Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Watching, Reading, Wearing, Eating: Summer ‘18

Labor Day has passed, and just like it has the past two summers, the end of August has brought the most pleasant changes to the weather.  I’m writing this with all the windows and sliding doors open, feeling a breeze through the house keeping the temperature just perfect.  

I haven’t stopped doing editions of WRWE!  I just had, well, a kind of crazy summer, so I’ve decided to wrap it all up in a seasonal post for at least this edition.  So here’s what I’ve been Watching, Reading, Wearing, and Eating during Summer 2018.


To my happy surprise, my kids have reached a maturity level (or maybe an ability to completely zone out in front of their own screens for epic amounts of time) that has allowed me to start watching movies on long haul flights again!  This summer, most of what I watched was on a 777 traversing the Pacific, and it brought a tiny bit of pleasure to the pain of sitting in an economy seat for thirteen hours.  I watched Jumanji (my kids’ recommendation), Black Panther (finally!), A Trip to Spain (ummm, okay), and Bridget Jones’s Baby (hilarious). Outside of flying metal tubes, I also watched I Can Only Imagine and The Quiet Place.  Both were excellent in completely different ways.  But the surprise-best movie I’ve watched this summer was The Guernsey Literary and Potato-Peel Pie Society.

You already know I loved this book so much, and movies are almost never as good as the book.  So when I found out they were making a movie of it, I narrowed my eyes and snarled, “How dare they!” But then I saw Melanie Shankle of Big Mama recommending it on Instagram and thought, Well, I can try it... I guess (*eye roll*).  It is very different from the book — since it’s an epistolary novel (story written through letters), it has to be.  But it was handled in an excellent way, one that didn’t detract from the narrative.  Plus, the scenery and costumes alone are reason to watch it.  It falls into the tiny category of movies that were at least almost as good as the books.  


This is probably the main reason I’m writing this post.  I read a lot of not-great books this summer.  Some I didn’t bother finishing; others that I did finish aren’t worth telling you about.  But there was one exception that has me all but shouting, “Read this book now!”  (Okay, if we were chatting in person, I might actually do that!)  And that is Jennifer Fulwiler’s fantastic memoir One Beautiful Dream: The Rollicking Tale of Family Chaos, Personal Passions, and Pursuing Them Both.

I started following Jennifer’s blog for eight or nine years ago and have loved her stories and observations.  I cheered when her first memoir Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It was published.  It was so interesting and enlightening.  But this book? I loved it even more!

Here’s why you need to read it.  First, it is just so good — entertaining, engaging, insightful.  Like I said, I was familiar with this part of her story — or at least I thought I was.  But I found myself still riveted by the narrative, anxiously turning the pages.  I kept having to tell myself, “Calm down, Joy, you know how this ends!”  As it’s been said though, many times in different ways, the ending doesn’t matter as much as how you get there, and this book once again proved that.

Second, this book is one of those that breathed life into me.  As I read the story of Jennifer trying to get a writing career established while having and raising six kids, I felt like she was sitting down with me over tea — or no, actually, chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant in Austin, where she lives — telling me, “You can do this, Joy” about my ideas.  Not only did she deal with all the “normal” crazy that comes with having six kids, she dealt with a life-threatening blood clot disorder during her pregnancies.  I mean, that honestly makes my life seem a little tame!

She refers to author Steven Pressfield and what he calls “Resistance” — all the things that get in the way of what we want to do, and do well, in her words “this entity that hates creation and wants only destruction.”  She speaks of the lies she has told herself — which I could relate to frighteningly well — and says, “And, as with all effective lies, there was a grain of truth: I wasn’t the best.”  She writes, “...A shocking truth came to my mind.  I tried to dismiss it as an overstatement, but it kept ringing in my soul: Maybe Resistance is trying to stop women from changing the world.”

Third, and maybe most crucial, she has a chapter — yes, a whole chapter! — entitled “Poopocalypse”.  This shows, I think, that she is my kind of people, and this is a book you need to read.  I would probably have a chapter called this too, though my story would be about the toilets in our house in Hawaii that may have been possessed.  They would not only have occasional flushing issues, they randomly regurgitated business in a manner not unlike the girl spewing vomit in Poltergeist.  I think almost every member of my family plus a few guests experienced the “treatment”.  The fact that Jennifer has this chapter in her book made me wonder if one of the things that ties us together as humans is that maybe we all have a story we’d call “Poopocalypse.”  

This such an excellent book. Get it and read it soon. Your heart and soul with thank you.


Okay, I’ve talked before about Karina dresses.  But it’s been a while, and my appreciation has only grown.  They are made in America, and I especially love wearing them in the summer, because they are so breezy and comfortable, and they dry quickly even without a dryer.  Here’s just a couple pictures of me wearing them over the past year.

(You know how important this has been to me!). Back in the spring, I got an email that their new collection had arrived, and I was perusing it late at night when I saw this beautiful dress. 

 But I was tired and wanted to ask Matt if he’d consider getting it as a Mother’s Day present, and he was already asleep.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one who loved it and when I checked the website the next day, it had already sold out!  

A few days later, I saw the dress on Karina’s Instagram and commented how I loved it but it was not available so would they be restocking it?  They replied that it had been sent to a few boutiques, and they’d try to track one down for me! Not long after, they found a one such place — Amelia in Portland — that would sell it to me.  I was shocked and thrilled.  The dress hadn’t yet come in, but when it did, Amelia  messaged me and had this on their website.  

You guys, this is what is SO GREAT about small businesses, and especially Karina dresses.  They actually work for your business.  They’re ethical, and they don’t pull any dirty tricks.

Anyway, these pictures do not do the dress justice at all.  My “fancy” camera battery is dead, and since I just moved in, I can’t find the charger.  I had worn this to church and was already wearing communion that Wyatt had knocked on me, plus Thai food from lunch that I’d spilled on myself.  And since I wanted to share this story and rave about them in this post, I figured these phone pics and my awkward “modeling” were as good as it was going to get.

But please check them out.   If you’re one of my male readers and not into wearing dresses yourself, remember they make great gifts too for any woman you care about. And if you’re a woman, give yourself the gift of one of these. You’ll thank yourself! ;-)


Honestly, nothing to report here in the way of great new recipes because we’ve been in survival mode for quite a while, it seems.  I’ve spent the past two weeks unpacking and putting things away, and before that we were living in a one-bedroom apart-hotel, and before that, we were traveling all summer.  But there are two big differences here since our move.  First, there’s a Thai food place in this town that offers vegetarian selections happily without looking at you like you’re crazy.  They already say as we sit down, “You don’t need the menu, right?” Bliss.

Also, for the first time in two years, I have frozen pizza and frozen yogurt and ice cream in my freezer.  I know this doesn’t say the best thing about nutritional choices maybe, but you guys!  We didn’t live near enough to a commissary to be able to buy these before.  As with the dryer, life feels so much better and easier!


Your turn now!  What are you watching, reading, wearing, and eating?  Also, bonus question: what’s your favorite kind of frozen pizza?  And bonus bonus question: why ice cream or sweet treat is always in your fridge?  

And if you dare, share your own Poopocalypse story... ;-)


  1. You are one extraordinary, amazing girl! SO beautiful; so real; so eloquent in your writing! Love you...

    1. You are so kind! Thank you for the gracious and encouraging words!


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