Caravan Sonnet

9/18/18

Among the Alaskan Fireweed on Alaska 4-South: A Beautiful Symbol of Hope in the Hard Seasons of Life // Alaska

Happy Tuesday y'all! I hope that your week is starting off well! *smiles* Today I am so excited to share more about our drive down to the Thompson Pass area in Alaska on Alaska 4- South! You may remember from my last post about the Richardson Highway what a beautiful area of Alaska this is! (If you missed the post you can read more HERE!) 

Today I am excited to share with y'all one of my absolute favorite stops that we did on the entire trip. I know, I know. *smiles* I have said that about a lot of different areas, but this was definitely one of them! This stop held great encouragement for me in a profound way. And beyond this, we were literally surrounded by the beautiful mountains in a 360 view and hiking among the Alaskan fireweed. It was stunning. 
We were about 40 miles away from Valdez when I started realizing that in every single direction I looked as I was driving the views were stunning. This happened many times throughout the trip, but I just had to pull over one more time because it was so gorgeous. 
It's honestly hard to pick just "one favorite" drive that we took on this road trip. Each area was so unique in our adventures that the beauty was astounding in different ways. This area was a gift to see though and I definitely recommend stopping and enjoying the views here! 
As I pulled off the road for this stop, I noticed that there were a couple of motorcycles and an RV that was parked there, with about five people standing around talking. Their licence plates were from Maryland and as we got out of the car I walked over and said "hello". In the course of the conversation I found out they were not only from Maryland, but were familiar with the area that I had taught at for a couple of years and the school that I had taught at (the same one that my book, December Caravan is partially dedicated to). 

It was fun to chat for a few minutes on the opposite side of the country and swap some stories! This was something that I really loved about Alaska... everyone that we met was so incredibly kind- whether they were tourists or natives. For the tourists that I interacted with throughout the trip... it was unlike any other place I have visited. There was a mutual sense of respect for everything that we were seeing in this area of the world and it was almost as if we kept talking about what we were seeing we could hold onto the wonder a bit longer.
As they drove off I just had to smile at sometimes how small the world is and how connected we really all are. 
I started to hike and explore this beautiful area that was so simply stunning. One of my favorite parts of this area was walking and skipping among the beautiful fireweed flowers that were simply abundant.
Fireweed is not the official Alaska state flower but in many ways as we drove along I started thinking that it should be. There was such beauty from the pink-purple tones against the vibrant greens and the dark, tall mountains. 
But as I researched more about this flower early on in the trip I realized that there was more than just the pretty colors behind this flower. There is a deep strength to the symbolism of these flowers that appear to be fragile.
As it turns out these beautiful flowers thrive in "disturbed areas", for example, where you will see them a lot if you take an Alaskan road trip, along the road where they would appear to be in danger. But beyond that, these flowers actually thrive the most in areas that have sustained trauma- so things like avalanches, forest fires, falling trees, etc. 
Throughout the entire Alaska trip I was so struck by this symbolism and the beauty and strength of this flower. And as I returned home and have been working on recapping this trip, there has been something very hard and personal that has taken place behind the scenes in my own life. Sometimes life is just hard... isn't it? This broken world can sometimes be very hard and very messy... and painful... and it can be easy to think that nothing beautiful could come from all of the "hard" that we are experiencing... especially if our hearts feel wounded. 
But the thing is... is that this flower has gently reminded me that beauty can come from situations and circumstances that feel like they are disintegrated and ashes. That there is always hope in every situation... even when it feels confusing or hurtful or painful. This flower reminds me that beauty does come from the most disturbed and difficult areas of our lives. 

So if you are going through a hard time right now friends... I hope that these pictures of this stunning flower that thrives in the most disturbed situations will encourage you as it has me.
Isn't this baby fireweed adorable? I actually snapped this picture right after my traveling companion had walked by and stepped on it without paying attention to the area. Look how it was completely fine. The symbolism of all of it is really incredible if you think about it. 
I found this verse while we were in Alaska and it really spoke to my heart. I hope that it encourages you today too... no matter what you are going through friends... hold on...beauty is coming from your situation. As one of my favorite authors so eloquently said... "of one thing I am perfectly sure: the story never ends in ashes". 

