This is my weekly post where I offer a slice of a british writers life in the Florida Keys – what I’ve been up to, what I’ve been reading online, and of course a few anecdotes from my life in the Florida Keys.
Welcome to my second edition of Notes from the Backpack. This is basically a personal note from me to you, for the readers that know me, for the frequent visitors to the site, and of course to any newcomers. I moved from London to the Florida Keys in January this year and have been having a lot of laughs adjusting to this easy, breezy, Keys’y life. Read last week’s post here.
What I’ve Been Reading This Week
I shamefully adored this modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld is terribly witty, extremely well-written and, simply put, addictive.
What I’ve Loved Online This Week
- On the subject of shameful, this blog post by Barefoot Blonde made me want to buy matching Pyjamas for my man and I. “No one has to know!” I protested. Well now I’ve published this that isn’t necessary true (insert evil laugh). He has yet to say a firm no (more of a ‘soft’ maybe).
- A childhood friend of my sisters was diagnosed with breast cancer whilst pregnant with her second child. Read her utterly heart wrenching yet uplifting blog, Breast Cancer and Baby.
- This Christmas gift list for travellers by Adventurous Kate is literally the best gift list I’ve ever read.
- The Queen’s oldest friend, Margaret Rhodes, died last week. Read this wonderful article about their friendship and why your oldest friends are the best.
- As someone who lives in a minuscule apartment, what Graham Hill has done with this small space is fascinating. A must-read for anyone else with a apartment the size of a shoebox.
- In terms of weather (which we Brits apparently love to talk about) the Keys is still scorching, but it does get chilly at night. I am completely swooning over every midi-dress from Barney’s. Especially this one, this one and this one.
- We went to watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and thought how fun it would be as a drinking game, taking a sip every time there is a reference to Harry Potter. (Or you could just watch the movie like a grown up, or better still, find an actual movie for grown ups to watch like a grown up).
Ode to the Dollar Tree
This week we put up our first Christmas tree together. It is rather bizarre to see both a Christmas tree indoors and a palm tree through the window in the same frame. It struck me that I have spent my whole life assuming that the festive season means snow, wooly jumpers, and cosy nights by the fire. But that is certainly not true for a great proportion of the world. And now, that includes me.
One side effect of living on an island is that we don’t have anywhere to buy stuff, such as Christmas decorations, other than K-Mart and a few tourist shops selling fluorescent t-shirts and candle holders made from shells. Christmas has therefore proved to be an extremely tricky time. I could choose to either spend disproportionate amounts of money on hand painted starfish from the latter shops, or purchase tacky pink tinsel from K-Mart…
Enter, the Dollar Tree, darling!
Once you wade through the plastic table cloths and fake santa’s, the Dollar Tree is actually rather bloody awesome. I must first mention that it goes against everything I believe in (the cheap, disposable side of society), but if you aren’t adverse to keeping everything you buy for the foreseeable future, it is a great way of saving money (and as long as my mother doesn’t find out.)
They have everything in the Dollar Tree. From cleaning products to cosmetics to kitchen stuff. It really is the holy grail of cheap. I bought champagne flutes, white crockery for our Christmas supper, roasting trays for the turkey and potatoes … the list goes on.
Our friend Aly swears by the freezer section, and after having a little go ourselves, we ended up carting bags of frozen berries for smoothies and bags of sweet potato fries home. I even bought toothbrushes. I haven’t gone as far to buy the rest of their cosmetics, having read this awful review of their sunscreens, but for travel stuff (loofas, soap holder etc.) it really is the best.
They had rather lovely baubles, sparkly christmas lights, fake poinsettias, tree hangers, candles. Underneath all the crap there is a lot of great decor to be found… and you really can’t go wrong for $1. I combined it with some other bits we had, and our tree, I must admit, looks rather splendid!
So there you go, my secret is out, the Dollar Tree has saved Christmas, or rather set a solid foundation for a rather lovely, rather tropical Christmas.
Thanks for reading & see you next Sunday,
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