Sunday, January 30, 2011

100 Days... My Favorite Memory

I don't have a favorite memory; I have a multitude of moments that I remember, and I certainly couldn't pick just one. So I'll pick three, from three different phases of my life.

The first and foremost has to be with my family, since I have been with them the longest. Most of my memories were made with them, and those will stay with me the longest as I continue to make more by their side. The picture below captures my two oldest sisters with me on a beach here in Michigan. The rest of the family was there too. This is a favorite because since we were all little the Michigan beaches have held a lot of memories for all of us; camping, walking, hiking up dunes, running on them in the icy winter, and enjoying them in the summer sun.

The next favorite is from my year at Liberty University, where I met my best friend Adrienne and made some other wonderful friends in my peers and professors. I will never forget that year; so much of it developed who I am as a person today and I believe, who I will be in the future. Most of all though, I loved the mountains in Virginia. The picture below was on the last hike I took to Devil's Marbleyard with my friend Andrew.

And finally, after my year in Lynchburg I made the trek out West to New Mexico, where I spent the summer working as a wrangler. More mountains! I made a lot of great friends and memories there as well. There was something about the empty landscape of the mesas that appealed to me, just as the forested landscape of VA did as well. The picture below was taken as Mom and I neared Glorieta, in the very bottom of the Rocky Mountain Range.

A Week of Short Styles: #2

"You straighten your hair just to curl it again?!" I've been asked that question incredulously several times, and the answer is, well, "Yes!". With natural curl you can't get the soft waves that curlers grant, so I straighten all the layers before setting them on hot rollers.

Today it didn't work as well as it could have because it was so cold (2 degrees) that my hair was static and dry. A little moisture in the air is best. The overall look five hours after the hot rollers came out, with no hair spray, is below. My bangs are swept to the side because they are too long to be across my forehead; this style would look better with the bangs.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Week of Short Styles: #1

On the scale of short hairstyles, I have one of the shortest. Any shorter and I'd be imitating Justin Bieber. Girls with hair like mine may wonder if they are limited in their styling options -- but I beg to differ. My former long locks (below my shoulders) gave me fewer options than I have now!

Given that I have naturally curly hair, that gives me a little more wiggle room in the style department. Earlier today I straightened my hair completely, but after a few runs on the sledding hill, that effort was no longer evident. What you see is hat head hair brushed back and pinned on the sides, using the natural curl to give a little 40's style.


I sent off an email to the INCH conference with hopes and prayers, awaiting the answer of the director to tell me if, and what, I would be speaking at the conference. My last experience there is one I will never forget. It was such a blessing to be surrounded by so many Christian families with godly daughters and sons! To go back in itself is an honor.

I received the email this morning. I rubbed my sleepy eyes (I had slept in again on a Saturday... one of these days I'll actually get up...) and read it again.


All three of these topics sound awesome! I think they will all address real needs and issues homeschool teens, grads, and their families are facing. Would you be willing to offer all three of them at INCH this year?"

I danced around the room a little, then bolted upstairs to tell my parents.

What an unexpected surprise! (I guess that's the definition of a surprise, isn't it?) I can't tell the topic names or content yet... but let me say: my work is now cut out for me.

The Lord works in such sweet ways; he knew that at this point in my life I really need something to work towards outside of the workplace. I love my job more than any other I have ever worked, and have the best coworkers I could ask for. At home, however, I need to have something to do besides cook and snowshoe. Something to work on.

My book on contentment has been my focus for the last months, but I needed something more definitive. God has blessed me greatly. He is so faithful!

100 Days... Me and Autumn

Since I already put up a picture of my family, today will be my second sister Autumn. She's the hairstylist with a sense of humor(although they are all hilarious!) and I have her picture handy... there will be more in the future, so all my sibs get a turn.

Friday, January 28, 2011

100 Days... Favorite Show

While vintage is definitely vogue, I struggle reconciling that mentality with the fact that I live in 2011. My taste in TV shows reflects that. How could I decide between Andy Griffith and What Not to Wear? I Love Lucy and CSI Miami?

A decision must be made. But why not compromise?

Diplomacy is always the best route between generations.

That's right: Gunsmoke!


100 Days... Who to Choose?

They said to pick the person I was closest to the longest, but there isn't just one. There's a bunch of them. In fact, there are seven of them.

