back to basics

This last weekend I made a few more products that I will review and link here.  As with before, I’ve had some mixed results.

Firstly, I want to review this hand soap.  I tried it after the utter fail of the first one.  This one was just as watery, though it is prettier.  I think I might move to foaming soap and will try this next.  I don’t love bar soap as it feels really unsanitary to me.  The slime seriously grosses me out.

I mentioned in the last post that I hadn’t yet tried the dryer sheets.  Well, the next time I did laundry I took the container out.  As soon as I opened it, I was hit with the intense vinegar smell and decided then and there that I wouldn’t be using it.  I’ll just stick to the felted balls, thank you.  This means that I can now use my Snapware for something else, so win win.

This weekend I made my own lip balm using this recipe.  I used the ratios in the original recipe but I think next time I’ll use more beeswax since this iteration is very melty.  It has a tendency of drying quickly so I find myself applying a lot more frequently than the the store bought stuff.  I do love it though and before it dries, it makes my lips very shiny.

I also tried this toothpaste.  I’m really glad I didn’t add the salt as it’s extremely salty already.  It does leave my mouth feeling really fresh (after I’ve completely washed the salty taste out).  I find that I brush more vigorously than normal, probably because it doesn’t foam up like I’m used to.  This has made my gums bleed, but I’m trying to remember to be more gentle and am also hoping my gums will just toughen up.

Shampoo and conditioner were the two I was most worried about.  The recipes are not difficult and have just a few ingredients.  However, I was not concerned about that as much as what my hair would do.  As this article says, the toxic stuff strips hair of its natural oils, which means your hair is working harder to maintain that balance and producing more oil.  When switching to a more natural product, hair tends to go through a detox period.  The shampoo recipe also has a secret ingredient (you’ll need to sign up to receive the PDF) that is supposed to help reduce the detox.  This recipe is also supposed to restore the pH levels of your hair.

So.  I’ve been using the shampoo, the secret ingredient, and the conditioner (the recipe for the conditioner is in the PDF).  The results?  My hair has still been oily.  Unfortunately I forgot to bring the shampoo into the tub when I was taking my shower one night and so I ended up using the toxic stuff.  I’m hoping that doesn’t set me back too much.  I’m also hoping it won’t take the 7 weeks (of the typically 2-7 weeks) I read that it can take for hair to detox.  We’ll see.  I’ve also found this conditioner recipe that I might want to try too.  In some of my research I read that it’s not good to use coconut oil in hair products as it solidifies at room temperature and could clog the drains.  I’m hoping that the coconut milk will not have the same problem.

I also made this toilet bowl cleaner.  Unfortunately the glass spray bottle I put it in had a defective spray head so I had to use a plastic bottle.  It seemed to work as well as the other stuff and was easy to make, so I will continue to use it.

I wanted to end with some stuff I found about using essential oils around cats.  We have two furry children of our own and love them dearly.  To think that something I’m putting in these products could harm my precious babies is horrifying to me.  I had remembered reading something about lavender and citrus and how it’s not good for cats and they don’t like them; but the possible serious health problems was news to me.  So before I started freaking out too hard, I thought I’d look into it.  Everything I read seemed to suggest that as long as high quality essential oils are used, and used correctly, then it should be okay.  The problem is that if the oil is synthetic or not high quality, then those ingredients can be harmful to our feline friends.  I still haven’t looked into which brands should be used, but I definitely plan on doing that before adding more essential oils to anything.  I’m not going to worry too much about the things I’ve already made.  I will be monitoring our cats to see if they seem to have changes in behavior or health, but so far so good.

Here’s what I’ve been reading about essential oils and cats:

http://essentialoilworld.com/essentialoilreviews/pet-health/essential-oil-safety-with-cats (the comments section is really great)

http://www.animaleo.info/cats.html

http://www.thelavendercat.com/images/PDF-TheLavenderCat_temp_use.pdf

Cats and essential oil safety

http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/05/14/dr-shelton-on-pets-essential-oils.aspx

get your head out of the box

I was reminded again today why generalizations are so dangerous.  It’s something we all do because, I think to some degree, it’s necessary to keep ourselves from going crazy.  There are too many details in this world and if we tried to keep them in mind all the time, nothing would get done.  But life is all about balance and so I think generalizing too much can have detrimental affects and can be so harmful to society.  I try to ignore them when I see them, but I can’t help but react to them, at least a little.

