new beginnings | #CuriousWrenCurrentAdventures

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Currently:

Today is a snow day of snow days (which means getting to stay home from work & sleep in) and everything outside is white + wild + beyond freezing cold. But inside the house it’s cozy, and I’m nestled in my favorite corner of our vintage couch. There’s a fluffy cat wrapped around my shoulders, and she’s begging for attention which means I have to stop typing every few minutes and give her pats or I get nothing done. At my elbow is a mug of mint hot chocolate with a candy cane perched jauntily on the rim–it smells like happiness. By mutual consent of everyone in the family our Christmas tree still stands, and the glow of its colorful lights add an extra layer of hygge to my surroundings.

(*note: I’m scheduling this post for tomorrow morning so this all pertains to monday afternoon)

Thinking about:

My future, a simultaneously thrilling and terrifying subject // the marvelous fact that baby bears exist + they are ridiculously adorable. my youngest sister has been watching a nature show (narrated by David Tennant using his Scottish accent!) so I have bears, seals, and sea otters on the brain // food, because I’m getting peckish and I still have some ramen stashed in the kitchen. It mightn’t be the healthiest life choice but it tastes, oh, so delicious // how important it is to portray healthy friendships in entertainment media… I think there’s going to be a blog series on my favorite friends in books, etc, sometime soon // comedy done well is a GIFT (see P.G. Wodehouse and Charles Dickens // refusing to worry about missing a day of work since I’ve been trying hard lately to re-cultivate a mindset of embracing life in the moment and not letting stress eat away my peace of mind or affect my enjoyment of small, simple pleasures. It’s an on-going battle, but it’s important for my mental health and how it affects the people around me.

Reading:

Pickwick Papers. Since it’s a giant book I’ll probably read Anne of Ingleside simultaneously. I’m following my winter TBR list closely which I’m happy about since usually when I make TBR lists I forget all about them after a few days. It’s taking a bit of time to re-adjust to Dickens’ writing style, but I’m starting to remember how much I enjoy his books (it’s been ages since I’ve read one of his doorstoppers). I’m only a couple chapters in, but the misunderstanding between a gentleman and Mr. Winkle that nearly resulted in a duel had me in stitches. Have I mentioned how much I adore the oddity of Dickens’ characters? It’s too delicious for words.

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Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

Listening to:

A playlist for my book about a young mute girl and her magical cat– there’s songs from the Piano Guys (What Makes You Beautiful, Over the Rainbow/Simple Gifts), lots of soundtrack music (mostly from Pixar + Dreamworks movies & Paddington), and a goodish amount of playful Kdrama OST selections. The playlist as a whole has a cheerful, mischievous vibe with a hint of melancholy. It reminds me of summer & ice-cream cones enjoyed at a zoo & the sound of rain pattering on rooftops & how tree leaves glow bright green when seen from underneath on a sunny day.

Words percolating:

These verses from the beginning of Proverbs chapter 3; “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” There’s such love and comfort in the beautiful promise these words hold. I’ve been clinging to them lately since this new year has shredded my confidence in some ways and revealed insecurities and fears I didn’t even know I had. Feel free to pray for me if you think of it, lovelies.

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Photo by Anton Kraev on Unsplash

Mood:

A cat when they’re snuggled up on a minky blanket and nobody is bothering them.

Loving:

Over-the-knee cabled wool socks // the breathtaking beauty of a snow-clad landscape // the fact that my entire family (including my Grandma) now shares my love for Kdramas–quality TV shows FTW // the way a stranger’s face lights up when you sincerely compliment them // my tiny niece when she slips up next to me after church and asks for a story-telling session // Christmas lights–I refuse to say goodbye to the festive season // books that crack you wide open and make you cry // songs that feel like home // this article about coffee shops in Ireland. the wanderlust is real and I want to go // impromptu meet-ups with friends you haven’t seen in months // unexpected mail // expected packages // when a sunday school student shyly gifts you a handful of pebbles they thought you’d like. excuse me while I have a melt-down over the sweetness // people who let you go ahead of them in the line at grocery stores // wandering in bookshops //

Thankful for:

Warm blankets, socks, hot chocolate, and hoodies the color of a Floridian sky // music // my laptop, even though I need a new one // being able to write books // we finally have snow! and lots of it // that my Heavenly father never gives up on me no matter how stubborn I am.

Anticipating:

New beginnings. I have a lot of plans & hopes for this year, and important changes that I’m already starting to implement // birdsong. even though I’m not ready for spring by any means, I do miss hearing the birds sing in the morning // the ramen I’ll be eating for supper in a few minutes // also after this I’m going to write a card to a friend which is always something to look forward to // a trip I’ll be taking in February. it’s just a little jaunt over a few days, but hopefully it’ll soothe my longing to travel for a bit.

