Early fall twitterature {31 Days of The Life Poetic, Day 18}

landline Still catching up here... I think you know how much I love books. Reading is one of my favorite ways to explore creativity, beauty, and well, life. It seemed only fitting to include an edition of Twitterature in this month's series.

Here's what I've loved about the books that have found their way into my hands in the last month.




by Jane Austen

This was the first Austen novel I ever read, and to be honest, this time it went very slowly for me, despite always loving the story (and of course, Mr. Knightly!). I think maybe its familiarity is part of what has kept it a favorite for so many years. Emma isn't my favorite Austen heroine by any stretch. In fact this year, I think I preferred Emma Approved to the original (I know! the horror!).


Northanger Abbey

by Jane Austen

NA caught me by surprise. I read it faster than I've ever read a classic, and it was definitely a record for the Austen novels I've been reading. Maybe its starkly different style carried me through quicker. Regardless of why, I thoroughly enjoyed it.



by Rainbow Rowell

Super loved this one. The more I read of Ms. Rowell, the more I love her writing style and her creative stories. The character development is deep, the plot is laid out in a unique way, and the emotion is real (the fantastical element isn't even that weird or out of place; it just... fits). Bonus: Landline really got my own creative juices flowing.


How People Change

by Timothy S. Lane & Paul David Tripp

We read this book with the leadership team at church and it was enlightening and encouraging, and full of anecdotes illustrating its points. Whenever we watch Frozen and the diva troll sings, "Cause people don't really change," Gigi and I look at each other and I remind her, oh yes they do. Jesus transforms people's hearts and lives.



Read anything good lately? 

Linking up with the lovely Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy. Affiliate links included, thanks for the support!

the life poetic

This is Day 18 of 31 Days of the Life PoeticView the other posts in this series here.

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Where blogging, community, and home collide

I finished grad school in the spring of 2006, and that fall I stayed on at my university as a part-time lecturer in Spanish. I also found out I was pregnant that fall. I continued my teaching job until a few weeks before the spring semester ended, when Gigi was born. I was never so career-driven that I wanted to pursue full-time teaching (not that the California budget made that a possibility anyway) or PhD, much to the disappointment of a few of my professors. I knew I wanted to stay home with my baby girl.

But I've always been an academic. I probably would have considered going back in the fall to teach one class a semester (every autumn I'm drawn to school supplies-- bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils, anyone?-- and books and curriculum and learning) if we hadn't moved out of state, where I had no university connections.

It was there, in Colorado, where I first settled into officially being "at home." I joined a wonderful moms' Bible study and enjoyed days full of analyzing my baby's schedule, making baby food, researching cloth diapers and green living, documenting milestones, and learning about home management, organization, and productivity.

When I finally decided I needed an outlet for expressing other thoughts, findings, book reviews (besides just the family photo updates that were regularly posted on our family blog), I also discovered that the blogosphere wasn't just a place to park my soapbox (which I've long-since abandoned anyway), it was a real, live community.

The blog community was a place where I could be home-based but also well-connected, and exposed to ideas, deep conversations, and inspiration,  my academic mind stimulated and my new-mama heart encouraged. I really fell in love with blogging, and connecting over the enigma that is the internet with other kindred spirits who tap down thoughts and click publish.

When I started my first non-family-photo-album blog, I chose the name Gidget Goes Green, enjoying the alliteration and fun use of my childhood pseudonym of choice, along with my new passion to research and write about green living.

But very shortly thereafter (maybe a month later?), I changed the name-- I wanted to broaden my writing topics, and I realized that most everything I wanted to write about related in one way or another to the home. Not just to the physical walls and roof, but to a heart of hospitality, to the elements of homemaking, to the place where we gather to love, and eat, and discuss the deeper issues of life.

jane austen quote about home

jane austen quote about home

Last week I read an old-ish post by Emily Freeman that I really loved and was struck with resounding feelings of yes, when I read these words:

Home isn’t either beautiful or not, happy or sad, full or empty. Home is both and home is and, whether home is church or family or a cul-de-sac. Home has good parts, hard parts, marvelous and miracle parts. Home is where we celebrate and where we grieve, where we are broken and healed, hurt and made whole again.

It's a beautiful description of the place where we each come back to over and over and where we welcome others in and show them who we really are.

Someday, I may change the name of this little blog, who knows. But my hope is that it's always a virtual reflection of what a real home is-- the both and the and, a place that welcomes and nourishes, inspires, and fosters community.

And so thanks for being here. You are most welcome. 

Sunday Treat: Rich Berry Sherbet

rich berry sherbet When we bought our condo last winter, we didn't realize we'd be moving into such a wonderful little community. We've been getting to know our neighbors over the last six months and we feel super blessed to be surrounded with some really great young families. What does this have to do with homemade ice cream? Just simply that great neighbors means more friends to share frozen treats with of course!

