What’s New, Y’all?

Hello dear readers. It’s been a while. And it may well be a while after this post before you hear from me again. But it’s nice to be here. Can we just jump in with a list to help each other catch up? That’s usually how it goes, right?

(Spring cleaning is kicking into high gear around here, and we’ve got so many house projects going on. We’re talking to a landscaper, but I’m dying to dream about a welcoming front porch like this one.)

What I’m eating:

I bit the bullet and signed up for Sweet Peas Meals and I am loving it! Jessica and Maria send a meal plan to my inbox every Thursday, and it’s been amazing. I may share more in the future but the short version is: more greens, streamlined grocery shopping, no decision fatigue picking meals from my endless stock of pins and cookbooks, and trying recipes I might not have otherwise. I’m thinking this whole meal plan decision needs a post of its own, so let me know if you have any

Favorites so far have been: chickpea farro soup, honey lime salmon tacos, cajun chicken penne, thai chicken quinoa bowls

What I’m reading:

Loving Trevor Noah’s memoir right now, and could not put The Last Mrs. Parrish down. The best page-turner I’ve read in a long time. Other than that, I’m reading nothing. See below.

What I’m watching:

I am a chronic show-starter, and I am rarely a show finisher. Cari Faye loves to ask me, “Have you watched ______?” And my answer is inevitably, “I started, but never finished.” And the weird thing is I’ll come within a season or two of finishing and then just peter out. So I finally finished Downton Abbey the other day, and I’m working my way through Mozart in the Jungle right now.

What’s going on:

I never know how to answer that question when people ask. Not much. Goop and I spend almost all our time together, and we can usually be found playing on the floor in between loads of laundry and trips to Trader Joes. We did hear some great news about an amazing school for him next year. And I did just wrap a whole bunch of loot for his St. Patrick’s Day birthday on Saturday. And book a quick weekend getaway just for me this spring. That’s what’s up. And it’s good to be back.

My Favorite Follows

Every now and again I go through un-following sprees, and the advent of another new year has brought on the urge to clean up my Instagram feed. Friends get to stay, but everyone else has the potential to be on the chopping block. Usually these clean-outs are based on whatever mood strikes me, but this time around, I asked myself a question: Does this feed add something to my life? Dear readers, these are the accounts for which I can wholeheartedly answer that question.

Click on the photos below to take you to each person’s feed.

If you want to know what to read:

17.3k Likes, 3,229 Comments - Reese’sBookClubxHelloSunshine (@reesesbookclubxhellosunshine) on Instagram: “Our latest pick is This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by #AnnPatchett! This collection of essays…”



Wednesday offerings.  Some books have been returned and are ready to head out again.  Tidied things up with a new shelf too.  Come by and take some books home! #littlefreelibraryeastbethesda #littlefreelibrary #littlefreelibraries #zenandtheartofmotorcyclemaintenance #littlegoldenbooks #holesmovie


If you want to know what to cook:

@abowlfulloflemons (stories)


If you want some good pep talks (mixed with a bunch of other content):

Good Life quotes by Becky Higgins


Less Is More  |  Emily Ley


If you like all things preppy:



If you want to keep your toddlers busy without plunking them in front of screens*:



*But really, no judgement if screen-plunking is your preferred method. It’s often mine.

Break it Down Now

In the week between Christmas and New Year’s, my husband and I had a ton that we wanted to accomplish. There were so many little, around-the-house to-dos that seemed to linger on our lists without ever getting done. So. We did them. We each chose one task each day. That was it. And little by little, we knocked it out. It reminded me of this list, which Meg made a zillion years ago. It’s daunting to think of “finish house” as a to-do, so you’ve got to break it down. Seeing this again is making me want to take some time to think through what the smaller to-dos are in each room so we really can get a bit closer to “finishing” our house.

house list.

(This image is lost somewhere in Meg’s archives, but her blog is here.)

2018 Goals

We are well into the new year so it’s time to think about goals. Or words of the year. I’m kind of over resolutions because I think people see that word and associate a whole lot of nonsense with it.