What are your current happenings & adventures? Let’s chat!

chocolate chips + kdramas // a glimpse into my life currently, feat. Q & A session with Myself

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Hello, lovelies! Look who didn’t actually fall off the face of the earth!

really, I did, but the moon is lonely and there’s no pizza so I’m back

I’ve been absent from Curious Wren long enough that the idea of blogging is ridiculously intimidating, but here I am [rewards self with hot cider]. Because it’s been ages since I’ve blogged regularly and I wanted to re-introduce myself somehow to all of my lovely followers and friends (a.k.a YOU)…

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… I came up with the brilliant idea of a fun Q & A session with Yours Truly. But I didn’t know what questions to use so I asked for help on Twitter and you all were delightfully responsive. [virtual hugs + chocolate for everyone]

Never fear, I’m here to quench your burning curiosity about what books I’m currently reading, which Doctor Who companion I’d want to be best friends with, when I last ate chocolate chips, and what my Top Five Kdrama list looks like. Read on, my dear cacao beans.

Q & A session w/Annie Hawthorne

I feel like I’m interrogating myself, yIKES

Your favorite summer order at a coffee shop? Your fave winter order?

Oh, help.

It depends on where I’m ordering. In the winter I gravitate toward chai teas and coffee with chocolate + mint. There’s a coffee shoppe not far from my workplace with an intimate, bookish ambiance–I frequent it often, ordering a 12 oz. latte because I’m a light-weight when it comes to caffeine, and cozying up at a table to read and write and people-watch. In the summer I adore smoothies, particularly ones with strawberries and citrus. Panera has a caffe mocha that’s illegally delicious when you get it frozen.

When was the last time you had chocolate chips?

Okay, best question ever.

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Yesterday afternoon I snacked on some of the leftover chocolate chip brownies I’d made for my sunday school munchkins, and my sister is planning on making cookies soon which means there’s choc. chip cookie dough in my future. Balm in Gilead, darlings.

What is your ideal summer aesthetic?

1) I’m in the car post-beach trip. The sun sets in a blaze of pinkish-orange glory on the distant horizon, the windows are down and I can smell hay fields + sun-warmed skin. Wind whips my hair in my face, so I hold it back with one hand and stick the other out the window. My siblings are there with me, and we sing along at the top of our lungs to everything from Disney songs to Gaelic music of which pronunciation we slaughter unabashedly. Probably the First Younger Sister is still finishing her ice-cream cone and by now it’s dripping down her wrist and all of us are cracking up with laughter because that’s what siblings do. We are happy, in love with life and God and each other.

2) it’s dusk, and we’re gathered around the bonfire, some people in lawn chairs, others on a dead tree trunk that’s been a fireside bench as long as I can remember. Maybe we finally got around to burning the Christmas tree or maybe it’s just a special friday night. The flames lick at hot dogs and marshmallows. As twilight deepens into night, the cats roam about in the shadows beyond the leaping fire like silent, friendly ghosts. We draw close while Dad reads a short story–the only sound his warm, strong voice and the crackle-pop of the fire. Someone breaks out the sparklers and someone else starts chasing fireflies while Mum cuddles the smallest nephew. My older brother and I have an impromptu race out into the fields behind our house, and finally end up far out under the vast expanse of the starry sky, laughing and stumbling–happy to do nothing but look at the milky way and remember how to breathe and imagine, for a few fleeting seconds, that we’re children again. Later we all sit in the dim glow of the flickering embers and talk, sometimes telling stories, sometimes reminiscing, sometimes just sitting in companionable silence. We are thankful and we are content.

At what age did you come to have a personal relationship with Jesus, and do you have special memories of that time or event?

My personal epiphany that I was a sinner happened when I was quite young (I was a rebellious, unholy terror & I knew it), repentance I also comprehended quickly since I was consistently regretful of my naughty self and always wanting to change and be better and different; realizing that my choice of heaven or hell was literally in my own hands took me longer to understand.

I ended up being six years old when I prayed & asked Jesus to be my personal Savior and friend. It was on a wednesday night and I must have been sick because Mum and I stayed home from church–I recall it was dark and Mummy was singing me to sleep when I started asking her questions about hell and heaven + how exactly I could avoid the one and go to the other, because I knew without a shade of doubt that I was going to hell and I wasn’t partial to the idea. I don’t have a lot of memories beyond my prayer, but I do remember how relieving it was to know that God forgave me no matter what I did and how comforting it was knowing that I was never alone and always safe–no matter how scary the dark was, or how intimidating other children were.

Now that I’m older and much more experienced in life–with my heart deeply hurt multiple times and my soul trampled on–I’m slowly beginning to understand the thankfulness + awe that’s shown in three of the most wonderful verses written in the Bible.

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8: 38-39

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” ~ 2 Corinthians 9: 15

What are you currently reading? Currently watching? Currently listening to?

Right now I’m reading far too many books: six to be exact. I have a bad habit of reading multiple books at once which means it takes me longer to finish anything, but I usually finish 2-3 simultaneously so hopefully it all balances out? Currently I’m re-reading Jane of Lantern Hill and falling deeper in love with the evocative, stinging beauty + truth + homey-ness of Montgomery’s writing. I recently picked up The Killer Angels at the Gettysburg Nation Military Park bookstore and I’m loving it to pieces. The story of Gettysburg is one I know by heart but actually reading Killer Angels brings the heroism and heartache of the Civil War alive in a way that’s already making me cry–I’m only in chapter three for goodness sakes. Besides those two I have bookmarks in Northbridge Rectory (Angela Thirkell), Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), Fawkes (Nadine Brandes), Les Miserables (Victor Hugo) and I’m going to start The Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis) because obv. I need to be reading a seventh book. what is wrong with me, help

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I’m always currently listening to The Piano Guys, select songs by Celtic Woman, Peter Hollens, and Two Steps from Hell (despite the shocking name, about sixty percent of their music is gorgeous sweeping instrumentals that make you want to create beauty + fight battles + snuggle babies + cry). Right now I’m also compiling a playlist of Korean drama OSTs, etc.

