There's gonna be a lot of words in this one. So I'll give you a photo first. 

Courtenay at Lake Cushman

Courtenay at Lake Cushman

Photo Jan 17, 3 22 21 PM.jpg

Making : plans for our second anniversary (April), and Dave's 30th birthday (May). Tricks up my sleevesies. 
Cooking : Nothing because Dave is taking me on a hot date tonight!
Drinking : Aztec hot chocolate in the cutest mug that my friend Jordan gave me for Christmas.

Reading: Bread and Wine, for the second time. It's a good one. 
Wanting: medicinal oils from my friend Lindsay's small business.
Looking: for a new place to live - we have a long wishlist, and we're praying hard. God takes care of us. :)
Playing: my iTunes on shuffle, and enjoying listening to all these random tunes I've collected over the last decade of being an Apple devotee.
Deciding: on what kind of puppy we want. I love Brittany spaniels, Dave loves black labs. So much cuteness! What to do?!
Wishing: I could snap my fingers and be with all the ones I love in just a moment, anytime I want. Every three weeks or so would be nice. 
Enjoying: Being my own boss lady and working from home, and all the flexibility and creativity that comes with that.
Waiting: to finish scanning a billion pictures for a client project (I like doing this, but it's taken me all afternoon).
Liking: getting snail mail. Lots of fun things have been coming this week - yarn, new contacts, makeup, late Christmas cards, binoculars (a late Christmas gift from Dave to me, for whale-watching. Geeky, I know).  
Wondering: when I'll get to spot my first orca?
Loving: the receding cloud line in the western sky, meaning I can see a little stripe of sunset after the sky's been gray all day.

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Pondering: what if I ACTUALLY got my childhood wish to be a mermaid? Even for just a day? The best. 
Watching: Downton Abbey. Finally watched the last episode of Season 3 yesterday... OMG!!!! HOW COULD THEY??! Starting Season 4 soon. 
Hoping: for good transitions all around in 2014 - so many new things coming up. 
Marvelling: at the way God stirs my heart after months of stillness. Thankful. 
Needing: to finish wedding tasks. I know, we've been married almost two years. But we still haven't finished thank you notes OR a wedding book just for us. Yikes!
Listening: to a lot of Lord Huron these days, thanks to Kate. I reeeeeeally like them. 
Wearing: jeans I rarely pull out because they are looooow riders. But I love them, and I've been home alone all day. It's kind of the worst thing ever to part with your favorite jeans, isn't it? 
Following: this mommy blogger who is completely and totally hilarious, mostly because she's honest. I think I might want to be a mom like her someday. 
Remembering: that it's been a gosh darn long time since I had some pho, and this is just the right season to have it. 
Knowing: all will be most well. 
Planning: summer getaways - floating picnics, kayak trips, camping, puppy-ing, hiking, painting, etc. 
Feeling: content, hopeful, and thankful after reading Luke 1 this morning. Refreshed my soul. 
Admiring: Dave's grandma, Esther, who passed away a long time ago. I've been researching her life, and I'm so inspired by her. Will share some more about her in another blog sometime. 
Buying: a ridiculous amount of yarn. My Etsy shop has been blowing up - thankful, but busy.
Getting: nervous for a Monday client meeting. Contracts! Interviews! So much extrovert time! 
Bookmarking: donut recipes on Pinterest, thanks to a donut pan from my Grandma for Christmas. 
Opening: your own business is no joke. Learning, learning, learning
Giggling: every day over 12-year-old boy jokes with Dave. One of my favorite parts of being married. All those things I wasn't allowed to laugh at growing up are much funnier now that I'm married to a man. Somehow I think all men retain a 12-year-old version of themselves, and I kind of love it. 

Spent a really great weekend in a cabin with friends last week. 

Spent a really great weekend in a cabin with friends last week. 

Ma gurls.

Ma gurls.

Some Favorite Books from 2013 ::

The Gift of Pain :: Paul Brand + Philip Yancey
I talked about this book ALL THE TIME while I was reading it, and right after. Being a person who struggles with mild anxiety and fear of the future, this helped alleviate some of that, by trusting that God is good and works through pain, and draws close to us in the midst of it. 

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle :: Barbara Kingsolver
I read The Poisonwood Bible five or six years ago and loved Kingsolver's style. Then she wrote this memoir about her family moving to a dilapidated farm in the mountains of Virginia to grow their own food, and I fell in love. Granted, she has the privilege of doing this because she's a successful, self-employed author with a great deal of money and autonomy, but she inspired me to grow my own food someday too. The only part that was hard for me about this was the fact that if you raise animals, you can't really go on vacation. I mean, there are dog sitters, but there aren't many chicken sitters (careful how you say that). And those that are there don't like it. Ask Jessie

How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm :: Mei-Ling Hopgood
A friend of mine had a baby in November, and about a month before she delivered, she told me about this book. I'm not a mom, but I hope to be, and I found this book fascinating. It talks about all these different cultures, and focuses on one particular thing that each does very well when it comes to parenting. The Tibetians cherish pregnancies, Argentinians are flexible about their kids bedtimes, French kids eat what the adults eat, and so on. Loved learning about all these things from a book that has a curious, not judgy, tone. 

Masie Dobbs series :: Jacqueline Winspear
I jumped on the Downton Abbey bandwagon in 2012, and in 2013 I found Masie Dobbs. It's written about the same era (post WWI) about a female investigator in London. It's a classic mystery series, which I've never enjoyed, but Masie is a great character, and the cases she's on are fascinating. The endings are never predictable, and always satisfying. 

Death at Seaworld :: David Kirby
I mentioned the orca thing earlier. Well, I've kind of been on a long, super geeky kick this past year with killer whales. And this book started it. If I'm honest, the REAL thing that started it was a mindless Facebook trolling session, when I came across a link to a documentary called Blackfish, that one of my friends posted on another friend's wall. I looked it up and found out it hadn't been released yet, but was based on an investigative book that had been out for a few months. I read the first few pages expecting to be bored, but I DEVOURED it. And now I am an ardent SeaWorld hater. Judge me. Blackfish was good, but not as good as this book. Because of this book, my Christmas presents from Dave were a whale watching tour (lucky for me, there are tons of orcas in and around Seattle/Puget Sound) and a pair of binoculars. Major score. 

God's Hotel :: Victoria Sweet
I loved the way this woman writes about health, healing, and the healthcare system. I picked it up thinking Dave's dad (who is a family doctor) might be interested in it, but I ended up loving it. Can you tell I kind of have a thing for non-fiction? I attribute that to my mother, who LOVES her some non-fiction and totally passed that love on to me. Anyway, this is a collection of really beautiful stories about the last almshouse in the United States, which was in San Francisco. It's a charity hospital, based on a French hospital that cared for society's outcasts in the Middle Ages. I read parts of it to Dave, and he may or may not have shed a tear. Or three. 

Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking :: Susan Cain
I'm sure you've heard of this one on a million best-seller lists (along with Lean In, which I won't read because I feel like I've read enough op-eds on this subject to give me the gist of it). As an introvert, I loved this. I think all introverts should read it for affirmation, and I think all extroverts should read it for understanding. So, in short, read it.  

The Midwife :: Jennifer Worth
I get a lot of book recommendations from my mom's book club, which has been around for probably a good 15 years now. They deserve their own book to be written about them, which should then be adapted into a screenplay, and then an Oscar-winning film. Anyhow, this one is also non-fiction, about a midwife (surprise, surprise) who served the dock worker's neighborhoods in the poorest part of London in the 1950s and 60s. Most women delivered their babies at home, and Worth has some pretty incredible vignettes about how people lived, loved, and raised their kids in this environment. I cried a lot reading this book - it was that beautiful, and that heart-breaking. The BBC series is good, but not as good as this (which is almost always the case, right?). 

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? :: Maria Semple
I myself joined a book club in 2013, and I'm so glad I did. This was the fourth book that we've read (it's FICTION!), and to be honest, it's the only one I've liked at all so far. I finished this one in two days, just about three weeks ago. Our discussion is next week, and I'm curious to hear what everyone has to say. I think it's a brilliantly woven tale, composed of emails, faxes, and letters among a few people. There's very little dialogue until the end. It's all based in Seattle, which is one reason I liked it so much - I know where all the places are that they talk about (though some are fictional). The characters are so well-written, and the storyline is totally unexpected - wacky and deep at the same time. 

So there you go. My recommendations. I read a lot more than just these in the last year, but these are the ones that I'd say you should put on your hold list at the library. A few I'd even buy. 

And now you know what I've been doing all day while scanning a million billion photos. Happy weekend to you!