Light

My poor Benjamin teases me about how I always dump projects/random-unattractive-household-articles in his office–and I must confess myself guilty of just such a thing. I DO dump things in that half of the house, and I am typically slow to clean such messes up. However, after a recent re-arranging episode, I think I’ve finally realized why it is that I tend to clutter and not care about this part of the house: it has minimal natural lighting. I’m a little sunflower, wherever the sun is, that’s where I want to be, and wherever the sun isn’t…I tend to avoid. Or just not care about.

The  main motivation behind my recent stint in home remodeling stemmed from my earnest need to move my desk so that I had more natural light during the day. And…my attempt has made me quite satisfied indeed.

Behold my before photos…and my after photos.

This is the view from the front door of our apartment. We have a long, poorly floored hallway. It is undeniably a bit dark and poky.

This is the view from the front door of our apartment. We have a long, poorly floored hallway. It is undeniably a bit dark and poky.

Here is the door--the light seen in this photo is illusional--things aren't really that bright in this poky hall.

Here is the door–the light seen in this photo is illusional–things aren’t really that bright in this poky hall.

And this is the cupboard we bought from Target to fill the awkward space. Yay!

And this is the cupboard we bought from Target to fill the awkward space. Yay!

You turn the first corner--BAM--living room. Which also looks dark and poky.

You turn the first corner–BAM–living room. Which also looks dark and poky.

It is a bit brighter from this angle, but still...dark-ish feeling.

It is a bit brighter from this angle, but still…dark-ish feeling.

View from the couch--much more light--whew!

View from the couch–much more light–whew!

And there is my desk. It looks pretty bright now...but at night, that little corner felt unbearably dark and cramped.

And there is my desk. It looks pretty bright now…but at night, that little corner felt unbearably dark and cramped.

Still kinda cute though...

Still kinda cute though…

View from desk...if you turn around or crane your neck awkwardly.

View from desk…if you turn around or crane your neck awkwardly.

Ben's poor office. Which I shamelessly took advantage of, and stored 2/3s of our three-piece sectional in until we could move them into the basement.

Ben’s poor office. Which I shamelessly took advantage of, and stored 2/3s of our three-piece sectional in until we could move them into the basement.

Yeah...and can't you see how dark it is? Yikes. Only one window in that entire half of the house.

Yeah…and can’t you see how dark it is? Yikes. Only one window in that entire half of the house.

Our bedroom was pretty drab too...

Our bedroom was pretty drab too…

The globes were the most colorful thing about it.

The globes were the most colorful thing about it.

Plus the dresser had two Jesuses on it, and we kept a spare chair behind the door.

Plus the dresser had two Jesuses on it, and we kept a spare chair behind the door.

At this point, my favorite room in the house was the kitchen. It is also the second smallest room in the house, but it had my cute coke-bottle spice cabinet. Which made me uber happy.

At this point, my favorite room in the house was the kitchen. It is also the second smallest room in the house, but it had my cute coke-bottle spice cabinet. Which made me uber happy.

ANYWAY, after living with the apartment like this for three months, I began to formulate a plan that would optimize our windows…the result of which is this:

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Ta-da! So much natural sunshine! I feel like I’m living my own Choose Your Own Adventure.

Advertisements

Conference Countdown + Highlights

The 185th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is due in…16 days! In anticipation of the occasion, I decided to share a handful of my favorite quotes from the 184th General Conference.

“Don’t give up. Don’t lose faith. Keep your heart close to the Lord, and He will give you the power of deliverance. He will make you free.”
President Dieter F. Uchtorf, “Are You Sleeping through the Restoration?”

“When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold bitter of sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.”
“There seems to be something in us that resists endings. Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity.”
“Gratitude is a catalyst to all Christlike attributes! A thankful heart is the parent of all virtues.”
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Grateful in Any Circumstances”

“As we arise each morning, let us determine to respond with love and kindness to whatever might come our way.”
President Thomas S. Monson, “Love–the Essence of the Gospel

“The family is the pattern of heaven.”
Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge. “The Prophet Joseph Smith

It isn’t that I disliked any of the other conference talks…but these quotes have come to my mind repeatedly since my initial hearing, and each has strengthened by testimony in a meaningful way.

What are some of your favorite conference moments from April?

