Favorite Albums... Right Now

I love listening to music. More than that, I like listening to music that is decent, with intellectual messages. By intellectual, I mean something just a little deeper than getting stoned, drunk, or the like.

In other words, I like music that isn't mainstream. Music that doesn't really ever make its way to those raunchy sound waves that call themselves radio stations. If I sound a little cynical right now, it's because I am. I don't enjoy a majority of the auto-tuned noise, also known as popular music.

So, I'm a little picky. Just like people who don't like certain foods, I don't like certain sorts of music. This makes it extra hard to find stuff I like, but it's not impossible. Here are some of my current favorites. (Images are linked to Amazon.)

1. Barton Hollow
The Civil Wars

I really like this album. It's quiet enough that I can play it softly while doing my chem homework, but not so quiet as to lull me to sleep. I also love the harmonies of Joy Williams and John Paul White. In today's music industry, such "raw" songs are hard to find. No auto-tuning here!

2. Sigh No More
Mumford and Sons
This is another favorite of mine. My cousin introduced me to them this summer. Many of the lyrics are inspired by literature, which I find to be super duper cool. In fact, I've analyzed their songs for English class before, and they really are rife with hidden meaning.

3. When We Were Young
Lucy Schwartz
Lucy Schwartz is an artist I discovered a year ago. She made her big break when she won an international (or national?) song writing contest or something like that, and she is really, really talented. Her lyrics are witty, and her voice has a unique sound to it (unique in a good way, of course).

4. Kaleidoscope Heart
Sara Bareilles
Hmm... Sara Bareilles is pretty mainstream, I will admit. BUT, her music is much better than many in the "pop" scene. You are probably familiar with her songs, King of Anything, and Love Song--if nothing else.

5. Far
Regina Spektor

This album has been around for a few years, and it's one of my favorites. Seriously. She is about as unique as unique gets. And, she released a new single recently (All The Rowboats). Love it!

So, what are you're favorite artists and albums? (It's okay if they are mainstream... I won't judge.)

Have a great weekend!

Doodle: Braided

     Here is a doodle I made. At first, I was just trying to practice drawing braids, but then, it evolved into much more than that. I think the dress was subliminally inspired by the Robin McKinley books I've been reading lately. Actually, I am certain the dress and crown were both inspired by my recent readings (Rose Daughter and Spindle's End). 

     It's actually been wonderful to have some spare time to read again. The novelty of curling up in a comfortable corner and reading chunks of 100 pages or more at a time was lost to me for months. Recently, I've been able to do that more every once in a while (like once a week), and I have to say it has been refreshing. 

     Solitude. It can be a wonderful thing--so long as you have a good book.

Tutorial: Peeps S'mores

     First of all, disclaimer: these weren't my idea. My mom made them for her students, and she got the idea from another teacher. However, I had never seen these before and I thought the idea was brilliant, so I'm sharing it with you.

Isn't that little bag adorable? Absolutely!

     Here's all you need to make your own:
  • Peeps (whichever kind you want)
  • Small Hershey's bars
  • Graham crackers
  • A bag
  • Some cute ribbon

     Simply place the materials in the bag (nicely, of course), then tie it up and give it to friends, family, little ones... whoever you want to, really. Just tell them to assemble the s'more and microwave it for 10 or 15 seconds. That's all it should need to get nice a gooey--almost like a campfire s'more.

Note: Depending on your microwave, 10 seconds might make the Peep explode. Here's an alternative method sent in by a lovely reader, Lisa. Lisa says to microwave the s'more for 5 seconds, then squish it together firmly and microwave it for 5 more seconds. Just a heads up!

     Have fun, and happy Easter!

     "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him may not perish, but have everlasting life." ~John 3:16

The Hunger Games Round Up

     As previously mentioned in this post, I loved the Hunger Games trilogy. They were catching, without being too trendy, and simultaneously intellectual. These books left me thinking, and I liked that.

     You probably know this, but the movie just came out! I went to watch it this past weekend, and LOVED it! Unlike many "based-on-book" movies, this one stayed very loyal to the characters and story. Most of the scenes were exactly how my "brain movie" was when I read it. I was doubtful the movie would live up to the expectations of critical readers, such as myself, but it did, and I'm impressed because of that.

