We were totally spoiled in Birmingham with all the dog friendly spots. Bham had shopping, breweries, (and more breweries, and even more breweries)restaurants, events, and more, where Kermit was welcomed with lots of pets, and doggie treats. One of my first goals when we moved to Midland was to find places where we could take Kermit out with us.
Midland Beer Garden is one of the first places we found, and we love it! It’s a beer garden that also has actual green houses, with beautiful flowers that you can enjoy as you sip some beer or wine (yes, they also have wine!). It’s located off Highway 80, so we definitely can’t walk to it, but I’ve quickly learned that Midland is much less walkable than Bham in general, so it’s no big deal.
Midland Beer Garden has a large variety of beer. They offer craft beer, as well as Bud Light, and even gluten free ciders. The last time we went, Phil and I ordered a Pineapple Upside Down Beer-a combination Blue Moon and ACE Pineapple Cider. It was refreshing, and not too sweet.
Food is also served, and you can get everything from light snacks, to a full on meal. Tacos, nachos, and BBQ are popular menu items, which, I’ve quickly learned, is common in West Texas.
There is plenty of seating-we like to sit in the green house and be near the plants, but it does get more hot/humid in there than outside where you can feel the breeze. Near the entrance, there is a large turtle who sometimes pops up from his hiding spot to be fed (Kermit, however, is not a fan).
For us, the best part about this beer garden is how dog friendly it is. They have dog treats at the bar and plenty of dog water bowls to make sure that your furry family members stay hydrated in the Texas heat.
On the first Thursday of every month, Midland Beer Garden offers a Yappy Hour. This is hosted by the Midland Humane Coalition and Freelance Rescuers. You can get your dog microchipped for only $20. If your dog is already chipped, you can have them scan it just to be sure that the chip is still in the right place and easily found.
So far, we have only been able to make it to one Yappy Hour, and it was such a blast! In addition to microchipping, there was also a doggie Easter egg hunt. Dogs got to sniff around to find eggs filled with treats and toys. Soul’s Pit Crew was there as well taking Easter pictures of dogs. It was so much fun to get out of the house with Kermit like we used to do so often at home in Birmingham.
Midland Beer Garden is a popular place, and if you’re new to Midland (like us!) and have yet to check it out, I highly recommend it. It’s already a favorite of ours and I can see it being our go-to in the winter as well when we can sit in the green house. And, yes, it’s also human kid friendly, though they are not allowed past 9:00 at night (our human kid is fast asleep by then anyway). In my experience, dogs are usually better behaved, so don’t be that guy and let your kids run wild; so, as always, make sure you’re keeping an eye on your human kid as well as your fur babies. Cheers!
So since moving to Midland one thing that I’ve definitely needed to adjust to is the humidity-or lack thereof. It’s “only” gotten into the 80s here so far (I know it will get much hotter in the summer) but it really hasn’t felt that bad outside, especially in the shade. The humidity here generally hovers around 50% or less so when you move to the shade, you actually feel cooler. Unlike Birmingham which was like living in a sauna from May-October.
That said, it is super dry here and my hair and skin are already feeling it! I’m trying to up my water intake even more, but I’ve also found some oils that have really helped keep my skin and hair from shriveling up and becoming brittle.
My hair is wavy/curly and can definitely get unruly, especially if it’s not moisturized. I’ve started using hair masks and wow do I notice a difference! I’ve done a few and so far the masks with argan oil seem to work the best for me. I know I’ve written about the magic of argan oil before, it really is an amazing head to toe product! I like the one time use hair masks-they can be a bit pricey (this single use mask goes for about $2 at Target) but I like to mix up my masks. I found that it’s best if you shower and shampoo as normal (I don’t wash my hair every day but I make sure to do this one a shampoo day). The very last thing you do in the shower is put on your hair mask. Just apply like conditioner and use the entire package. It will be a lot. I put my wet, mask soaked, hair into a high bun with either an elastic or a hair clip, then I cover it with a plastic bag and tie the ends around the nape of my neck (Yes, I probably need to invest in a shower cap.) I secure the whole thing with a wide headband. I go to sleep with this odd hair ensemble and then shower again, no shampoo, just rinsing the mask out, when I wake up. I like to let my hair air dry, but you could also blow dry it if that’s your thing. Once my hair is dry it’s the softest, sleekest ever. Seriously, I’m talking smoother than salon smooth. I try to do this once every other week or so and I’m already seeing a difference.
