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.
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!