March 23, 2015

My claustrophobia is hyperventilating



In one week's time, I will be well into a 14 hour flight to Beijing, China.
(14 hours?!! My claustrophobia is already hyperventilating.)
For those of you who don't know, I've been wanting to go to China since I was elementary school age.  Not to see the Great Wall or the Forbidden City or the Terra Cotta Warriors, although I'm sure those things are incredible. No, I've always wanted to go and just hug the orphans over there.  I've tried several times to plan a trip with various organizations and each time, something came up and I was unable to go.

This time, a sweet friend of mine, who is living over there and working in an orphanage, kindly told me when she got her job that I was more than welcome to come and visit AND play with the babies under her care.  I believe her exact words were "YOU BETTER COME VISIT" in all caps.   Um....no second thinking that decision.  Spend some time with my friend and fulfill a life long dream.  Yes and yes.

So off I go on this crazy adventure.  Semi-scared that China will get the best of me with its weird foods (I don't even like America's version of Chinese food) and over abundance of people and pollution.  Semi-scared that I will not be able to leave those precious kiddos behind when I have to step back on that plane to come home.  One hundred percent in awe of the perfect timing that God blessed me with in this whole situation.  And so freakin' excited that I can't catch my breath.

I'm hoping (and pretty confident) that I will be posting regularly on Instagram.  Thank you Jesus for iPhones and iMessage.  What did I ever do without them?  Truly.  I don't want to remember that dark time.  Plus, you can be sure that I will take 5 gazillion pictures and want to share every single one.  You've been warned.

China.
It's happening.

March 06, 2015

Take a deep breath

A million different things can hold you back.  From the life you are called to live.  From the adventures that beckon.  Fear, money, time, people's expectations or assumptions.  So many things that seem so overwhelmingly huge in your head, yet in reality are just excuses, most of the time.  You meet people who do that thing or go to that place that you dream about.  You think "they must be special, not like me".

Sometimes...sometimes you decide to take the leap.  Look fear in the face and say "you will not win today".  You take a deep breath, gulp down the anxiety creeping up from your stomach and here-we-go...



(more details to come...)

February 28, 2015

being brave



I have multiple posts that I have written and not posted.  It's weird because this used to be such a comfortable place.  Now, I come here and constantly re-think what I should say.  Should I talk about the things I'm enjoying on TV/movies? (I wrote a whole post on that topic)  Should I tell a story like I used to?  (wrote one of those too) Or maybe just write and write and write whatever may come out?  (yup, wrote that as well)

I just don't know how to do this anymore.  And honestly, I don't think anyone reads, which is 100% understandable because I haven't written regularly in years.  But I miss it.  So I don't even care.  I'm going to write when I feel it.  I'm going to ramble and dribble on.  And post a photo or two because I'm still taking them constantly.

Here's to being brave and posting again.

January 09, 2015

I am...

(from that glorious day in Maui spent on the beach getting a wicked sunburn on my back)


I am a writer.
No, I'm not paid to write.

I don't have novels with my name on them stacked on shelves or piles of magazines with my short stories printed in them.  I've never been published.  I've never been given actual American dollars to put pen to paper.  But I read Stephen King's book "On Writing" and he says that if you write, even for yourself, then you are a writer.  You write for your sanity, not for a pay check. I feel like he's earned enough credit as a writer to define who as writer is, don't you?  Thank you, Mr. King.  I am definitely in that boat.  The one where sanity wins after the words finally finish spilling out.

This past December thirty-first, I completed an entire year of writing every day.  Mostly in a journal.  My favorite form has always been pen and paper.  Computers are great and all, but they just don't hold the same punch.
Anyway, I wrote every single day.  Okay I may have forgotten -or fallen into bed too exhausted- 3 times, but I went back the next morning and filled in the missing day's entry.  My journal went with me to Hawaii and Utah.  It followed me on trips home to see my parents.  It was always in my carryon for easy access.
I wrote what I did that day. I wrote what was on my heart. I wrote out my tears and frustrations and there were a lot of them last year.  I wrote out my joys and the times when things were good.  I wrote about books I finished and loved.  I wrote about The Walking Dead and The Good Wife.  I wrote when I was scared.  I wrote about being lonely. I wrote when I didn't understand why things were happening and didn't have the answers.  I wrote about dear friends and the times I felt loved and cared for.  I wrote about what God was teaching me.  I wrote when I was angry at Him too.  I was honest.  Brutally so.

And then the year ended.  But I couldn't put my journal down.  I was more hungry to write than I had ever been. Can I tell you after doing a 365 challenge (see my other year long 365 projects like a-photo-a-day or the Bible in a year) that same thing you loved can become the one thing you almost dread.  It can feel like a chore.  When I read the Bible through in a year, it felt like a chore. The day after I finished, I read just a handful of verses and Jesus and I had a glorious time together.  And I still take a lot of photos, but certainly not one every single day.

