Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Moving Day

It's been two weeks today since I relaunched my blog (feels like a LOT longer), which I think is sufficient warning time for everyone. So:

Please change your bookmarks and subscriptions!

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I hope you'll all make this move with me! Thank you for reading. ♥

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Letter to the Separated

I'll only be crossposting here a few more times, 
so update your links!
Thanks. :)


Dear Divorcing Woman,

I'm sorry to be writing these words to you. You probably feel alone right now, but you're not. You just joined an invisible sisterhood that's bigger than you ever imagined. The abandoned, the abused, the serially cheated upon: we're everywhere. Rather than dwell on how depressing that is, just be assured that we get you, and we'll have your back without demanding any explanations. We don't hold you responsible for your husband's choices. We know that, contrary to popular Christian teaching, one person cannot hold a marriage together by sheer force of will.

Here's the good news: your divorce will make you stronger than you ever thought you could be. This is boot camp for your soul, and your strength will snowball. Every day, for a while, you will have to get up and do an assortment of things you really don't want to do. Call a lawyer, reassure your kids when you don't have much to reassure them of, deal with a broken car or major appliance, keep it together in the face of thoughtless, ignorant comments, move big heavy items alone... all while you want to lay down on the kitchen floor and just stare at the ceiling for an hour because your grief is too deep even for tears. But you'll press on, because you don't have a choice. And as the days turn into months and even years, you'll become less and less intimidated by life. When you're faced with something unpleasant, you'll look back at all the other unpleasant things you've done, survived, overcome. Those things didn't kill you. Neither will this.

When you get a chance, go ahead and have those kitchen-floor moments. At first your grief will be so overwhelming that you'll be desperate for some relief. But don't get hooked on painkillers (literally or figuratively). To stay fully alive, you have to walk through this valley. Really through it. There's no healthy way around or over it. There's no quick fix (which is almost impossible to accept in this fix-it world) - you just have to keep living one day at a time. It never goes away completely, but it gets so much better. I promise. Remember that God hates this more than you do. He's on the kitchen floor with you.

Embrace your freedom to be. Your thoughts, passions, and time are no longer secondary to someone else's. Enjoy the things you love that your ex disdained, or that you didn't have time for when he was in your life. Cook (or don't cook) whatever you want for dinner. Read an entire book. Drive out to a field just to look at the stars. Drink in the peace of knowing exactly what's going on in your home, of being in the driver's seat of your finances and your future. It's all on you now, and that can be scary, but it's also pretty awesome because you know you can trust yourself.

More than likely, you won't be single forever (unless you really want to be, which is okay too). You'll eventually meet a man who truly sees your value and won't cringe away from your scars. Despite the evidence to the contrary, there are still a lot of good men in this world who have their priorities straight. And if you remain unacknowledged - if your ex's opinion continues to stand as man's last word on your worthiness - maybe it's because God wants all the credit for His work in you. Maybe He doesn't want to share it with a white knight. He doesn't want any doubt that you and He are accomplishing this, alone, together. I don't know why, but that's the only comfort I've found.

This is the end, but it's also the beginning. Whether you wanted it or not, you have something not everyone gets - a second chance. You can do this, and we'll be cheering you on the whole way.

Love, Brenda

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What Tiger Eyes Taught Me About Community

This blog has moved. I'll be crossposting here a few more times, but please update your links!


Last weekend, the movie adaptation of Tiger Eyes aired on TV. Tiger Eyes has always been my favorite Judy Blume book. It's about Davey, a Jersey girl whose father is shot and killed one summer night. After the funeral, she moves along with her mom and younger brother to New Mexico to recover in the home of her very controlling aunt and uncle. Davey starts hanging out in a canyon to escape the dysfunction at her aunt's, and that's where she meets Wolf, a mysterious, slightly older guy. He becomes a friend and guide as she navigates her grief and gains confidence.

I didn't see this movie in the theater, so this was my first viewing, and I was very pleased. I'd say it's in my top five of beloved-book adaptations. Surprisingly, my favorite scene was one that wasn't in the book. Wolf, who's Native American, brings Davey to a tribal ceremony. During the party, one of the leaders brings him into the center of the bonfire circle. The tribe is aware that Wolf is facing the loss of a family member, and the leader tells him that he has everyone's support and is not alone. He puts a feather in Wolf's hair as a symbol of his life, to remind him that he is alive in the midst of his suffering. Then he lays hands on him and sings a blessing over him as everyone watches.