I saw this while scrolling on FB and just had to shake my head.  I work with the welfare population and while there are people who take advantage of the system, there are many more who are utilizing it to improve their lives and get out of a tough spot.  We’re seeing more and more people who have BAs and even MAs come in for aid.  The economy is tough, I don’t think people disagree about that.  What I find unfortunate is ignorant people speaking about issues they know nothing about like they do.  There are a lot of catchy posters and sayings out there, but I think ones that talk about welfare are generally wrong and continue to shame those who need the extra help.  And the amount they receive is laughably small (partially to keep them from relying solely on it).  I’m all for people being independent and not having to rely on taxpayers, but the reality is that not all people have equal access to opportunity.  I was blessed to be born into a family that was supportive and loving; we always had food on the table, and a roof over our heads.  I never had to go without and my parents instilled the importance of education, which got me the jobs that have supported my own family.  I was born into this positive cycle that will hopefully continue on.  Not everyone has that.  Many come from broken homes and/or got pregnant at a young age.  Some haven’t finished high school.  There are too many individual stories to generalize them all into one catchy phrase.  So please stop.

mom

Today is her birthday.  I am so blessed to call her “Mom” and, now as an adult, “friend.”  She has put up with a lot of my crap and has been extremely patient and loving.  I am so thankful for the example she’s been to me.  She has shown me what beauty and strength is and has been steadfast through everything that’s happened over the last year.  It seems to me that when the chips are down, you can see the true measure of a person, by the way they handle things and those who show up to love and support.  I have seen so many people give my mom love and support this year.  It’s been a beautiful testament to the person she is and how much she means to those she knows.  Happy birthday, Mom.

rin 10 10

It’s been 10 years since we met.  A lot has happened in that time and it’s hard to believe it’s only/already been 10 years.  I’m so thankful to have my best friend by my side, to share in this adventure called life.  Here’s to the next 10.

9.19.11

I wrote this on September 19th, 2011, not long after my uncle passed away.  I kept waiting to do more with it, but have decided that I did finish it after all.

My uncle passed away earlier this month and I got the call as we were driving down to see family.  I’m already prone to introspective thought; I often get caught up in my own head, thinking about thinking and the like.  And I had a lot of time to think about the news and what it means to me.

I’m not afraid of dying, not really.  I am afraid of not living, of getting to the end of my life and feeling like I haven’t fully lived.  I’m afraid of losing loved ones, of being left behind.  I’m also afraid that my death won’t affect anyone, or that it will affect them too much.  I know that as a Christian I’m not supposed to be afraid of death, that in the end, it’s victory.  But for those loved ones who don’t share my faith, what about them?  I don’t want to spend eternity away from them.  And that sheds light on the fact that I’m afraid of sharing.  The Gospel is offensive, Jesus’ teachings, while seemingly popular today, were not in his time.  If you think about it, they’re pretty counter-intuitive.   We’re supposed to love our enemies?  We’re supposed to turn the other cheek when someone slaps us in the face?  We’re supposed to forgive others, even if they don’t ask for or deserve it?  As someone who grew up in the church, those virtues make sense to me.  But I believe the flesh is sinful and fights against those teachings.  I think we are naturally selfish beings, thinking about what I want and “need” and focusing on those things.

I think a prime example of that is when we drive.  There’s a removal of relationship, as we sit in our boxes on wheels.  We aren’t forced to look the other person in the eye and really see them as they are.  I find that people, me included, are extremely selfish when it comes to crossing that intersection, or making that turn, or getting that parking spot.  We honk, swear, gesture, and get red in the face.  How different would those interactions be if the person you (or I) was speaking or reacting to could hear and see everything I was doing?  And I don’t think it’s a matter of being polite, I think we just don’t care when it comes to those boxes.

So yes, I think we humans have a hard time living out the teachings of Christ.  But that’s what makes everything so sweet when we are able to follow in His example.  If we’re able to look back and say, “Yeah, I did my absolute best to be a reflection of His Love and Grace,” that means something.  I know we’re supposed to live in humility, but I think it’s important to recognize when things have gone right.  I feel that too often Christians are held under a microscope when everything is done wrong.  And yes, there are a lot of screw ups, but part of that is our flawed human nature.  (There is definitely responsibility for each individual to do what is right and so blame cannot be entirely placed on “flawed human nature;” credit where credit’s due, yo.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, yes, Jesus’ teachings are not easy to follow.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try or give up if it doesn’t always happen that way.  There should be effort made.  I like to think that God honors the efforts that we make to follow His ways, understanding better than we the flaws that we carry.

amazed

spectacular

I couldn’t believe the sky this morning.  The light filled the car with a warm, golden glow; I felt like I was driving in a field of gold.  Seriously, I kept thanking God for the beauty of His world.

equals 49?

