Weekend Coffee Share: 5/14/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be sitting on a blanket in the sun.  Spring is finally in full swing here in Minnesota and I am loving every moment!  I’d be sipping my usual mocha–what would you be having?

May is quickly slipping away… I can’t believe the month is half done already!

Today is Mother’s Day!  My parents have been away for most of the weekend enjoying fishing opener at a friend’s cabin up north.  They’ll be coming home later this morning.  My siblings are home for the weekend and we’ll be enjoying a nice brunch.  It’s not often that we’re all together.  With vacations, work, one brother doing an internship in North Carolina for the summer, we probably won’t be together for a while.

My family’s apple orchard is in full bloom!  We’ll be opening it to the public for a special Mother’s Day walk later this afternoon.  I hope lots of people come–it’s one of the prettiest times of the year.

It’s been a pretty quiet week.  I had shopping plans with a friend yesterday, but she cancelled, so I decided to go alone.  I spent WAY too much money… but really needed a new dress for all the weddings I’m attending this summer.

At work, I’ve been busy getting ready for our Summer Reading Program.  I’ll be away on vacation when the program officially starts, so I’m getting the pieces together.  While I know it’s going to be a busy summer with kids coming in, I’m excited for all the fun programs.  I’m doing preschool storytime, a marshmallow engineering event, a stuffed animal sleepover, and am starting a Lego Club.

Aside from family time, I plan to spend the rest of my weekend soaking in the sunshine.  I’ll be mowing the lawn this afternoon and will hopefully go for a hike tomorrow (I don’t work on Mondays).

That’s all I’ve got today… what have you been up to this week?  Do you have any Mother’s Day plans?  What would you share over coffee?

This post is part of the Weekend Coffee Share link up, hosted by Nerd in the Brain.

2016: A Story in Three Parts

As another year comes to a close, it’s time to reflect.

By global standards, 2016 was pretty much a train wreck.  Personally, though, it was a beautiful journey that I will tell in three parts.

INTRODUCTION:

A year ago, I was an unemployed college graduate with no idea of what I wanted to do with myself.  You see, for the majority of my life, my intuition has been my guide.  Until this point, early every major life decision has been guided by instinct.  College?  My gut lead me to the right fit.  Major?  My heart found home in the English Department.  Work at camp in the summers?  It just felt right.

The future, however, holds infinite possibilities and the prospective paths had me absolutely paralyzed.  I had absolutely no idea of anything.  My intuition, the little tug that pulls me in the next direction, had failed.

So, at the beginning of 2016, I felt my heart tugging me back to Europe and, against all logic, I followed. Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share: Let’s Catch Up

If we were having coffee, I’d begin by telling you how much I’ve missed you.  The past couple of weeks have been busy and and blogging has been the last thing on my mind.  For the past few days, I my body has been fighting off a cold.  I’ve been storing away post ideas, but haven’t had the energy to write them yet.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I got to see a fantastic production of Sense & Sensibility at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis a few weeks ago.  Although I’ve read all her works multiple times, seen all the adaptations, and even visited Jane Austen’s house in England, S&S is the only one of her works that I had the opportunity to actually study while in college.  Because of what I gleaned in class, Elinor Dashwood has become one of my favorite Austen heroines. Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share: Overstimulation Hits

If we were having coffee, we’d be taking it to-go because the weather has been far too beautiful to spend the day cooped up in a coffee shop.  We’d be strolling on a path through the woods, going out of our way as we talked to step on particularly crunchy leaves.  The fall colors are turning and we’d be lost in a sea of red and orange and gold.  Isn’t it crazy how fast this fall is going by?  It’s already October!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’ve been seriously overstimulated the past few days.  I think part of the problem is that I’ve been spending too much time in fantasy worlds.  On work days, I spend two hours in the car listening to audiobooks.  At home, I either read or watch TV.  Because I work in a library, I’m constantly figuring out what world to enter next.  (It’s gotten to the point where I have at least one book coming via interlibrary delivery every week for the next three months.) Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share: Things Are About to Get Busy

If we were having coffee, I’d start out by saying that it’s good to be back!  I missed out on last week’s coffee share on account of being out of town.  How have things been since we last spoke?

