Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Reading the Bard

I have a lot of "eventually" goals. Eventually, I'd like my scrapbook photo albums to be current. Eventually, I'd like to go to England. Eventually, I'd like to read all of Shakespeare's plays.

The problem with "eventually" goals is that they must be turned into manageable pieces to actually become reality. My scrapbook albums are being completed a page at at time. If I can do a page a week, I'll be caught up by the time I'm, oh, 45 or so.

England just has to sit on the back-burner until after I finish graduate school. And after I find a job.

But I could be working on the Shakespeare goal more effectively right now. I'd love to read the plays that I haven't read. I'd like to re-read the plays that I frantically raced through during high-school and college English classes.

So here's the plan for turning "eventually" into reality. There are 37 Shakespeare plays. Every play is 5 acts long. The acts are fairly manageable pieces. My plan is to read 2 acts a week, and to complete a play every 2 and 1/2 weeks.

I'll chronicle the journey here to motivate myself to keep reading. Join me! Maybe I'll only make it partway to my "eventually" goal, reading one or two plays that I've never read. But maybe....just maybe...I can make it all the way.

Friday's goal: Act I of "All's Well that Ends Well."

What are some of your "eventually" goals? How do you plan to turn them into reality?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Friday Linkage

Yes, I know it's actually Saturday, not Friday. But it's been a busy week.

There are some really beautiful design blogs out there. Two that are inspiring are Postcards and Pretties and The Finer Things.

This color scheme designer is a fun tool.

A few articles on internet use grabbed my attention this week. The New York Times ran an article entitled "The Ugly Toll of Technology: Impatience and Forgetfulness" while Al Mohler wrote an article called "Meet the New American Family, Digitally Deluged."

How do you manage your time spent online?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Sometimes feelings of inferiority, ineffectiveness, and sheer uselessness crowd my brain. Generally, this happens after I encounter people that are smarter, better, or more productive than I am. Often, this turns into a sort of frenzied panic, stemming from the sneaking suspicion that I will live out the next 50 years simply spinning my wheels.

In the past, I've simply reacted to this by working harder and faster. I've crowded my schedule with easily completed tasks so that I can feel effective. I've over-committed so that, at the end of the day, I can feel that I accomplished something substantial. I've set difficult goals so that I can feel a sense of satisfaction at my achievements.

And the end result is.......a sense of being terribly under-slept because there really aren't enough hours in the day. Frustration because items on a to-do list or goals achieved don't necessarily make me feel fulfilled. Irritation at everyone around me who doesn't understand why I'm so tired and stressed and frustrated.

Constant communication ever at my fingertips only increases this sense of panic. And an article by Al Mohler makes me suspect that I may not be alone. Whenever a sense of boredom or a lull in my schedule seeps in, I check Facebook or my e-mail or my phone messages so that every second is filled to the max.

But it's peacemaking, not frenzied panic, for which we're supposed to strive. Rest is commanded, not a constant mental treadmill. And fear and stress are supposed to be replaced with peace.

And ever so slowly, I am learning the value of rest. George MacDonald said, "Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness." I've finally started to realize that I don't have to simple produce and do and go and accomplish.

There is, of course, a place for hard work and diligence and accomplishments. But there's also a time to sit back and realize that, without me, the universe really will keep on spinning. God isn't waiting on me to accomplish His purposes for the rest of humanity. And I'm not as crucial to the rest of the world as I like to think.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mounds of Paper

Scrapbooking is a great excuse to mess around with paper and stickers of every color, shape, and size. I can regress to the level of a preschool student without my sanity being questioned.

This weekend I started some cards. Only one of them was actually completed. The others still need some finishing touches.

They definitely need some stamping. I love this great orange and white-polka-dot paper.

I also love the striped paper. It reminds me of the beach.

I found a site that offered step-by-step directions for making bookmarks. Inspired, I put together some simple ones.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to catch up on my photo albums. I'm still working on pictures from 2005. Daunting? Oh yes.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

It's the Little Things...

It's the little things in life that count. Like an organized inbox. E-mail accounts can spin out of control if left to their own devices. My own was becoming overwhelming. As of yesterday I had 150 "new" messages, all of which were over a week old.

There were 54 pages of e-mails, most of which contained at least somewhat relevant records, but the junk was making it difficult to keep track of the important stuff.