As for what I’m watching, there is a new slew of autumnal kdramas airing and I’ve picked up a couple, dropped some, and have plans to check out a few more as time allows. The Ghost Detective is thoroughly creeping me out in the best of ways and I can’t decide if I regret my life choices or not re: watching it (although, tbh, any drama ft. a scruffy, swoony Daniel Choi can’t be a bad choice). It’s perfect for curling up with a bowl of ramen but I refuse to watch it at nighttime to avoid giving myself nightmares. I just started Terius Behind Me last weekend and I think I’m in love. It’s espionage comedy at its finest with a semi-retired legendary spy babysitting chaotic twins for their extremely relatable widowed mother (Jung In-sun is flawless in every single one of her works I’ve watched) and there’s heaps of shenanigans + hilarious, heartwarming scenes everywhere.

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why do I get invested in things so fast, it’s embarrassing

Top book you’ve read this year?

Hmm… War of Loyalties. It has a special place in my heart and I can’t even talk about it without wanting to cry. I think because the characters are v. alive to me and I’m so fond of them it’s sometimes painful, and also because it’s written by one of my dearest friends and it is a genuinely beautiful, good book with one of the best, most lovable main characters I’ve ever encountered.

I want to hug it–oh, and adopt Starlin & be best friends with Ben & bicker with Jaeryn (because as much as I swoon over him, in real life we would be the type of friends who’d knock heads about everything but would probably die for each other).

Please tell us which is your #1 favorite Korean drama?

Land o’ Goshen, how do I narrow it down to one favorite??? I’m going to cheat and pick Top Favorite(s) per genre:

Mystery/Crime/Investigative: Bad Guys (not to be confused with Bad Guys: City of Evil). It’s gritty, fascinating, and the bromance is everything I hoped for. Runner Up, I Remember You or else Life on Mars both of which are shows to write home about. It’s probably telling of my tastes as a person that all three kdramas make me cry + have epic male friendships.

Action: Two Weeks. Sweetest Dad-Daughter dynamic in the history of tv shows + antiheroes + Lee Jun-ki. Excuse me whilst I fangirl over my favorite Korean actor for a minute.

Fantasy (ish): While You Were Sleeping. More thoughts on that here, although I need to devote a more thorough post to this excellent drama sometime. Runner Up, Goblin.

Science fiction: Circle: Two Worlds Connected. I watched it whilst it was airing and, let me tell you, my stress levels were at an all time high (those cliffhangers wHY) and I cried like a baby in the last two episodes. Probably one of the best stories about brothers that I’ve watched in my life. Runner Up, I am not a Robot (which is actually more rom-com than science, but, oh, well.)

Comedy: Woohoo Waikiki or Go Go Waikiki. Disclaimer: this show has a lot of crude humor and some scenes/side plots that it could’ve done without–nothing that can’t be skipped though. That aside, it’s possibly the most heart-warming, relatable comedy I’ve watched, showcasing wonderful, resilient friendships and actual dialogue gems about life that made me cry (I never expected to cry in this, but what can I say; apparently, I’m an emotional viewer). Don’t watch this while you’re eating, because the chances of choking from laughter are high.

School/coming-of-age: School 2013 which has basically the most precious, feels-inducing bromance/friendships that exist, besides Samwise and Frodo in LOTR. Runner Up, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju.

Slice of Life: Your House Helper. I never knew a TV show could be so restful and healing. This is a beautifully crafted drama about life and learning to stand up for yourself + how to give yourself grace as a person (whether you’re struggling with mental health or job-hunting or loss or unrequited love). It’s just sweet, and because of it I have a few growth marks on my soul that weren’t there before.

This list will probably look v different in a couple years, ask me again in 2020. Also, if you’re interested in any of these dramas, feel free to ask me about them! Come to the dark side, we have cookies & crying sessions & intellectual discussions & way too many feelings.

What’s the story you’ve written/are writing that you are most pleased and proud about?

The story I’m most proud of is one I’m currently writing about a mute girl and a magical cat. Something about it feels right and I can’t wait for it to make friends with the bookworm world someday.

What got you into kdramas and what are your top five shows?

I blame Mirriam Neal for this. All my pain and tortured feels are 100% her fault. [blows kisses in her direction] At the moment my top five shows are, in no particular order:

  • Life on Mars.
  • I Remember You/Hello Monster.
  • While You Were Sleeping.
  • School 2013.
  • Bad Guys.

What are your favorite books of all time?

