Friday Faves: Chucktown, SC

sunset kiawah

The view we enjoyed during our stay.

We recently had occasion to spend a great week exploring the charming and historic Southern city of Charleston, South Carolina. It’s a city with subtropical weather (not unlike Southern Florida), surrounded by water, with scenic views in every direction. For my Friday Faves, I thought a brief recap of my favorite stops would be a fun thing to do.

  • Kiawah Island: The combination of the weather (after the first two days of rain), views, and general beauty of the place made it a place I’d love to stay again soon.
  • The City Market: The array of vendors selling everything from local specialty foods to the work of local artists was a feast for the senses. I really enjoyed touring and shopping there
  • Low Country Cuisine: You can’t really go to a food region like this one and not enjoy the local seafood, especially a plate of shrimp and grits.
  • The Sound of Charleston: This musical history of the city featuring beautifully performed music from plantation fields, confederate battlegrounds, and Gershwin’s South Carolina inspired opera Porgy and Bess, which contains the well-known song, Summertime.
  • The unquestioned highlight of our short excursion northward was getting to meet a friend I first began communication online with 8-10 years ago. She is every bit as delightful in person and I look forward to getting together again with her much sooner than a decade from now!

Next week, I’m thinking of listing a few of my guilty pleasures. We’ll see…

Y’all have a great weekend!

Friday Faves: Looking Backwards and Forwards

Happy New Year, y’all!

Since this is the first Friday of 2020, I decided to do a quick review of what was and preview of what I hope to see as the calendar has flipped. I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions, but swimming in the sea of new beginnings such as we all are, it’s impossible not to get splashed. Once splashed, it’s impossible to ignore the drops of water on my skirt, and so my mind was drawn into thoughts of things that have gone, and things to come. First up, a look back:

I reviewed 30 books on the blog this year. However, I also read several books that I didn’t review for various reasons. Some of those are:

  • Marriage for Moderns: I’m still sifting through this old textbook from the 1940s written by Dr. Henry Bowman. It’s not readily available, which is one of the reasons I’m not planning to review it. A quick perusal of the two reviews it garnered on Amazon offers a snapshot of how Bowman’s ideas play in 2020. I don’t find it nearly as objectionable as those reviewers. Perhaps I’ll review it this year, but probably not.
  • The Hormone Reset Diet by Dr. Sarah Gottfried: I’m not getting any younger, and I don’t have any qualms about acknowledging it.  I refuse to jump on the cultural bandwagon which asserts that continuing to live is somehow offensive or something to apologize for. The reason I didn’t review the book is that it’s niche-y, and I don’t suppose everyone is interested in the tweaks I have to make along the way to maintain optimal health, which I am grateful to enjoy, but it costs.
  • Julius Caesar: I read this in conjunction with some exquisite and delightful literary homeschool mothers over the summer. It was fun, but it’s a story everyone knows and most people have read, only if in high school, so I didn’t bother to review it.
  • The Father Brown Mysteries, by G.K. Chesterton. I love these stories, and I may pick a few to highlight some time during the first quarter of 2020, but I read them sporadically for my personal enjoyment in 2019, and never got around to offering reviews.

There are times when I want to read unimpeded, and writing reviews I’ll be satisfied with requires a level of distraction that necessarily precludes my ability to do that. Which is why I decide not to review certain books.

Here are my favorite books reviewed here at Reading in Between the Life, by category:

  • Fiction: A Girl of the Liberlost. This is a beautiful, poignant story with a satisfying conclusion. It’s a middle-grade book but appeals to all ages.
  • Nonfiction: There’s a three-way tie for this one. That sounds like a lot until you consider that most of the books I read and review here are nonfiction. My three favorite nonfiction books of the year are Beauty Destroys the Beast, The Black Girl’s Guide to Being Blissfully Feminine, and Digital Minimalism. They each encouraged me in different but profound ways. Amy Fleming touches on things that Christian women need to think about, Candace Adewole taps into truths only black women can fully appreciate, and Cal Newport is a postmodern prophet crying out in the digital wilderness.
  • Christian: How to be Unlucky, by Joshua Gibbs. In reality, Beauty Destroys the Beast is also a Christian book so it could go here as well. Unlucky is more metaphysical, which is what I was originally thinking of as I considered this category.

