SOME FALL INSPIRATION

tumblr_lauysrLYaG1qda87r

 

I don’t know about you…but I am in need of some fall inspiration!  It is time to start thinking about what we are going to put on the Thanksgiving table or even around our houses for this fall season.

So, I found some inspiration I thought I would share!  Some out of the box arrangements to inspire you to get beyond the traditional fall flowers and pumpkins.

Fall color arrangements with some feather flair.  I love the teal accents!  (Created byBlush Floral Design in Madison, CT.)

tumblr_lauyccgkwO1qda87r tumblr_lauyfr371x1qda87r tumblr_lauyolDJLu1qda87r tumblr_lauysrLYaG1qda87r

Okay, so this one DOES include a pumpkin, but check out the Scabiosa Pods, Artichokes, and Fern Curls for the different flair.  I love this for a bit more traditional feel.  (Again, created by by Blush Floral Design in Madison, CT. I guess I like their taste!)

Kale is so very popular this season (yes, I am talking about cabbage).  It comes in purple and in white, both are gorgeous!  Here is another non-traditional fall arrangement that is perfect for use if you don’t like orange or red. (Created bySkinner Jones Floral in Minnesota.)

I LOVE this one…especially the use of Thistles (the purple/blue spikey flower), Crocosmia Flower (that is the skinny orange flowers), Pink Cushion Protea, and again, the Fern Curls. (Created by Garden on the Square in Savannah, GA.)

Now that I am inspired, I am ready to go create!  We will share some of our own creations soon.

Continue Reading

{featured wedding} Jayden + Rachael

9c7_-1l3zfbCsc0XMEA4NribpdVwBlTmUIMBuJJ9U3k

I love a good DIY wedding, and this one certainly stands above most of them. In April I got to make some tweed bow ties for my friend Jayden and his groomsmen for one of the most picturesque weddings I’ve ever attending. Located in the green-as-green-could-be forests of Denmark, Jayden and Rachael tied the knot amongst friends, family and the odd farm animal. With the little natural light she had left in the day Sheridan Powell captured the day marvelously, Fox & Rabbit‘s beautiful blooms were on show, including an out-of-this-world floral chandelier hanging behind the couple at the altar, and Rachael’s very own vintage tableware (behind the name Handle & Spout) were out to play. The groomsmen are each wearing the Henry, a light grey stripe tweed, and Jayden is doning the Abraham, a speckled brown herringbone tweed.

9c7_-1l3zfbCsc0XMEA4NribpdVwBlTmUIMBuJJ9U3k aRRYscJCX11wdHHlnQa7H2sk9D2rWUOfmjQjgbduew4 BXjE8p-oRDolO6AKgGbxnqetDdPMDtTu9_E4WjD-aJc FHqSPEP9rMiLCBEpKnbVbrxQhb_63pOr_2dYxrNaq4 FxfjsJYj6luQGmnDSot99LAPx29mX1eDWoSUY96eDto sETieYzai7SGfsaTqLIoJDOrgA7SeE1qOSMZX9qjgd0 t80xtE46-7mUNMGzrU0OJmexdY1FMF3mdB9oBVHLSWQ

Continue Reading

{featured wedding} Sean + Karli

x9_IIl-CtT40QRSh99D_EWxgcGp3_L-4GnpYo0RaNlwc-qTwmZdbdd1a4ZnTtDB2R-c03zX-HsUSREoa1-XYiYaCJlGrZhG0a3GhS7hKUQqIIBJvtlx_Y0odjXYfaQUnAKS_FWcliELkeIRMo7_om9cjyxJqAb78dJBIB

 

I absolutely love being apart of weddings! Some may think its the party at the end that is most enjoyable (which don’t get me wrong, almost all of the time those moments are hilarious and fun), though the part I enjoy the most is watching two beautiful lives come together in love, and to see them make a commitment to each other whilst fully understanding the challenges and circumstances life has dealt, that make them the person they are that day.