The Hobbit. Always The Hobbit first of all. I genuinely do not remember a time when I didn’t know about Bilbo and Gandalf and Gollum–I was four years old when we named a bunny after Bilbo and I was already well-acquainted with his character by that point so I assume I was a smol baby when Mother started her tradition of reading The Hobbit aloud to us each year. Other all-time favorite books are:

  • A Christmas Carol
  • The Wind in the Willows
  • Jane of Lantern Hill
  • Halo: Ghosts of Onyx
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • War of Loyalties
  • The Blue Castle
  • Lord of the Rings
  • The Code of the Woosters
  • Flora & Ulysses
  • The Phantom of the Opera
  • Peter Pan
  • North and South
  • basically all the Pooh Bear books
  • The Secret Garden
  • The Silver Chair
  • Little Women
  • I, Juan de Pareja
  • Paddington
  • Jane Eyre
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
  • The Hiding Place

I suppose I should stop now.

If you could have one Doctor Who companion for a best friend, which one would it be?

As much as I love all the companions, I would probably pick Martha or Rory. I have too many negative similarities to Donna, Amy, and Clara so I don’t know if we would necessarily get along as best friends. Martha would be amazing though (she’s seriously underrated and it’s the saddest thing) and Rory is such a nice, lovable, down-to-earth fellow–I feel we’d be good friends.

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Do you listen to music while you write?

Nearly always, yes. Silence is too distracting because it’s like being in a hollow cavern with noises echoing everywhere. I like to write with people around me, but if I don’t keep my earbuds in they start talking to me and there goes my focus. I prefer instrumental music because lyrics distract me, but if they’re in a different language (say, Gaelic or Korean) then all’s fine and dandy. Some of my favorite instrumentals to accompany my writing are Doctor Who soundtracks, basically anything by John Williams or Howard Shore, and select songs by Two Steps from Hell (we just call it TSFH) e. g. Homecoming, For the Win, Compass, Never Give up on Your Dreams & Protectors of the Earth.

Cats? Dragons? Baby Griffins? Foxes?

All of them. I’m especially partial to merch with raccoons + red pandas + foxes. And I’m going to own no less than three cats someday. I have names picked out and everything; there’ll be the Queen of Sheba, Piccadilly, and Samwise. Other options include Kwazii, Mowgli, Incorrigible Creature, Pippin, Gentleman Tom, Professor Potts, etc. I think about my future felines’ names more than I think about my future children’s. this is normal.

What about you, friendlies? What are you currently reading? And what is your Book of the Year so far? Let’s chat!

oh, look, she exists // #CuriousWrenhappenings + incidentally I am still on this planet

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Currently: today is a quiet, mellow day. Later I’m going christmas shopping with the Older Sister and I have a chiro appointment, but right now there’s a cup of hot mint tea at my elbow and out the window I can see the bare limbs of the birch trees and the heavy, dark-green boughs of the pines swaying in the blustery November wind.

Thinking: about all the books I want to re-visit. Little Women. Brambly Hedge. The Mistmantle Chronicles. David Copperfield. Narnia. Lord of the Rings. Tales of Goldstone Wood. Johnny Tremain. Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates. Wind in the Willows. Pooh Bear. Tintin comics. Can someone please tell me the way to Gallifrey so I can st–borrow a TARDIS? Time shall not be the boss of me! [she says as she keeps one eye on the clock so she’s not late for her appointment]

Words Percolating: this verse from Ephesians chapter 5; “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.”

Listening: Enya. Sometimes you just need soft, breathy vocals to enhance your happy place.

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Reading: Three books. Anne of the Island because I started re-reading the entire series a couple months ago. I’m almost done with the third book and am falling more deeply in love with the magic and simplicity of Montgomery’s writing. She understood people at a level few authors have. Jane Eyre, which is a traditional autumn read of mine. I’m taking it slow because I forgot how despicable her relations were and it riles me every time I read. The only things keeping me from flinging the book across the room is my reputation and the fact that I don’t want to ding the corners of my precious copy. Les Miserables. [insert silent bow at all the various humans in my life who’ve been badgering me to read it]

Mood: Poirot when he sits down with the Perfect Cup of Hot Chocolate.

Loving: Thomas Newman’s soundtrack for Little Women // Modcloth’s thigh-high fox socks // Autumn-autumn-everything-autumnal // flannel plaid shirts that are just the right shade of rich blue // gingersnaps // inside jokes with my coworkers and our boss // the crackle of dead leaves crunching under my boots // stories that give me a nostalgic glimpse of my childhood // studies on What It Means To Be Holy // people who do not hesitant to hug you back // spontaneous outings with friends // writing at coffee shoppes // being a Sunday School teacher // Panera’s chai tea // Spiderman: Homecoming. I am so here for awkward + adorkable young superheros who don’t want to kill people and have homework and strict moral compasses and will fight you even though they are terrified and just want their Hero/Father figure to come save them // customer service people who go out of their way to make your day amazing.

