One Down, More to Go || novel celebrations, considerations, and introductions

Let’s ignore last week.

Because skipping out on blogging to go on a field trip is nothing in comparison to my news of this week.

Are you ready for it?

It’s kina big.

Just kinda.

Are you ready? Okay here it is:

I have finished 51.

Wait.

Say WHAT

I’m DONE?!?

…and in the meantime all the rest of you are wondering why in the world it has taken this high schooler to finally learn how to count to 51.

No, its not because I’m homeschooled (thank you very much)

It’s because “51” is the title of what use to be my W.I.P. (which work-in-progress for those wondering).

Though to be honest it’s still a work-in-progress, but we’ll get to that later.

For now, confetti! Balloons! Cake!

In order to celebrate I will be ranting, rambling, and well. More rambling. Gifs.

And watching hobbits celebrate my great feats.

All that jazz.

But first, for those lost: 51? The initial seed of an idea was planted last November when I needed a break from NaNoWriMo (you know that thing where you write 50,000 words in a month) and so asked a writer-friend for a short story prompt so… I could write even more…?

I know it doesn’t make much sense, but wait until you are cranking a couple thousand words a day for the same project.

You get kinda tired of it. Especially the end of the second week. (Which is the point you decide that there are dragons in your world.)

NoNaWriMo in seven words:

Well I wrote a couple thousand words of a short story that felt more like a novel. I started plotting. I wrote a couple pages on how time-traveling might work and how it would effect users. By the end of those pages, I had met my characters. They had brought to me their problems, which I prodded and poked and plotted from.

Since then it has grown. It has had its highs and lows. Things developed and changed. Including the method of story-telling.

All until last week. I finished at the personal-award-winning length of over 75,500 words (what a big plump rabbit that plot bunny has become!).

It’s an experience.

Everytime I finish a novel, I sit back and stare as I try to swallow the fact that I just wrote “the end,” and I think, “Wow, maybe I do know how to do this writing-thing…”

And then I close it and step away. An hour later it hits me. When I’m scheduling maybe. Or passing the computer. Or unconsciously hurrying through chore because of those 1,000 words waiting to be written. Suddenly the mindset is shattered.

There dumps that all confusing but amazing sense of joy, sadness, relief, fear, and confidence. And then that renewed energy.

All of a sudden, it is done. I did it and as comma-depraved and pitiful the prose is and as sagging as the plot proves to be with every chapter, it is mine. All the sweat and mental circles I ran, the sleepless nights I poured into it, the long afternoons squinting at the pixels blinking back at me. All the scrawling’s in my school notebooks. All the holes I must have drilled into my wall as I sat at my desk oblivious of humanity and the schoolbooks before me.

But wait…

Done?

Actually done?

And that original fondness and excitement you had for the characters? It was never lost, merely muddled with the day-to-day grind. And you will no longer visit them.

At least not like this. Not like how it’s been.

It will never be the same with them.

All those problems they brought you have meddled away your summer with. And they’re less of a jerk for it too.

Maybe it will never be the same, but I will be returning. After a break I plan to edit a lot, starting with all those filler {ELEPHANT}s and {helicopter flight check?}s that I stick in when I don’t have time to research. And that I forgot about until handing it to a friend.

I always finish a novel with renewed vigor. When I sit down to write I find myself pulling out the upbeat tunes to dance through as I rip apart pages and scribble with red pens. Or something like that. 😉

Well summer is now gone. Fall has already arrived with all its luggage: Shorter days. School. Cold. Flaring colors.

And then another revelation rocks my little universe.

NaNoWriMo is just two weeks away.

And yep.

I’m doing it.

How could I not? Last year was fantastic and after spending almost the past year just on one novel, skipping from section to section, rewriting, and overthinking sometimes, I feel like a good rush of new words and ideas, and that feeling of defenestrating perfectionism and care. Kidnapping a couple new characters and also holding my inner editor for ransom.

Look sometimes you just have to write a random novel and that’s the truth.

*and everyone says amen*

I felt quite lost the other day realizing I have no idea what I was going to write. That since of complete loss. Overwhelming nothing-ness. There is a huge difference between a new chapter in a book, and starting a new book. Facing that blank white page with no history.

Suddenly all that confidence about knowing what I’m doing?

Out the window.

And suddenly I’m sitting at the computer wandering what the temperature is outside.

Where is inspiration when you need it?

Well, after waiting for a sudden creative revelation to hit for a week I gave up only to be most pleasantly bombarded by Eden.

How can you say no to her inspiring bubbliness? Or the prodding by a couple other people I had kinda convinced to do NaNo in the past hundreds of flocks of other eager writing friends. Well she came up with some ideas, which I absolutely loved and twisted together into something I hope will be digestible.

And so now the minor dumping…

Short Teaser

She was born without wings. He was born deaf. And the man was cursed, but he was not born that way.

Hopefully that mini dwarf blurb left you with a couple questions. (Or at least made you want to know more.)

Winged people a norm?

…and now thinking about it, I’m starting to grow extremely excited, scared, and about ten other emotions.

Want to hear more?

What else this novel will include*

  • outcasts
  • fog monsters
  • towering treehouse mansions
  • old maps
  • pirates
  • locked sea chests and riddles
  • angry mobs
  • a quest (to what though I have yet to discover)
  • magical ship with no crew

{*Disclaimer: This is by no means a complete list and is in fact only a list by the author. It has yet to be pitched to the characters. It is very much subject to change. Thank you. 😉 }

Extra Fluff

I tried my hand at making character collages/inspiration-boards…

Cora:

Salar:

And Azo:

And with that I think my introduction is complete-

Wait… I need a title?

