Tuesday, December 5, 2023

5 Golden Rings


It's December 5th.  I have two trees up, more than a few gifts secured, and my cards ordered.  I've attended four holiday events and have some more to go.  There have and will be plenty of opportunities to feel festive and connect with friends and loved ones.  

As my kids get older and I get wiser, pulling it all together gets a little easier and little less stressful and chaotic.  I never quite feel that I have achieved the ideal Advent state of anticipation and stillness, but I've made progress.

However, there are always the extras you hope to add to the mix during the Christmas season that usually don't end up happening.  For example, I always think about how wonderful it would be to  make ornaments to attach to gifts, host a caroling party for my daughter's classmates, take a family drive to hit the coolest Christmas lights, or finally make it to The Walnut Room after 22 years of living in Chicago.  

But ... baby steps. 

This year I'm aiming for five little things ... my "Five Golden Rings" for December 2023.  If I go 0/5 or 4/5, so be it, but I'm sharing them here for accountability and inspiration.


My "5 Golden Rings" for December 2023

1.  Walk the Winter Lights at Central Park in Oak Brook.  This is a short but enchanting walk through the woods at the Oak Brook Park District.  Best not attempted on a bitterly cold evening but delightful on a mild night or with proper bundling.  Bonus points if I get a kid or friend to join me, but walking it alone would still count.

 2.   Sit on the couch with my kids and watch the Mickey Christmas special of their choice.  Once Upon a Christmas.  Twice Upon a Christmas.  Mickey's Christmas Carol.  Any one of these gems will do.  It is a cliche, but I feel like it was five minutes ago that my kids had wet post-bath hair and Christmas footie pajamas.  My oldest goes to college next year, and I am craving this moment on the couch with my squad.

 3.  Walk to Elmhurst History Museum and enjoy the Lost Chicagoland Department Stores exhibit.  I drive or walk past the EHM multiple times each day.  I notice the signage for the current exhibit and think, "Oh, that sounds cool, I will check it out."  And then, I don't.  It is free and a five-minute walk from my house.  Again, bonus points if I get a kid or friend to go with me, but solo is fine too.

4.  Do one "extra thing" at church.  Concert?  Prayer service?  Early morning weekday mass?  A talk?  Dealer's choice.  

5.  Make Peppermint Crunch Puppy Chow and share with a friend.  I love making and consuming my own special-recipe puppy chow.  My college roommate blew her family's minds with a Peppermint Crunch Puppy Chow that she debuted at Thanksgiving.  I'm going to give it a whirl.  We don't bake Christmas cookies or make fudge or pour melted chocolate into holiday-shaped molds around here, but we can expand our puppy chow repertoire.  

Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

The Buffett Way (Not Warren)

Can I rightly claim the title "Parrothead"?  I suspect not, but I also suspect Jimmy Buffett would never have asked me or anyone to produce a membership card or state their case with evidence.  I have been a casual Buffett fan since high school.  Growing up in Greater Cincinnati, it was hard not to be.  Jimmy Buffett and The Coral Reefer Band visited Cincy's River Bend outdoor concert venue for multiple-night stands year after year.  I attended two of those River Bend concerts in the 90s and saw Buffett with my husband and some friends at Wrigley Field in 2005.  I've visited Key West on three occasions (not that I ran into Jimmy Buffett there, but I associate him with the place and its spirit).  I have a magnet purchased at a Cheeseburger in Paradise burger spot, but for the life of me, I can't recall when and where I sampled that famous burger.  I remember that I liked it, as is true for most of my cheeseburger encounters. 

I'm not a deep tracks Buffett fan, but every track on the album Songs You Know By Heart is ... a song I know by heart.  I'd probably be fine if I never heard "Margaritaville" again and I reached my max on "Cheeseburger in Paradise" a few summers ago when I introduced it to my kids and we ended up blasting it in the Odyssey almost daily.

I never thought about how I'd feel when Jimmy Buffett passed away, but turns out, I felt pretty sad and then, after days of listening to my favorite of the songs I know by heart, pretty grateful.  My forty-eight year old self couldn't help but marvel at the cleverness and wisdom of the lyrics.  My friend Kristin (who introduced me to Buffett because she had cool older siblings) and I have been texting about Buffett songs and it's been fun to connect about this music we both love, appreciate, and understand.  It's been over a month since his passing, and no one asked for my deep thoughts on Jimmy Buffett's life and work.  I don't know that I have many deep thoughts, except to reflect that if you've created music that has brought people joy and hope and fun and community and escape from everyday drudgery, you've made the world a better place.  I wanted to record the Buffett lyrics that mean the most to me in the hopes that I'll remember to press play on Buffett when I need him.  Here they are ...

