Friday, August 2, 2013

2013 Reading: May - July Edition

My top recommendations from this edition of What I've Been Reading include:

Ruta Sepetys is one of my new favorite authors. Both Between Shades of Gray (read earlier in the year) and Out of the Easy are fantastic historical novels. Just read them. :)

I particularly enjoyed the first half of Rootless. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it as a whole, but I was a little disappointed to discover that it's a series. I felt like if crafted just a little differently, it could have been a great stand alone YA novel. But still, I appreciated the dystopian world Chris Howard created. It's sometime in the future and there are no trees left (though there is a rumor about one remaining living tree somewhere), there are flesh-eating locusts, and genetically modified popcorn is what everyone eats.

The River of No Return is a time travel story about a young man from the 1800s who jumps forward in time 200 years to escape death. His world is, obviously, turned upside down, but he adapts; however, he is thrown a few curve balls by the Guild, time travel officials.

The World's Strongest Librarian is the memoir of librarian with an extreme case of Tourette's syndrome who uses strength training to help control it. Part of the reason I enjoyed this book is that I could totally relate to his stories about working in a public library. It is an engaging and easy read.

In previous posts I highlighted favorite quotes from Galatians for You and Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.

The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Babauta
Zen Habits by Leo Babauta
Help Thanks Wow: the Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott

The Typewriter Girl by Alison Atlee

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson
Slated by Teri Terry
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Rootless by Chris Howard

How to Be Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps) by Jessica Hagy
The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne

The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

Galatians for You by Tim Keller
King's Cross by Tim Keller (audio)
Walking on Water: Reflections on Art and Faith by Madeleine L'Engle

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Writing and Prayer

Thoughts on writing and prayer from Madeleine L'Engle's wonderful book, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.

     So we must daily keep things wound; that is, we must pray when prayers seem dry as dust; we must write when we are physically tired, when our hearts are heavy, when our bodies are in pain.
     We may not always be able to make our "clock" run correctly, but at least we can keep it wound so that it will not forget.


     To work on a book is for me very much the same thing as to pray. Both involve discipline. If the artist works only when he feels like it, he's not apt to build up much of a body of work. Inspiration far more often comes during the work than before it, because the largest part of the job of the artist is to listen to the work and to go where it tells him to go. Ultimately, when you are writing, you stop thinking and write what you hear.
     To pray is to listen also, to move through my own chattering to God to that place where I can be silent and listen to what God may have to say. But if I pray only when I feel like it, God may choose not to speak. The greatest moments of prayer come in the midst of fumbling and faltering prayer rather than at the odd moment when one decides to try to turn to God.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Devotional Thoughts

As part of my personal devotions, I recently finished reading/using Galatians for You by Timothy Keller. While there were so many sections that spoke to me, I just wanted to share a few particularly thought provoking portions.

Solitary time with God is fundamental to the Christian life; but the Christian life is not a solitary one...We too must be deeply rooted in church communities. We have to avoid picking what we need here and there without ever becoming grafted into a cohesive community of other believers.

God does not promise to bless Christians by removing suffering, but to bless Christians through suffering.

Christians think that we are saved by the gospel, but then we grow by applying biblical principles to every are of life. But we are not just saved by the gospel, we grow by applying the gospel to every are of life. (Dick Kaufmann) 
-The Spirit works as Christians don't rely on their own works, but rather consciously and continuously rest in Christ alone for their acceptability and completeness. 
-The Spirit works as you apply and use the gospel. 
-The Spirit does not work apart from the gospel. The gospel is the channel and form of the Spirit's power.

Galatians 3:27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 
The idea of being clothed in Christ is a daring and comprehensive metaphor for a whole new life. It means to think of Christ constantly, to have His Spirit and His character infuse and permeate everything you think, say and do.
-To say that Christ is our clothing is to say that our ultimate identity is found in Christ.
-To say that Christ is our clothing is to call us to moment-by-moment dependence and existential awareness of Christ. We are spiritually to "practice His presence." To practice the presence of Christ entails that we continually think and act as if we were directly before His face.
-To say that Christ is our clothing is to say that in God's sight, we are loved because of Jesus' work and salvation. When God looks at us, He sees us as His sons because He sees His Son. The Lord Jesus has given us His righteousness, His perfection, to wear.

We are to live today knowing we are, and always will be an absolute beauty in the eyes of God. (Isn't this incredible?!)

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Jeremy's birthday fell on a Wednesday this year. I left for work at 7:20 in the morning and Jeremy didn't get home from his work until 9:30 in the evening, so needless to say, we didn't celebrate that day. Although, I did make him some jam-swirled donuts (gluten-free, vegan, and tasty!) as a little breakfast surprise.

Operation Birthday Celebration was scheduled for after I got off on Friday afternoon. We enjoyed pizza and a movie and then came home for dessert (homemade brownie pie with strawberry coconut milk ice cream) and presents. He was obviously celebrated in style...Christmas wrapping and abbreviated decorations! :) That's what happens when you want to make a birthday special, but you just started working full-time and there really isn't time to do it all.

