Currently: polar vortex & all that snow

Reading | I just finished reading Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and I can’t get over it. I’m sad I finished it, I’m sad I’ll never get to read it again for the first time, and I’m sad that she’s no longer living. Her love for life springs off the pages and infects the reader, and I was overjoyed by her words and then so sad there won’t be more of them.

Reading online | When I saw this post by Carson Tate, I immediately rearranged my weekend. By which I mean, I cancelled half the things on my to-do list and gave myself some margin and some time to just be. While she says “Balance does not exist,” she also offers alternative ways to view the situation, and I really like that.


Listening | In my car, The World’s Greatest Love Story by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman has been keeping me entertained during my brief spurts of driving. The audiobook version is fabulous — two actors reading their own material is gold. And it’s more like listening to a really great podcast, cuz often it’s like they’re having a conversation.

Watching | We’ve been watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and finding it delightful. Although the Dear Man isn’t a KonMari devotee like I am (though he is a declutterer by nature), we find plenty to discuss during and after each episode. Who knew decluttering could be so entertaining?  

Learning | We’re delving deep into the history of our schoolhouse and are so grateful to our local historical museum for the great research assistance they provided. Is it true that I burst into applause when we saw a photo of first graders in the 1910s standing alongside our schoolhouse with their teacher? Yes, that is true.

Loving | The kitchen rug: it’s new, it’s pretty, and the cat even likes it.

Cooking | During the polar vortex, we made soup in the Instant Pot and I baked these cookies. When it hits -25, soup and cookies: pretty much mandatory.

Pizza eating | Here are our recent discoveries… Aliano’s Express Chicago style pizza and Aurelio’s thin crust. So good.

Celebrating | During the recent snowstorms, we conquered the snowblower and liked it.

So, are you too experiencing deep winter? How’re you making it bearable?

Currently: holiday cozy

We’re approaching year-end, and things are busy and pretty darn good. Here’s what’s been happening at the Unruly household…


Reading | The last few months, the reading’s been splendid. I whizzed through The Library Book by Susan Orlean and kept reading passages aloud to the Dear Man because Orlean so perfectly captured aspects of library life and the dedication of librarians to their work.

And I’ve been devouring books about food and cooking. Current obsession: My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl.

Listening | On my 3-minute commute and occasional trip to the grocery store, I inched my way through the audiobook Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willick and Leif Babin (which they read themselves, and dude, they sound scary.) And just started listening to Transcription by Kate Atkinson, which is making me happy to be driving.

Watching | The Dear Man and I are completely hooked on Samuel and Audrey’s travel and food YouTube videos. YSam’s even a Cubs fan, and if we ever encounter them on a sidewalk in Prague, they’re gonna be freaked out because we’ll be acting like we know them.

Learning | We’re doing seasonal decorating here at the new old house, and it seriously takes two to do this kind of thing. I’ve got no decorating game whatsoever, so my tactic is to look up stuff on Instagram and Pinterest, then show pictures of stuff I like to the Dear Man, who has an artist’s/designer’s eye and can make suggestions about our space. Then we wander through the flea market and boutiques and craft stores and we figure out which pieces will work. It’s all a little bit bumbling, but it’s fun to work on it together and learn what we can do.

Island Christmas

Organizing |  After several false starts, we finished organizing the closet, which is such a relief and delight. We had to buy shelves, which had to be custom cut, and then right in the middle of the project, the store discontinued the shelves we were using. But: we got it done!

Yes. It is a thing of beauty, this closet. 

Eating | It’s the holiday season, and we’re surrounded by treats!

Definition of a happy holiday: My friend made this bowl. 
My man filled it with treats for us.

Loving | Our new house. I love our new house.

Anticipating | We’ll be spending time with both sides of the family this holiday season, and that means laughing. Can’t wait!

This one says, “Happy holidays.”

What’re you looking forward to this season?

Currently: New House Edition

Hello, house!

We’re getting settled in our new home, and every day there’s so much progress and so much stuff added to the to-do list. But it’s all good stuff, and we’re getting through it swimmingly. The Dear Man makes everything better, even the endless rounds of garage door opener programming.

