The Things I Was Into – August 2014

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I might as well call this installment of ‘What I’m Into’ the Musical Theatre Edition, because that’s pretty much what’s consumed my life this past month.

This month has been chalk full of creating theatre on the stage with fellow artists and friends.  Though my schedule has been harried, vacations non-existent, and balanced living a distant memory, I wouldn’t trade any of these days for the world.  Musical theatre performing is my favorite creative passion, and one of the things I feel I was born to do–I am utmost grateful for these beautiful, creative days.

{affiliate links in this post, if used, go directly to support All Manner of Inspiration – thanks!}

Musicals Galore – Phantom & Fiddler On The Roof

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I spent the first 2 weeks of the month finishing the performance run of Phantom to sold-out crowds, had one day off, then went right into rehearsals for a production of Fiddler On the Roof.  

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As I type this post, I am in the thick of  ‘tech week’ for Fiddler – theatre speak for the longer, extended hours of rehearsals the week leading up to opening night.  Its often a tedious, grueling process, but thankfully – this particular company of actors, musicians, and technicians are a wonderful lot of folks – its been a much-more-fun-than-usual tech week.

 

Books

What I Read

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Let’s All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs

I still remember standing in the hotel lobby at the Allume conference in 2012, talking and praying with Annie, and getting chills as she described the book she was writing.  I have been eagerly awaiting its release, and it did not disappoint.

Annie’s writing is personal, friendly and the best kind of hilarious.  Many author’s writing styles are described as “personal”, but she really is one of those authors who, when you read her books, you feel as though you she is right there with you, sharing her wisdom over a cup of coffee–and I love that she included the name and locale of the particular coffee shop where she wrote each chapter.  She shares more of her personal life and stories in this book, that yielded some beautiful takeaways for me–I gobbled these words up in a few short days.  This book is a wonderful read I really enjoyed.

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Attachments & Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

After all of the blog-world I read kept waxing on and on about Rainbow Rowell books (especially Rainbow & Park), I had to check them out at the library.  While both of these books are very well written and enjoyable reads, my favorite was Attachments.  (Let’s just say, I’m not one for downer-endings, though I did like the ray of hope at the end of Eleanor & Park).

I read Attachments firstand flew through it.  It was good enough that I had to clear my calendar the morning I finished it, so I could read straight through.  Eleanor & Park seemed to not quite live up to the hype for me, but I loved the in-depth character writing, and really rooted and cared for both main characters, which to me, feels like the mark of wonderful fiction writing.  Both were fun summer reads.

 Unnaturally Green {One Girl’s Journey Along A Yellow Brick Road Less Traveled} by Felicia Ricci

Let me start by gushing and just say, I loved this book.  I hope to one day write a memoir that among other content, shares some of my stories of being a traveling performer.  When I began to research books written in memoir form by musical theatre performers, I was stunned to only find three legit titles on Amazon.  (I realize this could have been a limited search, and but this was my surprising initial finding).   The first one on that list was this book, and I devoured it!

Ricci is a Yale graduate, and a literary  winner for nonfiction, and boy, did it show–her writing voice is fantastic!  (A quick internet and youtube search for her after reading her book turned up her numerous how-to singing videos, but I’m reallllly hoping she writes another book very, very soon!)  In her early 20’s, she auditioned for and got a creme de la creme gig for a musical theatre actress–the ensemble replacement, and soon after, stand-by for Elphaba in the San Francisco company of Wicked.    She shares the in’s and out’s of her personal journey–from the audition process, to rehearsals, performances, cast bonding–the whole wonderful lot of it–with hilarity and wit, while still revealing her vulnerabilities.

She also brilliantly shared the thought process one goes through on stage when in an understudy/standby position in a creative way that I thought was SO brilliant, I fully plan to use her technique (and credit her of course) to share my own story in a future blog post or essay.  {Felicia, if you’re reading this mini-review: I’m referencing pages 179-183–SO. FLIPPING.BRILLIANT.AND.TRUE!!}

If you love Wicked, musical theatre, or just a fun light reading memoir, don’t miss this one!

What I’m Reading

Breathing Room by Leanna Tankersley, An Altar In The World by Barbara Brown Taylor, Speak by Nish Weiseth, Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray & Letters From Backstage: The Adventures of A Touring Stage Actor by Michael Kostroff.

 What I Listened To

I loved discovering the soundtrack to Ragamuffin, the new film about Christian singer-songwriter Rich Mullins.  The album is filled with excellent covers of his songs–my favorites are on the playlist below.    I especially can’t stop listening to the classical trio Time For Three, (that only play popular songs) as well as Ed Sheeran’s  ‘I See Fire’ from the Hobbit movie.

{Follow me and my playlists on Spotify here.}

Favorite Instagram-able Moments

{Follow me on Instagram here.}

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Because the only plants I seem to be able to keep alive are succulents, I picked up a pretty one at Trader Joes for this whimsical planter head I’m obsessed with that I purchased at Homegoods.   I’ve since moved it to a larger shelf in our breakfast nook, but I loved the way it caught the light in this photo on our kitchen table.

 

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I taped up various cards and memorabilia into my stage makeup box YEARS ago, and have pulled it out of storage of late, as I’ve been enjoying performing professionally once again.

During a matinee of a performance when I was struggling a bit with a head cold, and randomly thinking of my Mom, this card flipped open in front of me–no doubt the years old Scotch tape having been jiggled apart from recent use–and I discovered that my card with Dorothy’s Wizard of Oz ruby red slippers on the front was indeed a handwritten note from my Mom!

