Heart at the Bottom of My Tea

Yesterday I was basking in the sun next to my cat Keke, enjoying a cup of tea, and happened to look down and notice that the tea leaves had stained a heart  on the bottom of my cup. The raspberry chamomile surprise made me smile, and was a beautiful  reminder of the love that surrounds me. I felt grateful for my family, friends, and my life in general.

Cheesy sentiment? Maybe. I’m trying every day to be positive and live in the moment. I have a tendency to dwell in the past and worry about the future. It’s shocking how hard it is to remain in the present and notice the blessings that surround me. Gratitude is a beautiful state that’s rarely visited.

So on that note, I raise my mug of re-filled tea to life, love, happiness, and to you my readers.




Are You A Prescriptive or Descriptive Grammarian?

Are you a prescriptive or descriptive grammarian and how do you know?

In the language game there are two teams: the descriptive grammarian and the prescriptive grammarian. How do you know which side of the field you play on? The answer is simple, think about the way in which you read, write and speak. You inevitably fall on either side.

Edward Finegan of the University of Southern California describes the difference between the components, “Descriptive grammarians ask the question, “What is English (or another language) like – what are its forms and how do they function in various situations?” By contrast, prescriptive grammarians ask “What should English be like – what forms should people use and what functions should they serve?”

As an English Literature student I was drilled with the prescriptive rules of grammar. My professors were boot camp instructors who blew the whistle on tense, spelling, run-on sentences, etc. Most people experienced grammar-passionate teachers in high school as well; felt the whip of their red pen slaying the student’s papers. These professors are prescriptive grammarians. Websters dictionary defines the word “prescriptive” in regards to language as, “Providing rules and opinions that tell people how language should be used.”. Prescriptive grammarians like to follow the rules of grammar without fluctuation.

Even though I was taught to be a prescriptive grammarian I always fell into the descriptive category. Websters describes “descriptive” in regards to language as, “Providing facts about how a language is actually used rather than rules that tell people how it should be used.” I always felt that if my message was conveyed to my audience then I was successful in my use of language and that is all that matters. After years of writing I finally understand now that you have to adopt both styles of prescriptive and descriptive grammar. You can’t focus so much on proper language that your writing is dry and without voice, but on the flip-side you can’t ignore the rules of grammar either, otherwise your argument isn’t clear.

Even though we can adapt our language to reach all readers (both teams) we will inherently always associate with one side more naturally than the other. Understanding which team you are on (the prescriptive or descriptive) will help you understand your reading, writing, and talking style. You will understand perhaps why you prefer classics such as Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin vs. The Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris. Wouldn’t you like to tell people, “I am a prescriptive grammarian, I am NOT anal.” or “I am a descriptive grammarian, rules of language are less important than saying what I need to say in the moment.”? I don’t know about you, but I like to have a logical explanation for what makes me tick.
Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “Yes.” you are probably Team Prescriptive.

Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “Yes.” you are probably Team Prescriptive.

  • Do you often find yourself gritting your teeth when reading social media posts with incorrect grammar?
  • When words are spelled incorrectly, or someone throws out a double negative for example, “I don’t have none” does it hurt? Does it physically hurt?
  • If someone corrects your grammar do you instantly get defensive and rush to Google to identify who is correct?
  • Do chatty blogs with run-on sentences get about 10 seconds of your attention?
  • Do people ask you to edit documents for them (and you get a power high wielding that red pen)?
  • When you are arguing in comment threads and someone uses the wrong “there” do you find yourself smiling a predatory grin because you are about to smash them with your grammar hammer?

Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “Yes.” you are probably Team Descriptive.

  • Do you send texts with words you aren’t sure are spelled correctly and think to yourself, “Oh well they will get my meaning I’m too busy to correct it right now.”?
  • Do you enjoy the variation of language through dialect?
  • When you are writing your resume or other important documents, do you rely heavily on another person to edit it for you?
  • Are people amazed at how quickly you can write?
  • Do you get annoyed when people correct your grammar?
  • Do you want to gorilla-womp the people in comment threads who think that they won an argument because they corrected someone’s grammar?

