when the mundane *is* glorious

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. -- Annie Dillard

Our weather has been so gorgeous lately, the full rich middle of spring. After a stormy weekend (lots of coffee and novels for me!), it's sunny and cool.

I've been waking up earlier, listening to the birds going berserk, and otherwise rediscovering my love of early mornings.

Oatmeal doesn't strike me as particularly springy, but that's what my mornings have been lately. A glorious bowl of oatmeal, a French press full of hazelnut coffee, the brilliant green of young grass waving in the backyard, and sleepy-eyed me plotting out my writing work for the day.

But the combination of oatmeal and writing might be dangerous. I'm prone to feeling rapturous in the morning (coffee certainly speeds that rapture along). And oatmeal, with a splash of cream and plump warm raisins, becomes something fit for a queen.

Suddenly my plot-driven scribbles and character arcs have been turning into love letters to oatmeal... So if you ever see an epic saga involving oats and cream, with my name on it... well, now you know what happened.

Beware these heady spring mornings. It could happen to you.


inspiration for the creative mutt.

I've been in love three hundred times in my life, and all but five were with books. -- Lee Glickstein

Over the last few weeks, I've been spending a lot of time searching for inspiration online. Mostly prowling design blogs, artistic blogs, Etsy sites, looking for anything that will help me jumpstart my summer offerings for Squirrel & Serif.

I love the wonderful feeling I get after soaking up others' creativity! A heady mix of encouragement, hope, and crafty impulse. It makes me want to get back to my little artist studio and get back to work.

I realized, though, that I neglect inspiration-seeking when it comes to writing. To remedy that--and also because it's a blast--I decided to do similar scouting for my writerly self. This is what I came up with...

1. The Wingfeather Saga, by Andrew Peterson. I am an unabashed reader and admirer of books for young readers. I'm convinced that some of the finest literature is written for kids! These are two of the best such books I know... and I hear he's working on the third...

(Incidentally, Andrew Peterson is an all-around wonderful person. He's written some amazing music as well... and I'm more than a little smitten with him and his work!)

2. This is a notebook my mom got me recently when I was having a rough time staying inspired... I love the message--it's so true! I look at it every time I need to remember to keep my priorities--and attitude!--straight.

3. Found this recently on another blog, and it sums up my stance (and recent tirades!) perfectly!! I am--and always will be--a printed word kind of girl.

4. This is one of the most gorgeous prints I know of. I'm going to reward myself with it when I meet a big writing goal soon... maybe when I start drafting the sequel? Hmm. But every time I look at Anne-Julie Aubry's work, I get thrilled to keep writing... Everything she does is stunning. Browse her site for a while and you'll see what I mean...

5. Some other gorgeous Etsy finds while browsing for writerly items...

Mmmm, yes. That hits my little writer heart dead center. Time to go back to outlining...


just now...

... was followed home by a stunningly beautiful cookbook. I don't know how it fell into my hands, I really don't...

Or, oh wait, maybe I saw it across the room and made a beeline for it and probably talked a bit too loud and then carried it off triumphantly?

Was that how it went?


I was awake unusually early this morning, for the second time this week. It reminds me that I actually am, deep down inside, a stubborn morning person. It's unshakable, no matter how often I override it and decide to sleep in.

I love being awake before 5 a.m. Love it. There's just so much day in front of you.

Sunday morning, I was up super early to watch the St. Louis half-marathon. I knew three runners, so we went early to drop them off and then to watch for them near the finish.

the St. Louis arch in the early morning

I love watching marathons. I love cheering on thousands of strangers as they do something challenging, something rewarding.

And then this morning, thanks to a trip to the airport, I'm up early again. No grand events to witness before noon, only small ones. The slow, deliberate restructuring of a character in my novel. The sun slipping across the back yard. The shrinking level of the latté in my mug.

During my mid-morning break, I went outside, to catch the full force of spring. I love that the name of this season is also a verb--the energy in the air today does remind me of a leap, a jump.

I stayed there for a while, half-drunk on the scent of lilacs in warm air, sun on my face, the grackles laughing down at me from the pines. Perfume and birdsong.

Listening and sniffing and thinking back to Sunday's marathon, it got me wondering.

Why do we make our resolutions on January 1? Yes, yes, I understand about calendars, and how nice and clean a new year feels. But on January 1, the dead heart of winter, don't resolutions require a bit more mustering?

I vote for trying spring resolutions. (I think the grackles were backing me up on this.)

When everything else is changing, blooming, and stretching, I want my own life to grow and turn lovely. Standing in the midst of spring, I could easily think of things I wanted to try, to change, to leave behind.

So I started planning...

  • To cook much more often this spring, experimenting with new flavors, new techniques. Making those recipes I've been saving for years... now's there time. (Whoa, I can hear that chocolate mink recipe calling me...)

  • To improve my business plan for Squirrel & Serif, and to boldly design new products for summer. To be a bit more daring. (Maybe even a lot more daring.)

  • To read more widely. To work toward an exquisite fourth draft of Novel #1, and a compelling first draft of Novel #2.

  • To start running again. (Inspiring, those marathons!)

  • To catch up with some far-flung friends of mine, finding out what's new in their lives, and how we're still the same.

  • And of course, to post more frequently, dreaming up bigger and better things for this renovated blog of mine.
And so? We'll see what comes next. If spring promises are easily broken... or if growth can be slow and steady, continuing all summer long. Somehow, though, I have a feeling that these ideas are well-supported. I think they're here to stay.


there have been a few changes around here...