My first blog award, yay!

the rules:

1. thank the person who gave it to you.

2. share seven random facts about yourself.

3. share seven of your worthy posts under the following headers: most beautiful piece, most helpful, most popular, most controversial, most surprisingly successful, most underrated, and most pride worthy.

4. nominate seven other bloggers and notify them.

Onward, then.

1. thanks:

Steph is one of my best friends.  Thank you, Steph for nominating me for my first blog award!  I’m happy and proud to call you friend.

2. seven random facts:

Steph and I met in Japan in 2006 when I sat across from her in our school’s “cafeteria.”   Her first words to me were something along the lines of, “Do you always take pictures of your food?”  There was Engrish on my sandwich label and I found it quite amusing.  In fact, I think this is the picture I was taking.  I love how inspiring some of the Engrish is.

I do not step on these and these.   I saw a lady fall through the sidewalk while walking on one in San Francisco.  Seriously.  Jason thinks it’s funny to make me walk on them.

As a kid, I thought the highschool sweetheart stories were really romantic and always dreamed that would be mine.  And then it was.  I met Jason a few weeks after my 16th birthday.  And recently we just reached two and a half years of marriage.  Love is awesome.

And when I was even younger, I though my brother and I were adopted.  I was a little dramatic.

Micah and I are three years, three months, and three days apart in age.  Just in case you didn’t know, I’m older in all cases.

Knives is named after a character in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, though a lot of people think she’s named after a character in Trigun, which is a bit silly since she’s a girl.  But I’m sure it doesn’t help that our second cat is named Vash, who is actually the evil brother of the Knives in Trigun.  Yeah, we’re so clever.

My first journal entry was probably written when I was about 8 years old and I’ve been journaling pretty consistently ever since.

3. posts:

most beautiful piece: justice

most helpful: and just because. . .

most popular: also

most controversial: poor reflection

most surprisingly successful: game on

most underrated: e.t.

most pride worthy: recap

4. i nominate:

Bear Ears

black. female. christian. vegan.

Like the Dawn…

Life in the city.

Antique Mommy

Stories from Behind the Lens

For Zion’s Sake

on repeat

I’ve had a great week at work, finally things are picking up speed and I’m really getting things moving along for clients.  It’s pretty exciting.  Also, my parents are going to be here tomorrow!!  So before I do some deep cleaning, I thought I’d share some of the awesome music I’ve been listening to the last few weeks.  Here are a few songs I’ve had on repeat.

"God of Second Chances" by Carols Whittaker

"Joyful" by Brenton Brown

"Background" by Lecrae

 

I hope these songs put a smile on your face, as they have mine.  Honestly, I thought that last one was about a girl at first.  But as soon as I realized what it was really about, I started getting goosebumps.  And everytime I hear it, I have the same reaction.  It’s a great reminder for me, something I need to remember whenever I think I should be in control of my life. 

ache

Things are shifting.  Aside from the obvious things changing in my life, I can feel it inside and around me.  There are positive things and some things I’m not so sure about.  But regardless of what these shifts mean, there is a certain ache to leaving the familiar behind.  I’m a very sentimental person, I hang on to cards from everyone and little scraps of paper that have little drawings by the children I adore, even if it’s just a little scribble.  So this feeling of discord, of the continent moving beneath me is a little unsettling.  I can’t really put my finger directly on the feeling or the cause, it’s just my heart feels a little sore.  I know everyone has these moments, life can’t be perfect all the time.  I just hope that when the dust settles, I will find my footing and keep on trekin’.

rest

Be still and know that I am God
Psalm 46:10

I’ve written before on learning to live in stillness, letting God take me where He will.  I have such a hard time letting go of my plans and allowing Him to guide me.  Right now I’m already making plans for the not-so-distant future, expecting life to plod steadily along on the path I’ve laid out so carefully.  But what I really need to do is release my grip and follow this unknown plan that He has for me.  Perhaps it will follow the same route, perhaps not.  Regardless, I know this plan is meant to benefit me, whether I deserve it or not (it’s the latter, in case you were wondering).  I want to let go and just breath in this Life laid out before me, finding the silver lining and joy in every moment.  I want to Live.

doubt

Why is doubt considered such a bad thing?  As Christians, why is it so negative to have questions?

