Thursday Thankfulness Party

The firsts of the month are some of my favorite days of the year. They’re like mini New Years’, where you get to start fresh, watch the seasons change, get a new perspective. I always feel like the firsts of the month should be really good days, setting the precedent for the rest of the month. But what I’ve learned about really good days is that gratitude makes all the difference in the world.

Right now, I’m thankful for:

1. My all time favorite husband


This is him at 8am on a Saturday, after I bribed him to come downtown with me for work with the promise of an amazing breakfast after a short event set-up. Except the place I was going to take him for breakfast was closed for renovations, so we ended up in the closest small cafe we could find. It was eh.

2. This little critterIMG_7722

My fluffy wittle pumpkin. Hagrid has gotten so much sweeter and cuddlier as he’s gotten older (and since his manhood was taken away from him). Anyone else have a house rabbit? I’m afraid I don’t feed him enough.

3. Exploring Columbus with friendsFullSizeRender IMG_7721 IMG_7781

This is quickly becoming a favorite pastime. I got to introduce some non-Columbus natives to North Market one weekend. The above macaroons are from Pistacia Vera. My favorites of these four were lavender honey and vanilla bean. Heavenly. Biting into a macaroon is the food equivalent of laying your head on a pillow. Must do with eyes closed to get the full effect.

The last picture is of Kirstin, whose friendship I treasure. Through the years we’ve discovered we have so much in common, so little in common, and so much in common yet again. She’s also basically the reason Brett and I got together. Another bonus: our husbands have been best friends since middle school. Kirstin and Pete come from two opposite corners of Ohio, and somehow ended up here in the middle with us to enjoy things like margaritas and Bacon Fest (to the fullest extent it can be enjoyed) and sharing a Netflix account.

4. Paddleboat double dates with friends from life group

Guys, our life group (city group/small group/Bible study/whatever you want to call it) is HUGE. Which is great because, as my amiga Sara put it, “We have so many friends now!” But it comes with some challenges, like getting to know one another and going deeper with each other. I’m a very open person, and even I have to admit that it’s harder to be really vulnerable with eighteen people instead of ten. But paddle boats and nature walks and pounds of chips and salsa make me feel like we’re getting somewhere. Date your friends, people. It’s the best.

5. The little thingsIMG_7783 IMG_7740 IMG_7762

Spontaneous family bonfires, rainbow food (warming up to a Whole30!), swapping hand-me-downs and strengthening the bonds of friendship, flannel, running outside again, apple cider, tomato soup with cornbread plopped right in the middle and honey drizzled on top, having a houseful of women drinking wine and chatting, lying next to Brett knowing that he’s home for good (new job, PTL!!), and going to bed tired and smelling like campfire.

This life is good. What are you thankful for today?

Book Report: A Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire, book 1)

Book Report: A Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire, book 1)
You know when someone says, “You are your mother’s daughter” it means that you and your mother are similar in some way? It makes sense because your mother raised you, you carry half her genes so maybe you look a lot alike… My question is, can you become your husband’s wife? Because I think my nerdy-ness level has gone up substantially since we’ve been married. Sure, I’ve always liked Star Wars and Lord of the Rings… but did I look up fan theories and explore fan sites and join tumblr? No! I just sat back and enjoyed them for what they were. Watched some DVD special features.
I digress…
The point is, as much as I would not recommend that anyone start watching the show because it is terrible, it is awful, people do horrible things and everyone dies – the point is, that Brett and I recently both started and caught up on the TV show, and until the next season comes out, I’m putting worry about my favorite characters out of my mind by reading the books. Here is my book report/review for A Game of Thrones.
Title, author, copyright date, and genre?