Did you set any goals? Pick a word? Have you already forgotten about whatever it was you wanted to do? #nojudgement

"Distant Island Pier" - Art Print by Julia Contacessi in beautiful frame options and a variety of sizes.


I went back and forth on picking a word, because I’ve never stuck with one, but something about complete is just making my heart sing.

So let’s call complete my word.

And dear readers, I’d love to expand on that in a meaningful way, but Goop has been so sick this week that my brain can’t spend too much time on any one thing before it flits to something else. I’m not fighting it. But I can share two goals with you today, and they relate to the idea of complete.

More specifically that my wardrobe and my ever-expanding library are complete. In 2018, no new books, and no new clothes.*

Of course there’s a *, which is that if something breaks (like my slippers, which got a nice hole right in the big-toe area), I’ll replace them. And yes, used books and clothes are a-okay. Hello library used book shelf, and ThredUp.


A Check-In

Dear readers, was yesterday a holiday for you? I feel like I spent the whole morning catching up with friends via text message. Half of us were off, half of us were working, and almost all of us are moms, so the definition of “off” isn’t quite what it used to be. This weekend felt extra long over here because Gooplet is recovering from a nasty and contagious virus that has left us housebound for too, too long. If we get the snow that’s in the forecast Tuesday and have to stay in a whole extra day, we might go mad. Let’s share random things that are happening right now. I’ve got three things to catch you up on.



My beloved La Moneda is finally coming together. I was DM-ing back and forth with a blogger I follow on Instagram who joked that almost every room in her house is between 30-80% done. That’s kind of how I feel too. We were so eager to move in after the addition, and then we had a kid, which changed how we use every inch of space, and now we have things we need, but I don’t want to fill our space with just anything. So for some things, it’s a matter of saving pennies, and for others, a matter of finding exactly the right thing. In our other places I was happy to have pieces that were just okay – not so here. (Also, I’ve been super-into more natural textures in a room lately, like the ones you see up here. Maybe it’s not just all white everything, all the time for me.)

I don’t know that I’ve properly told you all about this tomato sauce yet, but it’s a good thing. Whenever we’re low I use the next free weekend day to make a new batch, and store accordingly. Also, I’m pretty sure there’s a test coming up on Instagram to make sure we’ve all made and photographed these pan-bang cookies. I’m here to remind you to GET ON IT if you haven’t yet. They’re giant, and much less fussy than their fancy cookie counterparts.

Which leads me to meal planning. I’m seriously debating paying for Sweet Peas Meals, it’s gotten such good reviews (one from Everyday Reading, whom I adore). And when I say seriously debating, I mean The (Not So) New Girl has had to listen to my agonizing for about a week now. Their meal plans come out every Thursday so I’m giving myself a Wednesday deadline to decide. Pros: Would give us some new options to work into our repertoires, comes with a grocery list pretty much made for you, and takes all of the meal-planning decision weight off of my shoulders for a bit. Cons: I don’t do well with being told what to do, so part of me thinks, I’d get the plan and be like, that’s nice, we’re not doing that.

In Which I Gag at the Notion of Self-Care

Has self-care always been a thing? As soon as I became a mom that term was everywhere, and I swear if one more person told me to put my own oxygen mask on first…


(It’s funny, no, that a metaphor referring to a plane crashing to the ground is so enduring? That can’t be what any new mom, or anyone else experiencing a crisis wants to think about. But I digress.)

Whether self-care is a term that’s been around forever, or it popped on my radar because of my new life circumstances is neither here nor there. Self care is a term that is everywhere now.

hello friend.


Can’t you hear some lady who does the voice overs for prescription drugs whispering it as you read?

Self care.


I read this article, which can’t be new to many of you anymore, as it has been around the lady-lifestyle-blogger block already, but this idea of, “making the choice to build a life you don’t regularly need to escape from,” is in my head and it will not go away.

