7 things I learned in June

7 things I learned in June

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

1. Lime makes it smell like summer. 

I’m starting with the simple: my friend (and MMD Book Club community manager) Ginger passed along a hot essential oil tip: add a little lime to your favored diffuser blend and it will smell like summer. (My house smells so good right now.)

2. Readers are still learning how to use the holds list at their libraries.

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Gwen and Frank of the New York Public Library for a (really fantastic) episode of What Should I Read Next? I asked them to share what they wished readers knew about the library, and their answers surprised me—especially Gwen’s, who said that believe or not, many library patrons don’t know about the holds system. But the NYPL librarians (and likely your local librarian as well) are on a mission to change that. (If you don’t know how to use the holds system, your librarians or fellow readers would be delighted to fill you in!)

Also learned: Gwen works as a professional book recommender for the NYPL, because that is an actual job. Who knew? (And woohoo!)

It really is a fantastic episode. Listen wherever you get your podcasts or just click play on the little blue triangle here.

3. It’s a small world after all.

No personal connections should surprise me anymore—not after running into a podcast guest at a peach stand in rural Alabama—but in the course of our conversation, it came out the NYPL librarian Frank knows my local school librarian, because she used to work for the NYPL before falling in love with a Kentucky boy and moving down here. And I was surprised.

4. You can stick your paint samples to the wall.

Until a few months ago, every room in our house was white. But first we painted one daughter’s room (it’s so pretty), and then come June another kid wanted to take the color plunge.

She’s been listening to old episodes of Young House Love Has a Podcast, and heard about peel-and-stick paint samples on this episode. They’re made by Samplize, come in a wide variety of colors, and cost $5 each.

So we ordered, and impatiently checked the mailbox until they arrived.

Verdict: the stickers are small-ish, and have a sheen to them, so they’re not quite as helpful as rolling a sample onto the wall. (We couldn’t decide on a color until we experimented with actual paint.) But they’re so easy and an excellent starting point.

When we put the Samplize stickers on the wall it was immediately obvious that despite looking gorgeous in photos, the colors we’d chosen looked dingy in the north-facing room we were painting, so we regrouped—before we got to the actual paint stage.

Also learned: don’t leave the stickers on the wall for more than a day or they’ll peel the existing paint off.

5. Open Streets are a thing—and they’re everywhere. 

For a few years now, my city has closed a major street to cars for one June Sunday afternoon, and it’s amazing. After I instagrammed about it (I’m @annebogel) I heard from so many of you who said your town did this, too.

I knew the idea began in Bogotá (which I learned from this book), and that Louisville wasn’t the only U.S. city to follow suit. But your comments inspired me to look into it, and I discovered that Open Streets Initiatives are vastly more widespread than I’d imagined. I’m an urban planning junkie, so this was a delightful discovery, and one bound to inspire future reading. (If you’ve read any good books on the subject lately, leave them in comments?)

6. I’m impressed by the old stuff. 

Especially when it’s alive. This spring my family has been on an unplanned tour of really old trees and plants: we saw a nearly-400-year-old Japanese White Pine at the National Bonsai Museum, and a 300+-year-old-fern at the Lincoln Park Conservatory in Chicago, and a 340-ish-year-old oak tree (dubbed “The Big Oak”) in Thomasville, Georgia.

We’ve been wowed by the plants and their age, and have surprisingly learned that we’ve become the kind of people who will drive out of our way to see an impressive tree.

7. Book news!

I’ve started keeping an actual list of the books I can’t wait to get my hands on, coming in 2019. This month I learned that Diane Setterfield has a new novel called Once Upon a River coming out January 8, and Lyndsay Faye’s The Paragon Hotel releases January 9. And of course Angie Thomas’s much-anticipated On the Come Up is coming February 5.

It’s shaping up to be a good winter for new releases.

What did you learn in June?

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47 comments | Comment


  1. Steph says:

    My husband and I went to Cyclovia in Tucson for our babymoon. So fun! Charleston has Second Sunday on King and it’s lovely. They also close the loop around Hampton Park from vehicular traffic 2 nights a week during the summer. Speaking of Charleston, have you visited the Angel Oak?

  2. The Big Oak is awesome! So cute!

    Thank you for the heads-up about Dianne Setterfield’s new book… so exciting. I loved The Thirteenth Tale so very much. I put book releases on my calendar like to-do items; it’s WAY more fun than the ones that say “make dentist appointment” or “start tax stuff.”

  3. Jackie says:

    One thing that I learned in June is that Goat Yoga is more about the goats and less about the yoga. The class was held outside in a beautiful location and we had a lot of fun, but I had to thoroughly scrub my old yoga mat afterwards. Would I do it again? Maybe next year.

  4. Janice says:

    If our county library doesn’t have a book, you can search the state system and request it from another library. Not sure if this is true everywhere, but it is in NC.

