Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Throughout middle school and high school, I struggled to enjoy Christmas the way that everyone around me seemed to. After a few consecutive Christmases working to buy just the right gift for everyone, baking every cookie I could manage, and trying to attend every party, I realized that nothing I was doing was helping to make the holiday itself special and meaningful to me. I began to reflect on what always made Christmastime special to me. Surprisingly, I found that it had nothing to do with the gifts I received, the decorations that I used, the food I ate, or the parties I attended. What makes Christmas special to me is the time that I spend with my family and the closeness I feel to God when I devote myself to a holiday of love and compassion.
A year ago, I made the conscious decision to forgo the commercialism of Christmas. I no longer give gifts outside of my immediate family, and the few gifts that I give are homemade. Although the rest of my family and my friends buy their cards and gifts, I feel that I give more of myself when the gift I give is handmade. This may seem too simple and somewhat shallow, but it is amazing how it has changed my outlook on Christmas.
Think of how much time can be devoted to family and reflection on the meaning of the holiday when one is not spending hours and hours in the crowded mall! While it is sometimes nice to go out in the evening, especially to see stores decorated for the season, too much stimulation can be distracting & often destructive. Seeing all the lovely things in stores can be tempting, and when we concentrate on our own desires we forget the needs of others. We put too much emphasis on the giving and receiving of gifts in this society, and it would do us good to remember that the true gift in our lives is that of the life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel.
Without expectations of gifts, with extra time for reflection and prayer, and without all the extra "trimmings" of a secular Christmas, it becomes a simple and beautiful holiday to remember the birth of our Lord and Savior.
One of my favorite inspirational websites is Beliefnet.com, which gives quite a few other ideas on how to keep "Christ" in "Christmas". http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/Christmas/21-Ways-to-Keep-Christ-in-Christmas.aspx
I hope that Christmas is a blessed holiday for all!
Monday, November 14, 2011
- Clean water
- A place to live
- Fresh air to breath
- Access to medical care
- The opportunity to have an education
- The opportunity to have a college degree
- The opportunity to pursue a career
- The right to vote
- The Bible
- Access to technology
- A car
- A bike
- Disposable income
- A bed
- Pillows and blankets
- A sewing machine
- The skills to make it through every day
- Exposure to culture
- The opportunity to work for minimum wage
- Having been born in America
- My ancestors who came before me
- Those who sacrificed their lives for my right to live as I do now
- Living under a democratic government
- Having the choice to make my life what it is
- The opportunity to worship as I please
- My faith
- My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
- The gift of song that God has given me
- My health
- Access to the news
- Good people in power in my local and national government
- People who care about me
- My work experience
- Relationships from the past
- My relationships now
- Mentors who have guided me through my life
- My loving boyfriend
- The power of prayer
- Leisure time
- The ability to move and be active on my own
These blessings are just a few of the many that make up my life, but even though the others are not listed, I am no less thankful for them. I pray that you will also think of the blessings in your life and thank God for what He has done for you, just as those present at the first Thanksgiving must have done.
Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!
Monday, October 31, 2011
Wow. Life seems to be going a mile a minute this year, and I've hardly had time to finish assignments, sleep, or keep up with friends and family let alone have time for my projects and blogging!
Thankfully my life has been well-documented in the past two months, so I'll show the pictures and you can guess what I've actually been up to!
Sunday, September 11, 2011
"Today something terrible happened. We are safe, but your parents will explain more to you when you get home."
As I walked through the neighborhood, I wondered what had happened. When I arrived home, both my parents' cars were in the driveway. They had come home from work early-- a sign that something was not right. I walked straight into the living room where both my mother and father sat watching, shocked, as the footage rolled on the television. The images were surreal and terrible. It took hours for me to piece together the story, but I was concerned for my family. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, friends-- they all lived and working around the city, but they were fine. But my mother had cried saying,
"If they went for the Empire State Building next, or the Statue of Liberty, I wouldn't be able to stand it."
Ten years have passed, but the shock has not worn away. The dull pain of great loss and anger at the violation of our homeland has turned from patriotic acts to aggressive retaliation. It sickens me to think that in the eyes of the world, Americans are more apt to racial profiling and "tightening security" than promoting healing for our broken country. As a nation under God, I pray that those who represent the American people would remember that the United States was founded upon heretofore unheard of principles, and that without His grace and constant guidance it would not be the glorious nation it is today. Let us not forget that our words and actions of today affect posterity for all time. Therefore, let our citizens and leaders treat each other with respect and integrity so that our children will know a civil and morally upstanding world.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Outside my window...the sun is brightly drying my freshly laundered clothes on the line.
