Seriously, Sarah?
25. 11. 2014

So, last week, I finished the Winter Reading Challenge. You can read my list of projected books here!

winter reading

This is what I actually read:

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that fits the general rules. — Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter
10 points: Read a book written by an author who has published at least 10 books. — The Burning Room, Michael Connely
10 points: Read a book of short stories. — Everything that Rises Must Converge, Flannery O’Connor
10 points: Read a book with a food (not a drink!) in the title. — Still Life with Bread Crumbs, Anna Quindlen
15 points: Read the first book in a series that is new to you (so no rereads for this one!). — The Fall of Giants, Ken Follett
15 points: Read a book that was originally written in a language that is not your native language. — The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
15 points: Read a book written by a local author (either an author from your state if you live in the United States, or in your country if you live somewhere else—note: author must be from where you currently live). — The Water is Wide, Pat Conroy
20 points: Read a “bookish book” (in which books play an important role, e.g. the setting involves a bookstore or library, a major character is an author, or a book that celebrates reading and books. — Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store, Robin Sloan
20 points: Read a book with a direction in the title (e.g. north, south, east, west or any combination of those). — East of Eden, Steinbeck
25 points: Read a book from a genre you don’t usually read. — The Blind Assassin (Sci-Fi), Margaret Atwood
25 points: Read a book with a song lyric in the title. Be sure to tell us the song name and artist as well! — The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes, “Girl You Left Behind,” Pixie Lott
30 points: Read two books with a different meal in each title (e.g. breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, brunch; update: meals like feast, banquet, picnic will also count, but try not to get too “creative” with your meal words!). – Breakfast of Champions, Vonnegut; Thirteen at Dinner, Agatha Christy

Total: 200

I also read some other great books so far this month, so stay tuned for the whole list (and my thoughts on the books) in December!

24. 11. 2014

currently 2


Ok, I know that I haven’t been around recently. I think it’s because I have actually been living a life. I don’t mean that I’m out living my pre-dystonia life, but I have been having lunch with my grandma, spending time with my husband, and those sorts of fun things!

So, I am currently…

Working on// The Winter Reading Challenge. Let’s just say that I’m dominating.

fall of giants

Drinking// French press coffee! I picked up some vanilla maple for Brian for our anniversary, but I’ve been drinking it…

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Smelling// lots of candles! I picked up a caramel espresso scent and tons of pumpkin/apple/spice scents from Walmart. Love them!



Enjoying// Stretching. I have been stretching 30 minutes every day. It is very calming. I have a 30 minute stretching video from my Slim in Six series (leg heavy) and another 10 minute section from another DVD (arm heavy). Anyway, I like them both. If anyone has any other suggestions for guided stretching videos, I would love them! I have problems with yoga because it hurts my neck, so you don’t need to suggest it!


Feeling// Cozy! I have been layering everything. Wearing thick socks, leg warmers, sweaters, and scarves. It just feels so great!


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Adoring// My puppies in matching sweaters. I had to give Josie a haircut in order to get her into a sweater, but it was worth it!

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Wearing// purple nail polish! I love this color! And Sally Hansen’s “full manicure” brand seems to last the longest for me.

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17. 11. 2014

So, I loved my first Stitchfix. I ended up keeping a wonderful plaid tunic that I am still looking for more of at the stores and a long gray sweater. I have worn both of them a lot. I did ask for no more horizontally striped clothes, though. Due to the turn around time, I didn’t get a chance to snap photos last time. This time I did!

Stitchfix #2

Kalliope Open Front Swing Cardigan  – $78


I liked the swingy feel of the cardigan, like the name says, but honestly, I have many black cardigans of varying length. This item was just something that I could pick up at Steinmart or TJ Maxx for a quarter of the price.

Result: Returned

Ziegler Ribbed Edge Infinity Scarf – $38



I do like this scarf, but I have a burgundy infinity scarf that is almost an exact match.

Result: Returned.

Celine Textured Colorblock Blouse – $58 004

This shirt was definitely cute, but I have a ton of cute shirts.

Result: Returned.

Mollee Dolman Sleeve Striped Dress – $74


Well, I did ask for no more horizontally striped clothes, especially when they are Dolman sleeved. The dress wasn’t horrible, but I have tons of comfortable dresses that are far more flattering.

Result: Returned.

Denna Skinny Jeans – $78
006I’ll admit it. I am a LAZY jean shopper. When my jeans stop fitting, I stop wearing them. But, I don’t get new ones. I just switch to dresses, leggings, or even JEAN leggings. Jean leggings do better with my weight fluctuations. When I first saw these, I didn’t think there was a chance that I would keep them, but I tried them on. Wow. They fit like the best jeans that I’ve ever had. Actually, right now they’re my only real denim jeans. They look great with flats, boots, and pretty much all of my shoes. I can sit comfortably, but they don’t stretch out too much. Normally, I wouldn’t spend this much on jeans, but if they’re my only/most worn pair, I thought it would be worth it.

