quarantine life: what I’m watching on youtube!


If you’re anything like me, you’re quickly running out of things to watch – though let’s be real, is there such a thing as too many Office rewatches? Also, if you’re anything like me, you’ve come across everyone and their uncle posting their Netflix/Amazon/Hulu/Disney+ recs.

Today I’m sharing something a little different: youtube recommendations. Yep, youtube. No longer just for music and cat videos. I have six channels for you today that I’ve been loving!


Probably the most well-known out of my recs, Binging with Babish is the massively popular channel from Andrew Rea where he recreates dishes from movies and television shows.

He’s done everything from chocolate pudding inspired by Rugrats to the Krabby Supreme to Eggs Florentine from my favorite show ever, Frasier. Honestly, half the fun is just seeing what he takes on next, his picks are so varied and cover practically every genre!

While I can’t see myself ever tackling any of the recipes on my own (and he recently released a cookbook of the first 100 recipes), new videos are a highlight of my week.

LATEST VIDEO: Cold Cure from Kenan & Kel


Gourmet Makes is a series from Bon Appetit where Claire, a pastry chef, attempts to recreate a candy or junk food. She gets SUPER technical, y’all. One of the first things she does is breaks out a rule and takes measurements to get the dimensions right.

She’s covered Twinkies, Bagel Bites, Twizzlers, Lucky Charms, Hot Pockets, seriously the list goes on. These episodes are around 30 minutes each and I love to both watch this and leave it play for background noise.

Bon Appetit’s channel in general is so fun – they have another series called Reverse Engineering where a chef is blindfolded and is given a dish to taste, touch, smell – but he can’t look at it. He then has a few days to try and replicate it.

LATEST VIDEO: Girl Scout Cookies


I mentioned these two channels last month, but I’m going to mention them again! I know the bookstagram world is currently loving the Harry Potter room videos and, yeah, they’re okay, but they’re not my favorite. Instead, I gravitate toward videos from The Guild of Ambience and New Bliss. These videos range from one hour to three or four, perfect for putting on in the background and sinking into a good book!

New Bliss tends to lean more toward rain and thunder (they have three library videos: Ancient Library, Royal Library, and Old Library Sounds) and feature fun places like an Apothecary and and Cozy Attic.

The Guild of Ambience is definitely more fantasy-based and some of their videos include a medieval tavern, a pirate ship, and a swamp.

LATEST VIDEOS: Haunted House (The Guild of Ambience) + Forest Sounds at Night (New Bliss)


Piggybacking off the ASMR videos, Baumgartner Restoration is equal parts relaxing AND fascinating. Julian Baumgartner is a second generation fine art restorer and his videos are nothing short of mind-blowing.

In his videos, Julian shares his craft with viewers, explaining the hows and whys of what he does and giving little history tidbits regarding the tears and blemishes he comes across that past restorers have done. I’ve let videos play as I fall asleep but mostly I just love to watch, I find it so interesting!

His videos have definitely changed over the past two years, going from quickie 5-minute videos to his current 40-minute in-depth processes. Every single time I’m in awe of the final piece.

LATEST VIDEO: Art Conversation; Live Retouching (This is a nearly 3-hour long live stream he did where he answered fan questions while retouching a painting.)


Nerd alert. It should come as NO secret that I love documentaries. I love to watch them and love to leave them on in the background – I’ve even gotten Matt hooked on them (though he says they’re his favorite thing to put on to fall asleep to ha)!

Timeline has a wealth of history documentaries from the fall of the Maya to Jane Austen to Richard III and a look inside Charles Dickens’ kitchen. I especially love the Time Team episodes (and that show alone should get its own spot on this list)! Really, this channel is just incredibly soothing to have in the background when I am focused on something else (work, reading) but don’t want to be in a totally quiet room. It doesn’t hurt that I’m always finding my attention wandering back to whatever is on the screen.

LATEST VIDEO: The Tide Turns for the Allies


my latest stack of bookmail

WATCHING I know bookstagram is obsessing over these Harry Potter ASMR rooms and, yeah, they’re okay, but I’ve found myself reaching for videos from New Bliss (a train journey! an ancient library!) and The Guild of Ambience (haunted forest! potion shop!). This weekend was especially nice: Matt was doing his own thing with his gaming buddies so it was just me curled up with the pups. I put a few videos on for background noise and spent hours deep inside a good book.