But writing...it just captures me.  Nonsense, good-sense, no-sense.  I love it all.  I love to end the day with full journal pages and a mind at ease.

Now there are things I would love to write.  A novel.  A completed story.  A devotional.  A play. Whatever else sounds fun.  And maybe one day those things will come.  I take comfort in people like Julia Child who didn't begin cooking, like, didn't even know how, until she was in her late 30's.  There's still time for me, if there was still time for Julia, right?

So for today, I am a writer.  A writer of dreams and hopes.  Of a life lived.  Of tiny insignificant details.   I may be the only one to ever read this story.  And that's okay.

I...I am a writer.
(it's crazy to say that out loud)

December 31, 2014

Farewell two thousand and fourteen



It's been a while.  Just acknowledging that so you don't think I just didn't realize that it had been 6 months since I've posted on my blog.  I knew it.  I would go and even check the blog myself to see if I had posted anything.  Me.  The dummy who writes this thing.  

Because, you see, this entire year has felt very much out of body.  And mostly not in a good way.  I feel battle scarred and bruised.  Limping across the finish line.  No.  Crawling and moaning is more accurate.  

2014 was a year I will never forget.  It was full (to the brim, I might add) with hard, life altering lessons.  Brutal truths and hard moments followed by glorious wonder and provision.  It has been lesson after lesson in seeing God more clearly than ever before, but with the knowledge that that sight usually comes in the darkest of times.  

I have seen Him do miracles this year.  Provide where there was absolutely nothing that my human eyes could see or reason. I've seen Him grant mercy and grace.  I've seen Him show love and kindness. However, each of those things had to be granted in the darkest of hours in the most challenging of moments.  I'm learning how much brighter He shines when the darkness threatens to swallow me up.

Life was hard in 2014.  And I am very VERY glad to kick it to curb and leave it behind forever.  I've been longing for December 31st for months.  Not that a date change on the calendar really means much, but it sure does feel good.

So as not to end on a horribly depressing note (hello, pessimism, my old friend), I decided to pop in on the last day of the year to list a few things that I have actually enjoyed this year.  Because I know you want a list from this "really cool girl who is happily snuggled in her pajamas at 8:30pm on New Year's Eve."  I'm sure that girl has mountains of advice and recommendation you want to hear, right?  
Thought so.

 
Here we go:

Books I've enjoyed:

* Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell

* Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas (and you MUST listen to Kristen Bell read it aloud to truly enjoy every second of this gem)

* Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

* Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon

* Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

* 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker 

* Harry Pottter #1,2,3,4 (I'm re-reading [and listening to Jim Dale read] these gems in order from the beginning again.  And can I just say they are just as enjoyable and perfect)


Movie/TV shows that I enjoyed:

Last Days in Vietnam  (I saw this movie in January and am still thinking about it constantly.  One of the best documentaries I've seen.  Ever.)
  

* The Walking Dead (the end of season 4 and the first part of season 5.  Good gracious, YES.)

* The Good Wife (season 5 was simply the best thing on TV)

* Veronica Mars (I Kickstarted the movie and it did not disappoint. In fact, I've watched it about 16 times since it released in March)

* About Time (surprised me in all the best ways)

* The Theory of Everything

* Mockingjay Part 1 (thank you for being so much better than the book)

* The Imitation Game

* Parks and Rec (continues to be the best comedy on TV)

* Downton Abbey (I can't help but love and re-watch every season)

* Sherlock season 3

* Broadchurch (please don't watch the horrid American version, Gracepoint, and think it is the same thing)

* Homeland season 3

* Short Term 12 (maybe my favorite of the whole year)

* The Way, Way Back

* Saving Mr Banks


Random others:

* HONY on Instagram (It is simply the best thing/idea/creative endeavor/little corner of the internet.  I adore it)

* VSCOcam app.  (the best photo editing app got even better this year)

* iphone 6 (I'm ashamed to admit that I can't live without it)

* DSLR SnapShop (Ashley Ann's online class was incredibly helpful and full of lightbulb lessons for me.  Highly recommend it)

* Kauai (it is the most beautiful place on the planet and the fact that I got to spend a few days there this year made me insanely happy)

* David's Tea (for all its delightfully addictive flavors)

* Essential Oils (It was the year of full emersion in EO's for me.  I'm a convert and now use them multiple times a day)

*  She Reads Truth (beautiful devotions and lovely design)

*  Moleskin unlined journals w/ black Sharpie pens

* movie (instrumental) soundtracks (they still continue to be my music of choice)


It's always good to focus on the blessings and fun/good things.  
Puts things in perspective.  

Goodbye 2014.  
I won't miss you.  
I'm glad you are leaving.

2015, let's be friends, okay?  
Be kind, won't you please?

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