March is Reading Month: My Book Challenge for You

I have always been a reader. I was the kid with a copy of Romeo and Juliet hidden behind my math book. I grew up with a mother who had a deep appreciation for the written word, and I followed right in her footsteps. (Seriously though, my mother is a book hoarder!)

In elementary school I would look forward to March all year long. Because… March is Reading Month! For at least one day in March we were allowed to wear pajamas to school (score!), and bring a blanket, and enough books to read for the day. We would have a day of nothing but reading. This was heaven for me. I am sure some students didn’t enjoy it, but it was the one day I would be allowed to escape, and be in my own book world. For those of you that have a love of reading, you are probably right with me in how wonderful this day was!

Now that the luxuries of elementary school are far behind me, I have my own reading days. But they are becoming few, and far between. What almost-college student has time to lay around and read all day?

So I have gotten creative. I read when I have time, which often doesn’t work out for me. I also am usually busy reading things that are assigned to me (always a snooze fest!) This is one of the reasons that I tend to read in spurts. When I have pockets of time, I read pockets of books.

So maybe you are a big reading fan (like me!), or maybe not so much. But I encourage all of you to make it your goal to read at least one book this month. Read at book that has been sitting on your nightstand for awhile, read a book recommended to you, choose a book from the following list, or go to GoodReads and do some book hunting. GoodReads is really one of my favorite resources to finding out about new books!

So I thought that I would share with you my top 10 most beloved books. Not all of you will fawn over them like I do, but you may surprise yourself by much time you spend reading.

  1. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Catcher in the Rye is my favorite book of all time (with the exception of the Bible) I have never read a book that made such a big impact on me in my entire life. It literally blew me away, it changed me. It is almost beyond words of how it made me feel, but I can give you some background information.

JD Salinger wrote the first copy of Catcher before he was deployed in WWII, and he carried the pages that held Holden with him everywhere he went during the war. This explains why the book has dark overtones, and certainly has an element of sadness.

Personally I think that this book gives a voice to mental illness, and what it’s like to be mentally ill. Holden (the main character) spends time in a mental hospital, but he isn’t obvious about it. Salinger himself spent sometime in a psychiatric unit, and I think that the book really speaks to his experience.

But I digress…

You should read this book at least once in your life. It may not be your cup of tea, or you could end up loving it like I do!

 

2. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

This is another heavy book to read, and for real: reader digression advised! It’s a hard, and emotional read, but a necessary read. No to mention that it is marvelously written, and a gorgeous story.

The story takes place in Afghanistan. It deals with family, relationships, love, and loss. And if you like a good cry-your-eyes-out book, this one’s for you! The book was culturally enriching, and Hosseini’s writing is flawless!

 

3. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Another incredible read! The language in the book is so rich, ornate, and beautiful. Diamant is able to take a short portion of a bible reference, and turn it into a wonderful twisting and moving story.

It deals with biblical/ancient womanhood, family, love, rape, and birth/early midwives.

I cannot say enough good things about this book, it’s fabulous and you need it on your bookshelf!

 

4. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Normally I am not too into reading memoirs, but this one was different. The Glass Castle made me feel deeply into what Walls was trying to convey. To me, it didn’t seem like she was telling her story to relish in herself. It was almost like the writing is breathing for itself; telling us it’s story. I felt honored to have read this book, and it’s certainly one you should pick up too.

Also… It’s a quick read if you only have limited time. I finished in about two days, and that was with interruptions. The writing is wonderful, and the story is moving. This one is a “March Must”

 

5. The Selection Series by Kiera Cass

This series was a Scholastic Book Fair find. My mom picked it up for me because she thought it looked interesting, and I had it for more than a year before actually reading it. I think that it certainly targets a younger audience, however it is a clever, and charming series that I would highly recommend. It isn’t too philosophical, or deep but it is so addicting I found myself reading book after book.

The series has 5 main novels (the fifth titled “The Crown” won’t be released until May 2016) telling the story of America Singer, and later her daughter Eadlyn. However, there are 4 companion novella’s that go along with the story as well as a book of “bonus features.” I promise you that once you get started with these books, it will become an obsession.

 

6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

My Mom read me this book when I was maybe 8 or 9 years old, and I have clung to it. It’s wonderful, and it’s timeless.

I really can’t say enough good things about it, so basically read the book. It will speak for itself.

