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Yes, it is clear to me other people are affected by the decisions I make, but in the end it is my life, the only one I’ll ever have. I’ve made promises I cannot keep.

So I sit and wonder, to what am I entitled? Do I deserve this new life I’ve slipped into? Can I leave behind a life I feel is no longer mine?

— Denise Parsons, After the Sour Lemon Moon



After the Sour Lemon Moon is a quiet novel but one not to be underestimated. Sophia is a woman looking to rebuild her life and she does so in a cottage in foggy Northern California.

As a mother, I was alternately staggered and mesmerized by Sophia’s decision to leave home, her family. I think it’s fair to say this is something we’ve all thought about on the particularly bad days, a fleeting thought that never translates into anything but grumbling. I dithered — is this incredibly brave or is it cowardice? In Sophia’s case, I think it was incredibly brave to leave, to claim the space and time necessary to find her footing, and then to actively choose to build a better life, a life of her choosing.


PS: Denise, the author, blogs here — it’s a quiet and beautiful space worth visiting.

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“Wasn’t that the point of life? To find someone to share it with?

And if you got that part right, how far wrong could you go? If you were standing next to the person you loved more than everything else, wasn’t everything else just scenery?”
― Rainbow Rowell, Landline

I bought Landline based solely on having read Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. And this was decidedly different, not YA but adult and not reading the blurb prior to purchase (impulsive much?) I was surprised by the story. While a thoroughly enjoyable read and full of great pop culture references, Landline was a good read but the story and the main character (Georgie McCool) did not grab me like Eleanor & Park did.

I picked up We Were Liars after hearing all the raves. I loved the story and the unconventional writing style ― it’s beautifully crafted and pieces of the story are told through re-imagined fairy tales. If I had to describe it, I’d go with unusual and inventive. We Were Liars is a tragic story full of suspense and I didn’t see the ending coming until Lockhart delivered it ― big points for that.

What are you reading?


  • I was so excited to see you had read We Were Liars because it’s on my list and I value your opinion so much.
    Right now I’m reading The Husband’s Secret and wondering why it has so many great reviews? Maybe it’s me or maybe I just haven’t reached the great part yet, but so far it’s just kind of blah.

    I hope you have the best day with your family and your new six year old!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Tracey, I’ve not read The Husband’s Secret. You’ll have to let me know if it gets better!ReplyCancel

      • Amanda, a complete waste of time and money, don’t bother.
        I have started We Were Liars and I’m loving it, thank you.ReplyCancel

  • i’ve been on the fence about Landline. i read Eleanor&Park, loved it and so i read Attachments which while enjoyable did not hold me like E&P did.
    i’ve added We Were Liars to my to read list, waiting for availability at the library.

    currently reading Guy In Real Life by Steve Brezenoff. Steve went to college with my husband so i’m super excited to actually “know” the author!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Lan, If you *loved* E&P, you will most likely find Landline interesting but not gripping – I’d suggest a pass.ReplyCancel

  • I will have to jump on the Rainbow Rowell bandwagon. Everyone raves about Eleanor and Park and likes it best of all her novels.

    I’m reading “Goodnight June” (which hasn’t gripped me like her other novels) and still working on “The Bird in the Tree.”ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Danielle, I found Violets in March interesting enough to finish but not compelling enough to make me want to pick up any of her other books. If you make it through, keep me posted and let me know if it gets better!ReplyCancel

  • maddalena70

    I am reading “A mother’s rules of life”, “The message” aka the Bible in contemporary language and “Plan it do not panic. Everything you need to know to successfully create and use a meal plan”ReplyCancel

  • oh my list is ever growing and you are not helping at all. Another two books to put on the to read list! Thanks :D ReplyCancel

  • Just finished When God Was A Rabbit and enjoyed it as I could relate to many things from my childhood, some great characters…an overall good read. Going to be starting Instructions For A Heatwave next by Maggie O’Farrell.ReplyCancel

  • i have just finished Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – beautifull written, hilariously funny at times and so very English in places, it made me long for England.

    i am now halfway through The Pilots Wife and enjoying that too.ReplyCancel

  • I’ll have to pick up When We Were Liars, that sounds really interesting. I don’t have any fiction in my stack right now, all nonfiction (of the how-to variety).ReplyCancel

