A Month of Saturdays: April 2015

Saturday, May 30, 2015

I spent quite a bit of time working on blogging things last night! We're talking six posts drafted, a summer reading list built (coming next Monday, I think), a few more posts sketched, and some poking around on your blogs too. It was really great and it made me realize that I've got a lot to share with you in June!!!!

Before May is over, I need to share the pictures from a Saturday in April! Normally, the pictures come from every Saturday in the given month, but this time around I slacked and only took pictures on the very first one in April.

The day was gorgeous. We played dominoes and had our coffee how we like it (none for my sister, hot for my Mom, and iced for me). We puttered around in the backyard. We probably watched some tv. And then my brother and sister had some of their friends over for a little fireside dinner complete with hot dogs and s'mores.

The hula hoop picture is one of my favorites. As winter was giving way to spring, my sister (the girl who goes after what she wants) decided that she needed a hula hoop. When you're a teenager, you do things like google world records so that you can try to break them. As it turns out, the record for hula hooping is ridiculous. Soooo, my brother and sister decided to keep track of and beat their own records.Every time we turned around, they were hula hooping trying to get just a few more seconds. My brother managed to hula hoop for one hour and five minutes, without stopping. Beat that!

What are you up to this Saturday? 

Children's Literature

Friday, May 29, 2015


Children's literature will have a special place in my heart as long as I'm on this earth. There's nothing like a story that takes you somewhere and teaches you something in just a few minutes. Great illustrations are a bonus that really help to draw you in. When I was growing up it was my Mom who fostered my love of books. Even when I had no idea how to read, I would ask any willing adult to read to me and correct them if they tried to skip pages or got something wrong.

When my younger brothers and sister came along, I was more than happy to read to them. I wanted to be sure that they all knew how great it is to have someone give you their undivided attention as they shared a story with you. 

My love for children's literature started when I was very young and it continues today. When I found out about the opportunity to review a copy of this Andy Andrews' latest book, "Henry Hodges Needs A Friend", I was eager to take part! 

Unfortunately, I need to tell you that I was disappointed. As children's literature goes, my expectations are high. I believe that children should be exposed to books that are going to influence them in positive ways. This particular book is about a boy named Henry who is lonely. His parents decide to solve the problem by taking him to the shelter to get a dog. I really enjoyed the process of joining Henry as he imagined what kind of pet his parents would be getting him as well as the pages dedicated to their trip to the shelter.

Andrews had great intentions with this book and there is no doubt that it would draw pretty much any child right in. The illustrations are engaging and the story itself has a nice flow to it. Some parents would object to Henry's personality. He is lonely and bored and has a poor attitude about EVERYTHING in his life. For me, I think I would be willing to use that as a discussion piece. 

My problems come in with Henry's parents and the dose of theology that Andrews includes. You finish the book feeling like you're special and because you're special you'll get special things. That was the reason why Henry's parents wanted to get him a "one-of-a-kind" pet. BUT, we all know that that's not how it always works out. Some children never do get what they "need" or even NEED. Does that mean that God isn't there or doesn't care or _____? Absolutely not! But, books like this could be super discouraging and possibly even damaging to a child who is faced with a life like that. 

So...Overall, this isn't a book that I would recommend. The premise of a boy learning to BE a good friend is fantastic, but that isn't the focus that Andrews chose to take. If he had left God out of it, I probably would have been willing to share this book, but I just can't promote something that could change the way a child thinks about God in a way that will cause them to doubt Him.

What is your criteria for children's literature?

Do you have a favorite children's book? 

* I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own honest opinion.

What They Do To Me

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

13 or 14 year old Victoria and the Walkman that went EVERYWHERE.

Music has always been a huge part of my life. Every car ride in the summer came with windows rolled down and music so loud you couldn't help but sing along. My teachers probably broke so many rules...We listened to their music at the end of most days in 5th grade, in math class on certain days, and on circuit day in PE. My friend Lexi always listened to music that no one else had ever heard of, but that was always really good.  My friends and I spent so many weekends making up dance routines and never turned down a karaoke night.

