Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Debt Free in 8 Months?

via Pinterest , from here
Recently The Oregonian featured a fascinating story about a "30ish couple" that was able to pay off their massive student loans ($69,000!) within 8 months. The couple wrote about their journey to being debt free on their blog called Beans & Rice, Rice & Beans. Their goal was to pay down the debt within a year, but their dedication led them to early accomplishment. Wow! As a current graduate student at a private school, this story grabbed my attention!

How awesome is that to be able to live debt free after 8 months of super hard work?! Talk about self-control, meticulous planning, learning about yourself, and determination.

This couple had some great advice I particularly liked these points:
-- Pay only in cash
-- Don't eat out at restaurants (yes, that is one easy trap for spending $)
-- Get smarter about planning meals (they say "maximum nutrition for minimum cost")

Based on interview with them, it sounds like it was a very positive experience overall. While they suggest to not go to restaurants, they learned how to manage outings with friends and stay in control of their budget. By no means was it easy, but it got them free from the chains of Sallie Mae.

I am not quite sure on the total loan amount that I will owe once completing school (this includes undergrad too). Most of my loan money is with the government and a smaller portion is a private loan. My hope is to have these loans paid off as quickly as possible. I am aware though, that educational debt is considered "good debt." It does help build credit, which shows you're a responsible loaner of money. However, like this couple, I don't like being bound to someone especially the government. I also hate the idea that loan money is accumulating interest, which is a barrier between me and the principal amount. ugh.

I may not be able to pay off my loans as quickly as they did, but their lifestyle is something that anyone can do. Living simply is a possibility that can be a challenging choice. When I have more income, I can save more. I can learn how to plan nutritious meals and make them with low-cost ingredients. I can be smart with restaurants (I am already pretty good at this-- I eat by the price most times!). And all kinds of things!

Living simply, as I have been learning, means to live creatively. As one great quote says, "Live simply so that others may simply live." When we're free of the burdens than weigh us down, we can give so much to those around us-- emotionally, physically, and financially. I think that's beautiful.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Simplicity vs Consumerism

"We don't need to increase our goods nearly as much as we need to scale down our wants. Not wanting something is as good as possessing it. ~Donald Horban

As I have talked about in previous posts and in my goals for this year, I would like to improve my wardrobe. I received a generous amount of money for my birthday and have been using it towards that goal. Since sometime in February, I have spent a considerable amount of time in the mall and various clothing stores. Now, I am at the point of having to spend my own money and I am having an honest guilt trip. Actually, not just about my own money but about how I spent my birthday money. I keep hearing this in my mind, "I thought I was smarter than that..." Some of these feelings are from just the general guilt I have from spending money, and also from wishing I had planned out my expenses a little better.

Truth is, I did get lots of good items and several for great prices (which I will feature in a post this week), but I am not able to make as many outfits as I would like. 

If I had been wise and shopped with a plan, it would have looked something like this:
1. Asking myself how much money I have to spend and be conscious of it the whole time
2. Finding about 5 outfits to recreate / making a list of items I really need
3. Recording each item once getting home

I don't think it is bad to want upgrade my wardrobe and to be more fashionable. However, I feel like I have turned into a little consumer. I have gotten quite caught up in buying things and have a bad case of the "Diderot Effect" as described in this much-needed read, Treasure What You Have, that was posted this morning on the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op blog. In this hard hitting post, I learned that I have fallen into the same trap as the French philosopher did-- comparing my new items to my old ones. Like Diderot, I initially feel pleased and contented with my new items, and then want to throw away all my old clothes and buy everything new. That feeling of dissatisfaction seeps in quickly and once that comparison is made, it is mighty hard to think of much else. It becomes this never-ending spiral that consists of rash thoughts, careless spending, and constant feeling of "want, want, want." Basically, a whole lot of want.

So how I can I stop this cycle before it gets out of control? Well, for one, it is good that I recognized this thought pattern this now versus later. I do realize I am in a challenging place-- wanting to promote a confident image of myself by looking good and not wanting to blow my bank account. Also, deep down, I know that happiness is not truly rooted in stuff. I am content with what I have but clothing is the one area that I tend to fall into many temptations.

I think it is good to start with Rhonda's discussion for today on her blog, Down to Earth. Her post today is Adding Value to Life. How appropriate that she wrote about this today along with Gavin's post on the co-op blog (she also is part of that blog)! Suppose they had a chat?!

