9.17.2014

to write, or not to write

Remember that time I wrote for 31 days? I think about that project often. It ended up being near and dear to my heart. And now it's already time to start gearing up for the 2014 31 days challenge. The thing is that I'm not sure if I want to do it this year, and if I do want to do it, I'm not sure what topic I'd choose to write about.

Should I do 31 days again? Are you going to try it this year? What should I write about? What would you write about? Maybe 31 days of writing would rev some life back into this space. But maybe I should write for 31 days on my sewing blog. But maybe 31 days of writing would be too much. This month has been on the rougher end of months, what with the car crash and the heat waves and inexplicable funks. I really do love to write, so writing for 31 days could be really good for me.  But it's a gamble, one that I'm not sure if I should take. 

So, what do you think? Should I write for 31 days again

9.15.2014

Twitterature: summer reading recap

The calendar says it's not summer anymore (at least not by the school calendar), yet the temperatures here are still reaching 90. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how I feel about that (i.e. I hate it). Regardless of the forecast, it's fall, and I've officially finished my summer reading. I read some really wonderful books this summer, so get ready for some recaps!

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest DisasterInto Thin Air , Jon Krakauer, 2 stars

An audio read for me, this one did not put out. I've heard it's a great read normally, but the narrator (the author, himself, on this one) was awful, and it was all I could do to make it to the end. I'll have to put it back on my to-read list, this time in print. #letdown #audio





The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot, 3 stars

This book started out strong for me but lost a bit of steam about three-quarters of the way through. I did find Henrietta's story both fascinating and sad. I've heard about HeLa cells in various podcasts and enjoyed learning the story of her, her posterity, and her immortal, world-changing cells. #nonfiction #realscience




The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be BeautifulThe Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful, Myquillyn Smith, 5 stars

This book changed my whole perspective on my home. I felt freed from feeling the need to perfect my home and justify my decorating. I came out of this book with a boat-load of motivation, my mind brimming with ideas and possibilities. This book was a total game-changer for me, and I'd recommend it to anyone. #gamechanger #idhtbptbb


Murphy's Law (Molly Murphy Mysteries #1)Murphy's Law, Rhys Bowen, 3 stars

Another audio read, this one was entertaining though unmemorable. I didn't love it, but it kept me listening. #mystery #historicalfiction #meh #audio







The Secret KeeperThe Secret Keeper, Kate Morton, 4.5 stars

My first Kate Morton novel, this book did not disappoint. I really loved it; it's easily my favorite fiction read of the summer. Part mystery, part historical fiction, this book was unpredictable and captivating. I loved the end and promise not to dole out spoilers. I'd recommend this to anyone. #favorite #readit




The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - CityThe Sweet Life in Paris, David Lebovitz, 4 stars

I laughed out loud several times while reading this book. The author's style is very tongue-in-cheek and appropriately self-deprecating. His various anecdotes about his forays as an expat in Paris leave you smiling and wondering how you'd fare in the BHV. #memoir #Parislife




Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs #2)Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs, #1)

Maisie Dobbs and Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs 1 &2), Jacqueline Winspear, 4 stars each

Both audio books, I really enjoyed these books and found them refreshing from typical mystery novels. Maisie is interesting and complex, and the mysteries themselves follow suit. These are delightful books to listen to, and I'd easily recommend them to anyone looking for an intriguing mystery. #mystery #audio #historicalfiction


The Time in BetweenThe Time In BetweenMaría Dueñas, 4.5 stars

A favorite of my summer reading. I always love anything about sewing, and a story where the protagonist picks up her life with fabric and couture sewing is an automatic win in my book. And a story where the heroine uses her sewing to fight the Nazis? Two thumbs up from this seamstress.

The writing quality is solid and the story is thorough and well developed. This would be a great vacation read or an anytime read. Loved it! #sewingfiction #favorite #historicalthriller


AttachmentsAttachmentsRainbow Rowell, 4 stars

The more I read it, the more I liked it. Endearing characters, predictable yet enjoyable plot points, fun pop culture references. Reading this felt just like watching a rom-com on a Friday night. It's a perfect beach or vacation read, or just a good book to pick up if you need something fun.