You’re saying most books have titles? And ones not just randomly pulled from the number of playlists I have on Spotify? *cough51cough*

Okay confession. I’m terrible at naming books especially when I have no idea what they are about especially out of thin air.

I promise 51 is firstly: not about aliens. And secondly: relates to the story. And thirdly: no I don’t have 51 playlists anymore.

(Don’t look at me like that. You go count your playlists. They multiply like rabbits.)

Well, we will work on that one.

WELL

And that’s that.

You think the party is done though? Never. 😉

Chalice tagged me for this really cool music tag so return next week for another dose of ramblings, this time about music.

Prepare to be drenched.

Until next time, let the joyous hobbits dance!

~ evelyn ~

**all gifs extracted by my personal crew of dwarves from the mines of giphy**

The Simple Things Tag

If there was anyone who I would call the Sun-Drenched Writer, it would definitely be my wonderful cousin Camille who loves sunflowers, plants, the color yellow, and just about anything bright or cheery. She also has created what is now I favorite tag ever. (And I get the bragging rights to be tagged first muhahaha)

The rules are fairly simple and the idea behind it is as well. (Hence the name, right? 😉 )

  1. Link back to the person who started the tag and thank them. Thank you Camille!
  2. Link back to the person who tagged you and thank them. Also thank you Camille. (:
  3. List 5 simple things that make you happy with pictures.
  4. Tag one person.

Here are some things that make me happy:

#1. Live music

Sister playing piano. Brother playing guitar. Family singing.

On the porch. Around the campfire.

Concerts.

Though music in general is absolutely amazing.

#2. Playing games

The competitiveness. The strategy.

Catan. Pandemic. Seven Wonders. Spoons. The Homeschool Game.

#3. Things that come with fall

Sweaters. Boots. Tea. Pumpkin pies and cakes. Oatmeal cookies. Camp fires. Falling leaves. Camp fires. Candles. Crisp air.

Need I say more?

#.4 Downtowns

The shops. Quaint. Small. Personable and cozy. Beautiful buildings. Hidden Arbors. Shutters. Window Shopping. Thrift stores. Nestled Bookstores. Walking with friends.

And Christmas lights and music in winter.

#5. Road trips

Music. Podcasts. Audiobooks. Games. Blurred landscapes. Headlights in the night. Big citites. Gas station stops. New things. Strange things. McDonalds lattes. Goofing off.

And now that I’ve started I could keep going.

The smell of rain after a hot afternoon. Playing frisbee in a thunderstorm. Color-coordinated bookshelves. Organized art supplies.

This is the kind of tag I feel like I could do again and again because there are so many small things that make me happy. (:

Speaking of which, I tag…

Dekreel!

But really if anyone wants to steal it, feel free to take it and spread a little sunshine. (:

What makes you happy?

~ evelyn ~

10 little (somewhat random) things to do on a rainy day

Today the sky seems to be stolen from a 1950s film: Blurry gray. No blue.

Rainy days sometimes can be disheartening being stuck inside with little natural light and a yellow glare from your bedroom lamp, but there are always things to do none the less. And maybe it isn’t the fact that there aren’t things to do, but more the restlessness of a long afternoon.

Even when its sunny I have those days where I roam the house in search of something engaging to do.

I had been thinking about posting a list of activity ideas for such an afternoon since I absolutely love small random interesting tasks and the little things that brighten up the day, and then this happened.

Yep.

This is proof my friends. Great minds do think alike. 😉

Well here are (my) ten somewhat random – but interesting – things to do on a rainy day (or really any day because why not?)

  1. Warm up a marshmallow in the microwave. Note what happens. (**I am not accountable to whatever may happen when you do the aforementioned act**)
  2. Make coffee hot-chocolate (1. First put a scoop of hot chocolate mix in a mug. 2. Add coffee to fill half of the mug. 3. Stir that in until it is completely mixed, then fill the rest with hot water and stir again. Finally add a splash of cream or milk and if you like, froth it all and top off with mini marshmallows.)
  3. Use dry erase markers to draw on the window(s) in your room. Outline something you see outside. Do some school on it. Make a to-do list. Write a message and take a picture for a friend. Leave messages on your sibling’s windows.
  4. Send one of your favorite songs to a friend and tell them why you love it.
  5. Find a sunny quote and doodle it to hang in your room.
  6. If you have a bulletin board, use widowed earrings as thumbtacks.
  7. Pick one tree or  bush in your yard and look up what it is. (We have an Osage orange tree in our yard.)
  8. Make up a code alphabet for you and your siblings to use.
  9. Crank up music and sweep the house.
  10. And if it is just misting or a slow drizzle, simply open your window and enjoy the cool breeze and the smell of fresh rain and soil.

And I would have put sorting through closets and baking on my list but then it would look like I stole those ideas from Kenechi Duatron. Instead I’ll just say, go read her list too, because there are some really fun ideas there! (Like becoming Iron Man. 😉 )

Whatever you do, if you warm up a marshmallow in the microwave, make sure to report back. I want to know how it goes and what you think. 😉

What do you like to do on a rainy day?

ta-ta for now my friends

~ evelyn ~

 

8.31.19 | pros to hiking at 4 a.m.