It’s strange to think that summer is over.  As it always does, it went by so quickly!  I’m glad, though.  September is here and with it comes cool mornings and golden sunsets.  Sweater weather is right around the corner and I couldn’t be happier. Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share: It’s Not All Rainbows and Sunshine

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that it hasn’t been the best of weeks.  Nothing horrible has happened… things could definitely be worse.  But they certainly could be better.

If we were having coffee, you would know that two out of the past five days have been rainy.  I love, love, love rainy days… there are few better things than curling up in a lumpy sweater and reading a good book.  When you work on a farm, though, rain gets in the way.  We were sent home early twice this week because it was simply too wet to do any of the field work that badly needs to get done. Although the extra free time gave me the chance to catch up on much needed around-the-house tasks, I need the pay. Continue reading

Apples & Writing

Lately, I’ve been embracing my identity as a writer.  I currently live at home and work on my family’s farm, so writing and agriculture have been on my mind.  I’ve been learning that writing and farming are more similar than one would think.

My family’s business is apples.  In the spring, apple trees bud and blossom.  Alone, these flowers are beautiful and fragrant, but fleeting.  It takes external forces, namely bees, to preserve their beauty.  Once the flowers are pollinated, fruit sets in.  But that’s not the end.  It takes months and months of growing and care for the fruit to grow.  Even then, it’s not always ready when you think.

This process reminds me of writing.  As a writer, I have universes in my mind.  Thoughts, feelings, ideas, entire novel length stories exist between my ears.  Sometimes when I sit down to put these sentiments to words, I find myself unable to speak.  Like apple blossoms, bursts of inspiration alone aren’t enough.  It takes external forces–life experiences–to give the inspiration the depth and meaning it needs to bear fruit.  Even then, sometimes the words aren’t ready.  It takes months and months of bouncing around in the back of my mind to grow and take shape.

We have field trips at our orchard and one of the things my mom tells the kids is actually really important: Just because an apple is red doesn’t mean it’s ripe.

It’s the same with words.  Recently, I’ve found the need to write bubbling up in my spirit and bursting forth at unexpected moments.  But just because words are building at the tip of my toungue does not mean they are ready yet.  It doesn’t mean they’re ripe.  I’ve got an ever-growing list of post ideas, but not all of them feel quite right yet.

So I wait.  I mull over the words and scribble drafts.  I put down my pen and let the world around me pollinate my ideas.  I wake up in the morning, go to work, read books, spend time with friends, and wait.

When the time comes for the words to burst forth, I’ll be ready.

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Weekend Coffee Share: Life is Looking Up

If we were having coffee, it means I’m emerging from another hermit stage.  In all the changes over the past month, I’ve become a recluse, hardly seeing or reaching out to anyone besides my parents.  I’ve definitely been tossing my blogging schedule out the window, but I just didn’t have the will to sit and write.  Plus, I didn’t want my readers to drown in my negative attitude.  So, although I continued writing in private, my posts have been limited.

Thankfully, things are looking up.  I’m here again in the metaphysical coffee shop with you, ready to talk.

If we were having coffee, you’d know that orchard season is finally over!  Yesterday was our last day.  In many ways, it was a wonderful season.  All our records were smashed–we had the biggest crowds, biggest harvest, biggest sales.  My family is really thankful for all the people who came out this year, but oh boy…  We are exhausted.  It’s been a long haul, working six days a week for the past three months.  I’m really looking forward to having normal weekends and a manageable schedule again.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my birthday on Tuesday was an absolute blast.  Although I spent the first half working, I took the afternoon off.  My mom and I went shopping at the Mall of America, where we both spent WAY too much money.  It was good, though.  I got new pants, a sweater, and some really pretty scarves.  We had dinner at a fancy restaurant, where they gave me free cake.  At home, I unwrapped gifts, which included a vintage typewriter!  The ribbon is very faint, so I can’t use it at the moment, but what a perfect gift for a blossoming writer.  I’m excited to put it to good use.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about how my new job as Interim Director of my local Chamber of Commerce is going well and there is an end in sight.  I finally have the day-to-day tasks figured out and the chronic anxiety is ebbing.  We had a Board of Directors meeting last week, where everyone was really kind and encouraging.  Despite feeling under-qualified and constantly stressed, I seem to be doing a good job.

