Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Family Harvest Celebration

Last night, the camp hosted their annual Family Harvest Celebration, an "alternative Halloween event".  There's a puppet show, a Gospel magician, doughnuts, cider, hot chocolate, hay rides (or at least wagon rides), and "trick-or-treating".  Volunteer groups each decorate one of the cabins (where campers stay in the summer) and then the kids who come through go to each cabin, maybe play a game (depending on the cabin), and get some candy.

My family and I did one last year, but with it being our first year, we were hesitant to decorate the inside of the cabin, so we set up a lattice and a rake outside, draped my collection of plaid/flowered scarves/skirts over it, added a few flowers, and called it a "Garden Cabin".  We also had a little corn-hole game for the kids to try to win candy (and we just gave them candy anyway even if they lost or didn't want to play, because we're nice like that).  However, since we were standing outside the cabin, we were absolutely freezing - and we girls ended up wearing most of the decorations by the end of the night.  (That sparked a lot of questions: "What are you supposed to be?" "Well... I was a gardener... but then I got cold, so now I'm a gypsy... with a plaid shirt... and I garden.")  We decided that if we did this again, we'd be inside the cabin - and have a space heater!

This year, my dad and Jacob couldn't come, so it was just the girls.  I spent the afternoon first rearranging the  beds in the cabin to create a circular path through what would become "our garden".  Then I hung icicle lights from the rafters along the general area of the path and colored lights across the room in the middle.  You really can't go wrong with lights.  I draped my scarves/skirts around and added some blankets, but the real magic started when Mom and Chloe showed up.

We had enough blankets to cover all the metal bunk beds (hung from the sides, so you couldn't tell they were bunk beds) and draped flower and leaf garlands over those, along with some colorful skirts.  With the main light off and the twinkle lights on, it looked like a magical fairy land!  Of course, we were going for a somewhat garden theme, so we set up some big flowers and ficus trees and a rake and watering can.  We also had some baskets sitting around, because they're pretty.

For a game, Mom had brought an old piece of carpeting about the size of a hall runner.  We used duct tape to create a hopscotch on it and placed it in one part of the path.  Kids came through the door, went through the garden, hopscotched, got candy, and then back out.

Oh, did I mention we had TWO space heaters?  It was so nice in our cabin.  So many people commented on how cozy and beautiful it was.  And it was really nice!  I'm really proud of what a beautiful, magical space we created in a stinky boys' cabin!  And most of the kids loved the hopscotch - and so did many of their parents!

Best of all, clean-up only took about a half hour - including packing up the car and taking a load back to my apartment and then bringing the car back to load up Mom and Chloe's stuff.

However, when the night was over, my feet were killing me because I wore my rain boots, which, while quite suited to keeping my feet warm and dry, are not suited to supporting my arches.  Therefore, my feet, legs, and back were aching.  I was in bed by 9:30, and it was only that late because it took me so long to get ready for bed because I was so sore!  I'm still really sore this morning (I slept in until 8:45!), but still really proud of how beautiful our decorations were!

And one little girl came in with a full unicorn costume (you know, the ones that are like sleepers with a hood?) except she had the unicorn hood pushed back and had a monkey hood on instead.  Apparently she wanted to be a unicorn and a monkey - so she was both!

Love and Twinkle Lights,
Leah Joy

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Have you been watching these?

Several months ago, I posted the first Lizzie Bennet Diaries (a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice)  and they're now on episode 59 (with episode 60 coming on Thursday when we get to see Darcy!!!!!!!!!).

So quick!  Catch up now while you have time!!!  Here's yesterday's:

Yes, that is Charlotte is dressed up as a ketchup bottle!  Wait until you see Mr. Collins' costume!

But start from the beginning, or it won't mean as much!

Love and Prejudice,
Leah Joy

Monday, October 29, 2012

One Thing I've Learned After A Year of Marriage

Okay, so we've actually been married a year and (nearly) two months by now, and I had actually learned this after about two months of marriage, but it only gets reinforced every time this happens.

