Stay Warm

     It's been a long time since I've written here, hasn't it? At the beginning of summer I said that I was ready for a fresh creative space, and I meant it. I've been thinking about that space ever since, but it's the beginning of winter and I'm still thinking. It's one of those things that I want to get just right, you know?
     So much has happened that it's strange to write here again, because I know that I never told you about any of it. Growing up has a way of happening quickly. It's weird and scary and exhilarating. And honestly? Sometimes it sucks and I hate filling out paperwork and talking on the telephone . . . but I'm turning into the person I want to be, and I'm happy. Ridiculously happy.
     I guess I just wanted to stop in and tell you the snow is gorgeous, and I miss my blog, and I'm working on that new creative space. I'll see you there soon. Stay warm and have a merry little Christmas. :)


The Classics Club

Recently, thanks to bit of buzz in my corner of the blogosphere, I ran across The Classics Club. It's pretty much what it sounds like. A group of people reading (and blogging about) classic books. To join, you must list a minimum of fifty books that you plan to read within a maximum of five years.

The idea appeals to me for several reasons, so I made my list and I'm joining up! A reading challenge sounds like a great way to start the school year, and I've got quite a few classic, un-read paperbacks lying about my room, as well as a large number of classics that I need to knock off of my TBR.

I've decided to read fifty books in two years. (My finishing date will be 8/15/15) Since I typically read 120-150 books each year, I think my goal will be suitably challenging but doable. I'll be returning to this post to mark and link the books I've read. Want to join me? Visit The Classics Club website.

Classics Club List

01.   The Arabian Nights by Anonymous
02.   Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
03.   Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
04.   Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
05.   A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
06.   The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
07.   The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
08.   David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
09.   Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
10.   Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
11.   The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
12.   Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
13.   In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
14.   Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
15.   Kim by Rudyard Kipling
16.   The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
17.   Lord of the Flies by William Golding
18.   The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling
19.   The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
20.   Middlemarch by George Eliot
21.   Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
22.   The Once and Future King by T.H. White
23.   The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
24.   The Professor's House by Willa Cather
25.   The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
26.   The Sea Wolf by Jack London
27.   Silas Marner by George Eliot
28.   Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
29.   Sons by Pearl S. Buck
30.   The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
31.   The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle
32.   The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  by Robert Louis Stevenson
33.   A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
34.   Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
35.   Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
36.   Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
37.   The Virginian by Owen Wister
38.   Walden by Henry David Thoreau
39.   Watership Down by Richard Adams
40.   The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck
41.   Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
42.   1984 by George Orwell

Plays and Shorter Stories
43.   The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
44.   The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
45.   A Midsummer's Night Dream by William Shakespeare
46.   Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare 
47.   The Tempest by William Shakespeare. 

48.   Jane Eyre
49.   Little Women
50.   A Tree Grows in Brooklyn     

Julia Child

      Today is Julia Child's 101st birthday. Perfect timing, because I've just finished reading her memoir, My Life in France. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

     The thing that strikes me about Julia is her warmth, bigheartedness, and good humor. Her memoir was so sunny, and she was such a joyous and passionate person. At the same time, she was frank and straightforward. In her memoir, she never glazed over her trials or disappointments. She wrote about them in the same way that she wrote about her successes: simply and honestly.

     My Life in France was also a story about her husband, which I liked. She devoted almost as many words to describing his work life and his passions as her own. He loved photography, so his photographs were scattered throughout her memoir. I enjoyed that. Paul and Julia Child were obviously in love, and they never appeared to fall out of it.

     She spent a fair amount of time describing the political events of the time periods she lived in, and depicting the general climate and attitudes. The Childs moved to Germany in the 50s, and she wrote about the way it felt to enter the country that had caused worldwide devastation just a decade earlier. Her husband worked for the military, so she wrote about McCarthy's red scare and the way her husbands, friends and colleagues were indiscriminately accused and investigated for Communist sympathies.

     I've always liked Julia Child, simply because she said things like "Every woman should have a blowtorch," and "A party without cake is just a meeting." Her memoir was everything I hoped it would be. After reading it, it is easy to see why she is such an iconic personality. Happy Birthday, Julia Child!

"Find something you are passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it." -Julia Child


Reading the ABCs

     Today Cait is hosting the linkup at our group blog, The Book Chewers. Like most slightly nerdy and bookish people, I enjoy making lists. And I enjoy alphabetizing things. So without further ado, the linkup button and prompt.

Prompt: Have you read a book starting with every. single. letter from the alphabet?! Make a list of books you've read, from A to Z! (Bonus points to those who've read those tricky letters, like X and Z.) Also, you can bypass "the" or "a" in titles, if you need to.

A- Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days by Jared Cade
B- Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
C- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
D- Davita's Harp by Chaim Potok
E- Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery
F- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
G- The Giver by Lois Lowry
H- Heist Society by Ally Carter
I- Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke
J- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
K- Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth
L- Letters from the Earth by Mark Twain
M- Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
N- N or M? by Agatha Christie
O- Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
P- Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Q- The Quest for Anastasia by John Klier
R- Reckless by Cornelia Funke
S- Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers
T- Thank You, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
U- Up A Road Slowly by Irene Hunt
V- Villette by Charlotte Bronte
W- Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
X- ???
Y- Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy
Z- Zoo Vet by David Taylor

     How about you? Think you've read your whole way through the alphabet? Have you read any of these books? If you'd like to make your own list, linkup HERE


Sunset on the farm.

Just some photos I took on my grandma's farm while the sun was setting. I rather like them.



     I generally ignore tags. But they're good for blogging slumps, so I've decided that a tag would be most appropriate in light of my recent . . . er . . . slumpish-ness. Thanks to Cassie for tagging me, and to those who also tagged me! Okay. Formalities out of the way. Let us proceed.

1. What's the best prank you've ever pulled? 
I told my little brother that our dog could lay eggs. I also told him that you could determine the gender of the subsequent offspring based on the color of the eggs. Pink ones were girls, blue ones were boys. He asked Mom what the green eggs were, and that was the end of that.

2. What do you like most about blogging? 
Blogging really works for me as a creative outlet, so that's why I actually do it. But when I first started out, I didn't realize that I would meet so many different people and have the opportunity to build incredible friendships. That's been a great surprise.

3. A book that made you think for days:
Good question. When someone mentions "thinking" books, Chaim Potok's books always come to mind, and so does To Kill a Mockingbird. Most recently though, The Year of Magical Thinking had me mulling over family, relationships and grief. Steal Like an Artist was another thinking book that I read this year. It's just a simple, lighthearted book about creativity. But it sparked a lot of thoughts about the creative process, and led me to read more about creativity, which was great.
4. Do you like to keep things messy, or clean? 
I'm not sure it's a matter of preference or ability. I would like it if my room was always clean, and I'm capable of being very organized. But in actuality, my room is usually messy.

5. If you had an infinite amount of money, what would be the first thing you'd buy? 
This is going to sound pretty shallow, but I'd buy half a dozen t-shirts from Out of Print. I'd also buy a really great pair of brown leather combat/ankle boots. And then I'd spend all day at Barnes & Noble. After that, I'd start to plan things out and consider much more serious matters. 

6. What's your favorite movie and why? 
I'm not sure I've ever had one, which is probably not normal. I love animated movies. Specifically Despicable Me, Tangled, and Megamind. I also love Mary Poppins.
7. What's your favorite book and why? 
To Kill a Mockingbird. It's hard to voice why. It just resonated with me and I connected with the story in a way that I usually don't. When I first read it, I particularly identified with the character Jem. Since then, it's always been that one book. It means something to me.

8. A guilty pleasure: 
I'm not sure I have any pleasures that I actually feel guilty about. I eat dessert for breakfast whenever possible. But I don't have any guilt or regrets about it. Absolutely none. No regrets concerning chocolate either. Just so you know.

9. If you could be one person, living or dead, for a day, who would it be? 
Tough question. Since I can, I'll say Alice Roosevelt (Theodore Roosevelt's daughter). She seemed to have an incredible zest for life, and I suspect she had a blast everywhere she went. Look her up. She was easily the best First Daughter ever. (Also, who wouldn't want to try that hairdo for a day?)
10. Something insanely cool that the rest of the world needs to know about? 
The blog Humans of New York. Utterly satisfies my people-watching soul.
11. Something that makes you really, really mad?
Anyone who tells another person that God hates them.

Okay. I'm going to tag Cait, Lacey, Kristin, Emily, and Jordan. Feel free to ignore or comply as you wish. The questions I will ask you are as follows . . .

1. What's your comfort food?
2. Any pet peeves related to blogging?
3. Favorite youtubers?
4. What book are you currently reading?
5. Favorite tumblr blog?
6. What movie do you find yourself quoting incessantly?
7. Beverage of choice?
8. Favorite book you've read this year?
9. Current favorite television shows?
10. Favorite blog post you've written?
11. Favorite ice cream flavor?


Warbird Salute

     We spent a couple hours at the airport this afternoon. They're having a Warbird Salute to Veterans, so there were a bunch of World War II airplanes that had flown in. My Dad (who works there) and my brother Sam were volunteering, and the rest of us came to see the planes.
     It was very hot, even though there was a nice breeze. But the boys liked the airplanes and I liked the music, and it was a fun event to be a part of. Seeing and hearing small parts of history is the best way to learn and remember, I think.

