Thursday, April 29, 2010

amish laundry

(photo credit: Edwin Schupbach)

We added another member to our family. Our furniture family, that is.  One of our really good friends built me a workspace and chair for my sewing nook.  It's so fabulous and yes, I promise pictures to come.  I am still deciding about which color to paint it and how to arrange it in my area.  It's so exciting to have this little space to myself.  I'm also organizing this space in the downstairs living area so that I can sew whilst I cook or do laundry.  My area is definitely the downstairs domain.  I spend 99% of my home life downstairs and about 75% of my day here.
I'm still on the quest for living more simply.  I am hoping this sewing nook will encourage me to spend more time sewing and in turn, be able to produce and fix things more cost effectively.  I also hope it will encourage the creative side of me that is somewhat dormant.
I see living simply as a way to downsize and keep what is most important in our lives.  I want to be more flexible with my living and be able to pack up and move out whenever need be.  I want to keep a house where my husband can relax and children can grow (Lord willing).  To do away with the things that are just time-consuming and cluttering my home (and brain) and keep the things that are more peaceful and pure.  The goal of me simplify my home and life is so that I can focus on the things that are more important.  Like my husband, my ministry and my friends.
Wouldn't you agree that there is just something about working with your hands to create and sustain that is enriching for our souls?  I come alive when I can take my frustration out on a lump of dough or smell the sweet scent of baking wafting through my home.  It's fun to dream about homemade gifts and research how to make this or that and daydream about wrapping them and gifting them.

Today though, it's all about farmer's markets.  I hear so many people and friends talk about farmers markets and how excited they are that they'll start up again soon.  And it hit me. I need to take advantage of my living arrangements.  I have gone to and thoroughly loved farmers markets... and in California there is no "off season" for them.  So I've been researching my area and scouting local farmers markets.

What are your thoughts about living simply and farmers markets?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Review of sorts...

I recently read this fascinating book by Ron Hall and Denver Moore.  It was recommended to me first by Angie Smith over on her blog Bring the Rain
but I of course, did not pay attention because I'm stubborn and really need to watch my spendings on books.  I could go over budget on my sweet book collection! I love you book collection.

Anywho! I digress! (Don't I always?)  So I heard about this book, then found out my best friend Kelli had bought it (she's so smart about listening to Angie) and then gave it to me this past weekend to borrow.

This book in one word, stimulating!  It stimulates your brain, your laughter, your tear ducts, your heart and your feet towards others.

Let me explain: It stimulates your brain by simply addressing the topic of homelessness and materialism by telling this tale.  It opened my eyes to the reality of life for some people even here in the United States.  To put it simply, one of the main characters and narrator Denver Moore tells his story of growing up in Louisana and the kind of slavery that he endured although it was the mid 19th century.  I was shocked by pictures of what "normal" was considered in his childhood.

Your laughter is stimulated because you simply cannot read about these two men, completely different lives, and laugh at their interactions together.  My favorite line was when Denver describes to Ron how the bus "slid like a hog on ice" during a snowstorm.  It simply reminds me of how people who are different than us can actually bring joy and light into our lives.  Why are we sometimes so scared of people who think, act, were raised, or look different than us?  We all need our lives shaken up a bit!

Your tear ducts will be glistening if not overflowing by the end of this book.  It's a beautiful story about these two men but also about the woman who brought them together.  Debbie comes into this story as a rich socialite who chooses to engage with homeless people, refers to them as "God's people" and won't allow the "hard to reach ones" to remain hard to reach.  She loves with no limits, no expectations and no boundaries.  I have so much to learn from this woman.

Your heart should already by moved by what I've said. :)

Your feet will be stimulated to move towards people who are homeless, childless, family-less; people who are different, who smell different, look different and just are different.

I loved this book.  It also took me about two plane rides to finish it.  Do yourself a favor and buy this lovely read!

*p.s. if you purchase this book, go through my link cause it'll help out this site!! Just an experiment I'm trying!!*

Monday, April 12, 2010

a little project

Based totally off a picture my aunt sent me, I decided to craft these little vases for Joni's bridal shower. They were surprisingly easy but I have lots of things I would try differently.
But they still turned out great. A fun and personal gift for anyone who loves pictures and/or vases.
Start with mod podge (hodge podge or deco page...all the same thing), the same number of pictures and vases, scissors, a pen and if you have it a ratty paintbrush or sponge.

I love these vases. Just so cute and petite. Much like the lucky bride, Joni.
I bought these vases at Michaels where I also picked up the mod podge (hodge podge or deco page... that's just fun to keep saying!)
I laid the vase on the picture to get an idea about the size and layout of the picture.

Then I traced around the vase on top of the picture in pen. *gasp* yes I did but don't worry it all works out my pretties!

There's the line you were gasping at. I made it wide and big so that I could cut inside the line... no one will even know you did this.
Then you cut the little suckers. Cut, like I said, inside the pen line.