     So, now I'm stricken (for the second time) by Hunger Games fever. Yeah. Sad, I know.

     In honor of my renewed fascination by these books, I have compiled a round up of all my favorite things Hunger Games.

1. First, a very clever print of the phrase of the games... May the odds be ever in your favor.
via Entropy Trading Co. (An Etsy shop filled with pop culture inspired prints)

2. A nifty tutorial for Katniss inspired hair pins from Art for All (a spiffy blog). Go check it out!
via Art for All

3. This cool beans brass cuff from The Copper Fox. Such a great line.
via The Copper Fox (Etsy)

4. A mockingjay necklace... because, we can't forget the mockingjay, no can we?
via Beauty and Luck (Etsy)

5. Another necklace... but this one has a Peeta pearl (from the second book!)
via touchsoul (Etsy)

5. And, lastly, this snappy bracelet made by iadornu on Etsy.
via IAdornU (Etsy)

Now that I've gotten a little bit of that out of my system, I'm off to reread the trilogy. I hope you have an awesome week, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Thanks for stopping by. :O)

Introducing... New Blog Buttons!

     As always, I have been on my continuing quest to learn the ins and outs of blogging. The best way to learn about blogging is to look at successful blogs. What do they do that I can do too? This is the question I'm always asking myself.

     It has been my keen (or not so keen) observation that many popular blogs have grab buttons so that their wonderful and loyal readers can post them on their own blogs and spread the word. So, I decided to learn how to make one of my own.

And so, this button was born:

     So, oh wonderful, blogging readers, would you like one to adorn your own beautiful spaces of the blogosphere? Great! I have it all set up on the right side bar. The code is ready to go! All you need to do (if you want) is copy and paste it into your HTML widget on your blog. 

     No pressure, just know it's there if you want it. :O) 

     I'll have a tutorial on how to make your own in the near future.

Handmade Thank You Cards

     Want to see some of my latest linoblock printing creations? Naturally, after a birthday, one should send thank you cards. I like doing this, but I don't like the cards at the store. So, I made my own (this tends to be my thought process on many things... if you can't find it, make it yourself).

     So, what I did was I decided on a phrase I wanted. I settled on "Gee, Thanks." Short. Sweet. Simple. Done.

     To make this work, I had to draw all my letters backwards. To check that they looked good, I looked at the block in front of a mirror. Everything was to my liking, so I started cutting.

     First, I traced around the letters with the smallest "v" shaped gouge.

     Then, I used the "u" shaped cutters to carve out around the letters.

     Once I was done carving the block, I started printing... And ended up with these!

     I'm pretty happy with them, and I didn't gouge myself while carving the block, which is a great success in my book. And, in case you're wondering, I'm using the basic water soluble Speedball inks. Although they had poor reviews online, they work perfectly well for me.

     Then again, I'm still a beginner, so I don't know what supplies are "good" or "bad." It's kind of like when you first learn to color you use Crayola, or when you first learn to knit you use that Red Heart Super Saver yarn. Then, once you know better you start using Prismacolor colored pencils (well... for the record, I still use Crayola), and nicer yarns like Cascade or the like. That's just how learning a craft goes, though.

     Gee, thanks for stopping by!

Oh, Fabulous Day!

     It was my birthday recently, and it was amazing! Here are some of the highlights...

My hooligan friends decorated ALL my car windows...

My side view mirror...

And my other mirror...

And, I received this little hand made cutie from my friend, Jessica!
Isn't he adorable? Yeah... I think so too. :O)

Thanks to all my family and friends who made my birthday so neat!

Pulling Proofs

     I just finished my first lino block, and pulled a few proofs! I need to fix it up a little still, but I'm happy with the result.

     Look familiar? That's because it is. I based my block on the drawing from this post.

     I can't wait to print these "for realsies" and then make some more! I think I might be addicted... And, I managed to make these without getting any cuts. I have to say, that makes me quite pleased.

     Back to school tomorrow from spring break. That's always a joy. If you're in the same boat, best of luck. Only a tad longer until summer break!

Just Read: Rose Daughter

     Right now, I'm reading Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley. I've read a few of her books before--Spindle's End, Beauty, and Chalice--and they never disappoint. Rose Daughter is no exception.

