June 01, 2014

So I don't forget what's going on right now



>>I took a nap today and it was glorious.

>>This past week was one of amazing blessings that occurred only because of the incredible trials that happened simultaneously.  You can't have one without the other, right?  Well, I guess you can, but you certainly won't appreciate them as much or revel in their wonder as much as when you are flat on your face with nothing but Jesus to pick you up.  I'd like to see a blessing brought by good things, but I'm also learning to be content with where God has me.  Including those times when life is hard.  Choosing joy. Learning that my peace comes from Him and not what is swirling around me.

>>My pastor's sermon was about trials this morning.  No joke.  It was about the disciples on the water in the storm and Jesus coming to them.  He basically gave an entire message that was 100% exactly what I needed to hear after a week of trial after trial.  I took lots of notes and just soaked in every verse.  Love it when God shows up like that in life.  He feels so personal and close, doesn't He?

>>I finished my first book of off the summer reading list.  These Broken Stars.  It was good.  I couldn't put it down, so I finished it quickly.  But it wasn't one of those "stay-with-you-for-a-while" stories.  I just wanted to know what happened.
Also, I would like to just like to comment on the trend of naming characters way-out-there names.  I feel like it started with Hunger Games years ago.  Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch, Primrose, Gale (which now seem normal because we all know and love them).  The two main characters in this book were Lilac and Tarver.  Kinda weird.
I'm totally fine with fun new names, but please, can we just back off a bit and stop trying to re-invent the world we create by giving people random names just because?  The 100 was the worst offender.  I literally didn't remember who anyone was because the names were so ridiculous and hard to remember.  Clarke was a girl.  Bellamy was a boy. And Glass...a girl.  It was distracting.

>>Current obsessions: getting everything on my list completed (I'm determined to not be 50% behind when camp starts on Wednesday.  This might be a pipe dream, but by hook or by crook, I'm gonna try.); Catching Fire: movie and soundtrack (still re-watching/listening constantly), Fever by The Black Keys; Ruth and the whole concept of a Redeemer and Christ being my Redeemer; How I Met Your Mother (just started from the beginning for the first time); reading this (I'm into the Great War and poisonous gas and the horrors of Gallipoli.  I keep thinking about that scene in Legends of the Fall when Samuel gets stuck in the barbwire fence when the gas is released and Tristan is screaming his name searching for him) and listening to this (2 months free of Audible courtesy of Amazon Local coupon).

>>Essential Oils.  I use them every day now.  Diffuse them at night (alternate between Thieves so I don't get sick and lavender and peppermint for a peaceful night sleep).  I use them on my face in the morning (frankincense) and evening (blend called Clear Skin).  Still searching for something to help with headaches though.  Nothing I've tried has truly taken them away, only helped slightly.

>>One of those blessings this week was phone calls and texts from dear friends whom I haven't seen in a long time.  It's amazing what a short conversation with someone who loves you and is genuinely concerned for your heart will do for you.  I felt so much better having just had them listen to me and care about what was going on in my life.  And hearing their burdens and taking those on my shoulders as well.  I hate distance and the inevitable lessening of time spent together.  But I'm also thankful for those dear ones that instantly feel like home when I'm with them or talking with them no matter how long it's been in between visits.  I'm incredibly blessed by the friends in my life.

>>It all starts Wednesday.  Summer #16 here.  I'm equally so excited I could jump out of my skin and terrified that that it's actually here.

Summer 2014, let's be friends.  Let's have some adventures.  Let's learn some lessons together and make some fantastic memories.



May 23, 2014

5th Annual Summer Reading List



It's that time of year again.
Summer Reading List time.
I have almost as much fun making the list (maybe more) than I do actually reading the books.
It's all about having a list of exciting titles ready at a moment's notice, more than it is about completing each and every one.

Some turn out to be awful.
A few unexpected ones always manage to squeak their way onto the list too.
And sometimes you find a book that you will love for the rest of your life like this one and recommend it to everyone you've ever known (and sometimes strangers).


This year is much lighter on fiction than it has ever been before.
I've picked up a few from the thrift store.
Two have been gifted.
One arrived randomly by mail.
Two more are classics that I've never read before.

The Summer 2014 Reading List:

1.  Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon.    My parents got me this one for my birthday.  I'm already halfway through, and it's so incredibly interesting.  It reminds me of Rilla of Ingleside and how Anne Shirley and her family went through The Great War.  But this is a true story and it's the uber rich of Great Britain.

2.  Lady Catherine, the Earl and the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon.  Another gift from the parents.  If it's anywhere as good as the other one is, then I can't wait to dive in.

3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  This one has been on my to-read list for a long time.  Found a copy at the thrift store for 50 cents.

4.  Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty.  Another thrift store 50 cents deal.  Hopefully it's as good as another Pulitzer Prize winning epic that is on my favorite-books-of-all-time list.  (If you've only ever seen Gone with the Wind, you must read the book.  It's 960 pages of amazing.)

5.  These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.  My only YA fiction novel on the list.  Shocking, isn't it.  I've heard this is a good one.  Hope so.  I've been disappointed by the last few YA novels I've read lately.

6.  The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas.  It's a follow up to the Veronica Mars movie.  Enough said.  I think I may have to get this one on audio book just so I can hear Veronica herself read it.

7.  In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I recently watched Capote with Philip Seymour Hoffman for the first time (um....amazing!).  Of course I must now read the book.

8.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  I had no idea that Lee and Capote were BFF's.  And I've never read this and have always wanted to.  

