Fall 2021 One Room Challenge: Laundry Room + Mood Board!

It’s that time of year again – the Fall One Room Challenge is starting!


There is a room of my house that has been driving me bonkers since we first moved in. It’s a particular pain point in our days and it needs to function MUCH better for our family, especially with winter coming. I am finally ready to address: our laundry room!

Yikes. I didn’t clean up at all for this picture. The top of the dryer is a landing zone for things that need to go out to the garage and the kids shoes are always all over the place. It’s a mess!

It’s probably very obvious by just looking at the pictures, but the biggest pain point is: it is a very small space trying to do way too many things. It’s not even a true room! It’s basically just an oddly-shaped hallway and yet it’s trying to function as a laundry room, mudroom, and storage for things like cleaning supplies, all the food and other necessities for our dogs, and overflow household items like lightbulbs. Unfortunately, there isn’t a more convenient place to store all these items in our house, so I need to find a way to make this space work.

I’ve been putting off addressing the laundry room because it is high on the list of spaces we want to completely remodel. The biggest thing we want to do is eliminate the full bathroom next to it (it’s been used twice in the 2.5 years we’ve lived here) and create a larger laundry room + mudroom that works for our family. We are planning to get a contractor out here soon to talk about the work to be done and start budgeting for that project, but it will likely be late 2022 or 2023 before we are able to tackle it. Even though a gut remodel is on the horizon, I don’t want to spend another year or more in this space without making it more functional. Winter is coming and that means even more boots, shoes, coats, gear, etc – this is the time to make improvements!

I put together a little mood board of what I’m envisioning for the space – even though it’s a temporary fix to hold us over until the remodel, I’m still going to have some fun with it!

I do want to keep a fairly low budget since it’s not a long-term renovation, but there are several things I want to address:

More Organized shoe + coat storage

This was an extra shoe rack we had from a closet in our last home. it’s not really the right size for the space but it’s at least helped keep shoes (somewhat) corralled, although most of the time it looks like this with shoes on the ground. And the kids jackets and bags currently hang on some hooks that the previous owners left behind – they’re perfectly functional but my style. I want to come up with more organized storage that feels more my style.

More Storage

We never use the rod to hang clothes, so I either want to take down the cabinet and add long floating shelves spanning the length of the wall or just remove the rod and have floating shelves between the cabinet and wall. Either way – I need to better utilize that wall above the washer and dryer.

Create Flat Work Space

This one is tricky, but I really need some flat work space for when I need to spray stain remover/scrub stains. With two little ones running around playing all day, nearly every piece of their clothing has some sort of dirt or stain to address before it goes in the washer. The only space I have to do this is on top of the dryer, which isn’t much. I have some ideas for ways to create a small work space and I’m excited to use my creativity on this one!

Better Functioning Closet

The closet in the hallway has very large, deep shelves, but I really feel like this space could be better utilized for maximum storage potential!

And of course – I’m also continuing with my 2021 goal of removing the boob lights from our house and will be replacing the two in this hallway. I’m excited to improve this space in ways that make more sense for our family and our needs! Make sure to follow along on Instagram, where I’ll be sharing more real time updates and a video walk through of the space. You can also follow the other ORC guest participants here.

And if you missed my previous One Room Challenges, you can find all the reveals here:

Spring 2020: Basement Kitchen

Fall 2020: Home Office

Spring 2021: Primary Bedroom

Guest Room Debate: Accent Wall or Entire Room?

Over the weekend I was able to make major progress with the guest room stenciled wallpaper. I’m currently about 98% done with the first wall and I’m absolutely LOVING the way it looks (minus all the weird lighting shadows – basement bedrooms are so challenging to photograph!)

You’ll notice I have not finished off the very bottom or very top of the wall, and I also have not finished the edge of the wall on the left side of the door. Before I tackle these remaining areas, I need to make an important decision: should I keep this wall as an accent wall or should I continue all the way around the room?

The reason I wanted to do a wallpapered look in here is because the room had been feeling pretty boring with white walls. We needed some color and interest! But is an entire room of this stencil going to feel too busy? Will it feel like the pendulum swung too far the other way?

