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Bittersweet.

Look! Two posts less than a month apart! Boy, am I with it or what? (Though I’m ignoring the groceries that need to be put int he cupboard, the dishes that need to be done, the laundry that needs to be folded, the supper that needs to be made, AND the library books that need to be returned to write this . . . so maybe I’m not “with it” at all. Ahem.)

A friend who blogs* recently wrote a post describing her current life. God has blessed her in many ways, and somewhere in her writing she said, “I’m in love with my life and with the God who gave it to me.”

I don’t know why that stuck out to me the way it did, but that phrase has been nagging at me since I read it. Because, some days, I am not in love with my life. In fact, reading about the specific blessings God has given to this friend, I caught myself thinking, “Of course you love your life! You have everything you could want!” Jealousy hissed, and superiority smirked. “Why does she get things so easily?” said Jealousy. “You’re certainly more spiritual, since your life is more difficult,” said Superiority.

But these old enemies are wrong. I don’t actually know all the circumstances and trials this sweet woman faces–just like I won’t share every detail of the difficult things I might face here. But even in times of smoothness and tranquility, having the right attitude does not come easily; we are tempted to still long after more, or look at our blessings as being earned and deserved. And certainly, undergoing one specific trial doesn’t automatically boost our levels of spirituality. We remember the stories of the saints who faced bitter and difficult times–but there are many, many saints to whom God has given a sunnier path. Abraham had every material possession imaginable, didn’t he? Yet he was a righteous man.

So I squelched the voices that wanted to drag me down into a bitter, sinful swamp, and I thanked God for the blessings He bestowed on this woman. He is truly good all the time to all His children.

And yet . . .

I am not in love with my life. The thought kept nagging.

Did this mean that I do not love the God who has assigned this path to me? Is such a  thought a symptom of a faithless heart and a discontented spirit? Or is possible that God leads us through seasons where we can cling to Him in love and in trust, recognizing that the circumstances surrounding us are less than lovable?

Certainly those affected by the recent fires and floods and hurricanes and earthquakes do not love what God has done–but they can still love God Himself.

Certainly the apostle Paul did not love being in prison–but he saw and rejoiced at the good God brought from it.

Certainly Horatio Spafford did not love the circumstances that led to the penning of his timeless hymn–but he recognized that underneath the sorrows, it was well with his soul.

I do not compare myself to the victims of Harvey, or to believers persecuted for their faith, or to those who have lost the people dearest to their hearts. I see and give thanks for the thousands of beautiful things God has graciously given me: peace with Him. A wonderful husband. A nice home. Forgiveness every day. Provision for Logan’s school bill. Friends to laugh with. A cat (yes, this is an undeserved blessing of God–she makes the evenings when Logan’s away a little less lonely!). Peace and joy. Flowers in my windowsill. A good night’s sleep. A car with working air conditioner. Yarn to crochet with, a piano to play, warm blankets to snuggle under, a recipe for low-carb waffles . . . The list of things–both trivial and eternally significant–could go on forever.

But somehow, at the same time, I realize that there are situations that I wish were different. They do not need to be listed–that would too easily turn to complaining, which is not the point of this post–but they exist, and I imagine you, too, can think of at least a few things that you would change if you could. These are the things we take to God in prayer, the things that too often lead to grouchiness instead of gratitude, the things we must choose to find joy in.

I felt this conundrum for a while. If I really love God, does that mean I must be excited when bad things happen to the people I love? If I am really thankful, does that mean I must be filled with gladness when things don’t go as I wish they would?

Can I be thankful and sad at the same time?

I think that the answer to that last question is yes. When Jesus prayed all night in the garden, agonizing over the suffering He would endure, “I love my life!” were not the words on His lips. “Your will be done,” He prayed–but only after He said “Please take this cup away from me.”

Compared to the pain Jesus suffered, of course my little burdens shrink to inconsequential specks of nothingness. And compared to the burdens many others undergo, the things that grieve me seem light. But this does not mean I  must force a smile and grit through it, preaching “It’s not that bad!!” to myself day in and day out.

No.

God accepts my sorrow and He comforts me on the days when I hurt. He reminds me of the blessings He has bestowed on me and does not let me forget His unfailing love. He allows me to grieve, and at the same time, gives me peace to say Your will be done. I do not have to explain away or ignore the bad things in life to accept the fact that God is good–somehow, in a way I do not yet understand, He is teaching me to temper sadness with contentment and thankfulness with earnest prayer.

