a week in snapshots

A treat in the washer--better than finding cash in your coat? I can't decide.

Shattered eyeshadow--sad, sad, sad

Investing in mini loaf pans to optimize pumpkin bread baking--obviously

My name in the acknowledgments of a book I worked on at the Maxwell Institute--awesome. I feel like a secret celebrity at my new job. But really, I'm sure I'm the only one who feels that way.

Josh stocked up on more wooden models, especially since it looks like Michael's isn't going to stock them anymore.

Krylon Glitter Blast spray paint + fake pumpkins--you see where I'm going with this? I knew you'd love it too.

My favorite vignette in the home currently--I loved doing the embroidery projects (the reading mudflap image was Josh's idea, actually), and I sustained several hot glue burns while assembling the wreath. The Trick-or-Treat art was a birthday present from my mother. I love it all. (PS--Did you notice the hint of teal ribbon I used to finish the inside of the wreath? I love that final touch. And attn: Allison: please note my beloved Asher Lev copy peeking out from under Trick-or-Treat frame. )

This weekend I'm going to settle in to listen to General Conference, the semiannual meeting where we get to hear from our prophet. Thought that prophets existed only for the Bible? Think again, and be really glad you did. I know I am.

I hope your week was as good as mine and that your weekend is delightful!


what I thought when my husband called me a book snob

I read this article the other day, and it gave me a lot to think about. You see, a few weeks ago Josh and I were at Powell's with one of our friends. This friend asked me what I thought of a particular author, and I promptly proceeded to vilify this writer's work. Josh rolled his eyes and said, "Charlotte, stop being such a book snob."

At first I was affronted, because I like to consider myself a pretty objective reader. I'll typically give any book a chance, and then I feel like I have the right to hate it if I want. I also think that I've read enough books of all kinds to be able to assess the writing quality of a book, good or bad. Somehow I feel like I've earned that right through my reading and schooling.

Then I thought that maybe I lashed out against this particular author a little too harshly. Not that I'm rethinking any of my opinions, because really, I loathe this author's work and its popularity, but I should rethink how I express some of these opinions. So maybe, in some way I am a book snob.

So here's the thing, I have the right to like or dislike anything I want, especially if I give it a fair try, and everyone else has that same prerogative. I may or may not have a secret list of books that I use to assess a reader's literary acumen (you know, those books that if they don't like or dislike it as much as I do I judge them), but at the heart of it, I love people who read for the love of reading, even if that means they don't love the same books I do.

So the next time someone asks me about an author I have distaste for, I'll swallow the judgment fighting to break through and express my opinion in a way that isn't snobby. I'll make sure that I value my friend's opinion better and not belittle his thoughts or assessments. When it comes down to it I'd rather be a bibliophile who loves to talk books than a snob who seeks to sneer at them.

And no, I won't tell you the author I disparaged.


launch party

Remember that project I've alluded to several times with no seeming follow-through? Well, get ready readers, because today I'm launching my new website: Wilson Tutoring (wilsontutoring.net).

When I started job searching again, I felt a marked lack of enthusiasm for the endeavor. Then this thought started taking shape in my mind, a thought that said, "You don't have to make FedEx labels again, Charlotte. You can be the boss." And here we are.

I've started a small tutoring business catering to middle and high school students in the WilsonvilleWest Linn area. I specialize in English literature, writing, and grammar. (Obviously.) I can help students through their classwork, supply curriculum supplementary to the classroom experience, help prep them for college entrance exams, and guide them through the rigorous process of college applications.

My philosophy focuses on the individual experience of the student. I want the students I tutor to find satisfaction in their work and maybe to even enjoy it!

I had quite a time figuring out the website (which involved moving from free hosting with a design I liked to paid hosting with a less-than-friendly design software--good hell), but it does its job by clearly outlining my services and pricing. (Just don't let the banner at the top bother you . . . even though it drives me bonkers).

If you're in the Wilsonville area and need a tutor for your child, please give me a call. I'd love to discuss your student's needs to help him or her perform well.

When I'm not tutoring, you can find me at my new part-time job here. Sure beats FedEx labels, huh?


an incentive

Yesterday I got cajoled into going on a hike in Ecola State Park near the coast that ended up being very muddy and not very non-hiker friendly.

So on our way back into town, I rewarded myself with some trendy shoes.



much belated proof

Remember when we got in that accident at the New Year? We came away without a scratch, but our poor car didn't.