9.  Preemptive Love by Jeremy Courtney.  This was the one that was sent to me in the mail.  A friend of mine spent her summer with Preemptive Love in Iraq last year.  She had some amazing stories.


That's it for now.
Definitely more titles than I will actually be able to read during my crazy camp summer.
But the list will just roll over into the fall.
I've realized that I'm a slow reader.
Unless a book truly captures me and I can't stop turning the pages (example: Harry Potter), I take my time.
Usually that means that I'll have to check things out from the library a few times to finish it.
And you know what?
That's okay.


What's on your list right now?
What are you recommending to every one?
(and seriously...read Unbroken.  I don't have words to adequately describe how it will capture your heart.)

April 30, 2014

30 Days: Day 30 - the end



I'm finishing up my 30 days of blogging in the midst of a thunderstorm and a torrential downpour that has been drowning us all day.  No joke.  I love a good rainy day, but this is a little extreme.  We're having costal flooding from the river and rain flooding all over the rest of the property.  The photo above was just taken outside of the cottage.  It's wet here.  Very wet.

Well, 30 days of blogging.  I have to admit that it was hard.  I didn't love it.  It felt like a chore to cross of the list each day.  In fact, I felt like most of what I posted was just mumbling because I didn't know what to write.  I need a direction for this little spot on the internet.  Somewhere to focus.  Right now, I just post whatever comes out of my head.  I want it to mean something.

All that to say, that I think my posting will continue to be sporadic until I figure out what this space is supposed to be or if it's supposed to continue at all.  I used to love blogging.  This year is Cottage Girl's 9th blog-iversary.  Most of those years, this has been a place where I love to come and share.  But I also know that there are seasons in life and sometimes it's time to let things go.  Don't know if it's exactly time to say goodbye to this space yet, but I'm also okay with taking the time to evaluate whether this is the platform I want to use to share my thoughts.

I'll still be on Instagram because I love it dearly (and avoiding Facebook because I really don't like it even one little bit).  I'll still be sharing snapshots of camp life and travels and pretty things there.  You are welcome to come and join me.  I'm finding that a photo and few words are where the wind is taking me these days.  And that's okay.  Seasons to everything.

So, I'll see you when I see you.  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe next week.  And maybe no one is even reading, so this is all just a journal entry for someone to find 30 years in the future.

xoxo,

Cottage Girl


April 29, 2014

30 Days: Day 29 - Gem



It's always fun when you find gems like this on your camera.
When your brother takes your camera and takes selfies.
Major bonus of this one is that it is in my favorite spot on Kauai, the Napali Coast.

When I say it's the most beautiful spot on the planet, I'm sure you can't tell from this photo.
But those cliffs make your jaw drop when you see them for the first time.
Or the 15th time.
They are that spectacular.
 
You also can't tell from this photo, but the wind could blow your camera out of your hand.
This spot was an overlook on a hike we did that has the beach on the right and the cliffs on left and nothing but miles of ocean in front of you.

I miss all the hiking we did in Hawaii.
Living in Kauai would be so perfect because there are cliffs to hike and beaches to swim.
A dream.

Anyway, I love this photo.

Enough rambling.



April 28, 2014

30 days: Day 28 - Seeking Him


A few days ago, I wrote about the study of Joshua I had been doing this spring with the camp girls.  Remember how I said it was perfectly timed by the Lord for my heart at this exact season of my life?  Well, at the same time I was doing this study with the ladies at my church.  And I ,once again, was blown away with how God met me and used this study at exactly the perfect time of life.

I've done a lot of Bible studies.  Some in small groups.  Some just alone on my own.  This one ranks up there as one of my very, very favorite.  It is no nonsense, tell it like it is, make me deal with my stuff right here and now.  That's the way I like a study to work.  Don't dance around the Bible.  Don't try and sugar coat things.  Tell me what the Word says and ask me if I'm doing that.

This study had one of those session each week that had a list of things you should be/have/behave/think/do and things that you shouldn't.  Very revealing of my heart and where I really was in my relationship with Christ.  It asked questions like "Do I see my sin as God sees it, or do I tend to think in terms of "weakness," "problems," slip-ups," or "personality quirks"?  Yikes.  There was a whole week focusing on pride.  Oh, dear.  Let's just say I asked for lots of forgiveness that week.  LOTS.

I was also incredibly blessed to be put in a small group with some dear ladies who longed to know Jesus better and weren't afraid to admit they didn't have it all together.  We could be honest with each other in our struggles and our victories.  I loved that.  I loved that we started as strangers and God knit our hearts together in our struggles and our honesty.  That's the way it should work, don't you think?

So, if you are in need of hitting the refresh button on your walk with Jesus, this is a good place to start, as long as you are willing to put in the work and be honest with the condition of your heart.  I recommend finding a group of women who want to know Jesus better and do the study together.  Accountability is key.  I pray that it brings revival to your heart like it has to mine.

This study along with a few dozen other things have been a big part of a wave of grace and revival sweeping through my church.  When people decide to get real with Jesus, He shows up.  My goodness, does He show up!


April 27, 2014

30 Days: Day 27 - Printing photos

(a snippet of my growing magnet collection)

Photos are a big deal to me.
I need reminders of those little snippets of life.
We don't have to print photos out now that actual film is out of the photo taking process.
But I say that there is nothing like have a photograph in your hand and around your house.

Here are a 5 simple ways that I've gotten my photos off of my hard drive and into my hands.

1. I can't get enough Instagram magnets from Sticky9. The hardest part is whittling down which photos to print.  The quality is superb and size is just too cute. These would make adorable gifts to family who live far away.

