Lifestyle · Self Care & Books

Playing at Spring with Flowers

Something that has brought me so much joy through the winter months this year as well as given me hope for spring among the gloomy days has been arranging flowers for my home!

Can this be an expensive hobby? Yes, but I have worked the system now for a year and discovered a few ways to create lovely arrangements that don’t break the bank! My favorite thing to do is to put on an audiobook, go to the store, pick my flowers, and go home and arrange them. I get in some quality reading time, all well enjoying the beauty and serenity of arranging flowers!

A few places that have been so helpful (and cheap) for me when it comes to arranging flowers have been Meijer (a Midwest staple store!) and Aldi (you can’t beat them!). The Meijer I go to most has varying types of flowers and greenery, ranging from $2.99 to $5.99. I usually spend on average $25 a week if I go the Meijer route. This gives me the most diversity in my floral arrangements and is doable in my budget.

Now, if you want to be a super saver and not break the bank I highly recommend Aldi. They do not have as big of a selection, but you can get a full bouquet for $3.99 at Aldi. In this case I usually try to buy 2 different bouquets so I get a variety of flowers. In total I spend just over $8 a week on flowers at Aldi if I go that direction. This doesn’t stress out my budget in any way and creates some wiggle room for other things if we are keeping the budget tighter that month. This is the direction I go most of the Winter too, since the flower and greenery selection in Meijer isn’t the best in the winter months.

So what, why do I do this? What do I gain from it? I gain a sense of calm and control but in the most serene way possible. I usually try to get the flowers on my day off and enjoy the process. Like I said, I will usually put on an audiobook or at the very least a show I have been meaning to watch. While I create my arrangements (4 throughout my house in total) I begin to relax and reset. This is a GREAT weekend activity. I may not be a professional arranger, but I know what I like and I think that’s what it’s about. You start to learn what flowers last the longest (carnations are great for longevity) and which flowers shed everywhere, not to mention which really stink after a few days. I can’t recommend trying this out enough. It’s a great reset as you go into a new week, and something that can provide joy throughout your week as well!

Bookish · Lifestyle · Self Care & Books

Curating a Joyful Life

Something I have been working on since mid 2022 is curating a joy filled life for myself. This started with my mental health to start out 2022 and has continued into every aspect of my life, from my marriage to my reading to the decisions and choices I make! I just thought I would share some of the things I have loved and have helped fill my life with joy the last year.

What’s up first? How about my marriage and making time for what brings us joy as a couple? We started to make time for more dates and day trips. We took time to go to our favorite new restaurants, the casino a town over or just a day trip out of town. This is something that has brought me so much in life! We got so caught up in our day to day life that most days we got home tired and forgot to take time for us. Through the simple act of seeking out more of what brought us joy as a couple, this has made our already happy life so much better!

Another thing that’s brought me joy? BOOKS! Up until 2022 I was reading a lot of what everyone else said I needed to read, not what I wanted to read. I read what BookTok and Bookstagram posted and through this I found some books I liked, but most weren’t what I wanted to read. This is something I strove to fix in 2022. I started by reading some memoirs and then moved onto historical fiction. After that I moved through sci-fi (specifically Star Wars) and finally found my ultimate love for cozy mystery and fantasy books! 2022 was a year of finding my love for reading again and 2023 continues with that trend. The joy this has brought me is so great and I love that I have finally found what I really enjoy reading!

What else? Clothing! I fell into my own style more in 2022 and that brought me SO much joy and helped spark my love for social media again. My mom works for a small clothing boutique and through her work there and a few fun fashion shows, I gained a whole new wardrobe that gave me confidence to take on every day life! In addition to that, I grew my bookish wardrobe (mostly LoTRs themed). These new clothes and styles and the confidence they bring to my life also bring joy and for that I am always thankful. On top of that I didn’t break the bank, as I shopped the sales at my local boutique which brought my Dutch heart joy too! 😂

How about one final thing that has brought me joy? COFFEE! Oh my gosh, 2022 and into 2023 has been the year of coffee for me! I am a tea person through and through, but I have never loved coffee this much. The simple joy of a hot cup of fresh coffee in the morning while watching TV is simply the best. My husband and I bought a very nice coffee maker this year and I am obsessed with it. On top of that we invested in a milk frother and some delicious syrups for our coffee. Our these necessarily healthy? No, but I have had some freaking delicious coffee lately! I 10/10 also recommend trying Joffrey’s Coffee if you haven’t had that brand before. It’s a Disney coffee brand and it’s freaking amazing.