Some days are bittersweet–and in those days, God is still good. May He be praised.

*Dear friend who inspired this post: I am truly, truly glad for the way God has blessed you, and I am truly, truly glad your life is lovable right now. I know you’re heading into ministry, and you will face your share of difficult and painful days, so I’m thankful that God has given you this season of gladness first. May He continue to bless you and keep you close to Him!

 

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Hello Again

Dear blogosphere;

It’s been literal ages since I’ve last written here (though, to be honest, I’m not sure what the actual definition of an ‘age’ is, so it could be non-literal ages). Anyhow. It’s been quite a while. But I’m back for today at least, and maybe next week–or maybe not for another year. Who knows? Such is the beauty of my wild and free life. (Note: my idea of “wild and free” includes, ideally, the option to be in bed by 9:30 P.M. each night. So yeah. Pretty wild, amiright?)

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure why I am writing today, or if I really should be at all. This little blog was my outlet when I went away to college four years ago man am I old or what? and I’ve grown up just a bit since then; if I really want to do grown-up blogging, this isn’t really the place, with its awkward archived stories that are probably only funny to me anymore. But I’m not going to start a whole new blog when, in reality, today’s writerly mood may be a very brief whim, so instead I’m juxtaposing my newer, (slightly) more sober thoughts on top of a foundation of silly holidays and stories from the library. There’s probably a metaphor for life in there somewhere but I’m not that grown up that I care to flesh it out. You can be the thought-provokingly analytical one if you want.

(One thing hasn’t changed, at least: my inability to flesh out one coherent thought without rabbit trailing down several other more nonsensical thoughts, all included in the same smorgasbord of an over-comma-ed sentence.)

Things that have changed:

  • My glasses prescription. I’m squinting at this computer screen and that’s probably a sign I need a check-up, hmm?
  • My marital status. Well, that’s changed from what it was at the beginning of this blog, though not since I last wrote. We’re coming up on our second anniversary already–but you probably don’t want to hear my philosophical thoughts on a theme of “my, how fast time flies!”
  • My home. When I started writing, I was a girl from St. Louis going to school in West Virginia, and now I’m a girl from who knows where, really, settled down in North Carolina for the foreseeable future.
  • My taste in food. Y’all. I like cabbage. This was a small revelation to me recently and I just wanted to share.
  • My accent. I’ve started unconsciously imitating my sweet husband’s pronunciation of “violin” and “child” (VAAAAH-lin and chAAAAAHld, respectively). Do I despise myself for it? Yes, yes I do. I need a cleanse in the good old old midwest, please. Then I can say things like “let’s have a little bit of lunch!” and “who’s that pulling up onto the yard?” and “oh fer sure” again.
  • My job. Four years ago, I was a college student/library assistant/fast food worker, and now I’ve become a pastor’s wife/nearly-full-time piano (and violin) teacher, with a dash of nannying thrown in for good measure. I stuck my toe in the direct selling business recently, too, but turns out my toes don’t like that stuff. (Sorry, person under whom I signed up. You’re welcome, all y’all facebook friends who are relived to NOT have another person begging you to buy their life-changing products.)

So. Why exactly am I writing again, when the internet has been merrily spinning on without me for a full year? I can’t tell you, really. I’ve just got a writing itch recently; I suppose it’s rather selfish: my thoughts are not exactly wise enough that I need to share them with the world at large. But sometimes, there are just things I want to say, and facebook doesn’t seem to be the place to compose drawn-out, rabbit-trailing essays. Maybe a true sign of maturity would be peacefully keeping my thoughts to myself, so there you go–I still am the little midwestern girl who felt the need to start a college blog four years ago.

The beautiful thing about the internet, of course, is that no one is obliged to read my pretentious ramblings, so my need to SPEAK MY MIND!!!! and SHARE MY WISDOM!!! can be sated without actually inconveniencing anyone at all. Simply leave here and head to an truly grown-up blog, or Pinterest, or an actual printed book (gasps of surprise are heard throughout the room!) and you will no longer have to deal with my introspection, poorly timed jokes, and miserable use of commas. For those of you who do take the time to read all the way through this, though–firstly, thank you: your dedication and perseverance are truly admirable; and secondly–no really why are you still reading this?; and thirdly–I hope that maybe, just maybe, someday I can say something that will be just a little bit encouraging to your heart. I can’t pretend that I’ll ever write anything truly wise or new, but I’d like to share what God is gently and patiently teaching me. You who are certified Real Adults ™ may quietly chuckle to yourself while sagely shaking your head. “What a youngster!” I hear you saying in the future. “She thinks she’s getting so grown-up and she’s really only displaying her ignorance!” And, of course, future hypothetical you is right–four years from today maybe I’ll feel the same about this post as current me feels about my first posts.

