I feel like December has found me to be a no-good-very-bad-blogger…at least somewhat because of the full force of the zany-ness that was this season’s schedule under our roof. This month brought weeks of the bronchial plague upon our house…and as soon as I was done being sick (after passing it to my husband, mind you), I found myself in the depths of finals and makeup class projects, followed by a flurry of last minute Christmas preparations, culminating in hours (and miles) of holiday travel…
That being said, this was truly a most glorious month–it’s mind boggling to me that we’re already a mere day away from 2013! I so enjoyed being a part of Leigh’s ‘What I’m Into’ series last month that I thought I’d share some of this month’s highlights:
I’ve been tackling a pile of fantastic books, but I honestly didn’t have time to dive into multiple new reads this month like normal. Not to mention, I will be sharing my ‘Reads of 2012’ post in the next day or so.
A few weeks ago, I discovered one of my favorite reads of the year:
When I first attended the Allume conference in October, the delightful Jessica (of Muthering Heights) recommended I check out Blaine Hogan’s blog, as soon as she heard me describe my ideas and vision for writing about my artistry and inspiration. I have enjoyed reading Blaine’s blog since then, but the thick cream cheese frosting on the blogisphere/twitterverse cake was when Jessica was able to connect myself and a few other bloggers with Mr. Hogan himself, in conjunction with promoting his new book Untitled – Thoughts On the Creative Process. Released previously as an ebook, Hogan has revised and expanded the new print edition, and it is fantastic people!
From the beginning chapter, where Blaine describes the joys (and horrors) of personally auditioning for theatre and film, to his life experiences and ideas for the best ways to go about the creative process, I was captivated by this book, and highlighted the wisdom in its pages like it was my job. I have never read such a helpful, yet interesting treatment of the creative process from someone with such a similiar creative artistic background as myself. While I by no means intend to put myself on his elevated playing field (I have done almost ‘nil work in film or creation of literal ‘art’), whether you are a professional artist/actor/singer/writer, or merely a creative soul looking for the most fruitful and productive outlets of expression, this book is for you. It’s a short read under 100 pages, and chalk full of inspiration.
If you make songs, are you making good music at home?
If you make photos, are you reflecting as much light as your camera?
If you make books, are you telling a good story with your life?
(Note: I had every intention of posting about his book last week, when it released on Amazon, and the introductory price was insanely cheap, but internet connection woes at my in-laws somehow conspired for that post going unseen in my blog feed. (And for that I can only grovel and plead forgiveness to Mr. Hogan). My hope is that you, dear reader, will go immediately and check out Blaine’s blog and book, because it’s one of my favorite reads of the year, hands down. I will also be hosting a giveaway of this book in the next few weeks, when I launch a short series on resources for Creatives. (So please check back in for that!). In the meantime, you can snag your own copy of Untitled here.
My sweet husband has the talent of always finding the perfect gift, and this Christmas was no exception. Ever thoughtful and perceptive, (despite his claims to the contrary) I was delighted to receive a few treasures under the tree that inspire and delight me:
I found this beautiful piece of art at a Hallmark store on a random shopping outing. I was entranced by it’s beauty and message, and my sweet husband surprised me with it under our tree. I just recently discovered the artist’s website, Kelly Rae Roberts, where you can learn more about her work and art. I was particularly inspired by her beautiful manifesto. I could not find a link to her products on Hallmark’s website, but check individual stores for her beautiful work.
I’m not usually one who enjoys techie-type gifts, but this year was happily the exception. This past year, I have discovered the enjoyment of extremely amateur photography (as in, on my iphone). There is something so delicious about capturing a beautiful moment on film, even if it’s just with my point and shoot camera phone. The Olloclip pictured above is a portable and easy to use lens that adheres to corner of your iphone, over the camera lens. The three lenses includes the wide angle, fish eye, and my favorite the macro. Each lens has a snap on cap, and the whole thing travels nicely in a 2 inch soft carrying pouch. I’ve found the Macro lens is sometimes a bit tricky and fussy to navigate, but I am gleefully excited to experiment with this gadget, and see if I can capture some images for this blog in the coming year. One of my first tries using the macro lens is below:
My dear best friend brought me the sweetest Christmas present back from her holiday trip to Chicago. Being that my favorite musical is Sunday In The Park With George by Stephen Sondheim (musical theatre nerds unite!), one of my favorite paintings is Sunday on La Grand Jatte by George Seurat. This is a beautiful illuminated night light (plugged into an outlet above) and everytime I look at it, I smile and sigh with contentment. Truly “art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” (Thank you for your words and art, Picasso and Seurat.)
