Wish list progress report

I leave for Boston on Tuesday morning! This trip felt so far away and now, all of a sudden, I’m finishing up some last minute items. Tomorrow morning, I can check into my flight and get my seat assignment.

I’ve somehow managed to complete all items on my wish list. Originally, I was hoping to complete at least half but I’ve finished all four items. I had to take things one item at a time and break them up in small pieces but I managed to complete everything.

Wish list item #1 – a haircut
It took some searching, but I found a great hair stylist who took the time to talk with me about what I wanted. This haircut isn’t a drastic change; I only cut off four inches and added some framing around my face. I like it, though I think next time I’ll go shorter.

Wish list item #2 – a new knitting project
I combed through hundreds of knitting patterns before settling on Dotted Rays by Stephen West. It looks like the perfect vacation knit, though I’m a bit intimidated by the length of the pattern. The description says that it’s the perfect travel knit. Hopefully that’s the case!

Wish list item #3 – a new book
A bit different from my normal book selection, I am excited to read Story Thieves by James Riley. I was intrigued by the description on Goodreads – a girl who can jump in and out of library books. Sounds wonderful! An added bonus is that the entire series is rated well.

Wish list item #4 – assemble a trip itinerary
I had so much fun assembling a trip itinerary! It’s not a set in stone list of destinations. It’s more of a list of suggestions of places we can visit dependent on the amount of time and energy we have on any given day.

Prince Edward Island
Image Credit

We are spending time in three different cities. In each, I found one or two possible used book stores, yarn stores, quilting stores, and a highly rated local coffee shop. I know we won’t visit every destination but I look forward to the adventure! My priority is the coffee. Always the coffee.

My priority is the coffee. Always the coffee. If I could, I’d visit every local coffee shop around the world.

No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee’s frothy goodness.

Sheik Abd-al-Kadir

September goals

I am so excited that today is September first! I love New Year’s day because I establish new goals for the year. The first of each month is a miniature reboot of New Year’s goals.

This month I want to concentrate on just a couple of areas.

Back to School
My daughter starts her senior year of high school on Wednesday. She is excited and nervous at the same time. She’s thrilled that she’ll be able to hang out with her friends again. But she’s nervous because this is the start of the end of her high school experience.

Lazy summer days

My goal is to help make this back to school transition as easy as possible. This afternoon we’ll visit a salon to get her all prettied for the first day of school. A new haircut is definitely a confidence booster!

Smart Girl Edits
I am in the process of preparing a proposal and quote for several potential clients. If either of them signs a contract with me, I’ll be busy this month working toward their deadlines.

If neither client signs a contract with me, I want to continue developing connections on LinkedIn. I also want to resume one of my business classes so that I can refine my business niche and make a plan for the rest of this year.

Travel
My third and final focus this month is my Prince Edward Island trip! Last month, I posted several goals I want to complete in preparation for my vacation. I have selected and purchased a book to read on my flight. I have also selected my knitting pattern but still need to go yarn shopping. I will post about these things later in more detail.

Hoping to pack lighter…

Here’s to a productive and fun September! What are your September goals?

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s summertime and that means our family has had more time to relax. We’ve watched a lot of movies and television shows this summer. We introduced our daughter to The Fresh Prince of Bel-air, a huge hit. I also introduced her to one of my childhood favorites – Lois & Clark: the New Adventures of Superman.

The first season of the show brought back so many memories. I remember eagerly anticipating each new episode as it aired. I remember being incredibly frustrated with the cliff hanger at the end of season three, lamenting (loudly) over having to wait months for season four to start. At least I was young enough to not realize that sometimes shows get canceled! I can only imagine how disappointed I would have been if the story arc had not completed and happily ever after was not found.

Watching Lois & Clark reminded me of how much I wanted to be a journalist. I was inspired by Lois, impressed with her bravery and tenacity. I was enthralled with her job as a reporter at the Daily Planet newspaper. I so desperately wanted to be a writer just like her.

I thought it would be interesting to try to recall what answers I gave when people asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Feeding the baby

Mom – elementary school. All I wanted to do was to be a mom. I took such good care of my dolls! I even had an imaginary baby that I would take to school with me and nurture while learning basic algebra and Bible stories and how to craft a piggy bank out of clay (it didn’t turn out well).

