project: complete

Hi friends. I have had this post on hold for a while since my Portland trip interfered a little. But alas, here  is one project I have had in mind for a while and finally got around to finishing it. That doesn't happen often. There are plenty of materials and half finished projects laying around, so I am pleased to present this special gem to you. I found a similar project on pinterest and modified it according to the materials I could find.
I was a little hesitant to put more holes in the wall of my apartment so I went in search of an alternative. My lovely Phi Lamb friend Kayla had a similar diy at her wedding (or shower, I can't remember) so I inquired.
I picked up a roll of chicken wire at Home Depot and a can of oil rubbed spray paint to make the chicken wire look "vintage-y" (forgot to photograph this process). I discovered the wire was secured with a single strand of the same wire so I just repurposed this to wrap around the neck of each vase.
With my wooden frame (60% off at Michael's) in one hand and chicken wire in the other, I got to work with the staple gun and wire cutters (kitchen scissors). I aligned the edge of the wire to the edge of the frame to save on cutting.
The raw edge in the foreground was sticking out about a half inch, so I took some pliers and folded each piece down for safety. Have I mentioned how many times I have accidentally cut myself in the past few weeks? This was definitely for my benefit. Then I started cutting the wire to fit the frame and folded each piece down along the edges.
You'll notice the staples along the edge as well. I secured the wire to the frame with my handy staple gun (only $10). I pulled the wire taut so it would not bubble or warp in one direction and so the vases would not sag once attached.

 Once all the wire was cut, I attached the vases by twisting the wire around and pulled tightly to make sure they were secure. I certainly would not want broken glass on the floor! And then I hung up the nearly finished piece.

 And last but not least, I added some fresh gerber daisies. These are not my favorite flowers, but they were cheap and they looked good for a photo.
 The neat thing about this framed work is that it will change constantly. Once my gerber daisies keeled over, I sought out a different bunch. These don't fit as well in the "frame", but I still like them, especially with more than one flower on each stem.
 There you have it. A super simple project that should only take you and hour and a half (I took about a month!). What do you think? Not too bad, eh?


friday the thirteenth

Pardon me for the delayed post, folks. There’s just something about traveling for an entire day that just takes it out of you. And then of course there is everything you have to do when you get back, such as tackling this:

In any case, I would like to update you on my last full day in Portland, which was Friday. I started out with a second visit to Western Seminary where I got to sit in on a class that is specifically geared toward Intercultural Studies students who are feeling out their own gifts and desires of service in the Kingdom. Coincidentally, this is similar to the self-exploration I would consider myself to be going through as I attempt to enter into the “real world”. The class was great and I got to show off my acting skills in a little activity demonstrating cultural differences. I must say so myself that my British accent is coming along swimmingly. In fact, one of the students commented on how great it was! And on top of this, in order to get to the seminary I took the public transit from one side of town to the other during prime travelling time. Did I mention I’m getting the hang of it? After being briefed on the “cultural onion”, I headed down to Albina Press, which is just a few blocks west of the school and hung out there for a couple hours. Melody met me there and we then made our way to the crepe food cart to begin our food tour for the day. On the agenda were savory crepes for lunch followed by a delectable array of quirky doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnut. Then for dinner we planned to hit up Jade Bistro in Sellwood then on to desserts at Papa Hayden’s with a friend from a few years back at Tulane. 

So onto the crepes we forged. I was very excited to indulge because I hadn’t had a good crepe since my freshman days at Tulane, where these magnificent creations were just a hop, skip, and a walk across the lawn from my dorm. Melody and I chose the same: Turkey, Brie, and arugula. Mmmm, so fantastic.

Onward and upward we travelled to stand in line for that treasured fried dough and icing… and bacon. 

If you are not familiar with Voodoo Doughnut, you may not know that they are notorious for some strange toppings, flavors, and names. As we entered the building I noticed an odd arrangement of stained glass above the doorway. Their three most cherished doughnuts are enshrined in the glass for all of Portland to see. 

I really had no idea which doughnut to choose. Should I go for the classic voodoo doughnut? What about the giant version of a glazed, dubbed the Texas challenge, which is the size of six normal doughnuts? They say if you can eat this monster in 80 seconds it is free.

