Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Treading Lightly When "Helping"

I was just perusing the web today, when, lo and behold, I found something I wrote for Relevant posted on their web site. Enjoy!

If you're into this kind of thing, you should read this book, which is great.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Bliss of Organization

Guess what - I just passed my two-year anniversary of blogging! And how have I managed to fill two full years with words? Well, I have really low standards. Like today...Organization is on my mind. (Titillating.) Oh, but organization is so blissful.

Since Mike finished the island, we were officially able to hang the pot rack Mike got me for Christmas. This was an extremely tricky feat. The only problem is that if you take one pot off, the whole thing sways like the sea. Through scientific testing, Mike also determined that if you flail and fling yourself madly at the pots at a particular angle while wearing heels, you might just bump your forehead on a spatula. So watch out for that.

Nonetheless, it's there and it's pretty. It makes me feel like a real cook. This and the island freed up enough space that I, after exactly one year of living in this house, unpacked all my china! China that has never in fact been unpacked before, but that has sat in my poor parent's crawl space since high school. It feels so freeing to have all my goods unboxed. For what is the beauty of owning something that squats lonely in a box?

Mike got his organizational groove on too. He built this workbench in about 45 minutes flat! Now he's busy drilling things to walls and putting up peg boards and other similarly manly things.
I now feel like I can breathe in the garage. It was a bit of a neat freak's nightmare. My mother did pass on her neat-freakedness to me, but I didn't necessarily get her penchant for cleaning and organizing. But now all these icky projects that have been staring me in the eye have been shot down.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Love My Life

I love spring snowstorms, like this one that just dumped a fresh mountain of snow on our lawn. But that's not to say I'm not so ready for the sun and warmth. So today, Edwin told me where we get to go to the beach in the Philippines on Sunday. My coworker Wendy's sibling is a member of a private beach, so she's getting us in! Here is the video for the place. Oh, how I love the sun and the beach. Anticipation is 60% of the pleasure, so I'll be thinking of this every day.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Favorite Things

When the dog bites (or banks don't give me money), when the bee stings (or I've gained several winter-cupcake pounds), when I'm feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad.

My friend Krissy recently did this, so I thought I'd copy her. I also did it two years ago. Let's see if Mike scores higher than tomatoes this year. Here are some of my favorite things.

My husband's ear lobes. They are a fleshy playground of delight. They are 60% longer than your standard ear lobe. I like to sit next to him on the couch and flobble it back and forth with my pinkie finger and make flobbling sounds with my mouth.

Being trapped in a warm home during a blizzard. Right now the wind is swirling and drifting the snow up our front door. The spring before we were married (2003), me, my friend Robin, and Casey's family all got trapped at Mike and Casey's apartment. I think Casey proposed while trapped. Mike and I waded through thigh-deep snow in Roland Moore Park to jump off the tops of swing sets into the snow's welcoming white bosom.

Needing the next size down in a dress. It's been about five years now that I've kept my weight down to where I'd like it to be. My favorite part by far is shopping for new spring dresses and needing the next size down.

That Mike still reads me to sleep every night.

Hearing my parents' voice on the phone, clearly excited to talk to me. This probably means I should call more often. (Love you, parents.)

Moab. Red. Still. Hot. I love sitting on a quiet deck and watching the sun set behind the ridge. I remember a night with my family, eating dinner on the Colorado River, watching the coral light fade into Fisher Towers.

Sweet Potatoes. With butter and cinnamon and marshmallows. Oh, marshmallows, melting into golden goodness.

Singing this song loudly with Mike. As if we're Ewan and Nicole.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Children's Mite

Here's a little post I wrote about the amazing generosity of children in Bangladesh. (Children whose parents make 65 cents a day.)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weekend Review and Island Reveal

This weekend was such a glorious Colorado spring weekend. There was a fresh layer of snow, but it was warm and blue outside. We walked about at Garden of the Gods and OCC, then biked around our neighborhood on Sunday. Our neighborhood is not for wimps like us. There's no easy bike ride around here, so we jumped into training for the Courage Classic in the deep end. (Meaning straight up.)
We enjoyed looking at Foxy Loxy playing in our backyard this weekend, and I discovered that we have a weasel living near the stream by our house. We also got to bike through a herd of 14 deer on our ride today. We love our neighborhood.
Then Mike finished our island! Isn't he just the handiest, bestest, master of the world (or our kitchen) that you know? OK, remember this is what it looked like before. And here is what it looks like now.
We used our old bathroom cabinet and leftover kitchen tile, hardware, plywood, backerboard, paint and stain. So all we had to buy were the columns and wood trim. Here's the backside.
And now the little column we installed next to our dishwasher has a big brother.
So...what do you think? I'm feeling the need for affirmation (Mom), so if you like it, please let me know. But if you hate it, please don't let me know.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Yangshuo Retreat

Are you kidding me?