On the other hand, I’ve always planned on doing the entire room. I especially envisioned the wallpapered look above that board and batten half wall! The other walls, particularly the wall directly opposite the accent wall, feel underwhelming in comparison. There is no cost advantage to stopping now, as I still have plenty of paint and supplies to carry me through the rest of the room. The investment of time isn’t really a factor for me. Yes, it’s a time consuming process, but I truly have not minded and actually find it very therapeutic!

I guess at this point, the big question is: does an entire room of botanical wallpaper feel like overkill? Or will the multiple doors (bedroom door, bathroom door, furnace room door, closet door), board and batten half wall, window, and built in linen closet break up the pattern enough so it doesn’t feel like too much?

Until I decide this question, the project is at a standstill. The easiest way for me to finish off the top and bottom of the wall is to cut the stencil to fit exactly and just move it along down the wall, which I’m not going to do until I finish everything else. Speaking of the bottom – LJ saw me taking photos and wanted to take some of his own. I thought this one turned out quite well and gives a good example of how the wallpaper looks with the overhead light on!

What’s your vote: keep it an accent wall or continue throughout the whole room? Cost and time are not a factor so it’s really a matter of how busy it would or would not make the room feel. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Friday Features {9.24.21}

Good morning and Happy Friday! I’m feeling like I’m in a very transitional stage of life right now – the weather is changing, my kids are outgrowing clothes and needing the next sizes up, I’m mid-project on the guest room and waiting to help my sister with her next project at some point in the near future . . . it just feels like I’m “part way” in many things right now! Because of that, today felt like a good day to share some of the little snippets that have been going on around here lately – time for another round of Friday Features!

Fall has Begun!

I know a lot of people like to celebrate fall starting September 1, and you do you, but I love summer and the warm weather (and winter seems to last foreeeeeever in Indiana) so I cling to summer as long as possible. This past week, not only did the weather start to turn cooler, but the fall season officially began on a rainy September 22 so I’m finally feeling ready to embrace it. I am not a pumpkin spice fan and I haven’t set out any fall decor yet, but I did turn on a lamp and light a fall candle and that brought instant coziness! I’m also in my slippers as I write this blog post and I’m thinking about which soups to add to my list for next week’s dinners, so it’s safe to say I’m now all in.

LJ and Mommy Day

Yesterday, LJ had an eye doctor appointment. We see a specialist out of town, so since a bit of travel was involved, we decided to make a fun day out of it! After the appointment (where he did so great!), we headed to explore a fun new playground. Then LJ chose his favorite spot for lunch: Culver’s! We then headed into Target to grab a few things for the guest room and LJ enjoyed strolling the toy aisles and telling me some ideas for his birthday (in two months haha). He also saw these fake flowers and wanted to buy them for his grandma – isn’t that the sweetest!? We had such a great day together!

Guest Bedroom Bedding

Speaking of the Target trip, one thing I wanted to look at was some bedding options for our guest room. Now that I’m updating the walls with a stenciled “faux wallpaper,” I also want to upgrade the bedding a bit. My goal is to have several different layers so guests have options to use depending on their sleeping preferences. We have a down comforter from our previous queen bed and I’ve been looking into duvet covers, specifically linen options. I loved this one from West Elm but just could not justify the price for a bed that only gets used maybe once a month. Yesterday I saw this very similar one at Target for a fraction of the cost and snapped it right up! I also grabbed a yellow grid lumbar pillow and, combined with a textured throw and sheet set I already had, the bedding feels like it’s slowly coming together. I like the mix of large and small graphic patterns in the bedding and think it will provide a good contrast to the botanical pattern that will dominate the walls.

Toddler Mom Life

The other day I was doing some laundry and noticed this in the bathroom sink. Discoveries like this are just little daily reminders that yep, I’m firmly entrenched in the wild world of toddler motherhood. Haha!

Jenni’s Built In Cabinets

On Monday I shared all the work we did in my sister Jenni’s kitchen, and if you follow me on Instagram you probably also saw that we did some work on the built ins in the adjoining room too. Jenni chose Sherwin Williams Inkwell for these built ins and it’s such a great moody color that perfectly plays off the red brick fireplace. Such a great improvement already and we’re just getting started – she and her husband officially move in to the house tomorrow and I’m so excited to help them with some more projects!