Well I didn’t think I was up to that challenge, but I did pick out three (and I ashamedly ate all three of these suckers in one sitting):

The Voodoo Doughnut, complete with the lucky number thirteen in honor of Friday, the 13th

The Bacon Maple Bar, highly recommend it!

And the Old Dirty Bastard, which is topped with chocolate icing, Oreo crumbles, and peanut butter drizzle.
Needless to say I was in a steady food coma for the next four hours or so, which did mess with our strict food tour.

We skipped out on Jade for lack of room in our tummies and instead opted for a sip from Stumptown, a Portland staple.

Unfortunately, we did not get to meet up for desserts with my friend that evening. Plans changed. But that only means this occasion must be postponed until June! And after all those doughnuts and sugar overload, I was almost relieved to not be coerced into more desserts that day. The rest of the evening was spent in great conversation and some challenging reads. Melody and I somehow ended up peeking into each other’s books and subsequently spent a couple more hours delving into them. The Tangible Kingdom is definitely next on my list once I finish Barefoot Church, both equally stimulating.

So there you have it, my first Portland experience in a nutshell. Now if you don’t mind, while you enjoy hearing about this pretty cool experience through my corny wit, I will take some time to process everything and then fill you in on my journey and how the Lord’s hand is in all of this. I hope to not keep you waiting in anticipation too long, however it is not up to me. It is His timing! Until then...


great reads and good eats

Starbucks on every corner. It’s just baffling.

Yesterday Melody had the day off from work (at Starbucks!) so we spent the majority of the day together. We started off with a fabulous breakfast of from scratch waffles, maple syrup, and a yummy raspberry, cherry, rhubarb preserve. And of course, some French press to start out the day. I think I’m in love with French press. Because of my proud Texas roots, I wanted to give Portland a little taste of Texas, so I heavily suggested to Melody that we have pulled pork sandwiches for dinner. We decided on an apple slaw as a side. A short trip to the grocery store later, that delicious shoulder roast was smothered in seasonings and barbecue sauce and in the crock pot where it stayed until dinnertime. We then headed over to Sellwood to meet up with Taylor, a dear friend of Matt’s from the past two summers here. We had a great time together for about an hour at Blue Kangaroo, yet another great coffee shop in SE Portland. I’m sure I will be spending a lot of time there over the summer. It is just down the street from Grand Central Bakery and right in front of Cloud Cap Games. One of the best things about this place is an iconic piece of décor. No, not a kangaroo, but a flying pig hanging right in the middle of the room. Love it!

After we dropped Taylor off at home, Melody and I went over to ¿Por qué no? for lunch with Ken and Wes, the main men involved with the church planting effort in Sellwood. This was our second trip to the beloved Mexican food restaurant this week. I fully approve! I just love this little taste of the South up here in my soon-to-be new place of residence. Melody commented on how weird the décor of the place was, but to me it seemed fairly normal to see such odd things displayed in disarray. At least that’s how Chuy’s does it!

Some of you may know of my short architecture background and my love for the craftsman style home, so it’s only fitting to note that Portland consists largely of these types of homes. They are just too cute!

Now since my arrival I have had the luxury of being carted around the city in a car, but I knew I needed to step out and get a feel for the tri met system the city depends on. And let me tell you, it’s great! Melody dropped me off at Powell’s to browse a bit before I was to meet with a Young Life staffer for Central Portland. This would require me to hop on the streetcar, locally known as the MAX, and travel a short distance over the river to meet at… you guessed, it: Starbucks. I had a great time chatting with Karin, the assistant area director. I shared about my vision and passion for serving the Latino community and the low socioeconomic class, which is apparently a good fit for being centrally located in this city. The two schools in the Southeast area have just that, a good variety of kids from all walks of life. Perfect. If I get to stay in Portland after the summer, I will definitely get my hands into Young Life here because of the ministry’s relational aspect being so relevant and necessary for reaching an unchurched city. Afterwards, I hopped back over the river and made my way back to Melody’s place… All by myself! I’m already a pro.

