Friday, November 15, 2019

I'd Rather Be Reading * Grand Finale

Our Autumn Book Club has been filled with serendipitous conversations, tucked in between posts on discovering your best creative rhythms and finding God in the midst of the crazy seasons and a winsome invitation to help take the stress out of holiday decorating.

Nothing heavy or ponderous or earth rattling these days.  But hopefully there's been lots of good food for thought as we enter the holiday season.  It's been a lovely ride, hasn't it?

I hope you find a delightful book or two to take you through the next month and a half.  Here's a peek inside my bookbag.  Stress relief, indeed.

'Til then, let's talk about our final quotes from Anne Bogel's I'd Rather Be Reading 

'Reading is often viewed as a solitary act; that's one of the reasons I love it, and it's certainly my favorite escape and introvert coping strategy of choice.  But reading is also a social act: readers love to connect over good books.  If I read a book that legitimately changes my life (what a find!), or a book that becomes a new favorite, or even a breezy novel that's tons of fun, I can't wait to talk about it with my fellow readers.'
- Chapter 20, page 138

'We are readers.  Books grace our shelves and fill our homes with beauty; they dwell in our minds and occupy our thoughts.  Books prompt us to spend pleasant hours alone and connect us with fellow readers.  They invite us to escape into their pages for an afternoon, and they inspire us to re-imagine our lives.  Good reading journals provide glimpses of how we've spent our days, and they tell the story of our lives.'
- Chapter 21, page 145


A bit weary of endlessly scrolling through my phone or paging through 4 month old magazines in waiting rooms has led me to at least try to remember to bring along a slim volume to page through while idling time away ... an easy reading, lightweight book tossed in my bag or stashed in the car.  If you haven't grabbed your own personal copy of Anne Bogel's sweet I'd Rather Be Reading, I hope you'll do so.

It's that kind of cherished companion.

Your hardcover is here ... and for all you Kindle fans, your volume is right there.  And yes, as an Amazon Associate I earn from your qualifying purchases when you click on these links. 

Let's talk about how you keep track of what you read {here's what my reading journal looks like}, the serendipity of a kindred-spirited book club discussion, and the title of the book that you're carrying around this week.



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Sunday, November 10, 2019

Layer . . . The Key to Transitioning Your Seasonal Home

Over time, there's a secret I've discovered that invites our home into a smoother transition from the first whiffs of autumn through Thanksgiving, right into Christmastide and then beyond, embracing a gentle, cozy comfort through the endless winter's long, dark months.

The secret password is ... layer

Back in the day, I used to decorate for fall and Thanksgiving - orange pumpkins, an apple themed table runner, fun little gourds, rusty colored tchotchkes, apple scented candles, stuff like that.

And then abruptly, barely before Tom Turkey's bones had been turned into a huge vat of soup, we were packing up all things autumnal and dragging out scads of Christmas stuff that had slowly but surely accumulated over the years.

Window lights, tree lights, the actual tree itself {sometimes two}, a grand wreath at the door, at least one manger scene, a million and a half assorted ornaments, an advent calendar, and endless boxes of family memorabilia and vintage decor and all things pine-scented.

It was all so exhausting.  

Frustrating, too, because we had just begun to settle into the decor that had made its grand arrival only a month or so before.  It was kind of sad to say such a quick and abrupt good-bye.


This year, I abandoned orange.  Goodbye.  Sorry, but you were never my favorite color to begin with.

It didn't take long to find the big blue pumpkins I craved, one for the brick steps to the front door and a sister pumpkin to hold court by the kitchen door where all the action is.

And instead of looking for some kind of autumn-y wreaths for the doors, I began my hunt for wreaths made up of twigs and big ol' fake red berries.  And wonder of wonders, after a bit of patient searching, I found them primed and calling my name at a local shop.  I couldn't get them on the doors fast enough.


Blue pumpkins, red wreaths, blue doors.  A perfect marriage.

Fast forward to mid-November.  The red berry wreaths will stay where they belong, where they are loved and admired, right through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and into the long winter that defines life here in this neck of the woods.  In other words, 'til next spring.

The blue pumpkins will remain 'til they die a natural death sitting out in the damp, freezing chill that's been descending.

Candlelight appeared on our sills in mid-October and will illuminate the house well into February.  It's far too dark around here for too long and their pretty nightly glow is oh-so-necessary.

Meanwhile, I found this adorable wall hanging for all of $14.95 at TJ Maxx this week.  I couldn't grab the last one too quickly.  I'm in love with these very fun bunnies navigating a snowy scene as they travel around their Christmas tree farm.  It's replaced my 1984 cross-stitch sampler ... and will probably stay on the wall well into January.

I love it that much.

And this picture helps me think nice thoughts of rabbits after they demolished my beautiful rosebush, my fledgling maple sapling, and several rounds of sunflowers this past summer.

'Nuff said about rabbits.

And there's a faux pine wreath attached to an old window frame already perched on the mantle because I love it even if it is only November.  And if you look closely, there's an elderly faux pumpkin nestled in its boughs.  I think she'll probably magically disappear right after Thanksgiving while the wreath will refuse to budge well into late January.

