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My Favorite Things Lately

Some of my favorite things lately... 

I feel like I have been falling in love a lot lately, with many things here and there, little things that are just making my life that much more sweet and enjoyable and I wanted to share them with you. 

First, essential oils. I bought a starter kit and am in love with the diffuser. I have been using it mostly for our colds and congestion, but I've also found a great mix for purification that really helps to clear the air in the office. Especially the basement- because that's where my 8 year old and cat live, so you can imagine that it's in dire need of some fresh air :) I do not sell Young Living Essential Oils but learn everything I need to know from Jess so if you want to learn more, reach out to her and she will hook you up! Here are my favorite diffuser blends that I have been using constantly: 

Litsy: I know I have mentioned that before but if you are an avid reader and enjoy hearing what other bookworms are reading, you have to download the Litsy app. It's an amazing literary community that just blows my mind with everyone who is creative and passionate about books. And there's no other noise like other social media apps. It's just straight up books. You can review them, share quotes that you love and keep track of you favorite books and build a "to read" shelf as you find books you want to read. You can find me at JenniferJR. 

Junkstock: Last weekend the kids' grandma took them for a playdate and hubs and I found ourselves kid free for the afternoon so I bribed him into going with me to Junkstock, the happiest vintage market on earth in Omaha. It comes 3 times a year and October is my favorite because the weather is so perfect. I love the live music, amazing "junk" and friendly people. 

I came home with the cutest wall decor from LoveWell Lettering: 

My other favorite things lately: I've been binge watching Gilmore Girls in preparation for the big show on November 25. Jane the Virgin starts up again next week too. So you know where you can find me. That's right, on my couch. Did anyone out there get to go to "Luke's" when they had coffee shops all over pretend to be Luke's for the day? I only found out about it a day before and wasn't able to leave work for the day to go to Omaha or KC, which each had a couple. I would have loved to go! 

And of course, I've been doing alot of reading lately. Here's what's on my current reading list: 

What are your favorite things lately? 

Show Us Your Books: September

It's Show Us Your Book Time! 

Here's what I added to my conquered books piles in September: 

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett - This was probably the most buzzed about book on my to-read list and I was a little disappointed. It was enough to hold my interest in order to finish the story and held so much promised but it was wasn't developed enough. It started out with two families, the Cousins and the Keatings, who are all attending a party. Bert Cousins and Beatrice Keating end up kissing in a bedroom... and that kiss sets off a mudslide of events that leave to two families separating and scattering across the United States, sending children this way and that unattended on red-eyes. I think that the balance and intricacies of that life would have been enough of an interesting story but then Patchett writes in a tragedy that happens to one of the children and that's where it started to unravel. I wish she would have focused more on the lives of the adult children and how their lives were effected by the actions of their parents. However, most of the story was just vague references to the tragedy, the details of which are being covered by most of the children. A lot of build up, but not enough to keep the momentum. 

In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware - This was an easy read, especially for a thriller. I liked the suspense, the interesting characters, the witty banter and the chilling, creepy setting. 

Leave Me by Gayle Forman - I was at first really fed up with the mother. How could you live through a heart attack and not want to make the most of your life? Especially with two beautiful twins to take care of? Instead, Maribeth flees. She's sick of her husband not helping around the house. She is sick of no one helping her in her recuperation. Everyone expects her to just pick up where she left off and she basically throws her her hands up in the air and says "I'm out!" It's very unimaginable, to take $20,000 out of your bank account, get an apartment in another town and try to find yourself, while your husband takes care of the children and doesn't hear from you for months. It's a little silly to even consider that, but that's what she does. Where she ends up will surprise you, but happily so. 

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown - Loved listening to this on audiobook, if not only just for the Parisian accents and the descriptions of Paris in the 1920s, through the eyes of a young woman discovering herself as a writer, with her French artist lover. Intermixed with her story is that of her granddaughter, Meredith, who is struggling with an unhappy marriage, reading her grandmothers diary 70 years later. Her story wasn't as interesting, I could have read about Margie in Paris all day, but the two women's stories were beautifully intertwined. 

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover - I have seen Hoover's  books everywhere on Goodreads and Instagram so I thought I would give this one a try. I made it through but I thought that this was an ill attempt at making a dire situation seem sexy. It was pretty unbelievable and I didn't love it. I probably won't be reading any other. Too Lifetimey. 

