Books

Favorite Things – October

Anne Shirley says it best – “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

It has always been my favorite month. Those advertisers may make fun of us for our love of pumpkin spice, our UGG Boots, or the black leggings and denim button up outfit.  The leaves are turning, and falling in my backyard. The light is changing and life continues to transition. Soon, I’ll opt for a warm latte instead of iced.

Truth is I don’t really love the aftertaste of Pumpkin Spice lattes, Colorado girls make fun of California girls who wear UGGS, and it has really been too warm to wear scarves, or even long sleeves. Instead I’m dreaming of these things.

Here is my list of things to love in October.

  1. Candy Corn

Yes. Starchy blocks of dyed sugar. Yes! I have a hard fast rule that I’ll only eat the crap in October, and I must wait for the 1st to roll around before I’ll purchase a bag. A handful a day keeps the October haters away. The little condensed sugar pumpkins? Even better.

2. A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner

This story technically takes place in September, but it counts. Historical fiction that blends story from 1911 to September 11, 2001. A story with heart that kept me on the edge of my seat. Or rather in my seat, turning pages.

3. Pumpkin bread.

I don’t like Pumpkin Spice, but my gosh do I love pumpkin bread. We have a family recipe from the Recipes from Minnesota With Love cookbook that is heavenly. Cut the sugar in half though and add chocolate chips. Let your inner Mid-Westerner out.

PS. I can’t believe I found this cookbook online. My dad would chuckle. You can buy canned pumpkin online eh? Take that grocery stores who always run out. Oh, the poor grocery stores.

4. Short Boots

Forget the Uggs. I want things like this in my closet. Role up the bottom of your jeans. Wear a sweater. Strut your stuff.  I’m just currently drooling and did not actually buy these beauties. Oh? You want to send me a pair? Sure! I’m a size nine.

5. Football is back.

Sure, I have lots of mixed opinions on the NFL and football players safety and their rattled noggins. It seems that any industry these days is having its fair share of controversy, and people have to be brave to take a stand. Cheers to those practicing their rights to pray on the field.

For me, right now, I’ll just take comfort in the noise of the game on a Sunday. Sunlight streaming in in the afternoon. Memories of my dad. The announcers voice. A beer with my father-in-law – probably a Blue Moon or a Michelob Ultra. Back against the couch, legs sprawled on comfy carpet. Loved ones around. All good, and beautiful things.

What’s on your list?

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That’s Going to Be Fun for You?

I read fast. My eyes scan pages and absorb words quickly, inviting me into worlds not my own. Don’t ask me for details about story or memoir, though, because once I’ve finished a title I seem to forget. My reading comprehension sucks. The pleasure is in the journey, not the destination.

On our most recent road trip I read four books. Four. Last week I spent 38 hours in the backseat of a Subaru and there is not much to see from Wyoming to East Oregon. Enter books. Thank goodness I don’t get car sick.

Before the trip I sat down at our kitchen table and opened up a new browser to search for books to download to my Kindle. Picking out books to read is what I live for! I selected five titles and tucked my little e-reader in my travel bag.

Our trip was an amazing break from the day to day grind. When I told some of my friends that I was driving 38 hours across the country, they looked at me like I was crazy. When I told them we were driving with my in-laws, their mouths dropped a little more, and eyes got bigger seeming to ask, ‘That’s going to be fun for you?’

Yes! Fun for me. I am incredibly lucky in that I like my in-laws! My father-in-law drove the whole time. My mother-in-law packed delicious snacks and navigated our route, picking our hotels, restaurants and day trip itineraries. While Dylan and I are both grown people, these two parents continue to extend their love for us as we dozed in the backseat. After a hard year of taking care of hurting, searching people –  ie. myself, my husband, my mom – riding along in the backseat where all my needs were met was just the heart medicine I needed. It is nice to be cared for and out of your routine.

A list of beautiful things from our time in Oregon:

