February Reading Recap

Monday, March 06, 2017

I read 6 books in February, finishing the 6th one late into the night on February 28 by accident, or it would've been 5. Ha.

1. I started this month with Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson. I'd heard about this book being great on audio (maybe read by the author?), but the kindle version had been on sale one day so I snagged it and read it that way. It was a pretty engaging story, but I thought the writing was only fairly decent, and found it to be not very memorable.

2. Finished A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny, which is #4 in the Inspector Gamache series, again on audio. I just can't quit the audio of this series! I've been going to the gym a lot this year (??) and listening while I'm exercising. I'd heard a lot of people say they thought the series really "picked up" with the fourth book, but I didn't think it was markedly better than the previous two (the first one is the slowest, yet necessary IMO). Anyway, I'm listening to #5 now, and loving that these are so readily available from my library on audiobook.

3. Our book club selection for this month was Underground Railroad by Coleson Whitehead, and I was glad to have a reason to pick it up next, with all the buzz it's gotten in the past year. It was a really, really well-written book that obviously gives you a ton to mull over and I won't try to summarize here or risk doing an injustice. My main note on this one is that I found the characters to be really detached and inaccessible, but also wondered if that was sort of the point? Loved the magical realism component of an actual railroad for the underground railroad piece.

4. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne was recommended by a friend, and it was the perfect light-genre read to throw in at this point! Oh my goodness, I loved this book. I never (like really rarely ever) read anything that could be categorized as "romance," but I thought this book was SO smart and witty and well-done, and inhaled it in about 36 hours and promptly bought myself a copy of it to have because I'd borrowed it from the library originally. Annnnyway, definitely PG13+, but I thought it was smart and really enjoyable.

5. This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel—FIVE BIG STARS and I hope to re-read this every year that I have children at home. What a fantastic book. The writing was soooo good, and the story was handled SO well, I was blown away by the artistry as well as the story. THANK YOU, Laurie Frankel, for this treasure of a book. I wrote about this more on instagram because I felt like shouting on the rooftops how much I loved this book. If you pick it up, don't read about it in advance! Just dive in. The story is engrossing enough to do this, and the writing absolutely superb.

6. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson—I don't remember reading any Shirley Jackson, although surely I read one of her short stories in school along the way (English degree)? I sort of wish I had a class or group to discuss this one with...a creepy little story definitely worthy of discussion, that kept me up way past my bedtime finishing it up (it's not very long)! Apparently they're making a movie of it this year?

None of these were on my list of MMD Reading Challenge picks, but I'm considering doing the Reading for Growth track also, since I'm a little ahead, and if so, will count We Have Always Lived in the Castle as the "book published before you were born."

Of other bookish importance, while I have you...Anyone watching Big Little Lies? Enjoyed the book, and not caught up with the series, but I love that format!

Renovated Kitchen/The Move

Monday, March 06, 2017

Over a year later (yes, unbelievably, we were under construction a year ago!), and here are some photos of our completed kitchen...

The gist of the project is that there was a wall where that peninsula jets out, with a regular sized doorway. The patio door to the outside (which was a wooden door that swung in, plus a security door on the outside) was removed, and was formerly where those open shelves are. We got to get a larger sink, move the dishwasher to the left of the sink, and do an under-counter microwave. We also got to add wood floors to match the rest of the house (this was formerly tile that was on a different level that the rest of the hardwoods, by a couple of inches, tres annoying).

Meanwhile, where our giant (and pretty, but very dangerous!) single-paned picture window in the former dining room was (below), we made into French doors.


We have been absolutely thrilled with the new layout! It is SO much easier to go outside on our back patio, and the stairs outside are the right tread/width (before, the steps were short, tall drop, short, which made it difficult for kids/easy to trip...I'm told there was a deck out there formerly, hence the odd size treads).

The counters are quartzite, which I love, and really achieved the look I wanted. We kept our cabinets and just painted them—the "only" new cabinets we had to get made were the ones to the left of the microwave, so basically the peninsula. I got a pull-out trash drawer which is such a dream come true, as well as under-counter lighting. We had several things we couldn't compromise on, but otherwise, I'd say this was a very budget-conscious reno considering all of the layout changes/improvements and aesthetic changes we made (keeping our cabinets, subway tile=cheapest tile ever, etc.). We absolutely LOVE the new flow and the open space, and I am going to miss this kitchen SO FREAKING MUCH when we move to Idaho next year!

Yes, that's right...IDAHO! Jonathan got a job at a practice in northern Idaho, and we are moving in July. We are so excited for a new adventure out west! Our kids are still young (5 and under), and Juliette is starting kindergarten in the fall, so it seems like a great time for them to make a transition. We're looking forward to a change of pace from med school & residency, some time to make memories the five of us, on all the myriad adventure options that will be right at our fingertips. We are so, so excited! But yes, I will miss my lovely kitchen and can hope to have the chance to make improvements to wherever we land next!
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