Thursday, November 26, 2020

Things I'm Thankful For Thursday // 11.26.20

A special "Things I Love" this week to highlight the things I am feeling most grateful for.

These Turkeys

I could not be more grateful for the extra time with my people over these challenging times. I am even more thankful that we all still like one another. Admittedly, I was worried about how things would play out with the hubby (who used to travel a couple times a month) working from home 24/7. Turns out, now that a (very) little travel has picked up again, I very much dislike his absence. The girls have transitioned to the online academic platform without really missing a beat. I try to spend time (daily) in a headspace of thankfulness for these gifts. I am fully aware that difficult times may lay ahead so I want to enjoy and celebrate the way we are making today as enjoyable as possible.

Trader Joe's Holiday Items

Surely, I am not the only one who geeks out at finding "treasures" at the grocery store. I don't remember when the transition officially happened, I just know that at some point in my early adulthood, going to the grocery store became an enjoyable outing, rather than a chore. It was probably right around the time that I began to appreciate the music --or maybe it was during the chaos of "two under two" when I could escape the house for someplace quieter and orderly. In any event, I still enjoy grocery shopping --especially at Trader Joe's. They always do a great job with the seasonal specialty items --and the PLANTS. Bonus. From frozen toaster pumpkin waffles to "holiday greens" in the floral department, TJ's is delightful. Here are a few of my favorite finds this year: Christmasy stems, boozy truffles, chocolate bars from around the world, beauty advent calendar.

Coffee & Kringle

Speaking of TJ's favorites, the Danish Kringle tops the list of our holiday go-to purchases. We begin all of our Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings with a warmed slice of this magical breakfast treat. The neighborhood gourmet grocery sells Kringles for $22. Trader Joe's offers them for $8. They freeze well --which is a bonus because they also tend to sell out. 

The Library's Online Catalog

I will never tire of shouting my love and gratitude for the public library. It was only within the past few years that I took the time to understand and take advantage of the e-book offerings. My (11 year old) Kindle e-Reader is always full of best-sellers, notable books, award-winners, and trashy goodness --and I read them all for free. I have access to a huge catalog of literature, fiction, biographies, series, audio books, and everything in-between. I never even have to leave the house to enjoy any of it. These days, it's easy to apply for a library card, access the electronic book selections, and download titles to your e-reader. If you haven't done this yet, I don't know what you're waiting for. 

{photo via Vermontville Township Library}

Youth Sports

I'm thankful for youth sports. Always, I'm grateful for the lessons in teamwork, goal-setting, comradarie, and winning/losing gracefully. I know that problem-solving, physical health, and mental well-being are all improved through the participation in athletics. Especially now, during Covid and 100% remote learning, I'm especially grateful for the social opportunity my girls are able to enjoy by being a part of a team with their peers. 

Foodie Night Texts

If you've been reading along, you already know how much I love and appreciate my "Foodie Night" gals. When quarantine began back in the spring, my friend Sarah put together a text group of neighbors who all enjoy cooking. As neighbors, we had all met one another already and we each had different degrees of contact/friendship. From the days of isolation, boredom, fatigue, and recipe burnout emerged a sharing of ideas, inspiration, tips, discoveries, humor, and so much love. Not a day goes by without one of us tapping into our group to share a recipe, ask for an ingredient, send a funny meme, offer support, or celebrate a personal moment (big or small). While we are basically all on the same block --for obvious reasons, we don't really see a lot of one another. Our Foodie Night text chain has brought our friendships closer even while we are physically apart.


I am so thankful for plants. Perhaps it's a sign of middle-age that I even notice indoor greenery let alone, appreciate it so much. Plants make people (me) happy. I used to believe that I couldn't keep houseplants alive. What I've learned is that to a certain degree, that's still true. Some plants are divas and need a lot of special attention. Other plants get upset when you give them too much attention. What I've learned is that a lot of plant-parent success comes from finding the right lighting in your home, buying the right plants for the amount of light you do have, and figuring out a simple watering schedule. You may lose some (many?) along the way, but the joy of seeing a new leaf emerge feels bigger than you might think!

Once you find a corner with great light, shove everything in it!

