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July To-Read List 

Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

Songwriting Without Boundaries - Pat Pattison

Writing Better Lyrics - Pat Pattison

Last Call - Daniel Okrent

The Left Brain Speaks, The Right Brain Laughs - Ransom Stephens

Strong Poison - Dorothy L Sayers

Walking in this World - Julia Cameron

Creative Recovery - Eric Maisel & Susan Raeburn

Make Peace with Your Mind: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Free You from Your Inner Critic - Mark Coleman

Why Smart People Hurt - Eric Maisel

How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times by Roy Peter Clark

Make Your Creative Dreams Real by SARK

MHK Public Library Book Sale 

  1. North by Northwest (DVD, starring Cary Grant) 
  2. Amelia's Family Ties - Marrisa Moss 
  3. Prozac Nation - Elizabeth Wurtzel 
  4. The Midnight Raymond Chandler 
  5. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath 
  6. Daniel Deronda - George Eliot 
  7. The China Governess - Margery Allingham 
  8. The Artist's Way - Julia Cameron 
  9. The Angels of Darkness - Caleb Carr 
  10. Seven Types of Ambiguity - Elliot Perlman 
  11. The New York Times Menu Cookbook 
  12. Awakening to the Spirit World - Sandra Ingerman & Hank Wesselman 
  13. Handbook for the Soul - Richard Charlson and Bejamin Sheild, editors 
  14. The Tenth Power - Kate Constable 
  15. Pirate King - Laurie R King 
  16. Folly - Laurie R King 
  17. Creating Women: An Anthology of Readings on Women in Western Culture vols. I & II 
  18. African Pygmy Hedgehogs As Your new Peg 
  19. The Best of Bon Apetit 
  20. The Virtues of War - Steven Pressfield 
  21. The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes - Willie Nelson 
  22. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert 
  23. Music & Society: The Later Writings of Paul Honigsheim 
  24. Eye of the Crow (The Boy Sherlock Holmes) - Shane Peacock 
  25. Danton: A Life (The Giant of the French Revolution) - David Lawday 
  26. Barbra - Christopher Andersen 
  27. Rag and Bone - Peter Manseau 
  28. Strange Candy - Laurell K Hamilton 
  29. The Go-Girl Guide - Bourland 
  30. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows 
  31. Salad Gardens - Luebermann 
  32. The Incredible Incas and Their Timeless Land

40 Books to Read in 2018 

  1. Music and Mantras: The Yoga of Mindful Singing for Health, Happiness, Peace & Prosperity by Girish, Rolf Gates 
  2. You Are Enough: How To Elevate Your Thoughts, Align Your Energy & Get Out of the Comparison Trap by Cassie Mendoza-Jones 
  3. The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health by Emeran Mayer 
  4. Steering by Starlight: The Science and Magic of Finding Your Destiny by Beck PhD, Martha 
  5. Judgment Detox: Release the Beliefs That Hold You Back from Living A Better Life by Gabrielle Bernstein 
  6. Dark Mirror: The Pathology of the Singer-Songwriter by Donald Brackett 
  7. You Do You: How to Be Who You Are and Use What You've Got to Get What You Want (A No F*cks Given Guide) by Sarah Knight 
  8. Zelda Fitzgerald: The Tragic, Meticulously Researched Biography of the Jazz Age's High Priestess by Sally Cline 
  9. The Collected Writings of Zelda Fitzgerald by Zelda Fitzgerald 
  10. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler 
  11. Something Is Always On Fire: My Life So Far by Measha Brueggergosman
  12. Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive by Kristen J. Sollee 
  13. Warrior Goddess Training: Become the Woman You Are Meant to Be by HeatherAsh Amara 
  14. Saturn Returns: Thinking Astrologically by Tom Jacobs 
  15. The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Deborah Ford 
  16. Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live by Martha Beck 
  17. Buddhist Scriptures (Penguin Classics) by Donald Lopez
  18. The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within by Stephen Fry 
  19. Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: One Woman's Desperate, Funny, and Healing Journey to Explore 30 Religions by Her 30th Birthday by Reba Riley 
  20. Breaking Up with God: A Love Story by Sarah Sentilles 
  21. Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality by Susan Mcclary 
  22. At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir,Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Others by Sarah Bakewell 
  23. Shakti Woman: Feeling Our Fire, Healing Our World by Vicki Noble 
  24. Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life by Graham Nash 
  25. Rise Sister Rise: A Guide to Unleashing the Wise, Wild Woman by Rebecca Campbell 
  26. Own Your Glow: A Soulful Guide to Luminous Living and Crowning by Latham Thomas 
  27. Origin: A Novel by Dan Brown 
  28. The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self by Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson 
  29. Beyond the Self: Conversations Between Buddhism and Neuroscience (MIT Press) by Matthieu Ricard and Wolf Singer 
  30. Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom by Rick Hanson and Daniel J. Siegel 
  31. How the Mind Words by Steven Pinker 
  32. Make Your Creative Dreams Real: A Plan for Procrastinators, Perfectionists, Busy People by SARK 
  33. How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed by Ray Kurzweil 
  34. Joy, Guilt, Anger, Love: What Neuroscience Can--and Can't--Tell Us About How We Feel by Giovanni Frazzetto 
  35. Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts by Stanislas Dehaene 
  36. Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology) by Daniel J. Siegel 
  37. The Mind Club: Who Thinks, What Feels, and Why It Matters by Daniel M. Wegner, Kurt Gray 
  38. The Tides of Mind: Uncovering the Spectrum of Consciousness by David Gelernter 
  39. The Sun & Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur 
  40. Magic and Music : The Language of the Gods Revealed by Juanita S. Wescott

