What I Read: April 2022 Edition

Hello, lovely readers!

Well, my reading definitely slowed down in April. Before we left for our trip to Ireland (read the recap here if you missed it), I downloaded several books onto my iPad for reading on the flight. Somehow though, I just wasn’t able to get into them while we were in the air.

I’ve also got some longer books in my queue this month, which slows me down a bit. And without even realizing it, I picked a book that I already knew the story for. Raven Black by Ann Cleves is the storyline of the first installment of Shetland. (You all know how I feel about British mystery shows). I hadn’t realized that the show was based on this book! So that was a fun discovery.

Without further ado, here’s what I read in April:

  • The Long Call by Ann Cleves
  • The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
  • Murder in an Irish Bookshop by Carlene O’Connor
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  • Ruth’s First Christmas Tree (short story) by Elly Griffiths
  • Raven Black by Ann Cleves

Remember, you can find links to these titles in my bookshop.org shop. Bookshop supports local and independently owned bookstores, which is why I’m supporting Bookshop!

his site/page contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I will be rewarded a percentage of your purchase. Thank you for supporting Bookshop.org.

My Irish Vacation

Hello, lovely readers!

Well, it’s been just about 2 weeks since we returned from our trip to Ireland, and all I can think about is how much fun it would be to go back.

I’ve been racking my brains trying to figure out what my favorite part of our trip was, and it’s so hard to choose just one moment. Of course, seeing my youngest daughter in person and hugging her as much as I could was absolutely the very best part, but that would have been true no matter the location. Deciding which “best parts” to share with you has been challenging because there were so many!

I know, this is not a travel blog, but I had so much fun planning it and we enjoyed it so much that I just have to share. Hopefully you’ll be inspired for the next time you are planning a trip as well!

Beware, this is a long post. If you’d rather skip over and check out the Instagram version of it, you can find me here.

Day “1”:

We flew out of Spokane, and had an overnight flight to Dublin. We arrived in Dublin at around 10am local time, and then took a cab to our hotel. There were 5 of us traveling, so by the time we figured bus fare for 5 people, it cost about the same to just take a cab.

We were too early for checking in, but our hotel graciously allowed us to store our luggage, and we headed out to explore Dublin on foot.

Travel tip: If possible, use a portion of your first day to get out and get some exercise. Walking around is a great way to do this, and it also helps you get oriented and learn the layout of the city. Fresh air, exercise, and hydration will help you beat the jet lag quickly!

I had done my research prior to our trip, and knew a good deal of the sights in Dublin that we wanted to see. (Thanks, Rick Steeves!) We used our first day to wander the city of Dublin and find the places we planned to visit later in the week. Dublin city centre is very walkable and most sights aren’t too far away. There’s also a great public bus system and light rail system, though we didn’t actually use those.

We only visited one main attraction on our first day, which was the Guinness Storehouse. It was a very interesting tour, though for someone who is not a fan of heights, the many stairs, escalators, and open floor plans were a little challenging. I survived, though! The view from the Gravity Bar was astounding! And of course, we had to enjoy our free pint, though it didn’t help so much with the jet lag!

After our tour, we needed to find some food, and we opted for The Stag’s Head pub. This was our first meal in Ireland, and it was amazing. I ordered the fish and chips, and my husband had the Beef and Guinness stew. Fabulous!

After our early dinner, we headed back to the hotel to check in and have a little down time. We try to stay awake as long as possible on the first day; we’ve found over the years that it helps us acclimate to a new time zone quickly. Around 8pm, we were both feeling tired, so we headed out for another walk to stay awake for just a bit longer. We walked to the Temple Bar area and it was so worth it. This area was hopping and lit up with twinkle lights. So fun!

After a little more exploring, we headed back to the hotel, grabbed some snacks at the hotel restaurant, and then headed to bed. Day 1 success!

Day 2:

After a relatively good night’s sleep, the first order of business was finding decent coffee. Luckily, we found a cute little place around the corner from our hotel. I will never understand the European fascination with instant coffee!!

As I mentioned, the best part of our vacation was meeting up with our girls. They were due to arrive to the hotel by noon, so we wandered to find some breakfast, figured out how to make my phone work, and then waited at the hotel for them to arrive. I could barely handle it.