My husband wants to be nice, so he'll either pick out a chick flick (I know, right?) or let me pick.  For a while, I'd say, "Well, are you sure you want to watch The Princess Diaries with me?"  And he'd say, "Sure, honey, if that's what you want to watch."  And of course it is, because it's a fabulous movie.

And then he sits and groans through all the good parts and rolls his eyes audibly and makes sarcastic "Are you serious?" comments.

So now, when I get to pick, I no longer suggest chick flicks.  I watch those when he's gone.  Or somewhere else playing video games.  I suggest action movies and sci-fi/fantasy dramas, but nothing involving too much pink or princesses.

This has been a short rant brought to you by a very exhausting weekend.

Love and Princess Movies,
Leah Joy

Friday, October 26, 2012

Our (Mostly Failed) Garden

Hi Friends,

This year, Caleb and I really wanted to start a garden.  There was a community garden plot that had been used in previous years (although grass had been sown over it since) and so we thought we'd till it up and start again.  We tried to use my dad's (a hand-me-down from my grandpa) but we first had a hard time getting it started and then it was so small (and we were trying to till a garden for more than just us to use) that Caleb decided we should just use our new maintenance guy's.  Well, his wouldn't get started, either, so we rented one from our local hardware store.  Afterwards, Caleb and I spent hours digging out the clumps of grass and trying to make the soil friendly for a garden.

We planted seeds for corn, beans, carrots, onions, cucumbers, early summer lettuce, and zinnias.  We also planted a few little strawberry plants, some raspberry transplants from my parents, a little blackberry plant, and some rhubarb transplants from my grandma.  Yes, we were ambitious, but with that many, something has to grow, right?

Well, sort of.  We had some early summer lettuce - lots of it actually and really good, too!  Except that camp had already started, and we always ate with the camp, so we never used our lettuce.  Bummer.

Here's where we planted onions.  This is what it looked like the whole summer!  (Except without the weeds.)

Our beans and cucumbers came up, but then were eaten by the time they were about 4 inches tall.  Then came more weeds.  (For the record, I did weed mostly diligently for the whole summer.)

Our raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries couldn't take the heat of this summer, and our rhubarb got mowed and then weed-whacked!  (I know, right!)  Our corn started looking okay, but then a huge storm came and knocked out half of it and kind of killed the rest.  We got some neat pictures, though!

Other than lettuce and the zinnias (pictures for another day), our carrots were the only other things that actually produced a crop.

Aren't they beautiful?  Yes, except few of them were larger than this:

From our entire garden, we got 1.3 pounds of carrot sticks.  Oh boy.  Better luck next year!

Love and Dirt,
Leah Joy

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thrifty Thursday

We've been trying to eat a lot healthier lately.  Fewer desserts, more fruits and veggies.  For Caleb's birthday, I "entered" him in the Dessert of the Month club (provided by me), but other than his monthly dessert, I've been trying to avoid the sweets (and sometimes succeeding).  This means I don't have a lot of new dessert recipes to try with you, other than ones I tried off of Pinterest oh, maybe a year ago, and took no pictures of the results.  Maybe sometime I'll put them all in one review post.  

And as for dinners/main courses?  I like the tried-and-true, well-tested, family recipes.  My mom's lasagna. Caleb's pot roast. Or something simple and hard-to-mess-up, like quesadillas.  I guess I just feel more comfortable experimenting with chocolate and cinnamon than with basil and beef. So I don't have a lot of new dinner recipes, either.

So I thought about going way back to the beginning of this whole daily theme idea and trying my idea of a Thrifty Thursday, and who knows - maybe something better than how it sounds will come of that. 

I guess Thrifty could go many ways.  I could tell you the price per pound deal we got on chicken.  Oooh, how thrilling.  Or I could tell you a project I did - or heard about - that was done for very little money.  

