Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thinking of You

New Painting...
copyright 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

A tropical Christmas?

I'm a real -as in not fake- Christmas tree snob. I completely understand the benefits and efficiency of fake trees. But there is just something about real trees that I don't want to give up. Going out to pick out the perfect shape, the scent of pine filling your house, and the look and feel of the tree. There is something I do want to give up...the price. I just can't justify spending $25-30 on a tree every year when we don't even have Christmas at my house (we always go to our parents). So I normally put up a tree every other year. This year I considered cutting down a tree from behind my mom's house, but the scrawny cedars and bonsai-shaped ponderosa pines just wouldn't cut it. The reason I was so anxious to put up a tree on my off year is that I got some gorgeous ornaments last year that just need to be displayed. :-) As I was getting out a few Christmas decorations this year, I kept glancing at the big palm plant I have in the corner. It was about the same size as a Christmas tree...It is real...It sits in the corner where I normally put the tree...So I decided to put some of my pretty bulbs on it and see what happened.
Kind of crazy, but kind of cool.
The most beautiful Christmas bulb ever...
 Here are a few of my other decorations.
Yay! Christmas is coming!

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

-Lewis Carroll from Through The Looking Glass

..."The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." Luke 18:27 Today is one of those days where I need to believe in the impossible. 



Friday, November 5, 2010

Clothing shop I love

Here's a little promotion for shopruche.com Just found them about a month ago, through a facebook ad of all places and I love them. For once one of the ads related to me! Affordable yet awesome vintage inspired clothing. It's been so long since I've seen clothing I really liked that wasn't $200. (So I've just been buying cheap lame clothing). I haven't bought anything from Ruche yet, but I've certainly added a bunch of items to my Amazon wishlist for Christmas. Only disadvantage is not getting to try the clothes on first, but living in the middle of nowhere I've kind of resigned myself to this anyway. So check them out if you think you'll like them.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Confused

I'm confused. You'd think at this point in my life I would have figured this out, but I haven't. What is the right way to respond to people that are doing something wrong? Yep, it's as simple as that. Do not judge, tell the truth in love, hate the sin not the sinner, take the log out of your own eye first. How do these all apply to one situation and how do you practically live it out? Does it matter what the particular situation is? The fact that I even think they are doing wrong is judging. On the other hand, I tend to just not say or do anything. If it really is wrong, is that really loving the person? If they don't think its wrong, saying something to them will probably just hurt them. If they already know its wrong, why do they need to be told? Maybe this only works if they don't know its wrong, but realize it when you tell them (how often does that actually happen?) How do you love someone and not "support" what they are doing? What about if it's someone you don't know very well? I think reactions tend to be extreme; either people are completely condemning and disassociate with that person or they completely ignore the issue in the name of tolerance. I think I need to be somewhere in the middle, but I'm not exactly sure what that looks like. I also tend to think that ignoring it with strangers or people you barely know is ok, but what if what they are doing is affecting a large number of people and why does that make it different? Btw, this is not about a particular situation just a number of situations over the last few years that I've felt at a loss as to how to respond or if I even should respond. What do you think?

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Love Pumpkins!

I had my 31st birthday recently and it was wonderful. Particularly special was the pumpkin. We usually go out of town for my birthday, but have been tight on money lately and decided to stay home and do fun things around here. We took a scenic highway drive near here that I have never been on and stopped to have a picnic (we also stopped numerous times for me to take pictures:-).


Then we carved a pumpkin when we got home, and later went to my mom's house for a family dinner. It was a wonderful day, so glad that Columbus/Native American Day fell on my birthday this year so that my husband had it off. So what was special about the pumpkin? The weekend before my birthday I told him some things I would like to do and one of them was to carve a pumpkin, just a fun October thing to do that we don't usually do. But that weekend we were really short on cash so I had decided not to even buy a pumpkin. When we went to church that night, one of the church members was giving away free pumpkins. I really felt like the pumpkin was a special birthday gift from God. And He also provided for us financially so that we are back on track. Thank you God!

And I actually do really like pumpkins, I may or may not have had a nickname in college related to my love of pumpkins...