While I’m still an argan oil fan, my new favorite oil is Derma E Vitamin E Oil. I found this at a nearby natural grocery story (a pleasant surprise find in Midland, TX!) but you can get it at some Walgreens stores or order it online. I use this on my face morning and night-it’s been about two weeks and my skin is already looking brighter. Vitamin E is said to help your skin combat the signs of aging, as well as brighten up sun spots, scars, and helps soften skin. I wrote a bit about my skin routine here, and I’ve added oil as my last step at night. It does make my skin a bit shiny at first but it sinks in throughout the night and I wake up glowing. Since it’s so dry in Midland, I do mix a little bit of this in with my oil-free TJ’s lotion in the morning before I put on my sunscreen. It doesn’t make my face as shiny when it’s mixed with lotion but I still get that extra bit of moisturizer.
Last, but not least, is sweet almond oil. I started using this daily over a year ago when I first got pregnant and I’ve been using it ever since. This definitely came in handy when I was “big pregnant” and I used it to moisturize the bump. Now, I put a few drops in my regular lotion after my shower for extra moisturizer. It helps keep my skin soft, but doesn’t leave me feeling greasy as just straight oil does (though sometimes I’ll just use it straight if my skin is extra dry). You can get this at Target for about $7.00.
All of these products are cruelty free! What are your favorite skin care products?
Wicked River by Jenny Milchman is a fast paced, adventurous, but light read. A friend passed this book along to me a few months ago, and when I finally got around to reading it recently, I couldn’t put it down!
Doug and Natalie are newlyweds who decide to go on a camping trip in the Adirondack Mountains for their honeymoon. (For the record: this sounds like my nightmare. I enjoy need creature comforts, and mimosas while camping,glamping, ok I just like tailgating in RVs.) As the week goes on, Doug and Natalie need to lean on each other to survive in their environment. Not only are they discovering things about each other as newlyweds, Doug may be hiding something that makes Natalie question the man she thought she married.
While Doug and Natalie are on their honeymoon, someone else who has made his home in the woods is watching them, and he is desperate for company.
Wicked River shifts points of view throughout the book, which kept up the suspense chapter by chapter. Readers got to see through Doug and Natalie’s eyes, the eyes of Natalie’s niece, who is trying hard to be mature and grown up, the eyes of the mysterious stranger in the woods, and others. I enjoyed getting to see each different point of view, and it kept me hooked and wanting to get to the next chapter where I could find out what happened to each character.
With a little bit of mystery, lots of suspense, and some sweet moments, this book is a great quick read.
Wine Pairing: Dark Horse Rosé
This book is a perfect summer/almost summer read. It’s not too heavy, it’s fun, it’s a nice escape from everyday life-much like this rosé. This wine is crisp and fruity, but not sweet. You can’t take it too seriously and it’s the perfect wine to relax with outside in the shade with a not-so-serious book. I picked it up from our local Albertsons Market for only $7.99. (No, I’d never heard of Albertsons until we moved here, but I’m sure you can find this in a grocery store near you.) It’s almost officially summer, so kick back with this refreshing rosé and enjoy Wicked River. Cheers!
So it’s been awhile. I know I’ve been totally slacking. I thought I’d post a quick update on what’s been going on (for those of you who might not know) before I dive back into business as usual.
Our family has officially moved to Texas! We are now in West Texas, specifically, Midland. (You can google it, I’ll wait.)
Phil was transferred here for his job and we all made the move in early April. Things have happened rather quickly since then. We are in temporary housing for now, and we move into our new house at the end of May. We’re still somewhat settling in, and I know we’ll have another transition at the end of the month, but overall it’s gone as smoothly as I think it could have. While on blog hiatus, I’ve been helping house hunt, clean and paint said house, get Mim and Kermit settled, and try to find the local hot spots. This time around, we are hiring people to help us with the bigger cleaning and painting projects before we move in so we only have to do the smaller stuff. (Did you know it’s much harder to get a house move-in ready by yourself with an 8 month old?) However, it’s still been a process.
So far, Midland has been pretty good. The climate is definitely hot but it’s also very dry, which really isn’t too bad. I’ve heard it described as “walking outside into an oven, not into a dishwasher” which is surprisingly accurate. I’ll take oven hot over dishwasher hot any day. Kermit has been adjusting well. We’ve found some fun dog activities and dog parks nearby that he’s been loving.
