A favorite TV romance, all the love for A.Ham, and the rest of January 2018

Yay, it's my birthday month! (I always say that I feel like God knew I would love the treat of having my birthday in the middle of winter to help me get through since I'm such a summer-lover. Of course, we're not having very wintery weather this year anyway here, so I'm pretty content with winter right now....)

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Anyway! January 2018 has come and gone, and I thought it would be fun to do a little recap (feels like something from the "old" days of blogging). So here's the latest from my neck o' the woods (and kitchen tour coming soon!). 

Reading

I had a good start to the year, despite my goal of reading less this year (to make room for more creating & producing). Check out what I've been reading over on GoodReads

Writing

I am still loving my current project, which is a YA novel. I'm almost 30k words in and I feel like I'm getting into the exciting part so I find my characters ruminating in my mind a lot and beckoning me to come back to Scrivener and spend time unraveling their story more and more. I really only get time to work on writing during about half the week so I'm trying hard to dedicate myself to prioritizing it on those days when I can. 

Eating

Sourdough, sourdough, sourdough (can't stop, won't stop)! I'm thinking of curating my favorite resources and info and writing up a post about my sourdough journey. Stay tuned! Also, I recently re-fell in love with this soup

On a related note, does anyone else have anxiety about their favorite recipes living online? Every time I open a favorite pin and jump to someone's blog, I say to myself, I should really write this recipe down. So maybe that's a new 2018 goal. Because a couple of recipes I love have disappeared from the interwebs and I've had to ad-lib. Sad! 

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Wearing

Hopefully this isn't TMI but I just ordered my first Third Love bras and they are so nice! (Especially since it turns out I needed a 1/2 cup size, which explains why I normally have such a hard time finding a good fit.) Have you tried them? (If you want to try them out, too, you can use my referral code for $15 off (https://share.thirdlove.com/x/qvyUfr). That's what I did, too. Thanks, Melissa!)

Also, I got a new Dodgers shirt so I am ready for our Spring Training trip to Arizona.

Educating

You may have seen on IG that Gigi came back to the homeschool/charter school to join the other kids again. It's been a great two weeks of having everyone on the same schedule and having more time to pour into her heart again. We are approaching my favorite part of the Story of the World timeline (volume 2), and reading lots of good books these days. 

Watching & Listening

We are making our way through The Office (again) and I am again reminded how Jim and Pam's love story is one of my favorites ever. All the subtle looks and tension. Would that I could write romance like that. Also, that show is just so darn funny. (And it helps me cope with my inability to withstand such social awkardness like Michael creates.) Also Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix (!)-- We love him; glad he's back for more traveling and eating.

I saw Hamilton this month (THANK YOU MOM) and let's just say when my sister--in-law told me it would be life-changing, I sort of thought she was exaggerating, but nope! Nope, she was right. It was so amazing. I told my mom I might not want to ever see another musical. I'm sure that will pass (and I hope to see The Greatest Showman next week) in time, but I just can't get over Lin-Manuel's genius and how I feel all the emotions of it and the #immigrantsgetthejobdone way down deep in my heart. 

Also, Timeless comes back in March and my friend Rena gave me the season 1 DVD (early, accidentally, because I saw it in her room, LOL), and I will be rewatching that this month to prepare. 

I got way behind on podcasts over the holidays but I'm slowing catching up on my faves SortaAwesome and The Simple Show, and What Should I Read Next is, of course, always in my ear buds. When I need a gospel-kick-in-the-pants, my go-to is Risen Motherhood. Planning to listen to Launch with John August very soon, too.

As for music, I've been listening to lots of 90s music while I write, along with soundtracks, way too much Kidzbop for my liking (strongly considering a Spotify family account in the near future), and Havana, which I have all the heart ears (is that a thing?) for.

Bonus tidbit: it's been several years of long hair but I'm going to trim things up soon. Don't try to talk me out of it or show me pictures of Joanna Gaines because it's time. :) 

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Happy February! 

Working hard and making room

I made that choice, when the next glass of milk was spilled,
to choose a thriving response, rather than the surviving one.
— Joanna Gaines

We all go through these seasons, right? Thriving and surviving? Or maybe, like that quote I loved in Chip & Joanna's book, The Magnolia Story, there more like moments than seasons. I feel that-- each day, I make both choices to thrive and to survive. 

I've been thinking a lot about hard work lately, partly due to an essay Mindy Kaling wrote in her second book (which I just enjoyed listening to on audio). I have a lot of dreams, but am I willing to actually do the hard work to accomplish any of them? 

It's usually easier for me to either a) just be lazy, or b) let life scatter me, mess up my direction, and throw me into survival mode. Which, let's be honest, is usually just me, once again, being lazy.

