Weekly Reader

The title of this blog post series pays homage to the beloved childhood informational news bulletin, Weekly Reader, as I highlight favorite finds from around the web.
weeklyreader

Knitting

Dreamer yarn bomb in Tuscon (RedHeart – February 8, 2017)
Yarn bomber and designer Stephen Duneier decorates Tuscon’s children’s hospital.

Edu-tainment

Kate McKinnon Will Voice Ms. Frizzle in Netflix’s “Magic School Bus” Reboot by Cole Delbyck (Huffington Post – February 8, 2017)
Just about anything Kate McKinnon does makes me laugh out loud, and while I was a little too old for the original Magic School Bus series years ago, I may not be too old to appreciate this new version!

Music

Solmization from Encyclopaedia Britannica (accessed April 17, 2017)
In a recent conversation with a music-appreciating colleague, she asked me, “Do you know the history of where do, re, mi comes from?” As many years as I’ve studied music and solfege, I never knew where the actual syllables came from, but now I do!

Spiritual

8 Things Whole-Hearted Creative Women Do Differently by Emily P. Freeman (March 22, 2017, blog post)
I’ve read this quietly, read this aloud, printed a copy for myself to read at work, and sent a copy to a friend. Resounding YES.

The Blessing in the Ashes by Katie Leigh (April 3, 2017, blog post)
When searching for Holy Week blog posts in WordPress, I came across Katie’s beautifully written entry about Lent with a parallel to Harry Potter. I’ve now subscribed to her blog and can’t get enough of her writing about spiritual practices in every day life.

 

What encouraging, insightful, or fun information have you read this week?

 

Saving My Life: Spring Edition

As per the phrase by Barbara Brown Taylor, this is a pictorial look at the things saving my life throughout spring.

img_0679

Working on my Find Your Fade shawl (now about 85% completed!) at our friends’ during a recent music rehearsal. Their home sits near the Illinois River and is as tranquil as it looks.


A house in our neighborhood usually has their blooming dogwood tree decorated with plastic Easter eggs and this year was no exception. Now that the blooms and Easter have both been celebrated, I still feel myself smiling as I drive past this uplifting tree.


When visiting Seattle a few summers ago, my main souvenir was purchasing this Longchamp purse at the flagship Nordstrom store downtown. The salesman said many ladies in Seattle carry them since they are weather resistant, so loading up my bag with all my earthly possessions I need for the day to carry during the spring rainy season in the Ozarks has been a lifesaver.


After finishing Art of the Pie by Kate McDermott last month, I was inspired to bake a (low sugar) classic apple pie. It had been years since I last baked a pie from scratch, so I was pleased with how well both the crust and filling turned out! And what better time to do so than for Easter Sunday lunch, where we hosted our favorite octogenarian friend for ham, homemade potato casserole, asparagus, and bakery rolls after church.


The line from On the Road Again by Willie Nelson, “The life I love is making music with my friends,” sums up this photo perfectly.  Our church family, namely our praise team family, means the world to The Optometrist and me and it saddens us greatly that one of our dear friends is soon moving away. In light of his forthcoming departure, snapping this photo of our people before a recent Sunday morning late service was a moment I wanted to capture for ever and always.

What are things saving your life this spring?

Read: March 2017

What wonderful March reads! And I didn’t realize until a few days ago that all of this month’s books were written by women authors. Very appropriate given the fact that March is Women’s History Month!

StillLife

Still Life by Louise Penny

First in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, Still Life takes place in the cozy, fictitious hamlet of Three Pines in Quebec, Canada. An unexpected death has occurred where Gamache and his team have to determine if this death was an accident or murder.

I’ve heard such rave reviews about this series from Anne Bogel and various guests on the What Should I Read Next podcast and am pleased to say the hype did not prove disappointing at all! I’ve already requested the second book (in a series of 13), A Fatal Grace, from the public library and am excited to continue in the series!

 

hpcs

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling 

In January The Optometrist and I read The Sorcerer’s Stone aloud together and have continued the journey through book two this month. As I mentioned in that month’s post, the illustrations by Jim Kay are stunning and evocative, but now we have to wait until this fall for The Prisoner of Azkaban (my favorite HP book). In the mean time, maybe we’ll pick up some of the (American) audio books narrated by Jim Dale. (I’ve listened to several in years past, in which his voice shifts were subtle but the character changes were instantly recognizable.)

