Life is more than mint juleps

 

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I bit the bullet – I bought an Erin Condren Life Planner.

For those of you who might not have Instagram, or Facebook, or just don’t pay close attention to your super-organized friends who seem to have it all together (I don’t blame you – it’s annoying), you might not know about the Life Planner. Fortunately, a real-life (non-Internet) friend introduced me to these bad boys, and I’m so excited for mine to arrive in 5-7 business days. (Oh, how shipped items test my patience…)

Of course, it’s got the standard planner fare – a month look ahead, a week-by-week view, room for tasks and shopping lists. But it’s organized in a really great way, making it easy (and fun!) to get your life in order.

And boy, do I need it.

I thought winter was busy, but spring is proving to be absolutely bananas. It’s our anniversary, my husband’s birthday, my niece’s birthday, my nephews’ birthday (the birthday list continues, but I’ll spare you). It’s also our second annual Kentucky Derby party next week, and I haven’t planned a thing.

My best friend is getting married later this year, too, and I’m working on coordinating lots of moving pieces around her shower and party. All fun stuff, but I want to be sure nothing slips through the cracks.

The Life Planner seems like a good start. We already have our monthly dry-erase calendar proudly displayed in our kitchen, but sometimes a more granular, day-to-day breakdown is more functional – or a longer look ahead, peering into June and beyond. If there’s anything this year has taught me, it’s that it’s not slowing down one bit – summer will be here before we know it.

To get myself even more organized, I’m planning to do a little Pinterest-inspired DIY and paint a chalkboard “wall” on the inside of my pantry door. There, I can always have a running grocery list on hand – and, one that my husband can add to, if he needs. (We grocery shop separately, and we don’t always announce it, which means sometimes his items are left out of my cart, and mine out of his.)

There’s something about the weather turning warmer that just makes me want to put my life in order – maybe my body (and mind) are just waking up out of a winter freeze, or maybe the chaos of spring is forcing my hand. Either way, I’m ready to get it together.

I’ll post more about how I’m using my Erin Condren planner when it comes and, in the meantime, you can find me scouring Pinterest for some new life organization hacks.

Comment below if you’ve got something that works for you! I’m also accepting killer mint julep recipes for next week’s affair. We had great decorations, awesome food, and an amazing time last year – but the juleps could have used some TLC.

Amidst all the craziness, I still had time to find a derby hat – even without a planner to prompt me. Go figure.

‘Til next week,

Meredith

Photo by Alison Headley.

Our visit to the Emerald Isle

So, we went to Ireland — and it was more beautiful than I could have imagined.

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A word about Ireland

Quick takes?

  • The people are tremendously friendly. I’ve never been anywhere where people are more ready, willing, and able to not only help you, but engage you in good conversation.
  • If you’re a history buff – or even if you’re not – there’s so much to learn from the country’s past. Whether you’re fascinated by artifacts from a hundred years ago or prefer 16th-century castles, it’s hard not to be swept up in Ireland’s storied history.
  • If you like cheese, visit Ireland. Some of the best and freshest in the world.
  • If you like Guinness, visit Ireland. You can get some on every corner – and in 90 percent of cafes, sandwich shops, you name it.
  • If you don’t like Guinness, visit Ireland. It just tastes different there – apparently, it’s because they use Irish water. (The more you know…)

There’s so much more I could say about our trip around the country – from Limerick to Killarney, Waterford to Dublin. We saw so many beautiful things, and met so many beautiful people – all thanks to an awesome tour group called CIE Tours.

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A word about a guided tour + CIE

CIE is a full-service tour, starting from the moment you step foot in Shannon to the time you head home. For the whole week, Pat and I traveled with the same group of 37 Americans – all from different parts of the country, from California to New York, and from all walks of life. We stayed in the same hotels, ate the same dinners, and spent several hours trading stories on the coach bus.

CIE plans everything for you. Our guide, Liam, brought us to main attractions, like the Blarney Castle. He also brought us to some off-the-beaten-path ones, like the Foynes Flying Boat Museum (where the first Irish coffee was invented) and the Cobh Heritage Center (the last port-of-call for the Titantic). He narrated all along the way, ensuring we left knowing more about Ireland – old and new – than when we came.

