Harry Potter Quiz

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

So, you guys...I finally finished reading the entire Harry Potter series for the first time. It was already like a month ago now, but I'm here today so that we can talk about all things HP.

Overall, I was slightly disappointed in the series. Rowling's writing was pretty amazing, but somehow, it wasn't quite as dreamy as I expected it to be. The characters that I thought I knew so well from a childhood of movie watching, turned out to have sides that I had yet to see. For the technical problems I saw in the writing of the books, the characters made up for it.

Book 5 was by far THE hardest book for me to read. I put it down for a long time because Umbridge was making my blood boil. And yet...As it was with Narnia, the book that got under my skin is the one that I look back on with the most fondness. I always loved the first book and I always said the third book was my favorite, but now that I've read them all, I know that five is the book that stayed with me the longest. The joy I felt at Hagrid's return is an experience few books have been able to create for me.

These stories tell the story of good and evil. They bring us face to face with the things we see and admire and dread in ourselves and in one another. Using a made up world that mirrors the spiritual and physical realities of our own, Rowling wrote something to life that will outlive us all. And rightly so.

How about some HP questions and answers?

Favorite book?
I've always said book 3 and then I wrote a review saying that book 6 was my new favorite when I finished it. So, it must be 6.

Favorite character(s)?
It may be cliche, but I grew a super special fondness for Hagrid that I never had before. Another character I finally grew to appreciate is Dobby. He drove me crazy causing trouble in the movies, but things were different in the books. 

Scene that stuck with you?
I'm going to go with the various talks around the fire in the common rooms. I want a family room modeled after one of them!

Quote you <3 i="">
 "'...Don't you see? Voldemort himself created his worst enemy, just as tyrants everywhere do! Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises against them and strikes back! Voldemort is no different! Always he was on the lookout for the one who would challenge him...'" (Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, pg. 510)

Favorite movie adaptation?
#7 pt 2 will always be my favorite. I watched it over Christmas break a few years after it was released and it was the perfect ending to the saga. I remember thinking to myself, "We made it."

SPOILER: Biggest surprise?
Learning that Lupin and Snape are good guys. I have never been able to trust either one of them. I'm still not sure I do even though I'm supposed to.

Character you really didn't care for? 
Umbridge. That woman is evil in human form.

Do you know anything interesting about Rowling or the books or the movies or anything else HP related?
I read that she never got to really go over book 7 with edits and that it bothers her that it shows. I also read about the time she locked herself up in a hotel room to write and found that the stuff of dreams. If the stories about the girl who played Luna in the movies and Maggie Smith's cancer are true, that's inspiring! That's all I've got for now.

Is there one book that you think you NEED to read again?
The one I want to read again is book 3, just because. The one that I should probably read again is either 4 or 6. I flew through 4 and was super impacted by book 6.

What house would you want to be sorted into?
I always thought I was a Ravenclaw. The new site assures me I'm Hufflepuff. I'm so confused, but they're probably right.

Hogwarts or Ilvermorny?
I'm going to have to stay loyal to Hogwarts.

Memory tied to reading the series?
I started reading book 7 in the Boston Airport. I picked a spot by a huge window and had Dunkin' Donuts on the other side of the wall I was resting up against. It was lovely.

I also want to remember finishing the series on July 30 in my favorite ratty old camp chair in the garden I never got around to planting this year.

Food obsession?
Where do I begin? Chocolate to ward off the effects of dementors. Hot coccoa and tea. The lavish meals at Hogwarts. The role food played in these books caught me by surprise. I enjoyed every minute of it.

How old were you when you first finished the series?
26. It was a long time coming, you guys!

Fav time of year to re-read it?
I expected to fly through them in a summer, which would mean that would be when I would want to re-read them. But, I think they're best suited to late fall and winter reading. We'll see if I stick to this belief!

Do you want people to read them (why or why not)?
Yes, I most definitely do. The thing is...These books deal with every theme we face and wrestle with in life and don't exactly seek to provide answers. They give you a safe place to confront them and leave you to think through the issues yourself. It's quite an accomplishment!

Which character would you definitely be friends with?
I had trouble settling on a character. I asked my Mom her opinion and she said (with zero hesitation), "Draco...You'd befriend him and bring out what little bit of good there is in him." She's not wrong. Like Anne Elliot before me, I'm always becoming friends with the people nobody else has time for.

After some thought (and a little help), I came up with Colin Creevy and Dean Thomas.

Which professor would you most like to have?
It's going to be a nurturing woman or a wise man. Which leaves Madame Pomfrey (technically a nurse) or the ever loved Dumbledore (technically the headmaster). Maybe Firenz! I'm definitely going with him.

Funniest moment? 
For some reason, the humor in these books caught me by surprise. Certain ones had me laughing constantly. I don't have a specific scene in mind, but I know Peeves made me laugh quite a few times!

Saddest moment?
There were points in book 6 when I got super, super sad. The kind of sadness you can't shake. I also found myself missing Sirius right along with Harry. And of course...the detentions Harry got from Umbridge literally made my blood boil. I cannot take children being mistreated by cowardly adults.

Happiest moment?
In book 5, when Hagrid returns. I got unexplainably happy over that moment.

LOTR, Narnia, or HP?
I still haven't read LOTR, soooo, I'm not really qualified to make a choice. Narnia is a faster read (I read those in one week). I'm going to have to pass for now.

Which family would you most like to be a part of? 
I think I would fit best in the Granger family. But, I'd want to have a family like the Weasley's. Don't we all? Also...Neville's Gran is pretty awesome, even if we had to wait until book 7 to see why.

Copy and paste these questions so that you can answer them in the comments, on your own blog, or in an email to me!!! 

All Along

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

June 4, 2011

I've been helping my Mom costume another show which means that with the exception of last Monday, I have been at the theatre for some kind of rehearsal or performance every single night since the beginning of July. I've hovered over an ironing board, steamed costumes, learned to sew on buttons, and been a master with blue painter's tape and safety pins. Green room shenanigans have involved learning all about Brigmophyseters and Megalodons from a little boy named George and swapping every imaginable story with the cast and crew. There may or may not have been a few rounds of Mad Libs as well.

In a few short weeks, we will have been living the theatre life non-stop for two straight years. There were times that I was convinced it was killing me (this is no exaggeration). I was staying up way too late and getting up as early as I always did. I was making dinners to go and squeezing in grocery shopping and cooking and cleaning whenever I could carve out the time to do it. I was driving here there and everywhere and turning the van into an office during rehearsals. I worked props and costumes and the hospitality side of things and even found myself backstage being a kid wrangler. I made a fool of myself using sports terms instead of theatre lingo (think half time instead of intermission, locker room instead of dressing room, roster instead of playbill, and having ZERO clue what "house left" or "stage right" meant).