I am thankful for ...the opportunity to have had an education and the guidance to complete it.
I am remembering ...previous summers and how nervous I was to go off to college!
On my mind ...getting packed and ready to leave for school tomorrow.
From the learning room ...1/4 cup of borax and a few gallons of hot water make an excellent and very effective pre-soak for dingy looking clothes.
From the kitchen ...tea now, and Cheezit chicken for dinner. Maybe with asparagus?
I am wearing ...denim cut-off capris, and my bandana patterned button-down shirt. Work clothes.
I am creating ...a compilation of all the things I want to take to school with me.
I am going ...to switch loads of laundry, and then upstairs to clean.
I am hoping ...that this year will prove to be a wonderful and successful last year at UNH.
I am hearing ... "When I Fall in Love" sung by Renee Olstead.
Around the house ...hair tonics for getting rid of blonde highlights, laundry soaks, piles of dorm essentials, and shoes are everywhere!
One of my favorite things ...sitting with my family and talking after dinner.
A few plans for the rest of the week ...moving in to my dorm for the last time tomorrow, then helping everyone else move in on Friday and Sunday.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing ...
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Just had to share my new project-- a polka dot shirt made from a 1960's Simplicity pattern. Of course, once it was finished, I had to model it with my pedal pushers, big earrings, and lipstick!
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
So far I've used it as a deodorizer in the dog area outside, scrubbed the 100-year old bathtub with it (and gotten rid of the bathtub ring that's been there for almost as long), sprinkled it over the stovetop to loosen all the caramelized gunk from preserves, made a test batch of laundry soap, and most successfully, used it for dishwasher powder.
For ages my family has been on the lookout for an eco-friendly alternative to dishwashing detergent, and I believe that after many failed (and highly expensive) ventures, my homemade powder is just what we needed. It's a very simple recipe, and there are only a few ingredients:
Mix 1 cup Washing Soda, 1 cup Borax, 1/2 cup kosher salt, and 1/2 cup citric acid (optional-- for hard water areas) in a medium bowl. Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to an airtight container--Tupperware or a large Ball jar will do-- and use 1 tablespoon of powder per load. Use a tablespoon of vinegar as a rinse aid if needed. If you run your dishwasher once a day, one batch should last about a month. (I like to sprinkle a bit on my sponge or dishcloth for stubborn pots and pans, or to clean the sink, so my powder goes more quickly than I would like!)
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Last week, some friends of ours needed help picking early apples that had begun to ripen. In exchange for help picking, we got 2 bushels for our own use. It's taken nearly a week to peel and core all the apples, even with the help of my dad and our handy White Mountain Apple Peeler.
I've made 5 pints of apple butter, 6 gallons of applesauce, and three gallons of freshly sliced apples for pie this winter-- and we're not even finished!
My apron in this picture is a thrift store find of my mom's. Based on the cut and pattern, I believe it was originally hand-sewed in the late 1930's. Aside from being a little threadbare around the edges, it's in perfect condition. One of my sewing projects is to copy the pattern and make a few more aprons for myself with it.
With the smell of applesauce in the air, cool nights and warm days, it is very slowly beginning to feel like late summer. Enjoy it in all its glory while you still can!
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
This summer I found a wonderful book that sparked my imagination and helped me to finish some projects that have already proved to be family favorites. Author Amanda Blake Soule's "Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures" inspired me to create "farmer's market" bags for my sister and myself.
Claire's 19th birthday was a few weeks ago, and I thought that a new all-purpose bag would be perfect for her. My uncle sent us some tapestry fabric samples for my birthday, and they were just sturdy enough to craft into the messenger-style bags. So far the bags have traveled to and from work, the beach, the grocery store, and walking trips around town.
Currently, my bag is being modeled by "Marcia," my new dress form. Marcia was rescued three weeks ago from a community yard sale where she had been turned into a temporary floor lamp. Really. She was wired up and down, and had a lampshade resting on her head. I donated $10 for the privilege to take her home and clean her up. After 3 hours taking out the wiring and scrubbing her with baking soda, Marcia has now been happily returned to her original state as an ACME Adjustable Dressform, Size "A".
