Posts tagged ‘favorite things’

It’s That Back To School Time Again!

So I suppose it’s time to rid the blog of cobwebs, and get back to my regularly established blogging schedule of new posts on Mondays and Saturdays.

This summer has brought a lot of news, and a lot of things that I would have written about had I found words for them, such as the murder of Cecil.

But, as it’s impossible to discuss all of what we’ve missed, here’s a bit of a round-up of things I’m loving to kick off the school year (our district goes back tomorrow):

Zoya Nail Polish I bought 6 colors a month or so ago, when they had a buy 3 colors, get 3 free promotion. I also bought their base and top coats, and their polish remover. So far, I’ve tried 5 of the 6 colors, and I’m impressed with all of them. The only color I haven’t tried is their black, which I plan to wear the entire month of October in honor of Halloween.

Barry’s Tea I always keep coffee and tea in my car, so that I can drink what I’m loving at the moment while I’m babysitting. I love Barry’s Tea. It’s strong, without being too bitter if I leave the tea bag in, which I usually do. I couldn’t find the box of tea in my car, and was very upset about it. Happily, I found it and now am back to sipping it happily when I’m not home. I’ve also had Barry’s Decaf, which is delightful.

Bewley’s Tea I’ve tried Bewley’s Dublin Morning, Irish Breakfast, and Irish Afternoon teas. These are teas that I predominantly drink at home, as the boxes have fallen apart as they’ve travelled with me. These are all strong, delicious, and I can go through all three teas in a day and feel entirely fulfilled and not at all bored.

Twinings Prince of Wales Tea I first had this tea last fall, and it’s so delightful. I don’t quite know how to describe this tea, but whenever I drink it, I feel very happy and satisfied, even if I’m not having a snack with it.

Worry Stones This link is to Irish Marble worry stones. I’ve recently made myself a couple of worry stone necklaces using Connemara marble, but as I am an anxious person by nature, compounded by having a very difficult run of things the last few years, I’m hoping that using worry stones will be a good and calming habit and strategy for me to manage my anxiety.

DuoLingo I’ve used DuoLingo for Italian and Irish, and I love how quickly this program allows you to learn sentences. I use MindSnacks to quiz things like vocabulary, but DuoLingo is a must for me for learning or maintaining a language. I bought a workbook that came with CDs for Irish, but thus far I’m having some problems with grammar, and word order… Basically I’m making the most ridiculous mistakes that it’s embarrassing, and no one but me knows the mistakes that I’m making. The best part about DuoLingo is that it’s free! I have the app on my phone and try to use it often.

Favorites: Blessed Is She and Be A Heart

Forgive me if this isn’t entirely articulate and wholly polished; I am still feeling the numbness of grief and denial following the unexpected death of my beloved Godmother, as well as the exhaustion that accompanies the extreme volatility of New York weather.

I love Audrey Assad‘s music. A few years ago, when I was still in grad school, I used to drive from school to a small fair trade store (that sadly no longer exists as a storefront) and hang out, talk, and volunteer. As I was leaving, Pattye said that she had a CD that she wanted to give me. She thought I’d like it. It was Assad’s first CD, called The House You’re Building. I loved it. I shared it with my mom and with my friends because I thought it was so great. In time, I went on iTunes and downloaded her second CD, called Heart. Then, when she turned to Kickstarter to crowd fund an independent record, I supported that campaign and received an EP especially for backers, and her third CD, called Fortunate Fall.