(I really enjoy the film version of this book as well)

 

7. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

I just recently finished this book, and I must say that it was spectacular! It was a book that I chose to read slowly, I felt as if I needed to take my time to absorb each and every word.

It was heart-wrenching, and deeply profound at the same time. This book is centered around what it mean to lose. Something that everyone can relate with on some level.

Definitely add this to the read pile on your night stand!

 

8. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Okay… so yeah, this is technecally a children’s book; but it book is simply lovely. I have read many of Kate DiCamillo’s books, and all them are the more ornates, simply beautiful stories. She writes the most unique children’s stories, and I think her book are one of the reasons I so enjoy literature.

Despereaux is a mouse, with extraordinarily large ears. It sounds silly, but I don’t think that a book about a mouse could be more profound.

The illustrations in this book are breath-taking too.

 

9. Of Mice and Men by John Stienbeck 

This book was a “forced read” I guess you could call it, it was assigned reading in my english 11 class. However, I throughally enjoyed this book. It’s a quick read, and definatley a classic. Even if Of Mice and Men isn’t something you are that interested in, you should try it out.

Of Mice and Men delivers.

 

 

10. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery 

Never has a book stuck with for as long as Anne of Green Gables has. The character of Anne is beautiful. She is funny, charming, awkward, tragic, and theatrical.

My Mom read me this book as a little girl, and growing up I pretended to be Anne in my play time.

Anne of Green Gables is timeless and touching. If you read through Anne of Green Gables you may also be interested to know there is a continuing series made up of 7 addtional books.

 

So there you have it!

Your March 2016 reading challenge. Read any book, you fancy I just wanted to give you my top ten most beloved books.

So read on my compadres!

and have a very-merry March!

Love, 

Abbi

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I’m About To Get Real About the Proverbs 31 Woman

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Proverbs 31

The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.

Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
    Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
Do not spend your strength[a] on women,
    your vigor on those who ruin kings.

It is not for kings, Lemuel—
    it is not for kings to drink wine,
    not for rulers to crave beer,
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
    and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
Let beer be for those who are perishing,
    wine for those who are in anguish!
Let them drink and forget their poverty
    and remember their misery no more.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

So let’s get right into it…..

Most christian women have heard this passage of scripture before, and if you haven’t read it for yourself you have probably heard it being talked about.

It is a very popular passage for women’s bible studies, and has made its way onto encouraging plaques. It’s everywhere! I feel that it is lurking behind corners, defining who the christian woman should be, and making the young christian girl feel anxious.

But here’s the thing…

I have some beef with the way that we as the Church present Proverbs 31.

Let’s take a look at this woman, who is supposed to be the “ideal,” or the “goal” that I young man should try to find in a wife.

She is more valuable than rubies.

She always brings good to her husband.

She chooses the finest linens, and works them with her own hands.

She works in the night to provide for her family’s needs. 

She cares for the servants too. 

She buys, and maintains a field with her own money.

She is strong, she is physically fit. 

She earns money for her family. 

She is a capable seamstress.

She gives to the poor.

She feeds the hungry.

She is not afraid in bad weather, all of her family is clothed in the finest.

She makes her own bed linens.

She is clothed in the finest fashions.

Her husband is greatly respected.

She makes clothing and sells it at the market (she has her own Etsy store…)

She is strong.

She is dignified.

She can find laughter in all things. 

When she speaks, she is wise.

She gives faithful instructions. 

She is aware of all that happens under her roof.

She is never lazy, and always going.

Her children adore her. 

Her husband adores her. 

She is not deceived by charm or beauty.

SHE FEARS THE LORD.

Overwhelmed yet? It’s okay. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard young women talk about this passage.

“How am I ever going to live up to this!?”

 

“How could any woman live up to this?”

“Does this mean I fail as a woman if I cannot live up to this standard?”

“Will my husband/family be disappointed in me if I can’t live up to this?”

 

These are the doubts and questions that haunt and fill our minds. As women we have goals, we desire to be pleasing. We want to be pleasing to everyone, we all do it, we all have had this mindset. But this woman described certainly isn’t me, and she isn’t any one that I know. It almost seems unreachable, it is and unattainable goal.

I personally struggled with this for a long time. I thought that I had to figure out a way to be the “perfect” christian girl. I thought that’s what my church demanded of me, what God demanded, and what any future husband would demand. And I get getting stuck in this thought pattern: Am I really good enough?