I don't have a perfect life. There are many things that have not gone at all to plan. But every now and then I have to admit, "this is pretty cool."

Being an English major, you don't dream of all the glamorous and exotic things you'll get to do with your career. You pray you'll be able to pay your rent. So I'm still sometimes stunned at all the cool things I get to do.

Like go to China to meet the seven people in Asia I've been working with for 3 years but never met. Like going there to teach writing seminars. Like staying here for the training in September.

The rates at this retreat are $27 a night! So I may go a day or so early to soak up the mountains. I can't quite believe my luck or whatever you want to call it. I don't think I'll believe it until I'm there.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

An Irish Tea Party

Today, I had my team over for a little St. Patty's Day afternoon. I baked this soda bread, which always comes out looking so delightfully rustic. Mike bought Dubliner and Irish cheddar cheese, which was so tasty. Then I made Guinness stew. The only thing wrong with it is that there's none left! I printed out the old Irish hymn "Be Thou My Vision," and we read it as our prayer before eating. It was such a beautiful day, we took a turn about the neighborhood after our heavy lunch.

Then we had afternoon tea! I got to pull out my grandmother's china from Germany and Mike's grandparents' silver service for our tea. We had scones and shortbread with our tea.
We finished by watching Darby O'Gill and the Little People. A fine Irish time was had by all.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I Love the Sun

Now that Daylight Savings Time is on, I get to enjoy the sun again after work. Ahhhhhh. Nice as my cubicle is, I really don't relish having a thick pane of glass between me and the world for eight hours a day. I feel extremely, un-Christianly jealous of my mommy friends who take walks in parks during the daytime. But now Mike and I can take walks and bike rides after work.

Today we took this walk in our neighborhood. I love that I live so close to this (Woodmen and Orchard Valley Road). Can you find the goblin in the photo? I like taking artsy photos of dead trees and then when I realize they're not that good, I make them black and white to see if I can fool you into thinking they're good.
Speaking of dead trees, here's the twigscape I mentioned that I had made. It didn't look nearly as nice as Sunset's. It felt too chaotic and messy. The twigs have returned to nature. What do you think, should I give it another go?

An Irish Classic

Mike has a book that I love called The 5-Minute Iliad: and other instant classics by Greg Nagan. It's kind of like 5-minute abs for unathletic nerds. It boils down classic books or poems into easily digestible one-chapter chunks.

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I thought I would post my favorite, Ulysses by James Joyce. As Nagan puts it, "The confusion of the Great War was so profound that writers around the world had all sense of grammar, syntax, and structure knocked clean out of their heads...Ulysses is often cited as the most important literary accomplishment of our age, and as soon as someone translates it, we'll know for sure."

So without further ado, here is the apt and accurate summary of Ulysses.

June 16 came and went in Dublin.
- The End -

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

2010 Courage Classic

It's that time of year again, in the spring when kings go off to war and girls try to look good in swimsuits. (Did I mention I get to go to a beach one day in the Philippines? Kind of giddy about that.) I considered a variety of health goals to motivate myself, but I have decided, knee tendons allowing, to do the Courage Classic for Denver's Children's Hospital. (By the way, do knees have tendons?)

It's a 155-mile, 3-day bike ride through the mountains of Summit County. It's no joke. And you know, "cyclists" (not bikers, don't ever call them bikers I've learned) are some scary dudes. With their little skinny road bike tires and shaved calves the size of hams and their spandex outfits. They're intimidating.

Compassion has a team that rides in it every year. A team of men, that is (replete with their skinny tires and shaved ham calves and spandex outfits). So a couple of women have agreed to try it out too this year. I'm pretty excited. One woman estimated we need to go 70 miles a week to train. Say what?

I'm taking it one step...wheel rotation at a time. So in the coming weeks as the glacier finally melts from our front yard and the temperatures finally rise, we'll be out there cruising up the hills of our neighborhood.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Outside My Window

Outside My Window: A heavy March snow falls in the blue night.
I Am Thinking: Of my conversation with a Haitian coworker that really shook me last week, and subsequently of how "real life" and my search for comfort in this life have distracted me from the ultimate Comforter in life and the ultimate purpose of life.
I Am Thankful For: My husband, my job, and meaning beyond this life.
From the Kitchen: Leftover corn beef hash and soda bread from Jack Quinn's. Mmm.
I Am Wearing: The silk scarf my coworker in Thailand sent me and which I've worn three days in a row.
I Am Reading: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, When I Lay My Isaac Down, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, How the Irish Saved Civilization.
I Am Hoping: A bank will agree to give us money this week so we can get our ice cream groove on. (Mike had a promising conversation with a bank on Friday.)
I Am Hearing: Flight of the Conchords, "Hurt Feelings." (Have you ever been told that you look like a llama?)
I Am Creating: A twig-scape inspired by Sunset that was utterly unsuccessful. The twigs have returned to the backyard. Now I've replaced its place on the piano by candy jars filled with river rocks from past vacations. I think it looks good. Mike thinks it's weird to put rocks in candy jars.
Around the House: The island waits patiently to be tiled and Mike is listening to commentaries on Pixar movies.
My Favorite Things: The first time in the year it smells like rain, the first robin, corned beef, down comforters, and cereal for dinner.
A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week: To begin writing a study book for When I Lay My Isaac Down for Navpress. To have my coworkers over on Thursday for an Irish meal and movie. To hug my husband a lot. To work as if arbeite ich fur den Herrn.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Discontinued and Translated