That said, this adventure is coming to an end. My sister is ready for a break. My brother is starting classes at the college. And I've been told the next show they even audition for won't be until Christmas. We're two years in and the thing that has shaped every hour of my life since we've moved here is going to disappear. At least for this fall anyway.

In a way, I'm excited. There will be normal bed times and time for friends. There will be family dinners and movie nights. Our weekends will be our own. But, just like every hard thing, I'm realizing that I'm sad it's over. This thing that required so much of us all, brought us together. It gave me a chance to be stretched and pushed way outside my comfort zone. My brother and sister got to have THE time of their lives and I got to tag along for the ride watching them grow and shine and enjoy themselves. It gave me a chance to give and give and give and trust in the strength that God provides. The last two years have been the best kind of hard and an amazing gift. I knew it all along, but now I feel like I'm finally seeing them for what they were. Perspective...It's really something!

With the end of one adventure, comes room for another. As you all know, I've spent much of the last 10 years keeping house for my family and taking up other jobs as they came my way. It's weird and I've never tried to deny that. My parents made a commitment to me and I made a commitment to them and I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to be a part of my siblings' lives and to be able to serve people whether they could pay me or not.

I wouldn't trade those 10 years for anything and the decision to bring them to an end came with a lot of wrestling. The thing is, my brother and sister are entering new seasons of their own. Our family is changing shape. And it's time for me to move on. I knew the days of being their "other mother" wouldn't last forever, which was why it was so easy for me to ignore the pressure I so often felt to "DO SOMETHING."

I got to teach them and play with them and cook for them. I got to help with Awana and summer reading programs and VBS and all the plays they were in. I got to be there for dentist appointments' and grocery runs and every errand associated with the animals they used to raise for fair. I got to take them out to eat and to the movies and spend endless afternoons at the park or the pool. I got to give them baths and read bed time stories and build Lego and play hospital. I cheered them on at Little League games and waited in the car during practices. I can still hear their giggles and look back on the times they needed a good cry and an extra hug. When they were little they were so afraid that I was going to move away and go to college and marry a big hairy man....There was so much dread with being sure that I would disappear.

And then, the years went by. I opted to do college online. I never did meet a man (hairy or otherwise) that made me want to get married. I moved away for a few short stints, but I always left most of my things at home and promised to return when my time away was finished. In some ways, I wish that I did have a house and family of my own. I won't have forever for those things to happen. But, then I look back on the last 10 years and I realize what a treat they have been. They've taught me to care more about what God thinks than what anyone else (myself included) thinks. They've taught me that my worth and value are not in what I do, but in who I am. They've taught me to do whatever it is my hands find to do the best that I can. In short, they've taught me to live by faith. I don't have a lot to show for those years other than gray hairs and laugh lines and some of the most precious memories I'll ever make. I've known it all along, but now I'm really seeing those years for what they were.

I wouldn't trade them for anything. Not a house of my own. Not a family of my own. Not a bank account bursting with security for whatever tomorrow holds. There are some things that are worth more than you can ever imagine and God used the last 10 years to fill the cup that holds those things to overflowing.

As we made plans for this fall, an opportunity came up for me to apply for a job. I kicked the idea around and around and turned in my application hours before the deadline. In the meantime, I was offered another job. A few weeks later I went in for an interview. I left the interview feeling dread. Which job SHOULD I take? Should I take either job? Did the interview even go well enough to give me a shot at the job? They told me I could expect to hear back the next week. I made the decision I had to make and waited to hear back on the interview. I made peace with my decision and handed it all over to God. The next morning, I got a call. The interview went well and they were pleased to offer me the job. The first of August was scheduled as my start date, which gave me plenty of room for the commitments I had made with this last play that we're doing.

I'm getting paid to write on project based schedule and I'm working at a library. Those 10 years of learning to wait on God, I had quiet dreams coming to life. I dedicated myself to continuing to write. My hope was that someday something might come of those scribbles. Something has. Another dream that came to life was the realization that THE career I wanted was to be a librarian. I stumbled onto that dream when I used to fill in for Julie. During a long stint of that, one day it dawned on me that THAT was what I wanted to do. I researched degrees and positions and let myself get used to the idea of the possibility of it.

The same waiting and trusting and working that have shaped the last 10 years will continue now that I've got a few other commitments to juggle. The summer of 2017 will live on in my mind as the end of one season and the beginning of another. I've told you that there were things I was holding back until the time was right. Now you know what they are. There are a few more things I'm keeping to myself for now, but these ones are honestly the biggest.

As I learn to juggle everything and adjust to the way things are going to be now, I'm still planning to keep up this blog! I've given myself the freedom to enjoy this summer that may just be the last of its kind. Thanks for tagging along and reading when I write and commenting and emailing even when I'm not putting up fresh content.

You're the best!

Halfway There

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

It's the middle of the middle month of the year. Summer is here in all its glory and as I always say, time is flying as fast as ever. I'm almost to the end of both my journal and my current purple notebook. These three things are working together to set my mind on taking a step back to consider the progress of the year so far.

This morning, I sat in my garden writing a fresh essay on the writing life and reading over the different things I've put down in my purple notebook.

I ran across this essay that I wrote on December 31st and decided that now is the perfect time to share it with all of you. We're halfway through this year already and yet that night at the end of December doesn't seem all that long ago. I'm sure you feel the same way...

December 31, 2016

Happy New Year

It's only almost 9, but I'm doing what I do when I check the time and adding three hours, which means that my family and friends on the east coast are minutes away from the big moment. I'm home with nearly 20 people and a Harry Potter marathon going on in my living room. A hot shower, dry hair, my fluffy bathrobe, some Bechet, and a cup of hot coffee are my companions now that everyone else is onto year five. I'm in my room with lamps and Christmas lights and the last 140 pages of book four. I'm doing something else I do...Wondering ahead to next year. Where will I be? What will I be doing? With who? What will my "word" be? Will I be as happy then as I am now? Happier? I've been thinking through things and seeing possibilities. And turning each and every one of them over into God's hands.

Last Sunday I was reminded that He RULES everything. The very Psalm that was comforting to me in the summer of 2010 is comforting me all over again. That summer, as I hovered around Baltimore in a plane with a big storm going on in the sky around me - complete with flashes of lightning - the words of that Psalm were on my mind explaining the peace I had. I've never forgotten that flight. I hope I never do. Trusting God in that moment was natural and easy and a total game changer. I guess it was because I didn't really have any other option.