The coach tour through Ireland is really foolproof, and I couldn’t recommend it more for folks (like us) who’ve never been to the Emerald Isle. Excursions are included in your tour package, making the decision between grabbing a pint of Guinness and exploring an ages-old castle easy – with CIE, you can do both. Our tour guides couldn’t have been more clear about where we had to be, and when – all we had to do was sit back, relax, and enjoy all that Ireland had to offer.

CIE forces you out of your comfort zone. If you wouldn’t catch a medieval banquet at the nearby Renaissance Fair in the US, you’ll visit one in an old castle in Limerick – and probably enjoy the mead and entertainment more than you first thought.

If you wouldn’t imagine yourself setting foot on a sheep farm, you might still find yourself smiling at the border collies at work. (I knew this would be a highlight for me – the dogs are so intelligent, and do such important work on the farms.)

All in all, CIE gave us an amazing first experience in Ireland. We can’t wait to go back.

‘Til next week,

Meredith

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Facing my fears

3333523138_b5d44ea199_zI like to think of myself as a pretty strong woman. Needles? No problem. Exotic animals? Bring them on. Crowds, heights, bugs? I can handle myself.

But when it comes to planes, trains, and automobiles, you’re going to have to stop at “planes.” I have a huge – and, some would argue, irrational – fear of flying.

I’d like to say it started when I was a kid. I didn’t fly much – well, ever. My dad was huge on the “scenic route,” one of those guys who just loved to pack up the car and go. (Even having four young kids in the back seat couldn’t dull his relaxation behind the wheel.) On our family vacations, we drove the coasts – up to Maine for lobster, down to Florida for Disney land. After days upon days in the car with my family, I became accustomed to ground transportation.

Then, we had to fly out to California. If my dad had his way, we’d probably take a week and drive, but my mom – the sensible woman she is – didn’t want to pull us out of our activities for so long. Plus, she didn’t want to go insane. I was seven, and my Game Boy only had a limited number of hours of battery life.

Turbulence is a traumatic experience for a seven-year-old. Nobody knows what dying’s like until you get there, but I was convinced I was close. I was clutching my family members, making a ruckus, and praying that the Good Lord would save me.

He did, of course, but not before I developed my fear of flying. In fact, the flight was delayed several hours on the way home – a groan-worthy weather pattern that immediately caused parents’ hair to frazzle – and I was so happy. I did not want to go up in the scary death-box again.

Since then, I’ve flown a few times – probably enough to count on one hand. I hate airports. I hate airplane seats. I hate the lines at airport coffee shops. But, most of all, I hate flying.

Fast-forward to two weeks from now when I should be gallivanting around Ireland, kissing the Blarney Stone, and enjoying a pint from a Dublin pub. I’m going to have to fly to get there, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t petrified.

It’s time to face my fears yet again.

While I haven’t learned any official, psychologist-approved tips to ease the fear, whenever I fly, I remember a couple of basic things.

First, I think about the destination. Luckily, I’ve only ever flown for good things – vacations, weddings, reunions, you get the idea. I’ve never flown for business travel; I’ve never flown to a middle-of-nowhere airport. Thinking about all the fun I’m going to have when I get from Point A to Point B usually gives me the motivation to step on the plane – even if I’m a mess during takeoff and landing.

And, I think about the people I’m with. I never fly alone – I don’t think my poor, stranger seatmate could handle the screaming and clutching. I give myself a good support system whenever I’m in the air. Next week, I’ll be sitting next to my husband – who, by now, is used to my crazy in-plane antics. (He usually buys me a flight-approved distraction, too, like a book or magazine. It helps for a few minutes, at least.)

So, it looks like it’s time to face my fears – at least I’ll be doing it in Ireland, right?

‘Til next week,

Meredith

Photo by steve p2008 on flickr.

Dancing on our own

It seems like we’re going 1,000 miles per hour every day – and it doesn’t look like things are slowing down any time soon. ‘Tis the season of birthdays, anniversaries (including our own), Spring holidays, and vacations. Of course, work is ramping up, too – making blogging on the regular a little tough.

While we’re crazy busy together, with dinner parties and staycations and vacations and appointments (for ourselves and the puppies, who are [for an unknown reason] due for shots all at once, poor things), we’re also keeping ourselves busy individually. I’ve thought a lot about the importance of pursuing your own hobbies in a marriage lately. I think that’s done a world of good for us – not only as a unit, but when it comes to developing our own unique selves.

Married people can’t – I dare say, shouldn’t – do everything together. Sure, there are millions of married people on the planet, and I’d say some of them probably function just fine attached at the hip, but in most instances, there needs to be some separation and some space. Being able to stand on your own two feet, I think, is a recipe for a healthy self-worth – which helps the marriage (or coupleship) overall.