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Welcome Oliver, the new baby parakeet in our house! He won't ever take the place of our dear loving Pace, but he's already made a new place in our hearts with his sweet eyes and silly antics. Here I caught him sitting in his food bowl, almost asleep.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
But as much as I like sleeping in my own bed, eating home-cooked meals, playing with my animals, and being with my family, I desperately miss my life at school. When I'm at school, I feel so mature and organized. My life is straight-forward and scheduled, and I can be the person I want to be when I'm around my friends at school.
It's ironic that I have to guard myself around my own family so that I can keep peace in the household. My parents were both raised in Christian households and are somewhat comfortable in their faith, but neither my brother nor my sister have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It upsets me that as much as I try to live life as a Christian woman, my family does not always respect the faiths and denominations of others.
I really miss my friends who understand my devotion and my convictions in faith, and with whom I can talk freely about life. I especially miss that my friends are always there for me, no matter if they've had a difficult week. I love my parents, and I know they love me, but sometimes I feel that I am intruding on their time and happiness when I have a problem. When I was younger, I would run to my mom or dad for every little problem-- but now I feel that when I'm upset about something, they don't really want to hear about it. Even if it is something significant, I feel that I am more able to pray about it, ask my friends for advice, or just suppress it, rather than tell my parents how I feel. As I have grown I have come to see my parents as peers, because I have seen them struggle with financial, legal, logistical, and emotional problems just like any other person would. When you are young, you take for granted the fact that you have a roof over your head, food in your pantry, and clothing on your back; when you become an adult you begin to witness the daily sacrifices that your parents make in order to continue providing these things for you. The more I know about what goes on behind the scenes in my parents' lives, the less I want to contribute to the already heavy burden that they carry with my own life questions. I want them to be as happy as possible, and I feel that the best way for me to help this is to withdraw from them. And even if they had no other worries, I doubt they would want to hear about my insignificant problems.
It's just frustrating, because when I'm here away from my friends and peers at school, I don't think anyone in my family can comfort me or understand me the way I want to be understood. Perhaps this is a way that God is testing my faith-- asking me to come to Him before all others.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
I am thankful for ...my mom, my dad, my sister, my brother, and my friends who understand and care about me in more ways than I can count.
I am remembering ...the movie and ice cream nights that I’ve had with my friends this year after long weeks of schoolwork.
On my mind ...the difficult realization that I came to yesterday afternoon and how I am going to deal with it the last few weeks of school.
From the learning room ...women can be leaders!
From the kitchen ...tea and mint ice cream to make me feel better after a rough day.
I am wearing ...shorts (first time in 2011!), a long-sleeve shirt, and a cardigan.
I am creating ...a list of potential graduate schools to research for next year.
I am going ...to go downstairs in a bit and call my deerie.
I am reading … “See Jane Lead: 99 Ways for Women to Take Charge at Work”, and the Holy Bible.
I am hoping ...that I can continue to ask the Lord to guide me as I navigate the challenges of college life.
I am hearing ...the soundtrack of “Annie” and other Broadway classics from my Pandora station.
Around the house ...well, my dorm room is somewhat cluttered at the moment, as my clothes are hung all around to dry after laundry this morning.
One of my favorite things ...spending time drinking tea and reading in the gorgeous sunshine.
A few plans for the rest of the week ...mostly homework—essays galore, final exams, and lots of event planning for the last week of school.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing ...
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Hosanna, loud hosanna, the little children sang;
Through pillared court and temple the lovely anthem rang.
To Jesus, who had blessed them close folded to His breast,
The children sang their praises, the simplest and the best.
From Olivet they followed mid an exultant crowd,
The victor palm branch waving, and chanting clear and loud.
The Lord of men and angels rode on in lowly state,
Nor scorned that little children should on His bidding wait.
“Hosanna in the highest!” that ancient song we sing,
For Christ is our Redeemer, the Lord of heaven our King.
O may we ever praise Him with heart and life and voice,
And in His blissful presence eternally rejoice!
Sunday, April 10, 2011
It's interesting, because until very recently, I haven't had many friends that I felt I could share my religious convictions and spiritual thoughts with, but suddenly I find myself surrounded by Christians who encourage and challenge me. Last Friday my friend Grace came to share her testimony with me, and after we discussed it and cried a little, we had a very deep conversation about relationships, love, purity, and family. Since 2009 I have felt particularly skittish about relationships, because the one time that I entered into an "official" relationship, I wasn't treated with respect. The entire ordeal lasted only three months, but the entire experience of being put-down, patronized, dismissed, and somewhat offended, has weighed on me heavily for nearly two years.