The other day my friend Megan posted her top five seven songs and it made me want to come up with my own list. Narrowing it was way harder than I thought it would be! Here are nine that I came up with:

Drops of Jupiter by Train - I'm pretty sure it's no exaggeration to say that every mixtape I ever burned has this song on it. I sang it so much that my Mom even knows most of the words. It's so sad and so happy and reminds me of some of the best years of my life so far. The only thing this song got wrong is that heaven is overrated. It's definitely not!

Kryptonite by Three Doors Down - In junior high all of my friends loved this song. Whenever I hear it, I go right back to the year that everyone in my class called it their favorite. We sang it at the top of our lungs every single chance we got.

Wake Up Nico by Jill Andrews - This is one of those songs that always cheers me up. It makes me think of the time I spent helping my friend Heidi when her second baby was born.

A Thousand Things or You've Got a Home by Christa Wells - Just before I turned 20, I moved to Massachusetts to do student teaching. It was a dream come true, but my time there came to an end. The first song reminds me of the struggle I went through as I learned that God truly does have the whole world in His hands. The second one reminds me of the way the people who were perfect strangers welcomed me into their homes and lives when I moved to Massachusetts.

Remark by Rachel Platten - This song says it all. Yes, it's like that.

Thy Way, Not Mine by The New Attitude Band - I liked this one the first time I heard it when I was 17 or 18. I had no idea that it would become an anthem that would get me through college and my early 20's.

Take Me There by Trip Lee and Jimmy Neeham - I listened to this song soooo many times when I was on my way to the ranch for a cooking day with Darlene and Anna a few Fridays ago. As you can tell, I like songs that give me a reality check!

Hot Diggity by Perry Como - My Grandma was always whistling or singing songs. ALWAYS. It was usually just a few lines or the chorus. This particular song is one that I just love. It takes me back to the  little table in their kitchen or running errands or sitting in the backseat on a trip to visit one of my aunts. It gets bonus points because it also reminds me of my Gramps saying, "Hot dog!" about everything.

Honorable mentions go to Tedashii, Macy Gray, Nelly Furtado, Cher, Savage Garden, Cheryl Crow, Avril Lavigne, Baha Men, Matchbox 20, Creed, B*Witched, Aerosmith, Shania Twain, Alicia Keys, and everything Reach Records.

I was SUCH a 90's child.

What are some of your favorite songs and what do they do to you? 

What era does your music say you belong to?

A Cat Garden

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Since both of our cats just love to get into the flower beds, my Mom decided to put in a special garden just for them. She researched what makes for a good cat garden (yes, this is TOTALLY a thing) and then we went to a new nursery to pick up the plants. My Mom was sick over the weekend, so we decided to do the planting yesterday.

Memorial Day was a lazy one around here. I baked donuts, we grilled hamburgers for a quick lunch and watched Cut Throat Kitchen, and never bothered to change out of our comfy clothes....A thunderstorm rolled in just as our pajama planting party was about to begin. We tried to keep going, but ended up going back into the house to wait it out. 

My Mom is hilarious...She's totally posing here because she likes incriminating evidence. Slippers, RAIN, and sweats. We are SUCH gardeners! :)

All laughs aside, we had a lot of fun! I love that my Mom decided to give this garden spot another try. I love that we got to shop for the plants and put them into the ground together. Gardening and time with my Mom are two of my favorite things. I couldn't help but get all sentimental as we worked. I mean...I don't take these years for granted. If I had followed "my plan" for my future, I would have gone away to college and never looked back. I would most likely be living on the opposite coast. Memories like these would have been possible only because of visits.

BUT, by God's grace, a different plan came into place. This is my life and I really do love it! Someday, things might change and I'll have some great days to look back on. In the meantime, I'm super grateful for every moment we have together.

Moving right along....My sister got home just as we were getting ready to put the finishing touches on it. She grabbed my camera to take some pictures for us!

The cat garden of 2015 contains:

2 Lemon Thyme
3 Valerian
3 Lemon Grass
3 Bee Balm
12 Snapdragon
Oat Grass in the frame
A row of Catnip behind the frame

According to my Mom's research, these are all plants that appeal to cats. I wonder if it will become the hangout zone for all the cats in the neighborhood?

PS My Mom doesn't actually have a hunchback. :)

Strangely Happy

Friday, May 22, 2015

The First Rose // May 19, 2015

Over the last eight years or so, Memorial Day weekend has become an important transitioning point.  The garden is planted. The grill has been pulled out. The trips to the ranch have begun. The sun is bright and the skies are blue. If you ask me, summer is officially here!

I just came in from sitting on the patio where I heard the roofers working on Alice's house. The sound of the nail gun made me strangely happy. So many things have been making me feel this way lately. I don't want to forget the sense of knowing and being known that living in a small town offers. 

I ran to the grocery store for milk and asparagus the other day. I shared a brief conversation with Ed as he was replenishing the news papers. I reminded Melissa that we all forget something and have to go back through the line every now and then. I listened as Morgan (the new checker) told me about the new video games that she got last weekend. It was all so familiar and I couldn't help but smile as I left. 

This morning I ran into Jordan's Grandpa at the gas station and we chatted even though I'm pretty sure he probably doesn't remember me from all those years ago. I found myself hoping that he did, but not really expecting him to. 

There are so many people on this planet. I love the ways that our lives intersect. As we all focus on doing our own thing, it's amazing how much we all have in common. Another summer is here. Let's enjoy enjoying it together! 

What's been making you strangely happy lately? 

Summer Reading Challenge

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

My goodreads book club is taking a break from our usual schedule and I want to invite all of you to join in!

I've put together a challenge that will help each of us read three books from our own "To Read" lists before summer is over. If this sounds like something you'd like to do, come on over and sign up!

In a nutshell, the challenge goes like this: You will be paired up with someone who will go through your "To Read" list and choose three books for you to read between June 1 and August 31. You'll do the same for them. For all the details or to sign up click HERE.

I'm looking forward to it already!!!

Currently: May 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

April 27, 2015
If you drove by my house this morning you would have found me standing at the edge of the lawn in my slippers with an apron on, drinking my water and watering the alyssum seeds that I planted on Saturday. As I stood there I realized that I am officially becoming my grandparents.

My Mom and I have pretty much been the same person forever. At 24, I'm starting to see a little bit of all of my grandparents coming out. I'm not mad about it. Maybe we'll talk more about this transformation some day...

For now, I'm joining Jenna and Anne for their currently link up. I've got my Grandma's spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove, my garden spots have all been watered, the laundry has been sorted and started, and now I'm settling in with a little Sam Cooke radio and an iced coffee.

Designing: Gardens and menus. I planted cosmos, alyssum, sugar snap peas, and green beans on Saturday. I've got cucumber seeds soaking and I want to pick up some New Zealand spinach seeds next time I get to town. Summer weather has settled in! It's got me scrambling to remember what my go-to weeknight dinners are. What are yours?

Enjoying: LIFE! We just got back from a long weekend at Lake Chelan on Wednesday. I went to the ranch on Friday to cook up some stuff with Darlene and Anna and we had such a great time. Ruth floated in and out of the kitchen and everybody gathered together for lunch. Any day at the ranch is a good day! I'll tell you this: we've been going a mile a minute lately.

Ordering: I'll tell you what I WANT to order. I want to go to Bantam Chef and get a hamburger, onion rings, and a sweet tea. Doesn't that just sound good?

Celebrating: My sister's birthday, mother's day, ranch days, the Cut Throat Kitchen finale, summer, the first blooms in my cutting garden, the list goes on and on....Oh, and today is Victoria Day by the way. Jayda, how does Canada celebrate this day?

Tasting: The week of Cinco de Mayo I ate some sort of Mexican food pretty much every single day. I didn't do it on purpose, it just kind of happened and it was wonderful! Aside from that there have been lots of hot dogs, salads, sandwiches, and eggs cooked every which way!

What have you been up to lately? 

As you age, who are you turning into?

May Stack

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Over the winter and spring I didn't make a single reading list for myself! Sometimes it's nice to choose one or two books at a time and see where they take you. I stayed in my comfort zone with some non-fiction, some memoir, a handful of mysteries, a bunch of historical fiction, and a few classics.

I've already started putting together my Summer Stack which led me to put together a stack just for May. It looks like I'm in the mood for more nonfiction this month! As always, I'll be sure to post my thoughts on each book after I've read it!

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan // This book is a collection of essays that were compiled after Marina's death. There is an intro from one of her teachers, an essay that made her famous, a fiction section, and then a non fiction section. Marina's style of writing is raw, honest, unguarded, and even a little brutal. I skipped around, leaving quite a bit of her fiction and some of her non-fiction unread. 

If you're a writer, you might find this book inspiring. Know that parts of it might shock you a little bit and that some of the content is real-life at its finest. Marina didn't hold anything back. (May 3, 2015)

From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg // This YA book has become a classic among 4th Graders for multiple generations. That being said, I made it to this point in my life without even hearing of Konigsburg. This story of two kids who run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is just about as exciting as their adventure sounds!

I enjoyed Konigsburg's style. She included details and struggles that kept me on my toes, but didn't shy away from writing up a mystery for the children to solve. My favorite thing about this book were the bits of wisdom that I'm confident are what has caused parents and teachers to put this book into the hands of their children since it was first published. (May 27, 2015)

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt // I'm nearly 400 pages into this 700+ page book and I've already made up my mind about it! Tartt wrote a strong beginning that sucked me right in. I'm really eager to find out what becomes of Theo and the famous painting. I'll be honest, there is WAY too much language in this book. It started out with a bunch of jr high age boys fumbling to use the language and then progressed to the point where I just started skipping entire chunks of the story. I'm really not sure why Tartt felt the need to drag the story out so long, but I'm going to stick this one out!  UPDATE: I ended up sticking with it for 100 or so more pages and then abandoning it.

My favorite parts are when Theo and Hobie are together in New York. The language stops and the city takes center stage. I know everyone has read this book, but I think you can safely cross it off your list without digging in. It's one of those books that's really not all that good. (May 13, 2015)

From Good to Grace by Christine Hoover // I ended up taking my time to read this book! Hoover had so many things to say. Sometimes she was a little bit repetitive for my tastes, but there were so many places where she came back around and summarized what she had been saying in one POWERFUL sentence. Those sentences kept me excited to read more!

A few times (especially in chapter 8), I wasn't sure that I agreed with what Hoover was communicating. There is a great danger in taking grace too far and forgetting obedience. I'm confident that she was not advocating that extreme, but sometimes it came across that way. Again, her summary really helped to clarify her intentions: "In other words, we must live in responsible freedom, not taking advantaging of God's grace by living for ourselves, not mocking grace through blatant sin and taking opportunities for our flesh, and not taking lightly the impact we have on others around us...Grace grants us the ability to not force ourselves onto others or to set law-imitating standards of behavior for people, because we believe God is powerful, God will act, and God will convict. Our Conqueror goes before us, and his Spirit can change hearts." p. 166-167

Overall, this book gets three stars. If you've been struggling with a gospel that is not rooted in or centered on Christ, it might be just the book you need to read. (June 26, 2015)

Death Wears A Beauty Mask and Other Stories by Mary Higgins Clark // I especially enjoyed reading "Death Wears A Beauty Mask" because I was really interested to see how she decided to finish writing it 40 years later. "Stowaway" (the first piece she ever sold) showed how much her style has changed and grown into something more mature. Anything Mary Higgins Clark is my favorite and this collection of short stories did not disappoint! (May 19, 2015)

Called by Ryan Pemberton // I'm struggling between whether to give this book 3 stars (I "liked it") and 4 stars (I "REALLY liked it"). I pretty much devoured it and couldn't stop talking about it and took the time to write out quotes from it that I wanted to remember. All of those things usually mean that a book is going to end up with 5 stars. BUT...As I moved into the last half of the book I was finding that he seemed to be repeating himself. There were even entire sentences sprinkled here and there that I had already read in a different part of the book.

I loved the stories about CS Lewis (I learned some pretty hilarious stories about his wife Joy and her shotgun as well as Lewis's sense of humor when it came to teasing Americans about their useless ways of saying things) and the ways that BEING in Oxford made a difference in Pemberton's life. I was challenged right along with Pemberton as I read about his struggle to realize that being called by God always means being called to truly follow Christ. If you pick up the book you'll most likely have the same thoughts that I had, but that won't change the fact that you're glad you read it! (June 3, 2015)

What's on your reading list this month?

What's the last book that you finished and LOVED?

Let's Garden

Saturday, May 02, 2015

It's no secret that gardening is one of my favorite hobbies! Aside from working alongside other gardeners, books are the place that I go when I need to learn more about a certain plant.

