Monday, February 21, 2011


Listening To: Burden of Tomorrow by The Tallest Man on Earth
Reading: the March issue of Country Living. It is stellar.

Happy Monday beauties (and beastlies)!

Later this week, I'm writing about Save the Date. I'll also be posting my very brilliant interview with nefarious author-type Jenny B. Jones in which I ask her common literary questions like:

"What's your favorite lipstick?!"

And ... "If you had to choose between bacon or Oreos ... which one would you pick?

It's like Buddy the Elf conducted the interview. But she was a good sport.

I'll also be giving away a copy of her new novel and it's killer. So stay tuned for that.

Today, I'm using my photojournalism savvy to show you some scenes from my weekend. This was a low-key weekend for me. I had surgery on Friday which went very, very well. I didn't swell even a little bit! I can't open my mouth super wide yet, so I look like a ventriloquist with no puppet (that's a love song waiting to happen, yes? ;). But that's no thang. I'm doing fab. I am super grateful. I'm also grateful I have an incredible doctor. I've been to his office more than a few times over the last few years and he's the stuff. And so is his staff. They are fabulous.

That said, I'm fairly certain they think I'm a fruit loop.

While I was in recovery, I overheard the nurse calling Walgreens to place my prescription. She said my name and then she said, "She was born in 1993."

And I made a sound like the buzzer that sounds in a game show, when somebody gets the wrong answer. I made a noise like a game show buzzer. And then I mumbled "1981."

And the way I mumbled, "1981" - still groggy, without moving my mouth much, with a giant ice pack strapped around my face, reminded me of a scene in Goonies. Remember when Ma Fratelli catches the Goonies sneaking around in the restaurant and she asks them what they want? And Mouth says, "A bottle of ... a ... a fettucina' a' 1981!" That's what it sounded like when I said 1981. After I said that, I thought of the next scene in the movie when Ma Fratelli says, "We serve tongue!"

And I started laughing. Very much.

The nurse just patted my arm.

Also, I got to keep my x-ray as a souvenir. I keep showing it to people who come to visit. Which is possibly why I don't have many friends. They say, "How you feeling?" I say, "Swell. Let me show you my skeleton!"My x-ray makes it look as though I have a bionic mouth. Very terminator-ish.

If I ever have this procedure again, I think I'm asking him to install a laser instead of a tooth.

So that was my weekend. Somehow, in tandem with recovering from that shabang, I also contracted the Almost Spring Funk everybody seems to be sporting these days. Allergies are so in right now. So this weekend, I mostly took meds, ate ice cream, watched movies, and chilled. And I bought some black denim leggings (I blame the meds!). And I got a little stir crazy and started taking pictures. Prepare to be inspired.

(That was sarcasm.)

These are oyster crackers in a coffee mug:

After having no solid food for 24 hours, they tasted like cake.

Totally lying. They tasted like crackers.

Next is a stack of books:

Plus my journal on the very top. It is taking some time for me to get through The History of Love, but that's purposeful on my part. Because I want it to last. You lit majors out there MUST read Nicole Krauss. You've probably already done so, but if you haven't, you definitely should. The History of Love is a wonderful story but it is also, maybe more importantly so, a love letter to language. The writing is glorious. I don't want it to end.

This is cake batter:

I'm pretty sure, if you read the fine print on the post-surgery care sheet, you would see this direction: "Eat cake on Day 2." Because we all know that cake has magical healing powers. This particular cake was the doings of Mom the Pie Wizard. She made Lucinda Quinn's German Apple Cake and hear me out people: it was so delicious AND so easy. Such a great go-to recipe for a cake. And I'm pretty sure it would taste good with other kinds of fruit layered on top too. (Because I care so much about you, I will conduct that experiment and let you know the results). I had planned to take a picture of the finished product ... but it was gone too fast. The only weird thing is that Lucinda's apples stayed on top, all layered and pretty. And mama's apples disappeared down into the cake batter.

I said, "You got Houdini apples!"

She blinked at me.

I said, "Houdini apples ... cause they disappear. Savvy?"

She nodded. "You should probably go take a nap."