WHEW. That’s a lot of joy – but it’s been a year of personal growth and I have been trying to find and build the joy in my life through it all. It hasn’t always been easy and after a struggle with my own mental health last year this was slow going, but we are getting there!

I would love to hear what brings you joy! What do you add to your day to day life to feel joyful? How do you spread joy to others? Whatever it is, I would love to know!

Bookish · Reading

Millenial Reading

In my opinion, if you are in the Millenial generation, you grew up with the peaking of the YA genre. I feel like YA was just gaining momentum as I went through high school and growing to what it has become today! Because of this – I think YA is so special to so many Millenials and the reason so many of us still enjoy reading YA.

This genre – while one I have started to grow out of in my 30s, is one that formed the reader I am today. Because of books like Twilight and Divergent and The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games – I fell head over heels with reading the dystopian genre especially!

What was it about the early 00’s that made the opening for the YA genre? Specifically the opening that was made for female protagonists… Did we finally reach a point in history that we were ready for the emergences of YA books? Was it the Harry Potter and Twilight craze of the 90’s into the 00’s that made way for more books for kids and teens? Whatever it was, it kicked the door down for everyone.

This genre is so incredibly loved now that there are huge portions of the internet dedicated to it. There are Bookstagrams and BookToks and literal fan clubs for some of these authors. I would argue that without the YA, the uptick in bookstore popularity wouldn’t exist.

On top of that, I would say those Millenials that pushed the YA genre to the forefront, have also brought about the wildly popular romance genre now! These Millenials, as they transition through life are also transitioning through genres and making books like romance novels (that were one embarrassing to pick up) incredibly popular again!

What will be the next genre we send to the forefront? Fantasy novels? Sci-Fi? Crime? (In my opinion – I can see true crime and mystery novels making a resurgence next!) Whatever it is, it always makes me so happy and proud to be a part of a group so obsessed and into reading that we helped save a books and bookstores! Is this a bold claim? Maybe, but I stand by it!

Bookish · Reading · Reviews

2023 – The Year of Cozy Mysteries

I don’t know what I did to get myself on this kick, but 2023 is shaping into a year full of cozy mysteries! I ended 2022 by starting a few new series and was fully immersed in cozy mysteries by the start of 2023. Now here we are, 2 months into the new year, and I am OBSESSED with them. I have read a few other genres in conjunction with the mysteries, but nothing is currently holding a candle to them. I don’t know how to accurately relate my feelings on these books, but I love them!

I figured I would share a few that I love – but there are SO many out there. I have started and stopped a few but most of the series I have picked up have been instant winners for me!

First up is an audiobook series I got into, because several were free via the Audible App. I was looking for free cozy mysteries back in December and stumbled upon this one, A Haunted Library Mystery series. There are currently 6 books in this series available, with the 7th coming out in October this year.

If you are looking for a good mystery with a slight romance this is it! The romance is established in the first book, so the focus of the next 5 books is mostly on the mysteries, which I love! I do enjoy the romance in the books, but it doesn’t take front seat and that has been my issue with a few of the cozy mysteries I have picked up.

This series revolves around a library and our library protagonist, Carrie. Her life at the library is anything but ordinary, as she not only helps solve murders, but also has the ability to see ghosts. This is such a fun mystery series, and I highly recommend the audiobooks as well!

Next up is the Bookstore Cafe Mystery series! This series is at a total of 10 books, with the 11th coming out later this year. I love ALMOST every book in this one, with the exception of a few. This is another one where I was able to get books for my Kindle via Kindle Unlimited, making it a more cost effective series to read!

Other than the few books in this series that didn’t quite do it for me, I actually love the characters of Krissy and Vicki and their fun cafe/bookstore! I think their friendship seems genuine the Krissy’s connection to mysteries is especially fun! Each title has a tie in of sorts to how the victim dies (thus “Death by Coffee”) and always leaves me wanting a warm or caffeinated beverage of some sort!

