Friday, April 12, 2013

"7 Quick Takes Friday," Vol. 12; and "Five Favorites," Vol. 1

--- 1 ---
First of all, I'd like to tell Jen Fulwiler that I'm praying for her and her precious newborn son. And I'd like to thank Grace Patton for hosting Jen's "7 Quick Takes Friday" link-up this week.  I'm a little in awe of both of these women, blogging superstars whose followers are legion and whose sites have become regular reading for me and plenty of others these days.  (If you just mention "Jen" or "Grace" in the blogosphere, everyone knows exactly about whom you're talking--no last names are necessary, like "Cher"!)  When I finish either a Conversion Diary or a Camp Patton post, I always come away thinking, "That was amazing.  And boy, do I wish I could write like that!"

And yet, I plug away here at my shy and mostly-hidden-away-in-a-corner blog, trying to get something posted every day.  Because here's the thing: I think I like blogging WAY TOO MUCH.  I started my String of Pearls about two years ago; and for the longest time, my husband, my middle son, my daughter-in-law, one of my sisters, and one of my sisters-in-law were my only loyal followers--yet I still woke up every morning super pumped to start my day by putting together a blog post that would hopefully make my readers (all five of them!) smile or laugh or have to grab a Kleenex.  I had weeks and weeks' worth of ideas stored away in my head for topics I wanted to ramble on about, and I was usually up and at 'em bright and early, sitting at my laptop with a cup of coffee, a smile, and a brain that was firing on all cylinders.

Some things have changed.  I'm not getting up as early as I used to.  No more setting the alarm so that I can have my blog posted at the crack of oh-dark-thirty.  I now even go through periods where I consider shutting down the whole operation, because I sometimes feel like I've said everything I could possibly want to say.  But the bottom line is that blogging is too much fun to quit.  It  keeps me connected to people (both those I actually know in real life, and those who are my special new e-friends).  And the writing process, something I've loved all my life, is frustrating at times, but always ultimately fulfilling. Besides, my husband (who tops a list of followers, most of whom are related to me, that has grown steadily--by ones and ones!) would miss me if I went away for good.  So here I stay.
--- 2 ---
On a related note, I think I like reading blogs WAY TOO MUCH.  As a for instance, when I found Grace's Camp Patton (and I may have been the last person on the planet to do so), I ended up going back through her archives and reading most of her old posts.  And it's gotten to the point that when I check and she hasn't posted anything new for a couple of days, I feel all let down.  (I believe they call this blog stalking.)

There isn't enough time in the day to read all the great blogs I've been introduced to lately, lots of them due to link-ups like this one.  Two years ago, I read two blogs only: my daughter-in-law's, and Ree Drummond's Pioneer Woman.  Now, I can't even remember the last time I checked out PW (sorry, Ree), and I'm hooked on countless blogs hosted by young Catholic women whose writing is by turns crisp, sassy, witty, informative, laugh-out-loud funny, touching, and profound.  Today after I finish this post (which will probably fit into none of the aforementioned categories, unfortunately), I'll most likely spend a good hour checking out all the other bloggers who've left links to their sites.  And the great thing is that I won't feel like I've just wasted an hour of my life on junk food for my brain (like I sometimes do when I spend too much time scrolling down my Facebook news feed).
--- 3 ---
Okay, since I'm doing a dual link-up today (is this allowed?  Is it against the rules?), both here and over at Hallie Lord's Moxie Wife, the remainder of my "Takes" will also count for:

My number one favorite has to be my better half--my favorite guy, and hands down the best husband in the world. (Sorry, ladies.)  He became my boyfriend when I was 15, and he's been my husband for 32 years.  He's still my boyfriend.
I shouldn't share this picture of us at our junior prom (in 1975, when we were both 16), because I was doing some unfortunate experimenting with my hair at the time, and my husband was doing his own experimentation with bad fashion.  But that's my favorite guy there, back when we'd only been alive half as many years as we've now been married.
--- 4 ---
Here are some more of my favorite guys, my five sons--who are all equally favorites (although they'd each tell you that secretly, I love him best).  This photo is from 2007.
I love, love, love, love, love these boys.
--- 5 ---
I also have some favorite girls: my three granddaughters and their mommy--who married my oldest son and thereby became my first daughter, after I'd spent decades being surrounded by only sons.  (Note to the future wives of my other four boys: you, too, will become my favorites, and I promise it will be a five-way tie.)

