reading and watching

With all this chilly weather, ’tis the season for cozying up with a good book in bed or on the couch for a Netflix binge, yes??

In last few months, I’ve been lucky to check some good stuff off my lists of reads and shows. I’m always collecting recommendations and had to share my current favorites in case any of you are the same!

Have you read or seen any of these before?

{Reading}

Side note – did you know one of my goals for the year is to read 20 books? Definitely more than I’ve read in previous years. One of my favorite hobbies has always been reading though, so I’m hoping this gets my routine back in order.

Check the recent books I recommend below!

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter // What a story for dreamers! This novel spans over fifty years, as it bounces between a cast of characters with tangled lives and intertwined hopes – from 1960s Italy to present-day Hollywood. It evokes such humanity, while simultaneously showcasing the magic of foreign countries, old Hollywood, and falling in love.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn // I felt like I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Gone Girl is the suspenseful story following Amy Dunne’s sudden disappearance on her and her husband’s fifth anniversary. Twist and turns, paired with intriguing detail, keep readers on their toes as everyone tries to piece together details from different sources to determine who is guilty here.

Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life by Jenna Bush Hager & Barbara Pierce Bush // I was instantly drawn to this book for a few reasons – its family has Texas roots, I love history and am always drawn to learning about what goes on behind-the-scenes, and its focus was on sisterhood. If you have a sister, this memoir is a must-read to me. It puts into beautiful words and stories so much of that special bond. I also loved how it shows the closeness of a family, despite the challenges it faces and the opinions (including political ones!) it differed in.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple // The story focuses on a close-knit relationship between a mother, Bernadette Fox, and her daughter, Bee, in a Seattle community where they’re the odd ones out. When Bernadette disappears before a family trip, Bee strings together various correspondence and documents to track her down. This touching novel acknowledges the challenge of finding one’s place in the world and is laugh-out-loud funny (I’m not kidding, you can ask E who heard me the whole time)!

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls // This memoir is written so beautifully, with vivid detail and a voice of triumph against all odds. Walls writes about growing up with parents full of non-conventional ideals that led to an adventurous, but challenging, youth. The stories she tells of her childhood have me full of the awe and admiration of the tenacity her (and her siblings) had to survive. The memoir carries you all the way through their young adult lives, showing you that fighting for your own success, in the most challenging circumstances, can still be done with love.

reading and watching

{Watching}

Big Little Lies // If you’re a fan of brilliant women supporting each other and love feeling empowered (who doesn’t?!), than this is a must. Eric and I binged this series right before the holidays, and then I got my family hooked. BLL has shined during awards season, and with the mystery, intrigue, and all-star acting that begins in episode 1, it’s easy to see why. Anyone else want to be bffs with the female cast?

The Bachelor // Every season I tell myself no, this is so ridiculous, you must stop, and every season I get hooked anyway. Laughing through and dissecting the whole thing with E, who I’ve also got hooked, is just too much fun. I wasn’t a fan of Arie being this winter’s lead, but he’s actually impressed me so far.

The Crown // Being a lover of history and always fascinated by the behind-the-scenes stories, this Netflix show has sucked me in quickly! I love the beautiful settings and wardrobes. And even though it’s definitely dramatized throughout, I’ve read how a lot of it is quite accurate and am learning a lot about the royal family.

What is missing from my collection, friends? I want to hear your thoughts!

michigan getaway

In mid-January, I checked another state off my list when the Chicago fam made our way to the little town of Charlevoix in northern Michigan. Becca’s dad owns a cabin up in some [currently] knee-high snowy hills, surrounded by big trees and next to her cousin’s vineyard. It sounds like quite the set-up, and trust me it is.

The cabin is not your average Lincoln log get up – it’s got huge ceilings,  five bedrooms, a clawfoot tub (ugh we didn’t get to use it, but like a CLAWFOOT TUB…dream bath), and loaded up with plenty of winter toys.

michigan getaway

michigan getaway

michigan getaway

We drove late on a Friday for about six hours and loaded up on groceries on the way in. There were thirteen of us, so after splitting the cost of all the goods and gas, we lucked out with a  weekend of fun at a steal of a price.

My advice for traveling with six boys? Have lots of food. When they ask for a snack the mean they will eat three frozen pizzas.

We stayed up late the first night, drinking wine and chatting until suddenly it was 4:00 am, and we were eyeing each other to see who would be the first to say they can’t stay up anymore. Saturday started with brunch and lots of ridiculous photos.

michigan getaway

michigan getaway

michigan getaway

A slightly embarrassing photo that shows our obsession with Drake.

michigan getaway

We had an intense snowball fight. I guess snowball fight mostly meant let’s gang up on each other and tackle someone. Um fun discovery though – Becca’s family has these little scissor looking things with cups at the end that make the literal perfect snowballs – I didn’t take a picture, but see what I’m talking about here. I’m not sure who won the fight in the end, but I did learn I need to work on my snowball throwing skills.

Sledding was another weekend activity! It was my very first time, along with one other gal pal, and that made everyone very excited. We piled on to the same “sled” – which did not look like the little wooden boards tied together I always imagined, but instead this long plastic tray of sorts – and were sent on our way. SO FUN. I’m not sure how many times we all continued to slide down and get our workout in by charging back up the hill,  but we were out there awhile.

michigan getaway

michigan getaway

Sunday a couple of the guys went skiing at a nearby resort. Some of us played around on the snow mobiles and ATV in the cabin garage. Snow mobiles I learned are very fun, but also dangerous. Not even because of the driver, but because the snow is blanketed over everything and you might not know if you’re about to get stuck on an actual giant broken tree branch – Eric and I’s real life experience. For five minutes, we thought we were going to have to run back and find Becca in the middle of the snowy forest, aka thought we were going to freeze to death. Thankfully a cool gang of snowmobilers helped Eric get it unstuck in two minutes and we were back on our way.

michigan getaway

Other fun activities included eating everything in sight, and visiting the little downtown of Charlevoix. Very worth it for the fudge and to see the left over snowmen from an earlier contest. Also, I was very tempted to buy these oven mitts – the person who came up with this idea for a Michigan oven mitt must’ve been cracking up when he/she realized how perfect it was. I did, but then again I do crack up at most things.

michigan getaway

michigan getaway

michigan getaway

michigan getaway

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The drive home with two boys mistaking themselves for a couple of rappers.

All and all, the weekend getaway was actually perfect. A real life winter wonderland experience! It was a great post-holiday reunion with all the friends. Since it was right after my birthday, they made me feel super special with a cake to wrap the whole trip up.

And when we walked back up to the apartment building Monday evening, Eric and I were mostly just amazed that in six-ish hours we drove through three states, and across all of Michigan. I think things like this will continue to be amazing – thank you, Texas.

Days By Day