And here’s my book list from 2021…


This year I set a goal of 26 books and according to Goodreads I made that goal! Below are the 37 books I read in 2021. Yay me! I feel like I got my groove back a little and I have big plans for 2022!

The Mistletoe Matchmaker by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Every year I try to find a winter/Christmas themed book to read for fun… this is part of a series and I didn’t know the characters, so I didn’t love it.

Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing by Allison Winn Scotch

A politics themed book which wasn’t too heavy. Part of the Jen Hatmaker’s book club.

The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King

Book 14 of a series and I jumped right in! A good read, though…

Love in a Tuscan Kitchen by Sheryl Ness

A signed copy as a gift for Christmas. A local woman and her stay in Italy, resulting in found love. Filled with recipes! (I love a book with recipes!)

End of the Lupine Season by Laurie Otis

The End of the Lupine Season by Laurie Otis: I like to buy books set in my vacation locations – this one is “up north” in Wisconsin – on Madeline Island in Lake Superior. A little mystery, a little local flair.

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni

“A gem of a book!” I said after reading this. We read it for book club and it was a treat.

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

Another winter-themed book – Scotland this time. I gave it 5 stars!

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I actually skimmed through this book and read the Kindle summary book.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

I also loved this book! Delightful family. Didn’t want it to end.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

For book club, a step outside my typical genre! Very engaging…

Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy

A little Irish tale by one of my favorite authors, read during March. Ah.

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha

A character driven novel I didn’t want to end… South Korea and the beauty scene…

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

For book club – great discussion! I loved her and became very curious about Nigeria…

Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin

Decluttering, an endless goal!

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Young love, choices… read for work book club (and never discussed!)

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

Brilliant story for book club. He’s amazing.

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee

Another great book for book club – North Korea and South Korea and China… oh my. And it’s a true story / memoir!

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner

A bit heavy for a summer read…

Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg

Book #2 from Arthur Truluv… love these people

The Confession Club by Elizabeth Berg

Book #3 in this series… great characters!

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Great story with twin sisters who start their lives in the south. Great book.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Another memoir about a Korean-American girl and her relationship with her mother.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

For book club – so much to think about! How would I act?

Coco Chanel by Susan Goldman Rubin

And then in the French phase of the year – a YA book about Chanel, who was really quite a character!

French Toast by Harriet Welty Rochefort

A memoir about an American living in France. Some insight into the differences…

Five Nights in Paris by John Baxter

Not a book I loved – I didn’t know anything about the author, but felt that I was expected to.

Le Road Trip by Vivian Swift

I loved this book and bought a copy for myself. Very artistic – an illustrated story. I bought another of hers and will read it in 2022!

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

For book club – a great story to discuss!

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

My French season – a book about occupied France, specifically Paris. Sympathetic characters.

Everything We Didn't Say by Nicole Baart

Advanced copy by “local” author (Iowa!). Good mystery and good characters.

The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar

Another library story told through the brutal Nazi occupation of St. Malo. Uff.

The Secret of the Château by Kathleen McGurl

For book club – we chose a book set in France that wasn’t a WW2 novel. Instead we have the revolution against nobility and modern day friends. I really liked this.

Paris is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay

A fun little romance – kind of predictable but enjoyable.

A French Pirouette by Jennifer Bohnet

A nice little story about moving from your old life and creating a new one. This book takes place in Brittany, which is one of the locations we visited in France.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I’m late to the game, but a wonderful novel about tough stuff. Nazi occupation, losing family, and horrors of war. But easy to read in its small bites.

Work Horse by Zach Olstad

Read for book club – fun to read a book written by a local!

Hot Flash Holidays by Nancy Thayer

And my attempt to get a Christmas book in. Again, another in a series I haven’t read, so I felt behind the game. I’ll have to get more prepared for next Christmas!

Movies – 2021

In the Heights (2021) - IMDb
IMDB.COM

I’ve seen some good movies this year but only two movies on the big screen.

In June I saw “In the Heights” on opening weekend in Imax. It was so fun – to see that big musical on a big screen! It was definitely a joyous experience!