The Marriage of Opposites  - Oh, this story was my favorite. It was 1824 in St. Thomas and Rachel Pomie is a girl who dreams. Dreams of Paris, of a world where women can be educated and run a business. But her reality is much bleaker than her dreams. This is the story about her long life as a very young widow and mother, forced into the rule of subservient woman in a very strict religious community. But Rachel's life takes many interesting  turns. It's a beautiful story that is based on true events and people. 

This month, I meant to also read The Underground Railroad (Thanks so much to Steph and Life According to Steph for sending me her copy!) But alas, it will have to wait. I can't wait to get started though! I started Behold the Dreamers but was so overwhelmed by the foreign language and talk of immigration trials that I lost interest pretty quickly. If you've read it and feel I need to give it another go, please tell me! 

This month was a GREAT reading month for me. Especially because I had this gal right there next to me, diving into her books as well: 

Thanks so much to Steph and Jana for hosting such an amazing link up for so many of us bookworms to get together and chat. I love it and look forward to it each month. Cheers to 2 years of Show Us Your Books! 

What Amy Schumer's Book Taught Me About Myself

When I read The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, I was anticipating funny anecdotes about her sexcapades...I got a huge kick out of Trainwreck and hoped that her book would contain many funny stories just like the movie. And it totally delivered. But unexpectedly, it was also much, much more.

I have to admit, some of her jokes make me cringe...only because they are so honest and I wish I could be the "lay it all out there" kind of girl. My only criticism of her is that she is too hard on herself. Her "fat  girl" jokes get a little old only because she's certainly not fat at all and she should be using her platform to say "I'm beautiful" not "I don't care that I am fat." But I know insecurities often get the loudest microphone because putting them out there as a joke makes it easier to handle. I get that. I've been that girl for most of my life. I saw Amy onstage at the Critic's Choice Awards last year and I was in awe of her confidence and her ability to hold the audience's attention. People couldn't help but smile at her.

Her book didn't disappoint either. I was in love with her stories and her quippy, whip fast story telling style. But, when I got to chapter 4, I was a little taken aback when I saw the title: "I Am An Introvert" and I thought, "well that can't be right."  

 As I was reading, I realized the book was moving...and then after another second I realized the book wasn't moving (because that's crazy, I know) but instead, it was me. My head, to be exact, was nodding over and over again. She was describing me. 

I've gotten to the point where I thought maybe I was depressed. I don't enjoy going to large functions where there are lots of people. I stress whenever it's time to get dressed up. As soon as I leave the house, I start counting down the hours where I can return to my couch, my blanket, my book and my comfy clothes. Home. 

Amy wrote about struggling with the balance of enjoying people's company and being a creative soul who needed to collaborate in order to practice her art...but at the same time, craving a quiet in her mind that could only be fed by spending time alone. 

I need that. My kids know all about it and it's a lifesaver that they appreciate how much I need it. I have to say "Okay, guys-decompress time!" and off we go to our respective rooms for half an hour. That calmness is essential. I need to quiet my bones, my thoughts and my hamster wheel of a brain. 

With a job that requires juggling many tricks in the air at once, with a life that has me wearing several hats all in the same day, the introvert side of me is saying "Leave me alone!" at least 10 times a day. You know in cartoons some people have a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other? 

With me, it's a super spunky, over friendly puppy dog who just wants to play and has major FOMO and on my other- a quiet, calm almost grouchy cat with resting bitch face that wants you to kindly step out of her personal space bubble. 

I like being both of those. And honestly, until I read Amy's words, I didn't know you could do both. I think that I can be both, I just need to take a step away and give myself the peace when I feel my introvert side needing more oxygen. 

I hope that others like me and Amy read her book and find comfort in her description and how being introverted isn't a bad thing, it's not depression and it's not sad. It's just a part of you. It's in the same category as my dislike for cucumbers and water chestnuts. It's one of my quirks- like pulling on my eyebrows when I am stressed or how I need a fan and my blanket for a good night's sleep. I need a quiet place to gather my thoughts. 

Any other introverts reading this? What's your favorite way to introvert? 

The Things that Feel Like Home

Home means a lot of different things to me.

I obviously have the biggest sense of home at my own house but I also feel at home in other ways too... so I totally got the warm and fuzzies when I read Jen at Not Entirely Perfect's post about things that feel like home to her.

It got me thinking about how many homes I've had over the course of my life and how I managed to make them all feel homey, even when I knew they weren't going to be my "house" for very long.

So no matter where I live, here are the things that always make me feel like home:

It feels most like home when Fall and Christmas decorations are out. Maybe it's the candle scents that remind me of my grandma Cheryl, maybe it's the twinkling lights or the friends and family that always stop by... but whenever the seasons roll by, I am always overcome with the sense that I am exactly where I am meant to be.