  • It is pitchblack and you can see the constellations
  • The four-lane highway is empty and forgotten
  • The air is chilly and cool
  • The crickets are deafening
  • You never see another soul
  • Deer pass you
  • The entire walk you can untangle the knotted threads in your mind
  • At the top the valley is filled with twinkling lights of far-away cities.
  • You get to watch the sky wake up from your high perch
  • When everything lightens, you can pass the time watching the thick fog move through the hills and listening to roosters from a distant farm.
  • You can hike six miles and still get home in time for breakfast

 

surviving a book shopping spree 101

We had planned it three different times.

And every time something came up.

Like a fair.

Or a wedding.

Or school-preparing.

And/or we just plan forgot, because well… we’re us.

My friend (who, for the purpose of this post and future posts, shall be given her rightful name of Eeyore) and I on the last meeting of our homeschool co-op this spring had come up with the idea of a joint book shopping spree. We both went home that very afternoon and made an envelope toward the cause. And began adding to it.

Slowly but surely, we fattened our pets and by the end of the summer, they had grown into (slightly) plump little envelopes sitting and waiting.

So – finally –  this Monday we woke up to a brilliant blue sky, grabbed our bags, and headed out for a day of wandering around malls and antique shops.

In short: it was amazing.

Here’s what we did to survive and live to rant about the awesomeness tell the tale:

 

#1. Plan a season ahead to start on saving

Books are expensive. (Can I get an amen?)

I don’t think I have ever gone on a book shopping spree before. Yes, I’ve bought a book now and then, but I always feel guilty spending too much on myself and avoided it. I would walk through stores and simply make mental notes of titles to ask for my birthday.

And so while the trip itself felt a little last minute in timing, we were very prepared thanks to Eeyore’s grand thinking four months earlier.

Every penny counts after all.

 

#2. Dig deep in your closet for partially used Chick-fil-a or Starbucks gift cards

Ah yes. If you want to stay out long (which, is that even a question?) check your closet. Below the stack of books, boots, and bags, who knows what you can find?

Or maybe there’s one in your purse.

That’s a good place to check too.

 

#3. Visit a used book store first

Thank goodness for used book stores.

Digging through shelfs and shelfs of cracked, battered, and torn books can feel a little depressing or frustrating, but it really is worth all the little treasures you find. That book of poetry overlooked. That signed novel tucked behind a thick row of other books.

Don’t pass up the used book store in your shopping spree. It’s a good start and who knows? You might come out only having spent a eighty cents on a beautiful copy of The Book Thief!

 

#4. Walk through the store once to get a feel for it, then take a second round

To do it right, you must understand your surroundings. Take a quick stroll through the aisles, locate sections, skim titles, and note where you might find coffee if needed.

Once you feel familiar with the store and its layout, you are ready to begin the real work. Roll up your sleeves and grab a basket. This might take a while.

 

#5. Bring a shoulder angel (or devil depending on how you look at it…)

AKA a friend.

There’s no one like a friend to help fill in your knowledge about books, stick their favorites in your face and demand you buy them, or pat you on the head and slowly pry your fingers from that copy of the complete collection of Winnie the Pooh, when you already own two other versions.

I know I know, the golden hardback cover is gorgeous and I feel the temptation too, but not today, okay honey??

Double points if friend-brought is a writer and will understand your exclamations of needing to write down a name for a character, or listen to your critique of a cover.

 

#6. Bring a list for the books you don’t end up getting but might want to read another time

AAAh

sO mAnY CHOICES

Rows and rows of them.

What about putting a handy dandy notebook to use? Add to that growing list of to-be-reads. You don’t have enough books on that giant until the list itself could be packaged and sold.

And lastly, for those homeschoolers out there…

 

#7. Save money!

Did you know that educators can join the Books-A-Million membership club for free??

YEP.

That means, you homeschoolers, you get special membership sales just because you stay home to complete your algebra lessons. (Okay technically its your mom that gets it, but still…)

We only just stumbled upon this fact Monday and we immediately put it to use.

Cause who doesn’t want to buy books for cheap??


 

Over all, after discussing our wonderful experience, Eeyore and I decided to try to make it a tradition in starting off our school year, but with one little change. In order to go? First make sure you have read every single book you already own.

Now excuse me while I go completely reorganize my bookshelf…

The Beauty of Words

Some people collect stamps. Others collect rocks or trinkets or magnets or keychains: things to remember places by or things to set on their shelf and admire.

I collect words.

But words aren’t quite as tangible as a rare rock or gold trophy, right? Words are almost abstract. Can you touch words? Can you taste words? Can you feel words?

Words are beautiful. I say them sometimes to simply taste them on my tongue. “Pomegranate” is a lovely example: It has an elegant, soft pop that slips back, like the edge a the tide, sliding up, sending a wave of chilly shock up your tingling limbs, and then pulling back.

Maybe not all words flow as smoothly as others, but with each I can taste a clear personality. Like the words, “lurid” or “dado.” The first begging to be sneered, the later to be stuck into a limerick.

Each word has a taste. Each word has it’s rhythm.

And that’s just the personality of it’s outside form.

What about it’s meaning?

It’s funny how specific words can be.