Shortly after I arrived “home”, it was time to feast. And feast we did! Feast your eyes on this beauty:

My first attempt at pulled pork was superbly successful, thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Our last and most treasured stop of the day was to Moonstruck, a favorite local chain here in Portland. I was mystified by how many choices of delectable truffles there were, but I finally decided on this trio: A Bailey’s Irish Cream, a Broadway (a spin on PBJ with a wine/berry preserve and hazelnut mousse in a mini teacup and saucer), and a Mayan dark cocoa drink. What a way to end a long day!


portland on a clear day

Since I promised frequent updates, I will give you a quick run-through of the jist of my trip so far. You ready? Here it is:

I’m sure you are well aware that the Pacific Northwest dabbles a little in the coffee business, as I was. However, just as several Southern cities have a church on every street corner, Portland follows suit with coffee shops, especially Starbucks. I am aware that Portland is very into the supporting local industries and businesses, but I am astounded at how many Starbucks stores there are. I have not seen Seattle, but I am willing to bet there is more of Seattle’s hometown store here in Portland than in its place of origin.

Ken, the guy with the title too long to explain, so I’ll just call him the man in charge (not to be confused with THE Man in charge), was driving me around the city today to see a few different sites. As we were passing the Portland Building and the 133rd Starbucks I had seen thus far I exclaimed my fascination at how many of these famous chain stores I had seen. I said, “I can’t imagine how many Starbucks stores are in Seattle. They are even bigger connoisseurs of the bean!” He then proceeded to tell me that Seattle and Portland are neck and neck in the race of coffee stores. Folks, you may think you know coffee, but you haven’t seen Portland!

I hope you have gathered by now that I must be partaking in this popular pastime. And yes, it is quite true! I have been doing a lot of this. Melody and I went for coffee on Hawthorne after my visit at Western Seminary yesterday evening. We also went for breakfast this morning at a lovely little shop called baker spice, and tomorrow will commence with a trip for coffee to meet a friend of Matt’s and Melody’s over in Sellwood. So to Portlandians, coffee is a way of life, and that’s an understatement.

Since I have accidentally brought the sunny weather to Portland with me, I had the luxury of seeing both Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Hood today. They were beautiful! Now if I could only take that short one-hour trip over to hit the slopes for a few hours…

As I said before, I stopped by the Portland Building to snap a shot with the infamous Portlandia statue enshrined above.

We briefly perused through Powell’s, the powerhouse bookstore, and I decided I was too overwhelmed so we walked straight through to the other side and headed to our next destination.

Ken and I made a stop at his friend’s favorite chocolate fix, simply called Cacao, where I had my first ever cup of drinking chocolate. This is not to be confused with hot chocolate. My concoction was made with 62% cacao, milk, cream, and infused with cinnamon. Delectable. I’m sure I will frequent this spot over the summer.

Our lunch break consisted of a short drive through Sellwood and stopping for lunch at Grand Central Bakery. This has been a favorite hangout for the Parachute teams and rightly so. They are a little café that packs a big punch. I tried the red curry lentil soup and salad and boy was it good!

My last Sellwood stop for the day was game night at Cloud Cap Games. Although I was pretty lethargic, I did enjoy myself. Melody and I met up with her friend to play a couple of card games: Coloretto and Crappy Birthday (a lot like Apples to Apples, but the object is to see who’s gift is the crappiest).

All in all, it was a really good day. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for tomorrow!


from rain to sunshine

Hello dear friends. My journey to the Northwest has begun! I am sitting at the gate anxiously awaiting a 737 to pull up and whisk me away to that beloved city I can't stop talking about. Ironically I will be traveling from stormy winter weather here in Texas to partly/mostly sunny in Oregon. Funny how that works out. God's sense of humor! To all of you who are curious to see how things go, don't fret. I will do my absolute best to write a post everyday on the things I see, the people I meet, and the amazing things God let's me encounter. And I will include pictures so you get the full experience (almost)!