My beautiful Mother passed away years ago, much too young. I read her words, and smiled as they gave me the warmth and unexpected feeling of her presence.  I love moments like this–Godscidence, my Godmother so aptly calls it–that remind me of the divine presence in my daily life.

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At the Declare Blogging Conference I attended this month, I captured some of my favorite Dayspring product displayed on the wall, their Words Matter line.  I love that various women on the Incourage staff shared both their favorite Scriptures or a quote from their writings, and then artists came up with these beautiful prints.  I took home a couple of these as gifts that I’m eager to find frames and homes for on my walls.

 

 

Blogisphere Reads

 

Emily Miller:  Sacro Speco: Give Your Soul An Occasional Sunday 

I was honored to be even a small part of the inspiration for writer Emily Miller’s Sacro Speco post.  Its been awhile since I’ve taken time on the blog for Sacro Speco – this was a good reminder to begin that tradition anew once again.

Emily Freeman at Chatting At The Sky:  For When You Feel Like A Spectator to Grief: A Reflection On the Death of Robin Williams   

 

Lacy Ellman at A Sacred Journey: Everyday Calls to Prayer: 5 Surprising Invitations to Encounter God, Hidden In Your Daily Life
 Laura Tremaine at The Hollywood Housewife: How I Instagram

 

 Tsh Oxenreider at The Art of Simple Travel: #WorldWideOx  Packing List: Women’s Clothing 
Allison Vesterfelt’s new e-book on writing: 

Everybody wants to be a writer. But not everybody wants to do what it takes to become a writer: to show up without pretense, to listen to themselves, to lean in and wrestle, to let go of control, to speak up and connect with an audience.

The act of writing won’t change you, it won’t even necessarily help you. But the art of writ-ing, the practice of writing—that will turn you into a better you, if you let it.

 

I want to share more goodness from August, but I need to head to the theatre for our opening night performance of Fiddler On The Roof!  It’s the day of the show y’all!  Mozeltov!

What were you into in August?

Declare 4 by 4: Things You Should Know About Me If We’re Gonna Be Conference-BFF’s

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I am excited and grateful to be attending a blogging conference practically in my own backyard this weekend, The Declare Conference!

This is not my first blogging conference, as I’ve attended Allume {one of my favorites!} for the past two years.   I also attended the Blissdom conference last year–in part because it was in the DFW area, and I got a last minute deeply discounted ticket, thanks to Twitter.

I’m really looking forward to attending Declare,  not only to learn more about my craft, but to connect and meet with fellow local bloggers and writers.

Because I’m also performing in a musical theatre production this weekend as well, this conference experience will definitely look a bit different for me!  

I will be attending the sessions during the day, then hopefully grabbing a quick bite to eat with my fellow conference-goers, before I hop into my car, and head down the street a few miles to the theatre, where I’ll be performing at the theatre each night.  {I’m hoping to catch the audio from the keynote speeches when its available.}

 I hate not being able to be at every single event, but I’m grateful that the location and proximity between the conference site and the theatre is allowing me to juggle the pursuit of my both my writing and theatrical dreams! 

The wonderful folks at Declare are hosting a fun ‘get to know ya’ linkup post for all of the Declare attendees.  If you’re new to my blog, you may already be able to tell I can get a little long-winded with these fun kind of posts! Still, here’s some of my quirks, my dreams and my favorite things.

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  • 4 THINGS ABOUT ME

1. I’m one of those unique personality types known as an ambivert–smack dab center in the middle of extrovert and introvert-land.  Most people who know me well snicker at this knowledge, because truth be told, I probably seem more like an extrovert in person.   But, if I’m around a lot of really BIG personalities (like the actors I work with in musical theatre), I tend to go into quiet, observation mode.  And if I don’t have good chunks of time alone to read and pray and process, I can get mighty cranky.

I think all this really means for conference purposes, is that I really would love to connect with you in person, and I’d love to strike up a conversation over a meal or any of the sessions.  One of the reasons I’m attending Declare to is connect with other local {or otherwise} writers and bloggers, and I’m so looking forward to meeting new friends, and learning from other writers!

 

2.  I’m Midwestern born, and a happy Texas transplant.  Being an actor, I’ve lived here, there and everywhere.

The most beautiful place I’ve lived was in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  The most fun and bustling place was definitely New York City.  The coldest was Minneapolis.  Now, wherever my husband and I are is home.  I’ve been married for a few years to my wonderful Soul Mate Husband, and while we don’t have children yet, we do have a wonderful pup, Daphne, who I fully count as my four-legged baby.

 

3.  I’ve been a singer and an actor for a good part of my life.  I started out as a classical voice and opera major in college, and eventually realized my real passion was musical theatre.    I spent the next decade or more after school performing in musicals on tour and regionally.   I also spent 5 years in ministry with a large Christian theatre, where I even spent a year helping train animals.   After my last show tour overseas, I found myself working for a veterinary clinic as a pharmacy technician {how I made that long jump is a story best told over dinner and some wine}.   I’m now thrilled to be based in Texas with my sweet husband.  As far as I’m concerned, our life’s journeys is the best adventure.

4.  I love coffee, but only if its chalk full of the sweet stuff, like cream and sugar.  I also love hot tea, and sweet tea.  I’m unfortunately always warm {my husband calls me ‘a human heater’}, which doesn’t always bode well for me in Texas.