I often wonder why it doesn't come so easily in other situations. The same truth applies. The same power He has over the wind and the rain and the lightning and even the course of that plane are exercised over every person I come into contact with, every circumstance, every opportunity, every ability...All of it. I'm going into 2017 with my mind set on these things and a resolve to BASK in His light. When I bask in the sun, I am full and happy and at ease. My cares melt away. I often doze off. There is nothing like it. I want it to be the same with God. It's going to take His Word. And it will be a good year.

I'm holding a few words back. They are here...I guess I'm afraid to unleash them. Why is that? Here in this "safe place" where they aren't going to go anywhere? Maybe that's something I'll work on. Why not now? Why do we hold things in? Is it fear of each other? Fear of being "found out"? And what is so wrong with that anyway?

Well, I started this piece with intentions. And it has taken a shape of its own. Holding back is harder than letting it out. I'm tired. Not sleepy tired, but the kind of tired that comes of writing your heart out. Only, I didn't quite get there.

* * *

2017 has been a year of much basking. I've been to MA and to SC. I've entered two different writing contests and put my words out there again and again. I've met so many new people and finally gotten around to getting to know people I've met since moving here almost two years ago. I've read less and written more.

My brother and sister have been in play after play. I've helped with props and costumes and volunteered on the hospitality side of things. I've packed more dinners to go than I can possibly keep track of and tucked little notes into each one. 

Circumstances really haven't changed much at all and yet I've poured myself into trusting God and continually looking to Him.

All in all, I'd say it's been a pretty good year so far!

How did you spend New Years?

What were your hopes going into 2017? 

What's on your mind now that we're halfway there?

A Little More On Faith

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

March 30, 2017
Back in May, Jay and I were texting about some life stuff. As it always does, it came around to God and His Word and the hope that we have in Him. Jay is famous for coming up with simple sentences that are packed with meaning. During our conversation he put 5 little words together and I've been thinking about them and planning to write about them here ever since. He said, 

"He heard us the first time." 

Jay's point was that so often, we pray and pray and pray like a little kid who is just SURE that our Mom hasn't heard us yet. After all, if she did...Things would certainly be different. God hears the prayers of His people. He doesn't sleep. He doesn't tune us out. He doesn't need us to shake His shoulders to get His attention.

This is not to say that we shouldn't keep asking or keep seeking Him. As we continue going to Him, this belief changes the way we wait. We pray and we rest assured in the fact that He has heard us. The first time. We can carry on, knowing that He heard us.

Not only does He hear us, but He also delights in this hearing.

When these two principles begin to shape the way we think, they'll be sure to shape the way we pray and live. This is faith in action. That kind of faith can't help but obey. It's the kind of faith that feeds obedience and delight and perfect trust in God. What comes after believing and praying like He heard us is trusting Him and putting effort toward what is up to us while knowing that the rest is up to Him.

We can ask Him to show us our part and to give us the courage and the strength for it as He grants us wisdom to see beyond the NOW. We can set our minds on trusting in His will, His way, and His time for the eternal picture He is painting of His power and glory. Even our requests are part of a story that will outlive all of us.

Remember this, He heard the first time and He is delighted to hear. Now, it's up to us to do what depends on us and trust Him with the rest.


Friday, June 30, 2017

I've got a fresh batch of letters for you today. They're a little bit sappier than usual and I hope you don't mind. Write a few of your own when you're done reading mine and leave them in the comments OR make a post of your own.

Dear Jean Pierre,

You French speaking darling, you...Thanks for being brave enough to shout "big cup!" across the airport late that night in Denver. I smiled and you drug your garbage can closer and the conversation that followed is one that I hope to hang on to for a good long while. You said, "we have God or we have nothing" and you were right. The joy in your eyes and the chance to use a little French and to talk about the treasure we have in God was a real delight. See you on the other side, my friend! I wasn't joking when I said I'd look for you.

Dear Brother of Mine,

Everyone keeps asking about my trip and my response is always something along the lines of, "Really good! Mostly." You're the reason behind that mostly. I enjoyed every millisecond I got to spend with you. The teary goodbye in the garage and the heart to heart and the letter you wrote me after I pulled out of the driveway...They mean the world to me. I miss you more than you'll ever know the same way you miss me. I can't wait to see you again. We're gonna plan it and you're gonna have some time off from work. I love you!

Dear Austin,

Thanks for choosing the healthiest restaurant I have ever stepped into for lunch that first Friday after I got home. I now know that I really like tangerines and that they make a great addition to a salad. I'm not sure that I'll go back, but it was way outside of my comfort zone and like everything in that category, it wasn't so bad after all.

Dear Old Bamboo,

When Leia watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang every single day I swore I would never ever watch it. Time went by and I ended up watching it. More time went by and my brothers and I would sing "The Old Bamboo" as we used the giant one that came from who knows where to get the stray birdie off of the roof. I had no idea that even more time would go by and the little boy dancing around in his underwear with the bamboo shoot that was five times his size would don a fancy costume and learn an amazing routine that he would perform on stage in his first professional theatre contract. What a run we've had!

What letters do you have to send today?

What has the power to make you sentimental?

Summer Reading 2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

For years now, I've been making summer reading lists for myself. It just didn't happen this year. I went back and forth over what to do and then I realized that I kind of have a list going in my head...

This summer, I plan to read whatever I make it around to. I'm back to reading a lot less again, which is just fine, but also means that planning my reading is more overwhelming than it is helpful. Life is full of seasons! The important thing is being able to recognize which one you're in and doing whatever you need to do to make the most of it.

This summer, I've got my eye on:

Making progress on C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy

"This Side of Paradise" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

"To the Lighthouse" by Virginia Woolf

Getting started on The Maze Runner series 

I've made it to the Psalms in my Bible reading plan and I'm picking up E.B. White's essays, E.E. Cummings's poetry, and Packer's "Keep In Step With the Spirit" when I need to mix things up. Oh, and I'm still working my way through "HP and the Deathly Hallows", which means I am the last one of my siblings to finish reading this series. Surprise, surprise!

As I make my way through this "list", I'll be sure to post reviews!

What are you reading this summer?

Chinese Chicken Salad

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

via Instagram...I apologize for this being all you get. :)

This is the kind of salad that is loaded with lettuce that you eat in a bowl, NOT the kind you put between two pieces of bread. Of course, maybe you're into that. I mean, when I was in SC I made a big batch of broccoli salad and my Grandpa couldn't keep himself out of it. He came wandering into the living room with a grin on his face and a sandwich in his hand. The only thing between those pieces of bread was a heap of that broccoli salad. I've officially seen it ALL.