Have a great weekend!

A Day in the Life {9.13.21}

Every so often, I like to do a Day in the Life post – it’s never a “special” day, just a regular old day in the life of my family. Vacations are fun and special events are good memories, but the every day normal is what really makes up our lives and I love having little snippets of our life at different stages documented. It’s been seven months since my last one so I documented last Monday, which just so happened to be the last day of “summer” before my kids started preschool on Tuesday.

Monday, September 13, 2021

I woke up around 6:00 and was downstairs in my office by 6:15 for some quiet time + morning devotions. On this particular morning I was prepping for a discussion I was leading on Thursday for a small group I’m part of.

LJ woke up around 6:55 and came downstairs. He often likes to snuggle on my lap a bit while he adjusts to being awake but on this morning, he was ready to hit the ground running!

I got him breakfast and while he was eating, I let the dogs out, fed the dogs, and emptied the dishwasher (we have the dishwasher run overnight so it’s ready to unload first thing).

I ran upstairs to brush my teeth and quickly made the bed. I’m really trying to make this a habit because I love how it makes the room feel!

I started a workout in our basement while LJ watched a little TV. I’ve been slacking with exercise over the past year but I’ve been getting back into my Expecting and Empowered postpartum workout guide – my days always feel better when I get in some movement!

Vi woke up around 9:00 while I was still in between my sets so I got her up and fed her breakfast in between rounds. She then joined LJ on the couch while I finished up!

After my workout, I dove right into work mode. I finished up and published a blog post and then completed my tasks for my work from home job (I’m a part-time virtual administrative assistant!) while the kids watched some TV and played around me.

Around 10:00, I finished up my work and got Vi dressed and the diaper bag packed for a trip to the zoo. We got there around 10:45 and were ready for a day of fun! I caught a spontaneous kiss on our way in – my kids absolutely fight and get on each others’ nerves but I love that they are also super affectionate and loving too.

A highlight was getting to feed the giraffes! I was actually really impressed with my kids and their patience today because they waited at least 15-20 minutes on the platform before a giraffe came close enough to feed – their patience paid off! Usually Vi loves this part but she got a little nervous today so LJ fed the giraffe both pieces of our lettuce.

We ate lunch at the zoo which allowed us to stay a little longer and we headed home around 1:30. Vi and I headed upstairs for her naptime while LJ wound down with a little TV. She insists on sleeping with SO many things these days, I’m surprised there is even room for her in the crib ha!

LJ and I enjoyed a bit of leftover birthday cake when I got back downstairs, then he played independently while I did a little more work for my job.

We had had some friends stay with us over the weekend, so after Vi woke up I spent some time getting the guest room back in order and cleaning the guest bathroom. The kids played in the shower with a spray bottle filled with water while I cleaned the rest of the bathroom which felt like a double win – entertained kids + clean bathroom!

The kids jumped in the bounce house while I read a little bit, but it didn’t last long because . . .

. . . we decided to relocate outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. Gotta soak up summer as long as we can! The kids love playing in the sand (and don’t worry, yes I had a book but I was always very alert with making sure they were only playing in the sand and not the water).

We stayed outside until Justin got home and he brought dinner home from a local BBQ joint – yum!

After dinner Justin hung out with the kids while I headed upstairs to fold some laundry (that had been in the dryer for several days haha).

We settled in for a little TV as a family before heading upstairs for bedtime – I love end of the day snuggles!

After the kids were down, I actually had to head out to grab a few things – we were totally out of milk (happens every now and then) and diapers (honestly never happened before haha) and I needed to print off a picture for LJ to take in to his first day of school the next day.

Once I got back home, Justin and I settled in for a cozy night on the couch – him watching Monday Night Football and me reading some more. A perfect way to end the day!

If you’re interested in reading some past Day in the Life posts, you can find them all here:

November 16, 2018

July 9, 2019

January 14, 2020

March 26, 2020

February 13, 2021

Eclectic, Retro Green Kitchen Cabinets!

Over the weekend, I drove out to Ohio to help my sister with some painting projects for her new house. Her house was originally built in 1900 but hasn’t been updated in years. She has a lot of things on her to-do list, but #1 on the list was updating her kitchen and main living space with some fresh paint!

