Monday, July 31, 2023

weekending & the books I read in July

 


Happy Monday, friends! I'm linking up with Holly and Sarah for today's blog post. How was your weekend? Mine was wonderful!


Before I jump in, I wanted to let you know that this past Saturday (the 29th), I hosted the Share 4 Somethings post, and if you want to join in, it's not too late! The link will be open for two more weeks. If you've never participated in this, on the last Saturday of each month we share the things we loved, learned, read, ate/enjoyed. I'd love for you to join us! Here's the July edition of Share 4 SomethingsAdditionally, the Currently link party takes place on the first Wednesday of each month, which is this week, August 2nd, and we'll be sharing what we're currently loving, looking forward to, starting, thinking, and wearing. I hope you join us, we would love to have you! Both of these link parties are fun and fun to read. All I ask for each is that you link back to me and leave some comment love on the other blogs who participate. 


Now, back to the weekend. Every day starts off with puppy cuddles. Isn't Chloe sweet? She woke up with a swollen face on Friday, and her little eyes were almost swollen completely shut. I don't know if it's a teething thing, or if she was bitten by a bug, but I was told by a veterinarian to give her a Benadryl. She slept the rest of the day. 🤣 (She's going to the vet today, because it turns out she's also having another issue that needs to be addressed. Poor baby!)




My 92 year old dad comes over every Friday at 11:30. We love our time together, and I realize how blessed I am to have that time with him each week. I promise you that I do not take it for granted! Every week looks a little different, so I thought I'd share what we do. This week when he got here, we came inside and he settled in a comfy seat (with a cushion) at the kitchen table. I made us lunch this week, so I made grilled cheese sandwiches on wheat bread, and we had chips, and grapes. After lunch, we move into the living room and he gets comfortable on the couch with a blanket and a pillow behind his back, because his back usually hurts everyday. I always give him a few minutes to doze off, because he takes several naps each day. I use that time to clean the kitchen and to light a candle, if we're staying here. 


I also like to have soft music playing when he arrives, because it's known to have a calming effect on both people and animals. I usually have instrumental jazz, or a soft relaxing type of playlist going, like something by J.J. Heller. He loves her voice and she sings some of his old favorites, like Moon River and Edelweiss. We sit and talk, sometimes he naps, sometimes we watch videos of my choir singing songs, like last week when I played the song where I sang the solo on. Some weeks we go out to lunch, and because we ate here this time, we'll eat out the next time. I almost always like to have something to do with him while he's here, because it's good for us to be out together. This week we ran to Walgreens for a card he needed to buy, I drove my car through the car wash (he loves this as you can see below), then I went to Costco to get gas before taking him home. He usually likes to be home at 3:30, but this week it was 4:30. 




I always stay and visit with Sandy when I take him home, and this week I had a birthday gift for her. Her birthday is today! I came home for just a few minutes after I left his house, then I turned around and left again to meet one of my best friends for dinner. Andrea and I have been friends for about 13 years, and met when I was placed in her small group at a Bible study I attended while my boys went to homeschooling classes. 


We had an early night for once, and I came home to shower and get comfy, then settled in to watch a few episodes of the show I'm currently watching (When Calls the Heart). While I watched, I worked on getting the gel polish off my toes. I've been getting gel pedicures since my birthday back in December, and I was wanting to get away from doing that again. I loved it, don't get me wrong, because it would last for two months without chipping, but I honestly don't mind doing my own. And since I don't have a job now, it's always nice to save money. I was able to get most of the polish off, but I decided to go in Saturday morning for a polish change. For $15, they'll remove the old and paint them with a new color. I picked a beautiful OPI color called Quest for Quartz, which is a blush pink color. I have August in mind, because I'm getting my nails done this week, and I'm going more neutral again. (I have loved having neon nails all summer!)






Do you ever write out Scripture? I love doing this, and since August 1 is tomorrow, I'm going to start up again. I've done this for a few years, but I took a break from it this year. It's easy to do and I love writing it out, because it helps me to remember what I've read. I'd love it if you joined me!




I met up with my mom and sister that day for lunch and a few errands, then Trish and I had a dinner and movie night at my house on Saturday. We watched Book Club The Next Chapter, which I had high hopes for, but in my humble opinion was only mediocre. I really loved the first one and thought it was hard to beat. 




Look how much Crash loves Trish! They all do, but Crash adores her. 




It was an early night for me, because I had to be at church ready to sing the next morning at 8 a.m. This is the new dress I bought on Amazon! I am so impressed with the quality and the price. I mentioned this on Friday, but I also bought it in navy blue. In case you're interested, here's a link for the dress.