  • i’m reading WILD by cheryl strayed….and it is sooooo good. it will be a movie later this year and i’m so excited to see it!!!ReplyCancel

  • I get so excited when I hap upon one of your reading posts! I added We Were Liars to my list. I liked Eleanor and Park, but I’ll probably pass for the time being on her new book. I just finished Wally Lamb’s We Are Water. It was good not great. Now I’m very much enjoying The Orphan Train and The Empathy Exams. I’m also rereading Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible – it’s one of my favorites!ReplyCancel

  • THanks for mentioning We Were Liars, I’ve requested it from our library. I’m reading Noble Norfleet by Reynolds Price, one of my very favorite authors. I just started The Case for God, by Karen Armstrong. Her books have helped me make sense of God and religion. And, I just finished The Violent Bear It Away by St. Flannery! Wow.ReplyCancel

  • Thanks for the update on Landline. I think I will pass for now. May add We Were Liars, but I have a long list. It may be awhile before I get to it! Just finished a few. My mother encouraged me to try Outlander and The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. I am embarrassed to say Gabaldon’s book held my attention, and I liked it. It was a good story. DiSclafani’s work was just okay. I did not find the main character to be one I could appreciate. I also finished a bit of David Sedaris and am working on Benediction (which I am enjoying).ReplyCancel

the habit of being_maths
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If I had to put my finger on it, I’d say we found the soft spot of summer late last week. The soft spot being the place where things have slowed to an almost standstill. Mornings come a bit later (as do bedtimes), meals revolve a variety of favorite salads, a baguette, fresh fruit. As I write, the Nacho works on the math lesson he requested and the Wee Lass is coloring. The Frog Prince is sprawled on the sofa, one leg slowly keeping time to some internal rhythm while he reads this (again). The Poulette is on the stoop reading this and working closer to her goal of reading the entire series by Christmas. The Red Bean, the soon-to-be teenager, is sitting at the other end of the table eating her english muffin and drinking tea, still unable to form a complete sentence. There is an entire day stretching ahead of us full of nothing and yet full of promise. This is our soft spot. This is not idleness, listlessness, nor torpor. This is us settling in for the long haul that is summer in the deep south, much like one would sink into a well loved couch.

Weaving words along with everyone else inspired by julu prompt-a-day. join us and link up over here, on the write alm fb page, or on twitter or instagram using the hashtag #writealm.


  • I can picture it- sounds lovely and soothing, nice to take life a little easier- I feel as if I am in the slow lane too, the heat forces me too.
    Congratulations Amanda, hope you are feeling well in the heat.ReplyCancel

  • Kirsten

    Ah, perfect. Sounds just like our summer – despite our weather and the length of our summer being quite different! I don’t really understand people who feel the need to fill their days with planned activities. Well, I understand that they’re different from me! Our days are much more like those you describe – moving gently from one thing to another, perfectly content with the simplicity of our lives.

    And, Nancy Drew! I’d forgotten about Nancy Drew!ReplyCancel

  • Summer has my heart, for just this reason.ReplyCancel

  • Reading your words always transports me making it seem like I am there in the corner watching your day unfold, just perfect Amanda.
    Oh, and the photo of the wee lass with her color is priceless :) ReplyCancel

  • I can actually envision this scene.

  • Your soft spot of summer sounds good. My soft spot starts when I finish work next Wednesday until August 10th…I CANNOT wait : ))ReplyCancel

  • Manise

    Soft spot. Love it! Your description and definition is the best! And that photo of the Wee Lass slays me. Such intense concentration, the hugeness of that crayon in her plump hand and fingers curled around just so……. you made my day. :-) ReplyCancel

    • admin

      thank you, manise! that was her first box of crayons (she’d been using some coloring blocks) and first coloring book so big milestone :) ReplyCancel

  • Sounds like a really good place to be. :) ReplyCancel

  • Such fond memories I have of a summer spent reading Nancy Drew!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Me too, Erin! Nancy Drew was so well loved.ReplyCancel

  • When I turned 13 my summer was spent on the front porch swing reading books and keeping a list of what I read. It was the BEST summer ever. Love seeing a peek into your summery days and the rhythm.ReplyCancel

  • Oh my. This photo. Eep! So happy for the long ease of days you have been experiencing. And I love your words here. The beautiful sink into summer. I think I have that couch too. XOReplyCancel

the habit of being_7.10.14

I’m not one to write sonnets, nor to read them (at least since I left academia behind). What I do love is that sonnet comes from the Italian sonetto, meaning a little sound or song. And that one up there in the photograph in the crazy outfit only a 2yo could love, it’s what she is. My wee lass, our Bootsie McFly, she is the song in our days.

