Round the Kettle Ep. 31 Dipping MY Toes Back In

It’s that time again…it’s time for me to talk about how I’m bringing these posts back once again, but this time it’s for real (see last POST dated 4/21 :|). If you don’t know, or are new, Round the Kettle is a biweekly series that I do that I use as a bit of a brain dump of life. It wasn’t intended to stay in blog format, but rather transition into a podcast, but that quite obviously hasn’t happened yet. I keep talking about doing it, about getting the podcast going, but then I get these little thoughts in the back of my mind…what if it sucks, what if no one listens, what if I can’t do it. But then again, are you here? Are you reading this? Am I screaming into a void? Screaming into a void can be quite nice though…A thought for 2022 possibly.

I digress. That’s the beauty of Round the Kettle, you get my pure unfiltered, unadulterated thoughts on a wide variety of things. Quite honestly, I sit down at my desk with a small outline of what I’d like to cover from the previous two weeks, then I type a bunch of stuff, do a basic spell check and hit publish. It’s great. 

I originally had stopped these because we were moving, things were hectic and chaotic and, I finally found a routine with the blog and doing one post a week. That was manageable. Then somethings shifted in the world at large and I really needed to take a step back from everything and breathe in my own headspace. However, things are levelling out now (I say that- back to school is right around the corner and the world is still doing its thing) and I feel like I want to maybe…dip my toe back in. 

First things first, some lighter things to talk about…

Surprisingly, I’ve actually watched quite a bit of TV that I want to talk about. I’m not a massive TV watcher, mostly due to the fact that the TV tends to be monopolized by my husband and children, but also because I tend to prefer reading quite a bit more. However, Netflix has been doing a lot on the docuseries and reality shows that have been working for me and I’ve watched several. 

On the reality side of things, I obviously watched the After the Alter Love is Blind special and I’ve got a couple of quick thoughts: 1) STOP. Stop dragging these people through this, if we want anymore updates, we can see those on their social medias. I basically only watched to see Lauren and Cameron because they’re adorable, but the rest of the cast is full of such toxicity that it just turns into manufactured drama that doesn’t need to play out on a screen in front of us (especially that whole Damian and Gianina situ- so manufactured and edited my goodness). 2) If you want to keep the team of the Love is Blind “phenomenon” (which the first season and reunion WERE), then do a season two of all new people. Let the show continue to move on. Put this first season to bed. 

I also watched the second season of Too Hot to Handle and…oh my word was this next level compared to the first season. I mean, anything really went and they really went with anything. I don’t have much more to say on this one, except that I really rooted for a couple of people and I’m so happy with how it turned out and who is still together post show. 

Finally on the reality side of things, I’ve gotten about halfway through My Unorthodox Life and…I don’t know if I’ll go much further in it. Here’s the thing, I think the show is great at showing Julia’s life and how she has found “herself” and who she wants to be. I LOVE that she advocates that for everyone, that each person needs to find their own way and what they want out of life…BUT (and it’s a massive but) I feel like in some ways she doesn’t allow the same grace to others as she expects to be allowed her. Let me see if I can explain that better…Julia wants to be accepted and acknowledged as a woman who is no longer part of the Orthodox community, she wants to be free to be herself (which we can sit and debate the true realities of different parts of that statement- there are plenty of people already covering that), BUT she is disappointed or makes snide remarks that her children may hold a different view than her. Point in fact, she regularly referenced the fact that her older son still held some facets of orthodoxy (I think both her older daughter and son would be “modern orthodox”, but I’m not sure- I’m not a fan of labels) such as keeping Shabbos and Kosher as disappointing or confusing to her. If you want people to accept what you have decided for your own life, you need to accept what they have decided for their own lives, even if you don’t understand or agree all the time. It got to be a bit too much judgement and hypocrisy (especially with her older daughters marriage- my goodness) that I had to stop watching. And I don’t know if I’ll continue. 

We’ve also been watching Man with a Plan, The Heist, and I’ve watched an episode of Cooking with Paris as well as Shadow and Bone. I’ve been binging on a few YouTube videos and Podcasts- notable ones would be The Morning Toast & Not Skinny but Not Fat on Podcast, Observe, Morgan Long, The Book Leo, and Emmie on YouTube. It’s been kind of an eclectic time and I find myself being drawn mostly to aesthetic styles in my content consumption (outside of TV and Books) rather than specific topics. 