Journalist – ages 12 and 13. Before this point, I had already started writing journals. My brother and I, inspired by Harriet the Spy, used to sneak around and spy on people while taking notes and writing stories about the people we were spying on. Watching Lois & Clark on weeknights refined my writing aspirations to journalism.

Chickens, chickens, chickens

Any animal related career – ages 13 through 17. I don’t remember why my dream changed from journalism to an animal related career, but something must have changed. I have always loved animals. I trained our dog to walk on a leash and imagined being a dog trainer. I helped our cat extricate her captured paw from her collar, dreaming of being a wildly successful veterinarian. I obsessively followed horse racing and wanted to become a jockey, even as I recognized that I was already too tall. Can’t be a jockey? Then I’ll train to be a show jumper.

Future Olympian!

Somewhere in there, I also dreamed of being an archaeologist, a librarian, and an astronomer. These were the short lived dreams, but I daydreamed about each of these careers in turn.

Always a dreamer but enough of a realist to truly plan for the future, I chose my high school classes with the goal of enrolling at university with a declared pre-vet major. I took an extra year of biology my junior year of high school, dissecting everything from worms to baby pigs and a shark. I was even one of the few girls in our class who had a front row seat during the cadaver field trip (most of the girls were outside puking).

Bandit & I, best friends

Sometime during my freshman or sophomore year of college, I became overwhelmed with the number of math and science classes required for a pre-vet major. I concurrently developed a queasy stomach at the thought of any bodily fluids and dropped my major.

What was I to do when I felt too introverted and shy to chase a journalism career and too intimidated by the veterinary program? A literature degree, of course! I took American lit, British lit, and an entire semester devoted to Shakespeare. I took creative writing and novel writing classes.

Sammy, such a good dog!

After being asked a myriad of times what in the world I was going to do with a literature degree, I finally decided to finish my literature degree and then enroll in the education program to get a teaching certificate. I could then spend all of my time teaching literature to high school students.

The Great Ideas

Unfortunately, I dropped out of college due to a sudden realization of just how much student loan debt I was acquiring. By this point, I was married and my husband and I were struggling with our finances. I felt it was better to drop out of college to avoid accruing any more debt.

Naptime with Bruno

Over the next few years, I worked at an insurance company as a receptionist and then a mail clerk/administrative assistant. It did not feed my creative side and did not take into account my introverted nature but it did pay the bills. Eventually I got laid off and, by the grace of God, I was able to become a full time homemaker and then a mom.

All the pretty stationary!

Throughout this entire time, though, I never lost the desire to write. There was always a bit of Lois Lane inside of me, wanting out but never feeling quite brave enough. I’ve been an intermittent blogger for years and have written several novels, but I’ve never done anything more serious with my writing. Revisiting Lois & Clark has reignited that passion for the written word. I’m not sure where this passion will take me, but I’m eager for the ride.

What about you? What did you dream of being when you were a child?

Wish list item #3 – a new book

A few days ago, I posted a wish list of things that I hope to accomplish before I leave for Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Wish list item #1 – a haircut
Wish list item #2 – a new knitting project
Wish list item #3 – a new book
Wish list item #4 – assemble a trip itinerary

Today I have been happily perusing my to-read list on Goodreads. My to-read list is quite long, coming in at a hefty 1,756 books.

SO many options!

The photo above shows just how many books caught my eye today, each tab open to one book on Goodreads. I even took this screenshot after eliminating a few options. I am noticing a trend – bookstore or library themes, mysteries, historical fiction, time travel, and the occasional memoir.

I thought it would be fun to share a couple of the books under consideration in hopes that someone might chime in with, “Hey, I’ve read that book! It was great!” or “That one was pretty good but I found a similar book that was even better.” If you look at my list and have any thoughts, please share! I’d love to read your bookish thoughts.

Goodreads photo

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – set in France, 1939. This novel was recommended by my bookclub as a recently written novel with tons of character development. I lean toward character driven novels rather than plot driven, though it’s a huge bonus if the novel has both strong character development and a great plot!

Goodreads photo

The Heroine’s Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore – essays about inspirational women in literature. I really want to read this book but I’m not sure it’s a good pick for a flight and then trying to relax after a long day of traveling.

Goodreads photo

The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson – a contemporary novel featuring a bookshop scavenger hunt! This might be a really fun read though the reviews are all over the place, mainly due to readers disliking the main character.

