Here are ratings of all the books I read in April:
The Very Nice Box – Laura Blackett & Eve Gleichman
I had a hard time rating this because this book was very slow, but I surprisingly enjoyed it! I think there was supposed to be a deeper meaning behind everything, but the overall story was easy to follow and fun to read. This is a good palette cleanser after a few intense books!
The Housemaid’s Secret – Freida McFadden
I desperately wanted this book to be as good as the first one, which made me have high expectations. This book felt rushed, completely unbelievable, and disjointed. I didn’t connect with the characters at all because they didn’t feel fully thought out. The ending was terrible and felt like a “oh crap this is due tomorrow” style of writing. The redeeming quality is it was a fast and easy read.
Violet is Nowhere – Faith Gardner
This book had a great hook from the beginning, but felt repetitive for the majority of it. The twist at the end was certainly unexpected, but too sci-fi to be shocking.
Things We Never Got Over – Lucy Score
What an incredible book!! This was such a great combination of romance, thriller, and general fiction. I wasn’t able to connect with Knox as much as I wanted to, but I loved Naomi and Waylay’s characters!! The close-knit community was so heartwarming, and I absolutely loved all the side characters! I’m so glad there are more in this series!!
Lab Rats – Dan Lyons
There were some interesting parts about Silicon Valley companies and how they’re trying to “reinvent work”, and stories about companies trying to change that. But overall it was a bit long, there were a ton of repeating stories.
Things We Hide From the Light – Lucy Score
Almost exactly the same plot as the first one, just with the brother instead. But still a fun read and very well written!!
The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides
3.5 rounded up to a 4. I wanted to be so impressed by this book, but I think my expectations were just too high 😂 it was an enjoyable read and I liked the characters, but I missed out on a big twist at the end.
In the Lives of Puppets – TJ Klune
Another absolutely incredible book from TJ Klune!! I was immediately laughing at all the unintentionally funny things the characters would say, and was hooked right away. The characters are so well written and loveable! The story was gripping and I loved all the creative locations they went to!! I cried and laughed out loud multiple times, and want to do it all over again!!
When you’re starting your plant parenthood journey, it’s easy to be enamored by fiddle leaf figs and other beautiful plants that end up being difficult to care for. Here are low maintenance options that are perfect for plant beginners!
Light: Any! Snake plants can tolerate low light well, which makes them great for rooms that don’t get much sun, like bathrooms or offices. Water: Snake plants would prefer to be under-watered than overwatered. You don’t need to water them until the soil has fully dried out (which, depending on the pot, is about a month). Fertilizer: Snake plants grow slowly, which means they only need to be fertilized once or twice a year. Pots: Terracotta pots will absorb excess moisture so the plants aren’t overwatered. They don’t like to sit in water, so make sure the bottom of the pot has drainage holes. Other info: This is my favorite plant because the one with yellow edges is named after me (sansevieria laurentii)!
Light: While spider plants can survive in very low light, they’re more likely to flower in moderate to bright indirect light. Water: In the summer, keep the soil moist, but be careful not to overwater (no soggy feet)! In the winter, allow the soil to dry out a bit before the next watering. Fertilizer: Every other watering in the summer. Pots: Any pot with adequate drainage holes at the bottom. Spider plants actually prefer and will grow best when they’re root bound. Other info: Spider plants will grow lots of little babies that can be easily propagated in water or soil (all of mine came from my sister’s plant)!
Light: ZZ plants are very tolerant of low light, and direct sun will burn their leaves. Water: Let the soil completely dry out before watering. Typically these only need water about once a month. Fertilizer: Once a month during the growing season. Pots: Terracotta pots will absorb excess moisture so the plants aren’t overwatered. They don’t like to sit in water, so make sure the bottom of the pot has drainage holes. Other info: ZZ plants love being root bound, which means they rarely need to be repotted.
Light: While pothos will thrive in bright, indirect light (direct sun will burn the leaves), they can tolerate low light as well. Water: Wait until the top inch or two of soil is dry. Fertilizer: Once every other month in the summer. Pots: Plastic or porcelain pots work best for varieties with high variegation to keep the soil moist. Terracotta is another good option. Other info: Pothos propagation is very easy-simply cut off around 6 inches of the stem and put it in a cup of water for a few weeks until roots grow!
Here are ratings of all the books I read in March:
Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll
I watched the movie first, which is always the wrong way to do it! It was a good book overall, but there were some scenes that felt rushed and not fully thought out.
I’ll Stop the World – Lauren Thoman
An absolutely INCREDIBLE read!!! I was hooked from the very beginning, and loved the plot and characters. The ending was so heartwarming!
People We Meet on Vacation – Emily Henry
This was a great romance read! I got really attached to the main characters, although at times the male lead felt a little flat. I totally related with the main character feeling detached from her job-not everything you enjoy needs to be monetized!
The It Girl – Ruth Ware
I loved that the chapters were broken into “before” and “after”, it made it a fun story to follow! The characters were fun, and I really related to the main character and her struggle with imposter syndrome.
You – Caroline Kepnes
This book was so wildly unhinged in the most entertaining way! I didn’t want to put it down, it was such a rollercoaster seeing what Joe was going to do and justify next.
The Villa – Rachel Hawkins
A super quick and easy read, which meant that it didn’t have a ton of depth. The characters felt flat and while there were a lot of twists, none were surprising. Overall just a “meh” book.