Thanksgiving Takeout

In case you missed my post last week, while I love the Thanksgiving Holiday for (usually) bringing family and friends together to take note of the good things we have to be grateful for, turkey is perhaps my least favorite dinner protein. The fact that it takes so much fuc&ing work has pushed me over the edge. I'm OUT. Thankfully, we have discovered smoked turkey to-go from our favorite BBQ establishment. This year, we picked up all the sides too! Happy eating (without having to do any of the cooking)!

Midwood Smokehouse for the WIN

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Things I Love to Eat: Our Thanksgiving Recipe Favorites

Here it is: Our family's favorite holiday eats. Linked here are recipes, special items, and inspiration for your own holiday table.

Main Course: Bird or Beast?

Almost everyone grew up with their own holiday traditions as to what graced the table come mealtime. As a kid with divorced parents, the spread differed greatly between my mom's family and my dad's. I recall only one Thanksgiving meal with my dad's family. It included StoveTop stuffing and I thought it was very tasty. I remember my mom (in private) not being quite so impressed. All of my other childhood Thanksgivings were spent with my mom's family: first at my great-grandmother/grandfather's home and later, at my grandparents' table. My mom is one of six kids and, during the holidays, it was always crawling with uncles, aunts, and cousins. Whether we celebrated at GGMa/GGPa's or at Grandma and Grandpa's, my grandpa (himself, smoking a chain of cigarettes) would smoke The Bird in his GIANT, home-built, brick smoker. I believe this is the reason that all other turkey has been ruined for me forever because after you've had Grandpa's Smoked Turkey --no other poultry will ever come close. After a time, Grandpa stopped smoking the turkey. I don't remember why, but odds are, it had something to do with one or more of my uncles pissing him off. When it was the "new rage," a couple of these same uncles took over and deep fried the bird (not bad). We even had a Turducken one year. I distinctly remember thinking at the time that the final product was not worth what appeared to be a great effort to execute. 

When I became a grownup with my own family and home (and traveling long distances for Thanksgiving was no longer an option), I tackled the job of roasting a turkey for the occasion. I relied on Martha --her brining process (we had to purchase a 5 gallon bucket from the hardware store our first year), fresh rosemary and other herbs, lemons, and butter (so much butter). My oven wasn't big enough for the bird and all the sides --so I trekked the beast back and forth between my friend Gretchen's house (2 doors down and out of town every Thanksgiving) and my own. I started the process days in advance by ordering the animal, brining overnight, waking at dawn, setting timers, basting, foiling over the breast as to not dry it out, adjusting the temperature, more basting, yaddy, yada... For all my efforts, we enjoyed turkey* [read that with a tone of boredom]. It wasn't dry or anything --but it wasn't very special either. It was turkey. Turkey (unless it comes out of Grandpa's magic smoker) is just not an exciting protein. I said it. It's not a secret. 

2008: FIRST Turkey  |  2009: BEING a Turkey  |  2010: FINAL Turkey

At some point, I got wise and started ordering/buying a spiral ham to serve alongside the turkey. At least with ham you have the maple-brown-sugar glaze and lots of salty goodness. Am I right? In recent years, since moving to the east coast, we have enjoyed celebrating Thanksgiving with my cousin (yep --one of the ones that swarmed our grandparents' house way back when) and his lovely family. Brad makes an amazing bird. Do you want to know his secret? He uses one of those big plastic baking bags and his turkey ends up incredibly moist and practically falling off the bone. It's delicious! This year, Covid has us apart at the holiday so I've been forced to do the only reasonable thing: order smoked turkey from a Charlotte favorite --Midwood Smokehouse

All-Day Grazing (AKA Appetizers)

Of course, before we get to the actual dinner (Wait. Raise your hand if you were you raised in a pack of maniacs who refer to the Thanksgiving meal as "lunch." What is that even about? I don't care what time you sit down to eat... if there is an entire fowl on the table, that is DINNER. I digress.) must start the grazing phase very early in the day. Back when I was still making the bird, I obviously needed a lot of fuel and nourishment to get me to the finish line. While I may no longer be undertaking the main event, I still pride myself on my champion-level snacking abilities. My go-to appetizer is Deviled Eggs. This oldie never goes out of fashion. Of course there's always a Cheese & Charcuterie spread. Back in the days of grandma and grandpa, we just called it cheese and crackers (plus smoked oysters from the can that we ate with toothpicks). Vegetable Crudite is a nice touch to make family and guests feel like you care about their health --but don't skimp on the homemade ranch dressing (1 packet ranch seasoning to 1 16oz. container of sour cream). I got really fancy a last year and made HBH's Pull-Apart Bread with brie, cranberries, pecans, and brown sugar. Wow. Winner. Did I mention the brie?