9/11

Here is my journal entry from September 11, 2001. I was nine years old at the time.

(SPECIAL PAGE)
today we were Helping Get ready For momy Because she was Taking some of us kids to the Dentist But Aunt Annie CALLed AND she told us to turn on cabel so Stephen did that and we got to watch

But two planes crashed IN to a Big Building In New York! Then mom left After she watched a little bit and then ME and Rebekah William Anna and me and mom left.

Finis.

Now, so many years later, I remember returning home from the dentist and watching the skies for hours, terrified that one of the many jets flying overhead would crash on top of my house. I wondered if President Bush was in any of the jets, and I feared that if I looked away that something just awful would happen. So I kept looking.

Never Forget. Both those who died that day, and those 500,000+ innocent who subsequently died in the middle east for a crime they did not commit. Never forget.

Literary Pals

I’ve lately had an inordinate amount of free time on my hands which has led to much retrospection, which has in turn lead me to my chosen topic–childrens books. One of my most prized memories is of reading the entirety of Gertrude Chandler Warner’s The Boxcar Children without any help. I was seven years old at the time, and I distinctly remember lying down in the hall late at night, so that the light from under my parents closed door could illuminate the pages of my book. I couldn’t put it down, and the quality and charm of the book itself made me an instant fan of what I perceived as “big kid books.” Thus began my bibliophilic journey.

The Boxcar Children

Today I’d like to share a scant handful of my favorite children books, and also confess which famed children books I’ve never even read.

1. The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgeson Burnett. My initial interest in the book was honestly piqued by the protagonists name. My own name being Mary, I immediately felt a kinship with her, (in spite of Miss Lennox’ rudeness) and resolved on liking her even if she kept being a snobby nuisance. Of course, I excused some part of her impertinence to her having been made an orphan due to her parents unfortunate and unexpected demise, but this magnanimity on my part was often stretched due to Mary’s determined obstinance. Fortunately however my persistence paid off, and as Mary grew along with the garden I became entranced with her story. Having a robin for a friend is pretty cool,  and who wouldn’t lose their head even a little bit over a country lad like Dickon. He was my very first romantic ideal, truth be told. There is something pan-like in his music making merriment, and yet an idea of ageless wisdom in his sage comprehension of individuals and circumstance.

The Secret Garden

I suppose one of my biggest reasons for prizing this book is because of the message I perceive in its pages. Both Mary and Colin appear as rather tyrannical babies throughout a substantial portion of the book, but Burnett skillfully presents opportunities for the reader to comprehend, forgive and even love these characters. I see the message of the book as one of love. Even the most unloveable, hopeless people can change–both mentally and physically. Mary overcame her surliness and became a rather delightful (if blunt) young lady, and Colin overcame substantial physical infirmity because something in a hidden garden sparked the beauty within each of their souls. I don’t suppose I’ll ever quite get over never having found my own, private garden, but I’m sure my time will come.

2. Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes. I am convinced that I experienced my first sensations of patriotism as I heard my mother read this book aloud. Using the framework of the American Revolution, Johnny Tremain tells the story of a young, prideful apprentice blacksmith who (spoiler ahead) irreparably damages one of his (understandably much-needed) hands whilst working on the sabbath (naughty). The resulting emotional journey he experiences, combined with a skillful retelling of historical occurrences, crafts a compelling tale of coming of age and mystery–two of the things I don’t mind indulging myself with on a regular basis. I love stories with believable and sympathetic character development, and each time I read this book I enjoy it more.

Johnny Tremain

Johnny is a bit of a pompous braggart at the beginning, but he (not unlike Mary Lennox) becomes more valuable to the reader as he matures. Oh, and as he rebels against the infamous ‘lobster” red coats.

3. Heidi, Johanna Spyri. Don’t watch the movie–I don’t care that it has Shirley Temple in it–skip it and simply relish the lovely simplicity that is the book. This is the book that gave me the gumption to try goat cheese, this is the book that made me want to read the bible so I’d know who the prodigal son was–this book is my LIFE. It contains so many valuable ideas and messages, plus the pervading idyllic nature of Heidi herself brings out more Romantic in me than any Marlowe poem ever could.