Monday, October 4, 2010

"Peking Ravioli"

I love Chinese dumplings! I've helped make them in China for Chinese New Year and Chinese Valentine's Day(yes, there really is such a thing), but had never made them on my own until last month. It was a disaster. I put too much seasoning in them and cooked them too long. And they are not easy to make, so it was a big waste of time and food. This is without making the dough, I cheated and bought pre-made wonton wraps, not sure how many hours total they would take if I made the dough too. Now I know why we all helped out at Chinese New Year. Anyway, I decided to try again today. Mainly because I had wraps left that needed to be used up. Today went much better, not perfect, but better. I decided to make them as potstickers this time, fried on the bottom and steamed on top (last time I just boiled them).
So first I minced cabbage and carrots. It would have been awesome to have Chinese cabbage, but you just can't get that out here (Can you even get it in the States? I assume you can at an Asian market). Then I minced mushrooms (also not the Chinese kind) mainly because I needed to use them up. And finally, I minced the pork. Yes I minced the pork instead of buying ground pork, they usually do it by hand in China and I didn't have ground pork at home. Here is all three combined.
I added a few spices and seasonings and began to "fill" the wonton wrappers, fold, and pinch them along the top.
Then I cooked them. The first batch was in my wok which sticks pretty bad, you can imagine that potstickers in a pot that sticks is not a very good combo.
Pretty messy, the bottoms all stuck to the wok. They didn't taste too bad though, not as awesome as I was hoping, but not too bad. For the next batch, I used a nonstick skillet which worked much better.
Then I made dipping sauce with chopped up garlic cloves, soy sauce, a little sesame oil, black Chinese vinegar(which is awesome!), and a few crushed red pepper flakes. It was delicious, if I do say so myself!
Overall, not too bad and definitely better than last time. Don't think I'm going to be making dumplings all the time though, too much work! Maybe I'll just order them from the Chinese restaurant next time. :-)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Desolate Beauty

Fall in south central South Dakota is not the overwhelming assault of beautiful bright colors against your senses that you might find in other places. It’s a more subtle and barren beauty. The bold colors of fall are almost more surprising against the neutral and monochromatic background of the landscape surrounding them. The deep crimsons and bright golds lie hidden in pockets against the soft tans and greys.
The monochromatic scenery has a beauty and peace about it all on its own.
But when driving in a countryside filled with greys, tans, and creams, it’s awesome to drive around the bend to find brilliant fall colors mixed in.
My husband is always saying we live in a desolate wasteland in the middle of nowhere, but there is so much beauty in desolation!




Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A few of my favorite things...

As it gets closer to my birthday, I start to indulge more and more in my favorite things. A picnic out in the beautiful Fall scenery, a strong cup of jasmine tea, buying new art supplies, and taking photos of stuff I love become priorities. And my husband gets more and more stressed as I put more expectations on him and ask him to do crazy things. Last year I was determined to have a picnic despite the fact that it was snowing---a little cold, but I got some great photos of Fall foliage covered in snow!
So I spent some time today taking photos of some of my favorite vintage finds over the years. Did I mention I like green?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Happy As A Lark Painting












Friday, September 24, 2010

New Window Displays


Monday, September 20, 2010

Happy As A Lark...

Working on a new painting for a greeting card, called Happy As A Lark. I'll post a photo when I'm done. So I decided to do a little research on the saying.
Presumably, the saying came about because of the lark's beautiful song. Yes, you can say its just a bird staking out its territory and performing a mating call, but according to the Science 2.0 website, singing courtship songs actually releases dopamine in birds' brains. So they literally are happy when singing mating calls. You can check out the article here. And they must sound pretty happy because there is no shortage of lark quotes and poems, find a collection of skylark poems here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What I want for Christmas

Found a new stationery company that I absolutely love. Completely me: victorian and art noveau mixed with an asian influence. And lots of pink and turquoise, beautiful color combos. If you want to get me something for Christmas, get it from Papaya!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lots and lots of photos

Just uploaded an insane amount of photos of our China trip. Hopefully someone enjoys this! Click on the China Photos link to the right to view.

