July 2020 Monthly Wrap-Up

July went by so quickly. I can’t believe it’s over! Health-wise I struggled a lot in July, with some difficult new symptoms on top of my usual ones. I went to physical therapy each week and had five additional medical appointments, a couple of them last-minute affairs in an attempt to get some relief from these new symptoms. (I also hit my 50th medical appointment of 2020. How exciting.)

Despite all of that, I was also able to do some fun things this month: a couple of voice lessons, lunch with Victoria, a brief visit on the Fourth of July with family and friends, visiting Brooke at her work with Kenna, watching one of Joshua’s baseball games, a photoshoot at a local sunflower farm with Kenna, lunch with Andrea, visiting a Bible study with Kenna, and lunch here with Mom, Joshua, Mrs. Celeste and Emma, plus a few other times with family.

Overall, in July I was glad to have more time at home, and I really enjoyed the little daily things!

This month I’m…

Reading: The Ministry of Ordinary Places, Shannan Martin. The First Four Years, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Field Notes on Love, Jennifer E. Smith (reread). Save the Date, Morgan Matson (reread). A Spoonful of Sugar, Brenda Ashford. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, Lysa Terkheurst. If I’m Being Honest and Time of Our Lives, Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka. The Boxcar Children, The Yellow House Mystery, and The Bicycle Mystery, Gertrude Warner (rereads). Spring Days with the Moody’s, Sarah Maxwell (reread). The Bridge Home, Padma Venkatraman. Girl in the Dark, Anna Lyndsey. The Midnight Society, Marie Lu. Nothing to Prove, Jennie Allen. Love from A to Z, S.K. Ali. Proud, Ibtihaj Muhammad. Just Breathe, Cammie McGovern. American Royals and The Thousandth Floor, Katharine McGee. The Trumpet of the Swan, E.B. White (reread). 22 total.

Listening to: Axel Mansoor (especially Cold Sweat and Talk To Me). Chainsmoking, Jacob Banks. Never Gonna Let You Go, Ben Rector. Sad Girl Summer, Maisie Peters. I Feel Good About This, The Mowgli’s. Love & War in Your Twenties, Jordy Searcy. Okay, Peter Fenn. Graves Into Gardens, Elevation Worship.

Watching: Hamilton. Shayla Kelley and Stephanie Buttermore on YouTube. Sessions from Diamonds 2020 and 2019. The Frey Life (like, obsessively, many videos a day).

Eating and/or cooking: Watermelon Rice Krispies (never again). A Fourth of July charcuterie board. Blueberry muffins (never again). Homemade pizza (never again). Medium cantina salsa from Walmart. Turkey lunch meat with red bell pepper. A piano cake. Chicken and baked potatoes. Cucumber (never again). Pear. Oatmeal banana peanut butter cookies. The best sandwich ever: Turkey, red bell pepper, avocado, red onion, and mustard on a toasted ciabatta roll. And, believe it or not, many days not much.

Writing: Outside of work (I’m only able to work a few hours a day right now), I did four more interviews for the nonfiction book I’m writing. Then I decided to take a break from interviewing so I could transcribe the interviews I’ve already done, organize the information, and work out outlining the book. I also wrote 52 letters and received 40 in July.

Buying: Washi tape and other stationery items from Shein. Some cute dishes, mugs, and washi from Hobby Lobby. A small trash can to go in my room so my trash from letter-writing sessions doesn’t get all over the floor (and in the cat’s tail…). A necklace from Handstamped Stories by Stephanie that says “still good.” A sweatshirt from The Frey Life (which I am never taking off ever again). A new symptom tracker journal. Sweatpants that actually fit (which I’m also never taking off).

Learning / grateful for: As detailed in this blog post, this month the biggest thing I learned was that when you have to live day to day, it’s easier when you recognize how beautiful the day to day can be.

What did you do in July? What are your plans for August?

 

 

Joy in the day to day

I’ve been learning so much this summer about how the kingdom of heaven is in the ordinary things. How we can glorify God even through what seems mundane. How to find joy in the everyday. And it’s been such an important and timely thing for me to realize!

I’ve always known and appreciated these general concepts. But they’ve become far more meaningful to me over the past few months. Because of my health, it’s often a major effort to complete daily tasks like doing the dishes, reading a book, or taking a shower. So it’s hugely encouraging for me to remember that even though these small activities may be all I can handle, they’re still places where the Kingdom can come and God can be glorified. When you have to live day to day, it’s easier to live day to day when you recognize how beautiful the day to day can be.

flower

In the words of Jennie Allen in Nothing to Prove, the mundane parts of life aren’t the enemy to God’s movement–they are the soil for it. Elisabeth Elliott points out in Be Still My Soul that the way of the cross is an ordinary street in an ordinary city, an ordinary life lived in the grace of God.

