Sage advice.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

"Do one thing every day that scares you."
- Eleanor Roosevelt


Tonight I did something scary.
I taught this very famous painting by Van Gogh to a group of 31 people.

Now normally, this painting stage is actually a place of comfort for me. I absolutely adore my job and look forward to each day that I get to share my love for art with people, some of whom have never held a paint brush.

But for some reason, this one painting had been haunting me from the calendar for weeks. It felt like so much pressure to paint something so famous.

But I'm happy to say that I was able to take a deep breath, step on that stage with [feigned] confidence, and paint something that somewhat resembles the original. :)
Thank you, Lord!

Eleanor was right - we should do something scary every day. That way, we earn just enough courage to do something even scarier the next time.

The night I met my husband.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Inspired by several friends who have done the same, I have decided to write our love story. In part, as I journey further from our beginning each day, I begin to lose those precious details of our first days as friends, then as boyfriend and girlfriend, then as fiances, then newlyweds. I want to remember - even fifty years from now - the treasures of our first few years together. 

Mostly, though, I see our story as part of a much bigger story of God's perfect sovereignty and grace. And that, my friends, is worth celebrating over and over again.

This story will come in parts. This is just the very beginning.

The first glimpse I got of him was in my peripheral vision. I had seen him before across campus, but we had never actually met.

It was the night before school started in August 2006, and we stood in the plaza at Moody catching up with friends we hadn't seen for a whole summer. The annual Vesper's service had just concluded, and I happened to be chatting with Josh - a mutual friend of ours - when Shawn introduced himself into the conversation.

Josh introduced us, and I acted as though I'd never seen him before. In reality, I already knew who he was and had even seen his photography website. We had even been in a large class together, but I didn't expect him to remember me from that.

As we begin to talk, Josh slowly backed out of the conversation and, to this day, says he stood back and saw something special between us. Something like a future.

Shawn and I small talked for a bit, then progressed to where we were from, our families, our childhoods.

"My parents are in Christian music ministry, and growing up, we travelled with them to local churches where they did concerts every weekend," I said.

"My parents are too. We did that too," he responded. "My dad is also a producer and we have a studio in our house."

"Mine is too. And so do we," I said.

It all began to sound eerily familiar. The only major difference to our growing up is that I grew up here in the States, while Shawn grew up in Germany. Most other things we had completely in common - something I'd never experienced before.

I had one sister. He had one brother.
We both grew up on golf courses.
We both had the job of setting up and manning the product table after  our parents' concerts.
We both ran cross country.
We both took every art class available in high school.

When we put a few pieces together that same night, we even found out that Shawn's family's favorite Christmas album was by a group my mom was in, so he grew up listening to her voice year after year. In Germany. 

Beyond all the incredible similarities, I don't remember exactly what we talked about. I do remember how genuine he was. How happy. How kind. How he leaned down ever so slightly to make his 6'4" a little closer to my 5'5" so we could be on the same level. What surrounded Shawn was a peace I had rarely seen - a humble, yet confident presence that made me feel encouraged and secure. I didn't feel nervous or self conscious around him in the least. Oh, and he was definitely handsome. I loved the way he smiled so big that his squinty eyes disappeared.

At the time, neither of us was officially dating someone, but we were both interested in other people. So while there may have been an immediate connection between us, neither of us even thought about pursuing more.

When we had to meet up with other friends, we parted ways and I felt so light. I knew I had made a new friend. That night in my journal, Shawn somehow ended up there among several other praises and prayer requests I recorded. I thanked the Lord for my new friend and how he encouraged me just by our first conversation that night.

To be continued.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

...was a great day to be alive.
• I got a library card and spent 3 solid, glorious hours on the library floor with stacks of books all around me.
• Before obtaining said library card, I accidentally walked into a police station, thinking it was a library, then saw a man in cuffs being escorted through the hall and realized there were no books. My face turned red and I headed out the double doors that said "Police" in large letters across them. How could I have missed that?
• I started reading The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and cannot put it down. Or stop thinking about it. Or talking about it.
• I picked 5 squash, 3 tomatoes, 2 okra, and thumped on 5 watermelon, but didn't hear the hollow sound I needed to pick them.
• My dad treated me to a wonderful lunch today of almond-encrusted goat cheese salad with mango and strawberries and cherry dressing.
• I found a huge batch of restaurant plates, saucers, coffee mugs, and the like at a thrift store for 25 cents each.
• I came home to a cozy home, a cup of tea, and a happy husband. Life couldn't be better.

What made your day wonderful today?