That being said, we’ve been interviewing candidates for the Executive Director position and I think we’ve found the perfect one.  If all goes well in the hiring process, I will pass the torch over to her in December.  Which means there is light at the end of the tunnel on my end!

If we were having coffee, you’d learn a secret: My next big adventure might be just around the corner.  No decisions have been finalized, but I’ve been exploring international possibilities.  If things go well (and people actually return my emails), returning to Europe might be closer than I ever dreamed was possible.  I’ll give more details as plans become solidified.

In the meantime, it feels so good to have a sense of direction again!

Now it’s time to pass things over to you.  What would you share over coffee?

This post is part of a link-up at Part Time Monster

Weekend Coffee Share: Best Apple Orchard in Minnesota

If we were having coffee, I would, right away, ask if you’ve heard the news.  Well… actually, if you’ve seen the news.  Because, oh boy, is it exciting!  One of my state’s top news networks does a “Best in Minnesota” feature and their most recent focus was Best Apple Orchard.  My family owns an apple orchard!  We found out about the contest a couple of weeks ago and, right away, launched a social media campaign to get everyone we know voting.  I kept the news off WordPress, but was fairly obnoxious with my Facebook posts.

Anyways, we WON the competition and can now say that Pleasant Valley Orchard is the best in Minnesota!

My family's apple orchard, taken at sunset last Saturday.
Panorama of our orchard, taken last weekend at sunset.

On Tuesday, a reporter and videographer from WCCO came out and shot footage for a story on our farm.  I took a class on visual journalism last year and watching them work was fascinating.  They clearly came with a vision for the story and, right as they popped out of their vehicle, got to work filming.  My entire family was there and we showed them all around our farm, telling them the history, and sharing stories.  We were all interviewed, which was fun.

If you’re interested in seeing the story, hop along to the WCCO website!  When it aired, we watched it three times in a row. It really is a lovely story–it captures the essence of who my family is, what we do, and where I come from.  My interview didn’t make the cut, but no tears were shed over that.  I’ll leave the spotlight to my parents and brothers.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that being the Best Apple Orchard in Minnesota also has negative consequences.  As soon as the story aired, we had a significant increase in traffic.  Friday had crowds like a slow Saturday and I worked for ten hours straight assembling bakery products, packing apples, and mowing as much as I could before the sun set.  Yesterday (Saturday), I worked in the store all day and now understand what it feels like to work retail on Black Friday.  It was the busiest day we have EVER had in the 23 years we have been open.  Working the cash register, I did nothing but smile and crunch numbers for eight hours straight.  We were short-staffed and, as a result, didn’t get lunch breaks.  Our bakery products were gone by three and we sold all of the 700 caramel apples that had been made for the weekend.  (Our baker had to work extra to make more.)

Before we opened, I prayed to Jesus and asked Him to make me an extrovert for the day.  It didn’t work.  My brain was total mush by 2 PM and my stomach growled most of the day.  At one point mid-afternoon, I turned to my coworker and declared, “I want to die.”

Nevertheless, I’m still alive and so are my parents.  It took a couple of hours to get all the post-closing chores done, but when they were, we went out for fancy steak dinner.  Because we deserved it.

If we were having coffee, I’d let you know that, even though exhausted, I was awake from 2:30-5 AM simply because my body was so wired from the day’s work.  Instead of rolling around for hours, I climbed out of bed, made a cup of hot cocoa, climbed back into bed, and watched Netflix.  I would have preferred sleeping, but Netflix is good too.

