My Favorite Podcasts

thesimpleshow-banner-820x380I’ve been on a major podcast kick recently. I wouldn’t want to call it an obsession, but… it might venture in that direction. I have ripped through a huge number of podcasts in record time over the last few weeks, mainly due to two considerations.

First, I listen during heretofore unoccupied and mentally unproductive times of “busy” work throughout my day. What times fall into this category? Doing the dishes, putting on my makeup in the morning, folding laundry (+ vacuuming, + dusting, + any other bore-me-out-of-my-skin housework!), driving in the car — any pocket of time that already existed in my life, but that didn’t require any real mental exertion on my part and thus could easily become a place to multi-task.

Second, I listen in 1.5x speed. I use the built-in podcast app that came pre-loaded on my iPhone, and the app makes it super easy to change the speed setting for listening. Now, I admit, this only really works if I’m listening with earbuds so that any background noise doesn’t disrupt my understanding, and it certainly does take a little bit of adjusting to accustom your ears to the speed. However, once I got used to it, I realized how much more content I could get through in shorter periods of time, and I love it!

I’m amazed by how much I have learned just by making a productive use of these times during my day and listening to a variety of podcasts! I’ve enjoyed listening to a few of my favorite bloggers and getting to hear their “in real life” voices, and let me just say it again – I’ve learned so much.

It’s a little overwhelming to look at the sheer volume of podcasts available these days, so I thought I would share a handful of my favorites. If you’re new to podcasts, or if you’re looking for a new one to listen to, I hope this list will be helpful.

  • The Big Boo Cast with Melanie Shankle and Sophie Hudson. This is probably one of the first podcasts I ever listened to, and still one of my favorites. Melanie & Sophie are 1) both brilliant and wonderful authors, 2) riotously funny, and 3) completely and utterly Southern. I think I once heard them refer to the Big Boo cast as “the Seinfeld of podcasts” and it’s an apt description. I love it so much.
  • That Sounds Fun with Annie Downs. I don’t know what it is, but Annie Downs cracks. me. up. Maybe it’s her deep voice and her boisterous laugh, but she is just precious, and her podcast never fails to make me happy.
  • Hope*ologie with Emily Freeman, Myquillyn Smith (the Nester), and Gary Morland. Two of my favorite bloggers, plus their dad! It is scientifically impossible to hear Myquillyn’s laugh and not laugh along. I dare you to try it. The description for Hope*ologie is “Let’s chip away at discouragement and find delight in our right-now homes, families, and souls.” AMEN!
  • The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins – I have learned so much about blogging and becoming a writer from Jeff Goins, and I always learn something when I listen to The Portfolio Life. I love the concept of what Jeff calls a portfolio life; if nothing else, at least listen to the very first episode in which Jeff describes this concept.
  • Sorta Awesome with Megan Tietz – She’s a Harry Potter lover, a MBTI geek, and she over-uses the word “awesome.” She’s adorable, and I love listening to her show.
  • The Simple Show with Tsh Oxenreider – Tsh is one of my very favorite bloggers, and a big inspiration when it comes to simple living and dreaming big. Listening to her podcast always makes me want to meet her in real life. I just think she would be amazing.
  • Read-Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie – Tsh recently interviewed Sarah Mackenzie on The Simple Show, and I absolutely fell in love with Sarah, her smiling voice (just listen to her and you’ll understand!), and her bubbling enthusiasm and passion for reading, particularly for reading aloud to her children. I immediately went and subscribed to Sarah’s podcast, Read-Aloud Revival, and I’ve been on a binge of catching up with all 28 episodes. I’m almost there, and I’m actually sad that now I’ll have to wait for a new episode like everyone else! Sarah’s heart for building family culture around books is absolutely inspiring, and I cannot say enough good things about her podcast. It makes me increasingly grateful for my own very literary upbringing, and also makes me excited about reading to my own children one day.

What about you? Do you have any favorite podcasts?! Tell me in the comments!

It’s Simply Tuesday party!

Simply-Tuesday-3D2

I woke up with butterflies this morning.