But that’s OK, I think. God designs us to grow and change and go through different seasons. My college season was a good one. I was very young and I had fun and I made good friends and I learned a lot. Now I’m in a different season–I’m still very young, in the grand scheme of things. I still have fun (though not quite the same kind; there’s a certain kind of fun that can only be experienced on a college campus surrounded by fantastic people, so those of you still in college, enjoy it. Wait. Do I have any friends in school anymore? Boy, I am old.) And now God is teaching me new things, and sometimes I need to keep them and ponder them in my heart like Mary, and sometimes I think it’s OK to share them. So I guess that’s why I’m here, though man it took me a lot of words to figure that out. Writing is therapeutic, y’all.

Welcome back to my blog. Though there might not be as many silly stories, I promise I’ll still overuse commas. Because some things never do change.

 

Book-y Things, Home, Marriage

We Try to Get Along . . .

. . . but sometimes we just don’t see eye-to-eye. Examples:

  • Pickles
  • Mustard
  • What to do with days off
  • How to organize closets
  • What temperature is “cold”
  • Movies

For the most part, these aren’t issues. We compromise: Logan lets me eat my pickles and mustard as long as I brush my teeth extra-good later. I went hiking on his day off instead of doing laundry. I re-organize his clothes every time I hang things up. He gets me extra blankets.

However. Other things are really too hard. Continue reading “We Try to Get Along . . .”

Home, Marriage

Snippets

Finishing our evening Bible reading:
Logan: “What time is it?”
Me: “9:30.”
Logan: “Oh my word! I had no idea it was SO. LATE!”

Discussing the names of our future children:
Logan: “I feel like you’re relegating all of my ideas to middle name status.”
Me: “What are you talking about?”
Logan: “You know, like Hazard. . . . ”
Me: “Hazard. has NEVER. even been a middle name option. Ever.”
Logan: “I thought you said we could use it for a middle name!”
Me: “I probably said we could use it for a dog’s name.”
Logan: “But we don’t want a dog.”
Me: ” . . . .”

I’m not the only critic:
Me: “How about Eleanor?”
Logan: “EVERYONE would IMMEDIATELY think of Eleanor Roosevelt.”
Me: “She’s been dead for many years.”
Logan: “It’s a cultural reference.”
Me: “You’ve never even heard of Beyonce*. What do you know about cultural references???!”
—*note: this is not something I hold against the man.

On cleanliness:
Logan: “Is this a chip on the floor?”
Me: “That would imply that I ate the chips while you were gone . . . and that I was too lazy to vacuum . . . would you imply those things about your wife???!!?” Continue reading “Snippets”

Home, Music

On Ants and Jobs and Graduation

Greetings again!

I thought, back in March, that perhaps I would begin blogging more frequently since I had so much time at home. And I would have, too, except after my last post I realized I had absolutely nothing to write about.

We still had ants.

We were still eating chicken.

We still played gin rummy in the evenings.

What else could I have had to say?

However, with the passing of months, some things have changed, warranting a new blog post:

We no longer have ants!!!!

Exciting, yes? I’m sure any woman who’s ever dealt with a month-long infestation of ants in her kitchen will share my joy at being rid of the annoying little things. When we finally got rid of them for real, I wandered around the kitchen in amazement every single morning, marveling at the ant-less-ness of the sink, counter, cupboards, and dishdrainer.

Those were good days.

Aside from our ant-freedom, what else is new? Well, we’re still eating boatloads of chicken, but we have cut back on our gin rummy habit. Not because we’re tired of it (well, Logan might be, but he’s a champ and hasn’t said so), but because our evenings have gotten preciously short. God opened a door to a piano/violin teaching job at a local studio about a month ago, and the after-school lessons have dramatically reduced our gin rummy playing time. Sad, I know, but we’re adjusting.

