Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Wednesday list

1. I've come to another spot in my current knitting project where I need to try and fix a mistake. I've never used lifelines in my knitting, but I definitely thing this project is going to be one that needs one. Once I fix this mistake I'll be getting into the lace section and something tells me my current method of winging it won't be quite as reliable.

2. The weather has finally, finally cooled off a little bit. It's all relative of course -- this is Houston after all -- but I've been relishing the cooler mornings and evenings and lower humidity.

3. I recently discovered the artist Ellie Holcomb (and didn't realize until I heard an interview with her that she's the wife of Drew Holcomb of Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors) and I am really enjoying her newest album Red Sea Road. That and The Lone Bellows -- another new band discovery -- are on heavy repeat these days.

4. I've gotten three birthday books the past couple of weeks! The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner (nonfiction), Black Wolves by Kate Elliott, and All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater. Now the only problem is picking which one to start first! (This is not actually a problem. I mean...it'll still be hard to pick, but it's the best kind of problem).

5. One thing I inherited from my Granny is a love of pens and pencils. I started bullet journaling this year -- which is proving to be a pretty consistent form of journaling for me -- but it also means I'm hyper aware of my writing utensil situation. Anyway, I just bought some new pens and I'm loving them (Bic Atlantis Exact).

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Wednesday list

1.Texas A&M v. Alabama. Jeremy and I got the chance to go to College Station with some friends to see the game. My very first "big" college football game, and I have to say, despite the loss it was a great game and a lot of fun (Alabama is the number one team in the country...so we were prepared for the point spread to be much larger. But the Aggies fought hard). I don't watch a ton of sports on tv, but I love live sporting events.

2. Mascara. I've decided I'm just going to claim my go-to brand as Cover Girl. I'm not a big makeup person, but I do wear mascara every day. I'm also prone to "ooh, shiny!" moments anytime I see someone recommend mascara, whether it be a friend, a magazine article, or someone on Instagram. But lately, I just keep coming back to Cover Girl. I think I'm going to re-claim an inch of my limited amount of decision making brain space and just stick with what I know works at the price point I like best.

3. Smoothies. I've finally convinced the kids that they like smoothies. It took them a few tries to get used to the consistency, I think. But now they are hooked, which is nice for two reasons: 1. It gives us another healthy snack option and 2. I can jump on the eat-more-greens-by-shoving-them-in-smoothies bandwagon. It's a good bandwagon.

4. I recently read the book The Wedding Shop, by Rachel Hauck on the recommendation of a friend, and it was a really nice book. It's a back-and-forth romance -- one story set in the 1930s, one set in present day, and both connected. I like those kind of stories, but my only complain with this one was that I wanted more of each story, particularly the present day. It may also be worth noting that it's my preferred kind of Christian fiction: it's all about telling a good story, not beating the reader over the head with a message. The Christian and faith aspects are just woven in as a realistic part of the characters' lives.

5. The next book on my fiction list is a new one I picked up by Kristin Higgins, one of my favorite romance authors. I've also a bit back logged on my non-fiction books. I need to read a few more chapters in Business Boutique, need to read Finishers, by Jon Acuff, and Audacious by Beth Moore. So many books, so little time...

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Monday list

1. It's one of those Mondays that just feels weird. Time seems to have no meaning (how is it 2:30 already? Yet I'm sure 5-7 p.m. will feel like a hundred hours), and we get to wake up to another horrific tragedy. I've got a case of the Mondays, but not in the usual sense.

2. My grocery spending has gone up the past few months, and I just can't put a finger on it because for the most part I'm shopping the same way, the same stores, etc. Maybe the kids are just eating more? I really don't think so, but it is possible. Or maybe I'm not shopping as frugally as I think I am? (that seems like the obvious answer). Whatever the reason, it prompted me to spend a lot of time researching lentil recipes. Fun fact: there are a lot of recipes that substitute lentils where you would traditionally see ground beef, like Shepherd's pie, chili, tacos...

3. I listened to a bonus deep dive episode of The Popcast with Knox and Jamie podcast. They delved into ABC's T.G.I.F. from the 80s/90s. You remember...Full House, Family Matters, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Boy Meets World, Perfect Strangers, etc. It's a great episode about the evolution of tv, some of the best and worst shows to appear in the T.G.I.F. lineup, and lots of fun facts. Plus classic Knox and Jamie hilariousness, obviously.