Back to the salad I came here to tell you about! Summer days are the perfect time to incorporate lighter meals. Half because nobody wants to heat up the kitchen and half because people just don't each as much when they're hot. One thing my family LOVES to eat a lot of during summer is salad. If I announce "salad bar" for dinner, there is sure to be an honest to goodness celebration happening.

I dream of coming up with a rotation of four or five different salads that I can keep in the fridge for afternoons when you want nothing more than to head to the fridge for something to eat that is both cool and satisfying. I've been working on it for years now and have yet to come up with some options that everyone is crazy about...Which is unfortunate. BUT, this salad puts me one step closer!

It's quick and easy and you most likely have everything you need on hand. Like every salad before it, this one is open to any tweaks you might want to make to it! I used bottled dressing because that dressing happened to be the inspiration behind the whole dish, but you could sub your own favorite asian inspired dressing whether it happens to be bottled or homemade.

You ready?

Here we go!

Chinese Chicken Salad

3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. brown rice vinegar

1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 head romaine lettuce, washed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
3 green onions, washed and sliced
1/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 c. crispy chow mein noodles, toasted
1/4 - 1/2 c. Newman's Own Sesame Ginger Dressing

Combine chicken, soy sauce, and brown rice vinegar in a zip top bag, tossing until mixed well. Place bag into the fridge for at least one hour or overnight, turning occasionally.

Brown chicken in sesame oil and extra virgin olive oil over med-high heat for 10 minutes, turning once. Remove from heat. Let rest 5 minutes, then slice into bite sized pieces.

Meanwhile combine the lettuce, carrots, green onions, toasted almonds, and toasted chow mein noodles in a large salad bowl. Toss in chicken and salad dressing, continuing to toss until your salad comes together.

NOTE: May sprinkle with a little pepper and some extra onion powder if you like!

Serve immediately. Leftovers will keep for a few days in the fridge. The noodles get a little soggy, but I enjoyed it just as much on day three as I did on day one.


What are some of your favorite "fancy" salads?

What's the strangest sandwich you've ever seen?

May I Be

Friday, June 23, 2017

March 30, 2017
Back in May, I read a poem by E.E. Cummings that really resonated with me. It was one of those instances where the poem found me at the right time. My Mom saw the book (titled 73 Poems) lying at the top of a stack of poetry books and said, "Read number 43."

So, I did. And then I read it a few more times. And then I thought about it for days afterwards. And then I got out my journal and copied one of the lines down and drafted a little list of my own.

May I be...

full of joy
full of peace

None of these things come naturally to me. Just being real. Getting to know people and deciding how we're going to explain ourselves to them has a way of bringing us face to face with who we really are. If moving teaches you one thing, it's the truth about who you are. 

People want to know where you came from and why you're here and where you're going. They want to know what you like to do and what you hope to do. They want to see you laugh and some of them want to know what makes you cry. 

You listen to their questions and do your best to give them answers. You ask questions of your own and you wait for them to come with answers. And then you go home and you  think about the people who already know you and you wonder how long it's going to take to get to that place with the people you're just now getting around to letting in. 

And then, you read an old poem on some random night in May and you carry it around with you and everything comes full circle. Your life is full and you are who you are, but it's never too late to think about who you want to be. You make a list and you trust that God won't leave you where He found you. 

And that's why I like poetry!

What's on your list of things to be?

What I've Been Reading

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My last reading update was already a few months ago. I've read some doozies, but I've also read some really great things that I have been soooo looking forward to telling you about.


Land's End: A Walk in Provincetown by Michael Cunningham // I can't remember how I found out about this book...After my recent trip to Provincetown, I was in the mood for more MA. This book isn't one I'd recommend, but I will say that it was just as quirky and beautiful as Provincetown itself.

A Life in Letters F. Scott Fiztgerald // I picked this book up within 24 hours of being home from MA to take care of a little Fitzgerald craving I had. It was just what I needed. It's a monster of a book, but for someone as crazy about the Fitzgeralds as I am, it was a real treat. In July, I get to read one of his novels for the first time for the last time. Reading over the letters he wrote to his wife and his parents and his daughter and his friends and strangers and his wife's doctors was a great way to get to know him while I looked forward to the end of a journey. He was honest with people. He offered writing advice at every chance. I look forward to re-reading his books!

A Beautiful Place to Die by Philip R. Craig // My attempt to tell a friend what I had been reading when I had to admit to having just finished this book clued me into my true feelings about it. Craig has a whole series of these Martha's Vineyard mysteries (seeing the theme here?) and I had HIGH hopes. It was three parts cozy mystery one part where did that come from. If you're looking for a cozy mystery with a great setting, I'd recommend Laura Childs's Tea Shop series!


Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier // This skinny little book took me nearly two months to get through. It was what I would call a literary thriller and it was REALLY good. For whatever reason, I just wasn't in the mood when I first picked it up. This one is for lovers of Mary Higgins Clark, whose style DEFINITELY imitates du Maurier's in the best possible way. I'd recommend saving it for fall, as it is just the kind of moody suspense fit for the days that are growing shorter and colder.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly // Towards the end of April, I found myself in a serious reading rut. This book club read helped to pull me out of that. We saw the movie before I picked up the book, but my friend Shauna provided the motivation I needed to stick with it. This books reads like a history of America and of both planes and rockets and of women and of civil rights. There's always more than meets the eye and Shetterly attempted to bring the truth into the open as she collected the stories behind the figures that needed a little solving.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles // Another book club read. This is the first novel to really hook me in months. It's formatted and arranged in a unique way. There is TONS of dialogue, but it's rapid fire conversation that keeps even detail loving people like me engaged. In case you haven't figured it out, this book is one I couldn't WAIT to tell you about. I was impressed! The nod to George Washington and the setting of 1930's NYC couldn't be beat. Up until the last section, I thought this might be one of those books that I'd be passing around to EVERYONE for months to come. Things went a little crazy in the last section. A little crazier than I'm personally comfortable with. And then, the Epilogue comes around and makes everything all better again. This is one of those beautiful novels that moves along even though not a whole lot is happening. There are characters you can't quite figure out and you have no idea what the point of the book is going to be. The words are crafted in a way that has you reaching for a pencil every once in a while to copy down a sentence you want to remember. If you've read this one already, please tell me so we can talk about it!

Coming soon is "This Side of Paradise"...I can hardly wait!

What have you been reading lately?

Life Lately

Monday, June 19, 2017

June 9, 2017
During my little blogging break, life was full of so many things just like it always is. 

I've been:

* Cleaning and organizing to prepare for and to make up for my time away. It's good to leave a clean a house. It's good to have a clean house too.

