The Short List: March

Even though we just marked the third anniversary of living in our home, we’re still learning a lot about the house. This especially holds true for the trees and plants that were here long before us. I’ve been making lots of walks about the back yard this spring, to check on how the various shrubs, plants and bulbs we planted in our big landscaping overhaul last year fared over the winter. I might be a very hands-off parent, but when it comes to things I spent money on and planted in the ground? I tend to helicopter. We lost a few small shrubs, mostly due to the dog as opposed to the elements, but overall things are looking good and spring has definitely sprung.

For as much as I pay attention to what’s blooming, I seem to have completely ignored something right under my nose. Perhaps it’s because for most of the year this big shrub, which sits just off our deck and steps from the back door, is nothing much to look at, really. It’s just a round, kind of boring bush. It grows right next to our grill, and I can’t tell you how many times each summer I stand there staring vacantly into its large green leaves. I had no idea what it was, and didn’t really care to know.

One day last fall I looked out onto the porch and smiled. Seemingly overnight, the nondescript bush had transformed into nature’s version of candy corn.

Witch Hazel Shrub in Fall

Had it done this every year? Or had I simply been to distracted to notice? And then late this winter, when the air hinted at spring but frost and the occasional snow were still making appearances, it sprouted these wispy, ribbonlike blooms. Again, how did I miss this show?

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It turns out it’s a witch hazel. And now that I know its name and the beauty it brings to my spring and fall days, you can bet I won’t ignore it any longer. Beyond helicopter parenting my plants, here are a few other things I’ve been into this month:

Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links.

Watching:

The kids and I tried Fuller House, but we just couldn’t get into it. Eli, having never watched the original series, didn’t understand it all. Elena and I missed the original feel of the show, and didn’t care for the new plot’s edgier topics. I am, however, thrilled to have HBO’s Togetherness back.  (I just learned it won’t be renewed for a third season, which is super disappointing.) And I’m trying to enjoy each and every episode of The Good Wife during this final season. I normally hate courtroom dramas, but I have loved that show from day one.

When Breath Becomes Air

I just finished two books within days of starting them: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi and After You by Jojo Moyes. Look for full reviews in the next couple of weeks, but they were both very good. I’m off to the library this afternoon to replenish my stack of reads. For now I’ve got a fun YA book on my Kindle called This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. On the non-fiction side of things I’m slowly making my way through Love the House You’re In by Paige Rien and Hands Free Life by Rachel Macy Stafford. Eli and I just started Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins. It feels like our last several read-aloud have been full of rodents, so I think I’ll make sure our book features only people – no talking animals!

Loving:

These Dolce Vita booties were a total impulse buy when I was in NYC. I stopped into a Steve Madden store looking for something completely different, but the sales girl insisted I try these on. They were marked down to $39 from $200 – it would be a tragedy if I passed them up, she said. And so instead of sensible flats I walked away with heels. The crazy thing? I want to wear them all the time, and they keep showing up online when I’m not expecting it. Like in an outfit I’d pinned weeks earlier.

Or on The Mom Edit (my favorite resource for all things fashion). It’s like we were meant to be together!

Surfing:

I couldn’t agree more with “Why Parents of Teens Should Really Read YA.” I try to read at least one young adult book a month (I even picked one for my book club to read). Not only does it provide opportunities for great discussions and bonding with my own teen, there’s just some really amazing reads out there that you’ll miss if you dismiss the genre. If you’ve never picked up a YA book since you’re own YA days, get in touch and I’ll be happy to help you pick out something.

Speaking of young adults, I really appreciated this list of suggestions on how to raise happy teens. I think teens (especially girls) get a bad rap. They’re angry, moody, entitled and disrespectful, right? Sure, we have our days. But for the most part I love having a teenager in the house.

Drink up! Turns out that glass of red wine could good for weight loss. That’s my kind of diet!

What’s on your short list of favorite things right now?

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