Thursday, May 30, 2013

Do You Own Your Things or Do Your Things Own You? Think About It Thursday

In light of the recent tornadoes affecting many of the southern states, it makes you stop and think about the importance of "things." Many of those people weren't at home when it hit, or they had a matter of minutes to decide what to grab and run with. How important is the stuff? 

Most people grab a few irreplaceable items and get to safety, but there are a few who say, "If my house goes down, I go down with it." Should we really be THAT attached to something? Is there ever a point in life where our house and our possessions become more important to us than our own safety, even our own life?

As I look around I see items I would be sad to lose. I have a large collection of books, most of them significant for one reason or another. My electronics are all important; I spent a long time saving up for them. I have clothes, makeup, and a hope chest full of thing to be used 'someday.' But it's all just stuff. I have about five things I would truly be heartbroken to lose - but that will be a post for another day. 

The most irreplaceable things in life are not items. They are friendships. They are family. People are the only things that cannot be replaced or left behind without regret. My heart goes out to those in Oklahoma who have lost family and friends in the storm. May they find peace and hope in the days to come. 

Do you own your things, or do your things own you? Something to think about...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Plasma Sky Review: Not Your Mama's Galaga

Where to begin? First off, amazement at how far technology has come... as a kid who played the original black and white Zap!2000 on a Palm Pilot, this game is like the fulfillment of every space shooter fantasy I ever had. Cool graphics, slick controls, 80 levels of challenges, three modes, and three styles of touch control; this game is five star. Get it people - it's AWESOME!

No, I haven't been addicted to it for weeks. I first tried it two days ago, and it's one of those games you hate to put down. I wanted to sit and pass every level at one time; it took me two hours, but I finally did! My only complaint about the game is that it doesn't save the level you are on when you leave the game - you start at level one each time. I haven't ventured into the Hardcore or Survival Mode yet, but I can stay interested at the Conquest mode for quite some time. 

This game offers levels that mimic Asteroids, Galaga, and Zap!2000 all rolled into one. On three of the levels, you are in a face-off with the BOSS... survive or die, and you just might kill the bad dude! I also love the little "wingmen" you can pick up along the way; little ships that follow yours and offer another set of laser shots. I've had up to three at a time, and they are really useful on the levels when you are being surrounded by tiny enemy ships going every which way. 

The game is unfortunately no longer free on Amazon, but the $1.99 price is completely worth it - you would have spent somewhere around $20 for this as a computer game ten years ago, and it still wouldn't have been this good!

You can purchase it for Android or Apple devices from the Plasma Sky page

Have you played it? What did you think?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Arts & Crafts Extravaganza

We  went to the craft fair today - I had the chance to take lots of pictures!

Aren't these guys ADORABLE??

by Empty Nest Creations

by Clay Moon Copper (these were just amazing!)

These always catch my eye... 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Eleven Ways to Shorten the Distance Between You & Your Pen-Pal (Guest Post by Nikki Derouin)

Hey folks! I had my sister Nikki write a guest post for us about how to be a better pen-pal. I love getting snail mail letters, don't you? Hope you enjoy this & maybe we'll see more of her writing in the future!

One of my best friends and I have been pen-pals for over 14 years.  A mutual friend thought Beth and I would be good friends and encouraged us to write.  Thankfully, we both loved writing real, pen-and-paper letters and unlike most long-distance friendships, this one stuck.  We still live over 1,500 miles away, and we still keep in touch.  It wasn't until 3 years ago that we reluctantly went to email over snail mail.  However, we still send random letters, just to keep the nostalgia of letters and stamps alive.  

Over the years I've kept up a pen-and-paper correspondence with several people.   Here are my Top 10 Tips {and a BONUS 11th tip} that I hope will help keep the snail-mail experience alive for you. 

1) Try not to be boring.

Enjoy the process of writing. Write like you talk. Find ways to bring humor to your writing. If you don't want your letter to sound like a list of things you did last week, write about how a certain situation made you FEEL. This will keep the letters from getting redundant. 

2) If all else fails, keep writing. 

Even if you think your letters are boring, keep writing. Even if you don't have a natural knack at being conversational, you still have something to give. I don't mind reading “boring” letters because there is still so much to glean and enjoy. 

3) Write in a journal like fashion.

My favorite letters to receive are the ones that take 4 pages and cover twice as many days. Sometimes seeing the stop and start of how a person corresponds is extremely revealing about their day-to-day life. If you can't dedicate a long amount of time, then write in short spurts, and date each time you change days. 

4) Be willing to learn more about writing.