* Going to the movies in the middle of the night. Just before I left, I got a text saying we were going to  Pirates after one of my brother and sister's performances. I ran a brush through my hair and trooped down to the theatre in my comfy clothes. I even managed to stay awake for the whole thing!!!

* Watching my brother and sister do more of what they love on the stage. Shows and showcases and more shows. It'll be slowing down soon, but for now, we're in the thick of it and they're shining BRIGHT!

* Traveling to SC and GA and NC. I was gone for two weeks and have so very much to say about the whole trip. For now, I'll just say, I can hardly believe it's already behind me.

* Hiking every chance I get. My most recent excursions all happened in the south, but I've got plans for lots more in the months to come!

* Geocaching with whoever wants to go. My Mom and I did a brand new series here in town and then I took my Dad and my Aunt out for their first time while I was in SC. We completed my first ever geotrail and I am the proud owner of my first geocoin. It's the little things, you guys!

* Getting together with friends and family to eat and visit and stare at each other see the whites of each other's eyes. Texting and FB and talking on the phone are all great, but you cannot beat time to be TOGETHER in person. My two weeks in the south were alllll about getting time with people I don't get to see nearly enough. I'm home now and have continued my attempts to get together with people I don't see enough of since moving here.

* Holing up to write. Between writing contests, people reminding me to keep at it, and a couple of my favorite writers, it seems that inspiration and motivation are everywhere. I've been writing anywhere and everywhere and even saying no to things to make time to write. It's been good to recognize the place writing can and should have.

So, that's what's been happening with me...What have you been up to lately?

Another Saturday Night

Saturday, June 17, 2017

June 12, 2017
Last time I wrote, Memorial Day weekend hadn't even happened yet. It still felt like spring and the promise of summer had me STOKED. Summer is here. I've been swimming and my trip to SC has come and gone. I've napped in the sun and sipped that first iced toasted marshmallow latte of the season (and taught you how to make your own). My freckles are back and everyone is commenting on them. Summer will forever and always be my favorite. 

I still haven't planted my garden. In fact, it's been several weeks since I've done anything other than sit out there to read which means a good round of weed patrol is going to have to happen before I can even THINK of planting anything. I wonder what kind of harvest I'll have now that it's as late as it is. We'll find out!

I've been thinking about the future and summer commitments and writing and what it takes to keep things straight. The answer to it all is staying in God's Word. The future is in his hands. The strength to keep our word comes from Him. The reason for writing is that storytelling is rooted in Him. Distractions and alternatives are all around us, but so is His truth. There's a rap for this...I've got my head to the heavens.

I've been in a Sam Cooke mood lately. It all started  several years ago when Joy the Baker mentioned a man that walked through her neighborhood singing "A Change Is Gonna Come" every single morning. Well, one of my characters listens to Cooke, so I have been too. Yes, you read that correctly. I'm turning into one of those people who "knows" their characters. This particular character drinks his coffee black and has a gray cat named Scott, in case you're wondering.

It's Saturday night and I made plans to stay home to get some writing done. So, I'm off to work on a fiction piece that's due in a few days. I'll be back here again soon. In the meantime, what are you up to this weekend?

On Making Time To Write

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

This post has been sitting around in my drafts folder since April 14. I've come back to it a few times to polish it up and I've finally decided it's time to share it here. Whether you are a writer or someone trying to make time for something else, I hope this post inspires you to stick with it! 

The writing life has a huge appeal to some people. The thing about writing is that it takes time. You have to sift through your ideas. You have to give your undivided attention to the task of arranging and rearranging words until an idea turns into something that can be passed around. No piece is ever truly finished even though you always have to make the call to move on and work on something else at some point.

I get the most joy out of finishing a first draft. I know it's good if it leaves me feeling a little breathless. The panic doesn't set in until after the final round of edits happen and I turn it over for someone else to read. All of a sudden, it doesn't seem good enough. I wonder what they'll think of my work and of me and if handing it over was really such a good idea after all. Which is ridiculous. The very point of writing is that people will take what you've written and enjoy it in their own way.

In a lot of ways, it seems as though my time in this town has made me a writer. I've used the time and routine that life here has granted me to push myself as a writer. To put myself out there. To hand my work over. To welcome people who know me in real life to this space (and to not be totally weirded out when they find their way here on their own).

There's a man from church that referred to me as "the writer" for the longest time. I didn't know how to feel about it at first, but then I realized that there was nothing wrong with that title. Last summer, I was out with my brother one day and a guy that was looking to hire him, turned to me and asked if I was a writer. I still have no idea what prompted that question, but for some reason, he asked it and I fumbled with just how to answer him. Back in February, I found out that someone I'd known of for quite a while is a writer. After I asked him about it, he didn't miss a beat before asking me if I write.

Writing has been a big part of my life ever since I can remember. It was something I did, but that I tended to keep to myself. It's a solitary activity. Something that you don't assume people will understand. Somehow I never gave it up. I kept at it. I didn't let my own doubts or fears choke it out. If I'm honest, writing isn't something that I decide to do, it's basically something that I must do. It's part of who I am.

I read about people's writing routines and how they make time to write and I feel foolish sometimes. There's the woman who pays someone to keep her children for two 3 hour chunks each week so that she can go write. There is Marina and her resolve to write for 12 hours each week during what would have otherwise been spent on a club that she didn't get into. And then there is me. I spend a fair amount of time writing. I have a notebook that I take with me when I have an idea in my head and expect to have some time to get it down on paper.

If I'm honest, I think about these years that God has granted me and I want to be able to look back on them knowing that I used them well. I want to make replacements of my own. I want to set aside time to write and I want to USE it.

The writing life appeals to people who know what it is to BE writers. They have teachers and friends and people telling them that they have to write and they know it's true.  My friend Jeremiah said something the other day that I haven't been able to shake...He said that it's so easy to write and yet even easier not to. And he's right. When you're a writer, the words come. Give yourself a quiet hour and a piece of paper or a Word document and you'll be able to crank out 1500 or even 2000 words on ANY given subject. They may be junk, but they'll come. For people who write, writing is easy. Creativity feeds on creativity. Inspiration will come in the shower, at a stop light, in the grocery store, in the garden, and sometimes even in your sleep.

But, Jeremiah is right. It's even easier not to write. To let the days turn into weeks where you don't get anything down or where you don't go back to what you wrote in order to turn it into something better. To keep what you've written to yourself and to let it die in a dusty old notebook or some forgotten folder on your computer. It's easier to come up with excuses of things that you could or should be doing instead of writing than it is to set aside time to write and to discipline yourself to make the most of that time.