From "Changes in Latitude"

If it suddenly ended tomorrow I could somehow adjust to the fall
Good times and riches and son-of-a-bitches I've seen more than I can recall 


Oh, yesterday's over my shoulder, so I can't look back for too long
There's just too much to see waiting in front of me and 
I know that I just can't go wrong

With these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of my running and all of my cunning
If I couldn't laugh I just would go insane
If we couldn't laugh we just would go insane
If we weren't all crazy we would go insane
From "Pirate Looks at Forty"

Mother, mother ocean, after all the years I've found
My occupational hazard being my occupation's just not around

From "Fins"

She came down from Cincinnati
It took her three days on a train
Looking for some peace and quiet
Hoped to see the sun again.

From "Come Monday"

I hope you're enjoying the scenery
I know that it's pretty up there
We can go hiking on Tuesday
With you I'd walk anywhere
California has worn me quite thin
I just can't wait to see you again

Come Monday, it'll be all right
Come Monday, I'll be holdin' you tight
From "Son of a Son of a Sailor"
As a dreamer of dreams and a travelin' man
I have chalked up many a mile
Read dozens of books about heroes and crooks
And I learned much from both of their styles
Haul the sheet in as we ride on the wind
That our forefathers harnessed before us
Hear the bells ring as the right rigging sings
It's a son of a gun of a chorus
Where it all ends I can't fathom my friends
If I knew I might toss out my anchor
So I cruise along always searchin' for songs
Not a lawyer a thief or a banker
And the moment that really choked me up from "He Went to Paris"

Now he lives in the island, fishes the pilin's
And drinks his green label each day
He's writing his memoirs and losing his hearing
But he don't care what most people say
Through 86 years of perpetual motion
If he likes you he'll smile and he'll say
Jimmy, some of it's magic, some of it's tragic
But I had a good life all the way
I hope I can say the same ... some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way.

Monday, January 30, 2023

2022 Reading Highlights

And, here you have them, my reading highlights of 2022.  I'm just sharing titles, authors, and loose categories.  If you want to know more about any of the titles, message me or check my Instagram @booksandcarbs where I have posted mini reviews of all the books listed below.  Unless otherwise indicated, these books are 2022 releases.   


Fiction Highlights 

People Person by Candice Carty-Williams
Boy Swallows Universe (2018) by Trent Dalton
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont
The All of It (1986) by Jeanette Haien
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
Betty (2020) by Tiffany McDaniel
The No Show by Beth O’Leary
The Maid by Nita Prose
This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub 
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin 

Memoir/Non-Fiction Highlights

How to Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis
Think Again:  The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know (2021) by Adam Grant
The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music (2021) by Dave Grohl 
I Want to Thank You: How a Year of Gratitude Can Bring Joy and Meaning in a Disconnected World by Gina Hamadey

Breaking Free:  How I Escaped My Father--Warren Jeffs--Polygamy, and the FLDS Cult (2017) by Rachel Jeffs   
I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jeanette McCurdy
Did Ye Hear Mammy Died by Seamas O'Reilly
This Will Be Funny Later by Jenny Pentland
Hello, Molly! by Molly Shannon

"New Books from Favorite Authors" Highlights
Smells Like Tween Spirit (Class Mom #4) by Laurie Gelman
Meant To Be by Emily Giffin 
The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand
A World of Curiosities (Chief Inspector Gamache #18) by Louise Penny


Monday, January 2, 2023

2022 Year of Books -- Non-Fiction


Selma Blair
Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up (audiobook via Cloud Library)
Oliver Burkeman
Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals (audiobook via Libby)
Allie Casazza
Declutter Like a Mother: A Guilt-Free, No-Stress Way to Transform Your Home and Your Life (audiobook via Hoopla)
Liesl Clark
The Buy Nothing, Get Everything Plan: Discover the Joy of Spending Less, Sharing More, and Living Generously (audiobook via Libby) 
Anderson Cooper
Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty (audiobook via Hoopla) 

John Crist
Delete That: And Other Failed Attempts to Look Good Online (audiobook via Cloud Library)

K.C. Davis
How to Keep House While Drowning: A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing (audiobook via Libby)

