Music to Write, Cook, and Be Productive By

AtDesk

Well, we’re on day 294 of winter in my neck of the woods. Yes, I know I live in Colorado. Yes, I know it’s early March. Yes, I know I’m exaggerating. But I haven’t seen the grass in my front yard in weeks and likely won’t see it for several more. So, I’m allowed to be a little dramatic.

The point here, people, is while March comes in like a lion in Colorado Springs, it usually goes out like one too. So yours truly is spending a whole lotta time inside. And as a way of helping me crawl toward the ever elusive spring, I am perusing a lot of new and familiar music. Like everyone else, my mood determines what I to listen to. But for activities like writing that require a bit o’ thinkin’, I like thoughtful music. And since I am often thinking about writing while doing other household chores, I find a similar style of music floating from the speakers while I’m cooking dinner or washing dishes.

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Back in December I wrote a post about my favorite Christmas music, and today I’d like to offer some of my favorite year around music to write, cook, or just generally be productive by.

Instrumental Favorites

Pride and Prejudice soundtrack–This is an absolute favorite for several reasons, one being it reminds me of water flowing and wind rustling. It has a lot of movement to it and propels me forward in my activity.

Downton Abbey soundtrack–Every time I hear the driving opening notes of the Downton theme, I can’t help but exhale. Working to this soundtrack makes me do exactly what watching the show makes me do: settle in and smile. As a bonus, if you listen to the soundtrack, you’ll discover that the Downton theme actually has words! For real.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 soundtrack–This is a heavier selection than the others, but if I am trying to slay a writing dragon like fear or insecurity, I imagine it is Voldemort and I’m Harry. (Or Hermione.) And wonder of wonders, I push through. Side fact: it was composed by Alexandre Desplat who just won as Oscar for Best Original Score to The Grand Budapest Hotel.

David Nevue– If you ever visit Ms. Ann V’s blog, you might find David’s piano music familiar. All his albums are spectacular, but I enjoy Open Sky the most. His song titles are so descriptive–“The Sound of Sunshine,” “Forgotten Places,” and “Summer Rain” to name a few. I find they sound like what they are called, although in unpredictable ways.

Helen Jane Long–If the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata had a baby, it would sound like anything by Helen Jane Long. Her music is ethereal and sophisticated but warm and inviting, too. I have all three of her albums and enjoy each one equally.

In the Dreaming Hour by Ryan Stewart–Ryan’s melodies are hauntingly beautiful. Like the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack, his music has a motion and direction to it that fuels my creativity as it relaxes me heart and soul.

Vocal Favorites

Generally I write to instrumental music. But some artists have just the right combination of velvety voice and soul-stirring lyrics, and they inspire me to write even if I’m singing, too.

Ellie Holcomb–I’ve mentioned a couple times before that I’m a fangirl of Ellie’s. Her voice is so velvety smooth, it’s like dark chocolate for the soul. I could listen to her As Sure as the Sun album all day long.

Christa Wells--Christa’s voice is one of my favorites of all time. It is whispery but rich and soulful. Combine that with her poetic lyrics, and you have yourself a breathtaking combination. Side note: Christa wrote the popular song “Held” sung by Natalie Grant.

Sara Groves–Sara’s music always brings me closer to Jesus. The combination of her melodies and lyrics pierce my heart in all the right ways. She is wildly talented, and this is reflected in every note she plays and sings. Her album Tell Me What You Know will always be a favorite of mine.

Bonus

Just because I can’t write a music post without mentioning a country music artist, I bring you fellow Oklahoma girl Carrie Underwood singing “Something in the Water.” You’re welcome.


I’d really love to know: what is some of your favorite music to work by?

What I Learned in February

GirlAndSunset

The sun in setting on the month of February. And as I watch the last of the burnished light fade to dark, I can’t help but be thankful. It has been a hard month, but a good one in many ways, too.

So I’d love to end the month on a delightful note by talking about what I learned these past twenty something days. Here we go!

What I Learned in February:

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1. I live next to Gwyneth Paltrow. Or rather, Gwenyth’s twin. Or rather, one who could be Gwyneth’s twin. The lovely lady in the picture on the left is my sweet neighbor Lauren with her daughter Katelyn. I never saw her resemblance to Gwenyth until Sunday night when the kids and I were watching the Oscars. As Gwyneth glided onto stage to present an award, all 3 of my kids shouted “WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! It’s Lauren our neighbor!” And now I’m all OF COURSE. Why didn’t I see it sooner?

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2. Staring outside the window isn’t a waste of time but a necessary work.

3. It is possible for stitch fix to redeem itself. In spite of having credits, I almost quit stitch fix because I had 2 or 3 fixes that had nothing I liked. At all. As in, it seemed like my stylist looked at my style profile and picked items that were the opposite of what I listed as a preference.

So I skipped it a couple months but then decided it would be silly to give up the credits. I plunged back in. And while I still return more than I keep, I am now finding some things in each fix that I really like. Below are some examples:

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Left: Kut from the Kloth Diana Skinny Pant They’re ultra comfy and I love the rich green color.

Middle: Asymmetrical Zip Cardigan from Market and Spruce Perfect arm length and very flattering.

Right: Honey Punch Myra Plaid and Lace Button-Up Light and feminine–it has a pretty lace panel in the back that runs horizontal along the shoulders. (Side note: In spite of all appearances, I didn’t wear this ensemble to the rodeo. I wore it to church. Ha!)

If you’re curious about stitch fix, you can find more information here.

ManTable

4. My husband is an extremely thoughtful cook. Given when we were first married he knew how to cook wonderful meals while I could barely boil water, I have always known he is a good cook. But it wasn’t until this month I realized how much time and effort he puts into dinners that he cooks. Since those early days of marriage I’ve learned a lot about cooking and by and large I enjoy it. But with my increasing work schedule, I’ve been doing more and more “let’s see what I can find in the pantry, fridge, and freezer to throw together in the crockpot for dinner” quick meal planning.

If David cooks, it’s an event. When I returned from a week home in Oklahoma to help care for my daddy, David had the most incredible meal waiting for me as well as the next several planned out. One was lettuce wraps that tasted just like P.F. Chang’s. They’re so good, I dream about them.

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5. You can purchase bookmarks made from pages of Jane Austen novels. Aren’t they lovely? You can buy them in groups of 6 for $8.50. I am using mine as party favors for an upcoming tea I’m hosting this weekend for some new church friends. Yeehaw!

6. Faith is not believing with just my head or heart but my whole self. I read this in the book Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter, and it has stuck with me. Here it is in context:

“This is what faith really is: believing, not with the head or the lips or out of habit, but believing with one’s whole life. It means seeking community with the human Christ in every situation in life. . .”  Jürgen Moltmann

May it be so.

That about sums up what I’ve learned this month. How about you? What silly and serious things have you learned this month?

Thanks to Emily for inviting us to join her in sharing what we learned this month!

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