AfterYou

After You by Jojo Moyes

I first read Me Before You last February and found the story compelling and memorable. (If I can remember character and plot details a year later when reading a sequel, that’s a good sign…but this doesn’t always happen!)

We are reintroduced to Louisa, the female main character in Me Before You, as she navigates her life amid loss, grief, and guilt. After an accident impacts her own health, an unexpected teenager enters her life, as does a potential love interest, and she is forced to examine her motives and heart’s truest desires.
maybe-in-another-life

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I feel like this came across my radar also thanks to Modern Mrs. Darcy, possibly from a Kindle e-book alert (?), but checked it out from my public library instead. The overarching theme of a “multiverse” caught my attention, after having loved Dark Matter by Blake Crouch so much. Reid’s take on this idea accompanied me during our Spring Break travels.

Our protagonist Hannah returns to her hometown of Los Angeles after several years living elsewhere around the country, and the night after she returns home a group of her high school friends, including her ex-boyfriend, meet to catch up. Does she stay to chat with him, or leave with her best friend? From here the story splits, allowing the reader to imagine both “what ifs” rather than just one happily-ever-after.

FatalGrace

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

After a little spring break trip to Branson, this library book awaited my return home. I’ve quickly developed such a strong sense of place for Three Pines and the cast of eclectic characters who repeated from Still Life (plus a few new ones).

In addition to Chief Inspector Gamache returning to Three Pines to solve another murder, there’s some treachery taking place between him and one (or more) of his officers, so I can’t wait to see how (or if) this resolves in book three, The Cruelest Month!

Malala

I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

I’ve owned a copy of I am Malala for several years and in light of March being Women’s History Month, felt it appropriate to finally read it. As soon as I finished, my husband asked me what I thought and the first word that came to my mind was “important.” The work that she has championed for children’s/girls’ rights to receive an education before the shooting was important and remains even more so even now. What a remarkable young woman she is.

Ms. Yousafzai provides great historical perspective of her home country of Pakistan, what it was like to live through the rise of the Taliban, a glimpse into her family’s progressive and encouraging counter-cultural influence on her life, as well details surrounding the act of violence perpetrated against her, and her difficult but triumphant recovery.

Watch her (26 minute) Nobel Peace Prize Speech here.

ArtofthePie
Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings and Life 
by Kate McDermott

When logging into my public library’s e-book (Overdrive) system last week, this contemporary guide to pie baking was listed and I just couldn’t pass it up! Most of the book is comprised of delicious-sounding crust and filling recipes, but there are some sweet narratives about the author’s life and experiences as a pie baker. I’ve been on a low-sugar diet for a few years now, so pies have been off limits for me, but after reading how little sugar it takes to sweeten a naturally sweet fruit pie (like apple), I’m excited about using a sugar substitute and work on my pie baking skills this spring and summer!

Since I read it on my Kindle, I didn’t have a full appreciation for the pictures since they were in black & white, but this is one that I just might look for in print!
——————————–
Books in progress for April include a sci-fi classic, more Gamache, and maybe even and a soon-to-be-released love story!

Knit: March 2017

It was a lighter knitting month (heavier reading month – 7 books read!), but I’ve immensely enjoyed what has been on my needles throughout March.

FO (Finished Object)


Pattern: Easy Baby Booties
Cost: Free!
Needles: US 6 & US 8 DPNs
Yarns: Ella Rae Lace Merino Yellow-green, Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light – The Radness, Koigu KPM White
Recipient: Sunday School friend’s baby

I’ve knit so many pairs of these baby booties, but I never get tired of them! I was going to try a (free) baby sandals pattern on Ravelry, but after almost completing the first one, I didn’t like the look and how it might fit. Instead I picked out three squishy, merino sock yarn leftovers for a May baby, and whipped up another pair for my go-to, standard baby gift!

WIP (Work in Progress)


Pattern: Find Your Fade
Pay for pattern by: Andrea Mowry
Needles: US 4
Yarn: Hedgehog Fibres Sock (Pollen, Fools Gold, Bramble, Salty Tales, Pheasant, Dragonfly, Bali)
Recipient: I’m keeping this one!

This was also a February WIP, but as March ended, I’m now in Section 9 working with color E (Pheasant). The beginning colors were my favorites to see fade, but even though I’m now working with some drastically contrasting colors, they do all compliment one another and I’m committed to using the yarn I bought specifically for this project to achieve my original color vision.

