A place to call home: The Orchard House | Concord, MA

For our six-year wedding anniversary, my husband and I packed up the car (and our sweet little babe) and made our way to Concord, MA, for a day trip. I have been wanting to visit this quintessential New England town for quite some time, so I was grinning ear to ear the entire ride up.

Our very first stop was The Orchard House — the home of Louisa May Alcott and her family. This was the place where she wrote Little Women, my favorite book … like ever ever ever.

Ever ever ever!!

It was surreal to stand in her bedroom and look at the desk where she wrote Little Women … while holding my little woman. * wipes tear *

The Alcotts were not a typical family during their time. They’d have conversations about women’s suffrage, abolitionism, and social reform around the dining room table. Bronson Alcott (LM’s father) was a transcendentalist, and would often gather with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau to talk about social issues. He was a teacher, consistently losing his position because of his progressive ideals.

The main thing that struck me about the house was that it was … very odd. The house is actually two structures: the original structure and an old tenant house from the 1600s. Louisa May’s father received the tenant house for free, and he and his friends rolled (?) it down to the main house and they attached it to the original structure. The house was certainly a home, filled with oddities and eccentricities that fit with the family and their style. Bronson seemed to be a DIY-before-it-was-cool kind of guy. He innovated ways to boil water and dry clothes in the kitchen. He built Louisa May a desk so she can write, something that was frowned upon during her time. He let his youngest daughter May (Amy) sketch on her bedroom walls to improve her art. When Anna’s (Meg) husband died, he built a nursery in the house for her twin sons to live in. Every corner of the house was unique and had special touches that were well preserved. It was an amazing look into the life of one of my favorite authors and it made me feel closer to her.

It got me thinking about my home. My husband and I bought our home in June 2020, and we have made a lot of progress in adding our own personal touches. We put a big barn door in our bedroom going into our bathroom. We built our own pantry in the kitchen. We converted an awkward bedroom closet into a cozy reading nook. We are making a house a home.

I moved a lot growing up, and there were many times when I didn’t feel like I had a home or solid roots. Not anymore. For over ten years, I have been building a home with Ian, and it’s wonderful to own an actual home and make it warm and fun and create memories together. Our home has cats and fluffy pillows. It has bookshelves and candles and more coffee mugs than I’ll ever need. It has memories of laughter and holiday joy. It has gardens and trees that we’ve planted. It has baby gates and stuffed animals and toys. It is home, and it is ours.

Check-In: So long, summer

For most of my adult life, I would wish the summer away. Summer is hot, sticky, insufferable. After a few good beach days and cookouts, I am ready for crisp, cool weather, hoodies, and apple and pumpkin spice. But this year, my outlook on summer took quite a turn.

This was the first summer in a long time that I wished for it to stay. To stay warm and sunny for just a little longer. It might have to do with having air conditioning installed in my house, but it mostly is because I am seeing the season through a new pair of eyes: my daughter’s. (Let’s be real though, air conditioning is nice…)

This summer with Nora was one of my favorite summers of all time. I got to revisit the season through her perspective: licking a melting popsicle under the blistering sun (in her case, a breastmilk popsicle), feeling the cool grass on my toes, breathing in the smell of freshly-mown grass and watering plants, the scent of sunscreen and the sound of crashing waves. My baby was experiencing these things for the first time, and it was amazing to witness.

Nora loves the swing, and after a busy day at work, we would spend some time swinging and listening to the birds and neighbors relaxing in their yards. Some days, we would lie out on a blanket and look at the clouds, listening to music and practicing our tummy time (we have a crawler now). We went to a farm. We went to the beach. We went to my brother in law’s pool. We went to the park. We really enjoyed summer!

I will look back at this summer and remember it to be one of the best. I know that next summer will be better than ever.

Spooky season: We are ready for you!

Why I’m Leaving Bookstagram (For Now)

It was around two in the morning and I was lying in bed, thinking about how I haven’t posted on bookstagram in a while. I remember shaming myself for not posting reviews, which would mean I would lose followers, which would mean …

Which would mean …

Wait a damn minute.