Reading her post drove Gavin's point more into my heart and made me remember how much I do love simplicity. I have always been attracted to living a simple life-- the rewarding feel of your own vegetables (ooo can't wait to grow my garden this year), knowing that money is saved, living debt free, giving to those in need, healthy meals, homemade cards, farmers' markets, spending more time reading good books....

Really, when I take a step back I picture my life in general, I see it as always being simple and non-froofy. I am well aware that I will struggle of the need vs want, simplicity vs consumerism. When I am living on my own, I have high hopes for a comfortable and simple lifestyle. But I can't just have hopes, I must practice these things now. I love the life that Bonnie, Rhonda, Aimee, Sage, Shannan, and so many others have created. Rhonda said some wonderful things in her post today, but this stands out to me, "I have never been a follower, and regardless of the consequences, I've always gone for the interesting option rather than the safe one. I have lived a most remarkable life and I think one of the main reasons for that is that I don't take the easy option and often the paths I walk along are not main roads, they're back streets. I am convinced that those back streets and all I experienced along them, added value to my life."

Adding value.... That is where we start and she poses an important question, "Live according to your values or go along with everyone else?"

Hm. That's a profound question. Some days much easier than others. Will I be a consumer or a thoughtful buyer? Will I add value to my life by making this choice? Or not?

I like to think of values as anchors. We may wander a bit from them but when we have gone too far, the rope gets tighter and we sense it. For some, it is a "little voice" in the back of their minds. For others, it is recognizing the reality of their current situation. We may travel far from those firmly planted anchors, but if we truly and earnestly believe in them.... we will return, make necessary changes, and do our best to live out those convictions.

It's true. We are human. We mess up and make a plethora of mistakes.

Now that I have rambled on from where I began (my intensive reading course is making me write like this-- we are supposed to make connections with different articles and our thoughts)....

In going forward with trying to be stylish and keeping it simple, I am going to now follow that plan I have listed above. I am going to hunt for five outfits I really like (via my computer, browse my fashion blogs and my board on Pinterest), see how I can make them with what I have and what I need. Be mindful of the weather patterns here-- don't give into many summery items... while I love J's Everyday Fashion, I must remember I do NOT live in warm, sunny Florida. Also, getting my healthy dose of reading blogs that are about simplicity will remind me of my long-term goals and keep me a bit more grounded.

I will keep you updated on my journey to fulfill this goal this year and I do promise to be honest.

P.S. I do realize I might be slightly contradicting myself when it comes to values... perhaps do we have values if we wander? Can we still call them values? I really think so. Because I value my relationship with Jesus but I am better at being at His presence than other times. Believe me... I do know when I wander from Him. He always, always pulls me back and I am reminded of where I belong... Okay... Think I have made my point.

Please share your thoughts! Do you struggle with consumerism? How do you live simply? How do you keep on your chosen path?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fill in the Blank Friday: Color

Lauren @ little things we do

Yes.. it's not Friday but I really wanted to do this fill-in-the-blank post but wasn't feeling too great last night. I love this week's theme: color

If you would like to do these posts in the future, check out Lauren's blog (link is underneath the picture-- which she kindly allows her readers/FITBers use).

1.  My favorite color is     teal (though I love all kinds- ocean colors and peacock theme colors and crimson red haha)  .

2.   My home decor color palette includes  (changing this to my future home)  will have all kinds of colors! I am inspired by Bonnie's blog, Going Home to Roost-- love her style .

3.  Other people always tell me I look good in the color(s)   blue, green and red   .

4. The color I detest is  hmm don't really detest many... I do agree though, not a huge fan of the pink and purple combo for home decorating.

5. If you were to look in my closet most of the colors you'd see would be  lots and lots of blue shades, gray, red cream and some green. Hoping to add more colors over time!

6. A color that I simply cannot pull off no matter how hard I try is   sadly yellow, which is such a happy color. Perhaps I can wear skirts with that color?! Being a fair skinned redhead limits me... Orange and purple are also not good colors for me .

7.  The color of my favorite dress is   red ... I still love my red prom dress and the one I wore for my sister's wedding. Both dresses make me feel and look "wow" :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012


This is me praying that
This is the very first page
Not where the story line ends
My thoughts will echo your name
Until I see you again
These are the words I held back
As I was leaving too soon
I was enchanted to meet you

After looking through old emails with B, we determined that today made it a year since we met for coffee/tea. It's been a year of trying new food, going new places, and all kinds of fun. I wonder what the next adventures will be!