Have you ever wanted to know what to say when you throw someone out a window? Maybe it would be handy for throwing out insults?  Defenestration would be the word you’re looking for. What about describing your favorite activity? Curling up with a huge, thick book. Or curling up with a tome.

Or what about a sense of longing in your heart for something that is now gone. A wishful heart for the “good ole days.” A deep homesickness.

There’s a Welsh word for that. My favorite word in fact.

Hiraeth.

Even in its taste, the word whispers of deep longing.

It sounds like the kind of word you would stand on a distant moor in the middle of a misty morning and mummer to yourself.

One interesting thing I took away from reading the novel Watership Down earlier this year was the world building behind the rabbits’ language.

Different cultures, I realized, shape different words.

While we have no need for the word “silflay,” the rabbits need something to call the action of leaving their holes to go feed on grass.

That fascinates me.

But words are not only beautiful and interesting, they are powerful too.

I feel the glow of words shaped around love. I feel the sting of words shaped around hate and anger. In fact, as the Bible says: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:24) That’s a huge power and, like from the quote in the old Spiderman movies: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Do you use words? How often do you use them? On a daily basis?

I do. A lot actually. And so, everyday I hold the power of life and death in my hands. Every minute, every second, I could explode. I could blow up in someone face and scream and yell and tear them down. Or I can take a deep breath. I can smile. And I can ask, “How can I help you today?”

You see, words are tools. Like a hammer, you can use it to build a house. You can shelter your family or bless a person in need. But also like a hammer, you can take words turn them into your weapon. They can be used to tear or build, to scream or laugh, to calm down or to stir up, and to dance or cry.

We all have heard the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” We curl up in the night and whisper it ourselves, saying it shouldn’t hurt when it does. But it just isn’t true.

We see in Proverbs 12:18 that wise words heal while rash words harm: “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Also Proverbs 15:4: “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”

In fact, I could keep going. The power of the tongue is a recurring theme in the Proverbs as King Solomon emphasizes the value of a prudent man’s words and the iniquity of rash man’s.

Words are also powerful because they shape one of the ways we communicate. They help us express our pains and share our thoughts. Collecting them can be useful.

So what are some of your favorite words?

 

Why Kermit Is My New Best Friend + Looking On the Bright Side

I have returned!

Hither from a magical land of falafels, wedding cake, and cousins.

I was told I should write a story about falafels gone wrong, but unfortunately, I was absent from the kitchen when the woeful event occurred and only heard tale of it later when I was asked to step out of the way as the huge can of burning oil was run out of the house to be disposed of.

When the Falafel Flopped does sound like a best seller though, doesn’t it?

And everyone wants to read a story where Whole Foods is the hero, right?

Well, amidst the busy kitchen bustle, the fountains of flowers, the family get-togthers, the glorious flood of frisbee games (in the middle of thunderstorms no less…), gyros and falafels, and the mysterious mosquito bites that appeared the day after the wedding, I have made a new best friend.

Reader, meet Kermit, Kermit meet reader.

Kermit is my new role model. And he really is a frog-of-all-trades.

I have found his wisdom in moments to be absolutely priceless and breathtakingly insightful.

Kermit… Kermit is one of those crazy-talented friends that just gets you. One of those people you respect.

For example.

When your first sibling gets engaged.

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And then gets married a few months later.

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And then when you realize school is just a few days away.

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And then you realize you still haven’t finished your book’s first draft like you were hoping…

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And then you spontaneously decide to make a goal of writing 10k this month.

But then achieve half of that goal in two days.

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And then someone asks the name of your brother’s “wife.”

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And then you discover that your little brother is officially taller than you even when you wear your high heels.

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And then you realize you’re the oldest non-legal adult out of the siblings…. your turn is next.

 

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And then you get stuck on the subject school again and realize you’re only a few years away from graduating high school….

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And then realize that the next academic Mock Trial season is coming and you can’t wait and so you begin flailing your arms and screaming.

But, of course, first grab a legal pad and your favorite black pen and throw on a suit.

Then cue the flailing.

And you end up screaming the Rules of Evidence and Hearsay Objections, instead of random gibberish.

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(For those who don’t know Mock Trial is simply the best sport ever and the only sport you play in high heels and suits and the only sport you get to scribble notes on legal pads and pretend you know everything or pretend to cry or pretend you’re British and the only sport you get to interrogate people during and the reason I have a strange sense of being home when at a courthouse. See why I’m flailing??)

Well sitting here eating a fresh slice of homemade zucchini bread and sipping some Irish tea and trying to sit still (because my mind is still stuck on Mock Trial…), I’m realizing that I’m not sure where to take this post.

My (not-so-little) little brother said that he has never seen a random post from me.

…even though I literally had a post named random.

He says I should just randomly end the post with a random “bye” and shrug off any sense of satisfaction and unconcluded flailing, and no lesson learned.

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Confirmed fact: My little brother is Fozzie Bear. 😉

Not that I don’t like silliness, jokes, or such wonderful-ness, it just feels so inadequate to leave you hanging. Especially after flailing in your face and internal screaming in excitement and shock.

I remember one time chatting with some friends and one offered a template: Thanks to the family who birthed me, raised me, and taught me to _____.

I filled that blank in with “laughter.”

My family has a talent of being able to step back and laugh when everything goes wrong. Not in a mean or flippant way, but just in a fun, spunky, relieving-sort-of-way.