I can't stress this enough: Put butter in your Deviled Eggs.

These always look best when they are CROWDED. Choose a platter with sides/walls.

Make it a little "messy" --and separate colors

This picture does the BRIE absolutely no justice.

Sides, Sides, Sides

I'm pretty sure you'd get kicked out of the world if you didn't serve mashed potatoes and gravy with your Thanksgiving dinner. I'm serious. The world would no longer have you. I don't have much to say about making mashed potatoes --other than: butter and whole milk are our friends, as is salt. Good lord, please don't under-season your potatoes. As for gravy, I have a lot to say about it --but no practical advice. The quality of your gravy will make or break the entire meal. If you are someone who can execute on a good old-fashioned pan gravy --from the drippings, with a flour slurry, cheers to you! This knowledge is perhaps the greatest culinary gift passed down to me from my mother. Unfortunately, I've tried explaining how to do it to other people and the truth is, there are no measurements you can rely on. You just have to feel your way through the situation given the circumstances of the moment. I wouldn't say it's magic, but it's close. Whatever you do, don't come at me with any jarred bullshit. Of course, without actually making the bird this year, it's literally impossible for me to make any gravy. I've outsourced that too (along with the potatoes). Thank you, Midwood Smokehouse (who I'm sure know their way around a slurry). 

Stuffing has long been one of my favorite sides at Thanksgiving. It might have to do with the recipe my family always made which calls for about 6 sticks of butter. Raise your hand if you cook your stuffing inside the cavity of your turkey. Great. Now, you monsters --go sit in the corner. No pie for you. I've enjoyed lots of tasty stuffings over the years. I like the kind that has sausage in it. Because, sausage. Just please cook it in a casserole dish and let the edges crisp up and brown nicely. Apparently, Oyster Stuffing is pretty common out here in the southeast (or is it the south --or just the east?). In any event, I'm a big fan of oysters in any form so I feel like I should tackle that at some point. The problem is, I don't think my family will appreciate it as much as I will. If I go this route... can you share a recipe?

We can't go any further without addressing the Green Bean Casserole and Marshmallow Sweet Potatoes (AKA Candied Yams). Both are definitely delicious and absolute staples on the traditional Thanksgiving plate; however, what the actual hell? Can you name a single person who prepares and serves these dishes on any other day of the year? What is that about? One year, I made sauteed har co vaiir with white wine and toasted almonds instead of the casserole. We don't talk about that. Beans that still look and taste like beans are for another day.

Very suspect of those GREEN beans...

Food Network's Corn Pudding was added to our Plate about a decade ago. It's creamy, cheesy, and full of fat --which is why we only have it twice a year: Thanksgiving and Christmas. This recipe is also one that can be easily tackled by the youngest of kitchen helpers (all the ingredients come from a can or package)--so apron those kids up and get them contributing to the meal this year!

When my cousin, Brad (of the famous Bag-o-Turkey), hosts Thanksgiving, his mother-in-law brings her Apple Salad. You guys. This dish adds so much brightness, crunch, and fresh-sweetness to the rest of the meal, that I may have flipped cartwheels the first time I had it. In fact, I'm fairly certain that the salad is now referred to as "Tammy's Salad" because I sort of claim most of it for myself every year. I've never asked for the recipe. There's something about not knowing it that makes it feel/taste even more special/festive. Is that weird? This one might be similar. Does your family serve Apple Salad for the holiday? Sadly, Midwood Smokehouse does not. 

Brad's Thanksgiving Spread (featuring "Tammy's Salad")

People have feelings about cranberry sauce. If you've ever hosted the meal for a group, you understand the critical decision to include both a can of gelatinous-style-cranberry sauce and (I hope) a dish of homemade cranberry sauce simmered until bursting with fresh orange juice and zest, sugar/maple syrup, and a dash of cinnamon. Can you guess which is my preference?