I have a small shelf dedicated to the books on gardening that I turn to again and again. My most recent addition to this shelf was the latest edition of "The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden" by Karen Newcomb.

When it comes to gardening books, you never know what you're in for. Some books have a ton of information and no pictures. Other books have a bunch of pictures and yet don't tell you very much about actually caring for the plants. The best books are the ones that have the perfect balance of helpful information along with informative illustrations. 

I'll tell you right now: "The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden" is most definitely part of the best books category! 

Let's take a peek inside so that you can see for yourselves! 

Newcomb begins the book by explaining the planning process. She shares her knowledge on how to figure out how many plants to plant, how much room they need, and how to arrange your garden, as well as the benefits that certain plants offer. Rather than just telling you to draw a diagram, Newcomb provides eleven diagram examples for her readers!

The helpful information continues throughout the rest of the book! She covers everything from the soil and watering to planting timelines and troubleshooting help. If you've ever thought about starting a garden of any size or have been gardening for years, this book will be an invaluable resource for you! 

I began my vegetable gardening journey in 2010. After hearing so many people talk about their failed gardening attempts, I decided to take it very slowly. Looking back, I'm so glad that I made that choice! Whenever I talk to someone who is thinking about gardening, I always give them the advice that has been my gardening game plan:

Choose one new vegetable each year and learn everything you can about it. 

Learn when to plant it, where to plant it, how much water it requires, how to care for it, when to harvest its produce, how to use or put up its harvest, and how to save its seeds. Each year, I've been forced to pour over a handful of gardening books, ask my friends, and occasionally look for articles online to get answers to all of my questions.

That hunt is over now that I have this book in my hands! I was super excited when I came across the section dedicated to telling you everything you need to know about pretty much any vegetable you would consider growing.

 "The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden" will not disappoint! Like I said earlier, wherever you are as a gardener, this is a resource that will be sure to help you.  Grab your copy HERE.

If you ever have questions about gardening or just want to chat about it, please don't hesitate to e-mail me!!!

Do you grow vegetables?

If you aren't a gardener, what has held you back? 

* I was provided with a review copy of this book by Blogging for Books. All thoughts are my own honest opinion.

Because It's My Sister's Birthday

Friday, May 01, 2015

I'm all kinds of sentimental today! My sister is officially 17!!!! We kicked off the celebrations with dinner at our favorite pizza place and we're having a big party at the house tonight. Birthdays are a pretty big deal in our house. We always get so excited to make the day as special as we possibly can.

17 years ago, I went to the hospital to meet my sister for the first time. Everyone was so happy that day. I saw her through a window, but eventually, I got to hold her all by myself. The quietness that comes over you when you hold a baby is what I remember most. We stayed at a motel with my Grandma, but none of us could stay away from the hospital (even if it meant going the wrong way on every possible one way street and stopping to ask a bum for directions...My Grandma was something else!).

It wasn't long and we were all home together figuring out how this new little life was going to become part of our family. Before long, she was scooting herself around and putting everything in her mouth. I remember rushing around ahead of her (or behind her) to remove something that she didn't need to get into.

Before we knew it, she was talking and walking and running outside to go to the bathroom. Yes, she was house broken before she was potty trained. My Grandma (the same one who had trouble getting to the hospital) was really proud of that accomplishment (NOT!).

The years of playing hospital and blowing bubbles and going for ice cream and spending afternoons at the park went by in a blur. In those days, she had all the time in the world. She was learning so much and turning into the person that God intended her to be. She prayed for everyone and everything. She loved every animal and made "friends" (even if she never learned their names) everywhere we went.

A few years ago, I realized things were beginning to change between us. I was still "Sissy", but she was ready to call me "friend" too. Sometimes I still miss hearing the way she would excitedly shriek "SISSY!!!!!!" when I'd call from my SC during the summers (or when I'd come home from a day at school), but having our sisterhood turn into something else really can't be beat!

She's busier than ever with jobs and babysitting and piano lessons and plays and fixing up her truck and high school and all the things that demand our attention as we get ready to become adults. With each passing day, I'm amazed at how quickly the years have flown by.

Today, she's 17 and we're together. I'm making a cake and cutting some flowers. We're celebrating the best way we know how because, it's my sister's birthday!!!!