 

  • 4 OF MY ENDEARING {?!} QUIRKS

1.  Though I’ve been left-handed since I was a child, I’m actually ambidextrous.  A few years ago, I started getting cramps in my left hand, so I started using my right hand just out of convenience.  Now, I pretty much only use my right hand to write!

2.  One of my quirkiest quirks is that I’m OBSESSED with finding the PERFECT PEN!  What can I say? Some women obsess over shoes, I obsess over writing instruments.  The other day, I was in my a fowl mood, as I’ve been fighting a cough/cold, and going into Office Depot and picking up a new pen put a smile on my face.

3.  I love to collect journals and pens when I travel.  I also love to read and collect books on journaling.

4.  My best friend {because, really, who else could?} calls me a ‘stage eater’.  When I’m eating dinner, and having good conversation, I eat, then talk, then eat, then talk.   This isn’t always the best trait to have at a conference, so I’ll have to keep an eye on that.

 

  • 4 THINGS ABOUT MY BLOG & WRITING

1.  While expressing my artistry through singing and acting  comes to me naturally, writing is an area of my creativity in which I consider myself to be a novice.  I journaled privately for years, but only a few years ago, did I begin to consider blogging as a way to write publicly.

2. I began blogging in 2008, when I started an online journal to document my travels and performing overseas.  That blog probably had the most catchy title I’ve ever had.  I was playing a nun in the musical, The Sound of Music, so my blog was titled Confessions of A Protestant Nun.  My writing was truly, truly abysmal and should never have been made public, but back then, I had no agenda for blogging, and didn’t expect anyone to read my words who didn’t already know me.    It wasn’t until late 2011, when I moved to Texas, that I began to even consider blogging as a real medium for writing.  I have been writing discussion posts for the SheLoves Magazine Red Couch Book Club this year, and I’d like to contribute my writing to more online sources.

3.  I LOVE to journal–it has been, and probably always will be, my favorite way to write.   I loved reading books on writing  years before I thought about writing publicly.  That probably should have been a clue to my longings to write even then, but I was too wrapped up in my life as an actor and singer to realize it.

I’ve always felt like I’m supposed to write the book I’ve never been able to find on a bookstore shelf.  I’m a hodgepodge of creativity–with my love for singing and acting and writing, and I’d love for my writing to reflect that in the best of ways.  My favorite book, and one of my greatest literary inspirations, is Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith & Artby my favorite author, Madeleine L’Engle.

4.  The more I attend conferences, and continue to chase this dream of writing, the more I also dream of speaking.  I feel it would be a natural progression of my giftings, and my joys as a performer.  I also would love to start a regular podcast on my blog.  I’d love to interview people who inspire me in all sorts of ways.  I’m at that point in my writing dreams where I need help making the abstract specific.  I can’t wait to see what’s next in this area of my creative life!

  • 4 OF MY FAVORITE THINGS 

1.  A pile of my favorite books {usually non-fiction and memoir, unless its summer, and then I dabble in some fiction}, a cup of coffee or tea, and my sweet pup at my feet.  No one said it better than C.S. Lewis:  “You can never get a cup of tea large enough, or a book long enough, to suit me.”  

2. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to travel.  My husband and I took a trip to Europe a few years ago, and it remains my most favorite trip I’ve ever taken.  {My dream would be my favorite things listed above, in a Tuscan villa….Paradiso, anyone??}.  A dream job for me, would be to get paid to travel and write about it.

3.  I’m usually not without my journal and ‘happy/gratitude’ list wherever I go.

4.  My friends, and my family of friends really are life-giving to me, I can’t be happy for long without them.

So there you have it!  If you’re coming to Declare this weekend, I look forward to meeting you!  

What I’m Into – July 2014

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We found this beauteous rug this month online at Joss & Main. It complements our dining room and blue china perfectly–and we got it at a steal-of-a-price! Maybe this decorating business isn’t so bad after all!

 

July flew by in a blink for me.  Seriously, where did the time go??

Its the last day of July as I type this.  Unfortunately, I’m laid up in bed with a nasty throat/cough/cold bug.  I haven’t been sick in quite awhile, and just recently, I was mentally patting myself on the back for that…touche.   While I’m feverishly (no pun intended) trying to get well ASAP to perform in the next two weekends of Phantom shows and attend an upcoming blog conference next weekend,  today is a treat with a pile of books, a huge mug of hot tea, and reading all this month’s  What I’m Into linkups to my heart’s content.

This month has gone a million miles an hour for me, and I’ve really enjoyed the ride.  We hosted my in-laws and some friends for the 4th of July, Phantom was rehearsed and opened, and we began the {somewhat daunting, yet fun} task of decorating our new home.  With the absence of a vacation this summer, my husband and I have been loving trying out restaurants in our new neighborhood, and I’ve curled up with a good book as much as possible.  All good things.

 

Reading

What I Read

 Traveling With Pomegranates – Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor

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This book was the perfect example of a great read that came to me at the exact right time.  Being that its summer, I’m yearning  to travel even more than usual, but my schedule of rehearsals and musical show performances {that I’m grateful to have} isn’t allowing any time away from home until the fall.   Luckily, I’m a big fan of the travel memoir, so my reading has taken me to far and luxuriously distant locales this summer.