Today, I'll briefly tell you about our bookcase.  I despise particle-board bookshelves.  I think particle-board in general is great.  It provides cheap shelving, and if you're putting sheets or towels on it, it will hold up just fine.  But a bookshelf?  That's ridiculous, especially with people like Caleb and me, who read hardcover theology books.  We need real wood bookshelves, which unfortunately don’t come cheap.  Not new anyway. 

Just over a year ago, when we were getting ready to get married and move me into the apartment, Caleb already had one bookshelf - a particle board one - but we needed more shelving, thanks to my obsession with book sales.

I searched the local thrift stores, but nothing super great showed up, except one that was solid, but the bottom was just beat up enough to be a bit rickety.  They wanted $20 for it, and I wasn't quite ready to snatch it up without Caleb's opinion at that price.  One of my best friends worked at that store and actually later that day she called me and told me that they had just marked it down to $6!  I didn't have Caleb's approval, but for $6, I thought it safe.  It was an ugly, dark, shiny wood finish, but I primed it with some primer my dad gave me and painted it with the same blue paint Caleb's parents bought to paint our apartment.  Once at the apartment, we drilled it into the wall to take care of the rickety part, and it fits nicely into a little corner.  It's the perfect shelf for that area, sturdy, and no longer rickety!  Plus, it matches the wall, so it looks like it's meant to be there.  

It's deep enough that the bottom shelf (okay, the floor) can hold two layers deep of books.  The shelves are tall enough to hold my concordance and some knick-knacks, too.

Not my concordance - but rather my selection of classic literature - written 
mostly by Louisa May Alcott and Jane Austen.

Next to it you can see my other great shelving: milk crates. 

These are truly something they just don't make like they used to.  I came into great riches when my family let me have all the ones from our house.  In my old bedroom, I had them stacked 3 high to serve as a bookshelf.  If you mimic this, keep these cautions in mind: Use the old milk crates.  They're sturdier than the crap they make today. Stack them against a wall, and have at least one side against something sturdy (a real bookshelf or a wall or something).  If you stack them higher than I have here, or if you use really heavy things in them, you may want to secure them to each other. I used a few thin strips of duct tape, and wrapped them around a few matching weaves.
Love and Books,
Leah Joy

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Cookie List

Yesterday, after dropping Caleb off at work, I went to spend some time at my parents' house.  First, I stopped by Meijer to pick up some cough drops (woohoo!) and then the library to check out some Jane Austen novels.  As I was leaving the library, I heard a "Hey, you!" from behind me - and it was my mom!  She had walked down to the library for some exercise (and to get a book).  Defeating half her purpose, I gave her a ride back.

I had a few things to do while there, including 4 loads of laundry, but also glitter, paint, ribbon, and hot glue.  I'm so excited for Christmas, but I'm also excited for after Christmas, when I can talk about the fun things I got to make!  My current favorite is what I'm making for my mother-in-law.  I just finished it yesterday and let me tell you, it is so nice to be old enough to make crafts people will actually like!

I still have at least 5 presents to make, plus my "Cookie List".  Have I ever blogged about my Cookie List?  I don't think I have.  Growing up on a budget, but loving to give gifts, I developed a "Cookie List".  I start out by writing down everyone to whom I want to give something.  This list was so long, though, that I could never afford a decent gift for everyone.  Besides, some of the people were my school friends - and while a card with a candy cane was appropriate, a handmade scarf might not be.

So I split my list into the Gift List and The Cookie List. Dad, Mom, and siblings used to be the only people who make the "Gift List", but as my budget and family expanded, my "Gift List" is now Dad, Mom, siblings, Caleb's Dad, Mom, whichever siblings we draw (they do a drawing with the siblings and nieces/nephews, rather than 13 people getting the other 12 a present), my Grandma (for her birthday, which is on Christmas.  For Christmas she makes a special section of the Cookie List.), and then my parents' neighbors (Ms. Carol, Sarah, and Claire - the family for whom I nannied - they're family).

(If you're wondering why Caleb isn't on there, it's because we've decided to save the money we'd spend on gifts for each other and instead go on a date together.)