In my life, we’ve found our individual places pretty organically. Prior to our marriage, I lived a couple of states away – so, when we were finally together, in the same house, I thought doing everything together just made sense.

Meals? Together.

Gym? Together.

Grocery shopping? Together.

You get the idea. And, as you’d imagine, it quickly became a lot of work to coordinate schedules and haul our partner out of the house when one of us inevitably just wasn’t feelin’ it. Our journey toward individual space started that way – especially when it came to errands. If I were around, I’d just run to ShopRite for our groceries, shooting a text to ask for his must-haves. It was just easier that way.

A few months into our shared life together, we found ourselves in different places, on different nights. Pat plays club sports, like softball and basketball, and takes guitar lessons. I take a night class, and meet up with a friend at the spin studio every week. It just kinda started, and it just kinda started to make sense.

We really try to make time for dinner together, every night – that’s still important to us. If Pat eats at work, or I’m just starving by the time he comes home, then we do a little co-fending for ourselves. And that’s OK – learning to be flexible, I’ve discovered, is all part of the process. No matter what, though, we always try to keep each other up-to-date on our schedules – I know when he’s going to be away at night, and vice-versa, so that we can plan accordingly. It’s giving me the time to pursue some things I’m really into – like, say, spinning – that I know Pat probably wouldn’t enjoy as much; at the same time, he gets to develop his musical side (I’ve always maintained I don’t “have” a musical side) and get quality friend/activity time with club sports.

As we careen into this year’s anniversary, I’ve glad we’ve found our rhythm. Hopefully, in the next year, we’ll learn even more that we can share.

‘Til next week,

Meredith

The perfect gift for a toddler

In the next couple of weeks, my niece turns two. (I actually wrote, and deleted, the words “baby niece” – she’s [unbelievably] going to be two!)

The weeks leading up to any birthday is, of course, ideal shopping time. You can head to the stores, scour the racks, find good deals, all in hopes of being the aunt who shows up with arms full of designer clothes and awesome toys – because you planned ahead, and you knew just what she wanted.

If only this aunt was as prepared.

Between work- and life-related craziness, my desire to really get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather we’ve been having (hello, spring!), appointments, redecorating, and errands, I’ve been slacking in the Super Aunt department. Since I didn’t want to be “that guy” who shows up with something she obviously picked up at Rite Aid and wrapped five minutes prior to the party – not that there’s anything wrong with that, but hey, this kid’s my flesh and blood – I buckled down this weekend to get my niece a gift.

I thought that, if I missed the boat on in-person sales, I could probably find some good deals online. Online stores tend to have a greater selection, and the clearance racks aren’t noticeably picked-over with rumpled shirts sadly clinging to hangers for dear life.

I started on Zulily – if you’re trying to save money, learn from me: do not install this app on your phone. It alerts me every day to sales (for kids/adults/home goods/makeup/beauty – the whole nine yards). They have awesome, unique stuff that I sometimes just can’t help buying. Zulily touts a lot of name brands, but also some less-expensive stuff that’s still cute for my niece or perfect for my house. Zulily is my own personal rabbit hole that I tumble down basically every day.

And yes, I know I could probably turn the alerts off – but who would want to miss out on a good sale?

Zulily’s great for toys, especially – I think my niece and nephew will be the only kids on the block with a toy smoothie or sushi set.

That said, the site sometimes takes a couple of weeks to ship. So, while I added a few things to my cart and pressed “check out,” I’m not counting on those things to be our birthday presents. (Maybe “first day of preschool” presents, or “just because” presents – because, after all, I gotta be the cool aunt.)

I scoured a few different usual kid-clothes suspects – Gymboree, Janie and Jack, Target (they have the cutest asymmetrical zip jacket) before I landed on – aha! – an online sale at Carters and Osh Kosh. Twenty minutes later, my cart was full and my wallet wasn’t too light. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but my niece is going to be the hippest kid at the baby pool this summer.

This rush taught me something – and not just that they make ripped skinny jeans in size 2T. It taught me – chronic planner, habitual do-it-aheader – that the planet will not stop spinning if things aren’t done weeks or months ahead of time. My world won’t come to a halt, just because I haven’t planned out every weekend of every month, starting on day one. There is always time to enjoy the great outdoors; there’s always an extra half hour to walk your dog; there’s always room for moments that really make you happy. You’ll get it all done – maybe not right away, maybe not “first thing,” but you’ll get it all done.

