May 2021 Book Reviews

June is here and I am so excited! Between the start of summer, a long-awaited vacation for Justin and I, our One Room Challenge projects, and trying to get outside with the kids every chance we can, this is going to be one busy month.

Before I jump into this months activities, I’m reflecting back on May and the six books I read. Let’s get started!

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Paul is finishing up his final year of his neurosurgery when he receives a devastating diagnosis: stage IV lung cancer. All the plans that he’s worked toward for years seem to crumble in an instant and he starts to wrestle with questions of identity and life’s meaning.

Death is something we all realize is inevitable, but I would venture to say the majority of us don’t think about it on a daily basis. We know it will happen someday, but we assume (and take for granted) that the “someday” is many years in the future. Paul is a young, successful, brilliant man who had many things to look forward to. Death was a someday far in his future, until suddenly, it wasn’t. This powerful memoir is an incredible look at Paul’s life before and after his diagnosis. It is poignant, thought-provoking, and ultimately inspiring. It made me cry, it made me evaluate my own life, and it made me appreciate every single day with my family. I highly recommend this book – it’s a relatively short read but it’s so impactful!

Just A Kiss, Married ’til Monday, The Goodbye Bride, and The Convenient Groom by Denise Hunter

When I found out through a local news source that there is an author in my area who writes romance books, some of which have been turned into Hallmark movies, I knew I had to check out her work. I checked our four books and I’m looping them together here because while their specific plot lines are different, my general feelings and reviews apply to all four books. They are all very PG, Hallmark-y (obviously!), slightly cheesy but still sweet and easy romance books. It reminded me of RaeAnne Thayne’s novels, but with the addition of a distinct Christian theme. I am a Christian and have to admit, sometimes religious fiction books feel cringe-y to me but these weren’t over the top. There are mentions of church and the characters do pray/ask God for direction but it’s not an overwhelming part of the plot and it still feels like a pretty modern romance. Of the four I read, I think Just A Kiss was my favorite, followed by Married ’til Monday. The other two I could have skipped to be honest, which is funny because those are the two that were made into movies. None of the books were earth-shattering but they’re nice feel-good stories.

Followers by Megan Angelo

Orla is a struggling celebrity journalist/wannabe author and her roommate Floss wants to be famous more than anything. They come up with a plan to help them both achieve their dreams, but it comes with devastating consequences. Thirty-five years later, in a post-catastrophic America, Marlow is living every moment of her life on camera in a government-controlled reality until an exposed secret causes her to run away in search of the truth. As the three women’s lives start to intertwine, long-buried truths are brought to life and realities are questioned.

I think one of the most fascinating parts of this book is how real it feels. Social media over-sharing, influencer fame, and the enormous amount of control the internet has over our lives is not a stretch of the imagination. Add in a catastrophic event that really doesn’t feel impossible in today’s world, and you get a gripping novel that feels both surreal and horrifyingly plausible. Even though several of the main characters aren’t very likeable, I found this book to be addictive and binge-worthy. It makes you think about our world of influencers and reality TV and what fame really means. It also involves some twists and turns that kept me guessing how everything was going to come together. I couldn’t put it down!

******

Normally when I have a big house project going on, I don’t get to read quite as much but this month, I have a vacation planned where I plan to do a lot of reading and relaxing. If you have any great book suggestions for lounging in the sun by a pool, please send them my way!

ORC Week Four: Cozy Layers on Our New Bed

It’s week four of the One Room Challenge and it’s hard to believe, but we’ve reached the halfway point. I feel like this past week was a productive one, but there is still SO much to do in the next four weeks!

ORC-Guest-400x218.png

This past week, my focus was on our bed. We’ve had our adjustable base for a couple weeks now, but both our bed frame and mattress finally got delivered so we could put everything together!

We’ve known we wanted to update our bed for a long time now, so I’ve been looking at beds and headboards for months. I really wanted an upholstered headboard in a dark moody color and I didn’t want it to have lots of detail. We also didn’t want a low profile bed or a short headboard – it doesn’t seem like this is a huge list but it was really hard to find something that fit my criteria! Finally I came across this one and it was love at first sight. The streamlined look was just perfect and while I originally thought I wanted green, I’m so happy with the navy color! It says online that it doesn’t work with an adjustable bed, but we just didn’t put the slats in the middle and our adjustable bed fit perfectly!

