March 31, 2008

the little island that changed my world...Part II

Our little adventure in this whole new country had begun....

I fell into bed that night and slept like the dead. We had traveled from midnight on Friday until 7pm on Saturday.

And I forgot to tell you that a "bus" ride in Jamaica is nothing like a bus ride in America. For one thing, the "bus" is more like a large mini van and is not really safe, nor fit for extensive travel. (It seems these vehicles are very popular in the Caribbean though. I've since ridden in several on different trips to different islands and they are all as scary and unsafe) Not only did the van feel basically collapsible, but the roads were nothing but twists and turns. And I mean hairpin turns, not wide sweeping curves. Add to that, no lines on the roads, animals IN the roads, and absolutely NO traffic rules. You want to pass someone on a hairpin turn? Fine. Just beep your horn and go for it. You have to have a horn there or you would die. There are no lines on the roads. There are no shoulders separating you from the cliff edges. There are no road signs. It was like a U2 song. I distinctively remember seeing headlights coming straight toward us once and knowing we were going to die right then and there. It was an adventure.

So, I fell asleep after long day of travel so happy for my little bunk with foam for a mattress and nothing but cold water to wash up with . That's right. No hot water. I had never been in a place like that. Princess? Maybe, but I think more sheltered than anything else. Now truth be told the Deaf Village did have hot water, but only enough to wash dishes. Not enough for 40 people to take showers etc... Also, in Jamaica water is a valued resource that is NEVER wasted. For example, you don't flush the toilet every time you go. There was a sign above the toilet that said "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, wash it down." They didn't mess around. Also, the water was unsafe to drink. No quick drinks out of the sink. Talk about a learning curve. But in all honesty, I didn't really care. And no one complained about any of it. We did laugh and joke about it, but never complained. We were all so excited to be there.

I woke up the next morning so excited to see my surroundings. Let me tell you, it was one of the most beautiful places I had ever been. Jamaica's beauty, like Hawaii, isn't just it's beaches, but its mountains. We were a good 3-4 hours inland, no where near the beaches that plaster the travel brochures. The mountains are lush and green and just beautiful. Our little compound was smack in the middle of a tiny valley.

We had the nicest Jamaican ladies who came and cooked for our group. They were employed by CCCD to cook for all the groups that came into the Deaf Village. And the food was superb. All the fruit and vegetables were fresh. The bread tasted home made. It was delightful and made with love. Our breakfast that morning was eggs, fresh grapefruit and bread.

Since it was Sunday, we left the Deaf Village, which was still being built, and headed to the Knockpatrick Campus where we would do a church service for the kids that lived and went to school there. We had practiced several dramas before leaving the US that we were going to do for the kids. Two of them were mimed, using only music as a backdrop, so the kids could understand what was going on (remember they were all deaf). The third one was Carmen's The Champion (ah, Christian 80's music), which we had an interpreter for, so the kids would understand what was going on.

The kids LOVED these. After we finished them, and one of our leaders did a little talk, the kids ran up on stage and started doing all the skits over again. It was so cool to see that they had been paying attention. Not only paying attention, but understanding it too.

They also did a skit for us and their choir "sang" (picture above). We then went and had lunch with the kids in their school's cafeteria. I got to talk with some of the girls, and also realize how little sign language I knew. It was very slow going for me, but they were so patient and just LOVED asking about our boys. The girls asked me and one other girl on my team if they could braid our hair. I, of course, said yes and and they took us to an empty room and braided our hair in perfect little braids all over my head. When they finally finished and we had given them something as a thank you/payment, we went outside to find that the rest of our team had left us. They had gotten back into the vans and driven all the way back to the DV without us. Embarrassing! They realized what had happened after they got there and a van came back for us. Fun times.

We had dinner and then had a devotional time with our group. It was an amazing time for me. I was so excited to be surrounded by a bunch of 20 somethings that were passionate about God. They all longed to know Him more. It was so neat to sing songs and praise the Lord together with them in another country and realize that God was there with us just like He was back at home in the US.

This was the first time I began to understand that God was a global God. I had heard it for years from missionaries that had visited our church back at home, but it didn't really sink in. I began to see God in the faces of little deaf children. I saw him in the eyes of the poor that we passed as we drove up the mountains. God was so very real to me in those moments. More real and more alive than I had ever experienced before. I was slowly realizing that this trip was changing my life forever.

to be continued.....

March 30, 2008

Peek through the windows..

...of my little cottage and this what you will see.

First, my living room. This window faces North. You can see some of the camp buildings and the water behind them.

This window faces the west and in the evenings is a slideshow of sunsets. I can sit here for hours and stare. These are our two piers. In the summer time, the furthest one has 2 power boats on their lifts and a sailboat tied up. The beach is full of kids laughing and playing. It's the hub of summer fun here. I can't wait for it to come alive again.

This window is right next to the pier window. You can see the river here too, and our little porch, which is not usable at the moment. It's screened in and lovely when its clean and warm outside. Its spring cleaning is imminent. I sit here lots and lots during the warm months. It's a perfect spot at the end of the day to sit and watch the water.

The kitchen window looks into one of our oldest camp buildings. The boy campers stay in it during the summer and I can always see flashlights swirling after lights out. In the background at the moment, you can see the boats all wrapped up in their winter coats.
The other kitchen windows over the sink looks out across the field to the rest of the camp dwellings. Our own little commune. I love that I can see lights on at night and know that friends are nearby.

The kitchen door, the main door of our house has a "screen" door. I love having it open when the weather allows.

My bedroom window in front of my computer faces the river as well as the back of our large climbing tower. You can also see Jacob's ladder and our high element if you look carefully. This is another high traffic area when camp is going on.

My other window faces The Bro's dwelling. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to have him so close. I love that I only have to walk across the field to see him.

There you go. The windows to my world. The best thing is that I can see the water in some way from every window. And there is nothing better than living on the water. It's definitely one of the best things about living at camp.

March 29, 2008

Time to give in, my dear

After watching Pride and Prejudice for about the 158th time today {158 viewing overall, not just today, silly} (it was on TV while I was cleaning. I HAD to watch it and then turn the satellite off and pull out the DVD cause I got to impatient with the commercials. I just had too...), I decided that I cannot be a good sister any more with out forcing my younger sibling to not only view this movie but fall in love with it as I did (and do). Whew, that was a long sentence....