It feels most like home to me when I am curled up with a good book in my "reading chair"

When I get to enjoy a good cup of coffee and watch the sun rise

It feels like home when I get to see my kids playing in the backyard or riding their bikes.

It feels like home when my closest friends and I sit in the living room, smiles on our faces, wine glasses in hand, figuring out life's problems and shamelessly gossiping. (Guilty pleasures but you know you do them too!)

I feel most at home in my kitchen. That is where a lot of my memories are from growing up here when my grandparents owned the house. In the kitchen, sitting at the counter bar, stealing sour watermelon slices from the candy jar and drinking virgin daiquiris with my Grandma Cheryl, talking to my aunts about their boyfriends. That kitchen counter was where I learned how to paint my fingernails, when I first caught a glance at the cute Roup boys who lived down the street (one of whom ended up being my husband!) and where I would curl up with a book in the guest room during thunderstorms.

I feel most at home doing DIY projects with my husband... My favorite project so far has been the kitchen shelves and the new back splash. Next up on our list is redoing the bathrooms!

I feel most at home when it's quiet and we are enjoying a game of Uno or Phase10 while watching t.v. in the basement.

When there's something warm in the oven on a cold night.

When there's the sound of the kids laughing downstairs, playing together.

When friends stop by randomly.

When my yard looks lovely and my plants are all alive and blooming at once.

When the wind blows the hammock to and fro.

When the people inside the house make it feel safe, sound and happy.

Make makes you feel at home?

Show Us Your Books: August

It's Show Us Your Books time! Every time this post comes around I am always completely shocked that another month has gone by. 

This month was a great time for books and for being a bookworm in general. Some of my girlfriends and I are finally getting serious about starting a bookclub, which has me feeling all of the happy feels. Also, I had the most perfect of bookish day dates with a fellow bookworm last weekend. We drove near and far around Kansas City looking for great bookstores and we hit pay dirt: 

We found the KC Public Library's book sale at the City Market where we snagged current best sellers (in HARD back!) for $2 a pop. I was seriously walking around grinning life a goon.

Then we wandered over to Mission , KS and found Rainy Day Books, which I have been dreaming about visiting for a long time only to find out that it was closed. I shamelessly pressed my nose up against the glass longingly looking at all of the books calling my name. We made up for it by visiting Proposero's Books, which has the most eclectic collection of vintage books I've ever seen. SO much fun. We also fit in some amazing food and coffee along the way, because basically, you can't have a bookworm date without food and coffee. It was the best of days. 

My bookworm day haul: 

There were alot of beautiful books this month and I couldn't help but play around and have some fun for my bookstagrams (@thatiswhatshereadreviews

Because hubs has been begging me to binge Netflix with him and put up the laptop for once, I am keeping this review pretty short, so  forgive me if I'm too vague but here's a mashup up what I read in August: 

The Edge of the Orchard - Listened to this on audiobook and really enjoyed it. I listed this in my July as well because they overlapped. Oops! Still a great story if you feel like some Americal history. 

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo - This is like cotton candy for the soul. I love Amy Schumer's wit and no bullshit cantor. Her stories are sometimes a bit too crass and I can't tell if she's really telling the truth or just telling a story for the shock value but I still enjoyed her stories about her family and rise to fame. She really doesn't take herself seriously and I felt like I was just having a gab sesh with a girlfriend. An easy read to pass the time. 

Siracusa- My favorite read of the month. Two couples, a vacation in Italy, two secret affairs and one dead body. Lots of great scenes. A definite thumbs up from me. 

The Regulars- Pass. 

Happy Family- I listened to this on Audible. It was a little blah for me, A family sage wrought with secrets, illicit pasts and sad marriages. I give it a "meh." 

Alice & Oliver- I bailed on this one. I know, that's terrible, but it was just too sad. 

It Ended Badly- A cute and campy mash up of short stories describing history's most ill-fated romances. I enjoyed it! 

Untethered: This was okay, but too slow to really keep my interest. I thought the storyline was promising: What would you do if the child you loved was only bound to you by your marriage to their biological parent? As as stepmother to Alli, Char doesn't quite know her place. She just knows that she loves her step daughter as if she was her own flesh and blood. But when Allie's dad suddenly passes away, the ties that bind Char and Allie were tested. Like I said, great premise but it didn't follow thru like I had hoped. 

Here's what I'm Currently Reading:

Oh and Reese asked me to share what she read in August too: 

Happy Reading!

And don't forget to read my Autumn Must Reads List! 