It did accompany me to Branson on Spring Break (after ripping back a significant chunk because I thought I had too many stitches on my needles…when I probably just counted a YO row, which was a silly mistake), remains a very easy pattern to follow, I love the simple garter sections, and really hope to be finished by the end of April so I can wear it during some remaining cooler spring days!

Knit: February 2017

FO (Finished Object)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

img_0541


Pattern: Void shawl
Pay for pattern by: Melanie Berg
Needles: US 7 and US 8
Yarn: Quince & Co. Lark, Chantrelle (6 skeins)
Weight: 29 g.
Recipient: I’m keeping this one!

February was a fairly monogamous knitting month for me, and while I only succeeded in finishing one project this month, it’s a big one and I’m proud!

Even though I’ve been knitting over 10 years now, projects like this one remind me of the life-lessons knitting teaches me: patience, perseverance, knowing when to exert a little more effort, and when to take a break and come back later with a refreshed perspective.

There were at least two starts/stops/rip-outs/start overs, but eventually my brain connected with the pattern and am glad I saw this shawl through to completion. While it’s been unseasonably warm at the end of February, we still have had a few colder days, so I’ve already gotten some wear out of it!

And as I shared last month, my inspiration and motivation was one knitted with the same colorway of Quince & Co. by the beautiful Katie of the Inside Number 23 podcast.

The project bag is the toffee colored Field Bag by Fringe Supply Co.

WIPs (Works in Progress)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pattern: Find Your Fade
Pay for pattern by: Andrea Mowry
Needles: US 4
Yarn: Hedgehog Fibres Sock (Pollen, Fools Gold, Bramble, Salty Tales, Pheasant, Dragonfly, Bali)
Recipient: I’m keeping this one, too!

I’ve seen so many knitters “find their fade” throughout January and February via YouTube channels, Ravelry, and Instagram. They have all been so colorful and creative, and when I heard garter stitch (knit) was used to comprise much of this shawl, it tipped the scales for me to buy the pattern and buy the yarn. I loved brainstorming what colors would fade well together, based upon colors in my wardrobe and I’m thrilled with my selection! As the month ends, I’m in Section 4 working with color B (Fools Gold). This will be the perfect accompaniment during our Spring Break road trip!


Pattern: Granny Stripes
Cost: Free!
Hook: Size E
Yarn: various sock/sport weight bits & pieces
Recipient: I’m keeping this one, too!

Between finishing the Void and beginning to find my fade, the granny stripe afghan hasn’t received much attention, but it’s still beautiful to behold!

As shared in January, after seeing granny stripe crochet blankets being made on YouTube channels like YarnGasm, the Yarn Hoarder, and LegacyKnitz, I was inspired to pick up a crochet hook after a long time and have been completely fine in “designing” my one-of-a-kind blanket without a firm plan about yarn colors or amounts. This will probably be a WIP for the indefinite future, which is fine, and now that I am finding my fade, I’ll have seven more colors of sock yarn left over to add!

For all you knitters, crocheters, and crafters out there, I hope your creative endeavors  have been filled with learning and joy throughout February!

Read: February 2017

My reading journey for most of the month of February can be summed up as “gloom, despair, and agony on me.” Maybe because I was trying to read most of these at the same time or maybe because the first couple contained heavier & darker subject matter, which didn’t help my mindset. Yet, as the month has ended, an inspiring pair of memoirs helped perk up my reading mood!

It’s also been neat to read in a variety of formats this month: non-fiction audio (British), fiction e-book (British), and two print non-fiction books (American).

h-hawk

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

This is my second book finished via Audible (first one here) and the narration by the author added to the beauty. I felt this book had two main themes: 1.) The reader joins Macdonald as she recounts the sudden death of her father and the subsequent grieving process, which coincides in training her new goshawk Mabel. 2.) Macdonald shares her childhood/lifelong fascination with training birds of prey and repeatedly references T.H. White’s The Goshawk (1951), comparing and contrasting her personal experiences with his.

I’d heard such good things about this book and agree that the writing is notably smart and vulnerable. I wasn’t surprised that I learned more than I ever thought I would about raising hawks, but wasn’t expecting to empathize with her grief as strongly as I did.

braveforgiven

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

When I read Cleave’s Little Bee in 2010, I fell in love with his style of writing, and have such fond memories of reading both it and then Gold in 2012. I kept hearing rave reviews from book bloggers and even had access to this via a digital ARC since December 2015 but finally dove in January.