     This book is McKinley's second telling of the tale as old as time, Beauty and the Beast (her first is simply titled Beauty which is for younger readers... I read it in sixth grade). However, don't expect a Disney rendition full of goofy talking furniture. Instead of filling her story with childlike whimsy, McKinley takes her story telling to a higher level, making the character interactions seem natural, rather than jerky and awkward as some authors tend to do. Also, her descriptions are lush and enchanting in the best sort of way possible.

     As with all of McKinley's books (that I have read so far), my only criticism is that the endings come too fast without complete resolution. This is probably partially because her books are so good, but I also think her conclusions tend to be a little abrupt. Still, McKinley's story telling is enrapturing enough to make the endings not matter so much.

     Granted, if you don't like fairy tales, you probably won't like this. On the other hand, if you adore fairy tales, I highly recommend this book. And don't be put off by its YA classification. This is one of those books that falls somewhere in between and can appeal to all ages--of this, I am sure.

Tutorial: Heat n' Bond Applique

     Remember this pouch, from this post?

Well, here's how you can make applique similar to it.

1. Start with a doodle, or something printed from online.

2. Then, trace the picture on the backing of the Heat n' Bond (I bought the type in the purple package).
Just cut out the "body" of the piece. As you can see, the eye "patches" and chest parts (which are white) I cut out separately.

3. Then, cut out a rectangle around the traced portion and iron it onto your fabric.
Now cut out the shape.

4. Once you have it cut, it should look like this.

5. Now, do the same with whatever other shapes you need, and then iron them onto your main surface. 
Like so.
If you are going to do letters, make sure you print or write them mirror image. Otherwise you will have backwards letters for your applique, and no one wants that.

6. Sew/embroider on top of your applique.

Then, you'll have something like this:

Now, here are a couple of tutorials so you can make your own lined zipper pouches!
Check out Noodle-head and Flossie Teacakes

The only thing I did differently from those tutorials was ironing fusible fleece onto the linen pieces before assembling the pouch. Don't iron the fusible fleece on until you finished your embroidery and sewing over the applique! This way, the fleece provides a nice protective layer for the tied off threads.

PS: My linocutting supplies arrived today! Just in time for the weekend... I'll most definitely be posting about my first creations, so keep an eye out for that. :O)

Little Foxy Pouch

     Yesterday, I lugged out the old sewing machine, and made a pencil pouch for a friend's birthday. I'm really happy with it.

     This was my first time doing applique with Heat n' Bond. Let me tell you, that might just be my new favorite stuff on the planet!

     I'll make a post of how I made the appliques later. But, if you want to make your own lined zippered pouch, check out my favorite tutorials at Noodle-head and Flossie Teacakes. And, if you mess up (like I have many times in the past) and forget to unzip the zipper before you sew the layers together, here's a nifty trick that doesn't require a seam ripper.

Build Your Own Linoleum Cutting Kit

     I've been fixated on learning how to linocut for a while now, but because I didn't have the supplies I was forced to merely drool over other people's creations on Etsy (see the post here).

     Luckily, I shall be forced to salivate no more! I used the birthday money from my grandparents (thank you grandma and grandpa!) and ordered my supplies from Dick Blick. I'm super excited. No really, I am.

     Deciding what to buy took a while--a couple of weeks worth of research, in fact. At first I was simply going to buy the Speedball starters kit, but I decided I wanted more ink, more blades, more linoleum blocks, and basically more of everything. So, I prowled art forums and blogs and finally came up with a "kit" that costs around $50.

     In case you are also looking to get into linocutting, here is my carefully compiled list of supplies. Click on the pictures to go to the Dick Blick item page.

1. Speedball Linoleum Cutter 
It's just a standard linoleum cutter, but it comes with a few more blades than the cutter included in the starter kit. I decided it was worth the money.

2. Speedball Soft 4" Brayer
Before ordering this, I did a lot of searches regarding hard vs. soft brayers. The consensus among the printmaking community on the WetCanvas forum was that soft brayers are better for linoleum block printing. I figured they were probably right. After all, who am I to argue? And, this brayer is a lot nicer than the one that comes with the starter kit. Just saying. 