And guys. I was made to be a music teacher. I love teaching lessons. I (briefly) toyed with the idea of being a classroom teacher several years ago, but my month-long experience in China showed me that I can’t handle large groups of kids. Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE kids. (See? Italicized AND capitalized means I’m for real.) But I’m not good at classroom management, and I hated trying to teach to the average: Johnny never learned anything because he was more advanced than the lessons I was preparing; Samuel struggled because we were moving too fast. I’m sure that real teachers would have all sorts of ideas for individualizing and modifying lessons for “exceptionalities,” but it wasn’t for me.

This, however, is for me. I love getting to know students one-on-one. I love the way their personalities and learning styles show so clearly when they’re on their own in the lesson room. I love being able to slow down to explain phrasing a little more clearly if I need to. I love coming up with fun ways to drill rhythms and note names. I love being able to move an exceptional student ahead to something that challenges her. I love seeing students come back after a week of practice having mastered something that had challenged them the last time. I love praising them and seeing their confidence grow. I love the little girls who skip into the room with enthusiasm. I love making the quiet teenage boys laugh, even if it’s the only non-piano noise he’ll make all lesson. I just love this job.

Looking back, God’s hand is so clear in every step that brought me here. Reflecting on His goodness in preparing me for this place is a long enough tale to warrant its own post, really. It’s embarrassing to think about all those times I cried during lessons (Mrs. Boone was a literal saint, and never once sounded even the slightest bit frustrated with my snotty sniffling). It’s odd to remember that I went through 2 1/2 years of college NOT intending to study music. It’s incredible (as in “completely unbelievable”) to realize I made a decent grade in every semester of ear training. And it’s wonderful to realize that God opened up this job at just the time I was ready to start working; that He directed me to the job posting when I hadn’t checked for music jobs in over a month; that the studio was willing to take a risk on someone who hasn’t taught violin before; that my interviewer was so gracious about the fact that I was an hour late to our meeting (unclear Google maps + accidentally getting on a highway that only has exits every two miles . . . ).

And not only did He provide a job that I absolutely love. . . God’s also provided a wonderful church family where I’ve been able to get involved musically. I’m using my violin and my voice, and yes, even playing handbells again! He’s so good to me.

In other news, congrats to all ABC’s graduating seniors! We wish we could be walking with you . . . but let’s be honest, we’re really happy about NOT walking with you. Not because of you. You’re awesome and I loved having you as my classmates for 2 1/2 years. Because of other things, like travel expenses and dumb hats and the fact that Logan’s parents can’t be at two graduations at once (and Charis’s doctorate is a lot more important) and stuff like that. Anyhow. If any of you are reading this (which you’re probably not because packing and family and Bible conference and wedding plans, for half of you at least), just know that Logan and I wish we could hug you goodbye once more before God scatters us to serve Him all over the earth.

Alright. I’ve rambled about ants and jobs and graduation, but it’s time for the really important stuff: laundry and cleaning and paying bills. And also putting on warmer clothes because North Carolina is SERIOUSLY bipolar and keeps tricking me into boxing up all my sweaters.

Rude.

 

 

Home, Marriage

Bugged

Once upon a time, I liked crickets.

I remember this distinctly. I had read a book about them–whether for school or because I was a scientifically-minded ten-year-old, I remember not–and I was subsequently fascinated with the creatures. I remember catching them and putting them in a big bucket with the neighbor kids. Then I would spout random scientifical facts I had learned from my book. Yes, I was that kid.

While I’m still that kid in the sense that I will spout whatever random facts I know at any given time, I have no idea what happened to the cricket-catching kid. The only explanation I can think of now is that I was under a spell. Because this Betsy hates. all. bugs.

Period.

Growing up, grasshoppers were my greatest fear. Any time Mom sent me out to the garden, I walked in mortal terror that one of them might jump on me. I could NOT think of a worse fate.

After my family moved, cave crickets became my new Enemy. Yes, with a capital E. I am still solemnly convinced that they are the locusts of Revelation 9. If they don’t originate in the Pit, I don’t know what does.

Man, I hate those things.

Luckily for me . . . I’ve moved again! And now I have an obliging husband who will get of bugs for me. Normally, this plays out like so:

Me: Can you please get rid of that spider?
Husband: It’s a daddy long legs. It’s not hurting anyone.
Me: But I don’t like it.
Husband: Whatever. [removes spider and releases it outdoors]
Me: Husband!!!
Husband: I got rid of it.
Me: Well, when it comes back into the house . . . I want it DEAD.