This book made me want to be healthy as a child, because HEIDI ate healthily and I wanted to be her. This book made me wish I had curly hair like my sister Anna–because Heidi’s hair was curly. Heidi’s own irrepressible love for her home made me admire the beauty of my own area, and even though I didn’t have goats to charm my eyes, there were certainly enough cows for sufficient contemplation.

I could go on for quite some time about Heidi–suffice me to say that at an early age I was hopelessly enchanted by the idyllic world Spyri shared, and that even the mention of the book sparks spontaneous rhapsodies on my part.

Heidi

4. Heartbeat, Sharon Creech. This books eludes description. It is a part of who I’ve become. Simply read it and you’ll understand.

heartbeat

Aaaaaand if that’s too vague here is a bit of a rundown: the book is written in free verse (that in itself won me over immediately), and essentially it is the story of how a young girl called Annie reconciled every trying and perplexing situation she encountered by running around her neighborhood and listening to the thump of her own heart. I. Love. It.

Inspiration

In addition to (occasionally) writing blog posts of my own, I also enjoy, perhaps more so, reading what other people see and experience on their own blogs. In the last few months I’ve become particularly fond of a handful of blogs which inspire and edify my mind on a regular basis. 

1. Two words–Ree Drummond. I love everything about her blog. Not only does she take delicious pictures, but the recipes shown therein are even better! In addition, this self-identified Pioneer Woman homeschools her four children, gardens, and best of all–she documents her experiences with fabulous photos and hilarious language. This woman taught me how to make sushi, showed me the beauty of slobber-ridden basset hound jowls, and instilled in my then-16 year old being an insatiable desire for my own gleaming kitchen-aid (which I now have thanks to my totally boss Cragun-Mama). Below is the link to her incredible blog. 

Ree Drummond

http://thepioneerwoman.com/

2. Love Taza: Rockstar Diaries. I actually know Taza’s (or Naomi’s) twin sisters from school, and when I found her blog I became even more impressed with the family. Love Taza documents the life of the Davis’ family in New York City, and mostly I read it because the pictures are crisp as a tack. Also, Taza is the coolest nickname ever. She attended school at Juilliard and her husband at Columbia. They have 2 1/2 kids and an English Bulldog, and I just think they’re too cute for comprehension. Plus Taza has freckles, and the way she OWNS them makes me happy to have them liberally sprinkled over my own face. Taza is also LDS and her posts are so happy that reading them makes my day better. Anyway, check out her awesome blog yourself. I dare you not to be totally crazy about it. There are pictures of donuts–need I say more.

Love Taza

http://lovetaza.com/

3. Okay, this next one is a little weird mebbe, but I like it so I’m sharing. The blog is Babyccino Kids, and it is the work of 2-3 American mamas who live in various parts of Europe. They blog about products/toys they use for their kids, and I guess the reason I like it so much is because the way I see it they’re livin’ the dream. Or, at least they’re living the dream I like to dream about. They blog about fun projects they do with their kids, and about which products are the best, etc,. Fun stuff. One writer in particular has inspired me. Courteny Adamo rarely wears makeup, but she is definitely one of the most radiant women I’ve ever seen. You can see in her smile just how much she adores being a mother to her four kids, and she is REAL. Sometimes I feel like a lot of the blogger-mamas are maintaining an image at the expense of actually living the life they are so actively sharing. Not so with this mama–what you see is who she is–no pretense here.

Obviously I haven’t any current need for childcare products, but I love to read the Babyccino blog because it is so stinkin’ cute. And I love Courteny Adamo because we have the same hair, and the products she uses make mine manageable. Hallelujah. 

Courtney adamo

http://babyccinokids.com/blog/

4. While many may not know this, I’ve recently been living a part-time meatless/vegan-ish life. I finally broke down and watched Food Inc, Vegecated and the like, and have subsequently experienced some pretty turbulent feelings about baby chicks being ground up and fed to cows. Anyway, while I currently lack the gumption to totally commit to a 100% vegan lifestyle, I am actively getting myself informed on all sorts of alternative diets–like veganism. This brings me to the 4th blog I love to read–Vegan Friday. Hannah is actually a childhood friend, and reading her blog (and harassing her personally for food advice) has been quite rewarding. Give it a read, yo–the eats is awesome.