In recent conversations with friends I’m seeing more and more that doubt is looked down on as being unfaithful and it’s discouraging.  I think as Christians we should be questioning things.  Of course, I don’t mean we should try and tear down others’ beliefs, but I think it’s of the utmost importance to examine things for ourselves and decide if it’s something we can stand behind or not.  I know that in some cases it’s impossible to know something for sure but that’s what faith is.  "The opposite of faith is not doubt, it’s proof."  A friend of mine said this and at first it might not seem to make much sense but I have to agree with him.  Once you know something for sure, you don’t need faith.

My point is that I think too many Christians are sheep, simply following popular belief because it’s easier to do that than question the system.  And that’s the truth, it is tough to step out and question things that "just are."  But I think that’s very dangerous ground, to simply accept something Just Because.

One of the Life Groups I’m in is using Timothy Keller’s "The Reason For God"  DVDs and book for discussion.  The whole point of the series is to address questions posed by those outside the Christian faith.  But I think a lot of Christians have these same questions.  I don’t think people with questions should be looked down upon as "weak of faith" or "not really believers."  I think it’s unfair since it’s impossible to know what kinds of personal experiences one has been through.  There are reasons that "being a Christian" is difficult.  A lot is resting on faith.

I know I haven’t said anything new or revolutionary, just something that’s on my heart.  I myself need to be reminded to actively live my faith.  I’m always reminding myself that I can’t be stagnant, I need to be learning and challenging what I hear, hold it up to the light and see what I believe.  And that’s the tough thing about faith, it takes many forms and doesn’t look the same to everyone.  But that doesn’t meant it’s wrong or anything less.

blessing

Not only is it a blessing to have such a fantastic job, one where I only have to work three days a week, with benefits and good pay, we’ve also run into more blessing the last few days. 

When we moved into our current place I set up our PG&E bills to be paid electronically.  Unfortunately they aren’t paid automatically so I have to manually go through the payment process each month (so easy, just the push of three buttons really).  Since we’ve moved here last September I have never been late with a payment.  For the month of September I thought I had paid the bill on the 23rd but when I checked our bank account at the beginning of October, I noticed the money hadn’t been withdrawn.  I immediately went to the PG&E site and made sure it went through this time.  A few days ago I received an email saying that our balance was -$82.  Forgive me for being ignorant but I automatically thought it was because I had been late with our last payment.  I called customer service and he said that we’re actually being rewarded for our good payment history!  What a nice surprise!  And he told me that we don’t have to start paying a bill until the balance is down to zero.  Amazing.

And I know I already mentioned it, but I just got a letter from AES (American Education Services) officially stating that my loan is paid in full and no further action is necessary.  Yay!

And lastly, Jason filled out a FAFSA at the beginning of the year he was awarded a good chunk of money (and won’t have to pay tuition for the whole year).  And we just got another awesome check.  Wow. 

I don’t want to seem really worldly or anything, but it is such a blessing to be receiving these things.  Thanks, God.  We don’t really deserve it, though we certainly appreciate it.

technology

I don’t know what it is about technology, but it really seems to hate me sometimes.  We went to visit family a few weeks ago and when we got back, my computer wouldn’t turn on.  And after almost five days of not turning on, it finally decided to work.  And then our internet went out and when we got it back, the wireless wasn’t working.  So I’m actually writing this on Jason’s computer.  All this to say that I fully intend on writing a few posts, but I want to wait until I have my computer up and running.  I much prefer my keyboard and this screen is hurting my eyes.  Anyway, just wanted to pop in and say all that.  Now I’m gonna go call my brother and make some bread.  I lead a super exciting life.

:)

We’ve been married for over a year now.  How insane is that?  While we just celebrated one anniversary, we’re also coming up on an even more important one, the day we met.  We’ve known each other for almost 7 years now.  And I’m more in love now than I ever have been.  I’ve heard it said that the first year is either the hardest or it’s an extension of the “honeymoon” stage.  I definitely see some difficult times ahead (we don’t want to stay in this area forever but I just got this new, amazing job so I feel obliged to stick it out for a little while at least) but because we’ve been in a romantic relationship for so long, I’m not sure it’s going to be radically different than it’s always been.  We’ve grown up together, having met when we were still teenagers, a time in an individual’s life where there’s a lot of growth and maturing happening (at least we hope so).  He really is my best friend, we’ve been through a lot together, both good and bad.  Those bad times have really refined us as individuals and as a couple.  I love our love and am so excited to see what’s in store for us.

lots

It’s been quiet here this last month.  For good reason.  And so, in no particular order, I share:

I.