I was also drawn to this memoir because it is written by a celebrated author, Sue Monk Kidd, and her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor.  Told in alternating voices and chapters, it chronicles both the literal travels, and internal journeys this mother and daughter have over a period of years, and intertwines their personal journeys with those in Greek mythology.

This is a specialized read for sure, and the specificity of the content may not be for everyone, but I was entranced more and more with each chapter.  It made me long to travel, it reminded to always go deeper into my internal pilgrimage, and it reminded me of the burning desire to write that won’t go away no matter how I try to stuff it down.  A beautiful read–one of my favorites of the summer.

Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton

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My reading list last summer could’ve been described as ‘the best food memoir books that will make you stop everything you’re doing to read them straight through.’  {Or, umm, something like that.}  Actually, I have been working through a list of suggested food memoir reading in the appendix of my favorite book last year, Bread & Wine.  Blood, Bones & Butter was one of the last books on the list I just couldn’t bring myself to read for a few different reasons.

I unfortunately read of the disastrous turn the author’s life took right around {or after} this book was published.  I don’t say that in a spirit of judgment at all, but let’s just say the gory details (that I will spare you of here) made me not excited to pick up this book.

When I found a copy at my local library this month, I was just bored enough to give it a shot, and I’m so glad I did.  Hamilton’s writing style is compulsively readable, and her story is very interesting.  I immediately momentarily abandoned all of my other reads to finish this one, and it didn’t disappoint.  Her lifestyle, her choices, and her own particular path do not echo mine, but her story is gritty and fascinating and riveting on the page.  If you love food memoir, don’t let the title, the cover of the book, or events in the personal life of the author deter you from this read – its first rate. 

At Least You’re In Tuscany by Jennifer Criswell

Being that I LOVE all things Italy and Tuscan, this read was a no-brainer for me.  Criswell is a lawyer from New York City, who decided to trade in the legal briefs for life as a writer in the small Tuscan town of Montepulicano.

Unfortunately, her dreams and the reality of her first year as a Tuscan resident did not marry well, but she tells both her woes and her victories with such humor, whimsey and grace that I couldn’t put this book down, and cheered for her all the way to the end.  According to her blog, she’s working on a follow up book now, which I’m excited to read whenever it releases.

Criswell also has a lovely way of including a lot of Italian words and phrases amidst her story {told in English} that made me wish for an Italian Rosetta Stone kit for Christmas.  I’ve always thought the Italian language is so beautifully musical!  A perfect light, summer read–highly recommended.

 

What I’m Reading

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Let’s All Be Brave by Annie Downs, Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy by Frances Mayes,  Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah, Tables In The Wilderness by Preston Yancey, An Altar In The World by Barbara Brown Taylor, Attachments & Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell & The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.

Interesting Interweb Reads

Tsh Oxenreider at The Art of Simple:  On Resisting the Digital & Embracing the Analog 

I’m back to writing more analog-style. I loved rediscovering in Tuscany my love for journaling, so I’m reacquainting this simple habit back to my real world.   In fact, right now I’m writing this entire post with a Bic pen and a Moleskine notebook. At 3:30 a.m., no less (jetlag and all).

Michelle DeRusha:  Why You Need To Take A Real Vacation  &  Tell The Truth As You Understand It {a post for Incourage}  

We need to hear the whole story. Not just the pretty, shiny, fancy parts. Not just the moments when we make the right decision, or offer grace or parent with patience or turn the other cheek, but the moments when we fail to do so, too.

Because these are the moments that make us real and relateable. These are moments that earn trust, gratitude and empathy. These are the moments that assure others that we are flawed, just like they are. These are the moments that have us nodding our heads in recognition and encourage us to be courageously authentic, too.

Fiona Lynne: On Taking Selfies

It’s hard work, this fast and surreal growth into motherhood. But as my wise man keeps reminding me, hard does not equal bad. And those selfies help me to see the good in this hard. They help me to see past the bags under my eyes and the stains on my top and recognise the transformation happening in me and see that it is good.

Podcasts

The Art of Simple Podcast:  Nerd Is A Good Thing & A Chat With My {Tsh Oxenreider’s} Literary Agent  

The Declare Conference Podcast:  How To Benefit From A Conference Writing Session – An Interview with Denise Hughes

 

What I Listened to/Sang

The Fault In Our Stars – movie soundtrack

Phantom (Yeston/Kopit version) – original cast soundtrack

Yes! – Jason Mraz

I listened to a smattering of songs on the various albums listed above, along with a few other gems.  I put together a short playlist for this month on Spotify – follow all of my playlists on Spotify here.

I am over-the-moon excited to soon be a part of a local regional production of the musical Fiddler On the Roof, starting rehearsals next month!  Listening to this beautiful montage from the Tony’s a few years back is so inspiring!

 

Stitch Fix Jackpot

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I’ve been getting a Stitch-Fix box delivered to my door for the past few months.  Though I haven’t had a chance to blog about it yet, I’ve usually only kept one thing each month.  I seem to have had a different stylist every month, probably because they could see from my comments that sizing and style issues kept happening, where I didn’t like the bulk of the fix.  

But color me happy, this month, I hit the jackpot!  They not only sent me 2 maxi skirts {my favorite item of summer clothing), I loved all of the patterns and colors, and kept my first pair of earrings in a Fix.  I wasn’t sure if the earrings were too big for me, but thanks to my friends on Instagram weighing in on my goofy selfie above, I realized they were a perfect fit.  I kept three items in this month’s fix, and I’m looking forward to my next Fix in a few months.  I also think my stylist had a lot more information to go on from my Pinterest Stitch Fix Inspiration board. 