Jenni has always wanted green kitchen cabinets and after trying out a few different options, she kept coming back to Sherwin Williams Palm Leaf. We described this to our other sister as “if an avocado and an olive had a baby.” It feels like a callback to the 70’s in a cool, eclectic way and brought a fun retro flair to the kitchen!

Unfortunately, we were so busy painting that we didn’t stop to take pictures along the way but I was able to grab a few blurry screenshots from a couple videos I took.

We followed the same process I used for painting my own kitchen cabinets and used two coats of the HGTV Showcase paint in a satin finish for the cabinets. Jenni isn’t crazy about the knobs on the cabinet doors and plans to eventually replace them, but we both agreed that spray painting them with a few coats of my favorite gold spray paint was a good budget-friendly way to make them work for the time being. She chose Sherwin Williams Ivory Lace for the rest of the space and we painted the walls in eggshell, the trim and window in semi-gloss, and the ceiling (including the trim around the tray ceiling) in flat.

I think it’s really easy to get caught up in wanting a “big reveal” with everything 100% updated and perfect, but the reality is most renovations aren’t like that. They are slow, with intentional choices plus budget and time factoring in. Jenni has a lot more plans for the space – she wants to rip out the old vinyl flooring and update it with a fresh pattern (she’s thinking of this one which I think would look so cute!) and possibly paint the backsplash too. She also plans to add floating shelves to the wall next to the microwave where they took down some hanging cabinets. But progress is progress and it’s my belief that we should celebrate the journey and transformations along the way! This space may not be “done” but it feels so much different than just a few days ago and that is worth celebrating.

Weekend Project Alert: A Quick Kitchen Update!

My sister Jenni and her husband just closed on a house that has sooo much potential . . . it just needs a little TLC. They move in next weekend but before they move in she wants to tackle a quick, budget-friendly kitchen renovation. She came out to help me when I painted my kitchen cabinets and I’m more than happy to return the favor now. I’m heading out this afternoon for a weekend of painting!

Here’s where their kitchen started out:

Underneath the very dated styles, I see so much potential! There’s a lot they can (and likely will) do here for a bigger update down the road, but for now, our plan is just to help the space feel a lot more like them from the start.

They have already made one very impactful change by removing the kitchen cabinets above the island!

It takes away a bit of their storage, but it makes such a huge difference in the space! Jenni loves how open it feels now.

Our #1 goal this weekend is to get all the cabinets painted. Jenni and her husband are both creative and artistic with a really lively, kind of eclectic style – it’s going to be a lot of fun translating their unique style into this dated kitchen. Here’s some of the inspo Jenni has sent me – bring on all the green!

I’ll be sharing the finished project back here on the blog on Monday, but make sure to follow along on Instagram for real time updates throughout the weekend. I’m so excited to get this project started!

Progress on the Guest Bedroom “Wallpaper”

A few weeks ago, I shared how I wanted to update our guest bedroom by painting a “wallpaper” with stencil. I was pretty optimistic about the scope of the project and hoped to be done by the time our guests came for my birthday weekend (September 11). And now that my birthday weekend is over and our guests have come and gone, all I can say is HAHAHAHAHA to that wishful thinking!

Once I actually started, I realized how big of a project this is. Like, it’s a really big project. Because I’m using five different colors and have some tiny details to paint, it takes me about fifteen minutes to complete one stencil. At this point, I still plan to do the whole room, so this is a long haul project!

It took me a while to work out my techniques for the best results, and the top right corner of the wall is definitely going to need a LOT of touching up before I’m done, but I’m feeling really good about how the latest stencils have turned out and can’t wait to see the whole wall done.

Additional updates coming to the room:

1 – New ceiling light fixture. This room currently has an unattractive boob light (if you know you know,) and it’s one of my 2021 goals to replace all the boob lights in my house. The one tricky thing here is the ceiling tiles, which force the light to be off-center. It’s currently not that noticeable because the light is the same color as the ceiling, and I’m going to strive to find another light fixture that works with out drawing too much attention to the off-centeredness.