And for rest of Sunday, I took a short nap and watched more episodes of WCTH. 





And now onto the second portion of this post. I read some great books this month! Let me tell you about them—remember you can just click on each picture to be taken to a separate link to Amazon.


First up this month was The Secret Love Letters of Olivia Moretti, by Jennifer Probst.


⭐⭐⭐⭐

You'll remember that I read a book by her in June that will probably be in the top five of my favorite books for this year. This book is the second in the "series", but with different characters. Devon, Priscilla, and Bailey are three sisters who are not as close in relationship as they used to be. Some of that is due to hurt that one caused to another, and some of it is because of their expectations. Their mom has recently died, and as they're going through her house, they find a box of secret love letters from "R", along with the deed to a house they knew nothing about on the Amalfi coast. Determined to find out more about their mom's house and to settle up with getting that house ready to sell, they decide to take the trip of a lifetime. Plans changed almost as soon as they got there, and though they didn't necessarily find out what they set out looking for, what they did find was a new respect and admiration toward each other. Each sister has a certain chapter, and some chapters are the letters or the stories of their mom and this mysterious R, so we get to know Olivia through the years of her life. 


This is the second book I read by this author that surprised me in a good way. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first one I read by her last month, but it's a strong contender. I love the complicated relationships between women and moms/daughters/aunts/granddaughters. Once again, this author paints with words what I imagine the Amalfi coast would look like if I were there, with stunning descriptions and vibrant characters along the way. I really like this author and how she writes in a way that makes you able to see the place she's writing about.


Second was The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams.


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Who doesn't love a friends to lovers story? This is my second book by this author, and she's quickly becoming a new favorite of mine. Bree has been in love with her long time best friend Nathan since she was 17 years old, when they first met in high school. But friends is all they are, as they both date people throughout the years. Nathan is a professional football player these days and Bree is a ballet instructor for underprivileged kids in LA. One night when they're out celebrating a win for Nathan's team, Bree has a little bit too much to drink and spills her very secret feelings for Nathan to a very non-secret TMZ reporter, unbeknownst to her. Overnight, she becomes a TikTok sensation, so Nathan's managers decide to capitalize on the free advertising, and they come up with a plan to get Bree and Nathan to "date". They have to endure three weeks of this—surely they can do this and have their friendship come out unscathed? 


Here is why I love Sarah Adams. First, I adore every character she creates. They're all very likeable and personable, and she manages to make me swoon with every sweet word. Secondly, though she is definitely a romance author, she writes a very closed-door story, meaning we don't read about them having sex. Thirdly, this book surprised me with the views that Nathan had about sleeping around. She makes sure that chemistry oozes off of each page, but it's with words and heartfelt, meaningful gestures. For this girl who loves words of affirmation, these books are right up my alley. 


Next up was this one by another new-to-me author.


⭐⭐⭐

Here's the description from Amazon: Meg Mackworth's hand lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing custom journals for her NYC clientele. She has another skill too: reading sign that other people miss. Knowing the upcoming marriage of Reid Sutherland and his polished fiancée was doomed to fail is one thing, but wearing a secret word of warning into their wedding program is another. Meg may have thought no one would spot it, but she hadn't counted on sharp eyed, pattern obsessed Reid. A year later, he has tracked her down to find out she knew that his marriage would never succeed. With a looming deadline and a bad case of creative blog, Meg doesn't have time for Reid's questions, unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other, both try to ignore the deepening connection between them. But the signs are there: the irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it's too late... 


This book came with very high expectations! It's one of the best books of 2020, according to the Kirkus Best Fiction list, and on PopSugar's crazy popular book of the year list. It had all the elements of a great story, but it fell very, very flat after the excellent books I read this month. I didn't really care for either Meg or Reid, and I never really learned anything about either of them, except that one had family troubles, and the other came from a huge and loving family. There wasn't tons of conversing happening, just lots of walking and studying signs and talking about the fonts and sizes of them. (Insert gif image of girl rubbing her temples from exhaustion.) 


Next on the list was this one by a favorite author, one that I had pre-ordered!


⭐⭐⭐⭐


This is the story of two best friends and their daughters. Allison and Jess have been best friends for as long as they can remember, and they grew up on the Cape together. Allison and her daughter Julia have stayed in the Chatham area their whole lives, but Jess and her daughter Caitlin are solidly planted in Charleston. When Jess finds out about her husband's affair, Allison talks her into coming back to Chatham for the summer, and Caitlin wants to go with her as well, As their friendship picks back up where it left off, they learn that the local bookstore owner wants to sell her shop that's been open for years. These two friends make the decision to buy it together and to try and keep it afloat. The summer goes on and Jess and Caitlin find that maybe their home isn't in Charleston anymore. Should they go home? Should they stay in Chatham? Each of the four of them have some significant things happen to them over the course of a few weeks that is really making them think long and hard. 