Summer Telly-Watching

I’m still watching Covert Affairs each week on DVR, along with my summer favorite, SYTYCD. My hubby and I are watching Food Network Star, and I recently discovered Poirot – a Masterpiece Classic mystery that’s getting me excited for the returns of Sherlock and Downton Abbey.

Other Favorites

The SheReadsTruth App

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I’ve been a fan of SheReadsTruth.com since the beginning.  They launched their free iPhone app this month, and its a beauty!  I especially loved downloading these screen savers.

Favorite Insta-Moments   {follow me on Instagram here.}

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This big, beautiful library is literally minutes from our new home, and I’ve been thrilled with the kindness of the staff, the varied selections, and the quickness of their interlibrary loan.  Their automated notification emails are even cute with fun text!  Color this book nerd a happy camper.

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I also discovered a most lovely cafe, in walking distance from the library.  There’s a plethora of tables, soft chairs, and writing nook tables, good wifi and the perfect coffee shop atmosphere.  I’m hoping to write many-a-blog-post inside these walls.

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Being that I usually make my coffee and tea at home with my trusty Keurig, getting cold coffee, or in this case, hot tea drinks out and about is a treat.  I thought this honey vanilla red tea latte was beauty in a cup.

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Reading The Nester’s fabulous decorating book has given me the chutzpah to embrace my love of quirky decor.  I found this bust at HomeGoods for $14.99, and thought it would be fun to give her a coat of paint in my favorite Annie Sloan color.  I was amazed at how quick a process it was!  In around 10 minutes, this became…

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 …This!  I left some of her hair white for a quirky touch {and also, if I’m honest, as a reminder  and inspiration that I wish to live to be an old, old woman}, but I’m unsure if I’m happy with the look.  I think I’d also really like the whole bust one color.  We just installed a white shutter on my study window, so I’m going to see what she looks like on my desk next to the window.  I hope to share more pictures of my office/study, as it comes together.  {I also love the quirk of this bust next to my favorite lamp–another find at Joss & Main.

Phantom fun

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One of my main activities this month was rehearsing and performing in one of my favorite musicals, the Yeston/Kopit version of Phantom. {Not to be confused with the much more famous Andrew Lloyd Webber version on Broadway and on tour}.  

Truth be told, its been a bit of time for me, since I last rehearsed and performed full time. {In the last couple of years, I went back to school for my degree, among other life events.}.  All that to say, I definitely have ‘all the feels’ about this.  I’ve been writing privately about my experiences in this show, performing, in general and my love and passion for the musical theatre stage.  I’m hoping to share these words soon on my blog, but for now, they need to percolate and bloom, as I sort them all out.  I’ve wanted to write more publicly about my performing life for some time, so this is a gift and a privilege, and I want to do it right.

 Being a part of this wonderful piece of theatre has most definitely been a highlight of my month.

 

What I’m Looking Forward To in August

Going to a blogging conference in my own backyard {The Declare Conference}–while performing in the closing weekend of Phantom, starting rehearsals for Fiddler On The Roof, writing more blog posts (linkups are great and all, but I really want to be publishing content here that’s speaks to my writing passions}, having a cooking/dinner club night with friends and squeezing out every last drop of summer.

What are you into lately? 

  {Any affiliate links used in this post go toward supporting this blog – thanks!}

What I’m Into – June 2014

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Summer always seems to sneak up on me, and this year was no exception.  June felt like even more of a whirl, because we moved into our new house the first week of the month.  We’re well into July, and we are still unpacking, but happily, our beautiful house is starting to feel like home.

In addition to packing, this month has been stuffed to the gills with volunteering, a quick weekend trip to see my brother and his family,  and the wonderfully busyness of musical theatre creativity, with Phantom rehearsals in full swing for the better part of the summer.

 Blogisphere Bounty

The Nester: Why the World Needs the Makers to Say No Boldly  

 {I read Myquillyn’s blog everyday, and am a charter member to her family’s genius site, Hopeologie.  This post is one of the many reasons I am a fan.}

I’ve learned that I am the ONLY person who will protect my own creativity and livelihood.

~Myquillyn Smith

 

Addie Zierman: 10 Books in My Writer’s Toolbox , Summer Is For Reading & her series on blogging - brilliant!

 {I devour resource posts like these – they are one of the reasons I love the blogisphere.}

 

I don’t know how to experience summer without the silent soundtrack of someone else’s words. I breathe in the smell of sunscreen and bug repellent and damp, lake air, and it makes me want to read.

~Addie Zierman

 

Michelle DeRusha:  There’s More Than One Way To Get the Work Done (the Writing Life)   

{Michelle was one of my first friends/connections in the blogging world.  She is a fantastic writer, and I love her honesty and candor.  She regularly inspires me with her words.}

Donald Miller is correct about one thing: writing a book does demand your all. It requires a fierce dedication, unwavering perseverance, militant discipline and sacrifice. You can’t write a book without making radical adjustments to life as you know it.

But know this, too: writing a book in the midst of ordinary life may not be perfect or ideal, and it may not be what your dream of the writing life looked like way back when you were an English major, but it can be done and done well.

