Saturday, May 28, 2011

On Being Positive

Right now I am reading Way to Be! by Gordon B. Hinckley.  It is a book written for youth, but I have gained a lot of strength from it.  Last night, I finished the chapter entitled Be Positive.  A couple of paragraphs really hit home for me and I thought I would share them.

"My dear friends, in who I have such confidence, don't partake of the spirit of our times.  Don't always be looking for the dark side of life.  Look for the good.  There is so much of the sweet and the decent and the positive to build upon.
Cultivate an attitude of optimism.  Know that God is watching over you, that He will hear your prayers and will answer them, that He loves you and will make that love manifest."
(Gordon B. Hinckley, Way to Be!, pg. 88)

As I struggle through my day to day problems both big and small, I often wonder how I am going to help the young women I have stewardship over through their problems.  I want them to know so many things.  That their Savior cares for them more than they can even imagine.  That through him they can do hard things.  That they are never alone.  That their leaders love them.  That they are wanted. I'm still learning some of those things myself; however, I know that even though at times it may seem a daunting prospect, if I have a positive outlook and patience, the Lord can help me through anything.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Book Worm Wednesday: Historical Christian Fiction

**Sorry this is late guys.  My Wednesday got a little pear shaped...**

It took me a while to come around to reading Christian fiction.  At first I thought the stories would be overwhelmingly full of scriptures and self righteous speeches.  I myself am a Christian, but I believe in showing that through my deeds, not my words.  Well, through a couple of recommendations, I gradually started to pick up more and more Christian fiction literature.  Now, I'm hooked.  It was nothing like I thought it would be and I love that I can count on the books I buy to contain strong women with values and story lines that strengthen my faith.   One of the first I read was Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.  Whether you read this genre or not, most people have at least heard of this one so I thought it was a safe place to begin.  I loved the historical setting and the parallel to the bible story of Gomer and Hosea.  I love reading the original story in the scriptures after reading a book like this one.  It makes me feel so much more connected to it.  HOWEVER, it is a little heavy at 464 pages and would not necessarily be my first pick for someone just starting out with historical Christian fiction.  I definitely consider it a must read but Angel can be a very frustrating girl to love.  Reading as she struggles to accept the atonement in her life makes me want to scream and cry at the same time.  So I say, read this one at your own risk.  It's a wonderful story but prepare to be frustrated; these characters are broken and this is a book about their repair.

Some suggestions for beginners (or not!) to Historical Christian Fiction:

A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist
Anything by Deeanne Gist is a pretty safe bet.  She is funny and her stories are, while a little improbable, very engaging.
Letter Perfect by Cathy Marie Hake
An accident prone girl who can't keep her mouth shut.  What's not to love?
The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander
A good old fashioned western romance.

In a later post, I'll give some suggestions for contemporary Christian fiction although I will admit I don't have as much experience with those.
Is there any type of book YOU would like me to write about?  If so, let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vacation Snapshots

A few weeks ago Cory and I spent a few days with my grandparents (Papa and his wife Ms. Anne/Nana) in Litchfield.  We had the absolute best time!
Our view at dinner the first night.  After giving us a ride on his spiffy new golf cart, my Papa took us to dinner at Creek Ratz in Murrels Inlet.  
Honestly, my Papa is one of the funniest people I know.  He is a huge people watcher and always points out funny things when we are walking.  He saw these bikers and told Nana "Annie, that's what we are going to look like next year." He wants a Harley so much.  Whether or not he actually gets one is yet to be seen.  He has gone as far as bringing home the brochures so you never know.
What a catch!  The fish is cool too. ;)
Shadows on the boardwalk.
It wouldn't be a vacation without silly faces by Cory.  I have about 10 different versions of this.
Cory and me after going to church on Mother's Day. I think this is the only picture I took of both of us.
Cory fishing at the dock.
Cory and Nana trying to unhook a fish.
Isn't my Papa the cutest?!
First catfish Cory caught at the river!
You should have heard this thing!  It sounds crazy!  It was so fun to share catfishing with Cory.  It was one of my favorite things to do with Papa as a little girl.
My cousin Savannah had a baton recital while we were there so we got to see her preform for the first time.  She is the tiny one in the front who is totally into it.  :) 
My first ever fried catfish!  We had Cory's parents over to dinner the night we got back and they loved it.
I also made this yummy catfish chowder.  