We’re definitely still adjusting but I feel settled enough to start blogging again. Thank you for bearing with me while I took a break to figure out our new life. I’ll get back to posting every Wednesday. I’ve been reading some great books I just can’t wait to share! I’ve also found some cool products that have really made a difference (especially in this new climate), and for those local to the area (or anyone who fancies a vacation to West Texas…?) I’ve found some cool spots worth visiting. Though I’m pretty sure Birmingham wins the “Most Dog Friendly City Ever” award, there are dog friendly places everywhere if you look hard enough.
I look forward to getting back to it. Talk soon! ❤
Crestwood is a hidden gem in Birmingham. We bought our first house here a couple of years ago and we knew we’d like this neighborhood, we just didn’t know how much we’d end up loving it. Crestwood is walking distance from Cahaba Brewery, and Avondale (a bit of a hike but on a nice day it’s so doable) but the best part of Crestwood is that there is so much to offer right in the neighborhood! And it’s super dog friendly! Unfortunately, we are moving to Texas in a few short days (Which is why I’m so late on this blog post!) but we’ve so enjoyed our time here and I wanted to highlight some of our favorite Crestwood spots.
Elements and Trxi Vintage. This local shop is two in one! Elements and Trxi share the space and offer really cute clothes, jewelry, candles, cards, drink mixers, and so much more. It’s very dog friendly and Kermit loves to go in and sniff around. Sometimes their dog, Lowe, is there to greet you. The owners of Elements, Johnnie and Mallory are welcoming and helpful. This place is perfect for picking up a gift for someone, or just to find something for yourself. We love to pop into Elements to browse around, and we usually end up leaving with something. I love the soy candles, and my husband loves their old fashioned mixer (it’s not too sweet, and when you add an orange rind it’s perfect). Trxi Vintage has tons of vintage women’s clothes, hats, shoes and jewelry. There really is something for everyone.
Right next to Elements/Trxi Vintage is Crestwood Pharmacy and Soda Fountain. Taylor and Tyler are the owners and they are very friendly and knowledgeable. They offer over the counter medicines, prescriptions, toiletries, etc-I was even able to get my flu shot there last fall. They also sell locally brewed kombucha (I’m currently obsessed with the lavender flavor), ice cream, and shakes. If you need something and they don’t have it, just let them know and they will special order it for you. I get all of my prescriptions from them and it’s so convenient to just be able to walk and pick them up! Taylor even dropped off a prescription when I was unable to get it-this was soon after our daughter was born and it was an incredible help. They are a wonderful addition to the Crestwood community!
Seasick Records is another two in one located in the shopping center. They are both a record store and a barber shop-my husband gets his hair cut there often. They offer a wide variety of records, new and old, and CDs. It’s so fun to poke around and see what you can find. We don’t have a record player, but I got an old Bruce Springsteen CD that my dad had when I was younger. There’s nothing quite like the The Boss with the windows down on a summer day. Seasick Records frequently hosts different events, meet and greets, etc. Each spring they have Record Store Day with giveaways, a DJ, new releases, and a live performance. (Man do we wish we would still be in town for that even this year!)
Urban Suburban is another favorite of ours. They have been around for a long time and have everything from antique furniture to vintage knick knacks, to locally made Birmingham clothing and decor. We love to browse around and see what’s new and on sale. We’ve gotten some smaller pieces of art for our home there, as well as a beautiful, versatile, entertainment center. Urban Suburban hosts a Christmas Party every year with drinks, snacks, and lots of great sales. It’s a fun time to meet some neighbors and get some deals before the holidays. I believe they also host a similar party in the summer months. Kermit loves checking out all the different things and he usually even snags a treat or two from the front desk.
True Story Brewing is a new addition to the Crestwood Shops but we quickly came to love it. It used to be a vape shop (you can still purchase vape products) but they currently brew their own beer as well as offer local beer from other Bham breweries. It’s small, but the bartenders and the owner, Craig Shaw, are all outgoing and friendly. They have a fenced in back patio that is still a bit of a work in progress, but we love to sit out there on warm spring evenings. My favorite beer they offer is the Coconut Porter, definitely unique and refreshing! They have local art decorating the walls and offer fresh food on the weekends.
Crestwood Shopping Center is really a bright spot in the community. They also have a wonderful coffee shop, a market with a huge wine selection (and a great place to pick up that one think you forgot but you really need), and a tavern/dive bar. I love that there are these amazing, locally owned, places for neighbors to have a drink, a bite to eat, and shop around. Even if you don’t live nearby, it is definitely worth a drive to check out these spots. We will certainly miss Crestwood but feel so lucky to have been part of this wonderful community!