This scene deeply moved me. So often in our communities, we profess to be there for each other and even pray together, but I think there's something powerful about making a ceremony of that support. I'm not saying we should make a bonfire circle every time someone has a bad day, but maybe there are more present, earthy ways to express love and encouragement. I'm going to reflect on this. I also think we underestimate the power of physical support. Sometimes a simple hug or a pat on the back is more reassuring than a lot of good words. So many of us are constantly running a touch deficit, and it's not only the single people.

Have other fans seen the movie? Did you have some unexpected insights?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Netgalley Review: The Here and Now, Ann Brashares

I'll be crossposting for a couple of weeks,
but please update your links!


Meet seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time.

So begins the official summary of Ann Brashares' latest, The Here and Now. Prenna is a product of the late twenty-first century, a society ravaged by starvation and blood plagues. She and her mother join a last-ditch survival mission: a colonization of the past. Although their alleged goal was to try to prevent the plagues, their community remains isolated, afraid, and inbred years after their arrival. After one of her peers is killed for not adhering to the sacred rules of the colony, Prenna begins to wonder whether the plenty of this new world is worth her lack of freedom.

Prenna's classmate Ethan has always drawn her out and seemed to sense the truth about her. Forbidden to have any sort of relationship with a "time native," she's tried to push him away. But when he leads her to the answers to questions she's never dared voice, they become allies in a race to stop the event that will bring about the plagues.

I finished this book in about 24 hours, and couldn't stop thinking about it while I was away from it. It has an addictively layered plot along with the good characterization that made Brashares' Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants so great.  (Time-traveling Lena!) The release date is April 8, and I highly recommend checking it out.

Recommended for fans of: The Giver, The 5th Wave, Delirium

Friday, January 10, 2014

Eye Mask DIY

ATTENTION: This blog has moved.
I'll be crossposting for a couple of weeks 
to make sure the word gets out.
Please update your links!

I've mentioned that I've had some ongoing eye troubles, which is why I'm wearing glasses most of the time. In early November I got an ulcer in my eye, aka keratitis (don't click if you're squeamish), and I promise it's something you Do Not Want. Ever. The treatment and follow-up doctor visits have cost hundreds of dollars, not to mention the more expensive contacts I've had to switch to, which I'm only allowed to wear two days a week while the healing continues. But considering that my sight wasn't damaged, it's truly not a big deal.

All that to say, at my last visit, my doctor told me to start using an eye mask overnight to minimize air circulation around my already dry eyes. I'd been using one on trips for a while, so I was okay with that. I started sleeping in a very cute eye mask that my friend Tessa gave me years ago, and noticed a difference right away. But within a few weeks, the elastic stretched so much that the mask slid around and wouldn't stay on my face. Very annoying. I decided to sew another mask, but didn't want to run into the same problem within a short time. I needed an adjustable strap. Then an idea hit me!

If you recognize this movie, please tell me so we can be friends.

I sewed the main part of the eye mask according to this tutorial. I traced my existing eye mask onto two fabric pieces and one piece of batting, then sewed them together as instructed. It was very casual - I didn't even measure anything.

eyemask-diy (1)

eyemask-diy (2)

Instead of following the instructions for the elastic, I cut two small pieces from a T-shirt I had already made a scarf out of. I used the sleeve seam, to take advantage of the extra strength and use a scrap that would otherwise go to waste. I sewed them to either side of the mask to make loops, into which I hooked...

eyemask-diy (4)

... a bra strap that I already had, from one of the many convertible strapless bras I've deluded myself into purchasing. The hooks stay secure in the loops, and I can continue to adjust for fit. Perfect!

I've been using the sleep mask for almost a week now with great success, and plan to make a couple of spares. Maybe I could even sell them on Etsy!

eyemask-diy (3)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

One Word 2014: Alive

ATTENTION: This blog has moved
I'll be crossposting here for a couple of weeks to make sure all my subscribers get the message. Please update your links!