Last month there was a week when we got strawberries and blackberries from my CSA (it's usually one or the other) and then when I took a trip to the local farmstand to pick up The Best Chips and Salsa Ever the owner just handed me a basket of raspberries with a smile. So with an abundance of berries in the kitchen came this delicious dessert.

My friend and neighbor Liz had a birthday that week and this seasonal treat made its way a few doors down to her place along with her gift. I adapted a recipe from David Lebovitz' book The Perfect Scoop to make my first ever batch of sherbet.

rich berry sherbet- yum!

Sunday Treat: Rich Berry Sherbet
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: nicole v. bennett
makes about 1 quart
  • 4 cups of assorted berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries or your choice!)
  • 2 cups of half and half
  • 3/4 cup of honey (adjust this as necessary depending on sweetness of berries)
  • 1 1/2 tsps freshly squeezed lemon juice (preferably Meyer)
  1. Blend together ingredients with immersion blender (or in a regular blender). Strain seeds out if you prefer.
  2. Freeze mixture in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.


rich berry sherbet 2

Blend together ingredients (4 cups of assorted berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries or your choice!), 2 cups of half and half, 3/4 cup of honey (adjust this as necessary depending on sweetness of berries), 1 1/2 tsps freshly squeezed lemon juice (preferably Meyer)) with immersion blender (or in a regular blender). Strain seeds out if you prefer.

rich berry sherbet churning

Freeze mixture in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.


Bon apètit!

What I'm Into...

Magazine readers I can't seem to stop sharing good things with you. It makes sense, because for all the years that I've been subscribing to Martha Stewart, her Good Things section has always been the most fun part of the magazine for me.

And I'm trying out another new (to me) linky, since I had so much fun with sharing what I learned in June. If I keep going with both of these memes, I suppose I'll need to differentiate them a bit, but for now, bear with me if this post seems a bit reminiscent of my last one. So without further adieu...

Read and Reading

I came to a realization last week. I'm not really in a good season for fun fiction, as I like to call it. I have this problem where I get so immersed in a book that I can't really think about anything else until I finish it. It's --ahem-- not very conducive to running a household and taking care of kids.  So, I might take a break from reading so much fun fiction. I'm in love with memoirs right now, and they read at a pace where real life seems to be within reach between chapters, which seems sorta important.

Yesterday's Tomorrow

yesterdays-tomorrowI think this last book I read was what really did me in. Yesterday's Tomorrow was intense and there was really no way I was going to drag out reading it over a period of days or weeks. With a father-in-law who served in Vietnam and an interest in journalism (I almost majored in it), I was drawn into the story basically couldn't put it down.

Author Catherine West did a wonderful job developing her characters-- they were very raw and real. Their relationship intrigued me and the complications they had to overcome surprised me. The wartime setting made the book an obvious page-turner, but it was also the characters that made me want to read more, to watch them grow and change and experience life, love and a deep sense of God's sovereignty. This may not be a relax-on-the-beach type of book but I wholeheartedly recommend it to fans of adventurous romance stories.

Vietnam, 1967. Independent, career-driven journalist Kristin Taylor wants two things: to honor her father’s memory by becoming an award-winning overseas correspondent and to keep tabs on her only brother, Teddy, who signed up for the war against their mother’s wishes. Brilliant photographer Luke Maddox, silent and brooding, exudes mystery. Kristin is convinced he’s hiding something. Willing to risk it all for what they believe in, Kristin and Luke engage in their own tumultuous battle until, in an unexpected twist, they’re forced to work together. Ambushed by love, they must decide whether or not to set aside their own private agendas for the hope of tomorrow that has captured their hearts.

Thanks to Litfuse for the review copy.


Currently Reading

Been working on these a while now: The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald), Desperate (Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson), Toujours Provence (Peter Mayle), Nurture by Nurture (need to pick this one back up!); recently borrowed from a friend: Cold Tangerines (Shauna Niequist); picked up at the library: Food Rules (Michael Pollan).


Can't stop watching Hart of Dixie. Sad to be almost done with Season 1 because Season 2 is not on Netflix yet. Still working our way through the new Arrested Development-- I still see it as a darker version of the original, but we're enjoying it nonetheless. And of course, the Dodgers are a constant in this house. You've never really experienced baseball unless you've watched/listened to Vin Scully call a game.

The kids and I are now obsessed and in love with Olive Us (thanks, Melissa!). I can't recommend these adorable short videos enough. It has also inspired me to get back to editing our own little home videos that have been waiting patiently in the recesses of my computer for the last couple of years.


We haven't watched much of note lately, although last weekend I watched What to Expect When You're Expecting with a girlfriend and enjoyed it-- wasn't expecting (no pun intended) the sweet adoption storyline. Seeing Dennis Quaid (who I normally love) play a jerk was a bit of a shocker though. I always love movies with a million little storylines that eventually converge (is there a name for that kind of movie?).