I am not sure how the audiobooks are for this series, but like I said, having read them on Kindle they were very quick reads. They’re a great way to finish a stressful day, a low stakes cozy mystery!

This series is a more “new to me” series by Lauren Elliot. The A Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery series, took me a bit to get into but once I did I was in love. I am coming up on finishing the 2nd book in this 8th book series and the 9th comes out later this year. This is another series I partially bought and partially borrowed through Kindle Unlimited and they are fairly quick reads.

Currently I am reading a few chapters each night before I head to bed, and I am loving them. The main character and our sleuth, Addie, took some getting used to for me but now I love her. The first book starts out TERRIBLY cheesy, but slowly progresses and now (as I near the end of book 2) I am fully invested in these quirky characters and their lives!

Last but not least with my recommendations is the Cozy Corgi Mystery series! I love when the main characters have a fun and quirky animal at their side and this series is no exception there! This is another one I was able to listen to most of free through Audible! If you haven’t checked Audible (or the Library I guess…) for free cozy mysteries before you are missing out!

This cozy mystery takes place in Estes Park, Colorado. This was the main reason I was intrigued from the start, as we had a family vacation there earlier this year! I will say, of all the cozy mystery series I have read, this is probably the cheesiest, but I still love it!

There are MANY others I have read and loved or read and DNFd, but I am going to leave it at these for now! If you are looking for something cozy, low stakes and with some mystery to it definitely check these out!

Lifestyle · Travel

A Sunny Start to 2023

Hello hello my lovely blog friends! To start 2023 I actually took a vacation with my parents and grandma (unfortunately my amazing husband had to work and couldn’t make it). This was a vacation we had planned back in April of 2022 when my Mom signed up for RunDisney and I am SO glad we did!! I have such a hard time with the grey skies in Michigan this time of year, so this was a much needed trip of sunshine!

I figured instead of writing a whole lot of nonsense about my trip I would share a few moments instead – from Disney to Jupiter and everywhere in between here are a few glimpses at my trip in Florida!

(I might share more about where we went later….but we did A LOT in those 7 days!)

Bookish · Lifestyle · Self Care & Books

New Year, Same Me (Kinda…)

I am NOT big on New Year Resolutions, but I love making goals for myself as we head into a new year. Each year they change a little, but I try to make them attainable and things that will make me happier. It’s always nice to start fresh with a new year and new goals!

Now, I meant to post this a few weeks back, but soon after January 1st, I took a trip down to Florida with my family and with that trip I took a bit of break from social media and posting in general for a little while! I am back now and we are in full swing, so here are a few things I will be focusing on this year:

  • Health:
    • This year I wanted to focus on my health more. Last year was a tough mental health year for me and it caused me to be less healthy in what I eat and how I work out. I started Noom (which has been amazing), and have also been doing yoga daily. In addition to those, I do Zumba once a week and we just invested in a new stationary bike that I am excited to use at home. Investing in yourself and your health – whatever aspect of it, it might be – this should be your top goal each year (in my opinion).
  • Devotions/Bible:
    • I am so bad at this one and so I try to adjust it each year to help motivate myself. I try to do some journaling and devotions in the morning each day, including my 3 Years of Joy journal from Ink and Willow. This is just a lovely way to start my day and adds to my mental health journey – starting the day the best way possibly.
  • Water:
    • This might go under health but I kind of make it its own goal… I am VERY bad at drinking water throughout the day so I motivate myself in many ways. I have a water bottle that shows me where I should be and when throughout the day as well as several 40oz tumblers I have been using to keep myself motivated. In addition to that I have an app on my watch and Noom that hold me accountable to drink water each day!
  • Reading:
    • Last year was such a BAD reading year for me. This was in part to my own mental health journey and focusing on that, as well as trying to figure out what made me happy to read. I didn’t read as much as I would have liked but I read a fair amount. My goal this year is to get to 100 books by the end of the year. This is entirely possible!! I got to 85 last year and that was after a very slow start! I also discovered that I love cozy mysteries, adult fantasy and historical fiction more than I originally thought. On top of that I read quite a few biographies and memories this past year that I loved, so I am looking for more to take on in 2023!

