AE Inspirations | Early February 2011

READING | On Writing by Steven King: I've had people recommend this book to me in the past and I have to admit that I've dismissed them. I wouldn't call myself a Steven King fan - not really a fan of anything scary. But, but, but I have to say that I love this book. LOVE in all capitals.

ALSO READING | The Most Important Word For You To Learn This Year AND How You Really CAN Tell All Of Your Photo Stories both from Noell Hyman. Both these articles are really interesting - definitely some good ideas about different ways to approach your photos. I found them to be inspiring.

ALSO READING | Grow Great Grub as I look forward to spring and summer (more on my outdoor adventures below).

SITTING | My laptop computer sits on a desk-like spot along our kitchen counter. Lately I've been starting my day there and have found that it's the perfect spot to be greeted as the sun rises. It gets so bright that I have to close my eyes and at that moment usually take a deep breath and let the sunlight wash right over me.

LISTENING | In early December I bought a new bird feeder. I love it. Lots of little birds filling up at our feeder (I'd like to pick up a book about birds in our area so we could do some identifying).

One day last week I opened the windows as the sun was out and the temperature was approaching 60. I was surprised to hear so many birds chirping away. These aren't likely only the birds that were visiting our feeder - it sounded like so many more. I heard them again yesterday when I opened the door to let the dog out and was stopped in my tracks by their song.

CHECKING OUT | Crate Paper's new collection Portrait. Love.

EXPERIENCING | This is our first winter in this house and I'm patiently waiting to see what will come up in the yard. We moved here this past August and were able to experience the height of summer (oh so green). I'm excited for the next season to be knocking at our door. There's something so very cool about waiting to see what things have been sleeping under the earth since last spring.

Part of my light journey this year is to create a practice of spending more time outside. What I really want to do is make our backyard a living space rather than just a space we pass through or look out at from inside our house. I've also got big plans for some vegetable beds (hence I'm reading Grow Great Grub).

HELLO FEBRUARY | A new prompt is up in the One Little Word class at Big Picture Classes. There's still time to join if you're interested in a support system and simple monthly reminders related to keeping your word visible in 2011. If you're in class and didn't receive a welcome email for February please contact [email protected] to troubleshoot the issue.

45 thoughts

  1. Cindy McDannold

    2011-02-01 13:00:59 -0500

    Isn't it wonderful to realize the life that goes on daily in your own back yard? I remember familiarizing myself with the squirrels that frequented my feeder that my husband put up when we first moved here. I recognized them and in time met there extended families. After forty years of watching them we had to have our "squirrel tree" cut down. I cried, much to the dismay of the men who were cutting it down. My squirrels were confused and had a hard time adjusting to there new surroundings, but all is well...the corn flows again.

  2. amberca

    2011-02-01 13:22:10 -0500

    That photo is breathtaking!! I also am like you in that we moved into our new house in July, and I am curious about what Spring will bring. Please keep us updated on what you learn about vegetable beds, I am very excited to learn about different methods.

  3. Nancy

    2011-02-01 13:27:29 -0500

    I love reading your posts. My favorite bird book is "Stokes Field Guide to Birds - Western Region". Now I'm interested in reading "On Writing"... thanks for the tip.

  4. Jackie Wood

    2011-02-01 14:02:29 -0500

    We signed up for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Project FeederWatch to help get us more familiar with birds in our area. It is a great family activity.

  5. Kay Gregory-Clark

    2011-02-01 14:03:21 -0500

    Thinking of a garden is almost incomprehensible (but nice) as I sit here in the middle of a Kansas blizzard. Just took some pix through the windows. I'm not about to go outside! And thanks so much for the links to Noell's site. I wasn't familiar with her and have spent the past couple hours reading her informative articles. I have that King book someplace in the basement and not sure I ever read it——probably for the same reasons, though I've had it a long time. Maybe I'll try to find it.

  6. madeline St onge

    2011-02-01 14:04:32 -0500

    Ali I so love getting outside and playing in the dirt. I can't wait for it to warm up and see what will come up out all I planted last spring/summer/fall

  7. Phaedra

    2011-02-01 14:40:27 -0500

    So funny, I just grabbed Grow Great Grub last week- with great imaginings of my garden this year. I see lots of comments on Stephen King and I'm glad you picked up On Writing because it's fabulous. (I don't read the horror genre anymore, but Stephen King is an amazing writer & i have always felt that his truest calling is the short story-)
    I'm going to have to check out those other articles mentioned.. i'm always newly inspired by things you recommend & since my word is RENEW... I'm all about something that will help feed my soul in creativity.

  8. Taylor B.

    2011-02-01 15:26:28 -0500

    I love to hear that you're reading On Writing. I was assigned that book in a college photography class at Oregon State and unfortunately never read more than the first few pages... but I kept the book in hopes I'd get a chance to read it after college, when I could actually enjoy it, because I've heard it is so good. I've been out of college for a few years now and haven't started it yet, but you've inspired me to take it off the shelf and start reading it!

    I love checking in with your blog every few days. Thanks for all of the inspiring photos, ideas and words that you share with us, your loyal readers! Can't wait to see what you have in store for us this spring!

  9. Tammy B

    2011-02-01 15:43:21 -0500

    Oh how I wish I had a sunny morning spot. Especially right now - the sun is shining today but it is very cold. I have to wait until the afternoon to get the sun in a happy place but it only lasts for about 30 minutes and then it goes down. *Deep breath* Spring is coming!!

  10. marisa

    2011-02-01 15:55:09 -0500

    That Portrait line is awesome! Love the colors the best! My kind of line!

  11. Kristie H

    2011-02-01 17:04:49 -0500

    One of my favorite parenting books is "Heaven on Earth" by Sharifa Oppenheimer. It has a great chapter on the outdoors as a play space, with wonderful ideas for living (with kids!) outdoors. You should check it out!

  12. Kim Bolyard

    2011-02-01 17:22:17 -0500

    Steven King lives in my neighborhood...he shops at my grocery store just saw him the other day....and I have never read any of his books...way to heavy for me


  13. Sue

    2011-02-01 18:15:25 -0500

    I also enjoyed King's book,except for one thing: his claim that you cannot be a serious writer unless you devote a minimum of six hours a day to the craft - a luxury (and a discipline) I wish I had! You have a lovely blog!! So glad I found it.

  14. Jackie Bremer

    2011-02-01 20:22:33 -0500

    Hi Ali, I intended to leave you this site a week ago, but now with your comments it is a must. It is a live hummingbird cam - in CA so the time is the same as yours. It is incredible to see mama putting her long beak into the two babies mouths - with the cam on you can hear sounds in the yard AND the buzz of mama coming in to feed her babies. Chec k it out:

  15. Kimberly

    2011-02-01 23:58:09 -0500

    Always inspired by these posts. It reminds and encourages me to pay attend to the every day things around me.

  16. Petra from NL

    2011-02-02 02:59:37 -0500

    To tie in with with what Kathy said you could Google this: Square Foot Gardening. You will find lots of information on the system she mentioned.

  17. Karen in VA

    2011-02-02 09:51:01 -0500

    Oh, I really like Stephen King's book too. I find it especially fascinating how he never knows where the story is headed when he starts. Another book on writing that was very good listening in the car was Janet Evanovich's book "How I Write".

    I always enjoy your blog! Thanks!

  18. Jen K.

    2011-02-02 11:21:37 -0500

    I LOVE the photo in this me hope for spring here in MN. Today at the bus stop it was -2 with a windchill of -20. The snowdrifts at the end of my driveway are as tall as my hubby; he's 6 foot 2. I am just excited that this month we gain almost 1.5 hours of daylight here in the frigid north...believe me, that knowledge helps.

  19. Amanda S.

    2011-02-02 15:18:17 -0500

    Another beautiful photo!! And Portrait was hands-down my FAVORITE collection wandering the floor at CHA last weekend. I must have all of it!!

  20. Elizabeth Goliber

    2011-02-02 21:27:59 -0500

    Thanks for mentioning a gardening book. Last summer's garden (my first) was a bit of a flop and I was just thinking I needed to find a good book to read up on gardening. Since I want to have an organic garden, I will give this one a try. I was thrilled to see that my library had a copy.

  21. Erica Hettwer

    2011-02-03 02:36:58 -0500

    Love Stephen King. His characters are so real and his grasp of pop culture is amazing. He's the only "horror" novelist I read. My husband's favorite movie is Shawshank Redemption and that is also based on a novella from the book "Different Seasons". My favorite books/movies of his are the ones about the monster within and not real monsters.

  22. Holly T.

    2011-02-04 21:01:54 -0500

    Agreed. I read this a number of years ago and loved it!
    Not a Stephen King fan....and was shocked how impressive it was!

  23. Kath

    2011-02-06 02:39:19 -0500

    After you finish Grow Great Grub, try Steve Solomon's Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades. The book is available through Amazon and Territorial Seeds. While it can be a little dry sometimes it is a great resource for our wet climate.

  24. Danielle Taylor

    2011-02-06 13:23:24 -0500

    Stephen King's On Reading is one of my favorite books of all time! Enjoy!

  25. marnie

    2011-02-11 02:13:38 -0500

    On Writing is a book that I treasure. I've read it atleast five times and learned something every time through. I love how genuine and candid King is with his autobiographical stories and his advice. Whenever I write something now, I always think of his recommendation to make the first draft for yourself and the second one for your reader (I've condensed that quite a bit, but you get the idea). Wise and clever--would love to pick his brain for a weekend!

    Oprah's new network has a series that I've been watching called "Oprah Presents Master Class." Diane Sawyer was very impressive and Maya Angelou is so very lovely. You might want to check it out.

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