So aside from this trip, let me update you on something the Lord is teaching me. For those of you who know me well, you may know that I share things quite often, whether they be very personal or pretty mundane. You might also know that I somehow don't share things easily. I find it very difficult to open up in certain areas to certain people. Strange? Yes. I can't figure it out. Sometimes because I feel as though there is a lack of understanding or being on the same page on both sides about the matter. And other times I simply forget. This is not because of a lack of importance in my eyes, but because in my mind it is not a pressing matter. I hope this is not so abstract that it does not make sense. I want to be able to share with my family and friends and be vulnerable in order to grow. I'm working on it, I promise, but it will take some time so bear with me as I go through this slow learning process!


the january blahs

Some people go through the holiday blues while the others thoroughly enjoy the break from school or work and celebration of the holidays with beloved friends and family. I am of the latter group. However there is a down side to being a cheery celebrator of the holidays. It’s what I have dubbed the January blahs. 

You know those feelings after the holidays are over as we head back into routines, schedules, and no celebrations of friends, family, and our Savior’s birth. Nothing seems too spectacular about January except that it is the marker of a new year and probably the only month that the majority of the world follows through with their resolutions. For me these blah days of the first month consist of resting from the “go-go-go” lifestyle I live as a college student with a job and regular volunteering. It is such a treat to have a blank schedule for a full four weeks and a break from school for five. I love having the time to catch up on things I feel like I miss out on during the semester, such as finishing the framed vases project I started a few months ago (pictures coming very soon!), decorating for Christmas (lots of diy’s here), and refinishing my Ikea dresser (a work in progress for over a year now). I have been catching up on some much needed reading as well, hacking away at that never-ending list of must reads.  So far I have finished two books and I am well into the next two. But after all of this “relaxing and recharging” I am left feeling sort of empty and my agenda seems too short. I feel like I have way too much time on my hands and that I really should be contributing to society in more meaningful ways. How do I remedy this feeling? It is quite ironic because during each semester of school and work I long for this free time and all my efforts are fueled by the idea that a break will come soon. On the flip side, during my breaks I just feel ready to get back into a routine. There is one difference however with this break in particular and that is my absolute longing to just skip over the coming semester and land right at the edge of summer. And you know what summer means? Freedom from school and the commencement of my adventures in Portland. Oh please, I wish I could just call it quits now, grab up that diploma, and hop on a plane for the West Coast. Unfortunately, I have been told it doesn’t really work this way. Apparently you do have to finish the five remaining courses in college to receive your degrees. So I guess I will stay here in Austin and stick it out in order to receive that piece of paper that is costing me well over $50,000. 

As I reflect on my journaled thoughts relating to this topic, I recall that I knew God’s plan for me in this last year was to prepare me for the next step. At that time I did not know where I was going. I had no plans and now that He has graciously allowed me to follow my heart to the northwest, my focus has slowly crept away from complete dependence on the Lord’s plan AND timing. I should know that I will get there eventually, so patience I must practice. In the meantime I will not look only to the future while neglecting the present. It’s so great here and He can use me wherever I am. So why not actually live for the kingdom where it is: inside of me, wherever I am? If you have any encouraging thoughts on this topic, please don’t hesitate to share them. I will be forever thankful! In a few days I will get a little taste of what Portland is all about, but I pray that does not hinder my journey here. 

It’s not over!


debut post, ladies and gentlemen

In light of recent events marking the beginning or end of an era (the commencement of 2012, and my finishing a book entitled The Irresistible Revolution) I figured now would be a great time to add another check to my bucket list. For some time now I have contemplated starting a blog for various reasons: to share simple yet tasty recipes I come across, mostly from sharing time with sweet friends cooking or baking, to indulge in crafting and clever ways to make art, and to allow friends and family a glimpse into my everyday life. A year ago my dream was to start a blog, however as feelings of inadequacy (of writing, of course, not of a severe life crisis) crept up I decided to make a different New Year’s resolution for last year. I kept a personal journal documenting all of the past year’s events and promised myself if I could keep that up, then I could certainly produce something worth tuning into. Thus starts a chronicling of my life for you to enjoy. And of course anything I might find interesting such as food, crafts, vintage finds, etc. will wind up here for your viewing.

And so to ring in the New Year I would like to bring you up to date on the highlight of my life these days!