~Michelle DeRusha

 

Alia Joy:  Writing Questions Blog Hop 

{Alia’s writing is some of the most beautiful prose I’ve read in the blogisphere.  Read all of her words that you stumble upon, I promise it will be worth it to your soul.} 

My pen is my weapon of choice to fight off the darkness that comes when depression looms, it’s my compass for navigating my messy mind, my even messier heart. It’s my mirror to show what’s really there when everything else has been washed away and only the words that speak truth remain. It’s the prayers I leak onto the page, it’s the rally cry to be all in when it’s so easy to check out. It’s my wail and lament and why God. It is the hard questions and the breadcrumb trail to find my way home.

~Alia Joy

 

Tsh Oxenreider & Family:  Hello to the Art of Simple Travel 

{I have been following Tsh’s blog and podcasts for quite some time, especially since she rebranded her blog to The Art of Simple.  I have also been very excited to see her launch this new travel blog, as she and her family experience one of my dreams in traveling the world.  Even more incredible to me is that she gets to blog, and write about a book about the whole experience.  My dream job on a platter.  I will be reading every post.  I would LOVE to write for a site like this one day.}

 As our family of five revs up to explore and travel as a daily part of our modus operandi, we craved a space to share with you our love of travel.

To encourage you to get out “there,” even if it’s a block away. To bravely think outside the box. To take risks together as a family, and to wield your privilege and responsibility wisely. To not be scared to immerse in the different.

~Tsh Oxenreider

 

Anne Lamott’s Facebook Status Updates, in particular, this one. {About her book writing process, and upcoming book.}

We stitch together quilts of meaning to keep us warm and safe, with whatever patches of beauty and utility we have on hand. We help each other laugh, against all odds. Barry Lopez was right: after all is said and done, all we have are compassion and stories.

~Anne Lamott

 

Sarah Bessey’s videos at The Work of the People - my favorite one is on detoxing from ‘not enough’ posted this month on Sarah’s blog.

 

Foodie Finds

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A SCRUMPTIOUS recipe for Panzanella Salad from Geoffrey Zakarian on The Food Network’s new show, The Kitchen.

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I’ve never been a big artichoke eater (with the exception of marinated artichoke hearts in my salads), but THIS.DISH.  Its truly the best artichoke you will ever eat — slightly buttered and salted, steamed, then grilled to perfection.  Finished off with a touch of juice from a grilled lemon on top, and served with a dipping sauce of chipotle mayo that’s slap-your-g’ma-good—this appetizer is now one of my favorite foodie finds ever.  {If you’re local to Fort Worth, you can enjoy this appetizer here.}

 

Books

What I Read

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Yes, I am one of the last people I know to read this book.  I did so purposefully.  I lost my Mom, Grandmother, Grandfather and a good few other folks to cancer, and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to handle reading a whole book about terminally ill cancer kids.

The book really was as wonderfully written, and charming as everyone told me it would be.  Some parts were hard to read, because I had flashbacks of my own experience of losing loved ones.  But all in all, my fellow bloggers and friends were right: its a beautiful read.

I’ve never been one for ‘trigger points’ in my reading.  But I realized reading about people experiencing this disease may very well be one for me.   If you have a similar story, perhaps consider that before reading, but regardless, I strongly recommend this riveting and vulnerable read.

What I’m Reading

Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler,  The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling), Tables In The Wilderness by Preston Yancey, The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski, Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor & Soul Keeping by John Ortberg.

HomeGoodness
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Since I’m now a full-on ‘burbs dweller, I’ve been checking out my shopping options for furnishing our new home on a budget.  People, how am I now JUST discovering the fabulousness that is HomeGoods?  

So far, I’ve found the beautiful small area rug pictured above, a handful of GORGEOUS journals–all for $4 or less {two favorites are pictured above}, a planter head/bust statue, a regular small bust that I plan to cover with chalk paint and put in my study, and a small mat for our dog’s food for the kitchen.   We also found a HUGE, soft rug for the dining room that we tried out, but it didn’t look right in the space.  {We were able to wrap it up and return it the next day, which was a helpful convenience.}   I know it will be a regular pit stop for me, as we decorate and finish moving into our new home.

What I Listened To

Sarah Mclachlan – Shine: This newest album of Sarah’s is one of the best I’ve heard from her in a long while.  Its acoustic, and soft and is a perfect fit for my mood in the summer.

All Sons & Daughters {technically a spring release, but I’m just now listening to it regularly.}

Coldplay – Ghost Stories: Though my husband disagrees, this is one of my favorite Coldplay albums to come along in the past few years.  I love the moody, introspective vibe of the record when played from start to finish.  I also LOVE blaring “A Sky Full of Stars” in my car, to get myself energized for Phantom rehearsals.

 

Hope-o-logie

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I have been LOVING this monthly service, hosted by a beautiful family of artists, including The Nester (Myquillyn Smith), Emily Freeman (of the Chatting At The Sky blog), and their dad, radio host/blogger/writer Gary Morland.  I’ve been a charter member since April, and the material they create each month is truly life-giving.

What it is and how it works: each month Hopeologie has a new theme that drives that month’s offered content, including multiple articles, DIY projects, (sometimes) videos, worksheets to help you process through the theme, as well as (my favorite feature) beautiful–and sometimes practical, like this month–printables created by Annie Barnett.

They make sure that you can download all of the material, and have given great tips on how to create your own ‘Hopeologie’ notebook.  {The cover of my own Hopeologie book has one of my favorite printables pictured above.}  Oooo, and how could I forget the podcasts?!   They are usually at least 2, which are informative, fun and funny.  (In particular, the Sister-o-logie podcast between sisters Myquillyn & Emily is always full of laughs).

