Friday, 30 July 2010

Friday Buoy: Inner Craftiness

{Photo from Freshly Picked}

Just a few minutes now until the weekend. This week has been chock full and I'm looking forward to spending some time tomorrow & Sunday nesting in our new apartment. That's right -- tonight will be our first night in the new place! I'm overjoyed to FINALLY be unpacking the suitcases, hanging clothes and preparing to stay awhile. Such a good feeling.

These past few days as we've stayed with our friends Jenny & Jeff (& Wesley) we've been going back and forth to the new place, slowly bringing all our stuff over. It's only three doors down so it hasn't been too traumatic. While we've been putting sofas, futons, ficus's and blenders into place (all donated or bought secondhand - I'm so thankful), I've been working up an appetite to unleash my inner craftiness on the place.

There are bookshelves to put cute paper in the back bits of, pantry shelves to oilcloth, sunny curtains with vintage sheets to sew, plenty of vertical surfaces to  affix awesome hooks from Anthropologie on and even a few ceiling hooks that are begging to be dressed with macrame plant hangings. I'm overwhelmed.

In the spirit of home beautification, I thought this Friday's buoy would be devoted to craftilicious bloggers. Enjoy...

Amazing crafty/ inspiration bloggers:
  • Oh, hello friend {I see she's had a custom portrait done by Nan Lawson, the same illustrator I used on my Wednesday post. This lady's clearly got good taste. P.S. check out her great blog give-away here. I'd LOVE to win that Anthropologie gift certificate!}
  • Freshly picked This room (picture above) is pretty close to my ideal. Did you noticed her alpine-esque mountainscape. I did, of course.
  • Emily Sparks Love these granny squares and the grey with white bouble trim tablecloth.
  • Cakie's Inspiration overload.
  • Books, bits & pieces For a taste of the crafty home life from down under, look no farther than my friend Dee's luscious blog...
  • John Brown Rose More on showcase from my crafty friends in NZ. I can't remember if I've already shared this blog in a past buoy but repetition never hurt anyone.
And a huge thanks to Jenny for the heads up on 90% of these sites. Gotta give credit where it's due. :)

What inspiration portals have you been peeping through this week? Do share!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Writing a book: the long-haul

A few people have asked me how my book is going, and I appreciate the interest/ accountability so I thought I'd share. Basically, it's at the forefront of the back of my mind.

Since leaving New Zealand almost 2 months ago I must admit I haven't had the chance to sit down with my manuscript. But I don't feel bad because I knew going into the move that I wasn't exactly entering a season characterized by tons of free time -- more like a season of trying to juggle 100 bowling balls. I was braced for the impact of moving across the world and it has been busy, but good.

I'm all about seasons, and even though I LOVED my kiwi season of waking up every morning, reading for an hour and then writing for 8 hours while sipping amazing coffee, I'm also appreciating this time of building my life in Seattle and letting the ideas in my manuscript simmer. This time is equally important and I'm hoping it will allow me to come back to what I've written with fresh eyes in due course.

A few days before I left Auckland I attended a webinar (at 5am kiwi time!) with literary agent Rachelle Gardner. I was hoping it would help me finish my book proposal so I could have it all wrapped up before moving to the US -- I was really putting the pressure on myself because I was afraid that after I got to Seattle & got a full-time job I wouldn't have any time at all to write. But instead of giving me a final kick on the pants, what I really got out of it was that in order to write and sell my book, I had to be in this for the long-haul. It wasn't about whipping something out in 6 months, it was about knowing that good things take time and I couldn't take this thing out of the oven before it was done.

Being in it for the long-haul is where I'm at with my book right now, but it also the mentality I'm taking for a lot of other other aspects of life: Seattle, jobs, starting a consultancy, etc. Instead of feeling the pressure to finish a book this second, this month or even this year I'm just feeling, "It will get there when it gets there." Not to say I'm going to let it go (I am going to keep prodding it along as much as I can, checking in daily with it!), but I also want to let the creative process take the time it needs. Just because the cake's not done yet doesn't mean it will never be.

