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A monthly list of good things to see, buy, read and watch.

GOOD THINGS No.53

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While I love the month of September (our anniversary, a birthday, the garden produce…), it’s always bittersweet for me as someone who enjoys warm summer weather.

I’ve been waking up to glorious sunrises over the hills through our windows for two months (minus a few days of clouds) and that morning sun is always what sustains me.

Thankfully, September is usually a lovely month here in the PNW, so here’s to more days of beautiful sunrises, even as the temperatures dip to more seasonal fall weather!

Good Things List

White farmhouse in August

The Farmhouse in August

I took this photo of the farmhouse about mid-month (keeping it real with the need-to-be-deadheaded flowers in the foreground, lol).

It’s been a full year since we finished the outside renovation, capped with the new paint job and roof last summer.

I do not get tired of how wonderful it looks and the difference from when we first moved in. We’ve gotten some lovely comments from neighbors who are happy to see the house taken care of (starting with a foundation!), and that’s always great to hear.

Even though we still have things to finish inside, I created a Farmhouse Renovation page to make it easy to find all the before tours, progress updates, and before-and-after reveals.

I will add to the page as we complete the other areas, of course, but I hope this gives you an overall view of where we started and where we’re at in the house’s remodel and hopefully inspiration for your own projects (if we can do it, anyone can!).

See the 1900 Farmhouse Renovation page here.

Dog with life vest in kayak

Great Affordable Dog Life Vest

After trying and failing once to take our small dog, Jynx, in the kayak with me (she was terrified and wouldn’t leave my lap), I decided to try again but this time with a safety dog life vest and her in front of me and not on my lap (too hard to row).

As you can see in the photo above, it worked great!! While she was still nervous, she was curious and looked all around while I easily paddled with her between my knees.

Many dog life vests are $20-30 dollars and since I wasn’t sure she would even go with me, I didn’t want to invest in a lot, so I found this dog vest for about half those prices (with the 40% off coupon right now).

I was pleasantly surprised at not only how sturdy it is (super easy to pick her up with the handle on the back), but how easily it is to put on her. It’s over-the-head (and not tight) and then just one big velcro and two buckles that make it strong enough to pick her up in it.

It is not uncomfortable for her – she walks around easily in it – and didn’t mind it being put on or taken off.

I’m so glad to have this option for her now so we don’t have to leave her behind! She’s like most dogs that way and give the saddest look and posture when she can’t go, lol.

Check out the Dog Life Vest here.

August Reads

Covers of August 22 books read

Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston. After hearing about this book for years as an “American classic” and one of 100 Most Influential Books I finally read it this month. And I realized right away that it wasn’t what I initially thought it would be about. I thought it was a more cut-and-dried story about Black people in the south in the early 20th century, you know, more historical.

Well, that was dispelled right away by the lyrical and poetic way that Ms. Hurston wrote this story of Janie, who we meet as a girl and see throughout her life as she navigates the world and three marriages. She has phrases that just make you stop and think about how accurately and uniquely they describe something:

“She sat on the porch and watched the moon rise. Soon its amber fluid was drenching the earth, and quenching the thirst of the day.”

“Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches”

“In the cool afternoon the fiend from hell specifically sent to lovers arrived at Janie’s ear. Doubt.”

We go through a lot with Janie – much of it hard to read – but throughout you can see her gaining confidence, believing in love and the world. It’s a classic for a reason.

A Modest Independence, Mimi Mathews. This was the second book in the series I wrote about in the first book’s review and I enjoyed this one, too, though the first book is still my favorite of the two.

In this story, the distant relation-companion from book one and the lawyer-friend from book one go on a journey together to solve a mystery and they slowly come to care for each other as they face hardships traveling through India in the 18th century. I did enjoy the travelogue theme, as it was fascinating to see what people had to go through to travel at that time. The story was a nice conclusion (happily-ever-after, of course), to the beginning we saw in the first book. This is closed-door, but still brings the emotions we enjoy in romances.

Mrs. Miniver, Jan Struthers. Okay, well. Somewhere I read that this book (that the Greer Garson, academy award winning movie is based on) was instrumental in helping England cope with WWII – and with Americans getting on board with helping England.

I now have to watch the movie again (I think I saw it years ago) because it’s just stories of a well-to-do mother in England and the tasks and diversions of her everyday life. Like what they eat, where they go, the clothes they buy for school, etc. I struggled to see anything that related to WWII or be inspirational to “carry on.” There were a couple mentions towards the end of children leaving for the country, some things getting scarce and getting fitted for gas masks, but that was it. It was originally a series of articles in the newspaper so each chapter may or may not play off the one before or following.

I really kept waiting for something to happen, but nothing really did other than to show a family of their time and place and the everyday things they went through.

I’ve since read that the movie showed the family during the war (the book is before and right as it starts) and was basically new material!

Nora Goes Off Script, Annabel Monaghan. I found this contemporary romance to be a light, fun read that offers a peek behind writing for TV and movies. It’s sweet with some depth and the characters came off as real to me. Nora is a Hallmark-type TV movie writer with a number of scripts under her belt. She’s a divorced mom with an old house who turned her marriage-gone-wrong into a script that is being developed into a full-fledge theater movie with big-time stars. They descend on her rural home to film and she meets the hunky male lead who is having a crisis moment – so you can imagine where that goes. There are lovely quiet times bonding over sunrises and coffee and funny scenes where the school moms meet Nora’s new “friend.”

I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet, Shauna Nieguist. Hmm. Shauna’s other books have made my year-end best lists, but this wasn’t what I was hoping at all. I was looking for some life lessons grounded in faith that would provide the “a-ha” moments I had gotten from her other books. Instead this is a memoir-type book about her family leaving their hometown where she had grown up and knew everyone and moving to NYC for her husband to attend school. Like, we learn about their apartment, the neighbors, where they eat and the types of drinks she orders. Just not really what I wanted to spend time on. Plus, I was really irritated that in the beginning she mentions some “big” thing that happened in their church in their hometown that “wasn’t my story to tell” even though it informed almost ALL her thoughts and angst for the rest of the book (and is ALL OVER the internet). Um, sorry – that’s a cop-out and she could’ve (should have) told the story from her view which is most definitely HER story since she basically wrote a book about the aftermath of that for her family (I had to look it up and her father is the founding pastor of a well-known church who was involved in scandal and had to step down). Have you read this? Thoughts?

Remedial Rocket Science, Susannah Nix. I picked this up on sale – it’s another contemporary closed-door romance (even though it starts with a one-night-stand). In fact, it sort of becomes a warning about one of the (many) reasons not to have one-night-stands: you never know when you may see them in the future – or be working with them! Overall I enjoyed this story and the strong female character who is smart and confident at work and learns how to be confident around others who are different from her as the story goes on. There are more in this series, though they are stand-alones. I’m not sure I will read them, but this was a nice, light read.

Watching

We didn’t watch a whole lot in August – we were either gone or enjoying warm evenings reading outside.

And what we did watch I didn’t really like, so maybe not so right for a good things list? (If you’re curious: Stranger Things 4, The Gray Man, and Uncharted. One word for all…ugh.)

That’s it for another addition of the Good Things List!

If you’d like to see more of what I’m enjoying, you can check out all the Good Things Lists here. I’d love to know what you think – if you’ve tried any of these or what you’d recommend. Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

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