You see, my dear readers, she refuses to watch said movie. Now for those of you who do not have the wonderful pleasure of knowing my sister like I do (since birth and beyond), you may not understand her iron strength of will. When she gets something in her head, you can forget about changing her mind.

Case in point...when we were small, we had a old, brown, file box of Barbies. Yes, a file box. It was won at a school auction for about $2. Jam packed full of Barbies and accessories, this box was my sister's favorite thing to take on vacation and lucky for her, it fit right under our old Ford van bench seats, stowing her precious goods until Barbie time arose. Now, truth be told, I did not love Barbies. I know, I know, what was wrong with me...yadee, yada, ya. It just wasn't my thing. I would much rather have been playing orphanage with my Cabbage Patch. Anyway, when she decided it was Barbie time, that meant it was Barbie time for Cottage Girl too. I would fight her on it, oh, yes I would. Then she would tackle me in the seat and pin me down, seat belts intact of course, Mom. I may have been older and bigger, but she fought dirty and had an iron grip of a 40 year old man. Or she would stare at me and not look away until I would say yes. Or she would sing out loud until I would say yes. Or she would try and lick me until I would say yes. Do you get the idea? She doesn't give in. It's her way or the highway.

So, my dear sister. You know I love you. You know that I only want your best in the viewing of movies. You also know I was right when I forced you to watch Sense and Sensibility again and you LOVED it. You know that The Bro and I were right about Battlestar. So, won't you please put Pride and Prejudice in your Netflix queue. You will love it. I just know it.

And you, dear readers, many of whom I know love and adore this movie as I do, leave a little comment for my beloved sister and convince her to give in and fall in love with it like we did.

Sorrow and Hope

Did anyone else see Dateline last night? I had been hearing all about this story of these 2 families and their tragedy all week on the Today show since Matt Lauer was the one who conducted the interviews. For some reason, I remembered at exactly 9pm last night that it was on and I turned the television on.

The story is almost unbelievable. Two girls in an accident. One is severely injured and goes into a coma. Her family stays by her bedside for 5 weeks, praying she will be healed. The other is killed instantly and her family morns her death and buries her. Then it is discovered that the girls were mistakenly identified at the crash scene. The girl in the coma belonged to the family that had buried their daughter 5 weeks ago. See? Unbelievable!

And while the story in itself is enough to make you want to watch, that isn't what impacted me. It was the fact that both of these families have a strong faith in the Lord. They aren't just "Christians," but they walk with Him. His presence is so very evident in their lives. You can definitely see it in the video clip I posted at the top. I was so encouraged by their faith and their courage to display it for all the world to hear on television. Their humility was inspiring. God is using their story to impact lives and further His kingdom around the world. I found myself praying for Matt Lauer as he was shown Jesus in the flesh through these people.

It is a heartbreaking story with so much hope. And I know the hope was evident because of the Father who loved each of those people involved more that we will ever understand.

March 28, 2008

Friday Finds and a new poll

Be still my heart....there may be another season of Scrubs.

Post one and post two from one of my favorite blogs Hula Seventy.

Found this fun blog, sfgirlbybay, on Tara's blog. I like this little reminder.

It's like a reunion with all my old friends. How cool! I still watch Buffy over and over.

Flickr beauties and favorites. This one had me staring for a while. Doesn't it just make you want to go outside and sing?!

The God-box thoughts from The Bro. Well spoken! Doesn't your heart just hurt for Bill Gates, though?

Every time I watch Marie Antionette (one of my newer favorites) I want to rent a costume from the time period and do a photo shoot around camp. Anyone want to be my model?!

Pioneer Woman is finally back up and running with a whole new look. I must say that I was going crazy not being able to read her every day. I missed it! It's so easy to see why she is so loved through out the internet world.

Entire room in a box. I kid you not.

Who doesn't need this reminder constantly! I love this reproduction. Keep Calm and Carry On, everyone.

Photoshop for free. Still need to try it out, but it looks pretty amazing.

Blogger has this sweet feature that lets me do a poll of my readers. I can make up any thing I want and have you vote on it. Fun stuff! I have been wanting to do it for a while, so I'm taking it out for a test drive this weekend. Let me know what you think!
You can find it on the right under my picture. --------->

Happy Spring weekend to you all!

lookie, lookie

I was typing out an email to my mom today when the advertising banner caught my eye. Now, I never click on those things, but this one....well, I made an exception. It made me ridiculously happy inside. The countdown begins. One week from today. Finally a reason to watch TV again!

Last night. The Bro and I watched the extended version of the episode "Unfinished Business." It was included on the brand new Season 3 DVD's. SO GOOD. And extra 25 minutes of amazing story telling in my favorite episode of the season. It made waiting till next week even harder.

March 27, 2008

If the life don't seem to suit ya, how 'bout a change of scene...

I woke up singing this song this morning. No idea why. I can't believe I don't own this movie. I've seen it about a 1,000 times and know all the words to the songs. My sister and I made a soundtrack tape by putting the tape recorder up to the TV speaker each time one of the songs came on. We also taped entire episodes of the "The Monkees" too. Kickin' it old school style.

This is how I remember Christian Bale. He maybe big and famous as Batman now, but to me he'll always be a Newsie (and later, a Swing Kid)....

p.s. Shay-shay, be glad you were gone this morning when this song popped into my head cause I was singing extra loud and I may have danced in and out of my room into the living room and kitchen a couple times. I'm sure it wasn't very pretty. You could have been scarred for life.

March 26, 2008

It's too late to write anything of consequence, so I will post a picture and head off to bed.

Night, All!

March 25, 2008

blog love

I read a lot of blogs. I LOVE them. I devour them. I love finding new ones.

Since I get questions often about where I heard about this thing or where I found out about that, I decided to give you a list of my readings. Most of these I have found from a link from another blog. I probably can't tell you where I found half of them. They are all a few clicks away from another blog on the list.

At the top of the clicking diagram would by my forever favorite blog, which no longer exists. It showed me what a good blog could be. It was written by a mom who was (with her husband) adopting her first child, a little girl from China. I got to follow along with her to China and back, through all of the twists and turns. Her's was one of the first blogs I ever read. And her blog was my inspiration for starting my own. I miss it so very much and was so sad when she decided to stop. It's been over a year and I still think about it. You feel connected when you read about someone else's life for a year or two.