Friday, September 10, 2010

New Inspiration

Kind of like I thought, I haven't been able to consistently stick with blogging. I'm just not that type of person...I flit from one project to the next, only really finishing a few of them. Its pretty unfortunate because I really do intend to be consistent with things and would prefer to have a larger number of completed projects. Sometimes my flightiness causes me to be too lazy to even begin projects. I convince myself I'll never finish them so I shouldn't even start them. Here goes my attempt at trying to be more consistent.
Lately I've become obsessed with Emily Henderson (check out her blog by clicking on her name). I'm really not the type to become obsessed with people and it is frightening me a little. I happened to catch one episode of DesignStar where she designed a room in a glass house and have been hooked ever since. I absolutely love her style and I want to be like her :). Although a little creepy, maybe this is a good thing...something new and fresh to inspire me.
Her new show, Secrets from a Stylist, is airing on HGTV this Fall.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

China

So we are back in China for a month. Finally got to the place we are going to stay for a while after going through a long and horrible train ride, because the sleeper tickets were sold out. It feels good to be back. I'm anxious to go out of the apartment and see what adventures are awaiting us!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Window Display

Here is a picture of the window display I did for the church, the other window is not quite complete. When I first put this up, I had red helium balloons under the J O Y, which looked nice...Too bad the balloons go down in a couple of days.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Into the Unknown


Making huge life changes is scary--- even when you are not forced into it. How do we get the courage to actually take the leap? Status quo is so much easier, even if it’s stressful. And why is it easier? Simply because of the unknown.
To take a leap completely blind, no plans, no idea of what is in front of you is terrifying. So we try to plan it all out. If we have a plan, it gives us some assurance that we might know what is going on. It gives us a direction to push for. Things don’t get accomplished without a plan. It’s like the quote by Basil Walsh,“If you don’t know where you are going, how can you expect to get there?”  
Planning it all out relieves some of our fears, at least we have a direction we are headed. However, there are still many unknown factors. As we all know, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Although we have control over our reactions, we really don’t have control over a lot of what happens to us. So it’s still crazy scary even with a plan, and sometimes we need to make the change whether we have a plan or not.
Either way, this is where I get to the end of myself. If I sit here and worry about it all the time,  freak out when it doesn’t seem to be going right, imagine the worst will happen, then my mind is in constant turmoil and fear and that stress definitely outweighs the stress of whatever is going on that needs to change. This is where I decide, plan or no plan, I’ve got to give my future and what is going to happen over to God. He is the only one that knows what is going to happen and can help me through whatever does end up coming my way. I’ve got to trust Him to lead me and not try to lead myself. So hard to do, especially for a control freak like me. But the peace that comes, that passes all understanding, is amazing.
For a few seconds, until I grab back my worries. God, help me to just completely let it go…

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Running Into A Glass Wall

So I've been asked/volunteered to come up with a window display for our church. We have two large storefront windows on Main Street and have nothing in them. I love doing anything creative and artsy, so I jumped at the chance. I was definitely over-confident and zealous at first. It seemed like an easy, but fun task. The more I think about it and plan for it, the harder it becomes. First of all, its not like churches really have a product they are selling. Yes, we are definitely promoting living a life for God, but that is a pretty abstract concept that can be expressed in about a million ways. The sermon series title, "Genuine Joy," is also fairly abstract. Secondly, I'm not starting with a store full of stuff to choose from. I have to find everything I'm going to use for the windows, starting from scratch. When I started thinking about "Genuine Joy," very artsy, but girly ideas popped into my head. It would be pretty, but not express the feel of our church and what the series is all about. So then I started thinking more modern and cleancut and am still working on developing those ideas. Another problem I'm having, is that I'm so used to working in 2D that almost everything that comes into my head would be great for 2D, but very difficult in 3D. So I'm working at letting go of my 2D inhibitions, and broadening my artistic expression to 3D. AND working on coming up with something that wouldn't take a very long time to put together. Some of my ideas have definitely been very labor intensive. You'd think a blank slate would be great, but right now it looks a little too blank. I'll post about what I decide to do, if I ever get past my artist's block, and hopefully eventually have a picture of the end product.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Petal-Covered Path

Dreams are like cherry blossoms,
maturing and falling to the ground.