Result: Kept!

If you’re thinking about trying out a Stitchfix, you can sign up with my referral link, here!


14. 11. 2014

I am here to share a few of my favorite posts from the last week or so. I’ve been focusing more on my health and less on blogging, so I didn’t read as much as I would have liked. However, I did manage to scrape some posts together for this week!

Beth, at Oak & Oats, wrote about her Community Group. I’ve been in Charlotte for over two years, and I can really only count good friends on one hand still. And most of those are friends from college or family. Recently, I have started to find my way into great community, and I am SO thankful for it! I had a wonderful community in DC. I need it for my soul.

Rebecca shared her story about Thirteen Years with Crohn’s Disease. It was a wonderful picture of how she coped and survived!

Food that I want to Make:
Megan, at A Latte Everyday, gave us her recipe for homemade CROCKPOT (I’m a sucker for the crockpot) applesauce. I want to make this. Now.

Last week Ashlen shared the picture of her dog’s Halloween costumes. They are way too cute! I can’t get over them. I want to hug those dogs!

And that’s all she (they) wrote, folks. See you next week!

All The Joys Friday Favorites

What You May Have Missed This Week:

+My one year wedding anniversary!
+An open letter to the person who searched girls as human pets and hit my blog
+How my moods, health, and the seasons affect my writing
+A guest post about supporting adoption (must read!)

13. 11. 2014

I have a great guest post from Natalie at Little Things + Big Stuff. She’s here today to tell you about adoption, and how you can support her family’s journey! {Side note: I bought one of the great tshirts, and you should, too!} If you have any questions about her story or adoption, please visit her website here!

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At the ages of 24 and 25 with a lot of student debt, my husband and I decide to begin an international adoption. We had been married only six months.

I’ve had a long-term interest in adoption and foster care after following the blog of a family friend as she honestly shared about the joys and challenges of the adoption process and life as an adoptive family. After only about two months of dating, I shared this interest with my then-boyfriend. I knew it would be a deal-breaker if he wasn’t interested in adoption as a primary means to building a family. Thankfully, he was totally on board, and the strong feelings I already had for him deepened.

We got married several months later, and started the adoption process. Hopeful, nervous, and super excited. The plan was to adopt one newborn between the ages of birth to six months old from a country in Central Africa. At that time, the process took about a year start to finish. (You’re already laughing, right? The plan never goes as planned!) We had a slight understanding of the challenges we might face, but we were ready to handle whatever God brought us through.

A few months later, we joyfully accepted a referral for twin six-month-old boys. Though everything went as expected the first several months, we hit some challenges and delays soon after. The plan not going as planned messed me up. I was scared and disappointed and angry at my husband for no good reason. But God continued to pursue me through it, and I learned to accept the peace and patience He was trying to offer me all along.

It’s more than two years later now. We’ve moved, we’ve gotten new jobs, we’ve gotten a dog, and I’ve experienced a major health scare. Our sons are still not in our home. We remain committed to them and committed to understanding every detail available to us about their lives before they come into our home. We also remain committed to adoption as a primary family-building method. We have a strong desire to learn how to even more effectively parent adopted children.

And, really exciting: We recently shared our plans to pursue a concurrent domestic adoption! It’s been something we’ve prayed about for a couple of years now, as all types of adoption have always been on our minds. For a while, we weren’t hearing a clear answer from God. We just couldn’t believe we’d have room in our hearts for the spectrum of emotions that comes with a commitment to adoption. But He’s made us believe the risk is worth it. So, we are now happily committed to growing our family tree to include three children and two brave birth families.

I feel a lot of peace as I consider the ways our lives are nothing like how we planned yet still fully within the plans God had all along. He has been good to us.

In the past few years, I’ve worn ragged a t-shirt from Light Gives Heat that says “There Is Beauty In Risk.” I recently contacted the organization to see if they minded if we designed our own version, and they generously shared the original design with us. We’re selling the shirts as a reminder to ourselves and others that the risk is beautiful! View and order “There Is Beauty In Risk” t-shirts here.


Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset Natalie is a part-time social worker and adoptive mama. She lives with her husband and dog in  Indianapolis, and she blogs about adoption, foster care, faith, marriage, and home at little things + big  stuff.


12. 11. 2014

Last night, I was trying to think of topics to write about. I felt really uninspired, so I tried to think of what I wrote about in the past to jog those creative juices. I went back over some of my most popular posts, to see if I could do a spin-off. That’s when I noticed a trend in my writing.