Instead of going on a full-blown job hunt, I utilized the help of several temp agencies.  I met with consultants at both on a Monday and by Thursday one of them called me back with two different job opportunities.  The first one was actually for the following Monday-Friday, 8-5.  And the second was the next Friday/Monday.  The first job was incredibly boring and by the end of the day I was antsy and very ready to leave.  One of the days I actually worked for about 10 minutes of the 8 hours I was there.  Fortunately all this free time allowed me to get lots of reading done.  Remember those books I said I wanted to read a few posts back?  Well, I read (or tried to read) most of them.  Here is what I read, with a few “fun” reads mixed in.

Oh man.  Some of the ideas in the more theological books were fascinating and quite heavy.  I’m still mulling over them and will hopefully share more in depth about my reflections on what I read.  There were two books that I sincerely tried to read but just couldn’t get into.  One was not pertinent to me and the other had such flowery language that I couldn’t figure out what the author was trying to say, or if he even had a point.

II.

4th of July was a blast.  Our good friend David and his roommate Jamie came up for a visit (and they brought our couch up with them!!!).  We weren’t sure if there was going to be fireworks, rumor said that there wasn’t enough money to put on a show but apparently local businesses decided to donate and we got to enjoy a pretty spectacular fireworks show.  And I say spectacular because we had one of the best views in the house.  The show was put on over the bay and we were able to find seats right on the end of the pier.  Dude.  Here’s one of my favorite shots of the night:

I took over a hundred shots from our spot and got a lot of really neat bursts/reflections.  It was one of the most amazing firework shows I’ve seen, even though it was about 15 minutes shorter than I’m used it.  Goodness do I love water and what it can do for a picture.  It was great to see David and Jamie, hang out, knit (I taught her), and geek out (the guys did plenty of that).  Can’t wait to live closer.

III.

My cousin got married.  This meant that we were able to see my dad’s side of the family, some of whom I hadn’t seen in over a year and a half.  It was a beautiful wedding, my dad officiated it (he was amazing), and the location was beautiful.  I had never been to Laguna Beach and was blown away by its otherworldliness.  Seriously.  Driving through the town was amazing (I might have been slightly euphoric at escaping the 100 degree heat in L.A.), and the backdrop to the wedding was spectacular.  It was also the first wedding Jason and I attended as a married couple.  It was nice to see it from the other side.

IV.

 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

-Genesis 1:27

I’ve been mulling over this verse a lot.  I’ve taped it to the steering wheel of our car because driving is the most frustrating experience ever.  I find that I am the most annoyed at mankind while driving.  So I need this reminder the most in those situations.  I feel like God’s been telling me, through many different people and mediums that the people He created are a part of Him.  What would it look like if I treated them as such?  What if I viewed each person as someone who is created in His image?  I think my world would be a much better place and that’s what I keep reminding myself.

V.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about how blessed I am, in so many ways and by so many people.  I feel like I’ve had a pretty easy life, I’ve never gotten really sick, broken a bone or had to have stitches.  I’ve lived for 8 months in Japan and made two lifelong friends through that experience.  I have been blessed with true love at an early age and have even gotten to pledge my lifetime to him.  My first job pretty much fell into my lap and pushed me towards a goal for school.  God led me to the university I just recently graduated from, in an area that is so full of His natural beauty and a community I fit so well in.  And lately I’ve been thinking about what an amazing community of believers I’m surrounded by, from all walks of life and a huge variety in beliefs and backgrounds.  Specifically I have a wonderful group of women that surround me, examples of what it means to be godly in this day and age.  I have examples of motherhood and passion, grace and wisdom, that are embodied in women of great faith and boundless love.  I am so blessed to have them in my life.  So I thank you, Bethany, Rachel, Anna, Valerie, Holly, Alexis, Serena, and all the women (and men) who have shown me what it means to live for the Lord, to live with conviction and humility, while still holding on to who I am, and helping me become.  You are wonderful examples and my love for you runs deep.

VI.

Lastly, in the vein of blessings, I have a job.  Right now it’s only part-time, but it has a huge potential of becoming full-time and benefited.  While I was in between the temp jobs I got a call from the hospital and was interviewed the next day. . .and hired the day after that.  This last Monday was orientation and tomorrow is my first day on the job.  I’ll be a “registration specialist” in the ER, admitting people into the hospital.  It should be pretty exciting, and while I’m nervous, I’m looking forward to this new chapter in my life.  I’m ready to jump in and go.  But before I do that, I must sleep.  Therefore, I bid you adieu.

self imposed homework?