If someone gave me the chance now to undo what happened in 2009, I would be tempted to take the opportunity-- but then I never would have become closer to God. It was during that relationship that I prayed to God for direction, because the boy I was dating was very adamant that religion should not be a part of his life or mine. Having been raised in a Christian home, but only truly accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior during my first year in college, I was still impressionable and easily swayed. In the end, it was God that spoke to my heart saying that this was not the right place for me. My recovery took a long time, but I turned to God for support more than I ever had before, and my relationship with Him became so much stronger and more personal.
Now, after all this time feeling that I was the only Christian in a sea of people, God has revealed to me how His grace is to be seen everywhere. For one thing, He reunited me with my childhood friend Grace. Grace is a devout and enthusiastic woman of God, and her journey in faith led her path to cross mine again when she moved into a dorm room down the hall from me at the beginning of the semester. Grace is involved in many Christian-based activities around campus, and has been encouraging me to attend events and meetings with her, as well as take the time to pray out loud with each other.
The Lord has also reintroduced me to a boy whom I have known since my freshman year in college. This young man has much in common with me, and in the past three years we have often found ourselves joining the same groups, holding the same jobs, and meeting the same friends. Suddenly this semester, God saw fit to open our hearts to each other even more. We have been attending church together with some friends for a few months now, joining each other for meals, praying together, and somehow we came up with the idea to have "movie nights" every so often. Two weeks ago we watched "Singin' In the Rain" with some other residents of our dorm, and last weekend we watched "The Princess Bride".
"The Princess Bride" was not really his ideal movie (although I thought the swashbuckling adventure would have been enough to win him...), but it was really what happened after the movie that made the "movie night" most enjoyable. There was a concert on campus, so most people were out and about, and we had the downstairs lounge to ourselves. This was fine, because we were sharing our "war stories" of the Resident Assistant job, and talking about some issues that had recently come up in his staff meeting. The conversation gently diverged from the topic of social justice in college to our personal beliefs, and the beliefs of our families. From there we talked about faith, church, and how we came to be who we were. Eventually, we discussed the terrifying idea of "the real world" which looms ever nearer. I remember expressing my dismay at the prospects of settling into a career that I did not love, and in response he said something that has stayed with me. He said that while getting a job was important, and getting a job that you enjoyed was preferable, those were not the things that mattered most in life. For him, relationships with others, love, marriage, and eventually children were the things that would color his life.
The more I think about that statement, the more I fall in love with that idea. If it in God's plan for my life to find a job that I am completely satisfied with, He will make it happen. But it is more important to God that I grow up to become a godly woman, a good Christian, and a follower of His Word than anything else.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
The first is a photo of us playing "The Charleston Game", and the second is a silly picture that my dear friend Jason and I posed for to imitate the ladies modeling my dress on the pattern envelope. (Yes, this is the new swing dancing dress that I made with my new sewing machine over spring break!) My friends Jillian and Alexa also made their dresses from vintage patterns, so we were really playing up the retro look last night :-)
Sunday, March 20, 2011
As much as I would have enjoyed the sun and sands, I spent my time engaged in classic New England winter activities such as sewing, baking, snowshoeing, and starting seeds for the garden. My latest sewing projects were a Regency-style dress for an event at school, a new swing dancing dress, and crinolines. With so much to do, it gave me a great excuse to get acquainted with my new sewing machine!
My Regency dress was a bit of a challenge (it took about 2 days to finish) because I created the dress design from a 1795 fashion plate and used the dimensions of a circa 1800 shift as the basic pattern from which to work. I wish I had been able to make a kerchief and cap to go with it, but I realized that not everyone cared about historical accuracy as much as me, and anyway, I didn't have any more white linen.
As for the new swing dancing dress, I am exceedingly proud of it. Two of my dear school friends (who are also history majors and swing dancers) recently bought vintage patterns from the 1940's to make new dresses. When they showed me the patterns, I couldn't help but think how wonderful it would be if we all had 40's dresses. Alas, I didn't have enough money to buy a vintage pattern or enough time to create my own from scratch, so I compromised and bought a reproduction pattern made by Simplicity. The pattern was originally from 1950, and I used forest-green brushed silk with a silver nylon lining. Not a complicated pattern, but lots of steps!
I'm so excited to wear my new dresses!
