Love Letter

Four letters are folded into the striped envelopes of my every day, stuffed, sealed, kissed, and tucked away. No single one is alike—I have everything from elegant inked adoration to scrawled crayon affection.

On this day of chocolate hugs and candy kisses, I wanted to make for you a perfect, wordy confection. More

Project: Book Nook

Today, I have a different kind of post. In addition to pushing words around, I occasionally push other things, like needles, pencils, brushes, and drywall. The project I want to share with you today has been finished for a while, but I would like to show it to you in hopes of inspiring you to craft a special reading place of your own.             dsc_0427

Between writing projects, my sister and I have been working on filling in the spaces left behind by the remodel of our house. One of our most anticipated projects was the Book Nook.

With the changes done to the basement, we were left with a small area on the other side of the stairs. We ended up with bookshelves on the wall of the stairs (complete with a hidden swinging bookcase that opens into a crawlspace under the staircase, though you can’t see it in these pictures) and shelves separating the rest of the basement from this new small area. Immediately, we knew what we needed here was a place where all these books could be read.

Hence the Book Nook.

The contractors built us the base – two long, fixed benches and two smaller ottomans that can be rolled out if needed. Inside of these benches, we have lots of great storage space.

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When the contractors finished the staining and hardware, the rest was up to us. We knew it would need upholstery skills, so we went to the internet and read about piping and researched fabrics and colors. At our local JoAnn store, we bought the thickest foam they had. While we stood in the checkout, great green slabs of five-inch foam towering over our heads, we discussed batting and spray adhesive.

After we got our bolt of upholstery fabric, we spent several days making covers for our cushions, each one cut with care with an electric bread knife. We made what felt like miles of piping to go around the edges and installed zippers.

When the large pieces were completed, we turned our attention to the more fun part of the project: the pillows. We wanted to make sure we had several large ones that would support the back and head, so we made four oversize pillows with extra stuffing for extra long books.

For the decorative pillows, we wanted to bring some blue into our color scheme. For the ruffle pillow, we used extra fabric from the cushions in addition to the blue, making two long scrunches of ruffles to sew in on either side of the center band.

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To make the stamp for our rustic pillow, we printed a reversed graphic on an overhead transparency then flipped it directly onto the fabric like a stamp. Any areas we wanted to darken we went over with a thin Sharpie. We sewed that square onto the blue, leaving an allowance of about half an inch so we could tease and fray the fabric all around using a needle.

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The insides of these smaller pillows are recycled from our old grad school apartment, freshly fluffed and stuffed for a new life in the Nook. They needed some TLC after being napped and studied on.

Our C.S. Lewis pillow turned out to be our favorite of the bunch. We found a font we liked, took some inspiration from some other wordsmiths as far as layout, then cut a stencil from cardstock. We used a mixture of fabric paint and acrylic, layering it until we achieved a slightly faded look. The decorative swirls at the top came from a stencil as well.

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The Book Nook has some of the best lighting in the house, perfect for reading at any time of day. This project has been completed for a while now, so the Nook is well broken in.

This is where I do a lot of my reading. Where do you read?

Hello to the New Year

Clock hands edge around the face of our every day, pushing our mornings into afternoons and then into nights. But once a year, we pay special attention to the small things, things like smiles and the seconds that take us right up to the brink of midnight and tip us over into the new year.

The stroke of midnight might go by unnoticed on other nights, but December 31 is special. Of all the 31,536,000 seconds in the year, the last ten are sparks skittering away like golden snowflakes into the cold night. Of the 525,600 minutes in a year, the last one ends with a giant flash of brilliant glitter. After all, everything new should be celebrated with fireworks. More

100 Letters, Pie, and Reasons Why

Imagine making a pie, but this pie takes a year or more to bake. Before that, you spend weeks looking at recipes, reading cookbooks late into the night, and tasting ingredients. You spend months rolling out piecrust and kneading it back together to try again. After you’ve fluted the crust with knife-edge precision, a level, and a ruler, you begin throwing the contents of your spice cabinet together like a mad culinary artist.

By the time you pour the filling into the shell, you’ve mixed up twelve different bowls (this one with more cinnamon, this one with more ginger, less vanilla in this one, this one you tried the butter at room temperature) before it finally smells like perfection. The countertop is littered with eggshells, puffs of flour, dirty spoons, and the sink is overflowing, but this, this is ready.

With a deep breath, you slide it into the oven. But even at this point, anything can still happen. The crust starts to sag. The filling bubbles over. One edge is traitorously turning black. The whole thing is going to turn into a sticky patch of half-burnt, inedible goo.

But then, somehow, the timer buzzes and you pull a beautiful, hot pie from the oven. You set it out on the table, sweaty, proud, and a little nervous, but you’re ready to share what you’ve made. There you stand, clutching your oven mitts together.

The first person you ask says no thanks, they’ve already eaten five slices. The person next to them is more of a cake enthusiast. Someone else is too busy talking to even think about dessert. Time goes by, and the warm steam wisps away from your pie. No one wants what you’ve made.

For a writer, rejection feels a lot like that. More

Falling for Japan

Outside, most of the leaves are dark green, heavy and wet with mist. Here on October 15, however, some of them are starting to catch fire. It hasn’t happened all at once, though. Some are bright—burnished and burned like a gold kettle left on the hob too long. Others are speckled emerald and red with brown filigree—butterflies fluttering as the last raindrops from the passing shower tap their wings. It’ll be weeks before the rest of the trees start to glow, but it’s October and fall has found me again.DSC_0008.jpg

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Why You Should Read Aloud

Some of my best memories are of books being read aloud. When my sister and I were younger, we were homeschooled, and as we chowed down on grilled cheese sandwiches at lunchtime, my teacher (mom) would read to us. I worked out pronunciation and learned to love the sound of words by reading Robinson Crusoe out loud. When I moved away for school, Tuesday nights I’d Skype with a friend, and we’d read P.G. Wodehouse to each other. Studying abroad in Oxford, three of us chipped in for Terry Prachett’s Raising Steam and camped out on a bed to read with hot chocolate or tea. All of these moments are special, tied together with two of the most important things in my life: good books and good company.

These are just some examples from my life, but I’d like to give you three reasons you should start reading aloud today.

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How I Learned to Love Shakespeare

I’ve always loved words, but it wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I encountered the unsettling assumption that all word people love William Shakespeare. Sure, I felt that it was a good thing to read Shakespeare and I really did enjoy A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but you wouldn’t find me standing on my bed in a thunderstorm reciting The Tempest or joining Team Love or Team Infatuation in heated lunchroom debates over Romeo and Juliet. I knew all the important quotations: “To be or not to be,” “Alas, poor Yorrick,” “Beware the ides of March,” “All the world’s a stage”…You know. The essentials.

Here I was, about to become an English major in college, and I could only quote Marc Antony’s speech from Julius Caesar and the entirety of Prairie Home Companion’s hilarious “Six-Minute Hamlet.” Sooner or later, they’d find out I was an imposter.

In the spring semester, however, I met the Bard. More

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Notes from ACU LangLit Master's Graduates

Settling In

Adventures in Home Ownership

The Navigatrix on Etsy

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Aether Nomads is a co-creative group of steampunk and oriental lovers who want to spread this imaginary.

Ryan Watches Films

Love To Hate Everything About Film

My Random Musings

Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.

simply complicated

Because life is simply complicated sometimes

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