Quintessential summer.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I've been looking forward to this moment all summer long: 
the harvesting of our first ripe watermelon.

I happened to think it was a photo-worthy affair.
My husband and our friend? Not so much.
Therefore, I'm the only one in these photos, enjoying the watermelon-picking ceremony much more than the two behind the lens. 
What can I say? I was pretty darn excited.

So anyway... see this? It used to be our garden. Now it's a tangled mess that's hiding plenty of delicious fruit. I still love it, even though it's a bit of chaos.

Going in for the watermelon...

Sweet success.

I immediately handed it to Chris to document his presence... he looks thrilled, I know. :)

I also picked our very first cantaloupe.

There it is. 

Look how perfect! 
(Note the huge cucumber and watermelon in the bottom of the photo).

So I have a couple questions to all of you avid gardeners out there...
Was I supposed to let the cantaloupe ripen on the counter for a few days before I cut into it? It looked amazing and tasted more like... a carrot. Not hard, but pretty flavorless.

As for the watermelon, it was very sweet and juicy in the center, but the red center was small with lots of white on the outside. 
Did I pick it too soon?

Thankfully, we have about 15 more of each to get this harvesting thing perfected. 
(I'm finding out how impatient I really am.)

Happy summer!

Iron-on DIY projects.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

So I'm not even sure where it occurred to me to get creative with iron-on transfer paper today (a blog, I'm sure), but the ideas just started exploding in my head and I had to track some of this magic paper down.

I ended up finding it at Hobby Lobby (and using a 40% off coupon... love those) and am having so much fun trying different things with it. The first project I attempted - a pillow slipcover - is not my favorite thing I've ever made, but  I'm happy with it for a first attempt. 

First, I made this pillow case slip cover. If you know how to sew a straight line on a sewing machine, I'm sure you know how to do this. (I still need to make a pillow to go inside.)

I improvised an envelope opening in the back to slip it in and out without having to add a zipper. I will probably add a cute button, later.

I then went searching for black and white images online. I came across Graphics Fairy, which has loads and loads of free vintage-style images.

I found LOTS I liked, then printed off this chair picture onto normal paper first, just to make sure I liked the size. Obviously, you can't go any larger than 8.5"x11", so I wanted to see how large I could make the chair and where I wanted to place it before committing to the iron-on transfer paper.


Once printing it onto the transfer paper (following the instructions on the package), I made sure the ink was dry so I didn't smudge it, then cut around the edges with scissors.
Had I left the insides white, it would've been a clear, soft surface in the blank spaces (which I didn't want on my final product). So I used an exacto knife to cut those big white spaces out.
Good enough...

I then placed it face down onto the fabric and tried to center it, then used a hot dry iron and ironed for about 90 seconds without stopping.

Once letting it cool completely, I started to peel off the backing in hopes it worked.

And now I have a new pillow! I still need to make a pillow insert that actually fits, but once I do, I think I'll like it. :) 

Once finished with the pillow, I decided to tackle a stack of onesies for my little niece that I've had sitting around, not knowing what to do with. One thing to keep in mind with these is that you need to print everything backwards if there are words.

Can you tell what this one will be?

For our little future pianist!

And a few more...
Onto more projects... :)

In the now.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I've had another one of those "missing Chicago" days. They come and go, but today was slow and sunny and involved lots of driving, and I craved a city walk with an Argo tea in one hand and my husband's hand in the other.

The missing began around 5:15am when Shawn left for a meeting in Knoxville, and I never really went back to sleep. I finally got up around 5:45am and headed straight for the garden. The sun was rising and the dew covered my bare feet. I was still waking up as I surveyed the growth, looking for ripened fruits to prepare for lunch, when all of a sudden, I heard a whimper. I froze and listened intently, hoping to hear it again. Another whimper, and it sounded even closer this time.

My first thought, embarrassingly, was that a kidnapper was in the woods making the sound to lure women into his trap. Thankfully, not the case. (Why does my mind even go there?)

I looked around for the source, and within a few seconds, saw a coyote emerge from the woods about 100 yards away and stand statue-like, staring cold in my direction. The whimpering must have been her pup who stayed in the woods, but I didn't stick around long enough to find out. I eased my way backwards into the house about 100 feet away, all the while transfixed on the coyote, who was equally transfixed on me.

Some of you may be imagining this scene and how you would savor the National Geographic moment, but I'm just not one of those people. Maybe I would've enjoyed it a little more from inside my house, I'm not sure.