Yeah.  I’ve just taken on the “task” of reading books that are nowhere near the fiction genre.  And I’m super excited about it!  I’ve missed reading for myself, something I haven’t seriously done in at least 6 years.  I’ve really missed that and I’m taking full advantage.  So without further ado, here’s what’s on my bookshelf:

 

FYI, I’m not reading this because I’m “battling unbelief,” I’m simply curious

Oh, I’ll also be listening to:

 

I feel smarter already

missing

Four summers in a row.  That first summer “my group” was going into the third grade.  And now they’re in the summer before seventh grade.

A friend on facebook posted a picture of the training that’s going on this week, a training I don’t think I’ll ever be a part of again.  And my heart aches more than a little.  I knew it would be difficult not to return, but I didn’t think it would hurt this much.  I just went through my pictures over the years and was overwhelmed with the depth of emotion they brought forth.  I love those kids so much and it’s sad to think I won’t see many of them ever again.  I pray for their futures, that they will be lights in our dark world, that they will find faith and make it their own.  I pray that they will love first, always.  I pray that I helped instill values in them that will carry them far in this life.  And I pray that when they see injustice, they will be inspired to be the change the world needs.

I will never forget the lessons these precious children taught me.  And I will love them always.

 2007:

2008:

2009:

knowledge is painful

(click on the picture)

I have to say it, just to keep the record straight, I am proud to be an American.  I’m happy to be free and part of the melting pot that is our society.  But.  But I’m also ashamed with how consumerism has taken over.  I think about how much money is spent on the athletic industry, the movie industry and advertising and and and.  We’re a nation obsessed with stuff, most of it crap.  Really.  And I just finished watching “Food, Inc.”  Oh man.  If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you do.  It is sad and heartbreaking, but it’s also eyeopening and I think it’s important to be aware of these very relevant issues.

Since moving up north, I’ve gotten more exposed to the idea of food justice and really being aware of what I eat.  I have a friend who is vegan and she’s exposed me to a lot of what’s wrong in our food industry.  After watching FI, I am more convicted to go vegetarian, if not full vegan.  It is disgusting to me that corporations are focusing on efficiency and making the most at the lowest cost when quality, ethics and health are falling by the wayside.  What is happening to our society when we are more focused on the bottom line than the results of our actions?  When did ignoring the basic nutritional needs of an individual get lost in “need” to make billions?  What is happening to our “third-world” citizens when they have to choose between spending hundreds on healthy living or spending hundreds on medication caused by their lack of healthy living?  There is something wrong with the system.  And these are just the kinds of issues that I’m so passionate about changing.  It seems so overwhelming, there are so many things that need to change.  And I have to remind myself that there’s only so much I can do as an individual.  But I can help educate others about these issues, get them fired up about them too and add to the number those who are fighting against a system that is failing.

Below are a few quotes from FI that I thought were really meaningful.  I hope they inspire you as they have inspired me.

“The irony is that the average consumer does not feel very powerful.  They think that they are the recipients of whatever industry has put out there for them to consume.  Trust me, it’s the exact opposite.  When we run an item passed the supermarket scanner, we’re voting for local or not, organic or not.”  – Gary Hirshberg, CEO of Stonyfield Farm

“To eat well in this country costs more than to eat badly.  It will take more money and some people simply don’t have it.  And that’s one of the reasons we need changes at the policy level, so that the carrots are a better deal than the chips.”  – Michael Pollan, Author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma

“People think, ‘These companies are so big and so powerful, how are we ever gonna change things?’  But look at the tobacco industry.  It had huge control over public policy and that control was broken.  The battle against tobacco is a perfect model of how an industry’s irresponsible behavior can be changed.”  – Eric Schlosser, Author of Fast Food Nation

“You have to understand that we farmers, we’re gonna deliver to the marketplace what the marketplace demands.  If you wanna buy $2 milk, you’re gonna get a feedlot in your backyard.  It’s that simple.  People have gotta start demanding good, wholesome food of us.  And we’ll deliver.  I promise you.  We’re very ingenious people.  We’ll deliver.”  – Troy Roush, Vice President of American Corn Growers Association

justice

How is it June already?