GI Jive by Johnny Mercer on Grooveshark 
     We saw the DC-3 take off and it looked incredible against the clouds. Oddly enough, I've never flown in an airliner, just in small Cessnas. And it's been a while since I've done that. I'm excited for the time when my dad will be able to have his own airplane again.

     We've had a rough last year, what with moving and living in a too-small, temporary house. Dad's been working on a masters degree, so he's had no time to spare and it's been hard on everyone. In a few months though, we'll be settled into a new home and Dad will be through with school. We're a very project oriented family, so we're about to burst with all the things we want to do with all that time and space. Can't wait. <3


Literary Dinner Party

    Hello, wonderful people! Thanks for hanging around. I didn't intend to bother you with more posts related to my book blog. Buuut, I've been reading all these wonderful posts from our linkup this week, and I had to try my hand at hosting a literary dinner party. So here you have it.

1. What are we eating?
Cucumber sandwiches and buttered muffins, from The Importance of Being Earnest.

2. Who's cooking?
Minny and Celia, from The Help. I've informed them that, considering the circumstances, we'd all prefer caramel cake over chocolate pie.

3. Who's funding this dinner party?
Mr. Bingley, from Pride and Prejudice. (Thanks to Lydia Bennet's persuasive powers.)

4. Invite a villain. (Be careful.)
The Dread Pirate Roberts, from The Princess Bride. He's quite clever and (fortunately) not very cruel after all. I think he would make an excellent conversationalist and dinner companion. 

5. Who's likely to make a scene if the food is late?
Reepicheep, from Prince Caspian. He's slightly offended and entirely on edge because he believes that several of the other guests have deliberately snubbed him. (In reality, they simply overlooked him due to his lack of stature.) He's only staying for the food, and he's likely to explode over the lack of it.

6. Party feels a bit tense. Who's the comedic relief?
Mr. Gilbreth, from Cheaper by the Dozen. He likes nothing better than a good show (particularly one put on by himself) and a dinner party suits his outrageous personality immensely. 

7. Someone's monopolising the conversation. Who's the hero at this dinner party?
Inigo Montoya. He's telling about his revenge on the six-fingered man and the guests are hanging on his every word. "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die."  *Cue gasps*

8. Who wishes they weren't there?
Winnie-the-Pooh. Cucumber sandwiches and caramel cake have their place, but Pooh is craving honey. He's got a brand new pot at home and he can't focus on anything else.

9. Who's the couple more interested in each other's gorgeous eyes then the food?

Valancy and Barney from The Blue Castle. Don't bother asking them to pass the sandwiches. They're much too absorbed to be any use.

10. Aw, someone's pet is eating food off the guests' plates. What's the creature and who's the owner?
Tricki Woo the overfed Pekingese, and his lovable but annoyingly indulgent owner, Mrs. Pumphrey, from All Creatures Great and Small. Mrs. Pumphrey knows Tricky Woo is under strict orders from Uncle James, and she knows he's liable to go crackerdog or flop-bott if he doesn't stop eating. But, oh dear . . . how she hates to disappoint the darling.


I Respond to Anonymous the Spammer

        Out of kindness towards my readers, I've turned the word verification off again. Consequently, the spammers are back in full force. One spammer actually. Anonymous! Now, I only know of three ways to deal with spam comments, and I shall proceed to list them here.

#1: Gnash my teeth and scream. Not healthy. Teeth gnashing gives me a headache. Screaming disconcerts my family.
#2: Calmly take measures against the spammers. Turn on word verification (I won't) or calmly delete all spam comments (I probably will)
#3: Reply in a deadly serious/humorous manner. I learned this from my own father, who once wrote a lengthy e-mail reply to a spammer. It involved a butler and a refrigerator and had the entire household doubled over in stitches. Imagine our glee when the spammer replied with a "Haha! That's hilarious."

I suppose you know where this is going. Please ignore the irrelevant banana leaves at the top of this post.

I Respond to Anonymous the Spammer

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Pickles & Apricots

     I've got a cold, so I'm lying in bed with an entire roll of toilet paper, eating baby pickles and apricots. I was also reading until just now. I haven't done much else since school let out. Subtract the snotty nose and the pickles and my day hasn't been any different from those of the past few weeks. At the moment I'm reading Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott, but just a short time ago it was Austenland and Heist Society. Next I might read The Young Unicorns by Madeleine L'Engle. Or it might be back to Ally Carter with the fifth Gallagher Girls book. (I'm reading the series after persistent encouragement from my friend Jordan.) And . . . after my mom's finished it, I intend to read The Midwife by Jennifer Worth, which is the memoir that inspired Call the Midwife, our current "girl show". Can I just take a moment to tell you that I adore Chummy? I adore Chummy. And I want a blue dress with a little red cardigan. 

