Friday, December 30, 2011

"Wear the old coat, buy the new book"*

The Book Notebook

I've been working on my book list for 2012. Also known as a big stack of books on my bedside table that I am thinking of reading soon. This got me to thinking about the best books I've read this year.

Whenever I finish reading a book, I write it down in "the book book." My sister and I both started these notebooks about 15 years ago. I love having a record of every book I've read since I was 14. Really, I don't know what people do when they don't write down the books they read. You should probably start doing this. :)

a page from the book book

So here's a little review of some of my favorites from 2011. The list of every book I read is way too long (over 80 books. I really like to read.), so I tried to be selective. You're welcome.

I Love Your Style by Amanda Brooks

This book is super fun. She's got lots of great ideas for figuring out your style and dressing using basics. I can't help myself: I love books about clothes and this one's great!

The Unbearable Lightness of Scones by Alexander McCall Smith

I will read everything this man writes. Humour. Great characters. Scotland. Lots of cups of tea. Stories that will make you laugh out loud. I have been following the story of Bertie - a little 6 year old boy with an overprotective mother- for years. Bertie gets signed up to be in the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra, even though he's only 6. Bertie's trials at school (his mother makes him wear Crushed Strawberry overalls and hang out with kids named Olive and Tofu). The series is about the tenants of one building in Edinburgh. You will love them all.

Sarah Morgan: The Civil War Diary of a Southern Woman

I picked up this book while I was visiting Kate in Texas and 800+ pages and all, could not put it down. The book opens with Sarah telling the story of the deaths of her father and brother and goes on to tell of her life in Baton Rouge during the war. She is described as a "real-life Scarlett O'Hara" and it's so true.

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

 After finishing the last Jane Austen novel (I know there's always re-reading- but still. It was a sad day), I've been on the lookout for other British novelists. Elizabeth Gaskell is fitting the bill perfectly. There are BBC miniseries for almost all of her books (Cranford, Wives and Daughters, North and South. Go watch them.) and the books are just as good. Wives and Daughters is my favorite so far. The characterization is amazing. It's like reading about people you know! I was a little worried because the book is unfinished, but the story wraps up decently- and you can watch the excellent movie ending if you aren't satisfied!

The Invisible War by Chip Ingram

 I have loved Chip Ingram since he spoke at my college graduation ceremony. This is one of the best books I've found on spiritual warfare. Basic, biblical...and balanced (yay alliteration!). This is an issue every Christian deals with and Ingram is great at making the issue not blown out of proportion. We're all in a battle and this is a great tool for being armed!

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
 Is there any Christian woman who didn't read this book this year? There's a reason: it's excellent. I'm not going to lie, it took me awhile to get into her poetic style. But I'm glad I did. Ann Voskamp provides great ideas and tools for being thankful for what you have and living in the present. Things I often need to be reminded to do. :) My small group studied this book this year; it was a great book for discussion. I'm currently on about #300 on my list of things I'm thankful for. And counting.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns) by Mindy Kaling

My sister just blogged about this book. And I heard about it from her. And borrowed it from her. So, thanks Christy! Really, this book is so funny. Mindy Kaling is a writer (and actress) on The Office. Here's a clip (from the chapter "Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities"), after points like:

I Can Borrow All Your Clothes
I Must Be 100 Percent Honest About How You Look, But Gentle
I Can Ditch You, Within Reason...

"I Will Take Care Of Your Kid If You Die
 I can't even write about this, it's too sad. But yes, I will do that. And you will have one awesome little kid who hears endless stories about how amazing and beautiful and perfect you were. Incidentally, you're kid will grow up loving Indian food."

Kelly from The Office: who knew she was so funny?

What books have you read this year? 

Find more awesome 2011 book lists at The Nester.

*Austin Phelps quote

Sunday, December 25, 2011



Are you on Pinterest?
So I've been a bit scant on the blogging front because I've been busy on pinterest. :)

I've been super inspired = It's like one big inspiration board. And a great way to save all the ideas I get from blogs.