Top Albums of 2017 

In no particular order...

  1. Aubrey Logan - Impossible 
  2. Camille - Oui 
  3. Sarah Slean - Metaphysics 
  4. Jennifer Knapp - Love Comes Back Around 
  5. Bjork - Utopia 
  6. Dhani Harrison - In///Parallel 
  7. Kate Dowman - Whispering Tides 
  8. Halsey - hopeless fountain kingdom 
  9. Cécile McLorin Salvant — Dreams and Daggers 
  10. Lucky Soul — Hard Lines 
  11. Viva Trio — Nothing Else Matters 
  12. Alice Francis — Electric Shock 
  13. Carly Paoli — Singing My Dreams 
  14. Nolwenn Leroy - Gemme 
  15. Brigitte - Nues

Bonus: Older albums I discovered in 2017

  1. Dorothy — ROCKISDEAD 
  2. Ivy Levan — No Good

Christmas Wishlist 

Here's a little peek at what I asked Santa for this year!

[Left to right, top to bottom]

  1. Sprouted Kitchen cookbook
  2. QI DVD set
  3. "Leatherbound" tea blend
  4. SodaStream Jet
  5. "Cool Story, Poe" mug
  6. "The Leonard Bernstein Letters" book
  7. "Secret Gardens of the Cotswolds" book
  8. Danielle LaPorte Desire Map 2018 Daily Planner
  9. Remi - "Into My Imagination" CD

Hygge 

Lately, I've been obsessed with the Danish concept of "Hygge": a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cozy, charming or special.

Here are some hygge concepts that I've been incorporating in my life.

 

  1. Fresh flowers
  2. Coffee-shop coffee (today I ordered a peppermint breve)
  3. Knitting a hat with bright, beautiful yarn
  4. Burning candles
  5. Snuggling with a cat & reading a book (yes, I do this a lot (see: previous list on self care))
  6. Sitting by a fire in the backyard while writing / if the weather is nice enough, just sitting on a blanket on the grass while writing
  7. Shopping at a used book store
  8. Laughing with friends while playing Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity
  9. Baking homemade bread
  10. My daily power combo of Danielle Laporte's "Desire Map Planner" and Sarah Ban Breathnach's "Simple Abundance" daybook

Chantelle's Songwriting Tips 

Don't take my word for it, because I beat my fist against the blank page as must as anyone. But here are 10 of my personal songwriting tips. 

