Saturday, March 4, 2017

You'll Play Against You

    Do you ever find yourself losing mental games to none other than yourself? Some days, darling, you'll play against you. At least, that's what Dr. Seuss has to say.

     It's a long, difficult battle we've been given, but it's time for you to fight on your own side.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The 6 Friends You Didn't Know You Needed

~ a definition ~
aficionado, n. :  a person who likes, knows about, and appreciates a usually fervently pursued interest or activity :  devotee

   You could call me a friendship aficionado, minus any semblance of expertise. Isn't it fascinating to pay attention to the ins and outs of what makes friendships work? How can two different people choose to be in camaraderie? How do they work together for common goals and help each other through life?

     Friends come in so many forms, but here are six unusual friends you might have.* It's even possible that these friends are combined in some of your friends.

The 24/7 Friend ~ This is the friend who knows every quirk about you. You can pick up the friendship at any time; you know they'll be there for you no matter what. The 24/7 name comes from the fact that you could call them any time of day or night, and they would be there for you. You'll always have each other's back.

The Sounding Board Friend ~ This is the friend with a different personality and perspective on life. You might get into lively debates about things, but through it all, you know they have your best interests at heart. This friend gets its name from the fact that you always bounce new ideas off of them and aren't scared to ask for their honest opinion.

The Close Friend ~ This is the quieter friend who opens up around just you. You two could talk for hours and often lose track of time. You agree on the most important things, even if there isn't the same camaraderie expressed in other friendships.You might have to challenge this more introverted friend to get out of their comfort zone, but they will go along with it because they trust you. This friend's name, "close friend," comes from the fact that you have a deep understanding of one another.

The Maternal/Paternal Friend ~ This is the friend that looks out for you and care about you like their own child. Whether they are older or your peer, they will ask intense questions about your well-being, never satisfied by an "I'm fine." You know you're safe to vent around them because they hold everything you say in confidence. The maternal/paternal name comes from the caring and responsible way they tend to your emotional needs.

The Wild Friend ~ This is the friend who values your rawest, craziest self. This friend will virtually ignore you if you're being serious or trying to hold a normal conversation. However, the minute you want to have fun, they're there to help you have a good time and to be your best pal. The wild friend is so named for their tendency towards unleashing the real you and ignoring the polished you.

The Brave Sidekick ~ This is the friend who will defend you to others even though you don't have the personal touch of a typical friendship. They might not want to spend time with just you and may shirk from friend responsibilities. For example, this friend might never get you a birthday gift, but they will accompany you to classes, meetings, or parties even if you're the only person they know there. Because of this, it's more of a public friendship than a private one. The brave sidekick gets its name from all the oddly loyal things they do because of an inexpressible connection they feel toward you.

     There is no perfect friend. Some people can only handle certain sides of your personality or can only show certain levels of loyalty.

     I know these aren't the typical or ideal friends we think of (eg. the funny one, the smart one, the leader, the quiet one, etc.), but they are friends we're more likely to find.

     These are the six friends you didn't know you needed. I certainly didn't know I needed them.

     Do any of your friends fall into one or several of these categories? Or do you maybe see yourself as mainly a certain type of friend? (I know I tend to be the maternal friend.)

     Let me know in the comments below. :)


     *Any resemblance to actual events, to persons living or dead, is not the result of chance. It is deliberate. :)

     P.S. This is my 600th blog post! Yippee!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Novella Storyboards

     We are the writers. The storytellers. The makers.

     And if we need a little inspiration, we waste 20 hours on Pinterest read on a picnic blanket by a pond.

     Ok, let's be honest here. We do waste hours on Pinterest. But some good can come of it, especially when we, as writers of fiction, are looking for character faces, beautiful settings, and even plot points.

     I'm joining this Pinterest Storyboard Party today. I'll say a little bit about each story as we go.

The Blue Sky and the Yellow Sun
(fully fleshed out novella, 45,000 words)

     This board is from my first novella, my magnum opus throughout high school. Yes, I wrote it freshman year. And no, you may not see it. It's in the last stages of editing. Then I will set it aside for posterity. Yeah, this one is not going to the publisher any time soon. But the characters are beautiful and inspired.