And even that can be kind of an adventure.

‘Til next week,

Meredith

 

 

His books, my books, our books

Last night, I got a text message from my sister: Book recommendations?

We exchanged a few messages to determine what she was in the mood for, before landing on a couple of titles I really hope she picks up. (I’m admittedly protective of my books. If I love something that someone else decides is just okay, I get defensive. What do you mean you don’t “get it?What do you mean the character wasn’t believable? What do you mean you hated the story? But, anyway…)

You see, Pat and I are each from families of readers. Rarely does a Sunday dinner or a family birthday celebration go by without some of us talking about what we’re currently reading, how we’re liking that book, and what’s next on our list of “must reads.”

But it took me and Pat awhile to figure out books we both enjoy. Pat’s more into science fiction, mystery, and suspense. He just finished up 11/22/63 by Stephen King and NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. I’m working through Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, on my never-ending quest to finish all of the Booker Prize-winning books. (My all-time favorite, The Remains of the Day, is a Booker Prize winner, and another good one, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, was the 2014 recipient.)

These days, though, we’re on a roll – below are three books that we’ve read (based on the other’s recommendation) in the past year that we’ve both enjoyed.

The Sistethesistersbrothersrs Brothers by Patrick DeWitt. Genuine, laugh-out-loud humor in books is hard to come by – I’ve seen lots of authors do it well, and some not-so-well. DeWitt’s The Sisters Brothers is one that succeeds. I read this book a couple of years ago, and the main thing I remembered, when recommending it to Pat, was how funny it was. When Pat finished it recently, he remembered the humor – but he also reminded me that the book is an action-packed chase story with some dark moments that dampen the humor and round out the book. We both really loved this one – and, it looks like they’re making it into a movie starring John C. Reilly. Read it before it gets to theaters (hopefully soon).

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. When I finished this book up earlier this year – based on my husband’s recommendation – I immediately thought: why haven’t I read this earlier? As an English major, this book is brimming with underlying themes; it’s a study of the relationship between silence and power, and a unique, almost-coming-of-age story that I thought would have been on my reading list at some point in high school or college. Pat appreciated the characterization and the story – I did, too – while I was drawn to Cuckoo’s Nest as an avid reader who appreciated that the novel called out the “control dynamic” that permeated life in the 60s.

readyplayerone.jpgReady Player One by Ernest Cline. Surprisingly, I read this one first. I’d been going through a dystopian fiction kick (isn’t it awesome how there’s so many books that fit any descriptor? I could have been on a coming-to-America kick, or a growing-up-rich kick, or a women-in-the-50s kick, and I’d have still found so many books that’d meet my needs), and I stumbled across this one. I was glad I did. There were tons of references from video games, books, and movies of my childhood – most I understood, and some I didn’t. Those didn’t stop me from enjoying the book – it’s a rapidfire race toward a prize that kept me reading late into the night. Pat especially appreciated that he got the chance to recall games and movies that he’d kinda forgotten about – plus, who doesn’t like a good page turner?

‘Til next week,

Meredith

 

Sundays, schedules, and sniffles

Ah, Sunday – a much-needed breath of fresh air after a long week.

Today, I’m starting with my usual black coffee and a clear headspace – unfortunately, accompanying my weekly dark roast is a huge box of tissues and a never-ending glass of water. The cold that’s been going around the Philly area hit me like a freight train, and I’m still slowly recovering. It’s been a rough couple of days, complete with time off of work and a cleared social calendar, but I think I’m finally on the winning side. Phew.

Cold – 0, Me – 1.

If I’m not totally under the weather, out of town, or otherwise running around like a crazy person, I use my Sunday mornings as an opportunity to reflect on the week before, and plan for the week ahead. Admittedly, I do less reflecting than I do planning – although I’m working on evening that dynamic in the future. It’s just so hard to find the time to think about what’s happened, when the future is happening now. (Or something like that.)

I’m trying harder to be – not just feel – thankful for the blessings that have come my way in the previous week. (To me, this is an important distinction – the difference between thought and action. More often than not, these days I’ll think to myself, “That was nice.” I want to get better at saying aloud, “That was nice,” and making sure that others know that they’ve positively affected my life. Like I said, this is a constant work in progress.)