     When I have large amounts of free time, I tend to waste several weeks of it lying in bed and doing whatever I please. That usually looks like the torrential paragraph above. In my defense, there are far too many books! And sometimes I can't overcome my desire to read them all at once. Regardless, I actually do grow tired of reading. And contrary to popular familial belief, I have inherited a certain amount of doing-ness. That's not a word. But it's supposed to mean that I get depressed if I stop doing things. I'm about to reach that point, so I must make a project list. I must be productive! And I also must visit the kittens. I just heard Ben say that they are learning to hiss. Adorable. They are their mother's children.



Interview With Cornelia Funke

"Her curiosity was too much for her. She felt almost as if she could hear the books whispering on the other side of the half-open door. They were promising her a thousand unknown stories, a thousand doors into worlds she had never seen before."
 -Cornelia Funke, Inkheart 

I am so very proud of my friend and co-conspirator Cait, who recently interviewed Cornelia Funke! We've had such a splendid time discussing Inkheart on TBC, and the appearance of Cornelia herself is the very pinnacle. It's too good not to share on here as well.

Click here for the interview, and click here for all of our Inkheart posts.


Seeing Myself

I know my brother's face. I can visualize the expressions he uses when he is amused or annoyed. I see from his posture whether he is discouraged or jubilant. Bored or interested. Funny that I cannot say the same of my own face and body.

I can only see myself two ways. The first way I see myself is vivid and secret, because I can see the inside of myself. At every moment I see my emotions and my thoughts, which are the realest parts of me. No one else can see that. They can try, but they'll only guess.

The second way I see myself is through a mirror or a camera lens, which is a very limited way of seeing. My subconscious adjusts my face when I come across a mirror, and mirrors only show reversed images anyhow. Cameras freeze me and suspend my face and body in time. Do I look like that in motion? I can't say. I don't know.

I don't know how I walk or stand or sit. I haven't memorized my gestures and expressions. I don't even know the sound of my own voice, because it comes out strangely when I record it. How can I know myself so well without being familiar with my own voice, gestures, and expressions? Why are we incapable of seeing ourselves? It's a strange concept that frustrates and fascinates me.


Thinking About New

      I only posted here three times last month. But I didn't actually take a break from blogging. I started a group blog about books called The Book Chewers. So really, I just spent some time away from this space. And when I did, a couple of things became more obvious and concrete.

1. There's something about limiting yourself and working within boundaries that is very freeing. If you search the internet for blogging advice, you'll find myriads of people who will tell you to stick to one topic. Pick food, books, lifestyle, or crafts. Don't mix them, just do one. I've always spurned that advice, as have most of my blogging friends. And I still don't think it's a rule that must be followed. But it's a valid point that should be considered. The funny thing is, it can be less of a burden to work within a topic than it is to do it all.

2. I'm outgrowing this space. I have different ideas and goals. I know what I want out of blogging and I didn't know when I first started blogging. The name, the design, the previous posts . . . they're still me, and they definitely were me. But I'm constantly evolving, and I might have evolved beyond this blog.

3. I'm ready for a fresh space. Starting something new that is thrilling. Re-organizing your work space inspires.

4. It's time for me to leave blogspot. Blogspot makes it easy to blog and form connections, which is great if you just want to blog and have fun doing it. But blogspot has been hard for me to deal with lately, and I'm ready for a new platform. I'm ready for something more professional that will allow me to connect with a wider range of writers, bloggers, and artists.

5. Collaborating is fun. Book blogging with Cait and Mime has been a fantastic experience. I love brainstorming and discussing. I love to hear what people think. I love combining our strengths and experiences. And I like what comes out of that. 

     I'm actually not going to leave. I'll stay a little longer. I don't know how much longer, but I'll be here. And I'll be showing up more regularly, starting today. (Which is my first real day of summer. Eeeeee!)
     Here's the thing though. I'm done with blogspot, but I don't have the resources to move on to the next thing. A free wordpress blog isn't going to cut it, so I might as well stay here until I can move on. Make sense? I'll be collecting ideas for a new blog, but I won't leave you just yet. I'll try to squash my desire for a new space with a new design.
     Oh . . . and one last thing. This is the internet, so you can follow me wherever I go. Creepy? Reassuring? Yeah, maybe.



This morning I turned in my final assignment for the semester. School is over. Summer is here.

What next?