This day in chilly April, Sean and Karli; two incredible friends of mine, tied the knot. As soon as Karli got in contact with me to chat blue velvet bow ties I knew this day would be filled with glamour and romance. And then, to my absolute delight, I was advised the talent found in Matt Biocich Photography, Fox & Rabbit Blooms, and Milla Makeup would be apart of the day as well. As you will see in the pictures below Sean and each of the groomsmen wore a Midnight Velvet bow tie, and I got to also make a cute as pie junior bow tie for the little page boy. And if you were wondering, Karli wore a stunning custom æ’lkemi gown, which everyone was ever so excited to check out on the day. The wedding was planned and coordinated by an exception team of planners led by Hazel Sanders, every minute detail was looked into and everything thing came together perfectly like that of a Hollywood movie

EPIObo60-F5_IRoUtSELGgA002axrQ35rM7_bDFrROAO-SYsTa_iBZpP3YiGs5eSsB-kAutiH4IYWMFCcWGNbw-1P1q7yv4bA2bL4oZJdWZJcGA7lquHULiJ91yAC8cEE8Ylg0wn0tjJiuouECAlmcnRZC5gENJJ28wNm tdjyg08afVSlox2kxzIYYIJZJtg-z2p1dtjO7muyMdQuY2yeXQmNSO-pvdab9wGgIvgl4h2vpqwn-dPkybDs7EClZRywB80XKcuZr3R4eeBAwe69fB9RU7VHVcmcJObhY wBLTHvakz5wHF6w5A1Ew5CUKWjTZP5UWjYkL1_53X50kMbZqm2nwl-3H6krb68wQ4J98tmD6HUuy2NqXCT9XZ0hnmwOtghTlFLtPtx4UNi9cDpq2qJK7psgq0pyFTxOSE7FS1q7qHAoa2HPW4IEaATzhzZRtlK35q3wfK x9_IIl-CtT40QRSh99D_EWxgcGp3_L-4GnpYo0RaNlwc-qTwmZdbdd1a4ZnTtDB2R-c03zX-HsUSREoa1-XYiYaCJlGrZhG0a3GhS7hKUQqIIBJvtlx_Y0odjXYfaQUnAKS_FWcliELkeIRMo7_om9cjyxJqAb78dJBIB1 ZgJr2CWXEgPKIEMSVCK7DXLBqKGr5h_7MffEQDNSzwQ8ssOI6KVPtPByduX_orKA1Vl8LemLwrRL9z3Nv5zYIYJeVLuBzG-ym25CDaPG1DyYBOlWkHV70z5W89nII4Heo

 

Continue Reading

New Year New You

 

New Years kicks off well a New a Year, a new year to put the past behind us and venture forward with a clean slate.  A new year to try all those Pinterest recipes and DIY you have been eyeing up and a new year to set realistic resolutions that are attainable.  Why set unrealistic goals and fail within the first month of the New Year.  Make small changes each month, such as trying one new recipe a week or working out one extra hour a week and add more as the months go by.

Here are some fun and realistic resolutions for 2014:

 

  1. To be all around healthy- This is realistic in the sense of slowly incorporating healthy habits into our routine, don’t start by starving yourself to lose 30lbs in a month only to fail a week later.  Start by making a Green Smoothie every morning or adding chia seeds to your oatmeal.  Wise choices will lead to more wise choices and the results will come over the course of a healthier 2014!

 

  1. Get creative- Tap into your creative inner being and try out a new Pinterest recipe or craft a week.  Its a simple and fun way to mix up your mundane schedule.  Share your recipes and ideas with friends or have a Pinterest Party to showoff the Martha Stewart in you!

 

  1. Detox your life- of everything and anyone. A sweep through of your house, your closet, and your personal life.  Why keep a painting on your wall that you don’t love and the same goes for people in your life.  A detox of all the negative toxins in your life will set the tone for a much happier, healthier, and stress free environment in the new year!