The Writing Retreat – Julia Bartz
Absolutely incredible thriller! I was hooked from the first chapter and couldn’t put it down! The characters were so well written, and I was so suspicious of each one of them. I didn’t love the “book within a book” that Alex was writing, it seemed to take away from what was happening.
Spare – Prince Harry
I can’t figure out exactly what about this book made me feel it was just “meh”. This book is divided into three sections: his past, his military experience, and time with Meghan/current. The first section about his past and his mom were interesting, but seemed like he was making a lot of excuses for poor behavior. The military section wasn’t interesting at all to me, and wasn’t written well either. The current section certainly made me feel badly for Meghan’s experience, but I didn’t feel he fully communicated what was happening.
Mad Honey – Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan
I absolutely loved this book and didn’t want to put it down! The twists were unexpected in a fantastic way, the characters were extremely well-written and easy to fall in love with. The very end was a little disappointing, but doesn’t take away from the overall story.
Remarkably Bright Creatures – Shelby Van Pelt
I think my expectations for this book were too high, because while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it. I wanted so much more of the octopus, I felt like that storyline was second in this book. I really disliked Cameron’s character, he seemed pointless and incredibly annoying. Overall it was a cute story, but just fell a little flat for me.
Tony and I have been engaged for almost a year and a half, and finally made it to the year we’re getting married!
When I first started the planning process, the first step was to figure out where to start! Here’s what I’ve done, in case it’s helpful for others:
Sign up for wedding planning sites
Before you do anything else, sign up for The Knot and/or Zola. These sites have information on things you haven’t even considered, like checklists, budget planners, and so much more! Take advantage of these sites and learn from others what works (and more importantly…what doesn’t). We knew we didn’t want a “traditional” wedding, so I thought these sites wouldn’t be of much use to me, but I’ve been following their checklists religiously! There’s so many to do items I never thought of, and this is a great way to keep track of everything in one spot. Plus they have a massive list of vendors for everything.
Figure out your budget
Figure out if anyone else (parents, grandparents, etc) will be contributing to your wedding budget and if so, how much. Then determine how much each partner will contribute or if you’ll need to borrow money for the big day. These can be awkward conversations to have, but figuring out exactly how much money you’ll have to spend will be crucial for every other wedding planning step. (If you aren’t sure where to start, keep in mind the average wedding is around $25,000-$30,000.)
Decide on a date
The first step is to decide what season you want to have your wedding in. If you’re on a tight budget, consider a winter wedding or hold the ceremony on a weekday. Otherwise, take a look at weekends during your chosen season-are there any special dates that stand out to you? If you have a specific venue in mind, you can also decide the date based on what they have available.
Talk to your partner and figure out what items are most important to you both. Do you want to have killer pictures? Is an eight piece band a must have? Do you want over-the-top flowers? This will help you allocate your budget. Here’s the order we booked our vendors in:
Day of coordinator
Wedding season is typically June-October (which means an “off-season” wedding can help save you money)
You don’t need to do anything you don’t want to!! This one is huge. Tony and I are pretty non-traditional, so there are a ton of “typical” wedding things we aren’t doing. Everything you do should be meaningful to you and your partner!
Create a separate wedding email! You don’t want wedding vendor emails clogging up your general inbox, and having a separate wedding email can help you stay organized.
Happy National Houseplant Appreciation Day! If you received a plant from a friend or from a plant swap but aren’t sure what it is, check out these handy ways to identify it:
Use your phone’s camera
Did you know both iPhones and Androids have a built-in plant identifier??
Open the Google Lens app
Take a new picture of the plant and tap the plant and Google will pull up the info it can find!
OR: use an existing picture by tapping the library button in the lower left and follow the remaining steps above
Take a picture of said plant
In the photos app, select the picture
Tap the “info” button at the bottom of the screen
Tap the icon on the image and Apple will pull up the info it can find!
Search specific plant features
Try Googling specific features of your plant. Does it have special colors, unique leaf shapes, or colorful flowers? You can also look at how new leaves grow or if the plant is a vine or stands upright.
Tis the season for holiday markets! I love checking off Christmas gifts for friends and family while supporting local vendors. Here’s a list of the holiday markets happening in Minneapolis & St. Paul in December.
I’ll add to this list as I find new events, and comment below if you know of one I missed!
If you want to start a plant addiction hobby, but don’t want to spend a ton of money doing it, I have good news for you! I’ve spent enough money on plants and have figured out a great free way to do just that!
The secret? Plant swaps.
What started off as a small collection of 3 big box store plants ended up blossoming into a new hobby, a collection of 40+ plants, and a fun new way to connect with people! I started with a few trendy looking plants (and ended up killing my first fiddle-leaf fig) and then moved on to the common plants. I bought pothos
I wasn’t sure what to expect at my first plant swap, but was so pleasantly surprised! Everyone was very kind, willing to talk plants and explain the care needs, and give out cuttings even though I didn’t have anything “worthy” to trade.
Search plant groups on Facebook or follow local plant people on Instagram to find plant swaps in your area, and don’t forget to search greenhouses and nurseries, they often host swaps themselves!
Here are some of my favorite plants I’ve gotten through plant swaps:
For those of you who have attended plant swaps before, what’s the best plant you’ve gotten?