You can see my boards and follow me here. I would love to see your boards as well! Post them in the comments or follow me.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

It is art that makes life.*

When I was about 10 years old, I read a book about Mary Engelbreit called The Art and The Artist. In it, she tells the story of being 7 years old and wanting a place to make art so much that she set up a studio in her closet. I remember being disappointed that my closet wasn't big enough to put a table in it and decided that day that I wanted to have a studio...someday.

So, it's not every day I can say that I Fulfilled a Childhood Dream, but: I really have.

Welcome to the studio!

Here is the view from the living room looking into the studio. I have shelves for art, office, and sewing supplies, and of course my art books.

Turn to the inspiration board, desk/art table, art supplies, and my reference books and commentaries (the desk is a glass corner desk that I bought from a is so.great.).
Turn to the right: my letter/computer/office desk, art books, etc.
A small view of the art table...

my current inspiration board...
I've had so much fun pulling out things from my childhood travels and using them in the studio...
Slow and steady wins the race....
Shelves for my commentaries and reference books. Studying the Bible in my studio in the Yes. Please.
Art supply holders: cigar boxes, shoe boxes, pencil cases...
All my collage papers are in a basket which I can just pull out when I'm ready to use them.
A basket on top of the bookcase for holding large collages...
Postcards from around the world = uber-inspiration...
Art supplies. I can't tell you how nice it is to sit at my table and have everything at my fingertips. Easy to reach and easy to put away.
The utility cart was $25 at Ikea and I am basically in love with it.
So excited to have room for all my sewing and craft supplies and books.

Music=definitely important.
a gift from my dad after a trip to Africa...
stamps ready to go on a collage...

I bought this picture in Ecuador years ago and just pulled it out of is painted straight onto a piece of glass, with another piece of glass on top. Love it.
Some favorite art books and my cowboy hat, courtesy of Texas. Thanks, Sabrina Ward Harrison.
Fall leaves, twinkle lights, a crate for smaller collages, and my sewing machine. I think it's going to be a good winter.

I bought this desk years ago, and have had it in Minnesota, Washington, and now Chicago.
One of my first (and favorite) collages...
Jane Austen hanging out on my letter desk...
A little bit of Paris...
A view into the courtyard from my art table...
Before: rubbermaid bins full of art supplies stuffed into my closet, pulled out, and strewn all over the kitchen floor....
After: let's just say: if I don't clean up after I start a collage- I can just close the door and no one will know.

I am so, so thankful to be able to have this studio, and can't wait to share what I make next!

*Henry James quote from a ME picture.

Friday, October 7, 2011

the living room

It is October and fall in Chicago, which means it was time for some fall changes to my living room...
Corner #1:
The white couch, ready for fall with plaid blankets and pillows, a la Toast UK. I made the pillow covers and change them (and the blankets) according to the season.
These pictures are Sabrina Ward Harrison for Papaya. yay!
View into the courtyard...
Wooden trunk? from a neighbor who who was getting rid of it. Tablecloth? Innsbruck, Austria. Matryoshka? Russia, gift from a childhood friend. Wireless Internet? Clear.
Corner #2:
Books books books....
Here it is: the New (used) Red Couch. So comfortable. So red. So awesome.
Books, maps, candles...
Pumpkin spice candle and a stack of books. I really like you, fall.
My grandma gave us this awesome camera. The map is framed paper from Paper Source.
Corner #3:
Corner #4:
I know this sounds ridiculous, but BBC miniseries really do look better on a big TV.
Library books and pumpkins. Hello, fall.
Basket of DVDs....why yes, that IS The Best Show Of All Time. I'm glad you asked.
I got the fall decorations at a super secret home decorating store my mom introduced me to. If you live in Chicago, I need to take you there.
I'm not sure exactly what it is, but I just love this picture. It reminds me of my childhood in Washington state and the fact that evergreens do exist, even if there aren't many in Chicago.
A little perspective: a view into the kitchen. Yes, that is a hula hoop.
Ok, guys: we've had a tour of the coachhouse....Come back tomorrow for the unveiling of my new studio!
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