 

  1. Step out of your comfort level- This can be as easy and fun as amping up your fashion by mixing prints or rocking leather leggings to something more extreme as learning to snowboard or taking up a new language.

 

  1. Breathe- The act of breathing air in and out if lungs is a daily vital role we take for granted. This simple movement is the key to our survival, yet most people don’t stop to notice or pay any attention to it at all.  By breathing in and out we are detoxing our lungs and bringing oxygen to all our organs.  Every day stop for a moment and slow your breathe down and notice the instant relief as toxins literally fly out of your body.

 

This new year is all about you, so live each day like its your last!

 

Happy New Years!

Continue Reading

{handmade} feat. Madeline Trait

il_fullxfull.420273048_bbr6

 

Looking for something colourful and creative to spice up your wedding or next birthday celebration? Why not take a look at Madeline Trait‘s unique handmade decorations and accessories. Primarily made from the goodness that is plywood, these cake toppers and fancy accessories will add a punch of colour and unique-ness to any special occasion. Head over to her Shoppe to check out her skills.

il_fullxfull.371701553_ouio il_fullxfull.420273048_bbr6 il_fullxfull.481161403_4izg Poppy_Mixed_Necklace_03

Not only does Madeline specialise in these whimsy little handmade pieces, but she is involved in a number of design projects surrounding all things interior and events. Based in San Francisco, she is the official florist of Locally Grown Weddings, is happiest when illustrating, designing events, and bringing new ideas in her head to life.

Here are some of my favourite pieces from her shop…

Continue Reading

Starting a creative business :: Tahni’s guest post {31 Days}

1

Today’s guest post is from my friend Tahni, who is an amazing photographer and artist. Tahni and I became friends in college, and I’m so glad we have kept in touch. I hope you are just as inspired by her creative spirit, consistently beautiful work, and words of wisdom as I am!

It was a brisk fall afternoon. (Because every good story starts with the weather.)

I had been sitting in a booth at East Garden Chinese Buffet for hours, my sweet friend Jenny looking at me over her second or third bowl of soup. Somewhere in between taking a bite of her cream puff and hugging me tightly to send me on my way into the grown-up, adult world, she told me to “just do it.”  Just let go of my fears. Just trust God. Just use the eyes and the hands I had been given to bring beauty to this world.

And if you and I were sitting over two cups of steaming hot coffee, and you were telling me that there was something that brought you life, and if I saw the way that something blessed other people, then I would tell you the exact same thing.

You see, starting a creative business is scary. Terrifying, really. And you have a lot to learn (a lot!). But you will get there. Some dark, cold, terrible evenings will come upon you, and you will question every decision you have made up to that point. Some nights you will be so giddy that you stay up dreaming; your stomach whirling with butterflies.  Some mornings the sun will shine so bright, and Pandora will pick out the most perfect music, and you will realize it’s 9 pm and you haven’t moved all day because you love. what. you. do. Some days you will stomp around, whining like a baby, because you hate all your stupid responsibilities, and your stupid ideas, and the stupid expectations your clients pose on you.

And Tuesdays, oh man, Tuesdays you will be productive. So productive, in fact, that you get to go to the gym, make a good dinner, and see your best friend- because you accomplished everything on your to-do list!  But many other days will leave you breathless, occasionally in tears.

The truth is, starting a creative business is never what you think it will be. It is the highest highs and the lowest lows. It is failure, it is success. It is day after day, moving forward, falling behind, and balancing the rest of your life in the in between.  And it’s okay when you fall behind and when you fail. Because it won’t be forever.

Starting a creative business is also a lot of non-creative work. And the real trick is not in how you can get people to pay you for what you love, but in balancing all the duties you didn’t know you signed up for. There is no such thing as instant success in all these areas. You do have to learn, and you are obligated to put in the time. And you should know that it’s okay.