We've been driving around with our car having a seriously battered bumper, and here's the thing: we aren't going to fix it. It would cost thousands of dollars to remedy this, and we don't want to claim cosmetic damage on our insurance. So yeah, the maiming stays.

Last night we were talking about it, and Josh concluded that since no mechanical damage was done to the car in the accident, that really, all we sustained was a bad scratch.

Whatever makes us feel better, right?


early week musings

:: I'm afraid that because I don't have dedicated reading time each day I'm one book behind on reaching my yearly goal of 45 books (which I upped when I was several books ahead and when I planned on commuting everyday for forever). I would never ever ask for the commute back, so perhaps I'll have to set aside specific times for reading to catch up.

:: How is it that Steve Carel, while being nominated for an Emmy every year since being on The Office, never won? And now he's off the show and will never win an Emmy for the brilliantly comedic Michael Scott.

:: I'm in the process of building a website for a semi-secret project that I will hopefully reveal this week. The thing is that website-building is the worst, and I hate it.

:: I love my mornings now. I read my scriptures while eating breakfast, and I've really started to study and ponder them. I don't have a set time for how long or how much I read, so I read however long I feel like reading, and sometimes I switch it up with a General Conference talk or two.

:: With the first day of fall coming up this week, I plan on making pumpkin bread to inaugurate the season. I'm an autumn loyalist and hold zero qualms about summer's yearly exit.

:: All of my favorite shows (excepting Bones, which doesn't premier until November) premier their new seasons this week. I can't wait for new episodes of 30 Rock, The Office, and my newest favorite sitcom, Modern Family. I just love this time of year.


on duty

This weekend Josh and I are babysitting for a family in the ward while the mom and dad go to Utah for the BYU vs. U of U football game. My shift started at 8:00 this morning, and I just now made it to nap time. Deep breath.

I can pretty much guarantee that by tomorrow afternoon when the grandmother comes to relieve us, we'll be beat. Tonight, though, you can count on cookie-baking (by request of the nine-year-old in the house) and toenail painting.

See you after the weekend—I hope your weekend is splendid!


12 of 12: september 2011

01. The messy kitchen with messy dishes (Josh did them by the time I got home, though--good man)
02. The parking pass we need on our car for the repaving going on in the apartment complex
03. Sorting Saturday's mail at my temp job
04. Making a new pot of coffee (my experience is so limited in this area)
05. Mapping out my week
06. The patterns I've been mulling over
07. Some good down-time reading
08. My new glasses (the last time I got new glasses I was a senior in high school--what do you think?)
09. The pile of doorway shoes--heavens
10. Trimming patterns
11. Polishing off our newest favorite series (just trust me on this one--it's one of the most intelligent and compelling shows I've seen)
12. Checking to make sure that we parked in the correct alternate parking lot, because our section is getting paved next

September 12 really took me by surprise this month! Thankfully I remembered in time to pack my camera in my purse before heading out for the day. And in other news, we woke up to 60-degree weather and clouds, and I love it. I know that five months ago I was dying for some sun, but now I'm ready for cooler temperatures and overcast skies.

Go here to learn more about 12-of-12 and link up your grids!


fall sewing

For the record, this is the fourth post I've started today. The first three just weren't doing it for me.

I've been dreaming of sewing a few fall pieces for myself. Jewel tones have been flitting around my imagination, combined with visions of heavy fabric and pretty wool. (With that picture in mind, aren't you ready for fall too?) I was inspired a bit by the Fall Palette Challenge on one of my favorite sewing blogs, though I won't be posting on any of the forums.

Now, I'm thinking that these projects will very likely (read: most definitely) take all of the season for me to complete, if even I finish all of them. Regardless, here are the patterns I'm planning:

Simplicity 2758: I'd like to sew both the blouse with the ruffled three-quarter sleeve and the skirt with the pockets and large center pleat (versions B and E). I have some pretty ivory shirting for the blouse and the prettiest wool ever for the skirt. This light gray plaid wool was a splurge, and I'm head-over-heels in love with it.

Simplicity 3673: I'm thinking the full version of the jumper. For this one, I bought some beautiful gold fabric with a pretty drape.

And finally, Vogue 8511: Back in July I bought a few yards of precut charcoal wool for a screaming deal. I've been hoarding it for months trying to find the perfect pattern for it. I entertained McCall's 5927 (the short-sleeved, detailed neckline version) and McCall's 2401 (the square neck version) for a few weeks and just now settled on the Vogue style.