     You can read an excerpt from The Blue Sky and the Yellow Sun here.

The Blossom of Love
(rough idea stage, but story is combined with my very first manuscript)

     I also began this board for a sequel that occurs sixteen years later, but I don't plan on ever writing it.

As You Wish, Sister
(NaNo 2016 WIP, a few chapters in)

     This is my current work-in-progress. We'll see where it goes. It's inspired by the Salem witch trials and has themes of sisterhood.

   What do you think of my storyboards? They bring me joy and make me want to write, so I think they fulfill their purpose. :)


P.S. Congratulations, Rebekah, winner of Designed to Pray! E-mail me your address, and I will mail you your copy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I Love Jane Austen Week Tag

     It's Valentine's Day. What better day for a little bit of Jane Austen love? I'm participating in this tag, which is really just an excuse for me to ramble on about my favorite author of all time ~ you guessed it ~ JANE AUSTEN! (I made a whole BookTube video about her too.)

1.  Which did you experience first, a Jane Austen book or a movie based on one?

     Oddly enough, for each and every one of Austen's six works, I saw a movie before the book. Kind of ironic considering that my BookTube outro is "The book was better." I do think her books are better, but they don't necessarily have to be read first. Actually, I think watching a movie, which gives faces to characters, will help Austen newbies keep everything straight in her sometimes intricate plots.

     The very first exposure I had to her stories was the Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle BBC Pride and Prejudice (1995), which I don't regret in the least. I still think that it is the most wonderful film of any of her works. I don't hate the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, but the BBC version has my undying love.

2.  What is your favorite Austen book?

     Um, EXCUSE ME?

     For this one, I might have to rely on a Danielle {Ever After} quote: "I could no sooner choose a favorite star in the heavens." For a while, I said Northanger Abbey was my favorite, but that was before I'd read a lot of Jane Austen. Northanger Abbey is a non-conventional choice; maybe that's why I like it. I don't know anyone else who claims it as their favorite.

     I think the naivety of Catherine Morland and Mr. Tilney's endurance combined with teasing just stole my heart. They are the best! I also get an insane amount of butterflies over Anne and Wentworth and might, for that reason, consider Persuasion as a close second.

3.  Favorite heroine?  Why do you like her best?

     My favorite, Elizabeth Bennett. It's so clichéd, I know. But she is truly the most independent, kind, brave, witty, and determined of Jane Austen's heroines. If I could come up with a fraction of her clever comebacks and sassy retorts, I would be content.

4.  Favorite hero?  Why do you like him best?

     Ok, so I have a lot of choices here. All of her heroes are at least slightly flawed, which makes them even better somehow. For today, I'll go with Captain Wentworth. He loves Anne years after she is coerced into refusing his proposal. He has these tiny ways that he looks after her (like making sure she gets to ride in the carriage instead of walking back). He knows how truly kind and capable she is, and he recommends her as the most responsible person to care for Louisa after her fall. And by the end, he declares his steadfast love in a beautiful letter.

5.  Do you have a favorite film adaptation of Austen's work?

     For Pride and Prejudice, BBC all the way.

     For Sense and Sensibility, the Emma Thompson version has overall better acting, but the BBC version is more accurate to the book (and has Dan Stevens!). That's kind of a tied-up game.

     For Emma, the Masterpiece Classic miniseries is where it's at. Sorry, Gwyneth Paltrow.

     For the other three (Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park), I've only seen one version. They are all okay, but I wouldn't mind a reboot. I do have to say that J. J. Field and Felicity Jones are adorable in Northanger.

6.  Have your Austen tastes changed over the years?  (Did you start out liking one story best, but now like another better?  Did you think she was boring at first, then changed your mind?  Etc.)

     I always liked that BBC Pride and Prejudice, but my Jane Austen love built up over years. The only few steps left are reading Mansfield Park and seeing some not-as-good movie adaptations.

7.  Do you have any cool Austen-themed things (mugs, t-shirts, etc)?

     I have a Jane Austen journal and a coloring book.

8.  If you could ask Jane Austen one question, what would you ask her?

     I would ask her who she loved. Jane Austen never got married, but all those romances had to have come from somewhere. I would have no qualms asking her about her love life.

9.  Imagine someone is making a new film of any Jane Austen story you choose, and you get to cast the leads.  What story do you want filmed, and who would you choose to act in it?

     I think it would be nice to have another Persuasion.

     Chris Evans for Captain Wentworth.

     Jenna Coleman for Anne Elliot.

     There it is. My life is complete.

10.  Share up to five favorite Jane Austen quotations!

     "It is only a novel... or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language." ~Northanger Abbey

     "If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more." ~Mr. Knightley, Emma

     "'My idea of good the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.'
     'You are mistaken,' said he gently, 'that is not good company, that is the best.'" ~Persuasion

     "Oh, I am delighted with the book! I should like to spend my whole life reading it." ~Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey

     "I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun." ~Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejuedice
     Well, that brings this post to an end. What are your answers to some {or all!} of these questions?


Monday, February 13, 2017

Book Review & Giveaway: Designed to Pray by Kelly O'Dell Stanley

     Today I am excited to announce a giveaway of Kelly O'Dell Stanley's new prayer journal, Designed to Pray!

     I've been going through my own copy of Designed to Pray (since I adored her other book Praying Upside Down [my review here]).

     This isn't your typical book format. Instead, it's laid out almost like a daily devotional but with prayer prompts, activities, and coloring pages. Designed to Pray gets me excited about praying and equips me with its brief lessons and focused prompts.

     Prayer has been really hard lately. I've been trying to figure out what it looks like for me.

     What is it that I am called to pray for, and how am I supposed to respond to God's Word in prayer? What are the postures, the sounds, and the heart attitudes of prayer?

     If you relate to these struggles, Kelly O'Dell Stanley has written a kind companion for you. It's not about the "right way to pray" (there isn't one) but about creative ways to engage with God.

     When your prayer life needs a catalyst, any page of this prayer journal will help you. Once I open it, I end up doing several days of it because it makes being in God's presence an intentional, focused, and lovely experience.

     I will be giving Designed to Pray 4/5 stars because it reveals God's beauty to me in new ways.

     Comment below by midnight on 2/17 for a chance to win the best Valentine's Day gift ever: quiet, focused time with the Lord of everlasting love.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Pride & Prejudice and Beauty and the Beast: 10 Wild Similarities You Never Noticed

(Ok, just look at how similar these movies are!!!)

       Maybe it's because these are two of my favorite stories of all time. Maybe it's because I've compared them so long that I took it for granted that others couldn't see the similarities.

     But in my mind, Pride & Prejudice and Beauty and the Beast are two of the most beautiful hate/love stories of all time. And they happen to have some wild similarities. :)

     These are the connections I see between the two stories. As always, spoiler warning if you haven't read/watched these. Be sure to add yours in the comments below.

1. The strong female heroine is a great reader and walker with a lovely temperament. Elizabeth and Belle are two of my all-time favorites. One is my favorite Jane Austen heroine; the other is my favorite Disney princess. They are both great readers and great walkers. As Darcy says, "[Her eyes] were brightened by the exercise," and "the improvement of her mind by extensive reading." Additionally, the heroines are courageous, kind, and beautiful in a non-intimidating way.

2. The heroine has a rough family life but is close to her father. Elizabeth's sisters and mother are called "very silly." Belle's mother is not in the picture at all, and her dad is the village crazy guy. Still, both girls tend to be close to/confide in their fathers.

3. Heroine accidentally stumbles into the guy's castle. Whoops! Did I say castle? Pemberley and Beast's castle aren't the exact same, but they are still magnificent and intimidating. Both Elizabeth and Belle find themselves at their future man's castle before falling in love with him. (It was the library, wasn't it, Belle?)

4. Hero appears fearsome and proud in the beginning. And they are. Darcy and Beast tend to overreact, be less than polite, and become the girls' enemies for a time.