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Anticipating: christmassssssssssssss — there are not enough letters in the alphabet to express how much I adore everything about the christmas season // Blogging again. I’m so excited to have cleaned the cobwebs off the door and stepped back over the threshold of Curious Wren. I missed all of you! // Nadine Brandes’ newest novel, FAWKES. Check out that gorgeous book cover // WAR OF LOYALTIES COMES OUT ON THE 30TH IM NOT HYPERVENTILATING YOU’RE HYPERVENTILATING. #WW1SpyNovelsFTW

Thankful: for every single day I have to spend with all my precious humans. More about this topic + the Reason for my Hiatus in the next blog post, Lord-willing. [she said ominously]

What are your Current Happenings, friendlies?

fire-dancing + tintin comic books + worky-wakey-worky // #curiouswrencurrenthappenings

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Currently: i am typing this at the dining room table where i am squeezed into the smallest corner possible so the Older Sister can cut out a dress (she’s sewing it for a wedding we are attending in November. EEEP). Supper is cooking on the stove–it smells heavenly–Younger sister is reading and Youngest Sister is doing something scary with the sewing scissors (i might get my fingers cut off). Mum is chatting with Older Sister, we have music blasting on our tiny portable speaker, and i have no idea what my Dad is doing… probably taking care of our chickens. it is a good evening.

Thinking: having a close-knit family is possibly the most amazing thing in the world//i adore fairytales and fairytale retellings… just so, so much. they fill a longing in my soul and i would be perfectly happy writing them for the rest of my life//this world needs more people who smile at strangers//bravery is a beautiful and rare thing//i like to dance with fire–which basically means daring to be real, and shed the mask//living in the moment is more worth it than i can express. not thinking about what i have to do in two minutes or five or a hour or a day or a year, but reveling in the small things, giving someone my full attention whenever i’m with them, listening to the birds,just being. it’s hard and i forget all the time, but it is amazing//i actually quite like the new Spiderman. i was skeptical before i watched Civil War but he’s great–AG will always be the Spiderman to me though//why do we like angsty characters so much? i’ve been pondering this for the last few weeks and methinks i am going to have to write an article about it//SNAIL MAIL IS THE BEST AND SHOULD NEVER GO EXTINCT DO YOUR PART HUMANS//children are miracles, even when they put crayons in your coffee//i really, really am fond of my job and my “people” and even though work eats up my time and i don’t get to write or blog as much, it is also helping me learn how to prioritize better and i’ve gleaned so much story fodder it’s ridiculous//

Words in my mind: i am reading Hebrews right now and these particular verses have been rolling around in my mind all day. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” chapter 11: 6.

Listening to: banjo music because with Spanish blood from my Mum and hill-billy strains from my Dad’s side, my siblings and i adore lively music. But the Older Sister also recently found a few instrumental songs that are breathtaking. they are a must-listen, seriously, you won’t regret it: Homecoming + Compass + Men of Honor + Illumielle. And then of course there’s this one. (disclaimer: i don’t approve of much of the TSFH music, but some of it is incredible. it makes me cry, it inspires me, i love it.)

Reading: so. much. Tintin. Goodness, I love these comics. I want a Professor Calculus for a friend–actually I want all the whole jolly crew as friends. I am also sloooowly reading Isle of Fire and I just started a new Wodehouse book. I’m still seeping myself in the wonder that is Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl and I am halfway through Winter. *proceeds to fangirl over basically everything, but mostly Thorne and Cress* I have heaps of books i want to read this autumn and winter–can. not. wait. Which reminds me I need to share my Fall TBR with you all! Soon, friends, soon.

Feeling: tired, but also very excited for the future and waiting to make allll the plans and do allll the things and write alll the things, and basically, calm down Self. Breathe. In. Out. In. Out. One day at a time. #thestruggleisreal

Loving: Tintin (*cough* i feel like i am repeating myself?). pumpkin spice doughnuts//exploring the woods and following trails just because we can//random beach trips//inside jokes//being friends with my coworkers//plants that don’t require much care because apparently i have the opposite of a green thumb//foxes (they are CUTE Y’ALL)//sageuk kdramas, basically korean dramas that are set in ancient history, some of them are really good (*hugs Scarlet Heart: Ryeo*) and the costumes + culture + language + politics are fascinating. i am for sure writing a book set in ancient Korea//Captain America: Civil War–every bit as good as I hoped. I need to re-watch it now so i can review it on the blog.//lace skirts//the fact that autumn is HERE YAY.

Anticipating: all the fun, adventurous fall activities. i really want to do a corn maze this year, please and thank you//starting season 3 of All Creatures Great and Small  with the family tonight–such a cozy TV show//our church’s mission conferences coming up//taking more writing classes and researching reflexology//FALL//my newest nephew arriving, whenever he gets his act together. *wink* I need a brand-new baby to cuddle//so. many. weddings. O.O I shall be preparing all the finery and eating all the cake.//

Thankful: my family. i honestly don’t know how i would ever manage without them//sight, i’ve been thinking about blindness a lot lately and Praise Jesus, i can see//it’s fall–I love autumn very much in case you couldn’t tell//forgiveness and that God is always there to catch me when i stumble//our police force–i just want to speak to all of the good ones (which is the majority) and tell them how much I appreciate them//people who put nuts on icecream cones, bless you.

What are your Current Happenings, lovelies?

Monthly Recap — May // in which I roadtripped and read a deliciously high (deliciously good) tower of books

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Wrenlings!

let us pretend this recap is not scandalously late, m’kay?