I liked this book and I did rate it with 4 stars, but this is not my favorite Pamela Kelley book. My favorites that she has written are the Beach Plum Cover series, The Restaurant, and The Hotel. I did love these characters, but I liked her other characters even more. Even so, I'm a forever fan of Pamela Kelley books and will continue to pre-order them as she writes. This one showed up on my Kindle the morning that it released and I was (im)patiently waiting to read it after finishing some I'd borrowed from the library. 



⭐⭐⭐⭐


I adored this book by new-to-me author Sophie Cousens. Here is what Good Reads said about this book: Hopeless romantic and lifestyle reporter Laura's business trip to the Channel Islands isn't off to a great start. After an embarrassing encounter with the most attractive man she's ever seen in real life, she arrives at her hotel and realizes she's grabbed the wrong suitcase from the airport. Her only consolation is its irresistible contents, each of which intrigues her more and more. The owner of this suitcase is clearly her dream man. Now all she has to do is fine him. What are the odds that she'd find The One on the same island where her parents first met and fell in love, especially as she sets out to write an article about their romance? Commissioning surly cab driver Ted to ferry her around seems like the best bet in both tracking down the mystery suitcase owner and retracing her parents' footsteps. But as her dream man proves difficult to find, and as she uncovers more family secrets, she may have to reimagine the life and love she always thought she wanted.


This book was super cute, and felt like a Hallmark movie. Even so, I loved it and loved how everything turned out, though I had it all figured out pretty early in the book. I still recommend it, if you're looking for another light read.


Next up was another much anticipated summer read!


⭐⭐⭐⭐


Harriet and Wyn have been the perfect couple since they met in college. They go together like salt and pepper, honey and tea, lobster and rolls. Except now, for reasons they're still not discussing, they don't. They broke up five months ago and still haven't told their best friends, which is how they find themselves sharing a bedroom at the Maine cottage that has been their friend group's getaway for the last decade. Their annual respite from the world, where for one blissful week they leave behind their daily lives; they have copious amounts of cheese, wine, and seafood; and they soak up the salty coastal air with the people who understand them most. This year, Harriet and Wyn are lying through their teeth while trying not to notice how much they still love each other. They can't stand to break their friends' hearts, and so they will play their parts. After years of being in love, how hard can it be to fake it for one last week, in front of those who they love most?


This was a much anticipated book of the summer for me, thanks to a friend that I worked with at school. I loved the premise of this story—old friends getting together for one last hurrah at the beach cottage they've vacationed at the last ten years. It did get a little predictable, but I am glad I read it and I really did enjoy the book. 


And lastly, I read the newest Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke book.


⭐⭐


When their newly engaged kids ask all four divorced parents to meet each other over brunch, everyone RSVPs yes, secretly hoping someone at the table will get to the bottom of the bottomless drinks fast enough to say what they're all thinking: that this engagement is too much, too soon. Imagine the shock of finding out that they already knew each other as best friends and secret lovers. Rivalries come to light, and age-old secrets make their way known. Will the young couple be able to put all of that aside and marry?


Sounds good, right? Especially when you read, "Father of the Bride meets Bride Wars" in the reviews. It was terrible. TERRIBLE. The only reason I rated it two stars is because I forced myself to finish it since it was a book I'd preordered. UGH. 


On a lighter note, I'm reading two great books right now and can't wait to share about them in August. What have you been reading lately? I'd love to know! Thanks for reading this very long post, my friends. I'll see you back here tomorrow for some dinner inspiration! Love to all. 💙💚

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Share 4 Somethings, July edition

 



Happy Saturday, friends, and welcome to the July edition of Share 4 Somethings! We always talk about things we loved, things we learned, things we read, and things we ate and enjoyed. Don't forget to link back to me in your post, and remember to leave some comment love on the blogs you read from the link party. Happy reading! 


Loved:


I loved the fireworks on the 3rd of July!




I loved that I remembered to get this picture of Dad and I recently. 




I loved being introduced to this song. It's currently one of my favorites.




I loved this reminder that I saw on Instagram.




Chloe loved watching this show on Hallmark with me.




I have loved my new sunglasses! They're the flat front kind and they are seriously the most comfortable pair of glasses I have ever owned.




I loved meeting up with my friend and fellow blogger, Marilyn!




I loved seeing my old friends at church a few weeks ago! Kent was my old worship leader and he and his wife are near and dear to my heart. 




I loved seeing the oldest and youngest pups being cuddle buddies!