2. I've also had great luck with prints from MPix. Their colors have been spot-on for me, which is my biggest gripe with lots of photo printing these days.

3. Printstagram also has super cute mini prints that I've used as tiny note cards for friends.

4. Blurb makes beautiful photo books of all types, shapes and sizes.  I've used them many times and the quality is great.

5. Postagram is the easiest way to send a note complete with your own personal photo from your phone.  I've used this app countless times to send fun, personal thank you notes.


How have you gotten your photos off your computer and into you hands?



April 26, 2014

30 days: Day 26 - Working Saturday


Today is a working Saturday day, which unfortunately turns into a working Sunday as well.
Working weekends has been a part of my life for 13 years.
Thankfully I don't work every weekend like I used to.
That was challenging.

I also squeezed in 2 personal projects between serving meals for the groups that are here.
It always feels good to cross things off the check list, doesn't it?!
All this bright warm sunshine does wonders for my laziness.
It's not so hard to be productive when it feels like the earth is doing the same thing with all that green growing around me.
I always find myself turning off the TV this time of year and heading outside to find a weed to pull or a porch to clean or a photo to take.

Deep happy sigh....spring, spring SPRING!




April 25, 2014

30 days: Day 25 - nothing else



Sometimes your mother and your brother go on a spectacular helicopter tour of Kauai
and you take a nap in the rental car with your dad.

And there is nothing else in the world that you would rather be doing.
Because you realize that this is vacation and you can do whatever the heck you want to do.

***and because you suffer from the plague named "motion sickness" and 1.5 hours in a floating bubble sounds like H-E-doulbe-hockey-sticks.   


April 24, 2014

30 Days: Day 24 - Wall art

I've had my eye on quite a lot of prints on Etsy lately.  Time to refresh some walls and add some new life.  Here are a few favorites that are just waiting to go into the old shopping cart.  


(I've always been a little obsessed with space and the moon and stars)


(one of my favorite pieces of scripture)


(i love this x900.  so perfect.)


(I've been drooling over NL's work for years.  This piece is one of her best.)


VN Printable Art
(I'd love to do an all black and white wall like this one)


Concepcion Studios
(cause he's my favorite character ever, EVER)



April 23, 2014

30 Days: Day 23: Cold Complaining

(one of my favorite thrift store scores ever.  a Beatles album in playable condition for $1)
(it has nothing to do with this post)

I'm trying really hard not to complain.
I am.
Now...I'm also failing miserably in all this trying.

It's cold here.
Still.
One of the coldest, most snowy winters I have ever experienced here on the East Coast.
It is now being followed by one of the coldest Springs.
It's miserable, you guys.

I will admit that Hawaii was the cruelest of teases.
80 degrees days and 60 degree evenings.
We left a day early for that trip to Hawaii to avoid a massive snowstorm.
Only to come fly home the day of yet another snowstorm.

It feels like Narnia when the White Queen was ruling.
Always winter and never Christmas.

I'm ready for short sleeves and flip-flops.
I'm ready for planting flowers.
I'm ready for the annual cleaning of the porch to enjoy the sunsets (at 8:00!).
I'm ready for not putting on extra layers of clothing because the chill just won't leave the air.

I'm sorry for complaining, but I need winter to disappear!
Come, Alsan and vanquish this wretched winter.
Banish it to the depths of the sea for a few months.

2014, you will be remembered by your horrid, cold entry.
Let's hope you decide to play nice the rest of the year.
I can't take any more of this cold non-sense.

April 22, 2014

30 Days: Day 22 - The ordinary

(new art for my walls from my sweet sister)

I haven't a proper post because I was scouring the beach for driftwood and cutting paper feathers out of old Anthropologie catalogs.  Oh, and doing a load of wash while watching Mary and Matthew have their proper fairy tale engagement.  Phone calls with parents.  Cooking of dinner.  Talks with old friends.  Plus, working a full 8 hours cleaning the gym, sweeping floors, answering phones, opening and distributing mail and having a long discussion about fashion with a highly intelligent kindergartener.
Life is funny, sometimes, in the things that make it up.  Bits and bobs of randomness that string together to make our days.  Little moments of seeming unimportance.  Usually they fly by at such a rapid pace that we don't have a moment to sit in the wonder of their ordinary existence.  I know I can end days thinking "today was so ordinary and boring".

But is there really such a thing?

April 21, 2014

30 Days: Day 21 - color and light

I have been re-watching Downton again, but then again it always seems to be queued up on either my computer, iPhone or DVR.  Period pieces have always been a weakness for me.  I adore them.  So a TV show that's also a period piece in my favorite era of fashion?  Well, basically, Downton is a perfect storm of entertainment.

And while we could get into a great discussion over the stories and plot ups and downs, it's the light and color that I have been unable to stop staring at this watch-through.  The color palate in the dresses and outfits that everyone wears.  The details and perfect contrast of black and white in the simple black dresses the maids wear in season 1.  The colors of the Crawley sisters' dresses.  Oh my.  Mary is my favorite up until this past season and then Edith steals the show.  The colors they put her in with her red highlighted hair.  Her wardrobe was magic.  

Then there is the perfect lighting.  Who ever lights this show deserves all the awards they could ever possibly be given.  It is one of the most beautifully lit shows I have ever seen.  It's an art form.  It is one of the main reasons that you could take any single frame and hang it on your wall and it would seem like a work of art.  Oh, to know light like that.  What a wonder to see the world in perfect shades of light.  