Go through my closet, straighten the shelves, thin my wardrobe
Empty my camera card
Clear all the school-related clutter off of my desktop
Organize my Pinterest boards
Clean my room, sweep the floors, organize and clear my creative space

Make a list of projects I want to complete
Set some goals for the summer
Think out where my blog is headed and what it needs next
Look through my to-read list and prioritize

How are you going to start your summer? 


Pass the Parcel

Books have been on the brain lately, particularly with the launch of The Book Chewers. The theme continues today, because my co-book-chewers, the Notebook Sisters are having a blog party! Today they're doing a game tag called "Pass the Parcel" You should totally participate. I hear that there are prizes involved.

1. Name your top 5 favorite YA authors
J.K. Rowling
Madeleine L'Engle
Cornelia Funke
Cynthia Voigt
Jerry Spinelli

2. What's the last YA book you read and what did you think about it? 
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys. It's about a prostitute's daughter who works in a bookstore and wants to leave New Orleans and go to college. It's well-written with good characters and a unique concept, but it wasn't really a favorite.

3. What's your favorite YA genre? 
Oh goodness! Hard to say, but it might be historical fiction. (Code Name Verity, The Book Thief, Between Shades of Grey, and Jerry Spinelli's Milkweed) But I'm not sure on that. Genres have never been my strong point. I read a little from each.

4. Let's talk characters! Pick a character you love and tell us why.
Queenie from Code Name Verity. She has spunk. She's a masterful storyteller, liar, and truth-teller. She has natural flair, coupled with an outrageous sense of humor. On the surface she's careless, outgoing, and unpredictable. Underneath, she's strong, brave, honest, and loyal.

5. Top YA villain?
The Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride!

6. Top YA couple? 
Ron and Hermione, perhaps. Also Stargirl and Leo.

7. With dystopian on the decline, what do you think will be the next hot trend in YA?
Maybe the John Green wannabes will take over? I don't know. Personally I'm rooting for Mystery or Historical Fiction. Or anything humorous. Please no more Paranormal Romance. That's just annoying.

8. What's the next YA on your to-be-read pile? 
Well, I just requested The Boy Who Dared from the library, and I'm intending to read Heist Society some time soon. I'm also frantically looking forward to Rose Under Fire, which is supposed to be a companion book to Code Name Verity.

9. What's the fastest time you've ever finished reading a book in? (And what was the book?!)
Impossible. Can't answer this. I've been speeding through books for most of my life.

10. (And now for the burning question) Do you think books should be sorted according to color or title. (This matters.)
It does matter! I've pondered this question often. Personally, my bookcase is sorted according to author because I like to find exactly what I'm looking for when I'm looking for it. But I'm always tempted to sort them by color, and I probably shall next time I rearrange or move rooms.


The Book Chewers

Remember the project I mentioned? The one involving Cait and Mime? Well, THE BIG DAY IS HERE!

If you're Facebook friends with one (or all) of us, you may have discovered our secret when we started spreading this page throughout our news feeds. You also might have seen the button for The Book Chewers in my sidebar. But you might not have, and that's okay because surprises are good. Right?

I was kind of downplaying things when I talked about a "project." It's more than a project. It's an entire BLOG. Exciting, right? Now don't worry! I'll still be blogging here. I'm not deserting you. I'm expanding. The Book Chewers is (obviously) a book blog. It's not a typical book blog either (because we refuse to do things the usual way). It's going to be absolutely fun and brilliant. How could it not be, considering the fact that we are absolutely fun and brilliant ourselves? ;-) My friend Sarah is also joining us, so you'll get to meet her! In fact, you can read a little bit about all of us on this page.

Today is our launch date and we just published our very first post! I would love to see all of you there! You can also follow/like us on Twitter or Facebook for regular updates. Cait runs our Facebook page and I run our Twitter page.

Have I got you curious? COME VISIT US. www.thebookchewers.com


Adding Things Up

I only have little things to write about, so I haven't written at all. But little things add up, so now I will write.

Today the tree branches are outlined with lacy, delicate green. The weather is lovely, and I've spent the last three days with my bedroom windows open. The afternoons are warm, and we've taken to playing tennis at the park every day. Do we know how to play tennis? No. But we're getting there.

Last week Ben showed up in my bedroom asking for books to read. I gave him Homecoming, A Wrinkle in Time, The Giver, The Thief Lord, and Peter and the Starcatchers. He practically gobbled them, making me a very proud older sister. He liked them all, but he said that A Wrinkle in Time messed with his head.

My vinyl record collection is growing rapidly. Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin. All very nice. I set up a happy little space under my window. My record player is sitting on my typewriter case next to the stack of records. And next to that, I have two stacks of books that I got at a recent library sale. (Six Gerald Durrell books, three Madeleine L'Engles and numerous vintage paperbacks. It was my lucky day.)