Looking ahead to 2020, and addressing that New Year’s splash I mentioned at the beginning of the post, there are a few endeavors I’m looking forward to dipping my toe into. There are also other things I began last year but would like to dive deeper into as the year unfolds.

  • I need to write more, and by more, I mean more than just here and in my prayer journal. I often feel as if my vision of being published is slipping away. This could mean that my dream is not on the path God has for me, but it also could mean that I haven’t applied myself to the task as much as I should.
  • Improve my copyediting skills and build a resume. I went back to school. I put in the work. I got the piece of paper. The only thing left is to take advantage of it, which I didn’t work at in 2019.
  • Learn to sew the perfect skirt. I’m not a seamstress, and I don’t have any real desire to be one, but I love a great skirt, at just the right length, with usable pockets, in colors that flatter my caramel skin tone. Every now and again I run across one and if the price is right, I grab it. But as a 5’9″ pronounced hourglass, it’s in my interest, if I can manage it, to learn to make my own. So I’m going for it.
  • Lose weight. Spiritual weight, that is. I’m always working on strengthening my physical temple, but this year my focus is on Hebrews 12:1b let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…

As far as reading and what you can expect around here? More great (and sometimes not so great) books, and more reviews so you’ll know which is which. We’ll have more discussions about education, language, and all of it interspersed with occasional snippets from my crazy, busy, blissfully mundane life.

Happy 2020!

Friday Faves: Reasons to Study Shakespeare

comedy of errors

This is a busy week. Our children are performing in a Shakespeare production, we’re all stretched thin, and my mind is on Shakespearean things. Or at least on the reasons why Shakespeare is valuable, since we’re all working 10 hour days on limited sleep. I thought we’d discuss the things to be gained from studying the ancient works of Shakespeare in this postmodern year of Our Lord, 2019.

~ That you may ruminate: If there is one thing Shakespeare provides, it’s the opportunity to consider the complexities of human nature and conduct. There really is, to quote King Solomon, nothing new under the sun, and it’s usually a straight line between someone we know, perhaps ourselves, and a Shakespearean character’s foibles.

~ One man in his time plays many parts: Is there a better description of the many ages and stages of a single life? In a world of two-dimensional characters and one-dimensional depictions of a good life, Shakespeare offers a rich and full examination of the stages of life as well as their advantages and drawbacks.

~ I have no other reason but a woman’s reason: I actually do have a reason, but I like this quote from The Two Gentlemen of Verona because it illuminates my next point. Shakespeare is politically incorrect and brutally honest. On most subjects, perhaps because he was a man of his time, Shakespeare unapologetically expresses things as they are, not the way we wish a mysterious alternate reality fairy might make them.

~ They have been at a great feast of languages and stol’n the scraps“: So much of our modern language, its idioms, and axioms, are borne of ideas first penned by William Shakespeare. From “break the ice” to “love is blind” and “as good luck would have it”, our modern language is peppered with mainstays we borrowed from Shakespeare’s 16th Century writings. In our flash-in-the-pan culture, I’d say that’s pretty amazing. Only the Bible has had as much or more impact on our use of language. And oh yes, I’m aware that the quote that I used here is not quite in context. I couldn’t think of one more fitting and so…I turned it into scraps.

~Mine eyes smell onions: Lastly, Shakespeare is funny, if you can get the joke. This very obvious quip is from All’s Well that End’s Well when the duke excuses his emotional reaction to a touching scene by complaining that his eyes smell onions. A lot of Shakespeare’s humor is what as known as “blue comedy”,  but even those jokes are insightful and tinged with truths about human nature.

