Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Illustration Friday: Poise

The Easter Bunny was last seen prancing around in a tutu, walking on eggshells, with a basket of carrots and little chick in tow.

Monday, March 30, 2009

On Sewing and baking and cooking and...

One problem (well, it's not really that big of a problem) that I have is staying focused on one hobby. I've never really been the sit around and get bored type, but now, more than ever, I'm becoming the kind of person who can't sit through a whole movie because I get bored just sitting! My hands have to be moving or making something...

I spent a good part of the weekend sewing this purse, and though it was fun, I don't think I've had to focus on something that much in awhile! But I loved it! I love that sewing requires me to be super patient and diligent. I literally got sucked in and sat in front of the machine for hours trying to figure things out. I didn't like how intimidated I was of my sewing machine, my birthday present from the hubby. I let it sit there for the longest time. I did sign up for 2 sewing classes, both of which were canceled, because I wanted to learn. But I hadn't touched my machine before then. I let it get all dusty; I was literally afraid of it...

I had a hard time understanding why some folks find sewing/baking darn-right hard, until my sewing-fear gave me a reality check. I'll be honest, baking doesn't/didn't come easy to me before the food blog, I was more of a cook and still am, for the most part. Now I find myself fascinated by baking, I feel like a chemist in my kitchen -- but it's still a lot easier than sewing and I don't think I was as 'scared' of baking as I was of sewing. I thought "if it tastes bad, I'll eat it anyway. No harm done". For some reason, I couldn't apply that way of thinking to sewing. I don't know why I was so scared, I could've just picked up an old shirt and messed around with it. I could've just watched a few YouTube videos and cranked out something simple, but I was such a weenie.

So now I love to sew and I'm not afraid of the sewing machine. I have a much more 'so what if I mess up?' attitude, and that's helped a lot. The fear would still be there if not for that first step; opening up the machine, threading it, sewing a straight line on a scrap piece of fabric, the basics. Everything depends on that first step.

I could throw myself into cooking without thinking because I had to. I had to eat; I couldn't just pick up fast food from some random place, because it would make me sick to my stomach later. Funny how necessity and desperation override fear; the 'how bad do you want it' factor really applies to everything. But now I want to learn even more! How do you sew on a zipper (without help :P); how do you sew on a button properly? How do you sew a french seam?! I want to know how to create digital scrapbook kits from scratch, how to code blog layouts using CSS, how to take the perfect foodie picture without natural light, how to bake gluten free croissants, how to... and the list goes on.

I discover some other creative outlet and this process starts all over again. I'm almost afraid to see what else is out there! I dabble in this and that, and I almost feel guilty when I neglect one interest for another, or even when I don't fine-tune one thing. For instance, I sewed most of this weekend, but I haven't drawn in awhile and there isn't much cooked food in the fridge. And this isn't a complaint, really. I know there are much bigger bigger things to worry about/be thankful for. BUT sometimes, sometimes I just wish I didn't have to sleep! :P

One thing I'm actively trying to learn is how to lead a balanced life. I'm thankful that I don't have to choose; why not have a little bit of everything? Maybe Sundays are for cooking/baking and Mondays for drawing. Fridays are for grocery shopping and Saturdays are for outings and sunshine. I am so thankful that I can have balance, it's a blessing. So what if I can't become an expert over night?

Speaking of outings and sunshine, here are some pictures of a day trip we took to Concord, MA (home to Emerson, Thoreau, and Alcott). We toured the Alcott house and visited Emerson/Thoreau's grave site (sounds morbid but it was romantic and peaceful); we even got to see where 'the shot heard 'round the world' was fired, near Minuteman Park (think Battle of Lexington/Concord). Concord is gorgeous! Everyone, and I mean everyone, there was so so friendly!

I've always been a fan of Little Women, but I didn't know much about Louisa May Alcott. I didn't know that she was in love with her good friend Emerson, and that she wasn't a fan of marriage (though she'd apparently reconsider for him :). I didn't know that she was a war nurse, liked to paint, adopted her nephew, and was/came from a family of free thinking transcendentalists who lived in Concord precisely because (then-'backwards') Boston didn't appeal to them. I also didn't know that her home was part of the underground railroad and that it's now remembered for having honored guests, like Harriet Tubman and Nathaniel Hawthorne. (Even Emerson frequently visited and anonymously left money scattered throughout the house to support this never-asking-always-giving family which consisted of an artist mother, equally artistic daughters, and an intellectual father.)

Alcott House

Emerson's Grandparent's House/Where Emerson wrote Leaves/Nathaniel Hawthorne's House

Lexington/Concord Battle site -- where the first shot was fired.

Lexington/Concord Monument

Louisa May Alcott's Grave

Emerson's Grave

Thoreau family grave site.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I did it!

I did it! :) I sewed my first purse. I skipped a few steps on this one (the zipper and magnetic snap) but I'm glad I was finally able to start and finish something sewn on my own. The sewing machine doesn't look so scary anymore, despite the few needle and pin pokes/stabs I received along the way :D...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Before and After

...just documenting the new look of our ever-changing home, on a grad student/single income budget :). We had to sell all (98%) of our stuff/furniture before we moved here, but we've slowly been making it more cozy. Because we live in a 100 year old building, we aren't allowed to use nails..so we've had to improvise (using mounting tape and the like) so that the walls don't look so naked. Any more ideas?

before - upon moving in

after - about 8 months after move-in

I looove these rooms/kitchens

I especially like that pink craft room! and the blue stove! and the 'fresh eggs' tin sign!