And today I’m sitting at the kitchen island with coffee in the special mug he gave me, and everything feels just right.

 

Here’s what else is cookin’ at the new Unruly Residence…

 

Reading | My reading life is disrupted all to heck because of the move. And I’m not complaining. Despite the flurry of activity, I finished re-reading Larry Watson’s masterpiece, Montana 1948, for a book discussion, and it was even more powerful than I’d remembered. And I finished Nomadland by Jessica Bruder for another book discussion just before the move. It was an unsettling thing to read while in transition, because it’s all about people who are displaced and migrant due to economic forces. Heck, it’d be unsettling anytime.

 

Listening | Since my commute has been reduced 95% (from 45 minutes to 2 [this is the part where I’m too excited even to flap; all I can do is get bug-eyed with wonder]), my audiobook listening boom time has come to a close. I’ll still always have an audiobook in the car, but it’ll be much slower going. And that’s a minuscule price to pay for those free hours I’m gaining as a non-commuter. During the move, I listened to Matthew Quick’s The Reason You’re Alive, which is magnificent on audio. If you like curmudgeonly narrators, give it a whirl.

 

Watching | Yeah, so the TV isn’t set up yet, so we’ve been watching exactly nothing. Except the occasional new homeowner YouTube how-to video on how to set up the garage door opener and thrilling new things like that.

 

Learning | I watched two YouTube videos about flower arranging, went to Trader Joe’s (right in the midst of our move), bought some hydrangeas, and I arranged those puppies! 

 

Loving | Our cat. She made the move and transitioned from Outdoor/Indoor to Indoor Only — all without a peep. We already knew she was the best in the world, but she’s seriously outdone herself. She’s one cool, calm, and collected cat.

 

 

Anticipating | One fine day, our house will be box-free and we will begin normal life. Until then, we’ll be unpacking and unpacking and unpacking… Seriously, people: Before the move, I KonMari’d twice.  I have no idea where all this stuff came from.

Celebrating | Every morning, waking up in the new place and looking through these huge windows… it’s one of life’s happiest miracles.

 

My fellow readers… what’s rocking your world this September?

Currently: summer’s heating up

It’s mid-summer, and things are busy in the very best way.

Reading (books) | It’s summer, and of course that means reading about cannibalism. My book club’s chosen The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride by Daniel James Brown as our next book, so it’s getting fascinating and darn grim. Not perfect for before-bedtime reading.

Listening | The excellent Bybee of Blue-Hearted Bookworm sent me the audiobook of Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard, and I’m completely engrossed.

Watching | I’m re-watching 30 Rock, which I first watched what feels like a lifetime ago.

Learning | After beginning to read Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam, I watched her TED Talk about time management, and it opened up my brain in a new way.

Loving | I’ve been deep-purging my house, and it feels amazing to see space opening up. The question is: Can I sustain the openness, or will I fall back into gathering mode? Stay tuned…

Indulging | Oh, my land. During a recent trip to Toledo, we ate Hungarian style hot dogs. Life-changing.

 

They even cater to vegetarians!

 

Celebrating | After some recent dietary restrictions, I’m easing back into normal food. And in our world, that means pizza.

The Dear Man and Pizza #112

 

Anticipating | We’re planning our next long weekend, and it’s gonna be super geeky and amazing cuz that’s our superpower.

 

What’s your summer looking like?

Currently… travel-ready

Spring is finally arriving in the Midwest, and thank goodness. It’s disheartening to have sunlight at 7 pm shining on snow.

As we launch into spring, here’s what’s going on around here…

 

Lingering on | My eyes have been seeking out vintage books lately. Exhibit A:

 

Reading (books) | After the post-vacation recovery period, I’m back at Tell the Wolves I’m Home. (Literally: I’m home. But please don’t tell the wolves.) And it’s so good, I’m sorry I set it down for those weeks. I’m also seriously loving The Woman’s Hour by Elaine F. Weiss, which describes the work done by brave and smart women to get the 19th amendment ratified.

 

Reading (online) | I’m super excited about Citizen Reader’s Essay Project, and I’m so playing along.