Do you ever get overwhelmed with the prospect choosing something out of pretty much all the music in the world? (I'm talking about Spotify of course.) Sometimes I just don't even know what to listen to. But lately, I can't seem to get enough of Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, and Joao Gilberto. My username is nicoleakagidget there.

Also of note, while not technically music, is a fun podcast I started listening to on our recent road trip: Spilled Milk. Just think a dude and a girl (both married to other people, both quite funny), exploring various food topics. David and I did the shared-ear-buds thing (which was very romantic until he had to turn his heads to change lanes) and listened to a few of them together on the drive.

Things I love:

~ The Honest Company. I think I'll write about this more later but if you are looking for quality disposable diapers (i.e. not chemically-laden), these are an adorable option. I'm loving everything I try from Honest so far (including their sunscreen and I'm a stickler on that one).

Hallee's Bummis

~ Bummis swimwear. I was sent this adorable swim outfit for Hallee to try out and I just love it. The velcro swim diaper is easy to get off and on and doesn't store tons of water like some other reusable swim diapers do, she actually keeps the hat on for a while and the rashie is nice and thick which I know means good sun coverage (and less sunscreen to apply!).

~ Staying with friends on road trips. Enjoying other people's hospitality and having so much quality time with friends is such a treat.

~ Seeing David with his buddies from the days of old like happened last weekend. Wish we could live closer to all the fine folks we visited.

Gigi and baby Charlotte

~ My baby nephew and my baby niece who are both equally squishy, cuddly and just plain cute. I can't wait to hold them again!! (But no, I don't want any more babies of my own). ;)

Molly and me

~ Instagram friends who become real-life friends. My brother can back me up here. Meeting the lovely Molly and her family was such a fun treat, she is a true kindred spirit!


~ Sparklers!! This is a pretty novel thing to me because home fireworks are not legal where I live (fire hazard anyone?), but they are super fun, and our kids loved experiencing them (Gigi was a little unsure but warmed up a bit).

In the blogosphere

Back in the day you could "share" things on Google Reader and that was how I kept track of inspiring blog posts I found elsewhere. That's been gone quite a while and now Reader itself has gone the way of the buffalo. I'm reading blogs in Feedly now and will try to stay more up-to-date on sharing worthwhile blog posts on my Tumblr page or occasionally on Facebook.

Yesterday I had my monthly post on Simple Mom, where I shared how to make the adorable yo-yo earrings that I often get compliments on. It's a quick and easy project!

What are you into?? 

Linking up (eventually, I'm a bit early) with Hopeful Leigh.

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh
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10 things I learned in June

IMG_7017 When Emily Freeman announced that she was going to invite readers to join in on her monthly ritual of sharing what she had learned-- however meaningful or not important, life-changing or trivial those things may be-- I knew it was a linkup I'd be joining in on. This seems to be how I blog a lot of the time these days anyway, so why not!

From Emily:

At the end of each month I like to share a few things I’ve learned. Sometimes it’s educational and informative but usually not. Usually I’ve discovered a quirk I didn’t know I had or a fascinating-to-me celebrity connection. It’s a mishmash of ordinary life stuff, things that may go unnoticed if I didn’t decide to write them down.

So fun, right? So here goes. In no particular order, a few things I've learned this month...

1. I bared my soul a bit last week and was deeply encouraged by your comments. Not only those that built me up personally but also those of you who feel the same. And then I read a post by Lisa-Jo Baker and was again reminded of this truth that I am not alone in this inner desire to fit in and this call to be a leader, outside of the circle, simply because that's where the Lord has put me.

We can keep looking for a seat at a more popular table or we can pass the bread basket and an introduction to the women sitting right where we already are.

Everyone is on the outside of something. But that is only half the story. We are all on the inside of something often without even realizing it.

(I think she wrote that for me.)

2. Sometimes even those whose main love language is gifts (ahem, me) need a break from the creativity and hard work of dreaming up and executing an inexpensive yet uber-meaningful something, and it's a beautiful thing when after ten years of marriage a date night with surfboards and a dinner without the interruptions of kids [on the docket for tonight!!] is indeed a gift in and of itself.

3. The rhythm of quiet afternoons (for at least an hour) is life-changing and renewing. Why did we ever get out of the quiet play time habit with Gigi?!

4. Hart of Dixie. Not exactly something I learned this month, but more something I discovered. I saw it on Netflix and thought it looked cute, so I texted my TV guru and asked her if she'd seen it. She had, and she told me I would love it. She was right. It's a little bit of Gilmore Girls, a little bit of The Help with a lot of love triangles, southern hospitality and finding the true self. The perfect lighthearted summer show to have on the iPad during baseball season. :) Anyone else a fan?

