Books

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!

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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.

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?

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.

Death_to_stock_photography_weekend_work (10 of 10)

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?