We had a surprise for our daughter. We had secretly planned for her sister to tag along on the trip, but didn’t tell M. She was shocked to find her big sister waiting for her in the hotel room when we took her luggage up!

After the girls arrived, we sorted the final plan for the day, purchased tickets and headed out. We had a couple of minor snafus with our credit card, despite having put a travel advisory on it, but finally got it worked out.

Travel tip: Many of our sights required pre-booking specific times, which we were not aware of prior to our arrival. If you’re headed to Dublin, double check if the sights you want to see require pre-booking or if you can show up and get tickets on the spot.

Our main stop the first day was Trinity College and the Book of Kells. It was pretty amazing to be able to see the illumations and scripts that are some of the earliest surviving parts of Scripture in Ireland.

We then headed to the National Museum of Ireland: Archaeology. We saw so many amazing artifacts, learned about clans, Vikings, and Brian Boru. So much information!

Finally, we were able to squeeze into the final group of the day at Dublin Castle. They closed early due to a state function being held at the Castle that evening, but we still got to see many of the State Apartments and some amazing artwork and portraiture.

We stopped for churros and coffee, did some shopping on Grafton Street, and stopped to listen to a few buskers. We also walked back through the Temple Bar area and found lots of gift shops to stop in.

Dinner was at a place called Brannigans, and it was even more amazing than the first night.

Day 3:

One thing to know if you’re going to Dublin and are a coffee lover: There are a ton of coffee shops. They just don’t open until 9 or even 10 on Sundays. We wandered several blocks before finally finding the one Starbucks that was open before 9. How do they survive?

After our coffee, we toured the Jeanie Johnston ship and EPIC Museum of Irish Immigration. It was so intriguing and informational. We learned a lot about the Irish potato famine, emigration from Ireland in the ensuing years, and the impact that Irish people have had on the world. Since most of us in our group have at least a little Irish heritage, it was a very cool and moving experience.

After the EPIC, we headed to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It was so beautiful. Stained glass and amazing tile work. Not to mention the soaring cathedral ceilings.

After St. Patrick’s, we needed some food. Our girls really wanted to do a charcuterie board on St. Stephan’s Green, and the weather was just right for it. We found a grocery store, picked up some cheese, crackers, biscuits, salami, and fruit, then found a patch of grass on the Green to enjoy our picnic. The only problem was that we didn’t have a knife or cutting board. We used some hand sanitizer to clean off a couple of credit cards, and used those to cut the fruit and cheese. It worked surprisingly well! And made for probably the most memorable charcuterie in history!

We grabbed gelato and Irish coffee in the Temple Bar area and then headed back towards the hotel for a brief rest before dinner.

While we absolutely loved every Irish meal we ate, we changed it up a bit for day 3. I mean, there’s only so many times in a row that you can do fish and chips. We headed to a Thai place close to our hotel and it did not disappoint.

After dinner, the girls headed to Temple Bar, where they found some live music. The parents headed back to the hotel to put our feet up after walking so much.

Day 4:

By day 4, the hunt for the morning coffee had become a tradition. We finally found a Caffe Nero close by that opened at 9, so we were able to get our morning coffee before packing our bags and heading for the train to Galway.

Travel tip: If you’re changing money while abroad, make sure you do it while in the bigger cities. We quickly discovered that, due to the pandemic and Brexit, no one in Galway was changing money, and the bus and cab system, which had been mostly cashless in Dublin, was cash ONLY in Galway (unless you had a LEAP card for the bus). So while our hotel in Galway was conveniently on the main bus line, getting there the first time proved to be a bit of a challenge.

After checking in and dropping luggage, we sorted LEAP cards for bus fare for our group, then headed back to Eyre Square to find lunch, sightsee, and shop.

Galway was totally different than Dublin, and we enjoyed every second of it. Tons of pubs, coffee houses, souvenir shops, and general shopping as well. We found a music store, where I found myself a new Irish whistle, and a cheesemongers shop, where we found some really stinky, really tasty cheese. We explored shops filled with Claddagh rings and Aran sweaters, heard some buskers, and walked along the waterfront.

My only big disappointment in Galway was that we never could time it right to find live traditional (trad) music. Either we’d be too late and the pubs would already be packed out (hard enough to find seating for 7) or we’d be way too early and the music wouldn’t start until 9 or 10pm. Don’t worry, we did find some eventually.