That list looks kind of long, but it's really only 13 people, and with Caleb to help with ideas, it's fun and manageable.

Now, everyone else I love (friends, church staff, camp staff, etc.) goes on the Cookie List.  While all my friends were giving cards with candy canes (not kidding, I used to receive 10 cards with candy canes*), I realized that everyone loves cookies and if wrapped up nicely (which in 8th grade meant aluminum foil and duct tape**), they make a great present!  All I had to do was bake a few batches and wrap them up.

(While living at home, I was very conscientious about these cookies being from me, so my mom actually sat down with me and helped me figure out the cost, down to the flour and baking soda - and then I'd pay her back!)

Nowadays, the cookie list doesn't always involve making cookies.  Last year, I made cake batter truffles and sweet popcorns.  This year, our cookie list has grown so much (over 30 people!) that I'm going to do a few different things.  I have a long list of ideas, including cookies, truffles, and popcorns, but also biscotti, breads, barks, homemade candles, and hand-painted mugs.  Most of the cookie list usually gets an ornament, too.

I also have a special section of my cookie list for my Aunties and Grandma.  (No, spell check, I did not mean "Aunts".)  My mom's sisters (and sister-in-law) and mother mean a lot to me and I love them so much (which is why I still call my aunts "Auntie").  So every Christmas (for about as long as I can remember), I've tried to do something special for them.  In the past, it was often the same cookies I made for my friends, and last year it was just the ornaments I made for everyone else, but I have a really fun idea for this Christmas that I can't wait to try out!

Well, my friends, I was sickish for the last several days, so my apartment is a veritable mess.  I have tons of cleaning to do and better get started right away!

I hope my Christmas ramblings didn't bore you to tears!

Love and Joy,
Leah Joy

*But that was fine, because I love candy canes.  Even those weird fruity ones.
**And nowadays means cellophane and ribbon.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fall Fashion

Hello there!

So I know this video is from last year's fall fashion, but I thought you'd get a kick out of it anyway.

My favorite is the last one!  "Nothing says high fashion like a pirate elk bride."

Love and Plaid,
Leah Joy

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Empty Nest

Hi Friends,

I know I'm supposed to post a rant today, but I have something better!  My sister and I used to have a table at our local Farmers' Market where we'd sell handmade jewelry/cards/potholders/stuff.  After a while, we'd take turns watching the table so the other one could walk around and check out the other tables.  One of our favorites, if not our absolute favorite, was The Empty Nest, run by an older couple (older than us, at least).  They make jewelry, cuff links, magnets, and other items out of maps, scrabble tiles, typewriter keys, Legos, and other ... items.  Their stuff is really great, but they were only there a few times in the summer, so we were kind of bummed.  We've seen them since at other local fairs or festivals, but I just found their Etsy shop!  Go check out their stuff here.

I only ever bought one thing there (a pair of purple hippo earrings - that I absolutely adore!), but always wished I had more money (and a bigger jewelry box) because their stuff is so cute!

Love and Kitschy Earrings,
Leah Joy

Friday, October 19, 2012

Crochet Slippers

I had been thinking about making slippers for someone for Christmas, but I had no idea how to, so I found some patterns on Pinterest.  So far I've only tried this one.  She said it fits size 9 (which I am) so I tried it (mostly) as written.  Here's how my first attempt turned out:

For this one, I used an I hook (5.5mm), which I think was my problem, because not until after I did this did I notice she said she used a 4mm hook.  However, because I used such pretty yarn, I wanted to save it, so I took out the last several rows and finished it up like so:

It's still a little bit big, but I made another one the same size, added some embellishments on top, and I'll donate it to the camp's auction coming up in a few weeks.  The only problem with shortening it early is that I missed the increase in size to help hold it on the heel.

I've made another pair since then using a 5mm hook, so I'll post pictures of that version soon - and now I'll have to try one with a 4mm hook, too!

Love and Slippers,
Leah Joy

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Not Dessert?

