Taking Emily Freeman’s lead to share a handful of things I learned this month, from the (occasionally) significant to the (mostly) shallow. This was a big month, that started with us in the Smokies and ends with my first day of book tour.
1. How to use a custom color in Instagram stories.
Instagram is my favorite social media platform and I do love to watch and share Instagram stories. I was thrilled to learn (finally!!) that I do have more color options than the nine default options that pop up when you’re typing or drawing. In fact, you have all the colors. There’s a couple ways to do it and this article article can walk you through it like just like it did me.
2. Don’t buy the sale fruit at Costco.
Let’s get super-practical. It seems like every time I go to Costco, I come home with one thing that’s already spoiled. So frustrating, right? Usually I trash it and move on with my life, but this time I returned moldy plums to the store.
The kind customer service pointed out that my plums were on sale. I thought she wanted me to know why my refund wouldn’t be huge, but no—she wanted to quietly give me a tip. Don’t waste your money on the sale fruit, she said. We never put fruit on sale unless it’s on its way out.
Suddenly, so many of my past Costco fails make sense. I wish someone had told me this YEARS ago, but I hope sharing today is the next best thing. (I would LOVE to hear your experience in comments.)
3. Illinois Avenue is the most frequently landed-upon spot in Monopoly.
My kids played quite a bit of Monopoly the last month of summer, and Will and I sometimes got in on the action. Our edition included some tips and trivia along with the pieces and rules and cash. Thanks to the laws of probability and the Chance cards, the most frequently visited square is Illinois Avenue. The least-visited? Mediterranean. And for the love of finishing the game, don’t throw money into free parking.
I loved Monopoly as a kid, but I don’t know if I’ve ever played as an adult before this summer. Back then I saw it as a game of chance; thirty years later I can see the strategy. (According to our edition, the railroads often determine who wins and who goes bankrupt.)
4. Rosamund Pike is back!
In a Jane Austen novel, that is. If you know and love her as Jane in Pride and Prejudice, or the narrator of that wonderful audiobook, rejoice: now she’s narrating Sense and Sensibility in a newly-released version from Audible.
This is pure comfort listening for me and I can’t wait to enjoy this one.
5. The new Cormoran Strike mystery has a pub date.
Book #3 in the series ended on a cliffhanger, and I’ve been searching for news about the next installment for well over a year. On July 10, Rowling announced a publication date of September 18, barely two months away.
I find it interesting how the lead time is often short on much-anticipated new releases, but I don’t know the reason behind it. Do you?
6. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of a very few free national parks.
This month, we visited the Smokies for the first time and were so surprised we didn’t have to pay an entrance fee. I wondered if we’d missed the entrance gate, but nope: the land the park sits on was once private, and nearly a hundred years after the land was donated, a deed restriction keeps it free for today’s visitors.
I learned so much on that trip, camping for the first time since high school, but I’ll spare you the details. For now.
7. In books as in life, timing is everything.
After we returned from our camping trip, I immediately started Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Which begins with a murder. In the Smokies.
At least I didn’t read it before our trip? Or during? (Shudder.)
8. Fiddle leaf figs like to go outside for the summer.
I’ve never moved my plants inside or outside for the seasons before, but earlier this summer this column convinced me to take my fiddles outside for the season. (Yes, that is plural, because I couldn’t resist buying one more at Kroger when they had them for $17, and when they brought in another batch I did it again. I might have a problem.)
They are doing fantastic, and I am convinced. It sounds like I should have done this for my newish rubber tree plant as well. Maybe next year?
9. Pachinko is coming to the big screen.
Studios buy the rights to books pretty often and it doesn’t mean that the book will definitely make it to the screen or that it will happen anytime soon. Yet with the recent success of Crazy Rich Asians and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we are thankfully likely to see more Asian stories on the big and small screens soon, so I’m going to let myself be excited about a Pachinko drama series.
What did YOU learn in August?