 

Listening | I’m really liking Michael Strahan’s reading of his book Wake Up Happy. Beyond finding his story fascinating and his approach to life inspiring, I really like the sound of his voice (which reminds me of my favorite great-uncle).

 

Watching | Samuel and Audrey travel videos on YouTube. We’re hooked.

 

Eating | The donuts at the new donut place. Oh my land. There’s fig & goat cheese, and then there’s Oreo. I’m not even kidding.

 

Learning | Meditation, you’re not gonna be an easy one. I’ve been reading Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, a book whose title and tone I adore, but man have I been struggling to sit still and breathe. Even when I schedule it, I dismiss the reminder cuz I’m not only fidgety and skeptical, I’m also stubborn. If meditation actually takes, this is gonna be a serious achievement.

 

Loving | My aromatherapy diffuser. I’m completely surprised by how fond I am of this little guy. And it even turns all kinds of pastel colors when I turn it on its lava lamp setting. I know: ridiculous. But it makes me happy. (It does not make me meditate. See above.)

 

Anticipating | The Dear Man and I are doing preliminary planning for a trip with his dear sister and dear brother-in-law, and I can’t wait. I’m writing a packing list and agonizing over which books to take and getting all shivery with excitement.

 

Celebrating | Day trip season has begun! We made our first springtime day trip to some Black Hawk War sites and geeked it up right. More happy geek couple travel ahead…

Currently… deep winter and it is some kind of cozy

This installment could be subtitled “Presently: presents!” because it features at least five perfect gifts that came into my life. I’m a lucky one.

 

Reading (the books) | On my nightstand, I’ve got Y Is for Yesterday, the unexpectedly final book by Sue Grafton. (This makes me very sad.)  Also: Grant by Ron Chernow, a delightful Christmas gift from the Dear Man, who perfectly anticipated I’d need a Chernow fix as I was nearing the end of Alexander Hamilton.  

 

 

Reading (the audiobooks) | I’m listening to The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which has me completely engrossed. Also: occasionally overcome with emotion.

 

Reading (online) | The Dear Man News Service sent me this article about George Washington and a library, which made me happy…

 

Listening  | Lin-Manuel Miranda announced his Hamildrops project, and I’ve been inappropriately laughing as I listen to “Ben Franklin’s Song.” (I’d link to it, except all those swears!)

 

Watching  | Oh my gosh. We’ve been watching the Winter Olympics, and I adore it.

 

Learning  | During the holidays, nearly all of us did the Enneagram Inventory by Ian Morgan Cron, and I’ve been diving deep into that world. (Type 1 here!)

 

Loving  | My new egg cooker. I mean, look at how cute.

 

Anticipating  | We’re homing in on Pizzeria #100 pretty soon… We’re at #99 and counting! My excellent sister and brother-in-law gave us a pizza carrier for Christmas, and it’s proving the thing we never knew we needed.

 

Celebrating | Five years ago, I met the Dear Man. Serious happiness has ensued.

 

I’ve decided: I kinda like winter.

 

So tell me, readers… what perfect gifts have come into your life?

Currently… anticipating Hamilton!

Reading | I’m in the final 200 pages of Ron Chernow’s magnificent Alexander Hamilton, and I’ve begun re-reading Hamilton: The Revolution (that beautiful book filled with all the lyrics), because we’re going to see Hamilton later this month!! When I’m not immersed in Hamiltoniana, I’m completely loving Anne Bogel’s new book, Reading People. The reading life is very rich these days.

 

Listening: the audiobooks | The audiobook that’s edged out all others at the moment: My Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King. Usually I listen to an eAudiobook around the house, and a CD audiobook in the car. But I’ve been taking this one with me and listening to it everywhere, because I’m completely absorbed in her story.

 

Listening: the podcasts | What’s been making me happy in the podcast universe lately: Happier in Hollywood, By the Book, TED Talks, and What Should I Read Next?

 

Loving | Pizza #83, you made us very happy! The Dear Man and I went to Impellizzerri’s in Louisville, and this pizza knocked our socks off. I’m thinking it might make the top 5. Definitely top 10.

 

Learning | I’m still working on developing some Deep Work habits, and I gotta say: it’s not always coming naturally. But I’m taking some serious steps to implement it, and I had one perfect day when I was so productive it was nearly frightening. It was pretty freakin’ amazing.