Ultimately, though, I was able to celebrate my husband, which is really what is important anyway!

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Just a few photos from the last month...

Summer supper out on our balcony.

Father's Day dinner with Jeremy's dad and oldest brother.

Beautiful flowers Jeremy surprised me with during a week I was feeling a bit blue.

Jeremy being goofy with his brothers.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


I live in a town with around a 15-mile square radius. And in this town, the parks and rec department maintains 18 miles of continuous, wide, paved biking/walking trails.

We live in a 3rd floor apartment, so it's no small feat to haul our bikes down, but I'm finding it is worth it. The other day, I lugged my bike down the stairs and set off. It was a beautiful day with lots of sun and a little extra wind. I cycled along appreciating the wildflower weeds growing around, the bridges over little streams of water, the parks dotting the trail. I stopped to read for awhile. I was hot and tired by the time I returned home, but I'd easily put in about 9 miles.

I've owned my ten-speed for over half of my life. It was a huge surprise for my 13th birthday (a time in my family's life when money was a bit tight). We went camping for my birthday that year and not long before we were supposed to be leaving, I was blindfolded and led outside to my awaiting bike. I was absolutely shocked and so thrilled!

All these years later, she is still a quality bike, but she's a little worse for the wear. The painted lettering has flaked off; the handlebars need new grip tape; one of the gear shifting wires is missing and therefore it isn't actually a ten-speed bike right now; the tires are starting to crack; the brakes are a little worn down. Much of this can be repaired and replaced and really I should (some just for safely reasons!). Some days I want a new bike, but there is something so sweet about looking at my navy blue bike and being reminded of that time in my life and the generous gift my parents so lovingly gave me.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


So, a week ago we enjoyed our first vacation since moving out west. In truth it was a "stay-cation." (I really don't like that word, but it is the perfect description for the vacation we enjoyed.) We're still new enough to the area that we had lots of places to explore. I didn't get pictures of everything we did, but here are a few from our "stay-cation" adventures...we thoroughly enjoyed spending time together and exploring our new home.

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

Jeremy enjoying the "penny" arcade.
A cute, though admittedly touristy town.

Awesome museum that we only saw about half off.

The last day of our vacation!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Help Thanks Wow

When I was at the library the other day I picked up the newish book by Anne Lamott Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. I first read Lamott for a college class. And since that time I've read a handful of her non-fiction books (my favorites being Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird).

She's an author that I do not agree with theologically in many respects, but at the same time, she always makes me think and sometimes she makes me laugh (both admirable qualities, in my opinion). She doesn't presume to know everything or to be a perfect person that's got it all together, in fact she's pretty much the opposite.

Anyway, back to Help Thanks Wow. In the Thanks section I was struck by these thoughts:

You breathe in gratitude, and you breathe it out too. Once you learn how to do that, then you can bear someone who is unbearable.

Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dove-tails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides.

At church my pastor has been preaching on the Christian life with an emphasis on the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5: 22-23). Lamott's thoughts on gratitude and joy and bearing other people fit in well with the many things I've been considering from the sermons of the last few weeks.

As an aside, have you ever pondered the fact that the Fruit of the Spirit is divided into three sets? Love, joy, peace are involved with our relationship with God (upward-focused). Patience, kindness, goodness are involved with our relationship with others (outward-focused). And faithfulness, gentleness, self-control are involved with our relationship with ourselves (inward-focused).

I agree with Lamott that Help and Thanks and Wow are integral prayers in the life of a Christian. Personally, I employ these prayers quite often. And sometimes when I can't find the words, I just breathe out those prayers, knowing that God can read between the lines.

C. S. Lewis once wrote: I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God. It changes me. I think that pretty much sums it up!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

2013 Reading: January - April Edition

At the end of each month I imagine I'm going to sit down and give you an update on what I've read, including some brief reviews of my favorite reads. Clearly my good intentions have not paid off. So, instead I'm giving you a quarterly round-up. 2013 is not proving to be a particularly lucrative year in the reading department (this may be in part because I've spent so much time by myself at home that reading for hours on end just hasn't enticed me in the way it does when I'm busy and around people most of the time). Regardless, I've read some great books. This year's reading has been very YA focused, mostly because of great recommendations from my friends Kim and Rebecca.

As I expected, I truly enjoyed the Emily series by L.M. Montgomery. About 15 years past due, this was my first foray into these books. They are rather delightful and I'd definitely recommend.

It's been too many weeks since I've read most of these to do any sort of justice with reviews; however, I still want to give you visual of some of the great books I discovered this year. I particularly enjoyed every book I read in February. :) I hope you find something in my list that intrigues you and perhaps you decide to pick up yourself. As always, I welcome book recommendations. In place of the reviews I hoped to write (perhaps I will in coming months), I'm going to add a few book cover pictures of some of my favorite reads this year. Hope you enjoy.