I got braces a few weeks ago. They're horrid. But I'm learning to live with them. I've already eaten everything that's on the forbidden food list. I'm a naughty child. 

I've been working on a special blog project. It's going to be absolutely brilliant. I can't wait for everyone to see it. It involves Cait and Mime, which is always a good thing. That's all I'll say for now. Highly secret and all that. 

I'm starting to make handwritten versions of my old blog posts. Remember this one? I've wanted to do this project for a while, but I'm just now getting to it.

I made mint fudgsicles yesterday, and I think we'll just have to eat them today when Sam comes home from school. I wasn't intending to make mint, but I didn't have any regular chocolate chips. Just Andes mint chips. Thus the fudgsicles became chocolate mint. 
Remember that printing out photos was one of my resolutions? I printed out some of my photos but I also printed some old family photos. I've had them for a while but I just put them up a few days ago, next to my window. They make me so happy. My favorite is the fourth from the top.

Aunt Carolyn is coming to visit tomorrow. Ben and Jason have already decided that we're going to camp out on the trampoline while she's here. 

I just read Tarzan of the Apes. It was surprisingly good. I recommend it. I also recommend Maisie Dobbs, which I just finished a few hours ago. 

I found this shadow on the floor one morning. It looks like a city of towers and minarets. Istanbul perhaps. I was quite delighted with it. 

There. That did add up to quite a nice post. 


Begin the Beguine

     I've got a lovely little record player. I bought it at a fantastic antique store over spring break. It's a tiny blue suitcase made from some sort of pasteboard material. I smiled so hard the first time I played my record of big band hits from the thirties. It's one of those things that just does make you smile . . . Bing Crosby, Peter Paul and Mary, the little record player itself, the square record covers, and the crackly-whispery sound it makes when you set the needle down . . . It takes music to a new level of happy.
400th post!


Happy Things, No. 2

A huge, scrumptious stack of library books
English breakfast tea for . . . breakfast
Chocolate cream cheese swirl cookies
Parents celebrating the day she's been married to him for half of her life
The smells and sounds of spring beginning
Piper's grin when she knows I'm proud of her
The colorful dresses in my closet, waiting for warm weather
The thought of going barefoot soon
Jason's insane giggle when all four of us watch movies together
Seeing a tiny version of Piper while we were walking . . . baby german shepherd!
The memory of Piper's huge puppy ears and crazy long tail
Small blue record player (Waiting to get a new needle in the mail)
Plans for summer break 
Collecting vintage magazines for my wall collage
Big, colorful earrings
Conversations with you. Your comments make me smile.
05 Benedictus Simon & Garfunkel Wednesday Morning, 3 AM [Expanded] Rock 64kbps by Simon & Garfunkel on Grooveshark


Things I Am Not

I am not a germ freak. I forget to wash my hands at the appropriate times. Public restrooms don't faze me (although there are definitely exceptions) and I would totally eat a skittle that's been under a couch cushion for three months. Especially a green one.

I am not gushy. I know how to say "Ooh, that's lovely!" or "That's awesome, I love it!" But when everyone starts in with the "AWWWW. <333333 LOVELOVELOVE" I start looking for a place to hide. Gushiness is awkward for me. Might be the fact that I was born into a male-dominated family . . . three brothers, eight uncles, no sisters or girl cousins . . . yep, that could do it. 

I am not self-disciplined. I don't finish projects. I procrastinate. I take "little" breaks when I should be hard at work. I'm not very stern with myself. It's something I have to work on. And I have to work on working on it. And work on working on working . . . you get the idea. It's a little depressing.

I am not insecure. I don't usually believe that I'm beautiful and amazing, but I don't usually believe that I'm not beautiful and amazing either. Does that make any sense at all? I have quite a lot of insecure moments, but they don't last long. Deep down, I'm pretty well grounded in knowing who I am and being okay with who I am. That's something I like about myself.

I am not a fangirl. I feel weird about confessing this, because I'm such a minority. I have my favorite movies and shows but I don't really give a crap about celebrities. Fandoms bewilder me and so do celebrity crushes. In short, I fail miserably at being a teenaged girl.

I am not a highschooler. This also leaves me in a tiny minority (for my age group, of course). I graduated several years early and I'm in college now. It's just . . . extremely awkward in real life. I dread the question "What grade are you in?"

I am not someone who sees life in black-and-white. I see life in bright colors. Dogmatism makes me furious. I like questions better than definite statements. My brain is quick to think, "Yes, but what if . . .?"

