The Short List: April

Poolside reading

I can’t think of the last time in my life (at least since having kids) that I have packed and unpacked a suitcase so many times. This spring has been a season of travel. Last month I had my quick trip to New York City. (Update: I was able to watch my Life Reimagined video that I shot while in NYC. I can’t share it quite yet, but I’m so happy with how it turned out!) This month I was able to get away for a few days to Florida with Mike. His trip was pretty much all business, while mine was pretty much all lounging. I’m eternally grateful for my family and neighbors who make it possible for us to sneak away together. I’m also eternally grateful for piña coladas.

In just a few days we’re headed west! Yes, our big trip to California is right around the corner. You may remember it was our Christmas gift to the kids. We’re all super excited. We’ll spend four days in Los Angeles, a day at Disneyland, and 3 days in San Diego. If you want to follow along, be sure to find me on Instagram. And maybe Snapchat? I just joined, but have absolutely NO clue what I’m doing. That, my friends, is what having a teenage daughter is for. I’m angie.six in that foreign land!

While we’re navigating the west coast, here are a few things I found while still firmly planted in the midwest:

Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links.

Listening:

I’m still way behind on the podcast craze, but there are a few that I’ve been absolutely loving. One is Modern Love. Each week, a celebrity reads an essay from the New York Times column by the same name. The topics of the essays are so varied and interesting, and never fail to captivate me. I especially loved “My First Lesson in Motherhood,” read by Connie Britton. As a reader, I also adore the new podcast from Anne Bogel, What Should I Read Next. I think I love listening to people talk about books almost as much as I enjoy reading them! I’m on a quest to find a podcast that the kids and I would enjoy together. Any suggestions?

Reading:

Thanks to a recommendation from What Should I Read Next, Eli and I are reading The Crossover by Kwame Alexander together. Reading something written in verse is new for us, but the topic (basketball) and the writing have us hooked. I’m also tearing through a fantastic book on parenting teenage girls. Chock full of useful and panic-reducing information, Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by Lisa Damour is a book I’m going to be shoving into other parents’ hands on a regular basis. On the fiction front I started The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings . You might remember her as the author of The Descendents, which was made into a movie starring George Clooney. On the audiobook side of things I’m listening to How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran. Imagine Bridget Jones and Cameron Jones melded into one teenage girl growing up in the gritty suburbs of London. It’s a fun (but definitely not safe for work or small ears) listen so far.

Loving:

I’ve been admiring maxi dresses from afar for the last couple of summers. They seem so cute on other (taller) women, but all wrong when I try them on. Every maxi dress I’ve tried on has been too long, or too tight in the wrong places, or so loose it looks like a potato sack. And don’t even get me started on the bra issues!

gap column maxi dress

I finally found the perfect maxi dress at the Gap that is big-busted, short girl perfection. It comes in petite sizing, so I don’t have to hem it, it’s clingy in a sexy way (as opposed to sausage-casing clingy), and I can wear a normal bra with it. I’ll be wearing it all summer long, dressed up and dressed down.

Surfing:

Have trouble deciding what to read? How about reading a book based on your Myers-Brigg personality type? (I’m an ISFJ-T, so I added A Little Life to my TBR list.)

Our 19th wedding anniversary is just around the corner, so these tweets that only married people will understand made me chuckle.

As a person who never excelled at math, this article fascinated me. It also changed the way I talk about math to my kids.

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

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My Favorite Online Resources for Pretty Much Everything

When it comes to living in this digital age, it can feel like a modern-day Dickens novel:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness … we had everything before us, we had nothing before us …”

We have access to so much information (The best!), and yet how do we sift through all of it to get what we need? (The worst!) How do we figure out which resources to trust and which are full of nonsense? We have everything at our fingertips, and yet when we really need help, answers, advice or inspiration, it can feel like nothing quite fits.

