What I’m Into ~ July 2014 Edition

What I'm Into ~ Plumfield Dreams{This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Plumfield Dreams!}

I work for a university, which means I am in the midst of the busiest time of year, workwise. Our personal life has been chaotic this month, with two separate (but sadly equal) bouts with illness in our family, and two deaths close to us. It feels sort of strange to be retrospective right now, because I still have my head down going full-tilt. If I stop too long I fear I’ll lose all my momentum and end up curled up under a big blanket reading a novel, while I listen to music through giant, noise-canceling headphones. <I can’t he-ear you!>

Can you tell I’ve given this some thought?

What I’m Reading

Busyness has kept me from being a prolific reader the last couple months, but what I have read has been uncommonly good. I’ve devoured these books.

The SilkwormThe latest from Robert Galbraith, the J.K. Rowling mystery pseudonym. Interestingly, I thought this one felt more like a Rowling book than her first under the pseudonym. I wonder if she let herself go back that direction a bit once everyone knew it was her doing the writing? By no means did it detract; Rowling is a master storyteller, regardless of the name on the cover. This one is quite adult in content. If you are a sensitive reader, you’ll probably want to pass it up.

The Book Thief ~ This book is considered young adult, presumably because the protagonist is young, but like all good literature it transcends its label. Unusually voiced, it is a haunting account of the power of words. Read it.

A Homemade Life ~ Beautiful food memoir with thoroughly-described recipes. Wizenberg is a master of her craft.

Currently reading: Dear Mr KnightleyAt HomeMy Bookstore; Notes from a Blue Bike; The Nesting Place

Read in June: Since I never got my June post up, I’ll tell you here that Bread & Wine and The Rosie Project are so very worth reading. Get Bread & Wine in the hardcover – you’ll be glad you did.

What I’m Listening To

Sister and I (and some friends) went to another Nickel Creek concert. I am telling you. I could do that monthly for the rest of my life and it would not get old, because they are GOOD, and they just keep getting better.

I watched Andrew Lloyd Webber: 40 Musical Years on YouTube, and now I’m on a musical theatre kick. It’s the dominant music of my youth, so now it is nostalgic in addition to being plain ol’ fantastic and oh, so singable. (I’ve started treating our lives as though they were sung-through. Aria (2 1/2) is not always the biggest fan of my propensity to sing absentmindedly all the time, and today when I sang to her that I was getting her out of her carseat, she looked at me with her “No, I don’t like it” face and sang back at me, “Noo-ooo-ooo”.)

Around the Web

While I think the title is a bit hyperbolic, there are some amazing places on this list of 17 Bookstores that will Literally Change Your Life.
I’ve decided to read the title as though it were being said by Chris Traeger.

I hate clutter, and it’s been driving me nuts, but I still needed this kick in the pants to clear off my kitchen counters. A serious cleaning-out is in order.

Good, good advice on How to Really Give Our Children an Education, from a woman who has earned the right to give it.

I’m loving these posts that challenge me to be a good steward of my food resources: 9 Ways to Cook with Garbage and 3 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Eat. (Also, this post on How to Adapt a Recipe to Make it Healthier is a keeper.)

We don’t do nursery in our church, quite on purpose, so I appreciate Kendra’s advice on teaching your toddler to be with the family in the service (notice I didn’t say sit with the family).

While we’re sharing Kendra’s countercultural perspectives, I love this post about How to Marry a Man You Just Met.

What I really need to know is why is there no Jane Austen festival near me?

This post about Capturing the Once-in-a-Lifetime Moments is an inspiration to be positive and intentional in our interactions with our children.

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer for What I’m Into. Check out the other fantastic blogs for more fun and inspiration.

You can see what else we’ve been up to this month by checking out my 5 on Friday posts:
The One with the Crazy-Busy
The One Where I Cover Three Weeks in One
The One with Noah’s First Chiropractic Appointment
The One Where I’m Finally Refreshed…Because I Went to Work
The One with the Vacation of Sorts

What I’m Into ~ May 2014 Edition

What I'm Into ~ Plumfield Dreams{This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Plumfield Dreams!}

What I’m Reading

Unbroken ~ It’s possible I’m one of the last people in the country to read this book. It is just as good as everyone says. The story is one of those truth-is-stranger-than-fiction humdingers, and the protagonist is worthy of a book. And the writing. Oh, the writing. Laura Hillenbrand deserves to be read regardless of her subject matter. If she were writing for cereal boxes I would recommend them as must reads. This book is not for the faint of heart, because the bulk of it chronicles the life of a POW in the pacific during WWII, but it is worth the pain. I became increasingly numb as I read the horrors, injustices, and resulting difficulties. And then, I don’t want to spoil it if you haven’t read it, but the protagonist’s life came to an abrupt turning point, and I wept. That soul-deep release sort of crying.