Many of you know that I have had the privilege of participating in the launch team for Emily Freeman‘s latest book release, Simply Tuesday – a first for me, and what a great experience! I woke up this morning knowing that today is her launch day, and I had butterflies because I’m really and truly that. excited. about. this. book.

Sometimes I fly through books at an alarming pace; for example, I recently read Bloodroot by Amy Greene and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and I positively raced through both of those titles, desperate to reach the conclusion and find out what would happen to the characters. Other times, though, I don’t want a book to end. Simply Tuesday is one of those books. I’ve always felt that Emily’s writing demands slow attention and a deliberate reading that leaves space to contemplate – after all, her blog’s tagline is “creating space for your soul to breathe.”

When it comes to nonfiction, I tend to read with a highlighter and/or a pen in hand, because I process best when I can make notes and ask questions and otherwise mark up the book. I felt like I spent half of my Simply Tuesday reading time marking up the pages! If you could see my Advanced Reader Copy, you would see post-it notes sticking out everywhere, highlighted passages on practically every page, and notes scribbled in the margins.

In the midst of a world that advocates hustle, busy, and ladder-climbing, Simply Tuesday is an invitation to sit still, build a bench, and embrace your smallness. Instead of constantly allowing the chaos to overwhelm us, rushing just to keep up with life, Simply Tuesday calls us to slow down, to pay attention so we actually notice the small & precious moments of life that, someday, we will wish we had given more attention. Our culture’s obsession with bigger, better, & faster is slowly but surely spinning us out of control, and for anyone who has ever looked at our hectic pace of life and asked is there a better way?! – this book is for you.

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And because nothing says it better than Emily’s words, here are some of my favorite quotes.

“The deepest need of my soul isn’t a personal organizer or an empty inbox. The deepest need of my soul is Christ. But the problem is, I often forget where to find him. What if God’s intention for the world and me begins here, on my regular Tuesdays? What if we decided to take back Tuesday from the wasteland of to-do lists and give it a prominent place in our walk of faith? What if, instead of thinking we have to choose between our ordinary life and an extraordinary life, we began to realize they’re the same thing?”

“Instead of forgetting or running from my own smallness, what if I chose instead to look it in the face, to settle down into the place where I am, to notice what is happening around me on my ordinary days? What if these small moments are the very portal into experiencing the kingdom of God? I believe they are–and if we miss them, we miss everything. We run right by the kingdom’s doors, and no matter where we go, we have missed the door that leads us home.”

And another beautiful visual of one of my favorite quotes:

282540_SimplyTuesdayFreeman_pins3

I don’t usually gush like this (well, okay, let’s be real – I gush about books a lot!), but y’all, I simply cannot say enough good things about this book. I have adored all of Emily’s books so far, and each one has spoken profound truth into every corner of my life, but this one… well, this one is her best yet. I know I just begged you to buy All the Light We Cannot See, but here I am again–urging, exhorting, and otherwise convincing you that you don’t want to miss out on Simply Tuesday.

Just for fun, here’s a roundup of places where you can find Emily and content about Simply Tuesday around the web today!

 

  • The Simply Tuesday website, where you can sign up to receive a delightful free video series that Emily created, introducing the concepts of the book and providing soul encouragement that you don’t want to miss.
  • The beautiful #itssimplytuesday hashtag – “the loveliest hashtag around” in Emily’s words. Every Tuesday, join hundreds of other “Tuesday people” on Instagram, capturing the small moments that celebrate the grace of God on the most ordinary day of the week.

Hope*ologie

  • The most recent episode of the Hope*ologie podcast, where Emily talks with her dad and her sister about Simply Tuesday and how she came to write the book. Hope*ologie is a favorite on my podcast list, even apart from this special episode!

EmilyPFreeman_podcast-e1439864647431

Have you read Simply Tuesday? What did you think? Join me in the comments!

July 2015 Favorites

As usual, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer for “What I’m Into” this month.

Things I Love:

Oyster App

Oyster! For several months, I’ve been using the fabulous Oyster app to read electronically, and I cannot say enough good things about it. I looked into the Amazon Unlimited service when it first came out, but I was thoroughly underwhelmed by their available selection – when I did a 30-day trial of Oyster just for the heck of it, however, I was able to find a good 60-70% of the titles on my wish list. I have over 100 books on my Oyster reading list now, basically a never-ending supply of reading material. As an added bonus, the interface is, in my opinion, much “prettier” and a more pleasant reading experience than even the Kindle app. Love it.