A lot happened last month — which was glorious. I basically turned into a wandering Wren (which was also glorious), and I read stacks and stacks of splendid books, and made new friends and had good times. It was a curious jumble of busy-but-still-restful-and-fun. Love it when that happens.

Curious Wren bloggy Things

— I introduced you all to two characters who are polar opposites from my sci-fi/steampunk series Mingled (said series is currently On Hold). These darling charries give me warm fuzzies.

— of stardust and sea-spray  gave you all a “currently” glimpse of some of life’s happenings as I traveled with the family to our usual holiday spot. I quite love this post.

— I hosted an interview and giveaway with Suzannah Rowntree, the author of Pendragon’s Heir. I’m still head-over-heels with delight for getting to have her here on Curious Wren! Suzannah is just so sweet and talented and I feel honored much. ^_^

— Schuyler guest posts about How To Write Lovable Protagonists. Read it, Writer Humans. So good. 

all things bookish

Ever since I a) started my part-time job in March, and b) started taking writing lessons (more on that later) my TBR stack has been sadly neglected. Hence why nine books read in May feels like a tower to me. Probably the fact that I read 7 of them in a single week also has something to do with it–holidays are wonderful for reading non-stop. Highly recommended, bookworms. *wink*

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(ignore Steal Like An Artist — it’s barging in where it doesn’t belong)

Loved it: JACKABY. It absolutely deserves the all-caps. I want to sleep with this book under my pillow, I love it that much (a book under a pillow, tho? Pain, methinks?). Paper Crowns = every bit as delicious and fairytale-esque as I imagined. I want a blue cat. Also, paper-bending powers. Isle of Swords satisfied my secretly pirate-loving  heart and wouldn’t let me put it down for the entire day. That book owes me hours of my life, people. And I laughed over The Luck of the Bodkins until I couldn’t breathe. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT read this book whilst a small human is napping/whilst you are eating. The result won’t be pretty.

Deserves a mention: Murder is Easy. Cleverly clever cleverness. I now know how to murder people. (I KID. I KID. I KID.)

May-Drop-Tome-Off-A-High-Cliff: Elephants Can Remember. Disturbingly disturbing disturbingness.

Gorgeous Cover(s): JACKABY. Paper Crowns. Jeeves in the Offing.

Favorite Charrie(s): JACKABY. All the main peeps in Paper Crowns–having officially fallen for Azrael, I am more than ready for Paper Hearts to be published. *starts hoarding pennies ahead of time*

Currently reading: while on holiday I started Dreamtreaders (be pleased, Youngest Sister!) and Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl (this book. so good. O.O) and Dracula (never read this in the dark if you value your sleep and/or peace of mind) and Inkheart (*hugs Dustfinger and Meggie*).

Also, I accumulated a surprisingly large stack of books in one month so I do believe a photo-heavy Book Haul post is due, yes?

“The books in Mo and Meggie’s house were stacked under tables, on chairs, in the corners of the rooms. There where books in the kitchen and books in the lavatory. Books on the TV set and in the closet, small piles of books, tall piles of books, books thick and thin, books old and new. They welcomed Meggie down to breakfast with invitingly opened pages; they kept boredom at bay when the weather was bad. And sometimes you fall over them.”

— Inkheart

all things writish

Remember I mentioned that I was taking writing classes? My darling Mum and Dad signed me up for the six-week Writing With Grace course taught by Ann Swindell. Ann is an wise, amazing woman and I’ve learned so much from her–about our stewardship as writers, about voice and edits and dialogue, about owning our call as writers. Some of the lessons cracked me wide open and I sat at my laptop and cried. Every lesson was an encouragement. Now that the course is finished I’m re-watching the recordings and taking more detailed notes, etc. Most of my May writing was for that, and I’ve done some journal writing and vignette writing on the side.

But now that June’s begun I’m going to get back in the swing of things with editing I am Juliette. *is torn between cheering and screeching*

life glimpses

May in a nutshell: crammed with travels, books, people-time, and good things.

Older Sister and I roadtripped for a week and it. was. incredible. Traveling never grows old. Instead the more I do it, the more I want to do it and I feel like this is a vicious cycle, but I LOVE IT anyways. #worldtravelerhere

We stayed at Bed & Breakfasts and made good friends with the sweetest, dearest German couple (I fully intend to visit them someday) and with three lovely women (all related) that we chatted with about books and painting and other nice things (ladies, if you’re reading this, Older Sister and I chat about you often with fondness!).

The roadtrip also included: exploring many bookshops, coffee shops, yarn shops, and an antique store; tramping about quaint side-streets, chatting about everything under the sun, eating far too much Chick-Fil-A, singing along to musical scores, making new friends, falling more in love with the South and the slower pace of life, sitting by a bonfire and listening to our adopted uncle’s childhood stories, laughing uproariously with our adopted aunt and nearly choking on chocolate-covered strawberries, and so much more… I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful it was. Give me roadtrips always and forever, amen.

(all the photos except for the bookish ones are courtesy of darling Older sister)

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Family holiday: basically lots of reading + beach bonfires + rock-climbing + rock-hunting + hot chocolate drinking + memories + soaking in the beauty around me.