The Yoga Body Diet by Kristen Schultz Dollard
The Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi by Brian Leaf

A Death in the Small Hours by Charles Finch

Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Outpost by Ann Aguirre
Divergent by Veronica Roth

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Calahan

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman
Main Street Vegan by Victoria Moran
Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The Woman Who Wasn't There: the True Story of an Incredible Deception by Robin Gaby Fisher & Angelo J. Guglielmo Jr.
21-Day Kickstart Weight Loss by Dr. Neal Barnard

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery

Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery
Emily's Quest by L.M. Montgomery
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
This Dark Endeavor: the Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel

Happy reading, my friends!!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On Being a Librarian's Wife

I never really imagined I'd be brainstorming crafts for kids and making thank-you yoda cookies, but apparently such is the life of a librarian's wife...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My Current Soundtrack

In my car: 

Deeper by JJ Heller
The Shepherd's Dog by Iron and Wine
Hopes and Fears by Keane

In the house:

Need You Now by Plumb
Painted Red by JJ Heller

What tunes are you loving right now? I'm always on the look out for new music.

Monday, April 15, 2013


In the quietness that has defined my life since our move out west, I've found inspiration and enjoyment in hours of creativity through quilting. In the last 3 1/2 months I've made three quilts.

I don't really make the traditional, fancy-designed quilt squares, at least not yet. Instead, my quilts are typically just small squares I piece together in some sort of design. My Grandma J. quilts. The big quilt I just finished up was from her. She made all but one of the fancy quilt squares. She gave the completed quilt blocks to me to put together and finish up, if I wanted. This project took a massive amount of time. I completed the quilt top in December but I let it sit for awhile as I contemplated how in the world I was going to finish up something so big--slightly oversized queen quilt for our bed. In the end I decided to tie the quilt as it was too large to machine quilt. While I prefer the look of a machine quilted or hand quilted finish (I actually don't know how to hand quilt, yet), I am overall pleased with how the quilt turned out. It took me two weeks of fairly steady sewing while Jeremy was at work to finally finish this. (Pardon the slight mess of books and pillows.)

In January I made a small, square quilt for my new niece, Emmarie. I pieced the top from scraps in my sewing cupboard--purples and greens. My mom helped me finish this one up. I don't get to sew with company much, so that was quite enjoyable.

In February I made another small quilt for my new nephew, Everett. Again I pieced the top from scraps in my sewing cupboard--browns and blues; however, the top on this one was pieced entirely from discarded button-up shirts (fun frugality). I also experimented with adding the shapes and letters (Everett's initials), which was fun.

I've told my sister that I think just about anyone could do the type of quilting I do. Just cut squares and sew them together. It's not too difficult, though it does take some basic mathematical precision, focus, and a splash of creativity. Best of all, it's fun and the finished product is something you can use. I'm already imagining my next quilt, whenever and whatever it may be.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What I've Been Reading: 2012 Edition

Last year I only posted my reading through April.  I thought I'd just quickly chronicle here my reading for the remainder of 2012. I didn't set myself any reading goals for the year--instead just reading at whim. Though there were a few themes that emerged: lots of YA reading (thanks to recommendations from my friend Rebecca), several books about polygamy, and some interesting non-fiction reading. The  year's total only reached 70 books, much fewer than last 2011s total of over 100, but it is what it is. I read and that's what is important.


Molly Fox's Birthday by Dierdre Martin
Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson
Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery

The Haunting of Granite Falls by Eva Ibbotson
The Heirloom Life Gardener by  Jere and Emilee Gettle
Below Stairs by Margaret Powell
A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson
The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson
The Pig Did It by Joseph Caldwell
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson

Love Times Three by Joe, Alina, Vicki, & Valerie Darger
The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
Becoming Sister Wives by Kody Brown & wives
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
Gold by Chris Cleave

Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson
7: an Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
French Kids Eat Everything by Karen LeBillon
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh Demoss
Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin

Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? by Rhoda Janzen
The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K.Rowling
The Woman Who Died A Lot by Jasper Fforde
The Way to Write for Children by Joan Aiken
The Midwife by Jennifer Worth

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
Natural Relief for Anxiety by Edmund Bourne
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
Housekeeping Vs. the Dirt by Nick Hornby
A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson

Louisa and the Missing Heiress by Anna Maclean
Adrenal Fatigue by James Wilson
Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Year of the Olive

I mentioned in my previous post that I don't have particular expectations for 2013. However, I do have a goal for the year and I've written about it on my cooking blog. Go on over and take a look!
Copyright Facts, Facets, Fancies, and Fairy Tales 2009. Powered by Blogger.Designed by Ezwpthemes .
Converted To Blogger Template by Anshul . Premium Wordpress Themes | Premium Templates | Blogger Template