And one more fun one that isn't an example of either light or costume, but simply makes me smile from ear to ear.


Are you a Downton fan?
Am the only one that is constantly re-watching it and loving even more each time?

April 20, 2014

30 Days: Day 20 - Behold the Empty Tomb



Now my debt is paid
It is paid in full
By the precious blood
That my Jesus spilled

Now the curse of sin
Has no hold on me
Whom the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed

See the stone is rolled away
Behold the empty tomb
Hallelujah God be praised
He's risen from the grave


It's Easter.  God is here with us celebrating and leaning over the gates of heaven to enjoy this moment with us.  Glorious, miraculous victory over death.  

Happy Resurrection Day!


April 19, 2014

30 Days: Day 19 - favorite spot



This spot was my favorite in Hawaii.  It was the sort of backyard at the complex we were staying at in Kauai.  The lawn was this perfectly manicured grass that felt like carpet to walk on and a golf course to look at.  These palm trees lined the edge of the grass as it turned into a sand dune directly into the crystal blue waters.

We spent every evening except one sitting in the sand watching the sun hit the water and turn the sky pink and orange and purple.  And every night, I had to go and snap a photo of these palm silhouettes.  I would stand there and drink in every thing around me.

I still stare at this photos for a while every time I scroll by in my photostream and get lost in the perfectness of this spot.  Oh, it was magic.  If you ever make it Kauai and stay in Poipu, then you must watch the sunset at Kiahuna Plantation.


April 18, 2014

30 Days: Day 18 - BIGGER



This winter/spring we camp girls have been studying the book of Joshua.  When choosing what book to study back in November, I had no idea how absolutely perfect the timing would be for studying this book.  But God knew.

Joshua is about God making good on His promises.  This past week, we talked about the comfort the words in the verse are:

"Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass." Joshua 21:45

That same God way back in the days of impossible battles and gifts of new land is the same God here with me today.  I love that.  I love when the Old Testament reminds me of how big and true God is today.

Joshua is also all about how BIG God is.  And truly, that is the one thing about Him I am clinging to right now (and this whole season).  My God is bigger than the seemingly insurmountable problems I face.  He is bigger than the mountains that seem to stand before me.  He is bigger than the humaness that can destroy my confidence.  I serve a BIG God.

Good Friday is a good day to remember that, don't you think?  I'm sure Jesus' disciples were forgetting that on this day.  I'm sure they were feeling despair and fear.  But God was merely getting ready to show off in the biggest way He ever had.  I loved how Bob Goff said it on his Twitter feed today:

"Darkness fell, His friends scattered, hope seemed lost - But heaven just started counting to three."

This makes me giddy.  This is light to my darkness.  This is joy to my sorrow.  This is my BIG God.

A little encouragement to you today.  God is bigger than that thing that you just can't see any way around.  He is bigger than that nagging sin you just can't seem to defeat.  He is bigger than the lies that are whispered in your ear from the one who wants nothing more than to make you doubt Him.  He is bigger than deadlines and sorrows and sickness and loneliness and heavy hearts.  God is bigger.  Just reach out that hand and put it in His and trust that He is!

April 17, 2014

30 Days: Day 17 - New earth



One of my favorite photos and favorite memories on The Big Island.

I'm almost positive that this lava flow happened after my first trip to Hawaii.  In fact, there's a good possibility I was watching it flow, in all its red-hot glory, down the mountain on a perfectly clear night with a million stars overhead.

It is crazy to stand on new earth.  There is no dirt, no life.  Just dark, black rock.  It rough and jagged and could tear your skin in a millisecond.  It has an almost hollow feeling instead of the dirt solid earth one is used to feeling beneath their feet.  It smells different.  No tang of trees or plants.  No whiff of flower perfume.  It's empty and new.

While The Big Island is not as beautiful in the tropical way that Kauai(my personal favorite) is, there is something magic and striking in its newness.  Yes there are beaches and trees and normal looking turf on much of the rest of the island.  But this dark, new place that is growing by the centimeter every day has a beauty all its own.  If you ever make it to the Hawaiian Islands, I highly recommend Volcanoes National Park.  You have probably never seen any thing else like it on earth.

April 16, 2014

30 Days: Day 16 - Original Story



I know I already mentioned this book in a previous post, but I finished it last night.  Books have to have a great ending, a suiting ending, if they make it into my "you should read this" pile.

This one was fantastic.  Funny.  An original story.  Imagine that.  Not based off of anything else or combined with a genre that is over saturated.  This author wrote for Arrested Development.  If you like that sense of humor, you will enjoy this book.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from me.  Give it a try won't you?

April 15, 2014

30 Days: Day 15 - growing and learning


This time of year, I start to get a little obsessed over plants and flowers.  It's the spring weather and warm sunshine I'm sure. Also, the whole thought process of new life at Easter.  I just love it.

I'm learning each year what works in the tiny Cottage flower bed and what doesn't.  Yes, I've killed lots of plants.   But that's part of the process.  I've learned that our shade to sun ratio has changed in recent years.  I've learned that most of our wild animals (rabbit, deer, squirrels, fox, ducks, geese) will consume just about any type of flower that I want to plant (yes, even marigolds and petunias), so don't get too attached to those colorful blooms.  I've learned that peppermint LOVES our soil and is taking over at a rapid rate.  I've learned that I can grow jalapenos in large pots, but the rabbits (deer? squirrels?) will eat them even though they are spicy/hot.  