I'm walking on a petal-covered path of spent dreams.

Some of the blooms came to fruition,
Others simply faded away over time.

I'm walking on a petal-covered path of spent dreams.

The idea was full of blooming hope,
Now just a memory of what was or could be.

I'm walking on a petal-covered path of spent dreams.

Though the petals are faded and spent,
They make my life beautiful.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I'm Positive

Getting examined for your work visa in China is an interesting process. One thing we found interesting and a little a scary, was that they didn't list positive or negative on our blood types. When we asked Chinese friends about this, they had no idea what we were talking about. It's been about 4 years since we got back from China and I finally decided to investigate a little further. Thanks to Wikipedia, I found this information: Over 99% of Asians are Rh positive.  So I figure, because almost everyone is, they just don't test for it.  The scary thing is (as one of my mathematician friends pointed out), this could leave up to about 30 million people that are negative, not to mention expats living there. We are planning to go back to China this summer, so right now I'm pretty glad that I'm positive.
Another interesting thing about blood types in China is that most Chinese people believe that your blood type is related to your personality.  Fortunately for me, O is considered to be a nice and generous personality.  Actually, fortunately for the world, because O is the most common blood type in almost all races.

Sense and Sensibility

So I realized that one of my favorite Jane Austen books, entirely relates to the previous post.  If only we could all be like Elinor...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Drunk On Love

People will do insane things under the influence...the influence of infatuation. Many marriages, relationships, jobs, grades, etc. have been destroyed by infatuation. I say infatuation because I really believe that love is something entirely different from what most people, or maybe just our society in general, thinks it is.
And boy, does our society put infatuation on a pedestal. It's ok to leave your spouse because you don't love them anymore and are infatuated with someone else. Really, its ok for anyone to "fall in love" with anyone else no matter who they are (age, sex, race, status, etc.). In fact, where is the romantic adventure in our lives if we don't fall in love with someone unlikely or inappropriate? Isn't that what most of those great romantic comedies we watch are about? Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for cultural and societal barriers being broken down in a way that unifies people by common experiences and emotions that cross all cultures. What I'm not for, is allowing a feeling of infatuation to control your actions so much that you end up hurting a lot of people for no good reason.
I once spent an entire semester goofing off in a class taught by my favorite professor, all because my boyfriend was in the same class. I could see my professor losing respect for me, but it didn't phase me. My judgment was completely clouded by infatuation. I have seriously hurt friendships by putting a boyfriend of a few months above friends I've had for years. For some reason, this is all ok if its done in the name of love.
Sure, being infatuated with someone is exciting. It just plain feels good to be around that person and to have those feelings reciprocated. But I think for a lot of people, me included, it can start to control our lives and cause us to make really stupid decisions. Basically, we put that feeling above anything and everything else in our lives. And I say feeling, because many times its not even the relationship or person we are putting above others, but the feeling the relationship gives us. Our spouse, children, friends, work, dreams and goals, and relationship with God get pushed to the background and people get hurt, ourselves included.
We become drunk with infatuation. It really is like a mind-altering drug that feels great for a short time but causes us to do stupid things. And the problem is that when we are in that state, we won't listen to reason. We can't see that what we are doing is wrong. Sometimes we can't even tell that we are hurting others. Many times, infatuation does lead to love, so in our eyes its all worth it.
So what is the difference between infatuation and love? Love is this amazingly powerful thing that gives us purpose and meaning. Its a unity or bond with another person that is so strong that to end it feels as if you've literally been ripped in half, even if its done gradually. Infatuation can lead to love, but by itself is just a shadow of this. It feels like love, but there is no substance to back it up. Love is built by a lot of time, sacrifice, and hard work. It is something that you choose to do, day after day. It's so much more than the exciting feelings of being attracted to someone and getting to know them. You actually become a part of each other, and learn to put that person above yourself even after the initial excitement wears off.
So how can people learn to be more sensible when it comes to infatuation? If we convince ourselves of these things before the next time we are infatuated, will we be able to recognize it for what it really is? Are there people out there that can exercise self-control?