We do have a new puppy in the house and a lot of other stuff going on-- both on the schedule and in our hearts-- but all those things become excuses for me. The truth is, if I want to thrive in my quotidian life and in my dreams, I really do have to buck up a bit. 

So this is me calling myself out. To do the hard work, and make the choice which is often the tougher one for me, responding in a thriving way, not a surviving way to the curve balls that come my way.

Surviving is yelling at my kids when they spill milk; thriving is taking a deep breath and dealing with the inconvenience calmly.

Surviving is talking a lot about writing but spending my bits of free time doing who knows what; thriving is using my time wisely and doing the dang thing, as Leslie from Blue Crush would say.

Because here's the thing. Thriving means my life is full of light. It's full of peace that transcends understanding, and a gospel-centered (not self-centered) life. It's full of living life to its fullest instead of mindlessly wading through the muck. 

Have I been reading too many dystopic novels? Maybe. But I really don't want to be a mindless drone. I want to grab my life and make the most of it. I want to tell stories and let stories fill my soul and make my mind think deeper thoughts. 

I'm determined to start making room for light in my life. Making room for thriving. Making room for doing hard work and hopefully accomplishing some things that I feel like God has called me to do. 

In another blogging life, I would have started an upbeat series about all the ways I'm making room in my life. But I know myself better these days; I know that I'm not known for following through on that sort of thing.

And also, I have other things I want to spend my words on (like finishing the last 5 chapters of my novel's first draft. And starting another one. And another one. See? Lots of dreams).

I do want to share the process with you though. I think I'll be more successful that way.

In most contexts, I think I'm what Gretchen Rubin would call an Obliger, which is to say, feel free to hold me accountable to this.

And if you want to join me in trying to thrive and do hard work, even if that means making room for it by saying no to other things, I'd love to walk through this together.

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You may consider sharing bits and pieces of this on Instagram with the hashtag #makingroomforlight. I'd love to see what this looks like for you. I'll try to do the same thing. 

Let's do the hard work; let's make room for light and see what shines through.

Delighting in the days

delight-2 In January, I chose delight as my word for the year. I'm never very good with followthrough and this one word exercise is usually no different. But recently as I thought about how I was feeling these days with our lovely summer and our new fall rhythm/schedule/day-to-day life, I realized that things had been quite... delightful... and that without particularly trying, I had in fact been delighting.

Last spring was hard. I felt like a chicken with my head cut-off with three kids doing three different things school-wise, plus sports, church, and other activities. It was crazy. I felt like if I could just make it through till summer; it was a season with little delight in some ways, but it was also a season of embracing my writing life right where it is, and pressing on and moving forward intentionally, which is in its own way, a form of delighting.

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Through the chaos, and then into the peace of summer, my delight in the Lord has been strong though. This year I've taken on a Bible reading plan that my church recommended and it has kept me in the word consistently. My prayer life has been lacking still this year, but in reading the word I have felt a growth which is powerful.

Summer was beyond delightful. Beach days, camping trips, long days, family camp (ahhh-mazing!), swimming, barbecuing, reading, baseball, relaxation, concerts (Coldplay!) time with family and sweet friends-- it was all the lovely things of summer that I adore-- the very definition of delight, thank you, Jesus. I was incredibly sad to see it go, as much as I always love the start of a new school year.

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And as we've entered the new fall season, a season which can bring with it chaos and busyness, I'm delighted to say that things have, amazingly enough, not gotten out of hand, and in fact, I'm quite delighting in our days and enjoying the rhythm of things right now.

We now homeschool three days in a row (Monday through Wednesday), and then, the kids all go to school all day on Thursday and Friday, a gift to this mama that has brought blessings galore in just the first month. Lunches, brunches, coffees, mama outings, peaceful errands, days to clean and prep, writing time, and moments of quiet have been amazing.

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I'm relishing this time and trying my best to use it wisely and keep it from getting over-scheduled. And just like I expected, it actually has me looking forward to our next homeschool days... and despite all the solo-time benefits, even missing my kids a tiny bit. ;)  For our family, and for me, it is the perfect fit.

So all this to say, even though many days I'm still tired (from knowingly burning the candle at both ends) and there are still overwhelming moments and feelings of inadequacies and frustrations with schoolwork and parenting challenges galore...

There is amidst it all a strange feeling of r e s t.

There is p e a c e.

There is d e l i g h t.

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And there is gratitude. I'm very thankful for this season, and for the ways the Lord, in His grace, has orchestrated this time. May I use it for His glory.

3 Little Things {6.17.16} + a little update

trail to the beach Happy Summer!!

We've gone camping twice in the last month, and just last weekend was spent at the beach in San Clemente where we hiked this steep trail down to a beautiful, peaceful spot. I'm sure there's some spiritual lesson there about doing hard work... ;)

I'm finally popping back into this online space after a few month hiatus. It was a crazy semester of school and life and I'm beyond thankful to be in the quieter space of summer break now.