I wish so much that I could have a garden to grow my own veggies for the year, but alas, that is a fool's errand between the 4 legged creatures that roam my yard and the 2 legged creatures (200 campers every week) that would trample or eat them.  I'll have to stick to herbs and flowers.  And for now, that quite enough to make me happy.

Weeding has become very therapeutic for me.  Very stress relieving.  So very kind of God to send me lots of weeds to take care of when my life is incredibly stressful.  And what a beautiful picture of how I need to take care of those problems, trials and sins in my own walk with Christ.  We talk a lot, God and me, when I weed.  I day dream.  I listen to podcasts.  I escape.

This year, I'm excited to be able to use my peppermint in better ways now that it is established and ready for harvesting.  I'm excited to try growing some lavender in pots.  I'm excited to fill my porch with a few geraniums and a few other small pots that the animals can't touch.  I'm excited to watch them bloom and grow and follow the sun.

Spring is here!


April 14, 2014

30 Days: Day 14 - Worship




We sang this song at church yesterday, and I couldn't stop the tears from flowing.  Easter is my favorite holiday/time of year.  I love the focus on Jesus and how He redeemed us.  Our church's previous youth pastor used to say "you are worth Jesus to God".   I am worth God's most precious valuable.  His Son.   How incredible is that?! 

April 13, 2014

30 Days: Day 13 - Thirty-seven



37 highlights from my 36th year (not in any order)

  1. Meeting Zachary Levi and seeing him perform in First Date (front row!) with S
  2. Seeing Wind from the Sea by Andrew Wyeth at the National Art Gallery with my dear friend M
  3. Read My Lips from David's Tea
  4. Mint Julep from David's Tea
  5. The Good Wife
  6. The Vampire Diaires
  7. The Originals
  8. The Walking Dead
  9. Parks and Rec
  10. Downton Abbey
  11. The beach and tree line at Kiahuna Plantation in Kauai
  12. Volcanoes National Park
  13. Sea Glass Beach on The Big Island
  14. The Banzai Pipeline off of Ehukai Beach Park in the North Shore on Oahu
  15. Na Pali Coastline on Kauai
  16. Riding in the car with the windows down while the Hawaiian countryside zooms by
  17. Bodie and all its stories
  18. Big Sur at sunset
  19. The Redwoods and Giant Sequoias 
  20. That giant cinnamon roll The Bro and I shared at a bakery at Pacific Grove, CA
  21. The magical Pacific Coast Highway
  22. This spot in Julie Pfeiffer Burns State Park
  23. Base Camp Hotel in South Lake Tahoe
  24. Seeing Mike Cahill's new movie with a Steven Yeun bonus at Sundance
  25. Seeing Zach Braff and cast at the world premiere of his new movie (even if it wasn't very good)
  26. Meeting this miracle girl
  27. Sunsets at camp
  28. Lots of good books like Steve Jobs, The Divergent trilogy and Unbroken
  29. Worship at church every Sunday
  30. Time with family
  31. Knowing that our campers see Jesus when they are at camp
  32. My first sprint-triathlon
  33. Time with my 2 of my dearest girls
  34. Laughing until my sides ache and I can't breathe with my camp friends who are my family
  35. Great movie theater experiences like Catching Fire, Thor 2, Gravity and Iron Man 3
  36. Discovering the magic of essential oils
  37. Kickstarting and getting to see the Veronica Mars movie

Ready to start year 37.  Adventure awaits!


April 12, 2014

30 Days: Day 12 - Crowd funding and my money

(screen shot from that time my roomie and I watched the counter turn to $2M in less than 12 hours)

Can we talk crowd funding for a minute?

Has anyone else jumped on the band wagon?

I have backed quite a few projects and most have met their goals.

My #1 favorite was the Veronica Mars Movie Kickstarter.  The moment I heard about it I threw some money into the pot and watched as the magic happened.  The goal was reached in less than 12 hours.  My roommate and I were glued to that Kickstarter counter all day watching it skyrocket and then turn the magic 2 million.
Backers were treated with fun rewards (t-shirts, stickers, shooting script) as well as exclusive content and the inside scoop while the movie was cast, filmed, edited and then distributed and shown to the world.  Lots of cast videos and photos.  We got a download of the movie on the day it was released in theaters.  It was all kinds of fun.

The moment of truth was, of course, the movie itself.  It was fantastic.  Quite sure I'm looking at it with V-Mars loving glasses, but as a fan it did not disappoint.  I've watched it more times than I would like to admit....cough...cough.  And I'm still getting updates and emails even thought the movie has already been finished and released.

I love the part of feeling like I can choose what I want to see.  I got in a discussion with someone about how they didn't think it was fair asking people for money for movies because most of the time they get studio funding.  Or it is wrong for famous actors who have a large bank fund to ask others for money to  get their passion project made . Those crowd funders didn't get a producer credit or any compensation for their investment.

I disagree.  I wanted a Veronica Mars movie for years.  I was presented with a chance to make it happen costing me only a few dollars out of my pocket.  I would have spent money to see it in theaters and buy it, so why not put that money up front and make sure it gets made.  I don't care about getting credit for it.  I cared more about making sure it actually got made.  So, sure, I'll send over $35 to back a project I want to see.  It's my money.  My money talks louder when I back something before it gets made than the $12 I give the theater to sit and watch the finished project.  You better believe that all of Hollywood took notice of the V-Mars project.  I'm sure they were intimidated too.