To explain the song lyrics above: this post is reminiscent of my middle and high school days. Perhaps I was inspired due to the middle schooler I have been tutoring for quite a few weeks. She's all about expressing herself through poetry and music. Sometimes it is good to live out our teenager ways! Also, I will be totally honest (slightly blushing here) but when B and I first started dating I would blast this song in the car. Sigh. Cheesy but true, music is a great extension of the heart.

*Taylor Swift 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Outfit Inspiration: Feminine Military Look

 How to be lovely via Pinterest

I have been a fan of Olivia Palermo's style for quite some time. She always wears simple outfits with the right amount of accessories.

Why I love this outfit -- Combination of layers with a ruffled top, long cardigan and a great military style coat (speaking of which, I hear that the military look is supposed to be big again this coming Fall). I have to note though, I love how she put a belt around the waist of the coat, it really adds that finishing touch to the look.

I hope to make my own version of this look sometime. This would be perfect for a Fall/mild Winter day. :)

P.S. It's snowing (very unexpectedly) tonight so these layers look great! The calendar says it's Spring but it certainly isn't looking that way here. I love it!

"Outfit Inspiration" is a new feature on my blog. I got this idea from one of my favorite bloggers, Courtney at Charmed in PDX. She features outfits that she likes in posts called "Outfit Crush" (you can see her most recent post here). I thought that was an awesome idea and wanted to make my own version. I exchanged a few lovely emails with her and she thought it was just fine. So in all teacher fashion-- I spied a fabulous idea to try, made it my own and credited the original source! Thanks Courtney! :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fashionably Late Outfit Post

Isn't the back of this dress great? I love how the top part of the dress fits my body.
It's been well over a week since I wore this outfit and I think I have mentioned a "future outfit post" about two times. So here it is! I really love this fancy dress. I wore this for my sister's wedding rehearsal (though I did not originally buy the dress for that event) and then again last week for a special date with B. We went to dinner at Gustav's to celebrate being together for a year (actual date is sometime during the last week of March). We had a blast dressing up and eating delicious food. Oh my goodness! Ya'll must try Swiss cheese fondue!!! If you haven't you are seriously missing out. I tried it for the first time last week and oh wow. I have to say, if any food could compete with chocolate, that is it. Mmm mm...

Alright, here's the breakdown of my outfit, but with a few side notes: (1) Next time, I would like to try belting the dress-- I could see a gold, silver, or black belt with it. (2) I have to say, my legs look darn good. It's a modest outfit but I love how it showcases those (it's okay to be proud of your body once and awhile!). (3) Perhaps a different sort of cover-up instead of this cardigan?!?! -- Any suggestions are welcome! I would love to get more mileage out of these items.

Cardigan: Charlotte Russe
Dress: Target on clearance last year ($17.99- couldn't pass it up!)
Tights: Hanes @ Fred Meyer
Shoes: Merona @ Target -- nice shoes but don't fit my feet great, glad they weren't too much $
Because I'm mean I am concluding with this picture..... ;-)


Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Fun

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!
-- Irish Blessing

St. Patrick's Day was a good one this year. A day of remembering, welcoming, gathering, and relaxing. 

{tradition to pick a bouquet of daffodils in remembrance of Papa's passing years ago on this day} {great day to wear this pretty scarf from Granny} {Surprising Mom as she returned from her business trip to China -- she didn't know Sarah and I would be at the airport with my Auntie} {Tasty Starbucks drink from my Auntie}

{Enjoying lunch at Rose's Deli with some of my lady family members-- delicious!} {two treats I brought home from the restaurant/bakery: Shamrock sugar cookie & a Mini- EClair... I am very sugared out now!}

Hope you all had a fabulous day and remembered to wear GREEN!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough." -- Mario Andretti

I can't say life has been full of control lately, but it sure picked up its pace last week. I have been trying to catch-up these past few days because there was no extra time to get anything done in the blur of last week.

I should have known last Monday how the rest of the week was going to be. Ya know that errand outfit post? Well, I wore that to go to Powell's Bookstore so that I could get some Dr. Seuss books for the class I was going to sub for. I did not plan for this expense, but the teacher suggested that I bring some in for an activity she had planned. $38 dollars later I had 7 used books (enough for one per table group). Unfortunately, the books were not useful for what she had planned and there was little time to use them. Siiighh... They will come in handy later on though.