I love the look of crisp white bedding, but I knew that wouldn’t be a practical solution for us. Honestly, I don’t know how people keep white sheets and blankets so clean! Maybe Justin and I just have oily faces or something, but pillowcases always tend to discolor a bit over time? Plus, we have kids and dogs in and out of our room all day – white sheets just aren’t something we’re going to do. Since the headboard is a neutral backdrop, I wanted to have some fun with colors and patterns. It took playing around a big and trying some different arrangements, but I finally found a combination I really like!

I love the mix of graphic prints on the accent pillows mixed with the floral print on the sheets. It provides just the right amount of interest and contrast without seeming too busy for me.

We also did a little nightstand swap – our nightstands went down to the guest room and the guest room nightstands came up here. We’re definitely enjoying the increased drawer space and I think the larger nightstands (these are about 2 inches wider and 1.5 inches taller) feel like a better scale with the king bed.

This progress feels good and we’re loving the new bed, but we still have several things to tackle. My to-do list still includes: paint (a paint chip deck I’ve been waiting on has finally shipped and should be here soon!), baseboards, sconces, rug, curtains, and finding a new dresser and vanity table. I forsee some thrifting in my very near future . . .

Be sure to check out the other ORC participants here!

Bedroom Sources

Upholstered Bed

Nightstands

Cream Pillows

Green Pillows

Lumbar Pillow

Quilt

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

ORC Week Three: Fabric Sample to the Rescue!

Another week of the One Room Challenge has come and gone and if this one was a Friends episode, it would be titled The One Where Almost Nothing Happened. Ha! I say “almost” because one very small but important thing did happen yesterday afternoon, in the final hours of a week full of no other progress.

ORC-Guest-400x218.png

When I first ordered my bed, the estimated delivery date was May 14. Then I got a notice that it would be May 17. Than I got another notice that it was backordered and wouldn’t arrive until May 25. I’m crossing my fingers that that will be the actual date of arrival but at this point, I’m not very confident.

Unfortunately, our bedroom has more or less been at a standstill with the delay of the bed. I had been waiting on it before making decisions with other colors, textures, and textiles to bring into the room so it’s been very frustrating to not know when it’s going to arrive. Then last Saturday, I realized that I could order a fabric sample of the upholstery! I immediately ordered a free sample, only to have it tell me the estimated delivery date was June 15. Sigh.

I ordered it anyways, thinking maybe it would still come before the bed. I’m so glad I did because it completely surprised me by arriving yesterday! Although the order on the website still says “preparing for shipping” with a delivery date of June 14 so that really doesn’t give me confidence in Wayfair’s delivery notifications. Hopefully that’s not a bad omen for the bed’s shipping…

Now that I at least have the fabric sample, I feel like I can actually proceed with making some other decisions. I’m feeling energetic and excited to get moving on this again!

Make sure to check out the other ORC participants here. They probably have made a bit more progress than I did this week. šŸ˜‰

Home Tour 2021

It’s been two years since we first moved into this house. On one hand, I can’t believe it’s been that long. On the other, it feels like so much longer! Last year I posted a tour of every single room to document our progress one year in (to see last year’s tour, click here). Today, I’m once again sharing every single room in our house, now two years in to living here. Something interesting I noticed after the fact is that last year, I titled the post “house tour” and this year, I titled it “home tour.” I think this subconscious decision speaks to the fact that we have been working really hard to turn this house into our home and with each little change it feels more and more like us.

This post is inevitably a long one but I tried not to make it even longer with a lot of words, so anytime the italicized room name has a hyperlink, that will take you back to the renovation post. If you want to read more about how that room was transformed, click the link and you can see before and afters! The rooms that haven’t been addressed don’t have hyperlinks but I’ll share a few thoughts about what the room has been through so far and what still needs to happen.

These tours are fun to look back on because not only does it show all the changes this house undergoes, but it also shows the changes in our family (cribs to toddler beds, stuffed animals now to older choices later, etc). For that reason, I didn’t really shift around much for these pictures. Obviously I cleaned so it’s looking its best šŸ˜‰ but I still wanted this to look like us. I didn’t suddenly style a coffee table that normally we keep empty due to toddlers or didn’t take down LJ’s creations on our fridge or move our exercise bike (even though I wanted to!) or anything like that. In one case I didn’t even pick up LJ’s toys. This is just our home in 2021.

