Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Baked Potato Cauliflower Soup

Surely you've seen the cauliflower trend in food? People are mashing up cauliflower and saying it tastes just like mashed potatoes. They're throwing cauliflower in as a clever substitute for potatoes everywhere.

And, well, I'm not always the first to a trend, but I'd pinned some of these cleverly titled, well-photographed, well reviewed recipes and finally the time came. I bought a head of cauliflower. It's not a food I enjoy, mostly because it looks strange. It's completely white, has little to no taste, and doesn't appear to be something I should waste my time on.

But I'd already bought the cauliflower so I HAD to make the recipe. And you know what? It was good. It wasn't even not bad. I didn't tell Carson that it was cauliflower instead of potato, just that there was a secret ingredient. I knew he'd eat it either way; I just wanted to see what HE thought - and he couldn't tell. He said it had a better texture. It was really filling and we were stuffed when we scraped the bottom of our bowls.

Here's how if you'd like to make this recipe too.

Baked Potato Cauliflower Soup
Original Recipe here.
Makes about 8 servings.
Time: took me just under an hour including chopping veggies and setting the table. Do that beforehand and this is a piece of cake.

You'll Need:
8 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 an onion chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced (or one teaspoon of jarred minced garlic)
4 cups shredded or grated cauliflower (1/2 large head - I didn't measure and just grated the whole thing)
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons flour
2 C chicken broth, divided
2 C 2% Milk (we had whole)
3-4 dashes hot sauce
2.5 C shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 green onions, chopped (for garnish

Chop all the vegetables. Chop chop chop. This is the most time-consuming part... and grating cauliflower is really weird)
Saute bacon in large pot over medium until crisp. Set bacon aside and remove all but 1T drippings from pot (or more... it's a taste thing).
Whisk flour and 1/4 of the broth in a small bowl and set aside
Add onion, celery and garlic to the pot, seasoned with salt and pepper and saute until tender (4-5 minutes).
Add cauliflower and onion to the pot. Add water, put a lid on top and steam for about 5-7 minutes, until cauliflower is tender. Add the non-flour chicken broth and the milk and bring all to a boil.
Whisk in flour-broth slowly, then turn down to a simmer for about four minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese and about half of the bacon. Taste and add salt and pepper and hot sauce to your liking. Serve topped with cheese, bacon and green onion.

Here's the grated cauliflower... looks like cheese but not quite as tasty. And be careful: easy to shred your knuckles; I nearly did!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Tears Will Come

I was getting ready to take a shower when I decided to take the test. Too excited to wait, I stuck my head out to see what the test said before I was even out.


The rest of the shower was mostly me opening my eyes wide and staring at the curtain. Really? Finally? I had a variety of emotions, which didn't come out in tears. I tried to make myself cry because that's the reaction I wanted to have, but really I just had too many things to think about and I couldn't go there.

The tears came for the first time a week and a half later when I began to spot and thought I was having a miscarriage. I saw the tiniest bit of blood and lost it, sitting on the bathroom floor sobbing, Carson's arms around me. I prayed the only things I could think of, which were mostly "Why?" and "Please let me just be overreacting!" and the next morning I woke up wary but fine. I continued to feel nauseated and pregnant, but I called the doctor to be safe.

I had been somewhat fearful from the beginning. I prayed that I'd be the kind of person that can just live life normally after two miscarriages, but I don't think that person exists. I looked to the future and dreamed about holding a precious baby in early November. Maybe even two - I've always wanted twins. But because of my experiences, I feared. I was understandably afraid that I'd do something or that something would happen and it would be a "three strikes and you're out" scenario.

On the morning of March 22, I woke up and knew. I mean, I sort of knew. I felt off. I was having pain in my lower back and a little cramping and just didn't feel right.
But I went to work because maybe it was just spotting. I urged myself to focus on work and think about life when I got home. And then it was painful. I felt a sharp pain and then felt something leave my body. I know that's gross, but it did. And tears filled my eyes. "No, please no" I silently begged, while trying to keep my voice level and my eyes from weeping.

I went on my break and lost it emotionally. The minute I was off the floor I began to sob. I headed to the bathroom and my fears were confirmed. I knew then that my baby was no longer living inside me, and my prayers for the health of my pregnancy ceased.

The past rushed back to me in that moment. I remembered sitting in a gas station bathroom in Ukraine with absolute fear. I remembered "No, please no" being the only words I could think to pray. I remember the eternal bus ride and the dread of what was going to come.

