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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

3 Things That Will Revolutionize Your Day


     Time. It's so short. And so long. So brief. So infinite.

     There are 24 hours in a day. 60 minutes to an hour. 60 seconds to a minute.

     But you knew that. And I'm not here to tell you something you already know.

     Lots of high schoolers (and adults) struggle with managing their time. They work late into the night on homework because they wasted two hours on Pinterest before dinner. I'm guilty of not managing my own time well as much as the next girl (or guy.)

     But I have found three things have revolutionized my day compared to the average American's. These are sleep, habits, and healthy food.

     Sleep (or the lack of it) greatly affects how anyone operates during the day. Doctors recommend eight hours of sleep. I personally think that if you're used to...say, five hours of sleep a night, try to get up to eight.

     Five hours sounds like so little to me. That's what I get at sleepovers! (From about 3 am-8 am.)

     Beauty sleep is important for your all-round health, your skin, and your digestive system.

     Americans need to get more sleep! 10 pm-7 am are the prime hours your body NEEDS to be asleep. To get to sleep easily (without the hours of wakefulness I used to have) don't eat or have any screen time during the hour or two before bed. Especially sugar and caffeine! No sugar or caffeine after 8 pm!

     This will help you be more awake when you're awake and more asleep when you're asleep.

 
     Secondly, habits. Your daily rituals (some of which you don't even realize you have) will either help you or keep you from being productive during the day.

     If you get on your phone or computer first thing in the morning, you're likely to waste about an hour scrolling through things that aren't even important.

     But the first two hours of your day are the most important! They're the ones you can be most productive during (especially after a good night's rest). Even if you're not a morning person, put down your phone and get moving in the morning. Do some school work, go exercise, or clean your house so it's ready for the day.

     Daily habits of brushing your teeth or drinking eight glasses of water or journaling about your day will help you to 1. get those things done faithfully and 2. leave space for other things as you get better and better about establishing these rhythms.

     Finally, good (good for you) food and lots of water will keep you alert, energetic, and healthy. Don't have a bowl of fruit loops or donuts for breakfast. They will get your body and mind off to a bad start. Don't grab a bag of potato chips or bowl of ice cream for your snack. They'll mess with your digestive system, immune system, and all the other wonderful things God built into your body.

     Don't do it! Drinking lots of water (NOT COKE) will help you to quench those cravings. Often we eat when we are really thirsty. Water is the best possible thing in the world for us. All of America is so dehydrated. Never stop drinking water. In fact, go get a glass or bottle of it right now. Just reading about it is probably making you thirsty.

     Those are my three tips. The three things that set me and others apart from the people who say "tired" or "bored" or "stressed" whenever someone asks how they're doing. Those are lethargic, beaten-down answers. Let's rise above them. Join me.

     (P.S. If you're as excited about this as I am and want me to come help you sleep better, form good habits, eat better, etc, I would love to help you out. Email me. Subscribers can just hit reply to this email.)

~Madeline

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sometimes I Forget I Have You

 
Dear blog,

     You're so wonderful. And you're always there when I need you. Even though I sometimes forget I have you, you're always in the back of my mind when I snap the perfect photo or stage my room.

     You brighten my day and surprise me when some posts turn out better than others. You're a special place to write the best things, post the cute pictures, and rant about anything and everything.

     If I make cookies, you're there to eat them with me. If I need more than 140 characters, you'll let me go on and on and on and ... well, you get the point.

     I find pretty pictures for you, and you respond by making them even more beautiful with a white backdrop. You taught me how to write better, live better, and faithfully deliver content (sometimes.)

     I can do whatever I want with you because you are my baby. I can raise you as a hippie or a clown or a sophisticated librarian. I can teach you how to cook or clean or read or do jumping jacks. I can try my hand at HTML coding and widgets and all those other techy things.

     I can laugh louder at myself because you allow me to express my words. You make me feel ingenious and crazy and wise and adventurous.

     You're my Little Decorator, and I thank you.

~Madeline

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How to Become a Bookworm ~ A Poetic Journey

 
So you wanna be a bookworm?
First, you must become a reader.
Readers read.
They read everything in sight.
 