  • New breweries: these people like to drink beer as much as we do in Northern Colorado. I now know how tourists must feel when they come to our town. Another brewery on that corner! No time to fit in all those delicious pints of craft beer.
  • Kite Surfing on the River: no, no, I didn’t try, but we did watch hundreds of colorful kites kiss the sky as surfers handled the wind on the Columbia River. We stuck our toes in the water and laughed as the ripples lapped at our legs.
  • Salt and Straw & good friends: One of my oldest friends Jenny now lives in Portland. She took us to her neighborhood food trucks (THAT’S A THING PEOPLE!) and out to the trendiest ice cream store I’ve ever been to. Apparently Oprah endorses their Arbequina Olive Oil flavor. I couldn’t mentally stomach spooning olive oil into my mouth over and over, but the creamy concoction was delicious on a small metal tea spoon. Instead I turned to the beautiful combination of Carrot Cake Batter with Hazelnut Praline. For those easily overwhelmed types like my husband, they also have vanilla.
  • Canon Beach: We went to the ocean. Nothing like having your feet in the sand with cold water running over your toes. Wind in the hair, sand pushing back against the arches of your feet, reminding you that you wear shoes all too often. Cloud cover and waves crashed together in a soothing blanket of gray. The ocean is big. It makes me feel connected to the edge of something. I loved walking on the sand and exploring that quaint little town.
  • A family wedding: Dylan’s cousin got married and I was honored to be a part of the celebration. As we walked up to the rehearsal dinner which was held in a neighborhood park, huge trees sheltered us from intense sun. Who knew it could be 105 degrees in the Northwest. Rays of sunshine trickled through the leaves. We approached from about fifty yards away watching the bride practice going down the aisle with her dad. I stopped and stood still, catching my breath at the beautiful scene unfolding in front of me. Other members of the family kept walking ahead. One breath. Two. I swatted at a tear starting to trickle down my cheek, escaping my from my sunglasses of protection. I missed my dad as a flood of memories from my own experience down the aisle came back. More though, I was overwhelmed with the truth that I am living in the light again. Grief still exists, yes, but that’s not all. I sent up a silent whisper of thanks in realizing I am returning to living in joy. The choices to be taken care of, to explore, to love and feel loved, those are all beautiful, beautiful things.

 

Here is a list of books I read on the trip:

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America

Vinegar Girl: A Novel

Someday, Someday, Maybe: A Novel

The Here and Now

Giving Light – Christine C.

And to round this fabulous contest out – I’ve got one more, very simple entry.
Thank you to all who participated. I am tickled that others have chosen to join me in the search for beauty.

Without further ado – 5 Beautiful Things from Christine.


1. Summer nights at Wilderness Ranch
2. Support of family and friends
3. Christmas Trees with white lights
4. A good glass of cabernet
5. A fireplace and a good book on a snowy day

I will be announcing the winner of the contest in the next few weeks. Christmas holidays are starting to get a little overwhelming.

Love to you all.

 

THE DEADLINE FOR ACCEPTING ENTRIES FOR THE GIVE LIGHT GIVEAWAY HAS PASSED. I AM FINISHING UP POSTING CONTRIBUTIONS. STAY TUNED FOR OTHER CONTESTS AND OPPORTUNITIES TO CONTRIBUTE TO 52 BEAUTIFUL THINGS IN 2017.

366 Pages

I just read a post by  Jayme Henderson on her blog Holly and Flora with the title “Making Cozy a Priority” and I want to send a major hallelujah to the author. This phrase beautifully captures my priorities for this past weekend. I wanted to steal the title, but you know… plagiarism, so instead I am sharing my delight in her creativity and wonderful way with words. Jayme, I think I can relate to how you feel.

This week, my beautiful experience was reading a whole book in one day. 366 pages read in a total of five hours . Blissful hours sitting on my comfy red couch and glancing, ever so often at the twinkling lights on my Christmas tree. It feels luxurious to be able to devote so much time to an experience that brings me such joy – dabbling in the story, texture, vibrancy of someone else’s creation through words, ink, and heart.

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In an article in The Atlantic written in 2014, they reported that only a quarter of Americans read more than one book a year. ONE BOOK! I know I’m an anomaly and that I enjoy reading at a level higher than the average bear, but this year, I’ve read 42 books. I think it is shocking and slightly disappointing that the average American can’t stomach one book a year.

This weekend I brushed off other commitments and chose to devote a full day to a novel experience. I love reading, love story, love words, love authors, love creativity and individual’s efforts to share their experiences with others.

You know what else is beautiful about reading a whole novel in one day while choosing to prioritize the cozy? Beautiful treats. I have this red, fleece lined cable knit blanket that accompanied me on my literary journey. Thank you PotteryBarn for taking creature comfort to a whole new level. Breaks included nibbles of gingerbread, a glass of egg nog, and the lighting of a flickering cinnamon candle. Tastes and smells of the season that in two weeks will simply lose their charm.

I know that next week will be full of wonderful celebration, exercises in traditions, family, people, gifts, lights, and magic. It, too, will require immense and wonderful energy.  For just this weekend, I was able to rest and invest time to allow myself to get lost in literary worlds.

