Audiobooks Surprised Me

For the past six months I’ve been doing a self-made challenge to read an audiobook every month. I thought that it would be really hard to motivate myself to listen to books rather than look at them, but I’ve ended up reading more books than I planned so far. I’m realizing that audiobooks have some traits that are really cool.

They are portable. When I read a paper book, that’s pretty much all I’m doing except for eating. When I listen to audiobooks, I can workout, or draw, or even get groceries (that was a fun day). I really enjoy the freedom to listen to a book while being productive.

I can hear the correct pronunciation of words. I have the occasional habit of picking up words from books, using them in the correct context, but then saying the word entirely wrong. With a good audiobook, I can properly hear how to pronounce new words and names.

There are some downsides to audiobooks. It can be really hard to re-find information or reference parts of an audiobook. In a paper book, you can just turn the page. Also, technology just can’t replace the smell and feel of books. Physical books each have their own personality, and audiobooks don’t have that. But the downsides don’t always have to limit me from enjoying a new experience.

I used to not read audiobooks because they “just aren’t books,” but now I’m starting to appreciate them, not just to replace paper books (because that’s not happening anytime soon), but to compliment them. Books can remove you from the world. Audiobooks can give you new worlds even while your feet are still are the ground. If you don’t read audiobooks, give them a try. They might surprise you.

Back in the Groove – June Goals

It’s been a good month.

First I (read: finally) got caught up on my reading goals.

I read the book Hidden Figures, the fascinating story of the black female computers in NACA (which later became NASA). It showed how underestimated people can rise above other people’s expectations and change history. It was a great book which I would highly recommend. The Audible version was great, but I recommend reading it on paper, because there are a lot of names to remember, which is harder with an audiobook.

I also read the first book in the Percy Jackson series, The Lightning Thief. Even though it’s technically a book written for middle school children and is somewhat predictable, I enjoyed it. I’m now in the middle of the second book, The Sea of Monsters. In the words of C. S. Lewis, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”

Another book worth mentioning is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The book was not a deep read, but it was hilarious, and a good choice for light reading.

Sarah, David and me covered in mud after caving. Loads of fun. Photo Credit: Malia Russell

Another great thing about this month was our family camping trip. We spent a couple of days at a Girl Scout camp in Indiana, hiking, playing games, and staying offline. It was a lot of fun, even though it rained most of the trip. The downside of the trip was that I got a little behind on my Bible reading. Fortunately, I believe that my relationship with God is not dependent on my Bible reading perfection, and I’m getting back in the groove this week.

Also, I just want to briefly mention that I got my license! I’m super excited to be able to drive myself wherever I need to go.

So even though there were a couple of rough spots, this was a good month. I’m starting to get into the groove with my summer schedule, and I’m excited to see how July goes.

Just Sticking with It

Well blog buddies, this week I’ve got nothing. I have a couple of blog post ideas, but none of them are sticking. But I made a commitment to post every week, so I’m going to post. I want to stick with blogging as much as I can, and hopefully next week I’ll have more inspiration. Have a great weekend, and feel free to enjoy a little Sarah Jarosz:

Why I Blog

Ever since I started this blog I’ve struggled with Blog Insecurity. Although I know that it’s not true, I tend to think that my blog is inferior, because my posts aren’t perfect, and I don’t blog professionally. Today, I decided to counteract the lies that I’ve been fighting with the truth.

My blog is not inferior. I blog as a hobby because I enjoy it, and there is nothing wrong with blogging as a hobby. I don’t need to have a perfect blog, or to find my “niche,” or get a lot of views to be a real blogger. I’m a blogger because I blog. That’s the only qualification.

And I’m not blogging to get lots of visitors, or to become more popular. Here are the reasons I blog:


To enjoy myself.

I love writing, and blogging helps me have something that I enjoy doing outside of work and school.

To become a better writer

Writing is an amazing skill, and writing consistently helps me to become better at it.

To remember lessons

When I learn a new lesson, writing it down helps me retain it and put it into practice. When I write posts like “Relearning” or “On Worrying Well,” I’m writing them so I remember them. I want them to help me grow closer to God, and kinder to other people.

To grow self-discipline


Starting to write blog posts every week (and this year twice a week) helped me to grow in consistency, and I’m still growing. I’m learning how to work ahead on blog posts, and how to always be open to new topics. I certainly have room for improvement, but I’ve grown so much in this kind of consistency since I started doing it every week last summer.