Remember, your money has a voice that can almost be louder than your actual words.  Where you choose to spend it says quite a bit about you.  This is something I have learned (and am still learning) the only way I can, by giving.  I still have a long way to go.  But I never want to be one of those people who says, "I'll give more when I have more."  Nope.  If I'm not giving now towards the things I am passionate about then I certainly won't later.  Even more than movies or books or passion projects, this rings true for all the orphans I sponsor and the organizations that do good things across the world and my own church.  My money speaks loudly.  Even if it does seem like a measly amount compared to what other give.



April 11, 2014

30 Days: Day 11 - Packing


I have to share one of my new favorite traveling companions.
These little guys are a traveler's dream.
I discovered them on Pinterest via this blog post.

Packing cubes are the the absolute best thing that has happened to traveling since the rolling suitcase.  So simple.  Just roll your clothes; line them up in the cube; zip and stash the cube in your suitcase.  I flew 5 times, stayed in 5 different hotels and did it all with only carry-ons on my two week trip to Hawaii. Normally, that much packing and repacking would make me a stressed mess.  With the packing cube, you just pull out what you need and everything else stays in it's proper place in the suitcase.

Genius.

I think I will buy at least one more set so when I have to go somewhere with a colder climate, I'll have a bit more room.  But with one set, I was easily able to pack for 2 weeks (doing laundry once, half way through) and still had room to spare.

I snapped a quick photo while I was in the middle of unpacking because that's what bloggers do.  We take photos of everything.


The packing cubes fit right inside and everything else filled in the corners and crevices left over.  Easy peasy.  I carried the smallest cube in my back pack for easy removal of liquid items at airport security.  Everything else, was in the suitcase (carry-on size) with room to spare.

Packing cubes.
If you are a traveler, they will be your best friend.




April 10, 2014

30 Days: Day 10 - Tunes



I don't really know anything about music.
I have no idea what's popular now-a-days and most of the time I don't like it when I hear it.

So with that in mind, here's what I'm currently listening to on repeat.
Feel free to judge my choices.
I know how ridiculous my music tastes are.

1.  The Brilliance.  Just discovered them this year.  I love their mix of classical style music with beautiful words about Jesus. Your Love Remains is my favorite favorite.

2. Black Sails Soundtrack by Bear McCreary. This is the last album I bought.  I've never seen the show, but it's my favorite composer doing some of his best work since Battlestar except for the outstanding The Walking Dead soundtrack, but that has never been released.

3. Saving Mr. Banks Soundtrack by Thomas Newman.  I loved the movie and I know that is partially because of this beautifully moving soundtrack.  This composer did another favorite soundtrack of mine.  Saving Mr. Banks' tone is very similar.  Happy, cheery with a hint of emotion.  It's practically perfect in every way.

4.  Hunger Games: Catching Fire Soundtrack by James Newton Howard. This composer has created some incredibly beautiful pieces of music over the years.  The Village has one of my top favorite pieces of all time.  But this new soundtrack...oh, my.  It captures the tone of the story perfectly.  Haunting.  Troubling.  Intimate.  Hopeful.  I Need You is a perfect example.  Those violins get me every time.

5.  Second Chances by Gregory Alan Isakov.  This track was introduced to me through my Veronica Mars Kickstarter backer inside info.  It was used in the movie during one of the best scenes in the movie.  I heard it for the first time months ago and loved it, but now, it always reminds me of a sweet LoVe moment.  Suitcase Full of Sparks is another great one on The Weatherman album too.

6.  Birdy.  Her voice.  Good gracious.  Found her via a TV show.  I find lots of good music from the shows I watch.  I especially like Wings and Without a Word. Her covers of Terrible Love and Skinny Love are fantastic too.


Review:
I'm a soundtrack nerd.
I love composers who use lots of strings (violin especially).

My Spotify playlist for fellow soundtrack nerds.
And one for all those songs I hear on TV that are just so good.


April 09, 2014

30 Days: Day 9 - green


We (mother, father, brother, me) arrived at our tiny cabin in the woods after dark.  We were just across the street from a live active volcano.  After we had checked into the cabin, we thew our stuff inside and went over to the volcano to stare at its red, rumbling mouth because it's much more impressive at night.  That red glow.

We settled into the cabin which didn't have outlets or a restroom but did have the most delightful cushy down comforters.  It was drizzly and rainy outside which was terribly disappointing because we only had 2 nights here and both were overcast.  The last time I was in this area, I went to look at the stars and saw the most spectacular display of shooting stars and the Milky Way.  Star gazing here was one this I was really, really looking forward to (nerd).  Alas, it didn't happen.

But when I woke up in the morning, this was the scene before me as I walked to the bathhouse.  That green.  That green was the most perfect of perfect greens ever.  And those trees (eucalyptus, I believe)...we don't have trees like that on the East Coast of the mainland.  

This photo makes me happy sigh.  I can remember the peace and quiet there.  The smell of eucalyptus.  The birds chirping.  How I dropped one of my blue glass bottles in the bathroom and it shattered all over the concrete bathroom and the whole bathroom smelled like my apple cider vinegar face tonic.
Wait...what?!

Ah, memories.

April 08, 2014

30 Days: Day 8 - Chocolate



I don't love shave ice all that much.
However this one came with sweetened condensed milk on the top.
Whaaaat?!
It was delicious.
Bonus: it was eaten whilst on the North Shore.