I’ve been on a bit of a Kristen Hannah kick recently, and I don’t hate it. Winter Garden is a book that has had some varied reviews-people either loved it or they couldn’t finish it. I recently lent it to a friend who was in the “couldn’t finish it” camp. But I loved it.
Winter Garden takes place in 2000 but has some flashbacks to the 1940s.When Evan Whitson, father of two grown daughters, Nina and Meredith, and husband to Anya, dies, the girls and their mother are left alone. Without him, the three struggle to find common ground. As his dying wish, Evan requested that Anya finish telling their daughters a fairy tale about a prince and evil black knights. It’s his hope that this story will bring mother and daughters together.
Winter Garden weaves past and present together to tell a beautiful story about family, relationships, and human strength through hardship. Kristen Hannah uses wonderfully descriptive language to make you feel present in the story; by the end, I was in tears.
This book definitely starts off slow. I was a bit frustrated with some of the characters and I was eager to get to the meat of the story. I pushed through and ended up loving the book. The ending is surprising and emotional. I really enjoy historical fiction, especially books about World War Two. This was a different kind of historical fiction novel, but it was told in an original way and once I got into it I couldn’t put it down.
Wine Pairing: Trader Joe’s Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc pinked
Now I know I chose this wine to go with Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, however, I think this is also an appropriate pair for Winter Garden. When I poured myself a glass of this Sauvignon Blanc, I was so surprised to have pink wine! It looks like a rosé, but it’s not. (Yes, I could have looked closer and read the bottle, but I didn’t.) This Sauvignon Blanc with an unexpected twist seemed to fit the twists and turns of this book. This wine is light, crisp, and fruity. You can pick some up at Trader Joe’s or Aldi for about $6.99. Cheers!
So it’s finally March. For the first time I can remember, I’m actually not excited for spring. At 6 months postpartum, I’m just not ready to give up my uniform of leggings and large, baggy sweaters. SO when I saw that it was supposed to be chilly this week, I actually got excited!
I’ve been on a soup/purée kick recently-I read the book French Kids Eat Everything and got some great soup/recipe ideas on how to start feeding kids more veggies and being more healthy and well rounded food-wise. So when I looked in the fridge and realized I had some broccoli that we hadn’t used, and some cheese, I figured I could try my hand at making some broccoli cheddar soup. Broccoli cheddar had been my go-to soup at Au Bon Pain in college, and I was feeling confident in my new kitchen skills-how hard could it be? (Actually, not that hard! Read on for what I did!)
First, I did a quick google for recipes to see what was out there. I found a couple recipes, Broccoli Cheese and Potato Soup, Best Cream of Broccoli Soup Recipe, and skimmed them for ideas. At first, I intended to follow one of those, but I didn’t have all the ingredients, and I didn’t feel like going shopping and making it a big thing, I just wanted to use what I had.
3 small potatoes
1 12 oz bag of cheddar cheese
3 heads of broccoli
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk (I had almost two cups)
2 large spoonfuls of butter (we didn’t have sticks of butter, so I estimated)
salt and pepper
First, I the peeled the potatoes, then I chopped the potatoes and broccoli and steamed them until they were soft.
I chopped up my onion and put it in a small saucepan with a spoonful of butter and sautéed it until it was soft, but not brown. Then I put the potatoes, onion, and broccoli in a blender, poured in some of the water that I had used to steam them, and blended until I had a fairly smooth mixture.
Notice my corkcicle wine tumbler? I’ve broken so many wine glasses that this was necessary.
Looks like baby food!
I was feeling fairly confident at this point. Then, I used a large pot (I just cleaned out the one that I used for steaming) and poured in three cups of chicken broth, and two cups of milk. I only had reduced fat milk, so that’s what I used. I added another generous spoonful of butter (probably about two tablespoons?) and simmered until the butter was melted and I had small bubbles coming up from the pot.
Next, I poured the broccoli/onion/potato blended mixture into the pot. This was the moment where I started to get a little bit scared.
