Check out my April 2021 Diary for a peek behind the scenes of Hello Little Home!
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April 2021 Diary
Welcome to my Diary. This monthly series gives you a peek behind the scenes of Hello Little Home. I’m sharing all the things I’ve been up to that don’t make it on the blog. Hopefully, we’ll get to know one another better in the process.
What a month April was ... so many fun things happened around here! I got out a bit more, and I actually have fun things planned this summer, too. I can't remember the last time I made PLANS. Yay!
Like last month, it really feels like things are continuing to look up after a very trying year (at least here in the U.S.), and I'm here for it. Hopefully, this is a continuing trend.
I'm running a little behind with sharing my Diary this month, but honestly, that's par for the course around here! And really, there's no deadline on this thing (besides the self-imposed one I created).
So let's skip the long intro. Here's what I've been up to this past month!
The best news for April? I got my second vaccine shot! It's actually been over three weeks since that second shot, so I'm officially immune. Or at least 90%. Woohoo!!!
I felt very emotional when I got my first shot in March. To be honest, I could barely keep myself from crying (and I did, afterwards). It wasn't sadness ... it was just such a relief. Not to mention, a light at the end of a very dark tunnel, you know? For my second shot though, I just felt pure, unadultered joy! I couldn't stop smiling all day.
My husband and I celebrated last week by popping open a bottle of expensive champagne. And it was amazing! So much so, that it will be difficult to go back to the inexpensive stuff I normally drink (ha). We also went out to eat and had a couple beers outside at one of my favorite bars ... two things I haven't done in over a year.
It felt amazing being out and about, and a little scary, if I'm being honest. I've been extremely conservative about what I did over the past year (not much), and I'm not used to being around other people anymore! I'm still planning to play it safe by masking and social distancing, but it feels so great to be able to get out more.
Curious about the shot? I got the Pfizer vaccine through UT Southwestern here in Dallas. It was my only option, but I would have gladly taken the Moderna or J&J version if that's what was available.
For the first shot, my arm was slightly sore, but that was it. After the second shot, my arm was pretty sore for a couple days, and I also woke up feeling like I had a hangover the next day. By the end of the day, I was back to normal though.
A few minor aches and a little tiredness were totally worth it, and I would get the shot again in a heartbeat! Getting as many people as possible vaccinated is the only way we are going to get back to "normal".
Apart from that exciting vaccine news, my husband and I spent a couple weeks in April apartment hunting.
We've lived in the same apartment for almost four years now, and for most of those years, we've pretty much hated our building / neighbors (the apartment itself is okay). It's such a pain moving though, that we've been dragging our feet about making it happen. By last year we'd finally had it, but then of course, all hell broke loose in March 2020.
After sticking around for another painful year, by the beginning of the 2021, we were itching to move. We were originally hoping to buy a house or condo, but the market is just ridiculous right now. Almost every house we liked was snatched up in a day or two.
So we found a new apartment instead, and I'm so excited! Our new place is in my favorite Dallas neighborhood and there are tons of shops, restaurants, etc. just a block or two from our front door. Dallas is not really a walking city, so this is major!
While I'm not looking forward to packing, I cannot wait to move into our new place and get to know the neighborhood better. We move in mid-June, and I'm officially counting down the days!
Spring in Texas
Spring in Texas is short and frequently stormy. It seems to go from the 50s to the 90s (and worse) pretty much overnight, so I always try to take advantage of the good weather while it lasts.
Since we're moving out of Downtown Dallas, I've been spending time walking around the neighborhood while I'm still here. There's actually a lot going on, like a brand new park and a huge mural in the West End, and a food hall is opening in the new AT&T Discovery District soon, too.
Thankfully, Downtown is just a quick train ride from my new neighborhood. So I'll still be able to enjoy it even after we move. (Check out my Downtown Dallas Walking Tour if you're planning a visit or just curious.)
I also visited Teddy Bear Park. It's been on my Dallas bucket list for a while now, and the park was just as cute as I thought it would be! If you're looking for a unique, Instagram-worthy spot to visit in Dallas, check it out.
The rose gardens in Portland get all the attention, but did you know that the Dallas area has its own International Test Garden? I've been to the Farmers Branch Rose Gardens a few times now, and they're such a hidden gem!