IMG_1259

 http://veganfriday.blogspot.com/2014/09/grandmas-cuban-black-beans.html

I do read more than four blogs on a regular basis, but these particular blogs are my favorites today. Happy blog-stalking.

Forty

40 things about us…

1. We eat pizza at least once a week. Sometimes 4 times a week. Like this week.
2. We each have separate lists of future children names. The names are mostly the same. He likes weird names. Like Drake. And Fountain. She likes cute names. Like Robin, or Marlowe.
3. He is a doctor. She is an aspiring preschool teacher.
4. He served his mission in Russia. 
5. She has never once set foot outside of the United States. Yet. 
6. We are best friends. 
7. She nags him about calling his mother. 
8. He nags her about her nighttime routine. Which consists of standing up, walking into the bedroom, laying down and going to sleep. His routine is infinitely more complex. And she thinks it’s kinda cute. 
9. He likes Russian literature.
10. She enjoys Victorian literature. But mostly she is just happy that they both like to read.
11. He has more clothes/shoes than her. But he is tidier with them than she is with hers.
12. She often (always) forgets to charge her phone. 
13. He is in charge of charging all electronic devices. And taking out the trash.
14. He wakes up at 4:30 am. She wakes up at 4:30 am. And then goes back to sleep until 7:30 am.
15. We love imagining our future together. Visions of sugar plums and mini vans make for fun verbal fodder when you’re young and crazy.
16. He painted two of the pieces in our home. And we have two of his sister’s pieces too. He comes from a talented family. 
17. When he orders a burger, it has 3 things on it. Meat, cheese, and ketchup. When she orders a burger it has e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g on it. Minus pickles. 
18. Her favorite food is sushi. 
19. His favorite food is steak. And when he is sitting in a restaurant eating steak, it suddenly becomes her favorite food. So steak is her favorite food too. 
20. She has a habit of writing (and hiding) little notes for him. 
21. He saves all the notes in a little mason jar. 
22. She has a hanger problem. 
23. He can always identify when hangryiness is imminent. And he fixes it. Usually with chipotle. 
24. He makes a mean PB and J. 
25. She makes an amazing PB. No J required. The PB is excellent enough in its own right. 
26. She has always wanted a cute nickname. But has never had one stick. Except Jo-chan. Which her brother Nathan dubbed her when she was 9 years old. But she wants more. 
27. We like telling people that we don’t have any kids yet because we’re saving up for a yacht. 
28. Almost everything we say is an inside joke or a movie quote. 
29. She likes him because he is fearless. And because he has smashing dance moves. 
30. He likes drinking soda.
31. She likes sipping soda. 
32. She can’t wait to start a family with him. She doesn’t care if they have boys or girls. She just wants baby Craguns. 
33. We are terrible at remembering to have family scriptures. But we are pretty good at having Family Home Evening…
34. She loves road trips. Listening to rockin’ tunes and talking away the hours with him has made many a happy memory.
35. He loves our speckled, spazzy puppy. 
36. She also loves the puppy. But she loves him the best.
37. He unexpectedly buys her flowers.
38. She loves the unexpected. Flowers or otherwise.
39. Sometimes we just look at each other and we don’t even have to say anything. We just read the words in the other’s eyes. 
40. We are so happy that we found each other. Life has never been sweeter. 

Cabin Fever

The summer sun is setting, and as I enjoy this labor day weekend I am struck with the realization that all of my friends are in school, and I’m…not. 

After we moved I resolved to take a year off from school so that I could qualify for state scholarships (debt scares me, yo). Initially this seemed like the best idea ever. I love school, but this last year really burned me out and I thought, “hey–I can sit around and read books all day during the summer!” But the truth is…I miss school. Like crazy. I thumb through old notes from classes, snicker over my text book margins, and wish harder than ever that I was starting classes like everyone else. 

My next thought was, “heck–In lieu of school I’ll get a job! I love work.” And then…my car died. We were a two car family, but Ben is quite reliant on his vehicle to get to work, and although there are several preschools/daycares nearby that I am interested in, unless I have a way to get to work on a daily basis I don’t even see the point of applying. I have pretty intense cabin fever at this point and I honestly feel helpless and a bit gloomy the majority of my time. Having the dog helps (a lot), but I am still floundering a bit. 

So…lets see what we can do about that.