So, that's four pieces. Sometimes I hesitate in buying pretty fabric for pretty projects when I still feel like a sewing novice. Seriously, sometimes when I topstitch, the lines and curves aren't smooth, and my zippers still need so much work. Remember just a month ago when I sewed the zipper through the entire garment twice?? I do. But here's the thing, one of the few pieces of advice I can offer as novice seamstress: make things you like. Otherwise, you won't want to make anything ever.

Now I have to get to pattern trimming, people. I have lots to do. Obviously.

PS--Today is the 12th, so take out your cameras, even if half of your day is gone already! I know--it sneaked up on me too.


14 years old, eighth grade

 I was 14 years old, in eighth grade. At first I thought it was an accident. Then we started watching the news coverage, and terrorism entered my life for the first time. All day long, in almost every class, we watched the news: the same videos, the same commentary, the same audio reels of screaming Americans, over and over and over. 

Today I pray for unity, and I pray for humility. I thank my God for this gospel and for a country that allows me the freedom to live it. I pray for those who fight and die for my home. I believe in America, I believe in freedom, and I believe in goodness.


my week in review

:: Monday we did nothing. And loved it. Oh wait, we hung out with our friends Craig, Shilah, and John. It was lovely.

:: I started a five-day temp job on Wednesday. It's in a much closer location, and parking is free. While it's a thoroughly boring job, my supervisor gave me express permission to do whatever I want to fill the time. Hello, Pinning, blog reading, and book reading.

:: This job is two minutes away from the temple, so one day for lunch I ate my sandwich on the temple grounds. It was lovely.

:: I finally got my birthday package from the family. We've had quite the postal service fiasco: They tried to deliver it, didn't get a signature, and took it back to the post office without leaving a message in my box telling me so. So for a week I've been bugging my complex office and the mailman trying to find my package when really it was at the post office the whole time. The package was worth the frustration, however; I'm talking wedding photo book, people. And a cake plate and dome.

:: I went to Joann's during my lunch today and bought six patterns on sale. (Here's the thing: You buy sewing patterns only when they're on sale. I'm talking $1-4 sale, here.) I found some pretty fabric for a good deal but the cutting line was so long I had to duck out before they called my number.

:: No joke, I started planning my Christmas gifts. I want to make some and buy some, and I want to start now so December doesn't catch me off guard. This is the first time I've had this much holiday foresight, and I'm hoping it sticks.

:: I'm ready to decorate for fall and Halloween, and I'm thrilled about it.

:: I have a few autumn clothes I'd like to sew, but we'll play it by ear. In my head, though, all my ideas turn out perfectly darling.


not an auspicious beginning

My blow-dryer wouldn't turn on this morning. And my hair was already wet and already had product in it. There is really no way that I could pull off the wet-hair look with my short hair, so I was close to a beauty panic. You see, for my whole life, whenever my blow-dryer quits, I've always been able to borrow my mom's, my sister's, or my roommates'. Well Josh doesn't have a blow-dryer, so I was left floundering.

I managed to find an open Albertson's where I bought the cheapest blow-dryer I could find and resolved to always have two blow-dryers on hand. Because you never know when your nice one will call it quits and leave you with wet shower hair half an hour before you have to leave for your under-paying five-day temp job.


Operation Superhuman Reader: August 2011

Can you believe that I really read only three books last month? Eliminating my daily commute to Portland seriously affected my reading groove (not that I'm begging for my commute back--heavens, no). And really, the hold-up here came in finishing East of Eden. That books affects me so deeply that I have a hard time reading anything afterward. Sadly the book I chose to follow East of Eden wasn't great, and the book I started after that was so poorly written I couldn't bring myself to finish it.

East of EdenEast of Eden by John Steinbeck

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book changes me—it reaches down past my heart and grips my soul. Whenever I reread it I’m a different person from the last time I finished, and so each time I read it I change differently. East of Eden encompasses so much, and I feel so satisfied every time I finish. This is the kind of book where when characters meet death (and being an epic novel, death is a very natural companion) I feel like I need to close the book and hold off continuing for just a little while, allowing pause to process and even mourn. Each of the characters is so full and developed that they teach us about family, money, heartbreak, success, failure, devotion, and fulfillment. Steinbeck's characters—Samuel, Lee, Adam, Charles, Cal, Aron, Abra, and arguably Cathy—are beautifully human, human in the way that celebrates life and opens up potential.