Anyway, here you are. A list of my reads....

Can't Miss One Post blogs (and about how long I've been reading)
I check these about 15 times a day.
All the others....(in no particular order)

I'm sure I've forgotten one or two or ten. There are some gems in this mix. Hope you find one to love and read too.

Oh, and by the way, what would be on your list?

March 24, 2008


1. Going through my Flickr fave's is a great way to get rid of the photography blah's. It's jam packed with ideas and color and life.

2. A new computer can make life a little sweeter, however an new computer with the same old internet issues can drive a person mad.

3. The story of Easter is really, truly is amazing. Forgiveness of sins. Holiness. True love. Mercy and grace. I feel like I am at the very beginning of understanding what each of these things are. And that gives me chills.

4. Sometimes life takes weird turns and you don't realize it until months or years later. This thought could be a spawn of my upcoming 31st (yikes!) birthday. I am nowhere where I thought I would be at this age, but I don't know that I would want to be where I thought I would be. Yeah, try and figure that one out!

5. Nephews (or nieces, I'm sure) are truly one of the coolest things in the world. I will do just about anything to make this kid love me. When he smiles at me and when he lets me take him from mom, I feel like a million bucks.

6. I am terrible at correspondence. I like to think that I excel in this area, but my track record pleads otherwise. It is something that I need to work on....

7. I need to purchase a Sigg water bottle and throw away the plastic death vile I use.

8. Why do I stay up till past midnight reading a book that I have read before? I really truly couldn't put it down last night. The "one more chapter" rule turned into 4 more.

9. Why is writing a blog so much fun? I don't post anything of significance. My ponderings and musings seem to pale in comparison to those I love to read like Pioneer Woman and Hula Seventy and my forever favorite, even though it has been gone for a year now, Gwenblog (oh, how I miss it!). But there is something so exciting about writing down my thoughts. I am still shocked when I hear that people read it.

10. Spring is finally here. How do I know this, other than the calender saying so? The smell in the air. The coat that is happily traded for a jacket. The pale green buds on the trees. The burst of color from the daffodils and crocuses. The later sunsets. The gut instinct that a life lived outside has returned!

March 23, 2008

Hotel Cafe Tour 2008

Friday night, my friend L and I went to a concert. Not just any concert, mind you. It was the Hotel Cafe Tour 2008. We had gone to see this same tour about a year and a half ago. This time around, they were at a tiny venue right in the heart of our delightful little city. So nice not to have to drive an hour to see good music.

Let me start with this was one of my favorite concerts ever. It lasted 3 solid hours with NO intermission at all. There were 5 artists and they all took turns playing little mini sets of 3 or 4 songs and then the next one would come on. They all used the same band, or played their own instruments. And the best thing was they were all incredible! Such amazing voices and ranges of talent. It was exciting every time each one got up to sing cause I knew it would be good.

They were:

Cary Brothers

Love him and have for a couple years now. His voice is so cool. He was on the Garden State soundtrack and The Last Kiss soundtrack, which are two of my all time favorite CD's. He went to college with Zach Braff aka my TV boyfriend. His song Ride, is one of my all time favorite songs that is still on repeat years after I heard it for the first time. I also love Honestly, which you can hear on his website. He played those in that order his first time out on stage. It was perfect.

I love, love, love him. I can't say I have a favorite song because I love each and every one, but These Photographs is up at the top. He has 4 new ones on his Myspace Music page. I've seen him twice now and both times he was just fantastic. His voice is almost better live. If you enjoy the samples on his site, buy the CD. You won't be disappointed. I would go see him again tomorrow if the tour came back this way.

Ingrid Michaelson

Of course she is super popular right now. Playing on the radio and on TV shows like Grey's Anatomy (cool story she told: she wrote a song, submitted it to Grey's, they liked it and put it on one of their episodes. Total time: 3 weeks from writing to air. Crazy, huh?!) and Old Navy commercials. I think she sound much better in real life. Her voice is unbelievable. And she's really down to earth and funny. I loved all her sets. She also sang with Joshua R. a couple times, which was spectacular.

She came on stage. This tiny whisp of a girl with her big guitar. She sat on a stool and explained to us that it was her first night on the tour. Then she began to sing. I never would have thought that such an amazing voice could have been hiding in her. I bought her CD at the concert, but I think she sounded so much better live with just her voice and her guitar. Wow. What a fun surprise.

Eric Hutchinson

Again, total pleasant surprise with this guy. His voice is really cool. His first set was funny. He was describing the obvious similarities in Justin Timberlake's music and how 3 of JT's songs have the same melody with lyrics recycled from old 'NSYNC albums. I really enjoyed his music too. His first night on the tour as well.

One of the most amazing things (this is amazing to me and L more than you I'm sure) was that we were one of the first people seated at the concert. Everyone sits at tables with at least 4 chairs. Our table was off to the side at about the middle of the room. The cool thing was it was 1 table away from the door that led to the artist's room. We both watched Ingrid and Joshua and Cary walk right by us into their "dressing room." Then they all would come out and sit at the empty table next to their door, which was right next to me! I was sitting a arm's length away from Joshua Radin! Again, I'm a nerd and totally freak out when someone I admire is close by, so I'm sure you are all laughing at me. But I though it was really cool. Perfect seats, L! Perfect!

Hope you find some new music to love. And if the tour comes near you, GO. It's a wonderful merry-go-round of artists.

March 22, 2008


The internet is not playing nice tonight.

Will post tomorrow with stories of family, kissable nephew, new computer update, the concert of the year, mold growing on my walls, and of course pictures.

I will miss you during our 24 hours apart.

March 21, 2008

Friday Finds

Lots of fun finds this week. Hope you find one that inspires you!

Why, hello, Cullen family. I must say that I pictured you very differently in my own little imagination, but you will do. I WILL pay $10 to see you all vamp-ified on the big screen.

I may have been clicking like crazy over at Stephanie Meyer's website this week. And I may be slightly excited about her new book The Host that comes out in May. Mayyybeee.

The best props I can give to this movie is to say that it actually made me get off my couch and run. And it made me laugh.

Another reason why Firefly will forever be one of my favorite shows. In the depth's of my heart, I'm still hoping for a movie sequel.

I've never wanted to make out with the internet more. It is a magical wonderland and Joss is the wizard.

