As the summer fades to fall, I thought I would do a seasonal wrap up of some of my favorite things our family has enjoyed over the past few months. I don't have the stamina to make this a weekly thing, so it will probably be a lengthy series that happens a couple times a year. I genuinely love hearing what other people are reading, wearing, watching...so without further ado, here's some of my summertime picks.
what i'm reading
Below is a brief account of the novels I've read -- no analysis or anything, just a simple recommendation!
Silence by Shusaku Endo // This novel is intense in the best way. It details a story about two priests called to secretly minister to 17th century Japanese Catholics, despite the fact the faith is banned in Japan. Anyone found practicing Christianity in the country will face a gruesome death. The priests and faithful Christians must choose -- will it be martyrdom or apostasy? One of the most thought provoking and spiritually challenging books I've read in a while. P.S. There is a forward by Martin Scorsese that is worth your time!
The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah // I read the Nightingale after two friends randomly told me to read this novel on the same day, so I took it as a sign to pick up a copy. It was a quick read and a captivating story, and I loved that it was set in WWII France. However, despite all the 5 star reviews online, I thought it was just OK. After I put it down, I just couldn't escape the feeling that something was missing. It was entertaining, but overall, it just wasn't my style. If you like historical romance-type genres then I think you'll find it compelling!
Kristen Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset // Wow. Just wow. It is perfect. Read it. Read all the reviews that would do a much better job than me at explaining how beautiful this novel is. A hidden gem of literature, and I think, it is a must read for any Catholic. Although, if you are a busy mom of little ones make sure you buy the modern translation by Nunnally because I have a beautiful vintage copy from the 40's and the language is a bit difficult for my frantic mom-brain to concentrate on. But read it. And then let's move to Norway.
Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson // Brad & I listened to this together on audiobook, and it peaked our interest because we heard that it's a favorite book of Pope Francis himself. It is a dystopian novel written in the early 1900's but eerily reflective of our modern day. If you enjoy Catholic fiction or dystopian novels, add this one to your list.
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather // This is what I'm currently reading and really enjoying it so far. Which is super surprising because I really didn't like My Antonia :). But I can tell immediately that this one is different in the best way. I'm just in love with the way she utilizes the landscape in this novel! It is like reading a painting. She makes me want to drop everything and hop on a plane to Santa Fe. At this rate it might quickly jump onto my favorite book list.
for the body
- The Balanced Life Sisterhood membership // If you know me, you know that I'm a die-hard Tracy Anderson fan. You can make fun of me for that but whatever I love Tracy. I've been doing her work outs since high school...her workouts are intense, and they're deff not for everyone, but you get results super quick (and it's fun!). But lately I've needed to give Tracy a break (I still love you Tracy, don't worry, it's not goodbye forever). I've been doing pilates and pure barre for the last few months and I'm really enjoying my workouts. I joined The Balanced Life community because Robin's gentle approach is just what I need for my state in life. Not to mention, I love her "grace over guilt" mentality... Her workouts are doable for a busy mama yet effective and - dare I say it -relaxing. I look forward to my workouts everyday!
- This recipe has been on my weekly menu. It's good paired with just about anything and the mint adds such a refreshing touch. I usually sub quinoa for cauliflower rice and sometimes add an avocado if I have a ripe one on hand.
- A Whole 30 compliant tomato basil soup. A perfect summer soup! It's so creamy, you won't believe it's dairy free.
- Blue Apron membership // I recently tried blue apron as a little family experiment and it was so much fun! The recipes we tried were a hit. I LOVED that I didn't have to think about what was for dinner or meal plan -- the meals we picked were all perfectly proportioned, surprisingly healthy, and easy to prepare. I may do a separate blog post on our experience with this service incase any of you are interested in signing up! Overall, it was a fun departure from my regular recurring meals.
for the soul
- this talk by Fr. John Riccardo on the Spiritual Life of the Family. I've listened to it 3 times already...it might even have inspired a future blog post.
- Fr. Thomas DuBay has been rocking my world. I read Prayer Primer and now I'm about 3/4 of the way through Fire Within. These are books that have sat on my shelf since college and I've tried so hard to get through, but never felt like I was ready to tackle DuBay. Brad recently read them and basically forced me to read them too so we could talk about it. And y'all....it's so intense. (In a good, good way). I can't recommend those two books enough if you're serious about advancing in the spiritual life.
