Spooky Reads for Spooky Season

I’m not a book aficionado or a full-time reader, but I’ve read a handle of stories that go great with a fresh PSL, cozy blanket, and fall-themed candle.

I love a good spooky story. This is not a comprehensive list, but these are good ones to get you started. Some are for kids, some are classics, and some are YA or adult reads. I’ll note what they are & how many pages. That helps me when deciding what I have time for during a book break!

The Witches by Roald Dahl
Childrens / 208 pgs / Goodreads
Surprising creepy for a kids book, but that’s how Dahl is.

The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
Middle Grade / 465 pgs / Goodreads
This is such a fun read! (And a series!)

Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson
Middle Grade / 186 pgs / Goodreads
One of my favorite books as a kid!

Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
Young Adult / 7 books / Goodreads
This series is good for any time of year, but especially cozy season.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Young Adult / 162 pgs / Goodreads

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Young Adult / 182 pgs / Goodreads

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by
Classic / 139 pgs / Goodreads

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Classic / 464 pgs / Goodreads
I did not enjoy this story, but the setting is spooky enough to be included.

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
Young Adult / 145 pgs / Goodreads
I didn’t love this one, but it is a Halloween story.

The Whisper Man by Alex North
Thriller / 355 pgs / Goodreads
A very eerie and dark thriller.

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox
Paranormal Fantasy / 364 pgs / Goodreads
A slow but spooky historical fiction.

The Darkling Bride by Laura Andersen
Gothic Mystery / 368 pgs / Goodreads
Another haunting (and relatively slow) mystery.

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova
Magical Realism / 336 pgs / Goodreads
Not spooky, but hauntingly beautiful.

Next up for me is The Ex Hex. What do you like to read in the fall?

-Aud

A Picture Perfect Weekend

Last month my other best friend got married & it was the most picture perfect weekend imaginable. Her job is curating beautiful images and stories on IG, so it kind of goes without saying that her wedding weekend was stunning.

Aubrey is the creative genius behind That’s What She Eats. We went to high school together and she lived in Cleveland, OH before jet setting off to FL with her then-girlfriend, now-wife Megan. (I cried when they moved.) (Fortunately, they’re coming back eventually!) Since CLE has their heart (& most of their friends and family live in OH), they had their wedding up north.

Like Kayla’s wedding (when Aubrey stayed with me), Kayla and I stayed together at an AirBNB in Lakewood. Our husbands were there, too. We were in Cleveland from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon.

It was the typical wedding weekend schedule (rehearsal & dinner / ceremony & reception / next-day brunch), but not also not typical at all.

Aub & Megan rented several AirBNBs for the weekend. A house in the Ohio City/Tremont area was used for the rehearsal & after-reception party, we used some lofts in Hingetown for morning-of prep, and a little restaurant in Lakewood was the setting for the ceremony and reception dinner.

After a laidback rehearsal, a few speeches, and a delicious dinner, the wedding crowd mostly cleared out of the backyard and K, Kayla, her husband Connor, and I went to work. It was our job to put the after-reception party together. With some pre-planning, we were able to transform the yard in about two hours. K and Connor hung fairy lights along the 2nd floor balcony and across the backyard. Kayla and I moved tables around, set up a little bar corner, and added the lounge furniture that we hauled from home. With only a few finishing touches to add the following day, we called it a night and went home to rest up for the big day.

The wedding was beautiful & intimate. There were less than 45 guests and I think I knew 35 of them? Haha. That’s what happens when you’ve been friends for 20+ years. Also, when you’ve been friends for that long the bride might ask you to speak during the ceremony. Which she did. So Kayla and I did. Aubrey’s mom and Megan’s mom wrote letters to their future daughters-in-law (SOB FEST) and then Kayla and I gave a short speech on friendship. Aubrey and Megan followed all of us up by saying really kind things to one another, then making their status as wife & wife official! It was beautiful ❤️

The dinner that followed was d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s. obviously. Kayla and I slipped out a little early and headed to the after-party house to put on the tablecloths, centerpieces, and set out dessert. Honestly, the day couldn’t have gone smoother. We were home and in bed by 11:30pm. (WIN!)

The next day brunch was a partial ode to the newly weds and ode to the Browns game. LOL. We stayed for a bit and visited, hugged our new brides EXTRA tight, packed up the car, and drove back home to see our blonde baby. We ended the weekend with full hearts and tummies.

A&M cultivated their weekend beautifully. They kept it small, they included so many personal elements, and they made the people involved feel loved and taken care of. (Hopefully we made them feel loved, too.)

Congratulations, Aubrey and Megan ❤️ We love you SO much and can’t wait until you’re back in OH on a permanent basis!

-Aud

Tangible Dreams

Some nights, while I rock M to sleep, I think about what would make me happy. Not in that moment exactly, but in life. And it’s a tough question to answer, because I’m very happy. I have a family that I couldn’t have designed more perfectly, we live comfortably, and I have a job I enjoy (although it’s extremely stressful right now). But as far as material and lifestyle choices, what could I be doing differently to facilitate more joy?

I know the adage about money/things/etc. not being able to make you happy, and to an extent I agree, but having the right things (or nixing the wrong things) can absolutely affect your happiness. So while I think the human/animal ratio is spot on for me, the s t u f f could always be more tailored.

I’m sitting in an armchair in the corner of my bedroom typing this. There is a big bowl of popcorn beside me, it’s storming outside, and both dogs are snoozing within 5 feet of me. This is a dreamlike moment for me. So how do I capture this coziness and keep it going always?