Click here 2 see it all!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

This house is so cute!

...though I'm not a fan of the interior, I do like that it looks tiny but is really HUGE inside (as in 7000 sq. ft!). I love the exterior, though, so cute!

You can read about it here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sewing! Yay!

I'm finally sewing :D! These past two weekends, my friend Jamie's given me a total of 5 hours worth of sewing lessons! What a sweet girl! I paid her back with homemade granola bars and a movie -- well, we watched Twilight after I downloaded the rental from Amazon. I got her hooked on the books, I confess! We both agree that the movie can only be enjoyed if the book is read first. For some reason, I felt the movie was made up of mostly adoring/slightly cheesy glances and strange looks, not much verbal content. It reminded me of a high school play. The emotions were also watered down, but it was a fun chick flick, no less :).

So what's the first thing I sewed? A skirt, with Jamie's help, of course. The zipper was a pain to sew on! (It's in the back and looks pretty bad, I didn't photograph it. ;) My sewing skills are very much at the beginner level). But hey, I'm glad I FINALLY did it. My sewing class was canceled not once, but twice. The first time, before the class actually started. The second, the weekend before we even had the chance to sew! But I am no longer intimidated by my pink sewing machine, I can do this!

My next project? This purse! Check it out!

After creating the first 'experimental' purse, I'll make one for my pal Jenn using this fabric (that is, if she likes it ;). Click to enlarge:

Here's the skirt (notice the crooked sewing on the front :D. I can't believe it actually fit me!)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy Spring!

In 2 1/2 hours Eastern Time, it'll be Spring. Happy Spring from Boston, Mass. - where you can still ice skate while flowers bloom every where else ;).

What's in your luggage bag?

People-watching at the airport never gets old. You can always get a glimpse of someone's personality based on how they pack when they're going on a trip. You have...

Type A: The neat packer with the nice (possibly designer) luggage bag and purse, nothing too bulky or loud. They're probably the 'professionals' in the bunch who are used to traveling with the least amount of 'baggage'.

Type B: They strut a big black luggage bag, big purse, big backpack. They're the type that pack a little extra underwear 'just in case'. Just in case, what? I'm not sure :D. I can make fun of this group because I contribute to the mix.

Type C: They're seen carrying loud suitcases with tacky decor; an unraveling gaudy Christmas ribbon is fastened on the handle of each luggage bag. You'd be right to guess they've packed an entire wardrobe with a theme to match that of their vacation spot. :D

In the end, everyone's got baggage. And we all think it's safely packed away when the zipper closes... that is, until we get to security-check :). They see it all. Even the bags we don't carry-on the plane get scanned; privacy is nonexistent for safety's sake, and I don't mind one bit.

In life, which type are you? Most of us probably fall into the first category. We carry our purses or handbags full of the things we just can't seem to part with. Even if we clean 'em out, they always get full of gum-wrappers, old receipts and movie ticket stubs. To the outside world we seem to have 'it' all together. We're neat-freaks, figuratively and maybe even literally speaking. Yet we're still carrying around the junk that won't get past life's security check. We'll have to leave these things behind; this time it's for our soul's sake.

Jesus spent most of his time on earth around the physically and spiritually sick, or those who would admit to needing him. Tax collectors and leapers were his pals. Repeatedly, Jesus says he 'was sent only to the lost sheep' (Matthew 15: 24). The only ones who found healing were those who "came and knelt before him" (v. 25) or reached out and touched his cloak: "And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed." (Mark 6:56) There wasn't anything standing in the way between them and the final destination, healing.

Our baggage literally holds us back from receiving blessings and every kind of healing, from the spiritual to physical. When we're getting ready to travel and leave the safety of our homes, we pack the extra belongings we 'think' we might need. Usually we're just creating more work for ourselves; more stuff to carry. They're things that way us down; more junk for security to rummage through. In the end, we simply make the trip even more stressful than it already is. And, of course, our carry-ons are full of the objects we really need, they represent the items we cling to -- maybe they're our most 'priceless possessions' or stuff that keeps us entertained.

Our spiritual baggage is made up of all that we "must rid yourselves of... such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander..." (Colossians 3:8). Let's not forget, "'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick." Jesus said this when he dined with 'the lost sheep'.

Many of us view God as condemning, someone who will judge and show no compassion, especially in regards to sin and the baggage we cling to. It seems we fail to acknowledge the verse that follows: "But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice'..." (Matthew 9: 13)

It's true that "Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them." (Matthew 15:30) It also holds that Jesus came to offer relief to the lost sheep from the ailments that separated them from him. Though God is the ultimate judge, Jesus said, "For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it" (John 12:47) He is the intercessor we can hand our baggage to with confidence; he is and truly offers security. He will sift through every unnecessary thing we've packed; he'll tell us what's safe to carry on the journey, so long as we're willing to draw near and give him the baggage that separates us from his healing hand.