 

Celebrating | We just completed another canoe trip, and, as usual, we were all fresh and jolly and raring for more when we arrived at the outfitter at the end of a day of paddling. And also as usual, this shocked the outfitter staff, who apparently are accustomed to people being either super cranky or wretchedly exhausted after a pleasant day of river canoeing. We are chipper.

 

Anticipating | Hamilton!!!!!! Did I mention we’re in the countdown? We are. Flapping commences every time I realize this is the month. (There’s a lot of flapping going on.)

Currently: pure summer

Learning | I attended the American Library Association conference, so: inspired! Also: delighted because Brene Brown and Ron Chernow! (I seriously flapped [metaphorically]. Then nearly cried for joy. Then pulled myself together.)

 

 

Reading | I’ve been doing some comfort reading lately. I’ve got My Mrs. Brown by William Norwich and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin on my nightstand at the moment. They’re both lovely novels that are great before-sleep reading.

Listening | Podcasts: I’m completely hooked on Just the Right Book Podcast with Roxanne Coady. She’s smart and bookish and amiable, and I love hearing her interviews. And Elizabeth Craft, co-host of Happier, has a new podcast — Happier in Hollywood — that she co-hosts with her writing partner. They’re smart and funny, and I like hearing their take on life in Hollywood.

Listening | Audiobooks: I fell right into the wonderful storytelling of No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts, which is terrific on audio. And I’m working my way through The Russian Debutante’s Handbook by Gary Shteyngart (though: at the moment, we’re on a break). I just picked up Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, and I am loving it. Only partly because Lin-Manuel Miranda is the narrator (oh my land!) though I gotta say: his inflections are pitch perfect.

Loving | This amazing pizza, which is so good we revisited it even though there are dozens of other pizza places calling our name. (We just knocked off pizza place #73. But who’s counting?)

 

Receiving | The marvelous Bybee of Blue-Hearted Bookworm sent me Book Mail! 32 Yolks (on audio!) and Encounter with an Angry God landed happily on the top of my TBR pile. I’ve started reading Encounter and if I didn’t have a bedtime alarm, it would seriously keep me reading way too late.

Watching | I’m still working my way through the final season of Parks and Rec. I had a seriously Leslie identification moment while watching an episode the other day. (This is both delightful and terrifying.) And also, on Netflix, Elizabeth at 90: A Family Tribute, which is a fine companion documentary to The Crown.

Hamilton-ing | We’re at H Minus 3 Months (translation: seeing Hamilton in 3 months!) and I’ve just busted through the halfway point of Chernow’s magnificent biography. Goal is to finish it, and to re-read Hamilton: The Revolution. I think I got this.

Devouring |  Last weekend we visited some farmstands, and it always gets a little bit out of control when I’m near fresh sweet corn.

 

Anticipating | More canoeing!

 

So, my fellow readers… what’s on the books for the rest of your summer?

Currently… springing into action

So much good stuff this early spring! Here’s the rundown…

Reading | Reliving my childhood by getting my nose stuck in a book…  I can’t, I won’t, I refuse to put down The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse by Tom Verducci. If anyone in my path even seems like they might be interested in baseball (or simply great narrative nonfiction), they’re hearing me rave about this book these days. And then I read that Rizzo & Bryant & Russell & Heyward & Ross are on Instagram, so: Following.

 

Watching | Speaking of the best team in baseball… we watched the Cubs’ opening game, and sure, it didn’t end perfectly, but still: It’s baseball season, people!  (The New York Times is even in the spirit — they published this list of baseball books recently.)

Bryant at bat, 2015 (my 4th time at Wrigley!)

 

Listening (audiobooks)| I hit the trifecta, guys: three audiobooks in progress at once. It happened by accident, cuz: eAudiobook holds… they have their own timeline. So… In the car: Americanah. On the iPhone: A Man Called Ove and Talking as Fast as I Can.

 

Listening (podcasts) | I’ve got the happiest mix of podcasts on my iPhone. There’s What Should I Read Next? and Happier and C-SPAN’s Q&A and Getting Things Done. And a new addition to the rotation: Beyond the To Do List. When I’m warming up for a run, it’s a wonderful dilemma to decide what to listen to.