It looked like a buttery liquid, with a blob of green goop. I was super nervous that maaaaaaybe this wasn’t the best idea after all. So I literally turned away from it to quickly clean some of the dirty dishes, and I tried to think of how to explain to my husband that I wasted so many ingredients, and we’d have nothing for dinner. But, when I turned around, it had all cooked and blended together! It looked like real soup! I added some salt and pepper, then figured I’d go all in and do a full 12 oz bag of shredded cheddar cheese. Once it all melted I served it up-delicious! I was actually a bit surprised that I managed to pull it off. It’s certainly not healthy, but I still feel like it’s better than getting it premade from a store.
Use what you have! I had a surplus of potatoes, so I used them. You could probably substitute potatoes for cauliflower or sprinkle in some flour to thicken it up. Have some other veggies you need to use up? Throw them in!
Don’t be scared to not get it right. I was nervous to be branching out more or less and not following an actual recipe to a T. Maybe you like chunks of broccoli, maybe you like a different kind of cheese, alter it!
You can always add more. I started off but just putting in a handful of cheese but then decided to go all in and add the bag (Hey, it’s comfort food!). I didn’t use that much salt and pepper because I figured we could always add more as we ate it, which is what we did. Don’t hesitate to add different ingredients, but you can’t always take stuff away, you can always add more.
How are you feeling about entering spring? What are your go-to comfort foods? Let me know what you think!
We had a baby, nicknamed Mim, six months ago. It’s been wonderful and we love her. But I hate changing her diapers. Hate it. It’s gross, poop gets smushed everywhere, there are blowouts, and diapers are sooooo expensive. I thought I’d get used to it, like I got used to picking up Kermit’s poops, but I never did. And I kept thinking, “why?” If we can train dogs to go outside, why can’t we train babies? A few weeks before Mim was 6 months, I started getting very nervous about her poops. We wanted to start her on solid foods and I was not ready to transition to solid food poops. Surely there had to be a way to avoid this. If we could train Kermit as a puppy to potty outside when living in a 3rd floor apartment, couldn’t we figure out something with our human kid? So, I did some research on early potty training.
In many other countries, early potty training is the norm. Kids are out of diapers before they turn two. In the US, kids wear diapers for years. Early potty training is also known as elimination communication or “EC.” EC is learning your baby’s cues when he or she is about to go, and then getting them to a toilet. This can start when babies are as young as a few days. Eventually, you get better and better at reading your baby and can get them to an appropriate place before they poop or pee. As babies get older, they get harder to read (or we just aren’t used to reading the cues) and they get used to just going in their diaper. I’m going to refer to it as early potty training because the ultimate goal is for kids to become independent in the bathroom.
There is a lot of information out there (research, history, and different approaches on how to do it) and I’ll leave some links at the end of this post so that you can read more into it on your own. I’m not an expert so I want to stick to my own thoughts and what we did/are doing for our daughter. I’m also lucky that we are in the position where I could quit my job to be a stay at home mom. I think me being home with the time to do this has made it much easier.
I decided to try early potty training mostly because I hate diapers. I want to save money and I want to avoid the bribery and power struggle that can become potty training an older toddler who can tell you no. I want going to the bathroom to just be a natural thing that Mim does, like eating or sleeping, not something that she needs to do in order to earn a treat or a toy. We give our babies cues for so many different things; Mim knows that the sound of a white noise machine in a dark room means time for sleep, the sight of her bottle means milk, sitting in her high chair means food, why couldn’t I add a cue for going to the bathroom?
The basic idea is actually very similar to potty training a puppy. When we trained Kermit, every time we went outside I’d take him to grass and say potty. Lots of praise when he did it (poop or pee). If he had an accident I’d say potty and take him outside. We never used any type of punishment. Eventually, he understood what potty meant and where he could do it.
I started this with Mim a few days before she turned six months. We’ve only been potty training for about three weeks now, but it’s been going so well I wanted to share some insight in case others are thinking of doing the same. If I could turn back time, I would have started sooner. We got a potty training seat; I figured we wanted her to go on the toilet, not in a bucket or in a smaller toilet so I didn’t want to train her to go in something and then have to break her of that as she gets older. I started putting her on the potty first thing when she woke up, before and after naps, and after she ate. I would repeat the word “potty” over and over and made a sign for potty (make the letter T in American Sign Language and wave your hand back and forth). Then I sat her on the toilet and repeated “potty” with the sign, and I made a hissing “ssssssssss” sound. Sometimes it would take a few minutes so I’d sing songs or bring a toy in for her. Once she peed I would make the ssssss sound and say “potty” again as she does it, then we would celebrate. I’d clap and laugh and make a big deal. Then we’d flush the toilet (she loves watching).