Reinventing Rachel ~ I saw this book recommended by some bloggers, so I gave it a shot. Christian fiction (I genre I rarely read) about a young woman who thinks she has life together because she does all the “right” things, but finds she has no foundation when things fall apart around her. I appreciated aspects of it, and it did keep me reading. I particularly liked the author’s main point about the truth of a relationship with Christ as an already forgiven saint. But, like most books in the genre, the writing was not stunning. It was simplistic, there was too much dialogue, and some of the relationships and plot twists felt unrealistic. I finished it, but I can’t really recommend it.

The Big Moo ~ I read this one for work, and I loved it. The short chapters are thoughts from 33 different business leaders who donated their time for the Seth Godin-led project. It’s thought-provoking and inspiring. Highly recommended.

Below Stairs ~ This memoir of a British kitchenmaid/cook was the catalyst for Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey. The author is relatable and engaging, with a remarkable ability to cut to the core of the dynamics in which she found herself. It’s a brief, easy read. You’ll do yourself a favor by picking this one up.

Others: Judging a Book by Its Lover (didn’t like it); Shepherding a Child’s Heart (mixed feelings); The No-Cry Sleep Solution (a bit too optimistic, but helpful)

Currently reading: This is the Story of a Happy Marriage; The Omnivore’s Dilemma; The Search for Significance; Bread & Wine; Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands; The Nesting Place; Desperate; Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day

What I’m Watching

This is usually a fairly long list, but this month I’m enjoying the beautiful weather and my books too much to be invested in television. We’ve watched some season finales (The Good Wife was fantastic. The writing on that show thrills me), but not much else. I did binge-watch nearly half the season of Arrow, which had been accumulating on my DVR, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s not The Good Wife quality, but I don’t expect it to be. It is a fun adventure show with heart. I like those.

I just saw a commercial for Gotham, which is coming to Fox this fall, and I AM EXCITED. Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue are actors I could watch all day.

What I’m Listening To

Nickel Creek, y’all. I went to see them earlier in the month, and I left determined to see them again. Sister and I are currently working on that.

I am not an American Idol watcher, so I just learned about this performance yesterday from another blogger. My word, it is good. (And, if you like that one, check her out singing “Creep”.)

I go in cycles with my listening. Right now I’m on a John Mayer kick. I love his mellow sound, which can disguise the depth of his artistry if you let it lull you. That concept that simplicity is the heart of beauty? Melody, vocals, and guitar-playing combine to that deceptively simple (because it is simple, but it is not easy) place in this song.

Kids Clapping ~ Plumfield Dreams

Gratuitous adorable kid picture

Around the Web

Modern Mrs Darcy has a brilliant whimsical idea I fully intend to steal.

This is fascinating. Creativity is never-ending.

I like this idea from We Are THAT Family about teaching your family to stop complaining. My family is too young for it, but I’m going to use it myself.

You know how there’s a day or a week or a month for absolutely everything now? It’s gotten a bit absurd. But I like this one, because it’s helpful to me if people observe it. 😉 The hilarious Roo Ciambriello writes about how you can help with food allergy awareness.

I like this post from Modern Mrs Darcy because I think most of us are either the good kid or the odd one out. What the post reminds me is that we are all of us fallen and in need of loving guidance, whether we seem perfect or anything-but.

Christa Wells has rapidly become one of my favorite songwriters. Her writing is all lyrical wisdom. That includes this blog post about The Songwriting Life.

I’ve just begun reading Haley’s writing at Carrots for Michaelmas, and I enjoy her thoroughly thus far. I particularly appreciated this post about The Definition of Sexy. (And her hubby wrote this insightful post The Scouring of The Scouring of the Shire, which was impressive because I didn’t think there was anything left to say about The Lord of the Rings.)

What I’m Pondering

Shauna and I are working through some of the same ideas. It’s not surprising, since we both seem to have personalities that tend toward excess. Speaking of those ideas, you can buy the “More Love. Less Hustle.” print from Gold Bug Designs. I’m totally getting one.

It’s not just me and Shauna. Check out Slow Your Home’s post about how Doing Nothing is Doing Something.

And another, from The Art of Simple: The Lost Art of Life Pruning. I would approach this a bit differently. The author talks about considering what *I* want more of at the moment. I would approach it from a “what does God want for/from me at the moment” position. The general idea still stands strong.

On the Blog

We got our first family photos this week, and I’m loving the previews we received from the photographer.

I enjoyed writing this fun post about my dream television neighbors. Who would you want to live next to?

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer for What I’m Into. Check out the other fantastic blogs for more fun and inspiration.

You can see what else we’ve been up to this month by checking out my 5 on Friday posts:
The One with the Ups and Downs (in which my 10-month-old starts doing yoga…um, sort of)
The One with the Nickel Creek Concert (in which I go to a Nickel Creek concert…obviously)
The One Where We’re Boring and Loving It (in which we are boring and take terrible pictures)
The One with All the Parenting (in which I accidentally get my two-year-old a caffeinated latte)
The One with the Much Needed Holiday (in which Aria is a bit disturbed by the statue at the cemetery and it makes a cute picture)

Dream Neighbors

This morning as I was driving I was pondering really deep, important issues.

Namely, which TV couples I would like to move to our neighborhood so we can throw the best block parties in history. “Normal” couples, nobody ridiculously over-the-top. People who feel like they might exist somewhere, and you’d actually enjoy knowing them.

And, since these thoughts are so important, I thought I’d best share them with you.

Eric & Tami Taylor ~ I like their priorities and their personalities and their realness. They may be my favorite TV marriage ever.

Cliff & Clair Huxtable ~ I’m thinking I don’t need to explain this one, because everyone loves this family.

Leonard Hofstadter & Penny ~ (Did you know Penny doesn’t have a last name? I just realized it.) I think these two are actually probably pretty normal once you get them away from those weirdos they hang out with. I would enjoy Leonard’s smarts and Penny’s positivity.

Sandy & Kirsten Cohen ~ Sandy is hilarious, and Kirsten is kind, and I appreciate their affinity for taking in strays. It goes well with my affinity for taking in strays.

I’d love to say I’d like Buffy, Spike, and the entire Scooby gang to move to the neighborhood, but I know that would not work out well for me. I’d be a periphery character, and we all know how that ends.

 Did I miss anyone?

What I’m Into: April 2014 Edition

What I'm Into ~ Plumfield DreamsSo, I wasn’t able to get this posted at the end of April as part of Leigh’s linkup. But, since I had been saving links all month to share with you, I thought I’d go ahead and do that anyway. So, here you go! An abbreviated “What I’m Into” that consists solely of blog articles I enjoyed. Hopefully next month will be more complete, and on time. Enjoy!

Little Kids and Death: How Taking My Kids to a Traditional Funeral Didn’t Freak Them Out ~ Kendra has a lot of wisdom to share, typically in a snarky fashion. Her philosophy mirrors ours. We take our kids to funerals, because death is part of life and we want them to know how to deal with it; because they are part of the community that has suffered a loss; and because they are a reminder that life continues and, as such, provide joy in the midst of grief.

Welcome Brave Richmond Loerke ~ I was thrilled to see the Loerkes welcomed their beautiful baby to the world!

One Word That Changed My Marriage ~ An inspiration to love my husband better.

Top Nine Reasons to Read Poetry ~ I read a lot of poetry when I was young, even keeping a copy journal, but over the years I slowly trailed off. I haven’t read poetry in a long time. This post inspired me to pick it up again.

An Open Letter from Introverts ~ I’m borderline on the introversion/extroversion scale. I relate to some of these points, and I see loved ones in others. And honestly, that “if we’re friends, it’s because you clawed your way in” thing? I would not be married today if I had not declared that I was going to MAKE Andy talk to me. The rare times he spoke he was intelligent and funny, but I mean those times were RARE. So I set a goal to get him to talk to me. Be careful what you wish for, friends. 😉

Shauna Niequist’s Book Recommendations for Writers ~ My TBR just keeps growing and growing…

That Great Day When We Were Set Free ~ I love this! I have been feeling weighed down by all our stuff. It is pointless, a burden that causes me stress. I’m looking forward to decluttering as we move through the renovation/moving process these next many months. And by decluttering, I mean cleaning out ALL of the things.