I couldn't stop crying. My supervisor came over to me after my break and asked if I was okay, and my red eyes betrayed me. "Go in the back for a little bit; we'll be okay for a second", he said. And I did, but I didn't make it past the door before I began to weep. He'd followed me back there to retrieve a carton of milk, and sent me home. It was the most merciful thing I could have experienced, because can you imagine me trying to get through the remaining six hours?

For awhile, I sat in my car in the parking lot. I called my mom, who cried with me and prayed for me. I went home to Carson, who I'd warned of my early return and the loss of our child. He'd set up clothes in the bathroom so I could shower and was waiting by the door to wordlessly hug me.

When I got in the shower, I thought about the time I was in there four weeks earlier. I thought about the tears that wouldn't come and how I knew they'd come later. And they had. I cried for my baby. I cried for the emotions of joy I'd wanted to cry before and couldn't. I cried for the fear of loss I'd had, and the fulfillment of that sadness. I cried because God is sovereign. I cried because close friends have lost their babies and they're in heaven instead of inside us. I cried for the future, because I don't know if I can do that again. I cried for the innocence of myself two years ago, when I had no idea how painful loss could be. I cried until the water was cold and I had to get out.

Tears lie ahead, I fear. Whether it's the same kind of tears in the future, the tears I'll cry when I go to the doctor, or the tears of joy and relief I think I will cry at the eventual birth of my hoped-for child, the tears will come.

I look forward to the joy that comes with the morning.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

When the Grass is Greener

It's really easy to have the "grass is greener" mentality.

I find myself struggling with that a lot. We live in a way that's different from most of the people that we know. For our entire relationship, either Carson or I have been in school, and that's our plan for the foreseeable future. Since it's been that way since the beginning, it's just a part of life for us. Most days, I get to see Carson for only 10 or 15 minutes (and often it's the 10 or 15 minutes before I rush out the door at 6am so it's not really TIME), and that's hard, but it's also very normal.

We've had a few conversations about this recently, because we've caught ourselves in the mindset of thinking that we deserve to live our lives one way, when really, we forget that we're in a different place. And we don't DESERVE to live a certain way just because we think we should, since the world doesn't actually revolve around us (darn).

Being in the student phase of life while lots of people around us have moved on can be frustrating. Our free time isn't quite as free; our wallets aren't quite as open; our time together is often short and... not sweet, just time enough to say "How was your day, did you have time to do the dishes? No? I was at work/school all day please do them". And that's sometimes life. I would document that more often, but neither of us are in the mood for taking a picture in the midst of an argument about WHO ATE ALL THE PICKLES. Which hasn't actually happened, but totally would because we only fight about things that matter, and pickles are obviously very rare and hard to come by and that's a worthy argument.

It was a little easier when we were in the bubble of being in college. Our friends had classes at random times, tiny little budgets and crappy cars, just like we did. And now, lots of people we know have set schedules (we have never once had one so I feel like this would actually be weird for us) and paychecks that are both regular and decent.
We are provided for, and of course well off compared to a large portion of the world, but sometimes we see what people around us have or are able to do and wonder why we don't. Why do they get more free time? Oh right, school. Why do they get to go on weekend trips anywhere and we barely see each other on weekends? Oh yes, school. Why do they have two cars and we have one and it's old and doesn't have air conditioning? Oh yes, school (and really, it runs fine, it's just really ugly at this point).

It's very easy to look at the people around us and assume that they don't struggle like we do. And they might not in EXACTLY the same way, but I've learned that everyone has insecurities.

We easily overlook the fact that we are in this stage of life for a really specific reason. For some reason, God put a LOVE of higher education inside Carson. He walks to school reading a book (this is true - I haven't witnessed it but I have friends who have passed him somehow holding his book and journeying to school - don't bother mentioning safety) and spends his free time reading books and has piles of books in the basement and piles of books under the bed and shelves of books all over and books on the table all the time.

I digress, but God gave him not just a love but an unquenchable thirst - a passion - for learning, and he's been given the opportunity to pursue that. And not just to pursue it but to not have to pay for it, which is such a blessing, because we don't have to worry about that. In so many ways, we have been blessed in the life we lead, the very life we aren't always thankful about.