Last January I became aware of a movement called One Word 365. For those who haven't heard about it, the idea is that instead of making New Year's resolutions, you choose one word to guide your thoughts and goals for the year. I liked the simplicity of this idea. I didn't have a mystical word-choosing experience like many of the other participants, but I decided on Focus as my word for 2013. I'd been spreading my energies too thin for too long, and I wanted to become more intentional, to be more fully present in fewer things instead of scattering myself to the wind. I also wanted to get more serious about my writing. Well, Focus wasn't an unmitigated success, but it wasn't a failure either. Although it may not be obvious from the outside, I do feel more focused than I did a year ago and I've made some audacious (to me) investments in my own development. It's a long road, and I'm a few more miles down it, and that's the important thing.

One night right before the holidays, I was feeling discouraged and restless about a whole soup of things. I wasn't praying so much as thinking in God's general direction (which constitutes much of my "prayer life" lately). My thoughts concluded in an increasingly familiar place – that it seems so much easier to shut off and remain aloof from life rather than to feel and engage and be fully alive. At that moment, I knew that Alive was my word for 2014. It had that sense of rightness that eluded me before.

I'm ready to explore what it means to be fully alive in every sense. Here's what I already know: being fully alive is messy and painful. It means you can't just close the door on wounds and disappointments. It means accepting the lows with the highs, and the full spectrum being enhanced as a result. It means honesty, courage, and the knowledge that not everyone will approve of you. It means openness to the unexpected. It's about expanding and occupying space in the world.

I spent my first 28 years of life shrinking smaller and smaller, trying to take up as little space as possible. I thought that was my job as a Christian and as a woman. Thank God, I was wrong. But the more alive I've become, the more I've realized that being alive is really hard. The path I'm currently called to, the internal and external battles I have to fight daily, are just plain hard (and this is the case for everyone). Sometimes I get weary and give up. Then I wonder why I feel cold and disconnected from God, others, and even myself.

So I'm going to be thinking, praying, and writing about Alive throughout 2014. Although it won't always be fun, I'm excited because it's such a rich topic. I even created a Pinterest board.  I can think of no better way to conclude than with this song from the Buffy musical masterpiece Once More With Feeling, which has described my emotional state many times since it first aired:

I don't want to be going through the motions, losing all my drive.
I can't even see if this is really me.
And I just want to be alive.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Year, New Blog

sea urchins in the sky

Today is a personally historic day. I'm very happy to announce that this blog is moving to Wordpress! Head on over and check it out!

I'll be crossposting here for a week or two to aid in the transition, but after that, this space will be silent. So please update your bookmarks and subscriptions ASAP. Info is in the link!


Friday, January 3, 2014

Holiday Photos


I just had a vacation from Christmas Eve day to New Year's Day! As usual when all my siblings are in town, I didn't "accomplish" anything on my break, but the time off and together was good for me.

Christmas (and Second Christmas):


I gave my dad these fox socks. He loved them. (Target!)


Niecy is 20 months old now (getting close to two!!) and such a joy. I had a blast with her.



New Year's Eve Day geocaching adventure at Shelby Farms with the sibs:




Low-key family New Year's Eve:



I highly recommend the stuffed shells at Mimi's Italian Cafe.



New Year's Day "brunch" at my house:


First cornbread I've made in my grandma's skillet!


Remember this champagne glass? :)


I know I haven't been on top of my blogging game for the last month-ish, so thanks for sticking with me. Sometimes you just have to rest. I'll have more thoughtful content and a big change coming soon!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December Book List

Zero-Budget Christmas: The Almost Entirely True Story of Our Quest to Do Our Christmas Shopping Without Spending Any Money by Jason Anderson (2 stars)
I was intrigued by this short book when I saw it for a dollar on Amazon. It's exactly what the title says. Jason Anderson's writing is funny and Jon Acuff-esque, he and his wife sound like nice people, and their ideas are good. If saving money is new to you, this book will be helpful. But if you're already a bargain hunter (like me), you probably won't find any new information here.

The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass by Mandy Hale (3 stars)

After a bad breakup, Mandy Hale couldn't find any books or encouragement for single women. So she founded her own website/ministry, The Single Woman, and wrote this book. I like her for that, and am in FULL support of her overall message! But while the book had some good nuggets of wisdom, it was a little cutesy and Oprah-motivational for me (the many rhyming couplets made me feel like I was back in the Pentecostal church where I grew up). If that doesn't bother you, you will love this!

Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion by Sara Miles (4.5 stars)
Sara Miles was a very unlikely candidate to become a Christian. But one day, as she walked past a service at St. Gregory's Episcopal Church in San Francisco, she felt an inexplicable urge to go in. When she took the Eucharist, she knew her life had changed forever. Within a year, compelled by Jesus' command to "feed my sheep," she had started a food pantry at the church that provided groceries to hundreds weekly. I was fascinated, inspired, and convicted by this memoir. I haven't been part of a Eucharist-focused denomination, so I've never thought much about Jesus as nourishment. I hope these insights will stick with me.

PS - I later discovered that Sara is (I think) the daughter of Betty Miles, who wrote YA before it was YA, including a lesser-known favorite of mine, The Real Me. It was about a teenage girl in the 1960s or 70s who fought The Man for permission to deliver newspapers and play sports.

These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen (4 stars)
Cate and Renee are NYC roommates and co-workers at an InStyle-like women's magazine. Cate has just landed an editorship and has to prove herself, while Renee is vying for a beauty editor position and struggling to lose weight so she can look the part. They're just beginning to establish a real friendship when Abby, the troubled sister of a colleague, comes into their lives. Each woman is hiding a lot of trauma and at least one big secret. More than anything, this novel is about how they learn to trust each other. There is a love interest (a good one), but the women's friendship is definitely the focus of the story, and I love that.

Books for December: 4
2013 FINAL TOTAL: 68

Not my highest annual total, but I read a lot of quality books this year, and Quality Over Quantity is slowly becoming one of my rules for life.

See you in 2014! :)

Monday, December 30, 2013

The 2013 Survey


The Year-End Survey

1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?

Took an online, community-oriented writing course; ran a 5K in just over 34 minutes, and an under-11-minute mile; shopped at Trader Joe's; got preview access to a few big-time book releases; met one of my favorite authors; grew a very successful vegetable garden!

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn't make resolutions, but I chose a One Word for the year: Focus. I'll talk about it and my 2014 word in another post.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My college BFF Emily, and my church friends Nell and Stacey.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, but an alarming number of my friends and acquaintances lost loved ones. It was a rough year for a lot of people – I have a smidge of survivor guilt.

5. What countries did you visit?
No new countries or states.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked this year?


7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
None in particular.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Becoming a LOT more comfortable with taking chances, putting myself out there, and potentially failing.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not eliminating frantic overactivity from my life… despite multiple attempts. I need to buckle down and deal with this, but I'm finally forced to admit that I just don't know how.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Once I recovered from the Eternal Sickness that bled into January, I had a healthy year... aside from my recent eye problems. 

11. What was the best thing you bought?
New flooring; my Dyson vacuum; my Madewell military jacket; and my faux Clarisonic.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My sister's, as usual, for moving to a new state and taking all kinds of difficulties in stride.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
A lot of people on the internet.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Travel? It definitely went somewhere in a hurry. My main post-holiday goal is to get a better handle on my financial situation.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Getting new flooring; my cat getting a second lease on life; March Madness; going to Colorado; my garden; the Grizzlies going to the playoffs; my niece's first birthday and dedication; meeting D.J. Stephens; reuniting with my best friend from seventh grade; my birthday dinner at Flight.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?

Blurred Lines.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Slightly happier.
b) thinner or fatter? About the same.
c) richer or poorer?

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Writing, reading, and resting.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Cleaning up my cats' messes. In that sense, I am totally equipped for motherhood.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

With my parents and brother here in Memphis.

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?


22. What concerts did you attend this year?
Other than several Myla shows, it looks like Hanson at Minglewood Hall was my only 2013 concert! Wow.

23. What was your favorite TV program?

My consistent faves are How I Met Your Mother, New Girl, and The Mindy Project. This year I also picked up The Mentalist and Project Runway.

24. Do you dislike anyone now whom you didn't dislike this time last year?
No, thankfully.

25. What was the best book you read?
My Favorite Fiction and Non-Fiction of 2013

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I liked a lot of songs by new and new-to-me artists, but I haven't gone crazy over anyone in particular.