Seven loud, rambunctious, teasing, outrageously hilarious and talented family members:

The Project Takes a Turn

As I continue work on the Project, it has developed into a much broader scheme than first anticipated. The original goal was a group for girls bent on rounding them out socially, mentally, physically, and spiritually with activities and experiences that would help them transition to adulthood.

As I have looked around, however, I have seen quite a few girls' groups that are accomplishing those same things. Not exactly the same, mind you, as my sister and I have in mind (the curriculum is still in progress, but close enough that I needed to branch out in my mind and attempt to find some need that was yet undiscovered and unfulfilled.

I think I found it.

I've been thinking about it a lot over the last few days and talked with Dad last night about it. I'm not going to give it away -- but it has to do with college. Revealing, I know.

But let me say this much: how many of you are or were college students frustrated by the agendas of universities? Have you ever gone through the transfer process and lost a semester of credit? Or received credit only to have a year tacked on for your 'program'?

I wonder if many students know that they don't have to do college the normal way.

Or that they don't have to go to college at all.

Or that there are very specific things they can do in high school to knock college grads' resumes off the hiring manager's desk.

That's what I want to talk about, and that may be what God provides. I received an email just the other day from the director of the largest home school conference in Michigan, INCH, responding to an email I sent a long time ago concerning Project 31 (the first edition). She said they may be interested in me returning to the conference this year to do one or TWO workshops! What a timely blessing!

I emailed her the topics and await the result. Meanwhile... I need to get this show on the road....

Monday, January 24, 2011

100 Days... Fifteen Things

With a conglomeration of ideas, recipes, projects and thoughts on here, this little thing I've seen friends doing on Facebook looked like fun.


1. I can read and write Latin, but not speak it.
2. I love pearls.
3. I am very smell oriented... the way to my heart is through cologne.
4. I have the best siblings I could ever ask for.
5. My parents are my greatest advisors.
6. I love lipstick and heels. A real girly girl.
7. I also love to go without makeup and watch baseball -- even on TV.
8. I read a cookbook before bed.
9. I've dyed my hair more times than I can count, starting from age 13.
10. I work at a newspaper, and I love to write; but I'm horrible at writing news.
11. I had my bunions removed at age 14.
12. I'm a runner.
13. Most of my brand-name clothes are second hand.
14. I am a recovering coffee addict.
15. I hope to know Jesus Christ better tomorrow than I do today.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Remembered in Letters

My sister lifted the lid of the old trunk and a plastic bag fell to the floor. Pictures sprawled out every direction, dripping off the edges of the trunk, falling behind it and into the cardboard boxes that fill up Grandma's basement. "What's this?" Autumn asked, lifting up the bag. It held a leather wallet, a nice one too. The leather was hand-tooled and well kept, with a floral border around the edges and a large fleur de lis on the front. She pulled it out and opened it carefully. "Property of George A. Hodgson," she read aloud. Grandma lifted a picture out of the trunk. "That's your great-great-great grandfather." She said, pointing to the black and white face: a refined face, with friendly eyes. "That was his wallet." She told us.

We took the wallet home and found among several receipts for purchases a letter to George's son Albert, requesting him to use some land George owned to pay for his burial. "I [saw fit] to keep the land rather than money, which is so easily spent in time of need," the shaky cursive wrote. The date was 1939.

Letters are a beautiful thing to me. They last through time the way nothing electronic can, with its easy access and often thoughtless haste. A letter takes time to write and conveys a message deeper than a passing whim. Too, letters have been the standard mode of communication for centuries, without technology to interrupt. Letters are a sort of legacy, I think; something we all should try at some time or another.

Personally, I try it all the time. There are several people I write on a regular basis (at least weekly). I like plain, classic stationary and a fountain pen, but there are so many other ways to write letters! I love to hear what other people use for ideas. Below are listed a few I found myself.

Wouldn't it be neat someday when we are gone for our own great-great-great grandchildren to find evidence of thoughtfulness like my Grandpa George's? To think that his shaking hand -- one that rode among cattle in Colorado and recorded the Indian attacks of Grand County -- wrote the very words I read out loud in the kitchen last night. Letters are truly amazing things.

I found these ideas for creative letters on the website 'The Illuminated Letter'. Try them out and let me know of any ideas of your own!