Today, I'm going to share with you about some pizza sauce I "made" recently.  Let's call it "semi-homemade".  I had planned to make some French bread pizza type things during the week and Caleb had assured me that we still had pizza sauce and I didn't bother checking.  And he was wrong.

So an hour before we were supposed to eat dinner, I'm trying to come up with another idea, but we had eaten all the other quick and easy ideas within the last three days (you know, soup, grilled cheese, etc.) and I really don't like to repeat the same recipe within the week.  And then I found a can of tomato paste.  And Google.

I first followed some directions and added water + sugar to the tomato paste and put it on the stove.  Within a few minutes it had reached the general consistency of tomato sauce.  (The sugar is because tomato paste is pretty "tart" compared to sauce.)

Then I followed this recipe for a copy-cat of Pizza Hut's sauce.  A lot of the comment-ers said that they doubled the spices and loved it that way, so I did that.  While it was simmering, Caleb and I both ended up adding more of various things - like our favorite Rosemary Garlic seasoning (seriously, that stuff is the best).  In the end, it turned out wonderfully.  We were still able to have our French bread pizzas and then had a ton of this sauce leftover, which I put into a conveniently recently-emptied pasta sauce jar.

We used the leftovers for homemade pizza for our college group.  Everyone loved the sauce!  

Love and Pepperoni,
Leah Joy

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Expiration Dates

As promised, here is a fun story about a recent cleaning adventure.

We've been on a purging kick lately at work.  (No, not binging and purging.)  We have tons of files that we've been holding on to that we could have gotten rid of years ago, so it's been my job to sort through them and shred what needs to be shredded and recycle the rest.

Getting rid of the unnecessary file weight at work has inspired me to do some "spring cleaning" at home, too (yes, in October).  It all started with a tiny item on my to-do list.  We have our kitchen trash can, but no place to put recycling.  Really, we'd just been throwing the recycling in a corner behind the trash can until it looks like enough to fill a bag and then I bag it and move it to the front hall until I take the recycling out to the recycling center.  It was a really horrible system and I decided to fix it.  We have the same size trash can in the bathroom, which makes no sense, because it takes forever to fill up a trash can that size in the bathroom and that's kind of gross to have that sitting around that long.  So I moved a little one into the bathroom and the big one out into the kitchen as a recycling bin. 

So how did this spark a huge "spring cleaning" project?  Well, as I moved stuff around, I needed to take the trash out of the now-recycling bin, so I looked through my fridge to see if anything had gone bad in there that needed to be tossed (it happens).  Instead, I found myself looking through all the stuff in the door (condiments, etc.) and realizing that many of them had expired.  4 years ago.  I'm not a strict expiration date person.  If it was a few months ago, unless it's milk or something, it's probably still good.  Some things, like Jell-O or cake mix, I'm cool keeping even a year or so after the expiration date.  But 4 years, especially on something refrigerated, is nasty.  So I got rid of those.  And then I moved to the top of the fridge, where for some reason we had been keeping a jar of pickles from 500 B.C.

I should stop at this point and explain a bit about the apartment.  It's a hand-me-down apartment and kitchen.  Most of the furniture "belongs to the apartment" (as we say).  The couch, the table, the chairs, the dressers - all the apartment's.  Many of the dishes belong to the apartment, too.  That being said, some of the food is kind of hand-me-down, too.  Which isn't gross if you think of someone leaving a few boxed/canned items for the next renter as they get used to a new place.  But when you think of the new renter ignoring those in the back of the cupboard and repeat that for a few more renters, it starts to build up.  Until half the available cupboard space (which is small anyway) is eaten up by food you're never going to eat.  Ugh.

Okay, so after cleaning out the fridge and the top of the fridge, I did two more cupboards.  Which are now practically bare. 

Friends, I found a box of jambalaya mix that expired in 1996.  And please don't tell me that it's still fine because it's just spices, rice, and dehydrated vegetables.  (Like my husband did.)  Would you eat that when it's probably 18 years old?