27. What did you want and get?
See 11 and 15.

28. What did you want and not get?
A date.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

In theaters: Catching Fire and Now You See Me. DVD: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 34, and it was the best birthday I've had in a long time. I took the day off work, rode the Greenline with my mom, lunched at McAlister's with Elizabeth and her kids, relaxed in the afternoon, and went to dinner at Slider Inn with several friends followed by cake at Caroline's.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

A greater sense of achievement and more obvious "progress" in my life.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

I'm starting to prefer fewer well-made, loved pieces to a closet full of meh bargains. My wardrobe is slowly adjusting to reflect this. Also: I am currently ALL ABOUT hosiery for some reason. Tights and leggings, woo! (NEVER AS PANTS.)

33. What kept you sane?

My family, friends, and excellent counselor. Shoutout to Alanna and Esther for doing more than their share this year. Thankful for you. ♥

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
My favorite celebrities remain consistent: Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake, and Katy Perry.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

Let's not go there. :P

36. Who did you miss?

My siblings and niece.

37. Who was the best new person you met?

My neighbor Elizabeth! I'd seen her at Sunday School, but we actually met at the park down the street from my house. I've prayed for a fellow church member nearby for a long time (the majority of our congregation lives in the same pocket of East Memphis, nowhere near my house). 

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

I learned a lot of life lessons, but here's one of the biggies: Adrenaline brain and creative brain cannot coexist. (How will I respond to this knowledge? TBD.)

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Sometimes it seems that the going is just too rough
And things go wrong no matter what I do.
Now and then it seems that life is just too much
But you've got the love I need to see me through.
When food is gone, you are my daily meal.
When friends are gone, I know my Savior's love is real.
You know it's real.

 - Florence + The Machine

Friday, December 27, 2013

The 2013 Playlist

I've been doing annual playlists since 2002, and I think about them throughout the year. Although there are no real time constraints to playlists anymore, I still limit mine to the length of a CD. Usually it takes a couple of tries to figure out the right arrangement of songs. When I burned a trial CD for myself yesterday, I still hadn't figured out what to call the playlist, so I wrote "First Draft." In the next moment, I realized that it was the perfect name. Much of this year has been about learning to own my identity as a writer, and I've tried new things overall. And failed a lot.

So I give you:

(We called this picture from our Gold Gathering photo shoot "The Album Cover." I couldn't resist.)

I will comment where I have something to say. These soundtracks always help me identify the common themes of my year. 2013: Confidence and boldness (in what God is doing in me, who He made me to be, and the truth as I see it). Impatience (with fakeness, The Establishment, and the unbearable slowness of progress in my life). Somehow, hope and love in the midst of it all.

1. It's Time - Imagine Dragons

2. Carry On - Fun.

3. She Don't Want Nobody Near - Counting Crows
This song summed up my mess of feelings about my dating life/lack thereof.

4. Light In Your Eyes - Sheryl Crow
I put this on the CD for Niecy's "Little Miss Sunshine" themed first birthday party, and it always makes me think of her.

5. Can't Hold Us - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
I will forever associate this song with the Grizzlies' playoff run. It encompassed the whole experience at the perfect time. I got my city right behind me. If I fall, they got me.

6. Ain't It Fun - Paramore
Paramore was by far my album of the year, and this was always the frontrunner for my soundtrack.  I never get tired of it.

7. Get The Girl Back - Hanson
The only track from Anthem that grabbed me immediately. I keep a mental list of songs for the high school musical I want to write someday, and from the first time I heard this, I saw a full-production number in my head. (Yeah, I'm just letting my freak flag fly these days.)

8. Safe and Sound - Capital Cities
Probably my favorite song of the year. It always makes me smile. 

9. I Love It - Icona Pop
A lot of my most-listened-to songs this year were for running and working out. Lots of Britney, Nicki Minaj, and their ilk. So this is me restraining myself to one favorite ridiculous song. Also the lyrics are deeply satisfying for a person who would never actually push someone's stuff down the stairs or crash her car into a bridge.

10. You've Got The Love - Florence + The Machine
The 2013 Psalm of Brenda.

11. Clarity - Zedd feat. Foxes
I'd be embarrassed to say how many dramatic dance routines I made up and performed to this in the privacy of my own home.

12. Roar - Katy Perry
A close runner-up for my favorite song of the year.

13. Bruises - Train feat. Ashley Monroe
This song gives me hope.

14. I'm Not Your Hero - Tegan and Sara
In all honesty, this is how I sometimes felt about my relationship to The Church this year. (Have I mentioned that the whole Heartthrob album is amazing?)