In April, I participated in Camp Nanowrimo, and while I didn't quite make my goal, I felt like it was a great catalyst to getting going on my writing project, and I'm looking forward to writing more this summer. Brody turned six, and we a had a great get-together with his birth family.

In May, Gigi turned nine, and we camped in the mountains with my parents and some friends, which was awesome. A big highlight of the month was going to the Wild + Free homeschooling conference with some of my best girlfriends. I learned a lot and was greatly inspire, and wrote about my experience there on my homeschool blog.

And now, June. Hallee turned five (!!). Our spring birthday season is complete and I can hardly believe I am now the mama of a 9-, 6-, and 5- year old. We are done with school for the year and ready for lots of summer adventures.

A couple more things I've written lately: 

Adventure packs for my wild explorers, in which I share all about my kids bundle of tools and goodies that they carry when we go hiking, exploring, camping, to the beach, etc.

The truth about hospitality, in which I discuss the idea of making room in our hearts for others over on The Art of Simple blog.

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It's the Three Little Things

It's been a while since I've posted one these fun posts (but heck, it's been a while since I've posted anything!), so as a reminder, this is a fun series started by my friend Amy of MomAdvice, where we share just a few little things making us happy at the moment.

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1. ZestNest

I'm not sure where I first saw this zester-- maybe a magazine?-- but I put it on my wish list and my mama bought it for me for my birthday. It's awesome. I was tired of all my zest being embedded into the grater side of my zester and this one catches it all in a tidy little container. Works great!

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2. Saltwater Sandals

I totally had these as a little girl, so they are a throwback for sure. But as I started seeing more and more mamas rocking them, I fell in love, all over again. They don't have a lot of support but are surprisingly comfortable. Next up will be getting some for my girls.

Tip: I soaked mine in water and then let them air dry as I walked around to break them in, and they fit great. Look for the "big kid" sizes to fit women's feet.

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3. Aladdin Glass 1-Gallon Mason Jar Dispenser

(I linked to this on Amazon so you can see its details, but quick get yourself to Target to see if there are any left on clearance!) In the last several years it has become hard to find large drink dispensers that aren't plastic. Since I like to sit mine outside to make sun tea, I really want glass, because I don't like to warm food/drink in plastic.

Bonus: I posted this photo on IG and a friend told me that Aladdin is an ethical company, and as I checked out their website I found that they are indeed committed to sustainability and being environmentally responsible.

What's making you happy these days? 

Delightful snaps from the cutting room floor

Just felt like sharing a few glimpses of what's been delighting me lately. I've been snapping so many more pictures than I've Instagrammed (especially since we've had some phenomenally warm weather which has me all heart-eyes and praise hands) and I thought it'd be fun to share them here on the blog in 10 on 10 form. delightful snap-1

Both girls are playing softball this year, and here they are along with Gigi's best softball buddy. Gigi is on the Camo Chameleons and Hallee is on the Blue Sparkle Bears. ;)

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We had a little SuperB owl gathering, complete with chess, and lots of good snacks, of course.

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The sun has been shining and the beach has been calling me. These two are so good at playing together that I've even gotten in some reading time. (Reading at the beach is my fave! I have tinted reading glasses ordered, and I'm looking forward to not doubling up my glasses all dorky-like.)

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Book club met to discuss The Lake House amidst many good British-inspired treats. More on this book to come in a future post.

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Valentine's Day brought our annual community group Valentine's dinner-- one of my favorite traditions. We did a secret valentine exchange and all shared a favorite verse about love from the Bible. <3

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My first attempt at sourdough pizza came out quite deliciously! More of my sourdough journey is at #nicolesadventuresinsourdough.

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I sent my husband out to play golf with his parents on Valentine's day and I spent the day like this, finishing up The Royal We (which I was sad to finish and can't stop obsessing about).

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Me and my mama- on my lovely birthday outing-- riding bikes around Mission Bay. New Dodgers hat courtesy of my hubby-- it came with Coldplay tickets and I'm counting down until August!

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Children's Cove in La Jolla. We admired the beautiful water and then walked up the street to enjoy the best gelato ever at Bobboi Natural Gelato. I mean... mmmm....

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T-ball has begun as well. Look at Brody hitting the target in the middle there!! He's doing awesome so far, and David is having a better coaching experience the second time around with a slightly-older team. ;)

And just for fun, have you heard of I'll Have What Phil's Having? Tsh from The Art of Simple mentioned it on FB a couple of weeks ago and David and I have been loving traveling the world of food virtually with the very funny Phil Rosenthal. It's on both Netflix and the PBS app/website.

I hope to do more of these little photo recaps of the delightful things going on in my life as this year progresses. And an updating reading post is due up soon, too.  Tell me friends, what are you delighting in lately?

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