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October Highlights

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Here we are at the end of October, the spookiest time of the year and the only nod to my inner witch I can claim this year is my two black cats. I haven't really been getting into the Halloween spirit this year. It feels instead like September was just extended so I could finally fit a little relaxation into the busy month, with a few random days of full on winter thrown in (thanks crazy Nebraska October snow storms). And you know what? I'm totally okay with that. In fact, every single one of my highlights from this month centers around coziness and unplanned fun.


I started this month off with a delivery all the way from Morocco! I finally settled on a rug for my living room and it's 8x10 feet of fuzzy perfection. I bought it off Etsy from a shop called MoroccanLooms which is supposedly a woman's weaving cooperative. It still kind of amazes me that something a woman made halfway around the world and posted online could end up in my living room only a few days later, but I'm glad to be living in a time where that's possible! I love how unique this rug is, how soft it is underfoot and how it's not a perfectly symmetrical and synthetic rug like so many of the options we have in stores here. Check them out if you're looking for a new rug -- they have tons of options!

And then, the best event of the year finally happened: the annual library book sale! Every year I go and every year I come home with far too many books, even if they are only $1.50 each. Considering I still haven't made it through all the books I got last year, I did tame it down a bit this year and only got 16 books and a cookbook. Still a pretty good haul if you ask me! Even if you don't end up with a whole ton of books, there's still something a bit magical about a room full of tables upon tables of books and a whole crowd of book lovers pouring over them.


As if Nebraska knew that a new living room rug and a stack of books needed a cozy day in, we got a Sunday snowstorm that blanketed the area in a couple inches of big, wet snowflakes. We lit the first fire I've had in my fireplace, made some potato and leek soup and cookies and spent the afternoon reading and watching Bake Off. Perfection.



Fantastic weekends were kind of a theme this month. This last weekend was also one for the books. John and I had an impromptu date night on Friday. We grabbed ramen at a place he'd been wanting to try (delicious) and followed it up with a couple drinks at a bar where we sat and chatted. We met our friend later for another drink or two and John's very first, and incidentally Halloween-themed, drag show (I don't know how he's gone this long). The next morning we slept in and then wandered down to our local coffee shop for some caffeine, a pain au chocolate and some reading. We had delicious ramen leftovers for lunch and then walked under all the gorgeous fall leaves on our way to the Nebraska football game where we got to witness the first win of the season (yeah, let's not talk about that fact too much -- just focus on the positivity)! After so much walking and excitement we naturally needed to devour a veggie pizza while watching more Bake Off and Gogglebox before heading to bed. Sunday was the usual puttering around the house, going on the grocery run, meal prepping, etc, but this time we actually squeezed in a nice nap on the couch and even more reading (seeing a theme?). I'm not sure I could have come up with a better weekend plan if I had tried.


Have a happy Halloween everyone and enjoy the rest of your October!

Book Review: Versions of Us - Laura Barnett

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Versions of Us by Laura Barnett follows two characters, Eva and Jim, through three different versions of their lives. Each path branches off of a single moment: Eva riding her bike to lecture. In one version she swerves to miss a tiny dog, gets a flat and is helped out by Jim who offers to help her fix her bike. In another version, Eva misses the dog, Jim, walking by, asks her if she's alright and she carries on to class. In the third version, she gets a flat tire and then spends the rest of the afternoon with Jim at a nearby pub after he offers to buy her a drink. Each version follows them all the way through until the end of their lives. We witness marriages, births, deaths, loves, betrayals, successes and failures. Throughout each version, the only constant remains the magnetic draw between Eva and Jim.



This book is an expansive, sweeping story of love, but not the shiny, pretty love being packaged up and sold as an ideal. It's a messy, worn, often heartbreaking love that results after years of weathering storms together, getting annoyed and bored with one another, sharing life's good times, but also the hardest, ugly emotions. The depiction of love reminded me a bit of watching a fire burn down. At first it's well defined, tall and dramatic flames. It's unmistakable, it's simplistic, it's black and white. But as time goes on, the definition of those flames starts to blur and the fire isn't as mesmerizing as it once was. The wood starts blending in with the coals and it's not as easy to delineate the parts. Happiness might now have tinges of sadness to it. By the end, we're left with glowing embers. It's all a bit of a mess, with dark and light woven completely throughout. It's tamed, but it's warm. It's nothing like it started out as, but it's shaped everything about how it ended up.


Reading this book provided almost as many varied emotions as the story so accurately illustrated. I loved the story, but it was sometimes hard to keep going with. I took quite awhile to read this because while I think the author did an amazing job of painting a realistic life picture, sometimes it was a lot to bear. Living life in real time can often be hard enough to process the good and bad as they come, but reading about a life compressed down, with all those emotions condensed, packed quite a wallop. I kept taking several days off from reading this so I'd have time to digest, which then ended up making it a bit hard to remember what was happening in which storyline. I also sorted it out in the end, but the first chapter or so after returning to the book was always slow goings. By the time I got to the last 75 or so pages however, I tore through the book. It was one of those books where your partner has long since fallen asleep and you're up several hours too late reading in bed by the light of a single lamp. When I finished, I just cried. It was the best way I could process both the beauty and the sadness of the lives lived throughout the book.



