Books

April Favorite Things – 2019

 

I’m making some changes to my Favorite Things feature. Coding and rules are driving me crazy so just know great new things are coming your way soon. While I wrestle with html I hope you enjoy a few things making my home clean and happier as we head towards spring.

Here’s what we’ve got on the list this month:

  1. Mrs. Meyer’s Cleaning Supplies – I’ve been searching for a more natural cleaning product for my house. After receiving two bottles of multi-purpose cleaning spray, I’m hooked. Smells delicious and I’m not worrying as much about harsh chemicals.
  2. This mop holder is helping our newly finished laundry room feel more organized. Easy to install and looks great on the wall.
  3. I planted my seedlings this past weekend and was excited to use Fox Farm fertilizer as recommended by the lovely ladies at our local community gardens.
  4. Michelle Obama’s strength and wisdom unfolds on the pages of her memoir “Becoming.” For anyone asking the question, ‘How can I use my life to serve people more?’, this is an inspiring read.

Short and sweet. Get cleaning and reading and let me know how it goes. Planning to grow a garden? I want all your tips.

*I’m an affiliate partner with Amazon Associates. I may receive a commission if you make a purchase using the links above. I only recommend products I’ve used personally and love. 

February Favorite Things – 2019

It’s quite cold out there. If you are in the U.S. you know its way beyond freezing. Unless you live in Colorado and it’s a balmy 30 degrees. This month I’m sharing things that warm my heart and my bones. Stay warm out there.

  1. The Color of Life: A Journey toward Love and Racial Justice by Cara Meredith

I’ve had the pleasure of being on Cara Meredith’s launch team for her new book coming out on February 5th! Sharing stories from her own journey and interracial marriage, she reflects on big questions of race, religion, and accepting our own limitations when it comes to world view. I love how she mixes history, statistics, and grace to weave a beautiful narrative of her own experience. Pick up a copy – you won’t be disappointed.

2. Applesauce in the Crockpot

apples

Photo Credit – Jess Larson

Apparently my mom used to make this all the time when I was a kid. I was never a fan when I was little. However, last Sunday I used this recipe and a bunch of jazz apples to make delicious applesauce. I eat it hot with oatmeal. Dylan eats it cold, right out of the jar, standing in front of the fridge. You may eat it however you like. Need a crockpot? I like this one.

3. Twinings Sleep Tea

I bought this box of tea when we were in London and surprise, found it in the bottom of my duffel that I just ..erm.. finally put away this past week. A bonus souvenir! This delightful smelling tea calms my nerves at the end of the day at puts me right to sleep. Perfect for those Sleepytime loyalists who want to try something new.

4. Maldon Salt

Do you have foodie friends? I have one that always blows me away with her amazing gifts of hospitality. At dinner the other night, she sprinkled beautiful salt flakes over roasted vegetables and I was mesmerized with the texture of the granules. Needless to say, I’m now obsessed with this salt. Add to roasted vegetables, top a bruschetta, garnish a soup. The smoked salt flavor is good too!

5. Wine Colored Tights

I just bought a pair like this and I’m excited to add a little color to my winter work wardrobe. What do you think –  are bold colors fun to wear to work?

I’m Inviting You

I have the day off. For most folks in Colorado, sunny trails and crunching snow beckon on days gifted outside of the office. I see your pictures, your snow shoes, your athletic pants.

Here’s the thing. It’s cold out, there’s no snow in my neighborhood, and I don’t see myself leaving the house.

Instead, I’ve spent the morning reading Bob Goff’s book Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World

I kept my butt in the chair and my fingers clicked the pages – next, next, next. I devoured his stories and my heart beat quicker with the amazing possibilities he bravely steped into in his life.

If God makes ordinary people move, why can’t God move Bob? Bob kept saying yes.

Why can’t God move me too?

Or you?

I’ve been a little disheartened this season as only one person has told me what gives them hope in the Give Light Giveaway. I find myself asking, ‘Are we so battered and tired, sitting slumped against walls that nothing feels hopeful?’ I’ve been there.

Or are we so busy and bustling we don’t have a quick second to answer the question, ‘What keeps us going despite all this mess?’

Maybe you’re in a better headspace than me and living anxiety-free comes easier to you.  Maybe you live boldly with ease and march into new spaces and sit at all the tables with confidence.

I’m unlearning the practice of waiting to be invited to participate.

Bob’s book invited me to be brave.

I’m inviting you to be hopeful. 

The Give Light Giveaway runs through Monday night. I hope to hear what gives you hope, wherever you sit, with whatever reverberates in your heart this season.

Here’s a reminder on how to share your answer to the question, ‘ what gives you hope?’

October Favorite Things

It’s come to my attention that I’m a little behind schedule. I didn’t have the energy to pull together a favorite things post to schedule for when I was traveling. Then we got home and I spent a week going to bed at 7:30 pm because of jet-lag. Then I … then I … then I … filled my time with other things.