It’s not that I hate or even fear daddy long legs. I just don’t like sweeping cobwebs all. the stinking. time. However, I can deal with daddy long legs and cobwebs. In fact, I can even kill them myself when Logan’s at work. (But don’t tell him that. I need him to think he’s the only one who can handle them.)

Other things, however, are different.

Yesterday, I was sitting on the couch, calmly minding my own business, looking for a job, when some sort of creepy thing was in my peripheral vision. I didn’t know what it was because my cat-like reflexes took over and I flailed helplessly until it was gone.

It came back later, not too close to my face this time, and I was able to calmly squish it with a nail polish bottle. BUT IT APPARENTLY DIDN’T DIE. Because I saw it again after supper. At which point husband was home and able to kill it for me. ❤

Husband: I wonder if that’s a termite.
Me: No.
Husband: I don’t know . . . it kind of looks like one.
Me: NO.

Immediately, I had visions of our landlord having to replace all the floors and boards in this house, forcing us to camp in my in-laws’ basement for an indefinite period of time. (I could visualize this easily because Logan’s brother & sister-in-law literally just went through that.)

But I got over it. We played a calm game of gin rummy. We got ready for bed. I went to lock the door.

Me: Logan. Logan. LOGAN! KILL IT!
Husband: What is it?
Me: SOMETHING NOT GOOD!

The huge black thing quickly scurried under the edge of the couch, narrowly avoiding my husband’s shoe. I had a little meltdown.

Me: Was that a roach? I don’t want roaches! I don’t want termites! I DON’T WANT BUGS!
Husband: I’m sorry, sweetie. I guess I forgot to mention that the south has a lot of critters.
Me: [slowly calming down] Can I get a little consolation prize at least?
Husband: Sure.
Me: Will you please kill that spider??????????

And all was well.

Until this morning . . . when I found ants in my kitchen.

Please pray for my husband. It’s been an emotional time for him.

Home

What’s Going On

So, what am I actually up to besides musing about the metaphysical nature of home, traveling, and ironing? While Logan serves the metropolis by cleaning the gutters of those too old or too rich to do it themselves, I’m learning to be a homemaker–and greatly enjoying it, I might add. I’m hoping to start teaching piano soon, but not a lot of people are beginning lessons at this time of the year. Also, it’s been a bit of a journey getting my old (but free–thanks Chuck! Best wedding present!!) piano in playable condition. As of now, it’s mostly tuned, but the majority of the black keys stick . . . making anything not in the key of C major rather difficult to play. (I tried playing one of my recital songs the other day, but it was in 3 or 4 flats and by the time I was a few measures in, I had stuck every key I needed for the melody. . . I gave up.) BUT Mr. Piano Tuner is coming back next week to finish fixing it, which makes my heart happy.

So, what I am doing these days?

Sewing

Still working on curtains–yes, I know. They’re not even hard. I’ve finished some, but others I’m sort of piecing together to get them the length I want them to be. Measuring long straight lines is NOT my forte, so I’m taking it slow.

Baking

Snickerdoodles are in the oven right now! Some will go to Logan’s boss & his family, who are having us over for pizza tonight (yay pizza!), but we’ll still have several dozen more than we need . . . someone come help us eat them please.

Update: since the time of writing, many snickerdoodles were given away & eaten, and what remains will accompany us to his parents’ house tonight, where they will (hopefully) be finished. Your help is no longer needed . . . but I’ll happily make you a new batch when you drop by. 🙂

Reading

As quoted in my last post, I’ve been enjoying Cheryl Mendeson’s Home Comforts, a birthday gift from my parents. 🙂 I’ve also been listening to some Agatha Christie on audiobook whilst sewing or cooking . . . it helps the house feel less empty. Any other suggestions? I’m very open to discovering new authors.

On my future reading list is Five Magic Spindleswhich is slated to be published this summer sometime. The winners were just announced this week–in my opinion, this collection will be the most varied yet!

Listening to

Would that sound better “hearing”? I hate the preposition at the end . . .