If you need permission to take awhile to get yourself and your business together, this is your permission.  And if you need encouragement to dream, or to rule out all things that don’t shape your business into what you want it to be, this is that encouragement.

And lastly, if you need a friendly face or a creative, business-minded veteran, please don’t hesitate to ask. Perhaps there are far more experienced people to tell you how to do your taxes, but rest-assured I have been where you are and where you will be.  And I would love nothing more than to be part of your brisk fall afternoon.

Tahni lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with her worship-leading husband, Joseph, and tail-less Siamese kitty, Soleil. She takes photographs and does graphic design for a living. She loves to tell stories, speak French, and dance to hip hop music. She also marvels at the world, surf’s peoples’ couches, and pushes the boundaries.

Continue Reading

Katy’s 21 creativity sparks :: guest post {31 Days}

Today’s guest post is from my friend Katy, who astounds me with her versatility. She’s a med school student, an amazing writer, and an ever-aware artist. This post is bursting with useful and thought-provoking creative exercises, so I hope you enjoy!

As a creative writing major turned medical student, I have had to rework my approach to finding time for creativity.  From the moment I traded in my fiction and poetry classes for physiology and pathology, I knew that my creativity would only be engaged if I found an outlet outside of school that I intentionally sought in my spare time.  Easier said than done.

This is by no means a challenge faced only by medical students; it is something that all of us face, regardless of our profession, in our pursuit of creativity.  However, there are quite literally hundreds of ways, many of which Leslie has already shared in this series, that we can use to grab those little snippets of time and inspiration in our daily life to engage our creative side.  Just to add to what Leslie has already described, here’s another set of exercises that will hopefully spark some ideas for creativity, even if you’re in a seemingly un-creative environment.