3. Bench Hook/ Inking Plate

Apparently, this is necessary to have if you want to minimize the risk of gouging yourself with the cutters. I'm very into taking precautions, so if the internet tells me this can save me blood spillage I will listen without hesitation. Plus, it can be used for inking. Although many printers use a piece of plexi-glass, I don't have random bits of plexi laying around the garage. This seemed like a better option.

4. Mounted Linoleum Blocks
5" x 7" block costs $2.09

I did a lot of research regarding mounted vs. unmounted linoleum. What I concluded was unless you have scraps of wood or plexi-glass laying around, mounted pieces are better. Although it seems easy enough to mount your own linoleum, I decided I didn't want the hassle of it. Plus, because I am pulling prints by hand (without a printing press), the blocks offer more control (or so I read). 

Revision: The mounted blocks are nice; however, I now think unmounted linoleum would be much more economical, and would not have any negative effect on the printing process.

5. Hosho Paper (48 9" x 12" sheets) 71.5 GSM
Hosho paper is (according to my studies) very good for lino printing. I could also have gone with a 100 percent cotton paper, but those are very expensive. For the price, this paper seemed like a good one to try. If I decide to invest in better paper later, I'll probably buy it by the sheet at Michaels or something. Dick Blick makes you order a minimum of 10 sheets. And at $3 or more a sheet, that wasn't something I wanted to do. 

6. Speedball Water Soluble Inks
5 oz. black ~ $5.95
1.25 oz. red, yellow, blue, white ~ $2.60 each

Speedball is a good starter ink (although many advanced printers dislike it), and I decided on water based to avoid having to use turpentine or mineral spirits for clean up. Hopefully the inks are good... This is the only part of the purchase I'm worried about.

     I can't wait for all of my loot to come! Too bad they will arrive too late for spring break... I guess I'll have to use weekends to experiment. I also ordered seven linoleum blocks to start out. I'm very excited!

     Happy birthday to me... happy birthday to me... :O)

Beware of Thieves (In the Blogosphere)

     Recently, I was on my webmaster tools account and found that a site called Broken Controllers was linking to my content. Curious, I followed the link and found a very ugly site with snippets of my Doodles: Hair! post and a big "DOWNLOAD" button next to said snippets.

     I didn't hit the button, of course, but I did research the website. Apparently, Broken Controllers hijacks content (they especially like to prowl Blogger sites) and posts the RSS feeds on their own site (did I mention it's hideous?) and surround said content by advertisements, and the "DOWNLOAD" button. As I researched, I found that button forces the computer to download spyware which can take control of your webcam (among other vile things). The worst part was, three poor people had apparently hit the download button already (not sure what they were expecting to get...).

     So, I decided to take action. I visited the site (and then ran all my anti-virus software), and found the e-mail address to the thieving dolt who runs the site. As I write this I am shivering from the anger and indignity I feel at having my content stolen, and it has been a while--you can't imagine the self control it took not to write something caustic and scathing to the cretins who run the site.

     Here is what I wrote:

          To whom this may concern,
I noticed you are stealing content from my blog. Please remove it. The only case of theft I found was at this link: (I'm leaving this out so you don't accidentally visit it); however, if there are more, I trust you will delete them at once. 
It is illegal to take content from my blog, and I am protected by copyright laws. Please do not take anymore content from my blog (or anyone else's for that matter!), and remove the content you hijacked as soon as possible. I work hard to create content for my blog and I don't appreciate thievery of any sort. 
Once again, please remove my content immediately, and may the copyright gods have mercy on your souls (I'll admit, this was probably a bit much... oh well) 

     If you run a blog and want to make sure the same thing isn't happening to you, search 
"your blog name"/BrokenControllers.

     In the event they are stealing from you (and stealing might sound harsh, but that's exactly what they are doing), I suggest you contact them. I will update this post when (more like if) they write me back. 

     Also, visit here for an informative post regarding this same issue. 

     Update: They just wrote back with a pert, "The page has been removed. Thanks." I wonder what they are thanking me for?