At times, our priorities pull us in all kinds of directions. Have I done laundry? Nope. Gone to the grocery store? Nope. Cleaned, or tidied, or stocked the pantry? Nope. But hey, the gifts are wrapped and the lights are on the house, and the Christmas Cards sent. I choose to embrace the beauty in welcoming the gift of  time to fully experience literature. I’m adding 366 pages to this year’s total.

How do you take care of yourself during this crazy time of year?

 

Take Pride in How Far You Have Come

You know that feeling when you set a goal and you accomplish it? How does that make you feel? At first I thought I’ve sort of been one to shy away from making goals – fear of failure, fear of risk, fear of discomfort-not quite sure. New Year’s Resolution season is upon us and goal setting is all around (that’s why I’m avoiding the gym this week people! How many weeks do they go until falling off the bandwagon. I want a spot back in yoga please.)  However, when I stop and think back about goals I have set for myself over the years I smile with a small sense of pleasure in my own, surprising determination.

I’m 10 years old and my dad promises me he will give me a dollar for each chapter book I read so that I can have some spending money for our upcoming trip to Disney World. I read 102 chapter books and got some sweet souvenirs.

I’m 16 years old and want an off period in high school. I know, in order to achieve that and avoid dreaded gym class, I have to participate in not one, but two school sports. Focus in on the only other non-cut sport offered and I found myself on the cross country team. I ran each race and quite often finished as the last participant on my team (NO not last, last – just last of the Impalas). I did it though, I ran. Running is hard.

I’m 18 years old and spend most of my first semester of college crying. No, not just crying, bawling my eyes out, not eating, obsessively thinking about a return to Colorado. I dropped out of a small liberal arts school, but made the goal to attend state school. Even amidst terrorizing fear that led to weight loss and trouble sleeping, I took brave small steps to re-enroll in school. I went home each weekend for most of college, but I did it. I did my laundry too.

I’m 23 years old and know in my heart that working for a non-profit must become a reality. Again, through perhaps many stomach aches and trouble sleeping I found a way to return to an organization where I believe very much in the mission and heart of the work we do each day. My resume is diverse from bouncing around in jobs, but my heart was a straight-line to accomplishing a very long term dream.

I realize that I do set goals, and work to achieve the ones that I want. None of this pithy weight loss, make more friends, find a husband, build a career blah, blah, blah goals. Not to discount those working on those goals currently. These, quite honestly, are areas I too have struggled and continue to think about. I just want goals that are more realistically attainable for me. I think we put too much pressure on perfection, on areas to improve and once again set ourselves up for a continuous cycle of “OH MY GOSH I’M JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH” . You can read more about my thoughts on that topic in my previous post “Stop Trying to Improve”. I don’t want to do that for 2015.

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*Spoiler alert – here comes my 2014 reflecting*  As I look back on the year behind us I am proud of some of the goals I achieved. WordPress emails out these handy Annual Reports with stats and demographics all about your views and comments and “how good you were at blogging”. I’m not sure if I’m good at this per se’. I have no advertising (interested – I want you!) I only have 3700 views and a few new followers a week. I’m no world wide sensation but I did get views from over 52 countries. I’ll try not to think too long about that. That one kinda weirds me out. I published 53 posts! I met my goal for 2014. I have been able to connect with other women who are similar to me in uncanny ways. This has been a space to heal and express and ask and find some peace and gratitude. I’m proud of myself.

We planned a wedding, I got married, I have grown in a job that continues to challenge me. I’m learning to be a wife, a daughter and a friend all in new contexts. I traveled a little and I read some books. I am not sure what 2015 has in store.

Here are some achievable goals that I hope to accomplish for 2015. Don’t laugh.

1) Continue this blog. I like this adventure more than I thought I would

2) Paint my nails each week. Isn’t a manicure nice. I have SO much Essie nail polish and not enough time to keep up my hands. I’m going to try it. Maybe I’ll share my colors each week. 52 weeks of Essie.

3) Keep chugging on towards my goal of 20,000 pages to read. Hurry up with this Katie. You have reading to do!

4) Travel – even if it is little weekend adventures try to go to a few new places.

5) Make more biscotti. Biscotti is delicious.

6) Continue to be open to what the universe has to offer. Even if that means you encounter hard or challenging opportunities to grow or change or adopt new patterns, build new relationships, or close some out. It is a grand adventure isn’t it.

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I believe there is beauty in accomplishing goals big and small. Beauty in being proud of yourself. Beauty in setting realistic limits and expectations. Do you have big goals or little goals for 2015? Do you like resolutions? Are you mad too because the gym is so damn crowded?