4. My laptop is being weird today. Not amused.

5. I just started Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty and and just a couple of episodes away from finishing the first season of The Crown on Netflix. I am OBSESSED with that show. Really good and so fascinating. I've never been more than casually intrigued by the British royal family, but the show makes me want to go out and do a bunch of research.

6. I discovered a relatively new and definitely new to me coffee shop just around the corner from my neighborhood. It's super cool, and clearly run by people who love coffee and know their stuff (you can get coffee brewed in ways I've never even heard of). I think they might be Turkish? Turkish coffee is billed as their specialty, although you can get all the standard espresso drinks, cold brew, and other brewed coffee (Chemex, Aeropress, siphon, and the aforementioned ways-I've-never-heard-of). Anyway, I'm excited to spend a lot of my writing hours there, plus maybe a few date nights too. We can bring books or card games and pretend we're dating in college again.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Reading...Exit West


Exit West In Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid, we meet Saeed and Nadia two young people living and working in an unspecified Middle Eastern city in a time somewhat close to now. They meet in a night class and begin a romance just as their city begins to fall apart around them, plagued by the violent struggle between the government and militants. As avenues out of the city close off and the fighting begins to become less of an occasional occurrence and begins to affect their own every day lives, they hear rumors about special doors. Doors that lead to places around the world. People are reported to be able to walk through a door in a bar in Mexico and walk out of a door in a random house in Australia. As the militants work to secure all of the doors in the city, smugglers help people escape the violence as long as they can. Saeed and Nadia decide to leave when they get the chance, leaving behind all they've ever known. They walk through their first door and find themselves in a migrant camp in Greece, what becomes merely one stop in their journey as they become part of a global time of upheaval and change.
In many ways, Exit West feels like a quiet, contemplative story. We see things through the eyes of two people and their relationship. What draws two people together? What makes them stay with each other? How does a relationship change in times of stress? In other ways, Exit West is a big story, exploring themes of migration and societal upheaval. Why do some people stay in hard or dangerous places and circumstances? Why do some people go? Why do some people see new circumstances as a chance to change and grow while others cling to pieces of their past or identity? What happens in a world where people can travel from one place to another almost instantly? How do ideas of community and country and identity change? What happens when the world starts shifting in a way and at a pace that causes some to see impending apocalypse while others see salvation?
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the characters, the story, and the quiet yet thoughtful and contemplative storytelling. I enjoyed the touch of magical realism and the juxtaposition between ordinary, everyday lives and big themes and questions. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Monday list

1. I'm procrastinating on a chapter I need to finish on my novel. Which, seriously, I know I've been saying since the spring is almost done...but it's really almost done. I think now I need to do a little organizing work, which may be distracting me from finishing this chapter and one other that I know for sure I need to write. But I also need to see where there are gaps in the story. What I thought I told, but didn't. I need to wrap up the ending -- put a bow on it and all that. I really hate writing endings though. And by hate, I mean...I'm not good at it. Even ending blog posts is often a struggle.

2. I joined a knit-a-long on Instagram this month. It's a gorgeous lacy shawl pattern and wool-silk blend yarn by Treasure Goddess (the knit-a-long is sponsored by her and The Sexy Knitter). A lace shawl is something I've never done before, but something I think suits the climate of Houston a little better than some other knitting projects. Plus, the group knit aspect of a knit-a-long makes it more fun and gives me a good place to ask questions if/when I run into a tricky part.

3. The kids and I went to the Tomball Farmer's Market on Saturday, and had a great time. It was a little hotter and more humid than I would have preferred (not abnormally so for September, sadly), but we got some yummy looking produce, grass-fed beef, popsicles, and locally roasted coffee beans that I haven't tried yet but am really looking forward to. We also ended up stopping at a little splash pad on the way back to the car, which was probably the highlight for the kids.

4. I keep obsessively checking the weather waiting for another break in the heat and humidity. It's better than it was a month ago, but we had such a nice week or two earlier in the month (right after the hurricane) that I'm anxious for a return of those cooler and dryer mornings. Oh well! I'll survive.