Here we sit on October 21st and I’m just now posting my collection of favorites for this month. Thanks for eagerly anticipating what I’ve got to share. My thoughts and reflections on our trip are stewing and I’ll post soon. Until then, pick up one of these books, bake some pumpkin bread, or use these tools to plan an adventure. It’s a big world out there.

  1. The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom

I just started reading this book for our book club. Set in Denver, just an over an hour away from where I live, this journalist’s account of refugee students attending South High School is grabbing my heart. Humans live through amazingly horrific things. We need to be tender. We need to be kind. We need to be aware. I’m only 100 pages in and keep turning the pages.

2. The Shack

This book was incredibly popular when I was in college. The girls I lived with in our Christian dorm could not stop talking about the story line. I wasn’t ready to pick up the title then – my own faith wavering in big swirls of doubt. Years passed and for some reason, I was ready. I read the book on our long flight and murmured, ‘yes, yes, yes’ to the metaphors portrayed in these pages. God sees us in our suffering and gives us grace where we need it. For those doubting God, fearing faith, or feeling a bit hopeless, this story may be the spiritual hug you need.

3. Dandelion Travel adapter

Getting ready to travel abroad? After scouring the internet and starting at selections at travel stores, a friend generously lent me her travel adapter taking my stress away. This little adapter worked perfectly to charge our devices in both the UK and France. It’s size makes it easy to carry and easy to change between power sources. Note – this does not convert voltage which lead us on an interesting adventure to sketchy electronics stores in London.

4. Pumpkin bread

It’s baking in the oven right now. I like the recipe from Recipes from Minnesota with Love.

I wrote about it last year too. Cut the sugar down to two cups. With the chocolate chips, the bread comes out plenty sweet.

5. French Perfume

I’m not a big souvenir girl. Picking a special something feels overwhelming when I travel and I don’t need another glass, or keychain, or vase. After spending an afternoon at Fragonard and their interesting perfume museum, I did treat myself to a little bottle of French perfume. The little gold bottle, the spritz on the wrist, the memories a scent creates. Worth it. And yet, still odd because while I bought my bottle in France, I now know you and I can get the next set on Amazon. Ahh globalization.

Thank you again to everyone who contributed their lists of good things in your worlds. Keep searching.

First, take a listen

It’s Saturday. The air is crisp, the coffee is brewing, my comforter is cozy and later laundry will whir away. Before my to-dos I turn on piano music and I sit, compiling this growing list of beautiful things readers and friends are sending me. We’re ALMOST up to 150! We’ve got a ways to go, but not a bad start. Grab your coffee, inhale deeply, start this tune.

 

Read this list of good in the world and then write your very own. More instructions are here. Send it to me and I’ll feature it here next time. Happy Saturday.

#97 There are so many great books out there that I can read whenever I want to
#98 The Great British Baking Show
#99 I have had and will have more opportunities to travel to wonderful new places around the world
#101 Parents who I know will be there for me and support me no matter what
#102 Just an awesome family all around
#103 An awesome dinner just waiting in the fridge for me to make it
#104 A community of bloggers that supports each other
#105 I am finally doing something that I love and writing about my travels and experiences
#106 Friends that are awesome people and who inspire my to be my best self every day

#97 – 106 Contributed by @QuietGrlLoudWrd

#107 Technology like Marco Polo and FaceTime that help us keep in contact with loved ones near and far
#108 Rural roads with beautiful sunsets in the rear view mirror
#109 Social workers- I’m so thankful to know some of the very best and feel honored to work alongside incredible humans who choose to walk the hills and valleys with anyone in need of a helping hand.
#110 Laugh attacks with friends
#111 Pickle wrap dip
#112 Holding the door for a stranger
#113 A good workout to release the stress
#114 A thermos of fresh coffee on a fall morning drive to work
#115 Football season
#116 Random acts of kindness

#107 – 116 Contributed by Katie Vodraska

#117 Holding a baby
#118 Lying in the grass looking at clouds
#119 brand new book that 10 pages in you can’t put down and know is a keeper
#120 Baking bread
#121 A good movie on a rainy day
#122 Helping a friend
#123 A bookstore
#124 A long shower after a hard days work in the yard
#125 Knowing your purpose and living it
#126 An unplanned day

#117 – #126 Contributed by Suzanne Moughon

#127 I have a gorgeous, accomplished daughter
#128 My daughter is my travel buddy
#129 For every day
#130 I’ve never met a stranger
#131 Moments of peace
#132 Watching Gossip Girl reruns at age 60
#133 Jethrow Gibbs on NCIS
#134 Ancestors that went before me
#135 Wool sweaters … actually all sweaters

#127 – #135 Contributed by Julie Beaubian

#136 The ability to redefine and reform friendships
#137 Modern Medicine
#138 Therapy
#139 Wine
#140 Friends you’ve chosen to be family
#141 To be curious and open about the world
#142 French fries and popcorn and tacos
#143 Friends who accept where you’re at
#144 Baby Snuggles

#136 – #144 Contributed by Katie Beaubian


Let’s keep resisting. Instructions on how you can participate in this effort are here.

If you like the idea, please share!

May Favorite Things

“April showers bring May flowers,” they say.