2 – Fresh bedding. The wall color palette doesn’t quite match the existing bedding anymore, plus I’d like to update it anyways. When we originally did the guest room renovation, I chose a comforter set with lots of pillows. While this looks nice on the bed, it’s just not a practical choice for guests. They have to remove six pillows just to sleep and then those pillows compete with their luggage for space on the floor or closet. I want to edit the pillows down to just what they need plus maybe one decorative option.

3 – Add a bench? I would really like to try to find a storage bench for the foot of the bed. There’s plenty of space for it and it would create a space to sit to put on shoes or elevate a suitcase, plus double as storage for extra blankets.

4 – Carpet (eventually). This so badly needs to happen, but it’s a big ticket budget item since we will be doing the entire basement at once. I’m really hoping we can replace it within the next year!

Now back to work – I’ve got some stenciling to do!


On Saturday, I turned 33 years old!

I posted this on my Instagram stories, but having a 9/11 birthday often feels heavy, particularly on milestone anniversaries of 2001. My heart will never not break for all the tragedy and pain that this day holds; I feel it deeply and it’s gut-wrenching. At the same time, I am so grateful for my own life and the opportunity to get to celebrate another year of it. I enjoy celebrating my birthday and I love to make it a happy, fun day. Over the years, I’ve learned to acknowledge the tension between those two extremes and accept that they can coexist. I think of and hold space in my heart for all those who lost their loved ones in the attacks and the aftermath. I also have deep gratitude for the friends and family who always make sure I still feel the love and celebration on my birthday.

Friday, we had some friends come into town to stay with us for the weekend. They live 5+ hours away and we’re not able to see each other nearly as much as we’d like, so it was so amazing to have them come in to celebrate! Our kids have met before, but it’s been so long that none of them remember it – within five minutes of them pulling in our driveway, all four kids were playing like besties!

Saturday we enjoyed a slow morning at home and spent the early afternoon out at our pond soaking up the sun. My friend baked a stunning birthday cake that was as delicious as it was beautiful!

Around mid-afternoon, we headed inside to get ready for the evening. Our city has multiple rivers that connect downtown and Justin rented a boat called a Rum Runner – it’s a party boat that has a bar in the middle with stools all around and space to walk around as well. It was so much fun – my only regret is that I wish it was bigger so we could have invited even more people! The weather was absolutely gorgeous and we enjoyed a couple hours floating on the river, then hung out downtown and enjoyed checking out different open-air spots for food, drinks, and even dancing. It felt like everything just came together to make for a heck of an evening out and I enjoyed every second.

I decided to not share group photos on this public platform, but it’s hard for me to overstate how much I appreciated my friends and their efforts to come out and celebrate with me. Seeing fifteen friends from different stages of my life come together was surreal and so awesome and we all had a blast together. I ended the night just feeling so so grateful and loved!

Sunday was even more gorgeous weather than Saturday and we enjoyed time fishing, floating on the pond, and watching our kids play in the water before our friends packed up and headed home. It was such a relaxing way to finish a great weekend!

There are a lot of jokes out there about birthdays and aging that make it seem like getting older is a bad thing or something to downplay or lie about (“I’m 29 again!”). I have always tried to keep the perspective that age is truly something to celebrate. I lost one of my best friends to a tragic four wheeling accident when I was in college. Amongst all the other extreme pain of losing her, it was heartbreaking to know she would never grow older than a teenager. And having a 9/11 birthday, I’m acutely aware of the tremendous pain and loss of precious life that is associated with this date. These two events serve as a reminder for me that growing old is truly a gift, one we can’t take for granted. I specifically want to honor my friend’s memory and all those who perished on 9/11 by living life to the fullest – I am so thankful for thirty-three years of living life! And quite frankly, I wouldn’t go back to 29 anyways. At that time, I still hadn’t met either of my children. I hadn’t moved to a new house and started the adventures of renovation. I hadn’t met a few of my now very close friends. Each passing year brings new people, more personal growth, more strength in my marriage, more traveling, more experiences, more memories made with my little family – I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Here’s to making 33 the best year yet!

Our bedroom is (finally) finished!

