Friday, October 12, 2012

before and after

I'd intended to post photos of what the house looked like before the remodeling began, but I have so many thousands of images on my laptop that I didn't know where to look for those specific pictures. Tonight, I decided to start organizing my computers' folders and, lo and behold, one of the first files I clicked on contained the very photos I had been searching for.

This was the kitchen before...

And this is the kitchen as of one week ago!

Quite a lot of changes! The kitchen is about double the size it used to be. I'm not usually one to get excited about cooking and baking, but there's so much more space and such shiny counters that I'm already scouring pinterest for tasty recipes to try out once the ovens and stove are installed!

Here's our old eating nook...

This is what that space looks like now:

We'll still put our table back in this space once all of the work is complete. That lovely counter space by the doors will be my coffee and tea bar soon! I can't wait to start making my own lattés again!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

my tiny new friend

When I arrived at home after work yesterday evening, I saw an open amazon box on the front porch. I walked up the steps to peer into the box and found it full of grass and other plant matter. Thinking that my mom had been weeding, I thought nothing more of the cardboard and went inside. After talking to my parents for about five minutes, my mom suddenly said, "Oh! We have a present for you...but you can't keep it." Quite confused, I followed her out front. My mom pointed at the box, so I looked inside more closely. There, huddled in the corner, was the tiniest turtle I have ever seen.

My parents told me that the men working on our house found the little guy in our backyard, having just worked his way out of his egg. I don't usually go googly-eyed over reptiles, but I'm a sucker for just about every baby animal. He's just so small and incredibly adorable!

Barely bigger than a quarter, how could I leave him to fend for himself in the wilds of our backyard? I fully intend to release him soon, but I want to see him grow a little bit bigger before relinquishing him to Mother Nature.

I'm so happy that I was able to see a day-old turtle in person. You see sweet photos of baby animals online, and sometimes you see them at the zoo, but it's far less common to stumble across a young creature in the wild.

Monday, September 24, 2012

little things

I've been thinking about the saying, "it's the little things in life," lately. I like the idea that small, simple, inexpensive experiences or items that can brighten your day. These little things are different for each individual, depending on their likes and dislikes and what obstacles their lives have thrown at them. 

Oftentimes, it's difficult to take joy and pleasure in the little things. We get caught up in our memories, our fears, our concerns about the future, and we forget to take pause and savor those tiny moments. The only moment we have to live is the present moment, but our fast-paced society, obsessed with money and material possessions, and our overstimulated brains challenge us on every step of our journey through life.

On the other hand, some people tend to lose sight of the purpose of savoring those small moments. It becomes yet another source of their anger or frustration when a little thing doesn't go their way. I believe the reason these moments are so important is that their presence can bring great happiness, but their absence should not bring outrage or displeasure. By becoming enraged in the face of a little thing gone amiss, it's becomes too big to be a moment, no longer a little thing worth savoring.

An example from my job comes to mind. I used to work in the café and I interacted with so many different types of people. Some became furious at the first sign that something may not go the way they wanted, while others remained calm or even cheerful, even if several items they desired were out of stock, or service was much too slow. I recall one customer in particular, an older woman, who ordered a non-fat, sugar-free vanilla latté. Despite the skinny drink, she told me that she wanted whipped cream on top because, "it's the little things, right?" That dollop of whipped cream was one of her special little moments, a tiny thing that brought a bit of bliss.

Then I recall other customers who, after taking their drinks, stalk back to the counter, bristling with rage, because I dared to forget the whipped cream on their beverage. A little thing, so easily fixed in five seconds, becomes just another source of annoyance and exasperation to these people. With so much ill will and rage in their mind, more of those wonderful, little moments will slip through their fingers, until they can no longer be satisfied by anything.

It's often difficult for me to notice and savor the little things. I'm so caught up in the never ending rush of the world, being buffeted by the demands and desires of the many different people that I interact with. But I'm slowly teaching myself to step back and truly experience life. I close my eyes as I sip my coffee, shutting down a sense so that I can truly relish the taste. I no longer listen to my iPod when I go for walks in the woods so that I can hear the birdsong, the wind whispering through the trees, and the crunch of leaves underfoot. And most importantly, when a little thing doesn't pan out the way I'd prefer, I take a deep breath and move on. That moment has already passed and I have a million more moments to live.