So, I subbed in a 3rd/4th grade class for three days. I honestly don't know how the teacher manages do teach them every single day. Now, the kids were just fine- no big issues there, but it is the curriculum that makes your head spin in 50 opposite directions. In the morning, I taught part of a lesson to 4th grade to keep them busy, then switched to 3rd... then back to 4th. Then we all did the same writing activity (making fun poems for  Dr. Seuss hats- it was Read Across America Week), thank goodness. After students' special and lunch, then it was time for the real challenge of the day: math. Oh. My. Word. Something has got to change with the current curriculum! The lessons are so poorly written that it took me a good 30 + minutes a day just to figure the goal. Then like the morning, I would go back and forth with the grades, which amounted to skimming here and there. Believe me, it was exhausting (in addition to all of the activities going on that week).

I certainly have been thinking quite a bit about curriculum and split grade classes. Experiences like this mold my teaching philosophy and make me even more passionate about teaching. I enjoy the problem solving aspect of it all and thinking through how I might approach things if it were my classroom. I am excited to gather experience and make adjustments in curriculum when it is necessary.

Oh yeah, I ended up subbing that Friday for a first grade teacher. I was quite impressed with their behavior and had a fun time with those lil kiddos. I also had the help of a retired teacher in the morning, she volunteers every Friday. We had a great time together! The day went smoothly, all besides the earthquake/evacuation drill that occurred while the kids and I were across the hall watching a movie. When the principal announced the drill, it literally looked like 30 squirrels scattering all at once (of course, I told them in a real event of an earthquake that would NOT be okay). The day ended with library and music back-to-back. Fridays in that room are pretty darn sweet!

The craziness continued to Saturday in which I took a the test for getting my reading endorsement. Oregon has the highest score to pass and have heard that many do not obtain in it in their first attempt (it's only a $130... no big deal right?!). I feel like I did well but am not totally confident that I passed. I'll find out my scores a month from now, so long to wait.

If these big events-- subbing and testing didn't fill up my time, my sister left Thursday to go to Georgia to see her husband and on Saturday my mom left for a work trip to China. Without fail, whenever someone has a ticket to fly somewhere, someone else goes! Lots of coming and going in this house!

This is all to say: this is why I have been so silent. I will admit that times like this make it super easy for me to get off the blog-writing-horse and let dust accumulate on its saddle. I have been focusing a lot on school this week since I got nothing done during those hectic days. Such is life! Only 10 more months to go until I have this degree... the end is in sight but distant.

I have another post (an outfit one!) to put on here but I must get ready for tutoring now.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

11 Things

My cousin tagged me in a survey post a couple weeks ago, and now I am finally getting around to doing it. I absolutely love these kinds of posts!

Here are the rules:
1. Post these rules
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
3. Answer the questions set for you in their post.
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
5. Go to their blog and tell them that you’ve tagged them.
6. No stuff in the tagging section about you are tagged if you are reading this. You legitimately have to tag 11 people.

11 Randoms About Me

1. Over the course of my life, I have received quite a few questions about my collar bones. For some reason they intrigue people. I guess it is because they are very noticeable and slightly uneven. Someone asked a long time ago if I had been in an accident... nope. A child one time asked, "What are those?!" Um, my bones... haha
2. While I love traveling, I actually think taking care of the home should be the first priority. Traveling happens every so often but home is where you are most of the time. Home should be comfortable, healthy and refreshing.
3. I love making up my own words to describe events or my reaction to something. Like wonky (okay maybe this one is a real word?! I swear it's mine!), flangily, flangey, tangily.... 
4. Years ago I picked out the names for my future children. I still love those names-- perhaps if I decide to adopt someday I will use them. Laugh all you want but if I have a daughter she will be named Ariel Michelle. ;-)
5. My comforter needs to be on me in order to sleep (usually use a lighter comforter in the summer). I need that heaviness on me. Also, cannot sleep with sheets-- only a comforter and blanket on top if necessary.
6. One of my two front teeth is slightly longer than the other. I have such a quirky body! haha
7. I love the smell of grapefruit but can't stand the taste.
8. While I am not into horoscopes and things of that nature, I find it fascinating how I am like my sign (Aquarius).
9. For a long time I was opposed to the cheetah/leopard/animal print but I think it can be cute depending on how it is used in the outfit.
10. I can't use lotions with heavy fragrances anymore -- like those from Bath and Body Works. I can use Vanilla and Cucumber scent lotions from them, however. I was using a lovely smell, Secret Wonderland, for awhile but then it started giving me headaches. 
11. I'm like a pendulum when it comes to living naturally. I go through periods where I don't like to spend money on natural products because they cost more, but then I have times where I am appalled at mass produced products. Currently, I am switching back to using natural body care products (Yes to Carrots is awesome!).