Goodreads photo

The Lumby Lines by Gail Fraser – I know so little about this book, only that it’s part of a series and I know that people love the series! The cover reminds me of Jan Karon’s Mitford series, which I love.

Goodreads photo

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone – time travel!! Need I say more? I know very little about this, other than the fact that it involves romance, time travel, and it’s rated fairly well on Goodreads.

While writing this post, I somehow managed to reduce my overall to-read list by one. Let’s see how many more books I add as I try to finalize my book decision. And if you have any suggestions, please let me know! Maybe someday my to-read list will grow to 2,000 books.

Getting ready for PEI

Next month I am traveling to Prince Edward Island, Canada, and I am so excited! My last getaway was in March, a two day women’s church retreat in Fall City, WA. For this trip, I’ll be gone for an entire week!

This week, I’ve been working on a to-do list specifically for my trip. This list is more of an “I hope I can get all this done” list rather than a list based in reality. But I’m still going to see what I can get done. Maybe I should just call it a wish list.

Wish list item #1 – a haircut

I tend to cut a lot of inches off my hair and then not get another haircut for years. I cut about 12 inches off around Valentine’s Day 2018 and have not gotten a haircut since. My hair is now almost down to my elbows and looks rather scraggly. I hope to take a lot of pictures on my trip and hope to actually be in some of those photos. I want to feel more confident in my photos and a haircut would go a long way toward that confidence.

Wish list item #2 – a new knitting project

Current knitting project

My current knitting project, a cowl, is almost complete! (Side note – the pattern designer is really nice and answered several of my questions about her pattern). I really hope to take a new knitting project on my trip, knowing full well that I may be overwhelmed by everything else going on and may not actually knit. On the other hand, I did knit in both Taiwan and China, so…

For my new knitting project, I am looking for a pattern that reminds me of autumn. We are headed to Canada at a time when the leaves should be changing colors and I want to knit something that reflects that season change. I’m not sure if I want to incorporate falling leaves in my pattern or just knit in fall colors. If you have a pattern suggestion, please let me know!

Wish list item #3 – a new book

I definitely need a new book to read while waiting for my flight and while relaxing in the evenings. My husband suggested that I take my e-reader but I want a book I can hold in my hands. I have no idea what specific book I’m looking for, but I have a few ideas. I’m hoping for a lighter read, but not complete brain candy. Good character development. Again, something that reminds me of autumn. A cozy book, heartfelt. I’m open to suggestions!

Wish list item #4 – assemble a trip itinerary

Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

Neither myself or my best friend want to be locked into specific activities on specific days. However, we have already made Airbnb reservations in different towns along our route. Between now and our date of departure, I want to compile a list of places to see, things to do, and food to eat in each of the cities we’ll be visiting. Of course, my number one priority is going to be a list of coffee houses to try! This list will just give us options to choose from based on how we’re feeling that day. I think a list of options will be beneficial so we aren’t completely aimless, but both of us will be approaching the list as “suggestions” rather than “requirements.” If we spot something along the way, I want the freedom to say, “Hey, let’s go check that out!”

Reality

I am well aware that my current reality may not allow me to accomplish every item on this list. I don’t have a hair stylist and will have to find one. I may not own the right knitting needles for my project and will have to buy those in addition to yarn. Each item on this list requires multiple steps and the next month already looks quite busy.

In the next month, my daughter is starting her senior year in high school. Before school starts, we need to stock up on homework supplies, shop for school clothes, get a haircut for her, and visit her school for the “taking care of business” day.

I also have to get my daughter’s last name changed with the school system (we just completed her WA state readoption!), make an appointment for senior photos, and possibly visit the doctor for a sports clearance.

Our car is due for some transmission work. I’m currently in a back and forth discussion with the State of Arizona over previous tax years. Plus, I’m trying to get my editing business off the ground!

Life is busy. I will have to prioritize what gets done and then just do my best.

Rediscovering my passion

Overall, 2018 was a rough year for our family and we concentrated on surviving and then finding our new normal. Towards the end of 2018, I started to feel more like myself and very slowly started finding motivation to move from merely surviving to thriving. I wish I knew what jump-started this motivation, but I don’t. Even if I can’t pinpoint the cause, it’s time to start moving forward.