LISTENING TO I really ought to update my podcast series from last year – since then I’ve added SEVERAL to my rotation. At the moment though, I’ve got an audiobook going: The Mental Floss History of the World. Light and fun, perfect for days at work!

LOVING Stitchfix recently came out with a new feature Shop My Looks, a constantly refreshing page showing different outfits (including purses, shoes, scarves, dresses, tops, pants, and blazers) based on items you’ve bought. I. Am. Obsessed. I’ve already bought a few things, have saved a TON to pinterest, and am always visiting and revisiting the page to see what new goodies await!

LOOKING FORWARD TO Two good friends and I recently formed a book club using Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2020 Reading Challenge as our guide. Our first pick Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami (a book published the decade you were born) was a massive dud – and a DNF for all of us. Wednesday we’re getting together and I have a feeling this one will go MUCH better: we’re discussing Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone (a debut). Have you read it??

READING I just finished two: You Never Forget Your First by Alexis Coe, a biography on George Washington; and The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown, a Middle Grade novel featuring ghosts and the segregated South.

EATING I recently made a big batch of Making Thyme for Health’s Best Ever Quinoa Chili. I wouldn’t say it was the best ever, but definitely tasty and made enough for a week’s worth of lunches. I’m also back on the Misfits Market train – I’m set up for Tuesday deliveries to coincide with one of the days I work from home instead of the office and am looking forward to seeing what tomorrow’s box brings. They recently added a new marketplace feature where you can choose add-ons (soup mixes, veggies, fruits) and I impulse-added mushrooms called hen of the woods.

WEARING I’ve been living in my Amazon slippers that are featured in pretty much every single photo on Instagram.

ENJOYING The weather! It reached the mid 50s today and that plus the sun made for a gorgeous day. Last year a group of coworkers and I put a daily walk on our calendars for whoever was in the office and wasn’t too busy. Obviously once winter arrived those walks stopped, but a few of us did some loops around the grounds today and it put me in such a springtime mood!!

The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli

The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli
Pub. Date: February 5, 2019
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Berkley!)
Summary: Raina Anand may have finally given in to family pressure and agreed to let her grandmother play matchmaker, but that doesn’t mean she has to like it–or that she has to play by the rules. Nani always took Raina’s side when she tried to push past the traditional expectations of their tight-knit Indian-immigrant community, but now she’s ambushing Raina with a list of suitable bachelors. Is it too much to ask for a little space? Besides, what Nani doesn’t know won’t hurt her…

As Raina’s life spirals into a parade of Nani-approved bachelors and disastrous blind dates, she must find a way out of this modern-day arranged-marriage trap without shattering her beloved grandmother’s dreams.
Genre: Contemporary, Romance

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for a good cover. And, friends, The Matchmaker’s List has a GREAT one. Contemporary romance seems tailor-made for illustrated covers and this one is no exception – before I even knew what the book was about I was intrigued.

Raina Anand has just turned 29 and is in dire need of a husband. Not that Raina feels that way, but her beloved Nani and the rest of their community can’t comprehend the thought of a woman still unwed and coming up on 30. Personally Raina’s holding out for Dev – the one who got away (and completely crushed her heart while he was at it, thank you very much) – but she loves her Nani something fierce and agrees to go on a few dates.

With each date it’s clear Raina is no closer to finding a husband. As the bad dates get even worse, and the community aunties sound the alarm, Raina tells a little lie. Just one tiny lie, hoping it will be enough to give her a moment to breathe, not realizing her problems have only just begun.

I wanted so badly to enjoy this one. For the most part, The Matchmaker’s List isn’t a bad read, it was light-hearted and easy enough that I read it during one snowy afternoon. Unfortunately, if it hadn’t been for that snowy afternoon that kept me cooped up inside, I doubt I would have finished in one sitting.

Simply put, The Matchmaker’s List bored me. Even as I type this, my mind is wandering. Thoughts keep cropping up: dinner, work tomorrow, the stack of books piled next to me – would my time have been better spent with one of them instead? Raina listens to her co-worker’s woes, Raina listens to her bestie’s wedding woes, Raina goes on dates and complains about the men (though she does have a point, they’re all awful, even her much pined-after Dev as well as the man she eventually ends up with).