Readers read at night, during the day, and every second in between.
Readers read a variety of books, so you should too.
Read fiction and fantasy.
Read non-fiction and memoirs.
 
Read pretty books.
Judge them by their covers.
And rescue some poor dusty pages from the library.
Fan your face with the nearest book.
 
All bookworms love their books thoroughly.
You can dog-ear, spill food, highlight, doodle in the margins, and have a tattered book.
Or you can treasure your books with no show of wear.
Either way, your books will know you love them.


Read long series.
Read trilogies.
Read the classics.
Read the new books.

Carry a book with you everywhere.
Did I mention you should never ever be without a book?
You'll regret it when you're caught in a long period of waiting without one.
Because a book is an escape, a peaceful reminder of better things.

Fill your brain with knowledge.
Read what others wrote.
Travel to anther place.
Recommend your favorite to other people.

Readers will read anything.
Read books with 10 pages.
Read books with 800 pages.
And everything in between.

Bookworms consider books their most treasured possession.
Bookworms are probably in the middle of a lot of books.
And they have thousands on their to-be-read list.
And that's ok.

How to be a bookworm is quite simple.
Just fill your shelves, heart, and home with books.
Their worlds will stay with you long past the time you read "THE END."
And that's what counts.

~Madeline

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Best Books for Pre-teen Girls


     I've been asked a lot in my lifetime what books I recommend. I love giving personal recommendations, especially to people who I know well enough to judge what they would like. My mom prayed for me when I was younger that I would have a love for reading, and I always have!

     I'd love to share with you my favorite books for pre-teen girls (8-12 years old). I'd consider myself an expert since I read in a variety of genres, was just a pre-teen myself not too long ago, and have lots of friends in that age group.

The series:
  1. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  2. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
  3. Mandie series by Lois Gladys Leppard (I devoured all 40 of these super short mysteries.)
  4. The Bible by God (duh!)
  5. Pippi Longstocking books by Astrid Lindgren
  6. A Life of Faith series (adapted from Martha Finley's Elsie Dinsmore)
  7. The Giver quartet by Lois Lowry
  8. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  9. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  10. Redwall by Brian Jacques (the only books on this list I haven't personally read)
The stand-alone books:
  1. Matilda by Roald Dahl
  2. Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
  3. Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick
  4. The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
  5. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (a gentle introduction to the topic of the Holocaust)
  6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  7. Tales From Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb (a story-form into to the Bard)
  8. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
  9. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (an intro to the Salem Witch trials)
  10. The Cat of Bubastes: A Tale of Ancient Egypt by G. A. Henty
     So, that's the list. Let me know if you or a pre-teen girl you know try any of them! :)

~Madeline

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Book Review: Praying Upside Down by Kelly O'Dell Stanley

Me reading upside down...because perspective is everything

     The words we read shape us...for better or worse. The words I read in Praying Upside Down are challenging me to give grace, seek God, and look at my prayer life in a whole new way (hence the upside-down).

     It's rare these days to find a book that mingles so many pure, good, interesting things. In this, her book released May 1, Kelly O'Dell Stanley uses her background as an artist, entrepreneur, and human being to bring fresh perspective to one of the key aspects of Christianity: prayer.

     I have a few confessions.

     First, I cried. I cried in this book because when I was open to it challenging me and shaping me, I had some hurts resurface. There are several things in my life I didn't surrender to God until this whole upside-down thing happened.

     And it shook me up. It awakened me. I grieved over something the Lord had taken away from me, but at the same time, I was able to say "Blessed be the name of the Lord."

     And Kelly asks the reader to pray for the other people involved in the circumstance. That meant me praying a blessing over those who were benefitting even now from my painful misfortune. It meant me being able to sympathize with a sweet girlfriend going through the exact same thing I was.


     God is healing me, and I've been asking him to take away the scars of bitterness, and He is. He is. Slowly but surely, He is continuing to mold me into the person He wants me to be.

     Second, I am learning to forgive right now. Those of you who read my newsletter know that I had only a few scatterbrained thoughts about what God taught me in April. I can now say I am learning a lot about forgiveness.

     My father challenged me last night in a way I never expected him too, and I am finally forgiving someone for a grudge I've held since middle school. Seventh grade! Almost four years ago!

