Books & Brews: Results May Vary / Urban Family Brewing Company’s Death to Cereal

 

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Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. On the last Thursday* of every month I pair a story I love with a pint to sip while reading it. (*Except this month … I’m running a little late with August’s book. Which just means double the fun in September!)

Up for reading and pairing in August was Bethany Chase’s RESULTS MAY VARY (which, by the way, might have one of my favorite covers ever). The story opens with the main character Caroline discovering that her husband is having an affair with a man. And when I say husband, know that I mean high-school sweetheart turned husband, with whom she has spent the overwhelming majority of her life– so obviously her world is completely turned upside down. The novel chronicles Caroline’s attempts to make sense of the betrayal and learn how to move forward. The book totally lives up to it’s amazing cover (not that I was judging it by that, at all, in any way).

Here’s what I loved about the book: Continue reading

Stubborn Sheep & Rose-Colored Glasses

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I talk about city life pretty regularly here on my blog, so you may or may not know that I grew up in Madison County– a fairly rural part of Virginia nestled at the foot of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Folks (including me) are still trying to figure out where exactly I got this huge dose of city-love that’s pretty much the polar opposite of my childhood experience (save for a week every summer with my grandparents in Roanoke, and lots of weekends with my friend Karen in a very walk-able suburb in Maryland– maybe that’s all it took?).

Anyway, all that to say, as a result of growing up on a farm, I had some awesome experiences, such as raising sheep for a 4-H project. Now, twenty-something-ish years later one of my friends, Becky, has a daughter who is raising sheep to participate in the very same 4-H show her mother and I did when we were her age. Naturally, when I was in my hometown last weekend, I had to go visit. Because– sheep. Sweet, kind little creatures that I named and fed, and walked and groomed and loved immensely. (Insert nostalgic sigh and wistful smile.) Continue reading

Let Your Heart Be Light …

holidays!

My wish for all of you on this December 24 is a peaceful day filled with whatever it is that makes your heart happiest. (If you happen to be celebrating Christmas Eve, like me,  happy that, too!)

Also, if your heart is not so light and you feel more like you’re muddling through– be kind to yourself this season. The holiday blues are real and if you’re not feeling ultra full of elfin good cheer, it really is okay. Take care of you and know that I’m sending extra helpings of those wishes for peace your way.

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up with Strings

You know what it is a soon as you pick it up. You can feel the rigid spine under the cheerful holiday paper. It’s dense as you lift it from under the tree. And yet, even though you know without a doubt you’ve been given a book— what lies under that paper is still a complete and total surprise. Continue reading

One Room Down, One Up

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I’ve heard the story about my grandparent’s first home many times over the years. A granary on the family farm that they repurposed into a modest house after getting married. Two small stories, one room on the bottom and a second stacked right on top of it. They got married in 1947 in rural Virginia– there was no indoor bathroom and heat was provided courtesy of a fireplace. When they talk about their first home, they still look at each other and smile as I imagine they did 68 years ago, except with more knowing. Less mystery about what lies ahead. Continue reading

Although It’s Been Said Many Times, Many Ways

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May your days be merry and bright and filled with the characters you love (both real and fictional). Thank you for taking  moment to visit my blog– now back to your regularly scheduled Christmas cookies and cinnamon tea/hazelnut coffee/mulled wine/fine scotch, etc.

*Just a small smattering of my amazing writer friends are pictured above: Julia Kelly, A.L. Parks, Tina Klinesmith, Alexis Anne, Karen A. Chase and Tracie Puckett.

Cauliflower, Broccoli & First Dates

heartwoodThirteen years ago I went on a first date. He invited me to a winery. I had never done a wine tasting. I had no idea what to wear to winery. I went out and bought a new skirt that I felt was appropriately casual and sophisticated that morning. He doesn’t remember my skirt– just the giant oversized sunglasses I was wearing. I remember I drank the samples way too fast and had no idea what to say about them. Continue reading

The Grateful List: 2013

Grateful 2013

Last year I wrote about all the little things I was thankful for.  This year I’m going for just one big one: family. My definition of which is pretty broad; could be the one you’re born into or the one you marry into.  It’s also the beautiful family of friends you make for yourself.  Sometimes it’s simply that group of people you stumble into at exactly the right moment.

I would love to hear about your family, however you define it,  in the comments below.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Above, I’ve pictured just a few members of my family (clockwise from right to left): 1) Family of VA & NJ friends in NYC  2) Going on 37 years of friendship 3) Best friend and family (Mr. Escobar) 4) Cousins!  5) More cousins! (and parents & grandparents, too) 6) Family by marriage (and horses!) 7) Pretty sure we have a similar picture from about age 5  8) Write Club (minus one, she’s there in spirit)

“Family”

This past weekend I visited my hometown; my parents, grandparents and one of my oldest friends.  Oldest meaning length of friendship, obviously, not her age.  This is a friend I grew up with.  Caught toads with.  Attempted to dress kittens in doll clothes with.  Danced the Nutcracker in the living room with.  She’s one of several friends who are like family.

I learned early on that there are two kinds of family; the one we are born into and the one we choose.  I grew up calling two sets of my parent’s close friends aunt and uncle.  One of their daughters is still an extremely close friend today (Pictured above – circa late 70’s early 80’s.  She’s rockin’ the smile, me the shocked open mouth.)  Visiting with these “aunts,” “uncles” and “cousins” feels like coming home.  It’s easy and peaceful and comfortable.

I am grateful that I get along exceedingly well with my biological family, and my married into family.  This is something I try hard not to take for granted, because it is a luxury that so many people do not have.  I find myself hoping that anyone without this luxury has chosen for themselves a loving and supportive “family.” 

After all, it’s  things like celebrating  accomplishments and comforting broken hearts that really connect us.  And we can certainly share these things whether we share the same eye color, straight nose and tiny divit in our chin, or not.