Here I am...With all kinds of spare moments to work on a novel or on essays that I could submit to contests and literary magazines. With something that is some kind of gift. With the opportunity to be the writer that God seems to have made me to be. I don't always know what kinds of words I should put down or what kinds of stories I should tell. Here's to making the time and using the time and doing what it is we've been put here to do. Whatever it is, we can't take the easy way out. We've got work to do.

What's the thing that you are called to put time into?

Just Because

Monday, May 22, 2017

May 20, 2017

I'm having a little issue with blogger and my trusty laptop again...So, while I have picture posts and a birthday post and an essay and more on faith to share, this morning, I'm just writing from the hip. I hope you don't mind. I have a feeling you don't because these are the kinds of posts that I love to read when I head to other people's blogs.

This weekend was an eventful one! Tech week turned into opening weekend and we came out on the other side with a house that's in pretty good shape, food in the fridge, and none of us down for the count. Plus, the show is going SUPER well. I call that a win!

Over the weekend I also...

* Found out that I tied for 2nd place in a writing contest I entered back in March!

* Had a minor emergency involving maggots AND didn't throw up (the dog drug something out of the bushes).

* Read in the sun...ate in the sun...had ice cream in the sun.

* Saw a man in a dress/romper situation. (WHY? I ask you...)

* Said "thank you" to a credit card machine.

* Finished reading a book I've been working on for nearly 2 whole months.

* Cooked up the first of the "summer" dinners (hot dogs, Alton Brown's mac and cheese, baked beans, and watermelon).

* Got out of the car in an "I wasn't planning on getting out of the car" outfit and grinned like an idiot as I walked around looking for my Mom. (A junky tshirt and a pair of Gap sweat shorts from the late 90s as well as my old Adidas sandals that I can't bring myself to throw away...I know you were wondering!)

* Chose the next book for my book club to read.

I told you it was eventful! Aside from attending opening night and enjoying SO MUCH SUN, the highlight of my weekend was the ceremony for the latest writing competition I entered. When I wrote the essay back in February, I wasn't sure that it was good enough. I didn't know if people would be able to "get" it. It was one of those pieces that was easy to write which sometimes means you're not giving it all you've got. Apparently, it was alright. Another thing that caught my by surprise was the fact that the person that I wrote about was sitting next to me at the ceremony. That is not something I expected to happen as I wrote the words on that Friday afternoon in February. I shouldn't have been surprised...God has a way of bringing the right people into our lives at just the right times.

Here we are. May is almost over, every day feels more like summer. Almost every evening reminds me of a night at the beach. Our routine is about to change around here again. I've got a trip to SC coming up FAST. In the meantime, life is purring along just like it always does. More on that later.

How was your weekend?

What have you been reading lately? 

DIY Iced Lattes

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

You guys, I've been making cold brew coffee for SIX years as of this summer. I remember when everyone was getting into it and I honestly didn't know that there were still people who don't know how to do it...You learn things on the internet. This week, I learned that there are still people who don't know how to make their own cold brewed coffee.

I also learned: That wind currents and the temperature of the ocean control humidity. That there are apparently cold coffee BREWERS. That Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, and Johnny Mercer all have versions of the song "Accentuate the Positive" out there. That there are 14 books about the Wizard of Oz. That Lukas Graham is a young white guy. 

Back to the cold brew coffee thing. Cold brew coffee is great. From about May until October, I almost always have a little jar of it tucked away on the top shelf of my fridge. I've been known to mix it with chai tea, sweetened condensed milk, Hershey's caramel syrup, or some homemade toasted marshmallow syrup (along with milk and ice, of course). 

All you need is coffee, water, some kind of strainer, a spoon, and a couple of glass jars.

You ready for this?

I don't have pictures of the process, because I think you can handle it on  your own.

Cold Brew Coffee

1 c. coffee grounds (I use Folger's Columbian Roast)
4 c. cold water

Place coffee grounds and water into a glass jar with a lid. Give it a few shakes and set it on the counter where you will let it sit for 8-12 hours or overnight.

Once the time is up, place a fine mesh strainer over the opening of a second glass jar and slowly pour the coffee into the jar through the strainer. (Our coffee pot has a basket that doesn't require filters, so that's what I use.) Use a spoon to scoop any remaining grounds into the strainer and very gently press the grounds with the back of the spoon to release any coffee that they have retained. Discard those pressed grounds. Pour the coffee back and forth between the two jars through the strainer a few more times until no grounds remain.

Place jar in fridge where it will keep until the coffee is used up. You'll find that this coffee is less bitter and yet stronger than regular coffee. Use about 1/3 cup cold brew coffee for a 20 oz. iced latte. 

* * *

Before I let you go...You're probably going to want that toasted marshmallow syrup recipe. Right? I have my friend Jayda to thank for getting me hooked on this at home version. I looked and looked for one and as is usually the case, somebody else googled it and found JUST what I was after. Thanks, Jayda! I owe you big time.

The original recipe makes more than I'll ever need. So, I make a small batch of it at a time.

Toasted Marshmallow Syrup

1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, and water in a small pot over medium-high heat. Bring to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, let simmer 2-3 minutes, stirring often.

Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract.

Let cool completely and then transfer to a small glass jar (I use a tiny little pimento cheese jar) and store in fridge. Use about 1 1/2 tsp. syrup for a 20 oz. iced latte. 

* * *

Okay, now I've done my part in helping those of you who are still buying your cold brew coffee find a way around all that madness. Feel free to play with the coffee grounds to water ratio. I certainly have! 

If you need latte making tips, that's even easier than all this brewing and syrup making. It goes like this: Add syrup to your cup, top with coffee, top with milk (leaving room for plenty of ice), STIR, add ice, ENJOY.

Now you know everything I learned on the internet this week and a few things I learned in the 6+ years before that. 

What's your coffee story?

What did YOU learn on the internet this week?

The Way I Always Do

Monday, May 15, 2017

April 11, 2017

Back in April, I tagged along with my brother and sister and a few of my sister's friends on a hike. It was the first really warm day we'd had and the trail was buzzing with people. My sister and her friends meandered along while my brother and I took the lead. We stopped every now and then so that people could take pictures or look over the edge or do whatever it was they wanted to do with a short break. 

Somewhere along the way I decided to look for ferns. I didn't know why I wanted to find some so badly, but it seemed important. I told my brother that the woods don't seem like the woods without ferns. Things were really green and there were all these little yellow flowers everywhere, but I couldn't find a single fern. 

I shrugged my shoulders and let it go. We hiked on until we came to this clearing where we decided to set up a hammock and take a long break. My sister and her friends messed around with the hammock while my brother and I climbed around on the rocks. After a while, I took a seat in the sun and my brother took the camera to snap a few shots. 

I was keeping an eye on him, the way I always do when we're out and about, but eventually I lost sight of him. He had climbed down into a dip in the rocks. All of a sudden I heard him yell, "Ferns!"   He came back into view and held up the camera signaling that he'd found my ferns and had taken some pictures of them. I smiled, the way I always do when his sweetness reminds me just how much he loves me. 

Ferns remind me of summer camp and hikes and my grandparents' front porch. They remind me of the cool shade of the woods and nights spent going back and forth between the porch swing and catching lightning bugs. They remind me of growing up and growing old. They remind me of who I am and where I've been. They remind me of days gone by and days yet to come. Maybe that's why I was so set on finding some.

We found some ferns. We finished our hike. We smiled and laughed and took pictures. We made memories. 

A month later, I'm still thinking back on them. The way I always do. 

5 More Things About Me pt. 7

Friday, May 12, 2017

July 17, 2012 
I thought it would be fun to do a reading edition...So, here are five reading related facts about yours truly. Enjoy and be sure to share some facts of your own about YOU! 

Sidney Chambers is my literary crush. He takes theology seriously without being uptight or proud about it. He loves jazz. He cares about people. He's just an all around GOOD guy.

Rhett Butler, Mr. Rochester, and Delores Umbridge are the characters who upset me so much that I had to put the book down until I was ready to face them again. They didn't ruin the book for me, but each of them came close.

E.B. White, Mary Higgins Clark, Madeleine L'Engle, and F. Scott Fitzgerald are the top four writers who inspire me most. They are all very different, but what they have in common is a knowledge about how people think and a willingness to write honestly.  

The Beautiful and Damned, Persuasion, To Kill A Mockingbird, and The Outsiders are classics that I think everyone should read. It's never too late to dig into the classics. If they've intimidated you, begin with something written in the first half of the 20th Century. It's a great place to start!

Literary fiction, mysteries, thrillers, theology, and biographies are my go-to genres. Every now and then I'll pick up something else, but more often than not, these are the books you'll find floating around my house and car and bag.

What are some reading related things about you that I probably don't know?

On Faith

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

April 11, 2017
"By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, 'Through Isaac shall your offspring be had.' He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking he did receive him back."
Hebrews 11: 17 & 18

Faith is a word that carries a lot of meaning in the mind of the Christian. It is by faith that we became Christians. It is by faith that we attempt to live. It is something that we admire in one another and esteem pretty highly as far as virtues go.

We know people who pray about everything from parking places and food to the church around the world and concerns in the lives of people that they know. We know people whose every word of advice comes straight from Scripture. We know people whose very countenance is like a breath of fresh air. We know them and we long to be like them.

Last week, I had three different conversations about faith. As it usually goes when a theme shows up, I didn't go looking for it. Three different people brought faith up and had specific things to say about it. I listened and smiled and tucked the conversations away. Abraham came up multiple times, so I went digging for his story. We've heard it so many times and encouraged one another with it, but it was time for me to go back to look it over with fresh eyes.

Abraham's life illustrates the hand of God in the lives of His people. God tells His people to have faith and then He shows them how. He tests that faith and, if I'm honest, I don't know exactly what that testing looks like or how to recognize it. I only know that I know faith when I see it and that faith in the face of real life is absolutely beautiful.

Abraham believed. His faith prepared him to obey. Time and time again, he didn't know how it was going to work out, he only knew that it would. And that's what we need. We need to be patient. We need to believe. God will make a way, even when there doesn't seem to be any way. What is meant to be, will be.

There's more to this theme and we'll come back to it another day. For now, I just wanted to get some words on faith down. I don't know what you're going through or what you're waiting on. I don't know what God is calling you to bear or to enjoy. But, I know this: God means for His people to be men and women whose lives are marked by faith.

He may keep you waiting. He may call you to endure more than you think you can. Faith is about looking to God no matter what. It leads to obedience and peace and joy. Circumstances can really mix us up, but remembering that they are all in His hands means that we can face them with our chins up and shoulders straight. What is meant to be, will be.

May we have the faith that looks to God and to the day at hand with confidence in His good plan. May this faith stir up the kind of obedience that delights in God even when that seems hard or impossible. May our waiting and enduring and enjoying and obeying make it possible for those around us to say of us, "By faith ______, when ______, ______." It's been said of many before us and will be said of many after us. God is seeing to it. Remember that.

Whose faith do you admire? 

The Great Seal Release

Monday, May 08, 2017

Alright, we're skipping ahead to the night of March 30. The day of was pretty fantastic and we'll come back to that, but for now...We're in for a little more beach time. I was spending the week with my friend Shauna and we didn't have a lot planned because we mainly just wanted to hang out and CHAT in person. She got an email about a seal release that was happening and asked if I'd be game. Little did she know, my once-upon-a-time-marine-biologist-wannabe-self was ALL IN. 

This particular seal was rescued off of the coast of New Hampshire and shipped up to MA to be rehabilitated. It came to them scrawny and injured and left fat and happy. I'm not really sure why it wasn't kept in NH or released there for that matter, but these are not the kinds of questions you take the time to ask when you're standing in a mob of people eagerly awaiting the moment a single seal crawls out of a dog crate and into the ocean.

We picked up Shauna's nephews and niece and made our way to the beach where we snagged a front row seat. We kept the kids entertained the best we could and before we knew it, Seal Diamond had arrived. The crowd parted and the ladies lugged the crate down a little closer to the water. This happened to be my very first time witnessing anything like this, but everyone else seemed to have done it before.

The seal came out of the crate right away and seemed to know just what to do. They had boards ready JUST in case, but he looked this way and that and then headed straight for the water. Within 3 minutes, he had completely disappeared.

We took the kids back to their house before heading back to Shauna's house to finish prepping for the spa night we were having for Hannah. On the way, we saw a rainbow. As the road twisted and turned and the trees came and went, we worked really hard to spot it over and over again. At one point Shauna's niece proudly exclaimed, "I can't see it anymore! It's CAMOFLAGED!!!" We all got a laugh out of that. She's TINY, but she has all kinds of words to say. The boys were pretty quiet. I had met them when they were little and I was surprised to find that their personalities really hadn't changed at all. 

The seal release was a success. It was fun to reconnect with a side of myself that I usually keep tucked away living as far away from all things "marine" as I do. 

What's something you wanted to be someday when you were a kid? 

Have you ever witnessed a rescue animal's release back into the wild?

Looking Forward

Friday, May 05, 2017

March 29, 2017
Every now and then it's fun to take some time to think about things that we are looking forward to. I think it's safe to say that Kiki is the one who got me started on this. I don't do it alllll the time, but when I do, I'm glad that I did. It's a short-term bucket list of sorts.

