January is such a strange, transitional month, isn’t it? It can feel unbelievably motivating to be starting a new year, and I always find myself getting a jump start on things that I’ve wanted to read, learn, or complete. But you’re also cooped up in the house during some of the coldest weather of the year, which can make you feel like you’re at a standstill. Overall, though, I like January, because there is a distinct mood of optimism in the air, and the forced slowness can be very relieving after the busy holidays.
BOOKS I’VE READ
I actually read We Have Always Lived in the Castle really quickly during December. I had never read anything by Shirley Jackson before. She is often billed as a horror writer, but this book is different than anything I’ve ever read. I definitely wouldn’t qualify it as horror — although it has distinct horrific elements, it is entirely based in reality.
The narrator is an 18-year-old named Merrikat who lives in a strangely isolated situation with her older sister Constance and her Uncle Julien. It gradually becomes obvious that Merrikat is mentally ill with extreme OCD, Uncle Julien is afflicted with some type of dementia, and Constance has her own brand of mental instability that causes her to become weak if something upsetting happens. All of this on top of the slow trail of details that reveals their entire family was murdered a few years ago by arsenic in the sugar bowl.
The whole story has this film of creepiness clinging to it that you can’t quite place your finger on, and I think that’s the genius of it. I’d definitely recommend it for anyone looking for something different and interesting to read — it’s mysterious and thought-provoking, but not scary.
And to switch to an entirely different type of book, I followed with The Help just after Christmas. I know most people have read this book, so I’m kind of preaching to the choir here, but it was amazing!
It is equally heart-wrenching, inspiring and hopeful. It made you instantly feel like you knew the characters with brilliant dialogue and the way it switched between different individuals to offer nuanced viewpoints on the same situations. It reminds me a lot of To Kill a Mockingbird with its firm acknowledgement of difficult realities and the permeating idea that truth with prevail.
If you are one of the few who haven’t read it, do it now! You won’t regret it. (I also watched the movie, of course, and was pleasantly surprised that the characters were very true to the story — although books always do a better job showing you all the facets of a character, right?).
WHAT’S INSPIRING ME
This post by Emily Henderson, defining what she dubs Modern Victorian, has been creating a little buzz in the blog world. I thought it was so interesting that she pinpointed this style as being huge in 2018. I’ve seen this mix growing for a few years now, and I find it to be very classic although it is becoming more popular.
Some elements of the style Emily describes are key elements of my core aesthetic (I wrote a post about it here). I hadn’t thought of this style as a trend, which is so interesting. (Because is anything really timeless? I don’t think there could be a 100% timeless home. Everything is going to look less fresh after 10 years.) I’m not sure I like (or agree with) the idea that it is a “trend,” but I’m really glad she’s focusing on this style and can’t wait to see what else she comes up with relating to Modern Victorian.
WHAT I COOKED
I made these Blackened Salmon Tacos with Jalapeno Lime Crema the other day, and it’s now one of my go-to recipes. I actually ate them without the tortilla, as more of a salad with the cabbage slaw and the spicy lime crema over the top, with the grilled corn and a bit of goat cheese. It was so delicious I ate it the next day for lunch AND dinner. I think the great mix of spices covering the salmon help temper the sometimes strong flavor and the spicy, savory and slightly tart crema is the perfect companion to all the fresh veggies and rich salmon. Just purely delicious and really healthy, too, if you skip the tortillas.
THINGS I SHOPPED FOR
I’ve been eyeing this gorgeous lamp from Target forever. I almost entirely furnish my home and body with thrift store finds, so when I see something new that I want, unless it’s a great deal, I usually can’t justify buying it (obviously this does not apply to basics and necessities — just the more “frivolous” things like fun fashion and home decor).
For some reason though, I haven’t been able to get this lamp out of my head! I just knew it would be the perfect “special” piece for our living room, with a modern shape in a really classic mix of brass and marble.
I literally walk by this lamp every time I go to Target just to stare at it (I realize this sounds borderline crazy). Yesterday as I was making my pilgrimage, I saw that it was on sale for just 34.98 from 49.99 and it went into my cart SO fast.
Now, it’s sitting pretty in front of the gallery wall on one of my end tables (I’m putting a floor lamp on the other side — I think unique lamps like this sometimes look better standing alone rather than in a pair), and I feel so happy every time I see it! Usually I’m pretty laid back when it comes to my kids messing up something in the house (after all, most of it is from Craigslist or thrift stores), but I might cry actual tears if they break this guy. Crossing my fingers!!!
ON MY WISHLIST
I’m in love with this swimsuit from Vanilla Beach for Target (top here and bottom here). I am headed to a kids-free couple of days in Miami this spring (my cousin’s bachelorette party!) and I’m thinking of getting this for that trip.
It’s been a minute since I’ve purchased a new swimsuit (with the whole having two kids in the past 3 years thing), and I’ve been eyeing these high-waisted suits for quite a while. They’re not always flattering in the back, but the new trend of “cheeky” bottoms and high waisted cuts has really changed the way all swimwear looks and I actually think its way more flattering on most people. It can seem counter-intuitive to show more of something you’re feeling self conscious about but it can actually make it look SO much better in a swimsuit — just try it!
I love the vintage vibe of this suit and the sweet scallops. It would be the perfect swimsuit to spend the whole day in.