I listened to these albums frequently when I was in Hawai’i. Our days began with two hours of Ora et Labora, but making that time sacred was more difficult than I could have imagined. Fortunate Fall felt like church, which had also proven to be a problematic venture in Hawai’i. Heart provided songs I’d sing along with in Hawai’i and beyond–“Even The Winter” became the anthem for my lupus treatment–and I used songs from The House You’re Building in a few of the morning reflections that I led. Then, two more EPs (one live and one studio) were released, and a concert film followed. When she went on tour for the studio EP, Death, Be Not Proud, I bought a ticket to see her at Molloy College, and then she announced that the tour would be a retirement tour of sorts, and that she planned to move to her side project, LEVV, full time. I was so happy that I’d gotten a ticket to see her live (I had asked a friend to go with, and hadn’t heard back, and decided to buy my ticket anyway), and I was also so excited because I had loved the song demo (Arrow–which sadly has been taken down) she’d released as LEVV.

A short time later, she wrote on her Facebook that she’d be contributing the occasional writing to Blessed Is She, an online devotional written by and for Catholic women. And yes, I felt like a rebel when I signed myself up. I greatly enjoyed the Blessed Is She writings, as it is entirely too common in this world to feel as though everyone is trying to erase or invalidate the female experience. I wrote to my boss in Hawai’i, and he decided that he would offer all of the staff and all of the past ESC alums from Mokule’ia, as well as the current interns the opportunity to be connected through the Blessed Is She Advent journal. Many of us said that we’d like to be connected in this manner, and David wrote that the entirely female perspective of Blessed Is She was something that we should embrace, not shy away from, as the Church has historically only had male voices. When Blessed Is She announced a Lenten journal, I bought it without hesitation. Between the two journals, Blessed Is She had begun sending out wallpapers designed by Erica Tighe of Be A Heart, who designed the journals and has rebranded Blessed Is She. I love her soft calligraphy, and the fact that her designs are heavily reliant on watercolors, which have a softness and a breath to them that no other medium has, in my opinion.

Since the Advent journal was released, I’ve asked Blessed Is She multiple times if they will do a whole liturgical year journal, as I’d love that. They’ve taken a step towards that with their beautiful new journal, released on Easter Monday, called I Found Him Whom My Soul Loves.

Lest I lead you believe that Be A Heart’s repertoire is entirely contained within Blessed Is She (which is so far from true), I must tell you that Erica Tighe makes and sells beautiful prints, and custom calligraphy works, and paper goods for weddings, et cetera.Since the release of the Blessed Is She Lenten journal, I’ve purchased 6 prints, one gift, and several other goodies from Be A Heart, and I check the Be A Heart Instagram far too often looking for pictures of new custom orders and past works that I may not have seen yet. I have dreams of beautifully calligraphed wedding invitations for when I–as I joke with my family–“manage to trick someone into Holy Matrimony.” This past week, Tighe released a gold leaf cactus print for DIGDEEP Water’s Navajo Water Project. DIGDEEP fights to ensure that everyone has access to clean water, arguing that this access is a basic human right, as water is life. Having been to both the Navajo Nation and to remote Kenya where water rights are fought over in the court systems, I could not agree more.

I’ve always enjoyed lettering and writing things by hand, but in the last few days, I’ve done more of it than I have in the last few months, just because it frustrates me to no end makes me happy. And now, I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of my new Be A Heart prints. My walls are going to be so pretty!

If you decide to check out Blessed Is She, Be A Heart, or give any of Audrey Assad’s albums a listen, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to comment below, or you can let me know on Instagram (@alwhitehorne), Twitter (@alwhitehorne), or at my email address ( alwhitehorne(at)gmail(dot)com ). I hope I hear from you!

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I love the documentary First Position.

I’ve seen it a number of times. It’s a ballet documentary, but not one that sugarcoats the ballet world, or what happens when you’re in a ballet career. The dancers that are featured are all young: the oldest is preparing to enter the ballet world and is looking for a job. First Position focuses on the Youth America Grand Prix, a prestigious, and highly competitive, ballet competition.

The dancers, and their families and teachers, speak candidly about the sacrifices that they have made to pursue ballet. The expenses incurred, the “normal” parts of childhood that they have missed, the pain that is endured in the pursuit of perfection…

One of the dancers, though quite young when she appeared in the film, blew me away. She had such a presence and I knew that if she managed to escape serious injury and did not burn out, she had the potential to grow into a major presence in the ballet world.