So far, they’ve had themes like hospitality, rest, and imperfection – right up my alley.  If you even halfway enjoy either the Nester or Emily’s blogs,  I think you’ll enjoy Hopeologie as much as I do.

{By the way, I am in no way an affiliate, or getting compensated to say any of those things.  I just really love their work, and I think you will too.}

 

More June Favorites

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I alluded at the end of last month’s post to our moving this month.  We moved everything we own into a beautiful house that even smells new the first week of June.

This is one of the views that takes my breath away.  I’m in love with the wood beams on the ceiling of our family room, and the darkly colored wood, and cool, smooth granite in our kitchen.  I NEVER in my wildest dreams thought I’d live in a house I find so beautiful.

But even better than the aesthetics, is the way we feel in our home.  My first day there, I thought I’d miss our old house.  And our old house was also WONDERFUL.  But I didn’t miss it one bit.  This place we have found feels good.  It feels like a respite, a haven, a place to be imperfect and comfortable and a place to grow.

I’m hoping to share more pictures in the coming months as we go through the process of decorating, which only slightly terrifies me.   (I’ve been reading this fantastic book to get me through the process.)

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I very happily bought my first new pair of character shoes in years for Phantom rehearsals.  {And to be clear: I’m not performing in the version of Phantom that 99% of the world’s population knows, the Andrew Lloyd Webber version on Broadway.  This is the same story by a different composer, written by Maury Yeston.  The script is by Arthur Kopit.  Its beautiful and fun and a dreamy, dreamy show to be a part of.  If you’re local to Dallas/Fort Worth, treat yourself to a wonderful afternoon/evening of theatre!}

When I was a full-time performer, I had multiple pairs of characters in beige and black,  along with my tap, jazz and ballet shoes.   Its amazing that something as simple as a pair of shoes can aid so much in your creative process.  I’d equate it to the perfect laptop or pen for the writer–an essential tool.

I’ve waited quite awhile to perform in a musical once again, and I don’t take it lightly.    I’ve also reached the age and stage in my life when performing in a show is no longer just a ‘job’, but a gift.  I can’t wait to share more with you about my creative adventures later this summer.

 

Well, considering in a week or so, it’ll be time for the July What I’m Into linkup, I should probably hit ‘publish’ on this old post.  

{Any affiliate links used help support this blog – thanks!}

What were you into in June?

What I WAS Into ~ May 2014 : {The I-CANT-BELIEVE-SHE’S-STILL-BLOGGING-EDITION!}

whatimintomay2014 Well, HELLO blogisphere friends!

To say I’ve been quiet on the blog is a major understatement.

I’ve been writing a post in my head for WEEKS to share all the reasons why this space has been silent.

But the truth of the matter is, life is full and fruitful and though the main reasons for not writing lately have included buying and selling our house, getting settled in, working at church, and auditioning {& booking!} for musical theatre gigs like a maniac, that doesn’t even tell the full story.

Like so many other bloggers lately, I’ve been in need of some media REST.  (Micha Boyett writes about it beautifully here.  And Sarah Bessey practically takes the words out of my mouth through her own story here.)    When the exhaustion of keeping up with the Joneses mixes with a full plate, the thing that had to take a back seat for me in this season, was my blogging.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been furiously writing in my journal and on my laptop, and brainstorming idea after idea for this blog space, and my future dreams of writing e-books and print books. ALL THAT TO SAY, I think I’ve finally come up for air, so to speak.

I’m excited to share with you more of my creative adventures this summer, and I’ve decided to write about them in a way I’ve been wanting to do for some time.

So, while these last few paragraphs should no doubt have been their own blog post, I wanted to tack them onto a post that I have been meaning to publish for the last month. Leigh’s linkups are my favorite.  They help me chronicle my life and take stock of my personal journey.  They are also a favorite blogisphere resource of mine for the best recommendations on books, products, blogs, and more.

All that to say, here’s  my not-quite-finished, should’ve-been-published-weeks-ago,  hurried summary of May.  If you’re still reading, I can’t thank you enough.  I’m looking forward to actually linking up with my June recap post – sweet bejeebus, how is it already almost July?!?

I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to this spring in the comments!

{FYI:  If that long-winded spiel above hadn’t been in this post, the words below are where the  post originally began.  Thanks for obliging me, friends.}

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There are some months that feel like they have thrown you in the wash and rinse cycle {that was last month for me}.  Then there are some months that feel like they’ve tossed you into a ride on a tilt-a-whirl.  Welcome to my May.

We received glorious news that our house was in the process of being sold, and then, through a dizzying turn of events, we discovered we did not have a house to move into.

Though there was a tiny part of me that enjoyed the adventure of waking up to a new challenge or schedule everyday, I was overwhelmed in most areas of my life, and that unfortunately, included my writing and blogging.

I gulped large breaths of air into my lungs, hid my head in books when I needed to de-stress, and took solace in my sweet husband.  I also buried my head in the blogisphere sand, as I felt piles of guilt for falling behind in my goals.   I fell behind on a  deadline last month, which left me continually mortified and racked with shame whenever I opened my blog page to write.

There was real beauty this month, but the reality is, there was also the major stress of busyness.  I’m more than grateful that this month was full of the good kind of stress, but it also became apparent fast that this month was a short season where the blog had to take a backseat.