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(when you have allll the siblings and nieces, etc on a holiday together things can get delightfully crazy and chaotic.)

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all things bright

//clothes that smell of smoke from late-night bonfire-side chats… snuggling my nephew while he sleeps… books that keep you captivated by their pages for hours on end… laughter and singing and long, long games of Guess-What-I’m-Thinking-Of… the 2003 Peter Pan soundtrack… the peace and tranquility of being off-the-grid… red lipstick and frosted lemonade… hummingbirds and how you can watch them for ages without growing bored… Southern folks and southern parties and breakfasts and hospitality and charm… sweet, encouraging words about being a writer… adopted family that threatens to keep you forever… intellectual talks… coworkers who water your plants and miss you whilst you’re gone… the exhilaration of climbing breaker rocks… realizing that you, in fact, have seen very, very little of the world… reality checks and remembering that i am tiny and my tininess in this vast universe is still special and vital, and i laugh in the face of the wind and rain… hot grapefruit… lacy skirts… watching a storm come in… sister heart-to-hearts… inside jokes… the always-when-I-need-it reminder that my Savior never leaves me… stars on a clear, spring night… ice-cream in zoos and becoming friends with a giraffe… when a day is so perfect it makes you cry//

all things fandom

(as always, unabashed fangirling ahead)

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I finally,  finally, watched James Bond!

I’ve been longing to for the last several years, but since there’s just so much to fast-forward (womanizing spy much?) we’ve been putting it off. Well, the last evening of our roadtrip Older sister and I were staying at a B & B that actually had a TV (the others didn’t. which we loved) and she introduced me to Daniel Craig’s James Bond in Skyfall.

EXCUSE ME WHILST I HYPERVENTILATE AND RUN IN EXCITED CIRCLES.

Somehow I had no idea that these were British spies and so the instant I realized–which took awhile because I hear British accents so often–it just got that much more epic. I was taken aback in the best way possible by the depth of the story and the character arcs. James Bond is not just an action film by any means, folks. It makes you think, it makes you question, and it makes you appreciate the importance and value of life even more than you did before. I’ve since seen Spectre and I thought that the love story was beautifully done — so much so that I’m pondering a brief article on it. Maybe.

Also the antagonist in Skyfall  is easily the creepiest and most heartbreaking character I’ve encountered in awhile. I don’t know how I managed to escape having nightmares. 0.0

Oh, and I have a new favorite character. *flails*

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I will probably never stop squealing with excitement every time Q appears on scene. He’s the most precious gingersnap of brilliance and nerdiness.

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And does anyone else think he would make a stellar Doctor in Doctor Who?!!! O.O I want this to happen. Somone say something to somebody.

*aggressively listens to James Bond theme*

around cyberspace

— Paper Fury turns 5 years old which is, obviously, a Very Exciting Thing (EEEEP. CONGRATS CAIT. GO BUY PLUTO WHILE I TAKE OVER JUPITER). Also, Cait ever so graciously explains to non-bookworms (poor souls) how to translate the gibberish we bookworms say. It’s hilarious and spot-on.

— (For the female readers of Curious Wren) Carmel talks 4 Ways To Feel Like A New Woman.

— Here’s a thought-provoking article about why she doesn’t want a female James Bond by Mirriam Neal (I don’t want a female Bond either, please and thank you). Also by Mirri: a chat about psychopathy and spiritual enlightenment. You know. Writer stuff. + Should Christians Write Horror, Part 1 and Part 2.

— please, by all means, check out this site. I don’t agree with everything she says and am quite unthrilled whenever a swear word pops up, but despite all that there is much gold. And her articles are deliciously bite-sized.

looking ahead

— lots of editing this month. I shall start hoarding chocolate at once.

— my 20-something-ish birthday (Woot!)

— I have several blog articles planned I’m excited about! Specifically one talking about villains, and another discussing the importance of friendships in literature. I can’t wait to share them! Also, there might be another giveaway + interview, peeps!

— remember my post about Dead Shot and Laser? I had such, such fun with it, and even though I’m not planning to write Mingled for several years I really want to do the same questions with the rest of the cast. What do you all think?

— lots more reading. So, so many BOOKS. OH YES AND HURRAH. I have Inkspell and Storming and Red Rising and The Crown’s Game and much Wodehouse and Agatha Christie on my TBR tower. It’ll be great.

Alrighty then, Wrenlings! What are you reading currently? Have you any recs for me? GIVE ME THEM ALLLL. Please. And do tell: what are you looking forward to the most this month? And are you editing with me? *scatters chocolate chips to the masses*

(OH. Should I do more Beautiful People questions with the Mingled crew? Yea or nay?)

 

 

 

of stardust and sea-spray 

 
{via}

currently: roadtripping//headed to a special cottage/cabin for our family holiday//alllll of us siblings are going, plus the nieces and nephew//hence i am ALL THE EXCITEMENT WHAT HO.

thinking: about this article… i am ninety percent sure that one of my books fits in the psycho-horror thriller genre. it helps me develop and explore the particular redemptive theme better, methinks//allegories are a wonderful thing//i will never tire of people-watching//someday i’ll learn violin and play it on a mountaintop//life is hard, life is rough, but when i choose to revel in the little things, when i remember how much i am Loved, life is gloriously good//people really are just the same the world over–same hopes, same fears, same dreams, same pitfalls, same need for Jesus//one of these days i want to write a novel that puts vampires back in their proper place of horrific, non-glamorized beings (think Dracula). they’re more to be pitied and avoided, than swooned over//the workings of a human’s mind will never cease to fascinate me… we are so complex and yet we are nothing compared to the vastness and simultaneous simplicity of our Creator//the “duty of care” is heartbreaking//if i could choose a superpower i would love something fast, like flying//nutella is LIFE.

listening to: many songs that are road trip perfection, but at the moment this makes my heart glad. plus a goodish amount of murray gold, hans zimmer and various lyrical musicaks//nothing like singing along at the top of your lungs to Mary Poppins songs. ^_^

reading: Third Girl by agatha christie is on my lap//there’s a wodehouse book on the car dash//and a plethora of novels for this week in our book bag//in case you’re curious, here is the list:

A Tangled Web (montgomery). Inkheart. Dracula. Halo: Fall of Reach (eric nylund). Isle of Swords. Several wodehouse and agatha christie. Jackaby.

feeling: torn between elated, content, and please-just-let-me-sleep-before-i-lose-what-little-sanity-remains.

loving: triple chocolate chip cookies//my littlest niece’s squeals of delight//when the Older Sister communicates via walkie-talkie with our brother in his car ahead from us (“Honey Pot to Rubber Duck, do you read me?”)//birch trees like so many maiden dryads//the words stardust and sea-spray//owl charms on key-chains//

thankful for: being alive//a family that’s my support group + besties + confidantes + all-around epic humans//my hands–just sliced my thumb yesterday so, goodness, i am grateful that i usually have full use of my fingers//air-conditioner//unexpected intrusions of beauty//the warm, safe knowledge that my Saviour is always with me… no matter how far from home i am//spring-time.

//sehnsucht

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(I meant to write about something entirely different when I started this post. I meant to describe what my new job was like, how adjusting my writing/blogging schedule is taking more time than expected. I planned to discuss life and people and bravery and my current reads, and how I can’t wait to star-gaze on summer night again. 

I certainly didn’t mean to share about my deepest longing. And it’s frightening to bare so much of my soul… but I promised myself that I would be brave.)

I’m thinking about words tonight.

Not just words that give me chills from their beauty–like petrichor or enchanté or apricity or scrumptious or paralianand not just quotes that taste right.

“The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, its tides and its depths; it has its pearls too.” — Vincent Van Gogh

You know what it’s like to have words bottled up tight inside you? To feel something so deeply you don’t know how to express it no matter how hard you try? To have that soul-hunger and not be able to find a way to describe it?

I have many things on my mind right now—all gossamer, fluttering images that dash away when I reach out to grasp them. A friend told me this deep ache, this feeling of something beautiful, something rich and powerful that you can’t see even though it seems just there on the horizon—she said it is Sehnsucht.

Sehnsucht.

“yearning; wistful longing.”

C.S. Lewis describes it as a “desire for our proper place.” He says: “At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see.”

And you know what? It hurts. It’s not easy to talk about, not easy to share about, because it’s a feeling, an emotion, that runs so deep. This longing for home; this yearning for perfect beauty, perfect joy, perfect companionship with our Creator is engrained in our souls and it hurts.

I miss Heaven. I miss unblemished, perfect beauty. I miss unmarred, pure, unbridled joy and I’ve only ever caught tiny, fractured glimpses of it.

A smile on a stranger’s face, a giggle from a tiny baby, the smell of coffee, the sharp black silhouettes of trees against the deep blue of an evening sky, a bird chirping, a tight, never-let-you-go hug from my brother, a flash of vivid colour, the clink of heeled boots on a wooden floor, teardrops from the sky splashing against glass panes, the feel of satin, the smell of rain, books that make me cry, tranquil moments, laughing so hard your chest aches, train whistles at night, cider or hot chocolate so burning hot it makes you cough, flaming sunsets, flannel shirts, catching fireflies.

Sometimes Sehnsucht only brushes its fingers over my soul. Sometimes it’s too deep for even tears to relieve. Often it’s too much, too impossible to describe.

Sometimes beauty burns with its sharpness.

Sometimes I have to look away because the sense of wonder is too great.

Why does it hurt so much? I’m still dust, still incomplete–only just able to see a fleeting glimpse beyond the tapestry before it slips back in place again. And I ache for the day when I can see clearly.

Sehnsucht.

“Apparently, then, our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation. And to be at last summoned inside would be both glory and honour beyond all our merits and also the healing of that old ache.”

— C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Further Reading: creaking floorboards — Elizabeth Kirkwood | a sudden flash of Sehnsucht — Danielle Carey | flickering lights — Elizabeth Kirkwood

(Out of the blue, while I was typing this, someone texted me verses from First Thessalonians chapter four–the ones all about the voice of the archangel and the second coming. Verse 17 ends like this: “and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Somehow that captures everything I am feeling.)