Some of my favorite mail ideas:

1. Unusual Surfaces: Just recently, I got a letter with no envelope that was written on the insole of a shoe. (No shoe attached, mind you, just a disembodied insole, like the Dr. Shoal's kind, only in a wild hawaiian print.) What I wouldn't have given to see the look on my mailman's face when THAT arrived!

2. Try a small change: Nobody said that you have to use a traditional format for your notes. Try using white ink on black paper. Try making a ransom-note type letter, where every word is cut out of a magazine, and arranged in a certain order. Or try writing all in song lyric quotes. (Don't overdo that last one. It gets old quick, but is pretty fun for a one-time deal.)

3. Home-made Envelopes: If you're not comfortable sending out your letter by itself (as in the case of the Infamous Insole, above), try making your own envelopes out of magazine ads or some kind of paper that you like. I've got all kinds of templates if you want one. (I'll scan a couple and link them here at some point.) Or you can take apart a regular envelope and use that as a template. Try using tinfoil covered with packing tape, brown paper bags that you've potato printed, or fabric sewn together.

4. Just Plain Weird Envelopes: And nobody said your envelope has to look like an envelope, either. Send a letter in a (washed) soda can. Or inside a shoe (children's shoes don't cost much to mail, either). My thing lately is to send round-shaped letters in old DVD cases that I get for free from the store. We were just going to throw them away anyway. Think of new uses for old items....make them art.

5. Artsy Prose: Give your pen pal all your news in haiku. Or write everything backwards so that you need a mirror to read it. Or never once use the letter "e" -- and point that out at the end. Make a rebus letter, with words omitted and pictures in their place. Or rubber stamp your letters with alphabet stamps. Finger paint it. Write it in glitter paint or colored glue.

6. Stationery of the Gods: Most home-dec stores give away old wallpaper books -- use that as stationery. Or use old register tapes and send a scroll. I got a great letter the other day that was two pieces of newspaper (comics section) sewn together with a sewing machine. Try sending your letter as an accordian-fold book, or on origami. Or maybe, if you're writing while you're out somewhere, write an entire letter on cocktail napkins.

7. It Takes Two, Baybeee: Tandem letters are fun. If you've got pals who also know each other, try sending around one pack of paper, bound or not, on which you start a letter, have your pal add to it and mail to the third person. After it goes around, it comes back to you, when you can either add to it and send it again, or start a new one. This is particularly fun with stories -- start a story and send it to a person who adds to it and sends it on. By the time it gets back to you, it's nothing like the beginning.

8. Swap, Swap, Swap: I talk about decos and friendship books elsewhere on the site, but those aren't the only swaps that are out there. Send your pal some local stationery or pens and pencils and erasers, and get some back.

9. Really Artsy: Decorate your envelopes. Make your own artistamps to dazzle your recipient, or carve your own rubberstamps from erasers or vegetables. If you take a photocopy of your face and rub the back with acetone (nail polish remover) and a cotton ball, the image will transfer right onto your envelope. You can get some really freaky images that way.

10. Anything Goes: There are some great mail art sites on the web that talk more about the types of things other people have mailed. (I'll post a couple under the links section.) Just keep your mind open. Someone, in fact, posted a picture of a piece of toast that they mailed, after coating it with polyurethane. Send a plastic frog. Or a feather-covered box. Or an altered book. The possibilities are endless.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

In Progress

I'm contemplating switching everything over to this blog. After three years on A Quill and Inkwell, Project 31 is where my heart is at -- partly because of its broad range of potential, but also because Inkwell can't really be taken any further than the purpose it has already served.

Project 31 hasn't had a whole lot of tangible progress thus far, however. After quitting my second job to devote time to it, I find myself instead baking pies in the evening just to eat them (this project is bad for my waistline as well).

Originally, the project was meant to be a girls' group, modeled in similarity to Girl Scouts and Sarah Mally's Brite Lites group. But because of time crunches, I am thinking of taking it another route -- one less demanding of my self and my sisters' time (who were involved in the project with me).

The Lord has been laying on my heart for the last few months an idea that really resonates with my desire to see young women fulfilled and using their talents to glorify God with joy. It's a completely new direction than I have taught in the past, one that I do not feel qualified to teach and probably am not. BUT - I can learn!

How do I combine what I love to do - cook, teach, speak, write, garden - with what real life calls for - financial responsibility, wisdom, career decisions, college choices? Can it all fit together somehow?