Basement

Guest Bedroom

I would still like to go back and add wallpaper to this room at some point!

Guest Bathroom

Entertaining Space

This is a space that’s been added to and adjusted in bits and pieces over the time we’ve lived here. I’m constantly rearranging all the plants on that shelf as we collect more or they grow and get re-potted so this space is always evolving. I still want to swap out the old window trim and paint the windows at some point, which I think will make a big difference!

I found this huge piece of furniture on Marketplace and I have some ideas in mind to really transform its look but for now, I’m just glad we have something other than a bent folding table to hold our TV!

Behind the couch is the dining table Justin made from scrap wood paired with chairs I found on Marketplace for $2 a piece. Right now, that space is also occupied by our exercise bike (Quarantine Splurge #1). I’d really rather that be somewhere else but Justin prefers to have it there so he can ride and watch TV at the same time. Did you also see all the weights and yoga mat to the right of the entertainment center in the picture above? We really need a dedicated home gym space . . . more on that in a minute.

Perhaps my favorite part of the basement is the kitchen I renovated last year!

On the other side of the basement is a wide open space that wasn’t really utilized until Quarantine Splurge #2 entered the picture. This bounce house was purchased over the winter and was a total game changer for life at home with two toddlers who can’t go anywhere. Even now that the weather has warmed up and we go outside more, this still gets used almost daily and is so great for getting energy out!

There’s also a treadmill that we never use that just needs to be sold to get out of the house and a lot of wide open space for the kids to play. I decided to leave LJ’s toys out instead of clean them up for the picture because he is obsessed with tractors and loves to line up his toys and I know I’ll miss these sweet little lineups some day.

Mudroom

The last room in the basement is by far the worst room in our home. It’s my Monica closet for all you Friends fans. I’m cringing just looking at it! It’s been used for storage but it’s cluttered and unorganized and so badly needs attention. I actually want to totally re-work this space and use it as a workout room for all the exercise equipment taking up space in the basement so that may be a project one day!

Now we head up the spiral stairs to the main floor of the house!

Main Floor

Laundry Room

This room has been pretty much untouched since we moved in but I have big plans to address it this year!

Full Bathroom

I did a zero dollar update to this bathroom off the laundry room last summer and still love how it turned out!

Powder Room

This room has been untouched so far and it low on our priority list right now. Someday, my friend.

Office

By far my favorite project to date!

Dining Room

Kitchen

This was our most recent renovation and I’m still pinching myself over how different it looks in here now!

Playroom

We renovated this room back in 2019 but this past year we did give it a few updates like new window trim and a light and a DIY play kitchen!

Living Room

Another untouched room with tons of potential, but life with toddlers has made this a very low priority over the past two years. It’s functional and kid-friendly and that’s what we need right now!

Foyer

This has been . . . somewhat addressed. Ha! We need to hire a painter to complete the top half of the walls. We also have plans to eventually knock out that little closet, replace the front doors, update the railing, replace the light, the list goes on! I think this could be a showstopper someday.

“Secret” Nook

Top Floor

Landing

Notice LJ’s ever-changing artwork – it looks like a Q but I think it’s a person!

Kids Bathroom

LJ’s Bedroom (complete with Scout!)

Vi’s Bedroom

Primary Bedroom

This room is our current project, although all we’ve been able to address so far are the windows. And our new adjustable bed base is just hanging out in the middle of the room as we wait for the mattress. I can’t wait to see it all come together soon!

Primary Bathroom

A gut renovation will still happen someday, but I’m still so glad we did a phase one update back in 2019!

Whew! That’s a wrap on the house! We’ve still got a lot to do but it’s come a long way and I’m glad to have a minute to sit back and just enjoy all the progress we’ve made so far. And I’ve got to end on this picture – LJ and Vi ran in from playing outside with Justin as I was photographing and insisted on being in a picture. The lighting is off and it’s blurry but I love it so much. My two little kids cheesing after a fun day outside – this is what it’s all about. This is why I work so hard on this house. It’s for our family and our life together. It’s the safe space for our family, the place we gather with our loved ones. This home is the backdrop for all our sweetest memories and I love finding all its hidden potential.