I’m currently visiting my parents down south, really missing my guy. Fortunately I get to see him on Saturday.  It seems like this trip has felt a little. . .off and I realized pretty quickly it’s cause my other half isn’t here.  While it’s sad to not have him around, it’s kind of nice to have the confirmation that he really does complete me, even if this feeling of loss isn’t so pleasant.

Lots of goings on in my head throughout this trip.  Some good friends from Texas were also visiting my parents and they just left today.  While they were here I was asked what my plans are for getting a job and I told them I want to get involved in “Social Justice.”  Then the question became, what exactly is meant by “justice?”  This got me thinking about how I would define it.  I realize that maybe my term isn’t exactly what is meant by the general public, but I feel that I didn’t adequately explain myself when the question was asked of me.  I need, for my own sake, to examine my personal beliefs on the matter.

To me “justice” is giving people the tools to improve their lives, it is empowering them to succeed, and it is encouraging them to try.  “Justice” in its truest form creates equality, an even playing field for everyone, and allows those less fortunate to be brought from the mire and given a second chance at life.  Now, I realize that not everyone is motivated to change; change is not an easy thing, even if one’s life is in shambles.  For some reason, we humans seem to be more content with continuing with our destructive ways then to shift our focus and energy to gain something better.  But I want to help people realize that they don’t have to simply except the cards they were dealt, it is possible that others care for them and want to extend guidance and love.  I want to be that person.  I also realize that people’s circumstances may be entirely their own creation, perhaps they made the wrong decisions that brought them to where they are now.  It is not my place to judge them for that, I am called to serve them, regardless of what brought them to there.  This word “justice” has nothing to do with politics and it has no hidden agenda to “persuade” someone into my belief system, I simply want to give someone the love and grace that I see Jesus extending to a broken, undeserving world.

That’s not all on my mind, but I’ll leave it there for now.

word vomit

Lovely imagery, right?  Bonus points to whoever can tell me what movie I’m referencing.

It’s been a crazy, busy, heartbreaking, wonderful month.  And I wanted to write about some of it here before I forget.  Starting with how stress free this semester has been.  I have never been so calm about school before, wish it had been like this the whole time.  I only have one week left of classes and a single day of finals (which has never happened to me before), making it so that I’m done with school on Monday, the 10th.  Last semester was so difficult, full of papers, projects and presentations that this has been a cake walk.  What a nice note to end on, right?  I cannot fully express how excited I am to be done with school.  At the same time (and I know almost everyone says this), it’s bittersweet.  I have really loved getting to know the people in my department and will truly miss my little family.  I’m glad that some of my friends are sticking around so I can still see them after graduation.  But there’s nothing like commiserating about homework or finding yourself getting delirious after working 15 hours straight on a group project (we got an A, by the way!:).  But what can I say, I’m looking forward to a life where I can truly enjoy my weekends, at least until I get a job that I bring home with me (heh).

At the beginning of the month my brother came up with two friends for the weekend.  It was super fun to have them.  We hiked around the woods behind my school, made personal pizzas, flew kites, went bowling, played Hearts a ton, hacky sacked, went to a talent show at school (where everyone that performed was really good), among other things.  I’m so glad they were able to come up and explore a little of the area.

I also finished a project I had been working on right before the boys came up.  Our table, which we bought for $60 off craigslist, was super ugly (Jason disagreed, though he loves it now) and I really wanted to give it a makeover.  After a little inspiration from a blog I’ve been reading, I decided to jump right into giving our little table a facelift.  I’m pretty happy with the results.  I used a combination of magazine cutouts and black and red ribbon.  I’m sure you can figure out the color theme.

Speaking of beauty that moves, I finally finished reading all of her posts which span almost 60 pages.  I am so inspired by her, the way she eats, crafts, and lives a purposeful life.  I’ve found that I’m very drawn to that kind of living and have somehow surrounded myself with like minded people.  I love how God has brought these people into my life at a time where I’m very receptive to these ideas and am so excited to live this way.  I’ve been finding ways to make food instead of buying it from the store, starting with two very simple recipes that are so delicious and better than anything store bought.

Pizza and pizza sauce!

And bread (also from beauty that moves)!

 I’ve also been inspired by Heather to buy used goods if I can.  I went thrifting the other day and from two shops got all this:

Can you believe I only spent $55 on all that!  I love how most of that stuff is kitchen accessories. :)  The breadmaker is amazing!  I’ve been thinking a lot about how blogs really say something about a person, where their heart and passions lie.  I’m definitely into this “living with purpose” groove that’s got me so excited about life!  It’s a great place to be.