But what really took me out of the story was Raina’s lie. In order to have Nani take a step back with her list of eligible men, Raina decides to go along with the assumption that she’s gay. There’s a scene where her younger cousin comes out to her because she was so brave and courageous for coming out herself in their Indian community. There aren’t any consequences of Raina’s actions until the very end and the majority of the characters – included a gay co-worker – just accept her story without any repercussions. I felt sorry for her grandmother, believing Raina to be gay, Nani went out of her way to research Canada’s laws regarding gay marriage and adoption and on more than one occasion stood up for her granddaughter even when it meant ostracizing herself from their tight-knit community.

There were other baffling moments in the book, like the constant flashbacks. Some were just a few years in the past (at the beginning of Raina and Dev’s relationship) while others were during Raina’s childhood. These were clearly meant to garner sympathy for Raina – for both her heartbreak and her absent mother – but I honestly didn’t care. By then I was reading just to get to the end and be done with the book.

The Matchmaker’s List had the potential to be a really fun romcom. Unfortunately, a poorly-handled rumor and horrifically unlikable characters made this one a chore to read. There was nothing romantic nor comedic about this book – Raina’s lie was appalling, the men were awful, even the guy she’s been in love with for years came across as a scumbag. Sadly, this was not the book for me.

where I’ve been.

After a blogging break in September, The Pretty Good Gatsby is back in action! Earlier in the week I kicked things off with a gushing, rambly review of Kelly Bowen’s Last Night with the Earl, the second novel in her Devils of Dover series, and my final read in September. After a seriously lackluster summer, this one was an absolute joy!

But before we can get to the exciting posts and reviews I have planned for October, let’s do a recap of September! So what have I been up to this past month?

I TURNED 30 By far the highlight of the month. Unfortunately, I spent the day at a funeral. My bonus grandfather passed away a few days prior, so the day itself wasn’t exactly the celebration we had in mind, but birthdays can be celebrated any time. So while I wish the circumstances would have been different, when we all got together, the party was lovely.

I CHOPPED OFF MY HAIR As much as I’m obsessed with long hair, I absolutely love it super short. Every Fall I chop it off, letting it grow out again throughout the year, and by the time Fall rolls around once more I’m sick of it and ready for it to be gone ha. I shared a quick pic on IG: chin-length is my go-to. My ultimate hair dream is to one day be brave enough to do a pixie. About five years ago when partially shaved heads were super trendy, I went for it, so you’d think a pixie wouldn’t be a big deal!

I BASICALLY LIVED AT MY LIBRARY After a seemingly never-ending string of awful, disappointing, or just plain blah ARCs, I decided to put review copies on the back burner for a bit. And honestly? It was awesome. September started with an ARC of And the Ocean was Our Sky by Patrick Ness, a bizarre Moby Dick retelling told from the perspective of a whale pod. This book sealed the deal and the next 10 books I read were all library grabs. Definitely the highlight was Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor, a time-travel romance. I furthered my Dilbert obsession (and still have several collections checked out that I’m eager to dive into) and played catch-up with Harrow County, a fun graphic novel series that put me in a Fall mood…despite the VERY Summer temperatures lol. I’ve shared my love of nonfic before and had a fun time with Of All the Gin Joints, a trip through old Hollywood. Lastly, I dipped back into ARCs with Last Night with the Earl to close out the month and what a way to finish!

What’s been going on in YOUR life??

weekly wrap-up 7/29

• Remember the cheddar jalapeno bread I drooled over a few weeks ago? Yesterday Matt and I stopped by for more – it’s so good! He also got us croissants and I was initially hesitant but wow. They were phenomenal and not at all greasy and gross like the croissants I’ve had in the past!

• I just finished reading a nonfic, Love From Boy, a collection of letter Roald Dahl wrote to his mother. The letters span about 40 or so years, from when he was 9 and just off to boarding school throughout adulthood. His mother had kept over 600 of them! A sweet, quick read, and now I’m in that dreaded limbo between books! What are you reading??

MISSED SOMETHING THIS WEEK? Rosie Walsh’s fantastic debut, Ghosted, completely captivated me. A couple fall madly in love over the course of a week, then he vanishes. No phone calls, no texts, he doesn’t even reply to her facebook messages. Though Sarah’s friends think she needs to forget about Eddie and move on, she’s absolutely convinced there’s a reason. There was a twist in this one I wasn’t expecting at all! I also shared what’s making me happy this week!

