Sunday Smatterings

Sunday Smatterings 11.5.2017

Morning, gentle readers, and happy Sunday. How was your week? We're still recovering from the World Series at Chez Ellison. We're a baseball house, and Dodgers in particular—DH has been a lifelong fan. I found it so amusing when people started using the diminutive DH to refer to their "darling husband" online—for a long while, I wondered why people were calling their partner the designated hitter.) But what a thrilling series it was. Congrats to you Astros fans—y'all should be proud, and I am so happy to see Houston back in the hearts and minds of the country. 

Nearing the end of the first draft of Brit #5 (it has a new name, which I announced in this month's newsletter: THE SIXTH DAY!). This is the craziest part of writing: all the threads come together at a clip, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I pound away at the keyboard... and cooking dinner has becomes the best form of procrastination. Plus, with the new chill in the air, the recipes that don't work for summer (I'm looking at you, chili!) come back into the rotation. This isn't DH's first deadline rodeo, so he's been surprised when I want to make dinner. Such is being married to a writer; we are mercurial beasts!

And without further ado...

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

This is how a word gets into the dictionary. Admit it, you've always wanted to know. Personally, I spent an awful lot of time with my Webster's growing up...

Anti-frantic. A great message as we head into the busy holiday season. I don't get twerped out about the holidays. Decorating takes an hour, I know all my recipes by heart, I do my cards early and my shopping mostly online from fun indie retailers. Let's all take a breath, shall we?

Actors and actresses who write, from Tom Hanks to Molly Ringwald. I think we're sometimes led down the path that artists are one trick ponies, but if you think about the way actors need to interpret the writer, it's not surprising many of them take up the pen.

How I read 100 books in a year (and you can too). With all the distractions floating around, it's hard to get through one book, let alone 100. If you're eyeing a book challenge in 2018, you may find this article useful. I'm behind on my count right now, but I'm gaining steam going into the winter months!

These Golden Snitch-Topped Butterbeer Donuts Are What Potterhead Dreams Are Made Of. Holy sugar rush, Batman. 😍

The new decluttering trend is called Swedish Death Cleaning and we tried it. Sounds scary, but perhaps a great way to clear the clutter once and for all. It's a bit morbid, though, so be warned.

Let Me Count The Ways. ATTENTION WRITING DATA GEEKS: Scrivener 3.0 will give you MORE than you can possible handle. (What's Scrivener, you ask? Only the best writing software ever. And add in some Scapple for brainstorming, too!)

And closer to home:

A WORD ON WORDS Season 3 is here! Click Play to watch the latest episode.

I recently sat down with the author of THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (yep, like the Oscar-winning movie), Matthew Quick. His newest book, THE REASON YOU'RE ALIVE, is one of the best I've read this year—so nuanced, so poignant. And Mr. Quick himself is delightful: I could have talked to him all day.

I like to ask each author I interview a few of the same questions, just to get different perspectives. One question I ask is if the writer is creatively satisfied. Mr. Quick had one of my favorite answers to that question, which you get to see in this video.

That's it from me! Y'all be good, rake someone's leaves, light a cinnamon candle and watch a good movie or two, and we'll talk again soon. Speaking of movies—what's your favorite for the season ahead?


What I'm Into (May 2017)

These are five things I'm seriously grooving on this month...

1. Design Blogs

I am in a slight(ly massive) overhaul of the two upstairs bathrooms, my bedroom, and my living room. I have never asked for help from a professional before, and decided it was high time. It’s been an eye-opening experience, for sure, and I’m at once overwhelmed and totally raring to go to get things finished.

The fun thing is, less is definitely more, so we’ve been slowly paring back years of furniture buys from Target and Pier 1 in favor of a single new piece here and there. The rooms feel bigger, airier, more comfortable. There’s been lots of looking at Pinterest boards (a favorite pastime anyway) and reading design blogs.

My favorite that I’ve been following for years is Desire to Inspire. I can’t tell you how many ideas I’ve found there. Great photos, excellent curation. You can’t go wrong.


2. Serious Decluttering

I’ve had to remove every stick of furniture in my house twice in the past year—once to get the floors laid, and once again to have those floors re-stained. (don’t ask…)

The first time, we took bags of stuff to Goodwill. It’s easy to part with inanimate objects that are old and ready to be repurposed by clever people. This time, I was surgical about what went back, and we coupled it with the elimination or replacement of major furniture pieces.

I’m Marie Kondo-ing again, and this time, I’m getting into the artifacts of our life—gifts, trinkets, pieces that are out of style or frayed around the edges. It’s a difficult process, but it’s created a brand-new workflow in our house, which is in turn making my words flow.

Feng shui? Decluttering? Out with the old? I’m doing it all. 

3. Lechtturm Pen Loops

These little beauties are sheer perfection. They stick to any notebook (permanently, so be forewarned) and fit my Palomino Pearls perfectly. I set up my a fresh Bullet Journal last week, and popped one of these in the back of my Habana, and off I went. 

4. Steagle Laptop Webcam Covers

They’re watching…. You know they are….

For the longest time, paranoid me has used a stick-on silver star over my laptop’s camera, edging it off when I needed to Skype or FaceTime. I saw these recommended on Tools and Toys and decided to try them out. They work perfectly. Thin, unobtrusive, they slide open and closed easily, and don’t interfere with the lid. Now I can work with confidence, and there’s none of the sticky, nasty residue other methods leave behind. I got one for my iPad, too!

Being True to Myself

5. Being True to Myself

This isn’t a material item, but it’s something I am really plugging into. I’ve realized that I just don’t have the stomach for a lot of social media right now. I’ve been popping on, talking to my friends, doing some updates, then leaving and going off to read a book. My Lenten break really altered me this year, altered the way I work, the way I approach my Internet time. I am the first to admit I was succumbing to Internet addiction, and it’s not healthy. I decided to nip it in the bud now, before I get lost. To instead read books, to learn and form my own opinions and historical backgrounds, to help my brain heal from the blue backlight, and stay away from the vitriol of disagreement that never seems far away. I wasn’t back on Facebook for a week before I was being bullied by someone for refusing to get into the mud with them. That’s not what life is about. It’s not what life is for. 

I’m not quitting social media, or anything so drastic. If anything, you may see more of me. I’ve simply found my balance with it, and with what I’m trying to accomplish as a human being, and in my interactions with others. Our lives are so short. Our hearts are so full. There are more ways to truly experience life that don’t involve the ubiquitous screen, and I am exploring them in new ways. 

So here’s a little "Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu" for you today. "May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all."