 God provided a great house that was bigger than we needed, and we're able to use it to host people every week. We have amazing friends and a wonderful community within a church that exceeded our expectations. We have a car that has miraculously lasted us 4.5 years, taken us on many trips, without needing major work. We've been able to see family several times since we live a little closer, we have never missed a rent payment, and I work in a place that gives me great benefits and flexible hours for when Carson does get a free evening.

When we look at the hand God HAS dealt us, it's easy to see that we are actually very blessed and quite fortunate. When we look at the lives He's given other people, we see what we don't have. That's a convicting thought, to realize that in our very noses are blessings far better than we deserve, but we're complaining about them, sad because we aren't "successful" by our definition. In reality, as Christians we shouldn't be making that definition up ourselves. Our hope is in Christ. Our lives are secure in Him. On top of that, we don't want for anything.

Terminator: Home Invasion

Disclaimer: If you love small animals and judge people who don't, you aren't going to like this.

As you may remember, back in September, we made the wise decision to move our bedroom downstairs. During the coldest winter anyone from Ohio can remember (that's what they all say, really), it has been great to have a smaller room that our tiny space heater can actually heat. During the tiny bit of warmth we had in September, it was much easier to cool.

But this doesn't mean that moving didn't have drawbacks.

For instance, it turns out that our next door neighbor runs his car early in the morning before he leaves for work. How do I know this? Because the lights from his car shine riiiiiight into my window at 4:30 in the morning. Additionally, the downstairs bedroom is right next to the kitchen and bathroom, which means that if someone has to - ahem - loudly use either of those rooms before the other is up, they might do so and the blender or, um, other noises might in fact make the other person wake up, and not in a fairy princess sort of manner.

But these things pale in comparison to the annoyance that was the bird situation.

I was home alone one day this past fall when I very clearly heard a scratching sound. Being home alone and hearing a strange noise are not the best combination, but it was all made more frightening by the suspicion that the tiny noises were intruders of the rodent variety. Naturally I listened for the sound when Carson was home so that could identify it, but of course they/it was/were sleeping whenever he tried. I couldn't identify WHAT it was and more frightening, WHERE the sound originated.

Over the months, the sound grew more annoying and more frequent. I began putting my phone on its video setting to record the scratchy noises and prove my point. I began cautiously examining the bags of clothes-to-give-away in the attic where I assumed my enemies lived. I never saw a tail or hole or even the infamous mouse poop. It was infuriating. Was I going insane? COULD anyone else hear the sounds?

I woke up at 4 in the morning once, thanks to our neighbor, and heard the sound. The little creature was going to town! I woke Carson up from a deep slumber (he snores like crazy but you just have to say his name, even quietly and it works every time to wake him up) and he heard it too! Thus began many nights of trying to identify the sound, as our little intruder made himself more and more at home.

After some detective work, it was finally determined that the sound originated from a small hole above the window in our bedroom. There's a gap between the window frame and the siding that allowed for an entrance. I attempted to scare them by knocking on the walls which worked for awhile, but it was still 15 degrees outside and with piles of snow on the ground I had never ventured over to actually scare them. So they got to a point where they weren't bothered by me.

Soon we discovered that our rodent was actually a bird. The scratching sounds began to sound more like wing sounds (presumably as the bird worked its way further into our house and made itself cozier).

I've always heard that birds don't have babies until the spring, but I don't really believe that anymore. From out of nowhere the bird was BIRDS. Suddenly at all hours of the day (and night, especially at night), there were bird noises, from the sounds of walking birds to the sounds of birds exiting their home, to the sounds of birds communicating with one another. I don't know if they adopted birds, had baby birds, or invited another family of birds to the party, but it was LOUD. And while bird chirps usually bring a little joy since they signal spring, chirping from my wall at 2am was driving me crazy. 

And yes, I did wake Carson up occasionally so that he could experience the torture with me. One does not suffer alone in marriage; it wouldn't be fair.

Finally I hit a point where I couldn't take it anymore. The birds were too much. "But it's winter! What will they do?" said I-still-have-a-heart Carson. "I don't care. We need to call our landlord or get a gun. This is not their home and they should have gone South" said heartless-horrible-not-an-animal-rights-activist Lindsay. Carson tried to wait until the birds were gone, and tried to nail a board in the way so they couldn't get in, but that small hole was no longer small, thanks to the birds. 
The heroic attempt

So we called the landlord, who protested as well "But it's so cold! What will they do?!" until he arrived equipped with a ladder and spray foam and discovered the extent of the damage to his home. 

