How was your week? I know last week was the first official week of 2019 but this week felt like the real return to normalcy after the holiday season. Chase clearly caught wind of the fact that Christmas is over because he said — ahem, whined — “I want it to be Christmas again. I don’t like all of the other days.” Granted Chase said this when he was in a serious mood (both hungry and tired) and caught sight of someone taking down their Christmas lights as we were driving, but still… I get it. Apparently the post-holiday blues are genetic.
Despite the fact that the holiday season is over, we had a pretty good week over here! I was personally very ready to get back into the swing of things and, since Chase was back in preschool and Ryder napped pretty well, I had a little more time to blog (see my bazillon-word post about sleep training after the 4 month sleep regression) and our house no longer looks like a complete disaster. All wins!
Do you guys have any plans for the weekend? We don’t have too much on the agenda and the weather looks like it will be a bit cloudy and rainy, so I’m hoping to figure something out to get out of the house at some point. We’re also planning another family movie night after having so much fun watching The Lion King together last weekend. I’m kind of hoping movie nights become more and more of a thing around here now that Chase is a bit older and more into movies the whole family enjoys (Disney!) rather than just little kid stuff. I was worried cuddles would stop once Chase became a bit older but thankfully he’s all about getting “cozy, cozy” under big blankets and cuddling up with me, Dad, Baby Ryder and Sadie for movie night!
Aaand now that I rambled on a little too long in the intro of today’s post, let’s hop right into the real reason you’re probably here: Things I’m Loving Friday fun!!
Things I’m Loving Friday
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
I am a big-time fan of Liane Moriarty’s books and, with the exception of one, I’ve enjoyed all of them. (If you’ve never read any of her books, my favorites are The Husband’s Secret, Big Little Lies and What Alice Forgot — and I’d recommend all of them over Nine Perfect Strangers as well.) I pre-ordered Nine Perfect Strangers when I saw she had a new novel coming out and couldn’t wait to read it! In true Liane Moriarty fashion, her latest novel had me laughing out loud and flying through the pages as the story unfolded.
The book takes place at Tranquillum House, a remote luxury health resort, and follows the nine guests attending the resort for a 10-day retreat. Right off the bat, the guests can tell the Tranquillum House is different. Between the “noble silence” — a period of time where talking and even eye contact is forbidden — to the middle-of-the-night meditations, Frances Welty, a former best-selling romance novelist, is unsure whether she should stay or leave, a conundrum that seems to perplex nearly every guest, despite the fact that they’re all intrigued, if not captivated, by the owner of the resort from her stunning physique to her unconventional (and illegal) approaches to healing.
I enjoyed the book enough to recommend it but it’s actually one of Liane Moriarty’s novels that I would say gets progressively worse as you continue reading rather than more intense, exciting and intriguing. The story is entertaining and her characters are well-developed and interesting but as the plot unfolds it becomes less and less believable and a little too out-there for my personal preferences. While I can say I liked the book, it wasn’t my favorite and I’d point you to some of Liane Moriarty’s previous novels instead if you haven’t read them yet.
Also, while we’re chatting about books, right before Christmas, I also read Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, which I enjoyed and it made me want to dive into more memoirs/autobiographies, so if you’ve read any you recommend, please let me know! And if you’re looking for a good one, Andre Agassi’s Open is still my all-time favorite and I promise you don’t have to be a tennis super-fan to love it.
One of the Christmas presents I was most excited to give to Ryan this year was a letterpress version of the poem we read to each other at our wedding. Since we were finishing up our living room update, we both wanted to give each other gifts we could use in that room since the color palate changed from beige/brown to blue/gray/white. We wanted to fill the built-in bookshelves with items that matched the updated room and I turned to Minted to create a personalized gift I thought would look nice on one of the shelves.
I opted for a framed letterpress version of our favorite poem and love the way it turned out! I was able to customize everything from the words and text to the color of the ink (frost) and the frame (brushed silver). I wanted to share this gift idea here just in case you happen to be thinking ahead to Valentine’s Day and might want to surprise a loved one with a quote or poem or something of the sort in a way that would let you view words that mean something to you every day.
Instax Mini Camera from Kim and Carol
Early in December, I had an incredibly kind blog reader, Kim, reach out to me offering to send Chase a bright red Instax Mini camera after she read about his love for taking pictures on the blog. Her email was so sweet not only because of her generous offer but also because she wanted to send me her mother’s camera, an Instax Mini camera she held onto after her mother’s passing last summer.
She knew her mom, Carol, would love for a little boy to enjoy her camera and kindly offered to send it to Chase. The way she talked about her mother moved me and filled my heart up because I could feel the love Kim and Carol shared through the way Kim wrote about her mother and the pictures she sent my way of her mom with her family. Kim’s thoughtful gesture truly touched me and every time Chase takes a picture with Carol’s camera, I hope that somehow it makes both Kim and Carol smile.
I actually just ordered Chase a little $8 album (blue, of course) for his Instax Mini photos because he’s been keeping them in a “special place” and I thought he might enjoy having an album of the pictures he’s taken since he has a bunch from over Christmas, a friend’s birthday pajama party and random around-the-house photos.
My mom is the queen of quality stocking stuffers! This makeup brush cleaning pad was in my Christmas stocking this year and clearly my mom knew I desperately needed to clean all of my makeup brushes. Confession: I’m not sure I’ve ever cleaned them and if I can it’s been so long I can’t remember the last time I did it. Is that horrifying or what!?
Anyway, I made it a point to clean all of my makeup brushes with castile soap and this cleaning pad this week and feel like my face should glow like a newborn baby’s now that my brushes are all clean of dirt and pore-clogging grossness. Even if that doesn’t happen, I do feel a lot better knowing I’m using brushes that are actually clean for the first time in years.
High Protein Frozen Mint Hot Chocolate (This one has a 4.7-star average rating from 20+ reviews and is such a great way to satisfy a raging sweet tooth in a healthy way!)
Butternut Squash Grain Bowl (One of my all-time favorite meatless meals and it makes fantastic leftovers for lunch!)
Question of the Day
What is one thing making you smile this week?