To encourage others

This is a tricky one, because I don’t want to blog for a view count. But I do want to encourage any person who decides to stop by and see what I’m thinking about that week, whether they read one post and never come back or read my posts every week.


So I don’t need to worry if no one reads a post that I worked on, or if my posts aren’t perfect. I’m not writing to be “a real blogger.” It’s time for me to stop thinking that way. I’m writing because I love it, and that’s enough for me.



May Goals

I really want to “may”ke a May pun right now.

My little sister and I planted this adorable strawberry planter earlier this month, and it’s actually growing! I probably feel a little too proud of this.
It’s been a good month. I’ve kept up with my Bible goals, and I feel like it’s helping me grow in my relationship with God. I’m still a little behind on my reading goals, so I’m not sure how to get caught up, but I’m going to spend some brain-storming power on it this week so I can get back on track.


I read the book Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See. This was for my book that spans over a character’s whole life. This book gave me an interesting perspective on the history of China, and also taught me more about forgiveness and regret. I would highly recommend it.
I’m still in the middle of Dr. Thorne, and I’m loving it so far! The book is like Jane Austin, but less flowery.
I’m happy with how the Anne’s Earworms posts are turning out. Most of them are shorter than the posts in January, but I like the format they’re in now. This month, I’m most proud of my Summer Break Playlist.
This month, I’ve also been getting ready for a concert on June 3 with my band, 240 Strings. The concert is going to be outdoors and open to the public. If you live in the Louisville area, I would love to see you there!
May has been a fantastic month, and I’m excited to see what happens in June.
What are you most excited about in Summer Break? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section!

How to Make London Fog

One of my favorite tea drinks is London Fog. It originated in Canada, and it’s similar to a latte, but with tea instead of coffee. I love it on rainy days.


Start by boiling some water for tea. You’ll want to brew about half of whatever size mug you’re using of Earl Grey. Brew it for 4-5 minutes, depending on how you usually like Earl Grey.

Our beautiful tea kettle
Earl grey

While it’s brewing, heat up some milk. I usually put about half a cup of milk into out microwave for 50 seconds to a minute. The milk should be steaming, but not boiling. Whole milks works best, as reduced fat milk doesn’t froth much.



Next, whisk the milk. I use our handy stick blender, and whisk it until it’s frothy all of the way through. Add a little bit of vanilla and whisk for a couple of seconds to mix it in.

Frothing the milk.


Take out your teabag from your mug and add the frothy milk.


Adding the frothy milk

This drink is great with scones or a dessert, or by itself. Enjoy!

A London Fog with my dad’s amazing oatmeal scotchies


P. S., here’s the website that taught me how to make London Fog. I make it a little differently than the site recommends, but it was super helpful when I first started making the drink.

Summer Projects

One of my favorite family traditions is our yearly summer projects. Each member in our family picks a project to work on over the summer, and we encourage each other as we work towards our goals. Some people do the projects as groups, and some do it by themselves. The only rule is that the project needs to be something the person hasn’t done before. I couldn’t say that learning piano or running is my summer project. I could say that skydiving is my summer project.

Here are some tips for picking a summer project:


Pick something that excites you.

If you’re not sure what you want to do, think about something that you’ve wanted to try for a while. Last year, I chose blogging every week as my summer project, because it was something I’d wanted to try for a while, but never made time to do before then.


Have a specific goal.

Your goal doesn’t have to be impossible. For my summer project this year, I want to learn some basic Latin. Our family owns a Latin curriculum, so I decided to make my goal to go through the whole book by the end of summer. I don’t expect to be a Latin expert by the end of summer, but I will have learned enough to have some benefits in my writing, and to learn more if I decide that I love it.


Have fun!

Don’t get too uptight about making your goal. A summer project is far more fun if you’re focused on learning and having a good time, rather than whether you’re doing perfectly.


Do you have a summer project? If so, what is it? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section!

A Bit of Frustration – April Goals

The past couple of weeks have been kind of rough. I’ve had a lot of stress because of finals and whatnot, and it’s been hard for me to stay positive. (There were a LOT of tears last week). Last week, I didn’t write my Saturday post or my Earworm for the week. Instead of sitting around being frustrated about it, I’m going to call it a week off, and get back to my routine this week. I’ve finished all but one of my finals, so I’m looking forward to having a little more time to focus on writing and some of my other priorities outside of school.