On New Year’s Eve I saw “West Side Story” in an afternoon matinee with some girlfriends. It was kind of the opposite experience. It is a big beautiful musical with amazing costumes, exhilarating dancing, and beautiful voices – but it is not joyous! The story is still tragic and there is no big musical number at the end to lift you up. But I’m still glad I saw it!

One day around Thanksgiving, I asked Chris, “Do you think we will ever become people who go to movies again?” We used to go a few times per month – before Chris I went even more frequently! Now we have so many options at home, so it’s easier to stay home and stay cozy and watch what we have. Maybe there will be movies that will entice me enough again, but so far it has only been the two.

I’ve started a list of movies on my phone so I can add to it in one place and try to keep track of where to find them. One of my “things to do” in 2022. It’s probably very 2010 but here you go. I’m gonna start keeping track!

In 2021, movies and series I have enjoyed include:

  • Bridgerton
  • Bunheads – ah, Sutton
  • Younger – ah, Sutton
  • Alice in Paris – the food!
  • Emily in Paris – the fashion!
  • TED LASSO!!! – Oh, I wish that everyone could see this… so amazing.
  • The Morning Show
  • Schmigadoon
  • Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist
  • Mad About You – a fun glimpse into their “more adult” life!
  • Nomadland
  • Barb & Star Go to Vista del Mar – fun fun fun!
  • Score: The Hockey Musical – available on Youtube!
  • Never Have I Ever
  • 9 Perfect Strangers
  • Maid
  • Lupine
  • On the Verge
  • 8-Bit Christmas – an AMAZING movie! I wish everyone could see this!
  • Hacks
  • And Just Like That…
  • Found – an amazing documentary on Netflix about three girls adopted from China who find that they are cousins and become lifelong friends.

What has been your best-of-2021? What are you looking forward to in 2022?

The Couch Film Festival (CFF) 2021

It’s established that I love a good movie. I haven’t been to the movie theatre for far more than a year, having seen only one film in the theatre in 2020 (“1917”). We’ve done a few high dollar rentals over the year but mostly have found things worth watching on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and Prime.

One item on my “21 things in 2021” list is to watch 21 movies from “best of” lists. Mostly movies I have missed but one or two that I want to see again. This April and May friend Jenny and I have started a Film Festival, which I thought we should call COVID Film Festival, but I have just named it the Couch Film Festival. We miss the Rochester International Film Festival, so we are going to look for great international films or Academy Award nominated films to watch, hopefully each week.

We started out the Film Fest with a fun romp that is neither international nor award nominated, but was just loads of goofy fun – “Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar.” It is over-the-top and surprising but there were big laughs! Those women are geniuses! I now own the digital copy so if you want to see it, come on over!

We watched “Minari,” the subtitled American film nominated for Best Picture, which is about a Korean family’s search for the American Dream in 1980s Arkansas. We rented the theatrical release on Prime and I think it was worth it. I would have wanted to see it in a “normal” year, and I’m glad it was available to us this year. Often the little great films don’t come around for long, so it is really nice to be able to find them and pop your own popcorn.

Tonight we watched a nominee for Best International Film, “Another Round” (Denmark). It is billed as a comedy, but there were moments that definitely weren’t funny. In the end I hope they all got their Joy for Life back. That’s what I’ll choose for them.

What’ll be next? Who knows… What is your favorite International Film?

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM nominees:

ANOTHER ROUND

Denmark

BETTER DAYS

Hong Kong

COLLECTIVE

Romania

THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN

Tunisia

QUO VADIS, AIDA?

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Best Picture NOMINEES

THE FATHER

David Parfitt, Jean-Louis Livi and Philippe Carcassonne, Producers

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

Shaka King, Charles D. King and Ryan Coogler, Producers

MANK

Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth and Douglas Urbanski, Producers

MINARI

Christina Oh, Producer

NOMADLAND

Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey and Chloé Zhao, Producers

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell and Josey McNamara, Producers

SOUND OF METAL

Bert Hamelinck and Sacha Ben Harroche, Producers

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

Marc Platt and Stuart Besser, Producers

Momming

Written by me in 2016, with revisions in 2020:

Mothers. Mothering. Being mothered. I’m so blessed with incredible women in my life: my mother who exudes unconditional love, my daughter whose joie de vivre shines in her mothering, my sister-in-law who is raising amazing, compassionate humans and my stepdaughter and aunts and cousins and friends and all who are gracefully teaching life lessons to children – their own or the children of others.