I'm a chocolate person.
I don't understand desserts that don't have chocolate.
Why do they exist?
They are like a cruel joke.

xoxo,

Chocoholic





April 07, 2014

30 Days: Day 7 - Seeing


It was so surreal to stand on the beach (Waimea Bay Beach) where one of my favorite photographers frequently shoots. We arrived just after the sun had disappeared over the horizon because we had been watching it set at another beach just up the road.
...just up the road.  Hawaii is a magical land of beaches galore.  And as crazy and traffic ridden as Oahu is, I just love the North Shore.  I could go to Oahu and never go to Waikiki or Honolulu (except to fly in, of course) and just spend every day watching the surfers on the big waves.  Those deep sandy beaches of perfection.




As soon as I saw that clock tower, I kinda geeked out and looked around at this place that I had only seen on tiny squares on my phone for years.  I just stood there.  I stopped shooting photos mostly because it had gotten too dark for my iPhone camera.  But also, I just stood there because I wanted to see it.

When I go to a beautiful place, or I stand in front of something that thrills me like a piece of art or a perfect bloom on a tree, I am guilty of trying to freeze it/stop time around it.  I don't simply stand before it and enjoy it.  Partially because I want to have a record of it to enjoy for years to come, which isn't wrong.  Also because I'm afraid I'll forget it.  I have a terrible memory.

But, I've noticed my obsession to record and save and not enjoy in the moment.  It's something I'm working on changing.  Putting down my camera.  Stopping.  Breathing in deeply.  Staring and drinking it in.  Living in the moment.  Smelling the salt in the air.  Watching the colors change in the sky with my own eyes and not through a view finder.  Feeling the sand on my feet.  Hearing the giant waves roll.

Now, when I look at this photo, I can see, feel and smell that spot.  I remember living it and not just recording it.  And that's what taking a photo is really all about anyway, isn't it?  A small moment frozen in time to guide our memory back to everything that it entailed.

Anyway, this beach was beautiful, even in the (almost) dark.  And if you want a daily ocean fix, follow CL on Instagram.  His photos are stunning.

April 06, 2014

30 Days: Day 6 - Gentlemen and Ladies

(My favorite display at the National Botanic Gardens.  Every year, I hunt it down (it changes locations) and drink it in (the inside collection constantly changes on every visit .)

Getting on my soapbox for a moment....


What has happened to all the gentleman?
The men who hold doors for ladies and offer to help if they are carrying something heavy?
The men who are polite and kind to a lady and offer their seat?


I was again reminded of this realization when I was in Utah in January.  I'm not sure if it was so noticeable because I am normally surrounded by men who do these gentlemanly things so well?  Maybe.  But it was noticeable.  A guy visibly watching me struggle with my suitcase and not saying anything or offering help in the slightest way.  I was almost taken aback.


The guys I'm surrounded by (married or un-married) will hold the door open for me without even thinking about it.  They will grab my suitcase or bag or whatever heavy thing I'm holding out of my hand without even second thinking it (or at least ask if they can carry it).  They will be kind and generous, not in a creepy way (that some guys use as a ploy to talk to you as soon as they see you don't have a wedding ring.  really?!) but in a way that just pays tribute to you as a person.  They aren't saying I'm not able to do it on my own.  They're just being nice.

Seriously, guys, be gentleman.

There may be those one or two women who get all women's lib and get offended that you even suggested that she is weaker than you are.  But those aren't the norm.  We women would like to be treated with kindness and compassion.  We value your acknowledgement of us in that way.  We appreciate the fact that you are willing to carry our groceries just for the mere fact that you would like to help.

I will admit that sometimes I am guilty of being prideful for no other reason than "I can do it myself, thank you very much".  But that is my own fault.  And, as a guy friend of mine said to me as I was thanking him for being one of those kind gentleman, it is just as much my fault when I say no as when it isn't offered.  "We're just trying to be kind" he reminded me.  "Let us do this for you and don't take offense."  Aren't you glad for friends who talk to you honestly and let you see (in a kind way) when you are being a jerk?  I sure am.

So ladies, let's allow men to be gentleman, shall we?  And men, please, be gentleman and not for any other reason than just being a gentleman.  We notice.  We do.  And thank you on behalf of all those women that you kindly treat with respect.

April 05, 2014

30 Days: Day 5 - iphone o'graphy



I rarely ever take photos with an actual camera any more.
It's sad.
I have a nice (although old) DSLR sitting in my closet that only gets pulled out for special occasions like vacations or family functions.  And by family functions I mean my sister saying "bring your camera  when you come visit and take some pictures of my kids".  I had to have my brother remind me how to use it when we went to CA last fall.  I couldn't remember how to do simple things like change aperture in manual mode.  Gracious!



My go-to camera has become my iPhone.  Truth be told, 95% of the reason I wanted an iPhone and coveted it for years was for the camera.  It did not disappoint. The minute I turned that baby on, it became a constant photo snapping machine.  Right at this moment, I have 3,393 photos in my camera roll.  It's a bit ridiculous.



The main things I love about my iPhone camera is that I can take the photo, edit it with my favorite photo editing app, upload and share it all within a few minutes.  Done and done.  And the results are so amazing to me.  Such a beautiful photo from a tiny camera on the back of my phone.



Here are my 3 super simple essentials/favorites for iPhone photography:

1.  VSCOcam.  I think it is, hands down, the best photo editing app out there. The filters are understated (in the best way) and light.  It turns a good photo into a magical one.  Easy to use.  Fun.  It can be customized to your specifications and needs. Pushes my photography to new places.  I can't say enough how much I love this app.  I have tried a lot of others and many of them are good, but this one is the one that I always go back to.  No fuss. No silly things I never use like light leaks or film grains.  Just simple filters that make my photos look like they do in my head when I hit the shutter.