  1. Take a picture from the plane window.  Even if you’re not sitting by the window.  Even if you’re in the middle of the middle of the middle of the plane and you can’t tell where the nearest window is between the heavily filled chairs and babies crying around you.  Even if the window shades are closed.  Sometimes what you see between you and the window is more impactful or inspiring than the clouds beyond the glass.  (This can easily be applied to office windows as well)
  2. Eat foreign cuisine.  What did you choose?  How do you pronounce that?  Was it scrumptious or just so-so? What was its texture? Color? Taste? Smell? Will you eat it again?  Take a picture (before it’s all gone of course).
  3. What shape are the clouds?  How’s the weather?  Is the sky gray, blue, hazy, clear, smoggy, bright?  Is it raining?  How warm is it?  Take a picture of the sky at least once a week.  Even if you think it looks the same, just change your angle.
  4. What are you/they/it wearing?  How does your attire compare?  Are the colors the same or similar to everyone else, or do you stick out in a crowd?  Do you/they wear pants/dresses/shorts/jackets/pantyhose/vests/hats/jewelry?  Do you/they carry umbrellas/purses/suitcases/dogs?  If possible, take a picture.
  5. Listen.  What do you hear?  Birds?  Music playing?  From a radio or live instrument?  Do you hear people talking?  Yelling?  Whispering?  Laughing?  Singing?  Do the dogs yelp, sniffle, or whine?  Are there dogs?  What does the transportation sound like?  Like Houston traffic?  What kind of cards do they drive?  Do they drive?  What does it sound like while walking the streets?  While in your classroom/office?  At your home?  Record some sounds with your camera if it has the video option.
  6. Talk to people you don’t know.  At least 3.  On the street.  In a store.  At the library.  On the train.  What are their names?  What do they look like?  Tall?  Short?  Thin?  Hefty?  Male?  Female?  Blonde?  Brunette?  Curly hair?  Facial hair?  Eye color?  Glasses?  What are they wearing?  Where are they from?  What do they do?  Do they have any mannerisms or make any gestures?  Talk with their hands?  Smile?  Frown?  Seem disinterested?  Ignore you?  Ask to meet again?  How old are they?  Did you initiate conversation or did they?  Do they know about Christ?
  7. What grows here?  What plants do you see?  Trees?  Flowers?  Vines?  Only cement and buildings?  Only potted plants in people’s windows?  What colors do you see?  How do the plants smell?  Any you’ve never seen before?  Take a few pictures (I’m sure you saw that coming).
  8. Try something the same, differently.  Something you do often.  Every day maybe.  But today, change it.  Maybe it’s just brushing your teeth with your left hand instead of your right.  Maybe it’s doing quiet time on a park bench instead of in your room.  Maybe it’s eating at a different place, or just ordering something new off the menu at the same place.  Walk on a different side of the road.  Carry your bag on the opposite shoulder.  Sit in a different chair in the classroom.  Eat with silverware versus your hands.  Etc.  Don’t just do it to do it though.  Note the difference in what you see, feel, how you react, how others react.  Will you try it again?
  9. Try a new perspective.  View the church from a bench.  From the stairs.  While sitting on the ground.  From across the street.  From across the city.  How does this change its appearance, its size, its color?  How does it change your thoughts or impression of it?  Try this with many buildings, places, people, foods, etc.  Take pictures of each perspective.
  10. How do you feel today?  Excited?  Happy?  Frustrated?  Gloomy?  Lonely?  Peaceful?  Why?  What happened today?  What did you do?  Where did you go?  How did that make you feel?  Did you smile during a conversation on the street?  Did you feel a renewed peace after reading your Bible today?  How are your emotions tied with certain events?  How would you like for your reactions to change?
  1. Count…cars.  People.  Signs.  Letters.  Hats.  Birds.  Shoes.  Bare feet.  Coats.  Etc.  How many times you hear a particular word.  Not that you have to tally the results, but rather, just be aware of the numbers.
  2. Walk barefoot.  How does the ground feel?  Is it dirt?  Cement?  Gravel?  Cobblestone?  Is it smooth?  Rough?  Sharp?  Cold?  Hot?  Or is it carpet?  If so, what color?  Texture?  How sanitary do you feel right now?  How do other people around you view bare feet?  Offensive?  Indifferent?  Are they barefoot too?
  3. Wear your hair differently.  Braid part of it.  Pull your bangs back with a bobby pin.  Wear a headband.  Ribbon.  Barrette.  Flower.  How does this change your vision or how you feel?  If you wear it all loose, how does this change how well you see or how comfortable you feel?  How does this change how other people act around or toward you?
  4. Expand your vocabulary in a foreign language.  Learn at least 10 new random words today.  Maybe words that aren’t used in everyday vocabulary or conversation.  Then try to start up a conversation using them.  Pomegranate.  Funnel.  Marble.  Sea anemone.  Flying a kite.  Combat boots.  Write down pieces of your conversations that come as a result.
  5. Be touchy-feely, in a totally non-creepy way.  Pay attention to texture.  How does the banister on the staircase feel?  How stiff or soft are the curtains?  What about the coats hanging?  Are the walls smooth or rough?  How about your bag?  The doors?  The buildings?  The newspaper?  The desk?  The chair?  Your food?  Anything feel different than you expected from its appearance?
  6. Window watching.  Look out and through windows, both from inside the buildings looking out and from outside looking in.  What do you see?  How do the two views differ?  Does it change how you view certain places, people, or events?  How does it change what you hear?  Smell?  Feel?  Take pictures (without appearing stalkerish of course).
  7. Change your angle.  While taking pictures, switch your view.  Horizontal.  Vertical.  Off-center.  Slanted.  Sepia.  Black and white.  Zoomed in.  Far away.  From above.  From below.  Try multiple views of the same target shot.  How does this change how you see or interpret the image?
  8. Notice architecture.  What are buildings made of?  Brick?  Concrete?  Glass?  Stucco?  What color are they?  Do they have arches? Domes?  Gothic towers?  Pillars?  Stairs?  Fountains?  How are they decorated?  What does the landscaping look like?  How do the structures feel?  Are there statues or carvings?  What impression or mood does the structure evoke?  Does it remind you of anything?  As always, take pictures.
  9. The light doth break the shadow… Notice lighting.  How are rooms lit?  Bright?  Dim?  Natural?  Open uncovered windows?  How does this change how you’re able to see certain things?  Do you turn on more lights?  What mood does the lighting evoke?  Why do you think such lighting was chosen?  Would you have chosen differently?  How does the lighting change on camera?
  10. Note the scavengers.  What animals do you see?  Grackles?  Pigeons?  Dogs?  Cats?  Horses?  Cattle?  Beavers?  Bears?  Etc?  Are they free or on leashes?  Well-fed or scavenging for food in trash bins?  How do people react to them?  How do you react to them?  Are there any new animals you’ve never seen?
  11. Listen to your…nose.  Pay attention to the smells around you.  How does the food smell?  The streets?  The classroom?  The bathrooms?  The museums?  The fountains?  Do they smell fresh?  Rotten?  Fruity?  Stale?  Like cleaning solutions?  Savory?  Like perfume?  Like a freshly mowed lawn?  Dusty?  Old?  How so?  Is the smell good or unappealing?  Does it make you want to revisit the place/person/entrée?

I’ve applied these thoughts to everything from foreign travel to my clinical rotations, so feel free to experiment!  Sometimes the places where you think they will relate least is exactly where you’ll get the most inspiration.  So use them to soak in the details of a vacation, a walk through the neighborhood, or even your own living room, and let the fashioning of the Creator around you jumpstart your own form of creativity.

Katy is a second-year medical student in Lubbock, Texas, where she spends her spare time doing graphic design and remodeling recipes.  She loves the feel of French on the tongue, the smell of cinnamon in the kitchen, and the sound of a cello in the afternoon.  One of her favorite creative experiments is trying to change perspectives of the mundane through poetry.

{31 Days of Creativity Babysteps}

Continue Reading

{collaboration} with Angela Higgins

167_PrintHallStyleShoot-682x1024

 

This very intimate and glamorous style shoot was a collaboration with some of Perth’s most talented wedding folk. When Rebecca from Fox & Rabbit contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in having my bow ties feature in a shoot with Angela Higgins at Perth’s new Print Hall, I needed no extra convincing. Here are the beautiful results, and all the talented people that were involved. I collborated on this one with the lovely folks at WWE Events and Erica Shunton.

Firstly our real life couple, Erica and Marc, enjoyed a quiet dinner at the tremendous Print Hall Apple Daily Bar, followed by Marc’s proposal in the stairwell leading up to Bob’s Bar.

028_PrintHallStyleShoot-1024x682 123_PrintHallStyleShoot-1024x682 167_PrintHallStyleShoot-682x1024

This sparking purple sapphire is from Rohan Jewellery.

A loving the mint stationary by Nat at Dizzy Wizzy Design.

And all of this goodness was followed by a lavish engagement party…

Not only do Print Hall have an incredible venue, they also put up a mean spread of food that they generously cooked up for us all during the shoot.

I am always genuinely surprise, flawed and inspired by Fox & Rabbit‘s ability to create beautiful flower arrangements to set off a room perfectly.

169_PrintHallStyleShoot-682x1024447_PrintHallStyleShoot-682x1024

Look at that cake! All the cred is due to Rachael Godfrey.

Towards the end of the shoot we all jumped into the photo booth, which was styled and set up by Machell. The paper fans you see were also generously donated by Paper Fusion.

And here are all the beautiful people that made this all happen, Hazel from WWE Events & Weddings

Continue Reading

time to read

1

For me, September and October were months of writing. Much of my September free time was spent preparing for the 31 Days series, and then October included filling in the gaps and making the series happen. Lots of discipline and writing and putting myself out there.