Fun jewelry on Etsy. Found on Flickr from a contact.

As of late, I have been thinking about my "need" of stuff. I have so much. I don't need more. This article speaks well to that effect. Marketing can be so dangerous.

This artwork
reminds me of Nancy Drew. So creative.

The SNL photographer
that takes those amazing pictures that they show between the commercials and the next skit. I've always thought those pictures were amazing. I like Kate Winslet's the most, but then again I think she is beyond beautiful already. Paul Giamatti's are super fun. I love his acting and think he's adorable. Scarlett Johansson's are amazing.

It's like the mothership calling me home! I'm going to look for tickets right now. Bear live?!! Please, oh, please let some miracle happen so I can go!

Two Top 10's from David Letterman. First was the hilarious Top 10 Least Popular Dr. Seuss Books. My favorite was Osama's in Pajamas. I still laugh about that one. (watch it, instead of reading it. It's way funnier. Click the video camera)
Second, was the super fantastic Top 10 Reason to Watch the New Season of Battlestar Galactica complete with 10 of my favorite cast members. You have to watch it (click on the tiny video camera under the title on the right) to really appreciate it.

Found this through my favorite photography newsletter. The Ones We Love. So inspiring to see all the stories and photos. I love this one, this one and this one and this one (the clouds shot) too.

My folk music love, Joshua Radin, has 4 new songs up on his MySpace music page. They are, as usual, absolutely delightful. I've been wanting new Joshua for a while. His old CD was banished back to the shelf cause I played it over and over.

Have a wonderful Easter weekend everyone! I pray that you find a way to celebrate the God in heaven who came to earth and died for each of us. are worth Jesus to God.

March 20, 2008

my birthday "if only" wish

I want to go so bad breath catches in my chest when I think about it.

I want to go so bad that.....immediately after I read about it today, I went to and and to find a cheap ticket out to LA.

I want to go so bad that.....I'm lying to myself saying that it's a once in a lifetime event and it will, of course, be worth the ridiculous amount of cash I would spend on getting there.

I want to go so bad that.....the soundtrack will now play over and over for the next few days as I mourn my east coast habitation.

I want to go so bad that.....I'm telling myself that the great Josh Groban disappointment of 2005 wasn't all that bad. Lies, lies, I tell you!

I want to go so bad that....I would give up new clothes for 6 months.

I want to go so bad that.....

No, I have to stop. It's one of those things I just have to let go. One of those thing I wish I hadn't heard about before it happened. One of those things I wish there weren't any tickets left for $21 each. One of those things that makes me curse scientists for never having come up with teleporting so I could "beam" over to LA for the night. Ohhhhh, wellllll.....

March 19, 2008

in "my top 10 things to do before I die" list

Check out this sweet camp in California. Wish I had known about it when I was in high school. Surfing is on my top 10 things to do before I die, or get to old.

They also make surfing films. This new one looks so cool. Gotta try and get my hands on it.

I love their philosophy of spreading the gospel through doing something they love. I love their way of taking the gospel to other countries by teaching the kids to surf.

Speaking of surfing, have you ever seen Step Into Liquid? I've lost count how many times I've watched it. The shots are almost unbelievable. I LOVE it.
Riding Giants is also really cool. It gives the history of big wave surfing. I love the old 1950's stories.

***image found here.

March 18, 2008

"Cut to the chase, Freakshow"

So, my new computer (gasping loudly) shipped today. I am shocked because it wasn't projected to arrive until the end of next month. In preparation for a brand spankin' new hard drive, I am cleaning up and going through my 1,000's of pictures. Many of which I still owe to various people.
In all my dusting and digging, I've found lots of gems that are just too fun to not share. Now these have no necessary purpose. Most of them are pretty poor in the quality sense. But they do tell some pretty fun stories. I do apologize to those of you who have hoped that I had forgotten about said pictures. I have a hard time deleting anything.

Our mailbox is HUGE. Not only does it hold mail for the 13 people that live here, but also the 130 overnight campers and 70 staff in the summer. Getting mail in the summer required a LARGE box to cart it all back to the office to sort and deliver to the proper boxes.
Here, I am returning out Nielsen Ratings diaries. I think the question is why the heck am I taking a picture of it? Oh, yeah. I was still doing my 365. I remember now why I stopped....

Our neighborhood kids are out of control. Literally. This is the type of havoc they wreak. It still looks like this too. And it's really strange to me that people who have never been to camp before and have to drive by it don't even see it. How can you miss this?!!

The fire aftermath. This was the 5th time that week that the trucks were here. This time they were right outside of my house. They were searching for a water source in case another fire ever happened. You can see them standing on the beach.

Ah, the glitz of the city I never want to visit again. Our room held a view of Caesar's Trump Tower and The Tropicana (in the background). At least at night the filth and sleaziness is hidden by the dark.

Oh, hey, friends! Remember this?! We just LOVE Atlantic City, don't we? I must say as weird as AC was, it WAS fun to spend it with you guys. We ate a lot. We laughed even more. And there was a little dancing too. Good times.

Anyone else think that slots are the stupidest thing ever? Why would I pay a machine to make me stare at it for hours, praying to it to give me money, wondering what is going on outside, turning pasty white because I haven't seen the sun in days. Yeah, that's how I want to spend my vacation.

A little series I like to call,
Peter Pan will you teach me to fly like you?!
(sorry, Beth. I had to.)

I've almost got it! I can't give up now!
Ooo, may be loosing it a little bit...
Abort!!! Abort!!!

The search continues for gems like these. I know there must be more. Till next time.

March 17, 2008

random thoughts on a Monday evening

Whitney Houston's Ultimate Collection is AWESOMMMMME. It totally takes me back to being a junior in high school sitting on my high school friend's bedroom floor singing along to The Bodyguard soundtrack. Anyone else? I didn't see the movie until I was in my 20's cause my parents had a very strict "NO RATED 'R' MOVIES" policy our house. But the music....oh, the music....

I went running today. I hated every minute of it, but hey, I did exercise. Sweet. My motivation was this cute little movie (so cute! funny and sweet.). My brother and I decided to be each other's annoying "I'm gonna make you run or else" partners. This was his kind and loving way of helping along in my running/exercising endeavor. I feel the love, don't you?