Which is probably what you are thinking at exactly this same moment.

This is a black sheep:

Back in high school, I went through a phase where I collected sheep. I ended up with so many that my room started looking sort of like a stuffed-barnyard. Now there is only one sheep in my room, a black sheep (appropriate? :) that my niece gave me for Christmas.

This lower half of this picture is one of my favorite things:
And it will have its own post soon. And you will flip over it. Fact: I no longer collect stuffed sheep. But I do collect old books. I'm not an avid collector. I don't collect first editions or anything (I actually prefer old books that have been written in). But, for many years, there was ONE book I wanted most of all. ONE book I scoured antique stores trying to find. I am wild about the cover and the story between the covers is one of my favorites. That story ... is pictured above. My parents gave it to me for Christmas. How SWEET is that?! I'll tell you more about it later though. I want to give you a proper introduction.

And the following picture is another sweet gift, courtesy of my bffSarah and her fabulous husband, Joey:

A bottle of Chivas. Real friends give each other Chivas (a long story that won't be as fun for you as it is for me). You'll note that it hasn't been opened. I like a glass of wine every now and then ... but I am most definitely not woman enough handle whiskey. Because it smells like liquid fire. (Unless it is stirred into some sort of batter or cream sauce. Then I'm down.) Instead, I keep the Chivas on a shelf in front of Shakespeare. I figure the Bard would approve.

And this picture:

... is also a gift. It is, by far, one of the sweetest things anybody has ever given me. A few years ago, I wrote a column for Brio Magazine about (ultimately...) being vulnerable. About the pressure to be supergirl and how that got twisted into my heart's desire to be loved. And how I was learning grace was enough and that my worth wasn't tied to what I achieve or accomplish or how I perform. I was writing about how the world seems to shout, "Do more. Be more. Win. Win. WIN." But God's Word says, over and over, "You're loved the way you are." I said it all much prettier than that in the article, but that was the idea. An amazingly talented Brio reader named Evie Guerra sketched this picture for me and sent the sweetest letter along with it. You better believe I framed it. (Supergirl is saying, "Thanks Natalie!" Seriously. You people do me in.)

This next one is a picture of books and sunlight and shadows. I love to take pictures of shadows. Love the way they framed these books on my mom's bookshelf. Even if my mom wasn't my mom, I would think she was one of the most fascinating people I've ever been around. She has so many varied interests. She's the kind of person who seems to be naturally good at whatever hobby she takes up. Do you know people like this? I am not like this. My mom is though.

I think, sometimes, when you look at a person's bookshelf, you get a glimpse into their heart. You'll note the books on gardening, sewing, photography, quilting. My mom is good at patching things together. And at growing a bright garden from a seed. She's good at bringing out the beauty in a thing. She's all about blooming seasons.

My soundtrack for the weekend was provided by Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge. My dad bought me this album last time we were sorting through the shelves at McKays ... and it was a fab find. Typically, I'm more drawn to Kris Kristofferson's writing than his voice. But sometimes his voice is exactly what I want to hear. There's a growl and a grovel about the way he sings. And he shines when he sings with other people (last year I watched A Star is Born and I was stunned by how gorgeous he and Barbaba Striesand sounded together). Rita Coolidge has a very folksy, feminine, songbird voice. His voice is gritty and throaty and masculine; it roughs up the edges of all these songs. The album makes me think of wildflowers and wide open fields.

That is a quilt my great-grandmother made. Her name was Stella McGuire. I'm obsessed with that name. Stella was short (well under five feet) (woot!) and sassy with a killer smile. Her quilts look like quilts from Urban Outfitters. She was cool in her time and before her time. Grandparents always are.

And this is an adorable snoozing dog:

I read: the March issue of Country Living. I adore that magazine. Country Living has skewed a bit hipster in the past few years (I mean that as a compliment). The magazine feels genuine though. I think there is an ease and effortlessness in rural America, a "cool factor" that city living never quite achieves. Sadly, I think some people hear "country" and pick an image that is rooted in a very dated stereotype, something a little bit costumed even. But the actual bits of rural America I've experienced are full of artists and dreamers and farmers and folk songs. I was talking to someone the other day about writing and I said - Yes, I most definitely grew up in a community full of artists. But people there are way too humble to refer to themselves as such. Country Living gets it. The magazine is decidedly cool these days, but it still feels accessible. And this issue is the best I've read in ages. It's worth purchasing. My favorite article was "Brooklyn's Country Credentials" by Sara James Mnookin.