And now?  It feels great!  By cleaning out all that cupboard space, I can get more things off the top of the fridge (things we actually use) and the floor and into cupboards, which makes our place feel so much tidier!

And I still have another cupboard and two shelves to clean, too!

Have you done any major cleaning projects around your home lately?

Love and Dehydrated Vegetables,
Leah Joy

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Civil Wars

If you haven't heard The Civil Wars yet, it's about time you did.  They're one of the few bands I'll pay to see in concert and they are fabulous.  Check out this live video from a recent concert.


Joy is so much fun to watch.  And would you believe she just had a baby a few months ago?

Happy Tuesday!

Love and Bacon,
Leah Joy

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Monday Rant: Incompetence

Last week, I had to place an Office Depot order for camp.  I always choose to make orders by phone because we have a special discounted pricing system that I'm not convinced works with online orders.  Besides, the number I call usually gets me someone who actually speaks English fairly well, and while they have a lot of scripted lines they have to say ("Have I taken care of your business today?" and "We have a special on *completely unnecessary items* this week - would you like to add any of these to your order?"), they're polite and the order usually takes me 5 minutes or less. 

So, when I had to place this most recent order, I called about 15 minutes before I was supposed to leave for lunch, thinking that even if the phone call went long, I'd at least still get to go to lunch at 12.

I went to lunch at 12:15.

I am not complaining about having lunch late.  That didn't bother me at all.  What drove me insane was the complete incompetence of the lady who took my order. 

I'm sure she's a very nice lady and that she tries really hard.  But there are certain qualifications you should have if you're going to take phone orders.  Like the ability to hear.  And pronounce words.  And read.  Our conversation went something like this:

Office Depot Lady: Thank you for calling Office Depot, this is Gweroiumvcn, how can I help you today?
Me: I'd like to place an order.
ODL: Okay, I can help you with that, what's your customer ID number?
Me: 12345678 (Obviously not our real customer number.)
ODL: Okay... Hmmmm…….. *awkwardly long pause*  You said 1…2… ?
Me: (slowly and deliberately) 1… 2… 3… (etc.)
ODL: Okay… hmmmm….. You said 123456… ???
Me:  (slowly and deliberately) 6… 7… 8…
ODL: Okay… Hmmm…. Alright can you confirm the business name?
Me: Pine Ridge Bible Camp
ODL: Okay, and how can I help you today?
Me: ...I'd like to place an order.  
ODL: Okay...
Me: Are you ready for the first item?
ODL: (rudely) Um, yeah!
Me:  (At the same rate I would give any number over the phone.)  150-348-268
ODL: Okay… ummmm… 150...??
Me: 1…5…0…3…4…8…etc.
ODL: 348… what??
Me: 348  2… 6… 8…
ODL: Okay, um… 348…2…6..what?
Me: 2… 6… 8…
ODL: Okay, how many?
Me: 1.
ODL: Okay, that's the "Woosoo Extract" …wait it says it's back stocked… oh no… wait no, it's in stock.  Okay the "Woosoo Extract Vell-i-oom? Brastool Card Stock 8 by 11, Canary, pack of 250"  (I would like to note that this line is exactly what she said, word for word. Please go to Office Depot's website and look up item # 150-348-268 to see exactly what she was reading.)
Me: Yep.
ODL: Okay, and you said 1?
Me: Yep.
ODL: Okay, next item?

And repeat this for the next 2 items (thankfully I was only ordering 3 different things).  Every number I had to repeat several times.  Now, I'm a patient person.  I can repeat things.  And if I were giving numbers to, say, a camper's parent, I could understand that they might not be as great at hearing them.  But this is her job!  Her job is to listen to numbers and competently type them in the system. 