I am not good at taking beautiful self-portraits. Just stating the obvious. 

Okay. Your turn. What are you not?


Links, No. 2

Here's a few things from the internet world that I've found exciting, wonderful, beautiful, inspiring or amusing. Take a click around! Hope you like them too. 

Scanwiches: A different way to look at lunch.

Head Like an Orange: Beautiful and incredible gifs. 

Fernweh Magazine: What do you desire?

11 Ways to Be Unremarkably Average

Chicago Lights: Flash Street Photography

Ideal Bookshelf: Beautiful book art prints.

Stand By Me: Songs around the world.

Leaf silhouettes

For a second I thought it was summer again

Shakespeare Hokey Pokey 

Mime's favorite dysfunctional families 

Mary Oliver quote

I'm Yours by Vitamin String Quartet on Grooveshark

Links, No. 1


And They Flew

     This is the week before spring break. I've finished all three of my midterms. I just have to write a speech. Boo. It's going to be about banned books, and it will be fun. But my enthusiasm waned slightly when I was told that I had to follow a specific type of outline. Phooey. I feel quite capable of making my own outline. Also, we have to cite sources. Five of them. In seven minutes. Ewww. 
     The . . . ahem . . . photograph of sorts that you see above is my midterm for Computer Art. It's a cross between Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, and my own imagination. I wish that all four of us could really fly away and have an adventure over spring break. We would make good book characters, I think. After all, there are four of us. Four seems to be the perfect number of siblings for an adventure. Think Pevensies. 

     Drawing class has been a bit depressing. I've never drawn before, so I'm not good at it. Do you know how hard it is to not be good at something you ought to be good at? It leaves me feeling very un-artistic. Which is a huge bummer, because I generally think of myself as a creative/artistic person. I'm glad to be in Computer Art and Web Page Design, because I am good at those classes and it helps me prop my ego up again. I always view things that boost my ego as good things. I don't think it's because I'm prideful or sensitive. I just had a very small, crushable ego during my childhood and early teens, so I've tried to be very nice to it as I grow older. I think that being nice to yourself is an excellent practice, as long as you don't take it too far.
     Tomorrow is Ben's eleventh birthday, and I am going to make him a fabulous chocolate layer cake. Perhaps I shall blog a little during spring break, and perhaps I won't. I just thought that I would pop in and ramble a bit about school and classes.
     All you lovely people have a nice Friday, okay? 

P.S. That moment when your post publishes long before you're done . . . can anyone identify?


My Natural Habitat

     I've been busy creating messes. Yesterday I bought myself some new acrylic paints and I've been working on a project for art class. The day before that I was cutting big letters out of black paper. Today I was sitting at my table, fiddling around with toothpicks and glue and paint, and I looked around myself and thought . . . Wow, I'm in my natural habitat again! . . . . Scraps of paper everywhere, art supply boxes spilling all over the place, puddles of glue and paint on random scraps of paper, plasti-tac stuck to odd surfaces . . . . I haven't made a mess like this since last summer, and it feels good.
     Moving takes longer than you think it will. Settling down can take months and months. This move has been especially hard, since we're only living in transitional housing. But you know, it all works itself out. Things eventually right themselves. They really do.

Want to see what I've been working on?
1) Mary Oliver quote. I meant to put this above my table, off to one side, but I made the letters too large. They were almost too big to fit on the back of my door, but I managed. I found the big, black letters a little startling at first, but they grew on me.

2) Blackout poetry. I bought a beat-up, torn-up book at the library sale, because I need book pages for crafts and I wanted to try blackout poetry. Blackout poetry is fun, I like it. It's so strange and wonderful to rearrange an author's words and turn them into something else. The drawback? It gives you a serious sharpie headache.

3) Paint chip/typewriter quotes. I've always been slightly amused by the paint chip fad. These days you can make anything out of paint chips and everyone will love it. Why? I don't get it. Buuut . . . I have to admit that it was very satisfying to pound out quotes onto colorful scraps of paper. Extremely satisfying. As far as paint chips go? Sometimes they're awesome and sometimes they're paint chips.

4) Matchbox craft drawer. Our drawing teacher told us to make something out of a matchbox. He gave us a couple of examples, and he said we could do anything we wanted with it and fill it with anything we wanted. So I made a miniature drawer. I think I have to draw it tomorrow.

What's your latest project? If you put a giant quote on your wall (or door) what would it be? 