But right now, planning is at the top of my mind, especially since I lost a couple of days’ worth of organization to a swollen face and clogged-up sinuses.

Planning means updating our shared calendar of activities for the week (which we keep in the kitchen, where each of us can be found, every morning), and downloading about who’ll be where for dinner. This is particularly important to me, since Sundays are usually the day that I plan our dinners for the week.

Because Pat’s an omnivore (-borderline-carnivore) and I’m a vegetarian, it’s absolutely crucial that we take the time to create dinners that we’ll both enjoy. On weeks we don’t, we end up eating out a lot – nothing I can think of/want to eat appeals to him, and vice versa. In those moments, we throw up our hands and go somewhere that’ll accommodate both of our taste buds. It’s not the most budget-friendly way to operate, so I’ve been doing my best to create a week-long menu and run it by my husband for his yays or nays.

Three of our easy favorites that accommodate both meat- and veggie-eaters’ palates:

  1. Semi-homemade pizza: For a beyond easy meal, I take a pre-baked crust, and add our favorite toppings and veggies. You can make this as healthy or as decadent as you like. Our favorite hearty combination for the winter months includes a low-fat Alfredo sauce in lieu of tomato, topped with roasted butternut squash, kale, and goat cheese. (Trust me, it’s delicious.)
  2. Pasta: I don’t have an age-old marinara sauce recipe to turn to, so I usually – gulp – use store bought. But pasta’s versatility makes it easy for me to add green peppers and onions, while Pat can add baked chicken or meatballs. Serve with a side salad and – voila! – a meal that leaves us both satisfied.
  3. Stir fry: A personal favorite in our quasi-vegetarian home – stir fry veggies, take half out, then add pre-cooked meat to the remainder of the veggies. No need to prepare separate meals, or even cook in two pots (or woks) – super easy, and super delicious. Just find the right teriyaki or stir fry sauce, and you’re good to go.

At least one of these three will make it on our house’s menu this week — I’m leaning toward having a “Stir Fry-day.”

Well, I’m off to finish my coffee and get ready for the week! Stay healthy.

‘Til next week,

Meredith

 

How to Prepare Yourself for Home Repairs

Once I moved in – and the bookshelf situation resolved itself – it became obvious that we’d want to do some home renovations. Our house is older, and while it had great features that “sold” it to us, it could definitely have stood for an upgrade.

At first, I was overwhelmed. It was our first home together (our first home, period), so I didn’t know where to start. My internal dialogue went something like this: “Look at all these rooms! Look at all the blue shag carpet! The yellow walls! The pear wallpaper in the kitchen! We’ll never check everything off of our wish list.”

I learned a lot about the home repair and renovation process in the first year – which is why, today, I’m sharing the top four tips to prepare yourself for home repairs and renovations. Later, I’ll post a blog on surviving major home renovations. (When that’s up, I’ll link it here.)

  • Start with tasks you and your husband can do together.

Pat and I aren’t super-handy. We can’t fix a leaky faucet, repair a broken light fixture, replace a fan, investigate that weird rattling noise… the list goes on. (Though we have unclogged many-a-drain – shout-out to Drain-o!) The one thing we do know how to do? Paint.

If I’m going to be honest, painting isn’t my cup of tea. I’m naturally clumsy, and two-left-feetedness + buckets of staining goo = no match made in heaven. But I can do it – and doing it yourself will save you money, which remains important to us as newlyweds.

What’s better, having a helper will make the project go much, much, (much, much…) faster. Bonus: you’ll spend some time extra time together. Just take turns playing DJ, and it can actually be sort of fun – well, as fun as painting can be.

  • For bigger projects, solicit recommendations from family and friends – but don’t be afraid to go your own way.

The biggest item on our to-do list was our kitchen: it was poorly and inefficiently designed, and closed off to the rest of the house. We wanted to totally demo the space, remove walls, move cabinets around, and upgrade everything.

We knew our limitations: as a couple who couldn’t install a doorbell, we probably couldn’t take this one on ourselves.

So we asked our family and friends for contractor recommendations – people they’d used and had good experience with. We met with nearly all of their recommendations – we had four meets in total. (We’ve heard you’re supposed to get no fewer than three proposals. One of the first people who showed up never sent back a proposal, so we brought in a fourth contender.)

In the end, we selected the company that felt like the best fit for us – the one who put the most thought and effort into the design, who seemed the most “on top of their game.” This was a company we actually found on Angie’s List – not through our personal recommendations — and we couldn’t be happier.

