What I'm Into (November)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

We went to a new-to-us park and he was so in awe over the buckets and buckets of trucks, aka his favorite toy
For whatever reason, November has not flown by. It seems like Halloween was months ago and I've already been thinking it's December for about a week now so I'm just glad it's finally here. Now Brock and I just need to buckle down and figure out Christmas-related stuff- mostly presents for extended family and a Christmas tree. It will be our first year having a Christmas tree and I am so excited. We're finally growing up!

Here is what I'm into this month:

I just finished We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and was a little underwhelmed. I recently read another book about dysfunctional family dynamics and that one was a ton better. This one just fell flat for me, but the story itself is pretty interesting.

Besides that, I've been trying to find more good audiobooks. I just listened to Brown Girl Dreaming and really enjoyed it. I'm currently listening to The Wednesday Wars which I've heard a lot of good things about but I'm still not sure I like it. I'm just not very into middle-grade fiction. But for the first time in about 2 months I don't have anything on hold, so any good audiobook recommendations would be appreciated!

Brock and I are huge Doctor Who fans and he just discovered that we can watch season 9 on Amazon Prime. We've missed the show since it was taken off Netflix a year or so ago (maybe longer, I can't remember). So having it back has made me so happy. Also, in case you're a fan too: Matt Smith is my favorite Doctor, Clara is my favorite companion, followed by Donna (why does Donna always get overlooked??), and I could not stand Amy Pond.

I've also watched one episode of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. I've liked it okay but am just kind of annoyed at Rory's storyline and so I'm not dying to finish it. I'm also one of about 3 people alive who doesn't like binge-watching, so it's totally normal for me to take awhile to finish it.

I've been in a cooking slump lately and just really have not felt like dinner most nights. Brock has stepped in (as he does) and made us waffles and bacon a few nights and some Brazilian cheese rolls (you can find the amazing recipe here from Our Best Bites) other nights to get us by.

But, I did make some delicious fajitas last night. I love this recipe (from Iowa Girls Eats) so much. You don't have to marinate at all and it is just so flavorful. I made some guacamole too and we had wrapped them all up in tortillas. It was so good.

Okay, so like every other mom there are tons of times when I feel so overwhelmed by motherhood and other (rarer) times where it feels like I'm living the life. Lately it's been more on the overwhelmed side but I just want to record the joy that James is. I've loved watching him grow and change and I am surprised by how much I LOVE hearing him talk and learn new words. It just reminds me that he is actually learning things that I teach him.

Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I'm into this month.

5 Reasons I Love Living in a Small Apartment

Friday, November 25, 2016

James in his private dining, aka the patio
Brock, James, and I live in a pretty small apartment that makes me really happy. Before we moved to California, we lived in a much smaller apartment in Chicago that was just one bedroom and one bathroom. Now that we've moved to an apartment with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, I've had people ask if our new apartment feels huge to me after our old one. I've found that it really doesn't- it's still small but this one feels like it's the perfect size for us.

There are a lot of things I like about living in a small apartment and I can honestly say I have no desire (at this point) to move into anything bigger. And if we did decide to move and found a place where we lost some square feet, I wouldn't mind at all. Here is why I love living in a small space:

1. Cleaning is not an all-day job
Vacuuming the whole apartment, cleaning up the kitchen, and quickly wiping down the bathrooms will take Brock and me maybe half an hour. Since it is really important to us to have a tidy home, this is a huge benefit of living in a small apartment. Actually, it is for this reason alone that I never want to live in a big house. I would never want to clean all that!

2. No need for a baby monitor
We have never needed a baby monitor in our home because it simply is not big enough for us not hear James cry. We actually did buy one last summer when we were staying at our parents' houses and having to use a baby monitor always makes me slightly paranoid. Is the volume turned up all the way? Is it close enough to our bed that we can hear it? Is it plugged in so the battery won't die in the night? Whew. I much prefer to be able to hear James from the adjoining room rather than using a monitor.

3. You always know where your family members are
I have many memories from growing up where I would have no idea who of my family was home and I would have to comb the whole house to find my mom. Situations like that never happen in our little apartment. You always know where everyone else is and once you walk through the door you can pretty much pinpoint exactly where the rest of the family is. This is extra beneficial when there is a toddler like James around- there is no where for him to hide!

4. Keeps stuff to a minimum
Having a small apartment is really the best incentive (and the best excuse) for me to keep our stuff pared down. I really love how simple it makes things for me- I cannot buy lots of furniture or bulky toys because we have absolutely nowhere to put them. I think having more space would stress me out feeling like I would need to fill it up, but the way we have feels perfectly manageable to me.

5. Easy to find stuff you lost
This reason is key for me. I lose my slippers about 10 times a day. My slippers are extremely integral to keeping my feet warm, which by extension makes them integral to my happiness and overall comfort in life. So, when I cannot remember where I took them off I get extremely frustrated. Luckily, it takes less than 2 minutes to search the apartment so I always find them right away. We're also able to find keys, wallets, water bottles, etc. with (almost) no problems and I'm always so glad for that.

Recently Read: November

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy to share some books I've been loving 
I love looking back over the books I've read recently- there have been some things this month that I have been SO excited about. However, the list doesn't show that I've stopped reading about twice as many books. Oh well. With all that being said, here are some that I have finished and loved (or at least liked).

1. Rewrites by Neil Simon
This memoir was recommended to me by a friend (the same friend who recommended Our Souls at Night, which I also loved) and it was so good. I had never heard of Neil Simon before this, but he is a famous award-winning playwright who wrote his first play at the age of 30. I personally love stories like this and his description of the plays and his family life were so memorable. It is definitely one of my new favorite memoirs.

2. Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara
I have conflicted feelings about this book- I didn't actually like it that much but it was a really compelling read, which is why I'm including it on this list. It was written in the 1930s and set during Prohibition. It is short and easy to read and highlights the self-destruction and horrible choices of the main character, Julian. Overall, depressing but really interesting.

3. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
Z  is about Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I really enjoyed the novelization of her life- the book was based around the true events from their life but really made Zelda and Scott, the people, feel real and human. It was so interesting and sad to see their potential and greatness slowly become ruined through jealousy and alcohol (among other things).

4. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
This book was wonderful and fresh in a way that I hadn't expected. Sandberg talks frankly about women, work and family life. It was inspiring and the anecdotes she shared have really stuck with me. I highly recommend it and really enjoyed reading it.

5. In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
I have read a lot of Judy Blume and so I thought I knew what to expect with this new novel. But it completely surprised me. It was definitely Judy Blume, yet it was more polished and thoughtful and just more captivating than I had seen before. I liked the characters (although I did not love all their choices) and the story really drew me in. I had trouble putting it down and just wanted to be reading it constantly.

A Gratitude List

Sunday, November 13, 2016

I've been thinking lately about what I'm grateful for. It's been a tough month so far and it always makes me feel better to count my blessings.

1. James sleeping through the night
He actually woke up twice a few nights ago because he has a cold and needed to be comforted back to sleep. It was SO hard getting my sleep interrupted, but I realized he hasn't woken up in the night once since we moved here over two months ago. It has been over a year since he's been sleeping through the night consistently. I don't think I can exaggerate and over-dramatize enough how terrible and traumatic his newborn days were for me in terms of missed sleep, so I am just so grateful for the good sleeper he is now.

2. No winter!
There is a huge weight lifted off me knowing that I don't have to go through a freezing cold winter. No worries about how to keep James from being stir-crazy inside or about getting a deathly version of the flu or driving in a snowstorm, no stressing about winter clothes or slippery sidewalks or lack of vitamin D. It's wonderful!