Also love this quote in the editor's note from Sarah Gray Miller: "... I grew up in Mississippi - the preferred punch line of hick jokes. And indeed, when I first moved to New York some 20 years ago, with a thick accent and hot rolled hair, people poked fun. A few even went so far as to ask, Did you wear shoes? or Did you have cows in your yard? I never gave them the real answers (most of the time; nope, just a couple of goats), instead pointing out that my home state supplied this nation's finest literature and music, then rattling off a litany of famous names: William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Ricard Wright, Elvis Presley, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters ... Heck, we can claim Oprah and the Muppets. If that isn't culture, I'm not sure what is."

Love that.

If you've never read Country Living, you should pick up the March issue.

I watched: The Social Network. I'd actually heard people say they were underwhelmed after all the hype. I was not underwhelmed at all. I thought that movie was pretty incredible. And the lead actor was outstanding. And the very last scene in the movie (which I won't talk about even though I want to) was perfection. I thought it was fantastic.
And that's how my weekend went down :) Would love to hear about the snapshots from your weekend down in the comments! I'll be back later this week to talk about books.


  1. Unfortunately I can attest to the fact that allergies are very much the in thing right now. Ugh. It's too early!

    Yay for From a Distance on your book stack - it is FAB. And I've been hearing great things about The Golden Prince - I'm hoping that it can help stave off the withdrawals I've been having since Downton Abbey finished on Masterpiece. :)

  2. I kept meaning to pop over to Facebook and tell you to read The Golden Prince! I think you will really, really like it. I'm really enjoying it. Even though it's fiction, I know some of it is rooted in events that actually transpired. Which makes it even sweeter (and sadder). Let me know what you think when you read it! (It was like $11 at Target when I bought it!)

  3. The History of Love has been on my To Read list for awhile. I may have to move it up now!

    Also, might that classic book be Jane Eyre? I'm entirely certain I have the same copy sitting at home. My parents found my copy on vacation at an antique store a few years ago and bought it for me.

    Glad to hear you're recovering from your surgical adventure. I did a lot of relaxing this weekend after a crazy exhausting work week. And now it's back to the grind again!

  4. Glad you had a good weekend and the surgery went well!

    "They say, "How you feeling?" I say, "Swell. Let me show you my skeleton!" that made me chuckle out loud. Swell is the funniest word. I like to try to work into conversations when I can. :)

    My weekend was tiring but amazing! On Saturday me and my friends did a Valentine lunch for our english club we do here in Italy. And then on Sunday we went to Venice for "Carnivale" - a mixture of our Mardi Gras and Halloween. It was so much fun!

    Happy Monday! :)

    PS I love that picture of the white flowers that's at the top of your blog! so beautiful.

  5. Leigh, it is most definitely Jane Eyre. My mom found it on Ebay (ha :) and snagged a copy of Wuthering Heights from the same illustrator. I'm trying to figure out how to display them. I want them with the covers facing out ... seems so sad to just show off their spines (that quote could be way creepy taken out of context). I think you will enjoy History of Love. It isn't an "easy" read (I'm not even sure what I mean by that). But every sentence feels layered and intentional. The writing is blowing my mind.

    Courtney, I love this comment so much. This will seem like a really dumb question - but is your "carnivale" similar to that scene in The Count of Monte Cristo? Where the Count's son is wearing the mask and running after a girl through the alley? That sounds so perfectly lovely. It makes my day to think of Valentine's Day and Halloween colliding. (That sounds very Tim Burton.) Also glad you like to keep swell in the lingo. I'm doing my best to make sure swell and swanky don't die out.

  6. Yes, they're at Carnivale in that scene! Now people just walk around wearing masks and throwing confetti. :) I'm planning on blogging about our trip there so I'll let you know when I do!