- And to accompany my DuBay readings, I've also been listening to Interior Castle on audio book. There are no words for the greatness of St. Teresa of Avila's writings. Well, there are a lot of words, but I'm sure DuBay has said them all so I'm just gonna leave it at that.
what i'm watching (with glass of wine in hand)
Having a baby changes things. Like going out for date nights on a regular basis...so Brad and I have a lot of stay-at-home pizza, wine, and a movie dates.
Marie's Story // This is a captivating film (based on a true story!) that captures the beauty of humanity. Marie's Story revolves around two French women: Sister Marguerite and her pupil, Marie, who is deaf and blind. Where the world rejects Marie for her differences, Sister Marguerite simply recognizes her beauty. She sees Marie through Divine eyes, loving and teaching her with a gentleness that showcases her dignity. Just warning you...because this film is told with such depth and tenderness, you will probably cry your eyes out. You've been warned! One more thing: another favorite aspect about this film is the cinematography... The French scenery has stolen my heart...every frame is intentional, and there is not an ounce of wasted space. A rare masterpiece.
Babette's Feast // After watching Babette's Feast for the first time, I am kicking myself for not watching it sooner. It is a narrative that dissects themes of family, sensuality, religious devotion, and austerity. It speaks of all these things, but at it's core, it is deeply eucharistic. Babette uses her training as a Parisian chef to produce a meal that entices all the senses -- a concept foreign to her Puritanical hosts. The meal embodies the Gospel message - mainly, that God created this world out of love for us and should be celebrated, as long as those things point us back to Him. But it also details the sacrifices one must make in order to create, and fully enjoy, such beauty. Much like a crucified Christ, poor Babette gives of herself entirely to produce this magnificent meal. The symbolism in Babette's Feast left me pondering some deep themes so only watch it if you're in the mood to have your world rocked.
Downton Abbey SEASON 6 FINALLY ON AMAZON // You may have heard of a little show called Downton Abbey. I was *very* patient and waited until the last season came out on Amazon Prime because I somehow missed the entire series when it aired. I sure will miss the world of Downton, but overall I'm happy with the ending.
War & Peace // Brad is a fan of Russian literature, so we watched this mini-series over the course of a few weeks of Tolstoy's adaptation. It was beautifully executed -- the acting, costumes, sets, and cinematography were all breathtaking. Highly highly recommend! And the darling Lily James plays Natasha, which for me is a plus.
BRITISH BAKE OFF SHOW // Ok, so Brad didn't watch this one with me. But I am addicted to this show! It is so much fun to watch and I actually learn a few things from each episode. It turns me into a baking machine. I get into these baking zones where I need to make everything from scratch and I pretend to be a contestant waiting to be judged by Mary Barry. Who knows if my baking has actually improved, but watching the bake off puts a smile on my face every time.
You can find these shows either on Netflix or Amazon Prime if you're interested in watching. As you can see we're a little bit obsessed with British people shows. Anything y'all have been watching recently and enjoyed? We are always looking for something new to watch together. And to prove to you that we aren't as high cultured as it appears, Parks and Rec is probably our favorite show ever. We're contemplating watching the entire season again for like the 100th time...it somehow never gets old for us!
what i'm wearing
These shoes // I'm so picky when it comes to shoes and I rarely buy anything new unless I have to. They have to be comfortable, stylish, and versatile; do you know how difficult that is to find?! My mom came to town and forced me to get new sandals because my old ones were falling apart (literally...I have tape on them...). I got these in recently and I think I've found my new favorite summer shoe. Rejoice!
This dress has been on repeat // this is from a sweet company that makes ethically made dresses (and just launched a nursing friendly line called "latch"). It is the most comfortable thing to wear, and makes me feel good when I have it on. I think this particular dress is out of stock, but be on the look out for more because she launches new styles each season.
I love adding this Madewell bandana to an otherwise simple outfit. Still don't think I can really pull it off, but it's fun to wear so I'm gonna pretend to rock it anyway.
Books are his FAVORITE. Honestly, they are the only things that keep him entertained (well, besides Daniel Tiger. Can I tell you much I. LOVE. Daniel Tiger.). His current picks are this book and this book. He loves pointing to all the pictures and asking me what each thing on the page is. Right now he can clearly say "star", "bubbles", "flowers", "banana", "book", and "blue". I catch him reading to himself and delicately turning each individual page. It is the absolute sweetest.
My mom recently bought him a shape puzzle and he is obsessed. His current interest is shapes and colors and it's been so fun teaching him. In case you're wondering, his favorite shape is the star...if a star is anywhere in his vicinity, the other shapes don't stand a chance.
That's all I got! Hope y'all are enjoying the rest of your summer weather.