This time reading it, I saw more in the characters, saw more of their complexities and intentions. Steinbeck explores the extremes of good and evil, reminding us that the seeds of both lie within each of us. We can’t deny the bad, and when we try we wind up living an unsatisfactory half-life. Through Cal and Aron primarily, we learn that we first must accept that badness is in us and only then can we choose to overcome it. Choosing against evil is what truly leads men and women to goodness and purity.

East of Eden is all about choosing who you become, regardless of your parentage or surroundings. Today I left this book feeling in myself vast potential for both great depravity and great godliness, realizing that what I become is my choice.

But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—“Thou mayest”—that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on man. For if “Thou mayest”—it is also true that “Thou mayest not.” . . . Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win. (p. 301–302)

Steinbeck had declared East of Eden his magnum opus, and I couldn’t agree more.

The Memory Keeper's DaughterThe Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Aside from the trite phrases and iffy writing, I spent most of the book so frustrated with the entire premise. I had such a hard time with David keeping such a secret—continually perpetuating such a devastating lie—that I had little sympathy for him. I didn't like Norah too well, and I blame that more on the lie from which this story derives its momentum.

The solution seemed so simple, and I grew tired of the book's unhappiness. While the emotion and discontent of the story shouldn't feel contrived, the writing made it so for me. I also didn't like or care about what happened to the characters. I did like Phoebe, but I wish we could have seen things through her eyes instead of just through Caroline's. The poignancy of her role seemed diminished by her removal from the plot.

Ultimately this is a book that tries to be deep and isn't. The potential was there, but in the end unfulfilled.

How I Planned Your WeddingHow I Planned Your Wedding by Susan Wiggs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a light read that required little to no processing. It's a fun recounting of how one woman planned her dream wedding with her mother. And even though Elizabeth and her mother are best friends, they still ran into their wedding hang-ups. This book would be especially good for brides-to-be, because it gives many helpful hints for wedding planning that you might not have thought of before. (I did cough when I read that her wedding budget was $20,000. Good heavens.)

Really, though, this book made me so grateful for my own wedding. It was beautiful, and I wouldn't have changed a thing. If you need a light, easy read, give this one a shot.

So there you have it: three books in all of August. I told you things have been funky around here. You'll be happy to know I'm already on my second book of September, though, so this funk is well on its way out. I've been enjoying my free time, knowing it won't last forever. Riding out this funk seems to be the best option right now, so I'm filling my days with domestic productivity, some socializing, and a few indulgences. I have a good feeling about September, book-wise and life-wise.


no apologies, but maybe a little

I've been in a serious blogging funk, guys. I feel like since I've been reeling in redefining my work life I've completely lost my grasp on blogging. It's weird. And I don't like it. So I'm sorry.

This weekend we stole away to the coast for a couple days with Jeff and Karen. We ate crepes and M&Ms and read on the beach. We watched Stardust and played bocce ball. We drove down to Rockaway to see our friends who were also vacationing at the coast. And I didn't take a single picture. Part of me isn't sorry, because it's my blog, and if I don't want to take pictures I don't have to. But then, I am a little sorry, because I just want to find a new normal, and maybe taking pictures would help me get there.

If you want to know a little bit more about what my days have looked like, think Alias, laundry, InDesign, long lunches with an awesome friend, two movies in one day (like, movies-in-the-theater movies), and rock climbing again. Think lots of brainstorming for an income idea that could be bomb, an idea that I love and am simultaneously scared of. Think snuggling and finding new favorite TV shows.

Okay, here's a picture. I took it just now. We got home from the coast and needed brownies. So I made some.

I hope your long weekend (for those of you that have one) is lovely. I'm sure ours will be. And thanks for bearing with me while I work my way out of this funk. You're the best.


hello, September!

Part of me can't believe the summer months are over, and the other part of me is oh so ready for fall. I've felt nostalgia pull at my heartstrings a bit this week knowing that all my siblings are back in school, because I love back-to-school season. But just because I'm not in school anymore doesn't mean that I have to completely miss out on back-to-school-ness.

And what better way to celebrate back-to-school season than by swooning over these mugs (yes, the mugs) that Josh gave me for my birthday (with accompanying plates!).

Seriously, could there be a better way to brush up on usage and grammar?? 

Happy back-to-school week(s), everyone! I hope that you can enjoy it, even if you're like me and don't go to school anymore.
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