Aug 1, 2021

Random Roundup Catch Up Edition: Books, Shopping, School and More

Hello, stranger! I hope you and your loved ones are doing well.

I didn't mean to take a nearly three-month hiatus, but it happened. And so has a lot of life, which I'll catch you up on below. But first, just me say THANK YOU for being here - it means so much to have friends in this little corner of the internet!

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I continue to read lot thanks to #Read21in21, and my Instagram feed is basically all the books I've been reading. I mentioned the Book Collector mystery series in my last post, and because of it, I started reading the Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy L. Sayers. It's set in the early 1900's, so it's something of a history lesson on what society was like then (it seems like every day, I'm reminded of how lucky I am to be a woman today and not at a previous time in history!). The stories are quirky, and it took me some time to get used to the style, but I'm enjoying myself as I slowly make my way through the books. (I'm apparently not the only one reading the series since I have to wait for each book to become available at the library.) I'll also give a shout out to the Bakeshop Mystery series, which is light and fun.

Speaking of the library, I can't rave about it enough. I just love being able to borrow e-books and read them using the Kindle app. I can also borrow audiobooks, which I listen to using the Libby app. It's all free, and they've been quite good about acquiring books that they don't have that I "recommend" (it's an option that usually pops up for a book they don't own).

If you're not in Los Angeles, your public library probably offers the same or similar service for digital content. Look for a link on their website about borrowing digital material or even just a "get a card" link.


Now that my entire family is fully vaccinated, I've been going out more. I eat outdoors with friends and I go shopping! I always knew I enjoy shopping, but having to take a long hiatus from doing it in person as opposed to online has given me a new appreciation for it. I know lots of people don't like it, but I love perusing the different options and picking out my own products. (Although now that the delta variant is so prevalent, I've been double masking and getting in and out quickly.)

I've been going to the farmers market every week, which always makes me feel good - I get to buy great produce and prepared foods, and support small business owners and local farmers. (A few weeks ago on Facebook, I shared a link to an article about how over half the products in a supermarket are made by just four companies.) I've also checked out the new Pavilions and Whole Foods markets that opened in my neighborhood during the pandemic, and they're great. My friend's son is actually going to start working at the Pavilions, so I'm looking forward to seeing him there. 

We're saving money compared to when I ordered everything online, because I don't stock up unnecessarily, the way I did when I wasn't sure if something would be in stock the next time I needed to place an order. I can also buy in quantities that work for me (e.g., a quarter pound of deli turkey instead of the full pound Ralphs made me buy for a pickup order).

And I've rediscovered the joy of a great deal. Over on Facebook, I shared the moneymakers I recently picked up at Whole Foods. (By the way, even when I was only buying groceries online, I consistently used the Ibotta and Fetch apps to earn free money.)


I spent a the first half of the year starting to work toward a certificate in College Counseling. As you might recall, I've spent a lot of time the past few years learning about the college application process and especially, how people pay for college (aside from loans, which I really want to avoid). As my kids and my friends' kids have gotten older and my friends and I talked about college, I realized I had so much knowledge that I could use to help other families, so I decided to try a course in the certificate program at UCLA. So far, I'm really enjoying the classes (although I'm taking the summer off).

Since my goal is to help other families, please let me know if you'd be interested in a video series that gives an overview of the college application process, and then goes deeper into different areas, like what to think about in middle school, what to do junior and senior years (with a timeline), and explanations about various aspects of financial aid. I had to make a slideshow for my final project in one of my classes, so I'm envisioning a slideshow with my voiceover, giving more details about what's on each slide. If that's something you'd be interested in, please let me know! (You can fill out the contact form in the right sidebar at or email me at


A word about going back to school: If you liked school when you were younger, you'll probably still like it now. I was nervous about taking classes again, but it didn't take me long to remember how to study and although some things are different (no face-to-face time with professors in my online classes), the rhythm is mostly the same. It feels good to learn new things and analyze and explain them. And I have to say, the big benefit of taking online classes is that you can do the work on your own schedule and not worry about getting to class on time. If you've been thinking about taking some classes but have been hesitant, let me encourage you to take just one class and see how it goes.


I also want to share one of my favorite resources when it comes to learning about applying to colleges, the Getting In: A College Coach Conversation podcast. I listen to it every week when I'm vacuuming, and I always learn so much. I love that they cover every facet of the college process, from what eighth and ninth graders should be thinking about to how to write essays for specific colleges to applying to a military academy or to college as a veteran. They also talk about paying for college and what students should do to prepare to be successful when they get there. They answer lots of listener questions, too, so if you have a specific concern, you can submit it to them and get expert advice.


It's hard to believe that it's August. My cousins' kids in Hawaii start school this week (!) and my kids start in two weeks. Not only is waking up early again going to be a major adjustment, I've been trying to remember what my morning routine on school days was a year and a half ago - things like what time I used to wake up, when we used to leave the house, and what time school started and ended. They seem like such fundamental things that I can't believe I forgot them, but the fact that I did is just another indication of how bizarre life has been for the last 17 months.

The craziest thing is that I'm about to have two kids in high school. My older one just got his driver's permit, and I'm hearing that if you drive your kids to school, then it's common to have your kid drive to and from school when they're learning how to drive. I'm not sure I'll be doing that.


I'm heading over to Costco tomorrow. My younger son has fallen in love with Dubliner cheese, and they sell giant blocks of it there. I also realized that I would love to have some freezer meals again to make dinner time easier. Because I've been getting my meat from ButcherBox, it comes frozen and I can't meal prep the way I used to (since you can't re-freeze raw meat that was already frozen). So I'm thinking about buying some meat at Costco and prepping some meals for the freezer, like chili and meatloaf. What are your favorite freezer meals?

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