In December, I listened to a podcast about compound interest. Normally, compound interest is a phrase used when discussing personal finance. But in this podcast, the phrase was being used to describe any actions taken on a regular basis to work toward a desired result. For example, cleaning one’s house for a few minutes a day will create a compound effect toward having an overall cleaner home. Skipping dessert today and then again tomorrow will create a compound effect that will later result in a more healthy body.

As 2019 started, I decided that it was time to ease myself back into my Chinese studies. A thought often discussed on language forums is that you don’t want to look back to a year ago and think of how much closer you would be to fluency if only you had taken the time to study a few minutes each day. This is a fantastic example of compound interest. It takes a regular, ongoing effort to become fluent in a language.

At the beginning of the month, I started out only studying a couple of minutes a day. My only goal was to catch up on my flashcard backlog, which consisted of roughly 100 vocabulary words and phrases and another 500 hanzi characters. As I started studying, I found that I craved more. As odd as it sounds, I missed studying Chinese.

Then I dug up a travel channel on YouTube about a guy who toured Taiwan in order to enjoy the local cuisine. That led to browsing Pinterest and adding pins to my travel board for our 2020 trip to Taiwan. Then I found another travel blogger who is a polyglot, someone who learns multiple languages.

Now, just two weeks after making a decision to embrace that compound effect of studying, I am thirsting for more language studies. I had forgotten how much I love learning languages. Suddenly, it hit me – languages are my passion. Either I’ve never given myself permission to embrace language learning as a passion or I’ve forgotten how much I have always loved studying languages.

In high school, I spent a year learning Latin and two years learning Spanish. After getting married, thanks to the influence of my husband, I spent a few years learning Japanese. When we decided to adopt our daughter from Taiwan, I switched to learning Chinese. And I have loved my time spent with each of these languages!

I don’t know where my language efforts will lead me. All I can do is make a daily effort and keep reminding myself that it’s ok to be passionate about learning languages. It’s not selfish and it’s not useless. There must be a reason I love the challenge. For now, I’ll continue with Chinese. Eventually, I hope to revisit Japanese and maybe I’ll start a new language as well. There are so many options and I’m excited about all of the possibilities.

Deadly Proof – A book review


Deadly Proof
Rachel Dylan

As far as modern Christian fiction is concerned, this is one of the better novels I’ve read. Kate is a fairly realistic character, a woman lawyer who struggles with depression. She obsesses over her career, immersing herself in her work for long days to cope with the emotions that rise when she has downtime. Kate genuinely cares about her clients and works hard to ensure they receive the justice they deserve.

I did struggle with Kate’s attitude toward her clients. It came across as if Kate would only accept clients who she believed were genuinely innocent of any wrongdoing. I don’t know enough about the law industry to know if it’s possible for lawyers to only accept certain clients, especially when they work in a firm and have other lawyers above them in the pecking order. Kate switched from defense to prosecution because she wanted to protect those who had been wronged. But what about those individuals who had been wrongly accused of a crime? Don’t they deserve a lawyer who believes in them?

The legal aspects of this novel were extremely well explained. The author took care to explain various laws and court procedure but was able to explain things without talking down to the reader. This is difficult to do well! I appreciated that. I have read a few legal thrillers and have watched a LOT of legal thriller television and movies. So the novel didn’t teach me anything new in that area but I also didn’t feel as if I was wasting my time reading legal explanations for the lay person.

The romantic relationship was a bit… sappy. Landon’s character was slightly girly. He is a former Army Ranger and yet his internal thoughts were not very manly. He came across more like a romcom lead than an ex-military private investigator. This made the relationship development seem cheesy and unbelievable. It felt more like how a woman daydreams about a man’s thoughts toward her rather than how a man actually thinks.

Overall, Deadly Proof was a great read! I just put the second book on hold at the library and can’t wait to read other novels by the same author.

Thank you to Bethany House for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion!

The Nephilim Virus – A Book Review

First of all, I owe a huge apology to both the author and the publisher of this book. Life got crazy, I wrote down the wrong date for the blog tour, and now I’m late in getting my review published. But I wanted to make sure I honor my commitment, though it’s late, so here goes.

The Nephilim Virus, written by John T. Prather, is not my normal choice of reading material. I generally gravitate to historical fiction, Christian contemporary romance, or nonfiction. However, I’ve really been wanting to branch out in my reading, choosing other genres in hopes of finding some new favorites. When I saw this book available as a review copy, I decided that it was a good choice in my attempts to branch out.

