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?

What I'm Into: Right Now

Friday, April 28, 2017

March 30, 2017
The other day I jotted down a list of ideas to blog about. This post wasn't on that list, but creativity leads to creativity, so here we are. Let's share some things that we're into RIGHT NOW...

* The Little Prince. A Man Called Ove. Grantchester (season 3 is airing in America, you guys!!!).

Broccoli Salad. Chocolate Chip Cookies. Turning leftovers into dinners two and three times over.

* Dry cereal without milk.

* Learning more about writing from F. Scott Fitzgerald himself.

* Mornings on the patio.

* Friends...Getting together with them. Talking with them. Having conversations in the comments of each other's blogs.

* When the sun starts to shine just as I'm getting ready to clean the house.

* Opening the windows.

* Having so many reasons to say "Thank you" lately.

* Writing fiction again.

Before I sign off for the weekend, I'll leave you with a few more things...This poem. This song. This video (which I may or may not quote whenever I see someone swerving). This hobby. And two lovely examples of what happens when bloggers decide to ramble.

So, tell me, what are YOU into right now?

On Writing: Lessons from Dorothy Sayers

Thursday, April 27, 2017

March 13, 2017

"Lord, teach us to take our hearts and look them in the face, however difficult it may be." 
- Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night

It hit me that that is the task of writers - to look at and express their hearts and the hearts of others - that is what makes for good writing. That's also what makes it scary and difficult. But, the likes of L'Engle and White and Dahl and Fitzgerald and Berry and Sayers...They all GOT that and doing it, they have found themselves spanning decades and generation after generation. For as much as they deceive us, human hearts are what we know and they do not change much, regardless of the culture they live in.

The scene that came before that prayer was a conversation between Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane about a book she is writing and how she needs help to get the plot moving again.

It went like this,

"You would have to abandon the jig-saw kind of story and write a book about human beings for a change."

"I'm afraid to try that, Peter. It might go too near the bone."

"It might be the wisest thing you could do."

"Write it out and get rid of it?"


"I'll think about that. It would hurt like hell."

"What would that matter, if it made a good book?"..."You haven't yet," he went on, "written the book you could if you tried. Probably you couldn't write it when you were too close to things. But you could do it now, if you had the - the -"

"The Guts?"


"I don't think I could face it."

"Yes, you could. And you'll get no peace till you do. You've been running away from yourself for 20 years, and it doesn't work..."

And that lays it out perfectly. That's what writing is. Learning from your mistakes, writing the human heart - even your own. It hurts, but people relate and when they relate, the book is exceptionally good.

Taken from an entry 
in my journal dated
January 11, 2016. 

Blog Design: My List

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

After I decided that I wanted to redesign my blog, I started by looking at the blogs that I visit most often and made a list of the things that I loved as well as a list of the things that bothered me.

I was brutal. I compared my blog with each one in order to figure out what I wanted to improve on and what I was doing that might be driving my readers crazy. I also asked myself what I already liked about the way things were.

I'll let you in on my list...It went something like this:

First things, first. I noticed that every single blog that I was most drawn to had a super simple greeting. The heading was less about art and more about a nice font. The navigation bar was centered and big and had headings that you found yourself wanting to click on.

I loved the feeling the picture behind my header gave to my blog and the way it brought in the blues and greens that I loved, but after much deliberation, I decided that it needed to go.

As much as I liked the font, I decided to find one that was similar, but easier to read.

Another trend I noticed was that people had started trying to make individual posts stand out by the way they were formatted. The easiest way to do this is to make the post headers large and to center them.

As much as I love purple, I decided that the body of my post being purple was probably not the most attractive choice. I'm still not 100% happy with my font choice. There are several bloggers whose font alone draws me in. I've tried to figure out which font it is, they all say they don't know or that it's Arial. I've loaded Arial as my default font and it doesn't look right. Either way, I streamlined my fonts and colors and I THINK it's much better than before.

Giving my sidebar a makeover probably made the biggest difference. Everyone commented on it. I cleaned it up, made buttons for different categories I post about most often, and created specific spaces for different features. I also made my own social media buttons and started working on connecting with my readers at each one.

By the time I got to the different footers, the biggest decisions were behind me. I had learned a ton about the different ways you could customize even the smallest details and I was brave enough to start trying them.

Prior to updating my blog, I had decided to try adding Engageya. I chose it because of the option to have the circular links rather than square ones. Everyone loved it. I loved it. And so, I decided it would stay.

The messiness of blogger's default for their footers was really bugging me. I wanted to do what I could to make it easier to navigate, more appealing to look at, and to make it match the rest of the aesthetic of clean lines and easy to read fonts I was going for with the rest of my design.

Once I had decided what I liked and what I didn't, I made a list of specific tasks that I needed to complete. As I did my research, I kept my eye out for tutorials and started emailing my friends so that I could actually make the changes that I wanted to make.

What are your pet peeves when it comes to the blogs you read?

Is there anything about your blog design that you put a lot of thought into?