Here are my girls:
My identical twin granddaughters, sporting identical Easter bonnets and identical knee scrapes.
Little Gal and Mommy, not long after they got home from the hospital almost two months ago.
--- 6 ---
I'm a voracious reader, so no list of favorites would be complete without books.  I've loved too many of them over the course of my life to pick a true favorite, but I must say that To Kill a Mockingbird probably made the biggest impact on me.  I read it when I was a young girl of 10 or 11, and from that point on, I had a secret goal: I thought the greatest thing in the world would be to write a novel--just one novel before I died, that's all I wanted; not to become the next Nicholas Sparks churning out a new bestseller every year or anything like that, but to write one book that would touch even one person the way Harper Lee's one book had touched me.  I think I can attribute the fact that at the ripe old age of 49 (when my youngest son was about to start high school) I finally began writing a novel that would take me almost five years to complete, almost exclusively to my childhood fascination with To Kill a Mockingbird.  Published in August of 2012, Finding Grace is no To Kill a Mockingbird.  But I don't know if I ever would have even attempted the daunting task of trying to write a novel had I not been so moved by Lee's masterpiece all those years ago.
--- 7 ---
Coffee absolutely has to make the cut on a list of favorites, because I can't really enjoy curling up with a good book if I don't have coffee to sip along with it.  And I have to have it every morning, of course.  And sometimes in the afternoon.  And sometimes with dessert after dinner.  And sometimes while my husband and I are watching a movie at night on TV.  (Lucky for me, it doesn't keep me awake.  I can't tell you how many movies coffee has helped me sleep through.) 

I love almost every kind of coffee, with the exception of decaf.  I used to think Dunkin' Donuts was Heaven in a stryofoam cup, and I can't believe I'm about to say this...but these days my favorite coffees are stronger ones that are touted as "French Roast."  Ever since I tagged along with my airline pilot husband on a trip to Nice in December of 2011, and while there tasted my first ever European-made cafe au lait, I have been trying (without a whole lot of success) to recreate the flavor of that liquid nirvana I had over there in France.
Perfection: cafe au lait at the Cafe de Paris in Monaco, just next door to the famous Monte Carlo casino.
(I am such a world traveler.)
Thanks, Hallie, for hosting this link-up!  (And by the way, last night one of my sisters-in-law mentioned that the moms' book club at her church had just finished your book Style, Sex, & Substance.  And I had just read your blog about a half hour before she texted me that information.  It's a small Catholic world we live in!)

For more Quick Takes, visit Camp Patton!
For more Five Favorites, visit Moxie Wife!


  1. You have some awesome favorites :) Blessed lady!

  2. Wow! Are we twins separated at birth or what? The first two items in your list are me exactly...and the family stuff is closer to my situation than any other bloggers that I know. I had only 2 boys, and both of them will have been married for 20 years (!!!) next year, so I've got 7 grandkids (all girls but one). I'm not actually that old, I just got married REALLY young (age 18) and my kids got married young by today's standards. Anyway, I'm so glad to find another grandma out there who is loving all the Catholic mommy blogs - maybe it's not so weird after all!

    1. Oh, boy--it's so great to know another blogging grandma! I started this with encouragement from my darling daughter-in-law, who had a blog herself--but I wasn't sure I'd really get that into it. Well, I did...and I love it. Most of the blogs I read feature young moms and their adorable children, and here I am in the almost-empty nest/grandparent stage. But I've gotten so addicted to reading them. I wish blogging had existed back in the day--it would have been an easier way to keep baby books for my kids!

      Glad to "meet" you!

  3. I liked reading. Just started blogging not too long ago and it is such a fun outlet. I have 5 brothers :) and thought after my first 2 babies being boys, that I would follow along in my moms footsteps. But then God gave me 2 girls :).
    Ill have to check out your book!!

    1. The main character in the book is the youngest in her family--and she has five older brothers. You might be able to relate!

  4. I love these. And I am and always will be your loyal reader. So you must keep blogging, I love starting (or as today can attest) ending my day with you!

  5. I'd love to hear of some more of your fav blogs:) I too tell my children they are each my favourites:)

    1. Erin, I keep finding new favorite blogs because of the 7 Quick Takes link-up, the What I Wore Sunday link-up, the Theme Thursday link-up, and now a new one called "3 Reasons I Love Catholicism." (That one is sponsored by a blog called California to Korea, and the next link-up is the first Friday in May, I believe.)

      As for your comment about your children: I love it--they're ALL favorites, aren't they? That's how I feel, too.