I wish I had taken more pictures but I left my battery at the house a couple of times.  Oh well, I still have the memories! :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book Worm Wednesday: Reimagined Fairy Tales

The Twelve Dancing Princesses

When I was a little girl, I loved fairy tales.   My favorite storybook was The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

As I have gotten older, I still love fairy tales and have been very excited to find many of my favorites in novels form.   I have read several version of the Twelve Dancing Princesses but my favorite has been Entwined by Heather Dixon.

The gorgeous cover is what first attracted me to this book but once I knew what it was about. I had to have it.  This reimagining has a depth to it that the other books I have read lacked.  It had all the elements of the traditional fairy tale but it was also a story of its own.  Azalea, the oldest princess, has just come of age and is now allowed to attend balls when her mother succumbs to an illness.  The household is then ordered into a year of mourning in which there will be no dancing.   All the girls are broken hearted at the loss of their mother and the pastime she taught them.  It is at this point that Azalea discovers the secret passageway to the dancing pavilion and the mysterious Keeper who resides there.  As they continue to dance and move toward the end of their morning, they realize Keeper is not who he seems.   Their estranged father returns home from war and is determine to find out why his daughters slippers are ruined night after night.  Enter parade of charming prince wannabes and one captain with very disheveled hair.  A magic castle, mistaken identities, romance, and  family dynamics make this a great read for all lovers of fairy tales.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Newlyweds Guide to Marriage

This past weekend I was at a baby shower with a lot of friends, which in the first place was AWESOME.  I really do not see any of those girls enough so it was great to catch up and celebrate Jessica and little Josh Jr.  One of these friends is soon to be married so of course we were all giving her our advice.  Keep in mind we have all been married less than 5 years.  They say those are some of the toughest though, right?  Personally, I sure hope so because this is going to be a breeze if that is the case!   Anyway, I thought it would be a fun thing to share with you guys and look back on in a few years.  So without further ado:

The Newlyweds Guide to Marriage

1. Forget about the clothes hamper.  He's never going to put all this clothes in it.  It doesn't matter if you move the hamper to where he throws his dirty clothes.  He will simply find a new spot because that one is now occupied.
Only in your dreams...

2.  ASK him to do thing you want him to do.  Husbands are not mind readers even though I know I am guilty of expecting him to be sometimes.

3.  Sometimes he will not be able to answer the phone for hours on end.  This is the worst when he was supposed to be home an hour ago.  The important thing is to NOT FREAK OUT.  (It has taken me a year and half, but I am finally getting better at this one.)
This is not a good look for anyone.

4.  The sooner you both realize he has married a crazy person, the better.  Marriage makes you the crazy version of yourself.  I don't know how, but it does.

5.  Men and women are different.  VERY different.  On her way out the door, a woman will take out the trash sitting by the door.  On his way out the door, a man will step over the trash by the door.  Please refer to #2 for how to solve this one.

6.  Despite what you may sometimes think, your husband really does want you to be happy.   It works best when you help him do that.

7.  Don't worry about "The Milk Argument."  It happens to a lot of us.  You wake up to eat breakfast and he has just drunk the last of the milk.  At this point you realize you have married the most inconsiderate person on the planet.

8.  Keep an eternal perspective.  Don't sweat the small stuff.  Pick your battles. Ect...  How important is having milk on your cereal anyway?  Are you going to remember that for eternity?  I doubt it.  And if you do, I hope it is because you are laughing about it like me.

Put the sword down.

9.  As a preemptive strike, go ahead and triple the amount of food you think you are going to need at the grocery store.  Also it helps to find things you like but he doesn't.  That way they will not DISAPPEAR.

10.  That smelly, sweaty, crazy, funny, ridiculous guy beside you on the couch....He's your best friend and companion for eternity.  As long as your remember that, you'll be okay.
My smelly, sweaty, crazy, funny, ridiculous guy. :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Book Worm Wednesday: Sumertime Chick Lit

I love reading silly romantic comedies, especially in the summer.  It is nice to relax and read something that is purely entertainment.  One of my favorite "chick lit" series is The Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot.

"What's an American girl with a big mouth, but an equally big heart, to do?"