Miko Fogarty is still competing internationally, and is continuing to do amazing things! This video of her is a few years old, but I love the Black Swan variation, and she dances it beautifully!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Alas, there has been another impromptu hiatus on this blog. I wish I could tell you that there was something huge going on, but really, there has been brain fog, symptoms, and general craziness, plus weather.

My favorite this week? Breakfast!

I’ve been loving my Shakeology samples and Plant Fusion powders even more than normal lately because my schedule is very early these days and I am not a morning person at all. I mix them with chocolate coconut milk, or other nut milks, and it’s a good breakfast that my body doesn’t have to work hard to digest, so I have fewer symptoms.

I’m also loving berries lately. I’ve found that if I have a big bowl of berries for breakfast, my sugar cravings for the rest of the day are dramatically diminished. I have a huge sweet tooth, and I sometimes worry about that long-term…

I also love eggs and egg sandwiches, but usually end up eating them for lunch or for dinner rather than for breakfast.

What are your favorite breakfasts?

A Roundup of Favorite Things

I’ve decided that on Mondays, I’m going to post one of my favorite things here. It may be writing related (and probably will be, because I have an office supply addiction), it may be a quote from a book that I’m reading and love, it may be a book that I inhaled and want to share an opinion on, or it may be something entirely random.

Because this will be a new feature, I’m going to start off with several favorite things.

The Seven Year Pen.
I bought my first two Seven Year Pens at the Strand in New York City–my best guess is that I bought them in 2012, and used them in Fall 2012 and Spring 2013. By the time I left for Hawai’i, I’d purchased a third, and I have 5 of them now. I used two of them in grad school (about 10 years of ink–I finished the second pens’ initial ink cartridge while in Hawai’i), and loved them (I have since refilled them both and keep a supply of replacement ink cartridges on hand). Basically, if you’re a writer, these won’t last for seven years, but even if you have to replace the ink cartridges, which cost about $2 each, twice a year, it’s still much more environmentally friendly than endless disposable pens. And it feels very writerly to have a refillable pen. Also, these pens are adorable! But if one happens to get lost, you won’t want to cry for a year, because they’re very affordable (as long as you don’t lose them too often).

These Anglican Prayer Beads I made (small plug, but I truly adore these and will be sad when they find a home)
I love labyrinths and spirals, so when I was able to buy a bunch of spiral beads and labyrinth medals, I knew that I’d be making quite a few prayer beads with these elements. I made 5 sets of spiral and labyrinth prayer beads with mixed finish beads (gold, bronze, silver–you can see them here) that I absolutely loved, and one day I was looking through the beads at Michaels and found a card of the same beads, except they were all silver. I decided to make a set with the all silver beads, and I fully expected them to be kind of boring, but I found that they might be my favorite set of prayer beads currently in the shop. They have a serenity that the other sets don’t have because they are monochromatic.

Diamond Candles.
I have six of their candles. I first found out about them when I was in graduate school, and I’m still buying them because I love them so much! We burn candles in our house almost every day, but the smoke from traditional candles sometimes bothers me, so I went looking for non-toxic and environmentally friendly candles. I stumbled upon Diamond Candles and bought one thinking that it would be a terrible candle–because why else have the gimmick of the ring inside?–and was delighted to have been proven wrong! My favorite scent is Enchanted Forest, and my most recent purchase is Black Raspberry Vanilla, which makes me hungry!

Celestial Love by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Especially this section:

“There need no vows to bind
Whom not each other seek but find.
They give and take no pledge or oath,
Nature is the bond of both.”

All of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (and also the movie, which I’ve seen many times), which I’ve already talked about, but just know that it is still one of my favorite things.

If I Stay and Where She Went, by Gayle Forman, because they made me cry and I still think often of them, even though it’s been about a month since I finished them.