     It's not easy, but looking at prayer in a new light has healed me in those two areas.

     And Praying Upside Down was the kick I needed to make talking to God something simple and meaningful. I'd always known I could talk to God "anytime, anywhere." But the way she breaks it down (and includes lots of deep, silly, or just plain awesome stories) is a blessing.


     This book will get a 5/5 stars on Goodreads because I think you should read it too.

~Madeline

P.S. This post is real and honest and vulnerable. Sorry if you were not expecting to see my dirty laundry when you started it. It's just so infrequent that a nonfiction book moves me to tears or changes me like this. Please keep me in your prayers as I forgive others, in the process humbling myself.

Friday, May 8, 2015

How To Give Your Mom the Perfect Breakfast-in-Bed This Mother's Day


     This one's for the kids. So, if you're an adult, you can go read this for your Mother's Day blessing: This One's For the Mothers.

     Breakfast in bed. Have you attempted it? Some years go better than others.

     This Sunday is Mother's Day, and your mama is gonna have her socks blown off! I guarantee it. Whether it's waffles, eggs, or just a smoothie, this Sunday is going to be special.

     But first, some inspiration. I pinned several lovely b-i-b pictures onto my board f o o d:

 
        In my mind, there are three key ingredients to a flawless breakfast in bed (other than the food, because that is a given...more on that in a minute):
 
     1. The perfect tray. Don't get me wrong. I've used cookie sheets to deliver b-i-b (breakfast in bed) before. It doesn't have to be glamorous. It should just be something that will fit the food (and the other things below) well and still be small enough to set in your mom's lap or next to her on the bed.
 
     2. Something growing. This could be a vase of flowers from the store or a live plant. If your mom isn't a flowery girl, try a succulent. That's this in case you were wondering:
 
 
     Anyway...pretty much anything cute and green. This could even be a small glass of tall grass or branch clippings.
 
     3. Something colorful. A bowl of fruit, a colorful napkin, a favorite coffee mug. Don't have too many colors going. Just eye it, and it will be perfect.
 
     For the food...
 
     It's ok to ask your mom what her favorite breakfast is! In fact, we play a game around the lunch table called "Favorites." We take turns picking categories like "Favorite Movie," "Favorite Thing to Do on the Weekend," or "Favorite DC Superhero" (ahem, Patrick...).
 
     So play a game of favorites or just straight-up ask her. If she doesn't have a favorite, just pick something you are certain she likes.
 
     And be flexible. If she wants a smoothie, and you were picturing something a little fancier, go with it. It's a lovely limitation. You can work around it. B-I-B doesn't have to be a glass of orange juice, eggs, and toast with perfectly placed silverware and a cloth napkin. (Although, if you can pull that off, it would rock!)
 
 
     So...let's say she requests a smoothie. Not romantic, but tell yourself, "I can work with this." (Also, if you have siblings, get them in the game...unless they don't care...then you can leave them out of it.)
 
     On the tray, you can put a vase of her favorite color flowers, the smoothie in a nice, tall, clear glass, and a napkin for dabbing her highness's mouth. :)
 
     It doesn't have to be complicated. Just keep it meaningful. You could even put her Mother's Day card on the tray if you are scared it will look empty.
 
     So those are my tips and tricks. You can do this!
 
~Madeline

Thursday, May 7, 2015

~ Floral Hats ~


     If you're a subscriber, you may have noticed this snazzy floral hat in my latest newsletter. (If you're not a subscriber, you can fix that here.)

     One of you asked about it, and I know plenty of stylish people who would tots magotes wear this. In fact, you can buy it here: Profound Co. Postland Rose Five Panel Floral Hat

     And the part that always comes back to bite: the price tag! This hat is $42!

     Which is why I found a less expensive option. You're welcome. (And while I was searching for it, I found this floral beanie.)


     JK. I didn't find a less expensive or better version. The hat at the top of this post (the top hat, get it?) is the main floral hat (that's that style and actually cute) on the market.

     But, I dunno. That beanie is probably the way I'd go. What do you think? Are hats your thing? They aren't for me...unless maybe they're floral or summery.

    More spring fashion here:

~Madeline