Anyhow. Chris Rice’s Peace Like a River: the Hymns Project. It’s very peaceful and soothing . . . I imagine using it as lullabies for my future children. 😉 Speaking of future lullabies, his “Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)” is a song I will most definitely sing while I’m rocking my 11 future babies. (Just kidding about the 11 part! You know I’ll never quit till I beat the Duggars!!!)

You probably just took that seriously, too. It wasn’t meant that way. However, as I am in no way obliged to explain and/or justify my ideals for a future family, I’m going to let it go. 😉

Also, these days I get to listen to the melodious evening calls of the peacocks pretty often. A house down the road has a few, and lately they’ve been serenading us at sundown. It’s not a particularly beautiful sound–check it out for yourself if you don’t believe me–but, strangely, I like it. It makes me feel as if someone in the neighborhood has livestock, which means I’m not so far from my heritage after all.

Going

Yup, we’re off again–this weekend to Logan’s hometown, where we’ll mourn his brother’s old age celebrate his brother’s birthday and minister in his home church (through preaching & piano playing, respectively).

Scheming

I’m already planning the sewing projects I’ll start when these curtains are done: some baby clothes for my niece (expected in just over 2 months!!), finishing that quilt I began *ahem* years ago, wedding presents for all the friends getting married this summer (it’s that time of life for us I guess). And I’m plotting a story in my head. . . though someone else already wrote a novel in the same historical setting I had thought was so unique, which was disappointing. Have any of you tackled historical fiction? Any research tips?

I’m also trying to figure out how to accidentally bump into Anne Elisabeth Stengl, as I may or may not live very near her now. I know which grocery store chain she frequents . . . but as there is one on every corner, I’m not getting my hopes up. 😉

Okay, your turn. What have you been making/doing/reading/listening to/plotting? Go.

 

 

But Seriously, Home, Marriage

There & Back Again

100_9319

That’s the face I make when I get to see my seester. ❤

Also the face I make when I’m walking over a very long bridge over very rapid water which I can see through the bridge. Actually, that face was a trifle more terrified/green.

Logan & I took a quick trip last weekend back up to our old college stomping grounds. (Is it pretentious to call ABC “our old college stomping grounds” when we have been graduated for literally 2.5 months?) It was odd to go back–it’s been such a short time, and yet so much has changed. It probably was too soon to visit again, technically, but two of my fellow music majors were having their senior recital, Logan & I aren’t committed to a local church here yet, and Ruth and I missed each other. So I bought waaaaaaaaaay too much trip food, and off we went. (My memories of sustenance needed for road trips all still involve a van full of 7+ people — at least two of whom are always-hungry boys — and drives that last many many hours. Hence the overabundance of munchies.) Continue reading “There & Back Again”

Home, Marriage

Not Much

Hi, world.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged . . . if you don’t count book reviews, it’s really been over a year. Mostly because boyfriends and wedding planning takes time. Husbands and housekeeping take time, too, but I’m not adding those responsibilities to school.

I only had one boyfriend, by the way. I know it says “boyfriends” and “husbands” but there’s only one. His name is Logan and he’s the coolest. I may or may not have mentioned him in the past. Long before we dated. But you’ll have to sleuth that out yourself.

IMG_2997
Once upon a time last month, we got married.

Anyhow. I’ve just felt like writing for a while, so I’m finally doing it right now. Mostly because doing anything else (putting away the clothes I just finished folding, sorting out even MORE boxes of things, sewing, etc.) would require moving off this couch. . . and moving off this couch would mean giving up my blanket. And giving up my blanket would make me cold. It’s hard to keep a house warm, y’all. Especially when you’re the one paying the electric bills.

**Note to those in Des Plaines: You’re frigid right now, but you can turn on your space heater without obsessing about energy usage. Be thankful for the little things.

I’m rambling, quite shamelessly. Sometimes I wish I had a cool blog where I took artsy pictures of the cute things I’m doing with my house. But you really don’t want to see artsy picture evidence of me washing clothes and sorting out our closet and balancing our budget on a fancy Excel spreadsheet, do you? And that’s about all the cuter I’ve gotten so far, though I have lots of other ideas of nifty and blog-worthy projects. However, all those ideas require something: curtain rods, painter’s dropcloth, spraypaint. So I’m occupying myself with things I have on hand, like dirty or wrinkled laundry. Not even kidding. I ironed basically Logan’s and my entire wardrobe yesterday. Now I can dress him in different outfits on Sundays instead of the one non-wrinkly shirt he had.