Attachments is different from my first Rainbow Rowell read (Eleanor & Park). Attachments is more fun than emotional and serious. Both books are great in their own ways! #chicklit


Pardonable Lies (Maisie Dobbs, #3)Pardonable LiesJacqueline Winspear, 4 stars

Another Maisie Dobbs audiobook. This mystery/historical fiction series continues to stay strong! #mystery #audio #historicalfiction







Summers at Castle AuburnSummers at Castle Auburn, by Sharon Shinn, 4 stars

This was a reread this summer, and I forgot how much I enjoyed it. In spite of its awful cover art, this book is a lovely story, full of depth, intrigue, and even a dash of romance. This was a delightful book to reread, and it will certainly be in future reread rotations. #reread #lightfantasy #favorite





The Language of FlowersThe Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh. 3.5 stars

This was an interesting book to read. I had a difficult time identifying with the protagonist, and that barrier did make certain parts very difficult for me to read. The redemption in this story, though, is impossible to deny. Of lesser importance, I certainly enjoyed learning about flowers and their meanings. I loved how Victoria rebuilt her life with them. #happyandnothappy




Parnassus on WheelsParnassus On Wheels, Christopher Morley, 4 stars

A delightful read about a traveling bookstore and the woman who spontaneously buys it. This is a short and gratifying story that should be on the shelves of every book-lover. #bibliophile #favorite (Psst! This one is currently $1.99 in the Kindle store!)



The Girl You Left BehindThe Girl You Left Behind, Jojo Moyes, 4 stars

A very well written story intertwining past and present, while skillfully examining the intricacies of love, trust, and hope. This is a book I'd easily recommend to just about anyone. The only part someone might take issue with is a couple of sexy parts, but no explicit descriptions. #historicalfiction #readit





Messenger of Truth (Maisie Dobbs, #4)Messenger of Truth, Jacqueline Winspear, 4 stars

Another Maisie Dobbs novel just as enjoyable as the others. #audio #mystery #historicalfiction







Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic WorldNotes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World, Tsh Oxenreider, 3.5 stars

I liked this far better than I anticipated. I really connected with the pursuit and idealism of intentional living. Most of the time I saw the anecdotes as an example of how intentional living worked for Tsh's family, though sometimes her philosophizing waxes preachy, especially when it comes to travel. I had a lot to take away from this book, and I read it quickly; however it won't be my intentional-living-bible or anything. #nonfiction #intentionalliving #artofsimple


The Middle PlaceThe Middle Place, Kelly Corrigan, 4 stars

A memoir that is refreshingly honest and often laugh-out-loud funny. Sometimes Corrigan's attitude about faith frustrated me, but overall I enjoyed reading about her journey. I laughed, I cried, and I counted my blessings. #memoir #nonfiction #countyourblessings



My summer reading tallied at 18! I impressed even myself with that one. What did you read this summer? Anything I need to add to my list?

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy today!

9.01.2014

the worst way to spend Labor Day

And no, I didn't spend my holiday in labor. (Obviously.) Though I think I would have preferred labor to our activity: car shopping. Wait, you think, Didn't you guys just buy a car a couple of years ago? Yes, you'd be right. But what you don't know is that last week I wrecked that car. I wrecked it good. (I write with a bit of cheek in this matter to offset the tears that may surface at any moment because of said car accident.)

Let me first assure you that no one was hurt. Our car, however, and the other car involved, and a fence, did not fare well. My newest mantra is Better a car than a person, better a car than a person. So now we're on pins and needles waiting to hear back from the insurance company about whether or not they're going to total our car, which we'd actually prefer, because we think in some twisted way we'd come out ahead. And so today we spent our entire morning shopping for the car that we'd get to replace our broken cartoon car.

Though we did find a suitable replacement-slash-upgrade (dependent, of course, on the insurance ruling), I left that car lot convinced that there's a ring of purgatory dedicated to perpetual car buying, complete with slimy sales managers and one-time-only-in-your-whole-life deals.

