Holiday Cheer

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Here’s to more inspiration, friendship, unconditional kindness, and laughter than seems reasonable this season. Also, a healthy dose of wanderlust. And while you’re doling out the holiday cheer– don’t forget a health dose of gentle-loving-tenderness for yourself, okay?

In the Quiet, In the Crowd

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Weeks ago a friend invited me to a potluck. It wasn’t just any potluck. It was a Super Secret Talent Show and Potluck. In addition to bringing a dish to share, you were also encouraged to bring your talent– specifically a talent that very few people knew you had (hence the super secret part). Always excited at the prospect of sharing a meal and meeting new and interesting people (with super secret talents), I eagerly marked the night on the calendar. 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

A Thousand Words

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I don’t always participate in those Facebook challenges that get passed around. You know the ones: answer a bunch of random questions about your favorite things, post a happy picture for 100 days, dump a bucket of ice water over your head. But sometimes I decide to play along (I’m a sucker for the writing ones, 7 Lines from Page 7 of Your Work in Progress, anyone?) Yesterday, the awesome Alexis Anne, tagged me in the I’m Beautiful Just the Way I Am Challenge in which you are tasked with choosing five photographs you feel beautiful in and posting them. I’m sure I’ve been tagged in this in the past, and just scrolled right on by, but this time I decided to pause and take the challenge. Continue reading

Books & Brews: The Good Neighbor / Anchor Steam

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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 novel I love with a pint to sip while reading it, under the theory that there is a perfect beer to compliment every book.

This month I read The Good Neighbor by Amy Sue Nathan and I could not be more excited to share it with you! Many of you are on a bit of a break from work and/or school right now and if you’re like me, reading is near the top of your winter break “to do” list– just go ahead and add this book to the very top of that list.

Izzy Lane, the main character in The Good Neighbor, is recently divorced and has just moved back to her childhood home with her son, Noah. She’s in transition, learning to navigate sharing custody with her ex and starting over in the neighborhood she grew up in. In the midst of this, she starts an anonymous blog as a place to express her feelings about all the change. She has a regular readers and enjoys connecting with them in the comments. Just as she is starting to find her footing, she runs into her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Caught off-guard and wanting to seem “fine” about it all, she invents a boyfriend. Just a tiny little lie. No big deal. Until she slips and mentions this fictional beau on her blog, and her best-friend Jade approaches her about writing a dating blog for 40-somethings on her extremely popular website, Pop Philly. Suddenly Izzy’s tiny lie has the potential to cause more harm than she ever imagined.

Here are just a few things I loved about The Good Neighbor: Continue reading

Let Your Heart Be Light …

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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

On Cozy Coffeeshops & Other People’s Love Stories …

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Last Saturday I had a book signing about forty-five minutes away in Fredericksburg, Virginia, at the coziest little coffee shop ever, Agora Downtown Coffee. The shop is co-owned by sisters, one of whom bakes amazing things and the other who is the biggest champion for local artists ever (as well as a talented artist and craftsperson, herself). In the short time I was there, the sisters’ father and brother stopped by and introduced themselves, a local business owner bought me a cup of coffee because he “knew how hard I worked”, a designer complemented my book covers, and countless folks smiled and wished me well. Continue reading

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

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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)