Tomorrow Dan and I move into our apartment (!) and after that things are going to settle down a bit, I hope. I can't wait for some chunks of time to sit down, me and my manuscript, in the next month, but I'll just have to be patient.

What are you in it for the long-haul with? How do you stay patient when all you want to do is take that cake out of the oven but know it's too early?

{Image from etsy shop NanLawson}

Friday, 23 July 2010

Friday Buoy: Simplicity and Just Enough

The other week, Casey in Michigan posted some precious photos of her great-grandparents livin' the simple life in the Netherlands (not these pictures, they were just inspired). I loved the pics, not only because they were old and sweet, but because I caught a tiny glimpse into the behind-the-scenes of my own Dutch great-grandparents' lives. Who knows, maybe they were friends before jumping on a ship to the promised land?  But when I started really thinking about their  lives, knowing full well they were much simpler than my own, all I could think about was hard it must have been!

In a frantic culture, simplicity sounds like the perfect escape. But in many ways living simply takes effort. Like hanging your clothes out to dry - sounds lovely but is a big pain in the * when it's cold and your apartment is old and tiny and you're running out of places to drape you sheets. Using the dryer at my parents' house since coming back to the US I'm overwhelmed at how quick and easy it is to dry things. And warm.

Making food from scratch is another example. I loved getting a veg box and seeing every ingredient that goes into my meal. In England, I made my lunch almost every day for 4 years, until the end when I got a bit lazy. But usually, I'd fashion my crazy concoctions (beets, seeds, quinoa, chickpeas, veg galore) in batches at the beginning of the week and have little tupperwares of lunch to keep me going throughout. I loved it (and saved money!), but it wasn't easy. Especially at mid-nights on Sunday standing sleepy in a kitchen trying to get creative with 12 leeks and a Jerusalem artichoke.

Anyway, I'm not dissing the simple life. I'm all about it. All I'm saying is:

a/ simple isn't always easy
b/ forced simplicity is even harder &
c/ I'm fortunate to have the resources to choose a simple life.

So, as Dan and I are building our lives here from scratch, I've been thinking about simplicity. How can we practically build a simple life? What do we  even want it to look like? What are we willing to sacrifice to get it?

When I think of a simple life it's not completely bare bones. My simple life right now includes working at a coffeeshop every day, because my priorities include lattes and wi-fi. I need wi-fi to work and I need coffee for morale, especially while still living out of a suitcase at the age of 30. And having gone without caffeine for 3 years I know my life is much better with a daily dose. I also like the idea of simple AND generous living. It's easy for extremists like me to fall into deprivation mentality/ extreme frugality, but I think the idea of simplicity is to allow you to live the life you want, and for me generosity is definitely a part of that.

A simple life right now is about knowing my priorities and avoiding clutter. Not just physical stuff (I'm building up, not paring down at the moment!), but also in terms of things to do, obligations and relationships. These things accumulate easily and vie for space and sanity, and I'm lucky to be in a place where I can pick and choose what I take on, diligently sticking to the basics but with a few extra flairs!

Here's a little food for thought for trying to live simply:
I'd love to hear your thoughts on simplicity. What does it look like for you? How do achieve pieces of simplicity in a cluttered world?

{Photos from flickr by mrwaterslide & theunquietlibrarian}

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

A faith evolved: Monkey Town reviewed

I don't usually talk explicitly about my faith on this blog. My faith is more of a behind-the-scenes thing that pops up every once in a while here. I wanted to share a review of a book I've read recently however, and since the book is a spiritual memoir about a faith journey, I figured I'd let faith take center stage for the day.

Last December when I moved to Auckland I came across a blog by author Rachel Held Evans. She's 28 and was in the process of publishing her first book, Evolving in Monkey Town, which came out this month. As I became a part of her blog community I really enjoyed the conversations she was initiating and it was good to find people on the same page as myself in the faith department. I couldn't wait to get my paws on her book!