There are so many books about letter writing. There a websites and classes. Look into these things. Recently, while trying to write a sympathy card, I started to wonder if I could express myself more sympathetically. I did a search and found a funeral home that had a specific page dedicated to writing sympathy notes. I was so grateful for the perspective that was offered. Take time to improve the way you communicate in writing.

5) Remember you don't live next door – be descriptive. 

This is especially true of international pen-pals. Yet, there are so many cultural and demographic differences even in the same country! Try to be aware of ways in which your writing could expand your pen pal’s perspective – if in no other way then mentioning the weather. Beth is already telling me of days that almost reach 90* while I'm still sitting here in wool socks and sweaters hoping it will get to 32* this afternoon! I love to imagine what it would feel like to be in the same place! 

6) Remember you don't live next door – put a little more into it. 

If you lived next door to your friend, you would most likely go out to coffee, bring over a dozen muffins or share something you read in a book or magazine. Value your pen pal as a friend, not as a letter. Try to find ways to make the letters personal or add a little something extra. This can be a simple as a tea bag, or a bookmark, or an article you clipped out of a magazine. Show your pen-pal that you thought of him or her outside of the letter and in your day-to-day life. 

7) Remember you don't live next door – be realistic about problems. 

This is not where I encourage you to be positive and not negative. Some of the most important letters I've ever received have been in response to a “negative” letter I've sent. Some of my pen-pals have helped me through the most difficult times in my life. A letter is a powerful tool! But be realistic. If the person is not fully aware of the situation, do not expect them to be fully sympathetic or fully capable of offering healthy and correct advice. But on the flipside, asking a close pen-pal for advice may be exactly what you need to do. He or she will be removed from the situation and may be able to offer clear-headed advice.

8) Don't assume the worst – write out of turn.

Pen pals take turns. I write, I get a letter, I write back. But life is crazy. Realize the other person has more priorities than just returning a letter. Every once and awhile write out of turn. Don't ask, “So, why haven't you written??” Just write a short little letter or postcard mentioning that you thought of them or had something to share. This will usually jump start their response and give them a good opportunity to write back. If you find that you are always writing out of turn, perhaps the other person is not a good letter writer and being pen pals is not their strong suit. If you enjoy the other person’s conversations, try another form of communication. If you have found little common ground, then perhaps you need another pen pal. But don't give up too soon!

9) Be encouraging.

This is where I say, “ don't be negative all the time”. Make sure that you are giving in this relationship and not just taking. Share something that encouraged you. Be uplifting. Be sincere, but be as positive as possible. I hold on to every. single. letter. And I'm amazed at how much strength I gain from these letters. I hope that the same can be said of the ones I have sent.

10) Motivate without harping. 

Like any friendship, you want to motivate the other person! Find ways to motivate each other. Beth and I both enjoy yarn crafts, and we will ask about each other’s projects … thankfully, she’s kind enough not to mention how many projects I’ve started and never finished. Yet, we still like to ask, motivate, and encourage each other to try new things and to finish what we've started!

BONUS TIP: 11) Do the same thing a thousand miles apart! 

One of the most fun and exciting parts of my friendship with Beth is our attempts to “do things together a thousand miles apart”. How? Well, we both took up jogging at the same time {part of the ‘motivate without harping’ tip} and found 5ks to run on the same day! Even if we had been at the exact same race, we would not have run side by side, but having this “run day” together was so motivational, fun, and just plain silly! She and I also take the same online classes. We encourage each other to do the assignments and we send pictures of our completed coursework. This year Beth and I set a goal to work on memorizing Scripture – we are memorizing the same book of the Bible and using the same memory program. I would never have kept up on my end without her motivation. Other ideas would be – working on the same type of project, listening to the same podcast, reading the same book, or watching the same movie. If at all possible, shorten the space between you and your pen-pal! :) 

I hope these tips will motivate you to keep up a correspondence the old fashion way – but with the blessing of modern technology. If you don't have a pen pal, write a letter to someone who needs encouragement or someone who would love to get a letter from you. It doesn't need to be fancy – it just needs to be heartfelt.

Nikki is an author, part-time babysitter, and full time crafter. She recently published a book for women called Singled Out, which you can purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or CBD.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Do You Ask Enough Questions? Think About It Thursday

How often do you question things? Are you one of the laid back if-I-needed-to-know-I'd-know or are you one of the must know all the details questioners? 

I have a strange balance somewhere in between. It completely depends on the subject, how it relates to me, and what knowledge I can gain from it. All the details about your wardrobe and more? Nope, don't need to know. How oil derricks use diamond drill bits to pull up oil from the earth? I had charts, glossaries, watched videos, and knew what a "kelly" was. Hey, it was important at the time!