I like my poetry half-rhymed, unrhymed, and even unmetrical. I like lyrical beauty and depth, the exaltation of everyday miracles. And that is what my little sonnetto brings to our days, a world full of beauty, love, and wonder. Thank you my wee Irish songbird.

PS: why write?

Weaving words along with everyone else inspired by julu prompt-a-day. join us and link up over here, on the write alm fb page, or on twitter or instagram using the hashtag #writealm.


  • Your thoughts make me smile, and what a sweet sweet photograph.ReplyCancel

  • Such a sweet picture and words <3 these words you wrote could come from my soul too "I like lyrical beauty and depth, the exaulation of everyday miracles." Yes. This. Those are the types of poems that have been coming from my pen lately. I was starting to think it wasn't "real" poetry because I never rhyme. Silly brain!ReplyCancel

  • Manise

    So sweet… all of it!ReplyCancel

  • Oh, what a sweetheart! Love your words too Amanda.ReplyCancel

  • she is a sweetie and I can imagine those little ditties she is humming. That is what I miss most about having little ones in the house.ReplyCancel

  • Ellie

    A real cutie that’s for sure, she’s so delightful. I had a little curly haired one who, at this same age sang all day in her own made-up words. She was the song in our day in more ways than one – all grown up now she still is too :) ReplyCancel

  • such a sweet reflection and tribute to your wee lass…ReplyCancel

  • LOVE the chalkboard wall!!!
    We have few walls in this house…but you did it on the back of a door…AHA!

    • admin

      C– the back of a door counts as a flat surface and it’s a weird door we never use so win win!ReplyCancel

the habit of being_ blueberry cake


On my walk this morning I thought about today’s prompt, ambition. My thoughts on ambition and my ambitions too, have changed. The dissertation, once all I lived and breathed, has been quietly sitting in a box at the bottom of a pile of boxes in the darkest reaches of my closet. Twelve years ago I couldn’t imagine this as a possibility and today, I think of all the time I spent reading texts and literary criticism and marvel at the luxury of all that time spent either reading, writing, or meeting with my profs dissecting Old French lyric poetry and l’amour courtois.

I am ambitious. I am driven. It just looks different now and of course the fruits of that ambition and drive are a far cry from my pre-motherhood aspirations. And so when I get that question (How do you do it all?) I tend to look at the asker wide-eyed, amazed. What is the all of which you speak? Because I don’t do it all, I pick and choose, I fill my time with the people and activities I love. Invitations to meet for coffee, to contribute writing — declined. I pick and choose so that I may fill my days with the things and people I love, the things and people that make my soul sing (even on the bad days when little people are cranky or the work is not progressing as I may wish). Ambition now looks a lot like happiness, fulfillment, loving and being loved.


Tracey spotted a photo I posted on the effbooks this morning and asked for my recipe. Here you go, Tracey:

Blueberry Lemon Kefir Cake

3 cups flour, set aside .5 cup
1 tsp baking powder
.5 tsp baking soda
.25 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1.5 cups sugar
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon (a couple of TBSP)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup plain kefir (you can use greek or plain yogurt or even buttermilk)
2.5 cups blueberries

Oven at 350.
Butter and flour a large Bundt pan.

Mix dry ingredients together: 2.5 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate (larger bowl): sugar and zest. I like to massage the zest into the sugar. Add butter, vanilla, lemon juice, vanilla extract, eggs. Mix well. Add kefir (yogurt or buttermilk).

Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet being careful to mix but not overly mix.

Carefully coat the berries with the .5 cup flour you set aside earlier so your berries don’t all sink. Gently fold the berries into the batter.