Series Sunday: Action Buffs

     Well, this is the final installment of my Series Sunday feature, and this week I will be going over my favorite "action" books. These series are all pretty well known already, but I have found them to be pretty good quality, as far as the writing goes (much better than Twilight for instance, which I still refuse to read). If you are shut in on a rainy (or ridiculously cold) day, these books are the ticket to an adventure filled day. So, here are my favorite three "action" series.

1. Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

via Scholastic
     Alright, so there has been a lot of hype about these books for a few years now. If this hype makes you skeptical (which I understand), you should go to your library and grab the first one. You will get addicted. Trust me. That's how it worked for me.

     Although these books are "popular" right now, the quality of writing is actually good, and the story line is positively gripping. I'm pretty sure even if you hate the book, you'll have to keep on reading because of the suspense.

     If you don't know what these books are about, they are a dystopian series following Katniss Everdeen. In this series, some sort of great war has shattered the U.S. as we know it, and broken it into thirteen districts. Katniss lives in district 12, the poorest district of them all. These districts are harshly ruled by the government, and the people are kept under the control of its iron fist.

     A manifestation of this iron fist is the annual "Hunger Games"--which is reminiscent of the movie Gladiator, except for children. In these games "tributes," a girl and a boy from each district, are chosen to go to the games and fight to the death with the other tributes in a large nationally televised event. Traditionally, only one person wins, and the rest are killed in the process. When Katniss' young sister, Prim, is chosen as tribute, Katniss volunteers herself instead in an act of sacrificial love which becomes a theme in the books.

     I would recommend these for older kids. By older, I mean kids who can handle sometimes graphic violence, and also make sense of the allegorical plot (of course, if you are older than an "older kid," knock yourself out--these books are fantastic). Although there are points with violence, the author, Suzanne Collins, writes with a definite sense of purpose and the themes of these books can be mulled over for days because of it. And, the movie is coming out! 12 more days!

2. Alex Rider by Anthony Horowitz

via girl.com.au

     The Alex Rider series is about an orphaned teenage boy whose uncle was recently killed on a mission for the MI6 (British intelligence). The MI6 eventually contacts Alex and tells him his uncle had been raising him to be a future spy (martial arts, scuba diving, multiple language lessons, etc.)--and that they need him to work as a field agent.

     And so begins another addicting, action packed series. I read these in the seventh and eighth grade, but just recently finished reading the final book, Crocodile Tears. The books are fun and engaging--kind of like Mission Impossible or James Bond, only in book form. There is not really any foul material in these books, other than some perilous situations and occasional violence, so I would recommend these to all interested parties--well, within reason, of course.

3. Maximum Ride by James Patterson

via Google
     Disclaimer on this series: James Patterson has written this series to death. The first three or four are worth reading; however, afterwards they become what I call "grocery store reading" (which to me means books cheap enough for them to sell at the grocery store). I continued reading them anyway, but refused to read his most recent installments, Fang and Angel. I simply won't. I am almost positive these were meant to be a trilogy, but there was money in it, so he kept writing. At any rate, the first books were unique and a fun summer read when I was in middle school.

     Having said all that (it's a mouth full... sorry), these books follow the adventures of fugitive mutant children (and by fugitive, I mean children with 98% human DNA and 2% avian). This band of children, having broken out of the sinister labs that created them, start out living in a secluded home in the mountains. Their tranquil lives are interrupted (shattered, really) when 'erasers', mutant creatures made by the same scientists, arrive and are on the hunt for the flying kids. The band of bird children flee, and from then on are constant fugitives, running from those who created them.

     Combine all that with some "save the world" action, and you've got an interesting series suitable for sixth grade and up. Of course, the target audience (I think) is made up of preteens and teens, so maybe more like middle school and up? I don't know. If it helps, James Patterson writes that he wrote these books free of foul language, and other "bad" things in order to keep these books PG rather than PG-13...


     So, that wraps up Series Sunday (for now, at least). I'll still be posting about bibliophile-esque things... probably on Sundays. Hope you've enjoyed these, at any rate.

     Happy reading!

Kind of Lacy Infinity Scarf (Pattern)

     I was pretty productive yesterday. I made a scarf. An infinity scarf. Yes, I know--I already made one (see it here). But, this time, I made my own pattern.

     I used Caron Simply Soft and a K crochet hook (which is bigger than the recommended hook, but I don't really care).