The Thanksgiving meal is incomplete without rolls and lots of soft butter. Just ask my nephew who despite all of the heaping serving dishes on the table, ONLY eats the rolls. Raise your hand if your family has a discerning foodie of your own. Ok. You can come out of the corner now and join us at the table to enjoy this amazing meal. Look! I even bought butter shaped like a turkey this year (to smother over the jalapeno cornbread that Midwood is offering instead of rolls). 

Check your grocery store "seasonal" end-cap for these!

Whatever your family is making/serving this year --I'm sure it's going to be delicious. Remember to save room for dessert on Thursday: A plate full of Cool Whip with a sliver of pumpkin pie! Also, let this be a reminder to snap a few family photos (even though it's likely just going to be the usual suspects). You might end up with a great holiday card option because kids LOVE taking family pics, am I right?

Unbridled enthusiasm from my nephews

Because so few of us are gathering with others, everyone is sure to have leftovers for days and I think we can all agree that that is the best part. I know I look forward to healthier times when our neighborhood can get back to our annual "Thanksgiving Morning Kickball" event --where the grownups sip Bloody Marys, the kids overeat donuts, and someone always ends up crying. Good times!

Cheers to you and yours!

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Things I Love Gifting - A Collection of Past LOVES for Inspiration

Things I Love Gifting 2020: A round-up of some of my favorite finds that are perfect for this giving season.

I'm pretty sure my Blogger Card gets pulled if I don't come up with some kind of Holiday Gift Guide; however, I think I might be able to slide by if I just round up and organize a one-stop-shop of past "Things I Love Thursday" stuff that totally fits the bill --all here for you to find in one handy spot. {What a GREAT idea!} Granted, there won't be any "kid" ideas here for your own little people, nieces/nephews, or grands. Additionally, you'll likely struggle finding anything for your husband, dad, brother, father-in-law, or brother-in-law. If you are someone who buys presents for your pets --you're shit out of luck looking for inspiration here too. HOWEVER, if you are shopping for other women in your life: mom, sister, teens, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, girlfriends, hostesses, teachers, neighbors, etcetera... THIS might be the post for you. {I suggest you SAVE this post for future birthdays, Mother's Day, and Teacher Appreciation Week --an easy way to do that is to "pin" (to Pinterest) one or more of the graphics below.} This post might also help you come up with a few ideas for you to add to your own letter to Santa --IF you're a person, like me, who can't help but provide VERY specific gift ideas.

Below are 5 categories. I've limited the number of items/ideas/experiences in each category to just eight. Not too overwhelming --but plenty to pull from or get inspired by. Below you will find, in this order, suggestions for gifts organized in a way that my brain thinks makes sense:
~ Approaching the Holidays... think: Hostess/Teacher/Co-Worker/Neighbor recipients
~ Smaller Gifts (in physical size and price): stocking stuffers, Hanukkah trinkets, and thoughtful extras
~ Classic Favorites: Some of my all-time favorite things (moderately priced?) between $25-$180
~ Treasures in Charlotte: These are awesome options that are specific to the region because of delivery/location
~ Virtual Gifts: Unique and thoughtful gifts your recipients can enjoy from home (and some you can order "last minute")

Gift Guide: Approaching Holidays - Hostess, Teacher, Co-Worker

1. Swedish Dish Towels (so many great designs, Danica Studio is my favorite brand); 2. Frasier Fir candles (THE scent of the season, always); 3. This Just Speaks to Me by Hoda Kotb (a great way to start the day); 4. Anything from Good Postage (Let's keep the art of note sending alive!); 5. Wild Interiors: Beautiful Plants in Beautiful Spaces by Hilton Carter (pure candy for any plant-lover's eye); 6. Gift Tags and Holiday Stamps from Substation Paperie (for a chic wrap job); 7. The Intellectual Devotional: Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education, and Roam Confidently with the Cultured Class (a favorite way to end the day); 8. Spiral Note Book by Morgan Harper Nichols (a perfectly lovely place to take notes, track to-dos, and create all the lists)

Gift Guide: Stocking-Stuffers, Hanukkah Treats, and Thoughtful Extras

1. Stainiac (a little goes a long way); 2. Garlic Press (don't know how I went so long without this in my kitchen); 3. Lip Gloss (so many shades --such a great product); 4. Ugg Socks (the ultimate in cozy); 5.  Onion Goggles (perhaps the best stocking stuffer I have ever received); 6. Sunglasses (flattering, affordable, fun); 7. Huggie Earrings (the snakes are my favorite--but so many to choose from); 8. Insta-Dri Nail Polish (this easy winner should be in everyone's stocking)

Gift Guide: Classic Favorites on a Moderate Budget 

1. Paper Source Wall Art Calendar (a favorite year-after-year gift); 2. St. Anne Tote (custom design the bag of your choice); 3. Kindle e-Reader (mine is 8 years old and I love it so); 4. Half-Baked Harvest Super Simple Cookbook (I've heard great things about her second book too!); 5. Haflinger Wool Slippers (cozy, durable, and classic); 6. A 12-month Magazine Subscription (Milk Street for the cook or Vanity Fair are my favorites. Remember to put a hard-copy in a gift bag for day-of giving); 7. Gorjana Jewelry (you can't go wrong with any of their pieces); 8. The Body Shop Japanese Camellia Cream (velvet soft, super-smelling, BEST body cream) NO LONGER IN PRODUCTION. Devastated. However, all of the Body Butters are very indulgent and I love this business.

Gift Guide: Treasures in Charlotte, NC

1. M&K Macaron Delivery (the sweetest treats from some super-sweet girls, contact and order form through Instagram); 2. City Stems Creation (always impressive, you must contact Laura through Instagram); 3. Craft Cocktail Accessories and Necessities from Tamu Curtis (everything you need to create the perfect sips); 4. 1-Day/2-Day/Annual Passes to the USNWC (ice-skating, whitewater, flatwater, zip lines, ropes courses, outdoor music, yoga, food and drink, bike trails... such a jewel right here in our city); 5. Oil Painting Class (socially-distanced) with Heidi Kirschner (come away with a piece of art you won't have to hide in your basement); 6. Queen Brie CLT Custom Cheese & Charcuterie Board (stunning and delicious, contact through Instagram for pricing and delivery); 7. Plant House Gift Certificate (select the vessel, select the plant(s) and they'll help with the rest); 8. "Your Farms Your Table" Dinner Delivery (make it a date night, make it a small get-together on the patio: 3 course chef-prepared dinner, delivered warm, to your door)

Gift Guide: Virtual Ideas that Will Delight

1. Page 1. Book Subscription (a hand-chosen and curated monthly surprise based on your reader's specified tastes); 2. Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams Delivery (so many flavors, so much happiness, how could you decide?); 3. SkillPop Virtual Class (everything from watercolor painting to navigating LinkedIn for around $20); 4. Harvest & Moon Virtual Tarot Reading (Mariah could not be more gifted or lovely, schedule your reading through her Instagram page); 5. Daily Harvest Custom Gift Box (the gift of good health: smoothies, harvest bowls, scoops, lattes, so much goodness, delivered to the door); 6. A Virtual Group Cocktail Class from The Cocktailery (classes for 2 - 100+ of your closest friends and relatives, make 1, 2, or 3 fresh and fabulous cocktails "together"); 7. Apple TV+ Subscription (for the sole purpose of gifting your loved ones TED LASSO, the best show on television); 8. Audible Subscription (one of my ALL-TIME best "loves" is listening to a great book in the car, on a walk, or just relaxing; chose a gift subscription for 1, 3, 6, or 12 months)

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Thursday, November 5, 2020

What I've Read Recently // Book Reviews - September 2020

What I've Read Recently: A monthly roundup of the books I completed across several genres with summaries, reviews, and links.

In September, I finished seven books. My highest rated book of the month was non fiction: White Fragility. If you're looking for more of an escape, I was very entertained by Here for It, a memoir/collection of essays. If you're looking to be pulled along by a story, I also listened to a good thriller I could recommend: The Guest List. For a summary of all seven books and my thoughts about each, keep reading. In all events: keep reading.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley (Psychological/Crime Thriller)

Summary adapted from Goodreads:
The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body ‧ The island ‧ The storm ‧ The possibilities are many ‧ The guesses probably wrong
What I thought: 7/10 (Listened on Audible)
The wedding of Julia and Will has been planned to the nines. The guests themselves are a wild bunch of pals from the past. Everyone has a secret. I definitely enjoyed the narration of this mystery/thriller. If this is your genre, I think you'll be entertained!

