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    Books & Reading, Other Thoughts

    Seven Quick Takes on Reading a Book, Getting Chores Done, Cleaning my Camera Lens, and MORE!

    January 8, 2016 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    We start school back up next week, but I haven’t finished my Christmastide book. Not that I’m surprised. I mean, Island of the World is amazing and beautiful and all of that, but at over 800 pages … it’s long!

    I’ll be writing about it a bit later on this month, and I intend to keep reading it. I’m about halfway through, and I have a feeling that the second half is going to take me much longer to complete than the first half.

    :: 2 ::

    We don’t give our kids an allowance. I’m not going to go into why, because that’s just context for my story. On Monday, there were some things I wanted/needed to get done — little new yearish things mostly — that I didn’t have the energy for because I had a bad cold. No matter. What I did have was a wallet full of $1 bills. So I walked into the play nook and said, “Who wants to earn $2?” That was how it started.

    The silverware drawer got cleaned out after all {just not by me}. A few other jobs were also done. Boxes on my list were checked, and I didn’t have to try to do it all while under the weather. It was great.

    Of course, my wallet is a little lighter. But overall, totally worth it.


    :: 3 ::

    This week’s links collection:


    :: 4 ::

    This month last year:

    Nurture by Nature: Personality Typing my Children

    Probably the most helpful exercise in my parenting thus far.


    :: 5 ::

    A child touched the lens of one of our cameras — but it was the old, mostly broken one, so I didn’t worry about it. But then a child touched the lens of my new camera. Totally irritating, of course. There I was, getting ready to take “good” Christmas photos, and someone had smudged my lens. I googled around, and discovered a totally awesome lens cleaning tool called the Lenspen. People!! I now swear by this thing. It feels like magic!

    This little video shows how it works:

    If you’re trying to clean off a fingerprint, always use the dusting brush first, and I recommend breathing on the lens — it just works better that way.


    :: 6 ::

    Enter to WinIf you haven’t yet entered the 10th Blogoversary Giveaway Extravaganza, you’re not too late! Plus, the Twitter entries can be done daily, if you tweet stuff. Which I know some of you do. Next week, if all goes as planned, I’ll announce the prize winners in my Seven Quick Takes post. It’s been fun to see all the entries — it’s felt a bit like a party all week.


    :: 7 ::

    Answering Your Questions:

    • Question: Can you recommend a tried and true Bible study for mamas?
      • Answer: I will be honest and say that, for the most part, I prefer to just read my Bible. I got to a place a number of years ago where I felt like all the study notes and devotional stuff was just becoming noise — that it was distracting me from the purity of reading the Word itself. So, I bought a Bible that was very plain except for a few cross references, and I started reading a chapter or two a day, maintaining access to my Greek interlinear if I needed it, and using my commonplace, my goal being to enter at least one verse in my commonplace each time I read.A year or so ago, I discovered Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening and fell in love. Simple, timeless truths twice each day? This, I can do. And if I miss a day {or a week!}, I just skip to the correct date.

        Reading the Bible itself is tried and true. Spurgeon? Also tried and true, I think.

        But recently, I felt like starting off this year with something different, and so I’m trying out something — not tried and true, but I think it has potential 🙂 — the free study from Stone Soup for Five {it’s called Journal and Doodle through Ephesians and it’s free when you subscribe to the blog}. At first, I wasn’t sure what I would think, but, doodling or no doodling, this gal takes her Bible study very seriously, which is what made me decide to try it.

        By the way, in addition to all of this, I think it’s important to read things that are old — and by things, I mean theology books — and by old, I mean really old. I’ve been reading {reaaallllly slowly} through Athanasius’ On the Incarnation, for example, and I highly recommend it.


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  • Reply Amber January 13, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    I really liked your answer to the last one, Brandy! I decided this year that for my Scripture time I’d be reading and copying the Gospel of John and reading and narrating St. Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea along with that. I was initially thinking I’d be doing that this year, but given that I’m only on the 5th verse of the first chapter, I think this is going to be a multi-year project. The Catena Aurea is such an amazing work though – he somehow made it seem like all these Church Fathers are sitting in a room and having a learned conversation with each other, just by taking excerpts from their works. It is an absolutely awe inspiring work, and it makes me feel like I’m eavesdropping on Heaven.

  • Reply Heather January 11, 2016 at 4:40 am

    Love my lens pen! Use it DAILY!

  • Reply Rebekah leland January 9, 2016 at 4:37 am

    Much of me wanted to agree with the article in The Atlantic– I think it’s definitely on to something! But it’s definitey not the whole story. I think this is a pretty good response:

  • Reply Sara McD January 8, 2016 at 8:38 am

    I think it may be personal perspective. I look at waterfalls and wonder who might live behind them, and at little woods and think it must contain secret little people. I imagine plains to have wind spirits. All fantasy I realize, but still – I don’t think our vast and varied landscape of almost four million square miles is less magical than other places.

    Here’s something nice though -because the U.S. sprang from Britain and not the other way round, we can claim and embrace their heritage and our own as well, which only makes us richer.

    Also, I realize this was about literature written in English, but if we’re talking about “American” literature then we have to include the magical realism of Marquez and Allende et. al. I love that stuff.

    That’s it. I’ve got to write some fiction.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 8, 2016 at 8:49 am

      I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thinks this way, Sarah! 🙂

  • Reply Brandy Vencel January 8, 2016 at 8:07 am

    I totally agree with you both — the one thing that really stood out to me, though, is that our landscape isn’t viewed as magically here as there, and that resonated with me. I was trying to think about why that is — why is it that Yosemite Falls, as majestic as it is, has never had a fairy or a water nymph? 🙂

    Really, it just made me want to write so fun American fantasy fiction. 😉

    • Reply Sara McD January 8, 2016 at 8:40 am

      oh my goodness, I just realized that you wrote that because of this article you want to write fantasy fiction too! How funny!

  • Reply Virginia Lee January 8, 2016 at 7:54 am

    I also found the article about British and American literature annoying. Or maybe I just found the author to be that way? I think lumping the majority of British literature into pagan and the majority of American into puritan is nonsense. Much of that so called pagan literature has huge Christian undertones. Many of those great British so called pagan literature writers were strong Christians. It seems the author has forgotten that fact. Although I do agree with the fact that England’s history, culture, geography, etc would lend itself more towards fantasy and fairy tales; while America’s would lend itself to the types of stories the author used as examples. This just makes the two different, not one better than the other. Children need stories of both types. Both types make us more fully human. Shoot, adults need stories of both types too!!

  • Reply Karen @ Living Unabridged January 8, 2016 at 7:11 am

    I found that article in the Atlantic interesting but also annoying. Essentially, I didn’t agree with the Britain=pagan / America=puritain dichotomy. Or maybe I didn’t agree with how the writer would define those terms. (Good time to quote Inigo Montoya: “You keep using that word…”)

    Anyway, it made me think and I’m still thinking about it so that’s a good thing, I guess. 😉

    • Reply Virginia Lee January 8, 2016 at 7:56 am

      Yes, it was a good article in the fact that it made me think. After typing my response above I did want to say that. =)

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