My new desk setup. We rearranged our home office again last week, and I finally have my workspace set up with a keyboard drawer, external keyboard, external monitor, and everything at the proper level / height for good ergonomics. No more aching back and sore wrists, score!

Reading:

Books I finished this month:

– Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman (more thoughts coming soon, I promise!)
– All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (which I blogged about earlier this week)
– Blackout by Connie Willis
– If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland

Watching:

We just finished season 3 of Chuck, and it was completely FABULOUS. I love all the character development that happened in season 3, and the final episodes were just fantastic – we really had that “ahhhhh one more episode!!!” reaction as we finished up the season.

I’m still slowly making my way through Parenthood when I have time for an episode here and there, just about to the end of season 2, and loving it. Such great writing.

Inside Out

We also went to the theater and saw Inside Out, Pixar’s new masterpiece, and I completely adored it. Pixar never ceases to amaze me with their “kids” movies–films that kids, no doubt, love to watch, but that also contain deep and rich themes that leave adults thinking and wondering, too. Inside Out stuck in my mind and heart for days after I saw it, and although I know not everyone would agree, I think it was one of the best Pixar films yet. I loved this Pop Culture Happy Hour discussion, which pretty much sums up all the reasons why I thought it was a brilliant little movie.

Listening:

As far as actual music goes, I have primarily stuck with my favorite movie soundtracks in the last month; the Theory of Everything soundtrack has become my official writing companion for pretty much all the writing I’ve done recently, and I shuffle my way through my Spotify “Epic Soundtracks” playlist, which is now almost 54 hours long. Ohhhhh yeah.

Despite my lack of variety in music, though, I have been on a major podcast kick recently! I’ve really enjoyed Tsh Oxenreider’s reboot of her podcast, The Simple Show, and particularly loved her vault interview with Megan Tietz talking about Harry Potter.

After listening to Tsh interview Sarah Mackenzie on The Simple Show, I fell in love with Sarah and have been binge-listening (is that a thing?!) to her Read-Aloud Revival podcast, where she encourages her listeners to build their family culture around books and reading aloud. Her very first episode was an interview with Andrew Pudewa from the Institute for Excellence in Writing, so… duh, it’s gonna be awesome! I’m on episode 12, and I absolutely adore Sarah and her enthusiasm for books. She feels like such a kindred spirit! Her podcast gets me oh so very excited to think about reading aloud to my own kids someday.

I’m also thoroughly enjoying Hope*ologie, That Sounds Fun with Annie Downs, and Sorta Awesome with Megan Tietz.

What have you been into in the past month?! Share with me in the comments!

Book Review: All The Light We Cannot See

Last month, after seeing rave reviews in so many places, I finally read All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and I cannot stop talking about it! Doerr is the kind of writer who makes me, in my worst moments, consider never picking up a pen again – why in the world would I even bother, when such a master exists?!

AllTheLightWeCannotSee

[From Amazon.com: “Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.”]

I get it now. All the awards Anthony Doerr won for this book, all the rave reviews I’ve been reading, everything that made me want to read it – none of it disappointed.

I cannot remember the last time I fell so thoroughly & completely under a book’s spell. I had a slow start getting into it, with many interruptions, but after 100 pages, I was enthralled, and once I hit 200 pages, I read it straight through in a single evening. Doerr’s prose is remarkably tight and sparse, and yet lyrical beyond anything I have ever read; I still can’t wrap my mind around how he can use so few words and yet evoke such vivid and colorful scenes. It reminds me an artist who can capture, with just a few deft pencil strokes, the heart and soul of his subject. I don’t even understand how it’s possible! I could literally study, in depth, the nuances of Doerr’s writing–and I fully intend to do so.