He reported later that he'd seen the hole in the fall, which was at the time rather small. But now it was hollowed out and they'd wired the place for cable, set up their armchairs, and really made the place their own. I was inside during his visit, and I heard slight curses under his breath (the damage was apparently extensive) and the sound of foam being released from an aerosol can. 

I slept just like Carson that night, waking up relieved and refreshed to an astonishingly quiet wall. It was wonderful and magical and every night since has been just as quiet.

But just yesterday, as I was stepping out the door to go to work, I heard a fluttering in the wall above the bathroom window and a tiny bird flew out just as I went to check on it. 

Our landlord will be here later this week.

Monday, March 17, 2014

My Birthday

I've had these pictures on my camera and just completely forgot to post them. Oops. 
My birthday was on a Sunday this year, so there wasn't exactly sleeping in. Oh well (spoiler alert: I took a nap later). Carson brought a Pop Tart in for my breakfast, so I munched on that while opening presents.

My mom made this gorgeous quilt (click here to see her story about it)

And Carson gave me two chalkboards after I told him I wanted a chalkboard - he didn't know what size so he bought options!

He worked until 1am on Saturday night, so Carson was tired and took a nap before church (now that I'm writing this I'm not sure how long before church we actually got up, but it appears to have been awhile)

And after church, we had lunch at Panera. I forget what we actually ate, but Carson picked out a carrot cake cupcake for dessert (because it was the biggest; not because of any real love for carrot cake)

The weather the few days before had been rather sunny. I loved this view from the top of our street showing where exactly the sun was hitting and melting snow. Excuse the dirty window; that's salt from the road.

After I took a nap that afternoon, Carson made dinner.

We had roasted asparagus, mushroom fettuccine AND a mushroom flat-bread. I couldn't finish all of this Carson-portioned plate but it was good!

Since I didn't put those pictures up earlier in the week, I'll just go ahead and share the pictures from my birthday party.

Carson threw me a party at the home of our good friends, the Wilsons. It wasn't a surprise, but he wanted to be able to invite our friends with kids and since our house isn't kid-friendly (it's very boring for kids unless they only like children's books), he asked Cory and Jasmine. They were willing so he forged ahead.

With the helpful advice of my friends Claire and Lana, the party's theme was black and white. I was pleasantly surprised that every single person that night wore black and/or white. We looked a bit like a group going to a funeral, which I didn't anticipate earlier, but it was really fun to see everyone dressed in their own interpretations.
Here are pictures.

Claire and Deanna put together a number of "Lindsay trivia" questions. Everyone put what they thought was true of me, and then at the end I gave the correct answers and everyone scored their points, determining the winner. There were a few that tied for first, and Carson was among them.

This isn't everyone; Cory was taking the picture, Jasmine and the kids were upstairs getting ready for bed, and Zach and Amy and their kids had already left. But it was a sizeable and very fun group of friends. Here are a few of the variations of this picture, since so many were taken (and see what I meant about a funeral?).

We stayed until after 11 talking and laughing before finally cleaning up and leaving Cory and Jasmine in peace. It was a fun birthday week!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

15 Things in 25 Years

I am now a quarter of a century old. I'm at the peak of the hill that is "mid-twenties" and will begin my way down next year. The countdown to thirty. I have friends who have reached this milestone birthday with sadness, mourning the loss of... youth? I'm not really sure, but I've never been one to wish I was younger. To me age has always seemed like something to look forward to, which I'm certain has much to do with the fact that just a few weeks ago I was asked what high school I attend.

I've had this post on my mind for a little while, as I've been reflecting on how different I feel now at 25 than I did just five short years ago. Without further ado, I'd like to share 15 things I've learned in 25 years (couldn't think of 25!)

1. There's no need to pretend you like something because every one else does. So you didn't like, say, the Hunger Games, so what?

2. You don't have to eat vegetables when you're a grown-up, but your body will really hate you if you don't. Sneak them in a smoothie if you hate the texture, but eat green things. Also, roasted vegetables are amazing. I wish I'd discovered this sooner in life.