Cost: Free (with in app purchases available) I purchased the Launch bundle when it was on debut sale a year ago.  If you aren't interested in spending $6, I personally love the F: Mellow/Fade collection, the K: Analog Classic collection and the Legacy Collection (which has been offered through VSCOcam since the very beginning).  These are my go-to filters for those of you that follow my photos on Instagram.   Ninety-seven percent of my Hawaii photos were done with K and F.

2.  Square Ready. It's my favorite way to send my rectangle photos to Instagram with that white border on the top and bottom.  I like how easy it is and how it uploads directly to Instagram.  Cost: Free

3.  Instagram.  It's my favorite, most addictive social networking site.  I really don't like Facebook.  Twitter is fun for following others.  But Instagram is my addiction.  I'm a photo girl and always have been.  This is how I share tidbits of my life, through pictures.
Not to mention that once you upload to Instagram, you can now access dozens of great apps and sites that will print out those photos and turn them into fun things like magnets or prints or books or postcards (all of which I have done through the companies in the links).

Honorable mention:  Flickr.  I've had a Flickr pro-account for years, but have only recently begun to use it for my back-up photo storage.  The latest app update has auto-upload which means that all my newest photos will automatically upload to my Flickr account if I just open the app.  It's like a mental sigh of relief.  If I lose my phone, I won't lose all my photos.  Cost: $24/year for a pro-account.  However, free accounts now have 1T of storage!  Definitely worth it if you need another place to back up all those memories.

April 04, 2014

30 days: Day 4 - rambling daydreamer


I'm a daydreamer.
A story teller.
A people watcher.

Stories are constantly floating around in my head.
They swirl about when I travel, especially.
Airports...airports are the best for daydreamers.
There are an abundance of blank canvases walking around before me just begging for me to come up with their stories.

When I was in Hawaii, I was constantly thinking about a story I have been in the process of writing (for myself) over the last few years.  The setting is Hawaii.  I was always looking around for all of those places that I had created in my head.  It was the weirdest thing to feel like something you imagined might actually be around the next corner.  Or at least something that could represent what your imagination had created.  A house.  A shop.  A road.  It felt so real there.

Some places seem to lend themselves to daydreams.  Paris was like that for me.  So was the California coast.  And Seattle.  And Annapolis.  And Hawaii, of course.  If only I could spend my days hopping from place to place, writing, writing, writing.  Taking the time to let the stories out that flit through my brain.

A traveling writer.
That sounds pretty perfect, don't you think?

Music note:  Have you heard the song Daydream by Jillian Edwards?  It's been on repeat for me lately.

April 03, 2014

30 Days: Day 3 - Home remedies for colds



Within the span of about 40 days this winter, I got 3 colds.  Three.  The first was kindly given to me by the lady sitting across the isle from me on my plane ride back from Salt Lake City.  She sounded like she had the black lung and I just knew I was going to catch whatever she had.  Low and behold, one day home and I woke up with a sore throat.

Like anyone that gets sick, I didn't have time to actually BE sick.  I was working like crazy and had to be in the camp kitchen making and serving food.  Not the place for germs or runny noses.

I decided that I was going to put into practice some of the research I had done on essential oils (which I had on hand and had been starting to use) and apple cider vinegar.  Things that were in my panty turned out to cure my sickness quicker and more effectively than any cold medicine I have ever used.

That first cold was the worst because I didn't stop it when the symptoms first started.  Doing something at the first sign (sore throat, sniffly nose, achy) is the key.  You can knock out the yucky stuff before it has a chance to latch on to you and lay you out flat.

Here's what I did...

1.  Mix 2 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar (Raw-unfiltered with "the mother" is the key), 1 teaspoon of honey (raw is recommended, but I used what I had on hand) and the lemon juice of one slice of lemon (about 1 Tablespoon or use the bottled stuff if that's all you have in the fridge and you can't get to the grocery store because the snow had trapped you at home.  Lemon slices work the best though.).  I put it all in a shot glass, mixed it together and knocked it back.  I like the taste of ACV and take a spoonful of it all by itself quite often, so the taste doesn't bother me.  You can adjust the amount honey and lemon if ACV makes you gag.
This mixture is magic.  I'm telling you, it works like Advil Cold and Sinus for me.  Got rid of sore throats.  Gave me energy when I was feeling achy.  I could feel it start to wear off and knew when it was time for more.  I took a shot in the morning when I woke up, at lunch and before bed.  It swear it knocked out colds before they became anything more than an itchy throat and slightly stuffy nose.  After 3 days of mild symptoms,  I was feeling back to normal.

2.  Immune Support (or Thieves or whatever brand you chose) mixed with a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut.  I would put it on the bottoms of my feet three times a day.  It smelled so good and also seemed to help with nipping the symptoms in the bud before they got any worse.

3. Eucalyptus EO mixed with jojoba oil on my chest.  It calmed the cough that seemed to linger with the first cold.  Plus, it helped me breathe when my nose got super stuffy.  I would add a bit of peppermint EO or lavender to help me sleep at night when breathing was hard because of congestion.


I've always been very sensitive to cold medicines and their wacky side effects.  When I finally got this whole new system down by the third cold (seriously though, three colds in 40 days?!) I was so thankful for a natural, healthy way to cure my sickness without feeling like a zombie.  Not to mention, the colds didn't really turn into "colds" and they were over so much faster.

Have you ever tried any home remedies for colds?

(Remember, I work at a camp and am not a doctor.  Just telling you what worked for me.)