I don't like to start a project or go into a situation without knowing most of the details. I like to have all my facts straight before being thrown into the arena. Usually, so that when other people have a question, I am able to remember the answer. 

So what about you? Do you ask enough questions, or do you settle for what you know? Let me know!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Nesting Emotions

It's funny how many layers of emotion can be felt on any one single occurrence. We have so many different words to express how we feel, and so many depths, and an enormous range of thoughts that fluctuate through our minds. All because of one tiny thing. 

I have a tendency to come off like the matryoshka doll above - precise, relatively together, and somewhat emotionless. The extroverts in my life tend to shake me and say, "Do something! Smile! Say how you feel!" But that is very difficult for me, because, like that matryoshka, I have several other faces with other feelings all locked inside, and I'm never quite sure which one to show. 

Tonight I had one of those moments. A moment when you realize that you aren't a child anymore. When you suddenly realize you don't quite know who or what you are... or how to react. I was mainly excited, but then terrified, then serious, then laughing. Responsibility, insecurity, questioning... All of these factor into which layer is what emotion at the time. 

But deep in the heart of that matryoshka is a tiny, unopenable final layer. It can't be placed anywhere but at the core of the doll, and it is not hollow like the rest. Which is like my emotions. Because underneath all of my temporary, conditional feelings, there is one constant. God. He is the solid calm in my final layer. He is the most important piece upon which the other layers fit. I may not be very good at expressing which feeling I am currently undergoing, but I know that right at the core of my life, is the One Who made me, the One Who cares for me, and the One Who has it all figured out. And that is what keeps me together. 

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, May 20, 2013

Googly-Eye Bombing, Anyone?

So, while I was in Austin, I had the chance to spend an afternoon with my friend Reagan and do something I've been planning to do for a while... googly-eye bombing! Basically, we got a pack of self-adhesive googly-eyes, went to the store (Walmart, if you must know), and choose some apropos items to stick eyes on. Then, to commemorate, we took photos! Here are a few pictures from our adventure:

Also, as a side note, we took the eyes off most of the stuff so that the adhesive wouldn't damage the item. I just left a few on the fruit, hoping it would brighten someone's day. :) Most of these pics are also of Reagan's iPhone, so a big thanks to her!

Have you ever done googly-eye bombing? Tell me about it!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Week In Review +365 Project (108-113)

I fell behind while we were away... my +365 Project is going to take longer than 365 days! 

Very direct signage at a restaurant in Roanoke, TX.

Primroses on my walk with grandma.

Veggies with olive oil waiting to cook...

Metal roses are hard to kill!

Ole daddy long legs...

Awesome way to sell bulk cooking oils!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Where Are The Children...?

I saw this on the door to the babysitting room... this is the stuff horror movies are made of.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Ooey-Gooey Butter Bars

Wow, these things are good. I found the recipe on Wee Eats, however, I think she must be from the UK because all the ingredient measurements were strange. So here is the recipe in "normal" (at least for me!), also with an amazing epiphany suggestion: these were amazing, but I think they could be even amazing-er with some type of canned pie filling over the top. As I was eating it, I was enjoying the rich gooey butteriness and  thinking, "This would be awesome with cherries." So, just my two cents. But they are ridiculously good just plain, too.

Ooey-Gooey Butter Bars

A yellow cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
3 eggs
8oz. cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper. First, you're going to make the 'bar' part: mix the cake mix, 1 egg, and butter. Press the dough into the pan evenly. Now, you're gonna make the 'ooey-gooey' part: Cream together the cream cheese, 2 eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Pour over the the bar layer. Bake 45 minutes or until edges are golden brown and center is creamy, yet firm (like cheesecake). Cool completely, put it into the fridge, then cut it into squares. Store in the fridge - not only because it's cheese, but also because they get a little messy when warm. FYI, they are super rich... yay! :)

 (You can cut the corners on the paper to make it fit better)
(this is the ooey-gooey part...)
(and... the finished product!)

And, as always, enjoy!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How Would You Describe Your Relationship With Your Mother? Think About It Thursday

Last Sunday was Mother's Day, a day when people stop and thank those who guided and cared for us as we were children, and who still care for and guide us as adults. Notice I did not say 'thank those who gave birth to us', although we all can be grateful to the one who gave us life. Not all mothers are good ones, and not all mothers guide and care for their children. But each one of us has someone in our life who has been a mother. They held a tissue to our snotty noses, they patched our hurts, physical and emotional, and they taught us what it means to nurture and protect. This woman went out of her way to show us that we were special to her, and that she would sacrifice her own wants and needs to serve ours. 