And so, because I can’t go on like that in this season of my life, November and December have been more internal months – months of spending my not-at-work time reading, having family time, and preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Quiet lunch breaks with a blanket and a good book – those are at the tip-top of my gratitude list right now.

Silence has felt utterly delicious lately.

And maybe, just maybe, I’m learning to slow down, learning that slowing down is a good thing. Stillness and quietness and reading – that’s what I’m craving this winter, as I told Garret the other night, “I’m tired of TV, and all I want to do is read. Cool?” Heh.

And so, I sat beside him and read about gratitude, while he took an after-work nap (he was getting over strep throat). As it’s finally feeling like winter here in Texas, we turn on the electric blanket, and I curl up with a book that turns my soul towards warmth and truth, and really, that just hits the spot.

So, for your amusement upon seeing my habit of reading too much too slowly, here is a recap of what I’ve been reading:

  • Traveling Mercies, by Anne Lamott: In the past year or so, I’ve started visiting the public libraries more often. (FREE books, y’all! Also, my mom is a librarian, so every library is like a wonderful treasure hunt to me.) This book was literally the first book I’ve finished before it was due. Lamott’s writing is raw and wonderful, and her stories give unique depth and sensitivity to topics like faith and loss. In addition to Bittersweet, and A Million Miles, this book added to my recent love for excellent memoirs. I am one of those people who write all over book margins, so since this one didn’t belong to me, I had to scribble pages and pages of notes from it into a notebook. Bottom line: It’s an easy and inspiring read that I highly recommend.
  • Two Part Invention, by Madeleine L’engle: Another library find, and another memoir, this book has been just lovely so far. I haven’t finished it yet, but honestly I’ve been enthralled by how interesting L’engle’s life was. Earlier this fall I’d been hoping to get a hold of some of her other nonfiction books soon, like Walking on Water, but this was also a good place to start. Her thoughts on love and marriage have been really interesting and helpful, and just learning about her life has been enjoyable as well. Who knew that she started out in theatre, for many years, and that her husband was on All My Children!?
  • Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God, by Noel Piper (Thanks for the lend, Jenn!): I first read this collection of five biographies back in college in a ladies group with Christine. I’ve wanted to reread it since Garret and I got married, so I put it on the list. I definitely recommend these women’s stories; for me, they help me remember why seemingly monotonous daily devotion, discipline, and action really matter.
  • One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp: I’ve been moving slowly through this since my mom gave it to me last Christmas, but not because it’s unmoving. It’s the opposite, actually. Each and every chapter gives me a lot to chew on. (And, like I said – I read too much too slowly.) I’m on track to finish it by the new year and I have finally started a gratitude journal, which has been really helpful in fighting off discontentment and general grumpiness. I think Voskamp’s flowery prose is not for everyone, but besides that, this book has a powerful, life-giving, perspective-shifting message of seeing the life and gift in everyday things and tasks, so much undeserved grace everywhere you look.
  • The Opposite of Art by Athol Dickson: I picked this up in the library because it sounded like a fun novel. I’m about halfway through and I’ve enjoyed the story line so far, but sometimes Dickson’s prose is too much, too thick. So, the jury is still out on this.
  • The Glorious Impossible by Madeleine L’Engle: I was checking out the Madeleine L’Engle website the other day, looking at the amazingly long list of her books, and this title stuck out to me. I discovered that it was a beautiful Christmas book, wished it was a tad cheaper, and filed it in my mind. Then that next weekend at the library, I found it and was pumped! It’s illustrated with with Frescoes from the Scrovegni Chapel by Giotto and tells the story of Christ. I recommend it for unique and lovely Christmas reading.

And… only two of those are on my 25 before 25 list. Fail. I guess I’ll be adding on some bonus books to that list! Or… making some replacements.

So, what have you been reading lately?

Continue Reading

Bread and Wine :: a rambling review

1

I just finished Shauna Niequists’s Bread and Wine. And honestly, it was delightful – equal parts light and serious. Pretty, honest prose, book-ended by simple, enticing recipes. It read like a friend sharing tips and stories, not like some fancy cook trying to show off their skills or glamorize their life. It felt like a sister, pointing you towards savoring life and inviting people in to join you.