Minnie Driver
Managing Expectations: A Memoir in Essays (audiobook via Cloud Library)
Jenna Fischer & Angela Kinsey
The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There (library book)
Lauren Graham
Have I Told You This Already?: Stories I Don't Want to Forget to Remember (audiobook via Cloud Library)
John Green
The Anthropocene Reviewed (audiobook via Libby)
Jennifer Grey
Out of the Corner (audiobook via Cloud Library)

Rachel Jeffs
Breaking Free: How I Escaped My Father--Warren Jeffs--Polygamy, and the FLDS Cult  (audiobook via Cloud Library)
Ralph Macchio
Waxing On: The Karate Kid and Me
Jeanette McCurdy
I'm Glad My Mom Died (audiobook via Audible)

Shauna Niequist
I Guess I Haven't Learned That Yet: Discovering New Ways of Living When the Old Ways Stop Working (hardcover)

Zibby Owens
Bookends: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Literature (ebook via Kindle First Reads)
Seamus O'Reilly
Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? (audiobook via Audible) 
Mary Laura Philpott
Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives (library book)
Christine Platt
The Afrominimalist's Guide to Living With Less (library book) 

Priscilla Beaulieu Presley
Elvis and Me (audiobook via Cloud Library)

David Sedaris
Happy-Go-Lucky (audiobook via Audible)
Tim Sommer
Only Wanna Be with You: The Inside Story of Hootie & the Blowfish (audiobook via Hoopla) 
Philip Van Doren Stern
The Greatest Gift: A Christmas Tale (audiobook via Hoopla)
Ali Wentworth
Ali's Well That Ends Well: Tales of Desperation and a Little Inspiration (audiobook via Cloud Library)

Casey Wilson
The Wreckage of My Presence (audiobook via Libby)
An (*) indicates a reread.  All ebooks are purchased on sale via the Kindle Store or checked out from the e-offerings of the Elmhurst Public Library.  All audiobooks are from Audible.com or the Elmhurst Public Library's e-offerings (Hoopla, Cloud Library, and Libby Apps).


2022 Year of Books -- Fiction

 2022 FICTION 

Lyssa Kay Adams
A Very Merry Bromance (audiobook via Cloud Library)

Alexandra Andrews
Who is Maud Dixon? (audiobook via Libby)

Louis Bayard
Jackie and Me (audiobook via Libby)
B.K. Borison
Lovelight Farms (audiobook via Hoopla)
Julie Buxbaum
Year on Fire (ebook via Cloud Library) 

Candice Carty-Williams
People Person (audiobook via Libby)
Katherine Center
The Bodyguard (hardcover)
Ann Cleves
The Long Call (audiobook via Hoopla) 
Jennifer Close
Marrying the Ketchups (audiobook via Cloud Library)
Jenny Colgan
An Island Wedding (Mure #5) (audiobook via Libby)
Welcome to the School by the Sea (audiobook via Cloud Library)
Katie Cotugno
Birds of California (audibook via Libby)
Sophie Cousens
Before I Do (ebook via Cloud Library) 
Trent Dalton
Boy Swallows Universe (audiobook via Hoopla) 
Andrew DeYoung
The Temps (audiobook via Hoopla) 
Robert Galbraith
The Ink Black Heart (Cormoran Strike #6) (audiobook via Audible)
Bonnie Garmus
Lessons in Chemistry (hardcover)
Laurie Gelman
Smells Like Tween Spirit (library book)

Emily Giffin
Meant to Be (hardcover)
Nina De Gramont
The Christie Affair (audiobook via Libby)
Elly Griffith
The Stranger Diaries (Harbinder #1) (audiobook via Hoopla) 

Jasmine Guillory
Drunk on Love (ebook via Cloud Library)

Jeannette Haien
The All of It (ebook via Cloud Library)
Greer Hendricks
The Golden Couple (audiobook via Cloud Library)
Emily Henry
Book Lovers (ebook via CloudLibrary)
Sally Hepworth
Unchartered Waters (audiobook via Audible)
The Younger Wife (ebook via Cloud Library)

Kristan Higgins
Out of the Clear Blue Sky (ebook via  CloudLibrary)
Elin Hilderbrand
The Hotel Nantucket (hardcover)
Sarah Hogle
Twice Shy (ebook via Cloud Library)
Linda Holmes
Flying Solo (audiobook via Libby)
Abby Jiminez
Part of Your World (ebook via Cloud Library) 
Louise Kennedy
Trespasses (audiobook via Cloud Library)