Should I be ashamed? We’ve lived here a month and I just yesterday ironed my husband’s shirts. My mom brought me a bunch of sewing goodies from her and Grandma’s stashes and I haven’t even plugged in my sewing machine yet. (Though I DID finally get the office/sewing room organized enough to fit a chair by my sewing desk!) My fabulous sister-in-law took gazillions of gorgeous wedding photos and I have not hung even one on my walls.

Getting married is probably the best thing ever . . . but this also the biggest change of my life. I don’t really know if I’m handling it well or not. Some days I’m proud of all I get done, and some days I huddle beneath my blanket on the couch and pretend to be creative by stalking other people on Pinterest.

I don’t know how to finish this post. It was meant to be a cheerful little hello and life update to get me back into blogging, and it turned into a ramble about . . . about . . . I don’t even know exactly what I’ve been talking about. To-do lists and ironing and Pinterest and energy bills . . . welcome to life after college.

For the record, I actually enjoy ironing. Surprising, somewhat, as I never did much growing up; Ruth loved the job, so I let her enjoy it. And I almost NEVER ironed anything at school because it was so much hassle. Proof: Logan asked me Sunday if the blouse I was wearing was new. I’ve had it–and loved it!–for several years . . . but cotton blouses, no matter how cute, just never made it from hanger to ironing board at college.

I’m enjoying budgeting and keeping track of bills and receipts, too, for the most part. I mean, it’s not exactly enjoyable to watch your money turn into a still-chilly house and a milk jug that’s going to be empty terribly soon. But it’s nice, at least, to be able to see exactly where it’s all going and find ways to stretch it far enough to buy your husband 1/2 pound Reese’s cups for his birthday. (They were at Ollie’s . . . and we had a coupon . . . and he’s been working really hard.)

So I don’t mean to be a whiner about grown-up married life or anything. It’s super great and I absolutely love it. It’s just different than college single life, and I’m still getting used to it.

Okay, I have to put away this laundry for reals now. And start thinking about supper. Bye, blogosphere. I’m going to go do some married woman things.

Book-y Things

Book Review: Five Enchanted Roses

Oh hello. Betcha forgot I even existed, didn’t you?

You heartless beast.

Since I last wrote . . . I successfully completed another semester of college; toured with my college’s chorale and handbell teams for three weeks altogether; swam in the Atlantic ocean for the first time; re-started my job at Dairy Queen for the summer; had my first gig as a wedding musician for a dear friend; took and passed the CLEP Biology exam; . . . oh, and got engaged. It’s been a very good few months.

But all those things aren’t the reason I’m writing. (Though I bet you’re dying to hear allllllllll about the joys of the biology exam, aren’t you?). I had another of those “Yay-I-want-to-read-this-book-so-I’ll-volunteer-to-be-a-reviewer!”-and-the-review-deadline snuck-up-on-me moments. Actually, the deadline isn’t even for a week or so, but I’ll be busy pretending I’m homeless in the north woods with my family, so all this interwebbing needs to be done tonight. Wait. Camping! That’s what it’s called.

So. On to the review!!!

As you may remember, I had the privilege of being published in the Five Glass Slippers collection last summer, the first in a series of similar fairytale retellings. This year was Five Enchanted Roses--a compilation of “Beauty and the Beast” stories. Ms. Stengl opens the book with a quote from G. K. Chesterton which sums up well the entire anthology (can I use that term in this context?):

“There is the great lesson of ‘Beauty and the Beast’;
that a thing must be loved before it is loveable.”

The authors (Kaycee Browning, Savannah Jezowski, Jenelle Schmidt, Dorian Tsukioka, and Hayden Wand) included truly did a wonderful job exploring and re-imagining that theme, and I thoroughly enjoyed each story. Five Enchanted Roses took me from a pirate ship, to a semi-haunted castle, to a traditional fairytale country, to a mysterious jungle, and finally . . . to Scotland. A note on each story, and then my thoughts on the book as a whole.

Espirit de la Rose by Kaycee Browning

“Spirited” is a good word for this story and its heroine. Cecilia is just your average privateer’s daughter until she finds herself stuck on a ship full of waterlogged sailors doomed to eternal punishment unless they can find redemption. . . you know, just the usual. Oh, and the captain is dashing. And offers to help her escape. If the Fee will let her . . .