5. I just started a new book today (I finished one this weekend, but I'm planning on writing a review of it later so I won't say much about it here). It's fantasy, and one that I'm reading for review. So far I'm only in the prologue, but my first impression is....I hope they tone down the overwriting a little. I'm also trying to decide if I want to dive into an audio book this week since listening to an audio book is a lot of fun to do while knitting -- which I'm doing more of, per number 1. A couple of people have also recently recommended tv shows that sound really good. I know I don't actually have to pick one or the other, but sometimes it's nice when watching/reading time is limited to not feel quite so pulled in too many directions.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

When 1 + 1 does not equal 2

Information is everywhere, and you can access information in almost any way you can imagine. As a librarian, I'm predisposed to think this is a great thing. As a librarian, my mind also jumps to all the complications of a seemingly endless and easily accessible well of information. How do you know what's reliable? How do you get what you need easily and quickly? What's the best format for a particular piece of information? How do you preserve it, organize it, make it available? How do you decide what's worth keeping (and organizing for that matter)?

When I became a parent, the one thing I knew was that I didn't know anything. I was eager to learn and eager for information. Pregnancy, giving birth, taking care of a baby, raising a human being. I knew next to nothing, and my first instinct was to want to know as much as possible. And anyone parenting in this age of information will tell you that there is just so. much. advice. out there. You could go broke buying baby books and child rearing books, and all of them are going to contradict each other. Add to that blogs and web sites and parenting articles published in nearly any online publication imaginable. Add to that the way parents used to get advice: friends, neighbors, parents.

It's a lot. And sooner than I expected, I stopped my never-ending quest to have the perfect amount and blend of parenting knowledge. For one thing, it's overwhelming. But what I've begun to realize is that the overabundance of parenting advice and information can lead to the assumption that there is one right way to do things. One perfect formula that will give you the results you want. Only one problem with that:

Kids are people too.

Crazy concept, I know, but when I can remember that my kids are little human beings, it helps me to keep a little perspective. Perspective when the kids are tantruming...or fighting...or reaching milestones at their own pace....or taking their time with potty training....or not sleeping the way I think they should sleep. Kids are people too, and those little personalities (or big personalities) and preferences and thoughts and desires result in a lot of variables. Is seeking advice a good thing? Sure. But I've realized I'm a whole lot happier if I spend less time reading about what everyone else is doing, less time looking for "expert" formulas and more time loving on my kids, praying for them, and just getting to know them and finding out what makes them tick.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Wednesday list

1. I finished Buried Heart, by Kate Elliott this week. It's the third in her Court of Fives trilogy (I wrote a review of the first one here). I very much enjoyed Buried Heart, both as a story in its own right, but also as the conclusion of the trilogy. I was a little worried at one point that Jessamy (the main character) was about to do some things completely out of character, but in the end she was true to herself and the ending was very satisfying. Overall, I thought Elliott did a fantastic job of creating a rich and vibrant world for this trilogy, characters that were compelling enough that I cared what happened to them even if I wanted to smack them upside the head more than a few times, and a plot that never dragged or felt forced.

2. Kiddos start Mother's Day Out this week (we're calling it pre-school because it's easier to say and close enough). Should be a fun adventure!

3. We had cool front move through today and it feels FANTASTIC outside! We played at the park this morning and couldn't have asked for better weather. Probably should have taken advantage of the good weather for a run...but there's always tomorrow!

4. I'm reading a ghost-busting middle grade novel right now -- it's for a review web site that I'm going to start contracting with on occasion. $15 to write a short paragraph review and post it on Amazon and Goodreads. It's my first one, and part of me feels a little weird. There can be a stigma that paid consumer reviews (those posted on sites like Goodreads and Amazon) aren't "real," because there's a temptation to be falsely positive, but I've been instructed to be honest, and as long as that's the case I can't think of anything unethical about it. Plus, it'll be good experience to be able to add to my freelance writing resume.

5. Once I finish the paid-for review I've got a couple of library books to dig into -- Exit West by Mohsin Hamid and Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, a sequel that I keep forgetting I haven't read yet. We'll see if I can read them before they disappear!