  7. This comment: prepare for it to be long.

    First thing) I'm so glad your surgery went well! Truly, that's no fun at all, except for the excuse to eat ice cream all day.

    Second thing) The History of Love has been on my to-be-read list for a long, long time. Like really, ever since you posted the quote at the beginning of a post months-ish ago.

    ...I like your sheep.

    ...and your cake.

    ...and I really can't wait to hear about that book. Old books are my favorite. Years ago my grandma went through her shelves and gave me eight-ish old, old books. I loved them, went through a phase where I was all about "new" books, and now I'm back to loving them.

    The Goonies are my favorite. I heart little Samwise Gamgee.

    Last thing: I swear, if I were forced to choose between bacon and oreos I think I would have to begin quoting the author of Ecclesiastes (I believe that's the book...) when he said, "everything is meaningless! everything is meaningless!"

    I hope you enjoy the rain, and I hope your week is filled with old books, coffee, and bacon/oreos. :)

    (also, my word verification was bookedu. Like book education. freaky, right?...)

  8. I think I might have to check out The History of Love. I'm always up for a good read. :) (Also, to reference an extremely minor part of this post...McKay is pretty much the greatest store ever. Because of it, I got a $150 textbook for $12. It doesn't get much better than that. I just have to force myself not to buy out the store every time I go in there...)

  9. I'm a lit major and I have not read The History of Love. In fact, I'm sorry to say I haven't heard of Nicole Krauss before! But since you recommend her, I will definitely be looking her up!

  10. I'm so glad you also use the word "swell"! Whenever I see my grandpa, he asks me how I'm doing, and I always reply, "Just swell." He thinks that's so weird and hilarious. :)

    Is that the gorgeous Penguin hardback copy of "Emma" I see in the bottom of that stack of books? I am so jealous!

    I also tend to collect old books, because our Goodwill has an amazing book section. Every once in a while I find something really cool. Like a 30s copy of "Jane Eyre" with a little note written in the front or a 1960s volume of the first two Mary Poppins stories. :)

    A friend of ours gave my mom some older magazines a while back, and there were some "Country Living" ones in there. I was actually scanning through them to cut out pictures for an assignment, and I never expected to like CL because I thought it would be like "Southern Living." But it's so much better! I decided to keep those issues to cut out pictures of inspiration for the house I hope to have one day- one of the pictures featured the most adorable floral wallpaper I've ever seen. :)

    Thank you so much for mentioning The Civil Wars in your last post. I'm a little obsessed with them now and I'm getting ready to buy their CD on iTunes (I love that it includes a cover of "Dance Me to the End of Love"! I adore that song).


  11. Natalie,
    I am so glad your surgery went well!

    I think it's awesome that even though you had mouth surgery, you found a way to make it an enjoyable weekend.

    I had a pretty good weekend. Went to Ensemble tryouts with the school band, and both our baritone quartet (which I'm in) and our woodwind choir are going to state!

    And then I went home and wrote essays for the rest of the weekend. But, still a good weekend all in all.

    Praying your mouth continues to heal!


  12. sounds like you had a fun weekend. i love your pictures and i can't wait for the interview (i'd pick oreos).
    thanks so much for the sweet comment on the inkwell. i finished mockingjay today. sigh.
    the goonies, i love mouth, so much so it's become my nickname.
    i am related to two stellas and yes, it's an awesome name.
    and country people rock.

  13. Heh, your experience in the dental chair makes me giggle.

    I'm so curious about what that book your parents gave you for Christmas is. And I saw The Social Network this weekend too and thought it was brilliant. I was expecting it to be all high-brow and too smart/techy for me, but I was pleasantly surprised. I'm roping some people in to go see The King's Speech with me before the Oscars, but for right now I hope TSN wins Best Picture. I'm SO excited for the Oscars, I can hardly stand it. They're my version of Groundhog Day -- alas, Spring is coming. Our days of being snowed in are nearly over!

    I can't wait for Jenny's interview. I'm hoping to sit down with Save The Date this weekend.

    P.S. This is the longest comment ever...and rambly, too. My bad!