3. Know your limits. When I'm around people all the time, I feel like I have to be "on", which really tires me out. Since my job is 100% about being around people, it's okay to go home and huddle under a blanket with the laptop. I don't have to say "yes" to every invitation I get and I've gotten a lot better about saying no and not feeling like I ripped someone's heart out as a result.
We have discovered that try as we might, Carson and I are not foodie people. We like good food but we want it to be really cheap or to have an experience that's super duper worth the price (example: sure it's a chain, but we thought The Melting Pot was worth it because of the experience).

4. Be intentional. Yes, definitely okay to take breaks and to carve out alone time, but use the time you have to the best of your abilities. One of the best things we've done in Cleveland is to make a "bucket list" of things we wanted to do in the city. We've discovered a lot of gems in the city this way, and when we leave, we'll feel like we saw a good portion of the city and didn't just stay in our bubble all the time or cram all the "sights" in at the end.

5. Let people in. I don't see my friends every day anymore, so I can't always tell where they're struggling, and they can't always tell with me. In order to let people encourage you and pray for you, you have to lose a little pride and open up. And it's hard. I've really only learned THAT I need to do it; still working on HOW that happens.
I will say that though I really debated it, sharing my struggles through my loss super publicly on this blog was a blessing. My initial reason for sharing was because when I got back from a supposed six weeks overseas three weeks early, I didn't want to have to tell every single person why. I'd rather let them read and not have to feel like they asked a super sensitive question if I ran into them. So many people have emailed me to say they've gone through the same thing, or with verses that encouraged them, or because they needed to be encouraged as they went through their own loss. It's opened doors to be a blessing to others.

6. Find something you love doing and practice it. I am not a musician. I cannot sing, I cannot dance, I cannot write poetry. But I love making cards and practicing lettering. Am I great at it? Nope, but those little doodles are fun and I enjoy learning how to challenge myself, even if it's a really simple way.

7. Clean a little every day. I am often exhausted after work, but I try to do at least one thing around the house. I'm fully aware that most people do more, but if I'm at least doing SOMETHING, like wiping all the counters or dusting just the living room or throwing that one load of towels in the washing machine, I'm knocking things off my list. And chances are I'll go the extra step and do TWO things. On days I do nothing, I do nothing and I regret it. Laundry gets more wrinkled the longer it sits there.

8. Make lists of things to save up to buy. There are things I'd like for my house, like a big chalkboard or larger pieces of art or a RUG (which is near the top... our poor wood floors are naked), or things that are even more arbitrary like classic Disney movies... and they all go on the list of things I'm saving for, things that I can buy by saving five dollars here and there. It works for me.

9. Travel as much as you can, even if it's in your own city. Again, the Cleveland bucket list has been a great thing, but while we're in the Midwest there are other places we want/ed to see, like Chicago, Niagara Falls, Cedar Point, and other places in driving distance. And since seeing people is important to us, we TRY to see family and friends as much as we financially can. Grad school schedules aren't kind to those sorts of visits so we take what we can get, but it would stink to end this season and realize that we did nothing here.

10. Buy actual winter boots. This is the first year I've actually had snow boots. I have some hiking boots that are waterproof, but they aren't very tall, so snow easily gets in, and the fake UGGs I had (classy, I know) did little in the keep-my-feet-warm department. This year, Carson and I both splurged on boots we actually liked and would actually wear (that part was for me) and it was a good decision. Buying things like that feels like a waste to me since they're purely functional, but sometimes you need functional shoes. Sigh.

11. Get rid of things you don't like/use/need. When we moved to Ohio, I was struck by the amount of clothing I was keeping just because I wore it in high school. Jeans with holes that I kept "to paint in", like I paint houses on the side or something. Things that were too big (I went through several years of this, I think assuming I was getting more for my money because I could grow into it, which of course I never have), or too small (reverse problem). I donated a lot while we were still in Washington, but since we've been here, we've set aside a corner of the basement as a "yard sale" pile. It's probably going to be the worst sale ever and so it will likely be donated instead, but getting rid of things and simplifying is great.

12. Make things when you can. I make a lot of craft projects and things for the house because I enjoy it. I know people who don't, and I don't understand that. I think it's more fun to look around and say "Hey, I made that!" than to have a house full of things I've purchased. Not everyone is that way, but for me it's so great to turn "I could make that" in a store to "I DID make that" (unless it's on sale; then buy it).

13. Don't buy things because they are on sale. I think this is why I'm not a coupon-er. I don't need 27 bottles of soap or a lifetime supply of Frosted Flakes. This is ALSO why I've purged a lot of my clothes - because they were four dollars. That money adds up. Don't buy something if you don't really like it. This is a hard thing to learn.