Through the struggles his characters face, he engages with some of the most strong and resonant themes a writer can address–loss and love, fear and innocence, naive trust–and through his setting, he raises powerful questions without attempting to answer them and tie the story up in a neat bow. For example, how does war affect children? Can life ever go “back to normal” after a truly stunning loss? How do the evils of propaganda work on an innocent mind? I am still pondering, over a week later, and I know this haunting story will remain with me for the rest of my life. I cared profoundly about Werner and Marie-Laure, and they have lodged deeply in my heart.

When I turned the final page, I initially felt so sad that I wanted to change the ending (okay, I’ll admit it a bit more strongly and say that I don’t think I have ever cried so much while reading a book as I did over the last 50 or so pages of All the Light). But since then, as I have pondered the implications of everything the characters went through, the more I think about it, the more I realize that Doerr got it exactly right. Life doesn’t always guarantee a happy ending, and to be perfectly honest, when I read, I don’t always want a stereotypical happy ending. Sometimes I prefer a sad conclusion (provided it’s still redemptive) that leaves me thinking long after I read the last word. This is exactly that kind of book.

Reading All the Light has only fanned the flame of my obsession with the WWI and WWII period, and has inspired me to learn more about the German invasion of France in WWII, and specifically about the tragic destruction of Saint-Malo. I also feel utterly compelled to read more of Anthony Doerr’s writing, and so I am quite happily immersing myself in the four other books that he has written to date.

Have you read All the Light We Cannot See, or any of Anthony Doerr’s other books? What did you think?! Join me in the comments! 

Momentum and Productivity

Motivation Monday: Eat that frog!

Motivation Monday: Eat that frog!

I walk past my guest bedroom door one too many times, and I finally can no longer stand it. This room becomes my laundry “staging” room during the week, and although I rarely have trouble getting loads of wash through the washing & drying process, somehow the folding & putting away process seems to take infinitely more energy, so the cycle (more often than I would like to admit) comes to a halt on my guest bed, where I drop loads of clean laundry and proceed to procrastinate on folding and putting the clothes away. Finally, I just snap, make a snarling sound under my breath, and drag all the laundry out to the couch where I fold it and then deliver it to its proper home. I breathe a sigh of relief each time I complete the cycle–and then I wonder why I tortured myself for so long before finishing it.

I pull the trash bag out of my small bathroom trash can and hover a new bag over the can, ready to replace it, when I realize that I really need to bleach that can because, well, it no longer smells nice. I take it outside, scrub it with bleach, rinse it thoroughly, and set it in the sun to dry and sanitize. Back inside, I take the opportunity to clean the tight spaces in my bathroom now that the trash can is temporarily removed from its usual spot, and I realize that my slate floors, which never look dirty, are actually rather disgusting. Pretty soon, a scenario of “if you give a mouse a cookie” plays itself out in my bathroom, as I scrub the floor to within an inch of its life, then realize that my baseboards are caked in dust, stand up from the crouch position for scrubbing the baseboards and grimace at the smudged light switch plate… and eventually I’m spraying down the windowsill, cleaning the window track, and basically scrubbing down every single open surface in the bathroom.

Productivity and completed projects breed greater productivity. It’s a simple fact, and I’m sure no one would argue with it. But how easily and often I forget that simple fact! I need to remember the cumulative effect and how completing one project inspires me to tackle the next project–not just with cleaning my house (although I could certainly use the momentum there!), but also in the everyday tasks of my daily life and work. Knocking off that project that’s been sitting on my to-do list for 3 week gives me a rush of motivation to move on to the next thing and cross it off the list as well. Making that phone call that I’ve been dreading all morning gives me a sensation of relief and energy, and then I wonder why I didn’t just do it first thing when I sat down at my desk.

This goes hand in hand with the truism of “eat a frog every day” or my favorite rendition: “Slay your dragons before breakfast so they don’t eat your lunch.” In other words, tackle your most dreaded task first, and then the rest of your day will seem like a breeze by comparison!

How do you keep momentum going in everyday tasks? What tricks have you learned to increase your productivity? Tell me about them in the comments!

Top Classic Books [That I’ve Never Read]

2015-Reading-Challenge

Inspired by the “book you should have read in high school” category from the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2015 Reading Challenge, I am starting a list of classics that I almost don’t want to admit publicly that I’ve never read. How can I call myself a book lover and never have read these?! This list includes titles such as…

  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • 1984
  • Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • Tale of Two Cities
  • Huckleberry Finn
  • The Iliad / Odyssey
  • Moby Dick
  • Call of the Wild

There are actually a lot more, sadly, but this is a list in progress, which I will add to, no doubt, for years to come. I have read quite a few modern books recently, which I fully intend to continue doing, but I also don’t want to neglect the classics that I have somehow managed to live 28 years without reading. After all, they’re classics for a reason, right?!

What about you? What classics still wait in your to-read list? Any titles I should add to mine? Tell me in the comments!

What I’m Into – June 2015 Edition

Wow, the last 4 weeks have FLOWN by! I can hardly believe it’s already time for another “What I’m Into” update. As usual, I’m linking up with the lovely Leigh Kramer.

Things I Love:

The duck pond in gorgeous Lithia Park, downtown Ashland

The duck pond in gorgeous Lithia Park, downtown Ashland

Ashland, Oregon. I spent 3/4 of June in this lovely little town, and I love it more than ever. I grew up visiting Ashland every summer to spend time with our beloved Oma & Opa, and over the years, Ashland has taken on a magical quality for me that is part real charm and part childhood nostalgia. I will never be able to get enough of it. This visit included lots of stops at Zoey’s for ice cream and many hours at two favorite coffee shops, Mix (including homemade ice cream and the most delicious pastries ever) and Noble Coffee Roasting (their lattes are some of the best I’ve ever tasted).

Fantastic latte at Noble Coffee Roasters.

Fantastic latte at Noble Coffee Roasters.

Oregon coast. We took a day trip from Ashland to celebrate my hubby’s birthday and explore the Oregon coast, something I’ve always wanted to do. I knew it would be beautiful, but it was even more stunning than I had imagined. I would love to spend more time along the coast in the future!

OregonCoast

Somewhere along the picturesque Oregon coast…

Duolingo. After we returned from our trip to Europe, I made a pact with myself: I won’t go back to Paris until I can speak decent conversational French. We certainly survived on minimal (okay, almost non-existent) French for this trip, but it would make things more pleasant if we didn’t have to stumble through communication. I first heard about Duolingo from Tsh, and I do think it’s an excellent method of study. I have the app on my iPhone, and I love it. It even gets pretty addictive after awhile!

My new Instagram account. As I slowly focus more on my writing, I set up a new Instagram account! You can find me at ‘jennarhermle‘. I hope to write more soon on the subject of why I love Instagram so much lately.

Instagram

Reading:

I finished The Most Beautiful Walk in the World by John Baxter and loved it, although I have to give a slight content caution before wholeheartedly recommending it. Mostly, it just reinforced all the things I loved about Paris and made for some wistful reflections and dreams of returning.

I borrowed If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland off my Opa’s shelves, a title that has been on my to-read list forever, and I read it in two sittings. It’s the sort of book that I can’t even completely formulate my thoughts on after one reading – it will require another slow reading, with lots of highlighting and note-taking, if I know myself. Loved it.

My sis and I breezed through the used bookstore downtown this week, and… I’ll admit that I added yet a few more titles to my reading list. How can I resist shelves upon shelves of bargain-priced books?!

Watching: 

After hearing rave reviews from several friends, and especially now that it became available on Netflix, I finally jumped into Parenthood. I’m just into season 2, and I love it so far. It’s honest, heartwarming, and genuinely hilarious.

Austin also got me started watching Chuck with him, which I am thoroughly enjoying. The characters are quirky, endearing, and make me laugh so hard sometimes. We just finished season 2, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Listening:

My sister has always been my go-to person when I want to listen to new music. I’m bored, I tell her. What are you listening to? She knows me so well that she can tell me exactly what I should listen to, and I love having a built-in music adviser. Most recently, she has me listening (finally) to the new Mumford & Sons album, “Wilder Mind.” I love Mumford & Sons, but I was not a huge fan of the announcement that they were going electronic on their new album, and I hadn’t yet gotten myself over the “hump” of how different they sound. Now that I’ve overcome the “shock” of the new sound, though, I will freely admit that it’s a fabulous album.

 

What are you into this month?! Let me know in the comments!

My summer reading list (so far!)

After reading about Anne’s summer reading list at Modern Mrs. Darcy this week, I thought it might be fun to share the titles that are currently on my own to-read list for this summer! Some are new to me, some are re-reads, and some are old favorites that I’m excited to revisit. Enjoy!

Re-reads:

Blackout-Connie-WillisBlackout by Connie Willis

It’s no secret that Connie Willis is one of my very favorite modern authors. In fact, if I could choose one modern author whose sheer storytelling power has inspired me the most in my own writing, I would probably pick Connie. Yes, she’s really that good. If you haven’t read her before, I highly recommend starting with To Say Nothing of the Dog (I’ll admit that it took me two tries to really “get into” this one, but once I did… it is a sheer delight!) and then, if you’re anything like me, obsessing over the rest of her witty and deeply profound stories. I won’t even attempt to deny that this one is especially moving to me since our recent trip to Europe, when I turned into a blubbering, emotional mess sitting in St. Paul’s cathedral, which figures prominently in both Blackout and the gripping sequel, All Clear.

phantom-opera

 

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

We’re all at least mildly familiar with the story – it was, after all, something of a worldwide phenomenon – but did you know that the tale of Phantom began with a novel? Not only that, but it’s a fantastic read. I haven’t read it since high school, but our recent trip to Paris and actually visiting the Palais Garnier peaked my interest in reading it again.

 

 

 

StoryWithin

 

 

The Story Within by Laura Oliver – I try to always be reading a book on writing, and this was a favorite from my 2014 reading. I’m picking up new things this time, which I always count as the mark of a true classic.

 

 

 

The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong – a childhood favorite, and my pick for the childhood favorite category for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge.

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton – Does it count as a re-read if I only made it through a third of the book the first time? Oops. I know this is a classic for a reason, and I’m determined to get through it this year.

“New” Reads: (Titles I have not read before)

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson – I know. I don’t know how I’ve not read it yet either! I actually picked up my copy in a thrift store last year (score!), and I just haven’t dug into it yet.

Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford – I’ve made several false starts on this one over the years as well, and I’ve realized recently that I need some practicing with reading something more challenging. This one fits the bill perfectly.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss – I know I cannot call myself an English nerd without reading this one! It comes with the very highest of recommendations, and I can’t wait to read it.

The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle – I adore Madeleine L’Engle, and I have made it a life goal to read every single book she ever wrote. This is book 3 in the “Crosswicks Journal” series, and I can’t wait to savor every word.

Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald: The Rise and Fall of a Literary Friendship by Scott Donaldson – This one was another thrift store find that looked intriguing, although I don’t know anything else about it. Obviously the subject matter interests me, though!

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Another classic that I can’t believe I’ve never read!

Neither Here nor There and In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson – My dear friend Melissa recommended Bryson to me last year, and I am currently thoroughly enjoying his A Walk in the WoodsI can’t wait to enjoy these two, which are sitting and waiting on my shelf!

Finally, not yet released yet, but will be this year! The Lake House by Kate Morton (who is rapidly becoming my new author crush) and Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman (because, obviously, she’s my favorite and I’m pre-ordering this one!).

I know this list is ambitious to say the least, but realistically, it will probably carry me through the fall as well – my favorite reading season! What do you have on your summer reading list?! Tell me in the comments! 

What I’m Into – May 2015 Edition

Well. Although I have a spotty track record thus far, I hope to make this a monthly feature, in which I will share what I’ve been reading, watching, listening to, and otherwise captivated by in the past month. As in January, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer, who is the host of a monthly “What I’m Into” linkup.

Things I Love

My birthday presents from my hubby:

1) My DeLonghi espresso machine. Coffee has become my latest hobby recently – most particularly, finding the perfect espresso and trying to teach myself how to pour decent latte art. My man knows me well, although I may also have dropped hints about this one. I have used this little machine just about every single day since it arrived on our doorstep, and I love it so much. I might even have to write about it in more detail at a later date.

This is not mine - but I want to keep practicing!

This is not mine – but I want to keep practicing!

As a sidenote, I am also in love with my cozy coffee station; anyone who follows me on Instagram would have seen this happy little picture last month:

CoffeeStation

I have arranged and re-arranged this setup countless times over the last 3 months, and although I don’t feel it’s quite 100% perfect yet, it still delights me every time I look at it, and especially every time I stand there and make a delicious vanilla latte.

2) My Oontz Angle Plus speaker – This fantastic little speaker connects via Bluetooth to my phone or other devices; it fills our entire house, and I love it. I’ve even taken it out on our back patio a few times. It sounds great!

I’m also on a quest to find the best coffee shop in the greater Sacramento area. Thus far, Old Soul and Temple are the top contenders. If anyone has any suggestions to add, please, by all means, let me know in the comments!

Obviously, our trip to Europe last month was my #1 highlight… but I have a lot more to say on that subject very soon, so stay tuned!

Reading

I have done tons of reading this spring, but I have to somewhat shamefully admit that my penchant for reading too many books at one time has only become worse. However, I did finish a handful of books in the last several weeks. I’ve started using Goodreads more consistently, so you can follow me to see my thoughts on my reading!

Currently reading:

  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  • Savor by Shauna Niequist
  • The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris by John Baxter
  • Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey
  • A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg

Currently re-reading:

  • Blackout by Connie Willis
  • The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
  • The Story Within by Laura Oliver

Watching

I finally, with much reluctance, finished Gilmore Girls sometime last month… and I don’t think I have ever felt so disappointed by a TV series finale. As a whole, I still love the show, and the re-watch value is superb, so I’m sure I’ll be re-watching favorite episodes for a long time, but after completely falling in love with these characters and with the whole town of Stars Hollow, it was a pretty profound disappointment.

Hubby and I have thoroughly enjoyed both Arrow and Flash this season, especially the cross-over between the two shows. I love how Flash is pretty much the kid brother of Arrow – more lighthearted and quirky, while Arrow handles the deeper, darker drama.

Listening

I had a number of friends / bloggers I stalk faithfully follow who pretty much raved about the Serial podcast when it aired last year, but for whatever reason, I never started listening to it. I finally added it to my podcasts app recently… and I listened to all 12 episodes within 3 days. It’s difficult to describe, but think of it as audio journalism – “one story, told week by week,” as host Sarah Koenig says in her introduction. I’ve never heard anything quite like it before, and I have to admit, it was completely addicting. I’m eager to see what season 2 will hold.

I’ve been listening to my soundtracks playlist on Spotify almost exclusively the last several weeks. I’m particularly obsessed with The Theory of Everything and Cinderella soundtracks. LOVE.

What are you loving this spring?! Tell me in the comments!

Weekend Reads

Each weekend, I like to share articles or posts that I consider noteworthy during my week of reading (blogs or otherwise around the web), whether they encourage, challenge, inspire, or just flat-out make me laugh. Sometimes these are “current” links (recently written), and sometimes they’re older articles that I just happened to stumble upon in the past week. I also try to share a little something about the book(s) I’m currently reading. I hope you enjoy!

Around the Web:

 Cinderella

The Audacity of Cinderella” by Rebecca Reynolds, from the Rabbit Room – This review perfectly, delightfully summarized exactly why I completely adored the new Cinderella movie. Spot on and made me teary just reading it.

My Favorite Things to Buy at Trader Joe’s” by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy – Makes me wish we had a TJ’s in our town!

In honor of Jonathan Crombie and his tragic death this month, 25 Times Gilbert Blythe Melted Your Heart.

On My Nightstand: 

CaptureTheCastle

I recently finished I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith and, not surprisingly, adored it. One of the most original and captivating narrators I have ever encountered in fiction.

CharlotteBronte

I also finished The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James last week and, surprisingly, didn’t love it, even though I really, really wanted to. More thoughts on this later!

Currently reading: The Art of Work by Jeff Goins, Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey, Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider, The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle, and The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier.

Currently re-reading: Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist (highlighter working overtime on this re-read!), The Story Within by Laura Oliver, and The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong (my pick for the “book from your childhood” category for the MMD Reading Challenge).