Inklings, Travel Adventures

A Hobbit’s (or Anyone Who Loves Books and Snacks) Guide to New York City

If you aren’t familiar with Hobbits, here’s one thing you need to know: They like food. There’s breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and then supper.

They also much prefer to stay home, curled up in their Hobbit holes, with a toasty fire, perhaps reading a book or two. Unless, of course, a certain wizard stirs up trouble and suddenly they find themselves on an adventure.

So if consider yourself much like a Hobbit and support multiple meals, but also find yourself in New York City, here’s a list of verified places to eat:

Posto NYC Thin Crust Pizza in Gramercy: Of course you have to eat thin crust in NYC. This was right by where I stayed. A cozy spot I’d definitely hang out if I lived near by.

Magnolia Bakery: Things I won’t pass up – a bakery. This one was the Grand Central Terminal location. A cupcake is a great pick-me-up!

Lillie’s Victorian Establishment: This place was recommended by several people. There’s a variety of fun drinks and the Harvest Collins was very refreshing! The decor reminded a bit of Austin – random, yet not :).

Wo Hop Chinese Restaurant: When you’re eating Chinese food in NYC, you have to go to Chinatown. If you get the chance to go to Wo Hop, you can expect a wait, large portions, and bring cash. All worth it though!

Ben’s Cookies: It started in Oxford, so I was supporting Tolkien and Lewis.

Levain Bakery: This place was recommended quite a bit as well and yes, delicious! I brought some home too. Also, DON’T JUDGE ALL THE BAKERIES I WENT TO INTERNET.

Sapori D’Italia: This place was fabulous! Located in Little Italy, it was super cute, everyone who worked there spoke Italian and it was packed late at night. I hope to one day make it back!

Black Tap Craft Burgers: I may have ate the burger before I got a good photo. My bad! I was really hungry. Definitely worth trying. They also have ridiculous milkshakes (we’re talking a piece of cake on top of the shake), so there’s that option as well.

Ess-a-bagel: I’m not much of a bagel person, but when in New York right? Photo by my friend Leslie.

I got so many incredible recommendations for food and all the places we eat at were recommendations. Since there’s about 50 I still need to try, just gotta go back right?

Finally, need a place to find a corner and read? New York has you covered. (You can read more about each store over at @bookstoreandlibrarylove)

And if you find yourself going on a big city adventure soon, be sure to download City Mapper App before you go. It shows all public transportation arrivals, travel times, routes, and everything you might need to go exploring. I’ll be using it for all future adventures!

Thanks for joining in the NYC adventures!

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Inklings, Travel Adventures

A Long Expected Party in NYC

This past weekend I headed out to New York City to see the Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth at the Morgan Library and Museum. It started out last Fall in Oxford and is the first Tolkien exhibit in a good long while. Since I couldn’t quite make a trip to England happen, I was hoping it made it to the US and was so excited when they announced New York City as the city. That was much more possible. Then I found out about a Hobbit party and that sealed the deal.

I couldn’t take any pictures from the exhibit itself, but I loved it. There’s something enchanting and thrilling about seeing the thought process, writing notes, and doodles of an incredibly influential and favorite author. Tolkien was talented in so many ways, it’s almost ridiculous. I knew he designed many of his covers, but it was so awesome seeing his sketches, half painted ideas, and finished products.

I bought the book from the exhibit (you can get it online here) because I wanted to re-read and see all the extras. Here’s a couple spreads:

It also helped that the exhibit and party were held at The Morgan Library and Museum. This place is gorgeous! Turns out nearly 700 other people wanted to be a part of the fun too.

Did I also buy Hobbit Tea? Yes, yes I did.

If you’re in New York or close by, be sure to stop by the exhibit. It’s there through May 12th and then moves to Paris later this year. Maybe I should support France’s efforts? Anyone want to send me? I promise to bring you back a souvenir 😆.

Book Wisdom, Bookish Radness

What Book Made You a Reader?