8.28.2014

waiting for the window seat: a birthday dinner

"The wait was worth it, don't you think?" I say as Josh and I sit down to our window seat in the high-rise restaurant in the heart of downtown Portland. We look out over the river and the bridges and take it in for a moment, listening to the live piano music in the background.

"I'm so glad we waited," Josh replies.


We still have a couple of crab cakes left on the appetizer plate, and they are so good that Josh insisted we bring them with us from the bar to our table. I give Josh the rest of my share, saving room for the entree. We don't take long to decide what we want to eat, and after the waiter takes our orders I have another sip of my Shirley Temple.

When we'd ordered our drinks at the bar, Josh asked for a Roy Rogers--"And make that a double!" Sometimes I'm extra glad that I married him. Tonight is one of those times. 


We'd spent the first part of the evening at Powell's, wandering in and out of the rooms with the ease of visiting old friends. The Blue Room is always my favorite. I always find something in the shelves of literary fiction. 

We gaze out at the darkening sky, trying to pinpoint places we know. The energetic din of hungry customers dies out to a general hum as we hold hands across the table. "I'm so glad we're here right now," Josh says quietly. I smile and agree. We keep holding hands.

Our conversation doesn't touch much on our boy at home with his grandma, but I like knowing that I can conjure his smell when I want. I love knowing what's waiting for us upon our return, a sleeping boy who smells of lotion. But we still have time, just the two of us. We talk about ideas and observations and opinions, all those topics that don't come easily with a toddler at the table. We laugh a lot. And we smile. Love feels so happy.


The waiter comes with our food, and both mine and Josh's eyes grow big. We thank our server, and slowly start in on our meals. The honey-brined pork tenderloin is tender and juicy, so succulent that I have to close my eyes to take it all in. "Josh, this is amazing. Have you tried your short ribs yet? Try them." I stop talking to take another bite, or five.

The city lights start flickering on, reflecting off the river. The candlelight at the table grows more prominent and intimate. Yes, this seat was worth the wait. "I love you," I whisper. And I mean it so deeply.

"Do you think this place has to-go boxes? Because if you're not going to finish that, we need to take it home." My husband, always thinking ahead. Thankfully the waiter offers to box up my leftovers before I have to ask. Josh sends our debit card with the server, the sky completely darkened now. We see a rushing firetruck on the freeway, a cruising motorboat on the water, and a line at Voodoo Donuts snaking around the corner. ("Overrated," Josh says. "It's a destination thing.")


Just as we've decided to forgo dessert, our server brings a complimentary serving of chocolate-hazelnut-banana mousse--"Happy birthday," he says deferentially. Josh and I share the treat, marveling that we settled into feeling full instead of stuffed. 

We walk out onto the street, and Josh pulls me close as we walk the few blocks back toward our car. "Thank you for tonight. It's been perfect," I say. 

"Happy birthday--I love you so much." 

We drive home in the car Josh had back when we were dating, and he holds my hand as he shifts from gear to gear. We see the Portland lights at ground level now. My heart is full, and I feel so happy to be alive.

8.18.2014

and then we hit the dog days

And it's August 18. That's smack-dab in the middle of dog days, and I'm a little bewildered. Our August has flown by so fast, I almost don't believe the calendar. Everything has been moving at light speed, and now that I have a chance to slow down and breathe, I feel some melancholy.


My sister Sarah came to visit the first week in August, and we packed our days with Powell's, Mario Kart, outlet shopping, and the coast. Then we turned right around and flew to Denver for a week. We know how I feel about my people, and this trip was no exception. I did so much that I wanted to do, and saw so many people that I wanted to see. Think late-night movies, early birthday cake, fabric shopping, leisurely reading, communal cooking, and easy laughter.


Certainly a part of me was ready to return to our norm after two weeks of vacation mode, though I still woke up this morning with a twinge of loneliness resting in my stomach. I don't think it will ever be easy for me to live so far away from my most-loved people.


Asher, unsurprisingly, reveled in all of the attention. Every night before bed, he'd go through all the family to make sure that they would still be there when he woke up in the morning, and he pretty much had everyone at his beck and call the whole trip. I love seeing my son loved and adored by those whom I love and adore--it feeds my soul.