This Mother's Day I had the blessing of spending time with not only my mother, but with her mother as well. We haven't celebrated with my grandmother since 2004, when my great-grandmother was still alive. It is sad that G. Nez is no longer with us, but we were able to remember the lovely corsage we got her, the family meal in the dining room, and the four generation picture all the ladies took together. She was an amazing and spunky lady who lived through the Great Depression, and my grandmother is her youngest daughter. Grandma L. is generous to a fault, easy-going, and loves her iris blooming in the garden. My mother is her oldest child, with the same sacrificial giving spirit, and an incredible ability to sympathize with any and every hurt person she comes in contact with. My mother is strong, hilariously funny, and slightly crazy sometimes (which comes from being a mother, I hear). The older I get, the more I realize I am very much like her - we think so alike these days it gets a little scary!

So how would I describe my relationship with my mother in one sentence? 

A sometimes insane, (usually funny) connection between us that culminates in respect, support, inside jokes, and ultimately unparallelled love.

Mom, when I see you, your acts of service, your calm under pressure, your ability to care so deeply, and your concern for the welfare of your children, I can only hope to look in the mirror someday and see the same qualities in myself as a mother someday. 

Ok, so that was sort of two sentences, but I separated them so you only read one at a time... I will let you fudge on the one sentence rule, too! I'm all about being fair! Leave me a comment about you and your mother, whether she is the one who brought you into the world and loves you with all of her heart, or the special woman who took you into her heart as her own after you were born. 

What Do You Want Them To Think? Think About It Thursdays

I've been meeting a lot of people this past week. A lot of people. Which is great, of course, but it makes me nervous. As an introvert, I'm terrible at coming up with small talk, and I'm terrified that I'm going to say something stupid. And that is not an unfounded fear, by the way – I have a habit of slurring or totally mispronouncing words when I'm nervous, coming out sounding somewhere between a sleepy Australian and a goat.

When you meet someone for the very first time, what do you want them to think of you? First impressions are often the most important; the first ten minutes of conversation tend to make or break a connection. Now, I will be the first to admit that this is not always true! Many of the friends I respect the most are the ones I wasn't too fond of at first. But you always want people to walk away with at least a healthy respect.

I want people to walk away from me knowing that I am straightforward, I have a good (if quirky) sense of humor, and that I live for a purpose greater than myself.  I also hope not to come off too stupid with the whole Aussi goat thing. I don't expect, nor even want everyone to like me, but I would like them to remember me with a degree of respect.

Last week, I had someone pay me an unexpected compliment that I really appreciated. It was someone who I had met once about four years ago, briefly conversed, and hadn't really thought about since. I ran into them at a conference and after 'reintroducing' myself, he said, “Wait, I remember you now – you are really easy-going, and you smile a lot... I like your personality.” It was just a passing comment, and he wasn't trying to flatter me, but it gave me a genuine objective look at how one person had formed an impression of me, and it’s one I hope most people come away with.

What do you want people to remember when they first meet you? What kind of impression do you want to leave people with? Leave me a comment!

*I'm back!! This is the post I was supposed to put up last week during Focal Point, but never got around to. We're going to have a bonus post to make up for it. :)

Monday, May 13, 2013


Hey everyone! If you haven't noticed, I haven't been posting like I should! We are out of town, and I haven't had the extra time to blog like I thought! We are still on the road, and I will try to return to regular posting by Thursday! I feel bad I missed a Think About It Thursday last week, so I just might post two!


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Kefir Banana Bread Recipe

Don't know what kefir is? Don't worry - you can substitute yogurt, buttermilk, or sour cream. Any type of "cultured" milk will do (that sounds stuck up, lol). This banana bread is definitely for everybody! It's so yummy, we tend to eat a whole loaf in a day... but it's healthy for you, so who cares!
Kefir Banana Bread
1 1/3 C. Sugar (we use sucanat)
1/2 C. Butter
2 Eggs
1/2 C. Kefir (or sour cream/buttermilk/yogurt)
1 1/4 C. Bananas, mashed - about three average bananas, fyi
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Baking Powder
2 C. Flour
3/4 C. Nuts, chopped

  • 12-24 hours beforehand, you can mix the flour and kefir together. Cover and allow the flour to soak.
  • Preheat oven to 300F
  • In a large bowl, mix sugar, butter, vanilla, eggs, bananas, and nuts.
  • Add the kefir/flour mix in gently. Add the baking soda and baking powder and mix until just blended.
  • Pour into a greased bread pan (9"x5"), or into several small pans (for nuts/no nut eaters)
  • Bake approximately 1.5 hours or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean - exact time will very depending on the size and number of the pans baking.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How To Be Attractive

(From Bless It)
I am at a lectureship this week, and a lot of good points have been made by the speakers about how important relationships and character are. I found this list on Pinterest and decided to share some of the thoughts I've had this week from meeting new people, seeing old friends, and trying to portray a more attractive personality. Hope you find it as inspiring as I did!