5. When reading clicks, it clicks. Just after school ended, Gigi caught the bug and while we may have over half of her phonics book left (and we do plan to finish still), she is officially a Reader. And it's amazing.

6. Sticking to a budget is hard. Cash envelopes are brilliant. If you want to know more about this, read/watch Dave Ramsey. He's rocking our world. In a good way... even when I'm mad at the budget because I really really want those blue mason jars and my new purse (ack!! it's on sale now!) that keep getting squeezed out every month.

7. I'm really bad at writing/working after dinner. I'm just too fried and I am required by my body and mind to chill out with David, reading or watching tv or eating ice cream. Since the end of Simple Homemade, every single time I tell myself I'll write that blog post at night, I never do. Time to figure out some time for myself elsewhere in the day.


8. I love the idea of a dog, but I so do not want/need one right now. We just finished dog-sitting for two weeks and I am always amazed at the amount of dog hair that is left behind. That and the extra time it takes to try to get a dog to go potty on command when I'm already late for a playdate. Of course the plus is that she keeps our floor under the kitchen table clean.

9. It's funny how as moms we can hold on to what we consider part of our children's identities more than they themselves do. It turns out that Gigi isn't actually the-girl-with-the-long-blonde-hair anymore like I thought she was, and her spunky short hair is the perfect fit for her.

10. I love our home. I love opening it to others and cultivating comfortable space with my creativity. But I am not a homebody. Getting out most days is key to our family-with-small-children's success. And by getting out I mean going to the beach, or the pool, or the playground by the beach preferably. Feeding my soul with our happy places makes for better mothering and better days. Bonus points if friends come along with us. :)

5 on 10, that is to say... one of those days

My alarm woke me yesterday, and after a few snoozes (which I hate doing), I was greeted by my monthly reminder, alerting me to the fact that it was the tenth of the month, and therefore I should get out my Big Girl Camera and try to capture some of the beauty of the day. Of course, then everyone else woke up and the day catapulted into what I would call a classic vacation-detox/transition-back-to-real-life day, which is to say a challenging day.

After a wonderful, amazing, relaxing weekend away I was back in the throws of motherhood and let me tell you, it wasn't a pretty sight. The day ended with me apologizing for having a bad attitude all day and praying with the kids that Jesus would give us all new hearts and a better day on Tuesday.

That said, these were the only photos that were taken. You'll note that there's not ten. They do still convey some beauty though, and I'm thankful for that. God is faithful to provide little snippets of beauty even amidst a hard day. Things like wedding centerpieces graciously given by the mother-of-the-bride, funky-cute pigtails, classic children's artwork, learning to read... and bacon.

10 on 10 june-1

10 on 10 june-2

10 on 10 june-3

10 on 10 june-4

10 on 10 june-5

The sweetest part of the day was seeing my two daughters snuggled into the same bed after much struggling at the bedtime hour. I probably shouldn't mention how I took a terrible flash-on photo of them with my phone about twenty minutes after they finally fell asleep and I woke Hallee back up. But yeah, that's the kind of day it was. They looked super cute right before that, though.

Beauty in the ordinary... it's there even when we least expect it. That's why I like to link up with Rebekah; check out the other fun posts by clicking the button below...

ten on ten button

love & coffee

Affogato love On our recent trip we bought some fresh-roasted local organic coffee (read: YUM) to our friends who hosted us along the way. I knew two of the couples were coffee drinkers, but I wasn't sure of the third, parents of one of David's childhood friends. I soon found out that Debi and Jack don't just drink coffee, they adore it.

As we enjoyed more conversation with our hosts I shared what I really wanted for our ten-year anniversary (later this month!) was for David to develop an appreciation for coffee so we could enjoy it together. It might sound superficial, but there's just something about enjoying coffee that I long to do with him.

At this, Debi lit up as she told us how she and Jack enjoy their coffee every morning, sipping it and reading their Bibles together. Of course at this I looked over at David with a happy sigh and big puppy dog eyes. That! That sounds lovely!

Affogatos & Arrested Development! Well, I might have worn him down a bit finally. After making the all-important point that hey, it's no more bitter than beer... you like beer, so you've got to be able to develop a taste for coffee!, he succumbed with minimal protest to sampling an affogato over Arrested Development with me the other night.

Maybe you've been indulging in these for years, but they are a new-found favorite treat for me. Affogato is simply a fancy Italian word referring to ice cream drenched in espresso.

Just a simple scoop of vanilla each and then we split a single shot of decaf Mocca Java. Heavenly to my taste buds. Mmmm... It's like coffee ice cream on crack.

When I asked David if he liked it he didn't wince in disgust like I thought he might. "I like the ice cream..." he said, like a skeptic who's open to exploring something new.

It's a start, people. It's a start.

I've got to know, is there anyone else out there who's unequally yoked with their spouse in terms of their love of coffee?