Since I started Bread and Wine, I’ve caught myself eating slower, enjoying food more, not multitasking at meals anymore. I’ve found myself just doing one thing at a time, and I’m really grateful for that.

This morning, as Garret was on his way out the door to go fishing, I was still waking up, staggering around the kitchen looking for breakfast. He left, I turned the TV off and ignored my phone, and I settled in at our kitchen table with some Nutella toast, Bread and Wine waiting for me to cover the last few pages, and hazelnut coffee. (Instant hazelnut coffee, if I’m honest. I was feeling a touch lazy.)

Our kitchen is a decent-sized, L-shaped, linoleum-covered space, and in the corner by the window we have our little round table. It really only comfortably seats four or five, but I’d squeeze as many people around it as I could if it was only up to me. Garret isn’t on the same page with me there – the man doesn’t like to be crowded.

Last week I cooked Shauna’s go-to risotto recipe for the first time, along with roasted veggies and pan-cooked chicken. Y’all, both of us just about died from the yum.

Garret chopped sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and parsnips, while I followed every step of the risotto recipe to a T. I barely knew what risotto even was, so I was excited to maybe actually cook it myself! Garret loves flavor and gets excited about mixing seasonings, so he is in charge of seasoning things most of the time in our house. While he was seasoning the vegetables, lightly sprayed with butter, I put the chicken (marinated overnight in fresh lemon and lime juice, garlic, and apple cider vinegar) in a pan, with chopped peppers I’d pulled out of the freezer for a little color.

Cooking together is almost always fun, but this meal was rich and extra-good, and Garret looked at me like I’d solved a mystery of the universe when he took his first bite. We were both proud of how good our home-grown Brussels sprouts tasted, and we both ate the leftover risotto in record time over the next two days.

In Bread and Wine, Shauna shares that her heart for gathering people around the table is all about giving people a safe, welcoming place where they can rest and be fed, where we can all admit our humanity – that we need to slow down, we need friends and help, and we’re hungry.

1

We have a small, sweet group of friends that we have dinner with often, and once I saw how big of a hit the risotto and roasted vegetables were with Garret, I knew it’d work great for our little super club. So, we all got together a few nights ago, with pot roast, red wine, risotto, roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli and sprouts and parsnips, and Bluebell – blessed Bluebell – for dessert. It was a gooood night.

I can’t eat this rich, savory risotto quickly. I find myself holding my fork a little looser, relaxing and enjoying. Paying attention to all of it – the smells, the people, the tastes.

Shauna’s book isn’t a heavy or theological memoir but like her first two books, her vulnerability caught me, drew me in, made me really listen. I love that she invites us all to be honest about how God made us and what God made us to love – she loves to cook and entertain – her brother loves to sail and be at the lake.

I also enjoyed her practicality about food and people – that hospitality is about being present not perfect, about having a few go-to recipes, planning ahead a little, meeting people’s needs, and opening your door. I have a small house, small table, and almost-always-dirty kitchen floors, but I still found this book really helpful and practical.

One thing that I will note about Bread and Wine is that if you’ve read her other books and/or kept up with her blog, the order of events in this book’s essays may be a little confusing – it seemed to me that there was a little repetition and sometimes it confused me, but not bad. So, it’s a lovely collection of short essays, just like Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet, but this time with easy, delicious recipes. And can I just say? I love that her recipes are long and rambling – that’s how I write directions and recipes, too.

Bread and Wine was exactly what I wanted it to be – approachable, rich to the senses, heart-breaking at times, and hilarious. It reminded me to slow down and be present in tangible life, with friends and family, pots and pans, meat and vegetables.

*Disclosure: I was provided with an advanced reading copy of this book. But, the content of this review is my own opinion.

Continue Reading