jesus, friend of sinners.

I heard this on the radio today, and can't get it out of my head. Especially this line:

Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

wood shim wall art.

Sometimes I get a bit tired of working on big home improvement projects and I just want to do something small and creative. This was one of those projects - quick and inexpensive.

The idea and instructions for this can be found here: Wood Shim Wall Art from Stephanie at Under The Table and Dreaming

If I were going to make this again, I would do a couple things differently. First, I would stain the plywood backing before adding the shims, because there are a few spots where the wood shims aren't quite butting up against each other and it was difficult to get the stain into those places. I also wish I had sanded a few of the shims that were really rough, just so they would take the stain better.

Right now it's sitting on the mantel above the fireplace and works well as a big backdrop for smaller items. And I really enjoyed the chance to complete something in a single afternoon!

family rules.

Since Jacob and I had so much fun at our art day, and since he was working with me on a Mother's Day gift for my mom/his grandma, Mom asked if I wanted to help Jake make a gift for his own mother (my sister). I'm always up for a craft or art project, especially with Jake, so I said yes. It was important to me that Jake got to decide what he wanted to do, so I showed him the ideas I had saved on two Pinterest boards: things to make and art to make with Jacob. I had planned to direct him to a few good ideas, but he jumped on the idea of creating a family rules sign, like this one from etsy (exact source unknown), because he knew his mom was looking for things to hang up in the basement. Here's the finished product, from Katie's blog:

We talked a bit about the best way to make it - how big it should be, what colors we should use, etc. He chose which phrases he wanted to use. I cut and stained the boards, just for the sake of time (so they could dry before he arrived to work on the rest of it). We attached the boards together using two eight-inch mending plates. I drilled the first pilot hole, then let him do the rest, including screwing the mending plates into the wood. He stamped the letters and filled them in a bit where he needed to, then signed this name on the back.

Katie wrote a great write-up of the whole thing here: Mother's Day.

the pace of life.

The other night, I went to bed with a mile-long to-do list of things that went undone. This isn't necessarily unusual (I generally think to-do lists should be flexible and work for me, not the other way around, so I rearrange them all the time), but this night, I was a little stressed out about it.

In between coordinating details for an upcoming work-related trip to Virginia Beach and preparing the house and dogs for me to be gone and my brother to dogsit, there were just a lot of little things that needed to be accomplished. So, earlier in the week I sat down and made a big, detailed list. Everything from doing laundry (broken into specifics, like "do 2 loads of whites") to remembering when the recycling needed to go to the street (I always forget) to doing the dishes, it was all on there. Then I broke up all of those tasks into different days, because I'm a list maker, and that's what we do.

Jake came over to hang out for a few hours in the evening while his mom went out to dinner with the girls, and I had originally planned to make some kind of meal out of whatever I could find in the kitchen and put him to work. He rarely minds as long as I put on music and we're doing it together. But this day, instead, I decided we were going to walk downtown for dinner and ice cream. And after I got home and Jake and Katie left, I went to bed early, because I was tired and needed the extra sleep.

The thing is, I know that I made the right choice. Intentional time with Jacob, plus needed sleep, is much more important than checking a few more things off my list. And yet, as I got ready for bed, I was still obsessing about that stupid list. I couldn't help be struck by how differently my life was just seventh months ago.

You see, in Africa, or at least in Gabon, things just move at a slower pace. I'm sure there are tons of reasons for this - cultural differences, differences in infrastructure, the American mentality of go-go-go-do-it-right-now. And honestly, I miss it. I miss feeling free to just be in the moment, to just put the "I have to" things away for a bit. To spend all day at the hospital with a kid because that was what I needed to do. To just wait patiently for a taxi or a friend without feeling like I had to break out my phone and "use the time wisely."

As I lay there in bed, in those few moments before falling asleep, I thought, I have to slow down. I have to find a way to live at that pace of life, here. 

And then, no lie, my very next thought was, as soon as I get this stuff done, I can slow down.

Which just tells me what I already know - that trying to live slowly and deliberately here is not an easy thing to do.

faucet coat hooks.