WHEW! I think that’s everything – thanks for following along on that! I am so excited for 2023 – last year was more of a rough year for me, but I learned a lot from it! I look forward to 2023 and the lessons it will bring as well as the JOY in store!

Bookish · Reading

Book Goals 2023

Blank. Slate.

I am someone who likes to set up goals at the start of the year – though never anything that is completely life changing. I like to set up a reading schedule, or workout schedule, for myself to set myself up for success in the year ahead!

This year ahead, after a rough mental year in 2022, I am setting myself up for success to start out this year. My reading goal on Goodreads this year (2023) is going to be 100! It is a lofty goal, considering my goal last year was 40 books but I am excited for it! I just got into cozy mysteries over the last few months and I am feeling rereads this year, because why not. I am so excited for all of these reading endeavors and can’t wait to share my journey along the way!!

I am also not one for TBRs but I thought I would share my January TBR with you all as well!

  • Death by Cafe Mocha (will finish up – started in Dec.)
  • Death by Hot Chocolate
  • Death by French Roast
  • Checked Out for Murder (will finish up – started in Dec.)
  • Death on the Shelf
  • Scornful Scones
  • Savage Sourdough
  • Cheddar off Dead (will finish up – started in Dec.)
  • Legends & Lattes

WHEW! That’s a lot but those are all such short and fun reads! These cozy mysteries are such a mood in winter and I would read them all day if I could.

I think that’s it for now my friends – happy reading and HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Top 5 Christmas Movies

Okay – let me preface this blog post by saying I am either a 12 year old or a 95 year old when it comes to my taste in Christmas movies. I love Christmas movies so, so much from the newest and star studded movies to the classics! This list is purely the movies I love most and why from number 5 to number, so enjoy and share your favorites below.

Honorable Mention

First up, how about an honorable mention? This movie isn’t for everyone but I love A Christmas Story. I can’t think of another movie that has such a special place in my heart. I remember this movie being on a marathon the day before Christmas and just sitting and watching it with my dad. While it doesn’t quite make it into my top 5 it is a must for the nostalgia alone for me!

#5 – Christmas Vacation

This amazingly funny movie is my husband’s and mine favorite movie to watch together. Although it’s not my favorite Christmas movie it is full of hilarious one liners and fantastic acting. If you love the Vacation movies or need something funny to just throw on this holiday season this movie is a must. I always put it on when I am stressed this time of year and need something running in the background. It’s like The Office during the year for me, but my Christmas go to!

#4 – Spirited

Well, here’s a new one to add to the mix! Seems strange that a movie I watched 2 days ago for the first time would be in my top 5 but it is! This story and the music was beautiful and is easily one of my new Christmas favorites. As someone who loves musicals this checked all my boxes for a good musical as well as a good Christmas movie and I love it so much for that! Be sure to check it out and if you have Roku there is a temporary deal for 3 months of Apple TV for free!

#3 – Arthur Christmas

I am LITERALLY Arthur from Arthur Christmas and I love this movie so stinking much! This is one of those animated movies that is full of adult humor but it’s written in a way that makes it funny for kiddos and adults alike! This one is a classic and full of all the Christmas spirit and will make you “believe” again! I highly recommend this if you have kiddos at home but want a movie that will make you laugh and feel all the Christmas feels!

#2 – The Santa Clause

The NOSTALGIA of this movie is unreal! As a 90’s baby this is one of my all time favorites and I remember sitting with my siblings and watching it year after year! Now watching it is so incredibly nostalgic for me with all the 90’s cars, and foods and things – it makes my heart so happy! In addition to all those, there are some subtle Home Improvement references too, and I love them!

#1 – White Christmas

And now for not only my favorite Christmas movie, but also my favorite movie of all time, White Christmas. This movie literally has everything from acting, to music to dancing, it has it all! It is a beautiful story with beautiful acting and everything in between. If you have never watched this movie it is an absolute must around Christmas time and will pull on your heartstrings with it’s tie in to WWII as well as the music around it!

WHEW – okay, time to go watch more Christmas movies (I am watching Arthur Christmas as I type this). Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your’s! Have a very merry season all!

