My Favorite Instagrammers to Follow

Instagram is my favorite social media platform . . . because pretty pictures! It's a little like micro blogging too, which I love. Words + pictures are always a win-win for me. It also seems less snarky, then, say, Facebook (most of the time). It is a little pocket of daily inspiration.

Today I'm sharing some of my favorite Instagram accounts to follow. It was hard to narrow them down! Each one is rich in inspiration, however. And of course you can follow me @danielleajones.

2016-01-18_006

@fionaannal

Moody rich images of life in Scotland. It makes me want to visit my ancestral homeland. And swoon over her bird's egg blue Aga stove.

2016-01-18_010

@readtome

This feed is a gem if you love children's literature. I've discovered so many great titles to purchase or check out at my local library. Literary eye-candy!

2016-01-18_008

@kellysauer

I've known Kelly since back in the "old days" of blogging and she also took head shot images for me a few years ago. Her work just gets better and better. Vintage, feminine, and romantic, Kelly sees the world through beautiful eyes.2016-01-18_011@crnnoel

Cozy, is what comes to mind when I think of Corinne's feed. I love her book reading and writing process snapshots, her knitting, homeschooling days, and scenes of the sea.

2016-01-18_009

@nataliecreates

I don't know Natalie at all but her blog and Instagram feed make me happy. Bright and cheerful images of DIY projects, vintage and chipped up furniture, budget living, and repurposed secondhand items are themes in Natalie's feed. She's a talented crafter with an Etsy shop as well.

2016-01-18_004

@cloisteredaway

It is strange and ironic that I like both the bright, vintage, and cozy clutter of Natalie's style AND the clean, neutral, textual feed of Cloistered Away. Really, in my own home I crave both. Not sure how to reconcile that. I adore Bethany of Cloistered Away's very intentional living choices from simple style to homeschooling to how she spends her money on clothes or toys. I first heard her speak at the first Wild+Free conference and have been a fan ever since. I also love her photography, writing, homeschooling resources, and personal style.

2016-01-18_005

@environmentsofgrace

I first met Lori when she pulled up a chair at my table at the Wild+Free conference. Her writing is thoughtful and her images and home beautiful.

2016-01-18_007

@gracelaced

I've enjoyed Gracelaced's blog for a long time, back when she was doing more writing than painting. But now she has found her groove by creating beautiful prints. Love her heart and her style.

2016-01-18_003

@christiepurifoy

Christie and I wrote for the same website for a while before discovering we were local to each other and meeting in person. Christie's poignant writing and soulful images reflect a sensitive and deep heart. Can't wait for her book, Roots and Sky, to come out in two weeks!

2016-01-18_001

@aliciahutchinson

I am new to Alicia's blog, periscopes, and Instagram but am gaining homeschooling encouragement from them!

What favorite feeds do you follow? Also, drop your own Instagram handle into the comments section and I'll follow you!

Two Simple Questions for Your New Year

I recently started a new journal. It’s something I love to do. Truly, it doesn’t take much to make me happy! I love picking out the blank book I’ll be using for the next year or so. Choosing the design, the size, deciding between lined or unlined. Feeling the crisp blank paper makes me excited about the future. What joys or sorrows will fill its pages? What circumstances will be captured for posterity?

I love a new year for much the same reason. It’s a fresh start, at least mentally. It whispers hopes and dreams for the future, new goals to pursue, projects to plan. I think of it as a “reset” button for my life.

I get it that some people aren’t excited at the prospect of “New Year’s Resolutions.” But for me, in a world that is constantly on the go, a new year is a signal for me to stop and take stock of my choices, priorities, and my time. To consider what is working and what isn’t. A time to pause and discover what changes might need to take place.

And so I’ve pared down the list making over the years. I no longer resolve to “exercise every day of the week” or “memorize a whole book of the Bible.” That’s a recipe for failure. Now I tend to ask myself two simple questions that help guide my thinking.

Read the rest over at For the Family.

What I Read in 2015 (Fiction)

2015-12-30_001 Today we'll look at my roundup of fiction reads for 2015. By far, my favorite novel was All the Light We Cannot See followed by the Louise Penny series I've started and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. And of course, Dickens! Honestly, it was a year of mediocre fictional reads with only a few standouts. I hope to have more quality fiction next year and more classics.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins*** This was an exciting and fast-paced read although not particularly well-written or amazing. Fine for a pop-lit suspense sort of read. Some of it just seemed super implausible as far as the actions of the main character were concerned.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr***** This was a tremendous piece of fiction that deserved the Pulitzer Prize that it won. For my complete thoughts read my entire review here.

Boston Girl by Anita Diamant** This book grew on me. It was literally written as a grandmother speaking to her granddaughter. Large portions of story were summarized, so you know that saying "show, don't tell," well the author did the opposite. She summarized conversations and feelings. Just like you would if you were speaking to someone. But this made me not really connect with the characters as much. It also felt like she used the story as a vehicle to hit major points in history: women's rights, WWI, child labor, etc. The best part was the fact that I listened to it as an audio book and Linda Lavin was a fantastic reader. But overall it was a "blah" sort of book.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova*** I liked this author's Left Neglected a lot better than this book. While thought-provoking in terms of what it might be like to suffer from an early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, it was just okay.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens**** I'd been wanting to read this book for a long time. Finally got to do so. A classic and relevant book. I was listening to it during the time of the Baltimore riots and it was surprisingly insightful to what still plagues us today: injustice, crime, and poverty and how those things overlap and influence each other and how all classes have equally admirable and corrupt people within them. All told with Dickens' characteristic sarcasm.

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain*** Forced sterilized, part of the eugenics program of North Carolina, forms the backdrop for Necessary Lies. The book was very engaging. I love fiction that takes a look at some part of history, so this was very interesting because I knew nothing of the program.

The story centers on client Ivy Hart and social worker Jane Forrester and how their lives become entangled in a question of right and wrong. Some of the side characters were rather one dimensional, but overall this was an engrossing yet sad look at something that really was happening in NC history.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson**** A classic book that explores the good and bad of human nature.

Still Life by Louise Penny**** I'm really enjoying this murder mystery series set in Montréal, Canada. The author skillfully probes human nature and the motivations for murder while introducing us to Inspector Armand Gamache, who is very likeable.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline*** Another middle-of-the-road novel that didn't live up to the hype that I kept hearing about it.  I listened to the audiobook version. I liked the book but it didn't stand out. A good story, good writing, but didn't find either one spectacular.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley***** This book was positively delightful! I listened to it on audiobook and undoubtedly the excellent performance by Jayne Entwistle added to my delight.

11 year-old Flavia de Luce IS a little unbelievable but that did not bother me in the least. I loved her character and the plot of this murder mystery that is unconventional and unique. Bradley is an excellent writer. His metaphors are fresh and vivid. I did not realize this was the first of a series of books when I picked it up, but I will definitely be looking forward to reading--or listening--to more Flavia de Luce novels in the future!

Beowulf translated by Seamus Heany**** I mean, it's Beowulf, what can I say?

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny**** Another Inspector Gamache mystery. Didn't like this one quite as much as the first but still good.

The Lake House: A Novel by Kate Morton*** I didn't love this one quite as much as some of Morton's past novels. One thing I don't think I liked as much is all the points of view. Most of her novels have been confined to two points of view, one past, one present. This one had almost too many to keep track of. Perhaps she wanted to present all "sides" of the mystery and motivations of the characters, but for me, it was a little much. But I will always read Kate Morton!

How about you? What was your favorite fiction read of the year?