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
So I'm finally 21. I had a wonderful birthday full of family, friends, and surprises! For the past few years I haven't been able to go home for my birthday due to previous obligations, but I finally had my chance. It was wonderful. There was a big dinner with all of our family friends, and we served spaghetti with Cincinnati chili, homemade baguettes, and vanilla cake with four layers of whipped toffee frosting. And if an entire weekend with my favorite people wasn't enough, my family surprised me with my very own sewing machine! What a wonderful way to celebrate my twenty-first year.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
I have such a deep passion and appreciation for music that I often wonder how in the world I would be able to live without it. Many of my friends have very limited taste in music, or no interest in it whatsoever. I attribute much of my love of music to the broad variety that my daddie exposed me to while I was growing up. My parents often tell me that my first full phrases were interpretations of Beatles songs ("I've got a Ticket to Ride," to be specific) and that by the time I was four, I had memorized the words to "Oklahoma", "Hair", "The Music Man", Billy Joel's earliest records, and many Joanie Mitchell songs. Looking back now, I am not sure that many of those lyrics were appropriate for a preschooler to be singing at the top of her lungs... but there it is. Music has been, and always will be a part of me. There is a song that I am reminded of when I think of my relationship to music. Here it is sung by Amanda Seyfried in the movie version of "Mamma Mia".
On Monday night, I sang solo for an audience for the first time in about three years. I was a wreck, but it was exhilarating. I was accompanied by three very talented young men; all of whom I have become great friends with in the past year. It has been wonderful to have the opportunity to express myself the way that God intended me to, and I very much look forward to performing with them again.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Tonight in the dorm we are going to have what we call a "Stoplight Party." I'm excited because it has been a sort of running joke since my freshman year in Hall Council that we would host this "mixer" type of party, but at the same time I feel that it could be a little awkward. Each person attending the party must wear a certain color to reflect their relationship status. Wear green if you're single, red if you're in a relationship, or yellow if it's complicated. Stoplight colors, right? The only hitch is that my dorm is the honors designated residence hall, and we tend to have many introverted residents. I will be wearing green and because dating within the hall is very common, and if everyone shows up in red, it won't be very much of a mixer for me ;-)
Either way, it should be fun to dress up and do something other than homework for the night!
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Because my hair is naturally curly, I tamed the curls in the front with rag curls a few hours before the party, and the rest was pinned back in a loose updo. The purse that is barely visible in my lap was my great-grandmother, Evelyne Marie O'Callaghan Betzig's, during the twenties.
My aunt recently told me that I remind her of a young Princess Diana in these photos. I don't know if that is true, but I feel flattered nonetheless!
Friday, February 4, 2011
What are you doing right now?
Drinking tea, eating chocolate, and trying to make a creative blog post.
What’s your most embarrassing moment?
I have so many, I couldn’t possibly choose one!
How many computers are in your house right now?
At home, one per person, and at least 3 laptops, so 8? (Although this is because my Daddie ran his own online business for 10 years, and we still have all the residual computers.)
What did you do on Sunday?
I went to church with a friend, and then I spent most of the day reading for my History of New Hampshire class.
Look to your right. What do you see?
My mug of tea, my electric kettle, a photo of my Momma and Daddie from before I was born, and notes from some very dear friends.
How about your left?
My semester schedule and my Bible calendar.
What’s something you really want to do right now?
Go swing dancing, go home for the weekend, or do something with my friends.
What is something you find gross?
I can’t bear it when people chew loudly. And I hate the sound of smacking lips.
Describe your perfect guy:
Someone who shares my beliefs, is a hard worker, is friendly, loves children, believes in the same political movements as myself, loves his family, loves animals, is musical, enjoys the outdoors, respects the environment, is clean and health-conscious, responsible, sweet, kind, gentle, sensitive, and loving.
What is something you are looking forward to?
The Valentine’s Day festivities!
What are your plans for tomorrow?
Hopefully I will go for another snowshoe in the woods, do some homework, and maybe see a movie.
Do you know anyone with the same birthday as you?
Elizabeth Taylor, Josh Groban, and a girl I met in English class.
How do you feel right now?
I am feeling a little cooped up, homesick, and restless.
Do you hide your feelings or show them?
I try to hide them, but I’m not very good at it :-)
Do you like to have long hair or short hair?
I have medium hair!
What do you always take with you?
My phone, my school ID, and my wallet.
What would you do if you received a long love letter?
I would write back, of course!
Last person you drove around with?
I think it was my Daddie when he brought me back to school.
What were you doing at 11 PM last night?
I was playing chess with some wonderful people in the lounge.
What color shirt are you wearing?
Where would you rather live, England or Australia?
England. As far as I know, there aren’t any poisonous snakes there :-)
What do you do when you have a bad day?
“It could always be worse!”