Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fifteen Women Walk Into a Cabin...

And leave as friends. The end. Just kidding! Well, I'm not kidding about the friends part.  Sigh.  Let me start over.

Madison of Wetherills Say I Do and Rachel of Oh Simple Thoughts hosted the Renew Retreat this past weekend in Tennessee.  When they first announced their vision of a retreat for bloggers who are Christian, I thought it sounded like a lot of fun and also something I would never do.  I am really introverted and the idea of spending a weekend with a bunch of people I didn't know was so intimidating.  My thought process was, "What if I don't have anything to say, or worse, say something crazy? What if they hate me? What if I hate THEM?" Then my sister (Lisa of Life to the Full) said she was interested in going. I started thinking maybe it being something I normally wouldn't do was exactly why I should do it.  Get out of my comfort zone.  Meet some people in real life, not just on the computer. You know, actual human contact.

The retreat was in a cabin in the woods of Tennessee.  Isn't this view from the balcony gorgeous?!

The leaves were starting to turn and it was wonderful to be reminded of how beautiful our world has been created. (The baby bears we saw outside the cabin Friday night were less beautiful and more terrifying.) We were even treated to a fantastic swag bag with super cute things to bring home. Rachel has a great post detailing what was in the swag bag here.

We spent part of Saturday in Gatlinburg. We split into smaller groups for lunch and sightseeing or shopping then drove our caravan back to the cabin for dinner.  My family went this candy shop when we were in Gatlinburg last summer, so I was glad to visit it again.  I wisely (or sadly?) avoided buying candy this time.

Now, it made it a lot easier that Lisa went too, but I am SO glad I went.  I met thirteen other women who are all so amazing in their own ways.  Each one of them inspired me, whether they were relatively fresh out of college, well established career-wise, newly married or single, raising kids or birthing a new business.  And such talent! An unbelievable number of fantastic photographers (not me) and bakers of delicious biscuits, makers of all manner of delicious food, creative minds, kind hearts and super funny people.  Every single woman there had something wonderful to contribute, and I truly believe we all placed there together to lift each other up.  I feel a connection to these women, and have prayed for many of them specifically and all of them generally since I came home.
I'm already looking forward to next year's retreat!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Wet and the Dry- Book Review

The Wet and the Dry by Lawrence Osborne is a nonfiction "drinker's journey" that is not exactly the story I expected.  The description on the back of the book reads:

“Drinking alcohol: a beloved tradition, a dangerous addiction, even “a sickness of the soul” (as once described by a group of young Muslim men in Bali). In his wide-ranging travels, Lawrence Osborne—a veritable connoisseur himself—has witnessed opposing views of alcohol across cultures worldwide, compelling him to wonder: is drinking alcohol a sign of civilization and sanity, or the very reverse? Where do societies fall on the spectrum between indulgence and restraint?
An immersing, controversial, and often irreverent travel narrative, The Wet and the Dry offers provocative, sometimes unsettling insights into the deeply embedded conflicts between East and West, and the surprising influence of drinking on the contemporary world today.”

Based on this description, I was expecting an Anthony Bourdain-style travel monologue with tales of Mr. Osborne’s drinking escapades woven into a larger discussion of how various cultures view drinking.  Perhaps I expected a more historical explanation of how alcohol has become part of a country’s identity or how religious practices influence the role (or lack thereof) of alcohol in a particular area.  The book does address the context of drinking within various countries and cultures, but is largely a retelling of Mr. Osborne’s specific drinking escapades.  As in, having a no recollection of where he was or what he did the night before hangover. 

Something about this writing style just didn't click with me and I had a difficult time getting through it.  (I’m sure it did not help that my sister passed on a large stack of books that I was really eager to read.) It wasn't for me, but some readers will enjoy the drinking-related anecdotes.    

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


September seemed to drag on forever, didn't it?  Maybe it was just me being in a bit of a funk or the never ending 80 degree weather but I am soooooo glad it is finally October.  It is still in the 80's here, but the weekend forecast is for highs in the upper 60's.  Yay!  The lack of autumn weather has not deterred me from enjoying pumpkin spice everything or viewing approximately a hundred pairs of boots online.  It can be fall in my mind, right?

I'm really looking forward to this month.  I'm feeling much better emotionally, my sister/BFF and I are going to a blogger retreat in a cabin in a couple of weeks, and soon to arrive cooler weather means breaking out all the cute sweaters!  I'd like to find some fun fall activities to do this year.  We went to the most awesome pumpkin patch/corn maze/kid activity place when we lived in Virginia and every place we have been since then just paled in comparison.  If anyone knows of a super pumpkin patch in the northern Atlanta area, let me know.  If it is really awesome, I'll send you some pumpkin butter.  Or a thank you note or something.  I plan to fully enjoy the fall, because I know in a matter of weeks I will be grumbling about how unbearably cold it is.  Happy October!