Here in Colorado April  brought winds, downed fences and little rain. I’ve got my tomatoes growing in their little plastic cups on my counter and dreams of planting our garden. Never plant a garden until after Mother’s Day here in Colorado. It could snow on Thursday.

So while I wait to plant actual plants, and Dylan works with the neighbor to fix our fence, I read and write and dream of summer.

Here’s what’s making the list of favorite things this month:

  1. Friends who write books!

Congratulations to Joyce Dickens who just published her book titled The Exotic and the Mundane – One couple, a bold decision, and the life-changing adventure that followed about her year of travel around the world! I was honored with the gift of being a beta reader and I know this newly published account will delight and inspire you to get out there!

2. Compassion

The world aches for it. For kindness, empathy, understanding. For us to slow down and realize all of us are humans along a path towards something. I went to a presentation at Colorado State University and my heart pounded as I listened to Dr. Leah Weiss talk about compassion in the workplace. Her new book, How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind is now on my must read list. Inspired from her talk, I walked away thinking ‘Yes! Perhaps there is a place for sensitive folks like me in the daily grind.’ I’m thankful compassion is becoming part of our cultural narrative and thank Dr. Weiss for sharing this idea with students and communities across the country.

3. Joy

We just read The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World  for our book group. As someone who questions suffering and struggles to embrace joy, this book sparked opportunities for self-reflection and personal connection with broader humanity. I especially like the joy practices at the end of the book.

4. Pizza on the Grill

Step 1 – buy this cookbook. It will tell you everything you need to know.

Step 2. Buy some pizza dough from Trader Joe’s. I like the herbed flavor. Ain’t nobody got time to make pizza dough. Or maybe you do – in that case. Make your dough. Move on to step 3.

Step 3. Invite your friends over and have a make your own pizza night.

We tried pizza on the grill for the first time a few summers ago and it is one of my absolute favorite dinners. The crust gets bubbly, crispy and delicious. Everyone loves making personal pizzas.

5. Old School Polaroid Like Pics – Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera

I threw a good friend a baby shower and my planning partner in crime brought this instant camera like a genius! Nothing like pressing the shutter button and seeing your picture five minutes later. Trust me, this is cooler than the iPhone Portrait mode. Going retro while celebrating new babies – priceless.

Thank you to everyone who has sent me a haiku over the last month! There are still eleven days of the challenge left, so it’s not to late! Not sure what I’m talking about, click here.

“Always,” said Snape.

I just got done watching the last Harry Potter movie. We spread out part one and two over the weekend and I sit here, on my big blue couch, letting big waves of sad wash all over me.

Pulse. Wave. Sad. Pulse. Wave. Breath. Sad.

My dad loved those books.

When Harry Potter was eleven, I was eleven. Those stories a staple in my childhood and my adolescence.

Rewind six hours today and I’m standing, for the first time, in the oddest bookstore in town. In a small closet my ankle boots anchor me in front of a tall set of shelves. Big, wooden ones tucked away from the other rows of scattered books. On one shelf, at eye level, sit stacks and stacks of the series. Copies of all seven stories are accounted for. Five or six of each part of the grand story.

Piles of red books with gold lettering on worn spines. They’re all there. The first one – purple spine. The Chamber of Secrets. And on the shelf below piles of blue spines with the same gold lettering. The Half Blood Prince. And the green spine. And the orange. All the stories there. On shelves.

Reminding me of pages once loved and frantic flipping of paper to figure out what would happen next to our epic heroes.

Whoosh.

I’m eighteen years old.

Dad driving me to the midnight showing of the newest film after my senior appreciation dinner. I was wearing a blue hoodie and my Varsity tennis sweatpants. I sat with friends against the wall in the theater, feeling on top of the world. Invincible. I had accomplished so much.

Woosh.

It’s summer vacation and the two of us are sitting in a small cabin, each holding a copy of The Deathly Hallows across from each other, racing to read faster. Both in flannel pajamas. Staying up too late, drinking cocoa out of blue speckled metal mugs.

We always bought two copies when the new books were released because we couldn’t wait for our own turn. We had to read together. Who could get through the cliffhanger faster? He usually won. And the next morning we’d sit on the tiny wooden porch in the sun, debriefing the story, gasping at who the last casualty was to fall to he-who-shall-not-be-named.

Memories in story as we flipped page together. That gangly Harry Potter and his heroic crew weaving his fictional life with mine. With Dad’s.

That’s what good books do – they become an inseparable part of your story.

Woosh.

And tonight, I miss him. And I miss Harry. And the beautiful gold lettering. And those worn, well-loved spines.

Now the books just sit beautifully, in stacks, on shelves in used-book stores and studies that he no longer enters.

snape

But both of their stories linger in my heart and my fingers and my memories. Touch the spines, finger the gold letters, breath.

Pulse. Wave. Breath. Sad.

In other news, I had fun writing this guest post for More Native Than the Natives. I like living in Colorado and am proud to be from this beautiful state. It ain’t all bad folks. Feel the wave. Breathe. Move again in the morning.