Elizabeth's 11 Questions for Me:

1. Favorite meal to cook at home? Hm.. that is a toss up between Broccoli Cheddar Soup and Vegetable Ziti. They're both delicious! The ziti is the faster meal to cook even though it requires time to chop up the veggies.

2. Favorite item in your wardrobe? Good question. I love my two new blazers, but I think I'll have to say my plaid shirt (s). Yeah, hard to be singular in this one ;-)

3. If you could go anywhere in the past or to an ideal location for a week starting tomorrow... where would you go and why? Well, I'm not sure how this will work but one of my favorite times was the Brew Festival in July last year. I spent the day with two of my friends and we all brought our guys. I had a wonderful time hanging out with everyone, in the warm summer sunshine, and feeling totally relaxed. I think what I liked best about that day was how I felt. I was being myself and very happy (I seriously smiled ear to ear! haha).  I would be happy if I could feel that way for a week or have that memory last a week (I'd be cool w/o the beer though).

4. If you could sit down with someone "famous" past or present for dinner, who would it be and why? Ooo lots of options here so this is another tough one. I think the child in me would have to say Amelia Earhart. When I was younger, I read lots of books about her and was fascinated with her desire to do something all by herself. While there is lots of information out there, I would love to have dinner with her to discuss the intimate details of why she loved flying so much, how it made her feel, and why she really wanted to fly solo around the world. I'd love to hear Amelia's life through her own voice. I would also make sure she got hooked up with a great GPS so we could find her and figure out where she crashed ;-) Oh the mystery!

5. Most influential person in your life? My answer will always be the same for this question: my maternal grandparents. Both wonderful in their individual ways.

6. One of the coolest things you've learned from FB, blogging or Pinterest? Heavens and Earth! How am I supposed to narrow it down to one?! haha Alright, one of my favorite things is all of the Mason jar ideas. They are such useful jars!! You can spray paint them, use them as vases, candle holders, as a way to organize  q-tips and cotton balls, as a way to plant and grow plants.... you name it!

7. Most interesting animal you can think of on the planet? If you know me, you should be able to anticipate my answer.... peacocks!!!!! Love them!! A rainbow on a bird. How awesome is that?!!

8. The song that takes you back to high school every time? Funny thing is I hear these songs on the radio quite a bit these days: "She Will Be Loved" / "This Love" by Maroon 5 ... oh and "Photograph" by Nickelback.

9. You have $500,000 to give to charity-- who would you give it to? Operation Christmas Child (Samaritan's Purse). I'd make sure it went directly to that charity, 100% to the kids!

10. Red high heeled shoes or leopard print flats? Leopard print flats!!

11. Preferred way to spend 3pm? In my sweat pants/PJs and sweatshirt, munching on a good snack. If I'm subbing, I am usually getting ready to leave school at this time (though it depends on where I am and how much grading I need to do!).

11 Questions for YOU:

1. What is one of your favorite quotes?
2. Your guilty pleasure?
3. What is your favorite outfit to wear?
4. Have you tried or are planning to do an idea you learned via Pinterest? If you tried something, were you pleased with the results?
5. Have you been out of the country before?
6. What three items are most valuable to you? Why?
7. How do you deal with stress? 
8. What kind of exercise do you enjoy?
9. Who inspires you? Why?
10. Do you have any specific goals for this year? If so, how do you feel that you're doing in accomplishing them?
11. What do you like to do in your free time?

Tagging 11

Can't wait to read everyone's 11 Things!