I'm looking forward to...

* Reading the rest of C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy.

* The first swim of the summer.

* Planting my garden.

* Taking a trip to SC. I never travel. Except for when I do.

* Some seriously HOT days. I'm a freak and I can't wait.

* The first iced toasted marshmallow latte of the year.

* Hearing the results of the writing contest. UPDATE: I placed!!!

* Taking naps in the sun again.

* The next time Jay comes to town.

* Reading MHC's newest release.

Your turn! What are some things you're looking forward to?

Currently: May 2017

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

May 3, 2017

We made it through winter and then winter-spring and now summer is coming! It's been a while since I've shared a "real life" update...We're still in The Queen's Cottage and we've settled into a way of life that isn't too shabby. In fact, it's mostly really, really great.

In the last six months we've had soooo many people come through this little postage stamp of a house. There have been movie nights and game nights and birthdays and rehearsals and just because drop ins. If you open the doors and invite them in, they'll come. Your house can be small. Your carpet can be green and your furniture can be mismatched. There can be boxes stuffed into every corner. They don't care.

This month is going to fly by and when it's over, I'll be entering into a summer that I think may be the last of its kind. I'm trying not to think about THAT too much, so that I can focus on making the most of it instead! My youngest brother starts classes at the college this fall which is mostly really exciting, but also means BIG changes are coming as fast as ever.

In the meantime, it's May and I'm currently...

Baking: Brownies, coffee cake, cinnamon biscuits, birthday cake (more on this tomorrow), and chocolate chip cookies. There have been so many occasions to celebrate lately!

Listening: The Help soundtrack. These songs. The Happy Hour podcast (thanks, Shauna!). I think FLAME is going to get some serious playtime this month! 

Getting back into my garden. Being creative with meal plans. Grocery shopping on Friday afternoons. Getting "abducted" by Jay for a day. Bowling for the first time in YEARS (and doing alright). Taking time to let people in. The nights I spent reading Fitzgerald's letters. That summer is RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER!

Planting: I'll be putting my seeds in the ground in the next week or so! It's been a few years since I've tried a new veggie. I really want to do a salsa garden. Do I break my rule and introduce more than one new plant at a time???

Remembering: My grandparents. That, as J.I. Packer wrote, "We are to order our lives by the light of His law, not our guesses about His plan."

I'm linking up with Anne and Nancy!

What are you baking, listening to, loving, planting, and remembering these days?

Blog Design: The Process

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Once my list was made and my goals and assignments were laid out, it was time to decide on fonts and colors for everything. This was both fun and totally frustrating. Scrolling through pictures is super easy, but you've got to narrow it down.

I made folders and started collecting images. I searched for fonts and kept track of the ones that seemed promising. And then I sorted. I ended up with three main theme ideas and built a vision board for each one:

Beach Theme

Rainy Green Theme

Favorite Picture Theme
The process of coming up with each board clued me into the exact direction I was headed. If you notice, the fonts were the first thing I decided on (I used the same fonts on each board). The colors were all strong, yet muted earthy tones.

As I look around the design I settled on, I realize that I didn't end up going with any one board. Instead, I selected a little something from each board and wove them together to create a look that I'm pretty happy with.

If I'm honest, there are still some things that I would like to fiddle with. I go back and forth with the shade of purple that I chose and I really miss the pops of navy. I never did find a font for the body of my posts that I ADORE.

When I started this series I said that I was so happy with my re-design that I haven't changed a thing since then. The thing about blogging, like pretty much everything else in life, is that there can always be a better thing. We can get things JUST the way we want them and then we begin to see that there is still room for improvement. The thing to do is to do your best, to not be afraid of messing things up, and to be satisfied with the way things turned out.

That's what I did and I'd encourage you to do the same!

Did you make an inspiration board for your blog?

Do you have any suggestions for THIS blog of mine?

Walking to Nowhere

Monday, May 01, 2017

I've been reading a collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald's letters this month. Most nights before bed, I've closed the curtains, turned the lamp on, and settled into bed for as much reading as my mind will allow. Not surprisingly, this is not one of those books that causes my eyes to get droopy. I've stayed up until close to midnight more often than not because reading one more letter turns into reading ten more. 

As I've read the words he wrote in his letters, I've learned so many things about him (he gave writing advice to anyone he thought would accept it, the fiction he wrote really was inspired by his life, when he went to Hollywood he worked on "Gone With the Wind", the writing life was a struggle for him, and I could go on, but I'll stop there). I noticed that there are phrases that he would use again and again (stupid-got being the strangest). I've come to admire him more than I ever have before and that's really saying something.

Reading his letters has had me thinking about all kinds of things. As is always the case when I read anything he's written, I've been taking some time to examine my own writing and the effort I put into it. I've read over some of my old writings. I've read drafts out loud to people willing to listen. I've laughed and nodded my head and even shook my head in disbelief over some of the things I've put down on paper. And I've noticed that there are phrases I use again and again. 

The one phrase that comes to mind is the one this post is named for..."walking to nowhere." I'm not sure when I first came up with it or what inspired it, but I know it goes at least as far back as 2014. Those three little words carry so much meaning and for some reason I like the way they go together. 

Today, we're taking a trip back to Massachusetts for one of my walks to nowhere. The day was gray, but the rain had let up and I was faced with a day alllll to myself. I did something I NEVER do and went on a very long walk by myself. The trail was the same one I would walk with Carol and Shauna and Hannah and Bonnie and Laura and whoever else wanted to go when I called MA "home for now", so it was familiar, but that also meant that walking it alone seemed strange. 

I wandered (that's another word I use A LOT) through the neighborhoods and followed the winding roads that make for the shortest path to my favorite part of the trail. I kept my eyes and ears open for anyone looking to cause trouble. I decided I would continue my walk as long as there were at least two people in sight. There was an older couple that granted me the courage to carry on with my walk and though they'll never know it, I'm grateful.

You ready? Let's go...

I held off on going back to MA for a long time. Too long, if I'm honest. I didn't realize it until I was sitting in my old bedroom at the top of the stairs on the last night of my trip, but I couldn't seem to bring myself to go back because deep down I knew that it would mean I would have to leave again and that just wasn't something I could face. 26 and one of my best friend's wedding turned out to be the motivation I needed. 

MA is a place dear to me for so many reasons. It has come to be a place I associate with some major work God has done in my life. This walk is another piece of that puzzle. 

Are you one to take long walks to nowhere? 

What's a phrase that you find yourself writing all the time?

Is there a place you associate with God's hand doing work on you?