The verse I mentioned is from the book of Isaiah in the Bible and it says... "I will give them bouquets instead of ashes, a joyous blessing instead of tears of grief... festive praise instead of despair." Today... I am praying that this verse comes true for you in whatever situation you are facing that appears to be in ashes... may it be replaced by bouquets and blessings instead of grief and despair.
Thank you so much for stopping by and reading this post today! If you are curious about the logistics of the road trip that we took throughout Alaska or if you are planning a similar road trip (or just want to see and dream about visiting the beauty!) I hope the information below is helpful. You can read all of the posts from the trip by clicking on the links below:


Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Area: // Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge// 



Hatcher Pass Area: // Hatcher Pass // Little Susitna River //  

9/17/18

summer reading list

Happy Monday friends! Today I wanted to share a different kind of Monday Inspiration and Encouragement- some of the books of the summer that I read ... there is a bunch of them and some of them were incredibly inspiring and some I honestly didn't love that much. So here we go by category to make it a bit easier (in no particular order):

Books for the Pleasure of Reading
I am wincing and biting my bottom lip a bit as I mention this book. It is amazing... inspiring... horrific... and incredible all in one. It is based on the incredible true story of Pino Lella who is a Italian teenager at the start of World War II and becomes a hero in helping Jews escape over the Alps. I don't even know where to start in describing this book, but as the author mentions the story came to him in one of the darkest times in his life and it had a profound impact on his personal life... I walked away feeling the exact same way. As a disclaimer... parts of this book are incredibly difficult in showing the horrific capacity that we as human can do to each other. But in that horror... courage finds a way to come out. Truly amazing. You can find the book HERE.
I have shared here on the blog before that I make a point to read this book every summer. Evidence Not Seen tells the story of Darlene who was a young newlywed in the pre-World War II era and her experience as a missionary in the jungles of New Guinea and then her four years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. The title of this book is perfect because she truly is honest in her experience of the way that the Lord often appeared silent but His hand was continuously orchestrating protection over her each and every day, providing "evidence not seen". There are so many nuggets of truth and encouragement that I have walked away from after reading this book. Each time I do I am struck again by this woman's faith in God despite her horrific circumstancesYou can find the book HERE.
I shared about my friend, Jill's new book, The Rancher's Surprise Daughter which released earlier this summer. The Rancher's Surprise Daughter tells the story of Luc and Cate who are re-connected when Cate shows up at Luc's Colorado guest ranch and introduces him to his three-year-old daughter. I think one of the things that was my favorite about this book (and I don't want to give to much away if you haven't read it yet!) was the character development of two flawed people learning to trust and love each other in a unique and unconditional way. I walked away personally encouraged and enjoyed how it is so sweetly written! You can find it HERE!

I mentioned this earlier this year, but one of my goals this year was to branch out and find some new favorite classic authors. Haha. Honestly, with all of the other books that I was reading this summer I ended up reverting back to some of my favorite classics and other books I enjoy, just re-reading them. This fall I am planning on tackling a few new ones! I can't wait to share! 
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Blogging is such a unique working environment and adventure... I wrote that and just shook my head with a soft smile on my face. As I am approaching my 6th year anniversary of staring this blog, I know that so many people are often confused at exactly what a full-time blogger does. I think most people think (a) we sit around in our pajamas eating ice cream in front of TV typing out a few words and calling it a day or (b) we travel for fun and it isn't much work or (c) really believe that blogging should not be considered a "full-time job". I am sure that there may be these elements for certain bloggers, but definitely not for me and not for the amazing bloggers I know and support. I addressed this topic in depth on the blog this summer- the question of: "What Does it Mean and Look like to Work as a Full-Time Blogger?" which you can read HERE

