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?

Untitled

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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The Short List: May

Disclosure: This post is part of a yearly series in partnership with Netflix. As a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I’ll be sharing ideas throughout the year on some of the best Netflix titles to stream with your family. The content, as always, is whatever streams through my own mind! In addition, this post contains affiliate links. Hope you enjoy!

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m really, really good at coming up with ideas for blog post series, but not so great at following through with them. I’ve played around with different ways to do a monthly roundup post of the things I’m into, stuff that might not need an entire post devoted to them, but still worthy of sharing. I like these kinds of posts – both reading them on other blogs as well as writing them myself. I think that maybe, just maybe, I’ve found a way to incorporate my favorite things to share (things I’m loving, what I’m reading and watching, good stuff I’ve come across on the web) into a monthly roundup. That being said, let’s not get too attached, m’kay?

May is always a crazy month, with Mother’s Day, the end of school, our anniversary, upcoming June birthdays. Mike and I celebrated 18 years of marriage in the most romantic way possible: apart. It was almost as romantic as the anniversary a couple of years ago where we ate hot dogs for dinner. Mike was in Vegas on our actual anniversary, celebrating a friend’s 40th birthday. We celebrated in a small way when he got back, enjoying a middle-of-the-week day date while the kids were in school. I posted this picture on Facebook and Instagram on our anniversary:

MikeAngieWedding

There’s no one else I’d want to share this crazy life with. Also, life’s too short to marry somebody who won’t do the chicken dance.

As the Deflategate saga continues, I can say with all seriousness that I am DONE talking about balls. Still, I couldn’t resist sharing my new favorite t-shirt with some sage advice for Patriots fans who have their knickahs in a knot about the punishments and fines Goodell handed down:

Hey Tom Brady and #Patriots nation, #deflategate got you down? This sage advice always makes me feel better.

(The shirt is from Nordstrom, by the way. I know you secretly want one, too.)

If Tom Brady’s four game suspension holds, his first game back will be against the Colts. In Indy. You know where to find me on October 18th.

Watching:

As you may know, I’m a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam. Oddly enough, I’m probably the person in the family that watches the least amount of programming on Netflix. If I watch something, it’s because we’re watching something as a family or I’m watching a show or a movie with Mike. That changed this month, when I discovered Netflix’s new documentary series Chef’s Table. The series takes you inside the lives and kitchens of six world-renowned chefs: Ben Shewry (Australia), Magnus Nilsson (Sweden), Francis Mallman (Argentina), Niki Nakayama (USA), Dan Barber (US) and Massimo Bottura (Italy). It’s fascinating, both seeing these creative geniuses at work in their restaurants, as well as seeing them at home and in their own kitchens. If you love food, cooking, travel, or really unique documentaries, you’ll  love Chef’s Table.

Mike, Elena and I also finally started watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt together. We laugh so hard, and have to rewind over and over again because we missed something hilarious. So many one-liners, and Ellie Kemper is fantastic as Kimmy. I think my favorite line so far has to be “Hashbrown. No Filter.”

I’m also hoping to check out Grace and Frankie, a new Netflix original series starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The cast looks amazing, and I love the story line.

Reading:

I’m working my way through Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2015 Reading Challenge, and this month I’m tackling (pun totally intended) Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger in the category of A Book in a Genre You Don’t Typically Read. I’m hooked, and I think it’s going to make me start binge-watching the entire Friday Night Lights TV series when I’m done.

Elena and I started listening to the audiobook of All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. We’re only on the 2nd of 9 CDs, but we’re both really liking it.

My library offers free audio and ebooks through Hoopla, and I’ve listened to several books while folding the laundry and washing dishes. I just finished The Vacationers by Emma Straub (with a lovely Spanish setting), and I started Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall last week. I’d definitely recommend The Vacationers as a light, by-the-pool-or-beach summer read. I’m not too far into the other one yet, but it’s a lot darker than I thought it would be. I guess the cheerful fair scene on the cover mislead me.

My nonfiction book at the moment is All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior and it’s fantastic. She talks about the modern paradox of parenting, and how our kids can bring us immense joy while at the same time draining us of energy and enthusiasm for our own life. She highlights each stage of parenting and how every season has its unique challenges. Really great stuff if you’re in the parenting trenches. Eli, however, was not amused with the title and premise of the book: “I’m ALL joy and ALL fun, Mom.”

Eli and I are reading Masterpiece by Elise Broach. We’re only a few chapters in, but we’re both enjoying it the story of a beetle and a boy in New York City.