It’s now my day off.  THANK GOODNESS.  If I have my way, I’m spending the entire day in my pajamas, indulging in more Netflix, cleaning my room, and catching up on blogging goals.  The sad thing is, I’ll probably end up having to work.

Enough of my complaints.  I’m turning things over to you.  How has your week been?  What would you share over coffee?

This post is part of the Weekend Coffee Share link up at Part Time Monster.

In Review: September, 2015

Another month has come and gone and it’s time to look back.  Welcome to another…

Month in Review blog heading

Part I. Blogging

It’s been a FANTASTIC month on Keep Your Feet!  At the beginning of September, I made the following goals:

  • Stick to my revamped posting schedule
  • Participate in Blogging University’s Writing 101 challenge
  • Follow at least five new blogs
  • Comment on at least three new blogs

For the most part, I more than met these goals.  Participating in Writing 101 made it easy.  I couldn’t help scrolling through my classmates’ posts, seeing all the interesting ways they interpreted the daily assignments.  Following and commenting came naturally and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know more of my fellow bloggers.

I’m incredibly proud of the work I’ve been doing in Writing 101.  Some of the posts over the past month have meant more to me than anything I’ve written in a long time. Here’s a list of my favorites, in case you missed them.  I’d really appreciate if you checked them out and would love to hear your responses!

I freely admit that I’ve fudged my posting schedule… AGAIN.  But coming up with features on top of daily assignments is a tall order.  I don’t feel bad for not meeting it.  Last weekend, though, I pulled together several new On the Shelf reviews of books I’ve been reading lately.  Those will be posted over the next few weeks.

As for my attempts to blog about life on an apple orchard… I’m pretty sure that feature is never going to happen.  I work 50+ hours a week at the orchard and, when I’m off duty, don’t want to write about it.

Part II. Books

September was an unusually slow reading month.  I attribute this to the fact that I spent most of my time in non-fiction, which is a bit uncharacteristic.  This was supplemented by listening to the Harry Potter books on audiobook for the second time in three months.  No regrets there!

The main books I have read include:

  • Live, Love, Lead by Brian Houston
  • Love Does by Bob Geoff
  • Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
  • Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

I plan doing informal reviews on Gay, Sanderson, and Geoff’s books in the upcoming weeks.  Keep an eye out for those!

Part III. Life

This month was BUSY, to say the least!  My family’s apple orchard opened on September 3 and, ever since, we’ve all become workaholics.  I’m at the orchard six days a week.  Some days, I only have to be over there for a few hours.  Others, especially when we’re gearing up for a busy weekend, I pull multiple 10-hour-days in a row.  On Saturday night, after working in the store handling an endless stream of customers and transactions, my parents and I go to a local bar for burgers, beer (or, in my case, hard cider), and a rest from toil.

Nevertheless, I have been doing fun things!  With friends in my area, I’ve had a steady stream of movie marathons, bonfires, and girls nights.  I’ve been to my local Applebee’s more times in the past month than I have in my entire life.  A few weeks ago, I met up with one of my study abroad friends who recently moved to Minneapolis.  We went to see Ivan & Alyosha and Noah Gundersen.  My older brother and I also went to a Twins baseball game, which was a blast.  I also went to the Renaissance Festival with an old roommate.  I haven’t been since high school and loved it!  It was so fun exploring the different vendors and watching the jousting.

On the job front, I have a possible job opportunity when orchard season ends!  Nothing is official, but once my resume is approved, I’ll have a part-time job from mid-October through early January.  I’ll tell you all about what the job is once it’s official.  It’s perfect because it’s a job I’m very much interested in, but am hesitant to make a full 2-year commitment.  I love my home community, but don’t really want to put down roots and stay here.  If things work out, I’ll gain professional experience, have a source of income for the next few months, and still have wiggle-room to figure out where the next big adventure lies.

October Blogging Goals:

  • Comment on 3 blogs per week
  • Post at least 3 times per week
  • Clean up and revamp menus and pages
  • Continue using Writing 101 assignments as inspiration for non-feature posts

Photos From This Month: