Mar 21, 2012

towards goodness

I've been quiet for quite a while. A lot has been going on in me. I'm still raggedy - maybe now more than ever - but I want to change my focus from my raggedyness toward goodness.

I'm over at

May 17, 2011

World's Best Cup of Coffee

Do you know why this is the world's best cup of coffee?

Because I made it.

I'm not talking about the coffee. I'm talking about the cup. It's my first ever coffee cup made by me.

My coffee sure did taste better today as I sipped it from a piece of clay that I struggled to make into a cup. It's not going to win any pottery awards, but it's my best cup yet. Of course, it's my only cup. Yet.

May 13, 2011

Healthy Living - Not Just Eating

Yesterday I wrote about when I began to consider getting back to basics. My primary motivation at the time was our financial situation. Getting back to basics saved money.

 As our financial situation improved, the need to save every single little penny didn't seem as urgent. We weren't rolling in the dough (we worked for a non-profit organization, enough said) but I didn't feel the need to make my own baby wipes anymore. Gradually our kids went from homemade playdough to Hasbro Play-doh. Needless to say, I was getting away from the "every little bit counts" mentality towards "I don't have any time or patience to make my own things" mentality.

Then a friend recommended the book What the Bible Says About Healthy Living. I loved the book because it's written by a medical doctor who spells out what God told the Israelites to eat and not to eat way back when, and then he explains the medical reasons why God would say that. Even though those dietary restrictions aren't necessary today, they're still a good idea for reasons the author explains very well. It turns out, God had some good reasons to tell His people not to eat pig.

May 12, 2011

Every Little Bit

I want to get back to basics.

This desire of mine started when I had my first baby and our income was half of what it had been. I relied heavily on Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two-Income Economy which has been updated now to Miserly Moms: Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy. It was a great resource with lots of helpful hints to cut our expenses. One thing I learned from it: name brand companies are sourced by supermarkets to make their generic brands. So if you tend to go for the more attractively packaged name brand because you are familiar with the product, you may be spending money that you don't need to spend. At the very least, try out the generic brands. You might find that you like them (because they're really the name brand product!) and that you like the extra money in your pocket.

May 10, 2011

Homemade Granola & Yogurt

I have always loved vanilla yogurt with granola. Storebought is good. Homemade is better. Here are my standby recipes and the background stories on how I came to make them.

Homemade Granola

I've made granola for a while. Initially I started making granola to save money on cold cereal. But as the kids got older & coveted all those colorful boxes of sugary cereal, I caved to the ease of putting a cereal box in my cart instead of making granola at home. But really, making granola is pretty easy and the cost difference is significant, not to mention the significant health benefits.

This recipe I found in an old Mennonite cookbook. I love it because you determine what to put in it in the proportions that you want. You can use what you have on hand. You can use low cost ingredients or high cost ingredients. You can be organic - or not. You can add a certain healthy grain that your kids wouldn't get otherwise. You determine the outcome and benefits of this recipe.

Apr 25, 2011

Easter Chickens Instead of Easter Baskets

This year instead of buying all the little things that go in Easter Baskets, I suggested an alternative to my children: take the money that we would have spent on their Easter baskets and purchase chickens for a family to whom the chickens would be a means of nutrition and income.

Happily my children were open to this alternative. So instead of buying plastic grass, cheap toys, jellybeans and chocolate eggs, we bought a family a source of real eggs. I'm so proud of my kids for being willing and eager to do this.

We ordered our chickens from World Vision. Here's a video that we watched about how much a simple gift of chickens means to some people:

Apr 21, 2011

the [love] language barrier: an American in Paris

Me and my son sitting along the Seine in Paris.
I've travelled quite a bit in countries whose language I don't speak. I know what it's like to have that whole language barrier thing. I think that it's a good idea to travel with a language dictionary and try to learn some basic phrases you will need along the way. It's also a good idea to travel with a sense of humor.

I've been thinking about how my husband and I speak love to eachother - and how we want to have love spoken to us. It occured to me that being fluent in a language involves not just speaking, but hearing and listening and understanding. In Germany I can get around because I can understand German, though I can't speak it as well as I understand it.

As I was thinking about different love languages, I reflected on my travels in countries where I don't understand the language at all. Then I thought specifically of my travels through France and how some Americans complain that when they travel in France the French won't speak to them in English. I have always been a bit puzzled by that complaint. You don't need to become fluent in French in order to travel in France, but it's a good idea to learn (or travel with someone who has learned) enough French to get around - or at the very least have a French/English dictionary handy.

Apr 13, 2011

Buying Well

Last week one of the local Christian radio stations promoted a concert tour called Not For Sale, which is a campaign to bring awareness to human trafficking and modern day slavery. I wasn't able to go to the concert, but as I listened to the interview on the radio before the show, I was shocked by what they were discussing. And I was convicted.

During the brief time that I listened to their conversation, they talked about how many of the products that we buy in our country's discount stores are cheap because they are made with child labor. Sometimes the labor is even forced.

When I got home, I googled "products made from child labor" and found this and several other articles that convicted me of my indiscriminate purchasing habits. Actually, what convicted me most was that this was not new information to me.

Several years ago I was made aware of sweatshops and I decided to change my shopping habits. For a little while. But ultimately I bowed to the bottom line of our budget and I wanted the most bang for my buck. That's easy to do when you look at the rising cost of living. That was my excuse. But at what cost am I saving when there is a moral cost involved? That's a higher price to pay.

Apr 8, 2011

Collaboration Inspiration

Here is the poem that I chose to do my collaboration art piece from:

by Kit Rohrbach

Only ashes remain from the fire we built on the beach.
Its warmth is something now just out of reach.
Pale shells wash up across moth-colored sand.
Things aren't turning out the way we planned.
Make me believe that everything's alright.
Come walk with me in morning light.

Apr 3, 2011

Collaboration X

A while ago I blogged about my art history and my new favorite place and Marie who has been encouraging to me by challenging me to just dive in and do art. And so to fly.

At her urging I entered a poet / artist collaboration exhibit. Looking back, I was crazy to do it. I had only just learned how to make a clay tile when I said I would be an artist in the exhibit and use clay tiles as my medium. At the time I didn't realize just how difficult a medium it is to work with. Making flat tiles is tricky because the clay has a tendency to want to curl up. Painting the tiles with ceramic glaze is an exercise in adjusting your expectations.