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Di'Angelo (Non-Fiction, Race, Social Justice)

Summary adapted from Goodreads:
The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.
What I thought: 8/10 
This is a book you should seriously consider reading. While there have been good arguments against reading a book on racism that was written by a white woman, I must say that I felt there was too much critical information in here to overlook the book. Di'Angelo's primer is organized, supported, (admittedly repetitive), and in a lot of ways, ground-breaking. The book exposes important (personally challenging) truths about privilege that will reframe your thinking around inequality in our country. It's a great "first" read for laying the groundwork for white people approaching future anti-racism reading and work.

Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America: Essays by R. Eric Thomas (Non-Fiction, Memoir, Humor, LGBTQ)

Summary adapted from Goodreads:
From the creator of Elle 's "Eric Reads the News," a poignant and hilarious memoir-in-essays about growing up seeing the world differently, finding his joy, and every awkward, extraordinary stumble along the way.
What I thought: 7/10
Funny, heart-warming, and enjoyable writing from a black, christian, gay man finding his way through college/life during the discovery/acceptance of his homosexuality. Many essays had me giggling aloud and reading excerpts to my family. I did think several chapters were a few pages too long and the end dragged a bit; however, for fans of self-deprecation laced with love and full of funny (think Sedaris and Irby) this one is worth your attention!

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman (Contemporary Fiction, Coming of Age)

Summary adapted from Goodreads:
A charming, warm-hearted novel from the New York Times bestselling novel, A Man Called Ove. Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy. She is also Elsa's best, and only, friend. When Elsa's grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa's greatest adventure begins: leading her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth.
What I thought: 6/10
I LOVED Backman's, A Man Called Ove. Unfortunately, this book wasn't nearly as captivating for me. I found there to be too much fairytale, oddities, and unbelievable characters to keep the pace and flow of the story on any effortless path. I appreciated the colorful characters and the fantasy element but felt the whole thing was terribly overdone. 

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi (YA, Contemporary Fiction, Romance)

Summary from Amazon:
From debut author Mary H.K. Choi comes a compulsively readable novel that shows young love in all its awkward glory --perfect for fan of Eleanor & Park and To All the Boys I've Loved Before.
What I thought: 6.5/10
Choi's language and pop-culture references kept me on my toes (and on Google, looking things up); however, the story here is really sweet, very approachable, and reads like truth (as truthy as young love can read). The angst is palpable and the situations are sweetly cringe-worthy --in the best ways. If you sometimes enjoy YA "book candy" stories to escape the heavy realities of the day, this one might be something you'd enjoy.  

I Was Told It Would Get Easier by Abbi Waxman (Women's Fiction, Family Fiction)

Summary from Goodreads:
Squashed among a bus full of strangers, mother-daughter duo Jessica and Emily Burnstein watch their carefully mapped-out college tour devolve into a series of off-roading misadventures, from the USA Today bestselling author of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.
What I thought: 6/10
I am a fan of Abbi Waxman. I really enjoyed The Bookish Life of Nina Hill. Next I read, The Garden of Small Beginnings. In this, her latest book, Waxman kept me engaged in the story because her writing is fun and her perspective is interesting and usually thoughtful. However, I didn't get very invested in either main character. As a mother of (nearing) this age daughter, I found the fraught relationship too chippy and brittle without enough compelling reason to believe it had to be challenging at every interaction. The constant misunderstandings became tiresome.

Sourdough by Robin Sloan (Contemporary Fiction, Magical Realism) 

Summary from Amazon:
From Robin Sloan, the New York Times bestselling author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, comes Sourdough, "a perfect parable for our times" (San Fransisco Magazine): a delicious and funny novel about an overworked and under-socialized software engineer discovering a calling and a community as a baker.
What I thought: 6/10
If you've been reading along, you'll know by now that in addition to many books consumed, quarantine also had me consuming tons of homemade sourdough bread! I was gifted a starter and the rest is history. Obviously, when my friend, Anne, mentioned that she had enjoyed listening to this quirky little novel on a drive, I added it to my list. I found it to be a fun and light-hearted read. The setting (San Fransisco) was a character itself --and very familiar/missed for this Bay Area girl now living in the (kinda) south. I think if you have ties to the area and are a fan of quick fiction, this book might be an original story you enjoy!

~ Pin for Later ~

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)