Loving:

It’s no secret I’m a freak for anything coconut. I mean, when you have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to coconut

I’ve been treating myself once a week or so to Amy & Brian’s All Natural Coconut Juice. I love the variety with pulp, which means I need a big, fat straw to get those chunky chunks delivered to my belly. I know that makes a lot of you want to barf, which means more coconuts for me! I wish it wasn’t so expensive. I tried a brand I found at Aldi’s, but it had added sugar, which I’m trying to avoid.

My last Birchbox had a sample of Number 4 Blow Dry Lotion. I’ve had a hair-volution over the last 6 months or so, and I’m only washing my hair every third day. It was rough at first, and by the third day my hair looked every bit like it needed washed. But as my hair and scalp have adjusted, I’m finding that my hair is so much healthier and I have more good hair days than I’ve ever had. The tradeoff is that I find I have to use good quality hair products or else my hair suffers and seems like it needs washed more frequently. I used to blow-dry my hair straight every time I washed it, but now I probably only do that once a week. The other days I let it air dry into a wavier style. It’s a pain to blow my hair out, as there’s a lot of it, and it takes work to get it straight. This Blow Dry Lotion not only cuts down my drying time by a good 5 minutes, but it makes it easier to straighten. But the best part is that my hair feels full and soft for another two days after I blow it out. I’ll definitely be buying the full-size when I run out of my sample.

Surfing:

There’s never been a safer time to be a kid in America (contrary to what the news and other parents want you to believe).

When life isn’t simple. I’ll be reading and re-reading this as we head into summer, when my simple and quiet routine gets all discombobulated.

To alleviate the stress of my discombobulated summer nerves: 8 rosé wines to drink right now.

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

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A Few of My Favorite Things {in September}

Disclosure: I was not paid to endorse any of these products or services. However, this post does contain some affiliate links. This means that if you purchase any of these items through my links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale. I’ll never share a product or link to a product that I don’t have personal experience with, though.

I am SO bad about starting a new series on my blogs and then letting them wither and die in their little internet corners! But I do love the idea of a My Favorite Things series, mostly because I read them on other blogs and often find new things that I end up loving. So after a few months hiatus, it’s back!

In my last post, I wrote about how much I was loving my pour over coffee method. The key to a good pour over coffee, besides getting your technique down, is starting with really good quality coffee. A few weeks ago I got a delivery from Craft Coffee. After answering a few questions about your coffee preferences, they send you samplings of coffees that match your profile. All the coffees are hand-roasted by independent coffee roasters from a variety of small American businesses. The beans are fresh roasted for your order. It’s the freshest coffee I’ve ever had, and every variety I’ve tried is delicious. This one is my favorite so far:

Craft Coffee

A subscription would make a great gift for that hard-to-buy for person who loves coffee, but has already received every iteration of Starbucks gift card from you for every birthday and holiday (and if you use the code c6z-tyx you’ll get 15% off).

I tend to stay away from natural peanut butters. Other than Sunbutter (which I tolerate and Eli loves more than actual peanut butter), I only eat Jif. It’s what I grew up eating and it’s what tastes good to me. And then I spied this:

B. Happy Peanut Butter

B. Happy “Don’t Worry” peanut butter, made with coconut, almonds, and dark chocolate. I can. not. stop. eating it. Like, it’s going to turn into a problem. A very delicious problem.

Moving away from food you eat to food you read about … Jenny Rosenstrach, the voice behind one of my favorite cooking blogs, has a new book out.

Family dinners at home are so important to me, and over the years I’ve gotten meal planning down to a science. That doesn’t mean I don’t need inspiration to stay on track, though. In Dinner: The Playbook, Jenny gives you the down low on how to master the art of the family meal. Even if you walk through the valley of  small children and picky eaters, you will fear dinner no more. This book and its words will comfort you.

Finally, these shoes, man. I bought them in black for our trip to Spain. I wanted something comfortable but cute. I cringed a little at the price, but I’ve gotten every penny’s worth out of them. They look cute with everything – shorts, dresses, jeans, yoga pants – and feel like slippers (Although I must warn you – I had one awful day in Philly breaking them in. After that they were amazing. I find they run true to size, maybe even on the large size. I typically wear a 7 or 7 1/2 and ordered these in a 7).  I wore them all summer, and now they’re taking me into fall. Plus, it makes me happy looking down at them and knowing these shoes have walked cathedrals, castles … and Target.

What are some of your favorite things right now?

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