Me: That's the end of the order.
ODL: Okay, and how are you paying for this today?
Me: Account Billing, please.
ODL: *mumbling* What?  It says "Member Number"…???
Me: Member Number is ****
ODL: Oh… okay…  *really long pause*  Oh, weird.  It says the order line **** can't go through because you have a limit (This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.) Okay, well I need to transfer you to a different department and they'll have to take your order because I can't put it through.  Here's the number in case we get disconnected: ******* (This was actually smart of her.) Please hold.
*Hold for 2 minutes, then hold music ends and I hear papers shuffling*
ODL: *long awkward pause*
Me: Hello?
ODL: Yes, I'm still here ma'am.
Me: …Okay.
ODL: Okay, for some reason they're not answering so I'm going to try another number, it's **********.  Okay, one moment please.
*Hold for 8 minutes* (I kid you not.)
ODL: Okay, we can't help you today, but you can call and place this order through your company (I can only assume she meant the company through which we get our special discount.) and I have two numbers for you. 

She proceeds to give me the two numbers and names and wishes me a good day.  I call the first number.  Disconnected.  Of course it is.  I call the second number.  It's a rehab center in Detroit. 


I call back the Office Depot number and this time a very nice, competent lady named Dawn answered, took my order, and completed it within 2 minutes.  That wasn't so hard, was it?

I understand that phone orders will probably take longer than online orders, and I'm okay with that.  And I understand that some people end up on hold for hours.  But Office Depot usually takes 5 minutes and it takes a half hour??? For 3 items???

Good grief.

Love and Tape,
Leah Joy

P.S.  This is not intended to be a reflection on Office Depot's customer service.  Normally they are extremely helpful and competent.  I usually even get a follow up phone call from a manager asking a few questions about his employees and I can give a glowing report because they're all so dang nice and helpful.  Today's first lady has been my first bad experience with their customer service.

Friday, October 12, 2012

An Unexpected Day Off (In August)

Dear Readers,

I keep a OneNote Notebook for my blog, so that I can write blogs ahead and then copy and paste them in here later.  Sometimes I have so many thoughts swirling around in my head that I can write 6 blog posts at once, but it would be silly to post them all in one day.  

That being said, sometimes I forget about them.  I have one post in there that I wrote in January 2012.  I'm still not sure that one will ever get posted.  This one, however, is the most recent one I have sitting, but it's still rather overdue.  As you'll read below, I wrote this in August.  I was contemplating not posting it simply because it was so old, but I decided to anyway.  I hope you enjoy me being all metaphysical on you again.


Today is Friday, August 10.  I may not post this today, but know that this is the last day of summer camp.  And I have had the day off (at least until now).  Last night, around 10pm, the power went out, and by my calculations didn't come back on until between 1 and 2 am.  Which isn't a  very long time, but our internet was still down in the morning, as was the shared network drive.  This meant that I couldn't check email, work on spreadsheets, or update any database.  I couldn't even print.  In fact, the only thing I could do was answer the phone.  So Kevin told me to just go home.

I started out by reading a letter I had just received from my auntie.  I then wrote a response.  (I wasn't sure how long I was going to have, so I chose small projects that I could put down quickly.)  Then I wrapped a gift for a bridal shower I'm attending tomorrow.  I washed the pile of dishes in the sink.  I cleaned up some of the clutter in our kitchen, watched some Olympics, and made a delicious lunch for my husband.  I got to spend some time with Zoe (my favorite 2-year-old); we played hide-and-seek.  I wrote a thank-you card to someone who had written me an encouraging note a month ago.  I read (skimmed) a magazine and tidied up our recycling area.  I rinsed out some soda bottles that had been sitting around for a while.  I picked up the clothes lying by my dresser and put away the towels I had washed last weekend.

No huge projects, but all things that needed to get done.  It is now nearly 4:00 in the afternoon and I have not yet been called in to work.  I know the issues are fixed, but if they don't need me, I'm perfectly content to be down here.