Late September to early March will always be my favorite time because I think it’s easier to be cozy and chill. (I know the seasonal depression people are scoffing at me- my husband is one of them.) I wasn’t sure how I’d handle camper life when we first bought it last year, but being in the camper is one of my favorite places. It’s small, cozy & organized, filled with comfy things, and it has a fireplace. I love it.

I don’t believe that wanting material things makes you vain or unhappy. I dream of some day building a home that gives me the same comfortable vibe as our camper. I want a wardrobe that is more me and less comfy mom/quarantine hag. (Not a bigger wardrobe- a smaller, different one.) None of this is a priority and it doesn’t make me unhappy to not have it, but it’s something that brings me joy to dream about. And I don’t think we give enough credit to those materialistic dreams and tangible goals. I think we sometimes feel shameful about wanting more/different things.

When I’m rocking M I simply have more brain space and less outside noise to work with. I can pray or dream or plan without someone needing a snack or their nose wiped or the backdoor opened to go potty (kid or dog? You decide). It’s a moment of solace where I get to think about me. And also hold the most important thing in the world. And I love that even more than a cozy writing corner during a thunderstorm 🖤

What are your material-based dreams and goals?

-Aud

(Happy Gotcha Day to Bristol!)

What I Read…

Book Day couldn’t have come at a better time, ya know? Sometimes you just want to get lost in blogs about books, then go add a bunch to your tbr list. Or maybe that’s just me. But I doubt it.

Anyway, welcome to Show Us Your Books day! Linking up with our hosts Jana & Steph!

This month I finished two. And Moo wanted me to share her two picks for the month, too 😄

We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange | Fiction | ★★★★★/5
I don’t read a lot of contemporary fiction but this was a book club pick & I was sucked in from the very start. The characters were flawed but warm and relatable. Their struggles were interesting but believable. It flowed nicely and I read it quickly. It had enough depth to keep it from being a “light read” but not so much grit that your stomach twisted up.
*there is a trigger warning with this one but it gives away some of the plot, so highlight at your own discretion: highlight —>>> miscarriage <<<—-

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova | Magical Realism | ★★★★/5
I don’t know why I picked this book from the BOTM options, but I did. It was so unique and captivating. It took me off my couch and out of my living room, into the orchard at Four Rivers or along the fishing banks in Ecuador or under the hightop in Europe. Marimar and Rey were such lovely characters, flawed but filled with so much love. Their fight for the truth and for their family’s safety made this book spellbinding and so enjoyable.

And now for the main event:

Moo Reads

M and I took our first trip the library a few weeks ago. She got her library card and four books! Two were kind of duds, but she really into these two:

Hop! Plop! by Corey Rosen Schwartz & Tali Klein
This is a silly little story about two friends on the playground, but it has lots of onomatopoeias and fun words. Moo had us reading this one over and over and shockingly sat still for most of the readings.

All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon (Illustrated by Marla Frazee)
I think I like this one a little more than M does, but it’s just so beautifully illustrated!

We still read lots of board books and flap books, but we’re slowly getting into picture books 😊

What did you read this month? We’re moving into cozy season now… my favorite time to read!

-Audrey

Fall & Winter Goals 2021

The best quarter of the year is fast approaching. My heart sings during October through December. The weather cools, our insane workload becomes 10% less insane, and the best holidays ever reside in these months. Not to mention my birthday, M’s birthday, and the first snowfall of the year ❄️

While fall does not *officially* begin until the 22nd and my Q2 goals were severely neglected, I thought we might take a moment to look over some 4th Quarter goals and talk about our plans for the rest of 2021!

So… What happened?

Lol… I made a few Q2 goals but apparently I blacked out in July & August and only lived to survive. As far as my goals went, I accomplished none (read 10 more books, leave two notes, read a classic, ride bike for a week, scrapbook year 6). At least I’m consistent.

I read, but not 10 books. And I started scrapbooking year 6, but I’m not done. I’m going to count those as mini-wins, though, because this is my blog and I can do what I want.

Alright… Moving on…

Fall (Q4) Goals

  • Read 20 books total for the year (which is 7 more books)
  • Finish Year 6 scrapbook
  • Mins Challenge
  • Take a family vacation
  • Landscape the fire pit area in our backyard
  • Pick out pumpkins with M
  • Host our Halloween party
  • Celebrate M’s 2nd bday
  • Get our Christmas tree
  • Shop for 75% of gifts before Thanksgiving
  • Decorate the house
  • Host Christmas
  • Slow down and enjoy time with my family

Will these things happen? Time will tell. Although a few of them are guaranteed.

My 101 in 1001

Ok, so I’ve made a little progress here! I’m crossing off “make a new friend” (because I did!) & go to the dentist. I’ve also been good about reading, getting the dogs groomed, and making a donation once per month. I’ve changed #54 from “strengthen friendships in moms group” to “create a small group” – and crossing that one off ☺️ I also hosted a garage sale and figured out a morning routine with M (when she cooperates).

I need to start taking a systematic approach to my list. (And maybe editing the goals that no longer apply.) Consider that another fall goal for me to accomplish, ha.

I’m not super goal-oriented at the moment. I try to live in the moment each day but also just kind of survive this world so… maybe I will accomplish some of these and maybe I won’t. I know that’s not the CAN DO attitude all those optimists preach, but it’s my attitude & I own that. *shrug*

What are your plans this fall? Do you agree it’s the best time of the year or are you wrong?

-Audrey