While each team makes valid points and compromise is sometimes essential, naturally you will identify either Team Descriptive or Team Prescriptive.


Which team do you play for?

Cover Image Found Here.

Washington Gray Days

I live in the beautiful state of perpetual gray (Washington). I love my home state; I don’t mind the gray months (November-March). I love walks in the rain and reading a book while it gently mists outside. I appreciate the peek-a-boo blue skies. The smell of damp spring is heady and potent this time of year. A composition of hyacinth, tulips, dirt, pine, and rain.

How does spring feel where you live?

Photo credit: Miles McKee Photography


The Joining of Soldier & Writer

The Joining of Soldier & Writer

We’ll bungle their plans and crumble their wall.

I’ll wear a coat of deception;

you wear your ink-smeared shawl.

Come to me through the spruce trees,

you’ll know the place where water falls.

We’ll meet as soldier to writer;

together we will answer the epochal call.


Photo Credit Courtesy of Miles McKee Photography

99 Days: A Book Review

Wow drama drama DRAMA! 99 Days is packed full of romance, interesting characters, and bad choices.

Molly Barlow is facing one long, hot summer—99 days—with the boy whose heart she broke and the boy she broke it for . . . his brother.

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything. She has every right to hate me, of course: I broke Patrick Donnelly’s heart the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe wouldn’t quit till he got me to come to this party, and I’m surprised to find I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

The whole time I was reading 99 Days I kept thinking that Molly is a freaking train wreck. She seems to self-sabotage her chance at happiness every time it was within reach. But as the story progresses the reader has to wonder if happiness is even possible with the Donnelly brothers. The brothers are competitive and Molly seems to be the prize. By objectifying Molly I found some of their behavior less-than appealing.

I like how the author (Cotugno) writes Molly as a sympathetic character, even though she makes some less than sympathetic choices. Cotugno tackles the double standard of labels such as “slut” or “whore” and how these offensive labels are only given to women in sexual scenarios. This book is a great example of conflict in small towns and how quickly one young woman becomes the town pariah.

I highly recommend this page-turner. As always, if you read 99 Days please join the discussion in the comment thread. I would love to hear your opinions!

Happy reading,


Cover image found @:paperiot.com

Daffodils Baby!

Yesterday my little fam and I drove to La Conner, Wa to see the daffodils in bloom. We normally go a little later in the season to see all of the tulips, but we had the perfect opportunity to get away yesterday, so we took it!

We had a blue-sky drive, our son Leif was chatting in the backseat playing with his toys while Miles and I listed to Trampled by Turtles. We laughed and shared some of our day dreams. While driving on Interstate 5, I was humbled, as I am on every drive through our beautiful home state. The diverse landscape is truly staggering,  in a matter of 30 minutes we saw three different mountains (Rainier, Baker, Pilchuck), the Olympic Range, the Puget Sound, and fields of various crops. Spring in the Pacific Northwest is an incredible thing to behold.

My husband is an avid photographer. Some of my favorite shots of his are of the La Conner tulip fields. We try to go every year. Here are a few of Miles’ shots from yesterday.

La Conner, Wa Daffodils.  Photo courtesy of Miles McKee Photography


Our son Leif taking in the view. Miles McKee Photography.



There is the photographer and his apprentice!


Miles McKee Photography


The red tulips are just starting to bloom. Miles McKee Photography.


A blanket of yellow. Miles McKee Photography.


Leif loved the grass. Miles McKee Photography.


Leif wanted to pick the flowers. Miles McKee Photography.


Miles McKee Photography.


Miles took this photo in 2010. It hangs in our bedroom. I call it “The Kissing Lips”.           Miles McKee Photography.

All photos in 2016 were taken with Nikon D750 and Nikon 80-200MM F\2.8.




Art Isn’t Anecdote

A good reminder for personal non-fictional writers to remember. Read the following post by Erica Varlese.