Monday, September 3, 2012

respite from my mind

It seems a bit odd that I should love nature so much, considering how obsessive I am about germs and cleanliness, and how frightened I am of deer ticks. But spending time in a forest infuses me with awe, with euphoria, and with the delightful sense that there is something so much bigger than myself. I willingly trek through tall grasses and plants where insects are lurking, and I'm happy to touch the rough bark of a trunk or the spongy moss patches on the side of the trail. The woods are where I feel most relaxed, where I feel most connected with the world. Each whisper of wind through the leaves is a song that uplifts my heart and every sunbeam filtering through the trees is a tonic against the stress of my anxious life.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


"Our personal attempts to live humanely in this world are never wasted. Choosing to cultivate love rather than anger just might be what it takes to save the planet from extinction." -Pema Chödrön

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


This is what my kitchen looked like on Monday morning:

Unfortunately, I didn't have the forethought to take a photo of the kitchen before remodeling began. You can see the blank spots where the refrigerator,stove and oven used to be.

Below is a picture of my kitchen as it looked when I got home from work on Monday night.

No more cabinets or counter tops. While it doesn't appear that much work was accomplished, the picture doesn't show that there used to be more counters and a sink off to the right, which are now piled up in our garage.

Finally, this is the most recent photo of our kitchen. When I left for work this morning, there was a wall still separating our current kitchen from the addition. Upon arriving home this afternoon, I was greeted by this cavernous space:

The cats are enjoying their new play space. I'm still in shock from all of the changes. I've lived in this house for twenty years and, while many things have changed, nothing has ever been altered to such a drastic scale. I am looking forward to a much bigger, easier to navigate kitchen, though.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A peek at the coming season

Despite the fact that it's not even mid-August, many stores have already started advertising various kinds of Autumn merchandise. Two of my favorite stores, Bath & Body Works and Yankee Candle, began selling their Fall products over a week ago and I had to get my hands on some of those deliciously scented items.

Much like the first glimpse of red and orange blazing through the green Maple leaves, the smell of creamy pumpkin candles and apple cider soap give me a much-needed taste of the beautiful season to come.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

"It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live."

Life has been uneventful lately and I'm not doing well in regards to making it more interesting. I'm reminiscing about the beautiful Spring we had (during which I took the above photo) and wishing Autumn would hurry up and get here already! Most people feel more depressed as the weather turns cooler and the days grow shorter, but I come alive as all of the trees turn from monochromatic to red, purple, orange, yellow and every shade and hue in between.

In the meantime, I've decided to re-read the Harry Potter series, as it's been approximately eleven years since I first began the series. It's like reuniting with an old best friend after a long, long while and rediscovering all of the reasons why we became close, sharing in our old memories. Reading the series again gives me the ability to see events in a new light and I notice foreshadowing and hints I didn't pick up on before. The only problem with picking up the series again is that I'll miss it all the more when I've finished book seven!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

the cross still stands

Years ago, a church near my house caught on fire and it was almost entirely destroyed. I don't know why, but instead of being bulldozed, a fence was erected around the remains but the church itself was left untouched. I crawled under that fence with my camera to take pictures because I've always found that there can be beauty in destruction. I took a lot of great photographs that day, but this one was the best.

I don't know if someone sneaked in to stand the cross back up, or if the pulpit remained upright while the building burned. Either way, it was a moving scene for me to stumble upon.

Friday, July 20, 2012

colorful black & white photo

I just wanted to share a photograph of mine from a long time ago. It's been sitting in my basement since 2004, I think; I took it for a photography class in high school. We used manual cameras and developed the black and white film and prints by hand.

 One of my cousins, roasting a hot dog at our family farm on a cold winter day. After I made the print, I sprayed a special solution on it that made the paper matte so I could hand-paint her clothes...and the hot dog!

