7 things I learned in March

7 things I learned in March

Taking Emily Freeman’s lead to share a handful of things I learned this month, from the (occasionally) significant to the (mostly) shallow.

1. Those pretty things in my yard are Lenten roses, aka hellebores, of the Ranunculaceae family. Our new neighbor organized a community plant swap, and the local gardeners put me wise. (They also told me they’re extremely difficult to kill, which was wonderful news for this brown-thumbed gardener.)

2. How to blow dry my hair. This is ridiculous, because I’ve been using a blow dryer in some form since I was eight years old. But I’ve never been good at it, like salon-good. This month, it clicked, mostly thanks to interrogating my regular stylist, and also the stylist who did my hair on one of my extremely infrequent Drybar visits.

I’m still not salon-good, but I feel like I at least understand how to do it, and can finally get at least a little bit of the bounce of a good professional blowout.

What I was missing before: blow 80% dry before you start with the brushing. The way you section matters. Use a round brush. Blow each section all the way dry before moving on. And this was the big one: let the hair cool off for a sec while still wrapped around the round brush before unrolling.

(Because I know you’re gonna ask: there’s no magic here, but I use this round brush, this blow dryer, and this styling product. If you have favorite magical products I’d love to hear in comments.)

3. How to hit up a used book sale. As much as I love books, I’ve struggled with facing roomfuls of cheap used books in the past. (It’s so overwhelming to this HSP underbuyer!)

But earlier this month I hit up a big local used book sale with a different frame of mind. The books had been donated; all the funds were going to a good cause. And the one change we’re making in our new-to-us old house is bookshelves: we’re building two tall ones, and they will hold a ton of books. Way more books than we own. So I gave myself permission to go a little crazy—especially because the books were cheap!

So I decided to buy: 1. anything I’d read and loved and wanted for my personal collection; 2. anything I wanted to read that was available in an attractive edition; and 3. anything that was just plain pretty, like these Penguin classics that make me happy every time I see them.

4. So many fascinating things about sugar. I bought the new Gary Taubes book The Case Against Sugar the day it came out, two days after Christmas, because after the holiday sugar bonanza I felt like I needed it in my life immediately.

But then I put off reading it for nearly three months, because I’ve been reading for the Summer Reading Guide, yes, but mostly because I was afraid it would be boring. I should have known better.

One specific odd bit of new knowledge: American cigarettes are uniquely terrible for humans—because of the relationship between sugar and tobacco. I know that sounds strange, but I could not resist reading pages of cigarette making info to Will when we were both reading on the couch the other night. So fascinating! Who knew?

5. Brie + fig preserves. My friend recently introduced me to the magic of adding a little bit of fruit spread to a cheese board, like the Dalmatia Fig Spread she brought to my house to spread on brie and crackers. (Linking so you can see the packaging, but I’ve spied this at my local Kroger.) The irony of listing this right behind the Taubes book is not lost on me.

6. Balsamic glaze. I’ve had this at fancy restaurants, as a beautiful addition or finishing touch to a plate, and assumed it was difficult to make and/or expensive to attain. Thanks to this same friend (hi, Melissa!) I learned that nope, it’s right there on the shelf at Trader Joe’s. For $3.

7. There are so many good books coming out this spring and summer! I’m deep in Summer Reading Guide prep (I know, I know, I keep saying this, but it’s true!) and am scanning the publishing horizons for good books coming out later this year. I’m happy to report there are lots of good titles to look forward to.

Authors I can’t wait to read again in 2017: Anne Lamott (April), Elizabeth Kostova (April), Phaedra Patrick (May), J. Courtney Sullivan (May), David Sedaris (May), Jenny Colgan (June), Elin Hilderbrand (June), Laura Dave (July), Matthew Quick (July), Celeste Ng (September).

I’d love to hear what YOU are looking forward to. Please share in comments!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail this to someonePrint this page


  1. Cheri says:

    I see your copy of ‘Belong To Me’ – love that book.
    In Portland, OR the public library system combined all their used books into one big building. It’s an entire library (Dewey sorted and everything) of books for $1-3. It’s my dream store.
    Thanks for the Taubes book rec’d – we’ve been eating Ketogenic for four months. After getting over the initial withdrawals, even the sight of sugary foods makes my stomach queasy. The trick is to eat plenty of healthy fats. A spoonful of coconut oil in a spicy tea (like Bengal or Chai) is very satisfying. It tastes like Snickerdoodles.

  2. Catherine says:

    I shop my used book sale very differently. All books are $2, so I grab everything that’s on my TBR -pretty or not- that way I have something kicking around when all the hold lists are too long. If I like it, I keep it after. If I do not like it or it sits for too long unread, I donate it back. All the money goes to University Scholarships.

  3. Donna says:

    Love this post! The Case Against Sugar sounds fascinating!

    What I learned this month:
    1. A tip for preventing blisters: Chapstick! Apparently it acts as a shield and reduces friction. Simply dab a bit on your heels or toes or wherever you tend to get blisters! (Thanks, Cup of Jo!)

    2. I read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas in 24 hours last weekend. When I turned the final page, I kept thinking this needs to be turned into a movie. Then I came across this interview with Angie Thomas: http://www.atlantamagazine.com/news-culture-articles/9-questions-ya-author-angie-thomas-breakout-hit-hate-u-give/
    and yup, it’s already being adapted into a movie!! Yay!

    3. The Mothers is also being adapted into a movie. Kerry Washington is producing it!

    4. Emma Roberts has an online book club, Belletrist.
    Thanks again, Anne.😃

    • Donna says:

      Oh and here are the upcoming releases I am most excited to read:

      So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum (March 14. This is on my spring reading list!)
      Solitude: A Singular Life in a Crowded World by Michael Harris (April 4)
      The Slip by Mark Sampson (May 20)
      The Substitute by Nicole Lundrigan (June 24)
      Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza (July 11)
      Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (September 7)
      Endurance: My Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly (November 7)

  4. milka says:

    “The War Bride Scrapbook” By Caroline Preston doesn’t come out until December! I adore her previous book “The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt” – it’s a unique way to tell the story through vintage memorabilia (ads, photos, pins) and so fascinating! I just cannot wait!

    • K says:

      I will second the endorsement of Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1. I feel like I share Anne’s story – I have never been able to “do” my hair until now! My hair is curly but not like the awesome curly ringlets that I think look so cool…more like, curly that turns quickly frizzy and is impossible to dry straight. But with this product, I can do it! AND I also can avoid washing for 3-4 days and it looks better each day.

  5. Cris says:

    I’m looking forward to Gretchen Rubin’s new book about her four tendencies framework which is due out in September!

  6. Sarah says:

    Jennifer Robson has a new book coming out in May! Along with Alison Patacki in July or August! Two of my favorite historical fiction writers!!

  7. Deb says:

    The Dalmatia Fig Spread also comes in an orange-fig version that is wonderful. The Pioneer Woman features a very easy appetizer using the fig spread: slice a baguette, brush lightly slices lightly with melted butter, toast in oven for a few minutes, spread with fig jam and then a smear of goat cheese. So great.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.