Bookish · Reading · Self Care & Books

Cozy Reads for the Cozy Season

I was recently introduced to cozy fantasy books novels and I have not turned back! I read one last month and fell head over heels in love with it. I immediately started looking for more and so fare have found one, but hope to find more!

How about introducing you all to the book that started it all for? That book is Legends & Lattes and I am OBSESSED WITH IT!

I actually saw this in a friend’s story at the tale end of the summer and didn’t really think about it. In October I was looking for a fantasy, but not one that was going to require to much thinking on my part. I wanted something fun and light hearted and this was it! From the first page to the last page I felt like I was being held by a warm blanket. The story is dreamy and full of coffee and baked goods and what more could you want?! To add to the charm of the coffee and baked goods is an underlying love story and some lovely friendships! If that hasn’t sold you, I don’t know what will, but you need to check this book out today! I know I this is going to become my go to, feel good read and I cannot wait to read it again!!

The next book, per Amazon, that was recommended to me was Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea and I cannot wait to pick this one up too!

From the reviews I have read and either the author note in the book, this is just like Legends & Lattes. I was so relieved to read that and a lot of the reviews for this book make it seem like another perfect cozy fantasy! I don’t know if this is a recent genre, but this I can already tell this is going to be something that I go to when I need a pick me up this winter! I cannot wait to share more from this genre as I discover them, and if you have some be sure to share those as well!


Jacquie’s Winter Favorites!

Continuing my favorites with a Winter blog consisting of all my favorites! While it’s not winter yet, we certainly are feeling the Christmas spirit here with music on the radio and Hallmark channel starting its annual countdown! I figured with the Christmas season coming and a time of gifting ahead, I would share some of my favorites.

First up, I adore fun cardigans and this one is no exception! This cardigan is possibly the most classy looking piece of clothing I have ever owned and it is so well made! I wore it for the first time this week and the amount of compliments I got was unreal. It has the richest colors and is such a thick knit. It’s amazing! This cardigan is from the brand Vertigo and I picked it up from Jean Marie’s boutique. If you are looking for a lovely cardigan for a Christmas celebrations or a gift for a family member, this would be so perfect!

Tumblers are always a go to! These can be such a great gift and there are so many on the market to choose from – which can make this so difficult to find the right one. Thankfully for you all, I have bought WAY too many tumblers and I have found one of my favorite by Simply Modern! This water tumbler/coffee tumbler is so versatile and would make the perfect gift for yourself or a loved one on your list. This is the Forest color found on Amazon and while it’s a great color for Christmas, it’s also a good color for anyone on your list, daughter, son, mother, father, brother, sister, friend – you name it! This tumbler can be used for hot and cold beverages and has interchangeable lids for that!

My friends, if you have not tried C.C. Beanies you are missing out! These beanies are incredible and so cozy! I currently own 3, but I hope to accumulate more this year during Christmas. They come in so many colors and styles and make such perfect and thoughtful gifts. Giving someone a beanie or gloves always strikes me as incredibly kind and thoughtful. These beanies can range anywhere from $15-$25ish and have such a great longevity as hats. I have one C.C. Beanie I have now had for 4 years from Jean Marie’s and it is in fantastic shape!

Okay – if you love peppermint mochas this is the coffee for you this holiday season! I got this coffee last year, but they must have improved it because this year it is the absolutely perfect blend! My mom and dad are the sweetest people ever and gifted me this coffee as an early present this year! They were lucky enough to find it at TJ Maxx for $8 but you can also purchase it at Joffrey’s online store as well (along with all of the other amazing winter/holiday/Christmas blends)!

Last but not least, I am such a fan of silk scarves lately! These make such great headbands or accessories for bags. These are so inexpensive, but again can make such meaningful and beautiful gifts around Christmas time. To add to that, they are the perfect way to jazz up any outfit! This one I purchased off of Amazon and is so incredibly intricate and pretty. If you are looking to give someone a lovely gift this year and not spend an arm and a leg, this is it!

Whew, okay! That is my roundup for Winter favorites and things that would make the perfect gift this holiday season. Good luck with the busy days and weeks ahead this holiday season!!