  5. Kathleen says:

    Walkable City by Jeff Speck is fantastic, although warning: he says that (permanently) closing off streets to cars, while well intentioned, is a really bad idea for downtown life and small businesses. He favors intentionally slowing down traffic.

    A classic is The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. An oldie but goodie!

  6. Janean says:

    Magnolia Home has Peel & Stick 8×10 paint samples for 25 of their colors for $2! They are exact marches of their colors and have an eggshell sheen. The paint comes in matte, satin and eggshell. They really are peel and stick and you can restock them to the original backing for re-use later. They had some at our local Hirschfields, which carries Magnolia Home paint. The Magnolia website also carries them for $2. Here’s a great blog post about them. http://www.theweatheredfox.com/magnolia-home-paint-peel-stick-review/

    I can vouch for True White being the *perfect white and we painted our interior main floors Earl Gray and love it! The paint is high quality and has great coverage. There are some videos from Magnolia demoing the quality of their paint.

  7. Sarah Heschl says:

    I absolutely love old trees. If you ever find yourself in Charleston SC, go visit the Angel Oak on Johns Island. Its about 500 years old and absolutely gorgeous!

  8. Birgitta Qvarnström Frykner says:

    My new favorite author is MOUNT Toni, her master sleuth Sebastián Foley is a not so common detective in the 15th
    Century.The history of that period of time is more intriguing than modern books. Mount is as well a good example of schoolars that are able to adapt their knowledge both in books of habits IE life during medieval times as fiction.
    I also learned that life in the country is much more relaxed. Living in a very small cottage 1 room combined bedroom/living room and a kitchen is bringing your spouse and yourself together in a good relation.

  9. You were in Georgia and I didn’t know?? I hope it was a family vacay and not a book tour gig I missed 🙂 and yay for Angie Thomas new book. The Hate U Give rocked me. She’s incredible.

    • Anne says:

      I’m sorry to say I was at The Bookshelf in Thomasville for a reader event. It was delightful and I’m sorry you couldn’t be there! (Although I think that’s still a long way for you?) It’s not yet finalized but I expect to be in Atlanta this fall.

      • Yes please Atlanta!! Fox Tale Bookshop? It’s a great one. And you should check out Avid in Athens. They’re very popular among the indies.

        Have a great summer! I’m drowning in edits. And good memory–Thomasville is pretty far for me!

      • Mary Jane McNeill says:

        I’d like to hear what else you experienced in my hometown while you were there with Annie!

  10. Natasha says:

    That quartz stone paint is pretty! I have never heard of the peel-and-stick samples until now, thanks!
    In June I learned to make sushi bowls – I know I’m late to the party but it’s a game changer for dinner. As good as sushi but without the hassle, and all three kids beg to have sushi bowls for dinner now.
    I learned that my university’s online library offers access to grant opportunities/announcements (ones that otherwise I’d have to pay for). I was really annoyed that no other professor in the past two years that I’ve been working on my doctorate has shared this tip, but at least I have it now! So many hidden treasures buried within a major university library.

  11. Guest says:

    We have had great success with a product by Sure Swatch. They are the size of normal printer paper, clear, and you paint them with whatever colors you’re considering and stick them on the wall. Since they’re large, I usually paint an entire one and then cut it into a couple of pieces and put on a wall that doesn’t get a lot of light and one that does so we have a better idea of how it will look. I’ve also never had an issue with them damaging existing paint.

    We traveled to Hilton Head Island this past year and the OLD, HUGE, Live Oaks were just incredible. Loved them. Our daughter’s GT class did a unit on Champion Trees and like you, I was surprised by how excited I got about it. We found an entire list for our state and one is in my tiny hometown and….on the property of parents of one of my former high school classmates from 20+ years ago!

    For books…just finished reading The Duchess: Camilla Parker Bowles and the Love Affair That Rocked the Crown and enjoyed it. I’ve always been fascinated by the British monarchy and I certainly learned new things.

  12. Meghan says:

    I was a professional book recommender -aka readers’ advisory librarian- back in my public library days! It’s one of the things I miss the *absolute most* and a big reason I’m going to try to go back this fall. Right now, I just have to get my fix on instagram and by being the slightly creepy weirdo who sidles up to strangers in bookstores and libraries and hands them books!
    Things I’ve learned – packing snacks and calling it an “outdoor adventure” is a sure way to get through a hike with no whining kids.
    Turning off the WiFi on my computer as part of my shut-down routine in the evening helps me set work-home boundaries (I freelance) and makes writing first thing in the morning easier. It’s a tip I learned from writer and parenting expert KJ Dell’Antonia.

    • Anne says:

      Your librarian recommending tendencies are cracking me up! Wishing you well as you look to move back that direction soon.

  13. In June, I learned where my happy place is. I have only been to St. Augustine a couple times, but each time I go there, I immediately feel peace settle on me. I went up for a few hours to show my dad how to get there so he could take a friend. It was only my second time there, but I remembered almost everything about the city, enough to be an impromptu tour guide to some of the best things there. I wanted to go on a writing retreat in July, but the dates for it weren’t a good fit for my work schedule. Instead of giving up on having a real writing vacation, I decided to step out and do something a little wild for me: my first writing retreat is going to be my first solo vacation to my happy place!

    On the practical side, I learned how to create automated emails in mailchimp, learned my enneagram number (6), and learned to keep the exciting new project I’m working on to myself until I hit some goal posts and really commit to an idea.

  14. Hurray for open streets. Biking everywhere would solve so many of my problems–exercise (I’d be able to eat anything I want!!!! just by doing errands!!!!), back pain (a little exercise is worth a lot of physical therapy), money (don’t pay for gas…or for the gym)…wins all around. But really, the cars have to be restricted (like they can’t run over me) before I would dare. There are no shoulders on the roads!
    I don’t know about in the U.S., but here, yes, the libraries are completely awesome but so are the archives! So much to discover, in jaw-droppingly beautiful buildings, with lots of people to help. Research has never been so enjoyable.

  15. Mary in TN says:

    My favorite way to try paint — get a large piece of posterboard and paint two coats using a pint or small can. Tip: paint almost to the edge but leave the perimeter white. This makes it easier to handle. Trim white off after it dries. Now you can move the poster board around the room and look at the colors with the changing day and night light. If you do this with two similar colors on separate boards, you will get even more info.

  16. Amy says:

    Being a professional book recommender sounds like a dream job! I have learned not to turn my nose up at seaweed strewn beaches. There’s lots of treasures to be found like starfish, moon snails and amazing birds.

  17. SHERRY JOHNSON says:

    Yes, professional book recommenders do what is called “reader’s advisory”. This was favorite class in Library School. I now manage the bookstore in my local library and am still recommending!! It’s a great way to make new friends too.

  18. When I lived in NYC, they used to shut down Park Avenue (the uptown part) for a Sunday every summer for cyclists, which was really cool…especially when you’re kind of used to feeling like you’re going to die every second on the streets of NYC.

    Also – you just got me to start my 2019 New Release Schedule – and it was the Angie Thomas book that did it!

  19. Barb says:

    Hi Anne. I liked your story about the Big Oak. I didn’t know that you were aware of what’s called Champion Trees. There is a national registry plus my state, Missouri, has a list of Champion Trees in the state. I’m sure your state has one too.
    A Champion Tree is the largest found of it’s species. The lists are fun to look at and to follow up with a visit to the tree, if possible.
    Here’s the National Registry:
    Have fun!

  20. Angela says:

    I just learned a trick about trying paint on a wall: Paint a piece of poster board so you have a bigger area of new paint and check it out that way! I wish I’d known this before I painted,

    • Angela says:

      Oh, I see that tip above. She has even more ideas about it (moving it around to different walls).

  21. Steph says:

    People don’t use the holds system?!? That’s almost all I use! I have three kids aged 5 and under, so browsing really isn’t an option. I also like to be able to research my books just a little before committing to them. Of course, now I’m concerned I’m not using it the way the librarians want me to, so I’ll have to go listen to the podcast.

  22. Victoria says:

    Do you have lining paper in the US? It’s the basic wallpaper you use to line walls with bad texture. Get a roll of that and paint large pieces of it with a taster pot then you can use frog tape to stick it up wherever you want and can move them around without damaging the existing paint.
    Your person above suggests poster board, and I’d say for either poster board or lining paper, try to keep a neutral border. Having your tester right next to the existing colour can make the tester colour look different.

  23. S says:

    I learned that I could feel safe walking outside in the early morning hours when traveling which led me to discover a nearby park as well as hidden gardens when walking through neighborhoods of apartments.

    You have “show comment” and “load more comments” buttons on each post.

    Sitting at a bedside vigil is extremely draining and made me feel like I was walking through wet cement.

    A great book can provide a much needed escape.

    Walking the dog is the best therapy ever.

    Seeing your child win an award for being kind is even more rewarding than seeing them receive academic recognition.

    Taking the day to go do something with the kids to celebrate a birthday even when it is the last thing you feel like doing can end up being the best investment ever. Hearing the birthday child announce it was his best one yet because we “did something” made it all worthwhile…

    • Anne says:

      This is a lovely list, S. Sending wishes for all the good things your way—it sounds like it’s been a difficult month.

  24. OK, that library holds thing has blown me away – how do people live without it?? On a related note, I learned (not sure if in June or maybe a little earlier) that there’s actually a royalties system in place in many countries to recompense authors for their books being borrowed in libraries (as opposed to purchased in store by the reader). I’m one of quite a few people who would feel a little guilty at times borrowing books instead of purchasing them outright, I felt like I was stealing a skerrick of income from the author… but now I know my government gives the author a chunk of change the more times their book is borrowed, my mind is completely at ease!! I recommend that *everyone* check to see if their government has that system in place, and – if not – write to them to tell them they should implement it. It’s a great idea for supporting writers. <3

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