Well I just finished it and wanted to review it because I think it's an important book. Basically, it's about Mrs. Held Evans' journey away from a place of knowing all the answers to learning how to ask the questions. It resonated with me in many ways, not least because I swear that if we would have known each other as kids we would have been best friends forever. Who knew that I wasn't the only pre-teen in America gorging on Ravi Zacharias' apologetics books? And I know I would have given her a run for her money in her pursuit of “Best Christian Attitude” award at school every year. I never did write out a plan for salvation on a paper airplane and fly it over the neighbor's fence, but what a great idea! If anything this book made me nostalgic about growing up with intense spiritual zeal.

I admire Rachel's honesty and vulnerability in sharing her journey away from being a young know-it-all/ avid defender of the faith, to becoming a woman who wrestles with hard questions – the questions lots of Christians give weak answers to or just sweep under the carpet with a fatalistic, “God's ways are higher than our ways.” I appreciate how she's kept a record of the “false fundamentals” she's challenged in the last few years – the things we're taught in the church to be crucial to our faith but really are just cultural or stylistic.  I like that she's not afraid to say “I don't know.”

In the last few years I've also learned to say these words a lot more often. When my brain is fried trying to make sense of a universe and God outside my realm of comprehension, instead of scrambling for a formula or doctrine to make sense of it, I've just learned to simplify. It's quite a relief actually to say I don't know that, but what I do know is...XYZ. For me, what I do know is that I believe in a God of love. I know that I need to love this God. And then I need to love other people and to love myself. Those three things have become my fundamentals and they keep me pretty occupied. Of course, I have more specifics that I believe, but really, this is what it boils down to for me right now: love.

I think this is a great book for anyone who knows the answers but is more interested in asking the questions, anyone who's ever participated in a sword drill (competitive Bible verse finding game) or anyone who thinks the following is funny:

“Sometimes I think that John the Revelator might have been a crazy old man whose creative       writing assignment for the Patmos Learning Annex accidentally made it into the Bible.”

That's got to be my favorite quote from Evolving in Monkey Town!

Like Rachel, I believe that faith evolves. It's too deep and wide to be contained into a creed or a static worldview. Like a good wine, I think we need to give our beliefs room to breathe and develop flavor and body.

Thanks for giving me the chance to talk about my faith today – and Rachel's! And thank you Rachel for writing this book. Vulnerability isn't easy.

Have you read a book that resonated with you recently? Do share...

And any other young Ravi Zacharias fans out there? There must be more!

{I think it's my legal obligation to say that I received a free copy of this book! But I was not coerced to give it a positive review - that I did of my own free will. I'm not really the coercible type anyway.}

Friday, 16 July 2010

Friday Buoy: A decade older, a decade wiser

Wednesday was the big day: I joined the tri-decade club. I had a lovely day and am thankful the Seattle weather kindly cooperated with me. Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes.

Sadly no nuggets of wisdom from me as my first full day as a 30-year-old greeted me with a whopping migraine. So, nothing deep this Friday, just a skim off the surface of my ever bubbling (though slightly numbed) mind... I'm keeping it simple.

Raw foods
  • Been thinking recently I need to up my fruit and veggie intake. It's hard when you're transient, but no excuses. Can't wait to permanently borrow my parents' juicer when we move into our little Alpine cottage! Anyone with great juicing recipes to share? I LOVE beets fyi.
  • My good friend Jessi's sister-in-law has a vegan-spirational blog I'm scouring to get me in the mood.

I'm moderately obsessed with organization systems. Not just any though - they have to be aesthetically pleasing.  Here's what I'm loving lately.
  • kikki.K is an adorable Aussie/ Swedish stationery shop that made me hyperventilate every time I entered its doors in Auckland. Here's their new guide to living the organized life.
  • Sorted! by Australian Professional Organizer Lissane Oliver really gets you psyched to get your stuff together. Man, what's with those Aussies? Love it.
  • Target doesn't let me down with their Greenroom Eco range (sweet little notebooks above). I couldn't find just the right day planner so I bought my own blank book and made my own. It's amazing what you can do with a ruler and 2 hours. 
Expat blogs
Check me out! I'm all over the place this week.