I referenced this earlier, but I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading. I talk about all of the books in my monthly wrap up, but I’m currently reading These Violent Delights, which is a Romeo and Juliet retelling taking place in Shanghai with a supernatural twist. I’m enjoying it quite a bit (I’m a bit of a sucker for a hate/despise to love romance) and while I think it’s good, so far it’s not GREAT, just good (like the difference between a 3 and a 4 star book). I recently finished both Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca (which I don’t even know what to rate or say about) and The Royal Art of Poisoning by Eleanor Herman (which I loved). It’s been a pretty stellar period for reading this August. 

In the real world, it’s been a lot of heartbreak hasn’t it? Devastation from Mother Nature in Haiti, heartbreak in Afghanistan, and a world still very much in flux and fighting over this pandemic situation. Sometimes it feels like we can’t do anything, we see all this destruction and pain and heartbreak and we get paralyzed with the sheer amount of it all. It sits heavy on our soul and we carry it forward with an additional feeling of “what can I even do about this?”. Sometimes its hard not to feel like a small ant in a very big colony, but we can each do SOMETHING. Whether that is sharing links to resources, sharing information with our community, writing our leaders, or simply being the ears and shoulders for someone to share their burden, it all matters. Everything matters, from everyone. I want to say, that while I don’t or can’t always share my personal opinion on certain topics publicly (for a couple reasons that I won’t bring up here), note that I am ALWAYS doing something behind the scenes, something in my community, something in my home. I will always fight for what I believe in and what I feel is right, even if that’s not always a public fight. 

And that wraps this super long, super rambly new episode…there is something just freeing about the fact that I am about to just press publish and walk away. So many of my blog posts are so well thought out, edited down, researched, and worked on over a period of time. And I LOVE them, but I also love this style too. 

Which is your favorite?

Welcome to Our Home: The Sunroom

Introducing the surprise “bonus” room that we were able to work out in our New York home, the “Sunroom”. Much like a home library, I’ve always dreamed of having a sort of conservatory, indoor porch, sunroom set up in my forever home, so being able to style this room up in a similar manner has made me very happy. This room is set off the kitchen and dining room and was a kind of odd set up. It wasn’t quite deep enough to really use for a certain purpose, and since the floors are all laminate in this section of the house, I didn’t really want to turn any area in this home into a play area (just for the pure noise control factor). So, I took some of the items that we already had that didn’t have a final home (such as my reading chair, the rug, and the two cabinets) and fashioned a little seating area. 

So, let’s talk it through. The only new item I really needed to purchase was the bench against the wall, which is the Christopher Knight Home Mission Ottoman from, you guessed in, Target (linked HERE). It opens to a decent storage space, which currently holds all our candle stuff. I’ve topped with a knitted blanket and one of the pillows we purchase at Ikea when we moved to Germany. In the left corner we have my mug cabinet (of which I have cleared out my collection of quite drastically), and opposite is my husbands’ memorabilia cabinet. Then we’ve got my reading chair, which is one of the comfiest places to sit in our entire house, facing out the window so I can watch as the kids play in the backyard. This little spot also gives enough separation from the kids play area that I can both sit and enjoy my coffee or tea or conversation with friends, but also spin around and see what is going on in the play area. The chair is actually from Babies R Us, so I can’t link it for you unfortunately. The rug is from Ikea (linked HERE) and is still one of my favorite pieces. There are two smaller cabinets that serve as a table for the chair, and a storage spot for plants & outside shoes. 

On the walls we have three photographs from our time in Germany, all taken in the Fussen/Neuschwanstein area of Germany. The center being the overlook of Hohenschwangau and the lakes, the left being at Fussen Castle, and the right being a corner of Hohenschwangau Castle. 

This room serves as a second purpose though (because we are practical in this home), this room also serves as the drying room for hang dry clothes during laundry days. The dryer rack plops right on the rug and all the clothes are up on top. I can’t have you thinking our home is all glamorous all the time now, can I?

I know this was a bit of a shorter “Welcome to Our Home” post, but I sure you hope you liked seeing this little bonus area that I was so excited about. It’s the perfect morning or afternoon tea spot. 

Welcome to our Home: The Home Library (and Kids Space)

It is finally time to start talking about our new home! It’s been a long time coming (not really, hard to believe but we’ve only been in this house for 2 ½ months), but I think it’s finally time to start sharing. I think I’m going to do this in a couple different posts, sectioning out our downstairs into 5 or 6 posts. This is the only part of my house (and just home in general) that I do share as I am going to keep the bedrooms and office private. 

