Quarantine Mostly-Favorites (2.0) and more thoughts from the inside

I wish I could honestly say this post is full of favorites, but it’s really more of a mixed bag. Which, let’s be honest, is pretty much all we can hope for these days, right?

So how’s everyone doing? Other than the obvious, what are you sick of?
Netflix? (Check.)
Your pajamas? (Check.)
Feeling like you should be more productive? (Check.)
People who are still ignoring the rules? (Check.)
Your family members? (Only for like an hour or two a day.)
Cooking dinner every damn night? (CHECKCHECKCHECK.)
Cheetos? (Never.)

I know I’ve told you before that for me, being forced to stay at home is like a gift: like drawing a “go directly to jail” card in Monopoly when you are out of money and everyone else has houses on every property. Despite the reason for it (obviously), I’ve been happy as can be to have forced containment for the past six weeks.

But now I kind of want to roll doubles.
I want out.
I’m getting antsy and bored and really, really want to go out to dinner.
In a restaurant.

I want to pop into Pier One to see if they have cute summery throw pillows.
I want to get coffee and a croissant at my favorite café in our cute lakeside town and sit on a bench watching the sailboats and saying hello to the walkers and their dogs.
I want to stand in line for ice cream and taffy with 50 other people in the tiny candy shop when we are at our cabin.
I want to go downtown and see a show.
I want to go to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning and get almond muffins and stand with the other people while we listen to the live music.
I want to go to the zoo.
I want to go to the movies and eat popcorn in a recliner.
I want to see if Target has any cute flip flops (STOP LYING TO YOURSELF WOMAN OF COURSE TARGET HAS CUTE FLIP FLOPS).
I want to not be afraid to imagine reentry.

Enough wanting.


Let’s get to the (not really) favorites, shall we?

A sort of good book and a really good book:

Listen, we all have different opinions and like different kinds of books, so while I might be feeling kind of wishy-washy on a book, you might love it. So take my mediocre reviews with a grain of salt.
And then add tequila and lime.

The Happily Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez
*click image to read synopsis

Last summer I read Jimenez’s first foray into the rom-com genre, The Friend Zone, and really liked it. It was a fast-paced, intelligent, often laugh out loud read with a surprisingly meaty topic. So as you can imagine, I was really looking forward to the second book in the “series” (familiar characters but can work as a stand alone book).

And it started off so cute — again, super fast-paced and very conversational (I love good, witty dialogue!) but about a third of the way in it became kind of groan-worthy for me. Way too cutesy and almost unbelievable how obsessed with each other the characters are.

That being said, I stuck with it, and even though I knew how it would end (of course you will know how it ends), the epilogue wrapped everything up a little too tightly for me. *insert finger in throat here

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
*click image to read synopsis

This one gets an official YMFT Favorite stamp of approval, ya’ll. No “sort of” about it.

From the author of The Dinner List (a book that would fall into the “sort of” favorite category if you’re keeping track), In Five Years is a delightful, emotional, surprising ride.

At first glance (or after the first 30 pages or so) you’ll think you’ve figured out the whole book, but HOLD ON TO YOUR HORSES because you do not. I loved how unpredictable and original this story was. Seriously, it kept me guessing the entire way through, right up until the last page.

Highly recommend!

Sort of good shows:

Run – HBO

I fell in love with Merritt Wever when I recapped Nurse Jackie for EW.com and loved her brilliant performance in last year’s Unbelievable on Netflix.

Run is a totally different vehicle for her. It’s fast and witty and has an interesting and pretty original plot, but since we’ve only watched two episodes (they’re short, too) my verdict is still out on if this show will be a true favorite.

Little Fires Everywhere – Hulu

I know there are a lot of conflicting opinions on this one — the book and the miniseries — and I get it. I liked the book but didn’t love it, and I started off liking the series but not loving it … but then by the final few was blown away. Definitely one of my favorite things I’ve watched in quarantine.
Here are my quick thoughts:

  • I began by being supremely annoyed by Reese Witherspoon (not unusual for me) but about halfway through realized that, much like in Big Little Lies, it was really because she was playing the annoying character so well.
  • Was annoyed with Kerry Washington’s acting all the way through. (Don’t get me wrong, loved her in Scandal but her measured delivery of like every line she uttered in this drove me bonkers.)
  • Was happily surprised by all the twisty plot points I’d totally forgotten about that made the book kind of confusing and hard to keep up with, but worked on television.
  • The kids. Oh. My. Lord. The KIDS were amazing. All of them. And also, can we just appreciate how they cast phenomenal actors who all looked exactly like they could be not only related, but the children of Reese Witherspoon and Joshua Jackson?
  • The young actress who played Izzy (she was only 15 when they shot this!) was so incredible and heartbreaking. I predict we’ll be seeing a lot more of her in many different things in the future … starting with an Emmy nom.
  • The younger versions of Elena and Mia were also bizarrely perfect. Not only did they look like younger versions of Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, they nailed their speech modulations perfectly.
  • I won’t give anything away, but will say that I loved the way they adjusted the ending on the show vs. the book.

Did you watch it? Let me know if you agree or disagree with me in the comments!

Favorite recipe this week:

No sort-of about this one, these Honey BBQ Pork Sliders were an easy favorite I’ll definitely be adding to the crock-pot rotation.

Photo: Rachel Shultz.com

Found the recipe on my Pinterest “What’s For Dinner” board. I’m sure it’s been sitting there, lonely and forgotten, since about 2014.

(Raise your hand if you used to spend H O U R S going down a Pinterest rabbit hole when it first started, pinning things like crazy and ending up with cluttered boards full of shit you’ll never make.)

When I’m at a total loss for what to make for dinner (every night recently) I’ll just peruse my food boards on Pinterest (I have several) and either discover an old recipe we liked, one that’s been there for years we’ve never tried, or a lot that I wonder why the hell I ever pinned. I threw out most of my cookbooks a few years ago and just use Pinterest as my online one. (#notacook)

But back to the sliders.
The delicious sliders.
The slightly sweet, slightly tangy sliders.
The honey BBQ sauce you make at the end is the key ingredient and gives the pork a bit of a sweet Hawaiian flavor. I omitted the green pepper (only because I did not have a green pepper) but think next time I’ll throw in some pineapple bits.

We ate these with chips (pro tip: Salt and Vinegar Kettle Chips with this will make your head explode … in a good way) and fruit (because it made us feel better about the Salt and Vinegar chips). Perfect summer dinner … and lunch the next day!

Get the delicious, easy recipe right >> HERE <<

Favorite time of year:

I’ve written about my love of “eves” for years, and right now we are right in the middle of my most favorite one: summer’s eve.
*insert middle school joke here

I love the anticipation of summer almost more than summer itself. Truth be told, I’m already panicking a little bit that it’s so close. I know I’m about to blink and it will be over. And even though this year I’m hopeful that the end of summer will mean life will be somewhat back to normal, I can’t help but dread the passage of the next four months already.
I’m a living contradiction, I know.

Thawing out here in Minnesota means a lot more than the snow disappearing; it means our souls and spirits waking up from their ice chamber and returning to bloom in the warm sunshine.

I’m ready.

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