A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin (is that his real name, or is he copying off of another fantasy author who wrote too much backstory?); 2005; Fantasy

Summarize the book without giving away the ending.
As if you don’t already know, the kingdom of Westeros holds many “houses” with many different allegiances. The king of the realm comes to visit his oldest friend, Eddard Stark, lord of Winterfell, to ask a request. I can’t say anything else without giving away spoilers, except: Winter is coming.
What did you think of the main character?
There are many main characters whose point-of-view tells the story, but Ned Stark is on the cover, so I’ll talk about him.
He is very honorable, arguably to a fault. He puts honesty and integrity above his better judgement. But he puts a high value on the truth, and so do I, so it leads him to discover secrets that are dangerous to know.
Which character could you relate to best?
Ned’s oldest daughter, Sansa. I think I’d rather be Arya, because she’s cooler, and in some ways I am more Arya. But as I read from Sansa’s point of view, I started to understand her more than I did watching the show, and now I love her. She just wants everything to be pretty, she thinks the best of everyone, and struggles to deal with the disappointment of finding out that real life is not like the songs. Pretty relative, am I right?
Were there any other especially interesting characters?
Tyrion Lannister is one of the most interesting characters, in my opinion. He’s always the smartest person in the room (by far), yet very few people value him. He’s also one of the most morally correct characters, even though he doesn’t seem like it and no one thinks him so.
From whose point of view is the story told?
The points of view change every chapter. In this book, we see the story from the POV of Ned Stark, Catelyn Stark (his wife), Jon Snow (his son by another woman), Sansa Stark, Bran Stark (his middle son), Arya Stark (his youngest daughter), Tyrion Lannister (brother-in-law of the king), and Daenerys Targaryen (the daughter of the former king).
Were the characters and their problems believable?
If you believe in their fantasy, medieval world, yes. It’s part of what makes the book so good. Martin kind of goes all-out, and describes things “the way they are”… in the fantasy world.
How did the main character change during the novel?
Well, they were ALIVE. Just kidding. Fake spoiler. Some, Arya in particular, become very hardened after certain events happen to them, like leaving the comfort of their home to live somewhere new.
What was the book’s central question, and how was it answered?
The big umbrella question is: What will become of Westeros? Within that question: Who will rule? What will happen to certain characters? Other significant questions revolve around whether characters are who they say they are. As for answers, we shall see…
Did you learn something new from the book?
A lot of medieval terms that I have no use for.
Was the book different from what you expected?
I already watched the show, and was actually surprised by how closely the book followed it. I hear they deviate more as the story continues.
Was location important to the story?
So important that many maps with tiny writing are included! Nerd status!
Was the time period important to the story?
It’s a fake world, so no.
What alternative title would you choose for this book?
Don’t Get Attached
Share a quote or two from the book.
“Winter is coming.”
If you’re not into GoT, you’re probably sick of hearing that, but it’s really all that needs to be said.
Share a favorite scene from the book.
A really eerie scene at the beginning of the book is very symbolic for the rest of the book (and, I suspect, the series). The Stark house symbol is the direwolf (basically a wolf but huge and menacing), and while traveling through the woods, Ned Stark and his sons find a dead direwolf and her litter of pups. The cause of the wolf’s death is an antler through the neck. Ned decides to kill the puppies because they have no mother to raise them, and will starve otherwise, and they’re too dangerous to bring back to the castle. Jon Snow, however, stops him, pointing out that there are five pups – three boys and two girls – same as the Stark children. He says it’s a sign that the Starks are meant to have them. Ned concedes. As they start to leave, another pup hows, and Jon goes to find it. It’s completely white and a boy, and Ned give it to Jon to keep.
What did you like most about the book?
It’s just so very interesting. Martin creates a world with a lot of adventure, secrets, gore, murderous plots, and… normal humanity. The characters have hard lives, and you just want to see them through the other side (and by that I mean a happy ending, not their death… but don’t get attached). I like getting to read from the POV of so many different characters, because unlike other books where I’ve seen this attempted, Martin is able to keep the voice of all his characters. One of the very best parts is that Martin writes such strong, multi-dimensional, interesting female characters. Each one has many layers, and they’re not all the same! I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read from a woman’s point of view that felt like I was reading the same character in a ton of different settings.
What did you like least?
It’s, uhh…. graphic. And the Night Watch stuff is boring. Sorry, Jon, I know lots of people love you.
Did you like the way the book ended?
What do you think will be your lasting impression of this book?
Because it’s a series, all the books will start meshing together in my mind, but one thing I’ll always remember that struck me initially in this first book is how strong all the characters’ POVs are.
What did you think of the cover
I read a re-publication after the show came out, which shows Ned Stark sitting on the Iron Throne. I thought it was… I dunno, a book cover.
Would you recommend this book? How would you rate it?
I would! Out of five: ****1/2

My favorites: 2015 Emmys Red Carpet

I looked at my blog for the first time in months, and was shocked to see that my last post was from more than a year ago. How could that be? I haven’t gone a year without blogging in a long time! I investigated further and found twelve – twelve – posts in drafts. Clearly this has been a year of too much thinking, not enough resolution. Very, very true. As a result, the only thing I’m prepared to share with you today is a bit of fluff. Glitzy, glamorous fluff. But that’s OK. What’s a blog for if not to share my favorite things? Here are my top ten best dressed from Sunday night’s red carpet. (Get ready for exaggerated excitement to make up for my lack of fashion knowledge.)

10. Samira Wiley

10 samira wiley

I wasn’t expecting this caped style from this OITNB star, but I’m diggin’ it. Thanks for bringing bright pink to the red carpet, Samira.

9. Jamie Lee Curtis

9 jamie lee curtis

I hope to look as good as Jamie Lee Curtis when I’m fifty-six… or twenty-six. Can a woman be a silver fox? I’ve decided a woman could, if that woman is Jamie Lee Curtis.

8. Kristen Schaal

8 kristen schall

I love seeing comedic women all dressed up. They look like real people having a great time in fancy clothes, instead of ethereal goddesses stepping foot to earth for the first time. It’s like their whole point is to say, I’m a real person, just like you. Not these other people though. They are beautiful aliens. Kristen Schaal looks amazing in what I think is her best red-carpet moment yet. And she gets props for wearing my favorite color at the moment: indigo.

7. Kiernan Shipka

7 kiernan shipka

Kiernan is fifteen, and yet manages to upstage her costars with her personal style all the time. I’m a huge Man Men fan, and I love January Jones and Jessica Pare especially, but I can’t deny that this child knows how to dress herself better than most adults. She just has flair. I especially like the color and the neckline of this dress. And her eyebrows. #onfleek

6. Aubrey Plaza

4 aubrey plaza

Sass personified, Aubrey Plaza’s teasy low-V/high slit combo suits her perfectly. Aubrey is famous for her straight-faced comedy, and it’s almost like the seriousness of this dress, her straight bob, her dead stare, her black fingernails, were all intended to make us think, Are you funny or are you evil?, much as her character on Parks and Rec does. Either way, I love minimalist style, which is probably why this gown made it to my top ten.

5. Gwendoline Christie

5 gwendoline-christie

Before I go any further, let’s just have a round of applause for Game of Thrones. They won a record-breaking twelve Emmys in one night, and their team somehow has the ability to transform this goddess into the notoriously ugly Brienne of Tarth. It must be fun to play a character like that and then get to show up to red carpet events like, Yeah, you didn’t see that coming did you? Watch me own the room. I am tall and strong and quite possibly the most beautiful woman here. You go, you tall, mighty woman, you.

4. Lady Gaga

6 lady gaga

I know that saying this is going to make little monsters all over the world think I’m against everything they stand for, but I love toned-down Lady Gaga. My argument: who wouldn’t take this look over a meat dress any day? It has just a hit of Gaga weirdness with the asymmetrical hip, but she is overall a glamorous Hollywood starlet.

3. Maggie Gyllenhal

attends the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Maggie Gyllenhaal arrives at the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 20: Maggie Gyllenhaal arrives at the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

This one requires two pictures. It was obvious that Maggie was digging her look and feeling confident, and for good reason. This is possibly the definitive *best* gown of the night, and she only comes in third on my list because of personal opinion. She looks amazing. The red carpet was crowded, as per usual, with mermaid-style, form-fitting dresses, but whyyyy go that route when you could wear this full-skirted, color blocked gown instead? Or, for that matter…

2. Teyonah Parris

2 teyonah parris

attends the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

THIS number, overflowing with polka dots and fabric and pizzazz?! Tyonah Parris did what everyone should do on the red carpet, in my humble opinion: she opted for fun. Clearly she has no regrets. Plus, when the show is over, this could probably sub as a very cozy blanket for the plane ride home.

1. Maisie Williams

1 maisie williams

My favorite look of the night (sometimes you just know), Maisie is the second Game of Thrones star on my list and the second teenager. What does that say about me? Let’s not go there. I am an adult and I don’t dress like a teen, I swear. Let’s just analyze this look, from top to bottom.
Hair: Glamorous Hollywood waves
Makeup game: Age appropriate and EYEBROWS.
Gown: Pink! The fit and cut is age appropriate (modest), which is important for her. The cut and fabric are modern and pretty, with some edgy angles at the pockets. She is all grown-up, sophisticated, and pretty. And then…
Shoes: The shoes! THE SHOES! Arya Stark is wearing a slipper/heel hybrid, and it’s blowing my mind. Who but her could pull this off? And with what other outfit? This is a case of a first-place win because I cannot imagine those shoes being pulled off on anyone else’s feet in any other situation, with any other look. She just makes it happen.

So what do you think? Am I out of my mind? What was your favorite look of the night? And most importantly, what do you think of the shoes?

Tuesday Thankfulness party

Tonight I’m thankful for…

* Brett being on his way home. Life’s not the same without my husband by my side. (Life is preferable with my husband by my side.)

photo 2

…But I’ve been coping.

photo (1)* Thankful to be digging into my extensive reading list.** And the fact that drinking an American chai latte while reading Around The World In Eighty Days makes it taste more like Indian chai.

* Friends who have not let me feel lonely not once the whole week+ that Brett has been gone.

* This kind of homework, and getting to do it curled up in the corner of my squishy couch with the cozy smell of spinach pie baking.


* Truth that hits hard (from the Soul Healing workbook)

… too many Christians simply see themselves as sinners trying to be better Christians… You can’t become more of a child of God than what your spiritual birth gave you. Our efforts… must begin by believing that this is true, rather than trying harder to make it better.


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come! – 2 Corinthians 5:17

 * This journal that is truly becoming an epoch of a transforming life.

photo 3

 And because it makes this face.  :|

What are you thankful for today?


**Current reading list: Around The World In Eighty Days, Twelve Years A Slave, A People’s History Of The United States, Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, Soul Healing, and (my book club’s book of the month, if you want to read along) The Cuckoo’s Calling

The burden of Love

I had a moment today. It was one of the most powerful and overwhelming things I’ve ever felt, and only being able to explain it in my simple, elementary words only makes my point.

I’m sure everyone bothering to read this already knows that I’m involved in a production of Hairspray. (This post isn’t about Hairspray, so if that kind of talk annoys you, you can keep reading.) I haven’t been involved in a show since my grand debut as a plate in Beauty and the Beast six years ago, and community theater is a whole new experience for me. I had no idea the cast of people I would meet or how much they would mean to me. Being at daily rehearsals, having fun, and handling stress creates an environment where love and conflict coexist, just like a family. This is just the context for the moment I had today. All the new, amazing people in my life who are so different and each perfectly unique.

I was thinking about the show and my show family, when suddenly my heart was ten sizes too small. And not just because of them, but because of like, everyone. There was light breaking my heart apart because it couldn’t contain it. I locked myself in the office bathroom and, not knowing what to do, did something I have only been compelled to do a few times in my life – I fell to my knees and tried to cry out to the Lord all the things my soul was trying to say.

Uncontained, inexplicable, don’t-know-what-to-do-with-it LOVE.

Faces came to my mind, and all I could feel was that it’s not important to me that they change a thing. It’s not important to me that they reciprocate. It’s not important to me that they acknowledge. All that matters is that they feel and know this love. And I know that Jesus is burdening me with love. He was pouring out on me what it feels like to painfully, perfectly love someone who doesn’t know you. Someone who thinks that they would need to change themselves to be accepted by Jesus. Someone who doesn’t want to know Jesus because of the rumors they’ve heard about Him. Someone who doesn’t understand that God’s love for them is blind and reckless. Someone who can’t believe.

Jesus’ love doesn’t give up, even when it isn’t accepted. But it doesn’t go anywhere. It’s a contained, uncontainable love. It turns into pain. It turns into hot, burning tears. It turns into moans and cries that I felt in my soul but could not utter. For a moment. It lasted one moment.

I hate to think that with me, the flow of love stops. But it’s true. I am so helpless to love others. I can be overwhelmed with this feeling, but it won’t translate. I can see them beautifully with the eyes of Jesus, while they are totally unaware of the adoration He has for them. It is simply a burden, but one I would never give back. When my life is filled with other people, my need for God expands because there is no where else to turn when I need Him to love people how they need to be loved. I am so grateful for this clarity of my powerlessness and His strength, but it makes me so desperate. I wish Jesus would overwhelm them as He did me, even for a moment. I wish, I wish, I wish. Because this love is contained that cannot be contained, and it is a burden. It is painful. It drove Jesus to the cross to say, “I can’t take it anymore! Know my love! This is how much I love you!”

Oh, please know that. Please accept that.

There is someone I’ve prayed for for years, saying, “Whatever it takes.” Lord, whatever it takes from me, from You, from others, from life’s circumstances, let him know who You are. Now I pray that for so many more, and for many I haven’t met yet. The burden is greater. I can’t even.

Oh my God, I love people so much! I need them to be happy. I need them to be well. Make them happy. Make them well, body, mind, and soul.

Meridith Regina

If you follow me on instagram, you’re probably worried about me.  For two weeks I’ve been incessantly oversharing photos of my niece. She is brand new, and I just got to meet her over the weekend, when she turned eleven days old.

Meridith made Brett and I an aunt and uncle for the very first time, so pardon this last dose of oversharing. Because she is very special.

It was so great to spend time with Brett’s sister and her husband and their baby. It felt eerie, but in a good way, because suddenly Jenn & Ryan had created a family. Brett & I got to be a husband & wife tag team and take Meridith’s newborn photos and some family photos of the three of them. This is a selection of my favorites.














DSC_0162-2 DSC_0170

And my favorite…





Favorites from the Met Ball Red Carpet

Remember this post, when I shared my favorite fashion picks from the Golden Globes red carpet? I had a lot of fun doing it, and it made me feel good to post something during a busy time when I didn’t have a chance to write something substantial. Like I said before, I’m not a fashion expert. I just like what I like. So here are my favorite looks from celebrities at last night’s Met Ball.

10. Blake Lively

10_BlakeLively2 10_BlakeLivelyBlake Lively’s dress was beautiful, and it might have been my number one choice a few years ago, but at this point I’m a little bored of seeing dresses on the beige/nude scale. But I LOVE the glam her makeup and hairstyle add to this sparkly dress. She looks like a freaking goddess. Also, hooray for happy couples!

9. Victoria Beckham

9_VictoriaBeckhamSpeaking of happy couples, number nine on my list is Mrs. David Beckham. In the absence of Kerry Washington, the event was severely lacking a touch of Olivia Pope-ness, that is until Posh Spice got there (she’s come a long way). I like this crisp, clean, beautifully structured gown in much the same way as I loved Lupita Noyango’s red gown from the Golden Globes – though this really could never top that.

8. Claire Danes

"Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala - ArrivalsI didn’t even notice until just now that the top of her dress is actually burgundy velvet, which only makes me love it even more. I think she looks perfectly classy and lovely, from her loose undo to her point-toed shoes. I like the plain structure of the top of the dress paired with the draping of the bottom. And those two fabrics together! I just can’t find anything wrong with this.

7. Jessica Paré

7_JessicaPareI‘ll admit I might be blinded by my  newfound love for Jessica Paré since I started watching Mad Men this year. Megan Draper is my girl! I was kinda hoping to see something flowy with bell sleeves or bright psychedelic colors on her, but I should probably let that go and recognize her as an actual person. She’s near the middle of my list because I totally grazed over her look when I first saw it, but it grew on me. I looked at it again and really liked it. I like her choices in the matching clutch and bracelets all topped off with a red lip. Somehow she looks young and fun as well as elegant and sophisticated in this dress. So Megan.

6. Dakota Johnson

2_Dakota JohnsonOkay, so if I was her stylist, I’d, give her a big, fat, shiny choker, put her hair up, and take away those black gloves. You’re wearing a navy dress, girlfriend. But as for the navy dress… I really like it. The flattering silhouette stands out in the lineup of a-line and mermaid dresses. The silvery top and full bottom are both on trend, and on top of that it even looks… comfortable? If I was going to the Met Ball, this is a dress I would want to wear.

5. Reese Witherspoon

5_ReeseWitherspoonAs I was looking through pictures, it was so nice to finally see a color! This made my list because of that and the unique neckline. I also love the short train. The dress simple, but it stands out, and who better to pull off this bold color than Reese? Elle Woods forever. #BendAndSnap

4. Lily Aldridge

"Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala - Arrivalsenhanced-7492-1399389119-7It looks like someone spun silver silk directly onto her body and made a dress. It looks like water in moonlight. Or a space blanket. This dress is obviously a stand-out piece that should be worn on any and every occasion. Her natural makeup just makes her look even more beautiful (must be a VS model thing), and that choker wins my best accessory award. Hands down.

3. Rihanna

3_Rihanna2 3_RihannaI‘m not even crazy about the open back, and this is still number three on my list. It has just the right amount of shoulder pad, sleeves, choker neck, train, and cut out (RiRi’s obviously been doing some crunches). She didn’t need anything to add to the drama of this dress except some sparkly chunky rings and a crazy updo that looks like a 90s prom hairstyle after sleeping on it (in the best way possible). Plus, serious makeup game. Perfectly pink lip.

2. Karolina Kurkova

6_KarolinaKurkovaI want to make this into a duvet cover, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It looks amazing as a dress too. LOOK AT THOSE FLOWERS. You all know how I am about flowers (or maybe you don’t?). This is a whole new level of floral print, and I hope to see more like this in the future! That’s really all I have to say… FLOWERS!

1. Emma Stone

1_EmmaStone4 1_EmmaStone3 1_EmmaStone2This might seem like a simple choice after the awesome drama of some of the other ones, but I like everything about it. Pink on pink. Two pieces, yet still a gown and so appropriate for the event. The hair. The makeup. The fact that Spider-man was her date… There were lots of two-piece getups at the Met Ball, but Emma’s was the best and the classiest. I’ve always loved Emma’s underrated girl-next door vibe, and she kind of plays that up here wit her hair and makeup choices, but her gown is like, “Look at me! I am pink! And I’m touching this red carpet and I don’t even care!” I just love her.

So there’s my top ten favorite fashion choices from this year’s Met Ball. I have them ranked, but I still find myself going back and forth with some of them. And those may be my favorite dresses for the event, but as far as I’m concerned, in the grand scheme of things, Kirsten Dunst won the whole thing.

Kirsten Dunst2May the Force be with you.

What were your favorite fashion choices from the Met Ball?