So much of this book is about the journey of the different versions not plot twists or where you end up so I don't want to say too much about what happens. However, having given this a few days to settle in my head, I do think I got to know Jim's personality, his inner struggles and aspirations quite a bit better than Eva's. She wasn't a flat character by any means, but she seemed a bit more closed off, whereas Jim bore it all, so to speak. I would have liked to see more of Eva's vulnerability, but throughout most of the book she seemed to just be getting on with it. Perhaps that's part of the point however -- she had mouths to feed at the end of the day. In all, I think the characters in this book are some of the most rounded, complicated and human characters I've read in awhile.

I think this is a lovely book. It's high quality writing on a grand scale and it's just a little bit different than your normal novel. Grab a cozy blanket and put a fire on in the fireplace, because this is a perfect poignant autumn read.

5/5

My Favorite Autumn TV Shows for a Cozy Night In

Sunday, October 14, 2018
I probably sound like a bit of a broken record, going on and on about how great this time of year is, but there's just so much to love about it! If you're a lover of a good TV series this is just one more reason to celebration the season because all the best shows seem to return now. Here's what I'll be cozying up with this year.


Great British Bake Off

There is no better show to watch if you're looking for warm, earnest, comforting television. Sure there's an element of competition, but everyone is regularly celebrating the highs of their competitors and comforting them when they're low. It's heart-warming, a bit cheesy and really bad for anyone trying to stick to a diet. Oh, and great for innuendo bingo.

Bob's Burgers

In a weird way, I think Bob's Burgers is kind of a heartwarming show as well. Sure it's an animated comedy that probably easily makes the most fart jokes on television, but in the end it's all about family. Louise is easily my favorite, but I really do love every character for their own brand of comedy.


Gogglebox

I have never described this show to anyone in America without them thinking I'm insane, but I absolutely love Gogglebox. I love all the crazy conversations people have, watching their reactions to all the emotions of the shows and getting to know each of the families. It always manages to leave me with a sense that humanity is all so similar, no matter your background, and that we all can find common ground somewhere.

Will & Grace

I binge watched the original series last year in time for the reboot and I'm excited for the story to continue this year. I grew up on this show and it's shaped a lot of my sense of humor. The reboot brings that same sharp wit back, thank goodness. Let's just hope they squeeze in as many scenes with Karen as possible.

Vanity Fair

My favorite novel. British period drama. Main character shares my name. There's nothing else to say.




Modern Family

This show is probably not the greatest show to have ever aired, or the most impactful, but it's amusing, I love all the character story lines and I'm really invested after 9 seasons in the books. Who doesn't love a corny Phil joke?

First Dates Hotel

Apparently I just can't resist a heartwarming show, or think of a better way to describe them as such.
The original series, First Dates, pairs people up for blind dates and films them at the First Dates restaurant. At the end of the date they get to choose on camera if they're going to see each other again. Every episode has a great mix of funny, touching, awkward and ___ moments packed in. This series is a spin-off of the original and is filmed in a sunny resort location instead, and rather than deciding if they want to see each other again later, they get the opportunity to check into the hotel for the night. Scandalous.

Catastrophe - I hope?

Please, please, please let season 4 come back soon. I can't wait any longer to find out what happened!



Instagram Autumn Style Inspiration

Sunday, October 7, 2018

My Pumpkin Apple candle is burning, it's a cozy grey cool day and I'm sitting under a throw with my kittens cuddled up on my side. It's basically the perfect autumn day. I grabbed a berry crumble from Goldenrod Pastries, a hot coffee from The Mill with a little pumpkin spice almond milk creamer, put the football game on in the background and I'm ready for an afternoon in. These lazy afternoons are perfect for a little poke around the internet for some seasonal fashion inspiration and I love browsing through Instagram to see what kinds of outfits people are putting together lately. I spend more time than I should scrolling through Instagram and saving things to my collections, but I end up with a great idea of what I'm loving for this season. Here's a few of my favorite looks I've seen so far (and incidentally a great list of who to follow).













It looks like this season will be chocked full of more high-waisted straight leg denim, blazers, loafers and warm-tone knits which is no surprise to me. I was in love with those same kinds of looks last season and I'm dying to wear all my clothes from last year again. What I definitely wasn't expecting was to be loving the look of a simple v-neck cardigan and jeans. I can't say I've worn a cardigan like that for a few years, but hey, I'll happily break out my staple black cardigan I've got tucked away in storage. I'll also be keeping my eye out for some good checked blazers, more brown accessories to pair with all my many black pieces, silk tops and some more straight leg jeans, this time with a button fly.

What kinds of items are you looking out for this season? Who are you favorite Instagramers to follow for fashion inspiration?