*I am trying out the scheduled post-- when this posts I'll be at school subbing :) 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Comfy Errand Outfit

Plaid shirt: American Eagle (recent & on clearance)
Gray long sleeve: Ambiance from Wet Seal (old)
Belt: H & M (very recent-- love it!)
Jeans: Hollister (got them during a 50% jeans + free shipping online sale)
Boots: Cathy Jean-- super, super comfy and make a great clicking sound from the lil heel that's on 'em

I managed to create a quick, simple and comfy outfit to go on an errand this {rainy} afternoon. I love this new flannel plaid shirt- so comfy! I'm trying to add in patterns to my wardrobe and have fallen in love with plaid. To make this outfit even better, I would like to use a more colorful shirt underneath it, like a dark pink or blue, instead of gray. I wanted a little more warmth and the gray shirt long-sleeve shirt fit the best underneath the plaid. I'm not crazy about the gray shirt because it is too "elasticy" and rides up (it will be going bye bye one of these days), but it's what I had to work with and served its purpose of keeping me a lil warmer.

Hope you're having a wonderful Monday!

P.S. My sister was gracious enough to take the full-length picture of me. She also took the pictures from my other two outfit posts. :) Thanks sis!
P.S.S. Forgive my bare/natural face and messy hair-- I should have taken these before going out but just didn't do it. I regret that now! Oh well!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Homemade Peanut Butter Moo'd Smoothie

One of my new addictions is getting the tasty drink Peanut Butter Moo'd from Jamba Juice. I decided to try it one day and have been hooked since! I crave that combination of all natural peanut butter, chocolate, frozen yogurt, and banana. Absolutely delicious!

Earlier in the week I decided to give this drink a try since I had all of the ingredients. I have to say, I was quite pleased with the results but do need to tweak my concoction next time.

All-Natural Peanut Butter (usedAdam's)
Soy milk/Almond milk (used Almond)
Chocolate syrup or cocoa(used Hershey syrup)
Half a banana (you can use more depending on preference)
Vanilla frozen yogurt (used Haagen Dasz)

1. Use about 1/4 cup of almond milk and pour it in the blender
2. Scoop 2-4 large spoon fulls of fro yo and add it in (honestly, you just have to guess on this part, depends on how thick you want your smoothie- I used 2 to start with then added 2 more when I discovered the smoothie was too thin, and blended a lil bit more to mix in)
3. Add chocolate to your preferred taste
4. Use 1/2 a banana or more and slice it up a little so it is easier to blend (unless you have a much newer snazzy blender-- ours is older than the hills but works fine)
5. Use about 1/4 or a lil less than 1/2 cup of peanut butter or more
6. Blend together!

This is probably the most vague recipe ever but smoothies sort of lend themselves to be that way. You have to add the ingredients to your liking, especially in this recipe. (if you search the internet for this drink you'll see lots of options)

*Make sure to use bananas have the first lil spots on them -- I used bananas that had lots of spots on them and I think that created a slightly funny after-taste. So, bananas in this case are better if they are close to ripe but not green and stiff. 
*My cup was 14 oz and the combination of ingredients filled to the top. This amount could serve 2 though because it is quite filling.
*Perhaps less peanut butter next time?! Not sure on this because I need to try it with different bananas. 

Ah... so good! I will have to make this again! 


Friday, March 2, 2012

February Reflections & Right Now

"No winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn" -- Hal Borland

In the process of trying to find a new name for my blog, I came across some interesting information about the month of February. The name of the month comes from the Latin word februa, which means cleaning and purification. Some cultures have certain rituals that they do during the month to prepare them for the coming season. February is a funny time-- right in the middle of Winter and on the edge of Spring. 

February was a quiet month for me in terms of blogging. I didn't have much to say and was consumed with school (the semester had just begun). One thing I did do was the Photo Challenge. While it was mostly an easy way to blog for the month, it encouraged me to be creative. I liked that I had to take a particular photo each day and share it on here. The challenge also got me in the habit of posting regularly and I enjoyed feeling consistent. Perhaps at some point later this year, I will do another challenge. Fat Mum Slim is hosting them throughout the year and I enjoy the topics she picks. If you would like to participate in the March Photo Challenge, here's the link

Lent started on the 22nd and I decided to participate in it. Last year, I gave up chocolate for 40 days- it was challenging sometimes but I did it! This time, I had this feeling in my heart that I needed to ADD something instead of taking something away. A little but strong Voice has been telling me to read the Bible for 5 minutes a day. Truthfully, I haven't wanted much to do with the Bible, any type of church, or praying for that matter for about a year or so. I have been very turned off of religion because I had been damaged by it at one point and at the same time was a product of its nasty side. I became part of a cycle that I will never repeat. Also, last year was an emotional rollercoaster ride. I don't think these are excuses but merely reasons for why I left the Bible on the side of the road.