Which would mean nothing.

I sat up to adjust my pillow (and my priorities) and realized something that’s been a long time coming: I wasn’t interested in bookstagram anymore. It served its purpose, and it is time to move on.

A little history

I joined bookstagram in July 2019. I realized that I was posting a lot of photos of the books I was reading, and all of a sudden, people were following me and asking me for book recommendations. I thought, “wait a second … maybe I can turn this into a thing!” After some quick research, I learned that bookstagram was, in fact, already a very big thing. I decided to take the plunge and made the switch. I grew my followers from 300 to 1,000 in four months. It was so exciting! I made friends, joined an engagement group, and felt my creative itch go away.

Then, COVID hit. Soon, everyone was isolated and forced to stay indoors. All I had was my husband, my cat, my books, and a tiny screen that connected me with thousands of bookworms around the world. Throughout the darkest times of the pandemic, I would turn to my little corner of the internet for support. Like everyone else, bookworms were looking for empathy, for laughs, for an escape.

Bookstagram really did that for me, and I am super grateful for that. I have made friends who have become lifers. They have been there for me more than some family members. When I was pregnant with my daughter, presents from the book community came pouring in. I was absolutely floored. There are people from bookstagram who I talk to every day, and I honestly cannot imagine my life without their light and humor and presence.

OK, so, why are you quitting?

I wouldn’t necessarily say that I am calling it quits, but, I’ve decided that I need to take a break from the ol’ bookstagram. But that doesn’t mean that I will stop reading. Oh, no no. Reading I will be doing. But updating my page regularly and contributing to a space that I am no longer interested in? That I will not be doing!

Between my job, taking care of Nora, traveling for work, and other responsibilities, the immense pressure and stress that I feel to post just isn’t worth it. I don’t feel like fighting the algorithm. I feel like I have nothing unique to contribute to the space, and I do not have the capacity or interest to try. There are so many incredibly creative minds on bookstagram — from their engaging reels and insightful book reviews to their book challenges and intricate photos. They are amazing, but I am just not one of them. They are kickin’ butt, so go follow them!

I want to be present in my own life instead of scrolling on a phone. I want my daughter to see me reading books, not screens (kindles don’t count!) I want to be with my daughter, soak in every moment because time is a thief. Bookstagram was stealing that time from me, so I am saying goodbye.

So will you still write about books on here?

Yes! Among other things. I toyed with the idea of making and distributing my own newsletter (I might still do this …) but, for now, I will continue to update my blog with book reviews, monthly wrap ups and TBRs, postpartum posts, and other life updates. My interest is writing, and while bookstagram offers an outlet to write and reach a wider audience, I am happy with my smaller corner of the world, writing my thoughts on a blank screen with little to no character restraints 🙂

So, thank you for following along. If I found you on bookstagram (or if you found me on bookstagram), I am happy to stay connected with you. Thank you for your support and friendship during the darkest of times as well as the brightest.

Be well, all. And onward.

August Movement Tally

August was quite the successful month when it came to my movement challenge. I discovered a new type of workout, Barre, and hit some impressive goals and personal records! I ran outdoors for the first time ever, ran two 5Ks (one outdoors!), and ran for one mile without stopping. I feel stronger than ever, and I’m proud to share that as of today, I have exercised for 60 days straight.

A photo of me celebrating 50 days of movement.

Here’s how August went:

  • 80 workouts
  • 32 hours, 20 minutes of exercise
  • 8, 129 calories burned
  • 55.95 miles “traveled”
    • Bike: 26.60
    • Run: 16.35
    • Walk: 16

One of my favorite moments of exercise was just the other day when I ran my first outdoor 5K. There were moments when I wanted to call my husband and ask him to pick me up, but then the adrenaline kicked in and I made it! I loved stopping at my midway point, the beach, and enjoyed the views. I couldn’t have been prouder of myself in that moment. Onward to September, where I will run in my first race!