6 things I learned in March.

1. I can (still) pick good books for my daughter that she actually wants to read.

Earlier this month Sarah (who just turned 11) said, and I quote, “Mom, what should I read next?” She knows how the podcast works, so she told me three books she loves, one book she hates, and her current read, and I went digging for titles for her.

She’s a little old to want book suggestions from her mom these days, but she did ask, and I found her some great stuff she really enjoyed: The Penderwicks, The One and Only Ivan, Tuesdays at the Castle, Harriet the Spy, and a few others. She’s been reading up a storm.

2. Diane Rehm got her start as a 37-year-old volunteer at her local public radio station.  

Will and I got to hear Ann Patchett interview Diane Rehm last week at a local event. Most people were there for Diane Rehm but if you guessed it was the novelist who got us to buy your tickets, you’d be right.

While the whole conversation was interesting, I just couldn’t believe the story of how Diane Rehm got her start. After she got married, she spent more than a decade at home with the kids. When they got older, she needed something to fill her time, so she looked into volunteering at her local public radio station. And then one day, the program host was sick. You can guess what happened next.

As Ann Patchett said, “that sounds like a fairy tale!”

3. Changing a lightbulb or three can make your whole room look much, much better.

We finally decided on a chandelier for the new kitchen/dining room space (actually it’s the second chandelier we tried—the first one went back to the store). I loved the actual chandelier but it put out no light. In the daytime, you literally couldn’t tell if the lights were on or off.

Then one day my contractor came back from a Home Depot run and said he got me a present: it was a three-pack of lightbulbs that he thought would work much better than the ones I’d bought. He was right.

The chandelier and the room look so much better now—and we can actually see. All it took was $8 in lightbulbs (and the knowledge to choose the right ones).

4. You can buy a pen loop for your bullet journal.

Or at least you can if you got bitten by the Leuchtturm bug like I did. I got my pen loop for $6 on Amazon, and while that seems ridiculously expensive for a teeny tiny pen loop—especially when the journal itself was only $18 or so—it is so nice to have.

(I’m still loving the bullet journal. Update coming soon-ish.)

5. Patent Tieks take forever to break in.  

I have several pairs: (and yes, shoes are something I splurge on for reasons I explain here, mostly involving my gigantic hard-to-fit feet). My first two pairs were comfortable from minute 1. In fact, the first day I wore my second pair I put ten miles on them walking around New York City.

But then I got a pair of patents (these ruby red ones) and they didn’t feel too great after a Costco run, let alone a full day of 10,000 (or 25,000) steps. I talked to customer service a few times and learned that of all the varieties of Tieks, the patents take the longest to mold to the shape of your feet. They recommended wearing them around the house with socks on, or—if that didn’t work—professional stretching.

They’re feeling great now, but it took a little while. And some socks.

6. My hydrangeas can stay prettier longer. 

I’m a sucker for the inexpensive, long-lasting bouquets at Trader Joe’s: they seem to last weeks. Except the hydrangeas, which seem to last just hours. And then I found out that hydrangeas need more than fresh water to stay perky.

First: if they do droop within the first couple of days, you can revive them with a hot water bath. (According to Southern Living, you can also submerge the whole plant, blooms and all, in the bathtub to freshen them up, but I haven’t tried that treatment yet.)

Second: for the ounce-of-prevention treatment, dip the stems in alum powder to help your blooms stay fresher longer.

Third: hydrangeas take in water from their stems and their petals, so a little misting will help keep them fresh.

Who knew?

What did you learn in March? 

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Leave A Comment
  1. I learned that there’s nothing like a deadline to motivate me to get stuff done! It’s been on my list for months to clean out and organize the basement. Then we found out that some family will be staying with us for a few months and I got it done that weekend!

  2. Suzanne says:

    I think it’s hard to pick books for my kids. Kudos to you for having that knack. I have a 10 3/4 year old son who is on the cusp of juvenile and YA. We are having a lot of false starts lately but the library is our friend. Actually, I need to make better friends with our librarian. THAT might be the key.

    As for myself, I learned that little more is needed for a great multi-generation family vacation than a home cooked meal and a rental home anywhere. We just got back from a visit with my sister, her daughters, my parents and my sons. By far my favorite moment was sitting around the table at dinner. Gotta love the simplicity of that.

  3. Laura says:

    That’s so interesting about Diane Rehm’s start! Maybe she should have retired 10 years ago though and spared us her painful, gravelly interviews. (I’m a horrible person)

      • Casey says:

        If you find it interesting how she got her start, you might also find it interesting how her voice got that way. It hasn’t always sounded like that, but she is able to stay on the air because of her content.

  4. Jennifer C. says:

    1. I learned that a person should not gloat about surviving the winter without so much as a sniffle, because March will take that as a challenge and one will spend a week on the sofa with tea and tissues.
    2. I learned that 11 y/o’s are pretty good at recommending books: Finding Serendipity and the sequel, A Week Without Tuesday by Angela Banks. Also a blind pull off the library shelf (by the same 11 y/o) yielded the Mr. and Mrs. Bunny series by Polly Horvath.
    3. I can’t wait to try this hot water trick with my hydrangeas (I cut them from my own bush and am always disappointed when they wilt quickly!)

  5. Evelina says:

    Interested in those shoes – darling. My issue is my feet hurt without support, especially my heels. Anyone with foot problems wear these? Would love some feedback!!! Thanks 😉

    • Anne says:

      My mom has a fallen arch and she loves her Tieks, but I’m not sure if that counts as a “foot problem.” That’s the only experience I have.