Also on the positive side of my life, I read a couple of interesting books this month. I finished Uninvited, by Lysa TerKeurst, which my sister Christina recommended. The book was good, and there were a few excellent points in it. I also read Animal Farm, by George Orwell. Like 1984, this book was dark and fascinating. It made me think about the world in a different way. I would highly recommend it. I started the book Dr. Thorne, by Anthony Trollope. My mom and I watched through the BBC series based on the book, and I’m excited to see if I love the book as much as I loved the series. So far I like it.

I’m a little behind on several of my goals, but I’m trying to focus on doing well now, rather than sitting around regretting the busyness of the past couple of weeks. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this Kate Rusby song:

Positively Negative

This is a weird subject for me to write about, because it is something I fail in a lot: staying positive. I tend to get bogged down in my dark thoughts and anxiety. I’m writing this post to inspire myself, and maybe even help you. I think the best way to do this is to use a real- life example.

Last Saturday I was far behind on my math. I had been spending a lot of time with my sister who was in town for a week (which was amazing), and I had a lot of other school to tackle, because finals are coming up soon. So, on Saturday, along with my blog post, some other school, and music practice, I had more math than I could tackle in a day. I was struggling with one of the concepts, and it was taking me much longer than I thought it should. I did not have a good attitude. All I could think about was that I would never get it down in a day, and that I would have to do it on Sunday, and that I wouldn’t get my blog post done, again, and that I would fail the class and be shamed by all of my engineering school friends (my thoughts are crazy sometimes). I was in this loop most of the morning, and I made very little progress on anything, because my brain wasn’t focused. This is a sadly typical negative response that I have to hard things, especially being behind schedule.

At around 3, I realized that I wasn’t getting anything done, because I was too busy worrying and hating myself. I had a decision to make. I could continue my negative feedback loop, and continue to do nothing. Or, I could try changing my attitude. I decided to change my attitude. Instead of focusing on what I wasn’t getting down, I decided to focus on what I could get done, and let go of the rest. I focused on getting done the math that I could, and not everything else I wasn’t doing. Even though my attitude was better, I still didn’t get everything done. I didn’t write a blog post. I didn’t finish all of my math, so I had to finish it on Sunday. My attitude didn’t change all of the circumstances, but it did change how I handled it. I was free to focus, and free to relax and enjoy the learning process.

So this week, I want to focus on staying positive. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to pretend that everything is perfect, or even force myself to not feel sad. I just will move on from the stress and sadness, rather than stay stuck in the muck of my own attitude. I need a lot of practice, and I’m choosing to start now.

How do you fight negative thinking? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments section!

Three Tea Activities

In my March Goals post, I mentioned reading the book The Essential Tea Companion, from Heart books. This book inspired me to try some different tea-centered activities. Here are three of them:


A tea party with friends

Our cake from Cakes for Adoption

We had 9 ladies over, including Mom and me, and we had a great time.

We made two different types of tea (Almond Cookies and Paris in a Teacup, both from Sisters Tea Parlor). We made a couple snacks, and ordered a cake from a friend’s company Cake’s for Adoption. My mom had the great idea of asking each lady to share a favorite Spring memory and something they were looking forward to this Summer. This gave everyone a topic to discuss and helped the conversation get rolling. The party was a lot of fun, and even though we didn’t spend tons of time on prep, we got to have fun with some friends. Here’s my Mom’s post about our tea party.





A math themed tea.

A daily teatime

My mom mentioned this idea to me (she’s my tea buddy) and I decided to try it. Every day at around 3, I make tea. Sometimes I make a snack, sometimes I don’t bother. I let whoever wants to join me. I haven’t had tea alone yet. This is a great opportunity to check in with my family. Sometimes I have to drink tea while working on math, but when I’m not working, I can ask my family about their days. This helps me connect with them outside of dinner time.

My younger siblings (mostly Daniel and Rebecca right now) had a chance to practice manners in a fun environment. We’ve practiced not slurping (which made for lots of laughs), properly setting tables, and speaking kindly.




Making sun tea

A picnic tea

I packed a snack, a book, and a jar to make sun tea. I went for a walk in the woods behind our house, and then read while I waited for my sun tea to finish. To make the sun tea, I put several tea bags and water into a jar (I used about 3 tea bags per pint of water), and left it in the sun for a couple of hours. I like to put sugar in it and then ice it when I’m done. I learned this from the Essential Tea Companion. I liked planning the solo outing, and I got to enjoy tea and nature.

What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy tea? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!