Last Sunday we had gorgeous weather so Jason and I decided to take advantage by going on a walk around the marsh.  We ended up walking for about an hour and a half.  We even saw a freshwater otter run across the path about 10 feet in front of us!  It was so quick that I wasn’t able to get a picture of it until it was in the water, and then only from far away since I didn’t want to scare it off.  It was so good to get outside after all the wet, gray days we’ve been having lately.  I do love the sunshine after a nice storm.

Part of the craziness that has been my life is thinking about a job after graduation.  I went to talk with a career counselor last week and she gave me some great tips and said she would work with me through the summer to secure the kind of job I’m looking for.  I’m so nervous and excited about all that’s coming up for me and am really looking forward to what God has in store.  He’s laid some huge things on my heart, stirred up my passion, and I am so ready to jump in and change the world!

living inspired

I feel like I’m deflating.  My energy, slowly, day-by-day, is leaking out of me.  My eyes are burning and I feel sluggish and just blah.  That said, and while I’m still exhausted, I’m feeling really inspired.

Sunday night we visited with some friends from church.  They are in transition right now, between living here and moving out of state, and they are currently living with another couple from church.  This couple lives in a beautiful old house where everything is so wonderfully preserved and the space is decorated in such a tasteful way.  And I was inspired to one day own a house and decorate it to my heart’s content.  I must say that before this time I’ve never really desired owning or living in a house.  I was content with the idea of just living in apartments and not having to worry about taking care of a (most likely) bigger space.  But now I’m not so sure.  sigh

I’ve also been really itching to learn how to make everything by scratch: hummus, bread (which I can pretty much do, just haven’t actually done it yet), tortillas, marinara sauce, etc.  All these things are relatively easy but I love the idea of making everything we consume (well, as much as is possible).  I also really want to get back into being crafty: sewing, knitting and learning how to crochet.  I think living up here is making me want to be more. . .self-sufficient and. . .green?  I’ve definitely recycled more and been more environmentally aware since moving up here.

Oh, I also want to learn how to play the guitar and pick the violin back up.  And blog more consistently.

resolve

We celebrated New Year’s inside our “cave” while the rain pounded against the roof and our neighbors shot off fireworks and cheered loudly.  As the clock struck midnight (or our phones did anyway), we toasted, said a quiet “Happy New Year” and shared a passionate kiss.  It was sweet and simple.  And wonderful.

I’ve always thought New Year’s resolutions rather cliché.  I do understand the significance behind the idea; new year, fresh start, let’s resolve to better ourselves.  Cliché or not, I’m making a list this year.  I really like what Sarah Dessen said: “There are a few things I’ve decided I really want to try to leave in 2009… Like guilt. I have a lot of it, for various reasons and various things, and it’s really exhausting, like carrying around a backpack full of heavy rocks. I am ready to put it down and move on, lighter. So I think I will write down all the things I’ve felt guilty about this year, put the paper in the fire on New Years Eve, and send it up the chimney to the sky. Hopefully my guilt will not settle back down over me in ash form. Blow away, blow away!”  She also said that she’s learned to make resolutions that are realistic.  My realistic resolutions:

1. Journal more.

2. Expand my meal repertoire (not gonna quantify it just to keep it simple).

3. Breathe deep and move on.

4. Forgive, forgive, forgive.

5. Call my grandma at least once a month.

listen

I’m one of the leaders for the children’s ministry at our church.  Being able to contribute to the church community has been such a blessing, but I’ve had to miss a lot of the services to stay in with the kids.  We recently did a series called “Biographies” about the “background” characters in Jesus’ life.  It started with a message about Mary Magdalene and how maybe she wasn’t the woman everyone thinks she is these days.  Who she really is could threaten our views on female leadership in the church.  But is that really a bad thing?

The second message is about Princess Herodias.  I find this is more about the nature of names and how God is known by so many names and how an understanding of those names creates a fuller picture of who He really is.

The third is about the Centurions and how, even though they represent the Jews being oppressed, they are always spoken about in a positive light and challenge our beliefs in some way.

Just listen.

infinitesimal

Sometimes I feel incredibly small.  Life and the world is so big and who am I but one little soul in the vastness of humanity?  I see the accomplishments of others and wonder what I’m doing with my life.  But I’ve still got school for one more semester so I’ll feel like I’m doing something for a few more months.  I have plans of course, but life rarely goes where it’s expected to.

Meh, it’s a gray day.