14. Take naps (or just get the right amount of sleep at night).

15. Write things down. That's reason #1 why I started a blog - most of you who read this are people from some former life of mine (Beaufort or Spokane) who wondered "what's going on with them anyway?" As far as writing, I very sporadically journal. I have two notebooks (different sizes for different bags I carry - yes) that I use mainly for sermon notes. But the pages also include ideas that pop into my head, grocery lists, and random journal entries as they pop into my head. I also keep a day planner, and I jot down things I did during the day, or what we did for our weekly date night.

Friday, March 7, 2014

For Those Who Fear the Unknown

Written 6 March 2014 and published as if I'd posted it in 2014. At the time I wrote this, I was pregnant, had just spotted a lot, and I didn't know what was going to happen. I freaked out and I stayed scared. On March 22, I did miscarry this baby. It was not an easy thing.

I hate not knowing in the big picture.

I've always wanted to be pregnant, but I never considered that it was a scary undertaking. There's unknown morning sickness that could strike at any moment, lists of foods and drinks to avoid, things you can't do... and sometimes even when you obey all the rules, things go wrong.

In my world, if you follow the rules, everything should be fine. People who stay on the path are safe, right?

Welcome to life, Lindsay.

There have been several sets of circumstances in my life that seemed like mountains, and right now, pregnancy is the one looming in front of me. I've already suffered loss, so my senses are heightened. Any pain I feel brings on the "certainty" that I will lose this baby. Any time I feel funny, or suddenly feel just perfectly normal, I assume the worst. In my head, this will change as time progresses and I pass the 13 week mark, but right now? Time seems to be standing still, just waiting for that one moment when... surprise, surprise, I lose the baby.

But the thing about pregnancy and the thing about life is that you miss out on a lot if you're scared about what's behind the bend. Yes, I could lose my baby (which to be honest feels incredibly real right now even though I wish it didn't), but if I don't or if I do, I don't want to live like I'm preparing for a trip to a funeral home. A child is a miracle. Pregnancy is a blessing. If I live in fear of what might happen tomorrow, I miss out on today.

 One of the things I remember from the first time I was pregnant was the absolute joy I felt. I was on cloud 9. I downloaded What to Expect When You're Expecting on my Kindle and read the whole thing (minus the post-birth stuff... whole other obstacle) on the plane to Ukraine. I thought about names, I planned how I'd tell my family and friends... and I don't regret those plannings and that joy. It helped me as I grieved, because it showed me how much I loved the little life inside me.

This time around, there's naturally heightened sensation. I wish I could shake the feeling of fear that I have, but I know that I can't. I wish I could speed up time, but the days are seriously d-r-a-g-g-i-n-g by.

Hebrews 12 begins with a reminder to lay aside "every weight, and sin which clings so closely" to run toward Jesus. Instead of focusing on the things that slow us down or might entangle us or get in the way, we are to look ahead -- "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith". Why? Because "for the joy that was set before Him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God". It goes on to list other thing Jesus endured in His pursuit of the cross.

Though this passage isn't a perfect parallel to my situation, it hits the nail on the head for me. Instead of thinking about my fears and what might happen and what could be the eventual turn of events, I have to look forward. Thankfully I already have my hope in Jesus - I look toward Him, I run toward Him as my hope. If I were to put my hope in things on this earth, like feeling secure, I would be surrounding myself with my fears, allowing myself to be surrounded by them. Instead of that, in Jesus, I look ahead. I look to Him as my hope. I know that no matter what happens, He is the founder and perfecter of my faith and I can trust Him even in troubling times.

I don't have perfect faith and I don't think I'm guaranteed it in this life.
. I still get scared, but in Him I know there's more. He holds the future and has purpose, and though I may not understand it, I can give Him those fears and run unbound by the things I'm afraid of.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Bathroom Curtains

 Our bathroom window has frustrated me since we moved here. It's been 18 months, so clearly I've been proactive about doing something about my frustration. I've considered multiple ideas, but the bathroom is all kinds of crazy color-wise, and I wasn't really sure WHAT to do.

The walls are white, but the fake tiles on the walls are gray and orangey, the sink and cabinet under it are blue-ish, the floors are terra-cotta linoleum, and we've just used the shower curtain we had which is burnt orange. The last thing I wanted was to add more orange or more blue, so I felt a little stuck.

