I have not cared to blog AT ALL the last couple of weeks because I have just finished my first re-read of all seven Harry Potter books. One of my favorite book series, I’ve wanted to do this but never felt like I had “the time” to dive in. But Ali finished book 4 (Goblet of Fire), and I wanted to make sure our encouragement of letting her read the rest at her current age of 10 was a good decision. This was the perfect excuse I needed to immerse myself into Hogwarts and beyond – “For the child. I do it for the child.”

Here are my thoughts from re-reading:

– Upon my first reading, I did not enjoy book 5 (Order of the Phoenix). It was too dark, and Harry was too moody. But after having the entire picture of why Harry was grumpy and what was going on and what important information was gleaned in that year that was necessary later, I actually quite enjoyed it the second time.

– Books 5-7 are in a league of their own. They are the most gripping, engaging books I’ve ever read. I’m almost mad that the movies exist because of how much richness they leave out. I took 45 days to read the first four books, but only 6, 5, and 4 days respectively to read books 5, 6, and 7 – despite them being exponentially longer than the first four. They’re simply stunning works of art.

– My first reading of the books (before watching any movies, of course) happened when I was pregnant with Ali. Only books 1-6 were out during that time. Book 7 came out the next summer, when Ali was 6 months old and I was in the depths of post-partum depression (unmedicated at that point.) I did not remember this timing, but once I started book 7, I looked up the publishing date, sure that something was amiss, and it all made sense. My memories of 1-6 were very clear and mostly positive, but I remembered not liking book 7 and thinking it was a total drag. This time around, there were parts of book 7 of which I had zero recollection, and I enjoyed the book immensely. The moral of this story is: don’t read excellent literature for the first time while you’re depressed. Or if you do, read it again later.

– The books were infinitely richer on the reread, and lost none of the appeal because I knew how they ended. There are so many hidden nuggets throughout the books (even starting in book 1) that you cannot understand until you’ve read them all. Seeing all of these brilliantly included foretellings takes away any sadness over the lack of surprise.

– I’ve been simultaneously reading The Wingfeather Saga (by Andrew Peterson) out loud to the kids while reading Harry Potter to myself, and The Wingfeather Saga did not pale in comparison. If you’re needing another series to read that has many of the special elements of the Harry Potter series (lots of surprises, a fascinating and unique world, finding out more and more about how that world works as the series goes on), I definitely recommend it. It’s no Harry Potter, but it’s not too far off.

– Yes, I did give Ali permission to go ahead and read whichever Harry Potter books she wants.

Next on my reading list that will keep me from wanting to blog again: Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. I start tonight.

Other things that I’ve enjoyed lately:

The Skimm – a free news newsletter (literal NEWSletter?) that catches me up on the news in a delightfully sing-song, lighthearted fashion. They write wonderful things like “meanwhile, Trump is trying to ctrl-z that budget item…” Y’all – replacing “ctrl-z” for “cut” in a news article is speaking my love language. It’s been a good way to keep up with what’s going on in the world without freaking out about it – and it’s the first daily email that I actually look forward to. Whether or not you get your news elsewhere, this is sure to entertain.

dotted journals (sometimes referred to as bullet journals.) I discovered these journals toward the end of last year (much thanks to my dear friend Carla Jean) and ever since, they’ve been helping me organize my life. They’ve made me much more productive, and have helped with this year’s resolution, which is to have monthly goals rather than yearly goals. Working on something for 30 days is so much easier than a year, and I’ve often created a new habit by the end of 30 days, so I don’t need to track it any further.

I currently have 3 bullet journals in regular use (two Northbooks and one Miliko), and an extra bullet journal as a scratch pad. They are:

1. My to-do list/catch-all notebook – it contains a universal to-do list that I rewrite about once a month or whenever the page gets full, plus all sorts of other lists, planning pages, and information – keeping an index in the front of the book and numbering the pages makes this doable and possible.Bullet Journal To-Do lists

2. A bible journaling notebook – I use one side of the page for bible study, and the other side to artistically write/draw a bible verse – it’s a way I can take part in the bible journaling fun without the stress of actually drawing in a bible and potentially messing up.Bullet Journalling Bible Verses 4s

Bullet Journalling Bible Verses 2s

Bullet Journalling Bible Versess

Bullet Journalling Bible Verses 3s

3. My monthly goals book (this one is the spiral-bound Miliko – I just leave the month’s page facing up and on my bedside table to make it easy to remember to track.) Each month I pick 5-ish things that I want to work on or track, and mark my progress each day, along with tracking how I felt that day and what I did that day. It’s a great way for me to track how things affect my Dysautonomia (a lot of my monthly goals are actually health “experiments” to see what helps make me feel better), along with keeping a short one-sentence journal of each day. I’ve found that it’s surprisingly fun to read back over.

Bullet Journallings

In the back of this notebook, I’m also keeping up with mine and the kid’s mileage for the year. (I know mine in MapMyRun, but don’t track the kid’s miles anywhere else.)

Bullet Journalling Running Miless

There’s something magical about the dots in these journals that makes journaling and to-do listing so much easier and more fun. I really enjoy the manual part of it – I still keep my calendar on my phone, but written lists and tracking just feel right. Of course, a set of colored pens are necessary to truly make it this much fun. Oh – and a natural anal-retentive nature. But if you think I’m crazy, go search #bulletjournal or #bujo on Instagram. You’ll be lost for hours, mouth agape, at what crazy levels people go to bujo their lives.

Yoga With Adriene – I needed to do yoga to help some back pain I’ve been having (still left over from 2015’s wreck) but the idea of going to a class felt like another thing that I didn’t have time for. It took me about a week to have a eureka moment and realize that there are probably yoga classes on YouTube. Sure enough, I found Adriene. She’s not too cheesy and has hundreds of videos to choose from – I like searching for topics and being gleeful that she’s covered them (“back pain”, “for runners”, “in a bad mood”, “left pinkie pain”) (Okay I don’t know if she has one for left pinkie pain but if anyone did, she would.) She also has videos of every length – 6 minutes to 50 minutes. Anyway. I kinda am in love with Adriene.

– Trader Joe’s – We’ve only had one for about a year and the first time I went in, I was so confused. Was this a grocery store? A snack foods store? A random collection of brand new products that I have to figure out how they fit in my life? But I’m finally starting to get the hang of it and finding the things I like, such as the dried peaches, dried sweetened mango, cinnamon pecans, frozen risotto, some of the soups (some are just terrible – it’s a real hit-and-miss kind of game), triple ginger cookies, dried okra (no seriously it’s interesting and good), and their refrigerated pastas – especially the butternut-squash-filled pasta. But I’m still learning so let me know what you like.

I have an embarrassing amount of workout clothes. But I’ve finally found my all-time favorite tank, the Brooks Go-To Racerback Tank.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 4.40.10 PM

More importantly, there are a few of last year’s model on sale for $12.60 on Amazon (and also here, size large in a different color, but this one’s not showing up in any searches so it might be gone soon – especially since I just bought two.) It’s long and thoroughly covers the butt, it’s not clingy, it’s comfortable, and it’s flattering. But definitely buy it a size too big.

What have you enjoyed lately?

24 thoughts on “Things I’ve been Enjoying.

  1. We’ve never “shopped” at Trader Joe’s, there hasn’t never been one close enough. We have toured the inside of a couple when we were close to one, just to see what the fuss was all about. However we moved (yet again, military) this past summer and couldn’t find pizza dough ANYWHERE. Pizza crusts, yes; box mixes, yes; but premade dough? Nope nada. Someone suggested Trader Joe’s (which again is no where near us, what does Joe have against military bases?) and we went there and picked up six balls of dough to test out. They were decent, not phenomenal, but better than our homemade versions! All that to say, if you like homemade pizza, Joe has a decent choice for dough!

  2. My daughter is the same age as Ali, and we had so much reading the HP books together last year. It was a first read for both of us. Unfortunately, The Cursed Child lacks all the beautiful detail of the original series. You’ll want to read it, of course, but it’s just not on par with the rest. I’m definitely going to check out the Wingfeather Saga for summer reading. Has Ali tried The Land of Stories books? My daughter is on Book 3 and loving them. (I also have read the first and really enjoyed the mix of fairy tale characters and “the story behind the story”.

  3. Trader Joe’s frozen French onion soup is so good. I would eat it daily, if it didn’t mean going to the summit. Whyyyyy is it at the Summit????? Whyyyyyyy??!!