It’s hard work, mothering, but such important work. Reading the origins of Mother’s Day is humbling and reminds that mothering doesn’t start and end with flesh and blood.

In 1908, Ann Jarvis petitioned to start mother’s day in honor of the passing of her mother, a peaceful activist who cared for soldiers on both sides of the Civil War.

She was a blessing and being a blessing to everyone you meet and lifting them up so that they can also bless others is great important work, as well. Maybe the greatest.

Hope everyone had a fantastic Mother’s Day! Virtual hugs to all!

“Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face.” George Eliot
“She taught me that fear is not an option.” – Diane Von Furstenberg, on her mom.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try doing it the way your mom told you to do it from the start.”
“Being a mom has made me really tired and so happy.” – Tina Fey

Hunkered Down, but not Out!

3.30.2020

We have enjoyed watching Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show at Home and he and his guests have been talking about how it is day 14 of their social distancing / quarantine. I can’t imagine. My pattern of life hasn’t changed, so far, even though life surely has changed. Chris and I are still working our regular shifts, so time away from work has been spent recovering from work or preparing for work.

This weekend was a little glimpse for me – I had a 4-day weekend. Chris just had a regular 2-day weekend so Friday and Monday were on my own. Friday night I had a virtual happy hour with some friends and Saturday night Chris and I played online games with Marissa via Zoom. Who heard of Zoom before two weeks ago?

This weekend we made homemade deliciousness, we ordered in to support a local restaurant, we exercised via computer trainers and we watched Netflix (Tiger King, just like everyone!). It felt like a weekend at home, but we didn’t get to see any family or friends IRL (in real life). I’m a social being, so that’s hard for me.

Dr. Elvis on Fox iHeart Radio Stars at Home concert

We watched the concert on Fox last night. It’s been hard to keep up with all the “at home” events and special things streamed; Broadway shows, piano and art lessons, meditation courses. I’m trying to pick and choose a few things that bring joy, as well as comfort during this crazy time. I know my book reading has suffered due to social media and news watching. Hopefully I can get a better balance going forward.

I wonder what our new normal will be like? What will we keep? What will we change?

National Love Your Pet Day

Murphy Jameson Guinness Brown Grimsrud Walsh

So it looks like we are petless during this National Love your Pet Day – this year – but we will have little Murphy in time for Walk Your Pet Day – Saturday! Chris couldn’t wait so he is meeting the family Saturday night! We have a few more nights of uninterrupted sleep and puppylessness, but we look forward to full hearts and the joyful Wheaten Greetin’!

Can’t wait to introduce you all to Murphy! ❤

Oscar nominations 2019 (and those I’ve seen – in BOLD)

I haven’t written about movies in a while and with the Oscars coming up one week from tonight I have been thinking a bit about the movies I saw in 2018! I certainly have not been to as many movies I have in other years, but it is nice to look at the list below and create a new list of movies to seek out, once they leave the theaters. I’m working on another post of movies that I saw in 2018 that didn’t make this list – more to come!

Here is the full list of 2019 Oscar nominations:

Best Picture:

“Black Panther”
“BlacKkKlansman”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book”
“Roma”
“A Star Is Born”

“Vice”

Lead Actor:

Christian Bale, “Vice”
Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”
Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

Lead Actress:

Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
Glenn Close, “The Wife”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”

Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Supporting Actor:

Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”
Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Sam Rockwell, “Vice”

Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams, “Vice”
Marina de Tavira, “Roma”
Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

Director:

Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”

Adam McKay, “Vice”

Animated Feature:

“Incredibles 2,” Brad Bird
“Isle of Dogs,” Wes Anderson
“Mirai,” Mamoru Hosoda
“Ralph Breaks the Internet,” Rich Moore, Phil Johnston
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Animated Short:

“Animal Behaviour,” Alison Snowden, David Fine
“Bao,” Domee Shi
“Late Afternoon,” Louise Bagnall
“One Small Step,” Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas
“Weekends,” Trevor Jimenez

Adapted Screenplay:

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Joel Coen , Ethan Coen
“BlacKkKlansman,” Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Barry Jenkins
“A Star Is Born,” Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters

Original Screenplay:

“The Favourite,” Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
“First Reformed,” Paul Schrader
“Green Book,” Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly
“Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón
“Vice,” Adam McKay

Cinematography:

“Cold War,” Lukasz Zal
“The Favourite,” Robbie Ryan
“Never Look Away,” Caleb Deschanel
“Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón
“A Star Is Born,” Matthew Libatique

Best Documentary Feature:

“Free Solo,” Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
“Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” RaMell Ross
“Minding the Gap,” Bing Liu
“Of Fathers and Sons,” Talal Derki
“RBG,” Betsy West, Julie Cohen

Best Documentary Short Subject:

“Black Sheep,” Ed Perkins
“End Game,” Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
“Lifeboat,” Skye Fitzgerald
“A Night at the Garden,” Marshall Curry
“Period. End of Sentence.,” Rayka Zehtabchi

Best Live Action Short Film: 
“Detainment,” Vincent Lambe
“Fauve,” Jeremy Comte
“Marguerite,” Marianne Farley
“Mother,” Rodrigo Sorogoyen
“Skin,” Guy Nattiv

Best Foreign Language Film:

“Capernaum” (Lebanon)
“Cold War” (Poland)
“Never Look Away” (Germany)
“Roma” (Mexico)
“Shoplifters” (Japan)

Film Editing:

“BlacKkKlansman,” Barry Alexander Brown
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” John Ottman
“Green Book,” Patrick J. Don Vito
“The Favourite,” Yorgos Mavropsaridis
“Vice,” Hank Corwin

Sound Editing:

“Black Panther,” Benjamin A. Burtt, Steve Boeddeker
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” John Warhurst
“First Man,” Ai-Ling Lee, Mildred Iatrou Morgan
“A Quiet Place,” Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl
“Roma,” Sergio Diaz, Skip Lievsay

Sound Mixing:

“Black Panther”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“First Man”
“Roma”
“A Star Is Born”

Production Design:

“Black Panther,” Hannah Beachler
“First Man,” Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas
“The Favourite,” Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton
“Mary Poppins Returns,” John Myhre, Gordon Sim
“Roma,” Eugenio Caballero, Bárbara Enrı́quez

Original Score:

“BlacKkKlansman,” Terence Blanchard
“Black Panther,” Ludwig Goransson
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Nicholas Britell
“Isle of Dogs,” Alexandre Desplat
“Mary Poppins Returns,” Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman

Original Song:

“All The Stars” from “Black Panther” by Kendrick Lamar, SZA
“I’ll Fight” from “RBG” by Diane Warren, Jennifer Hudson
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns” by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman
“Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice

“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch

Makeup and Hair:

“Border”
“Mary Queen of Scots”
“Vice”

Costume Design:

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Mary Zophres
“Black Panther,” Ruth E. Carter
“The Favourite,” Sandy Powell
“Mary Poppins Returns,” Sandy Powell

“Mary Queen of Scots,” Alexandra Byrne

Visual Effects:

“Avengers: Infinity War”
“Christopher Robin”
“First Man”
“Ready Player One”
“Solo: A Star Wars Story”

Mini Takes The States 2018 #MTTS2018

We are in full prep mode for our road trip in July. Thursday we brought our car in for an oil change and check up, the spare tire rim is being shipped, Monday we are having decals placed, hotels are booked and the packing list has started.

While we were at the dealer we walked the lot and scoped out our next “dream” cars… This was mine. A Caribbean blue convertible. Soooooo impractical. Soooooo cute.

Today I’m trying to figure out our trip documentation… Daily blog posts? Instagram Highlights? Facebook stories?

Ah… The anticipation continues to build!

#7moreworkdays