Psalm 69:5
You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you.

Isaiah 59:2
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

Daniel 2:22
He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.

Job 28:11
He searches the sources of the rivers and brings hidden things to light.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Everyone's Calling

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 6:12

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Romans 8:17

I've read those verses before, but I'm just beginning to understand the connections between the two. I used to believe that the only people who truly suffered for Christ were those who were on the mission field, serving him in the rawest, realest form... so ignorant to believe that, I know. Then I finally realized, this entire Earth is a mission field and we don't even have to interact with anyone to be 'in the battle'; the most obvious battleground is the mind.

If you're trying to live for God, Satan's going to do anything he can to stop that from happening; he doesn't want to be lonely in hell, after all. These days, you're the Job and he's still the same Satan that went up to God and asked for permission to test him. Job lost his property, family, health... but not his God. That man refused to turn his back on God even when his own wife falsely claimed that he'd already turned his back on Job.

Was Job a missionary? Not in the way we use that term today, but his obvious love and devotion to God did minister to those around him and his story still ministers to many today, including myself.

I had a Job day today. It was rough, probably my own fault (I inhaled gluten while baking something for a friend, this sounds crazy but when you have Celiac disease it's a big no-no) -- it still frustrated me. The tummy troubles continue and today they were worse than ever, the pain almost sent me to ER, no joke. I hit a low point where the only thing I could do was pray, as I was losing hope in my body (and realized I was a fool for placing that hope in anyone but God in the first place).

Psalm 22: 4
For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

Times like these, I have to make the extra effort to not let myself get sucked into taking the paradoxical easy way out -- the one that only produces bad results, negative thinking. But as I was balled up on the bed, asking God for guidance and patience, he reminded me that this truly is not a 'struggle against flesh and blood'. It occurred to me that I could confidently cry out to God because I've been trying to put him first in my life, then I realized that's exactly what Satan does not want.

Satan is unhappy, this means I'm doing something right, and he wants to wrong me because of it. Satan enjoys doing this to you and me because he knows how much it hurts God to destroy his creation. The evil one had to ask God for permission to cause the pain and God allowed it to happen. Some might think that God is unfair, but no, he isn't. This is a chance for my relationship with Christ to be strengthened. At my weakest point, if I am still trusting Jesus, he will only bless me for it. This doesn't mean I'll have an instant answered prayer and wake-up cured tomorrow, this does mean I'll have the antidote for my own spiritual illnesses: God's everlasting love and the promise of eternal life that won't include any kind of physical suffering whatsoever.

A man's spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?
Proverbs 18:14

The truth is, as God's children, we are all called to be missionaries; to minister to the world with our own lives, with the choices we make, with the words we say. I often fail miserably; I have the pity-parties. You know, the drawn-out ones that are followed by migraines and puffy, tired eyes? I even have the occasional annoying bad attitude that likes to rear its ugly head when the gut starts acting like a monster. <----These are all things that get me nowhere fast.

Like in Job's case, some might say I have every reason to be angry at God. Doctors have told me everything from "If you ever want to have kids, you'll have to take fertility pills because of your defunct ovaries" (don't like to talk about that much here, just bringing it up to make a point) to "Sorry, there's no cure for your digestive problems, you'll probably be in pain for the rest of your life." But one thing that keeps me going is a wise saying used by a pastor of a church I used to attend: "Don't ask God why, ask him what. 'What am I supposed to learn from this Lord, what is all this for?'" So this is what I did today, and the content in this post what he put on my heart as the answer.

I don't know what you're going through, but we all experience our own version of hell on earth at one point or another. It's obvious we can't trust the state of the economy; we can't know that we'll have a job tomorrow, we can't even be certain that we'll be able to stay healthy so that we can support our families financially. We can only trust that God is faithful and so is his word. Christ said this battle isn't about tangible things but spiritual ones for a reason. The only things we can control are the thoughts that enter our mind and what we do with them; our attitude and heart. The person who gives us the strength to do this right is with us all along, we just have to be willing to cry out to him, even when Satan tries to stifle us.

If you've read this and it's encouraged you, that's the answer to the second part of the above question: 'What is all this for?'. Never underestimate God or his ability to use your negative situation to encourage someone.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:26

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Let the music do the talking

Who: Thomas Dybdahl, award-winning Norwegian singer-songwriter.

Top 3 favorite songs: A Love Story, Everybody Knows, Riverbed (with Morcheeba).

The lyrics, put simply: Non-threatening poetry; sentimental but sincere.

How it'll make you feel: Peaceful, like... watching clouds go by, sprawled out on a blanket after eating a dark chocolate strawberry shortcake, right before sunset :)...

Who will like this? Those who enjoy a good sappy music-induced coma, minus the monotony.

Anything else? : It's what you can listen to in PJs on a rainy day spent at home, but not alone. And the music itself? Think watercolors instead of heavy acrylics.

You might also like: Barzin, Travis, Minor Majority, Nick Drake, Neil Halstead, Alexi Murdoch, Elbow... those featured on the playlist below.


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