It’s been awhile! Welcome back, dear reader — if you’re here and you’re reading, I’m grateful that you’ve stuck with me through the past several months of radio silence as I worked to make a lot of changes around this space. I wanted to make my first post on the newly-redesigned blog a fun one, and these “favorites” collections have become some of my favorites to write. So let’s dive in!
Things I Love:
- Bath & Body Works 3-wick candles. I love the international fragrances, specifically London, Paris, and Amsterdam. I also love “Lilac”, I was addicted to “Noel” this winter, and my all-time favorite “Cinnamon Sugared Donut” is finally back in stock!
- My new IKEA bookshelf in our office. It’s white, it’s 6 feet tall, and it provided a home for the stacks of books that had been slowly gathering around the house. What could make me happier?
- Lara Casey and the PowerSheets. I’ve witnessed my sweet friend Bailey’s enthusiasm for the PowerSheets for a long time, and at the end of 2015, I finally bit the bullet and bought the 2016 workbook. I can easily say it was the best investment I’ve made in a long time. The PowerSheets are a goal-setting workbook, but they’re not your usual goal setting system. PowerSheets dig down to the WHY of goals, getting you to think about not only what you want to accomplish but why, and provoking deep thought about the inspiration behind the goals you want to set. It has inspired me beyond measure, and I can’t wait to see how 2016 progresses as I work on the goals I set in January.
- Book launches! I’ve participated in two book launches this year — one for Kaitlyn Bouchillon and the launch of her book Even if Not, and the other for Annie F. Downs and her book Looking for Lovely. Launch teams have seriously become one of my favorite things (free, early release copies of books, in exchange for sharing my enthusiasm?! YES, PLEASE, and AMEN!), and I hope to have opportunity to participate in more in the future.
- Temple Coffee Roasters. I’m obsessed with Temple Coffee. There’s just no other way to say it. I’ve now visited all but one of their cafe locations — including the brand new, gorgeous cafe in Midtown that boasts a floor made out of more than 500,000 hand-laid pennies — and last month, I took one of their hands-on barista training classes and had an absolute blast. They take coffee seriously, and my appreciation of both the art & science of truly great espresso has grown by leaps and bounds since discovering Temple. If you’re anywhere near Sacramento, don’t miss out!
- Austin & I binge-watched both available seasons of Broadchurch (currently streaming on Netflix) and absolutely loved it. “Two detectives – the strong yet compassionate Detective Sergeant, Ellie Miller, and the by-the-book Detective Inspector, Alec Hardy – are brought together to solve the murder of an eleven year-old boy on a picturesque beach in a small coastal town. Under the glare of the media spotlight, the two race to find the killer, while the clock ticks and the mystery deepens.” [from Amazon.com] David Tennant and Olivia Colman brilliantly carry a strong cast of characters that become more and more compelling as the series goes on. Much more than a typical murder mystery, Broadchurch delves deeply into the psychological motivation of various characters and asks profound questions about human nature that I found thought-provoking, to say the least. It was certainly a series that stayed with us for a long time after the final credits rolled. As a sidenote, the cinematography is absolutely GORGEOUS, and Austin & I had multiple conversations about the amazing natural light that seems to flood the Dorset village of West Bay, where the series was primarily filmed.
- I thoroughly enjoyed the final season of Downton Abbey, and I’m truly sad that it has come to an end. I had my frustrations with various aspects of the storyline over the past few years, but this final season drew all the threads together for an ending that, although admittedly a bit cliched, made me so terribly delighted to finally see my beloved characters find some true happiness. Well done, Julian Fellowes. Well done.
- The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain. “All this fuss…over what? Is it a hill, is it a mountain? Perhaps it wouldn’t matter anywhere else, but this is Wales.” Quirky, hilarious, and… based on a true story?! I loved this movie.
- Most recently, Austin & I blew through both seasons of the Netflix original series Daredevil starring Charlie Cox. I wasn’t familiar with the Daredevil character — never saw the older movie version — so I came at this series with no expectations, and it seriously blew me away. I love superhero movies / series in general, so I expected to enjoy it, but Daredevil manages to address so many deep issues that most superhero stories barely scratch the surface, if at all — questions like, what truly makes a hero? Is it ever okay to go outside the law? Is vigilante justice true justice? What does it mean to be a good person? Is there redemption when one has done unspeakable things? Two dynamics in particular make Daredevil unique: he’s blind, and he’s a lawyer by day. The obvious dichotomy there provides much of the show’s emotional tension and makes it so terribly interesting. Caveat: I hesitate to wholeheartedly recommend this show because it is so. incredibly. violent. Often gratuitously so, unfortunately. It frustrates me to no end, because the show has so many fantastic elements to it, but the gore is, frankly, hard to overcome in recommending it. So… don’t say I didn’t warn you!
You can follow along with my 2016 reading challenge on Goodreads, but here is the list of titles I’ve read so far this year:
- Make it Happen by Lara Casey (Lara Casey is seriously one of my favorite people now)
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer (I adored this sweet, epistolary WWII novel)
- Selected Beatrix Potter tales
- Pray, Write, Grow by Ed Cyzewski
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
- Life Path: Personal and Spiritual Growth Through Journal Writing by Luci Shaw
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
- The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming by Sally Clarkson (a beautiful book that inspired me so much)
- Caught Up in a Story: Fostering a Storyformed Life of Great Books & Imagination with Your Children by Sarah Clarkson (I’m obsessed with this book – it so perfectly summarizes all my strongest convictions about the influence of story on a child’s life)
- Restless by Jennie Allen
- Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs (launch team, baby! Go grab this one and enjoy pre-order goodies!)
- Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey (because, let’s face it, I’m still infatuated with Paris)
- The Green Ember by S.D. Smith (more thoughts on this one coming!)
- Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas (see previous…!)
- Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
I’ve slacked off on podcasts a little bit lately, but I have thoroughly enjoyed listening through the feed of “At Home With Sally” (Sally Clarkson’s podcast, co-hosted with the sweet Kristin Kill), as well as “What Should I Read Next“, the new “literary matchmaking” podcast from one of my very favorite bloggers, Anne Bogel at Modern Mrs. Darcy!
Whew! I think that about sums it up. I had lots of fun things to share this time! What favorites have you been enjoying lately?! Join me in the comments!