One of the things that is important to me is that my home reflects my personality. I like filling it with personal touches of things that I created, that are meaningful to me, and sometimes something that's a bit unexpected. I knew I wanted a row of hooks behind the front door, for purses or dog leashes or even coats, but I didn't want to just buy a traditional coat rack. When I saw this inspiration picture, I knew I wanted to create something similar:

So, I made this:

I used value replacement handles (kind of like this) for the hooks and painted two of them with turquoise spray paint. In order to make the hooks stick out from a scrap piece of MDF, I used small metal spacers (kind of like this) and extra-long screws, and once everything was assembled, attached the whole thing to the wall using wall anchors.

This was another of those quick projects, and I love that its just a little bit different.

new 2012 recipes, part 2.

Quick Crustless Quiche

Very good and also easy, so I'll definitely be making this again.

Spicy Sausage Pasta

Katie and Jacob joined me for dinner the night I made this, and we all enjoyed it. I have a lot of chicken recipes (just ask my family), so it was nice to have something a bit different. It really wasn't that spicy, which was perfect for us. All of the kick comes from the Rotel, so you could easily just use diced tomatoes, instead.

Rustic Italian Chicken and Rice

Loved this! I made a few changes to fit the stuff I had on hand. The biggest change was that I realized just as I was getting ready to cook, that I didn't have enough rice. So, I substituted with orzo, which was good but not nearly as healthy.

Pulled Pork BBQ

My sister Kelli shared this recipe with me. It's super easy - just mix up the BBQ sauce and pour it on pork tenderloin and cook it all day. I made this when having a bunch of people over for dinner and was worried I wouldn't have enough, so I threw in a couple of boneless pork chops I had on hand.

Slow Cooker Veggie Lasagna

Not good at all. The consistency was all wrong, and there was so much cheese that the end result was so high in fat, that it seemed to negate the benefits from the veggies. I have a couple of veggie lasagna recipes  (not for the slow cooker), so I'll just be sticking with those in the future.

never once.

I've been doing a lot of walking outside, giving myself and the dogs some exercise and enjoying the weather and my proximity to downtown Frederick. Yesterday I walked to the grocery store, just because I could.

I've been listening to worship music on Pandora, and ever since I heard this one, I haven't been able to get it out of my head. I love the conviction of it.

Standing on this mountaintop 
Looking just how far we've come 
Knowing that for every step 
You were with us 

Kneeling on this battle ground 
Seeing just how much You've done 
Knowing every victory 
Is Your power in us 

Scars and struggles on the way 
But with joy our hearts can say 
Yes, our hearts can say 

Never once did we ever walk alone 
Never once did You leave us on our own 
You are faithful, God, You are faithful 

Scars and struggles on the way 
But with joy our hearts can say 
Never once did we ever walk alone 
Carried by Your constant grace 
Held within Your perfect peace 
Never once, no, we never walk alone 

Never once did we ever walk alone 
Never once did You leave us on our own 
You are faithful, God, You are faithful 

Every step we are breathing in Your grace 
Evermore we'll be breathing out Your praise 
You are faithful, God, You are faithful 
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

bathroom towel hook.

Though the major part of the bathroom renovation was completed a month ago, I’m still adding little tweaks here and there. One major thing that was missing was a place to hang a hand towel (you can see in the photo below that I just had the towel laying on the edge of the sink).

I really liked the idea of using cabinet or door knobs as a towel hook (like these from The House of Smiths), so I picked up a beautiful glass vintage-looking knob from a quirky little shop in downtown Frederick called Tiara Day. The only problem? How to attach it to the trim (which was already installed), since cabinet knobs screw in from the back.

So, I bought a little wooden plaque from Michaels (?) and painted it the same color white as the trim. I attached the knob, using a countersink bit so the head of the screw would be flush with the back of the plaque. Then I screwed the entire thing into the trim board with a screw that was long enough to go through the plaque, the trim board, the beadboard, and into the wall behind it, countersinking those too. I filled in the screw holes with wood filler, sanded it smooth, the touched up the paint.

I wasn't sure the towel would stay hung on the knob, but it actually works. Someday I’d love to add a ribbon to the towels, so they can be hung more securely and the knob is still on display – but that’s another project for another day!