Lizzie Nichols a very unlikely heroine who can't keep her mouth shut about ANYTHING which gets her into various sticky situations.  This is an extremely funny series that also has a lot of growth throughout the books.  I would even say the books get better as the series continues which is a rarity with many series, for me at least.  The first book in the series, Queen of Babble, is set in a gorgeous French Chateau with an equally gorgeous owner.  There is a little romance but the humor is what makes me want to read this series again and again.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Five Question Friday

1. Have you ever had roommates?

I have had several roommates.   Unfortunately, I think the majority of the time I was the bad roommate.  You know, the one who stays up until 2am finishing a paper, presses snooze 10 times and has an annoyingly bright laptop screen saver that she doesn't know how turn off at night.  Yikes.  Looking back, I feel sort of badly for all my former roommates.  Not that they were perfect, but I could have been better.  At least I wasn't messy.
My last roommate and I didn't share a room but we did share an extremely tiny apartment and bathroom in 5 points.  That was probably the most fun I have ever had living with someone even though I didn't realize it at the time.  She is my best friend and I'm not really sure if that happened before or after we lived together.  While we were in that matchbox apartment we always said we needed more space but after we moved to a bigger place, I think we both kind of missed it.  I will never forget all of our nights getting dolled up to go to a dance, gymnastic activities gone awry causing damage to more than one towel rack, and all the stories and laughs we shared at that bathroom sink. :)

2. How many names do you/your children have? (i.e. Prince Charming William Phillip Arthur Louis John Jacob Jingleheimer-Schmidt)
We don't have kids yet but we do have 2 dogs.  Our first one is the only one with the long name and even that isn't very impressive.  Doctor Heathcliff Huxtable Houdini Watts.  Right now he is at five. The good thing about a dog name is that you can keep adding to it for as long as you like. We have had him for a year during which time the Houdini has been added.  This dog can escape from ANYTHING in no time flat. Just last night we were chasing him around the neighborhood after he escaped from our yard to the neighbors fenced yard and from there to the freedom of the neighborhood in about 30 minutes.  For our sakes, I hope we don't feel the need to add any more names like that!

3. Did you watch the Royal Wedding?
I didn't watch the wedding but I did see their balcony appearance.  I also checked for new pictures every five minutes while at work that day.  Something about those hats just mesmerised me. 

4. What is the messiest room in your house?
Our bedroom is probably the messiest.  It looks sort of like a clothes bomb has gone off in there.  That room gets seriously neglected because it is the one room I can shut guests out of without feeling badly about it.  Consequently, it is always last on my list to clean and since I am always running out of that, it often gets cut.  I have been making a better effort to keep it tidy though because having it so messy drives me nuts!

5. What is your ideal mothers day?
I'm not a mother yet, but my ideal mothers day in the past was spending the afternoon at my grandparents.  Both my grandmothers were amazing women and I miss those days very much. Now, I am the one in charge of mothers day in my family.  Last year I made a dinner for my mom and I had a great time preparing a celebration in her honor.  Thinking about all she has done for me, one day doesn't seem like nearly enough to say thank you for it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Book Worm Wednesday: Witty Fantasy

So I’m taking a cue from some other bloggers and dedicating a day on my blog to something I’m really interested in and want to share. For me, that is books. Hence, Book Worm Wednesday! I hope y’all will enjoy reading about my favorite books as much as I enjoy writing about them.

I am a ridiculous reader. I usually read at least 2 books a week, some new and some repeat reads. For me, reading a good book in no way makes it boring for me to read again. It is like hanging out with people I love on a regular basis, a lot of times the same and yet always awesome. I get impatient to reach my favorite parts and laugh at all my favorite jokes. One series that I have read multiple times is the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare.

It is a teen paranormal series about a normal girl who gets tangled in the world of Shadowhunters, humans with angel blood who hunt demons, when her mother is kidnapped. That may sound a little hokey but trust me, it’s very well done. The dialogue in these books is some of the wittiest and funniest I have ever read. A lot of that comes from the sarcastic and tortured male lead, Jace. Throw in some romance, butt kicking and drama and there you have it! There are 4 books out in the series currently and there will be 2 more. There is also a prequel series about Victorian Shadowhunters that is just as good I think. The second book in that trilogy comes out in December.
Cassandra Clare herself is pretty awesome as well. She has a blog and twitter that she updates regularly with sneak peeks of upcoming books, character Q&A’s and FAQs for every book. She is one of the most fan friendly authors I have seen. I think it is fabulous especially since her endings many times make you want to throw the book across the room and scream “I know she did not just do that!” As someone who started reading the series at the release of the first book, I have had many of these moments and a long wait between to know how things would be resolved. Those things definitely made the wait a little more bearable. Even with all the frustrations that come from reading an as yet incomplete series, it is definitely a worthwhile ride.

I feel like I should submit a warning that there are some homosexual characters in this series as well as other series I may recommend. It is never the focus of the story or in your face. If it was, I wouldn’t read it or recommend it. I don’t personally agree with homosexuality but it is a part of our society today and avoiding all references to it, to me, seems almost impossible and unnecessary. I feel it is all in how it is presented. I know what I believe to be right and don’t feel as though reading books containing characters who don’t share those same beliefs will alter mine. With that said, I understand that not everyone feels the same way and I can definitely respect that. Thus, the warning

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Regency Mystery

I love reading about England, especially the England of yore. I just love reading about the gorgeous dresses (what exactly is muslin, anyway?), balls, and men on horses.  It is all seems very exciting although I imagine it was actually quite smelly.  I try not think too much about that though.  Anyway, what better way to soup up a regency story than with a good mystery?!  It's like Jane Austen meets James Patterson but BETTER.
My two favorite contemporary authors are Deanna Raybourn and C.S. Harris.
Deanna Raybourn writes the Lady Julia Grey series.  The characters are wonderful and dialogue is so witty.  Lady Julia is from a very large and eccentric family who provide tons of entertainment throughout the series.  Not to mention the dark and brooding half gypsy detective investigating her husbands murder.  I feel like I should quote Anne Shirley when I say this book will deliver definite thrills.

Lady Julia is so elegant and sassy.  I just love this cover.

C.S. Harris writes the Sebastian St. Cyr series.  I was a little wary of this series at first because it is told from the male perspective and I was worried I wouldn't be able to relate to it.  I couldn't put it down though.  I started with the first book and had all six of them read in two weeks.  St. Cyr is a great character and the mysteries are very intriguing if a bit gruesome at times (I'm talking paragraphs, not pages).

This cover actually kept me from getting this book for a while.  It just doesn't appeal to me at all, but you definitely shouldn't judge this book by it's cover.  It's MUCH better.

I haven't read any authentic regency mysteries yet simply because they take me so much longer to read.  Somehow the language makes it much slower going and I typically like to finish a book in two or three days.  I have bought and plan to read The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.  I've heard he's fantastic but I'll have to let you know what I discover about him.

Easter Weekend

Last weekend I went on my first trip without Cory.  He had to go on a scout campout and I decided that instead of staying home alone, watching movies and crying (I can’t help I’m usually in the mood for sad movies on those days…), I was going to visit my family.  My mom and youngest brother already had plans to go spend the weekend with my aunt and uncle in Georgetown so I just joined the party.   Cory and I were both off on Friday so we spent the morning running a few errands in the pouring rain before we both headed out around lunchtime.  I was off for a weekend of fun and beach time with my family.  He was off to hike 10 miles in the rain. I think that is the first time he has been sadder than I was at one of our partings, as he has never cared much for sad movies. :)  He and I didn’t get to talk much while we were gone because he was going into the mountains where he would have little to no signal.  This was hard for me because I am the type of person who likes to be able to get in touch and KNOW that Cory is okay.  This time I just said a prayer to ask Heavenly Father to keep him safe for me and let it go.  It is amazing how much easier giving things to the Lord makes life.  I had an absolute blast and didn’t worry about Cory a bit.  It was so nice to silly girly things with my cousins and hang out with my family.  I’ve gotten so used to being “Emily and Cory” that it was nice to be just “Emily” for a little while.  Not that I don’t love having him around, it is just different when he is.  Anyway, here are some pictures from the weekend!

My littlest brother and Aaron, my cousin/travel buddy

My delicious picnic lunch from Kudzu Bakery.  I had never had shrimp salad before but I love it!
The parents playing on their smart phone at the beach.  Pretty inexcusable.
My favorite beach activity.
I kept sending Cory pictures of me at the beach.  He loved it. :)
My little cousins and I made the chocolate dipped peeps while dancing around to Justin Bieber.  I have never heard his music before but I have to say, I liked it a lot more than I thought I would.
I came home to this sweet surprise from my husband.  He is the best!
So then I had to put out his.
Candy mustache=awesome.

We finished off our wonderful weekend with an even more wonderful Easter Sunday.  One of my absolute favorite people in the ward spoke and we had two baptisms after church.  It was a great way to celebrate the sacrifice our Savior made for us.