Monday, January 27, 2014

DIY Crepe Paper Garland

If you're in a pinch for quick and easy party decor, this garland is super festive and looked really pretty at my niece's third birthday party this weekend. I used various ribbons, string, and some hot hot pink crepe paper wrapping paper (at least I think that's what it is?), but rolls of crepe paper would be much easier to work with and it would be fun to use a ton of colors. Or ombre! Oh my!

Directions: cut strips of crepe paper and punch a hole in the top of each. String them along a long strand of ribbon, twine, or string. Cut long ribbons (I used both fabric ribbon and gift wrap ribbon, which I curled) and tie them throughout the crepe paper at various lengths. I hung this over the table with the cake and snacks, but you could make this much longer and drape it all over a room or across a doorway or even along the ceiling.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Richmond, VA

I visited my friend Carrie last weekend and fell in love with her charming home of almost four years. Between the beautiful old homes and rich American history, Richmond is an incredible city. It's an easy place to keep busy even in the cold as there is so much to see! While I was there, we visited the VMFA to see the Hollywood Costume exhibit (fascinating), ate at some amazing places, toured some war memorials, walked around Belle Isle, and shopped in Carytown. Hopefully I can get back in the spring for some more exploring and warm weather.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Kenya: Expectations

My mind is swirling with thoughts and feelings and emotions and mostly jitters of excitement coming out of our first group meeting yesterday. I learned more about our trip and how we'll be serving, which was very different than my expectations (naturally). As our leader put it, we Americans tend to think in terms of tasks and objectives. "OK, once we get there we are going to do this and teach that and build this and fix that and I am going to check off my list every time we accomplish a task." But this trip is not like that. This trip focuses more on the relational aspect between us and the Kenyans in the community we are visiting.

Our leader explained that these people never dreamed that they would meet Americans, let alone befriend them and get to spend time with them - whether it's Kenyans taking us into their home to show us how they live, us holding and loving on their children, or just sitting with them and talking and laughing and doing life, if only for a week. And I guess that idea goes both ways. Even just a few months ago, I would have never guessed I would be trekking across the world to go spend time with our brothers and sisters in Kenya, that I would have the opportunity to humble myself and see how others live without so many daily comforts I take for granted: a steady supply of running water I can count on, food (in excess) to eat and leftovers that don't always make it home, new clothes whenever the shopping mood strikes me, a prosperous job, health insurance...the list goes on!

We were challenged us to leave our expectations behind as we embark together on this journey. Coming out of the meeting, I can't seem to shake the idea of how different my life would be if I could learn to quit creating expectations each morning when I step out of my apartment. Expectations of myself, of others, what will happen at work, how my day will go. Because isn't it true that each of us wakes up each morning with a fresh set of ideas of how we want things to go and how we worry things will play out? I certainly know that I do. I spend a lot of time living in anxiety over how others will react to something I say or do and more often than not, I am totally wrong in my thinking. And then there are the expectations I put on myself, beating myself up when I don't meet them. All of this is exhausting, not to mention the absolute best way to become disappointed in yourself or others or, worst, in God.

So that's my prayer today and over the next few months, that I could cast away all my expectations of myself, others, and what to expect on this trip. There is only one expectation that's safe to hold onto, and that's the expectation that God has some awesome plan totally unbeknownst to me that is going to change my life and way of thinking. Only He knows how this trip is going to work in my life and it's time for me to sit back and let Him do His job.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Crafts For My Cause

Did I mention I'm going on a nine-day mission trip to Kenya this April? Ah, yes - I did here. And about four times on Facebook and maybe a hundred times in passing to any and everyone. Unbeknownst to even some of my closest friends, a mission trip for me has been a long time coming. It started back in high school when a missionary from Ukraine spoke to my high school youth group. Amidst her stories of the children she served so lovingly and faithfully and selflessly, a fire was lit in me that was insatiable until I could finally find the time and resources to sign up for a trip myself. This took years. Not to date myself (ahem), but it's been, oh, you know...ten years at least. But I'm doing it! I am finally taking the long awaited first step towards fulfilling a lifelong dream.

And I am not doing it alone! I am beyond fortunate to have a far-reaching support network of loved ones standing behind me both prayerfully and financially. I am so appreciative for all of you who have so generously given!

To aid in my fundraising progress, I am (slowly but surely) re-opening my trusty old Etsy shop! So far, I have listed just a handful of hand watercolored greeting cards and a few pin-on flowers, but my hope is that I will have lots more gift wrapping goodies and perhaps some classic Flowers are Lovely headbands and bows and barrettes. They aren't priced out of this world, so it will be a small contribution to my cause at best, but it's something!

I'm also taking custom orders if you feel so inclined. Happy shopping!

Monday, January 6, 2014

A New Year

I know I'm a few days late on this, but I needed to really think about what a new year means to me. It's really easy to think and dream and talk about all the new things I'm going to try in a new year, but when I actually sit down and write it out, it sure is a lot to process.

Last year wasn't my best year. That's not to say it was my worst - in fact, I can't really say I've had too hard of a year ever, really. I mean, I live a much more comfortable and easy life than so many others around the world, so who am I to complain? But it was just another year and it came and it went and now I'm left scratching my head wondering where all the time went and what I have to show for it.

I'm feeling very open and honest and vulnerable in 2014 thus far, so here goes - here are my big ideas for the new year. There are three areas I've picked to work on this new year: my spirituality, my creativity, and my overall health and well-being.

Spiritually, 2013 was an ok year for me. I grew a lot, but sort of hit a wall towards the end of the year. I had applied for a mission trip to a Macedonian orphanage early on in the year, but was rejected because the trip was full. That was tough because, I mean, who gets denied for a mission trip?! I accepted it as God's will (begrudgingly and with a bit of damaged pride, if I am being honest) and moved on, giving little more thought to it until I happened upon an extended deadline for a few trips at the end of the year. I guess God wanted me to go to Kenya, because this is when I (somewhat randomly chose and) applied for and was accepted to the Kenya trip I'll be serving on in April! I couldn't be more excited. I am looking forward to serving the people of Kenya and experiencing some personal growth along the way. You can read more about my trip here.

I didn't really challenge myself creatively in 2013. Sure, I did a few projects here and there, but nothing totally new or exciting. This year, I want to feel inspired. So inspired! Like, get an idea in the middle of the night and write it down immediately or better yet just get up and do it. That kind of inspired! And I want to share it with the tens of people who read this blog when I actually update it and let this URL serve as documentation for the things I do and make and love so well in 2014.

And lastly, my health and well-being. I essentially stopped working out in 2013. Remember when I was a runner? Yeah, me either. Remember when I cooked at home all the time? Yeah... I've decided to focus on the kinds of healthy living that I actually enjoy, which do not include running, that's for sure. I'm not setting any specific goals here or mandating myself to cook at home at least five nights a week or anything like that, but I do want to make small changes that will have a positive effect on me over the course of the year.

I bought a set of powersheets from Lara Casey to try and visualize what I want to do this year and really make it happen. It's hard stuff writing down your dreams and ideas and fears and goals. There are a lot of "what if's" that run through your mind and a part of you whispers that it's not worth it or that you can't do it, but I'm learning to push those words away and focus more on positive thinking because, as can be seen in so many cases with so many people, I can do it - and so can each and every one of you! It's so very true.

So, 2014, I'm glad you're here. Here's to change and growth and inspiration for the next 12 months and beyond.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Place to Put Things

As you might imagine, I've collected a lot of miscellaneous craft supplies over the years. It's hard to part with leftovers from a project when there is always a faint chance I'll use them again in the future, so bits and pieces and odds and ends pile up and up until eventually there are no more shelves or nooks or corners to tuck them away. Everything had been building up on a rickety shelving unit I inherited from my parents' house, but it just wasn't doing the trick anymore.

Fortunately, my sister's mother-in-law parted with this old hutch and my sister offered it up for my using. I sanded the dark-stained wood with 320 grit sandpaper, wiped it down real good, and put on two (some places three) coats of pretty Summer Camp paint with an Aqualine inside. I salvaged all the original hardware and spray-painted them with a glossy black lacquer to revitalize them a bit. I'm thinking I might treat the glass sometime down the road to give them a smoky mirror type look, but for now I think she looks mighty fine as a home for all the things I love to hoard.