Friday, July 3, 2020

No.420: 2020 Gratitude // 27

eating food that we actually grew from our garden!
the birds that sit on the garden gate
the way the sun shines through the trees in the afternoon
moving artwork/home decor around the house to try something new
that I didn't break anything when I fell down half a flight of stairs (me and stairs...oy)
holy priests
a sale on ebay
watching P play pretend with his "guys"
a big answer to prayer
another step closer to debt freedom
that my oldest son wanted to show off and share my chocolate chip cookies at work
more little pieces added to my quilt
a turkey mama with her babies trailing behind her
ceiling fans on hot days
my parents (I miss them terribly!)

Monday, June 29, 2020

No.419: My Latest Reads // June 2020

This post contains affiliate links.
P.S. I highly recommend Book Outlet!  Use my link to receive $10 off your first order of $25 or more.
P.P.S. Have you heard of Bookshop?  They are an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores.  You can check out all of my favorites on this page and I'll be linking to Bookshop and Book Outlet as much as I can from here on out.  I hope you'll support them too!  

#40. ANOTHER PLACE AT THE TABLE by Kathy Harrison || ★★★
This memoir about one woman's experience as a foster parent was eye-opening and real.  While I didn't understand or agree with a few of her decisions, I appreciated how honest she was about both her successes and failures.  I believe she fostered children in the '90s, so now I would be interested to find a more recent account to see how much (or how little) the foster care system has changed.

#41. FLORENCE ADLER SWIMS FOREVER by Rachel Beanland || ★★☆☆
This debut novel had a lot of promise, but just fell short for me.  It could have just been an issue of reading the wrong book at the wrong time, but I felt it was really depressing, had a questionably unethical premise and tidied up at the end way too neatly.
(Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.  Florence Adler Swims Forever releases on July 7, 2020.)

#42. DARK MATTER by Blake Crouch || ★★
I thought I appreciated every moment, but sitting here in the cold, I know I took it all for granted. And how could I not? Until everything topples, we have no idea what we actually have, how precariously and perfectly it all hangs together. (61%)
This book!  Nothing like what I normally read, but it was fun and a page-turner for sure.

I had never heard of this Church-approved apparition from the 1980's before, so I was anxious to learn more about it.  This book was a good introduction, but was written mostly from the author's perspective versus a more fact-based presentation.  3.5 stars, rounded up.
(After reading, I went down a little rabbit trail and found this documentary really interesting and helpful.)

#44. THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD by Agatha Christie || ★★
That Agatha Christie...she did it again!  I love how her books tend to follow a similar plot line with the crime and then the investigation, yet they are always just a little bit different and always interesting.  And ya gotta love that quirky Hercule Poirot.  (This was also my 1926 pick for the 20th Century Reading Challenge.)

If you can get past the author's quirky and sometimes unsuccessful attempts at humor, this can actually be a thought-provoking book.  During their No Spend year, the Dannemillers asked many of the same questions that I have been: What does it mean to be a producer vs. a consumer?  Why do we find our worth in things?  How do I find contentment in a society that frequently tells us that we're not enough?  Unfortunately, I found most of the book heavy on unimportant, not-so-humorous stories and too light on any actual helpful tips and lessons.     

#46. PLAGUE JOURNAL by Michael D. O'Brien || ★★
Powerful signs have been given to exiles in the past, fleeing their own land, going back into the country of their people's bondage.  Angels in dreams, surprise stars, wise men from the east - yet we cannot live on signs, for we would soon become dependent on them.  We live by faith, and if from time to time the veil is parted briefly, it is to encourage us for a specific task or to sustain us through a period we couldn't otherwise endure.  But it is faith that we stand most in need of.  (p.199)
"The human will is a great mystery.  We choose.  We choose to hate.  We choose to forgive.  We are free to do either."
I don't like what he's saying.  I'm angry.
"Are you telling me we have no right to be upset about injustice?!"
"You have every right to be angry.  What is happening is evil.  But if the evil infects you with evil, then it has won a hundred-fold."
I feel an anguish so terrible it threatens to tear my chest.
"Your anger is just," he continues in his kindly voice, "but your hatred is not." (p.238)
 So good and thought-provoking and even a little prophetic.  I know I'll be thinking about this one for awhile.