Like when the fire alarm goes off at a hotel in the middle of the night after a day running around at a rollercoaster park, even though it turned out there was no fire, and we end up standing in the middle of a parking lot for three hours, with no shoes and in our pajamas seven firetrucks blinking and flashing until our heads hurt.

Dad says: “Hey let’s see if someone will take a family picture of us in front of one!”

Or during a road trip when we are just chilling on top of a mountain in New Mexico and a huge thunderstorm suddenly covers the sky and pelts us in huge pieces of ice and freezing rain that drenches us to the bones until we can’t feel our limbs are sloshing down as fast as we can, crying so hard we’re laughing, and laughing so hard until we’re crying.

Dad says: “Hey this is a great time to take a video to send to our friends back home!”

 

 

Or the week of a huge move, when a hurricane decides to have in on the fun. Our power goes out for days straight (and we were on a well so that means no water. Period.) while we were hosting my brother and his co-worker for furniture market. (no showers…) and then a friend comes over to help us take apart furniture only to get stranded when our favorite tree (and one of our thickest, largest trees) throws a fit about our abandoning him and tries to smash the first moving trailer that shows up, but barely misses and barricades our driveway instead. And trying to pack everything into the moving trucks (which get stuck in the mud in our yard and are there for many hours) until we are loading in the pitch dark with fifty people in our house (remember no water. Which means no toilet flushing) tripping over each other with boxes of books and bed railing and big fat heavy dressers.

Bright side? I will never forget my last week in my childhood house. It seemed so fitting too and I wouldn’t want it to have ended any other way.

Of course I struggle.

Being stuck in a house with a handful of other people for a week with literally nothing to do or even to sit on but the hard cold floor, can get tense and chaotic. Dramatic. Crazy. Without books (except your Latin textbooks) and no furniture (but sleeping bags) suddenly everyone’s personal bubbles are a bit easier to rub against.

Between the glares, strange new character voices bubble to the surface and are added to our repertoire. The strangest pieces of art work splatter out of our brains and the weirdest inside jokes or newest sarcastic comebacks.

I still find myself worrying over things going-wrong too, which is probably why movies like Father of the Bride and Meet the Parents are just plain… painful.

Views which just make my family laugh harder, as I cringe and groan and consider hiding under a blanket and covering my eyes and ears.

Kermit nervous
me when watching those types of romcoms ^^

Kermit laughing
^^ my siblings

 

I guess when I sit down for entertainment I’m not looking to cringe and laugh and wince at how everything goes wrong in everyone else’s lives.

Too close to home maybe.

Kermit not this humor

Or maybe its the fact that the characters never seem to get it. Instead of making a fool out of yourself and trying to make it look like you’re brilliant and nothing goes wrong under your watch, why not laugh it off and just clean the spilled (chocolate) milk up with a cheap roll of paper towels from Dollar Tree?

After spending a whole week surrounded on all side with siblings, working all together, our super-duper superpower has come out even more. Even when the falafel-mission failed and all we had left were some strange form of hushpuppies and a can of burning oil, everything was fine because my siblings focused on what mattered.

The food didn’t need to be perfect. The décor didn’t need to be exact. We definitely worked hard to make it beautiful and special, but if something small popped or cracked, we went with Plan B. Pulled out the super glue and paint supplies. Trimmed the bushes with leaves brown and dying from the power wash.

Why?

Because it was all about family and love and laughter and fellowship, not about being perfect.

Some things just aren’t worth getting upset over. Fretting about. In the end it’s the people and what you make out of what you have. And come on… it is kinda funny that the couple decided to have Greek food for their wedding and cook it all themselves the afternoon before even though they have never tried it before. Even sounds a little cliched ha.

Well, a thing about life: When it gets crazy, it only means you can make it crazy fun.

I even think part of my training in becoming a poet has greatly stemmed from the laughter my family has taught me.

Kermit Shocked

(I know you were wondering if I would make it through a post without a single mention of poetry… 😉 )

Being a poet is being someone who sees through surface things. As written in the song that Andrew Peterson sings, To All the Poets, they see “beauty in the common place, saw incarnation in a Baby’s face, and in a drop of rain the stars.”

My family has taught me how to see things. How to see the funny side to being stuck camping in a teepee with a gaping hole designed in the roof for a couple days of thunderstorms.

How to see the fun side of a literal 22 hour road trip (yes… we drove 22 hours straight. Yes, 22 hours in the car driving) or being able to have a conversation about how the kudzu in the dark makes it look like there’s a giant elephant sitting in our backyard. Either that or an old man wearing a hat.

Much of my playful limerick-type of playful poetry comes from true stories. But in a way don’t all fictional stories stem from a true story?

You just have to decide what type of genre you are living in. 😉

 

So, in closing, remember:

When your falafels flop, Whole Foods is always there.

Kermit Smiles

Love you fam.<3

 

**all gifs hunted and trapped by my personal internet minion squad via giphy**

All the Summer Vibes // hiking, writing, reading, and that glorious sunburn

I’m a very crafty person.

No, no. Not that kind of crafty.

Despite what gossip my character have been spreading, I am not a crafty villain scheming up plans of horror and pain. Maybe.

I mean ‘crafty’ as in, I like to take little string and sit for a couple hours looping it on sticks to try to make hats and scarves.

However, during the school year with school. And school. And more school. I only have time for sitting and translating Latin sentences and learning that the Romans defeated the Gauls.

Again.

And again.

And again.