I've taken thousands of photos over the years and this still remains one of my favorites.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Serious home remodeling

My house is undergoing some serious changes right now. My parents and I have lived here for almost twenty-one years and plenty of things have been replaced or upgraded over time. However, remodeling began in June and our entire kitchen and deck are being rebuilt! I tend to dislike change and resist it as much as possible, but I had no choice in this matter and it is a bit exciting. 

So far, the work has been concentrated outside of our home. Renovations will begin inside when our deck is complete.

I took this photo about three weeks ago, when work had just begun. Our deck was completely destroyed and a huge hole was dug in its place!

The pit will serve as an addition onto our basement. I took this picture from our kitchen, which is on the ground level of our house.

 The pit was filled in with concrete to make an actual room; the wall between this addition and our basement hasn't been knocked down yet, though.

 With this part of the remodeling complete, work could begin on the addition to our kitchen.

 This will be an extension of the eating area and kitchen. We have a sliding door that opened to our old deck, but this addition will have a French door. The big, square-shaped holes are for the support posts for the deck.

 A view from inside the addition. That wall with the sliding glass door will be coming down eventually. I'm looking forward to having a bigger, fancier kitchen!

I'll post more as work progresses. The entire process isn't scheduled to finish until October, so I imagine there will be many, many more photos for me to share!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wishing I was in Disney World

Despite our power never going out, our internet had been down for three days due to a storm. Since I didn't feel up to braving the hoards of people swarming Starbucks, I spent my weekend going through all of the photos of my laptop. I have six and a half years worth of pictures on here! I felt quite a lot of nostalgia as I went from folder to folder, but I enjoyed looking through my shots from Walt Disney World the most. The Wilderness Lodge, pictured above, is my favorite WDW resort. It's the hotel my parents and I stayed in the first time I ever visited Disney World and we make sure to visit every time we make the trek to Kissime, Florida. I love nature of all kinds, but the environment embodied at the Wilderness Lodge is my favorite. The scenery calls to mind Yellowstone National Park with its tall evergreens, rivers rushing over rocky falls and even a small replica of Old Faithful. Nowhere else in Florida can you be transported so perfectly to the Rockies.  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

do you speak Japanese?

日本語がわかりますか? 日本はとてもすごいです!

It may not be Japan, but EPCOT in Walt Disney World is the closest I've been to, "the land of the rising sun." Anime is what originally kindled my interest in Japan but I've found so many other aspects of the culture that I like. Though sushi may not suit my palate, I'm confident that the country has plenty of other culinary specialties with which to delight me. The indigenous religion of Japan, Shinto, is a fascinating theology and its influence can even be found in pop culture. Traditional clothing is wonderfully intricate and I've endeavored to collect every piece (of which there are many) needed to wear a proper kimono.

Japanese is a unique language, having no known relation to any other language families. Despite dedicating two years to the study of Japanese, I can only read and write at a kindergarten level. Learning three entirely new alphabets, one of which consists of thousands of characters, is a challenge I will continue to happily face until I become fluent in my most cherished of languages.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Rapunzel no more

Multiple people have called me Rapunzel over the years because of my long, (dark) blonde hair. On Thursday, I spent nearly two hours in the stylists' chair getting most of that hair chopped off. I've been deliberating this decision for years and I'm so glad I finally went through with it. Though it can be a bit difficult to tame due to my naturally wavy hair, the style looks great on me and it's so much easier to take care of.

Hopefully the new 'do will decrease the instances in which strangers think I'm fifteen.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

gift of green

Just a five-minute walk from my house is a small park where people go to jog, bike or take a stroll with friends and loved ones. Most are happy to stay on the paved path, but I endeavor to make each of my visits a true walk in the woods. Upon an incline, a beaten down dirt trail slopes downward into the trees before rising up above the rest of the forest. Here, tufts of green grass grow amid the rock-strewn earth. Tiny dewdrops grace the tip of each bright blade of grass and the rising sun casts its rays at just the right angle. Off the beaten path, I stumble upon the most beautiful sights and it feels like every small wonder is just for me.

mirror mirror

Pensée: A reflection or thought. Comes directly from the French word which means, "a thought."

Just think of all the ways in which our hobbies and interests convey our thoughts of the world.