Family and friends couldn’t care less that we hadn’t chosen their recommended contractors – I think they were too excited that our renovated kitchen would soon make us the new holiday-and-party house.

  • Take tons of pictures.

Seriously. You’ll want to show family and friends what the house looked like when it was a clean slate, and how you made it your own. I did this in every room – from the bedroom (which we have hardly touched), to the living room (which got a fresh coat of paint), to the kitchen and family room (which have both undergone major renovations – new floors, new walls, the works).

It’s the ultimate party trick: pulling up pictures on your computer of your old space and – ta-da! – looking at how it’s been transformed. Prepare for the “oohs” and “aahs.”

Even if you’re not planning to do major renovations for a while, I highly suggest this step. Your space will probably transform organically, anyway, whether you move pieces of furniture around to ease the flow of a room, get new pieces of furniture, hang art – you’ll want to see how your far you (and your house) has come. Trust me.

  • Relax and enjoy the process.

‘Nuff said. This is not something that came easily to me or Pat, but we learned a ton throughout the past year about home repair, and became at least cursorily familiar with where things are situated at our local Lowe’s and Home Depot.

It’s important to remember: you’re making a home for yourselves. It’s going to take time – but it’s a really awesome task when you think about it – isn’t it?

‘Til next week,

Meredith

Whose bookshelf is it, anyway?

When I moved in with my husband in March, all of my stuff came with me – clothes, furniture, pictures, and (of course) my books.

It wasn’t until I moved everything out of my DC apartment and into my new, New Jersey home that I realized how many of them I’d accumulated over the years: paperbacks and hardcovers I’d loved as a teenager and couldn’t bear to part with; English textbooks I “swore I’d need again one day”; anthologies I promised myself I’d read, but never quite got around to.

It was a long process trying to find a place for everything – after all, Pat had lived at the house solo for almost a year before I joined him. He’d already had his stuff pretty well sorted out; now, I had to make my life fit into his. While – of course – clothes were the first thing that demanded a place in the new home, my books were a close second.

Thankfully, we’d gotten a bookshelf from a neighbor the previous year. Pat had started to fill it with members of his own collection – a really interesting mix of classics and comics – but there was definitely room for me. Was being the key word: I soon realized there wouldn’t be enough room for all of my “beloved” literature, and I’d need to be particular about which items I’d keep, and which I’d donate. I also realized that I’d probably have to put a moratorium on buying books, at least until we could figure the space situation out.

But then I remembered something: my Kindle! I’d bought the reading device a couple years ago, but could never really get into it. I loved the feel of a book in my hands, and the commitment that came with physically carrying a novel with me. If I was going to lug a huge book with me to and from work, I reasoned, I probably was going to read it. If I throw a Kindle in my bag, though, I’m as likely to pick it up as a game of Candy Crush on my cell phone. There was about the presence of a book that commanded attention – a presence that the Kindle just didn’t have.

But, as I was shelving Gone Girl and A Thousand Splendid Suns, I knew: I needed my Kindle. I wasn’t going to have enough room for all that I’d read – and still wanted to read – otherwise. So, I dug it out from where I knew it was hiding – underneath the passenger’s seat of my car – and charged it up, readying myself for my next book.

It was hard, at first. I opened my download, The Book Thief, and found myself constantly adjusting the font size, distracted by the features of the reading device. I also glanced, every few clicks of the page, at the “progress bar” — knowing exactly how long I had with a book before it ended. I was distracted. With paperback books, I felt a personal connection, a solidarity that I couldn’t replicate with the Kindle. The words on the screen felt counterfeit, almost as though they were “lesser” than those printed on physical paper.

But gradually, I got used to it. I committed to reading on the Kindle, and began to recognize the utility of it: a device that allows you to read thousands of books, without taking up thousands of books’ worth of room in your home.

A year later, I still love to read – I’m a proud library card holder, so that I can add books to my collection temporarily, without committing to finding them a permanent spot on our space-limited bookshelf.

But something else changed: I’m also the owner of a brand-new Nook, too. I read through the flaws I’d originally seen as “unforgivable” on the reading device. I found the right font size: one that didn’t make me squint, but didn’t require me to e-turn the page every four seconds. I noticed the progress bar less and less.

Right now, I think there’s a place for both a reading device and an overcrowded bookshelf in our home. But ask me in a year — my answer might be different.