#1. Smile

Everything can change with a smile. Have you ever been at the grocery store and made goofy faces at a little kid, just to make them smile? It's because we crave seeing joy in those around us - we've accepted that adults go about their day with a frown, but we want to see a smile. As a girl who has a naturally serious "resting face" I have to remember to snap out of it at smile more!

#2. Smell nice or don't smell at all

Yes! Yes! I can't emphasize this enough. Nothing makes a faster first impression than how a person smells. Body odor is one of the quickest put offs - if you move, you sweat, so make sure to shower regularly, and wear some kind of anti-perspirant. Body spray is not a substitute for bathing! A lot of people are sensitive to scents, so keep that in mind when you go to a place where there are a lot of people congregated together & can't move (such as an airplane). If you are one of the sensitive people, look into natural alternatives, such as making your own, or finding one at your local health food store.

#3.Dress for style and respect, not attention

Aren't you tired of seeing poorly dressed people? On the one side you have the just-rolled-out-of-bed camp with holey shirts, baggy pants, and uncombed hair strolling around the retail stores. Then you have the 'flaunt it if you've got it (or not)' wearing very little clothing, too much makeup, and an over abundance of cheap, gaudy accessories. What has happened? There is such a lack of self respect in society that we have lost touch and good taste in choosing our fashion styles. Cover yourself up, look natural, and make your personality sparkle more than your jewelry. If you can't look in the mirror and think, "I still have a sense of dignity," don't wear it!

#4. Know what's going on in the world and have an opinion about it

What is happening in the news? Do you know who your state senator is? Have you kept up with the local events? People don't like to watch the news on TV because it's depressing... then don't watch it. There are three other ways to find out what is current: radio, newspaper, or the internet. Don't just stay in the dark about what is happening in the world. Stay informed, and don't stop there. Think about how it affects the present and the future, and form an opinion about it. It will not only be a way to define your ideas and convictions, but it also give you intelligent conversation matter. 

#5. Speak kindly of yourself and those around you

How much would be solved if we only followed this one simple rule! Relationships would be solid, marriages would be stronger, and the workplace would be so much more pleasant. But instead, we criticize our friends, poke fun of our spouse in front of others, and whine about our colleagues in the lounge. But what else do we do? We talk down ourselves! We would rather complain about our faults than actually fix them. Our own insecurities cause us to disrespect others. Let's end this! There is still truth in the saying, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

#6. Have three hobbies that do not involve a screen

This one makes you think, doesn't it? The majority of our lives is spent in front of a TV, computer screen, tablet, or phone. But when all that gets taken away, who are we? What do we enjoy when we're "unplugged"? Hobbies are what connects us to other people in an actual way. We can communicate with people using electronics, but that is no substitute for tangible, physical time spent with eachother. Doing activities together teaches us about the other person, how they react to situations, what makes them laugh. What hobbies do you enjoy that you can share with others?

#7. Get an education or save up for one

Being well educated sets you on the right path to anything. It makes you more interesting to other people, and it makes you more interesting to yourself. Yeah, yourself! If we quit encouraging our brains to grow and stretch, we stagnate. Our own thoughts become boring without new material. This doesn't have to be some expensive quest to acquire degrees... you can learn new things for free! 

#8. Make time for children, the elderly, and those who need a friend

Basically, take an unselfish interest in people who might really need you. I have to work on this dealing with kids - I admit, I am slightly terrified by them, and slightly annoyed. I don't like being disturbed, and well, that's really their forte. But they have such great little personalities sometimes, and they remind us of some of life's greatest truths. Same thing goes for old people. They are usually hilarious! And they have a lifetime of experience to share. Lastly, don't forget the lonely or the outcasts... more often than not, these people just have difficulty talking in large groups, and would really love a one-on-one conversation with you! 

#9. Always say thank you and return favors

I can't emphasize this one enough!! Our society has forgotten how to be thankful. We grunt whenever someone hands us something, or we demand help without saying, "Please." Doing a favor for a person, means a measure of time and consideration on their part. Make sure to verbally say thank you, and send a thank you note to make them feel especially appreciated. Also, don't always be the receiver - think about ways you can show people how grateful you are for them, and simply just "because". It's actually a lot of fun to give!

I hope we can all take these pointers to heart and become more "attractive" in the days ahead. What are some things you can think of to add to this list or to expand on the points above? Leave a comment!