I haven't had a whole day off in a long time.  You might say, "Well, Leah, don't you at least get weekends?"  Sure.  My Sundays involve getting up at 6:00, leaving for church at 6:30, and then sitting around for hours until services actually start.  Which is fine, I get to read and knit and all, but it's not a very relaxing way to spend a weekend.  And the rest of my week is so busy that I cram everything else I want or need to do into Saturday, like bridal showers, overdue coffee-type dates with friends, laundry, and cleaning the house.  All good things, but sometimes I need days with nothing planned.  I used to love having "Nothing Days" because I'd end up getting so much done but still be so relaxed.  I haven't had one in so long!

Today, because I wasn't expecting the day off, I didn't plan a million things to accomplish.  Because it's pouring, I can't really do laundry, either, so my 'to-do list' is significantly shorter.  And because I may be called upstairs to work anytime, I can't choose any huge projects (like clean out the closet, or something). 

Today has been lovely and relaxing - yet productive.  And I'm sure you didn't want as detailed of a description of it as I just gave you, but deal with it, because it's what you get.

When was the last time you had a "Nothing Day"?

Love and Jones Soda,
Leah Joy

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sun Flare

Guess what???  I finally figured out how to rotate pictures!  Maybe I'll take the time to go back and fix all those other ones....  Other than pictures of my garden, these are my last two pictures of my walk in the woods.  I love sun flare so much.

The funny thing is that while I've been posting these pictures, the colors have turned far more vibrant and beautiful, but I haven't had access to a nice camera to go take pictures!

I mentioned earlier that I'm working on my Christmas list.  It's taking much more shape now, and it's pretty exciting!  I love Christmas!  I can't decide whether I like making awesome presents or baking delicious things better.  Or eating the delicious things.

I have one person on my list for whom it is super hard to find a present.  I made her wrist warmers last year, but I know she won't wear mittens (not that I can make them anyway, but I'd try if I thought she'd wear them!), hats, scarves, slippers, hair things, or earrings.  So basically everything I know how to make.  For her birthday, I gave up and got her a Meijer gift card.  But lately, I've noticed that she has started to be slightly less tom-boy-ish in some ways, and while I know she won't wear earrings, I'm trying for a dream catcher bracelet.  She loves Native American inspired things, so I'm hoping she'll like this.  I'm following the directions here, sort of.  I bought waxed linen cord at Hobby Lobby because it looks like leather; that's to wrap around the outside of the ring (I'm using the kind like you'd put on a key chain).  Because it's waxed, it holds its spot very well, so I don't have to worry about it sliding around like embroidery floss might.  I'm also just using regular sewing thread for the inner part, but doubled.  And I'm using a sewing needle to help make the net..

I just finished the net actually, and it looks awesome!  I don't have any beads here, so it won't get finished until I get back to my parents' house to pick one out, but then I'm hoping to make either a floss bracelet or a chain bracelet (kind of like the one pictured on the directions).  I actually can't believe how great the dream catcher looks, so I need to find some way to put it on that looks equally great!

Of course, it's difficult to blog about Christmas presents for some people, because they'll read this, so I'll be sure to document my favorite projects and post them after Christmas.

Look for a great de-cluttering story on here soon!

Love and Thread,
Leah Joy

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Forest Floor

Many of today's pictures are much the same.  I continued to take several photos of the forest floor and the leaves on the grass.  It's just so pretty!

May you have a blessed day!

Love and Dinosaurs,
Leah Joy

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Happy Tuesday!

On Tuesdays, my husband takes the van up to church, where he has staff meeting and other meetings all day.  Most other days, he's not gone the whole day.  Also on Tuesdays, I don't work in the camp office.  This means I get to do my own to-do list.  Not that I can't  do things on other days, but having no ability to get to town (only one working vehicle), no hours to keep, and no husband to accidentally annoy, I get a lot done on Tuesday.  First, enjoy some pictures.  And again, Blogger can't seem to figure out how to get vertical pictures vertical.

I found myself always looking up... so for a change, I looked down.

Well, I'm off to get loads of laundry done and... well, whatever else makes it to my to-do list.  The first item on my list is "Make a List"!

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Love and Laundry,
Leah Joy