My music listening this month really continued to focus on the music of my playlist series. I also listened frequently to my Christmas playlist – find that post here. I made up a quick New Year’s Playlist below: (Note: Sometimes the Grooveshark player below is not visible in a smartphone or ipad device read. My deepest apologies, but it should show up on your laptop or PC. Should you not see the playlist, I’ve listed the songs below.)
1) What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve – Harry Connick Jr. 2) New Year’s Day – U2 3) Next Year – Foo Fighters 4) My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year) – Regina Specktor 4) What A Year For A New Year – Dan Wilson 5) A Long December – Counting Crows 6) Brand New Day (Live-UK Version) – Sting 7) Peace – Norah Jones 8) Let’s Start the New Year Right – Bing Crosby 9) Auld Lang Syne – Artist Medley
As I mentioned in last month’s ‘What I’m Into’ post, I have a slightly-well-maybe-ok-completely-obsessed relationship with my local Trader Joes. I took great delight this season in bringing their specialty holiday food items to the South to add to our Christmas feasts. They also made fantastic party host gifts. (It was my first time to do Christmas shopping at a grocery store!). Cranberry-Orange relish, nut dusted toffee squares and decadent chocolate peppermint cupcakes were among the delish seasonal treats I discovered, along with a coffee, chocolate & sugar grinder to add deliciousness to any dish. The cranberry-orange goodness slathered on a small dinner roll with Christmas turkey and stuffing made the perfect Leftover’s Sliders! We also had a traditional gumbo made by my amazing mother-in-law, served on Christmas Eve after church. Let me tell ya, it was slap-your-grandma-good.
I have recently discovered the decadent and ridiculous goodness that is the Chick-Fil-A Peppermint milkshake. My sweet man and I split one during a busy Christmas shopping day, and all I can say is I’m so glad it’s not available year round…the hips don’t lie, ya know.
Favorite Day Planner
My friend Katie, of The Cardigan Way has created this fantastic day planner with images from her 31 Days of Lovely Lines – one of my favorite reads in the October ’31 Days series. She’s designed the planner with a different quote/image for each month, along with extra space for note taking. (Check out her post with all the details here.) I’m looking forward to ordering mine and using it this year – you can order one here.
God Can Not Be Kept Out – Rachel Held Evans
This post moved me deeply, and apparently it moved alot of you as well – I don’t know if I’ve seen a blog post with almost 1000 comments that didn’t involve a giveaway. Rachel’s giveaways this year of her depth and artistry to us have been numerous, I am so grateful for her words.
Consider Your Ways In The New Year – Donald Whitney (Lifeway Blog)
This short yet incredibly insightful blog post poses 31 questions to ask yourself at the beginning of the New Year. I wrote them in my journal, and am processing my way through them. I have read some of Whitney’s work in the past, and appreciate the spiritual focus this post aims to give.
20 Favorite Reads in 2012 – Crystal Paine
Crystal is such an inspiring woman! I am so impressed by the depth and width of her blogging, and I know if I am blessed to become a Mom one day in the future, I will read her inspired words all the more! I am a serious sucker for a best of reads post, and this is one of my faves this month. Some of my own favorites reads are listed here, along with some already on my ‘to read’ list, as well as some new-to-me titles.
Meeting Kristin Chenoweth: A Memoir – Julie Rhodes
Julie is a blogger you must read! She has such a distinct, hilariously funny, always witty, and often profound writing voice. (And as an editor, would never compose such a ridiculously run on sentence as my last one.) I find myself reading her blog posts like delectable little chapters in a continuing book of her life adventures. She is a dear and treasured friend, and one of the most inspiring artists I know. I am over the moon thrilled to be featuring her in a guest post during my upcoming Creative Resources blog series. This post made me laugh out loud and sigh along with her an affirming “Yes”.
3 Lessons I Learned While Writing A Book – Blaine Hogan
Blaine wrote this post originally as a guest post for Jeff Goins Blog – which is another must read. His articulation of the creative process here is invaluable. Add this post to your must read list, right next to his book.
Random Happy Picture
GOD BLESS THIS MAN. For so many reasons. For his tenderness, love, compassion and wisdom. For his loving support of me and my artsy ways, so different from his. For every fun and not so fun moment we spend together. (This moment amidst frantic Christmas shopping was oh-so-fun). For his understanding and grace when I want to post a picture like this of him on my blog. (Because he understands it makes me so happy I can barely speak. Insert big mushy love sigh here).
The Glorious Truth of Christmas
Yes, this post has been about many of my favorite things this time of year. And while I am grateful for such blessings, I know in my heart the truly perfect and real reason we celebrate at all. Thanks and Praise to You, Jesus. Thank you for Your life breath that in turn saves each one of ours.