Although I loved Cleave’s turns of phrases throughout the entire book, I honestly had to slog through the first bit before I really cared about the plot and characters about halfway through.

Set in England in WWII we meet characters from a variety of social backgrounds: privilege, middle class, those esteemed, and those marginalized. As always seems to be the case, the war brings out a sense of national pride in these individuals as they forego what has been normal and step into positions of public service with inevitable loss, but with love and personal honor discovered along the way.

My thanks to NetGalley for this digital ARC!

selftalksoultalk

Self Talk, Soul Talk: What to Say When you You Talk to Yourself by Jennifer Rothschild

I already wrote a lengthy post about this book last month, so check out that thorough blog post to read more!

magnolia

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Since we don’t have cable, I was excited to see how Netflix carried select episodes of Fixer Upper for a short time (boo! for it being removed). While I didn’t watch as many as I would have liked, I immediately came to love Chip and Joanna Gaines, their design aesthetic, and the kindness they show to each other (vs. other mean-spirited reality TV shows).

Their memoir contains both of their voices (differing font, which makes it easy to “hear” which one is talking) and provides insight into the hard work it has taken for them to reach their current level of success. My take-away from the book was Joanna’s decision to thrive in the midst of change and upheaval rather than just survive.

 

What an encouraging read to wrap up the month! And with March comes spring break and a road trip, so, extra time for reading (and knitting, too)!

Scheduling My Life in Pencil


During college, throughout graduate school, and now working as a professional librarian, I love using a paper planner to organize my life. (I did use a PDA 10+ years ago, provided by the college where I worked at the time.) A print calendar with hourly listings throughout the days of the week is visually helpful, allowing me to look to see how my day will map out – whether it’s the following week or six months down the road.

I’ve used the August to August planner for years, also tried one from Levenger, and currently have a monstrously heavy one from Erin Condren (it’s super cute, but didn’t realize how large and heavy it would be to lug with me to work five days a week).

In organizing individual events, in years past I’ve used different colored pens to signify different responsibilities: work (black), personal (blue), my husband’s schedule (red), and church music responsibilities (green) – just to name a few – thanks to a pack of multi-colored Bic pens.

But last fall, as I began adding events into my 2016-2017 planner, I was a little hesitant to use the same color-coded process once more, so I decided to use pencil for everything instead, just until I decided what I wanted to do. And seven months later, I’m still writing down every event in pencil.

I’ve found using an eraser is far more practical than having to get out the wite-out pen for the rescheduling of meetings, fluctuating numbers of students attending library research sessions, changes in event locations – you understand.

And while this has been my routine for months and months now, the calendar open before me for hours each day on my desk, and just recently did it occur to me that this practice of writing out my life in pencil has deeper connotations.

How I invest my time speaks to my priorities.

I have no control over the passing of time, so make it count.

Don’t miss your moment.

Looking back to various days, I observe my pencil markings that are indicative of inner dialog like:
Oh, good grief, I didn’t get hardly anything accomplished today.
Well, that was good enough for today. It’ll still be waiting for me tomorrow.
I have enough time to look ahead to next week’s task and be proactive in getting that done.
Wow – that was a really great day where everything came together so well!

And as I glance back through events over the past two months or so, there have been moments I have seen parallels to how time = service or how blank spaces = rest.

~ Spending a Sunday evening at the nursing home to sing quartet music for a friend whose heart is struggling to keep beating.

~ Heading home a bit early to prepare food in hosting a friend for dinner.

~ Taking a few minutes to be intentional and send a quick thinking-of-you text, or a few more minutes to hand write a note of encouragement to a friend.

~ The Optometrist and I having an open evening and saying an easy “yes” when friends invited us over to play cards on a school night.

~ When nothing is planned for the evening, we we can cook dinner together, play music together, or simply “nest” in our bedroom with a good book and knitting (me)/playing a new video game (The Optometrist).

While it’s a continual balancing act, my aim is to continue doing my part to plan and be prepared for what’s to come, serve others and take care of myself, all the while looking to the future with optimism and openness.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“I will open my hands, will open my heart
I will open my hands, will open my heart
I am nodding my head an emphatic yes
To all that you have for me.”
Open My Hands ~ Sara Groves

“I will hold loosely to things that are fleeting
And hold on to Jesus, I will hold on to Jesus for life”
Hold on to Jesus ~ Steven Curtis Chapman

“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” ~ James 4:14 (NIV)

“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” ~ Isaiah 40:8 (NASB)