I share that because one aspect of travel work trips for me is the incredible research that I do for each trip that I go on. The trip that I was taking this summer (to Alaska) was going to be long and in-depth and so for this 10 day trip I spent approximately 300 hours reading and researching ahead of time (which doesn't include the many conversations that I had with people who live in or lived in Alaska prior to the trip). I found so many amazing books for this trip (you can read my entire post of what to read for so many different genres HERE) but here are a few that were my favorites:
For this road trip that we were taking we were going to be spending the most time in this area so this definitely became one of the most used books that I referred to and consulted for these areas as far as travel books are concerned. Also- this is the only guidebook for these specific areas, so if you are taking a trip here than you will definitely want to get this! You can purchase the book HERE.
I came across this book in antique bookstore in the early summer, shortly after I had made the decision to take the writing trip. Being a former teacher, I love stories of teachers in different areas, so the name and the setting were very intriguing to me and I loved the book. For those that may be interested, the book is a true story of Hannah Breece who came to Alaska in 1904. The New York times said it is: "An unforgettable...story of a remarkable woman who lived a heroic life" and I would definitely agree. If you are interested in the book you can find it for less than $6 HERE
Some of you are already smiling. You know that I couldn't include a list of books without listing one that included the time frame of World War II. This book is an amazing story of a World War II pilot that survives in the Alaskan Frozen Wilderness. As a brief synopsis this book tells the story of 5 army aviators who went out on a routine flight to test their plane shortly before Christmas in 1943. Unfortunately the mission ended in a crash and only one person survived. Leon Crane, the survivor, had all of the odds stacked against him in order to survive, as he was a city kid from Philadelphia and had no wilderness experience at all. With only a parachute for cover and an old Boy scout knife, this book tells the story of his remarkable 12 weeks saga to survive. It is an amazing tale of survival and I definitely recommend it y'all. You can find it on Amazon to purchase HERE
Maya Wilson, the author of the cookbook and the author behind the blog, Alaska from Scratch, shares over 75 delicious and family-friendly recipes in her book, The Alaska From Scratch CookbookHer photography is stunning and when I found her blog before the trip, I was absolutely enthralled. 

She seriously is amazing and I think I follow her on all of her social media sites - hahaha. She writes for several different places and she's inspiring and her story of how she ended up in Alaska is just so cool. You can read about it on her blog HEREAs a fellow blogger and author I love seeing when people branch out from their blog and turn their talent of writing into a book so that even more people have the opportunity to read their words. And when it is a cookbook it is a dream... hahaha. 

Some of you are shaking your heads smiling because you know that I just love books. And Y'all know I love cooking and cookbooks. *smiles*. But seriously... this one is a keeper and one that is a treasure no matter where you live. You will definitely want to add this to your bookshelf for before your trip and after wards. It is wonderful. This book was one of my favorite finds in researching and I can't recommend it enough. It would also make a wonderful gift as the holidays approach. You can find the book to purchase HERE
I came across this book in researching for the trip and looking up stories of those who had moved to Alaska and bought it kind of on a whim. It's a bit random for a road trip, but I included it in this honorable mention list, as reading it truly gave me a picture of what moving to a rural part of Alaska would entail and my adventuring heart was curious. I read it very intrigued and then driving on the Denali Highway I found myself laughing and smiling remembering somethings that the author shared. If you are going to be traveling to any remote place on your road trip, this book is honestly an excellent picture of what those who live there encounter. Definitely worth the read, I am sure y'all will love it as much as I did! You can find it HERE.

Again, if you are interested in seeing more suggestions I have for a road trip through Alaska, you can find my post, Best Alaska Books to Purchase for your Alaskan Road Trip: From Culture to History to Travel by clicking HERE!
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Twenty History Lane officially launched this August and it is in the baby stages of growth. I knew that I wanted to create something that would be long-lasting and permanent and would grow as the years go on. Because of this I have been slowly taking my time, building this platform. For this company I read one business book and then also read the three books for The Novel Garden Program for August and September. Here they are...
{one} Audacity
Published in 2016, Audacity tells the inspiring story of Clara Lemlich, a young woman who emigrated from Russia to New York at the turn of the 20th century and whose fight for equal rights led to the largest strike by women in American history. I hate to say this but while I felt that the book has incredible merits for this era in history... it definitely was not one of my favorites. I know many people love this book, but it just was not one of those books (in my opinion) that I would read again. If you are interested in the book you can purchase Audacity where books are sold and on Amazon by clicking HERE.

I am not going to share to many details of the next two books since we are in the middle of reading them for September's Book of the Month Club and there is still time to join in! You can find out more HERE!
 Rilla of Ingleside, the 8th book in the popular "Anne of Green Gables" series tells the story of Anne's 14-year old daughter, Rilla. During this sweet coming of age book, Rilla dreams of her first dance and hoping for her first kiss but her life is disrupted and changed when her brother's go leave to fight in the "Great War". Originally published in 1921, L.M. Montgomery brings to light the way the war shaped and affected family members during this time.
 The Guns of August, a Pulitzer Prize-winning book, by Barbara W. Tuchman, tells the story of the first month of World War I. Weaving historical details and characters, Tuchman shares the importance of the first 30 days of the summer of 1914 that will determine the course of the war. 

You can purchase Rilla of Ingleside or The Guns of August, where books are sold and on Amazon by clicking HERE(for Rilla of Ingleside) or HERE (for The Guns of August).
I actually picked up this book to read for the Etsy shop in the Spring and then realized it would also be amazing for TWL so I read it again this summer. If you are starting something that you want to last and to make a difference then this book has a lot of awesome ideas to consider and implement. Over the years I have admired the work that TOMS has done and have been inspired by the way that it has given back to so many people in need. You can find it HERE
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Business Books for the Shop
As I have been working on growing my etsy shop these past 6 months I have been taking time to read more and more business books. Here are some of the ones that I read through this summer...
This first book, Business Boutique, is one that I saw on a friend's instagram feed that I decided to check out. I am honestly still making my way through it because there is a ton of helpful and practical advice. If you are looking at becoming any type of entrepreneur than this book is chocked full of helpful tips and wisdom that you will want to explore. Honestly, this is a book that I will be referring back to often it is really wonderful! You can find it HERE!
I shared this in the spring, but I was still working my way through the stories of this book throughout this summer. I love reading the stories of women who have created different artistic entrepreneur ventures and the way that they have come to these places. I came across this book, In the Company of Women, in the clearance section of TJ Maxx a while back and was inspired. There are so many different women doing so many amazing things that it has been inspiring to read through. You can find it on Amazon HERE and if you order today it is FREE on Kindle! 

Okay- that was a lot! I am so curious - did y'all read any good books this summer that you would recommend? I am looking for suggestions for the fall and would love to hear your thoughts!

If you are curious about other book reading lists I have done in the past you can find those posts below: 

9/15/18

Davy Plays Football Junk Journal

Hi friends! Today I am so excited to share the newest junk journal that is now available in the shopThis adorable Davy Plays Football Junk Journal is now available for purchase! (You can find it HERE!) 
I am loving sharing one of the different items that are newly available in the shop each week! While here on the blog I might only share one or two items, there are approximately 5-10 new things added each week so feel free to check the shop out throughout the week! 
 I am so excited to start sharing some of the fall, autumn and thanksgiving items, including junk journals that are starting to be listed in the shop! I have a whole fall and thanksgiving section in the shop which you can find HERE!
For those who are looking for Christmas and holiday items, I will start adding those to the shop at the end of October. I am starting to add things (including junk journals) for those who are interested a bit earlier this year so that you have plenty of time for these special holiday items ( -especially those participating in December Daily). If you are interested in ever requesting a custom junk journal you can do so HERE
I found this adorable vintage Davy Plays Football Whitman Book a little while ago and have been wanting to use it as a junk journal for some time! I fell in love with the precious pictures, the detailed illustrations, and the vibrant colors for this time of year! And y'all- I really love the size (it measures approximately 5x6)!
This  Junk Journal contains approximately 75 pages that includes gorgeous original book pages, vintage paper, washi tape, burlap, rifle paper co fabric, and quality coordinating and themed scrapbook paper. You can easily add in pictures, your own ephemera (or choose the option for me to add in some before you receive your junk journal), and quick notes so that you can remember the special days of fall or autumn. 
The opportunity to create is such a gift, and this little junk journal quickly became my favorite. I just fell in love with the colors and the pictures. I dream of being a mama and this just makes my heart swoon. This would be a perfect junk journal for those of you who are football mamas (or aunts or grandmothers or friends!). Or it could be the perfect decor and memory maker for those hosting a Superbowl football party or the perfect companion for those special after thanksgiving dinner football games!
If you are interested in this Davy Plays Football Junk Journal can find it HERE. Or if you are interested in looking at other fall and thanksgiving items you can find them HERE! If you are interested in other tag and junk journals that are available in the shop you can find them in the tag and junk journal section HERE
Want to see a video of this sweet junk journal? Find it on the shops instagram page by clicking HERE

Happy weekend friends! I hope that you have a wonderful day with friends and family!!