Friday Features {5.14.21}

Good morning! It’s been a big week this week, so today I’m sharing some of the things that have been going on with our home and family.

Kitchen Island Light Fixure

Our kitchen refresh is officially finished! I shared the first part of the reveal a couple weeks ago but there was one thing left on my to-do list: replacing the fluorescent light over the island! I ordered a new light fixture over a month ago but the original estimated delivery date was between July 29-August 2. Well for once, I’m thrilled that a shipping date was off by a couple months because the fixture arrived earlier this week! Justin installed it and we are both thrilled with how it elevates the look of the kitchen.

$1000 Kitchen Refresh

Piggy-backing off that, I love looking at these before and after shots of the kitchen. Justin and I have always intended to do a gut renovation of this kitchen and change the layout, but that is several years down the road. This refresh was a way to make the kitchen feel like the rest of the house without a huge investment of money. Fresh paint on the cabinets, walls, and window trim + updated backsplash from repurposed beadboard + new LED can lights + updated light fixture and bar stools = a kitchen that feels brand new. And the best part of this transformation is that it was right around $1000. Totally worth it!

Last Day of Preschool

And speaking of before-and-afters, yesterday was LJ’s last day of preschool. I cannot believe how much this boy has changed this year! The days are long, but the years really are so short. I went back and forth so many times about whether or not to send him to preschool, but looking back I’m so glad I did. He had a great year!

Mother’s Day 2021

We had a sweet little day with our family on Sunday. LJ went with Justin to the store after their haircuts on Saturday and picked out the brightest flowers I’ve ever seen. Justin said when he saw the balloons he immediately asked if he could get one for mommy. Melt my heart! I will always take the handpicked or handmade gifts over anything fancy. I love his sweet little heart!

We stayed in comfy clothes all day and it was pretty much what you’d expect for Mother’s Day with toddlers. I love being their mama!

Although I have to also include this picture – the day after Mother’s Day, things went back to their normal chaotic selves around here. This is truly my life as a mama haha!

Happy Birthday Mom!

And speaking of moms, today is my mom’s birthday! She is one of the most important people in my life and I am grateful for her everyday. It’s been so fun to watch her thrive in her grandma role these last few years – she is one-of-a-kind and we love her so much!

Have a great weekend!

ORC Week Two: Black Windows + Layout Options

We’re one week in to the One Room Challenge and over this past week, I’ve made a small amount of progress with our primary bedroom.

ORC-Guest-400white.jpg

Since I am still waiting for our bedframe to arrive (the original delivery date was supposed to be tomorrow, but now the updated tracking says Monday), I’m not able to make many other decisions on colors and textiles yet. One thing I knew I wanted no matter what was black windows, so I tackled that this past week!

I’ve been slowly painting all our windows Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black in a satin finish and I just love the way it makes the windows pop! I ripped off the old trim because we’ll be replacing that anyways and it made the windows much easier to paint.

It might not be much, but I’m happy with this simple change and I’m excited to keep moving on the project!

I’ve been using floorplanner.com to try out a few different layout options and get an idea for how I’ll actually set up the room. The room is very large (we think too large) but it has some design challenges with door placement and shape of the room. Here’s one layout option with the king bed in the same place our queen bed currently is:

The benefit to the above layout is an easy room flow – the door on the left side of the room leads out to the hallway and the door on the bottom leads to our bathroom. It does make the room feel too heavy on one side, and with a king bed, I think the walkway between the bed and the corner of the wall down from the bay window might feel a little cramped.

The other layout I’m considering is:

This room feels more balanced, and I love that I could get a little chair or vanity in the bay window area. The downfall is, now we have to walk all the way around the bed every time we walk through the room and we’re not sure how annoying that would be. My gut is leaning towards this bed placement, so I think we’ll at least try it out. If we hate it, we can figure something else out!

I’m crossing my fingers that my bed actually arrives Monday so we can keep moving on this project. In the meantime, be sure to check out all the other ORC participants here!

Spring 2021 One Room Challenge Week One: Primary Bedroom Mood Board!

I’m so excited to be joining in as a guest participant for another round of the One Room Challenge and this time, Justin and I are finally addressing our bedroom!

