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Monday, July 31, 2006

Daily Life is Beautiful

Sometimes, when the busyness of the world crowds in on me, I like to take a step back and look around at the little details in life. I took a walk outside my house, and captured a few things that I wouldn't normally notice. Everyday things. Daily life is beautiful if you keep your eyes open! More images here.


I could sit in one place all day long and browse Flickr. Being a photgrapher, this site is infinitely entertaining and interesting for me. You can find photos of anything your heart desires. Click on Explore and check out some of the most popular searches. Comment on other's photos. Add some of your own! You can add "tags" to your photos that will enable you to search your own photos easily, and find other's photos too.

When you have a Flickr account, it acts as kind of a "photo blog". You life, captured in photos. You can join groups and have others comment on your photos and find people who love the same stuff as you do. For example, I like to take photos of my food. And of my tea. And of my coffee. And of weird things. I found out that lots of other people do too!

There is just something mesmerizing about photos. Capturing the exact moment of an emotion...pure bliss.

And yes, I do have real friends and a life outside my computer.

Blog Crazy

Reading other people's blogs is kind of like sneaking into their room and reading their personal journal. Everyone is curious about other people's lives...hence the popularity of "the blog". I get such enjoyment from all the blogs I read. They offer wisdom, encouragement, camaraderie, laughter. I love to comment on blogs and receive comments too (hint, hint!).

If you like reading blogs too, you MUST run to Bloglines and set up an account (thanks Heather!). This saves so much time and is a wonderful service. Basically, you set up one account to "track" all of the blogs you want to read. It will notify you whenever a new blog has been posted by that person. You can even put a little button on your browser that says "Sub to Bloglines" that will let you subscribe quickly to that blog when you are at that page. The blog must have an RSS feed to be included.

I currently subscribe to about 50 blogs...and read about 10 a day as they are updated. Here are some of my favorites:

A Joy-Full Life
Two Songbirds on a Wire
Dinner at my house...tonight
From Under the Laundry Pile
Laura's MySpace blog
The Shape of a Mother
The View from Here
Natural Living Des Moines

For the Love of Mail

I love mail. Real paper mail. Cards. Postcards. Packages and such. The problem is...we have lost the fine art of correspondence. Letters used to be the only way to "get word" to someone. Then came the telephone. Then came email. Oh the email. Don't get me wrong...I love email too, but there is just something cold, electronic, and impersonal about it. When I go to my mailbox and see a handwritten note, I am GIDDY with excitement. If that letter is 3 pages long with doodles, quotes, verses, a teabag, and such, I am ECSTATIC. You would think I won the lottery. I I know exactly when my mailman arrives everyday. I loooove having my mailbox right on my house so I can grab it quickly! Ninety percent of the time, I recieve junk mail or business mail, but I am blessed to have a few select friends in my life who appreciate the value of a handmade/handwritten note. I love them for that. Their letters need not contain deep thoughts...I just love to hear about the happenings in their daily lives.

When you send real meal, you are basically saying that the person on the other end is worthy of your time. You are putting your feelings onto paper...a permanent expression of your love for them. I have saved many letters over the years...from my dad, my grandma, my sister, my brother, my husband...and everytime I open that letter again, I am transported back to the first time I read those words.

So my challenge for everyone reading to write ONE letter this week. Brighten someone's day, send photos, send goodies, send your love.

More thoughts on letter writing.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user "Living in Monrovia".

Friday, July 28, 2006

Our Groovy New Westy

We have a new addition to our family...a sweet 1977 Volkswagen Westfalia Deluxe Camper Bus. Oh yes. We are so excited! Ready to camp, camp, camp! Matt flies to Boise, ID to pick it up next Friday. More pics here.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Fun Day

Today, my friend Rebecca and her daughter Bianca came over and we had a garage sale. It wasn't wildly successful monetarily, but we did get rid of a lot of stuff and now the rest will be packed up and donated. So nice to purge. Bella and Bianca are about 6 months apart in age, and love to play together. Bella is learning how to share things...a hard lesson when you are two! We had a great time talking...I got to hear more about how she met her husband, Mauro, and their time in Brazil.

Rebecca wanted to go to Outlaw Ink and get her nose pierced we met up there and watched her get stabbed with a needle. It was quite lovely. I think she looks adorable with it! Her friend Megan was in she hung out with us for the rest of evening as well.

After that, we went for supper at Planet Sub (try their Pesto Bello!). While there I mentioned an independent video store that a friend had recommended and Rebecca said it was just down the street, so we went to check it out. It's called "Best Place Ever" and it's all independent films, hard to find films, and documentaries. I was in heaven! It's only $2.65 to rent there...I picked up City of God on Rebecca's recommendation (it's set in Brazil).

Then we headed to Valley Junction for Jazz in July and listened to some music for a bit. The girls were entertaining for all those around us...they each had a stroller (that I got on Freecycle) to walk their babies in. They loved dancing to the music.

It was a great beautiful and sunny. Full of the warmth of new friendships and children's laughter. God is good.

| Click here to see the entire photo set |

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Sweet Friendship

Just looking through these photos (click here for entire set) makes me happy again. Happy like I was when Kristin came to see me...we have such wonderful times. We pretty much always do the same thing...but we like it that way. This time it went like this:

Farmer's Market: This was Kristin's first time to our farmer's market...which I think is the best thing around. We had lattes and caramel pecan rolls. We bought flowers and talked to interesting people and saw neat stuff. We bought metal stars and rusty roosters.
Lunch at home: I made some coconut curried veggies with tofu. Yum.
Movie: We went to see The Devil Wears Prada. Cute little flick.
Gong Fu Tea: It just wouldn't be the same without our tea fix. We had a great time chatting it up.
Thai Flavors: Shared some red curry with tofu...along with some delicious spring rolls and crab rangoon. Oh so heavenly.
Ritual Cafe: Latte and a Mocha. Waited for the music to start, but didn't start until later. Left for JJ's.
Java Joes: Before this, we walked across the river to the East Village for fun. It was a beautiful night. Got some iced tea and a toffee cookie and listened to the Gwen Mitchell Experiment. It was GREAT fun.
Mars Cafe: Went here to show Kristin this new coffee shop. We read each other questions from the "90's" edition of Trival Pursuit. Turns out we don't know as much as we thought we did.
Tea and a Walk: On Sunday, we got up and had a leisurely morning reading and having tea. We went for a walk around the neighborhood before Kristin had to say goodbye.

It was a fabulous weekend with my best friend. I'm looking forward to spending some time in Kansas City in about a month. Yay!

Choose Cloth

Back by popular demand...a "re-print" of "Choose Cloth" (newly updated):

Over the last couple of years, we have slowly been getting rid of everything that is disposable in our house. In a society that is obsessed with disposable everything...sometimes I feel like an odd ball. But hey, what's new? The progression has been as follows:

PAPER TOWELS: These were the first thing to go. They were expensive and I was addicted to them. I just bought a few more cloth towels and I grab them for everything. We have darker towels for staining spills.

PAPER NAPKINS: We didn't use these a lot to begin with, but I switched to all cloth napkins after I found the cutest little red ones with stars. Adorable. Now I have several sets and I *love* using them at every meal.

DISPOSABLE DIAPERS: We cloth diapered Bella from day one. It's one of the most enjoyable things about being a mama so far. They are so adorable, healthy, and easy to use. Love them.

FEMININE PRODUCTS: After I had Bella, I started to use what many affectionately call "mama cloth". Basically, reusable feminine hygeine products. I have a GREAT set of reusable hemp pads. After I get my period back I will switch to using The Keeper or The Diva Cup. And for those of you that are saying "ooooh gross!". Get over it...have you ever researched what is in a tampon? Sick.

TOILET PAPER: Our latest switch has been from paper to cloth toilet paper. This was definitely not a hard thing because we are already using cloth wipes on Bella (the cloth wipes we have are so soft and wonderful...most are made of flannel and velour or sherpa...2-ply). Before I decided to do this, I was intimidated because I didn't quite understand the logistics of it all. So, in order to help some of you "get it"...I will explain further and offer a pictoral description of the setup.

Basically, we have dry and wet wipes. Dry for pee, wet for poop. The wet wipes are in a wipes warmer on the back of the toilet. I put them in there every day with a solution of water, apricot oil, Dr. Bronner's soap, tea tree oil, and lavender oil. It's a lovely smell...much more fun than plain 'ol scratchy toilet paper! The dry wipes are just next to that on the toilet. I will eventually get a cute wire basket for the dry wipes. After you are done using the wipe, you just throw it in the wet bag hanging next to the toilet. Update since this photo was taken: The wipes are now in a basket in a drawer next to the toilet. Easy as pie. Here it is:

I know some of you have just vowed never to use the bathroom at my house ever again. But never fear, I will keep ONE roll of regular TP for my less "natural" guests. We do have one last box of tissues right now, but will just use the cloth wipes for that as well. And please don't worry about the sanitary issues...everything is washed in super hot water with soap, baking soda, and the occasional vinegar rinse.

GROCERY BAGS: I bring my own bags to the grocery store. I LOVE my string bags from Reusable Bags. Ecobags is good too. Many grocery stores will give you a small credit for bringing your own.

All in all, switching our house to completely cloth has been a GREAT that is environmentally sound, and also financially sound. We save SO much money by not buying disposable stuff.

I still have a few more changes to make. I would like to get sets of cutlery and plates to take to events where I know there will be disposable dinnerware. I don't do take out a lot, but if my restaurants were more eco-friendly, I would also get the stainless stell food carrier so they could just put it in there instead of the disposable boxes. The first time I heard about this, I was so excited. It was when I was visiting the Ecopolitan in Minneapolis. They asked me if I had brought in my own take out containers or did I need to purchase one from them. I did have to purchase one, but it was a recycled, compostable container. I love that place!

I also need to better at bringing my own travel mug to coffee shops. I have probably filled a landfill with all of the to-go cups I've drank from and tossed in the garbage 5 minutes wasteful!

Re-evaulate your choices today...and choose cloth/re-usable!

If you would like to read another blog about this topic, check out my friend Sarah. She is a swell gal. She has her own business, Wallypop, and makes great stuff. Here it is.

So many joys...

Ok. I'm back. I haven't been blogging for quite awhile, but I really missed being able to spit all my thoughts out and having people sass me. So, here we go again.

I have been obsessed with simplicity, downsizing, and such for about a year now. We have made great strides in getting rid of our "extra" possessions. It's so freeing and wonderful to get rid of the STUFF.

I have a few books that are a constant reminder to pursue the simple life. First, my Bible. John the Baptist had this to say in Luke 3:11:

"John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."

This verse has helped me when I thought I needed to have more of this or more of that, and has also reminded me that others have nothing when I have 2, 3, 4 of something. We really need so little to be content. Get rid of your duplicates!

Also, the books Material World and Women of the Material World have inspired me beyond measure. They are on my coffee table so I can reference them often.

"The Irresistable Revolution" by Shane Claiborne is a must read. Go get it today.

I am a constant work in progress, but I believe God has called me to lead a quiet, simple life. I just keep working at it little by little...with so many joys along the way.
The Compact Blog Ring
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