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle
This magical realism novel has been getting a fair bit of buzz this summer! Compared to One Day and Me Before You, this book explores that age-old question of if you could invite anyone – living or dead – to dinner, who would you pick? It’s Sabrina’s thirtieth birthday and as she arrives, she sees not just her friends, but people from her past…and a very perturbed Audrey Hepburn who does NOT appreciate waiting an hour for the birthday girl! I am so so so looking forward to this one! Thank you, Flatiron Books!

June 2018 recap


Cars & Coffee is always one of my favorite parts of the month. This bi-weekly event (held in Warrendale, hi local friends, come join us!) features “exotic and performance” cars…basically suped-up sports cars and cars that cost more than my house ha. There are McLarens and Lotuses alongside Subarus and Hondas. Matt takes his car and we always have a good time! I can’t wait to see what July will bring (the next meet-up is this coming Saturday) and I would love to meet new people!

• Usually after Cars & Coffee, Matt and I will go for random drives – one of our favorite things to do. We’ll take randoms turns and back roads, yours truly playing DJ obvs. The photo above is one I took during one of those drives, out of nowhere a family of geese crossed the road in front of us!

• There’s a Loafers Bread Co next to our local Whole Foods and I’ve always been so tempted to stop in (hello, bread). In June we finally went it (in a different location, one close to my work that I had NO idea even existed!! This is going to be bad hahaha). This Panera-esque has delicious sandwiches and soup and, of course, the bread was phenomenal as well! We grabbed a loaf of Struan and totally demolished it in a few days oops.

• Our Netflix binges included Safe (a Harlan Coben-penned British thriller starring Michael C. Hall…yep, Dexter with a British accent) and the second season of GLOW.

• I received my first Sips by box. Before signing up, you complete a profile where you choose your likes and dislikes and tea preferences, then each month you receive a personally curated box specifically for your tastes. So fun!

• June was jam-packed with family time. Not only was it my brother’s birthday and Father’s Day, but summer always seems to have a way of bringing people together. Father’s Day was a blast and I spent the day back in my hometown where I caught frogs with my nieces and my dad, my siblings, my nieces, and I all stood outside to see who would be the first to spot a rainbow after a sudden, five-minute storm.

• The new Jurassic World made me cry and that’s all I’m saying about that!

• When I looked at the books I read in June, I was a little disheartened. But then I realized just how much I did last month and I don’t feel too bad! I read 7 books, all were either print of e-books, no audio this time! Out of the bunch, I enjoyed Save the Date and It Takes Two the most, but Kate Messner’s Breakout was also wonderful and surprisingly thought-provoking!


MURDER AT THE MANSION BY SHEILA CONNOLLY had my name written all over it: this start to a new cozy mystery series featured a Civil War historian, small town charm, a grand old estate, and a dead body discovered on the grounds. Unfortunately, the main character was so awful and nasty she completely ruined any enjoyment I could have had. Kate’s comments about how it was so cute that her best friend’s biggest problems in life were finding her kids’ lost sports equipment while Kate’s job dealt with multi-million dollar deals with global companies was grating. Her high and mighty attitude constantly had her belittling everyone around her and I was glad to see this one come to an end.

SAVE THE DATE BY MORGAN MATSON had my kicking myself for not having read one of her books before! Though this YA was a teensy bit too long (clocks in around 400 pages), I enjoyed every second with the Grant family! The wedding nightmares – a band who can only play Journey covers, a dry cleaner mix-up leaves the groom with a bright purple suit – the sibling dynamic, the coolest job (the mom is the writer of Grant Central Station, a nationally beloved comic strip that’s getting ready to end its 25-year run), it all came together perfectly. I also loved how romance isn’t a big plot point here. There’s the barest of teases of a romance to come for Charlie, but Save the Date focused on family and I was all about that.

IT TAKES TWO BY JENNY HOLIDAY was such a fun read. When I wasn’t reading this book I was counting down the minutes until I could get back to it. The super fun settings, the swoony romance (complete with banter!), the amazing group of women who define friend goals, I fell hard for this book and can’t wait for the next one to come out!

BRING ME BACK BY B.A. PARIS had me a little hesitant at first. Behind Closed Doors was one of my top reads of 2016 (only beaten out by one other book as my favorite read of the year), but her follow-up, The Breakdown, was terrible. Bring Me Back was TINY…to the point where I honestly thought a good chunk of my copy was missing. While I was completely glued to the page and kept reading, the big reveal was absolutely bonkers.