Now that we've hit the summer dog days, let's keep it that way for a while--at least, if you're like me and don't have any first days of school to contend with. I'm going to live out the month with some more pool days, a couple of birthdays, and late-night TV watching. Cheers.

7.30.2014

all the days

I've been racking my mind for what to write about here, and the truth of it is that all of our days this summer have been more or less the same. Or if they've deviated from our summer normal, it hasn't been anything super bloggable. Sure we had some family visit, which I talked about briefly in my Fourth of July post, and then Josh went out of town for work. But like I was going to announce to the internet that my husband was out of town for a week. (Note to any internet killers, my husband is home and will destroy you upon unauthorized entry.) Then we were all sick for a week, and I didn't think you'd want me to regale you with tales of our stomach bug.



So here we are, almost through with July and not much to blog about. Because, you know, all the days are more or less the same. The summer has gone quickly, and our days have developed this slow, easy-going pace. A few times a week you'll find us at some community water feature. Sometimes we'll hit up the splash pad in town, and other afternoons we keep it close to home at the pool in our condo complex. Today I went with a friend to check out this free, foot-deep community pool a few towns away. Asher's been loving the water. It's his favorite. And when we come home from our watery excursions, he takes the best naps.


Asher had his first Otter Pop the other day and was delighted with his resulting blue tongue. I've been making these banana-peanut-butter-chocolate frozen treats and occasionally treat myself to half-off Sonic shakes after 8:00 p.m. I've been wearing my summer skirts and dresses like it's the only thing I have to wear, and the result is that I like to think that I've developed this feminine summer glam that comes with minimal effort on my part.


August will likely fly by just as quickly as July did. My youngest sister is coming for a visit next week, and then she's flying back to Denver with Asher and me for a stint with my people. Then when we get back it's birthday days and then it's September. So. I'll live up these easy days as much as I can and promise to blog when I have something worthwhile to blog about. I've been keeping up with my sewing and document my projects on my sewing blog. At least I've been sewing when I can muster the energy to sew in my summer oven of a sewing room.

What have you been up to this summer? Have your days found an easy rhythm?

7.25.2014

a rainy respite

This week Oregon had some blissfully cool days. I know I complain about the heat often, but wouldn't you if your bedroom were 90 degrees at night? Right. And I know that the weather is such a boring thing to talk about, but during the summer I really care about the forecast. Like, a lot. So this week of clouds and breezes and even some rain have been heaven-sent for this complainer.

{Just a lovely cheesy picture from the three-minute photo shoot I did of Asher and his shark backpack yesterday}

Wednesday it was pretty rainy all day, and I did all sorts of lovely domestic things. I altered a sewing pattern, baked bread, and even dozed on the couch. That last one may not fall under the "domestic" category, but it's still pretty great. I kept the windows open all day and reveled in the cool breezes.

I know that Oregon as a state may disavow me for saying this, but so be it: I need some rainy summer days. Just a couple. Not even a ton. Just a couple. So thanks for this break in the 90-degree days. My whole soul is grateful.

PS On The Creative Domestic I have details about Asher's shark backpack and a giveaway going on for one of my favorite sewing books, just in case you're interested!

7.19.2014

a Saturday list

Guys! I can hardly believe it's been over a week since I posted last. I certainly didn't intend to go silent for so long. Let's blame summer germs, yeah? Last Saturday, Asher and I both got a stomach bug that left us feeling gross and fatigued well into Tuesday. And just as the two of us were recovered, Josh caught it. So we've just been all kinds of sick around here.

So on this Saturday, Asher and I are back to normal, while Josh is still on the fringes of recovery. To catch you up, here is a list of mostly non-consequential things.

:: The week before last Josh went on his first-ever business trip. Asher and I took almost a staycation of sorts. I didn't make a single official dinner, and we watched more TV than is usual. Though if I had known that we would soon be couch-ridden with a stomach bug, I might have been more conservative in our media consumption.

:: While Josh was out of town I painted our master bedroom. Because we've all been sick, it's not quite put back together yet. But when it is I'll definitely show you pictures.