"As soon as you get off work, get changed and come over to my house for our run. I say for the first day we just do the little loop and back so we don't kill ourselves. If I don't see you by 5:10 I'll be coming over with the spatula (which is how one of the characters in the movie motivated the runner. he followed behind the runner on a scooter and hit him with a spatula every time he stopped)."

Baby Blue Salad
for dinner again. I took a picture (hurray!) for you this time. Isn't it pretty?!!

This may have been my second bowl full....

I missed Edward and Bella so much that I had to go back and "find" them again. I stayed up late last night reading, or should I say, re-reading Twilight again. Haaaaaahhhhh. It's like revisiting with old friends. Have you noticed I take my fictional characters a bit too seriously? It's a sickness dating back to my avid Baby Sitter's Club reading days. Just clicking around to find the link to those books made me miss them all over again too.

It's hard to be patient whilst I wait for my new computer. I feel like girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when she screamed "I want it NOW!!"

I want to learn to surf.

My legs are tired from running.

My sister/Luke/brother-in-law are in town and I have to wait until Friday to see them.

I really, really, really love reading Pioneer Woman. I'm kinda happy that I found her late because I have had so much fun reading through her archives. She makes me want to be a better writer, a better photographer, a better blogger. I just love her, see??

I entered Elsie's give-away even though I know I have a one in a 1,000 chance of winning.

I like this verse that our pastor read on Sunday:
"Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom"
-Luke 12:32

The kingdom has been on my mind lots and lots lately. I love that God takes pleasure in us being a part of it. That blows my mind.

I really do love you, my readers. I also really do love when you leave me comments about my thoughts. It makes us feel connected. It makes me feel like I'm not just blathering on, but that you really do read what I write. I often wonder what you think when you read my writings. Are you surprised? Do you think, "where the heck did she get that from?" Do you click and say "ehh, that was just OK, but I wish she would write more about ______." These are things I ponder. I'm considering doing some sort of survey to see what you enjoy. Now the results of this survey may not necessarily deter me from writing about your least favorite subjects, but at least I'll know what you would like to hear more of. Mental note: come up with survey.

"Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight 'til it be morrow."

March 16, 2008

delicious dish

I really don't enjoy cooking. It's not one of my favorite things to do. It's definitely not very fun to do when you are single and eat everything by yourself. Most recipes are for 4 servings, so I end up eating left-overs for an entire week. By the end of week, I don't want that once yummy meal again for several weeks because I am so sick of it.

With The Bro living a hop-skip-and-a-jump away, I've taken full advantage of his love of cooking. He quite good, too. I don't have that natural ability to just throw a bunch of ingredients together and make it work (in my best Tim Gunn voice). I never know what goes with what or what can be added to make something really yummy. He does posses these virtues and is kind enough to bestow their benefits upon me, the sad, hungry, single girl who comes begging for food at least 2 times a week.

This past weekend, however, I was inspired to make some yummy dishes all on my own. For the successful weekend in Cottage Girl cooking, I would like to thank...

  • Pioneer Woman Cooks (truth be told, I am unable to tear myself away from her blog. I checked out her cooking site a little deeper this week and was drooling over chocolate cake and lasagna for hours. Her photos of cooking alone made me want to crank up the stove.)
  • My constant state of busy-ness for the last 3 weeks. (I hadn't been grocery shopping. I was hungry. I was living on Donation Thursday's handouts. Soy milk in my cereal was the low point. Blechhh...

So what did I make on my big weekend of yummy goodness? I shall share with you, my friends. And I hope that it will also inspire you to try something new and challenging-cooking related or not-in the near future. "If Yan can cook, so can you!"

"A delightful pasta dinner that is from South Beach Diet, but I can't find a link."
Ingredients: pasta, fresh basil, diced canned tomatoes, Canadian bacon, white kidney beans, mushrooms, red wine vinegar, spices.
This recipe was given to me by a friend who had made it when I came to her house for dinner a couple weeks ago. Easy-peasy. Yummy.

"Croissant French Toast"
Ingredients: eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, croissants, borrowed griddle from The Bro
This recipe was first enjoyed at a staff retreat in September. The cooks at that camp served us some of the most delicious, yummy food ever. This was one dish I ate way too much of and immediately wanted to enjoy it again in the future. Bonus: the croissants were a "Donation Thursday" find (aka FREE).

"Baby Blue Salad"
Ingredients: Salad, Dressing, Pecan delights
This salad will be served in heaven. It's that good, folks. You have to make all three to truly enjoy the awesomeness of it. And the Sweet and Spicy Pecans....little drops of heaven. I can eat them like chips.
We have served this for the past 2 years at our volunteer appreciation banquet at camp. We make it in LARGE quantities and let's just say the leftovers last about 1 day. The pecans are like gold and there have been yelling matches over the rights to them. Mmmmmm....

Now, I wish to high heavens that I had taken pictures of said meals. I will admit that I thought of it while I was making them. I did. But the thought alone wasn't enough to motivate me to actually get out my camera and do it.
I've been a in photographic slump lately. Nothing is inspiring. Nothing has made me want to drag out my camera. It has sat on its shelf since the wedding, lonely and neglected. I'm hoping this, too, will pass like my journaling dry times. I think I need to branch out and find something that inspires me. Something to get the creativity flowing. Something to open the flood gates of the ideas that I know are locked up inside me.

Anyone have any ideas? I need some help here.

***photo from the Fall 2 years ago. See?! I need some new photos!

March 15, 2008

lazy day

Every one loves a lazy day, don't they? I just can't seem to motivate myself to do anything useful. Here's what I've managed to check off the list today....

  • watched a dozen clips of 30 Rock on I think this show is hilarious.

  • made a breakfast of bacon, eggs and croissant French toast for my roommate and brother. Mmmm.

  • wandered around my house a few times.

  • shower, makeup and hair all done.

  • laid on my bed and contemplated the world while staring at photos on my walls.

See? I would call that lazy, wouldn't you? The only way I can justify it is that I have been incredibly busy as of late and haven't had a chance to do this in a LONG time. It would be nice if I could motivate myself to accomplish one thing today.

Last night, I did buy this new beauty and am over the moon excited about it. With a few add-ons that it required, it came in about $30 under my budget. Oh, yeah! Now I can listen to music and run Photoshop without my computer wheezing and gasping for breath. I just have to be patient until it arrives.

***photo: Orlando in December with camera phone

March 14, 2008

Friday finds

Wouldn't it be fun to live in a hobbit house like this family does? Imagine driving up to that scene everyday. Love how it's very low impact as well.