Day 5:

This day was a major highlight. We joined a bus tour that took us through the Irish countryside out to the Cliffs of Moher. We were supposed to have a cruise along the base of the cliffs out to one of the Aran Islands, but that part got cancelled due to forecasted storms. It was a good thing, too. By the time we left the Cliffs, it was raining and you could hardly see the Aran Islands from the mainland.

The Cliffs were breathtaking. It was quite windy, but that made the bugs stay away, which was really nice. The path along the Cliffs is very safe, and we enjoyed a good workout to get the full experience. We briefly stopped in the visitor’s center, but spent most of our time braving the wind to see the main attraction. I even went up two spiral staircases to the top of O’Brien’s Tower.

We found a quick dinner in a pub after returning to Galway, then retired early to the hotel. We walked an average of over 25,000 steps each day in Ireland, and we were tired!

Day 6:

We returned to Dublin, and visited ChristChurch Cathedral. This was our last full day with our friends, so we were making the most of every last minute. We grabbed an early dinner at the oldest pub in Dublin, The Brazen Head (once again missing the live music), and got caught in a rainstorm. Amazingly, this was the only time we couldn’t somehow outwit the rain on our whole trip! We had amazing weather the whole time!

Day 7:

Our friends headed off to their flight very early in the morning, and we had one full day left in Dublin. Mostly, we just wandered and explored, finished up some last gift buying, and enjoyed the city. We also went to the Dublinia museum, which was all about the Vikings of Ireland. It was an interesting perspective and a bit different from the Archaeology Museum.

Our final evening, we FINALLY found some live music at a pub AND a table that could seat all 5 of us. It was so exciting. They sang some of our favorites, including “The Wild Rover” and “Red is the Rose.” They tossed in some covers (“Sweet Caroline” and “Livin’ on a Prayer”), but when they played the Irish reels, we really got excited.

We were finally able to convince M to do some dancing near our table, and the crowd back by our table loved it so much, she went up to the front of the pub where the musicians were. After that, she just took off and danced her heart out for a couple of songs. It was so much fun, and my mama heart was so full to see her fulfilling a dream: Irish dancing in a real Irish pub in Ireland.

After M’s legs got too tired to keep going, we called it a night. We knew we had to be up super early for our flights the next day, the girls back to London and we would begin a long, arduous, and stressful day of travel (Long story short: we all made it home safely, within 10 minutes of each other. That’s the most important thing). While it wasn’t the perfect day of travel to end such an amazing trip, it certainly makes for good stories later.

So, my dear readers, if you made it to the end of this super long post, bless you. I hope you enjoyed my chronicle of our trip, and I hope that it inspires you if you ever get the bug to travel abroad. It’s so fun, and so worth it.

What I Read: March 2022 Edition

Hello, lovely readers!

I know I’m a little late with this post, but vacation will do that to you. I branched out in March, and found another new author whose books I’m in love with. If you haven’t yet, please make sure you check out Sarah Sundin. Sarah writes Christian historical fiction/romance set during World War II. I recently read her Sunrise at Normandy series, and am “patiently” waiting for my holds for the next series to become available. She also just released a new book: When Leaves Fall in Paris. I can’t wait to read it!

I’m also still loving the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths, but again, waiting for those holds! Even though waiting is hard, I still think libraries are the best thing ever.

Here’s what I read in March:

  • The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths
  • The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths
  • The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin
  • The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin
  • The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin
  • Home Front by Kristin Hannah
  • The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain
  • Atomic Habits (finished March 2022) by James Clear
  • The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary
  • Still Life by Louise Penney
  • The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths
  • The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths
  • The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths
  • The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths

You can find links to purchase these titles in my Bookshop.org shop. Every purchase from Bookshop supports local bookstores. Find these in the March 2022 Reads section of my shop.

This site/page contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I will be rewarded a percentage of your purchase. Thank you for supporting Bookshop.org.

Did you know that I send out a monthly newsletter? Subscribers get extra tips and tricks for curating rhythms, routines, and traditions to leave a legacy that matters. They also get access to exclusive content like recipes, creative writing, and so much other fun stuff! Newsletters drop near the turn of the month. Click here for access.

Spring Goal Update

Hello, lovely readers!

I have a confession to make. I have failed. And I’m celebrating it.