And Sally and Sarah Clarkson share beautiful thoughts about this in The Life-Giving Home, where they point out that the reality of incarnation–the way that the physical trappings of our lives and our use of time and space are places where God either comes in His creative presence or remains at bay–means nothing is neutral. Every rhythm and atom of existence are spaces in which the Kingdom can come. The remnants of Eden reach out to us in the very stuff of the everyday.

These things I’ve been learning this summer have all been so important and freeing for me. And with that all being said, I thought I would share a few of the things in my daily life that have been bringing me joy lately!

hailey2

Writing letters

I haven’t been able to write as many letters recently, and I’m trying not to push myself to keep up (letter writing is one of those things I do when I’m fake resting–i.e. I’m doing something that aggravates many of my symptoms, but I’m telling myself it’s restful to make me feel better, lol). But I’m still getting out several per week, and it is just so fun!

I’ve always loved to write letters, but I don’t even remember what I used to do before I had enough to keep me busy every day of the week. I love getting mail, I love sending mail, I love all of it! And of course, with writing letters comes the fun of buying washi tape and stationery and stickers, haha. I now have so many supplies accumulated that it’s easy to theme the entire letter and make sure the envelope, letter, and extras all color coordinate and match.

letter

The Frey Life

I’ve known who Peter and Mary Frey are for a long time, and I think I’d watched a few of their vlogs here and there in the past. But recently I became absolutely obsessed with their channel and have been having the best time binge watching all of their old vlogs! I absolutely love them and their approach to life. Maybe one day soon, our paths will cross on a couple of different chronic illness ministry projects that are in the works. The Freys are the best–and in keeping with the theme of this post, they do a great job of showing how the day to day can be joyful and fun!

frey

Oatmeal banana peanut butter cookies

Last weekend I made the most amazing cookies–I’m obsessed with them. They’re nothing special, but in so many ways they’re the perfect meal for me! The base ingredients of these cookies are bananas, oats, and peanut butter. I also added coconut, honey, and vegan chocolate chips. Then I baked the cookies at 350 for 15 minutes (they also tasted good raw–similar to energy balls).

The cookies are decently high-calorie and high-protein. They’re sweet without having a lot of refined sugar. And they have a lot of potassium (which is important for me, because a medication I take three times a day depletes your potassium). Basically, they’re the perfect thing for me to eat, and they seem to sit with my stomach okay most days. They’re also just delicious!!!

cookies

These are a few of the things that are bringing me the most joy in my daily life right now. Let me know in the comments what’s bringing you joy in yours!

How to Make an Affordable Charcuterie Board at Walmart!

I love charcuterie boards and themed snack platters. I fell completely in love with them last year (in fact, I think this process was duly documented during Blogmas). But because of busy schedules and me being so sick last winter and COVID happening, I didn’t get an opportunity to make one until this past weekend for the Fourth of July.

charctuerie

My one drawback about charcuterie boards was that they can easily get expensive. But for my Fourth of July board, I decided to just buy everything I wanted to put on it and not worry about the money.

When I added everything up, I was pleasantly surprised: My “fancy” charcuterie board came in right at $20.00! Here’s a breakdown of what I bought (I get all my groceries at Walmart) and how I arranged it so you can make your own themed charcuterie board, too.

My Fourth of July Charcuterie Board

I made my board on a rectangular tray with two small bowls in the middle. One bowl had salsa and the other had red, white, and blue M&Ms. Around the salsa bowl, I put savory or salty snacks–blue corn chips, white American cheese cut into stars, and red bell pepper slices. I put the sweet stuff on the other side of the board–strawberries, marshmallows, blueberries, and white chocolate pretzels.

Here’s how the pricing broke down (everything from Walmart’s online grocery order option):

  • Plastic serving tray — $2.47
  • Marshmallows — already had
  • M&M’s — $2.98
  • Strawberries — $1.76
  • Blueberries — $3.28
  • White chocolate covered pretzels — $1.98
  • Red bell pepper — $1.38
  • Salsa — already had
  • Blue corn chips — $2.98
  • White American cheese — $1.88
  • Star shaped cookie cutter — $0.97

Including the cookie cutter and serving tray, everything for the board cost $19.68. I could only eat the bell peppers, marshmallows, and the chips and salsa, but it sure looked pretty! Now that I’ve finally made a charcuterie board / themed snack platter of my own, I’ve even more hooked on them and can’t wait to make more–especially now that I know how inexpensive they can be. 🙂

Also, here’s a picture of the watermelon Rice Krispies I managed to make for the Fourth because somebody besides my immediate family needs to appreciate how cute they are. (Social distancing holidays, amirite?)

rice krispy

This past weekend was very rough for me physically (as every day is right now, unfortunately)–but I had so much fun making this board and can’t wait to do another one soon!

Hope you had a happy and safe Fourth! Have you ever made a charcuterie board or themed snack platter?