Elsie posted a link to this video, which I thought was cute.

Check out Bread and Butter an adorable little Etsy shop. I want this and this. And I'm in love with this.

I love this print from another Etsy seller. Isn't so quaint?!

And just look at this character that The Sartorialist found this week. The blue hair is what gets me. Don't you wish you were brave enough to dress like that?!

The Image Is Found blog was full of fun stuff this week. These were my favorites.

Lots of Flickr favorites. (click small images to see them larger)

March 13, 2008

the vision

"If we lose, 'the heavenly vision' (Acts 26:19) God has given us, we alone are responsible-not God. We lose the vision because of our own lack of spiritual growth. If we do not apply our beliefs about God to the issues of everyday life, the vision God has given us will never be fulfilled. The only way to be obedient to 'the heavenly vision' is to give our upmost for His highest-our best for His glory. This can be accomplished only when we make a determination to continually remember God's vision. But the acid test is obedience to the vision in the details of our everyday life-sixty seconds out of every minute, and sixty minutes out of every hour, not just during times of personal prayer or public meetings. 'Though it tarries, wait for it....'(Hab. 2:3)"

-Oswald Chambers "My Upmost For His Highest"

Oswald is kicking my butt lately.

March 12, 2008

the little island that changed my world...part 1

This picture is stuffed in my Bible along with a dozen other notes and photos that have great meaning to me. For some reason, this random photo is very striking for me. I will still look at it for 10 straight minutes and soak in every face and every emotion that goes along with this experience. I came across the other night as I was looking for something to blog about.

And now, I shall tell you the tale of the little Caribbean island that changed my world....

When I was 20 and a junior in college, I was enjoying life. I was loving my college experience. I was living in a dorm room with my 2 best friends. I had great classes. I was doing theater as my Christian service (CS was required by all students. 30 hours per semester. I chose to work backstage in the theater on all the musical productions. Those times became some of the best of my college life. I still miss it desperately.) I was growing in my walk with the Lord. I was learning to edit videos. I was soaking up every minute I could with 2 other friends who would leave after the first semester. I was eating at Marriott and loving being a Liberty student. I loved my independence and the person I was becoming.

I knew that there was something I was missing though. I knew that I was on the precipice of something, some experience that would help me grow in my "God and me" relationship. I knew I wanted God to expand in my life and I wanted to see Him in new ways. One of the things that I absolutely love about Liberty is that there are hundreds of ways for that to happen while you are there. There are so many different types of activities for a student to try and experience before they have to leave and become an "adult" in the working world. I wanted to take advantage of that and I knew that my junior year was the perfect opportunity.

I began to pray about what God wanted me to do. Work in a new ministry at the school? Change Christian services? Get involved in a local church ministry? Take a missions trip?

That year, I chose to take sign language as one of my electives. It was something I always wanted to learn and the class was a one-night-a-week-class that fit perfectly in my busy schedule. I really enjoyed learning this new language and was surprised how quickly I picked it up. I guess, being a visual learner, it was much easier to me than learning French in high school.
During my class, I was introduced to several people who had taken a missions trip the previous year. They worked with an organization called Caribbean Christian Center for the Deaf, which is in Jamaica. One of them was this girl, who I really only by name and face only. Her parents helped run the ministry and she came all the way to LU for college. Their stories of their time with CCCD stuck with me for some reason.

Towards the end of the first semester, I really felt like the Lord was wanting me to go on a missions trip. This had been something I had ALWAYS wanted to do. We didn't do any missions trips in youth group when growing up and it was one experience that I really, really wanted to try. I began to pray about what country God wanted me to go to. LU has a entire department, LIGHT Ministries, that is devoted to short term missions trips for students. Each school year they offer about 10 different trips to countries all over the globe. I began to pray about which country God wanted me to go to. I was willing to go anywhere.

Over and over, I felt Him leading me to Jamaica. I resisted at first. Jamaica for a missions trip? More like Spring Break, baby! I must just be thinking about it because of my sign language class. But the more I prayed about it, the clearer it became. I signed up in the Light office and went to the first meeting that was held for anyone who was interested in going.

As soon as that meeting was over, I knew that this was what I was supposed to do for my spring break. I began writing support letters and mailing them out. I told my parents and my friends about the trip. When I headed home in December for my winter break, I got my passport. I told everyone at my home church about this new opportunity I was so excited about.

I never worried about the money. I knew God would take care of it. I had finally raised all my support and then I found out that the price had risen. This trip had interested more people than most trips and the organization agreed to let everyone come. That meant that they had to purchase more tickets. The new tickets had cost more, so the price went up. That was my first experience with God's provisional hand in the whole thing. I wasn't sure where this final amount would come from. I had heard back from all of the people that I had written to, so I was starting to worry that I would have to put the money up myself. (remember how poor you are in college? I was definitely in that money bracket. Poor.) I was talking to one of my roommates about it one night. I was telling her how I was starting to worry and really learning to trust God that He would supply. When she heard the whole story, she got out her check book and wrote out the amount for the exact amount I needed. Remember, we were POOR college students. But I remember she told me that she knew that God wanted her to do it and she was excited to help. I don't know that I've ever told her what a big blessing that was to me at that point in my life.

So, I had the money. I was ready to go. Our team had our last meeting and arranged our time to meet to take a bus to the nearest international airport. It was finally here. I packed up my suitcase, had my pillow as my carry-on and off to the bus I went. I just couldn't believe it was finally happening. And I couldn't believe I wasn't scared. I had one friend on the trip, but we weren't close. More like good acquaintances. Now, for those of you who know me now, I was much quieter and shy back then. Back then, the thought of being with 35 people I didn't know, in a place I had never been would have me quaking in my flip-flops. But the Lord had complete control over everything and I had total peace. (that and I had all my prayer warriors and supporters praying over me the whole time!)

Our bus ride was about 4 hours long through the middle of the night and we arrived at the airport before the airlines even opened for the morning. We camped out in the lobby of the airport, a pile of college kids with luggage, books, Bibles, pens, journals, pillows, sleeping bags and backpacks scattered across the floor. It was a sight to behold and it warmed my heart that we were all on this journey together.