Spoon batter into Bundt pan. Bake for 55ish minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy.

Note: I’m lazy about getting the mixer out and make this by hand (so does the 12yo). Also, we have never glazed this cake because it’s quite flavorful but if you think it needs a glaze, have at it!

Weaving words along with everyone else inspired by julu prompt-a-day. join us and link up over here, on the write alm fb page, or on twitter or instagram using the hashtag #writealm.


  • Amanda, thank you so much for taking the time to post this for me, I can’t wait to try it.
    I can’t believe I am still picking blueberries in July, but I am. Now if the figs would just ripen. :) ReplyCancel

    • admin

      tracey, we pick at a friend’s where he has two acres of blueberries and yes, the bushes are still loaded.ReplyCancel

      • This cake is a big hit in my home Amanda, thank you for sharing. Alex especially loved it and I think he ate 1/4 of the cake in one sitting. Oh to have the metabolism of a teenage boy!ReplyCancel

        • admin

          Tracey, I feel your pain. It seems the boy appetite has hit in our home and my 11yo can easily put down 1/4 of the cake then ask what’s for lunch at 11a.m. Oy.ReplyCancel

  • Ambition is quite the word and quite the prompt and I’ve been staring at a blinker cursor for hours, wondering if I truly have any at all! ;-) Enjoy your cake, kids, and love. Treasures.ReplyCancel

  • YES!!! It is all about choices, isn’t it? I am so with you on this, making the choice clear about how and with who I want to spend my time. I have much less time now, as a homeschooling mom, and so those precious bits of time I have to share, I share with the people and experiences that make me happy and feed my soul. I feel the same way as you about how ambition looks to me now…happiness, contentment fulfillment,love and being loved , which is much different than it looked pre motherhood.ReplyCancel

  • I love that photo, the gentleness of the colours, the mood it creates.ReplyCancel

  • Love your post. It really is about choice – it has taken me so loooong to learn that! That recipe looks delicious, thank you for sharing it.ReplyCancel

  • keep submitting Amanda, I have great faith in you. I agree that we pick and choose where we want to focus our attentions, talents and time. Whatever we choose to focus on there are sacrifices. We just need to make sure that the sacrifices are what we can live with. I wouldn’t change my past or present life for the world.ReplyCancel

  • I can relate to this so much. I’m learning to say yes only to the things that bring me happiness. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • I think you have got it going on in the best way possible! You do what feels right and what feeds your heart/soul. That’s admirable.
    And that cake?!!!! Must try!!ReplyCancel

  • I really did love reading this today Amanda. Well timed for me, as I contemplate a job offer…ReplyCancel

    • admin

      oooh! that is really big, erin. follow your heart :) ReplyCancel

  • “Ambition now looks a lot like happiness, fulfillment, loving and being loved”

    this. exactly. I get the same question often, and I am so glad that I am at a point in my life where I have the wisdom to choose.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      HUZZAH! and heather, lawdy, what i wouldn’t have given for some of that wisdom in my younger years!ReplyCancel

  • What a wonderful post this is, and such a great way to consider ambition.
    Happy day to you!ReplyCancel

  • Reflecting on all that has changed over the years in my life can feel overwhelming. It’s like I’ve acted as different characters in a variety of movies. So much has happened, so many years have passed. It often feels like it is all moving far too fast. You seem very grounded at present. It must feel good. I fluctuate. Some days I am more grounded than others. Cheers to making good choices and leading rewarding lives.ReplyCancel

  • Cheri

    “What is the all of which you speak? Because I don’t do it all, I pick and choose, I fill my time with the people and activities I love. Invitations to meet for coffee, to contribute writing — declined. I pick and choose so that I may fill my days with the things and people I love, the things and people that make my soul sing (even on the bad days when little people are cranky or the work is not progressing as I may wish). Ambition now looks a lot like happiness, fulfillment, loving and being loved. ”

    Beautifully written. Thank you, Amanda!ReplyCancel

  • As you know from reading my recent post, I am working on that which you speak. I don’t have a problem saying “no” to things but I do tend to work too much and sometimes in a not totally streamlined efficient way.
    It’s good to know there is someone out there who has it down pat. ; )