:: Two of my Facebook friends tagged me in a post featuring this video:



It's hilarious and wonderful. And it made me especially embarrassed to realize late yesterday afternoon that on my sewing blog I used where instead of wear. I was appalled at my lapse in proofreading, though I guess that goes to show that writing blog posts at midnight has its grammatical hazards.

:: I've been loving my summer reading. I've read six books since June and have listened to three more. Reading is just all sorts of delightful, isn't it? My favorite summer read so far is The Time in Between, followed closely by Attachments. Remember at the end of that summer I'll be posting another Twitterature update for all my summer reads. What have you been reading this summer?

Now I think I'll head back downstairs to finish up an episode of Curious George with my boys, which brings me back to the nagging question, What does The Man in the Yellow Hat DO??  I swear that question will bug me until the end of time.

7.11.2014

vulnerable love

My heart has been vulnerable lately. I've been focusing more on being a mother who listens, a mother who plays, a mother who puts down the smart phone. Asher is in such a marvelous stage of toddlerhood. He's talking and learning and playing and imagining, and I get to be there to see it all first-hand. And being that witness is significant. Being this witness to his childhood is a responsibility--such a meaningful responsibility.

{Credit for this beautiful photos to Kate West}

Not only am I witness of this life, I am a shaper of this life. More than anyone in his life right now, I create the opportunities for his learning, growing, and becoming. And what a serious role that is, what a sacred one. I--along with Josh--am the teacher, the playmate, the listener, the disciplinarian, the comforter. I can't even find the words to tell you how full my love is for my son--how all-consuming, how raw, how terrifying in its magnitude. I love him so much that I have to entrust that intimacy to my Savior to safeguard.

Loving as a parent is scary sometimes. You love so much you don't understand how it's even possible to love so deeply. Your love puts you in this place of ultimate vulnerability, a place where your heart isn't yours anymore. The fear of failure is so real when you love so fiercely. I pray so earnestly to do right by my son, to do right by God. Sometimes I want to freeze these moments of toddlerhood because these days are beautiful in their simplicity.


All too soon, this toddler of mine will be a kid, will be a teenager, will be a man. And my time as a hands-on, person-molding mother is only a sliver. So I have to make my sliver of time count. I need to use this time to focus on the essentials: Asher is a son of God; Jesus Christ atoned for his life; through our Savior's grace, Asher can change and be made whole. Everything I do as a parent has to find root in these truths. I have made promises to God and to my family to live in faith and obedience. Some days I feel that weight so intensely, a weight that's also accompanied by a surge of raw love that I can feel only because my Savior enlarges my soul to feel it.

More than anything my motherhood proves to me that God is real. Something so grand and lasting could come only from the Divine. Even in those mundane moments of sweeping crushed crackers and teaching basic manners, my Savior is there, reminding me that what I do matters. What I do matters because my son matters, because my family matters. My family matters to God, because families are divinely destined to last the eternity. Those days when my heart feels vulnerable for all the love and responsibility that fills it are the days when I understand my life with the most clarity. The Savior is love, and I feel closest to Him when that love fills my soul.

7.08.2014

independence coasting

We spent the Fourth of July at the coast.




This was Asher's first coast trip since entering toddlerhood, and he took it all in perfect stride.



Think sand. Lot and lots of sand.


And kites. Let's not forget how much my Wilson boys love their kites.


We had lunch up at the beach house, and while someone (I'll let you guess which one) needed a little rest, the others headed back down to the beach.


This little guy caught up with everyone in due time.



Obviously.


The grown-ups played games in the sand, and I stole away for a solitary walk in the shallow waves.



I always feel this pull to take as many pictures as I can of the coast, even though they may all look the same.


This place completely overwhelms me sometimes. The Oregon coast is so wild and grand and breathtaking. Every photo captures wonder for me.


I can't get enough of these two. They shine.



My heart is so full watching my two boys. The love I hold for each of them is sublime.


Asher could have spent all day on the beach.


We stayed as long as we possibly could. This boy was in heaven here.



And so was I. Thank you America for this beautiful land, for the continuous waves, for this wonderful, wonder-filled day. This one ranks up with my favorites. Life is just so grand.

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