  1. Write songs you would listen to. Pretty self-explanatory. 
  2. Write as someone else. Future you? Alternate reality you? Fantasy you? Put yourself in the someone else's shoes. 
  3. Write in the voice of someone you admire. Have a song idea but stuck on execution? How would your favorite writer say it? 
  4. Outline your song plot. You don't have to write the words, just the structure. To start with, verses usually set up the conflict, and choruses offer resolution. 
  5. Get out of the house. Take just your notebook and pens. Go to the coffee house, the library, or any other favorite place. My favorite place to write is the back patio of a local restaurant, with pita & hummus and a cold gin & tonic close at hand. (Shoutout to Rock-a-Belly Deli!) 
  6. Unlined paper. Really, just be sure to work with tools you really love. But I highly recommend unlined paper, especially in the song-plotting stage. 
  7. Write in a different style; re-arrange later. Two of the songs I've written recently took shape in my head as modern top-40 pop songs. Will I record them in that style? No. But the lyrics flowed, and it was fun. Later I can arrange them as the folk ballads I usually sing. (But don't force it, just let the song happen in whatever style it wants to happen.) 
  8. Use a word generator. For when you're really stuck, or you're looking for a starting point, try https://www.textfixer.com/tools/random-words.php
  9. Sing into a recorder, then transcribe. Unless you're NOT like me, and have perfect pitch, then sometimes your initial idea for a melody can get lost when you sit down at the piano. When composing your melody, hum into a recording app on your phone (I like WavePad Free for Android) and then sit down to transcribe it. 
  10. Random chord progression. You don't have to write the melody first. Pick a key, write a random progression of chords (best to do this quickly, don't over think it!) then play them repeatedly until you start naturally humming along. There's your melody.
  11. Bonus: Read. Read, read, read, read, read, read, read.
  12. Bonus: Imagine yourself performing the song live. Sometimes visualizing performing the song in front of an audience can help pinpoint words or phrases that do or don't work best for the song. Also, writing the song along to a music video in your head can help generate some great visual/imagery lyrics!

Shave it Off! 

A few weeks ago I shaved my head. It's the most liberating thing I've ever done.

Today, as I re-buzzed it down to nothing, it occurred to me that shaving my head is a kind of self care for me. When it gets "too long" (a mere fuzz!) I can just buzz it all away -- buzz away that unnecessary extra -- the fluff -- the unwanted. (Sorry, hair. Love you.)

After a long day at work, shaving my head was as much of a relief as hopping into the hot shower afterwards. Shave it all away, wash it all away...

In that vein, here are ten of my favorite self-care treats.

  1. Shaving my head
  2. A hot cup of a new flavor of tea
  3. Snuggling with my cats while reading a book
  4. Working through the questions in Jennifer Louden's "The Comfort Queen's Guide to Life"
  5. Eyes closed, headphones on, music blasting (Mahler, anyone?)
  6. Sitting down to play piano, just to play. Not to practice, not to write, just to play and feel the weight of the keys under my fingers.
  7. A trip to the library, coming home with a stack of books. Maybe a stop by the coffee shop.
  8. "Dressing up" and taking a cute selfie
  9. Inner child artwork -- coloring, making a messy painting or scribble drawing. I'm no artist, but I love my crayons!
  10. Pinterest. Lots of social media can bring out the green-eyed comparison monster, but there's something very soothing about scrolling through recipes, crafts, gardening ideas, or pretty dresses.
  11. Bonus: This time of year, I love gift shopping for my friends!

A Simple Supper: Tomato Soup & Garlic Flatbread 

Sometimes you can't beat the classics. ;)

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce Recipe makes an excellent tomato soup, as well. Up the tomato content, thin with chicken broth, and/or add evaporated milk, all to taste. This summer I've been cooking with fresh tomatoes from the garden, so very rough measurements.

Then, make TheKitchn's "The Best Homemade Thin-Crust Pizza" recipe, mixing in a heaping tablespoon of minced garlic to the dough. Flatten small sections of dough (very thin!) with a rolling pin, and fry in a dry cast iron skillet on high heat. Brush with butter as you remove the flatbread from the skillet.

Serve warm, and enjoy!