Those are five of my favorite reasons why it’s worth the time and intellectual investment required to read some of the works of William Shakespeare.

Feel free to add your own observations to the list, and Happy Friday!

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Faves: Thanksgiving Edition

thanksgiving capture

In less than a week, most of us will join our extended families and friends, break bread, and give thanks for all of the blessings we enjoy. In the interest of the spirit of the season, I decided to have a conversation about the best things about Thanksgiving Day, at least in my personal estimation.

  • Time with family: Our life is busy, and we are blessed to spend a lot of time with great people and awesome Christian friends, but we don’t spend as much time with our extended family. Family, even when things are hard, is still family. To spend a few hours eating good food and engaging in stimulating conversation is an opportunity that most of us don’t get to enjoy often enough.
  • Preparing good food: While turkeys and sweet potatoes are available year-round, it just never occurs to most people -at least not us- to smoke a turkey or bake a sweet potato pie in March. Our family cooks together pretty often, but cooking a Thanksgiving meal is a special meal preparation that’s not quite like any other. Everyone in our house has a particular specialty, and putting them all together is lots of fun.
  • Table settings: One of our kids has a God-given eye for beauty and a gift for design. I suspect her father bequeathed her his artistic eye, but hers has a particular feminine flair and she is wonderful at designing just the right look for the table.
  • A spectacularly clean house: We are constantly cleaning around here. Floors are mopped daily and all that good stuff. But when 12 or more people are visiting to sit around your table and hang out at your house for an afternoon, a deeper cleaning is in order; the kind of cleaning that gets relegated to seasonal scheduling when life is extremely busy, which ours usually is.
  • The crash afterward: The run-up to Thanksgiving can be kind of frantic. I started this afternoon with most of my shopping for the day. The next few days will be consumed with preparations and by Wednesday, I’m ready to get on with it. Thursday will be a lot of fun, laughter will rule the day, and after the clean up is done, I’ll be excited for the moment when I can shower, put on some comfy clothes, lay my head on my husband’s shoulder and play a Christmas movie. Of course, the chances that I’ll get 1/3 of the way through the movie without falling asleep is are pretty slim.

Those are a few of my favorite things about Thanksgiving.

What are some of yours?

 

Friday Faves: Fall Fashion Fluff

This is fluff about clothes and other things that aren’t vitally important in the grand scheme of things. It’s all in good fun.

November is a busy time of year, but also a fun time. The collision of obligations, deadlines, and celebrations can provide an interesting challenge for those of us who are wife dressing. That is, we don’t own the option of sacrificing femininity and beauty in exchange for the comfort and expediency we’d like in order to get things done. The good news is that we can do both.

We don’t really experience a change of seasons here. Because of that, a lot of fashion conventions fall flat in this neck of the woods. For example, it’s warm nearly year-round, so sandals are always in order and Floridians don’t generally adhere to the “no white after Labor Day” convention either. Although…I’ve learned that there is such a thing as “winter white“, which makes me wonder if any place adheres to that rule anymore. But I digress. The goal of this post is to list five of my must-have essentials to get dressed quickly, easily, and fashionably enough.

  • Wide belts: I love a wide, genuine leather belt. They’re not cheap, but I’ve found that the best way to get them at a reasonable price point is to go through Etsy. Each one I bought has been shipped from Eastern Europe, where there is a robust collection of women performing quality artisan leathercrafting. I own this one, as well as the belt I’m wearing in my gravatar.  I also have two others  in different shades of brown that I ordered from Etsy. They’re categorized as corset belts, so be aware that the advertising will run the gamut, but the quality of the leather is excellent. One belt which I bought stateside is of vastly inferior quality for a similar price, so I decided it was worth it to order them from overseas.
  • V-neck sweaters and fitted long-sleeved shirts: In whatever colors look best. For me, those colors are saturated colors: blues, reds, browns, and also off white, which matches just about anything.  These also look good with both jeans and midi skirts. For me, however, those tops require an additional go-to item:
  • Camisoles: The blessing and the curse of my body type are that I look better in fitted clothes. I think this came up in my review of the 50s fashion book, Wife Dressing. I layer my fitted clothes with fitted camis underneath. I’m pretty open about that because I think women should look good in our clothes. Although I exercise hard and take good care of my health I’ve also had five babies, so accommodations must be made. My stomach is naturally flat, but also extremely soft, so I layer with lightweight, fitted camisoles.
  • Midi Skirts: Who doesn’t love a good midi skirt?  They are versatile, comfortable, feminine and pretty. They’re not too long, not too short; just right. They look good with sandals, heels, and even Sperrys. I like a great maxi skirt as well, but my fondness for midi skirts has grown recently.
  • High rise jeans: I must admit, I don’t share the typical American’s love of blue jeans. At least not for the reasons other people seem to like them. I don’t find them particularly comfortable, and living where we do, they can be rather stifling. That said, I do appreciate a nice fitting pair of jeans for their fashion possibilities. Put with a few simple, no-fuss elements (dangly earrings, a cute wedge heel, and a smear of lip gloss for instance), jeans are an easy way to get dressed in 5 minutes without looking like you threw your ensemble together in 5 minutes. That’s why I wear them. And when the temperature does finally drop, they are warmer than a midi skirt.

This is always the most fun part of these posts; finding out what you like best.

So…what are the essentials of your wardrobe that make getting dressed much easier than it would be otherwise?

*You might also be interested in my review of The Lost Art of Dress.

Friday Faves: Seasonal Anticipations

Halloween is over and November has arrived, so it’s official: The high holiday season is upon us. With that, we all start preparing for that most wonderful, and most expensive, time of the year. For those of us who celebrate the Incarnation, however, there’s more to this time of year than wrapping paper, Scotch tape, and near-constant Amazon Prime deliveries. For many of us, this time of the year is about pausing to remember the most important things in life; the eternal things.

With that in mind, I thought we’d start November with a few things I most look forward to at this time of the year. Shopping is not on the list:

  • Cooler weather: We live in a very tropical climate; so much so that the temperature this Halloween was 90 degrees. The hot humid blanket has been hanging on to us for what seems like longer than normal this year. However suddenly, as if on cue, the projected high temperature for today, November 1st, is between 79 and 80 degrees. That may not sound like cool weather, but relatively speaking, it’s fabulous. Hopefully, from here we can settle down into our normal “wintery” mid-70s temperatures.
  • Outdoor fall festivals: This is the time of year for art festivals, free movies in local parks, charitable 5K races, and numerous other opportunities to get outside and soak up the weather that made Florida a favorite winter vacation spot from the late 19th century onward.
  • Thanksgiving: This is the holiday that we spend the most time with extended family, and because ours is a family full of women who not only can cook, but enjoy cooking together, preparing the meal is more fun time than a burden, as it should be. I am suddenly remembering this book, which I read to my kids:
sweet potato pie book

Those of us with Southern roots do enjoy our sweet potato pies!

  • Christmas Decorating: To be honest, this is not my favorite thing, but it’s included here because I love seeing the joy it brings my husband and kids to decorate for the Christmas season. And once it’s all done, the festive atmosphere is very uplifting. I do enjoy seeing the wreath on the door!
  • Advent Devotions: One of the things I have become increasingly wary about over the past ten years is the crass commercialization of Christmas that we excuse by slapping platitudes such as “Jesus is the Reason for the Season!” on things that have little to do with Christ’s Incarnation. Picking and reading a book devoted to reminding me of why we celebrate and how we should celebrate tempers a lot of that uneasiness in me. Jesus does indeed become the reason for the season.
  • Holiday movies: We kicked things off on Halloween with Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, and every week I hope we’ll be enjoying an uplifting, family-friendly production that reminds of the angels’ greetings to the shepherds in the field keeping watch over their flocks by night: “And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14).

Those are a few of the things I anticipate as we move into the most wonderful time of the year.

What are you looking forward to now that November is upon us, the holidays loom, and the year is speeding to a close?

Friday Faves: Auditory Enrichment

One of the things I have been doing over the past several months is listening to podcasts while I work. These are comprised of various types of listening; from sermons to news and politics, some informative broadcasts and also educational encouragement. Podcasts have evolved into my first option for engaging the mind and contemplating ideas. They are, for me, more cognitively enriching than reading articles online.

I still have a list of favorite, friendly blogs but overall, I find podcasts more enjoyable. I can listen to several while my kids are in school (they go to school a couple of days a week) and still get lots of household tasks accomplished.

I’ll confess that I’ve wondered if the trading of screen time for podcasts is tantamount to exchanging Cheetos for Smartfood, but decided that since I get a lot more done listening than while indulging other forms of distraction, the podcasts are here to stay for a bit. I listen to random podcasts on occasion but have subscribed to eight, in particular, and I listen to these regularly. This Friday Fave will highlight my current favorite podcasts. I installed the Castbox app on my phone, which makes it much easier for me to see when my favorites have a new episode as well as dig around for others that might be interesting.

Here, in no particular order, are the podcasts I subscribe to along with a little bit about why I enjoy each one.

Proverbial with Joshua Gibbs: This one is a part of the Circe podcast network. Unsurprisingly to anyone who has read here for any length of time, this is my favorite of the three Circe podcasts on the list.  In his podcast, Gibbs “explores the wisdom of the ages as it comes to us in proverbs, by which [he] means wise sayings a man may live by if he’s not so arrogant as to think himself special”.  He opens every weekly episode with that quote, and I have yet to tire of it.

The Commons: Part of the Circe Institute’s podcast network, The Commons is thoroughly focused on topics related to Christian classical education. It helps me to remember why we have chosen the education path we’ve chosen. Especially when the road seems hard.

Ask Andrew: Ask Andrew is also offered through the Circe Podcast network. In it, Andrew Kern asks specific educational questions that Circe readers submit. Again, Circe is dedicated to Christian classical education.

The Candace Owens Show: I really enjoy listening to this young commentator who covers a range of topics from a thoughtful, countercultural, unapologetically conservative perspective. She always has interesting guests, too.

Voddie Baucham via SermonAudio: I have always enjoyed Voddie Baucham’s scripturally systematic, intellectual approach to teaching. I always learn new things and am challenged in new way by listening to him.

Primal Blueprint: This is a podcast produced by Mark Sisson, author of Mark’s Daily Apple.  He doesn’t always host the podcast, but it’s still chock full of good information about health and nutrition.

The Ben Shapiro Show: I hardly think I need to get into a lengthy description of this one. Almost everyone knows who Ben Shapiro is. He is so smart and intellectually honest that he manages to produce a hugely popular video show and podcast in spite of his rather annoying voice.  It took some time, but I got used to it. For the uninformed, he discusses the hot political topics and headlines of the day from a libertarian perspective.

The World and Everything In It: This is a daily news and issues podcast that reports and analyzes from an explicitly Christian perspective. Somehow, they manage to do it in a way that doesn’t feel like proselytizing. They are thoughtful, honest, and balanced.

The Way I Heard It: Mike Rowe’s amazing voice and stellar storytelling ability combine to offer uncommonly known insights into people and events most of us are familiar with. His website describes it as “a series of short mysteries for the curious mind with a short attention span”. Yep. It sounds like a podcast for me!

Those are the eight podcasts I am subscribed to and listen to on a semi-regular basis. Some of these I listen to more consistently than others, of course. Now on to the important question:

What are some of your favorite podcasts and which ones do you think I might enjoy but haven’t yet heard about?

Have a great weekend!