Either way, the experience prompted the Chicago-missing and it hasn't left all day. Don't get me wrong - we are very much enjoying our time in Franklin: going barefoot most of the time, hopping around Farmer's Markets and thrift stores, being near family. I think the hay bales, the "horse for sale" signs, and the farmers who wave to me are so charming. It often feels like we're in a movie.

But I have to admit... the city girl in me just won't leave. I think Shawn's got a bit of city in him, too.

We miss walking everywhere, the pulsing energy of the city, the diversity. It's where we're both comforted and inspired. I know we may be in the minority preferring the city over the gorgeous country, and we often hear the criticisms: "But it's so expensive. And overcrowded. And dirty and dangerous." Those are the people who have never lived there, though, I can almost guarantee it.

This is sounding like a lament, which is not what it's meant to be. We're just simply coming to an understanding that we prefer the city (and will almost certainly live in one when I finish school), but we are trying our best to be content here in this beautiful country that surrounds us for the next 2 years.

In either place, though, I cannot deny that we have been blessed beyond what we deserve.

Missing: making banana bread for Pops and hearing his wisdom.

Missing: all 6 of these amazing people.

Missing: the lake and the incredible skyline (and Erik & Shans, of course, but they're in Vancouver!)

Learning: to love our life with a different backdrop.

Thankful: God is with us wherever we go.

"Come see the watermelons!"

Monday, July 19, 2010

It's the phrase that comes out of my mouth almost every time we have visitors.

"Come see the watermelons! They've grown so much since you've been here last!"

(This may or not be the case. In fact, with my parents, it's probably not. They've come to "see the watermelons" at least about 10 times by now... and seen how slowly they grow.) 

But since I haven't bored the blogging world with their daily progress, I thought you'd make the perfect audience to show off my beloved crop. I still can't believe they're actually growing! In our back yard!

First, though, I should give a couple other vegetables some credit. 
They've been here far longer than the watermelons and have been ripening so quickly that we end up eating them almost every night.

Dear Squash,
I made the mistake of planting two bushels of you instead of just one. I had no idea I would pick at least a piece of you every. single. day. I don't think I'll be eating squash for an entire year after this.

Roma tomatoes. Too cute (and delicious, when they turn bright red).

What is that I see... could it be??
[Don't mind the weeds all around...]

Ah! This is my favorite one (the biggest so far).
Does anyone know the signs to look for when they're ripe enough to pick?
This one tempts me to pick her every single day, but then I think of the look on Shawn's face if I were to pick her too early, and I leave her alone.

And cantaloupe too! We forgot that these were in our garden until we noticed they looked like white watermelons for a while... then they got that rough skin that told us they were cantaloupes! Not my favorite fruit of all time, but I know I'll love them from our garden.

Watermelons. Two kinds. These guys are friends, I can tell.


So I guess with about 15 watermelons so far and at least 10 cantaloupes, we might just have to open a roadside fruit stand. Or share them with friends. Or just eat them all ourselves. Either way, thanks for being my little guinea pigs and googling over them too. 

Slowing down.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

This weekend brought long, uninterrupted hours with my sweet husband. I needed it. We needed it. We were long past due to turn off our cell phones, take a leisurely drive, linger over a meal, and just be together.

We headed to Nashville on the hunt for a brunch spot with at least one gluten-free option (not as easy as it may sound). We tried Pancake Pantry, a personal favorite (and they have gluten-free pancakes!), but with about 50 people standing outside in line, it quickly became less appealing.

{Downtown Nashville}
{Warm, windows-down kind of drive.}

So we landed on this place, a new find for us.
{Gluten-free muffin. Score!}

On our way home, we stopped by the year-round Farmer's Market near downtown.
Are you getting tired of farmer's market pics? I feel like they're always on my blog... but hey. The love I have for them is deep in my heart.

But even fresher than a farmer's market, if I may say so myself, were these lovely veggies I picked from our own garden today.
This little garden of ours has exploded so much more than we expected!
Two kinds of tomatoes, a cucumber, squash, okra, jalapeƱos.
All in a day!
I'm trying to be patient enough to wait until our watermelons get full-size before picking them... I am way too excited about those.

Another fun find this weekend (from DrinkHaus) was this.
I've been on the hunt for a to-go mug for so long - one that's not plastic, that's cute, and can go in the dishwasher.
Could it get any cuter than this?
It's a porcelain cup with a silicone top and sleeve and a little removable tea kettle button to tie your tea bag string around.

I've also been doing some crafting this weekend to celebrate the re-opening of BrighterDay!
These little headbands and accessories will be in the shop in no time.

Hope you've enjoyed the hodgepodge of wonderful that was our weekend and enjoyed a hodgepodge of wonderful yourself.
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