Then using your ratty paintbrush or your ratty fingers... ha! apply the deco page (hodge podge or mod podge) to either the vase and the picture. I did a combination to make sure it worked.
Here's a couple steps I did not get pictures of....
*after I placed the picture on the vase, I strapped about 3-5 rubber bands around the picture and vase to keep it in place while it dried. I left these in place until the party began the next day. You could let them dry 5 hours or so just to be sure.
*while they are drying I placed a ribbon around the neck to add a touch of color...

Then I set up the party table and placed gerber daisies in the vases.

I just love these vases!!

I love flowers!

I am going to try my hand at these another time soon. Maybe an anniversary gift or a friend's birthday? It could also be a great bride's maids gift. so personal and cute and EASY!!

I wonder what the effect would be if the pictures were black and white? hmmmm

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


makes the world go round, don't you think? I do, at least. I think a little ridiculousness is good for the soul.
And so, let's have some, shall we? This is the blog entitled...

tries to kung fu her husband. This story may also be referenced as "Black Eyed Jo"...

Tiffanie, Ernest (two friends of ours), Mikey and I recently did some yardwork for our friend Sue. It was an amazing day and I have too many good memories of this day to recount at this time. The one good memory I had was of Sue's huge trampoline. I fell madly in love with it and begged Sue's permission to climb aboard my old friend.
See... I grew up on a trampoline. No, not literally. My father isn't a circus tightrope walker and my mother isn't the trapeze artist! I just mean that in my growing up years I spent MANY a good day on a trampoline.

In elementary school it was all about the trampoline, Schwann's chicken patties, freezie pops, ice cream sandwiches and a short lunch break for Days of Our Lives...
yes! You read that right! Guilty younger Joanna pleasure. I knew I had to call it quits when my childhood best friend thought she saw Marlena's demon posessed eyes in the kitchen window (secret: it was the toaster lights!). But oh, man! It was bliss! No school, Schwann's, Michelle and the sweet springs of the trampoline!

To top it off, I didn't have just one best friend who had one; both Michelle and Sarah had one. In junior high and high school there was still the appeal of the trampoline and I continued to spend many summer days with my friends repeating our summer schedules. But then we realized the trampoline was black and black attracts sun and sun makes me tan.
So like any other pre-tween and teenaged girl, I begged my mother for a bikini, promised her it was only for tanning and laid out daily on the black trampoline.
And when we realized SPF 55 was for grade schoolers, Sarah G and I graduated to tanning oil. And it was great!
So between my two closest girlfriends growing up I had many a good trampoline memories.

So I was expertly bouncing out my moves and familarizing my 27 year old body with what my 14 year old body had no problem doing! And let me be honest, my abs hurt like crazy after such a day. But it was the best! I can't even tell you how much I love trampolines. I wish I had room to put one because I promised I'd be begging Mikey for one in a heartbeat.

Anyway, I persuaded Mikey to join me after promises of being able to kick his butt kung fu style.

And although it doesn't look like it in this picture, I did a pretty good job.

Ohhh here's the roundhouse kick....

and now the prepatory jumps...

moving in for the kill... er, kick

sneak attack! I manuever to the other side!! Hiiiiya!

Whoa look at the height on that kick there!

prepping for another roundhouse...

and this my friends was the "tiger attack"... I save it for the very end when I have swiveled and circled my opponent mercilessly. I bring down their defensives, telling them I love them and I won't really hurt them... and then "hiiiya!!!" I leap at them like a tiger!

The only problem was I didn't want to actually hurt my husband so I jumped from a distance towards him and ended up coming face first into his knees.

I'm super ridiculous! This days amount should fill my ridiculous meter for some time now. I might have to hold back, nurse my sore eye socket/nose, and let someone else be ridiculous for awhile!!
Ah, trampolines, I love you!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

write, erase, write, erase, write...

I have had a hard time writing something on this blog. I have had plenty to tell you but no idea if you want to hear it or not. That's kind of the problem with blogs. You start one so that you can write with no inhibitions but then you get self-conscious about what you are writing and whether people will want to hear that or not.

I think that you think I'm a superstar... but I'm not. I'm not even close, ok? Can we move on to where I share? thanks. :)

*You have kept count of my wanderings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in Your book?* Psalm 56:8

I read that verse today and it really really ministered to my heart. See, I'm kind of sad to think about the possibility of another move. Leaving Japan after 2 1/2 years was SO hard. So so hard. I can't explain it. I think about those days and wander over and over if I made the right decision. It was so difficult for me to have invested my heart and then packed up my bags and leave. The end of that chapter. I don't deal well with endings... and I think in those moments of leaving and trying to figure out what the heck was up with California and why I didn't feel like I belonged... I think in those moments I may have made a pact with myself not to deal well with beginnings either.


So I kind of put myself in a poor position. I don't like new beginnings but I don't like endings. Ha! So I've limited myself to staying, even though I don't think God is staying where we're at, a part of me just wants to... for the sake of staying.

And so I read this verse... "You have kept count of my wanderings..." and it reminded me of how confused David was when he wrote those words and how things weren't turning out like he had thought. And that makes me think of how I don't even know what to expect and although life has had unexpected joys, it has also had some heartbreaks and confusion. So it ministered to my heart that God knows. God knows! He knows how badly I want things and how hard I pray. He knows how I am scared. He knows how little I understand but in all those things He knows, He has kept count, He has kept watch and He cares. He has stored up my tears and kept track of them.