I loved getting some new pillow covers and giving the downstairs in our home a much-needed reset/refresh. 








(More of my downstairs reset/refresh)




Read:


I am reading this book every morning, but I've read some great books in July. I'll be sharing a post on the books I read in July on Monday, so come back to read about that! 






Learned: I learned about Elizabeth Elliot's sister-in-law, Colleen while listening to this podcast this week. This is a great podcast, in case you're interested. Robin Jones Gunn is one of my favorite authors, and she is the co-host along with Cheryl Brodersen. 




I've also learned some things about dementia, and what to do/not do. Most of you know my dad has this, so I like reading about things people give advice on when it comes to aging people with this diagnosis.





Ate and enjoyed: I have been loving the fruits and vegetables of summer. I ate this big bowl of fruit one day after dinner, and I've had several more just like it since. 




I enjoyed being out with my mom last Saturday, and this bowl of soup was so very good. It doesn't matter how hot it is outside, I always love and crave soup, especially La Perla Tapatia's tortilla soup.




I've been having this for breakfast everyday. It's a (new to us) kind of protein drink, the Orgain brand, and it's pretty sweet. Nobody likes them, but I've discovered that when I pour it over ice and add some coffee to top it off, it's delicious. This was not original to me, my friend Amy has talked about this before on her blog. 




Todd and I ate this sushi for dinner one night as a stay-at-home date night, and it was delicious! I hadn't had it in a long time, so it tasted even better than normal.




When we had our date night on Thursday, we really enjoyed the Mediterranean food we had. We ate at a place called Sufi's, which was quaint and that had the most delicious food.








I had the Jerusalem salad, we shared hummus and babaganoush with fresh pita bread, stuffed grape leaves, and shawarma meat with his wrap and my salad.  


That wraps another month of Share 4 Somethings! Can you believe it's almost August? I know this makes me sound old, but time goes by so quickly these days. Maybe it always has and I'm just noticing it more. Who knows? 


I know it's still a while before the new year, but I am keeping up both this link party and the Currently link party that happens on the first Wednesday of each month. That day for next month will fall on Wednesday August the 2nd, we'll be sharing what we're currently loving, looking forward to, starting, thinking, and wearing. I hope you'll consider joining up with one or both of those link parties! I'd love to have you join; they're fun to read. Thanks for reading my blog, friends. Love to all!


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Friday, July 28, 2023

Friday Favorites, 7.28.23.

 

Happy Friday, friends! I'm linking up with Andrea and Erika for today's favorite blog post of the week. How has your week been? Mine has been good, even though it got a really rocky start. And that's the perfect segue for my first thing this week.


What was not a favorite this week was finding out that my son Noah was involved in an accident while in Dallas, and the fact that he was rear-ended by an eighteen wheeler, thus totaling his car. (His new-to-him car that he'd only had a few weeks...remember me telling you that?)





Here's what I said about this on social media:


As a mom, there is never a good time to hear about your "kid" (no matter their age) being involved in a wreck. Noah has been in Dallas this weekend, and as he was heading back home today, he was rear-ended by an 18-wheeler truck. His car may be totaled, but thank God he and his friend are okay. (They're sore, and Noah has a cut on his face from it hitting the steering wheel.) Today could have been so much worse! For the second time in Noah's life, I am thanking God and praising Him for His word, particularly Psalm 91:11, which says this: For he will give his angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways. (The first time I thanked God for this verse was when Noah was a young boy, and was hit by a car as he crossed the street.) Cars can be replaced, but life is precious in God's sight. Like I already said, today could have been so different! 


Every night before I fall asleep, I pray for my people. I ask God to watch over them, to guide them, and to protect them. I am praising Him for His mighty hand of protection today! I am thankful that Todd was close to home when Noah called him. He was able to leave for Dallas within ten minutes of finding out! As I write this, they're together and on their way back home. I said all of this to say that we never know from one day to the next what our lives will look like. We should all be living our lives like today could be our last day on earth. I ask this all the time, but do you know Jesus? If your answer is no or that you're not sure, what are you waiting for? Reach out to me if you want to talk about this more. Don't wait!


Date night is always a favorite! Last night, Todd and I tried a new restaurant, one called Sufi's. The food was Mediterranean, and was AMAZING. We were matchy-matchy in our outfits and colors, so of course I had to take a picture. And then afterward, he bought me some beautiful flowers. Sunflowers are one of my favorites! 




Seeing Christa on Saturday of this week was a favorite! How colorful are we?!




My mom and I ate at our favorite place on Saturday, and this soup tastes just as amazing as it looks. It's tortilla soup and has chicken, bits of potato, rice, avocado, cilantro, and tortilla strips on top.