ORC-Guest-400x218.png

I forgot to take “before” pictures prior to our new adjustable base getting delivered yesterday, so right now the room looks like this:

The base is heavy, so we had them set it up and once our mattress is delivered we’ll take down the old bed and move the base in place. You probably get the point, but here’s a few better shots of the room without the extra bed from back in January 2020. As you can see, we’ve done almost nothing to it since then!

The room feels like a blank slate. All we have done since moving in two years ago is replace the overhead boob light (if you know, you know) with a matte black ceiling fan and paint the walls from the same brown that was everywhere in this house to white (Sherwin Williams Alabaster). That’s it! We have no art on the walls, no window coverings at all (don’t worry, we have enough trees for privacy), just nothing inspiring or relaxing or anything. It just feels like a room, and while I know we’re lucky to have it and we don’t need a single thing for it to be functional, we’re really ready to treat ourselves to a nicer, more relaxing space.

We’re also ready for some upgrades. Our mattress was my college graduation gift so it’s *cough* 10 years old, and while it’s still in decent shape, it’s not providing us with the best sleep anymore. We’re using an old comforter that used to be in our guest room. Our bedside lamps are now mismatched because the other matching lamp died a few months ago and we just used a spare we had. It feels a bit like a minimalist hot mess (is that a thing!?) We’ve just never wanted to spend money on “ourselves” and our bedroom before, but it finally feels like the right time to do it.

I’ve been gathering inspiration for months now and I put together a mood board to help me home in a direction for the room. Here’s my inspiration for the space:

I want our bedroom to feel like a retreat, but like, a colorful, moody retreat. I think bedrooms that are light and airy and done in a neutral color palette are beautiful, but that’s just not the direction I want to head with this room. I’m also not a huge fan of all white bedding (serious question: how do people keep it looking crisp and clean!?) so I’ll be incorporating lots of different textures, patterns, and colors in the bedding. The room is actually very large (too large – who needs enough space for a dresser, a queen bed AND a king bed!?) and there is a lot of wall space so I’ve been thinking of ways to add some interest without overcommitting to a huge project and an accent wall doesn’t feel like a great option because there is a window or door on every wall. Right now, I’m leaning towards trying a limewash paint but I’m going to hold off on making a decision until I can pull more elements of the room together.

Our base is here and our mattress and bed are on their way – I’m really excited to start tackling this room! I’ll be posting weekly check-ins on Thursdays but if you’d like to follow the process more frequently, I’ll be posting more real-time updates on my Instagram @simplifythechaos

Be sure to check out all the other participants and their projects here!

Creating a Simple Craft Space for the Kids

While I finished up the largest part of the kitchen renovation a couple weeks ago, there was one lingering area I had yet to address: the desk. Since the One Room Challenge starts Thursday and that will take most of my home project focus, I decided to spend time yesterday giving a quick and inexpensive refresh to this space.

This little desk area on the side of our kitchen used to be where I worked from home; however, once we completed our office, this space became an area for the kids’ creative activities. We store their playdoh, markers, crayons, stickers, paper, etc. here and they spend hours crafting, making sweet little messes, and stretching their creative muscles. Here’s what it looked like before we did anything to the kitchen:

I painted the cabinets a few weeks ago with the rest of the kitchen but hadn’t done anything else yet. It was time to finish!

A very realistic look at what the space is like on a daily basis.

My goal from this space was to make it feel cohesive with the rest of the house while still feeling like a distinct space for kids. The first step was removing all the stickers off the wall (lol) and then I painted the wall to match the rest of the main floor with one coat of primer and two coats Sherwin Williams Alabaster in Eggshell.

I wanted to have a cute way for the kids to display some of their artwork on the wall above the desk but didn’t want to spend money so I went searching through our house. I found some old 14″ x 14″ corkboards that had been in storage for years (leftover from a DIY project Justin made 6-7 years ago). I collected them from our garage and found some baker’s twine in my gift wrapping supplies. Since our kids are too little to use thumbtacks, I pulled the twine over the front of the corkboard and wrapped it around the back, securing it with masking tape. A simple and inexpensive DIY project that took less than 20 minutes for two corkboards!