Now, I do think it is important to say that my relationship with Jesus is what matters. I have always known that. However, I am just starting to recover from the things that took me away from Him. Getting back to Him is a slow process because I have to remove the layers of hurt, disappointment, my pride, and all the weight that has kept me chained. Once that is all free from my heart, I have to hand over my expectations of life-- let me tell you, they are beautiful accessories that I have fashioned for myself. They're heart-crafted and tailored by the thoughts of my mind. They have taken a long time to create and I hold them dear. So dear, that I don't want to give them up quite yet. They are valuable and I don't know how HE could make something better... 

That is where I am right now to be honest with you. I am slightly dragging my feet along, but knowing that where I am going is really my heart's home. I am nervous about what I will learn along the way, how it will feel to be free, and where He will take me when I'm all His. This journey will require me to make some changes and to be completely vulnerable. It will not be easy.

But I know if I never start on this path, the chances are slim that I will ever try years from now (maybe but later isn't now). I don't want to come to the end someday and to realize I should have returned to Him when I had the chance.

This is just where I am.
On a lighter note, I am going to a ballet performance tonight with a friend from school. Her husband isn't able to go tonight so she's taking me instead! So excited! We're going to see "Giselle." I am not familiar with this story so I am going to read a little bit about it. :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

New Month, New Name

So, as you might have noticed, my blog is no longer "Cast and Catch." At some point in February, I got this huge desire to change my blog name but had no idea how to do so. While the name "Cast and Catch" served its purpose and was good, it felt vague and not as meaningful anymore (and hard to pronounce-- truthfully, sometimes I would forget which word would come first).

In the first part of this process, I came up with quite a few combinations and eventually decided against them (think the first one was Red Apple Highway). Then I started asking the help of my friends so I could get some feedback-- I didn't want to choose something silly sounding or that didn't represent ME.

After weeks and weeks of trying to figure out a name, I came up with several combinations:

Freckled Joy -- Joyfully Freckled
Freckled Delight -- Delightfully Freckled
Freckled Bliss -- Blissfully Freckled
Freckled Naturally -- Naturally Freckled
Sincerely Freckled
Freely Freckled

I sent an email out yesterday to some of my friends asking for their vote on the ones they liked along with an apology for bugging them for so long (thank you, you all are so special to me!!!!). They were all generous enough with their time to respond and give their opinions. It came down to Joyfully Freckled and Sincerely Freckled. Then one of my friends suggest I ask her aunt because she is good at problems solving (her aunt is also very artistic and talented). She suggested that I use the plural, freckles instead... and go with something like Freckles and _______ or _____ and Freckles. She made a good point that the word freckled gets caught in one's throat-- and why would I want people to choke on my blog name?!

Hm.... So there I was back to the drawing board again. Hemming and hawwwwwing. Lots of it. However, I was determined that on March 1st-- TODAY, I would have this crazy trivial dilemma figured out.

I got stuck on the word sincerely. I love how it sounds. I love what it means.

Like all wonderful thoughts, they happen in the most random of times and rather unexpectedly (ya know the kind where you're on the edge of falling to a deep sleep or driving somewhere). Well, my winning name occurred to me in the shower this morning. One of the greatest places to think. Today, the name just came to me and it was sweetly simple:

Sincerely Angela

As soon as I thought it, I had that happiness all over and was like "OF COURSE! That is ME." I will always be Angela and I am sincere. 

In this blog, I write about all kinds of topics and will continue to do so. I'm not defined by any particular thing and that's just who I am. I love hot days and cold nights- if I could choose my own climate I would have it be 80F in the day and 20F at night. I love blue and red. I polka dots and plaid. I believe in structure but freedom. I love Jesus but am not confined to any particular church or theology. I love fashion but I also believe in living simply. I love the snow in winter but the sunshine and warmth of summer. I love rainbows for their order and variety-- but I also love all the colors splattered on a canvas. I see the value in limits but also believe in a life without limits..... and so on.

Through all of this I have learned that I was made to love and appreciate opposites, but to find my place somewhere along the middle. I am learning how to do that, while embracing life's many treasures. 

Perhaps this is all due to me turning 25 years old. Maybe I am going through a "quarter-life crisis," or I am simply trying to figure out who I am in this wonderfully made world. Whatever it is, I will always hold true to being.....

Sincerely Angela

Welcome to my newly named blog :)