Way back at the beginning of May, I started the One Room Challenge with the goal of renovating Justin and my bedroom. It took a lot longer than I anticipated, but I’m actually really ok with that. A slow and steady pace helped me from feeling too overwhelmed and allowed me to make sure I loved every decision rather than make snap decisions just for the sake of a timeline. It was all worth it because I love the room so much now!

As a reminder, here’s where we started in early May:

And here’s where we are now:

I finished up the bed side of the room during the One Room Challenge, and my time since then has been spent on the other side. Our bedroom is very large and a bit of an awkward shape, so it took a little while for me to figure out a layout that worked and felt right. 

My mom generously offered me this antique library table that has been in her family for years and years. Paired with an antique chair (it used to be my great-aunt’s sewing table chair!) it creates a nice little vanity area for me to do my makeup. I love the natural light streaming in while I sit there!

There is an awkward little corner in the room sandwiched in between a window and the door to our en suite bathroom. There was just enough room to fit a gorgeous rust chair and paired with a small black table and a soft throw blanket, it now is a cozy little reading spot!

The long stretch of wall between the bedroom door and the bathroom door was the perfect place to create some visual interest. I upgraded a simple Ikea dresser for a fun modern look and added a gallery wall above.

The gallery wall was the most recent project I tackled. I chose a mixture of digital downloads, professionally framed prints, and personal mementos to create a special wall that feels beautiful and uniquely us.

When I first started this project, Justin asked why I wanted to put effort into a space that “no one sees” verses a more public space (like, why put the time, money, and effort into a room that only the two of us use instead of a room that more people see and use, like our living room?) I do understand his logic, but my answer has always been “because I want us to have a little haven that feels rejuvenating and restful.” The whole house is for sharing with others, but this room is all ours. The fact that I renovated it just for our enjoyment actually makes it feel that much more special. And truly, starting and ending our days in this room has made a big difference. It makes us happy, it feels fresh and relaxing, and it functions so well for our specific needs now. I can confidently say the time, money, and effort was 100% worth it.

Bedroom Sources

Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Foggy Day

Ceiling Color: Sherwin Williams Alabaster

Window Color: Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black

Upholstered Bed


Cream Pillows

Green Pillows

Lumbar Pillow


Floral Sheets + Throw, both from Target (no link available)


Eucalyptus Stems

Wall Sconce

Curtain Rods

Elbow Connectors (used to make the rods work for a bay window)

Curtains (out of stock – similar here)

Dog Bed

Dresser: Ikea Hemnes (upgrade tutorial here)

Black side table

Throw blanket

Small wooden box

Large round vase

Gallery Wall Sources:

Top Row (left to right): Trails digital download, Glencoe digital download, Olive You greeting card, handwritten note, wedding photo, Lovers digital download

Bottom Row (left to right): Cliffs framed and mounted print, museum ticket, I Like You digital download, Flight digital download, Parisian Apartments digital download, Oia digital download, personal photo

All frames are either from Target or were thrifted

August 2021 Book Reviews

September is here and it’s one of my very favorite months of the year (birthday month whoop whoop!) While I’m not someone who considers September 1 to be a “break out the pumpkins and fall everything” milestone, I do like that it has always signified change, fresh starts, and the start to a very cozy season. Because for me, cozy season definitely means curled up with a book!

And speaking of books (see what I did there? 😉 ) I read four books in August and they were all enjoyable and very different from one another. Let’s chat about them!

Float Plan by Trish Doller

Trigger warning: suicide

Ten months after the tragic death of her fiancé Ben, Anna impulsively decides to take the sailboat he lovingly refurbished and set sail on the trip through the Caribbean that they had planned to take together. While she has some basic sailing skills already, she quickly learns she can’t make the entire trip alone and hires Keane, an experienced sailor, to help her make it the rest of the way. Keane is no stranger to tragedy and as he and Anna start to open up to one another on the open sea, they each start to heal and make room for new futures.

I read this on my kindle and while the premise of this book was interesting, I think something about the execution fell a little flat. I’m not even quite sure why? The cover makes it seem like a fun little travel romance but it’s definitely not a light, fluffy read. It covers heavy topics like suicide, grief, and moving forward after tragedy. We watch Anna work through so many stages of grief and work to get to a future that she can be happy in. I thought the author did a good job of not rushing Anna’s process, but that also meant this book seemed kind of slow. I did love the dynamic between Anna and Keane and I was totally swept away by the descriptions of their destinations. It absolutely fueled my desire to travel and it was a great little way to escape to the tropics without leaving your home. I would say this falls pretty solidly on average side of reading -not a dud, not spectacular, just a nice solid fiction read.