I created a crisscross pattern over the front of the corkboard so now they can just slide their artwork in behind the twine and it’s easy to swap out creations when they want.

I attached the corkboards to the wall using command picture hanging strips. I love that these don’t damage the wall if I decide to take them down later, and the Velcro allows me to easily take the corkboard off the wall if I ever want to access the outlet behind (the kids don’t have a need for it, but it’s nice to know we can access it if we need to).

I finished off the space with an aloe plant and two thrifted containers to hold markers and crayons. Both the yellow container and the basket were $3 each at thrift stores, bringing the grand total investment spent for this specific area to $6. Not too shabby!

All in all, this little refresh took about half a day – and most of that time was dry time in between paint coats. I probably spent about 2-2.5 active hours working on it and while it’s far from glamorous, I’m happy with the result. The space fits in with the rest of the home but still feels distinctly like an area for kids. Both kids have already used it since I finished up and I foresee lots more creativity and fun memories happening right here!

Sources:

Cabinet Color: SW Link Gray

Wall Color: SW Alabaster

Trim Color: SW Agreeable Gray

Planter and Chair are from Marshall’s

Yellow container and basket are thrifted

Citrus Recipe Box

April 2021 Book Reviews

Another month, another book review! I’m really excited to share today’s reviews because I read three books in the month of April and they were all winners – I love when that happens!

Any of these books would make for great summer reads, perfect for sitting back and relaxing in the sunshine. Let’s dive in!

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman

The second-born daughters in the Fontana family have been living under a curse for generations: not one of them has found love. Second-born Emilia thinks the curse is nonsense, while her second-born cousin Lucy has tried everything in her power to break it. One day they receive an invitation from their eccentric great-aunt Poppy (also a second-born daughter) to join her on an all-expenses paid trip to Italy where, on her 80th birthday, she will meet the love of her life and break the curse.

While this book started off a little slow and I was initially very annoyed by the family dynamics, I really enjoyed the story once the women actually got to Italy. Justin and I traveled to Italy five years ago and visited many of the places the book mentions so it was fun to connect with the setting. Even if you haven’t been to Italy, this book was a great escapist book that sweeps the reader away to another place with Vespa rides through Tuscany, museums in Florence, and indulgent meals in Venice. I liked that the narration went back and forth from present-day Emilia to Poppy’s life in the past. It was a sweet, indulgent read with several twists to the plot, some I predicted and some I didn’t, that kept things interesting. I finished the book feeling satisfied and ready to travel again (aren’t we all ready for that?) and recommend this book for fans of adventure, sisterhood, and falling in love.

Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez

Life's Too Short (The Friend Zone Book 3) by [Abby Jimenez]

Popular YouTuber Vanessa has traveled the globe and had many adventures, but none have prepared her for the instant motherhood of gaining custody of her half-sister’s baby girl. She’s certainly not prepared for the appearance of her gorgeous next-door neighbor Adrian one night as he comes to try to help soothe the infant’s wails that have kept him up all night. Before long, Adrian and Vanessa strike up a friendship that could lead to something more . . . if Vanessa is willing to hope for a future that a looming health fear has never allowed her to dream of.

Alright y’all. Here’s the deal. I have read Jimenez’s previous two rom coms and while I really enjoyed The Friend Zone, I straight-up adored The Happy Ever After Playlist which has kind of become my rom com benchmark. So I had very high expectations going into this book – and they were exceeded. I loved this one! I loved Vanessa and Adrian as individuals and could not get enough of their fun banter and blossoming relationship. All of the supporting characters are interesting and ultimately likeable. I loved that it wasn’t all fluffy love and “easy” problems; this book covers guardianship of an infant, a drug-addicted sister, a hoarder father, reconciling broken family relationships, and a potentially devastating health diagnosis. Yet the book never feels heavy. It remains relatable, charming, and entertaining. I feel like Vanessa and Adrian reminded me of Justin and I at the start of our relationship – we were acquaintances, then friends, then best friends, then interested in dating but both afraid to cross that line and mess up our friendship, and then we finally dated knowing it was going to be “it” for us. This book took me back! It’s sweet, it’s funny, it’s endearing, it’s inspiring – I just loved it so much and highly recommend it!