R1: Chain (CH) 180 (or whatever length you want, so long as it is a multiple of three).

R2: Turn. In the third chain from the hook, double crochet (DC). DC all the way to the end. Turn again.

R3: CH 3. Skip the first two chains. Then, in the third chain from your hook: DC1, CH1, DC1. Continue skipping two chains and DC1, CH1, DC1 across the row. Finish the row by skipping one, and DC1 in the final chain.

R4: CH3. Then, in every CH1 space from the previous row (the spaces with downward facing triangles), DC3. Finish the row with a DC1 in the final chain.

Repeat R3 and R4 until the scarf has reached the width you like.

For the final row, single crochet across.

Then, sew the ends of the scarf together, and you are done.

As you can see, I changed colors on mine, but you don't necessarily have to. I kind of like how it looks though. If you are going to change colors, do so at whichever point you choose. There really is not a right or wrong here.

Have a great weekend!


The Winter Sun

     Despite it being so cold up north, it can certainly get sunny. The sun sparkling on the snow is one of the most beautiful, albeit blinding, things to see in nature. And, sun sets are nice too, as they always are.

     Being in the mountains in the middle of winter is a cold experience, but also tons of fun. We went out and took our snow boogies (the sled equivalent of a boogie board) and shredded up the mountain. In addition to sledding, I was also able to take pause and listen to the silence. It was remarkable. 

     In our busy, modern day society, silence has become an endangered species. When was the last time you truly stopped and heard nothing but reverberating silence? It's probably been a very long time (or maybe even never). Just yesterday, I stopped in front of my house and listened, expecting to hear silence. I didn't. I heard chains clanking, shovels scraping, and engines murmuring in a low, growling tone. Granted, it was about as "quiet" as it gets in a populated environment; however, it wasn't silence.

     Anyway, sorry to run off on random little bunny trails. I'll stay focused now. Want to see some pictures of the sunshine? 
Here is a shot my sister took. 

And, of course, the sun setting in the Arctic Valley.

Series Sunday: Christian Chick-Lit (Part II)

     Series Sunday is back from it's one week break! Ready to see some more of my favorite Christian Chick-Lit picks? If you missed Christian Chick-Lit Part I, don't forget to go check that out as well. :O)

1. Christy Miller by Robin Jones Gunn
     The Christy Miller series is good for middle school or high school girls. I read them in seventh grade when I was stuck at home with mono. I would get so bored at home, until my mom bought me the first one from our local Christian bookstore (which, unfortunately went out of business years ago). This series tells the story of Christy, a barely 16 year old girl whose family moves to California from a rural farming community somewhere in the mid-west. 

     In California, Christy establishes great new friendships, and becomes a disciple of Christ. Oh. Did I mention one of her new friends is a Christian surfer named Todd? He's important later. Very important.

     Also, for older readers (Multonomah suggests 15 and up), there is a follow up series called Christy and Todd: The College Years. These were rather slow paced for me, but if you like chick-flicks, and get caught up in romantic stories, I suppose you might like them.

     My only criticism for this series is that Christy can get kind of tiresome. She is kind of shy, sometimes a little whiny, and her character tends to be a little flat. However, as a middle schooler and even as a freshmen rereading the series, I never noticed. It wasn't until I took a peek at them recently that I came up with these criticisms. Anyway, my point is, teenage girls will enjoy this series (I got many of my friends addicted to them, back in the day).

2. Katie Weldon by Robin Jones Gunn

     The Katie Weldon series is a spin-off of the Christy Miller series, although you don't have to read Christy Miller to thoroughly enjoy these. The Katie books are in the adult Christian fiction section, whereas Christy Miller is in the YA section--and their placement is for good reason, I believe. Katie, as a character doesn't have any of the whiny, or flat features like Christy. Overall, she is a far more dynamic, and human protagonist. So, I have no complaints about this series and recommend it--heavily--for basically all ages high school and beyond. 

     The series follows Katie through her junior and senior college years as she struggles with finances, declaring her major, and (of course) potential romance. As I said earlier, Katie is not a flat character, in fact she is often quirky and even funny, quite unlike Christy. 