One of my current favorite books...




And seeing this Sunday night was a favorite. Todd participated in a sea of red for a fallen Memphis firefighter. This is beautiful to me, how they honor the lives of the ones who take care of us.





My favorite funny thing from Instagram that I promptly texted to my best friend...





This is my favorite picture of my sisters and me! I am being held by Lisa, then it's Trish, and Debi on the right. This gives you insight on our age difference as well, Lisa and I are fourteen years apart, Debi and I are thirteen years apart, Trish and I have eight years between us.




Fruit has been my favorite food this week! I've enjoyed watermelon from Mom and Bill, strawberries, grapes, and blueberries. 




Something I love to do that's a favorite is to make my sons happy to be home. I love to clean their rooms when they go out of town, and I love for them to be able to come home to a freshly made bed, and to have a lamp or ambient lighting turned on. This was me doing just that late Monday night, before I went to bed. Todd and Noah made it home before midnight, but I'd washed Noah's sheets over the weekend and forgot about the fact that they weren't back on his bed. While I would normally let him do that kind of thing (putting the sheets back on), who wants to do that when you're exhausted and ready for bed, and stressed out from the wreck and day he'd spent traveling? So, I put them on his bed and turned the covers down like this. I texted him this picture and he sent me a big thank you and said that again the next day as he gave me a bear hug. Bear hugs are my favorite. 




I went to a cute little boutique on Tuesday with my mom, and got this adorable car-freshener. You should smell it—the scent was called Hawaiian Suntan. You know me and my love of all things coconut scented! 




Oakley and her adorable napping positions are my favorite. 




Little books like this are my favorite! I also bought this at the boutique I mentioned. 




I have second and third holes for my earrings, and needed some new smaller sized pairs. I bought these at Walmart this week and they're officially my new favorite!




This dress is going to be a new favorite. I ordered it from Amazon over the weekend, and when it was delivered and after I tried it on, I immediately ordered another one in navy blue. I bought these with fall in mind. It stays warm here through mid-October to early November, so these will be a great transition type of dress. I thought they'd be cute with a denim jacket and wedges. I'm excited to wear this one on Sunday. I'm impressed with the quality for the price I paid—the liner is thick and stretchy, but the dress material is chiffon and does not give. I love how it falls, the length of the dress part, the sleeves, and I love the V-neck. I was telling a friend that I am getting to the point of needing clothes because of the weight I've lost. I am able to make most things work, but some things are falling off of me, like my favorite jeans. I don't want to buy a lot of things, just enough to get me by for now. This dress was a fun purchase and I will wear them both as much as I can, while I'm able. (I'm hoping to lose more weight, so hopefully this will be too big someday.)




This is one of my great nieces, Madi, and this might be my new favorite picture ever. She got into her mommy's lipstick this week and when Erika asked her why she needed that, she said, "Cause I a mom." I mean, she's not wrong. I told Erika that she takes after her auntie Jen! I've loved lipstick for as long as I can remember. I used to get into my sisters' makeup, and my mom loves to tell the story of when I broke a bottle of foundation that she'd just bought for Debi. 




One last thing, and it's this favorite memory of a Friday with Dad. We were at the zoo on this day, watching the penguins, and after that we saw the sting rays. I love the picture under this one; they all loved touching the sting rays at this exhibit. The boys were most likely around the ages of 11, 10, and 7 (twins) at the time this was taken.





 

Did you read my other blog posts from this week? I'll link them below. 

Monday was my weekending post. 

Tuesday was a post where I talked about what's in my shower and useful things I love.

On Wednesday, I joined in with a link party called What's Up Wednesday.

Thursday was a throwback post on what our life looked like in 2017. I talked about days gone by and what our weekends used to look like when they were all teenagers. 


For a bit of blog business and because many of you plan your blogs out in advance, I thought I would share some dates and prompts with you. The Share 4 Somethings post always happens on the last Saturday of every month. The prompts always stay the same on this post: we share the things we loved, learned, read, and ate/enjoyed that month. This month, that date falls on July 29th. Additionally, Currently takes place on the first Wednesday of each month. On Wednesday August the 2nd, we'll be sharing what we're currently loving, looking forward to, starting, thinking, and wearing. I hope you'll consider joining up with one or both of those link parties! I'd love to have you join; they're fun to read. 


Thank you for reading my blog, friends! I hope your week has been great, and that your weekend is even better. Love to all! 💜




Friday Favorites, 7.12.2024.

  Hi, friends! As you can tell, I'm forcing myself to be here often, because my life needs to resume some sort of normalcy right now; th...