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Cassis is a standout firefighter working with a great crew in a supportive environment in Texas when a series of events, including an impulsive reaction and an estranged and ailing mother, lead to her uprooting her life and moving to a small town outside of Boston. She quickly finds that things are very different in her new work place: lack of proper equipment, subpar facilities, and a crew that is not too sure about having a female firefighter join their ranks. The only one who truly seems supportive of Cassie is the one person she definitely should not be spending too much time with: the charming, gorgeous rookie.

So here’s the thing: every single Katherine Center book I’ve read gets to a point where I just skim. It’s usually around the 4/5 mark of the book – I just want to get to the end. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy her books! There are just always a lot of storylines and typically by that point I’ve sort of decided which ones I’m invested in and which ones I’m not so much. This book was no different. I was invested in Cassie and the rookie (I mean, how can you not love the rookie!?) and another specific storyline (I won’t spoil it though!) but I was not as invested in the storyline with Cassie and her mother. I think this is generally the case with Center’s books – I’m just not invested in the extra family plot lines. Overall though, I still enjoyed this book! It’s got some humor, some romance, some drama, and some redemption. I liked it!

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

The Good Sister: A Novel by [Sally Hepworth]

Fern struggles with recognizing social cues, managing her sensory overstimulation, and getting out of her routine, but there is one place she simply loves to be: the library where she works. Outside of the library, she relies pretty heavily on her twin sister Rose to help her navigate life. When Fern discovers that Rose can’t get pregnant, she decides the best way to pay Rose back for all she’s done is to have a baby for her. Now she just needs to find a man to have a baby with . . .

WOW. This book kind of started out a bit slow and to be honest I did not expect it to be a thriller but hot dang, that’s exactly what it was. There were a few points where my stomach dropped or my heart started beating fast. It’s twisty and unexpected and I loved it! I also thought the author did a great job of creating really interesting, complex characters. The childhood backstory that gets revealed through Rose’s journals adds so much and the combination of Rose and Fern as narrators was just so engrossing! It does cover some difficult subject matter, including childhood abuse domestic violence, that makes it a little hard to read at times. I highly recommend this one!

Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women, and The Way Forward by Gemma Hartley

Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward by [Gemma Hartley]

“I tried to explain the mental load and why delegating was such a big deal. I tried to explain how the mental and physical work of running our home and our lives compounded in such an exhausting manner. I wanted a partner with equal initiative. I couldn’t continue to delegate and pretend that we were maintaining an egalitarian, progressive relationship. Divvying up the household chores when I still had to remind him to do his share was not enough. That still left all of the emotional labor as my responsibility, and that, I told him, was what needed to change.”

This nonfiction book was written by Gemma Hartley after her viral article for Harper’s Bazaar: “Women Aren’t Nags – We’re Just Fed Up.” I think any woman who would read this would find herself nodding along as Gemma relays story after story of the emotional labor – the invisible work, the mental work, the anticipating-everyone-else’s-reactions-and-needs work – and how it almost always falls on women’s shoulders. She touches on the inequality of emotional labor in the workplace, at home, in a marriage, in parenthood. There are stories of working moms and stay-at-home moms and women who aren’t moms at all but still find the bulk of household management falls on their shoulders, regardless of job title. I will say, I think there’s something there for all women, but she does focus a lot on the roles of work/marriage/motherhood. I found it to be first very validating and then very inspiring as she talked about ways that she and her husband eventually found more equal footing (hint: there are some tough pills to swallow for women, myself definitely included, if we really want a partner and not just “help”). I thought she maybe focused a bit too much on hammering home the emotional labor and toll it takes on women (because let’s be honest, most people reading this will be women and we get it!) so it does get a little lengthy but I appreciated her insight in the last few chapters with how to work for a better system. I wanted to underline so many parts! Overall I thought this was an affirming and empowering read and I took away some points to implement in my own life.

Bring on the September reads!