I figured I would start things off with what may be one of the most important spaces in our home (in only my opinion…my husband and kids beg to differ), our home library. While I couldn’t recreate my “wall of books” (HERE) from our last home, I was able to create a cozy little space and a full chunk of our downstairs just to the shelves. 

So, we’ve got a little corner nook set up in this home, just off the main living room. In the center is the boys school table where they do their schoolwork as needed. I liked that I could have a similar “library” set up as you would find at their school with a table in the center. The way the house is laid out and the other rooms are set up, I ended up preferring this to have my reading chair in the corner. 

Aside from the main shelves, which we will get to in the moment, I do have one end table that holds a variety of “coffee table” books that I reach for frequently, as well as my current month “TBR” stack of books. On the top of the shelves there is a wide variety of décor, the various castles we’ve visited on our travel, some important books (both childhood and adulthood), as well as a framed quote from Pride and Prejudice, my wedding dress, and a framed piece of quilled paper artwork. 

Now on to the shelves themselves. There is a total of 5 (though I would like to get one more at some point and I’m sure I’ll need more in the future), and they are the Threshold Carson bookshelves from Target (HERE) in Espresso Brown. They’ve held up through two to three moves now and we’ve been really pleased with them.

A note of my organization system, I organize by “category” and then author last name within that. So, we’ve got (from right to left): Classics, Non-Fiction, General Fiction, Collections, Poetry, Memoir/Self Help, Religious/Belief/Spiritual, Manga & Graphic Novels. The final bookcase on the far left is my unread books. The goal is to keep my unread books to only one bookcase, preferably even less than that at some point, but as I’m a mostly mood reader that can only go so far. 

I also split this chunk of our downstairs (which is an open floor plan) into both the Home Library as well as a kid’s space to play downstairs. As much as our boys love to play in their room (though not as much as we would maybe prefer) they inevitably bring toys downstairs and want to play near us. I wanted to have a spot for them to do that that was still “connected” to where we would be, but not right in our faces for noise purposes. This is also a Lego spot for them to have all their Legos to build and play as they want. 

They have a main table (which is our old coffee table), then a little cabinet in the corner which holds books and school supplies (in the drawer), and a little shelf system which holds some more books. In between the two is where the Lego’s get stored in little plastic containers. The name signs are 3D printed from an Etsy shop called (linked HERE). I thought it would be a nice, personalized touch, as well as help with name recognition and spelling. They can also hang art projects if they like on the walls. 

So, that’s the home library and kids’ section of the downstairs of our house, AS WELL AS the first look into our New York home. I hope you enjoyed this first peak, and I look forward to sharing more with you! If you have any specific questions, please let me know in the comments below. 

Planning in 2021

What is planning? What is this year going to look like and how do we plan for it? Or do we? Late in 2020 I switched from the standard planner that I had been using back into a bullet journal and it ended up working out really well. With everything being so up in the air I found that I didn’t really need to block out hours or see what my day looked like, I needed somewhere that I could have a floating to-do list. Bullet journaling has always been that for me. 

The nice thing about bullet journaling is that it can be whatever whenever. You are in complete control of how in depth, how simple, you need it. And, in such an uncertain time when I just want to feel a little bit in control, that I simply need to cross things off a list. I spent the last few months of 2020 experimenting with a couple of different options and I think I’ve found something that will allow me both to block out hours if I need to, but also have that rotating to do list. 

So, my 2021 Bullet Journal. First off we have the long-term planning, marking out all the holidays, important dates, and such. Then I’ve got a spot to write down books that are on my long list of purchasing and/or reading and another section devoted to blog posts and tracking where they are at in the process (this is something new I’m trying out for 2021). 

Each month has a simply monthly view, a reading section, a daily gratitude section, and then two-page weekly spreads. I have kind of pre penned in some of the months and weeks as we are going to be moving and I don’t know when I will have all the supplies I would like and our new home, but this worked out well as I was able to adjust the layout for February when we won’t be doing much more than visiting family. I’ve done all of this in a Leuchtturm 1917 notebook that’s a beautiful shade of blue.

One final note- I do plan on trying to journal quite a bit more in the New Year and I think that I have figured out my “preferred journal”. It is another dotted notebook, but softcover which allows me to bend and write a bit easier. This particular one is black and fits right into the carrying cover for my planner. 