So in this, the season of hygge, you all are welcome to join me in figuring out what that life looks like. We’re not fighting winter, we’re welcoming all that it offers. We’re not running from our lives and toward deep tissue massages and thousand-calorie burning cycling classes. No. We certainly are not. We’re looking more at the forest, and less at the trees. And we’re figuring out what makes a good life. And then we’re living it. Every damn day.


My Newest Obsession

I am currently obsessed with Katie Couric.

Image result for katie couric


Correct, that Katie Couric.

About 8,000 years to late, I’m jumping on Team Katie.

I was never a regular Today Show-watcher, so this obsession began casually in the fall when someone pointed me toward her podcast interview with Ina Garten, aka, The Barefoot Contessa, aka, my queen. I would listen to anyone’s podcast with The Barefoot Contessa, but I highly doubt I’d learn anything new, as Ina tends to do few interviews, and tell the same stories in each. Not so when she spoke to Katie. Not so at all. I learned some new tidbits and trivia, and most importantly, I heard Ina drop a couple of expletives. Did not see that coming at all.


So I downloaded some more episodes, and have since listened to Katie’s interviews with Martha Stewart, Marie Kondo, Dan Taberski (creator of the Missing Richard Simmons podcast), and most recently, Rabbi Steve Leder.* I also enjoyed her interview on The Turnaround (which yes, is an interview podcast, about interviewers). Dear readers, she’s brilliant, and not afraid to be honest, or ask tough questions. Though you are probably more familiar with The Today Show, and you likely know what I did not.

In conversations where I’ve brought her up, which is to say, in every conversation I’ve had in the last couple weeks, I’ve found out so much about her, and have decided she’s another version of myself. Or, a version of myself I could have been if my life had taken a couple different turns.

She’s working on an auto-biography, but in the meantime, I’ll be working on past podcast episodes, and maybe this volume.

*This particular episode, is hosted by Katie’s regular cohost, Brian Goldsmith, sans Katie.


The Unread Shelf Project, 2018

Dear readers, I have saved the best for last this week. We’re talking about The Unread Shelf Project and I couldn’t be more excited about this one.

Books breathe life into a home


I am someone who dreams of living in Belle’s library. To be surrounded by walls and walls of books (and oh, that rolling ladder), and have the accompanying time to pore over them, is pretty much my idea of heaven. Well, that plus a giant cup of coffee, or a glass of champagne, depending on the time of day.

Image result for beauty and the beast library


That burning desire has turned me into something of a book hoarder. There are scores of books on my shelves I haven’t read.

Actually there are 183 books on my shelves that I haven’t read.

I know that because I counted them. It was the first part of The Unread Shelf Project 2018. Started by one of my favorite bookstagrammers, Whitney, this is a project with quite an enthusiastic following as of late December. The best place to follow along with me on this endeavor is on my Bookstagram account, but you know I’ll still pop over here with updates from time to time.

What I love so much about Whitney’s challenge is that she’s encouraging fellow readers by creating challenges, but not burdening them with too many rules. The challenge is what you make it. I posted my total number of unread books (183!) and can’t wait to see what else she asks us to do.

Of all the rooms in my future dream house, the library is the one I think about most. Would it have a mix of paperbacks and hardback editions? Or would ...read more


Here are some of the guidelines I’ll create for myself as I play along, because who doesn’t love rules?

My goal is to have fewer unread books in my possession at the end of the year. I will count it as a win if I read a bunch, but also feel comfortable getting rid of some. I found a couple of duplicate titles that can go (an old, ugly cover of Jane Austen, when I have since gottenthese), and a few others that I used to be dying to read, but now feel simply “meh” about.

I still plan to check out anything I darn well feel like from the library.

I am not going to buy any new books in 2018. None! I will either wait for them to come in for me at the library, or I will wait till 2019 to see if I really want to make the investment. One of my general goals for the year is to work on being happy with what I already have around me, and that simply won’t be possible if my collection is ever-growing.