*A note: the chronological order of books is The Friend Zone, The Happy Ever After Playlist, Life’s Too Short. You don’t have to read them in order, as each book is a standalone, BUT there are some minor spoilers and character overlap so I do recommend reading in order if you can! It’s fun to see where the characters are in different stages of life throughout the book. I would say they also get more tame as they progress, going from Hot to Medium to Mild (for contemporary romance standards) in terms of language and sexy scenes, so if you feel strongly about that you could start where you feel comfortable on that scale.

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

New Year’s Eve, 1982. Eighteen-year-old Oona is at a party that will ring in the New Year and, on the stroke of midnight, her nineteenth birthday. She’s in love with her boyfriend, their band feels like it’s on the verge of their big break, and life stretches out infinitely in front of her. Only when the clock strikes midnight, she opens her eyes to find that while she is now nineteen years old on the inside, she is physically in her 51-year-old body in the year 2015. Her disbelief turns to horror as she realizes that she will live the rest of her life out of order, never knowing what year it will be next until she jumps to it on midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Time travel books always have the potential to be confusing, and I’ve learned you just have to give them a little leeway. I spent some time trying to figure out logistics of her past/future actions and just kept turning my mind in knots. Time travel is impossible, so the book itself needs to be granted a little creative license and once I just accepted that and didn’t try to “figure it out” I enjoyed it a lot more. I found the plot surprisingly easy to follow along with considering all the jumps. I liked the recurring characters and how they wove in and out of her life. I liked that there was some mystery to it – the people in Oona’s future life knew some things that they refused to tell her about her “past” because she hadn’t yet lived it and they wanted her to have some surprises, both good and not-so-great. Ultimately, can she do anything to change her fate? It’s an interesting concept to ponder as we read along with her adventures. There are some twists I didn’t anticipate and ultimately, I found myself wishing for even more. I loved seeing how her life played out and how the things connected and made sense throughout her life and could have kept reading through even more years! This book was recommended to me by friend and I was glad to have someone to talk with about it after I finished, so I think it would make for a great book club discussion.

Friday Features {4.23.21}

A couple weeks ago I put together a “Friday Features” post with a bunch of little things that made me happy or happened in our life lately. It was a fun way of documenting a few small moments of our life, so I’m going to make that a semi-regular feature on the blog. These posts are far from perfect – phone pics snapped in quick moment and random things that don’t necessarily have anything to do with each other – but they make me so happy to look back on. Perfection is overrated anyways, right?

Here’s what has happened around here lately!

Visit with Justin’s Parents

We hadn’t seen Justin’s parents since November, so we were all excited for their recent week-long visit to stay with us. The kids absolutely loved having so much quality time with their grandparents and a lot of really sweet memories were made.

Day Date with Justin

When his parents were in town, they watched the kids for us on Saturday so we could have a date day. We enjoyed having a bit of a staycation and spent the day exploring local shops and restaurants together.

Small Business Finds

It’s really important to me to support small businesses whenever I can, so it was fun to do a little shopping at several of them on our day date! I found a locally-made maple cutting board, some cute cloth napkins, two summer outfits, some bar soaps (I love using these in the shower and at my bathroom vanity as opposed to liquid in a plastic bottle), and a few new children’s books.

“New” Furniture

I shared before that I added a gallery wall to disguise our thermostat on the wall in between our living room and kitchen and as of yesterday, the wall has another addition. This antique commode was refinished by my maternal great-grandmother and has been in my parents’ home for years. They were willing to pass it down to me and I’m so excited to have this special heirloom in my home. I can’t wait to style the top!

Recent Thrift Store Finds

I love thrifting for home decor because it allows me to find some unique items that don’t just look like what everyone else has and it’s super sustainable! I recently popped in to my local store and scored this little dish that is the perfect size for storing sponges and soap in the kitchen . . .

. . . and I also found this cute little metal bowl that I just know is going to be a very versatile decor piece in my house! Both items together were less than $6 so this felt like a big win.

Second Pfizer Shot

On Wednesday, I received the second dose of my Pfizer vaccination. I did experience soreness at the injection shot, along with some fatigue and minor muscle aches and chills in the day following my shot. Thankfully, I’m now about 39 hours post-shot and I’m back to feeling great. I’m so thankful to have both shots done and am feeling hopeful for the future!

Have a great weekend!