So, that’s what my planning system looks like at this point for 2021. Do I know what the year holds? Nope. So I don’t know how this will all shake out, but I’m trying to plan for all the changes as best as I can.  

Thankful in 2020

I think if 2020 has taught us anything it is to take stock. To evaluate, look at our lives, and see what we do have, rather than what we don’t. This Thanksgiving is going to be incredibly different and difficult for some. The holidays bring a lot of emotion, both good and bad, and this year, with the pandemic, with shifts in a lot of the things that we would normally expect, it makes it that much harder on everyone. If we are being totally honest and realistic, this holiday season has the potential of being incredibly depressing. It doesn’t have to be, but it’s going to be tough, let’s not kid ourselves about that. And, I’m not saying that sharing a list of all the things that we are thankful for is going to magically solve all of our problems (spoiler alert- IT’S NOT), it may help us with our perspective and remind us of what is in fact important. 

So, here we go… What I’m thankful for in 2020…

I’m thankful for my little family. No one can put a smile on my face (or rip it off) like my boys and husband can. There have been a lot of times this year that they have completely lifted me into better spirits and a better mindset. Colton and Andrew have been incredible, growing and learning and showing us how to find joy in the smallest of discoveries. If ever I need a reminder of what life can be it’s through their eyes. Robert reminds me that we are not alone in this world. He has been my shining light, picking me up when I’m down, letting me breathe in our room when it’s a little too much, and being the most incredible dad and husband that I could ever dream of. I quite honestly, couldn’t imagine a life without him. 

I’m thankful for the friends that I’ve made here. I’m not one for having a big circle or knowing everyone in the community (although chances are I probably will by default), but rather cultivating a few close friends that remind me that quality is better than quantity. I’ve always been that kind of person (the person who has maybe 2 or 3 really close friends and then a long list of “acquaintances”), and living here in Germany has shown me that more than anywhere else. I’ve made one of the closest friends I’ve had in a while and I’ve found another who understands so much of what I’ve been through and some of the struggles that we experience. 

I’m thankful that we’ve been blessed to call this little village in Germany our home. For all the lessons we’ve learned living in a foreign country, seeing other countries, and learning the culture and history. I’m thankful for the experience of being pushed out of our “comfort zone” (though that’s probably debatable as to what our “comfort zone” really is) and, while it’s coming to a bittersweet end much sooner than we anticipated, it’s something I will forever cherish and be grateful for. 

I’m thankful for the travel that we have been able to do while living here in Germany (especially in this year 2020). We’ve been able to see so many places, so many different histories, cultures, and communities. The fact that we’ve been able to see and explore so much is a true blessing and something I don’t take for granted. 

I’m thankful for books, music, tea, and coffee. Hear me out. Books have been my single form of escapism this year. I haven’t been the biggest TV watcher in a long time and the only way I’ve really been able to get away from our real world has been through reading. I’ve read more books in 2020 than I’ve ever read (and that’s even with having a slower November than I expected) and I honestly think it has been such a big help. Music is another really important mood booster for me. I find that music really sets the tone and has such a powerful ability to adjust our mood and our day. And tea and coffee, because let’s be honest, we all are thankful for those these days. 

Finally, I’m thankful for you. For whoever takes time out of their day to follow along our journey, to read the posts, to engage with my content. You have no idea how nice it is to have comments and stories shared. This little blog is a passion hobby for me and something that I have really found meaning in over the past couple of years. It’s helped my mind, helped me keep my memories, and just been such a nice place to come to day in and day out. 

What are you thankful for this year?

Round the Kettle Ep. 27: CAtching Up

Hey! Hello! Long time no chat! 2020 has been a year (as we all can attest to at this point) and I’ve been shifting things around throughout all aspects of life. However, that means this little catch up post I like to do twice a month has kind of “check in”, how are things style, has slipped from my radar. And maybe that was wrong, because I think right now is when we need this type of thing the most. However, that is all changing now and I am back to doing these chatty posts twice a month. I’ve changed my posting schedule ever so slightly, only posting once a week on Wednesdays in the hopes that that will be a bit better all around.

So, how are you? How are you really?

I’m OK. In the grand scheme of things, things are good. Colton is in school (in person, with masks and mask breaks) and loving it, Andrew and I have a good little one on one time while he is at school, doing school or walking or independent play, I’ve been reading, and we’ve been traveling. Things seem, in a way, back to normal. However, there are also moments of melancholy, moments of burn out, moments where it just feels like an endless cycle of “run on empty”. I’m trying to focus on making the most out of these last months of 2020, even when it seems like sometimes everything is falling down around us. 