#47. GHOST BOYS by Jewel Parker Rhodes || 
Quick middle-grade read.  It makes me so sad that a book about this topic even needs to be written.

#48. THE SILENT PATIENT by Alex Michaelides || 
A pretty recent thriller that had some really strong reviews, but I found it a little flat.  Just meh for me.

This book is a good example of reading something at just the right time.  I remember first starting it while I was in college; I would sit before the Blessed Sacrament at the Port and pray my way through, jotting down notes in the margins.  I never did finish and I think that was okay - I was so young!  I got so much more out of it now, more than 15 years later.  It was exactly the book I needed for these unprecedented and scary times.  Saint Faustina, pray for us! 

#50. SEARCHING FOR AND MAINTAINING PEACE by Father Jacques Philippe || ★★
As the assaults of evil, thoughts of discouragement and distrust, are incessant, so, in the same manner and in order to resist them, must our prayers be incessant and untiring.  How many times has it happened that I went to make the daily hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament in a state of preoccupation or discouragement and, without anything particular having happened, without saying or feeling anything special, I would leave with a quieted heart.  The external situation was always the same, there were always problems to solve, but the heart had changed and, from then on, I could confront them peacefully.  The Holy Spirit had performed its secret work. (p.34-35)
Let us then be convinced of this and it will be for us a source of immense strength: God may allow me to occasionally lack money, health, abilities and virtues, but He will never leave me in want of Himself, of His assistance and His mercy or of anything that would allow me to grow unceasingly ever closer to Him, to love Him more intensely, to better love my neighbor and to achieve holiness. (p.45)
This is another religious book that has been on my TBR list for years, but a recommendation from a trusted priest pushed it to the top of the list!  At only a little over 100 pages, it's a small book but really packs in a lot of wisdom.  We all could afford to cultivate a better peace of heart these days. 


Books Read: 50
Pages Read: 14,518
Fiction: 30  //  Non-Fiction: 20
Kindle Books: 22  //  Paper Books: 28
20th Century in Books Challenge: 26/100
Original 2020 books "to-read" total on Goodreads: 414 // Current "to-read" total: 404

Friday, June 26, 2020

No.418: 2020 Gratitude // 26

A new series for 2020: if I record 20 things every week, I'll have over 1,000 items by December 31.  
That's a lot to be grateful for.

how one tiny seed grew into a huge summer squash plant
picking the last of lettuce (for now!)
a new quilting project that is keeping my fingers busy
foggy mornings
delicate spider webs on the garden gate
super soaker battles in the hot sun
having Mark working from home all these months - I couldn't survive this pandemic without him!
that TJ's finger was only jammed and not broken
the scent of tomato plants on my fingers
the amazing way cucumbers climb up the trellis
puffy white clouds in a baby blue sky - "It looks like a painting, mama!"
wildflowers in pinks and blues and yellows
Lego creations built for little brothers
how D can make homemade pizzas for the entire family, all on his own
 the Seven Sorrows rosary prayer
new friendships for M
iced coffee in the afternoon
clearing out some unneeded school books for others who need them
big block towers created by proud siblings
a few new-to-us books in the mailbox

Thursday, June 25, 2020

No.417: 52 Weeks, 52 Letters Project // Weeks #22-25

This post contains affiliate links.

One of my big goals for 2020 is to send at least one piece of snail mail out every week.  Keeping track of my progress here on the blog will help keep me accountable and I'll also get to share with you some small stationery businesses.  Maybe it will even encourage you to join in on the fun!

I sent a penpal letter with another card from Providential Co.  I love the message and I think it's something that everyone needs to hear.

A new baby gift! This beautiful watercolor card came from Like Pearls on a String.

My little cousin's birthday!  I should have saved it for his fifth birthday, but I thought this card from Yeppie Paper was too cute to wait.  (I added the little birthday hat sticker, just for fun.)

I mailed a birthday card from Mudsplash Studios to my brother, who I haven't seen in months!  I know he'll roll his eyes at the cheesy pun, but really - what are big sisters for?

I only managed to send out one Father's Day card (also from Mudsplash Studios) this year, but he's one of the most important - my own!  We haven't seen him since March and it makes me so sad that we're spending another holiday without each other.  This COVID separation thing is so, so hard.