Oh and that the sailors refuse to pray.

So when I finally finished that last math test and ‘summer’ was here, I pulled out my supplies and dove into the world of waking earlier, living at my desk in the basement, and having my family point out the paint stains on my hands I had missed or the bits of thread I had forgotten to brush off my shirt.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

cause I am obsessed with bullet points

#1. Quilting

I’ve always been interested in quilting, but it wasn’t until a couple years ago I made my first quilt.

Okay, actually it was about five years ago and it was so tiny my doll would even have trouble using it.

Not that she got the chance because I didn’t finish that quilt until two months ago when I pulled it out again.

In the meantime, somewhere in the past five years I did patriciate in a crazy quilt day workshop and came out with a finished mini quilt, but, while I learned a lot, in the end, it was still mini.

Well after pulling the first quilt out and finishing the binding at the beginning of this summer, I took in the stack of scrap fabric in our craft closest and the bundle of batting and, remembering a book I had once read at the library, decided to try my hand at making a bigger quilt.

I picked the Log Cabin pattern, because I really loved the examples in the book and it seemed perfect for left-over fabric, since really all I needed was two-inch wide strips.

Originally I sorted out these little stacks of fabric: one blue themed, one pink themed, brown, green, yellow, etc., thinking I might be able to squeeze out three or four squares out of each.

Out of the blue stack of fabric, I was able to make twenty 11 inch(ish) squares: perfect for a baby blanket size.

Shows you how much I know about estimating.

I’m that person who always scoops left-over food in a container that is way too big.

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setting out the squares

I sewed the squares over three days, trimmed them and pieced them together another, and then, after a trip to Hobby Lobby to buy some backing and edging, began the actual quilting process (which I should hopefully finish today.)

It was a lot of fun piecing together, and I’m starting to now eye the stack of pink fabric in the closet. (:

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When the back of your stitching creates a perfect treble clef! O.o

#2. Jewelry Making

I began making earrings about a year ago when my sister and a friend organized a craft day at our house.

They’re really fun and fairly easy to make. The hardest part is looping the wire. Especially since I was trying to use the wrong kind of pliers to do it.

Imagine my joy when my grandmother gave me the right type (and more beads!)

To illustrate the immediate affect:

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They’re amazing, thank you GranAnnie! ❤

So I’ve been making tons of earrings lately.

My homeschool co-op community has a craft fair each December so I’ll probably bring my growing stash of earrings.

Or I might decide to keep them all muahahaha

If only I had more ears. 😉

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owls! and everyone goes “awww”

It’s really cool being able to make things that I know will be used. Gone are the days of braiding hundreds of random strands of rainbow colored craft yarn I found.

It’s doubly neat to be able to make those things I’ve always wanted. Whatever style of earrings such as ones with beads partially wrapped in wire.

Then last week my mother was out running errands when she noticed a small artisan shop in our downtown that is opened only a couple times a month.

She stopped and looked around and decided to take me that afternoon for inspiration and ideas.

Such as quilled paper earrings:

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setting them out to dry

 

#3. Writing

Yes!

Despite what this post has so far implied I have been writing this summer. I’ve been continuing my attempts to capture everyday, little things in a fresh new way, and have been plowing away at 51 usually late in the evening or early in the morning. I’ve found over the past year that those are the most productive times for me.

When people ask whether I’m a night owl or morning bird, me: “Um…both?”

Who said owls aren’t birds… 😉

51 has been going well though.

A week or so a writing friend mentioned during a conversation about names how they once read somewhere about a writer using elephant in all caps as a place holder in the rough draft stage.

So of course I had to steal borrow the idea.

 

ELEPHANT in the Room

 

Who knew Zeb had such big pockets?

Or that he was that strong. 😉

As a technical update: 51 is at 21,651 words and maybe through one fourth of the story written.

The good news is, I have the ending planned! and written shh don’t tell anyone.

Now I just have to fill in the rest of the middle… 😛

 

#4. Reading

I’ve been reading a nice amount of books too. A lot of revisiting for old favorites, but also some new ones.

Current book I’m reading?

The Mollhill, Vol 3!

It’s my first one to read and I’m really enjoying it.

Basically, for those who don’t know, it’s a collection of poetry, art, essays, stories, and recipes from The Rabbit Room, a community of Christian artists.

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Also! I was forced to join joined a local book club started by a writer-friend.

The first get-together that I have been able to attend yet will be tomorrow. Book for that meeting?

The Book Thief!

I’m excited. (:

#5. Hiking & Swimming

 

Summer did not feel truly feel like summer until last week when we finally went swimming.

It had been a full year for me because of the craziness of moving and settling in and life.

But after spending a day splashing in the sun, and I came home and collapsed on my floor, limbs aching and with raisins for fingers, and my shoulder burning with the most glorious sunburn, it was suddenly summer.

I had never realized how nostalgic that feeling is…

I’ve also gone on a couple hiking trips. The most notable one was with my Dad a couple Saturdays ago. We packed some water, books, and hammocks and hiked up to a private little overlook. There we spent a couple hours swinging lazily in a mossy clearing, swatting flies, and (for me) reading Canterbury Tales.

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When I said it was mossy, I meant it was mossy.

This gorgeous clearing gave an entirely new meaning to the common phrase “the forest was carpeted with moss.”

 

#6. Sketching and Painting

And one of the other things I’ve been doing quite a lot is experimenting with is mixing ink sketching with watercolor.