My Autumn Reading List

This list needs no introduction because we all know how wonderful it is to sit on the couch with a good book, with the cool autumn breeze coming in through the windows, a blankie on your lap, a hot cup of coffee with salted caramel creamer... fuzzy socks, James Bay on Pandora... a Yankee Candle Pumpkin Buttercream candle... 

Where were we? 

Oh yes, reading. Sorry, I drifted off an Autumn la la land for a minute there. 

The temps are finally going to dip below 75 and that means it's my favorite time of year. The perfect atmosphere for reading on the couch. Here are the many, many books I hope to get my hands on this Fall and you should too!

Karolina's Twins by Ronald Balson - Inspired by true events involving childhood friends who survived the Holocaust together, this is a story told in retrospect of the secrets and sacrifices two young women made and how those decisions effected the generations that came after them. 

The Wangs of the World by Jade Chang (One of Entertainment Weekly's Most Anticipated Titles of 2016) A rich Chinese immigrant family, a cosmetics empire....and a financial crisis. Which of the three doesn't belong? Family matriarch Charles Wangs wants to gather his children reconvene in New York to recover from losing their fortune. But with a wife still obsessed with her 1,000 count sheets, a son wound tightly in a love affair with a woman in New Orleans and a daughter who refuses to give up her Manolos in California, it's going to be quite the challenge. From their foreclosed home in Bel Air across the country, this promises to be a family saga full of wit and charm. 

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett - How does one kiss send an earthquake through the next 5 decades? Two families thrust together because the parents join their children into one blended mashup (gee, this sounds familiar) in hopes of living the life they've always dreamed. You know, one where the two people who are married actually like each other. The children grow up together, forming unbreakable bonds and kinship. Everything is fine until one of the siblings, Franny, begins dating a famous author, who, upon listening to Franny tell the stories of her childhood, decides to base his next novel on her family. Secrets, pasts long buried and old grievances will come to the surface and rewrite the history that the family had once thought was a perfectly happily ever after... 

The Story of a Brief Marriage by  

Leave Me by Gayle Forman- Let's be honest- if you are a mom, a wife, a woman with responsibility and obligation, there are times when you think about missing your exit and keeping your foot on the gas pedal in order to have just a few more minutes to yourself. You are so caught up in to-do lists, schedules, work and life balance that you've stopped noticing the world around you. That tunnel vision is large and in charge in Maribeth Klein's life. She's just like us- tired. So tired in fact, that  she doesn't even realize she's had a heart attack. Once she realizes that her recuperation from the heart attack seems to be an inconvenience to her family, she actually does keep the metal to the pedal. She packs her bags and leaves in order to get a clear view of her life and what it means to be a woman, a mother and claim back the life that she let go to shambles. 

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman a forbidden love story, tropical St. Thomas and historically famous artist Camille Pissarro; the Father of Impressionism. This story has all of the right ingredients: an amazing account of Pissarro's mother Rachel, a strong willed young girl who dreams of living in Paris, but instead, is married off to a much older man and forced to stay in her small, tightly knit community. Until her arranged marriage is suddenly over and she finds herself meeting the eyes of Frederick, the nephew of her late husband. That look will set the course for Rachel's new life... 

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue - It's 2007 and Cameroonian immigrants Jende and Neni are barely surviving with their son in Harlem. Until Jende gets a job as a chauffeur for a rich executive. Their lives take a turn for the better, especially when Neni even finds work for the family in their summer home. All is well...until the financial stability of the world is rocked and cracks form around the couple and their employers. Trust is challenged and the facades they were depending on start to crumble. Can their life in American, their marriage, their future, survive? 

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch - Imagine being asked "Are you happy with your life?" before being knocked unconscious, only to awake and find that the life you had is gone and replaced with a mysterious world where nothing you had before exists... Imagine being Jason Desson, who once was an ordinary college physics professor but now, is apparently a genius who has achieved something impossible and now is dealing with with its scary aftermath. This mystery is going to be the perfect October read, filled with dangerous foes and dark, terrifying battles. 

The Nix by Nathan Hill - What does the Democratic National Convention, an estranged mother and a small Iowa town have in common?  Samuel, a struggling writer, is about to find out. Because apparently, the mother who walked out on him as a child is also the same woman on the news who is being portrayed as a militant radical, shown throwing rocks at the presidential candidate. How those two can possibly be the same woman is what Sam vows to find out. And what better way to find out a person's true past than to write their biography?