Do you remember the first book that made you a reader? People might guess that mine would either be The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia, but I didn’t encounter Tolkien or Lewis until much later in life (after college). Although, there is a very vague childhood memory of the epic 1970s epic Hobbit cartoon and the most terrifying Gollum to ever be on screen, but I didn’t make the connection until after watching the LOTR movies.

Anyway, there are two books I think of from childhood that I claim as those that made me a reader. One I have no clue the author or title and it was published in the late 80s/early 90s. So good luck finding it – haha! All I can remember is that it was a fantasy book about a young girl who had to leave her castle (I think), go on adventures, and save her family. The cover had her (I think she had a brown braid) and a mountain on it. Possibly included animal sidekicks. If you can help me find that book, I promise to send you every fiction release I’m working on this year.

The other book? The Land I Lost by Quang Nhuong Huynh

I still have my original 1986 version.

I read this book so many times when I was young! I was completely fascinated by Huynh’s stories. How different they were from my own. I loved the stories of his animal encounters (even the scary ones and, after reading it again recently, some violent ones), his pets, the adventures, and the love of his home country. It was so exciting exciting to learn about a culture millions of miles (at least it felt that way to young Jamie) away from Southern California.

I didn’t fully understand all that it meant at that age, but I knew it made me want to learn more about other people, places, and lives. Isn’t that one of the greatest gifts a book gives us?

I’d love to hear from you! What book made you a reader?

Also, if you have kids in your life, GIVE THEM ALL THE BOOKS! You never know which stories will impact them.

Bookish Radness

Brio Magazine Feature!

I had an awesome opportunity to be featured in Brio Magazine for their April/May issue. God is always up to something isn’t He? Thankful for the opportunity and chance for young ladies to hear a bit of my story. My prayer is that by reading it, they may be encouraged that God is working in theirs!

Life is a wild journey, but an incredible one. God has given each of us unique talents, passions, abilities, and quirks. May we embrace those and expectantly wait to see what God will do in His perfect timing.

You can find out more about the issue here, but I also snagged some photos!

 

Book Reviews

What I’ve Been Reading

I’m about to dive a bit more into INSPYs reading, but wanted to share some of my recents reads!

  1. Stuart Little by E.B. White – I blame the puzzle.
  2. Becoming Us by Robin Jones Gunn – One of the fun books I get to work on. Robin is fabulous, so be sure to check it out!
  3. A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner – Confession, I’m not 100% done, but am loving this one and have really enjoyed this series, and she’s the best, so buy them all! And maybe follow Susie.
  4. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick – Loved! More about it here.
  5. My Happy Life by Lagercrantz & Eriksson – Again, the puzzle.
  6. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate – Lived up to the hype. So enjoyed this one for book club.
  7. Dangerous Prayers: 50 Powerful Prayers that Changes The World – Read more of my thoughts here!

Have you read any? What are you reading right now?

Book Reviews, Nonfiction

The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible by Joanna Rivard & Tim Penner | Review

What a great story book for children! With a variety of Old Testament and New Testament, this is great for story time with any child. I appreciated that it covered a variety of stories, but with age appropriate details.

Accurate to the stories and the people of Bible times, I am so glad more and more books like this are becoming available.

Here’s a few more photos:

BOOK DESCRIPTION

With whimsical illustrations and engaging storytelling, The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible presents all your favorite stories and diversely represented characters from the Old and New Testaments. It starts at the very beginning with the magnificence of creation and includes Moses parting the Red Sea, Jonah being swallowed by a giant fish, and ultimately the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the rescuing King.

Uniquely presented in a way that connects each individual story to the next, this book introduces children to the most important ideas and characters of the Bible while also making clear how everything fits together to tell one big story––the story of God’s love for his children.

Kids will want to return to these joyful, memorable stories again and again, building their understanding of God’s Word. And the practical lessons, reminders, and truths found throughout the stories make this an invaluable resource for parents and teachers.