3. Diary of a Teenage Girl: Kim by Melody Carlson

     There are four sub-series in the Diary of a Teenage Girl set: Caitlyn, Chloe, Kim, and Maya. I've read them all, but the Kim series is the only one I would recommend (well... maybe the Chloe series too). The others were just so-so, and to be honest, each sub-series contains rather repetitive story lines. Of course, back when I was in 8th and 9th grade, I didn't think to stop reading them because of it. I just kept on reading them, and kept on getting slightly annoyed by the redundant plots.

     This being said, the Kim series was they one I enjoyed the most, and as a stand alone series is quite good. The books are about Kim, an adopted South Korean girl, and her struggles with finding faith, making a name for herself as an advice columnist, and enduring her mother's terminal ovarian cancer. At times, the story is really sad--like sad to the point of almost inducing tears. But, it ends happily (no fear, optimists!).

     I would recommend these books for older girls. Maybe 14 and up? 13 and up? I don't know... I'm not a mom, so setting guidelines for my practical peers is somewhat difficult.

     So, that wraps up the Christian Chick-Lit lists. Come back next week for the last Series Sunday (for now)... Next Sunday I will be telling you about my favorite "action" series. :O)

Swing Set Psychiatry

     Don't you miss those swing set days? Those days before busy schedules, work, and responsibility? I don't know about you, but I miss those days a lot; and I was reminded of that today, especially.

     I volunteer at my old elementary school once a week in a third grade classroom, and I love it. Sure, sometimes I don't like working the Xerox machine (mainly because it hates me), but being around the little kiddos is really fun. They are just so carefree and innocent--it's hard not to like them--and immensely so.

     Today was Fun Friday. Remember those? For the kids, it's a blast. For the teacher, it is a logistical nightmare, and yet, teachers keep on observing it. I suppose the trade off between having the kids run wild outside, as opposed to driving you nuts inside is well worth it--that's the only reason I can think of for leading a jumbled disarray of eight year old children outside once a week.

     Anyway, it was Fun Friday, and a couple of the boys called me over to the swing set. 
     "Hey, Lauren! Wanna swing with us?"

     How could I say no?

     So, I went, and swung with them. Turns out, if you are older than, say, a sixth grader, the little swing seats kind of cut off circulation to your whole lower body. Probably more than you wanted to know, but I'm just saying, it was not as comfortable as I remembered it being. 

     At first, they discussed which was better--swinging or skating. They both decided "swinging was better, because you can't be bad at it." I could totally sympathize. I was not, and am not athletically gifted. We'll just leave it at that.

     While we were whooshing back and forth on the swing set, one of the boys asked the other, "Hey, have you ever been sad when people you knew died?"

     Pause. "Well... Yeah. Except, not a person. I miss my dog. He died a year ago."

     "Oh. My cat got lost a few months ago. I don't think she's coming back..."

     Long silence.

     "Yeah. That's sad. HEY! WANNA JUMP OFF THE SWINGS?!"

     So, just like that, I witnessed a cute little swing set group therapy session. It really was touching, and reminded me of the simpler times. Times when I could just grab a buddy, kick my feet back and forth, and pour out my guts.

     By the way, do any of you remember these things? When I was in fifth grade, we would play "color ball" every day. I think about it now, and it was an idiotic game. You throw the ball into the little thing (I don't know what to call it) and then when it comes out, someone catches it. That's it. That's the game in its entirety. You just throw and catch. Throw and catch. I don't even think there was a "winner" or a "loser." And, I understand it's not all about winning, but you can't deny, games are a lot more fun when there is a winner (and even more fun when there's a loser, so long as that loser isn't you).

Happy March!

     Welcome to March, everyone! This is going to be a great month for a couple of reasons:

1. My birthday is this month!

          2. Colleges will be sending their decision letters at some point this month. That means all of my time spent agonizing over college will finally be finished... That is, until I have to decide where I want to go. Decision making can be pretty difficult, and deciding where I'm going to spend the next four years of my life is a daunting decision--to say the least. But, college decisions are the reason behind my Hunger Games quote.

3. The Hunger Games movie comes out! (Excited, yet dreading the disappointment...)

4. SPRING BREAK!!! (Need I say more?)

Here's to a merry month!