Today Will Be Different  by Maria Semple - From the author of Where'd You Go Bernadette, this quirky and hilarious novel about Eleanor Flood promises to bring the same punch and humor as Bernadette, which has me signing up even before I read it's description. Semple's characters are wry, unique but also strange and I can't help but feel a kindred spirit in Flood, who just wants to have a nice, normal life. She vows that today will different. Today, she will shrug off her insecurities and be the mother and wife that her son and husband need her to be. No more lazy Eleanor. Except now life has different plan, one where her husband has up and gone, her son has a mind of his own and someone from her past shows up with a story that's going to make a lot of people very uncomfortable. 

Mischling by Affinity Konar - I have been in a book hangover with anything WWII related ever since reading Sarah's Key so this book holds a promising reprieve. Identical twin sisters Pearl and Stasha are prisoners of war at Auschwitz, with their parents.It's 1944 and in their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood. Until one of them disappears...

The Mothers by Brit Bennett - This promising debut novel has me giddy with excitement. Young love, a small town and big secrets. I know I have a pattern with these types of storylines but I promise, these won't ever get old. The setting: a contemporary black community in California. The characters: A rebellious 17-year old, a pastor's son and an unborn child. See, I told you it'd be interesting!  

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena - We can't all be Mrs. Kravitz, lurking behind the curtains and witnessing every indiscretion that goes on in the neighborhood. But that witness is exactly what Anne and Marco Conti are going to need when a terrible crime occurs and fingers are pointed at them. How could that happen? To everyone else, the couple is the idealistic pair, with their perfect lawn and angelic baby. However, nothing is perfect and the couple soon realizes that the other is keeping dark secrets that no one saw coming, even the people who live right next door. 

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer - Never turn down the opportunity to laugh at yourself, which is exactly what comedian Amy Schumer does in this snarky, tongue-in-cheek memoir about her sexcapades, her rise to the top of entertainment and her life as a quirky young girl with jokes no one else gets. 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead- Growing up on a plantation was anything but easy. Added to that, growing up as a young girl, coming into womanhood would have presented a whole other slew of challenges. That's where you'l find Cora, an outcast, who struggles to find a place in her family's life. Until a new slave arrives and tells Cora about a movement going on she never dreamed could be real: the "Underground Railroad," and she is instantly overcome with a sense of purpose. These tails of what slaves endured during pre-Civil War American are rich, haunting and staunch with bravery and grit. 

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick - I've been captivated by Kendrick ever since Up In The Air and Happy Christmas and especially because of her wickedly funny banter on Twitter, so her memoir is hands down something I will devour page by page. 

Happy Reading!

Follow along as I review and react to my list: 

My Favorite Reads of Summer 2016

I can't believe the summer is over. Honestly, I am even a little relieved. I consider myself a die hard Autumn girl. The only thing I really like about the summer is how tired my kids get after a long day at the pool. And all of the coconut scented things, of course.

Maybe if I was the kind of woman who got that sun-kissed, olive  skin look after spending the afternoon poolside, but all I ever get is an arch of freckles above my upper lip that looks like a mustachio. I also don't "glisten" with sweat. I am a puddle. It's just not a cute season for me.

However, I do appreciate the sunshine, gardening and laying in the hammock watching my husband mow the lawn. And spraying the kids with the garden hose. And ice cream.

Our summer was pretty lazy. Lots of trips to the pool, a weekend of camping, and mostly just trying to find ways to spend fun time together. I was really focused on getting a lot of reading this summer so I wanted to share my favorite summer reads. The best books of the summer were hard to pin down so I am going to limit myself to picking just 6 but if you check out all the reads from the entire summer, you will understand how hard it was for me to pick.

My Favorite Summer Reads:

One True Loves - It must have been the summer of love for me because I fell for this love story. Hard. Mushy, sad, and all of the things. Your teenage crush heart will love you for it. 

The Girls - The perfect hot summer read. It's dangerous, it's secretive and a total guilty pressure. 

Sweetbitter - The food and wine descriptions alone had me at "I'll have the Pinot." 

Siracusa - Affairs, Italy, a dead body and once again, really good food. 

Eligible - A modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice...it was everything I hoped it would be. Nice and fluffy but still hit all the good parts. 

The Assistants -  I love meeting characters that make me feel like a slightly better person. Or even better, when you feel good about fighting for the "underdogs" of the world and they end up on top.

I feel like I have to put this out there: There are far, far better books to be had out there this summer. Honestly, I know this is just a tiny little tip of the iceberg of the amazing work that I could have gotten my hands on these past couple of months but there is just never enough time.  

Now, bring on the salted caramel and pumpkin scents, the leggings with over sized sweatshirts, the falling leaves and the dewy mornings of autumn!