Moods, Seasons, &

Honestly, my biggest posts, “stats-wise,” have come out of hard times. They’ve come from places of sadness, depression, and pain. Usually, though, something like a song (music is so therapeutic, right?) inspired my posts. Songs can just hit me in a way that makes a whole essay flow out of me. I am always grateful that God created people who can put beautiful thoughts to beautiful music. Sometimes I have nice thoughts, but you wouldn’t want to hear me put it to music! :)

During the summer, though, even when I was feeling very poorly, my posts were a lot “brighter,” which fit with the season. I think I was able to draw on some of the energy that comes from summer, even though I lacked it myself, to write. I started my blog last February, so as the weather warmed up, my posts got happier, even though I was dealing with a headache that lasted longer than a month and ended in an IV drip of medication. I had some horrible losses and illnesses this summer, but I was still able to write consistently. Occasionally, my real feelings slipped in, but I really think that the season and weather affected my writing.

In September, I kind of gave up. The summer was over, I was sick, and I was just out of energy. I didn’t have the festive feeling of summer to help me write posts about fruit infused waters, what to wear to a concert, or my favorite lip gloss. That’s when I decided to only post when I could. The posts that did come out were negative, bitter, and angry.

When I started blogging, I always had tons of posts waiting to be published. Now, I write the day before or whenever the mood strikes. I put a lot less pressure on myself to churn out “pinterest worthy” content every day, and I am a lot happier. Sometimes frustration leads to some great posts, but I am not willing to let my health suffer for a blog/hobby. I guess that goes back to the stereotype of the tortured artist. I did a lot of my best writing in college when I was struggling with untreated neurological problems and depression. I focused every ounce of energy that I had on researching and writing. But the downside to that is that I had to drop out of graduate school because I could keep up with the reading, but the illnesses prevented me from finishing written assignments. In fact, I think my cognitive function was affected because I usually didn’t understand the assignments.

When my mood is improved, sometimes I am flat out of blog post ideas. Since writing is therapeutic for me, if I am not feeling particularly in need of therapy, I run dry with ideas. But I would rather have good days and happy relationships than good blog posts. I guess that I am not as thoughtful and introspective when I am in a good mood. I am able to focus outwards instead of inwards.

With all of that being said, writing is definitely my passion. I want to be able to write from a place of joy, as well as from the pain. I want to be able to draw inspiration from everything. I want to sharpen my ability to put thoughts into words. Right now, my posts are very superficial or vague “life thoughts,” type posts. Every blogger has to walk the fine line between sharing themselves through words and maintaining privacy. I hope to be able to share more specifics of my life by next summer. For now, I will have to continue to write about my grand conclusions, rather than the specifics of my life that bring me to the conclusions.

11. 11. 2014

Hi friend,

Aside from the fact that humanpet should be two separate words, I have a few problems with your search term. I also have endless questions. Endless questions.

You hit my blog with that search term. I’d love to know what page you landed on. Did you find what you were looking for? If you didn’t, could I provide more information about girls as human pets? We can start with that you can’t keep a girl as a human pet. That’s called slavery. There was this huge thing back in the 1800’s where they got rid of it. Maybe you’ve heard of it. I don’t know. Depends on where you went to school, I guess.

Do you think you could get someone to volunteer? Indentured servitude? The whole procurement issue is a problem.

If you are pro-slavery, though, I guess that doesn’t matter. But, let’s just be practical. Keeping a girl as a human pet (although, props to you for remembering her humanity) is logistically difficult. Have you ever watched Law & Order? Criminal Minds? Any tv? Even in the most squalid conditions, you would need to provide nutritious food, some exercise, sunshine, and all of that good stuff, or she’ll die.

Now, I am going to have to assume that you want to keep her alive. Like any pet, you want to make it as happy as possible for as long as possible. I have two real dogs, so I spend a lot of time giving them affection, feeding them, letting them outside, and playing with them. People are even harder to keep as pets, I would imagine. While a girl might be more self sufficient than my little dogs, she will also have a lot more needs. Medical care, hygiene, food, clothes, and entertainment costs will add up. A full grown girl needs to be supported, and that’s expensive. I would suggest getting a girlfriend, getting married, and just having a baby, but you are probably not mature enough for that whole shindig – based on the fact you want to keep a girl for a pet. A wife would have a job and contribute to the family, but you’re not looking for that, right? I am just not sure what you’re looking for because girls as humanpet is rather vague.  If you’re lonely, maybe a cat? A cat seems like an ok place to start.

And to be ultra clear here, a girl is not like a Nano Pets. Although, like a Nano Pet, you’d need to give a girl constant attention to gain “points.” It’s like dating, but I guess you would own her? And all of this presumes that she won’t run away.

I hate how much I have to assume. Next time, could you maybe make your search term a little more specific? I’d like a thesis in a standard five paragraph essay to explain your search term. That would really clarify things for everyone.

Upon reflection on all of this, you should probably watch that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where the guy makes a robot girlfriend and it ends terribly. Think about how a real girl would turn out. I would recommend trying a Nano Puppy. I had one in elementary school and it was SO MUCH FUN. I even got in trouble for playing with it during gym class. Everyone played with them on the playground. This was all pre-smart phones, though. So the novelty might be gone now.

nano puppy

If you have any more questions about girls as humanpets, let me leave you with this: I am a girl. My husband would never keep me as a pet. I think he would give me back, if he could. And he soberly entered into matrimony with me. So, just give this one a realllllllllllllly long, hard look. And then change your mind.

Bless your heart,

P.S. The plural girl in your search term also terrifies me a little. Do you think you could manage more than one?!

10. 11. 2014

I am super grateful for one year of marriage! Yesterday was our one year of marriage. We’ve been through so many trials in the past year, so I’m impressed that we made it this far. I have to give Brian and his steady character and commitment credit for this. Also, the support of our family helped a lot.

So, I am grateful for one year of learning to be married with my best friend in the world. (Don’t tell the dogs that they aren’t really my best friends).

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After the wedding:


The honeymoon!

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Here is to many, many more years! I love you, Brian!

Ember Grey

07. 11. 2014

Cervical (3)

Ok, if you’ve decided to get Botox for your dystonia, you probably know what I’m talking about. There is definite pain that comes from the shots. I’ve had three different doctors give me injections. There is always burning after the shots, but depending on the technique of the doctor, I had different amounts of pain after the shots. I’m not talking about pain that comes from waiting for the Botox to kick in or when the Botox is too strong. I’m talking about pain right where the shots go into your body.

I am not a doctor. These are just techniques that I use:

-Ibuprofen for two days before the shots. In order to prevent some of the inflammation from the shots, the ibuprofen helps prevent some of that. If you can’t tolerate taking it orally, there is a prescription cream that is an anti-inflammatory called Voltaren.
If you think about it, getting the shots if fairly traumatic to your body. The needles are long and go into very tight muscles. I know that I feel like I’ve been in a car crash the next day.
-Pain killers. I take a prescription pain killer about 30 minutes before I get my shots. I don’t take enough to make me fall asleep, but I think it helps. If you are new to getting shots, your doctor may still be trying to figure out where to put the shots, so I would ask the doctor about taking anything that could relax your muscles. Since mine go in the same place every time for 3 years, I feel ok about taking it. My doctor only consults a chart from the previous time, even though she uses an EMG machine. She goes so fast that there is no way she can hear it.
-Ice. While heat might seem like a good idea, it will only increase blood flow to the area, which will increase the inflammation.
-Rest and support your neck. If you are experiencing pain, don’t push yourself. If you can sit in a recliner, rather than a regular chair, sit there!
-Listen to your body! If you need to sleep, sleep. If you need pain medication or a muscle relaxer, this is not the time to be stoic.

I hope some of those tips will help you through getting your Botox shots. I know that it’s only 3-4 times a year, but they are very disruptive in my life. It took a few years of shots in order to get my routine in order.

06. 11. 2014

How (1)

For the past few months, I have averaged around a book every other day. When I post my monthly reading list, people are always surprised at how many books that I am able to finish. Here are a few of my tips:

-I listen to Audible books at 2 times the speed. (You can read about how I save money on Audible books here.)

-Since I listen to the Audible books on my iPad and phone, which sync together, I am able to carry them around the house with me. I listen while I do chores, pet the dogs, or generally tidy up.

-Again, since it syncs with my phone, I make sure to carry headphones. That way, I can listen while I am always, always waiting in the doctor’s office.

-I get audiobooks from the library. I keep an easy, shorter read, like an Agatha Christy novel, in the car. That way I can listen while I am driving to and from appointments. Some of my doctors are an hour or more away.

-When I listen to other audiobooks from the library, I listen at 2 times the speed on Windows Media Player or a VLC player, depending on which player decides to cooperate.

-I always have a book that I’m reading on Kindle or paperback. Then I keep it in my purse.

-I make tough choices. Sometimes I want to binge on TV, but if I want to finish the book that I started, I chose to read instead of watching TV. I guess it’s about choices.

-I quit reading books that I hate. I used to try to hang on through the bitter end, but not anymore. I did waste some time on four books that I didn’t like last month, but in the end, I stopped listening. I just couldn’t finish. I wanted to spend time on books that I actually like. When I don’t like a book, I take so much longer to finish it.