I’m giving this story the “Least Furry Beast” prize, because he wasn’t the typical wolf-like prince. The redemption theme was clear, and the ending–while not quite what I expected or wanted, really–made me eager to hear about Cecilia’s next adventure.

Wither by Savannah Jezowski

I think this was my favorite story in the book–which was surprising, as it included zombies, ghouls, and the like. . . which are normally not my preferred style. However, something about this dark and intriguing fairytale land drew me in. Lilybet (whose name I love, for starters) braves the spooky, deadly Neverway to find the castle of a mysterious beast who has demanded the life of her little sister, and discovers that her ideas of the world weren’t quite accurate. Both the beauty and the beast were endearing, interesting characters, and I look forward to hearing more about them–Mrs. Jezowski promised a sequel in her ending, and After, Book 1 of the Neverway Chronicles, will be released in December.

Also, her dream cast includes Samantha Barks, so props for that.

I’m awarding this story the “My Personal Favorite” award. Good and evil were thoroughly explored, the love story was sweet, and the world of the Neverway was simultaneously unreal and believable.

Stone Curse by Jenelle Schmidt

Firstly, Mrs. Schmidt looks like my friend Rebekah (one of my favorite people on the planet), so obvious bonus points there. Secondly, this was a wonderful story. Of all the novellas in this collection, Stone Curse was set in the most traditional fairytale realm, but the tale itself was far from traditional! It begins at the cursed castle itself: mostly deserted, with only the beast, a few devoted servants, a host of frozen nobles, and the occasional brave (or financially aspirational) lady who visits in an attempt to fall in the love with the princely beast and break the curse, all of whom are unsuccessful, and becoming fewer and fewer as time passes. (Sorry ’bout that run-on sentence.) But. . . why is the Beast even cursed, and where has the Beauty been kidnapped to, and how can everything be righted again? That is the question Karyna sets off to answer, but the answer she finds is quite the opposite of what she had expected.

This tale gets the “My Favorite Love Story” prize. Read it and you’ll see why. (Especially if you’re familiar with my own love story.) (That could be referring to either my imaginary one, What Eyes Can See, or my real-life one. They have some similarities.)

Rosara and the Jungle King by Dorian Tsukioka

Of all the tales in the collection, this story is least like the “Beauty and the Beast” I’ve always known. However, it’s still the same tale at its heart. Rosara is the daughter of a jungle chieftain whose principle goal at the beginning of the story is simply to aviod becoming the town’s drunk’s third wife. (I don’t think he was particularly drunk, actually, but I can’t think of the word I want.) Things change rather drastically when a talking jaguar suddenly befriends her.

This novella wins the “Most Unique Setting” award. (Yes, even unique-er than the pirate ship. And that’s saying something.) Also, Mrs. Tsukioka is from Missouri, so yay for that.

The Wulver’s Rose by Hayden Wand

I loved this tale so much. Set in ancient Scotland, this story has an evil witch and an enchanted castle, but it also has some good old Scottish Protestantism, wild moors, bankrupt barons, and self-sacrificing maidens. (Ok, so the last two really should be singular. I just wanted the list to be matchy. Sorry.) It wasn’t spooky; it wasn’t mysterious; it wasn’t particularly surprising, even, but it came together as a sweet, simple tale of love and faith.

This story will get the “Most Endearing Beauty” prize. I liked all the beauty characters. . . but Bonnie’s sweetness was, well, the sweetest.

In Summary

Now that this has officially taken an hour longer than allotted–I have a camping trip tomorrow to pack for, after all!–I’m going to be rather quick about the summary. I’ll give this collection 4/5 stars: its a unique, wholesome, imaginative, fun little book which I would pick up again for a light afternoon read. I’m holding back the 5th star because I like reserving that for those really special books–the ones that entertain, teach, and become friends.

So. Go. Pick up one for yourself and debate my opinions. And then go write your own fairytale and be part of next summer’s Five Magic Spindles. I’ve got a pretty good idea for that, myself-but it’s a mystery story and I don’t know if I’m quite skilled enough to write that. Also, I have a bachelor’s degree to finish and a wedding to plan and that sort of takes precedence right now. Someday I’ll do some more writing. Maybe someday I’ll write down my real-life love story in all its sappy glory. But not now.

Now I’m going to go pack for a wild camping trip.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.