Several years ago, I had the audacious idea to propose a book to a publisher. Audacious because what were the chances that I, unknown youngin' that I was, would even be considered in a sea of unpublished writers, all just foaming at the mouth?

But I had an unfair advantage, an inside ear on the marketing department, and so I proposed a book I knew they'd want (is that a little like insider trading?). My book was published and it still makes me feel like Anne Bradstreet, but with more cause to blush.

My little book had a fun couple of years, but now it has been discontinued. I never had any illusions of great success for this book, but it does feel a little bit like your kid being kicked out of school. You can now buy it for 80% off, so act now. It was awful fun to write and I did get to go on a local morning show to demonstrate cooking, just like Bobby Flay, so it was all worth it.

The next week after I got this news, I got the news that Hope Lives had been translated into Dutch! Isn't that vierd? It even has its own little web page. Compassion Netherlands wanted to use it as an advocacy tool in the Netherlands, so they found a publisher and got it translated. So I guess these are the ups and downs of an author's life.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Extreme Makeover: Heart Edition

I'm about to go watch my reality TV fix (Survivor) with Mike, so it's appropriate to link to this blog post I wrote for Compassion today.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

International Woman's Day

Yesterday was International Women's Day. Some people scoff at things like women's day and feminism - mainly I believe out of a lack of knowledge. We haven't progressed in this world nearly as far as many think we have. Last month, a woman in Bangladesh was sentenced to beating for being raped. The man wasn't punished.

Please read this article I wrote at Compassion Australia's web site. Not because I wrote it, but because it's important.
This program, Child Survival, is the one I'll be visiting in the Philippines in April. I really believe this program is doing so much to educate and empower mothers around the world. If you don't sponsor a child because the $38 a month is too expensive, I highly recommend this option - $20 a month. I read a lot of stories of ways in which this program is helping women and transforming families, and it's pretty amazing.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mom, Look at My New Chairs

I know that most of you probably don't care if I bought new chairs. But my mommy does, so this is for her. Plus, I need style advice. Look! We got chairs for the great emptiness that was our front room! They were on clearance at American Furtniture Warehouse. So I created this cozy little reading corner in our front room. The chairs were a good mix of comfort, style, and price, so we went for them. I can just see myself with a glass of port, a pair of horn-rimmed glasses, and some impressively intellectual book. OK, this lighting is terrible, but here is what is now our front room. I'm not sure it feels like a unified whole. It does feel like: here is one blue piece of furniture, here is one green piece of furniture, and here is some red furniture. At least my painting pulls it all together.
So, style question: Do we like the red pillows that I pulled out of the closet, or is it not quite right with the blue and green? Hey, do you see that little African thinking man sculpture on the right? It's now my most favorite decor, a gift of a coworker in Burkina Faso.

Style question number 2: I don't like our gate leg table here, because it seems too crowded to me, but Mike likes it, because it makes the banquette a fun place to sit and eat cereal (which is true). What do you think?

Now for a sneak preview of our island. We got the columns attached and now just need to tile it and add the wood trim siding...I really hope it doesn't just look like I plopped an old bathroom cabinet in the kitchen (which is what I did).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Island Update

Ooo, doesn't "island update" sound like I'm reporting from Hawaii? Anyway, we're working away at our island. Mike antiqued it, which is really hard with such large fake wood panels, and then poly-ed it. Then he attached the plywood, cut to be a little longer so we'd have a mini-overhang for our columns. Over this, he put concrete backerboard to affix the tile to.
Then today we received our columns in the mail. Mike destroyed them like Samson.
I love my columns, and I just got a new writing job, so I can pay for them. I'll be writing a workbook for a published book for NavPress, so I'll also now be busy for the next month. Next up: cut the columns to size, paint, antique, poly, attach, then tile.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Guess where I'm going in late April...I'll give you a hint: It's a name for a kind of cow and rhymes with bamboo. That's right, Cebu!

Cebu is an island in the Philippines where I'll be going with my Filippino coworker to interview and photograph young mothers enrolled in Compassion Child Survival Program. (Actually, I'll just be watching him do it as a learning experience for myself.)

So excited! I might also go to South Korea on the same trip, but I'm waiting to hear back from them. Until then, needless to say I'm going to be singing this a lot: