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I’ve made a sort of informal decision to let my magazine subscriptions run out and not renew them. I’m never quite able to find time to sort through and rip out the few pages that I want, so they pile up in stacks on my desk, at my bedside, and in the spare bedroom. Plus, when it comes to image filing I find the ones stored on my laptop much more accessible. And so, internally, I declared a revolution to only buy paper mags when I really feel the urge. Viva la sanity! We’ll see.
But thank goodness for virtual glossies like my favorites: Lonny and Papier Mache – better for the environment & simpler to access and save (even though this makes me feel like a complete traitor to my beloved print). How do you all feel about it? Do you prefer to hold your magazines in your hand or on your phone/laptop? I find my preference changes depending on my mood.
Of course, the really tricky part is distinguishing between getting inspiration and ideas from magazines (and blogs) vs. coveting everything in them. Sometimes I realize I’m happier not looking at them much at all!
Much as you would bravely try a new dish at your favorite restaurant, picking up Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse is an exercise for fiction readers, worthy of a discerning palate. It is a novel that, though slim, is best read slowly to fully engage Woolf’s experimental stream-of-consciousness writing.
The story opens as six-year-old James is begging to visit the lighthouse across the bay. The Ramsay’s large family, along with a handful of visitors, is vacationing at their summer cottage in western Scotland and moody Mr. Ramsay immediately douses his son’s hopes by suggesting that the weather will be too bad to make the trip. Mrs. Ramsay, the beacon of the family and the entire narrative, soothes and orchestrates her family’s turbulent emotions, appearing at times angelic or manipulative. We follow the family and their guests through the afternoon and evening as they engage in various activities and finally come together for dinner, the story passing not so much in action as in a flowing of thoughts from one character to another while they observe and interact with each other, contemplating the interplay of mortality, art, and relationships.
An interlude, “Time Passes” includes some of the most beautiful, nearly lyrical writing I have ever read. The narrator is the wind, sweeping through the cottage after the Ramsay’s have left while time sweeps by until years have passed in just a few turns of the page. Deaths, marriage, war and success nonchalantly announce themselves in sudden bits of news until finally the family returns. Now, in the final part of the story, Mr. Ramsay makes a trip to the lighthouse with grown-up James and all of the characters attempt to resolve their feelings from the afternoon years before.
To the Lighthouse is to be read for the story certainly, but especially for the psychology evoked by time and nature and for the use of art as perception. If you have ever wanted to wander through the ramblings of someone else’s mind, this is a lovely and challenging way to do it whilst exploring your own perceptions.
First edition cover via Wikipedia
For some beautiful views of the Outer Hebrides, where the story takes place, visit here.
If you have ever had trouble with either admitting that your birthdate declares you adult enough to read a book aimed at grown-up women or with reading a book stamped with a touchy-feely title, you will understand my reluctance to pick up Cynthia Heald’s spiritual how-to from my shelf for several years. But truly, I need not have been so wary.
A Woman’s Journey to the Heart of God is solid, Bible-based instruction for anyone serious about their personal relationship with their Creator. The author uses the metaphor of traveling under the supervision of a tour guide to get her readers from point to point, drawing from her personal traveling experiences as examples of how Christ guides us to Himself. I’ll concede that the first chapter or two is a bit “fluffy,” but Ms. Heald quickly works her way into the meat of a relevant study on becoming closer to Christ and ultimately more Christ-like. Her chapter on knowing God’s will is easily the most practical, honest material I have ever read on the subject and you’ve already seen from my most recent post that she doesn’t avoid uncomfortable discussions. Heald utilizes the most straight-forward Bible translations possible and heavily references favorite theologians and writers such as Oswald Chambers and C.S. Lewis to build rapport in case you didn’t already know her as a best-selling author. A Woman’s Journey to the Heart of God goes back on my shelf for future reference.
I would love to tell you that after nine hours of work I come home to a clean house and a delicious meal that I prepared the night before so that I can sit down and focus on writing a wonderful blog entry. Can you guess? It’s quite the opposite, let me tell you.
However, I am very excited to tell you that in lieu of a real post here, you can hop over to Making This Home for a peek at how our house is coming along and a little bit about the process. Much thanks to Katie for having me!
“Don’t ask me to explain it. I can’t explain it; I bow in humility and repentance at the cross, at the wonder of it, that God should give himself for me. I bow and am redeemed!” -E. Stanley Jones
How can I describe the irony of a day when the daffodils bloom and the air is balmy, when in my soul I rejoice that once He came to die a death so significant that darkness covered the land? While I try again and again to be perfect, invariably setting myself up for failure, He was always perfect. He created me knowing that I would sin and that my sins would be attributed to His perfect account; knowing that I would be set blameless and free while He suffered. And He made me anyway. How could anyone love me that much?
It was a good day when The Bookshelf opened practically down the street from us earlier this month. Before we moved to Brunswick last fall, I had a day or two of misgivings after I realized that the town was entirely lacking in bookstores. I mean, what kind of people must live in a place without a bookstore? Ever the logical one, my dear husband immediately pointed out that the town is flanked on either side by two major retail centers that probably fully serve the bookish needs of the local population.
Nonetheless, this is one used book store that will be much patronized in quarters and dollars by at least one Brunswick girl.
Are bookstores a favorite hangout for you? Do you prefer the polished chain bookstores, simple used bookstores, or those tiny privately owned ones with lots of character?
Bare feet and open windows, a butcher block table and lightly floured surfaces are what these make me think of. They come with perfect names like “Rolling Pin Oatmeal Waist Apron” and “Frosty Tin Marshmallows Full Apron.”