... and what was once "bookpie" is now "serif's yarn cafe," and I'm oh-so happy about that!

My little blog turned one year old last month, and I started thinking about making some changes. (Drinking from that Reinvent mug certainly helped...) But the old name no longer fit, and I wanted to go in a different direction. Last year took me to new places, and I wanted my blog to reflect that.

The biggest change of all is that I'm a part-time knitter for Squirrel & Serif, and as such, I have a lot more to say about knitting and my inner artist (though she's a little short) than I had before. I'm sewing buttons onto pouches and playing with embroidery floss... not what I imagined in March 2009 when I kicked off bookpie.

I'm still writing full time, of course, and I would still love to have a blog where I can talk about the ups and downs of putting one paragraph after another. Where else can I freely admit that I have a habit for killing off my protagonists' best friends?

So, behold the cafe!

There's something about good food, good coffee, and good pie.

There's something about the invitation that a cozy cafe holds out to you.

To me, it says: you can be whatever you like here. You can talk about everything--in fact, you really should. You can people-watch, read, write, study, knit, think. Even stare off into space and daydream about nothing at all.

It also says, it is perfectly all right if you get some cappuccino foam on your nose.

I realized a long time ago that if I were ever to open up a real store, some wonderful place with a wooden floor and old brick and a tall carved ceiling, it would have to sell books. Really wonderful books, and lots of them.

And lately, with all my yarn hunting escapades and my frenetic knitting nights, it would have to be a place where crafters are welcome.

And also, because I'm me, it would have to sell really great coffee and truly splendid pies. (As well as anything else that struck my fancy... I just think you can do worse than starting with coffee and pie.)

Okay then. A knitting-and-book store that sells food as well? Could that be a Yarn Café?

It is also no small thing that yarn means both the string with which you knit, and a tale of adventure.

Fitting, isn't it? So, welcome to my new blog. We'll see where it goes!


my reigning favorite in picture books...

This is what had me in stitches last night.

Fantastic illustrations, and one of my favorite endings ever. (The closing line is, in my opinion, spot on. As is the combination of popcorn and tea on the last pages... strangely perfect.)

As it happens, reading picture books is one of the best remedies I know. It definitely got me through some of my toughest weeks in college.

And I don't mean reading a picture book. I mean sitting in the children's chairs in the back corner of the library, working through a stack on your lap, and getting strange looks from librarians.

That's stress-free living, right there. An hour with dinosaurs, wayward pigeons, floating princesses, and dogs who can talk, and I feel fabulous. Go try it! ... But start with Princess Hyacinth.


allow me to dictate your afternoon... (the ginger-peach fizz.)

Today's weather is a bit more summer than spring... ninety degrees? Really? Is that necessary?

So after a couple of minutes in the kitchen, I discovered something well worth sharing.

In fact, this is something you need to do. Right now.

Take a few scoops of this...

And more than a few splashes of this...

Stir stir stir, and then sip.

Oh my. This is seriously good.

No, don't thank me... you have much more important things to do. Like hitting the grocery store.

Incidentally, Izze has a host of marvelous flavors, as does the Haagen-Dazs line of "five"... Blackberry Izze + Haagen-Dazs mint??

I think my week just got busier.


call this my statue

You can't test courage cautiously. -- Annie Dillard

Recently I had the chance to talk with a complete stranger about my life: this funny, living-at-home, juggling three novels-in-progress, knitaholic, uncertain, artistic life of mine.

He looked very sensible, and he was at least twice my age, so I was braced for a bit of a sneer, or at least a raised eyebrow. I mean, aren't silly, dream-chasing kids like me the bane of society?
But he was surprisingly--and refreshingly--unfazed and encouraging about this thing I do with my days.
You're lucky with your parents, he said.
Yes, I answered emphatically. Yes, I am.
Then he told me about his friend, a brain surgeon, who has two daughters who want to be actresses in NYC. The surgeon has agreed to support his daughters' pursuit of their dreams for ten years. Ten years to go for it, to risk everything, to learn what they need to know.
Ten years!! I was astonished.
So many people say "try it for a year," I said. That's how long I thought it would take for me to get started. (This makes me laugh now, and laugh hard. Really hard.)
Nope, he answered. It takes a lot longer. It takes a long time to go after a dream like that.
So, now I want to put up a few statues. To my own incredibly understanding parents, for all their faith and confidence in me. To this brain surgeon, giving his daughters the support they need to learn their craft. And to other people like them... heck, even to my encouraging conversation partner that night.
People who look at crazy dreams and understand they take time to chase. Time to build.
This is a rare, rare attitude. I once had a woman say to my face (and in front of her writer daughter) that if this daughter ever decided to pursue writing full time, she'd turn her out of the house.
I wish I could say that I had some wonderful thing to say in that girl's defense, or some gentle and wise comment for the mother... but I stood absolutely frozen.
Where do you even start, when someone believes that the pursuit of art is meaningless? I don't know, so I'll start in the other direction: I'll start by recognizing the people who believe, the people who support, the people who let possibilities grow into something bigger.
So, thank you, my fantastic parents. Thank you, oh encouraging stranger.
And wise and generous brain surgeon, I am amazed by what you're doing for your girls. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
(Psst. By the way, since you're a brain surgeon anyway, is there a way you can use your talents to further this cause? Something you can tweak in each brain to spread this attitude far and wide? Could everyone waking from your procedures desire to nurture the artistic talent around them? Would that be ethical, hmm? Just a thought...)