3. Prime Now
Prime Now is this wonderful app for Amazon Prime users where your orders are delivered within two hours! We had it in Chicago and last night when we were out of milk (which is a code red alert in our house) I checked to see if they deliver around here and they do! So I didn't have to go the store! It was so amazing and I am so so so grateful I didn't have to leave the house to get groceries.

4. Chocolate chip banana bread muffins
James and I have both eaten our weight in these and they are so gooooood. Such a great quick snack.

5. Our couch
We have been living without one for two months but the one we ordered finally, finally came and it has been great. I love how it looks and I love having a place to sit and read while James plays instead of having to sit cross-legged on the floor.

6. Being compatible with Brock
We took a random quiz today and on almost every question we answered the same thing. The first question had us choose among a bunch of colors and at the same time we said "turquoise." The next one had us choose among 5 animals and we both picked owl. Then we both picked Costa Rica for our next vacation spot. We both picked reading as our favorite hobby. It's silly but hearing us say the same things reminded me that we are so good for each other.

What I'm Into (October)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Linking up with Leigh today to share what I'm into
October has been a month of adjustment. Brock started work and it has been crazy for both of us. We've had to learn to manage our respective schedules and make time for each other. I know we will end up being fine but there is always the pain of that adjustment that takes longer than I want it to (I wrote a bit about it here).

Of course, there was also Halloween this month. James had a little turtle costume and he wore it to Brock's work for their office party and then again yesterday for trick or treating in my hometown. It was seriously so cute, although now I wish I had just walked around with him and not actually gotten candy. I don't want him eating it (he did have a Tootsie Roll this morning when I wasn't paying attention) and I don't want to be eating it, so now we're stuck with a bucketful of candy around the house. Sigh.

Here is a brief sampling of what I've been into this month:

I'm recently finished Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I started it on audiobook about a month ago but couldn't finish it before it expired on Overdrive. It was so intriguing that I grabbed the book when I was at the library and really enjoyed it. It was a little bit of science fiction without being science fiction-y, which I didn't know I would really like.

I also finished Liar Temptress Soldier Spy which was such an interesting look at four women (two for the Union, two for the Confederates) involved in the Civil War. It felt like fiction as I was reading and I still can't believe that the stories are true! It was so good.

Last night I made some delicious chicken enchilada soup from Gimme Some Oven. It's different than others I've made before because it has corn flour in it and tons of cheese (maybe the fact that I actually shredded my own this time instead of using the pre-packaged stuff helped the cheesy factor). Brock and I ate it with tortilla chips and it was so good. 

Tomorrow I'm planning on making a slow cooker recipe and am going to make the wonderful jalapeno popper chili from Everyday Reading. I only use one jalapeno so it's not spicy at all. I've made it a bunch of times before and it always turns out great, plus there are tons of leftovers.

There are two things that have improved my life this month. First, slippers. I have an undiagnosed circulation problem- actually, let's consider it self-diagnosed. Essentially, my feet are always cold, often painfully so. During Chicago winters I had to wear two pairs of socks with slippers (a very sexy look, let me tell you), and sometimes my feet would ache so bad that I would stand in the bathtub and let the hot water run over them until the ache mostly subsided.

I assumed that when I moved to California a lot of my problems would go away, since it doesn't get cold here. But for whatever reason- our apartment is south facing, or it's super shady- my feet have been cold nonstop. So, about two weeks ago, I was at Target and decided the time had come to do something about my feet. I bought some moccasin slippers, and put them on the minute I walked through our door. They're a lot cuter than my old slippers and have rarely left my feet since. They really have radically changed my life for the better. I wish I were exaggerating but I'm not.

Next, eye drops. My eyes have been so dry lately and sometimes when I close them it feels like they're going to burn through my eyelids. I bought $4 eyedrops when I was grocery shopping and have been using them almost daily. The relief is amazing. Both of these things remind me that taking care of the little things in life (dry eyes, cold feet) can really help me feel better all around.

What have you been into this month?