The flight was fine and I will never forget flying into Montego Bay, Jamaica for the first time. The airstrip is tiny and RIGHT next to the ocean. It looked like we were going straight into the great blue deep. And the water? It looked like someone had melted down millions of brilliantly colored diamonds. It sparkled and shimmered in all its blue glory. We stepped out of the plane and into the warm sunshine and humidity (and I do love warm weather!). The whole walk into the airport (you walk down a set of stairs, out of the plane into the open air and then go into the airport gate) I had a huge smile plastered across my face and I was taking in everything I could get my eyes on. Jamaica is so striking because of it it's mountains. It's beautiful beach and then straight up into gorgeous, green, tree covered mountains.

We quickly went through customs and then climbed onto yet another "bus" (or the Caribbean version of a bus) for our 4 hours drive up through the mountains to the Deaf Village where we would be living for the next week. It was one of the longest car rides of my life. It seemed to take FOR-ever.

And the scenery on our way up....such beauty. The beaches, the palm trees...Then we left the tourist areas and I saw the real Jamaica. It wasn't happy people strolling the beach hand in hand. It was shacks with no running water. It was trash in huge piles everywhere I looked. It was stray dogs and goats and little kids with hardly any clothes on. It was more little shacks with no electricity and a water pump outside in the yard. It was people with blank stares and sad faces. Jamaica looked like some of those places in Africa that I had seen on commercials back at home. It broke my heart.

The sun began to set and I fell asleep till we finally reached the Deaf Village. It was dark outside, but the light from the buildings where we would be staying was so warm and inviting. We walked in to see the rest of our team (we had split into 2 groups to travel) who ran to give us hugs and offer us a cold Ting (the most gloriously tastey soda on the planet). We were also met by Scott, Clint and Cheryl, who would be our Jamaica hosts for the week.

Our little adventure in this whole new country had just begun.....

to be continued

March 11, 2008


Since I've already done 2 posts today, I've decided to wait and post my long story complete with pictures from the past.
It's one of the most amazing times of my life and I can't wait to share the story with you.
Check back tomorrow....

Neighborhood punks brought to justice.....and a correction

Remember when my neighbor's house burned down? I do. I'm reminded every time I go to get the mail and see it's charred shell scarring the horizon. Today I heard about this article in the local paper.

Three teenagers were charged with arson Wednesday after county police linked them to a Feb. 12 fire that destroyed a home in ------.

Last month, police and county firefighters were called to the 100 block of ----- ----- about 3:15 a.m. When they arrived, they found an empty house engulfed in flames. It was a total loss, with $450,000 in damages, county Fire Department officials said.

During the investigation, police found several items from inside the home nearby. This made officers think the home had been burglarized before it burned to the ground, police said.

After a three-week investigation, officers discovered that three juveniles who live in -------- burglarized the house the night before the fire. They then set the home on fire and fled with stolen items.

Each juvenile was interviewed and confessed to the burglary and arson, police said. The gender and ages of the juveniles were not immediately available.

Police were able to link one of the juveniles to another unrelated ------- burglary, police said.

The juveniles were each charged with arson, burglary, and theft. They were released to their parents' custody.

I'm wondering if the "unrelated burglary" was when someone broke into our camp gift shop and stole about $400 worth of T-shirts and sweatshirts and bags. Just when you think your neighborhood is safe....

In other news....
I must retract something I wrote earlier with this comment from "the bro" who is always right even when I'm convinced that I am right.

"Actually "300" was made for a measly $60 million. I know that is still a lot compared to Once, but that is still nothing compared most of the other big blockbusters as of late. It went on to make $456 million when it was all said and done. I would call it a success."

Dang it all, I hate it when he's right again. How does he know so much?! Does anyone else suffer from a younger sibling whose abnormally smarter than you are? The kind that gets straight A's without studying. The kind that knows random facts for just about any conversation you may have. The kind that excels at every thing you are terrible at. The kind that you love so fiercely that you have to excuse them for making you feel stupid.

Once again, I stand corrected.

movie time

It was a movie weekend this past weekend amidst all of the power outages and water shortages.

Thankfully, my movie house (aka the bro's living room) maintained electricity and heat throughout the duration of the savage wind storm.

This allowed for the viewing of a movie at various times with friends piled on the couch throughout our breaks from serving meals to 130 people with no electricity or water.

Did I mention we are magicians? Cue "The Final Countdown."

Back to the movies....

There were 3 and I must say all three were just fantastic. Not only that but they were about as different as they could all be. A $100,000 indie, a BIG budget blockbuster with extreme special effects and a documentary filled with nerds.

First was one that I have been wanting to see for a long time. Once. I mentioned it a couple weeks ago after it's stars won the Oscar for best song.

I must say it was as good as everyone said that it was. I didn't disappoint. A sweet story, lovely music and that charming indie feel. The characters were fantastic and lovable. And the ending was perfection. 3 out of 4 stars.
***note: rated "R" for language. They like to say "f" this and "f" that a lot.

Next up was a completely different movie. Different as night and day really. It had an enormous budget with crazy special effects. It is was bloody and harsh. But the story is so enthralling, not to mention based on truth. It was the blockbuster 300.

I love the feel of this movie. The grit and darkness with the red contrast in their uniforms. I saw it in the theater but enjoyed it as much the second time as I did the first. 3 out of 4 stars.
***rated "R" for VERY good reasons. It's violent and there are a couple scenes that you want to fast forward thru. NOT for kids. Take the "R" rating seriously, folks.

The last one was another movie that I have been wanting to see for quite some time. I had heard about it from my TV boyfriend back in September. It's called King of Kong. A documentary of spectacular proportions.

It is, no lie, a documentary on the 2 men that are vying for the title of best Donkey Kong player in the world. And yes, it is as crazy and silly as it sounds. But it also has enormous heart. The "bad guy" is so suave and just dripping with evil. The kind of evil you see in every day life. And the "good guy" is so normal and easy to love. I HIGHLY recommend this movie. And I promise a lot of laughs about video game nerds and the world they live in. 3 1/2 stars out of 4.

Just my humble opinion on some fun flicks. Anyone else see anything good lately? I've got nothing to watch with TV still in hibernation till April 4th. Plus, there isn't anything good on lately anyway. I still haven't seen that last 2 weeks of Lost and don't really care about it. The Battlestar premiere can't come fast enough!