Let’s be honest, things are a bit of a mess right now. 2020 has been quite the year and I’m sure there is more to come. I can only encourage you to look ahead, to look above, to try and find the bright little moments, and to make sure, above all else, that you are taking care of yourself in whatever way that looks like for you. I think 2020 has shown us the power, and resiliency, of human beings. We’ve been tested in so many ways and it’s been a real show to see how we react, respond, and handle everything going on in the world. 

So, what have I been up to? Apart from traveling (safely following our strict regulations), I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading, a lot of walking, and have even watched some new shows and films! We recently watched Wild Wild Country on Netflix, which was insane, but good to watch. We also finished our re watch (start to finish) of Big Bang Theory on Netflix and started Brooklyn Nine Nine as our next comedy. I watched the Enola Holmes film with a close friend and loved every minute of it. I also, much like everyone else, watched Selling Sunset (and peaked at Carole Baskin on Dancing With The Stars- oof). In terms of reading, a few stand out favorite books from the past month or two have been Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson (I just finished this- might be my favorite Sanderson yet), Born A Crime by Trevor Noah, and The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. 

What have you been up to???

Finally, I have a bit of a hairbrained idea that I’m thinking about…

When I am doing research for blog posts, I often times have “extra” information that doesn’t make the cut for the post (for many different reasons). I also gleam tidbits of information with podcasts, internet, and reading. All of this random information I get just chills in my brain waiting for a moment that I can share it. I was kind of thinking about doing a post maybe the last Friday of the month with just a list of bullet points of the random tidbits that I find interesting that I’ve learned throughout the month. Would this be something you would be interested in? Let me know because this are things that I would like to share, but don’t know if you would be interested in reading…

And that is all for this Sunday Afternoon. I hope that you are holding your head up (at least somewhat) and doing alright. 

Autumn in Bavaria

I’m interrupting all of the travel content for this very special post…

Ok, maybe it’s not that special, but I wanted to do a post acknowledging two things:

1) This is my 300-blog post published to A Cuppa Cosy. 300 posts. While my content has bounced all over the place, it is still crazy to think that I have written and published 300 posts in this little corner of mine. And for my 300th post I wanted to focus on something I love, something that just kind of perfectly coincided with the timing of this post and everything else and that is…

2) Autumn. Specifically, Autumn in Bavaria. 

Autumn officially begins next week, but we’ve been officially welcoming it since September 1st (as we do every year) and I think this year, given everything, there is nothing wrong with celebrating the changing season a bit early. 

I’ve lived a fair amount of places that have had beautiful Autumnal Seasons, and a couple that don’t really get an Autumn at all, but it is my personal opinion that Bavaria just takes the cake (at this time, I’m sure in the coming years that may change, but I don’t know that I’ll ever forget the incredible season here). Between the weather, the festivals, the leaves, it just creates the best of the best of Autumn. 

Let’s start with the weather.

If you know me, you know that Autumn has always been my favorite season. I’m really kind of obsessed with the two transitional seasons- Spring and Autumn, but Autumn takes the cake. I’ve loved Autumn before it became the “basic girl” thing to love. Something about the heat fading away, the days slowly going shorter, the start of the school year, the crisper air moving in, and the leaves changing colors just made me feel so alive. And I know I’m not alone in that feeling.

I’m a massive rain fan and Autumn in Bavaria has its fair share of rainy days. This isn’t necessarily the hard rains of spring and summer storms, but rather that soft, sometimes mist like, rain that just peppers the ground and bounces gently off the roofs. The overcast nature of many of the Autumn days gives the perfect backdrop for the bright red and oranges that the leaves turn throughout the months before falling to a damp ground. The air starts to slowly turn crisp with the cool crisp air settling just in time for apple and pumpkin picking. Don’t worry though, it’s not always rainy and cool, there are those brilliant sunny days peppered throughout the 3 or so months that encompass the changing season. Those sunny days are full of life and joy and somehow…always happen on festival days. It’s a time where you may have to pack up the shorts, tanks, and summer dresses, but you can still wear t-shirts and such for a little bit longer. Same for sandals and boots, you get a great chance to wear both throughout the month of September. 

Let’s briefly talk leaves. 

I mentioned the fall colors, but something about the vibrance here in Bavaria makes a difference. Maybe it’s the rolling hills and alps that are just peppered with trees. Maybe it’s the balance of the “evergreen” trees and the changing leaves. Maybe it’s the fact that the sky has just always seemed a bit bluer and clearer in Bavaria. Whatever it is, the changing leaves are absolutely incredible here. You get a real range not only in color, but in timelines as well. It takes a full month to month and a half for the full process of changing colors and falling leaves and it is EVERYWHERE. You don’t have to drive far to get just the simple beauty of the season, you can walk right down the road. You don’t need to take any random country back roads or make a special trip (although you certainly can do that) in order to get the real pretty views. And you can get everything range of colors at any times, from the lighter green, to yellow, to the fiery reds, and brick oranges, all peppered against a brilliant blue sky or overcast gray. It’s truly incredible. 

Finally, let’s talk ambiance. 

Autumn is all about getting cozy. It’s about family, friends, changing weather, and the upcoming holiday season. It’s full of celebration and nobody does celebration better than Bavaria. Autumn, at times, almost feels like, after the grueling heat and harvest filled months of summer have ended and everything can take a deep breath again. Not only can you breathe, but you can celebrate, and Germany sure knows how to celebrate. 

***Obviously celebration will look drastically different this year due to Covid-19. I haven’t seen much about how some of the festivals that we attended last year will happen or not happen this year, but I am looking to see what I can find, and, in the meantime, I have linked a couple of posts from last year.***

The season kicks off with Almatrieb, which is a festival to celebrate the cattle (and sometimes sheep too) coming down from the mountains in anticipation of the colder weather. The cows are decorated with floral crowns, given massive bells, and then paraded on their route to pasture. It’s a massive party, which you can read about HERE. Everyone knows about Oktoberfest, the biggest party in Germany (which actually occurs in late September-usually ending the first week in October). We attended Munich’s Oktoberfest last year and had a blast (you can read that post HERE), but there are also a lot of smaller versions of Munich’s AND there are a multitude of other festivals throughout Autumn. One that I went to last year was Ertedankfest (you can read about that weekend HERE), which is a celebration of the harvest, complete with dried hops decorations. There are also the obvious, plentiful, markets in every town. 

Overall, Autumn in Bavaria is the perfect combination of sunny crisp days and grey rainy days, celebration of the changing season and getting cozy in our own homes. I don’t know that I’ve experienced the perfection of Autumn until I’ve been here. Maybe it’s just the changing season, the sentimental nature of who I am, or just the love I have for Bavaria, but I have truly found my happy spot of the year. 

A Tale of Summer Dresses – What I Wore June 2020

Summer has fully and most definitely arrived with her heat, her sunshine, and her longer days. When the weather starts to turn to the unbearable heat, I’ve found that rather than shorts I lean towards summer dresses and skirts. They are just more breathable, and I find myself cooler and less…constricted. So, I figured today I would share the summer dresses that I’ve recently purchased or have been wearing. I’m super excited to start cycling through these more and more. I will also include a couple of skirt options since I do have those as well. 

Dress #1 This is an Old Navy dress and is top of the line because it has pockets! Got to love a dress with pockets and the fun polka dot print just adds to that. It is breezy and cool, hitting right below the knees. Shoes are old, so I don’t remember where I bought them. 

Dress #2 Another Old Navy dress, although no pockets (bummer!), this one is the most comfortable thing. It hits at the right spot, and is super easy to dress up or down (you’ll see a theme with the dress up/dress down options). Obsessed with the floral prints right now (and most of my dresses reflect that) and blue is one of my favorites. Shoes are Sperry’s (and the memory foam one’s so incredibly comfortable). 

Dress #3 The final Old Navy dress in this post, this is the one that I am probably the most…unsure of. I love the black and white cheetah print, the tie close, but I’m unsure of the length. Still, it’s breezy and comfy and, once again, easy to dress up or down. Shoes are the same as paired with Dress #1. 

Dress #4 A new Target dress that I am, once again, obsessed with. The black floral is becoming something of a staple in my wardrobe and the high low at the bottom is a fun addition. Another dress that is super easy to dress up or down, I am looking forward to getting quite a bit of use out of this one. Shoes are Rainbow Flip Flops (which I do love, but love the Birkenstock options a little more for travel walking). 

Dress #5 An option that I purchased last year; I don’t think I’ve worn a single dress more than I have worn this one. I absolutely love this Review dress and it was well worth the money. It has the comfortableness of light breathable fabric, pockets, and a cinched waist. Shoes are the Birkenstock Gizeh, another item that has already proven well worth the money. 

Dress #6 Another absolute favorite, this dress was a gift and is just a simple straight-line dress. The brand is S. Oliver, which I do like and have a couple other pieces from. I love the way it falls, that option to dress up or down, and the color scheme of blue’s and tans. Another dress that is going to get a lot of wear this summer and summers to come. Shoes are, once again, Birkenstock Gizeh. 

Dress #7: This was an Amazon purchase a few years back now and still, the best Amazon Clothing purchase I’ve made. Pockets, blue and white floral, and an easy flowy/breathable fabric, you cannot go wrong with this option. I’ve paired it with my favorite pair of summer wedges (which are old, not quite sure where from), but I’ve also worn this with the Birkenstock Gizeh flip flops.

Skirt Outfit #1 I purchased this skirt from Old Navy on a whim and I’m very excited about it. Once again, like the tan dress, a very breathable fabric and solid staple to have. I feel like the fit is incredibly versatile, there are pockets (which believe it or not can be hard to find in a skirt) and options to dress up or down. It’s a nice summer option, but can be transitioned into fall. Shoes are old from Amazon; Top is from Chico’s. 

Skirt Outfit #2 A Skirt I picked up from last year and is getting a lot of use. I love the scalloped detailing at the bottom and the embroidered pattern. This skirt is one that I typically will pair with a tucked in white tee and white Sperry’s or sandals. It is just the easiest, comfiest outfit, that works whenever. 

And that’s it for my Summer Dresses (and outfits) for 2020! What was your favorite? Are you a Summer Dress wearer? 

Mid Year Book Freakout Tag – 2020

Happy Monday! Last week I posted my midyear “check in” and I figured I would follow it up with a little book tag. It’s not a deep dive, or something really serious, just a fun little Monday Morning question and answer. At the time that I am writing up this post, I have read a total of 48 books. Not too much of an introduction, let’s just get into the questions!

Best Book you’ve read so far in 2020

Hands down I think one of the best is Circe by Madeline Miller. A close second and third would be The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson and The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (but, both of those will be mentioned later on). There are plenty of books that I enjoyed and gave 5 Stars, but Circe is a book that I am still reminiscing and thinking about.

Best Sequel you’ve read so far in 2020

I have two for this question (because I am really bad at narrowing things down to one) and those are: A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer and World Without End by Ken Follett. I loved both of these in some ways more than the first books.

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

Both The City We Became by N.K. Jemison and My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell are out, and I am really wanting to read both of those. I also would like to read Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad which was released in February.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

Top of my list is Fredrik Backman’s Anxious People. I am just a big fan of his and am ready to see what else he is offering. There are a lot more books that I’ve pre ordered, that I’m anxiously awaiting, but this is the first one that comes to mind that hasn’t already been released.

Biggest Disappointment

Ah, again, I have two books for this one: Misery by Stephen King (which was ten times better as a movie than a book) and Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson (which was a great setting and concept, but poor execution).

Biggest Surprise

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. I honestly was on the fence, I figured I would either love it or DNF it and to even my own surprise, I loved this! I gave it 4 stars (because I did have some issues with it), but on the whole this one took me by surprise. Another one (just as food for thought) is The One by John Marrs. I only just recently read this one, after hearing about it twice and picking it up on a whim, and ooofff…an unexpected 5 star read for me.

Favorite New Author (Debut or new to you)

Alright, I’ve been recommended this author for years now and I finally this year read a couple of his books…Brandon Sanderson. I flew through Elantris and The Final Empire and am desperate to get to some more in the Mistborn trilogy (and then move on to the other, longer series).

Newest Fictional Crush

I don’t really get any fictional crushes, so no answer on this one 🙂

Newest Favorite characters

I don’t know? I guess I like the setting and main characters of Ellery Adams books. No book in particular, but those characters and settings are just my jam.

Book that made you cry

The Only Plan in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff and Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect Edited by Maya Schenwar, Joe Macare, Alana Yu-Lan Price, Forward by Alicia Garza. I don’t think I really need to elaborate on either of these.