Yes, the apple-scented Yankee Candle is still going strong.  But sometime in the next few weeks, she'll burn herself out and be quietly replaced by the pine candles that are patiently waiting their turn on the mantle even as we speak.

And after the Thanksgiving crowd comes and goes, a Christmas tree will make her glorious presence known.  I think my Grandma's fragile ornaments might make an appearance this year since the gang will be elsewhere.  I'm guessing that even after the ornaments come down, the tree will remain well into late January, bare naked except for the twinkling lights that will refuse to take their leave, allowing the darkened house to bask in their sparkly glow, lighting the shadows every evening.

There's an easy flow going on here and oddly enough, the gradual layers that come and go do nothing but lead to that slower lifestyle that so easy eludes me this time of year.

For the decor seems to morph in its own gentle rhythm from one season into the next. 

I couldn't be happier with the layer upon layer that defines our home.  Not just what fills the rooms.  But for the roots that are growing deep, the memories that are beginning to take shape, and the life changes that have emerged after half a decade in our little house tucked between the ever-changing bay and the deep blue sea.

The exhausting decorating marathons are gone.

Instead, a peaceful kind of gratitude holds center stage.

I'd love to hear about your holiday home and your decorating hints and your sanity savers ...

P.S. #2
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P.S. #3
Our final Book Club session is coming up this Friday and I have absolutely no idea of what future posts will look like after that.  Nothing's lined up in the queue.  Curious as to what's ahead?  Me, too!  Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss out on any surprises.


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Friday, November 8, 2019

I'd Rather Be Reading * Session #4

Greetings yet again, my Book Club buddies!

This past week's discussion?  Our lifelong love affair with libraries.  The conversation made my heart smile.  As children, we walked through a garden gate or hopped on our bikes, often with a dear friend in tow, heading toward our 'oasis in the desert,' a favorite summer destination ... whether in an air conditioned building or in a bookmobile that rolled into the local IGA parking lot once a week.

And then a few of you whispered that one of your pleasures is to seek out libraries as you travel, setting your GPS to sites unknown whether in the country or in the middle of the city ... and even aiming to visit libraries around the world.


Check out our cozy chat here.

Lovely, kindred spirits we all are.

By the way, I don't know about you, but I do believe that Anne Bogel's I'd Rather Be Reading is just about the best gift ever for when you go visiting and want to leave a little something for your hostess.  It's a thoughtful present for Christmas, teachers, grab-bags, birthdays, get-wells, and a must have to add to your stash of last minute gifts.  {You do have one of those, don't you?!}

It was my go-to signature gift last Christmas.  

You can pick up a bunch for the outrageously fabulous price of $6.73 each {at the time of posting}.  It's a steal, friends ... just think, you can take care of a whole lot of Christmas shopping in one fell swoop {whatever that means.}  And yes, as an Amazon Associate I earn from your qualifying purchases when you click on these links, thank you very much!


'It's a truism that early reading shapes the reader you become.  We look back wistfully at the readers as were as children, and at the books we read on our parents' knees, the ones we read under the covers with our flashlights, the ones we giggled over with friends.  Then there were the books we read in school, from kindergarten to high school and maybe beyond, under the guidance of other readers who hopefully illuminated the meaning of what we read.'
- Chapter 14, page 96

'When I find myself in a dreaded reading slump, nothing boosts me out of it faster than revisiting an old favorite.  Old books, like old friends, are good for the soul.  But they're not just comfort reads.  No, a good book is exciting to return to, because even though I've been there before, the landscape is always changing.  I notice something new each time I read a great book'.
- Chapter 17, page 119

Let's talk about your flashlight books ... and the volumes that have brought you comfort and consolation in the years since ...


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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Finding God In the Midst of Crazytown

Last week, I proclaimed loudly that for sanity's sake, I'm doing everything I can to take life slow ... we don't have to make our way through these upcoming weeks like we're ricocheting through crazytown.  We can, indeed, choose slow.

And then I promptly launched headlong into a week that was anything but. 

The time change impacted me like it would a two year old, periods of sadness collided with moments of elation, we enjoyed a bunch of gatherings with friends, decisions vied for my attention.  I celebrated clients' victories and a daughter's new job and my husband's 65th birthday, I was processing news that knocked me sideways, and we were out more evenings than we were in.

The days offered little solitude or silence or time just to be.

By last night, I didn't know if I was coming or going.

There is a need to recognize, respect, and honor the place that God has allowed us to be in right now.

We're not in the season we emerged from last year or reveled in a decade ago.  The here and now presents its own unique blend of deep mystery and unforeseen miracles, ever-present griefs and prayerful expectations.

We do well to recognize the impact of all the drama that whirls around us, leaving our souls breathless, our minds numb, our bodies spent.

How do we walk through these days ordained for us in ways that are pleasing to Christ ... and yet honor the truth that this is who we are right now?


Last night I crawled into bed with my journal and a good long talk with the Lord.  Five pages later of purple ink outpourings, the air cleared and I experienced that sacred re-calibration that comes when we offer ourselves to His loving kindness and invite Him to whisper peaceful direction to our overwrought souls.

He is the calm we're seeking.  In His presence is fullness of joy and clarity for our ricocheting thoughts and spent emotions and overloaded schedules.

He is our peace right in the midst of crazytown.  Go forth, friends ~


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