These beautiful gardens have never been crowded during my visits, and the roses are so gorgeous. We also stopped by the nearby Farmers Branch Historical Park on our last trip, which is worth a visit, too.
We also checked out Cedar Hill State Park last month. Many of the trails were closed do to wet conditions, and it was indeed quite muddy ... I may have ruined my favorite white tennis shoes. But it was worth it, because there was a bonanza of Bluebonnets during our visit.
It seems like every Texan becomes obsessed with Bluebonnets come spring (they're the state flower), and I got lots of pretty pics!
What I've Been Eating
I'm excited to dip my toe back into going out to eat again. Although I will probably stick to outdoor dining for the most part, especially here in Texas where pretty much all restrictions have been dropped.
To celebrate being fully vaccinated, my husband and I stopped by Four Corners Brewery for a couple drinks and some snacks. It felt very strange to be eating inside, even though it was very spaced out.
I also enjoyed a delish meal outside at Shake Shack. The location we go to has a big lawn with just a few tables, so it's really easy to social distance. This was pretty much the only restaurant I actually felt comfortable eating at during the past year ... it's nothing like the original, super crowded NYC spots!
Other than that, we've gotten takeout from some of our fave spots, including Velvet Taco, Red Stix, Flower Child, and newbie Rise & Thyme. Yum! And I've been keeping up with my meal kit subscriptions, too (mostly Dinnerly or Hello Fresh) ... they make getting dinner on the table so easy!
What I'm Watching
I spent a lot of time reading in the evening last month, but when I wasn't doing that, I was watching TV! For some reason, I've really been struggling to find good shows lately ... is it possible that I've watched everything worth seeing at this point? Maybe!
Despite that, I definitely found some good shows + movies:
- The Serpent - This series wins the award for the one that most sticks in my mind. It's about a creepy, murderous con man and his girlfriend. Have you watched it? It's so good!
- Another Round - An Oscar-nominated move about a middle-aged man and his friends who've lost their spark for life. They decide that the answer is to always be slightly drunk ... to a disastrous effect, as you can probably imagine!
- Teenage Bounty Hunters - The name basically describes the show. It was pretty good, but unfortunately it's not coming back for a second season.
- Thunder Force - Octavia Spencer and Melissa McCarthy stars as childhood friends who become middle-aged superheroes. It won't win any awards, but it was pretty funny.
- The Field of Blood - This Scottish crime drama centers around a young woman who wants to be a reporter. Short, but really good. The one weird thing about this show, is that the main character is constantly being called fat. It's confusing, because I wouldn't even call her chubby (maybe it's a Scottish thing, ha).
- Black Spot - A dark French series that set in the fictional Villeblanche, a remote town with a high murder rate. The dubbing isn't the greatest, but the show itself is very interesting.
- Stowaway - Speaking of dark, this movie is about a three-person crew that's on a mission to Mars. Shortly after launch, they discover an accidental stowaway. Unfortunately, there's only enough oxygen for three people. Good, but quite grim.
What have you watched lately? I need recommendations!
What I'm Reading
April was quite a busy month of reading! My Kindle is still my BFF, and I even convinced a friend to get one recently. When I'm reading a good book, it's pretty much all I want to do ... and I read some great ones this month!
- First up was Miss Iceland by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir. This was a quick, but very enjoyable read. It was an interesting and kind of sad peek into life of a writer (and her friend) in 1960s Iceland. I'm looking forward to reading more of this author's books!
- After that, I read Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I had read (and loved) Gyasi's book Transcendent Kingdom in February, and I immediately added this book to my queue. It tells the stories of two half sisters in Ghana who don't know of each other—one who is sold into slavery, and the other who marries an Englishman—as well as their descendants. Such an excellent book filled with compelling, and often heartbreaking, stories.
- In Five Years by Rebecca Searle was next, and it kind of wrecked me, to be honest. The basic premise is that the main character briefly flashes forward five years to a different life, then returns to her current life. The story progresses over the next five years as she catches up to that flash forward. It was very good, but much sadder than I was expecting. I don't want to give the story away, but someone I loved very dearly went through the same thing as her best friend. Let's just say, I did a lot of crying while reading this book.
- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett was a book I'd been looking forward to reading for months, and it was so good! It's about two Black twin sisters who run away from home. One of the sisters secretly passes for white, and the other eventually returns home. It's a fascinating story of race and family ... definitely a must read, in my opinion!
- After reading a few heavier books, a lighter read was in order, and The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang was it! The main character is a very successful woman with Asperger's, who has trouble connecting with men. She decides to hire someone to teach her ... and of course, they fall in love in the process! I loved this fun book, and I'm planning to read the second book in this series soon. This is by far the raciest book I've ever read (I'm not a huge romance reader) ... just a little forewarning (lol).
- Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi was up next, and it was such a lovely, magical read! It's about a Tokyo cafe where customers can travel in time ... the only catch is that nothing the customer does when they travel back will change the future. A very sweet and thought-provoking book. And I just found out that a sequel is coming out in October!
- The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto by Bernard DeVoto was originally published in the 1950s, and it's basically one man's ode to the martini. This book is definitely dated (and sexist), but it's also kind of humorous. It's not for everyone (especially rum fans), and although I didn't love it, it's interesting when viewed as a very particular snapshot in time. If you're a classic martini fan, you will probably enjoy reading it, or at the very least you may enjoy a few laughs at the cantankerous author's expense.
- After that rant, I read A Burning by Megha Majumdar, an engrossing tale of three intertwined characters who are all striving to get ahead under difficult circumstances (two of whom throw the other character under the bus in the process). You can kind of predict how the story is going to go from the start, but that did not make it any less compelling or disheartening.
- The Art of Taking It Easy: How to Cope with Bears, Traffic, and the Rest of Life's Stressors by Brian King was a Big Library Read in April. I usually prefer fiction, but this book popped up on my Libby app, so I figured why not? And it was pretty good! You could probably classify it as self-help, although the author really gets into the science behind why we think the way we do, and he gives simple and practical tips for dealing with stress. Perfect for anyone struggling with day-to-day stress and anxiety (aren't we all?).
- Next up was Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which was probably my favorite book this month (so hard to decide)! The book is about a young Nigerian woman who moves to the U.S. to go to college, then stays for a while, before eventually moving back to Nigeria. Along the way, she drifts apart from her childhood boyfriend, connects with new friends and lovers, and confronts racism. This book is alternately sad, funny, insightful, and uplifting. If you haven't read it yet, I'd highly recommend it!
- After that, I read The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, which is an account of a family's struggle to survive during the Great Depression. It really brings the dire circumstances of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl to life, and apart from enjoying the book, I actually learned a lot, too. (I've fallen down a Great Depression rabbit hole ... more on that next month, lol.) If you like historical fiction, you should definitely consider reading this book!
- The last book I read in April was If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha, and it was a great way to end the month! This fascinating book tells the intertwining stories of four women who live in the same building in Seoul, Korea. It touches on the challenges of being a woman in Seoul, from the focus on beauty (and plastic surgery) to the ever-widening wealth gap. I really enjoyed it (though it was fairly dark), and it was an interesting peek into another culture.
Did you read anything interesting this month? I'd love your recommendations!
What I'm Listening To
Not a lot of listening going on this month, but my husband and I are still chipping away at A Promised Land by Barack Obama. It's really good, we just don't have a lot of time together to listen.
I also finished the Floodlines podcast this month, which is about Hurricane Katrina and its effect on New Orleans. It's really well done and I enjoyed it, despite the sad / disturbing subject matter.
And I started In the Valley, a podcast about the rise and fall of Traci Lords' film career. It's pretty interesting! If you like that one, you'd probably enjoy The Rialto Report, too. I've only listened to a few episodes, but it's kinda fascinating.
What's Coming Up in May
This is going to be a busy month! Apart from packing and going through everything I own (fun!), I actually have a couple trips planned.
I'm sooo excited to start traveling again (safely and following all guidelines, of course!), and to kick things off, we are headed to Florida to visit my husband's family and friends later this week. It's been about a year and half since we've seen them, so it should be a super fun trip.
Then at the end of the month, we're headed to Wisconsin for more family time. Our family and friends live all over the country, and after a long, difficult year, I'm so excited to reconnect with everyone!
What have you been up to recently? Let me know in the comments!
I hope you enjoyed reading my April Diary. If you liked this post, you can read all of my Diaries here.