Blogisphere Beauties

Addie Zierman:  Why I Don’t Write About the Hot Button Issues 

{Amen, sister. Grateful that Addie wrote out my thoughts on this subject, MUCH better than I could.}

Another Addie Gem: Writing Is Hard  

{Yes Ma’m, that’ll Preach, Word-to-your-Mother, insert-wackadoo-exclamation here!  I am struggling to write good work on even the smallest level, so it gave me some solace that a writer I admire so much that just published a BRILLIANT AND AMAZING BOOK also has all the feels about this.  Addie talks about her upcoming book, writing it and and her writing process here – a must read.}

Sarah Bessey @ SheLoves Magazine: Chasing A Dream In the Midst & In the Afters 

{Sarah always seem to pull thoughts and dreams out of my head in her beautifully written blog posts.  Though I don’t have children, I resonate so deeply with her heartfelt story of chasing dreams in the midst and in ‘the afters’.  Another must read.}

Shauna Niequist: Less  

{As we pack up our house to move, I am forcing my packrat-saving self to purge, purge, purge.  These words of Shauna’s helped me do that.}

Anne Bogel at The Art of Simple:  Why I’m Still Reading Novels In The Age of Social Media 

{Though Anne doesn’t share anything in this post I didn’t probably already know, she articulated so much truth here.  Love this post, and Anne’s prolific blogging skills!}

On My Blog

I’m beyond embarrassed that I have fallen into even more blogging obscurity than normal this spring.    It started in April, and then I became so overwhelmed with our house selling and buying, and packing–that I feel as though I’ve fallen almost completely off the blogging grid.

 I am unspeakably grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Red Couch book club at SheLoves Magazine, and this month, I shared a discussion post for one of my favorite recent reads, Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly.

I just finished writing a discussion post for another favorite book, Soil & Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food & Faith by Fred Bahnson.  His book is a glorious read – I’ll hope you’ll join us at SheLoves next month! {And check out Leigh’s introductory post on the book – it’s fantastic!}   Here’s a bit about the book from Fred himself:

 

Riveting Reads & Such
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What I Read
Delancey by Molly Wizenberg

I loved Molly’s first memoir, A Homemade Life, and this one was just as good in my book.  (I may have even read this one faster than the last.)  Chronicling her journey into restaurant ownership with her husband, its personal, and lovely, and a quick read.  I loved her honesty about their journey as she helped her husband Brandon follow his dreams, and learned what she also needed personally for that dream to succeed.

People have been grumbling about the recipes in the book  (I suppose I do understand that its a little weird that she doesn’t include a pizza recipe, as their restaurant is a pizza joint.).  But I also get that, their recipes are part of their literal financial bread and butter so to speak, so it didn’t bother me.  I actually LOVED the recipes included in this book, more so that her first. Included are easy salads that are perfect for summer, pasta with vodka sauce and a slew of other dishes I’m excited to make (my best friend has my copy of the book, so I can’t reference them here).    Don’t miss this read–its perfect for summer.

A Year of No Sugar by Eve Schwab

Some people have taken issue with the title of this book, as it technically wasn’t ‘No Sugar’, but rather, no added sugar.  Told in memoir-style, Schwab details the year she and her  Vermont family swore off the sweet stuff.  They had cheat days each month (for special occasions, like birthdays), and family vacations.  {They went to Italy that year, and Eve only had one helping of gelato–a feat that would require Herculean patience in my book!}.  There’s lots of great information on sugar, and alternative sweetener options.  A fun read, and informative, too.

The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith {The Nester}

This book really deserves its own blog post.  Like so many others on the internet, this book was one of my favorite reads of the year, thus far!

Myquillyn’s blog is one of my must-reads, and its the only decorating blog I read with any regularity.  The subtitle of the book is a resounding theme in its pages–“it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful”–and its timely truth for us, as we are in a new house, and I am facing the daunting task of decorating.  Instead of dreading the process, Myquillyn’s book is helping me get excited to find my own way of expressing beauty and home in our living space.

What I’m Reading Now

Soul Keeping by John Ortberg, Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (really J.K. Rowling, can’t you drop the alias by now?), The Soul Tells A Story by Vinita Hampton Wright, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown,  & The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Dinner Club {Is it ‘dinner’ or ‘supper’ club? Anyone?}

IMG_1291 We had our last dinner club in our old house in May.  A few of our closest friends,  Frank and I have been getting together once a month to cook together, and {as Shauna Niequist so eloquently puts it} find some life and community around the table.  My in-laws have also been a part of a supper club for years, and were part of our inspiration.  We’ve only met twice, and we’re excited to get together on the 4th of July and break in our beautiful kitchen at our new place!

Other May Highlights

One of the last beautiful spring days this month, I enjoyed a peaceful morning in our backyard–journaling, reading and drinking my morning tea.  It was a glorious way to enjoy our back yard before moving into a different house.   IMG_1396 IMG_1449

We had 3 weeks to pack up our house!  I enjoyed going through my books, as I shoved them all quickly into boxes.

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We found the house of our dreams this month–a true Godsend.   I love the hard wood floors, and the beams on the family room ceiling.  We’re so excited to be moving into our home this summer!

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I hope that I am finally back on track with writing these monthly posts, and linking up with Leigh–because truth be told, they are some of my favorite posts to write. {Affiliate links, if used, support this blog – thanks!}

What were you into this spring?