The end of 56 says, "For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life."

And that is why I can walk forward... because I know that God sees, God cares, and God causes my path to be lit by the Light of life.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

March 2010

I can't believe I am recapping on March.

I'm not ready for this year to be fleeing me so quickly. I need slow and gradual changes people! Help me! Alas, Father Time never seems to listen to me.

March was a long month for me. In some ways it's nice to be over with it but in other ways I feel like I never got to sit down with March and enjoy her... him?

We entertained three separate but all equally amazing guests. Masashi our dear friend from Japan came and we enjoyed trips to various cities, Californian cuisine and catching up with him before he starts his job in Japan. Masashi was followed by my cousin Josiah. It was so great to have Josiah here and we got to relax and hang out together. Josiah will always be my "baby cousin" even though he surpasses me in height and weight. I still think of him as the toddler I used to give (unsucessfully) horseyback rides to. I love you Josiah. After Josiah, Miss Saaya another friend from Japan came to visit. It's so much fun to see how "natural" it is to see our old friends. Saaya and I went shopping, had a bonfire on the beach, baked cookies, and caught up about life and where we are compared to where we were when we were roommates. It was fun to get time with her.

After our guests left, Mikey and I celebrated our 6th month anniversary (belated) by taking a bike ride down to the beach. We biked along the beach and down to the aquarium, the Queen Mary and Shoreline Village. It was such a fun way to celebrate our marriage. We're trying to be a more active couple. This was followed by a 6 day camping trip with our students in Big Sur for Spring Break. Whew, I feel tired just telling you about all our adventures.

Unfortunately, two of my favorite outlets suffered this month... but I guess you can sacrifice a little for busyness. I didn't finish any books although I am still trying to work my way through a book I've been reading since January. I also started another book on spring break and hope to have both of these finished by then end of April. Goals!

I am still working on my crocheting. This has been a serious setback. I need to finish these projects before I can pick up any other projects and/or start something new. I've been seriously contemplating picking up sewing but just can't take the plunge because I do not have a machine nor do I have room for my machine. The more I think about sewing though the more I am positive that I want to take serious steps towards a simpler life.

I didn't try any new successful recipes. To be honest, I don't remember cooking much this month. Sad, I know, but true. I made a "summer dinner" for some friends which included delicious turkey burgers, Grandma Schupbach's potato salad and Grandma Icenogle's strawberry pie. I made the pie 2 or 3 times because strawberries were a super cheap deal at our local grocery store. I also made bread bowl soup but I think the recipe needs "tweeking"... I'm not sure I liked it very much. But oh well, you win some, you lose some. I got a super yummy recipe for semi-healthy oatmeal raisin cookies (made those and they were good), I also received some much needed health advise (more on that to come) and baking bread using flaxseed (more on that as well).

Basically, March was a good entertaining month but I am not sure I accomplished much individually. Like I said, I am willing to sacrifice for the sake of others. :)

This brings me to my thoughts for April, I guess you could call some of them goals...
Mikey and I have a major decision to make in the next four days or so. Our decision is for the future years and where we see God leading us. We've been invited back to Japan for a long term assignment or to stay with our team and lead here at Long Beach. We see good and bad for both. I, to be honest, have been on a rollercoaster of emotions since we've been praying about it and although Mikey hadn't sat down til recent to wade through the options~ it has been on the backburner of my mind since early winter this year. I have been praying and wading through all the emotions both of these options entail. Please pray for us. We'll be, Lord willing, making a decision Monday.

Also, recently I realized that I make jokes at other's expenses. This become clear to me as I was reading through my 2nd book and the author talked about how Ephesians 4:29 is about encouraging other people. He said that if our words aren't edifiying and encouraging others around us, there is no need to speak them. I had always read Ephesians 4:29 as not swearing or telling bad jokes, etc. I was deeply convicted and challenged by this new thought. Mikey and I are going to try something for the month of April where I will be more conscious of my words.

Finally and this is kind of a touchy subject for me but I would like some insight/accountability, I am not happy with my health lifestyle. I was reading my friend Abbie's blog today and was so convicted by the amount of exercise she gets just by being active. Do I need to forgo the car and bike more? Do I need to see the whole day as an opportunity to exercise and not just set aside 30 minutes? How can I curb my cravings? I fight discouragement on this because I've gained some weight since getting married, which is not the problem, I would just prefer not to continue gaining weight every year of marriage.

Anyway, I would love some prayer and advice if you have any. As far as lighter goals go, I'm going to try and finish my crocheting projects, buy tickets to see my family in May/June, pick up a sewing project that would be possible to take to Japan (for our summer trip, did I tell you about that?) and finish my two books. Also, obtain a new chinese/asian recipe that would satisfy my husband.

Whew, I have a lot in April. But I have a feeling God is going to do so much this month, I'm excited to get started with April....

off to do some laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning! Mwah! Love you all!