The start of 2024 is going by so fast while also feeling like the days painfully drag by. January is always like that for me. It is, hands down, my least favorite month of the year. It always feels drab and dreary, cold, and so, so LONG.
But alas! We made it to February.
The holidays were jam packed for us – just like they always are. My sister had her baby, and we had family stay with us from out of town for the holidays, so it all went by in kind of a blur. But it was a good holiday season.
I was incredibly anxious about how I was going to feel with it being our first without my dad, but I found myself distracted enough that it weighed on me a little less than I was expecting. January, however, has been a little tougher in that regard. He is just so missed. It’s an emptiness within me that I think I’ll likely carry with me for the rest of my life.
His birthday is this weekend. My family is coming over and we’re going to cook some of his favorite things and enjoy an ice cream dessert (his absolute favorite thing on earth) in his honor. Gosh, I miss him.
On a happier note, life is busy again! We’re taking the kids to Disney in a couple weeks (they have no idea), and Kieran’s baseball and basketball seasons are both in full swing.
Both kids start soccer soon as well. Whew. Every day is whirlwind but I try my best to soak it all up. These kids keep me on my toes and fill me with so much love and pride. Being their mom is just the best!
I have some fun new discoveries to share. I did an obscene amount of reading so brace yourselves for that section. Whew. Lots to tell you about!
A Court This Cruel & Lovely Series by Stacia Stark — I read this series and enjoyed it for the most part. Fantasy world, magic, fae/mythical creatures, dark romance with morally gray characters — basically all the trendy tropes right now. It was good, just not the best I’ve read. There is another book releasing this spring, so I’ll report back once I’ve read it.
What Lies Beyond the Veil: Flesh & Bone Series by Harper L. Woods — similar to the aforementioned fantasy series, I enjoyed it but definitely not my favorite. Very dark with a lot of similar tropes to the first series. Another book releases this spring — I’ll report back!
Same Time Next Year by Tessa Bailey — this was the first Tessa Bailey book I read in a LONG time. This one is super short and sweet. Loved it. Quick and easy read with the usual Tessa Bailey spice.
I REALLY enjoyed the newest installment in Meghan Quinn’s Agitator Hockey Series: He’s Not My Type. MQ will always be one of the contemporary romance authors I recommend to people. She’s hilarious – the situations she creates are actually laugh-out-loud funny, and I LOVE the hockey trope (as evidenced by my many past reads). The entire Agitators series is excellent, and this one might be my fave of the series.
Mile High by Liz Tomforde — this was my least favorite read in a long time. I don’t understand the hype around this book. It was a good 100 pages TOO LONG. The story dragged on and on and on, and nothing about either main character really hooked me at all. Just not my favorite, I guess. And it was a hockey story! I usually love those. Womp.
Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez — this was very cute. I enjoyed the story and the characters a lot, but it just felt like a safe and cute fluff story to me. Good but not great. An easy read…but one of those I found myself rushing through at the end just to GET IT DONE. Know what I mean?
And during the past month, I did a FULL re-read of the entire ACOTAR series in preparation for the release of the newest Crescent City book. It had been over two years since I read ACOTAR, and good LORD, I loved it even more the second time around. It is just…so good. Sarah J. Mass can do no wrong! She might be my favorite author at this point. All three series: ACOTAR, Throne of Glass, and Crescent City are insanely good. I’m currently re-reading the Crescent City series as fast as I can (halfway through book 2 at the moment). I’ll be starting the newest installment early next week. I am so anxious/excited about what is going to happen to my BOOK BEST FRIENDS! GAH.
One last reading find: not a book, but I bought this Kindle cover after determining that my old one had seen much better days, and I LOVE it. It is SO cute and the handle/stand on the back are perfection. A simple spruce-up of a plain Kindle cover. It’s a small thing but it makes me happy every time I look at it, hah.
FOOD & DRINK
I cannot stress how much this tortellini soup has rocked our world. I made it back in the fall, and Dan and I have been obsessed ever since. I make it at least once a month (sometimes twice!), and I brought it to my sister after she had her baby. It is INSANELY good. Hearty comfort in a bowl.
After seeing a TikTok by Ian Somerhalder (I know, so random) about how he makes his coffee, I am a changed woman. His idea is to mix raw cacao and raw honey into your coffee – for both flavor and health benefits. I tried it and am completely hooked. I use this cacao and Thrive Market’s raw honey (any will work, though), and it has changed my life. I do about a teaspoon of each in an 10-12-oz cup of joe. A splash of half-and-half to top it off. It makes an ordinary cup of coffee taste super rich and indulgent. I see no end in sight for this obsession. Give it a try!
I have talked about this in the past a bunch, but I’m not a huge fan of smoothies or shakes as meals. I like to eat actual food. Every now and then, though, I get on a shake kick, and I’m currently in one now. Dan and I have been drinking these SuperGut shakes for a couple months now, and they’re actually really good and keep me full for HOURS (this is never true of other shakes/smoothies). We mix it in skim milk for extra protein. We’ve tried all the flavors — vanilla is my fave and chocolate is his. There are days when I am simply too busy/rushed around to make myself a midday meal. I often have one of these for lunch. Again, I prefer actual food (always!), but these taste great and are nutritionally pretty fantastic. They work in a pinch! I figure it’s better than a random handful of crackers or chips.
Dan got me hooked on Bai water. He was getting them himself during his workday, and he started asking if we could order a case or two to have on hand at home. Well, we now have multiple cases of various flavors sitting in our garage. We both love them. Favorite flavors: Dragon Passion Fruit, Cherry, and Clementine. Really, though, they’re all good.
I am OBSESSED with this candle warmer. I keep it on our kitchen counter and it is so pretty. It’s also small and does not take up a ton of space. It really does what they claim: the candles last so much longer and the scent permeates the whole house. It also adds such a pretty light to the kitchen when the other lights are off. LOVE IT.
I also have been using this wax warmer in our downstairs bathroom. With the kids running around like maniacs most of the time (boys, right?), I hesitate to light candles anywhere except in the kitchen. This wax warmer has been the perfect alternative. I use these wax melts as well – they’re non-toxic and smell so good. The fall harvest and country pear scents are my favorite so far.
I bought several of these glass jars for holding coffee, protein powder, and my cacao powder on my coffee bar. They are beautiful and I love that I’m avoiding plastic. I have some of the small ones to hold various vitamins/supplements too. LOVE.
The Hearth & Hand mulled spice candle from Target is one of the best scents I have found in a long time. I bought the candles in bulk (unfortunately I think they are only a seasonal item and not currently available), and they were our most-used candle these past few months. Sweet and spiced without being overpowering at all. I’ll be on hunt for them next year!
Not much to report here this time, but I did discover these Maybelline Super Stay Vinyl Ink lip stains and have developed a full-on obsession with them. The colors are SO pretty, they last for HOURS, and they don’t dry out my lips like all other stains tend to do. I have them in super natural shades to add just a hint of color and in bright red/orangey colors as well. They are so pretty and very easy to apply.
I also am loving this Unbrush hairbrush. It really does what it says: no tangle is too much for it. I keep it in the shower and brush it through my hair when the conditioner is in. It’s super gentle on my hair and does not catch in any tangles or knots.
And that’s about it! I hope your 2024 is off to a great start so far. Head up! Spring will be here before we know it.
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