Nick Reese wakes from a three-year coma to find the world he once knew is gone. An ancient virus has infected two-thirds of the world’s population, turning humans into either incredibly intelligent super-humans or large and indestructible animalistic creatures. For the survivors, there is no government, no antidote, and no safety. With the help of a beautiful hematologist named Faith and a man they call the Commander, Nick must survive long enough to discover the origin of the virus and learn how his blood could hold the key to a cure. But he has to do it while being hunted by the infected. And failure means the extinction of the human race. (description from Prather’s website)

The Nephilim Virus is an intense book! It is entirely plot driven and the action never stops. I’m a mom to two teens (demanding and time intensive parenting for sure!) and yet I could barely put the book down. It was suspenseful! I had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next. Was Nick going to find the other virus survivors? Was he going to be able to save the human race or was life hopeless? Events kept happening, never a dull moment in Nick’s life. I felt the novel sacrificed character development for constant plot development, but that may be more common in the thriller genre.

My only real criticism about the novel is that the ending felt entirely too rushed. Until the last 25 or so pages, I thought for sure that this was going to be a series. Then all of a sudden, the novel ended and everything was wrapped up. A sequel might have been a good idea to help the ending feel more realistic. I’m also curious if this book was written with the intent to bring it to film. The chapters were short, quick scenes that advanced the plot. Dialog was short and snappy. Since the author is also an actor, I can easily see how he could write the book intending it to someday be on the big screen.

I am definitely glad that I read this book. While supernatural thriller will never be my favorite genre, The Nephilim Virus was definitely worth the read. It’s an adventure story that kept me at the edge of my seat.

Minimalism – Day 7

Today my husband and I returned a couple items to Nordstrom. I love their customer service! I was able to return a shirt that I had bought 2.5 years ago, never wore, and still had the tags on it. Due to the length of time since purchase, they were not able to give me a refund but they did give me a gift certificate.

I have a new personal policy – return all unwanted online orders within a week of receipt. One of the items returned was too big for me; they had since transferred that line to Nordstrom Rack and could not exchange it for me, instead offering me a refund. One of the items was too small. That one was “limited stock” but the cashier was able to find it at another Nordstrom store and ordered it to be shipped to our home. If I had been more on top of exchanges, I could have gotten the correct sizes for all returns instead of refunds.

And it took awhile, but I finally figured out why I’m having such a hard time decluttering my clothes. If I follow all three of my guidelines…

1 – Does it fit properly at my current weight?
2 – Does it look good on me, a good color, a good fit, etc?
3 – Do I like it?

… then there won’t be much left in my closet. My very last sweater is worn and is now too small for me but I wear it because it’s my last one. I have a couple long sleeved shirts that I love. Several of my t-shirts are pretty worn and should probably be replaced soon. But my wardrobe funds are limited so I am slow in replacing things. I know I could shop somewhere other than Nordstrom’s clearance racks but I love their clothes. I grew up wearing secondhand clothes and would rather have a limited wardrobe that I love than have a bunch of clothes I just tolerate. It’s a trade-off. I’m slowly moving toward a wardrobe I love but have to replace things slowly due to funds.

In the meantime, I can probably cull a few things I never wear but everything else has to stay. I may not love it. It may be worn out. But it’s all I have.

Items decluttered (to-date) – 14

Minimalism – Day 4

I’m still working on my minimalism project. Woohoo!

But I’m having a really hard time letting go of a few things and cannot pinpoint exactly why. My husband said it’s emotional attachment, which is why I cannot find an actual reason.

For example…

I started collecting jeans for this quilt years ago, I think even before I met my husband. I saw a denim quilt on HGTV and instantly fell in love.

However, when I started working on the quilt, I made a mistake in choosing to include pockets. At first I thought it would be a really cute addition. But when I started the actual quilting, I found that it was almost impossible to quilt around the pockets or through them. Quilting through them ruined the ability to use the pockets but quilting around them looked really bad on the cat side of the quilt.

Now, at 35 years of age, this is not really my style of quilt. But I think the sentimentality makes it impossible to get rid of it. I’ve been working on the quilt, either collecting the jeans, sewing together the jean patches, or working on the quilting itself, for over a decade. Obviously I don’t love the project. So why can’t I let it go?

Items decluttered (to-date) – 7