March 10, 2008

found this

I LOVED Tom Cavanagh in his Ed days. He was the Zach Braff of my life in those years. Then his adorable little show was canceled. But fate was smiling on me and he was cast as JD's (Zach Braff) older brother on Scrubs. It was a sibling match made in Cottage Girl TV heaven. He still pops up every now and then on Scrubs.
I found this big picture of him on my second trip to NYC way back in the day. It was right across the street from Hello, Deli and David Letterman's studio side street.
This particular photograph was found today as I was hunting up my pictures for tomorrow's post. It's going to be a good one full of old times and big life changes. Be sure to click back over tomorrow.

As for yesterday's post, those of you who chose option #3 Savage Winds, you are correct. I was working this weekend with our user group which was 130 teenagers and leaders. Low and behold a lovely windstorm came upon us and knocked out the power for about 15 hours. We still managed to serve a hot dinner and breakfast the next morning without water and partial electricity. Our fabulous group was so easy going and dealt with the crazy situation so well. Even though it was a fun little adventure that I won't ever forget, I also VERY glad it's over. My house was about 40 degrees by the time I woke up and Sunday morning. It was torture crawling out from under my down comforter. Absolute torture.
Doesn't take much to make you thankful for heat and water, does it?!

Don't forget to check back tomorrow. I can't wait to share this story with you.

March 09, 2008

perfectly good reason

"Cottage girl. I checked your blog about 15 times yesterday and didn't get a new post. This made me mad. You better have a good excuse....or else...."

Well, first of all, if my little blog is that important to you, I am humbled and honored that the silly things I say actually make a difference in your day. Gracious me, I just write nonsense most of the time. Do you really enjoy the ramblings that much?!

Well, I do have a very good reason for not posting yesterday. It was one of the three following and I leave it up to you to decide with one is the real one.....

1. I just didn't have anything interesting to say and instead of writing a bunch of nonsense, I chose to let you re-read some of my past blogging topics.

2. I had a glorious photographic adventure all day. I ran home to load them onto my computer only to be foiled by my stupid SD card. It quite happily, I might add, ate all my wonderful compositions of light and color and left me with nothing in return. I couldn't stomach a post of words without the beautiful scenes I had hoped to leave you with.

3. I was working some major magic with 3 other friends. We managed to feed and serve 130 teengers and adults without electricity and water for 2 meals. A savage windstorm knocked out the power. I couldn't post because, duh, no electricity. Plus my fingers were frozen because there was, duh again, no heat.

So what do you think? Laziness, adventure scorned or savage winds? Option 1, 2 or 3. It's choose your own adventure. Maybe if you all choose the false one, I'll write a random story about it anyway.

p.s. the quote above is what I imagined some of you said yesterday. It is by no means a true quote. Sometimes I like to think that other people enjoy my blog as much as I do.

March 07, 2008

Friday Finds

April 4th can't come fast enough. Here's a fun re-cap/refresher course. No one does promo's like BSG.

I can't seem to get enough of Pioneer Woman. She inspires me to be a better writer and photographer.

Flickr loves and gushes.

Sart finds another amazing one. The background made me Paris wistful.

I know it's kinda vain, but I rarely feel beautiful in photos. This one is a great exception so I'm posting it. Vanity, vanity, thy name is woman (it a bright pink dress with Mac Lipglass and clean hair soaking up some of the bridal glow from a friend).

My favorite actions. They enhance all my best photos. I've had them for months and still use them constantly.

Be still my FNL starved heart. The best news in TV land since the end of the strike. Can it be true!???

Project Runway finale. Did you see it? Did you drool over Christian's masterpieces like I did? My favorite was this little number.

Sci-fi defined. This made me laugh cause it seems almost more complicated that what it really is.

Happy Foody is doing a Raw Challenge. While I don't know that I can go all out, although I would love to try, the ideas she talks about have made me think a a lot lately.

Danielle was the guest designer at Hambly. Just look at all the pretties she made!
I LOVE Hambly. I think it's a Godsend that it isn't available anywhere near me cause I would spend way too much cash on it.

3191. What a grand idea. Love to pop over there every once in a while.

I loved the quote in this post. And I love this idea. Need to try it.

And for the big finale....I give you this video. I dare you not to laugh. The Q's introduced me to this gem while I was at their house this past weekend.

SCC confession

I cry every time I go see Steven Curtis Chapman. I try not to, but fail every single time.

Last night was no exception. Here are a few example of the things that made me tear up....

  • I walked in the door to the arena and I was instantly in sight of about 3 families with little Chinese girls. No matter where I am, this makes me tear up, but here it's definite. And knowing that many of these little girls would still be in orphanages in China, if not for this family (the Chapman's) stepping out in faith and adopting.

  • There were people walking around the lobby area with big buckets collecting change. The change would all be pooled together at the end of the concert and a check would be given to a family that was a awarded a Shaohannah's Hope scholarship. A family would be one step close to their new family member.

  • The family that was chosen at our concert came on stage at the very end of the show. They held up a picture of the 2 little girls they were in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. The mom got choked up when Steven handed her a check for $5,100.

  • He opened his show with my very favorite song of his. Be Still. I love that at the beginning of his concerts, he walks out by himself and explains to the audience that we are all there to worship God. It isn't about him and his songs, it's about worship. He played this song with his guitar and then prayed that we would all see the Lord and worship Him in the next few hours we would be together. So very humble.

  • His sons were in his band on this tour. He has told stories about them for years. You could visibly see how very proud he was to play with them. And they were GOOD too.

  • He sang When Love Takes You In. The video playing was of Shaohannah's Hope families who had mailed in videos of the moments that they had adopted their little ones plus the Chapman's and their adoption moments with their 3 little ones. Good gracious, I think everyone was teary eyed.

  • At intermission, a little Chinese girl with her tub of change headed to find a Show Hope bucket.

  • He did a set of him playing requests that people had emailed in. Lots of old songs. He was saying that those songs were like the Old Testement Ebenezer stones. Little pillars that you see (or hear in this case) and you remember what God was doing in your life at the time you first heard it. So very true for me. His songs have been HUGE in my Walk.

This is just a few, mind you. There were more, but I promise I won't drag on and on. If you ever get a chance to go and see him live, do it. Even if you don't really enjoy his music style, I promise that you will have an incredible experience.

And a special thanks to my mom who is always up for a SCC concert with me. It was a great time, wasn't it?!!