Maybe it was my contentment after a good day at work, maybe it was the steaming chai in my hand, but this quarterly magazine seemed so refreshing to me in my 40 minute sojourn at Borders (awaiting Prince Charming to pick me up in his Corolla). It was full of serious DIY, with style like some of my favorite shelter mags, in a completely reasonable format. How-to’s range from super simple (glass bottle arrangements) to challenging (building a flat screen TV stand, tiling your entryway).
3. Sheena’s photos of a small-town post office.
My post office needs a major update. I think maybe I will refer them to these photos.
Know what I love? (Besides the aforementioned Prince Charming, obviously…) I love words like these: Ephesians 3:14-21
Two books I would love to take a peek at, both for the beautiful spreads and for the useful information:
FYI: You can enter to win a copy of Restoring a House in the City over at Little Green Notebook!
I am forever meaning to write something serious. A novel is always at the top of my list, but even an occasional short story would do. I think Curious Lists: A Creative Journal for List-Lovers by Chronicle Books would be a wonderful writing prompt or even a fun travel companion. I am encouraged that I have actually incorporated new habits into my life since last year, and have accomplished major goals as well, so maybe this will be the year that I begin writing in earnest. Now quick, list the “Best Streets on Which to Attempt a Blindfolded Bike Ride.”
This morning I have dedicated to crafting before my husband takes me away to an afternoon of shopping and an evening of Brian Regan (free tickets!). Tomorrow I’m subbing all day and the weekend is already piling up with a dinner date with friends, more Christmas shopping, and teaching Sunday School – as if that is interesting to you. So, I leave you for the week with a lovely assignment: check out the latest issue of Lonny Mag. You cannot possibly be disappointed. [I especially like the winter garden party article on page 24.]
This was one of those little books hidden away on a shelf amongst fad diet and cooking tomes with shiny covers, one that the clerk insisted I take for free with a little look of disgust that such a dingy old thing should be sold. This is one of those unwanted books that become my treasures – a look at 1959 the way our parents and grandparents forgot to remember. There are charming illustrations by Peter Spier and saturated photos of table spreads. But most of all there is commentary and wisdom, cultural and social instruction, and a peek at the beginnings of our current food culture.
The introduction includes tidbits like:
“Almost without exception, our houses are smaller than those of our parents. Our clothes and manners are far more casual. And our entertaining is less formal, because most of us now care for our homes with little or no help.”
“The five-day week is now standard in virtually all industries.”
“Men have more time for fun and friends. So have women, even though so many are holding jobs as well as running their homes.”
“Big modern refrigerators, the great variety of frozen, canned, and convenience foods, and the new sensible approach to entertaining make hospitality easier than ever for those who plan parties the modern way.”
Sounds like the beginning of time to me! I especially chuckle over the repeated explanations of how in the world one should manage to host a proper party without hired help (especially if there is an unfortunate presence of children to be dealt with) and extolling of the very processed foods we now blame for our health issues. Jello and mayo seem to have been particular favorites in the “elegant” food department. (That explains the weird jello salads that ocassionally appear at pot-lucks!)
How about a “tempting casserole of rice, pimientos, and black olives?” Or maybe you’re in the mood for an “Elegant Sandwich Loaf” and some “Cheese Kix” – literally cheese and Kix cereal mixed with tobasco sauce. Yep, I knew you’d be hungry after that! Also, there are instructions for “encouraging smoking at the table,” as well as rousing entertainment in the form of high school theme songs and playing percussion with kitchen supplies. Oh, and did you know that hamburgers were once known as “beefburgers?”
Of course, I’m only pointing out the oddest parts, but I do like one little bit of advice for the holidays (one that I need most of all), ”Hospitality isn’t a contest. It is sharing the best you have.”
My father-in-law sent me this wonderful link today which any of you other book fanatics might enjoy too. The British Library has a virtual collection of rare books such as a handwritten and illustrated copy of Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland and Leonardo DaVinci’s sketches. You will need to download Adobe Shockwave Player if you don’t already have it, but it is more than worth those two or three extra minutes. To turn the pages, click and drag or use the slider at the bottom (much easier). Enjoy!
Pages from the Flemish “Golf Book,” British Library
Now that I’m learning not to buy things new as often, it’s much easier to find beautiful, useful things that are also second-hand. All of the items below I’ve scored recently for less than $1 each.
Can you tell they’re children’s size gardening gloves? They seem to fit better than the adult sizes… I’m not sure if I want to keep the ledger in my purse for a notebook or just use the paper for crafts.
According to the backs, these coasters are from Taiwan (not the same as “Made in Taiwan”). I just wasn’t so sure that Sean’s Penn State coasters belonged on the dining table.
These are my crowning find. A complete set of 20 children’s encyclopedias from 1940 in almost perfect condition – for free!! Can you believe it? The people at the sale thought no one would want them! Well, I think I’m pretty fortunate they weren’t snatched up before I got to them. They’re full of beautiful old stories, paintings, photos, maps, even French translations and craft ideas for kids. My first plan is to make color copies of some of those illustrations, like the plants, for framing. Also, I imagine some of the information is probably out of date, but if a favorite cousin ever wants to borrow them for homeschooling she’s welcome.
We’re very lucky to have lots of antique and second-hand shops in our area, so that our biggest expense for the house has really only been paint. Everyone always says that paint is a cheap way of redecorating, so I was super surprised to discover that even with Sean’s work discount paint is not at all cheap. Plus, did you know that painting a room is really hard? Like, blue paint on the white ceiling and tan carpet, three coats of it, and lots of hours hard? Somehow I thought that painting a room would be just as simple as painting the side of a barn. I was vastly mistaken. This painting process will take months of weekends, I have no doubt, but I am trying not to get tired of it already. Any experienced painters out there with tips to share? I’ve already learned that nail polish remover gets latex paint out of carpet pretty well. What else?