If the Lord wills it, I will be moving to Portland, Oregon at the end of May, just after graduation to become a missionary. Okay, obviously there is more to it than that, but in short (and if you would like to stop reading now!) that is indeed the highlight of my most recent months. So let me start at the very beginning, a very good place… Never mind. Before school started this past fall semester, I decided to make a commitment to follow the Lord, wholeheartedly. No really. I REALLY meant it this time. I said, “I’m all in” and man, has it been a whirlwind adventure. Yes, I have been on an adventure getting to know the Lord since eighth grade when my dear best friend stepped out in faith and invited me to church. But this time was different. After all the challenges being a “real adult” has brought me thus far, especially after last year, I knew I needed to be 100% sold on the Lord’s faithfulness. So I jumped into this thing Christians call an intimate relationship and I mean it when I say that I will never be the same. All of what I have learned over the past five months or so has been good, bad, great, terrible, joyous, heart wrenching, the list could go on. There is a lie we often buy into when we decide to give our lives to Christ and that is once we meet Him, our lives will get easier. WRONGO. In fact I have shared with many a friend recently about this phenomena: When we give up our lives to the Lord, it gets harder. What is that about? That seems contrary to what I learned in youth group. But the fact is, and it’s in the Bible (John 16:33), that we will face trials and heartache. We will be persecuted for following the Way, but we are to take heart for He has already overcome. Have peace in knowing this and be encouraged to step out in faith, a leap of faith, if you will.

So as I was saying, when faced with thoughts of graduation and entering the real world on the horizon, I became puzzled with what it is I want to do with my life. Any person who has given up their life for the Kingdom would probably throw in the mix, “I want to serve Jesus in my career.” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that AND how many times I have thought it myself. But for some reason it seems only fitting for me to actually make a career out of serving Jesus. I love to serve; it’s my heart’s desire. And knowing my nature of being completely consumed with the task at hand, I realize that my focus on the Savior’s face is so easily torn away if my life’s work is not about Him. (And by the way, this is my sincerest attempt at being humble and NOT self-righteous.) I have come to the conclusion that I honestly want my career to be about the Kingdom; about the mission Jesus charged His disciples with before He went to be with the Father. So therefore, I am “going” to make disciples; to introduce people to Jesus and real Christianity and help them grow in their faith (you YoungLifers out there may recognize that saying... at least my Austin West team). So how did I settle on Portland? Thought you’d ask. Well some of you may know I spent a semi-miserable ten months in New Orleans, LA attending Tulane University my freshman year. The one thing that kept me afloat was the Baptist Collegiate Ministry and the friends I made there. I have kept in touch with a few of them and I am truly grateful for their friendships. One of my friends there has recently come on board with NAMB to be a missionary in Portland, and he in fact has already spent two summers there. After hearing of his tales in the city, along with my “radical” transformation with the Lord I have become enchanted with this magnificent city in the Northwest. There have been other contributing factors in the past few years, but I’ll save you the extra chapter of my novel. I can’t get my mind off this place. I could be completely wrong, but I think this place is right up my alley. I mean, I'm hippie/ hipster enough, right? I have lived in New Orleans AND Austin, for goodness sake (joking, joking). Now I don’t want to stay so enthralled with this glorious place for so long that I talk it up to be so much more than it is. On the flip side, I also don’t want to move there and realize I absolutely hate it (like I did New Orleans) so I have planned a visit. In fact, one week from now I will take a short trip over to that side of the country and officially become acquainted with Portland. I might even mutter under my breath, "Hello, Portland. It's nice to finally meet you." Prayers are greatly appreciated! I have no real agenda for this trip except to simply get to know the city and spend some time praying over this place. I’ll meet people, see exciting new (and green) places, drink coffee. And then I’ll head back to Austin for the next five months of life. Clearly because of the new blog, you will indeed be updated with all the goods during and after the trip.

Dear friends I do hope I don’t take for granted the opportunities and people here in Austin. This has been a wonderful place to spend three years learning in academia and from the Teacher. He is preparing me to move on and start a new chapter in life. I wish there was a different, not so overused cliché for this transitional period in life, but that’s what it is. Who knows, a lot can happen in five months! I can certainly attest to that.

So to sum it all up, my journey will be here for you all to take in. I call this my “leap year” because this is a giant leap of faith I am taking to trust in the Lord’s faithfulness and lean on His understanding. And in following with the actual calendar, this year is in fact a leap year. That obviously worked out in my favor.