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However one day in my personal devotion time, I was re-reading this passage in my Jesus-Centered Bible (if you don’t have one of these, get one!) and it hit me! This is who I am already in Christ. This is what Christ is for the church, for the world. Talk about walking in instant freedom!

So here is the thing…..

This passage of scripture isn’t describing your duties as a “good wife.”

 

 MIND…BLOWN

I believe that the scripture is calling out the Bride of Christ. As the church, we are called to live up to this standard. Jesus was literally the embodiment of that passage.

Here is the thing that I think God is saying to us:

He wants His church to live the way that the woman described lived.

So stop shaming yourself. As a woman, daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, grandmother, or great-grandmother you are going to fall short of this.

But it’s okay!

Jesus didn’t die for you, just to have you remain in your shame and regret. He is the example for us, so that we may model ourselves after Him.

So I encourage you, O mighty woman of God….

Pick up your bible.

Read Proverbs 31.

Let it strengthen you, not discourage you.

Wake up every morning, relying on the Lord.

Read, and do not be ashamed.

You are worthy.

You are loved.

You are enough.

 

 

Love you guys!
until next time,
~Abbi

When the Weather Outside is Frightful, Staying Home is So Delightful!

If nothing else the UP is famous for it’s wicked winters. (Nice alliteration!) We get everything from freezing rain, to white out blizzard conditions.

And that’s just life for us! Crappy driving conditions, sub-zero temperatures, and enough snow to shovel to your heart’s content.

That’s the thing about Yoopers: we thrive on this kind of thing. We live for winter.

One of the best things about winter is snow days from school. Like a mini holiday vacation!

Just about everyone that lives in a snowy climate has a snow day tradition. Snowball fights, hot coco, sledding, skiing, skating, and tons of other things.

A snow day is a day to stay home, and stay cozy. It’s a day to watch the winter wonderland unfold from inside, a day to stay warm.

I you’re new to snow days, or just want to have a cozy day indoors with the ones you love; then this post is your survival guide.

So here is your guide to surviving a snow day.

Step 1

Sleep in, and stay cozy!

Once you get news that your daily plans are cancelled, it’s time to hop back in bed and stay comfy in those flannel jammies of your’s!

Be sure that you don’t spend the entire day in bed. While catching some extra Z’s is always amazing; sleeping too long will disturb your sleep cycle, and you won’t be able to function properly when reality sets back in.

Check this out!

At church we had a pajama day. (Great idea, I must say.)

This wonderful lady next to me is my best friends mom, and someone that I think very highly of. Meet Michelle. Isn’t she just lovely? Aren’t both of us just adorable in our owl/elephant jammies?

 

Being Cute is So Much Work!!

Step 2

Snacking central!

I am a huge snacker. But just because you are snacking does not mean we have to throw eating healthy out the window… Eating comfort foods is another one of my favorite things to do. However comfort foods can sometimes make those adorable jeans you own a little bit uncomfortable.

So here are a few great snack ideas to get you eating comfortably and healthy on your day indoors.

 

Coconut Oil Popcorn

I love popcorn. The best kind of popcorn is the stuff you buy at the movie theater.

However this healthy alternative is really good, and can also satisfy your sweet tooth depending.

I personally like to use unrefined coconut oil, because I love that faint coconut taste. If your not a fan of coconut; not to worry just use refined coconut oil… flavor free.

Ingredients: (makes 2 servings)

1/4 cup of popcorn kernels (I like using blue corn, however anything will work)

2 tablespoons of coconut oil (If you are using emulsified coconut oil, you will need to melt it first)

Salt to taste (I like to use large grain sea salt)

Also…

If you want to make “caramel corn” drizzle some raw honey over your popcorn when finished.

These seeds are from Suburban Seeds. Where you can order just about anything for your seed needs!

Pretty simple on the ingredient list isn’t it?

 

If you don’t cook with coconut oil… get yourself in gear!

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil:

Coconut oil can…

help regulate blood cholesterol levels

promotes HDL cholesterol… the healthy cholesterol

lower your risk of heart disease

helps you burn fat by increasing energy

lauric acid found in coconut oil can help fight infections

So here is the question you should ask yourself: Why not use coconut oil?

Directions: ready in 7-10 minutes

Get a three-quart pot ready for the popping. Put pot on medium heat, and place lid over and heat for about 2 minutes. Add the oil.

Add the kernels into the pot. Once the kernels are in the oil shake, or shift the pot over the heat until the popcorn begins to pop.

When the popping slows down, remove popcorn from heat but let sit for 2-4 minutes.

Pour the popped kernels into a bowl, and season.

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We didn’t have any blue corn kernels last time we made popcorn. But doesn’t it look delectable? I seasoned my popcorn with some melted unrefined coconut oil, and the smallest amount of garlic salt.

Applesauce…My Snacking Go-To!)

Applesauce is one of those things that I crave, and could probably eat all day long. I like homemade applesauce, store bought, plain, cinnamon, strawberry, you name it I probably like it. But here is my favorite favorite way to eat applesauce:

 

The reason that I add flax seed is that it is an amazing health food.

One ounce of flax seed contains: omega 3 (ALA), fiber (8 g), protein (6 g), vitamin B1, and phosphorus. I personally like the texture and consistency of flax seeds, and I also like that I can add them to things and they do not have a strong flavor. Positive health benefits; no negative taste! Win win situation here!

I think that it is also important to note that I do not add any sort of sweetener to my applesauce, and I also buy unsweetened in the store. I think that the apples themselves have enough sweetness, and I just want to avoid added sugar if necessary.

Really cold on your winter day spent indoors? Warm up your applesauce! Nuke for 20-45 seconds, or heat it up in a crockpot or stove top.

 

To Satisfy That Inevitable Sweet Tooth

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

So… I don’t really know all that much about the Paleo diet, but I would like to learn more. And I have never actually made these particular cookies before, but I thought it was worth a share. This recipe has been waiting for me on my Pinterest board for quite sometime.

If you would like to know more about the Paleo diet (like I do) you need to go check out Paleo Grubs, they have tons of information and recipes to get you started. I actually saw the recipe that I am about to share on their site.

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies-The Perfect Sweet-Tooth Crusher

Ingredients:

(Here we go with coconut oil again) 3 tablespoons of melted coconut oil

1 1/2 tablespoons of non-dairy milk (coconut, almond, rice…)

3/4 teaspoon of vanilla

2 teaspoons of honey

3/4 cup of blanched flour (coconut, or almond)

3 tablespoons of chocolate chips (or if you’re like me add more because you just really need a chocolate fix)

I know that some of those ingredients may not be things that you have readily available, and that’s one of the reasons that I haven’t made these yet. But resist the temptation to reach for the tube of cookie dough. I know, it’s so easy to just suck it right out of the tube!

Directions:

Whisk together the coconut oil, milk, honey, and vanilla.

Using a rubber or silicone spatula, gently mix in the flour until all ingredients are combined. Be mindful not to overmix or the batter will become oily.

Fold in the chocolate chips, and roll into evenly sized balls.

Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. This make take some careful watching.

So if any of you beat me too the punch, and make these right away tell me how they come out. Yay or nay?

 

Step 3:

Finding the right “feel good” movie.

If you like action, or horror movies this probably isn’t going to do you any good. But if you enjoy romantic, classic, and hilarious movies this may be your favorite step!

Movies that will make your day indoors a great one:

#1: Ever After

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Angelica Houston, and Dougray Scott

Okay you can’t ever go wrong with this movie! Drew Barrymore in her young years (and even now) is always a win! This movie is probably one of my favorites ever. It’s a re-telling of the typical Cinderella story. But the end we all wish our names were Danielle Dabo Barack…

 

#2: The Princess Bride

Starring: Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Andre the Giant, Billy Crystal, Mandy Patinkin, and Wallace Shawn

This is my Mother’s favorite movie of all time! Literally I will not watch it with her because she says every line of that movie along with the characters. Every girl wants their own Wesley!

I like this movie for a lazy day because it’s romantic, and hilarious at the same time. It’s cheesy, and a great way! If you haven’t seen this add it to the top of your list.

 

#3: The Proposal 

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, and Betty White

Funniest movie I have ever seen in my entire life! It’s great, great, great! I really can’t even describe this on too much… just watch it!

 

#4: Pride and Prejudice

Starring: Keira Knightly, Matthew MacFayden, and Donald Sutherland

Every woman should read Jane Austen at some point in their life. I really love Pride and Prejudice, and I think that the film version is just great.

(I am not going to list this one individually, but you should also see Becoming Jane with Anne Hathaway as well.)

 

#5: What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Anna Kendrick, Chris Rock, Jennifer Lopez, Chance Crawford, Elizabeth Banks, Dennis Quaid, Ben Falcone, Rebel Wilson, and Wendi McLendon-Covey

I could go on and on with movies for years, but I had to get What to Expect on this list! It’s the best! Hilarious, and a crier also. watch this today!

 

 

Enjoy!

This is your day off from reality! Enjoy it. Get your jammies! Get a bowl of coconut oil popcorn! Get a great film! Get comfy! And get rested!

 

Love you all and hoped that this helped you get through your day!

~Abbi

Blogging Was Paused

So…… I know that I haven’t blogged anything in over a year. But in my defense I have been crazy, crazy, CRAZY busy!

Yes…

I am still wild about food.

I still want to keep blogging.

I will start to post regularly.

 

However…

I am going to revamp, and change a lot of things on my blog page. Over the last few months, I have been really digging into doula training, and be active in the pro-life movement.

This year I am also a Senior, and I have been preparing to go to college. I really want to blog about my journey.

 

So…

I hope that you stay tuned (or get re-tuned) to this page, because cool things are going to start happening.

 

Love you all, see you very soon!

~Abbi

School is Over….But I Need to Rant About School Food

I have not eaten a school lunch since seventh grade…five years. I am actually really pround of that. I can’t speak for any other school district’s lunch menu, but ours (in the nicest) way possible is pathetic. My friend Ryan eats school lunch. Schools are required to have a vegtable table on the tray; Ryan sat with us having some gray looking green beans on his tray. I asked him of he was going to eat them, he answered with a resounding “no.” I tried a spoonful of them and I am not kidding I almost gagged. I really actually wonder how the school  cooks all the green out of the GREEN beans. Gross. They also had a metallic sort of flavor, I think that was impart to the fact they have in a can for about five years…. Anyway I really don’t think anyone eats their vegetables at school. Who can blame them? I think that I previously mentioned the fact that I bring my own lunch, I don’t pack my lunch though: My mom does. She is seriously the best!!

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There it is. We don’t eat the same thing everyday, but we always eat something nutritious. This is chicken stir fry with a ginger based sause. It was delicious!  The veggies were: yellow squash, broccoli, carrot, green onion, and thn some zucchini. I eat this kind of food I eat all the time for lunch. It almost makes me sad when I see what the school lunch line has to offer. I am so thankful to my Mom for preparing lunch for me, and my best friend Ellen everyday.

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Here you can more clearly see the ginger and soy sauce. Most of it ran to the bottom of the container.

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We had brown rice to mix into the meat and veggies. Brown rice I think is a tricky thing to cook, because the rice still has it’s hull. When cooking brown rice soak it overnight in water, this will help it to be softer and have less of a crunch.

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Doesn’t this put all other lunches to shame?

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Broccoli with the ginger glaze coating. This is what greens are supposed to look like!

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This is the awesome lady behind the awesome food.

I think what I am really try to communicate here is my distaste for school food. It’s no wonder to me that more people don’t like greens, when they are served mushy gray looking beans. I wouldn’t eat them either. I also have never heard any praise for the school food, I mean people eat it so they must like it. Right? Unfortunately I think a lot of students eat school food because they can eat for free, or reduced. But that isn’t any exuse to me that the school serves some type of fried potato three times a week. What are your thoughts? Not sure what the solution is to this problem is, but it’s really unfortunate.

May Showers, Bring June Flowers?

My birthday is in May, and my memories of weather on my birthday are scattered. I never remember there being snow, but I certainly do remember rain, freezing temperatures and warm swimming weather. This May has really proved to be a unique one. April didn’t bring us the forecasted “April Showers”, but rather my good friend May brought them to us. So instead of May being a time of blossoming and new life, it has mostly been a rainy and chilly season.

For some people rain brings the debbie-downers, but I love rain. Rain is a symbol of rebirth and renewal. After one of the downpours, I found myself on the shores of the ever-frigid Lake Superior. ( Notice that I am wearing my super fancy winter boots. It was pretty chilly down by the Lake.) My Mom was able to capture my time of prayer while I was down the beach a ways.

Worship on the Shores

Worship on the Shores

Later on that same evening I was enamored with the sunset. Can I get an Amen? Beautiful. I am so blessed by the small beauties.

And Heaven Came Down

And Heaven Came Down

I don’t know about your personal beliefs, but standing beneath that sunset I could feel and acknowledge the glory of the Lord.

Hebrews 1:3 “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high”

Rain just has a calming and almost therapeutic quality for me. I took some more photos after the rain. I hope you enjoy them.