The internet is obviously not one-size-fits-all, and I can’t claim that I’ve got it all figured out. However I do feel as if over the years I’ve been able to curate a list of trusted sources on the internet. I’m able to rely on these sites for the areas of my life in which I most often seek information. I recommend them so often to so many different people I thought it would be handy to have them all in once place.

As a reader, I hope you find at least one resource in this post that makes your information-loaded life just a little easier or brighter. I’ve included a brief description of why I love the particular site, as well as a link to an example of the kind of useful information that makes them so wonderful. And if you happen to stumble on this post and you’re responsible for creating the great content on the resources listed below? Thank you so very much! You make my life easier and brighter! Enjoy.

The best online resources for media, travel, fashion, food and home. These are my favorite places to turn online for advice and inspiration.

WHO I TURN TO ON THE INTERNET FOR ADVICE ON:

Movies, Shows, Apps & Media for Kids

Common Sense Media: I’ve been using this site for years, and it’s never let me down. Wondering if that latest release in theaters is too scary for kindergartners? Have fond memories of The Goonies, but wonder if language could be an issue? Search movie titles on Common Sense Media and they’ll give you detailed information on it all: consumerism, sex, violence, language and more. I’ve also used it to check out video games before purchasing them for Eli. Beyond reviews, the site is also a wealth of information and inspiration for how you can use media wisely in your family. I don’t subscribe to many newsletters, but I do receive the newsletter from CSM and almost always find something relevant and useful.

Example: The New Guide to Managing Media for Tweens and Teens

Books (For Kids)

Brightly: This lovely site, launched last year in partnership with Penguin Random House, is another bright spot in my inbox. The site is full of advice, inspiration and book recommendations to help parents grow lifelong readers. Whether you’re the parent of a toddler or a teen, you’ll find something of interest here. I’m always finding titles, old and new, to add to Elena and Eli’s reading lists. I especially enjoy the Brightly newsletter. Not only does it link to new content on the site (and you can tailor the newsletter for the age and stage of your own readers), but they always include some interesting links from around the web.

Example: 10 Books for Kids Who Only Want to Read Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Books (For Grownups)

Modern Mrs. Darcy: I’m relatively late to the MMD bandwagon, but now that I’m on it I wonder how I lived without her! I’m a big fan of Anne Bogel’s book recommendations for sure, but I love her writing about life and motherhood as well. Her site is very well organized, and her reviews are thorough and extremely helpful. I also highly recommend her new podcast, What Should I Read Next? It’s always entertaining and down-to-earth, and it never fails to send me to my To Be Read List to add yet another title.

Example: 11 Books That Are Better in the Spring

MomAdvice: You can find all kinds of great content on Amy Allen Clark’s blog, but for years she’s been my go-to resource for book recommendations. If she gives something 5 stars I know I need to read it! Amy reads lots of new releases, many before they’re published, so if you like to stay on top of the latest reads you’ll especially appreciate her reviews. I also enjoy her interviews with authors and tips for getting more reading time in a busy life.

Example: February 2016 Must-Reads

Travel

Pinterest: I know that it seems as if Pinterest would be a classic information-overload trap, however I find it extremely useful in planning trips. I can’t think of any other online resource where you can find so many unique resources for travel, whether it’s across the world or in your own city. My tip is to use keywords judiciously when searching. For example, instead of typing in “New York City,” type “New York City with Kids,” or “3 days in New York City,” or “Where to eat in Chinatown.” That will help both narrow down your results as well as home in on what’s most important in your travel experience. I always advise that you search as specific as possible, and if that doesn’t get the results you want then broaden your search.

Example: My Pinterest boards, of course! (I recently organized my travel boards to make them easier to search.)

Trip Advisor: I always turn to Trip Advisor when researching hotels and restaurants. I love all the filters: you can search by location, amenities, best for families, cost and more. Once you have your search parameters set you can sort them by their ranking or price. I don’t typically book my hotels through the site (I’ve always been able to get the same deal or better by calling the hotel directly), but it helps narrow down the choices to my top few and then I go from there. You can also search your destination for top restaurants and things to do. I find the reviews on Trip Advisor to be very thorough and helpful.

Fashion Advice

The Mom Edit: Fashion blogs are tough, and so very personal. Everyone’s style, life circumstances, age, budget and body size are so different, making it impossible to say one fashion site is THE one for you. I’ve subscribed to dozens, and this is the only one that’s stayed. I think that’s because Shana uses a team of moms as contributors, meaning you’ve got several different body types and styles to pick from. Sure, there’s plenty of stuff on here I would never wear, but the Mom Edit team often gives me ideas for ways to wear what I already have or ideas of a few pieces I could add that would take my style up a notch. The Dressing Room Selfies posts are my absolute favorites. (FYI, if you’re looking for Capsule Wardrobe inspiration, Mom Advice has that covered really well.)

Example: Athleta Dressing Room Selfies

Cooking

America’s Test Kitchen: I wrote a round-up post last year about why I make dinner and how I use different resources to make meal planning and meal prep easier. These suggestions were featured in that post, along with some others. I did want to post a quick update on America’s Test Kitchen. I recently received a full subscription to the website (Disclosure: I’m an affiliate.) and it’s been a game-changer. I still love and will never give up my cookbooks, but having the entire ATK archive in one place? Fantastic. If you’re looking for a huge resource of well-researched recipes in just about every category you can imagine, ATK is your one-stop shop. Consider me a life-time subscriber.

The Kitchn: The recipes on The Kitchn are top notch as well, but I also appreciate the extras on the site: tips on kitchen organization, meal planning, and just general advice on all things food related.

Example: How I Use Google Sheets for Grocery Shopping

Serious Eats: Serious Eats, despite the name, doesn’t take itself as seriously as ATK or The Kitchn. That doesn’t mean I don’t pin at least 20 recipes a month from their site! As I mentioned in my New York City post, their city food guides are fantastic, too. I especially love anything written by J. Kenzi Lopez-Alt for The Food Lab Series. Many of his well-researched recipes have become Meal-Plan All-Stars.

Example: Bar-Style Tortilla Pizza

Home Management and Design

Apartment Therapy: Apartment Therapy is also the home of The Kitchn, and I love them both for their clean, concise articles. There’s a ton of content on AT, and I probably only read less than 25% of it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not adding value to my home life. They’ll often run a series of posts that are helpful in cleaning and organizing your home, such as the January Cure. I appreciate that they feature real homes that people of all walks of life live in, which gives me practical and useful inspiration for my own home.

Example: Living Room Geometry: the Basics of a Well-Balanced Room

Design Mom: I mentioned Design Mom in one of my book review posts, after reading Gabrielle Blair’s book How to Live With Kids: a Room-by-Room Guide. Like Mom Advice, Gabrielle’s blog is so much more than one thing (in this case, design), but this is an area where her content really shines for me. Her weekly series “Living With Kids” is always so interesting! I hate to pigeonhole this blog into one category, as I save and use the information from so many of her posts in my daily life … it’s a good one.

Example: Living With Kids

It’s your turn! Tell me about a resource you consistently turn to on the Internet and how it’s most helpful in your life.

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The Short List: November/December

Sunset Rainbow

Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links.

Weekday late afternoons often find us scattered. After the kids and I check in and have our afternoon snack and a cup of tea, they wander off to their own corners of the house. Elena likes to do homework up in her room with her music. Eli likes to chill in the basement, either by himself or with the various neighborhood boys that find their way to our home many afternoons. If Mike is home, he’s often in the office finishing up a few things. You can find me in the kitchen, making dinner. We’re all here, but we’re in our own little worlds.