5. Sometime during this interlude, she receives an alternate marriage proposal. Yes, this is probably the first time in history that Mr. Collins and Gaston have been compared, but both are so pompous and full of themselves. The heroines can see this right away and call it for what it is. There is no room in these guys' hearts for another, no matter how much they want a wife to wash their socks. :P

6. Terrifying, awful, proud, and almost antagonistic hero softens in response to the heroine's presence. Elizabeth doesn't see Darcy's soft spot for her until they meet unexpectedly at Pemberley, and Belle doesn't recognize any good in the Beast until he saves her from the wolves. From that point on, there is a distinctive change in the heroes.

7. The couple dances. Is it possible to not love a good dance scene? The girls get into their rather low-cut dresses and gloves, and the men wear their best breeches, waistcoats, and cravats. Thus we have the perfect romantic setting--for witty banter.

8. The girl and guy argue/banter! Elizabeth and Darcy's witty conversations and light-hearted teasing make Pride & Prejudice one of the most truly beloved novels from Jane Austen's day. Belle and Beast tend to get into shouting matches more than their regency counterparts, but the heartfelt animosity is the same. :P

9. The mean-guy-turned-hero takes care of her in her family crisis. When Elizabeth's sister Lydia elopes, Darcy sets out to find the couple and pay for their marriage without Elizabeth's knowledge. Belle discovers her father is in trouble, and Beast lets her go.

10. The heroine sees the hero for who he truly is, and the couple declares their love. Elizabeth learns of what Darcy has done for her family, and the immensity of her gratitude is second only to her great and growing love for him. Belle literally watches the Beast transform back into a human (Prince Adam, to be exact). Their transformations complete, the heroes and heroines fully recognize that "there must be something there that wasn't there before."

     I hope I have opened your eyes to the parallels between my two favorite stories.


More Wild Similarities!

P.S. I have been pumped for over a year about the live-action Beauty and the Beast movie (3.17.17). In honor of it, I painted this Belle silhouette, just like I made a Cinderella silhouette in honor of that movie.

Friday, January 13, 2017

What I Learned from My Latest Blog Survey

     Thank you so much to the handful of you who took my New Year's survey.

     I learned some pretty cool things and thought I would share. This way, you can know which direction The Little Decorator is headed. :)

Stats about those who took the survey

88% are e-mail subscribers.
0-8 visits to the actual site per month (because they're so heavily e-mail subscribers).
88% are inspired by TLD.
75% have recommended TLD.
100% will recommend TLD in the future.
They read anywhere from 3-108 books last year.

Interest by Topic

100% liked to read about Books
88% liked to read about My Lord
75% liked to read about 6 Ways (my how-to posts)
63% liked to read about Inspiration
63% liked to read about Writing
50% liked to read about DIY
50% liked to read about Organizing
38% liked to read about Decorating
38% liked to read about Interviews
38% liked to read about Random Thoughts
13% liked to read about Parties
0% liked to read about Fashion

     Wow! These stats are some of my favorite. So you don't get lost in the numbers, I bolded the most important two: Books and Fashion. I LOVE writing about books and HATE coming up with fashion posts. That must come across in my writing. :) But really, I am so glad that I never have to write about fashion again.

Reader Responses

What would you like to see more of?

"Your funny posts about books and movies!"

"How to be intentional with your time."

"Writing tips."

"Simple things in everyday life. This can be in the form of almost all of the above topics!"

"Your inspirational thoughts on life."

"I love seeing your funny posts! I say the more of those the better. It's rare to find those with a good taste in humor these days."

"More of everything!"

What is your favorite thing about TLD?

"You are so bubbly and funny and that shines through in your writing."

"That it reflects God's beauty in you."

"I can't choose!"

"Seeing your journey with God in written form. I see it in you personally, but I love the way you write about it. I mostly smile, but sometimes I cry softly because it is just so beautiful."

"It's the fabulous writer of course!"

"How close Madeline is to God and her family."

In what areas does TLD inspire you?

     Reading, decorating, personal growth, spiritual life, being intentional, and approaching the new day/month/season/year positively were all mentioned.

"It inspires me to see the beautiful simplicity of life."

"TLD always inspires me to get off my devices and read more!"

In conclusion

     I always enjoy surveys. It gives me new vision and intentionality for my darling The Little Decorator. I hope that it continues to inspire all of you!