What did I fail at, you might ask?

Well, I failed at a couple of my goals for the first quarter of this year. I had a big huge goal to get one of my manuscripts completely edited by mid-February so that it would be 100% ready for submission. I failed.

I also made a goal to plan mostly healthy dinners each week, and to work on eating out less (especially pizza). In this too, I failed.

Why am I celebrating the fact that I failed? Seriously, I’m so excited about this!

I’m celebrating because failing to meet these goals means that I tried. I attempted to achieve them. And even though I failed overall, I still MADE PROGRESS!

Failure is success in progress.

Albert Einstein

I didn’t get my entire manuscript edited, but I did make a huge amount of progress on it, and I was asked by an agent to submit a full proposal for the book. THIS IS A HUGE WIN!

And while I may have eaten more than my fair share of pizza over the last few months, we’ve also been making sure to incorporate more veggies and less pasta into our weekly menus, which is also a big win!

For my other goals, I’ve made slow and steady progress.

  • I’m working out more consistently again. And even though my foot sometimes tells me I’m starting to do too much too quickly, I’ve been pretty good about listening and pulling back, rather than quitting all together.
  • My email list is small but growing, and I’ve been more consistent about blog content for you this quarter.
  • We’ve been more intentional in our relationships as well, and now that Spring is here in the Inland Northwest, getting outside will be even easier.
  • I’m consistent in my daily Bible reading, journaling nearly every day, and reading books that help me to grow into a better version of myself.

Now it’s time for a refresh.

Each quarter, I take time to reevaluate my goals, to determine what’s working and what’s not, what needs to be adjusted (timelines, perhaps?), and what might need to be let go. I admit, I hope that my goal work inspires you, but I also have ulterior motives. Sharing my goals with you each quarter keeps me motivated.

So, here’s the refresh for the next quarter:

  • I’ll continue to work on current writing projects, with specific deadlines and goals to have finished manuscripts by the end of 2022.
  • I’ll continue to provide content here and in my monthly newsletter for you as we all continue to grow and learn in the area of legacy making. (Not a newsletter subscriber yet? Click here.)
  • I’ll continue to be intentional in relationships. I can’t wait for Spring walks and evening firepit chats with my friends and family!
  • I’ll continue to work toward better health for my body and my soul. Reading “self-growth” books, daily Bible reading, journaling, daily movement, healthy food choices, and general self-care are all part of how I do this.
  • I’m also looking closely at my daily routines and what I can fine tune to make them work even more effectively for me. Spring into Summer is going to be a very full season and I have a feeling the weeks will fly by pretty quickly. I need my daily routines and weekly rhythms to work for me in this season. Housekeeping is one area that I’ll be focusing on to fine tune the daily routine without simply adding more stuff to my plate.

If you are a goal setter, I’d love to hear what your goals are for this next quarter– if you’ve updated or if you’re just starting. If you’re not a goal setter and would like to be, I invite you to jump in with us. Set one goal, and jump in. There’s no better time to start than NOW!

Peanut Butter, Maple Syrup, and French Toast

Hello, lovely readers!

On Saturday, I went to the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and it was so fun! The last parade I went to was in 2019! So crazy.

The St. Patrick’s Day parade holds a special place in my heart because for so many years it has marked the beginning of the Meek version of March Madness. Historically, our family has a ton of March traditions.

Over the years, we’ve been heavily involved in both the distance running and Irish dance communities. March is traditionally filled with back-to-track events and Irish dance performances. The pandemic changed some of that, but even last year, we had virtual performances and meets to attend.

As a child, the most we really did for St. Patrick’s day was dressing up in as much green we could find. Occasionally, we might also have some sort of green colored food to celebrate, but we never really did the whole corned beef and cabbage thing. Interesting since my dad’s side of the family is pretty heavily Irish American.

Since getting my girls into Irish dance 13 years ago, we’ve fully embraced all things Irish. All the dance things, corned beef and cabbage is a favorite meal, and I even make Irish soda bread on St. Patrick’s day. We enjoy shamrock shakes and Reubens. We’ve embraced this portion of our heritage wholeheartedly.

It got me thinking about how traditions become traditions.

I’ve mentioned before about how it’s good and healthy to take traditions that we’ve grown up with and make them our own, even if that means changing them to suit our current situation. And how it’s also good and healthy to let go of traditions and routines that are no longer serving us. And sometimes we find a tradition that speaks to our hearts (or our tastebuds) that we long to embrace.

  • When we choose to keep a tradition that’s been part of our family for years, perhaps even generations, we honor the memories and legacies of those who came before us.
  • When we choose to adopt a tradition that we didn’t grow up with, we honor the culture or community that birthed the tradition.
  • When we choose to let go of a tradition that no longer serves us or our families, we honor ourselves and the legacy we are leaving.

I love how traditions are melded and woven into the fabric of our lives.

Celebrating traditions, honoring loved ones, and living our own legacy doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes, it’s as simple as peanut butter, maple syrup, and French Toast.

My family doesn’t eat French Toast very often, but I have a very special tradition when we do. I will take a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter, drizzle maple syrup over it, and mix it all together, then spread the mixture on the French toast. For me, it’s really the only way.

My children also love to eat French Toast this way. It’s become a family favorite.

What I love about this tradition though, isn’t how good it tastes, even though it’s definitely a benefit. I love the feeling of honoring the person I learned this tradition from– my step-dad. I love the way it makes me feel connected to him and his side of our blended family, regardless of who our DNA says we belong to. And I love the thought that I’ve passed this part of my childhood–my own history–on to my children.

I absolutely love how we can honor others through our own cultivation of which traditions we choose to keep.

Did you know that I send out a monthly newsletter? Subscribers get extra tips and tricks for curating rhythms, routines, and traditions to leave a legacy that matters. They also get access to exclusive content like recipes, creative writing, and so much other fun stuff! Newsletters drop near the turn of the month. Click here for access.

What I Read: February 2022

Hello, lovely readers!

This week was hard. Like many of you, I’ve spent hours in prayer this week, praying for Ukraine and for peace. I’ve realized again the luxury and privilege of living removed from wars and rumors of wars. And admittedly, when it all seemed like too much, I found escape and comfort in a book, knowing how lucky I am to be able to do so.

I had a pretty busy February but I was still able to finish 7 books. You’ll notice that when I find an author I like, I tend to hyper focus and devour everything written by them. It’ll be no surprise that my list this month includes several Elly Griffiths books.

As I’ve mentioned before, fiction and stories are were I spend the majority of my reading time. That said, I like to always have at least one non-fiction book going as well. I don’t read non-fiction as fast as I read fiction, usually only about a chapter a day, and sometimes not even that much. I try to alternate between writing craft books, self-growth books, and other subjects that I happen to be interested in at the moment. One reason I like to read non-fiction more slowly than fiction is because I like to really let the message and principles of what I’m reading sink in.

I just finished “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg. It is a book about writing craft and practice and I found a lot of it very helpful. The chapters in this one are short, and I liked using each one as a type of journaling prompt for the day. If you are a writer and haven’t read this one yet, I highly recommend!

Here’s what I read in February:

  • A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths
  • A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths
  • The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths
  • The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths
  • The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths
  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
  • The Midnight Hour by Elly Griffiths

Check out my bookshop.org shop to support local bookstores and find these titles. They are listed in the February Reads 2022 section.

Did you know that I send out a monthly newsletter? Subscribers get extra tips and tricks for curating rhythms, routines, and traditions to leave a legacy that matters. They also get access to exclusive content like recipes, creative writing, and so much other fun stuff! Newsletters drop near the turn of the month. Click here for access.

This site/page contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I will be rewarded a percentage of your purchase. Thank you for supporting Bookshop.org.

You Have To Enter To Win

Hello lovely readers!

Happy President’s day! If you have the day off, I hope you are enjoying a well deserved respite. And if you are at work today, thank you for all you do!

I just “returned” from a wonderful weekend full of writerly things. I spent the weekend attending the West Coast Christian Writer’s conference and it was amazing! I’m so excited to put into practice all the things I learned.

The conference was supposed to be in person, but then had to pivot to online due to the pandemic. Initially, this was very disappointing to me. It was supposed to be in San Francisco (I’ve never been there); I wanted to actually meet and connect with other writers (so hard when it’s virtual); I didn’t want to spend my weekend glued to a screen (my eyes are a bit tired). But even though it wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for, God is faithful and He came through in a big way this weekend!

I went into the conference thinking that there was no way that I’d come away with any meaningful connections with other writers. I can be a fairly shy person, and when you put me in a virtual space with over 300 people, many of whom are published authors, I feel downright intimidated. I really wasn’t sure how the hosts would be able to foster any form of personal connection.

To my surprise and delight, I ended up in a breakout room with another writer who writes in similar genres and is also a pastor’s wife. We immediately connected through the Facebook group and are now working together with another writer to form a virtual critique group. I now have new friends from the East Coast and the Midwest, and can’t wait to get to know them better! I’m so glad that God proved me wrong.

There’s so much that I’ve learned and am still learning from this weekend, and if I do my job right, you’ll see evidence of that in the coming weeks and months. Putting it into practice will challenge and stretch me, and I’m here for it.

I want to share one other takeaway from the conference: it was so incredibly uplifting. In this pandemic world we live in, so much feels so heavy or edgy or angry all of the time. It was so amazing to spend my weekend in the company of others who encourage one another and seek to find the light in the midst of darkness. The last session of the conference was highly encouraging, especially in the area of continuing to pursue this writing life.

Part of the conference was a writing contest, and though I didn’t enter, it was so exciting when my new friend Christine was awarded the Best In Conference award. I hadn’t entered the contest for myriad reasons, so it was easy to be happy for those who won awards.

Entering writing contests is a bit unnerving. I’ve entered a couple over the last couple of years, and it’s a quite vulnerable experience. Putting a piece of your writing, a tangible piece of yourself, your heart and mind and feelings, into the hands of another person to judge and critique can be scary. But if you want a shot at winning, you have to go all in. You have to submit your best work, sometimes your most vulnerable work.

It’s so easy to sit on the sidelines and wait for an invitation… But there is also a time for jumping in and finding your place.

Rebecca Meek

When we enter into new spaces of life or seek out things that we feel are missing, it’s so easy to sit on the sidelines and wait for an invitation, to let life activities or busy-ness fill our empty spaces, or to sit on the outside looking in, measuring and judging if this is the pool we want to jump into. And there’s definitely a place for that. It’s totally fine to test the waters before opening up your whole self. But there is also a time for jumping in and finding your place.

You have to enter to win.

I felt this a lot as I moved through the virtual conference. I was worried that I wouldn’t make friends and connections, and I wasn’t thrilled about sitting in front of a screen by myself. I could have cheated myself out of a win by backing out. I would have missed out on so much. Instead, I jumped in and came away with new friends, new connections, and new vision for moving forward with whatever this writing life looks like in the coming days, weeks, months, and years.

  • Feeling lonely and in need of friends? You have to enter to win.
  • Wanting to make a career shift? You have to enter to win.
  • Looking for a church home, a place to belong? You have to enter to win.

My prayer for you this week is that you have the courage to enter those spaces that feel vulnerable, that feel like they are missing or lacking. Personally, I’m taking a next step this week and have a meeting with an agent. I’d appreciate your prayers because I’m definitely nervous. If you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear about where you’ve decided to jump in. Drop a comment or send me a message. I’m cheering you on!

Did you know that I send out a monthly newsletter? Subscribers get extra tips and tricks for curating rhythms, routines, and traditions to leave a legacy that matters. They also get access to exclusive content like recipes, creative writing, and so much other fun stuff! Newsletters drop near the turn of the month. Click here for access.

What I Read: January 2022

Hey there. I gotta say, January was weird.

I ended up with way more time on my hands in January than I expected. We ended up having some extra days off as our district faced staff shortages. It was nice to have the time, and I certainly put it to good use.

We already knew that reading is my favorite addiction, but with all that extra time in January, I really blazed through a bunch. I don’t know if it was that I picked books that were super quick reads, or if I spent more time reading than I thought I did (probably it’s this one), but I was able to read or finish 12 books last month. And that was even with intentionally limiting my reading time to leave room for writing and exercise!

My go-to for evening reading has always been fiction. I love getting lost in a story. And while I’m hoping to read more non-fiction this year, a good (or even mediocre) murder mystery will probably capture my attention every time. And if it’s a series where I can really get attached to the main characters, so much the better. I found a new series in January, and I’m loving it so far! It’s the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths: archaeologist expert meets police investigator and mysteries abound. Bonus, it’s set in England, so that’s fun.

After blazing through all those books last month, I’ve slowed down a bit in February. Less time off work means less time for reading. But, without further ado, here’s what I read last month:

  • Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village by Maureen Johnson (Hilarious, especially for fans of English murder shows like Midsummer Murders, Sherlock, and Father Brown).
  • What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins
  • Love Does by Bob Goff
  • The Last Green Valley by Mark T. Sullivan (this follows the story of a German family who had relocated to Russia prior to WWII, and their flight from both the Nazi’s and Stalin’s forces in a quest for freedom)
  • The Maze Investigations Series (6 books) by M. K. Jones
  • The Girls with No Names by Serena Burdick
  • The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway Book 1) by Elly Griffiths & The Janus Stone (Book 2)

Most of these books can be found here. Just find the January 2022 Reads list and pick what you like. I read a lot on my Kindle app on my iPad, and check out most of my books from our local library app. I recently made the decision to throw my support behind my local bookstores for my hard copy purchases. One way that I can support local bookstores is through bookshop.org. I still use Kindle Unlimited and other Amazon products, but I also want to support local! Just one reason I decided to become a Bookshop.org affiliate.

FTC disclaimer: This site/page contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I will be rewarded a percentage of your purchase. Thank you for supporting Bookshop.org.

Origin Stories and Legacies

Hello, lovely readers!

I’m curious. Who’s your favorite superhero?

Personally, I’m a big fan of Batman (Michael Keaton or Christian Bale versions, thankyouverymuch). I love that Batman is a regular guy with really, really cool technology. I’m nerdy like that.

If I could have a superpower? I think I’d have to pick time travel. Maybe Dr. Strange will loan me the Time Stone (except I just remembered he doesn’t have it anymore. There goes that plan).

Which probably explains why I spent the better part of last week doing a deep dive into genealogical research. I spent hours chasing down rabbit trails and finding new records that led to more rabbit trails. Finding the stories of people who are a part of my history that I’ve never met or even heard of. I know I’ll never know their whole story, but it’s sure fun to try. After all, their story is part of my story.

Speaking of stories, I love a good origin story. They always remind me of what the hero had to overcome, what gives the hero purpose, and what is being redeemed through the superhero’s work. The origin stories of superheroes remind us to look back to remember our why, but also to look ahead to what the future holds.

I’ve been thinking about legacy a lot lately. One of the records I found in my ancestry research was old probate records. You know, last will and testament and all that. In fact, it’s actually the first definition of the word, according to Google. Legacy: an amount of money or property left to someone in a will. The second definition is the one I tend to think of when I think of a person’s legacy: a thing handed down by a predecessor.

Legacy:

A thing handed down by a predecessor.

I sometimes feel as if we treat both of these ideas in an after the fact way. We live how we live and those who are left get what is left. But when it comes to leaving a legacy, there is something tangibly intentional about what we leave and who we leave it for. The way I live this life, the stories I tell, the difficult things I overcome, this is the tapestry of my legacy is woven a little more each day. This is what I call Legacy Making.

Titus 2: 3-5 teaches us that older women should pass on their knowledge to younger women. And while Paul highlights areas such as loving our families well and homemaking, I don’t think that the idea of handing down knowledge is limited to recipe cards and housekeeping tips. We are also called to pass on wisdom that we have learned, either through experience or from those who came before us.

It’s the redemptive quality of looking ahead to the future and overcoming hindrances from our past that keeps me passionate about Legacy Making.

Rebecca Meek

I want my children to know who they are, where they come from, and who they are called to be. I want them to have more than knowledge about these things; I want them to have the tools they need to be who God has called them to be. This is why I do this work of curating rhythms, routines, and traditions: to leave a legacy that matters to future generations. It’s the redemptive quality of looking ahead to the future and overcoming hindrances from our past that keeps me passionate about Legacy Making.

Like the superhero origin stories, it’s important to know where we come from, to recognize our strengths and weaknesses, and to look toward our future with purpose. Legacy Making means that I live and order my life now in such a way that when we get to the end, the legacy is already in place. That I’ve lived by example and taken the time to teach my family and those around me how to carry on the stories, the memories, the legacy of family.

Did you know that I send out a monthly newsletter? Subscribers get extra tips and tricks for curating rhythms, routines, and traditions to leave a legacy that matters. They also get access to exclusive content like recipes, creative writing, and so much other fun stuff! Newsletters drop near the turn of the month. Click here for access.

Happy Birthday to Me: 3 tips for fun and unique birthday traditions

Hello, lovely readers!

Guess what? It’s birthday week!! I love birthday week! My birthday is on Sunday this year and my hubby is taking me to see Fiddler on the Roof, one of my all-time favorite musicals. (Side note: Fiddler is one of the very first musicals I saw live. Thanks to my friend Janelle who invited me along way back in 5th grade and ignited my love for musical theater!) I can’t wait for Sunday! I love having a mid-January birthday, because I almost always get a three day weekend for birthday weekend! Thanks, Dr. King!

Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof.

Tevye, Fiddler on the Roof

We all grow up with different family traditions around birthdays. Like Tevye from Fiddler, I tend to hold fast to traditions. When we have our own families, some of those traditions remain with us, some we adapt to make work for our new family, and some we adopt from other people when we see a tradition that we like. As someone who loves to celebrate birthdays, I have a few tips on how to set up birthday traditions that will make your loved ones feel extra special.

Make It Yours

I have a pretty big extended family, and when I was growing up, my grandma would host monthly birthday dinners. She’d always make a roast or fried chicken or something special, which made it super fun. My mom or one of my aunts would bring dessert and it was always a fun time to reconnect with each other. I’ve put my own twist on that tradition: we always let the birthday person choose what dinner will be for their special day. All of my kids love this tradition, including my son-in-law, who faithfully chooses my curry recipe for his birthday dinner every year.

Make It Unique

Believe it or not, not everyone likes cake. (I know, right?) As a way of honoring the birthday person, I love to have my family members choose what type of dessert they’d like for their birthday treat. We’ve done everything from chocolate chip cookie bars to cheesecake to cream puffs for our birthday treats. Sometimes it’s fun to deviate from tradition, especially when it makes the birthday person feel special.

Speaking of feeling special, it’s especially important to think about this when birthdays are shared or close to another major holiday or celebration. For example, my husband’s birthday is just 10 days after mine, which means that we’ve often celebrated together for our birthdays. It’s fun for us, but we always try to do something special for each other on the actual day. Similarly, my daughter’s birthday is the day before our wedding anniversary in July. We’ve always made sure to celebrate her day. We celebrate the individuality of each person in our family, and we also celebrate together. It’s more fun that way, and it’s important to me to make sure that each person feels celebrated in their own right.

Make It Interesting

As in, related to the birthday person’s interests. One tradition that we’ve started trying to implement over the last few years (with admittedly scattered results) is to give the gift of experiences to our children, rather than stuff. Giving experiences that are related to their personal interests is a great way to celebrate and bless them without adding to their stuff accumulation. For example, a couple of years ago, we purchased an app subscription for our daughter that has a library of Irish dance music. Other ideas I’ve had include cooking classes, swing dance lessons, a course through a local community college, and family getaways to a hot springs. This year, we’ve got something fun up our sleeves that I’ll be able to share about later this year because I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

A few more fun ideas

Another way we’ve celebrated in the past is to pull out baby books and old pictures. I wouldn’t necessarily call this a tradition, meaning that we don’t do it every year, but it’s fun to do sometimes. As my children get older, it’s especially fun to see how much they’ve grown and changed over the years. (It’s also a good reminder that I need to get my pictures off of my phone and into family yearbooks!)

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.

Oprah Winfrey

Here are just a few more ideas for birthday traditions:

  • Special birthday breakfast (I have a friend who does birthday pancakes)
  • Hang up a banner outside so the whole world knows (My neighbor across the street does this— I love it!)
  • Do something physical: go for a hike, go swimming (weather permitting), a walk… Whatever the birthday boy or girl wants!
  • Go to a favorite ice cream place

Here’s what I know: People want to feel celebrated on their birthdays. They want to feel like their people see and know them. So go out and celebrate in a way that’s meaningful for them!! And drop a comment about your birthday traditions (so we can all get more tools to add to our birthday tradition toolbox).

Did you know that I send out a monthly newsletter? Subscribers get extra tips and tricks for curating rhythms, routines, and traditions to leave a legacy that matters. They also get access to exclusive content like recipes, creative writing, and so much other fun stuff! Newsletters drop near the turn of the month. Click here for access.