 

Learning | I’ve been digging into Gallup Strengths, cuz I can’t resist personality type systems. I’m currently reading Strengthsfinder 2.0, which I’ll talk about in a future post. (This is a promise, cuz I’m seriously sucked into this stuff.)

 

Loving | Our St. Patrick’s Day celebration with great friends

all that green!

 

Braving | Rotten shark. I ate it. (Totally not even kidding here.) The Dear Man’s dear sister and dear brother-in-law visited Iceland recently, and we basically dared them to try hakarl (shark that’s buried in the ground to rot, then dug up and eaten — we steered clear of it during our Iceland trip, cuz we’re sensible like that). So instead, they brought some back for all of us to try. It wasn’t so very terrible, though it’s true what they say: smells like ammonia.

(mid-chew)

 

(still mid-chew; the Dear Man made me laugh)

 

Celebrating | 20 years in my little house! It’s hard to believe, but it was 20 years ago last month that I plunked down my life’s savings for a down payment on my own tiny haven.

 

 

“The Little House was very happy as she sat on the hill and watched the countryside around her. She watched the sun rise in the morning and she watched the sun set in the evening. Day followed day, each one a little different from the one before . . . but the Little House stayed just the same.”
— Virginia Lee Burton, The Little House

 

Anticipating | Our 67th pizza. Cuz: yeah... We’ve eaten at 66 pizzerias so far. Here we’re picking off Wayne’s Pizza (well worth the drive).

 

So, good people… what’s going on in your neck of the woods?

Currently… all that learning

As this winter promises to draw to a close one fine day, here’s what’s going on around here…

Reading | When packing for a weekend trip, I realized all of the books I’m reading as actual books (rather than audiobooks) are self-improvement nonfiction (or Alexander Hamilton by Chernow, a book that is my year-long companion). So… that was weird. I hopped up and grabbed a novel from my TBR pile, and I’m gonna give it a go. (The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick… will you be the book I seek?)

But really… my heart belongs to the self-improvement books:

  • Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and Business of Life by David Allen
  • Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
  • Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty by Harvey Mackay
  • AgeProof: Living Longer Without Running out of Money or Breaking a Hip by Jean Chatzky and Michael F. Roizen

 

Listening: Audiobooks| I just finished listening to LaRose by Louise Erdrich, which she beautifully narrates herself. And Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Ditto on the splendid author narration.

 

Listening: Podcasts | I’m newly hooked on the EntreLeadership podcast, because guess what? Self-improvement all over the place!

 

Watching | I’m fully hooked on The Crown, thanks to a well-placed recommendation by the Dear Man’s Dear Sister, who knows me well.

 

Learning | Oh, WordPress, you evil wonder! Our love/hate relationship rages on… The good news is I’m learning lots of things the hard way, which makes the lessons more memorable. (Remember that night I decided to repost some old blog posts and delete the previous versions because their formatting was messed up? And how I consequently lost all of the comments associated with those posts? That was the best!)

On the up side… I just finished my second Gale Courses class, Intermediate WordPress Websites, which has helped immeasurably. CSS… I’m coming for you! (Actually: CSS… occasionally I’ll inch close enough to do something tentative, while closing my eyes and crossing my fingers. But, hey: it’s something.)

 

Loving | My house is all clean and neat because Book Bloggers Reunion here at the Unruly Cottage. We’re laying bets on how long it lasts. The most optimistic view: 2 weeks. (I’m pretty sure that’s dead on. I’m already scattering books all over the place.)

 

Anticipating | We got tickets to see Hamilton! I was so excited I kept flapping.

The Bachelor GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

And I keep thinking: in spite of all the trouble in the world… how lucky we are to be alive right now.

 

Celebrating | Our 60th pizza place! We hit Coalfire, currently ranked #1 by Chicago Magazine. And yes… it was life-changing. You’re looking at a Honey & Salami and a Spinach pizza (with pistachio pesto whipped ricotta). We’re standing firmly in the “specialty pizza” zone here.

 

So guys… what’s worth celebrating in your life these days?