And one of the things about the room that bothered me is that somewhere along the way, someone frosted the windows for privacy, and then scraped part of it off. The blinds aren't great (one of them is especially twisted, so they don't close all the way). The bathroom window is on our back porch and I really didn't relish the thought of having a guest snooped on if we had a barbeque back there or something.

So my ideals for the windows became: something neutral, something light (so the bathroom isn't a cave) and something that isn't see-through. White sheers were considered and rejected immediately for the last reason.

I considered burlap, but since it's pretty see-through, it didn't pass the test. I found this linen-looking fabric in sort of a taupe-y gray color and thought it would work. When I found it, I was just browsing, so I hadn't measured how much I needed, and bought 2 1/3 yards (I said 3 originally, but when they went to cut it, that amount was already cut and I thought "aw, why not?"

I ironed it

And I'd decided to make this really simple on myself, so I used Heat n Bond. I decided that if I wanted to in the future, I could actually sew them, but I wasn't feeling like it and didn't want to make the mess of the machine, so this worked.

I cut little pieces of it to use, instead of setting it out in a straight line, since I don't do straight lines very well.

I folded it over twice for a neat looking hem and Heat n Bonded it into place.

This was figuring out how wide to make the hem - I guess it's 3/8 inch wide, since I used the tape as a guide for the hem. I put more tape in there at the end.

And there they are. The room actually feels brighter with the curtains, somehow, and I like the way it looks. When I got home from the store I measured to see how long they needed to be and somehow miscalculated so they are a little short. It doesn't bother me too much, but I might buy some clips to hang them from so they're a little longer.

I'm thrilled to have a solution. To my knowledge, there's never been a peeping Tom looking in, but I always feel like bathroom windows should be as private and covered as possible, so it gives me the peace of mind I was actually looking for.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Everyday

When people ask what's new, I usually say something like "Well, it's been cold" or "Well, it's been snowing a lot" which is basically saying "We have no life and I couldn't think of anything else to say". Because truly, not much is new and my personal fear is that we're going to have snow instead of fireworks on the 4th of July.

Our normal weeks go like this: church, community group, Carson class on Tuesday and Wednesday, date night on Thursday (have I mentioned that we have a regular night together this semester? Because it's thrilling and the first time ever), Carson works Friday and Saturday night and then the week begins again.

I work five days a week at irregular hours. The last part is not my favorite thing, but I guess it's not the worst either. Most days I have to be up really early, and I am NOT a morning person so it's pure torture, but some days I don't go in until 8 or 10 or even 2 and those days are nice because I feel like less of a zombie. And in case you're wondering NO I have not succumbed to caffeine to get me through those early mornings. I fear that I will get really hooked on it and get terrible headaches when I can't have it, and I don't want that, so I drink water.

Set your calendars for May, because that's when Carson graduates! I'm making him do the whole gown and graduation thing, when he'd prefer to simply get the proof on a piece of paper. In truth, Carson graduating means a lot to me and I feel like it's both of our accomplishment in some way. No, I didn't help him study (I really really couldn't... I cannot understand most of the things he's studying) but moving here was something we both did and it's been the reason for our life in Cleveland so I feel like the cap and gown thing is ceremonious for our time here. 9 weeks left until the big day (I think).

As far as school for the fall goes, we're not 100% sure what the plan is. Carson's been accepted to a school that isn't his top choice and the stipend and location aren't the most ideal, so we aren't sure what exactly what we're going to do. We're praying about it and should know what we're doing for certain shortly. What we ARE thinking is a bit of a departure from the original plan, but we're totally okay with that and have discussed it at great length and agree and aren't stressed. Overall the whole "What's going on with our future???" has felt a lot less worrisome than the last time, possibly because there's more familiarity.

I've hit the point in the winter where despair has set in. It happens mid February and doesn't end until the snow goes away. The snow is no longer lovely, try as I might to view it that way. It's cold and I'm tired of it, tired of being tired (presumably because of the cold - does cold weather make you sleepy? I nap more often in the winter), tired of being so dehydrated from the cold (I try to drink at least 90oz of water a day and still barely feel hydrated sooo...), and just really ready to be warm.

Chin up, spring is coming. And my25th birthday (it's on Sunday - also daylight savings day which stinks), and a few warm days, and graduation, and... lots of things to look forward to.
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