Book that made you happy

This is a tough one because even with my disappointing reads, I still enjoy reading. Books still make me happy overall. I’m going to have to list Ellery Adams once again as those books are just…so cozy and wonderful in so many ways (and they are light and fluffy with no deeper thought needed).

Most Beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow and it was also a beautiful story as well.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

So many! I won’t list them all here, but I will make a note that for the rest of the year I want to read a diverse selection between fiction and nonfiction and a variety of authors and subjects.

That’s it! I would love to hear some of your answers for the questions, so leave them down below 🙂

 

A Little Life Chat

The second half of June has historically been a time of reflection for me. It is the halfway point of the year and a good time to sort of do a little check in and evaluate. So that’s what we are doing today. It’s a bit early, but I felt like it was just…right. That and I don’t have my next Castle’s post fully ready to post ha-ha.

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So, 2020. What a year so far, right?! We’ve faced a global pandemic and a global uprising/protest. We’ve seen communities, families, strangers all come together to accomplish some incredible things. I’ve learned some things about myself, about those that I am close to, and how to get uncomfortable. 2020 is going to be a year for the history books and I think we are going to see some real changes moving forward in regard to both the pandemic and the uprising. We aren’t going to go back to “normal” because that wasn’t working, but I do think the changes that we are starting to see, and initiate will lead to a better world. I don’t want to call anything a “new normal” because “normal” in any sense just doesn’t work for us anymore. It makes it sound like we are just striving to the average way of life, instead of always striving to do better, be better, make better changes.

For us as a family 2020 has been full of changes so far as well. We’ve seen our oldest go into his first session of preschool, to then do virtual schooling, our youngest has grown quite the little personality, and both have narrowed down their current interests quite a bit (dinosaurs, cars, Lego’s, and trains are the top). We’ve gone through a couple of work separations, work changes, and some disappointing news that I’m not sharing just yet ( I KNOW how annoying that is, but it’ll come).

It’s also ONLY June. We still have a full half a year to go in 2020.

Something else I kind of wanted to do was do a little check in on some of my resolutions that I shared. I want to see where I stand with them, while understanding that a lot of things have drastically changed from when I wrote those in late December.

So, my New Year’s Resolutions post can be found HERE

My first goal was to spend the first half of the year focusing on my website and SEO. I’ve been doing quite a bit of learning in this area, but haven’t yet gotten on Pinterest. When quarantine hit I thought it was going to be a great chance to really focus and hone in as, well…we couldn’t do anything else. But, as I quickly learned it was the complete opposite of that and trying to make drastic changes was not in my wheelhouse. I plan to refocus this goal to the second half of the year and have a good Pinterest thing going in the next 3 months or so.

My second overarching goal applied to the second half of this year (in regards to writing and publishing), so I still have time on that one!

My next group of goals was in regards to content. I wanted to make sure that what I was posting was what I felt 100% about and not to feel pressured to constantly be posting. I think that I’ve actually been really good at this, partly because of Covid-19, but also just because I’ve tried to be very intentional about posting. I love sharing and writing, but I also want to continue to enjoy that. I took a bit of time in February off, there were a couple weeks in March (or maybe April) where I only posted once a week, and that all just felt good. It keeps me feeling fresh and allows me a breather to re invigorate myself and my content.

The next group was in regards to reading, family time with my boys, travel, and quality time. I was doing better about reading a wider variety of books, but I’ve recently (like many others) been reminded that I can continue to do better in this area. I am pledging to myself to not only read a wider variety of genre’s and stories, but read a wider variety of authors. As for the family time with the boys, well we’ve been really forced into that, haven’t we? I will say in so many ways this has been so good for our family. We’ve really just gotten a chance to be together without the whole outside world distracting us. It’s been nice for the boys to have mommy and daddy home all the time, but it’s made our recent work separation all that much harder.

We all know what is going on with travel and the lack of it due to Covid-19. However, we recently just were informed that our restriction for travel within the country of Germany has been lifted so I am eagerly looking for some getaways within the country. We are also starting to hopefully be able to plan for some Fall or Winter trips. Keeping our fingers crossed.

My final goal was to do more date nights with my husband and well…that’s gone about the same way as the travel goal ha-ha. Hopefully though, now that our restrictions are being lifted more and more we can start doing those date nights again. I know that I am ready for some kid free time with my husband.

So, that’s my check in on 2020 so far. As we go into the second half of the year, I want to continue to listen, inform, and better educate myself on our community and world at large. I want to strive to be better and do better.

How is your 2020 so far?