      1. I am usually there when they open Sunday mornings for the same reason – it’s just me and the other heathens of Birmingham.

  4. I love the Skimm! I started reading it when my daughter was born. I always felt so dumb not being up on current events, and now I feel like I can hold my own. I like that they include pop culture as well, and they link to the actual news item in case you want to read more.

    Your bullet journals are beautiful! My bullet journals are nowhere near as photogenic. Could it be because I’m an ISTJ and basic is my middle name?!

    1. Ha! I’m sure yours are lovely. I don’t think mine look great if I look at Instagram. It’s all a matter of how obsessed you are. I’m trying to keep my obsession low.

  5. *Makes out Trader Joe’s list.* Seriously, I’ve only been twice because I’m rarely in that direction, but I’ve enjoyed both trips. My recommendations are Cowboy Bark and yogurt. I wish I could be more specific about kind (I know there are many different yogurt varieties at TJ’s), but I think it came in a six-pack and we liked the vanilla and banana ones.

    I got your recommended colored pens for Christmas and am trying to get with color coding my life, but so far no luck. Still pretty to write with, though.

    I just heard about Yoga with Adriene and will have to give it a try soon.

  6. I have been wanting to re-read Harry Potter too; well finish it is more like it, I stopped at The Goblet of Fire and never finished the rest ( don’t shoot me!) I should read that out loud to my girls, I know my youngest would love it.
    I love the idea of a bullet journal but for some reason it just never worked for me which considering how type A I can be is strange.
    I have done a few of Adriene’s yoga videos before and really enjoy her as well; I will have to do one Saturday and search for “neck pain” as my necks been sore for a few days now.
    I have never set foot in a Trader Joes and the sad thing is I drive by one 4 days a week when I take my daughter to dance. I have been in Whole Foods, twice lol. What I am excited about getting near me is an Aldi; I love that store!

  7. Trader Joes natural peanut butter is the best natural peanut butter I’ve ever had, and actually tastes like peanut butter despite the only ingredients being peanuts and salt. The only reason I stopped buying it is that these days I only do peanut butter sandwiches for picnics and school lunches, and like all natural peanut butters it gets runny after being out of the fridge for a while, so is too messy for those purposed.

    (Pro tip – store natural peanut butter upside down before opening it for the first time, it makes it easier to stir the seperated oil back in)

    You have not lived until you have had the Trader Joes dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Pretty much all of their chocolate is good.

  8. I tossed Cursed Child away and never finished it because the characters didn’t seem true to book to me sometimes and it messed with my happy ending. Boo. Hope you enjoy it more than I did!

  9. I didn’t know there was another Harry Potter book! I have been debating letting K read them. I loved the first 4, but I not 5,6,7. Maybe I need to do a re-read. I have not heard of bullet journaling and I better not start because that looks totally addicting. :P

  10. I love Trader Joe’s. However, although we go there weekly, it can’t entirely replace a regular grocery store. In two out of the three locations that we’ve lived with a Trader Joe’s, the Trader Joe’s had cheaper eggs and dairy than the other grocery stores, so we’d get those there. I’m not sure that we can live without the Trader Joe’s peanut butter (yes, it gets runny for school lunches and picnics; no, I don’t care). I like their whole milk yogurts, cream cheese, flour tortillas, salsa, chips, chocolate chips, white whole wheat and all purpose flours, cheerios (Trader Joe’s O’s), (frozen) gyoza, tuna fish, cat food (well, the cat likes it), The pretzel bagels are good for bagel sandwiches. Oh, and the Mediterranean hummus is awesome! And their chocolate and cookies … dark chocolate peanut butter cups, iced gingerbread men and the chocolate passport at Christmas, cat cookies for people (they used to have ginger ones that were amazing, but they don’t have that variety anymore) …

    I love bullet journals. I got out of the habit and my organization has suffered as a result. I have a new notebook that I’m going to start using on April 1st. My notebooks aren’t nearly as colorful or as neat as yours. :)

  11. My Trader Joe’s recommendations:
    Plain whole-milk yogurt, quart size. Great price and great flavor!
    Paneer tikka masala frozen meal.
    Family-size frozen roasted vegetable lasagna.
    Soy sauce. Tastes just like Kikkoman, but GMO-free.
    Olive oil with no fancy virginity status. Cheap and good.

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