School Essentials

Purse // Small notebook, favorite pens, wallet, cellphone, chapstick
Backpack // Art portfolio, box of art supplies, and a book (just in case)

     I like to keep the things in my bags minimal and lightweight. I don't like hauling a heavy backpack around all morning, and I don't like digging through a big purse. Looking at this picture though . . . it's a little ridiculous. This semester I've managed to get by with a very small backpack. It's perfect, because it has these handy pockets on the front, and a drawstring top and it's . . . well, small. I only have two classes on campus (the other two are internet classes) and I don't actually need the textbooks for either class. Textbooks are heavy. So I leave them at home. Next semester, I'll probably have to say goodbye to my tiny backpack. *sniff*

      My purse is also small. I bought it at a thrift store for three dollars. It's leather with a crossbody strap, and it's the best bag I've ever had. Plenty of room for my cellphone, wallet and huge, hideous driving permit. Have I told you how terrible Illinois's driving permits are? Mine is printed on an entire sheet of computer paper . . . 11 x 8 1/2, and I have to fold it up and keep it in a giant plastic bag. Ugh. It takes up the entire front pocket of my purse. (I'm not bitter or anything.)
     I also keep my favorite pens in my purse, so they don't get lost in the bottom of my backpack. I'm very specific about which pens I like. I also have a little notebook, and it's also a specific brand. I have the same journal in a larger size . . . more than one actually. They're that great. I have the little one too, because I bought one for Jana's birthday, and then became jealous ;)

     Of course, not everything I take to school is in this photo. My lunch is the biggest thing missing. I have a square lunch bag that I put inside the backpack, and it takes up quite a lot of room. I usually bring a salad and/or cold chicken. And then I have lots of extras like strawberries or almonds or cheetos. I used to have a water bottle, but it leaked on the second week and soaked my entire backpack and its contents. Goodbye water bottle.
     Also not pictured is a small stash of granola bars, which I consume during drawing class. (A three hour class is too long for my poor little stomach.) Then, of course, there are random papers and homework assignments crammed into my backpack as well.

     I guess my wardrobe is simple too. I always wear jeans with a long-sleeved tee or favorite sweater. And then I've got my boots. That's them in the photo. I wear them everywhere. They have buckles and zippers and laces and they're the best. Yep. Then I have a blue plaid coat, which I also wear everywhere. Finish it off with a great pair of earrings, and that's my usual uniform.

P.S. My dear friend/former neighbor, Jordan, just started a blog! Visit her here.


Hard Stories

      I'm taking speech this semester. I expected to hate it. I didn't know that I had enough confidence to give a good speech. But I do. I didn't know that there would be interesting people to observe and stories to hear and conversations to have. But there are. I expected to hate it because I thought it would revolve around stage fright and nervousness. But that's really just a small part of it. It mostly revolves around people and words and those are two things that I find infinitely fascinating.
. . . . . . . 
      Our first assignment was an introduction speech. It was interesting, the things people chose to share about themselves. Most of us chose to talk about our hobbies, interests and families. But other people chose to tell their hard stories. The stories that hurt. The stories that change them and shape them. The stories that affect their lives every day.
     One woman talked about giving. She said that most of us are born with a self-preservation instinct that prevents us from giving help to others when it would harm or damage ourselves. She said she was born without that instinct . . . but it seems to me that she gives in spite of her self-preservation instinct.That's what is hard for her. Her lifestyle of giving anyway.
       Another woman talked about being a single, teenaged mom. A man talked about growing up on the east side of St. Louis and mentioned, almost as an afterthought, that somebody was shot in his neighborhood nearly every day. The man who sits nearby him told a similar story about growing up in Chicago. Someone else talked about being a troubled teen and said that he was sent to "therapy boarding school" for two years. The oldest man in the class talked about going to jail as a young man. He said the bad decisions he made when he was young have followed him and haunted him for the rest of his life.
     The Marine talked about having post-traumatic stress disorder. He said that when he walks through the hallways he feels like the people who walk behind him are chasing him. He said he always sits in the back of the classroom where he can see every person and every exit. When he told us that he was getting help, he broke down and cried, and I don't think any of us expected it. He's a tough guy who sits in the back of the room and makes jokes. I don't think we guessed he had a story that can make him sob.
. . . . . . . .   
     Thinking about all these hard stories, I wonder about the ones that weren't told. The more people I meet the more I realize that everyone has one. A hard story. I have a story I didn't tell. A long and complicated story about betrayal and rejection and punishment for doing the right thing. But I haven't found the adequate words to tell it yet. And maybe nobody else had adequate words for their story either.
     There's a quote. I don't know who said it. "Every person you meet, every single one, is looking for their story. There are no exceptions. You become part of it by how you treat them." I think that's true. But I also think that everyone you meet already has a story. And that idea, that everyone has a story and is looking for a story, should make us more compassionate. It should make us want to listen, and it should make us feel privileged when someone shares their story with us.