The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible will help your children discover:

Who God is––the one who made everything and everyone Who we are––his children, whom he loves unconditionally What we were made for––to love God and everyone else

Introduce your children to the incredible story of God’s enormous love for them with The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible! This book’s bright and engaging cover has a unique feel and pops off the page with debossing.

Book Wisdom

Back to the Basics With Hugo Cabret

“If you lose your purpose…it’s like you’re broken.” Hugo to Isabelle (page 374)

This quote is from a scene in The Invention of Hugo Cabret, where the main character Hugo is figuring out why the various toys he has encountered were made – they all had a reason for existence. As I was thinking more on the quote, the reminder became clear. We all have a purpose on the Earth.

This isn’t earth shattering news, I know. I bring up this truth though, because in a culture that seems to scream that our value alone comes from what big thing we’re doing, our side hustle, how busy we are, our platform (and to be clear, these aren’t bad things), I don’t ever want to forget the basics. Our purpose is living out a life of love. Loving God, loving others. Our purpose is that we each can bring faith, hope, and love to every human we encounter. For some, that will be on a big platform, book, public influence, but for many, it will be on a smaller stage. One isn’t any better than the other.

So never forget that you were made for a reason; that simple beautiful purpose of bringing hope to the world.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

The Greek poet Sappho once penned: “Become a voice.” I encourage you today to continue to be a voice for what matters, because there’s some good in this world and it’s worth fighting for (#SamwiseGamgee).

Book Wisdom

A Few Lessons From Stuart Little About Life, Family, and Friendship

I recently got back into puzzles. Yes, this is also a very random way to start a blog post, but I blame Target. While Christmas shopping, they had puzzles on sale (it was of a tiger) and for reasons I still don’t know, I thought “that sounds fun, I’m going to buy myself a Christmas gift.” It’s been at least two decades since I’ve done a puzzle, but I enjoyed it and found it relaxing, so I bought myself another one. This time featuring covers of famous children’s books. After I finished that one, I did what any book nerd would deem necessary – decided read all the books featured in the puzzle throughout the coming months (It’s gonna be such a struggle when I have to re-read The Hobbit and the two books from The Chronicles of Narnia).

Thus bringing me to a little mouse named Stuart Little. I have a small collection of children’s books and since I already owned this one, it’s the one I started with.

While not Charlotte’s Web nor E.B.’s best work, I think it’s still a fun read for children. It’s a random collection of Stuart’s adventures, with only a few tied together. It ends without some answers, but there are plenty of takeaways. I thought the end quote was quite fitting for life.

We always don’t know what the outcome will be (in Stuart’s case, if he will find his best friend, Margalo), but that shouldn’t stop us from moving forward:

“Stuart rose from the ditch, climbed into his car, and started up the road that led toward the north. The sun was just coming over the hills on his right. As he peered ahead into the great land that stretched before him, the way seemed long. But the sky was bright, and he somehow felt he was headed in the right direction.”

Just like a life of faith. Sometimes it’s enough to know you’re headed in the right direction, even if you don’t know the final destination.

Stuart also teaches us how fulfilling life can be when we live it to the fullest, whether that’s seeking adventures in our own backyard or taking some steps a bit further away. He was always up for trying something different or something new.

We also see his love for home. Never is his family and home far from his thoughts, wherever he finds himself and of course there’s friendship. True friendship is one that loves at all times. We see that in his final quest to find his best friend Margalo.

If you haven’t read a children’s book in a while, I invite you to. There’s always something to be gleaned and as my friend C.S. Lewis once wrote: “Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

Finally, if nothing else, how about these life rules? While “substitute teaching” Stuart asks the class what is important:

“A shaft of sunlight at the end of a dark afternoon, a note in music, and the way the back of a baby’s neck smells if its mother keeps it tidy,” answered Henry.

“Correct,” said Stuart. “Those are the important things. You forget one thing though. Mary Bendix, what did Henry Rackmeyer forget?”

“He forgot ice cream with chocolate sauce on it,” said Mary quickly.

“Exactly,” said Stuart. “Ice cream is important.”

I’m good with that.