Taking inspiration from author Cheryl Strayed, let’s explore the deeper themes that drive our stories and writing.

Source: Art Isn’t Anecdote


I’m excited to say that a personal essay of mine was published today on XONECOLE. I’m honored that a website dedicated to empowering women decided that my short, non-fictional story called “When I Realized I Couldn’t Fix His Mental Illness”  was content-worthy.

This is actually how I look right now.

The published piece is a story about when I dated a young man with extreme bi-polar disorder.

If you would like to read the entire article here is the link.




Writing a Negative Book Review

All of the book reviews I have written thus far have been very positive. I think I’m a pretty optimistic reader; I try to find the good in every book. Who am I to bash a book when:

A) I haven’t finished my own YA book.

B) I have never been published (except for that one time in college by SLAM magazine.. does that even count?).*Update I was published on xoNecole, but still it’s not on the level of a novel getting published.

C) I don’t like being a jerk.

 photo giphy_zpstzo3umbf.gif

Authors bust their ass to get their work out there, even the “trashiest, cheesiest, male machismo” romance novels have a lot of time invested i.e.: Fifty Shades of Grey-read it, Twilight-read it, Christine Feehan’s Dark Series-read it, Sookie Stackhouse Novels-read it. Is it romance? I’ve probably read it.

In my humble opinion, there are certain factors that books must have to be worth a reader’s time. A book can be trashy BUT then it also has to be entertaining. Or a book can have a slow story, but it better be full of beautiful prose and STRONG interesting characters. The last book that I read did not have much going for it, and in my frustration I decided to write my first negative review and explain my letdown:

Like it Never Happened

When Rebecca Rivers lands the lead in her school’s production of The Crucible, she gets to change roles in real life, too. She casts off her old reputation, grows close with her four rowdy cast-mates, and kisses the extremely handsome Charlie Lamb onstage. Even Mr. McFadden, the play’s critical director, can find no fault with Rebecca.

Though “The Essential Five” vow never to date each other, Rebecca can’t help her feelings for Charlie, leaving her both conflicted and lovestruck. But the on and off-stage drama of the cast is eclipsed by a life-altering accusation that threatens to destroy everything…even if some of it is just make believe.

It’s almost laughable how apropos the title is. I turned the final page of this novel last night and I sat their wondering, why did I even bother? What was I suppose to get from the story? It was incredibly slow, the characters were as shallow as a thimble of water, and the language was mediocre.

Slow Story + Vapid Characters = Boring Read.

I do not recommend this novel. It’s just a bunch of high school drama with no lesson learned, no depth gained, and zero substance.


Cover Image Found @:realbusinessphotographer.com

When You Wish Upon a Star and the Universe Answers

Last night after nursing my son I held him in my arms for a few extra minutes. The tension in my shoulders melted as he wrapped his arms around my neck. I breathed in the fresh baby smell that radiated from his warm body after his bath. The scent of banana bread baking wafted through his nursery door. Over the gentle clanging of my husband scrubbing pots and pans, an acoustic version of Disney’s When You Wish Upon a Star played on the radio. I gently began to sway with my son as his body melted into mine and he drifted off to sleep.

In that moment I felt gratitude more profound than at any other juncture in my life. I wished upon a star two years ago for a baby and the universe answered. At that precise moment I felt completely enveloped with the love that surrounded me. My incredible husband was cleaning up the muffin mess that I had made after he worked all day so that I could put our son to bed. One of the many ways he said, I love you throughout the day. My eight month old son told me he cherished me by resting his head on my shoulder; gently giving over to sleep in my trusted arms.

I knew I was experiencing a blessing.

One day when my son leaves the house or he takes a bride of his own, I will resurrect this dance and reflect on that one time I was his whole world. I will remember a time when I wished upon a star and the universe answered. When your dreams really do come true, rejoice.


Blogging the Senses

Cover Image Found @:http://hipster-lyrics.tumblr.com/page/17

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