I read that babies need to feel wetness to determine how they got wet and that they don’t like to be wet. So we ordered some cloth diapers for her to wear during the day (we still use disposable at night, for naps, and sometimes when we go out). The downside is I can’t tell when she pees so I can’t get her on the toilet immediately after she does (there’s no blue line) so I just put her on every time I change it.
I buckled down and did a few days of diaper free time. I put down lots of towels and waterproof crib cover over her activity mat. Every twenty minutes or so I’d put her on the toilet, and sometimes she’d pee but sometimes she wouldn’t. If I didn’t catch her and I saw her pee I’d still say “sssssssssss potty” and then bring her to the toilet. We got fairly decent with pee, but she still would only poop in a diaper (she still wore one in the stroller and car seat). I continued with the diaper free days. We had one poop accident (she was in her bouncer drinking a bottle). It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but she did need a bath right after.
I continued to keep her diaper free as much as I could at home and we’d just go sit on the potty every twenty minutes or so. Finally, she pooped in the toilet! I was thrilled. I wasn’t even there for it-I had gone out and given my husband instructions to put her on the potty right after her nap before she gets her bottle. And, bless him, he listened! He said after a few minutes of sitting on the potty he heard a plop! Then another plop. He said they celebrated and she was smiling. He also said it was much easier to clean up than a poop diaper. Mim obviously isn’t fully potty trained yet, but we are getting there. The goal is for her to signal when she needs to use the potty and we’ll take her. Once she gets older and can go by herself she will be fully trained.
So far we’ve had three successful potty poops, and several potty pees a day. We still have diaper free time but I think the cloth diapers will help her feel wet and get the message. She’s getting more used to actually peeing before and after naps so that’s been helpful. Not gonna lie, it’s been challenging, but Mim has done so well and I’m hoping that in the long run it will be worth it.
Some diaper free time is important.
Cloth diapers are helpful.
Consistency is key. Pick a signal and/or word and sound to say and stick to it.
Baby pee really isn’t that bad, don’t be scared of it!
Early potty training definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you’re thinking of trying it, good luck! It’s really not as daunting as it seems and it’s definitely a long end game. Please reach out if you want to share successes or vent frustrations!
Since becoming a stay at home dog/human mom, I’ve had more time on my hands (it’s been amazing). I love to run, but Kermit hates it. Unless it’s an organized race he prefers to sniff and mark everything while I drag him along walk. So we’ve been taking daily long walks which is good for both of us. He’s much better behaved when he’s tired, and I like to get at least 10,000 steps in each day. I’ve gotten really into podcasts to pass the time as we walk, and I can focus more on podcasts while walking instead of running. Here are my top 5 favorite in no particular order that I’ve been into recently:
This is a popular one, but it’s popular for a reason-it’s good! Serial is hosted by Sarah Koening. She dives into cases or issues and tells that story throughout a whole season. Season one (my favorite and the most popular) followed the case of Adnan Syed, who is in prison for the murder of his girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. Koening interviews Adnan and others involved in the case and investigates how his case was handled, and questions his guilt. If you haven’t listened to season one of Serial yet, it’s totally worth it. I don’t want to give too much away and there is a lot of info online about this so I won’t go on, but it hooked me big time. Season two follows the story of Bowe Bergdahl, a soldier in Afghanistan who deserted his post and was then captured by the Taliban. I didn’t like this one nearly as much as season one and ended up giving up on it halfway through. Season three takes a look inside the justice system in Cleveland, Ohio. Koening tells the stories of several people and their involvement with the police and how the justice system is set up. This was both interesting and infuriating to me. Koening does a good job of remaining impartial and telling the story as she sees it.
Up and Vanished is similar to Serial and also hooked me big time. This podcast is hosted by Payne Lindsey. It’s a true crime podcast that seeks to find out what happened to people who have seemingly vanished out of thin air. The first season takes us to Georgia, where Lindsey looks for information on the cold case of Tara Grinstead. She is a former beauty queen and teacher who went missing in 2005. Lindsey interviews people who knew Tara and who were involved in the case. In season two, Lindsey travels to Colorado to investigate the disappearance of Kristal Reisinger. Kristal is a mother who moved to a small, isolated town in Colorado to seek enlightenment, and one day disappeared. Both of these seasons kept me interested and I like how Lindsey has a questions day where he answers listeners questions about the podcast. However, there is some controversy about this podcast. Each season covers one story. Lindsey starts out by airing episodes that he has already recorded and investigated. As the season goes on, the listeners catch up to the episodes so you end up listening to interviews and insight that Lindsey has in real time. While this makes (in my opinion) for a more interesting and real podcast, some have pointed out that this type of reporting can cast suspicion on innocent people who are trying to move on with their lives. Lindsey does a good job just laying out the facts, giving fake names when necessary, and trying not to speculate, but it’s impossible (especially for those locals close to the case) to not know who is being described and some view it as an invasion of privacy.