That's all from me. What's been keeping you afloat this week? Do share...

{Photos from: shutterbean, Greenroom Eco, slipcoveryourlife's, design*sponge, bookity}

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Ten on ten July

Ten on ten is a photo project my good friend Jenny's sister-in-law Rebekah started awhile ago. It's pretty simple: on the tenth of every month take ten photos and post them on your blog. At first I thought you had to take all your pics at ten past the hour - a bit excessive - but fortunately it's not that strict. Phew. My ten on ten maiden voyage fell on the perfect day: blue skies, Pike Place market in the morning for flowers and good friend's bridal shower and bachelorette party (karaoke!) in the evening. And yes, the last shot is in the bathroom, I couldn't resist. I loved the 1960's style green wallpaper - very In the Mood for Love, an amazingly beautiful film in case your Chinese arthouse cinema isn't up to scratch.

I hope you enjoy & check out the ten on ten blog to be a part of the fun...

Friday, 9 July 2010

Friday Buoy: Alpine living Seattle style

With only a few weeks until we move into our cozy little apartment my design mind is spinning with ideas for decoration! I'm a real theme girl so you better believe I've got a living room mood board going on in my mind. For some reason, in the midst of this Seattle heat wave (I'm dripping with sweat at 7am), I can't get the word alpine out of my head. Yes, my goal is to turn our living room into an alpine cabin, vintage Washingtonia style. And with the faux wood wall paneling already lining the place, I'm well on my way.

So for this week's round-up I thought I'd share all the mountainous eye candy I've been feasting on.  I hope you enjoy and catch my vision.

I know it's crazy but I can't stop thinking about white-framed vintage mountainscapes to cover our living room walls and have been scouring etsy and local charity shops. You've got to admit this paint-by-number rendition above is a handsome little ditty, haven't you? Let me know if you find anything that fits my description, it's quite niche.

Hope you have a good weekend. Have you got anything you're obsessing about at the moment?

{Photos from the etsy shops of jen storey, juanaB, atelierAfra, PrincessSamy, runofthesun& morganbaldet}

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Walking the tightrope in Seattle: don't look down

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.          - Helen Keller

We've been back in Seattle for just over a month now and I'm so thankful for the progress made building our life bird by bird. My job sorted, an adorable mother-in-law apartment (with a garden!) to move into August 1, a beautiful Victorian place to housesit in the meantime, generous friends making sure we settle in well – things really are going well. But, every once in a while, it hits me how much is still up in the air. I remember that I'm still living out of a suitcase in a friend's flat. That I have a to-do list that makes Mt.Rainier feel like a hill. That so much still has to fall into place. Not having everything in place is an exercise in letting go of control, an exercise I've done many times but still need help with.

The other night as I started thinking about how far we had to go, I got this image in my mind of us walking a tightrope much farther above the ground than I'd ever choose to. And I got this sense that the only way to walk/ slide/ crawl across these canyons of insecurity is to not look down. To actively not focus on how high up we are and how far we have left to go.

So now, as the massive settle-in-Seattle task list ever so gradually shrinks, I don't want to focus on everything that remains, but straight ahead. To where we'll be a year, five years, ten years from now. Seattle wasn't built in a day.

So here's me looking forward, being thankful for what I've got. I'm thankful for my new job, my health, my friends and family, my wonderful husband, a place to stay in an awesome part of the city, the sun finally coming out for the summer, Herkimer coffee (!), Capitol Hill, Greenwood and Ballard, my future Scandinavian neighborhood.

I've mentioned my blog relaunch and the letter to my 16-year-old self, and I'm working on these, so know they're coming. But I also need to be realistic about everything I've got on my plate right now, so things may take a bit longer than I'd like.

In the meantime, I hope you're enjoying your summers (or winters for you Southern Hemispherites!). Today marks one week until my 30th birthday so I'll be living it up to bring closure to this fine decade that's been my 20s. What are you up to this week?

{Photo of a sterling silver tightrope walker pendant from MarKhed's etsy shop!}
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