Butterflies or Ghosts

Butterflies or Ghosts

I should probably keep resting–it’s only been two weeks since I finished my novella. My writer’s brain needs time to recharge.

Besides, I have library books to consume, a closet to organize, and that batch of muffins.

But stories flow through my mind, flitting like butterflies or lingering like ghosts.

The mermaids wait in the ocean, thumping their tails on the floor to communicate–congregation, location, danger.

Five siblings need their personalities to be explored and tied into ordinary wartime adventures.

A young nun must set out on her own to find the family she was sure she lost.

There’s a prophesied apocalypse to outrun. A WW2 hospital ward to visit. Ashkenazi Jews surviving in space. The girl in the compression suit. The girl who loses every friend. Something very wrong with clones.

I wouldn’t blame me for resting for a while longer. And I also wouldn’t blame me if I dove into a project head first. 😉

The Masked Baker

The Masked Baker

Last year brought about a lot of changes, and one of my favorites (besides my relationship status 😉) is the shift in my creativity.

I don’t just have to be a writer, y’all, and though that hurts a little to recognize, it’s also been fun and incredibly healthy to explore other areas of creativity.

The main one I’ve been focusing on is…

Baking! 👩‍🍳

I’ve always loved to bake and was already trying my hand at a few recipes when I began the wondrous show Great British Bake-Off. (Raise your hand if you’re eagerly waiting the next season!) It started off as my peaceful “comfort show” perfect for ending some pretty strange days, but the more I watched, the more inspired I was and it has grown exponentially from there. Just look at my pan collection. 😂

I find inspiration in so many places–pretty Pinterest pictures, tempting Google suggestions, my longtime favorite YouTube channel Chelsweets… Even watching YouTube baking fails with Joshua. 😂 Right now it’s mainly two shows in the theme of GBBO, and I couldn’t be happier.

Dame Mary Berry says it best. ❤️

Back to my pan collection… It’s getting happily out of hand. I’ve picked up a few at thrift stores (Joshua is a supportive and great fun shopping buddy), bought seconds and thirds of favorites to make baking large quantities easier. You might even say the pans that started it all are my doughnut tins I recieved for my pandemic birthday.

This past birthday, my supportive family bought me some icing bags and cake boards (essentials I run out of quickly!), an adorable yellow cake plate, delightful sprinkles, and a rotating cake plate which is a LIFESAVER.

Besides my cake cabinet, I also have drawers full of supplies and tools and a cabinet of cake stands/plates. 😉

One of my favorite tools–my KitchenAid flex edge beater–gets the job done.

I’m a researcher by nature (or nurture?? I was homeschooled… 🤔😉), so one of my absolute favorite things has been watching copious amounts of YouTube videos and reading recipes. It’s seriously good fun.

I can research as much as I want to, but there’s still nothing that beats the trial and error of hands on practice. My example below just shocks me when I realize how far I’ve come.

My first ever attempt at pink lemonade mini drip cakes, October 2020. 😬😬🤭 They, um, at least tasted good.

February 2021, same idea with much more skills gained. Also, raspberries make everything prettier. 😍😎 (And my sister is the sweetest!)

Quite a few cakes in, and I’ve finally discovered my favorite way to transport cake. No melting or sliding! Phew. (And please admire the tiny chocolate bars. The mold for them was an impulse buy I do not regret. 😁)

I laugh every time someone on a baking show says “food brings people together”, but it really does. Some of my favorite things I’ve done these past 17 months were baking related.

My long-distance friend Mikayla is so good at coming up with things for us to do together, and video calling while baking the same thing might be my favorite. ❤️

We made mint chocolate chip cupcakes. 😋😋

One of my highlights last Christmas was decorating cookies with this Favorite of Mine. ❤️

I baked with my nephews while they were staying with us for a visit, and I loved their creativity! Candy eyeballs for the win!

Sharing what I bake is a huge percentage of the fun. (Especially the peppering my family with questions about the flavors part. I just tested a frosting experiment on them last night, mwaha.)

I’ve baked mainly for my church’s college group, masked up and sanitizing of course, though I have shared some with my ladies group at church and shipped some off to Joshua while we were long distance. ❤️

I don’t just make cakes, as much as I’m obsessed with them. 😂

Lemon frosting is 🤤🤤.

It’s always a sheer delight when I revisit a favorite or try something new and it turns out just as I’d imagined.

Like this Mexican chocolate cheesecake for date night.

Or these darling truffles for a Valentine’s Day party.

Of course, I didn’t show you the cheese colored cake or the MASSIVELY oversized truffles or my very first attempt at bread just recently that ended up looking like the Sydney Opera House.

I’ll keep those mistakes to help me try again better next time. 😉

Now what should I make next? 🤔👩‍🍳

A Visit With An Old Friend

A Visit With An Old Friend

Books are amazing things.

Some shape our childhoods so much that when we reread them we suddenly understand ourselves in a whole new way.

Others feed us during tough times of doubt or lend a healthy, lighthearted escape during stressful months.

Still others open our eyes and fill us with new empathy and understanding of people who differ from ourselves.

And some rare, unique books shatter our lives with emotion, empathy, new loves, new thoughts, and beautiful, beautiful words.

And we can’t stop thinking about them.

The Book Thief is one such book for me.

I experienced it so deeply over a few months that I can picture scenes clearly in my mind and remember the strong emotions I had when I first read them. It remains one of my favorite (and most blogged about) bookworm experiences. 😉

I tried to read it again, a year or so later. The first read-through I let myself “go wild” and underline beautiful quotes with a shy pencil. This time, I bought fine-tipped pens with the very aesthetic idea of doodling along in the book as I read. To deeper love to the story, and to make the book even more mine.

But I wasn’t ready.

The story was too fresh, the emotions too strong for me to love it like a stranger and a familiar face.

I decided to wait without really knowing why, and the waiting stretched on until last night.

I missed the book and pulled it from my shelf, then collected my doodling pen and shy pencil and opened the pages.

Four years since my first read of this book, and it feels like visiting with an old friend.

I cried over scenes I remember as well as my childhood home. Added overly cheerful (just my drawing style, oops) clouds to a dark passage about the sky. Sketched the young main character crying in the cold.

It was beautiful, and I will be reading it more.

Slowly, and doodling, to let the words seep in.

Maybe I’m Back

Maybe I’m Back

In the first week of lockdown, I finished drafting my fantasy novel, celebrated my birthday, and learned to make mini doughnuts.

There were jokes about how productive we were all going to be. How many days straight we’d been home. How we introverts had a wonderful, unfair advantage that we didn’t really like going out in the first place.

Then something inside me shifted. Almost without me noticing. My creativity sank into a tired hibernation, popping up occasionally for air then disappearing again just as quickly.

Maybe it was the stress of everything. Or the time consuming art of “coping mechanisms” (that don’t really help, y’all). Or the constant inundation of (albeit really good) art–music, movies, TV shows, everything the world was admirably pulling together in an effort to lighten each other’s loads.

My writing heart slipped away, followed by reading, then finally blogging.

A blog about books and writing isn’t much use if the author isn’t reading or writing. 😉 My daily quarantine slog through life or my mixed up thoughts on social issues (that would just add to the noise) were off-limits. (And the absolute highlight of my year, my Joshua, was a heart-close secret for a few months there. 😉)

So I limped along, dropping just enough posts to hopefully not abandon you all completely. #winning

(Don’t get me wrong, there have been some fantastic highlights this year, just a remarkable shift in some very important areas of my life.)

I felt this “something” change again this month. I wrote a list of things I was looking forward to (as simple as decorating my room for fall) and carried them out with anticipation and enthusiasm. I’ve stayed up late a couple nights reading. I’m blogging again and even scheduling some posts ahead. I’m trusting writing will return soon as well.

Maybe I’m back.

But also… I’ve been baking a lot and stretching my skills and presentation. An old hobby has become a new favorite since quarantine (and multiple seasons of Great British Bake-Off 😍). I’ve been reviewing movies. I’ve been tackling the odd handicraft here and there. I’ve grown very close and very deep with my boyfriend who is both inspiring me to be adventurous in my tastes and deeply valuing who I am.

I’ve seen a world rocked and wrecked and seen people fight over things that don’t matter and things that do. I’ve learned more about myself and how I relate to God and the world, maybe more than ever before.

So maybe I’m back. And maybe I’ve changed.

I think I’m good with that.

Castles and Batteries

Castles and Batteries

When work has been too crazy and you’re too tired to write, the answer is of course to draw a map of your castle. Or several maps of your castle.

Not your castle, the characters’ castle, of course. (Though wouldn’t one specifically just for writing and feeling majestic be awesome?)

If you promise not to judge, here are my attempted maps of the castle in my fantasy story. I’m not sure it’s final layout, but it helped me figure out where things are in relation to each other, which is ESSENTIAL for moving characters around. (I should have done it earlier.) The second page is more accurate to the interior, and the first one includes gardens/courtyards. Also, please admire that I remember how to draw doors on blueprints from some tricks my dad showed me when I was a kid.

On the days when I wasn’t too tired (a.k.a. not Draw a Castle Day), I got to do a lot more writing this week. ❤ Something is actually happening on their travels, and I’m getting to do more character development which always pleases me. 😉 A big factor in getting to write was new batteries for my electronic typewriter. It goes through them like a baby boy devours fruit, so I splurged and bought myself a HUGE package of batteries.

I was so excited for them to come, that I was literally this meme. (What’s with all the memes tonight? I don’t know, but it’s fun.)

I got my dates mixed up, so I actually got to wait for it a day longer than I’d expected. Which made it coming even more exciting. 😀

It’s gonna sound funny, but I’m sooo grateful for these batteries. And for the exciting things that are happening my story. 😉

Excuse me while I get back to it… 😉