I found this podcast in October when I was looking for “spooky, Halloweeny” podcasts to listen to, and I was not disappointed! Voodoo City is hosted by Mike Scott, a New Orleans native, who discusses this history of the city. Each episode is a stand alone episode on a different topic, and they are each about 20 minutes long. Scott discusses a wide range of topics from the Axman, Marie Laveau, to the Superdome Curse. I liked that the episodes were individual so I could choose which ones I wanted to listen to when, I didn’t have to go in order. They’re also very short and sweet so it’s not a long commitment to listen to an episode. We went to New Orleans last September and I’d heard some legends and seen some of the sights described in this podcast, so it was really cool to get a more in-depth view.
I haven’t listened to all of these episodes, but the ones I have I really enjoy. Michael Ian Black interviews different people: authors, actors, singers, and other celebrities and non celebrites, and discusses how to be amazing. I really like the questions that Black asks and how he is able to draw out his guests. Episodes range from 30-60 minutes and ends with “The Amazing Five” where Black asks for a recommendation from the guest on five different categories: food, books, music, and tv/film. I love getting more into the minds of people/celebrities that I admire. I enjoyed the interview with Andy Cohen (Bravo King) and the interview with Tara Westover, who wrote the book Educated: A Memoir. There are so many interviews and this podcast is both insightful and funny.
This is truly a gem and by far my favorite podcast ever guuuurrrrrl. I’m a huge Bravo fan and watch allllll the crappy reality shows from Real Housewives to Below Deck. This podcast covers them all. Watch What Crappens is hosted by Ben Mandelker and Ronnie Karam, a hilarious duo who do the best impersonations I’ve ever heard. Ben and Ronnie recap episodes from Bravo shows while giving their insight to the shenanigans and drama. While they have their favorite characters, Ben and Ronnie can still be (mostly) impartial when discussing behavior and I love hearing their take each week. They are fair and smart, while not taking themselves too seriously. I laugh out loud literally every single episode. Each episode comes out generally the day after the show airs. Ben and Ronnie are currently on tour, and the live recaps are the b.e.s.t. They have so much energy and love for what they do that you can really feel it come through. You can buy tickets for their live shows here and while I’ve yet to see them live, you can bet I’ll be jumping on tickets as soon as I’m able. Since discovering them, I’ve downloaded and listened to old seasons of RHONY, RHOD, and Southern Charm. I listen to them so much that even my husband (definitely not a Bravo fan) sings along to their intro song. If you like Bravo, you need this podcast in your life. If you don’t watch Bravo, (*blink, blink*) get some compassionate and give them a chance, you’ll probably laugh anyway.
What are your favorite podcasts? I’m always on the lookout for new stuff!
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It’s one of those books that stayed with me long after I finished reading. I couldn’t start a new book right away; I had to sit with this one for awhile, which, to me, is a sign of a really great book.
Where the Crawdads Sing takes place in the swamps of North Carolina. The author beautifully describes the setting, and paints realistic characters. It is about a girl, Kya, who is abandoned by her family and left to fend for herself in their shack in the swamp. She is considered an outcast by the townspeople and makes a life for herself as a loner. As she grows up she meets two boys from town and becomes entangled in relationships with them. When one of the boys ends up dead, Kya, the swam girl, is seen as the prime suspect.
The story alternates between the current time of 1969, and 1952. The timelines slowly creep closer and closer together until you are reading everything in real time. I liked how the author did that instead of keeping it in two distinct time periods, I kept waiting for the past to catch up to the present and it kept it very exciting. The mystery kept me hanging on until the very end. I so loved this book.
At $7.99 this is a reasonably priced wine. It is somewhat fruity, not too light, but not too heavy. This book had me curled up on our cozy couch for hours, and this is a wine that pairs well with being cozy and fits the serious tone of the book.
Have you read Where the Crawdads Sing? What are your thoughts? Cheers!