As you can see, I’ve only been doing little simple projects of things I’m familiar with. (i.e. plants, elephants, and my school drawers)

And finally…

#7. Prepping for school

And here we are at the end.

My first day of class with my weekly homeschool co-op is three weeks away, so I’ve pulled out the brick of biology flashcards, put tabs in my math book, and sped up in my reading of the literature books I will be writing papers on through the year. (Right now it’s Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. And I thought the first part of the book was weird…)

I’m surprising excited for the school year as a whole. This year focuses on British literature, I’ll be studying paintings, music, and art in general, more Team Policy debates, and more Algebra and Trigonometry.

 

Which finally brings me to a quick note about one last thing that’s been going on around here: my brother’s wedding!

I am suuuper excited about my (soon-to-be) new sister! She is just soooo amazing and fun! And just… well I probably could write another five paragraphs about it but I better not. (:

I must say it’s weird growing up though. (Any one else agree out there? *raises hand* Anyone?)

Well, because of this joyous occasion of amazingness but also the busyness that comes with it (did I mention it will be held in our backyard?), I am not going to promise a post next Friday.

Maybe I’ll throw out a poem or something, but we’ll see. (:

What time of day is best for writing for you? How has your summer been? Are you prepping for school yet? What will you be studying?

~ evelyn ~

 

7 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Painting {aka what I have learned in the last couple months}

It all started with Shakespeare.

I know, I know.

It’s a strange place to start but that’s where it all began.

For almost five years I had not touched my painting supplies, partly out of fear and partly out of busyness, but in March my co-op class was studying The Taming of the Shrew, and were assigned to pick a topic of interest of the Elizabethan era and report back on it with physical props.

Cue the brainstorming.

Originally, I thought I might study the fashion and show up, with the closest example of an outfit from that time period, but that had been my sister’s choice a few years earlier. Next idea was to write a Shakespearean monologue from the point of Queen Elizabeth and perform it, but I had never even succeeded in writing even just a sonnet, much less an entire monologue. Besides, I had enough things to memorize already.

A third thought was to study Shakespearean embroidery and replicate it, but I wasn’t sure I could finish it in time.

With some more brainstorming, my mom then came up with the idea.

Why not study art from the era and creating a slide-show presentation of Elizabethan paintings?

Cha-ching!

Perfect.

I had (and still have…) this strange (then new-found) obsession with creating PowerPoint slides and I find art very interesting. Put them together?

Just makes sense.

I began researching and making notes, learned so much, and picked out three different pieces.

There. Done.

But wait…

At the next class, my tutor explained this project would be presented in a different room in front of the younger classes, meaning I couldn’t use the projector.

So my mom suggested that I just take one of the paintings I had picked out and reconstruct it.

Except I had never painted with oils before and never ever painted a person.

So yes.

I decided to pick up painting for the first time in about five years and use a medium I had never used before to paint a subject I had never even attempted before under a deadline.

At least Hobby Lobby had all painting supplies half off that week.

…except that deal ended the next day.

So I convinced a sibling to take me and bought the supplies.

Thankfully, the following afternoon when I unpacked my new paints, I decided to mess around with them before starting the project on the canvas.

I pick out a red and squeeze it out of the tube onto my palette. I take the brush and paint a simple rectangle. And then another.

And then I go for a circle.

But the paint won’t spread out right.

I dip my brush in the water and try to thin it.

It doesn’t work.

For at least five minutes, I sat there in growing frustration as my paint refused to move or spread.

It was after I filled have the page with strange shapes, that it finally hit me.

Duh.

Water doesn’t mix with oil.

I call the piece “Ignorance.”

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Isn’t it beautiful? 😛

I guess all those repeated experiments about trying to mix oil and water on a plate as a kid didn’t stick. (Sorry Mom!)

Well, this story has a happy ending: I discovered the substance called “paint thinner” and went on to paint the portrait, and though it doesn’t look much like the original, it definitely looks like an Elizabethan painting.

Over the following months, I have continued to paint and have learned more about it… often learning the hard way.

Here I have compiled a list.

If you have a time-machine, feel free to take this back in time and shove it in my face. 😉

With that, let us begin…


 

#1.  How to take care of tools {especially the brushes}

One thing about my ten-year old painter-self: I had no idea how to keep tidy and clean, whether it be my palette, my easel, my table, my clothes, my brushes or my hands (though to be honest, I don’t care much about that one…)

This was very evident when I finally unpacked my supplies after a couple years of almost-moving.

Exhibit 1:

Oh look at me fine brushes… notice especially the forked blue one.

Gorgeous am I right?

When I was ten, I didn’t know simple rules like, don’t store brushes on their bristles, don’t leave in the jar of water, or even the importance of cleaning them as soon as I’m done with them.

When you have tools, research how to take care of them! Whether it be through Google, a library book, or someone you know, discover proper ways to treat them well: how to store them, how to clean them, how to use them.

 

#2. Plan ahead

I have this awful habit of being terrible at making decisions when I really don’t care.

You know that friend who is that person who is always the one to say when hanging out, “Oh I don’t know… what do you want to do?”

Yeah… well that’s me and it comes across in my paintings.

Here is one of my first paintings.

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I specifically remember painting this… originally it was to be a field filled with flowers beneath a huge mountain range.