I will still absolutely by used books off the library’s shelf. More often than not, I purchase books I’ve already read and loved and wish I owned, and besides, the money goes to a good cause.

And lastly, I reserve the right to add or take away rules as the challenge evolves.

I’ve loved posting an unread book each day so far this week in my feed or stories, and I’m on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what Whitney challenges us to do next.

The 2018 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

We’re rounding out my three book challenges with what ended up being my least favorite this year. Not that I have anything against Book Riot, but there were several categories down here where I felt like it was beyond a stretch to find a book I wanted to read, or the books I picked don’t come close to matching up with my real reading goal for the year of quality over quantity.

This, with the bookshelf french doors idea (see other pin on board), and the book-drawers in the door (see other pin). :D


In the end, though, I love finding potential titles for these challenges because of the way they force me to think deeply about what I’m reading. Since I started recording the possibilities a couple of years ago, I have picked up books I wouldn’t have otherwise at times throughout the years. I’m not one to force myself to read titles just because; to me that feels like something that should die after high school and college. But these little yearly lists definitely get me thinking about new books to read.

A book published posthumously – The Bright Hour, by Nina Riggs

A book of true crime –Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt

A classic of genre fiction (i.e. mystery, sci fi/fantasy, romace) – Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier (I add this to one list or another every year. It’s about time already!)

A comic written and illustrated by the same person – Pashmina, by Nidhi Chanani

A book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries – State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett

A book about nature – Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv

A western – O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (A stretch in this category? Maybe)

A comic written or illustrated by a person of color – Malice in Ovenland, by Micheline Hess

A book of colonial or postcolonial literature – The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy

A romance novel by or about a person of color – Waiting to Exhale, by Terry McMillan

A children’s classic published before 1980 – Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

A celebrity memoir – Not My Father’s Son, by Alan Cumming

An Oprah Book Club selection – We Were the Mulvaneys, by Joyce Carol Oates

A book of social science – The Social Animal, by David Brooks

A one-sitting book – Heating and Cooling, by Beth Ann Fennelly

The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series – Emily of New Moon, by L.M. Montgomery

A sci-fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author – The Wrinkle in Time series, by Madeleine L’Engle (Which, yes, I put on every list, BECAUSE WHY HAVE I STILL NOT FINISHED THIS SERIES???)

A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image – Um, no thank you on the comic book front.

A book of genre fiction in translation – Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel

A book with a cover you hate – The Best Advice I Ever Got, by Katie Couric

A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author – I’m skipping the mystery part, and we’ll go with The Lowland, which is what AGOMYR tells me I should be reading by Jumpa Lahiri

An essay anthology – Essays of E.B. White, by E.B. White

A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60 – The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson (This may have just jumped to the number one overall spot on my list.)

An assigned book you hated (or never finished) – Everything I was supposed to read in high school. Or, just Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

The 2018 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge

Another day, another reading challenge? Can that be how we try our best to do 2018? Sounds great to me. This list comes to us from Modern Mrs. Darcy, and if you’ll bear with me, we’ve got one more reading challenge tomorrow.

Three reading challenges.

In the year I swore I wouldn’t do a reading challenge.

It’s perfect.

The Nursery Works Tree Bookcase is a modern bookcase that’s roomy enough to hold over 100 books on its stable shelves. This kids bookcase is crafted from durabl


A classic you’ve been meaning to read – Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

A book recommended by someone with great taste – Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner (recommended by creator of this here book challenge, Anne Bogel, who used it with her book club)

A book in translation – Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy (Do you dare me?)

A book nominated for an award in 2018 – TBD, because we’re not in 2018 yet

A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection – Upstream, by Mary Oliver

A book you can read in a day – Anything is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout

A book that’s more than 500 pages – Far from the Tree, by Andrew Solomon (been meaning to read it forever)

A book by a favorite author – Better than Before, by Gretchen Rubin

A book recommended by an indie bookseller or a librarian – TBD

A banned book – Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston

A memoir, biography, or book of creative nonfiction – The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr

A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity or religion than your own – Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds