!  I have decided that October is one of my favorite months.  Maybe July, December, April, then October?  Or October before April.  It's probably whichever I am currently not experiencing.  October really feels like fall and, like I said before, the appetizer month to the holidays.  Anything I can get done now for Christmas prep still feels like I'm really ahead of the game and just super on top of things.  No pressure yet to get anything done!  The weather has turned even though it's been unseasonably warm here lately, we've had very few of the under 50° mornings to get to school!  Although the dark is creeping in, per usual, but it makes it slightly easier to get the boys to bed earlier(/on time) when it's already dark outside before bedtime.  

It is a crazy busy month for us, even busier than an usual October.  Maybe it's just that I forgot what October could be like with everything canceled last year but there is A LOT going on this month.  Just so many things.  Which is lovely but after this we'll definitely be ready for our winter hibernating where we only come out for holidays (and school and church and work and the grocery store and etc etc etc BUT...our social activities greatly settle down).  

My reading has stayed very steady and I'm almost right on track with where I was a year ago, a time where I was rereading the Harry Potter series which was so fun but those books are also LONG and that took some serious time.

I'm on Goodreads here which I keep very current with whatever I am reading, on Instagram here where I am about to overload feeds with pictures of fall foliage but also post about books sometimes, and linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy.  

First, other book posts in the past month: 

The Office: Books, Podcasts, and Merch

Books Luke & Sam Like

{15} Favorite Halloween Books

More Green Changes, 3 Months Later

Now Everything Else I've Read! 

The Royals Next Door by Karina Halle
Complete fluff about what would happen if you lived in a little servants' quarters on Vancouver Island and someone royal, say a thinly disguised Prince Harry & Meghan Markle moved next door in their attempt to escape the British PressAnd if you were coming out of a bad relationship and they had a really hot body guard.  It was a bit ridiculous but also fun.  Heads up for a few open door scenes.  3.25 Stars

The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan
A World War II set novel about a group of women competing in a cooking competition for a spot on a  BBC radio program.  Showed what life was like in rural England during the war, for all the women left behind trying to make ends meet and still put food on the table.  I'm very glad I do not live in a time where food is rationed even though I really admired their dedication to putting good meals on the table for whoever they were feeding.  And lovely female friendships, despite the odds.  3.75 Stars

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
This is the author of The Martian, a book I enjoyed and we bought so Matt could read it too (he also liked it).  I saw many reviews where people said they liked this book more than The Martian so I had pretty high expectations of it.  And while it was better than Artemis (way too much of that book centered around welding), I think I still liked The Martian more.  Space travel and trying to save the planet and waking up to a spaceship where the only other 2 people on it are dead.  SO.  I kept trying to get Matt to read it and then hit a point where I told him I could tell him more of the story that would make him definitely want to read it but he also HATES spoilers of any kind (he doesn't even want to know a movie's summary before starting) so told me not to.  SO.  I wavered back and forth between 3 and 4 stars the entire book and got to the ending and saw why so many rated it so highly. He stuck the landing which is more than many do but I was iffy on so much of it before.  It was good though. 3.25 Stars

Stranger Care by Sarah Sentilles
This book made me cry and read the last 100 pages without stopping because I NEEDED. TO. KNOW. WHAT.  HAPPENED.  And it's non-fiction!  A memoir about the author's experience, with her husband, of the foster care system and trying to make a family.  There was also a lot about trees which was unexpected but lovely.  I could relate to parts of her story even though we've adopted, never fostered, but the parts about home studies and the questions and the nerves...that I totally got.  It was beautifully told and heartbreaking at times. 4 Stars

This Lovely City by Louise Hare
This was a book about a lovely city, London, and the complications of being a non-white person living there in the years after WWII (I believe).  It centers around a Jamaican man who is accused of a murder he can't prove he didn't commit and how that complicates his life and the lives of those closest to him.  I appreciated how the characters were determined to have their joy, despite life being hard and things not working out for them as they had hoped.  It was overall an optimistic book even though there were many hard parts. 3.5 Stars

The Paris Connection by Lorraine Brown
A chaste YA romance about two teenagers who are on the wrong part of the train when it splits in Europe, ending up in Paris instead of Amsterdam or somewhere further north.  She doesn't have her phone or much money (she must have had her passport) but does have bad memories of Paris and a boyfriend she got separated from on the train.  He is missing a big career making opportunity but is from Paris and has his phone and cash and all that.  The cover is fantastic and I loved reading about Paris and train travel and just being somewhere else.  3.75 Stars

Apple Never Fall by Liane Moriarty
A highly anticipated book that I was able to get on the list early so I got it pretty quick once it was released.  I've read all of her books and have liked some more than others but this one was on the better end.  A Delaney family, a mother who has gone missing, a history of playing tennis, Australia, complicated family dynamics, changing viewpoints, and a mysterious woman who lived with the parents for a few weeks.  I appreciate reading about a good, complicated family and this was an enjoyable page turner! 3.75 Stars

Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee
This book had such an interesting premise - following 8ish Chinese onboard the Titanic.  There really were 8 (known) Chinese on board and 6 of them survived although America wasn't letting Chinese in at that time so I'm not sure what happened to them afterwards.  Anyways, this was following a young Chinese lady who sneaks on board (because they won't let her on, even though she has a ticket) and tries to get her brother to join her in performing their circus act for a showman on board (I was reading this while I started rewatching The Greatest Showman which was an interesting coincidence).  Anyways, it's the Titanic, we all know what happens.  There were too many subplots, I couldn't keep the layout of the ship straight enough, and the end just made me mad (even knowing the ship would sink).  It was a disappointment. 2.25 Stars

The Ultimate Book of Outfit Formulas: A Stylish Solution to What Should I Wear? by Alison Lumbatis
This was a quick read that went over some style basics and then gave a lot of outfit formulas which were really fun and made me think differently how I could wear some items I already own.  Did it also influence a bit my recent clothing list?  Making me add some items after I had already scheduled that post?  Yes, yes it did.  My one quibble is that in the outfit formula parts all of the pictures were in black, white, and pink which made for a pretty book but hard to see some of the color combinations come together.  It's hard to imagine what is pictured as pink pants actually be blue.  But, again, it helped me come up with new combinations for stuff I already own so that's a big win. 3.75 Stars

Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagan
I accidentally read the book that was a follow-up to this one over the summer (I very specifically remember finishing it in our tent while camping and the rain had finally stopped) and I enjoyed that book quite a bit, even without having all the backstory (it took me AWHILE to figure out there was an earlier book).  Enjoyed it enough to want to pick-up this one even though I knew the ending.  It was a quick, 250ish pages read about a woman living in Chicago who has some not great things happen to her on the same day so she escapes to Puerto Rico for a month.  Who hasn't wanted to head to the Caribbean when life gets wonky?   I also enjoyed this book.  3.75 Stars

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
This book might be the longest I've waited for an already in circulation book.  I was in the 140s when I put it on hold and it took months.  Last I checked holds were up to the 200 somethings which is CRAZY.  A bit suspenseful but not at all scary, just a "what happened to this person and what do I not know about their past" type book.  100% a page-turner because I just couldn't put it down in the last 150 pages and there was ONE page I was almost afraid to turn, thinking I knew what it meant for the story.  I don't know if it quite lived up to the hype that it's been getting but I did really enjoy the reading experience.  Also involved a houseboat which made me REALLY want to rewatch Sleepless in Seattle.   3.75 Stars

That's what I've been reading lately, how about you?