  6. I finally got around to reading The Happiness Project and learned that cleaning up / doing things around the house makes me happy. Therefore, I should not expect praise for these tasks and subsequently get annoyed if my boyfriend doesn’t compliment me every single time I vacuum! Definitely helping with some unjustified passive aggressiveness I was exhibiting.

    I also realized I’m enjoying blogging enough to take the leap into paying for a web hosting site and my own domain name. Suggestions are more than welcome : )

  7. Courtney says:

    That’s great your daughter wanted your professional opinion! My 9 year old son, a huge reader, loves listening to your podcast and a couple times he’s asked me to interview him like you do! 🙂

  8. Katherine says:

    Please share specifics about your light bulb swap! My living room is so dark & the fixture only has space for 2 sixty watt bulbs. Maybe it’s something I could try!

  9. Jen says:

    Well now I’m curious about what books your daughter loved, hated and was currently reading! Care to share? Or maybe she should be one of your guests on WSIRN!

  10. anne marie says:

    what I learned in March
    1) I want to do better at appreciating my husband and paying attention to what makes him feel loved, actively working on this
    2) it is VERY satisfying to get a room finally painted, and I DO like yellow on the walls
    3) I can support my daughter in walking away from things that don’t serve her and finding things that do
    4) having a goal/competition helps me to work out more, I joined the Lazyman Triathlon at my local YMCA and completed a half-Ironman distance for running, biking, and swimming, never would have gotten in the pool if it weren’t for the challenge, but it felt good
    5) I am EXCITED to have a daughter entering the teen years, didn’t expect to feel this way but she is great and I look forward to seeing her grow!
    6) getting rid of stuff, working towards minimalism, is the right path for me, I feel so accomplished and more at peace with less items (even sentimental ones) in our home

  11. Janet Brown says:

    Agree about Tieks. Most comfortable are the classic with no finish. I have olive and Tangerine so comfy but pewter because of finish took longer to break in.

  12. Kate says:

    I was so excited to learn there was a new (to me) Penderwick book when I listened to WSIRN this weekend, so I ran right down to the library to pick it up.
    Has your daughter read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler?

  13. Kelty says:

    Oh, Harriet the Spy! That was one of my favorite books as a kid. My youngest brother came home from the hospital with no name right after I read that book. I cheerfully volunteered that my parents should name him “Sport” after Harriet’s good friend and sidekick. Shockingly, they chose “Luke” instead. 🙂

  14. The pen loops can be spendy! I got one to use with my fauxdori and stuck it to the kraft folder that I use with it. One I got (on clearance from Staples for 50 cents!) isn’t nearly as nice, but does the same job, I’ve just washi-taped to a notebook and it holds rather well. Granted, I used probably about five strips of washi to hold it in place, but not once did it even try and peel off! But when the notebook was full and I wanted it off, it came right up and I was able to do the same on another notebook.

  15. Now I have a serious craving for Trader Joe’s! The closest store to us is over an hour away so I don’t get over there very often. Trader Joe’s and Aldis—when I live nearer to them someday I won’t take them for granted! I would also like to be nearer to an Ikea (the closest is almost three hours away–sob!).

  16. Terry says:

    I learned that spending $1.99 on a small handful of daffodils, even when you are watching every single penny soooo hard, can change your whole attitude.

  17. Lindsey says:

    What a GREAT list this month, Anne! I had no idea about the hydrangeas, and I was so frustrated last week when my bunch for TJ’s hardly lasted two days! Next time I’ll try these tips. (Or maybe even when my own outdoor hydrangea plant starts blooming!)

    And that story about Diane Rehm is amazing! As a SAHM who is missing her full-time job enormously and really struggling with my sense of “calling,” that story doesn’t just sound like a fairy tale. It sounds like HOPE!

  18. Margaret says:

    Please, please do a what to read next for middle school boys! My son loves to read but it is so hard to find books that are challenging but not too mature in content. Many of his favorite books have female protagonists but he is is definitely turned off by the rows of books at the book store with the covers of girls in flowing dresses.

  19. Amy C says:

    Oh how fun to see those book! They are all on our shelves and have been so enjoyed. I was going to add Basil E. frank wailer, but see someone has beaten me to it. What about Friday’s Tunnel and February’s Road by John Verney or The Exiles books by Hilary McKay?

  20. Heidi says:

    I hope this will be a new monthly post. I quite enjoyed reading what you learned. I’m new to the bullet journal, mostly from your recommendation. I’m thinking the “what I learned” would be a great way to end/recap a month in the journal.

  21. Kim says:

    There are somethings coming full circle for me reading this today. I first learnt about the bullet journal from you and having practised it for just over month I wrote about it on my own, “What I learnt in March” post. The bullet journal is just right for me. I’m not naturally organised but do like to be productive. I’m easily overwhelmed and my mind is sparky with new ideas and plans nearly all day every day. The bullet diary helps me live in today (which I can cope with) but I still have a note of the things that are coming up in the days ahead.
    I’m in the early stages and don’t own a pen loop!

  22. Heather Smith says:

    Tuesdays at the Castle and The One and Only Ivan and some of mine (and my third graders) favorite books for read aloud! You should also check out Escape from Mr. Lemoncellos library and Out of My Mind!

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