One Thing: A Season of Stories

One Thing: A Season of Stories

Season of StoriesOne Thing: Where I share one thing that is making my life better or bringing me joy.

So I’m super excited about this opportunity for readers. Crown Publishing and Penguin Random House are hosting a free “Season of Stories”: an incredible collection of short stories featuring writers who have won the National Book Award and topped the New York Times Bestseller list. A bit of culture and truly good writing all the way through the end of 2016? Sign me up!

Starting October 11, for a limited time we’ll be emailing eleven fiction tales directly to readers, all written in the first person. Dive into a great story when you need a quick escape from daily stresses.

Lean more about Season of Stories.

Sign up here!

(Please note this caveat from the publishers: “Some of these stories contain mature themes and are more suited to an adult reader.”)

One Thing: The Library

One Thing: The Library

Historic Chuckatuck Virginia libraryOne Thing: Where I share one thing that is making my life better or bringing me joy.

I love our library. Just a few miles from our house (2.1 to be exact), I have dreams of me and Fiona biking down to the library to five into books or story time or star gazing nights.

Just one of the branches of the Suffolk Public Library, Chuckatuck is easily the smallest permanent library I’ve ever seen, just 2,000 sq ft. And the cutest. The building was formerly the cafeteria of Chuckatuck High School (the building that is now Sauders Supply) and in 1989 it was given new life as a library.

It has everything a library needs: books, a librarian, a few computers, WiFi access, and a children’s section where littles like Fiona are invited to stay a while. Mondays (not every Monday, but maybe once or twice a month) are now my library day. The library is generally only open during working hours on weekdays, but it is also open on Monday evenings. Read more

Yarn Along – Marshmallow Fluff Cowl

Yarn Along – Marshmallow Fluff Cowl

What I’m knitting, and what I’m reading

Yarn Along Dauntless and a Cowl

I’m preparing to start a new cowl with this Marshmallow Fluff pattern, probably my last of the season as Spring has officially sprung and it’s time to move on to outdoor projects. But one last knit is always a good idea. Also, I’m reading Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman. This is my first book from this author and I’m still not quite sure what I think of it, check back soon for a review!

Joining Ginny at Small Things.

Book Review: Beyond All Dreams

Book Review: Beyond All Dreams

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth CamdenA few years ago, I read Elizabeth Camden’s Against the Tide. I liked the book well enough that when the opportunity arose to review another of her books, I went for it. Her latest release, Beyond All Dreams, is an interesting story from inside the heart of the Library of Congress in 1897.

Anna is a quiet-as-a-mouse map librarian in the Library of Congress, living a predictable but content life in spite the hurts and struggles of her past. Luke is one of the nation’s most powerful, and charming, congressmen left in a fight to save his career after infighting with Congress leadership. Under duress, Anna joins Luke’s quest to save his job and in return, Luke sets out to help Anna solve the mystery of a lost ship. Together, they find themselves surrounded by secrets that could prove perilous.

I think my favorite part of this story is my favorite part of every historical fiction — learning more about history. I can honestly say I didn’t have much knowledge of the formation or early workings of the Library of Congress, but as a lit nerd, I definitely find it interesting. And even though I’m not much for politics, I also enjoyed the nuances about Congress and the congressional pages and all of that. It’s a very good testament to a historical fiction novel if I come away with a greater knowledge of history.

That said, I read this book almost entirely in one sitting. It was a breeze to get through (and I am a slow reader!), which makes it ideal for a vacation novel or something to pick up on the next snow day. It isn’t a complex masterpiece, but it is certainly enjoyable.

I received a complimentary copy of Beyond All Dreams from Bethany House Publishers, but I was not otherwise compensated for this review. All writing, thoughts, and opinions are solely mine.



Healing has been on my mind a lot the last few days. It’s such an abstract concept, difficult to pin down when you’re talking about heart-healing, mind-healing.

My book club’s latest selection was Healing Stones, by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn. I’ve read one other novel by Rue and unexpectedly loved it. The same could be said for this one, but in a different way. I wondered how a book about an adulterous woman would translate into the lives of our book club of young women, all still rather new to marriage, tiny babies beginning to make appearances, houses being bought, careers being built. I was surprised to see how much I could relate — not to the adultery part, but the rest.

The main character identifying her core issue as a need to never fail, to be perfect at EVERYTHING. That feels familiar. The character’s realization that being helpless to help her husband deal with overwhelming grief felt like failure. Yeah, that resonates. The teenager seeming to do his utmost to rip the family apart while really dealing with his own hurts? Brought back a lot of past hurts I thought I had forgiven. And I had, but sometimes I have to forgive anew.

I cried when I finished reading the book, not because of the book, but because of the reflection of my own life in it. My real life. My real hurts. My real need for healing.

Then the news of Robin Williams’ death hit. I had to tell Husband.

“He died?” Husband asked, surprised. “What happened?”

I hated having to say it, but he needed to know, and from me, not his co-workers or the checkout lady at the grocery store.

“He committed suicide,” I said gently.

It’s a hard subject. Not one that I take lightly.

We talked in halted phrases for a bit, letting silence settle between the words as needed. We processed. I let him think, wait, speak, think again.

In the end we began talking about Out of the Darkness walks we’ve seen advertised at some time or another around town. Maybe. Someday. Maybe.

Healing. It’s such an abstract concept sometimes.

{Memories} Jane Austen

{Memories} Jane Austen

Amid the chaos of house projects and preparing for company (and more house projects), I managed to carve out bits and pieces of down time (ie. laundry folding) to watch snippets of some well-loved Jane Austen films.

I found myself inexplicably happy as I watched, filled with some of the best memories. I am truly in love with Jane Austen’s unique wit and perfect dialogue.

I received my first set of Jane Austen novels the summer after 7th grade. My brother’s girlfriend was working at a bookstore in Denver and sent me a special collection of lovely hardback books. I immediately selected the thickest copy, Sense and Sensibility, and began to read. Some of the vocabulary was over my head, and I struggled to keep up with the characters and actions. I wasn’t well versed (or versed at all really) in British literature at the time. Eventually I switched to Pride and Prejudice, but the five different Miss Bennets had me utterly confused. I still loved to read them though and continued my pursuit in spite of my confusion.


A few years later, when I was about 15, Jane Austen made a resurgence in my life. I was visiting the same brother, now married to the girlfriend who had first introduced me to Jane Austen. MF and I watched Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice in about a 24-hour span. I was smitten. I was able to keep track of the characters, understand the plot lines, delight in the dialogue. I still remember so vividly, MF and I laying on a twin bed in their guest room watching for hours, and as John loaded the car and kept prompting us that we needed to get on the road, still we watched, transfixed. Eventually, he came into the room and turned the TV off.

In college, I was delighted to learn that my new roommate had the exact same tiny, hardback copy of P&P that I did, and she even had it for the same reason: A traveling copy. It fits so nicely into a purse or carry-on!

During the summers, Mom and my SIL, K, and I would get together to scrapbook. We would steal my brother’s projector and play the long A&E version of P&P on a giant screen while we scrapped away.

In graduate school, I started inviting friends from all walks of life to join once-a-month Jane Austen film nights. We would watch any and every version of each book, and discuss late into the night what we liked and didn’t like about each version and how they compared to the books. I brought friends together from different parts of my life, and they brought friends. I met new people. There were women from 19 years old to 35, and we delighted in each others’ perspectives.

Now, I have a home of my own, and I can’t wait for fall. Because I will pull one of my well worn copies of P&P from the shelf, curl up with a blanket in front of the fire and indulge in Austen’s unforgettable wit and dialogue. It will be heaven.



When I finally ordered In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore, it couldn’t get here fast enough. The day it arrived in the mail, I ripped open the package and couldn’t wait for bedtime (ie. a few quiet moments to read). But, at the same time I’m reading a new piece of French literature and wanted to spend some time on that.

So I told myself I would hurry up and read the first chapter of In Praise of Slowness, then I could turn to fiction. In fact, I couldn’t wait to get through to the end of the first chapter. And when I finally set that book down, I was anxious to pick up my next book. I lay there in bed, exhausted, fighting sleep for the sake of reading. My eyes began to shut, and I lay there for a moment doing absolutely nothing. And it felt good. But, I told myself, I need to pick up a book and read more, I can’t just sit here.

But isn’t that what I had just been reading about? The cult of speed? Our inability to do nothing?

So I didn’t. I didn’t pick up that book. I didn’t read any more. I just lay there. Silent. Still. And slowly drifted off to sleep. Content. Happy.

I wish my life were like that more often. I wish I embraced the slow. The quiet. The still.

It’s hard though. When you’re house-hunting. When you’re growing. When you’re moving. When life is in upheaval. When you wonder if there will ever be a new normal. When you feel like you’re in a hamster wheel.

I make it through the day one breath at a time these days.

Slowing down to take a walk