Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Monthly Medley: July 2020

An article I wrote about the Science Mill, a unique STEAM-based children's museum in Johnson City, TX, can be found in this month's issue of Texas Living magazine. The museum has reopened - with many safety precautions in place - so if you're in the area, check it out, and if you pick a copy of the magazine, check out the article as well!

This month I took a deep dive into Miracle Creek. This part mystery, part courtroom drama was tough for me to find my way into, partly because each chapter is told from a different main character's (of which there a quite a few) point of view. Around the time I reached the book's midway point, I'd finally figured them all out and could follow the story a little better, and shortly after that the book turned a corner and kept me hooked until the final page. More so than any other book I've read in a while, this novel delved deeply into the extremes parents will go to to protect their children, families, and secrets.

Perhaps my favorite new "show" is Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man with Emmanuel Acho. Acho has a new book by the same name coming out, but until then, his short but impactful and eye-opening interviews can be found on his Instagram page.

A few weeks ago, I had the television on - tuned to The Twilight Saga: New Moon - in the background while cleaning the house. Though I was paying very little attention to the movie, at one point I spotted Hallie standing in the middle of the office, completely engrossed, eyes unblinking, mouth agape. After reviewing the books and movies, I decided she wasn't quite ready for the books but could probably handle the movies, so I asked if she was interested. She was hesitant to commit to the series, but opted to try the first film...and five minutes in she was HOOKED. We watched all five movies in July, which is why we didn't make as much progress on our quarantine movie list these last few weeks.

Red = watched in April
Green = watched in May
Blue = watched in June
Orange = watched in July 
Black = yet to watch

The Wedding Singer
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit
13 Going on 30
A League of Their Own
Miss Congeniality
Legally Blonde
Pitch Perfect
50 First Dates
Now and Then
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Miss Congeniality 2
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
17 Again
The Prince and Me
Pitch Perfect 2
Pitch Perfect 3
Bring It On
The Princess Bride
Big Daddy
Mean Girls
A Cinderella Story
Sweet Home Alabama
27 Dresses
Life As We Know It
Fever Pitch
Save the Last Dance
The Holiday 
Uptown Girls
The Wedding Date
The Wedding Planner
Ever After
The Prince and Me 2
Ice Princess
While You Were Sleeping
Life Size
Mamma Mia
Never Been Kissed
Father of the Bride
Father of the Bride 2
Runaway Bride
My Best Friend's Wedding
Bend it Like Beckham
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
The Cutting Edge
That Thing You Do

Listening To
Having caught up on most of my regular podcasts, I decided to try Uncover from CBC Podcasts. The first season, about one woman's escape from the cult NXIVM (pronounced "nexium"), kept me engaged to the point of (almost) forgetting I walking outside in Texas' blazing sun, scorching temperatures, and suffocating humidity, so I'd call that a win!

After a years-long hiatus, I plan to start listening to Jen Hatmaker's podcast again. She recently shared what sounds like a fun series about enneagrams, and I think I'd like to go back and listen to the Quarantine Queens podcasts she shared in March and April. What brought me back to For the Love wasn't, however, either of these series. It was a bonus episode entitled, "Jen and Sydney Hatmaker On Being Gay and Loved". This beautiful tribute to love and acceptance and faith both broke and mended my heart, and reminded me that I need more of this kind of message in my life.

Houston, we have a problem. A shirt problem. I think my friends and I have reached double digits when it comes to the number of matching shirts we've purchased since March. Here are this month's additions:

I wish I could say I'm done with shirts with sayings on them, but we have two more arriving in August... 

As part of my commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement, I have been trying to read and watch and listen and learn as much as I can from those who have wisdom and stories to share. Additionally, I have been trying to shop from small, local (if available), Black-owned businesses. Here are a couple I've purchased from so far!

I bought these adorable tie dye headbands for Hallie and her friends from Southern Ree Boutique here in College Station.

And these jewelry cups came from NativePRINTcess on Etsy.

In a different category of shopping, I bought the kids - who are, yes, 13 and 11 - this air tent. Set up with a box fan takes under 30 seconds, and the tent packs away into its cute little tote bag in almost the same amount of time. We didn't need this tent, but surprising the kids with it - or with any small treat we don't need, like ice cream cones or new books - has kept all of our spirits lifted.

I also picked up - and am now a big fan of - this inexpensive boot holder from Target. Gone are the rolled up magazines I used to use to keep my taller boots standing upright!

  • I made this Coconut Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting for Tom for his birthday. I followed the recipes closely, only decreasing the granulated sugar in the cake to 1 and 1/3 c. and the powdered sugar in the frosting to 3 c. DELICIOUS.
  • Equally delicious but in a completely different way, this Caprese Avocado Salad was the perfect complement to grilled chicken. 

But the highlight of my month consumption-wise? School milks. I don't know what it is, but those little cartons of 1% milk hit the spot like nothing else. The kids couldn't understand what all the fuss was about, but Tom was with me...he crushed quite a few chocolate milks himself.

Feeling Good About
Tank's Good News is still my favorite "one stop shop" for feel good stories, articles, videos, and photos, but here are a couple additional links to hopefully make you smile.

Oh, and this ad. Wow.

On to August, my friends!

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