But then the mountain wouldn’t corporate and decided to be a scrapped blob of blue. I tried to fix it, but with little experience or knowledge failed. So I decided it was a rain pour in the distance and decided to paint a forest.

I wanted it to be a great, thick forest, but I had already made one of those and so wanted it to be different.

So I made the trees small and spread apart…

And then, I thought it looked weird (a very justified observation…) and so decided to add a creek. But something was still missing so I decided to add a rabbit. And then a butterfly. And then another one. And then a log.

And so this piece came to be.

Even if I had had the talent to make the trees look like trees and the grass look like grass and so on and so forth, it has terrible composition.

So now to try to avoid that I think ahead. Maybe sketch out a plan or follow a picture.

As beginner, especially, I wish I had picked more subjects I was familiar with.

 

#3. Research techniques & practice

Study paintings! Watch videos! Read books!

As a beginning painter I’ve found it so helpful to do all of the above, but then also to practice the techniques.

Otherwise it would be like trying to read a math book but never doing any of the problems. 😉

Right now for me it’s those gorgeous watercolor moons I’m trying to learn. (keyword: trying.)

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#4. Always finish a project

Last week I decided to paint some pictures for some friends: an animal for each. The flamingo was pretty simple and straightforward, the koala was small and fun, but the puppy…

I spent literal hours on its coat of fur.

I wanted to give up through the entire process, beginning here:

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At that point, normally I would have given up, but for two things.

First: I was using a canvas and my guilty conscience would never have let me just throw it away, and then secondly I needed to finish it by the next day or pick a new subject and start an entirely new painting to finish by the next day.

So I kept going…

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And going…

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And going…

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Finally I was somewhat satisfied with the poor puppy’s blotchy coat:

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And in the end, I just added a bunch of flowers to cover it all up.

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Ta-da!

So it didn’t turn out too bad, and I learned a lot that I would not have learned if I had stopped when I first wanted to.

Like, don’t try to paint a puppy.

See? Lesson learned. 😉

 

#5. Don’t throw it away

When do we ever finish a art project and feel fully satisfied and proud of it? Do you ever want to rip up your page, burn its pieces, and throw its ashes into the wind?

I have. A lot actually.

Like with this lady…

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*coughs* only painted a couple months ago..? that must be wrong… 😛

Go ahead and shudder. I don’t mind at all, just don’t stare at it too long, please… for your sake.

The story behind this creepy face?

Well.

At the start of this year I was trying to use watercolors to paint a face and it turned out reeeally weird.

Yes, to be fair, I was going for a certain style.

But still.

Hideous, am I right?

The strange blotchy blush, the squinty right eye, the heart shaped head, and paper thin eyebrows, with absolutely zero eyelashes or forehead.

But the thing is, in another year or so I’ll pull it out and try again and compare.

Like I did with an elephant I painted…

Elephants compared

 

And a wolf I once drew.

Wolves_compared

 

Which is why everyone should also…

#6. Always date & sign the piece

And at this point I probably will remind you of your mother when you were in kindergarten: “Don’t forget to sing your name and put the date on it, okay honey?”

I’m sorry, but they were all right.

And I was wrong when I did not listen. 😛

And now I am left to wonder when I painted this little treasure and all it’s homeless buddies:

All I know about this little guy is that he was inspired by Monet (or at least created in the studying of Monet) and that it was a long, long time ago.

Besides, there’s something official and satisfying to signing one’s work.

And last but not least…

My frens.

Don’t drink tea or coffee while painting.

There have been at least five separate occasions where I found myself subconsciously picking up my painting water to drink from.

And many times I was inches away from dipping my brushes into my chai latte.

It just ain’t worth it.

Even if you avoid these tragedies, you will end up living long enough to see either your drink die and transform into tepid liquid or your paint dry on your palette and brushes.

You can’t always multitask.


 

So there we go. Seven brilliant gems I have discovered and am still trying to work out.

What are some things you wish your younger self knew?

~ evelyn ~

Of Books and Binders and Book Binder Poetry

Good morning!

It’s a beautiful Friday and we are back with our next installment of Evelyn-finds-something-neat-about-poetry-and-comes-to-share-it on The Rain-Drenched Writer!

Or, as my dad would say, “Have you heard Evelyn’s new poem? She didn’t write a single word!”

Well, I am sure we are all glad to be here. If you are new to these series, check out previous episodes: here and here and here. 😜

Today’s topic of discussion: book-binder poetry!

It’s a simple idea. You take a stack of books and arrange their titles into a poem.

(Quick note though: I do not necessarily recommend all the books displayed in this post. I have not read all of them but am only using them here for the purpose of poetry. :))

Here is the first poem I created:

 

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I began to realize quickly that verbs don’t show up much in titles. Neither do many “which” or “who” or “what.”

For my second one I was very glad to find a book titled With. I ended up using this book a lot… it was very helpful! (Keep in mind to ignore it’s subtitle… 😛 )

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My third one, I am quite fond of! I titled this one, Gossip.

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To my delight, after that, I found two books about a watchman…

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Then I decided to take a visit to the Christian-living bookshelf in our household and see what I could find there.

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Suddenly my poems became a lot less poetic and star-spangled, but more blunt and foreboding…img_1369-1

 

And finally, my very last one which I found quite by accident as these books were already right by each other, separated by only two other books:

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Which one is your favorite? Have you ever played around with book-binder poetry?

~ evelyn ~