As a particularly rainy and dreary day drifted into evening, which thanks to Daylight Savings Time means 5 p.m. or so, the house was suddenly filled with a warm, golden glow. Every room of the house was suffused with the most beautiful light. It was so unusual, and almost magical, that it drew us outside. Once we stepped out, we were rewarded with a gorgeous sunset to the west and a full rainbow to the east. What a lovely reminder that even on the busiest and dreariest of days, there is always a reason to pause and look up.

I really love writing these monthly short lists, but I’m going to change the format up just a smidgen. In the past I’ve included a section of what I’m watching. It was initially a convenient way to fit in my Netflix movies and shows into regular content. While we’re still big fans of Netflix, my time with the Stream Team is up. Also, I’m just not an exciting person when it comes to television. I watch football and a handful of other things, and I’m pretty awful about adopting new shows. For those reasons, I’m letting the “Watching” portion of the Short List go. If I come across any new shows or documentaries that we really love I’ll definitely share, it just won’t be on a regular basis. Enough about what isn’t in the Short List this month, let’s get on to what is featured!

Reading:

Did you catch my most recent reading update? It was a doozy, but there was lots of good stuff in there. Sadly, I’m in a bit of a slump right now. I’m still reading Shelly Turkle’s book about reclaiming conversation. It’s thought-provoking, and full of great information, but it’s not the easiest read. I’m determined to get through it, though, because I think the information is so valuable. I’m also about a third of the way through my selection for “A Book Your Mom Loves” in the 2015 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. My mom may have loved The Marranos by Liliane Webb, but I am struggling. If it were any other book I’d move on (life’s too short and so on and so forth), but #momguilt. I’m also reading Middle School Makeover by Michelle Icard. This book is a treasure trove of helpful nuggets about making the middle school years bearable, but again … it’s a book about middle school. Hence the slump.

On the bright side, I’m listening to Deep Down Dark by Héctor Tobar, the true account of the 33 Chilean miners that were trapped underground (and now a movie). It’s riveting! I highly recommend it. Eli and I just finished up Wildwood by Colin Meloy. He really enjoyed it, and it was a good choice for a read aloud – great illustrations, good dialogue, and writing that paints a vivid story for the reader and listener. We’re about to start The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I’ve never read it, but I hear it’s a classic.

Look for my final 2015 reading update to come at the end of December, along with my picks for the best books of the year!

Loving:

Bombas socks

I have strong feelings about socks, and have discarded many a pair that didn’t make the cut. One of the only things that gets me through the winter months is a strong sock game. I got my first pair of Bombas over the summer, and now I’m hooked. I was so excited to find them on sale at the Gap, so I ordered another pair for myself and a pair for Eli. For every pair of socks you buy, the company donates a pair to someone in need. I’m telling you, these socks are The Bomb(as). Use my Bombas link to get 25% off your first pair.

Now that my toes are covered, let’s move to the neck. Last year I made a blanket scarf for super cheap using this fantastic tutorial from MomAdvice. Even though this isn’t how I normally wear it (I like it wrapped around my neck kerchief-style), you can see it in this photo:

Peter King and Angie Six 2015 NFL Combine Tweetup

I love how warm it keeps me all winter long, and how it takes a ho-hum outfit and instantly makes it cuter. I picked another one up at the aforementioned Gap sale, and it will take much will-power not to keep buying  or making more.

Tulip Tree Creamery Market District Carmel

Feet? Check. Neck? Check. Belly? Yes! If you live in Indiana or the parts of the Midwest, you must seek out any of the cheeses from Tulip Tree Creamery. Made in Indy by Netherlands transplant Fons Smits, it’s the most delicious form of dairy you can put in your mouth besides ice cream. I’m particularly fond of the Trillium, but I’ve yet to try a Tulip Tree product I haven’t loved.

Surfing:

I’ve always loved the New Yorker cartoons, and this collection of their cartoons about children’s books is such a treat.

Do you have a thing about visiting grocery stores when you travel too?

Get your cocoa and couches ready: the best holiday TV specials of 2015.

I’m obsessed with hygge this winter. This should help.

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

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