15. Cassiopeia - Sara Bareilles
Before Roar came out, Brave would have been my Sara selection for this list, but the two songs are so similar and I loved Roar SO much. Then, the day I read The 5th Wave, I heard this song in the car, and the convergence of the song and book stunned me. It could have been written for the story. There's an urgency about it (and the character of Cassie) that I deeply connect with.

16. Bravado - Lorde
All my life, I've been fighting a war... I am telling you that when the lights come on, I'll be ready for this.

17. Face of Love - Myla Smith
This goes out to the future man who will try to win me (if he exists).

18. Say It, Just Say It - The Mowglis

19. Anything Could Happen - Ellie Goulding
Sometimes you have an unexpected encounter and it's enough to remind you that life still holds a lot of potential, even if you don't see it very often.

20. Bonfire Heart - James Blunt

Honorable Mentions:
Little Talks - Of Monsters and Men
Wake Me Up - Avicii (love the Aloe Blacc part, but the techno part grates on me after a while)
Stay - Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko
Pusher Love Girl - Justin Timberlake
Summertime Sadness - Lana Del Rey

You can listen to this playlist, or the full list before I cut it down, at Spotify. Yay!

Monday, December 23, 2013

My Top Books of 2013

If you're looking for a last-minute gift for the bookworm in your life, here are my top ten fiction and non-fiction reads of 2013 (not all were released this year)! I had such a great reading year that it was hard to narrow it down. These selections were based on pure enjoyment and/or how much they've stuck with me, regardless of how I rated or ranked them initially. There should be something for everyone here.


Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
Thin Space, Jody Casella
Clockwork Princess, Cassandra Clare
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
Burn For Burn, Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Flat-Out Love, Jessica Park
Across A Star-Swept Sea, Diana Peterfreund
Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
This Is What Happy Looks Like, Jennifer E. Smith
The 5th Wave, Rick Yancey


Saturday Night Widows: The Adventures of Six Friends Remaking Their Lives, Becky Aikman
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brene Brown
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, Susan Cain
But Enough About Me: A Jersey Girl's Unlikely Adventures Among the Absurdly Famous, Jancee Dunn
A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live, Emily P. Freeman
Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate, Justin Lee
Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes, Shauna Niequist
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg
Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove, Ahmir Thompson
When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting Over, Addie Zierman

Happy reading!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Tour of My Home

Now that all my decorations are up, welcome to the 2013 Christmas tour of my house!

Last year my dad hung hooks under the eaves of my house so I could easily put up lights on my own. It only took me about twenty minutes. He did help with the additional blue icicle lights, though! I love them.

When I first set out my deer (in the top photo), only the torso was lighting up. My dad said he'd come back later to work on it. The next night, I was backing out to go somewhere and noticed that the whole deer was aglow. I called my dad to thank him, only to find out that he hadn't done anything. The deer healed on its own. Christmas miracle!!

Here's this year's Christmas wreath! Inspired by this pin (and then this one), I saved paper towel rolls for months, then cut them, hot-glued them together, and spray-painted the whole thing gold. Once the wreath was dry and set, I glued on the small ornaments (from Hobby Lobby) and hung it with ribbon. It's not exactly what I envisioned, but I'm still happy with it. I just wanted a change from evergreen this year.

My interior decorations are simpler this year. I wanted to add some garland or lights to the mantel, but worried that the cats would somehow yank it down and break everything. So this is as good as it gets. Even though it's not perfectly arranged, it makes me happy to look at it!

This Photoshop job of me and my siblings with Baby Jesus is already legendary in our family. Someone (either my mom or sister) decoupaged it onto plaques and gave one to each of us. It's one of my favorite Christmas things. The ceramic lamps are Lenox, both gifts from different people several years apart. And I just tied a holiday bow around this bird to make him festive.

I scored this holiday dish at my clothing swap, and it's the perfect accent to my Yankee candle. I put it all on a Christmas cloth from India. (Don't mind the weather station, it stays out year round.)

I like to mark my travels with ornaments (and refrigerator magnets), so I bought this gold-plated aspen leaf in Steamboat Springs to remember my time there. I thought of my Gathering friends as I hung it on the tree.

Meanwhile, the cats are extra adorable at the holidays.

I'll be back next week to start the end-of-year wrap-up posts!