Marian Keyes
Again, Rachel (audiobook via Cloud Library)

Barbara Kingsolver
Demon Copperhead (audiobook via Audible)
Jean Hanff Korelitz
The Latecomer (audiobook via Audible) 

Elinor Lipman
Ms. Demeanor (ebook via Cloud Library)

Sarah Lotz
The Impossible Us (audiobook via Libby)
Lia Louis
Eight Perfect Hours (audiobook via Libby)

Portia MacIntosh
Just Date and See (audiobook via Hoopla)
The Meet Cute Method (audiobook via Hoopla)
Single All The Way (audiobook via Hoopla) 

Joyce Maynard
The Influencer: A Short Story (audiobook via Audible)
Lauren McBrayer
Like a House on Fire (audiobook via Cloud Library)
Mhairi McFarlane
Mad About You (audiobook via Audible) 

Dervla McTiernan
The Murder Rule (audiobook via Audible)

Jean Meltzer
The Matzah Ball (audiobook via Hoopla)

Lydia Millet
Dinosaurs (audiobook via Hoopla)
Denise Mina
Confidence (audiobook via Audible) 

Annabel Monaghan
Nora Goes Off Script (audiobook via Cloud Library)

Margarita Montimore
Acts of Violet (audiobook via Libby)
Meg Mitchell Moore
Vacationland (hardcover) 
Beth Morrey
Delphine Jones Takes a Chance (audiobook via Cloud Library) 
Maggie O'Farrell
The Marriage Portrait (audiobook via Cloud Library)

Beth O'Leary
The No-Show (ebook via Cloud Library)
George Orwell
Animal Farm* (paperback) 

Louise Penny
A World of Curiosities (Chief Inspector Gamache, #18) (audiobook via Audible)
Tom Perrotta
Tracy Flick Can't Win (audiobook via Libby) 

Rosamunde Pilcher
Winter Solstice* (audiobook via Hoopla)

Claire Pooley
Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting (audiobook via Libby)
Alexandra Potter
Confessions of a Forty-Something F**k Up (audiobook via Audible) 

Jessica Redland
Making Wishes at Bay View (audiobook via Audible Unlimited)

Taylor Jenkins Reid
Carrie Soto is Back (audiobook via Audible)

Jason Rekulak
Hidden Pictures (audiobook via Libby)
Jane L. Rosen
A Shoe Story (audibook via Cloud Library) 
Kamila Shamsie
Best of Friends (audiobook via Cloud Library)

Maggie Shipstead
You Have a Friend in 10A: Stories (audiobook via Cloud Library)
Kate Spencer
In a New York Minute (ebook via Cloud Library) 

Julia Spiro
Full (audiobook via Audible)

Wallace Stegner
Angle of Repose (audiobook via Libby)
Crossing to Safety (audiobook via Hoopla)
Nina Stibbe
One Day I Shall Astonish the World (audiobook via Audible)

Emma Straub
This Time Tomorrow (audiobook via Cloud Library)
Lynn Steger Strong
Flight (audiobook via Libby)

Elizabeth Strout
Lucy by the Sea (Amgash #4) (audiobook via Cloud Library)

Elissa Sussman
Funny You Should Ask (audiobook via Cloud Library)
Anthony Trollope
Christmas at Thompson Hall (audiobook via Hoopla) 
The Warden (Chronicles of Barsetshire, #1) (audiobook via Hoopla)
Anne Tyler
French Braid (audiobook via Cloud Library) 
Shelby Van Pelt
Remarkably Bright Creatures (audiobook via Libby) 

Rosie Walsh
The Love of my Life (audiobook via Cloud Library)
Jennifer Weiner
The Summer Place (hardcover)
Julia Whelan
Thank You for Listening (audiobook via Audible)
Charmaine Wilkerson
Black Cake (audiobook via Libby) 
Tia Williams
Seven Days in June (audiobook via Libby) 

Julia Whelan
Thank You for Listening (audiobook via Audible)

Kevin Wilson
Now Is Not the Time to Panic (ebook via Cloud Library)
Kerry Winfrey
Just Another Love Song (audiobook via Cloud Library)
Gabrielle Zevin
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow (hardcover)
 An (*) indicates a reread.  All ebooks are purchased on sale via the Kindle Store or checked out from the e-offerings of the Elmhurst Public Library.  All audiobooks are from Audible.com or the Elmhurst Public Library's e-offerings (Hoopla, Cloud Library, and Libby Apps).