It was time to do a little housekeeping. I needed to clear out the advertisements, spam, and automated updates. But who wants to wade through 54 pages of e-mails? So I automated the process:
  • I searched for the e-mail address of the advertisement/spam/automated update in question. This helped me find all the e-mails of any one kind at once.
  • I clicked "Mark All."
  • I clicked "Delete. "
  • I repeated this process until I ran out of junk mail.

Now I was down to 39 pages of mail, but now, at least, most of the e-mails were legitimate records and not useless advertising.

I'm also unsubscribing from automated updates as they arrive. It takes a few seconds, but it should save time down the road.

What did you organize this week?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Linkage

The summer heat is here in full force. For a fun bit of summer cooking, try the Homemade Ginger Ale recipe at

Christianity Today has a neat article on church history. I also enjoyed The Best-Laid Plans from Boundless.

I love blank paper. Especially piles of multicolored blank paper. I also love staring at beautiful blogs. Oh So Beautiful Paper conveniently feeds both of these obsessions.

What did you enjoy reading this week?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Linkage

Here are some articles to read during your down-time this weekend.

I love Boundless. Their articles are consistently thought-provoking, entertaining, and challenging. Sometimes all at once. Two good articles published on Boundless this week are Miracles Happen by George Halitzka and Six Impossible Things by Elisabeth Adams.

Another thought-provoking read is Every vile or idle word from the Bayly Blog.

What did you read this week?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Loveliness to Sell

A line from my 7th-grade poetry class was running endlessly in my head the other day. "Life has loveliness to sell..." I thought finding the rest of the poem might help prevent the loss of my sanity, so I did a search on Google for the line and found a poem by Sara Teasdale.


Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children's faces looking up
Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit's still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.

The poem made me think of cupcakes. (Logical connection, right?) So I used the batter recipe from Bona Vita's Luscious Lemon Cake and made 24 adorable lemon cupcakes with a Ridiculously Sweet Glaze.

The only problem was that one package of cake mix only produces 24 tiny, petite, miniscule cupcakes. Which were devoured in three hours. Gone. Vamoose. So I doubled the recipe. The second time around, the cupcakes were fluffier. Bigger. And thus, better.

I whisked sugar and lemon juice together to make the same Ridiculously Sweet Sugar Glaze:

3 cups powdered sugar
6 tbl. lemon juice

I was able to drizzle the glaze on the cupcakes rather generously, but who wants to skimp on Ridiculously Sweet Sugar Glaze?

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Whole New World

Yesterday I drove all over northern Michigan, accompanying my parents on their Craigslist hunting adventures.

We ended up in the middle of downtown Grand Rapids in search of a Steelcase coffee table. The store where the table was located was an experience in and of itself. It was one of those times where I really wished I had brought a camera. But of course, I had not. So I just gazed in dumbstruck awe.

Real, honest-to-goodness retro furniture from the '50s, '60s, and '70s filled the store. It looked like a set straight out of Mad Men. Funky chairs and lamps lined the walls. Tables that could have come straight out of my grandmother's house were stacked in the middle of the room. Oranges and yellows and steel and brass was everywhere.

The store was owned by two recent graduates of design school. They started telling us about their passion for retro furniture. They talked about the mass supplies of designer furniture produced for Midwest homes made rich by American industry during the 1950s, '60s, and '70s.

They talked about the differences between designer retro furniture and cheap knock-offs. They tossed around designer names like Charles Eames, Harry Bertoia, and Eero Saarinen. The table we were looking at cost $40. But some of the furniture in the store was worth thousands of dollars.

The table is definitely a winner. With steel legs, maple framing, and black glass on top, it looks both classy and contemporary. And it looks good in the living room.

But better still was entering a whole new world of retro designer furniture where suddenly, ugly old lamps and grandmothers' table took on a whole new meaning.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Review: Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller

I just finished Donald Miller's Searching for God Knows What (Thomas Nelson, 2004). Overall, I appreciated Donald Miller's fresh approach to the Gospel. His fast-paced, witty style was less mature in this book than in some of his more recent works, but his writing still kept me turning pages.

It is easy to slip into a checklist version of Christianity. Went to church...check. Didn't steal a car...check. Gave money to charity...check. However, in this book, Miller takes a step back and presents the Gospel in a way that is both refreshing and convicting.

Miller's description of "The Lifeboat Theory" and his comparison of the Gospel to William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet were particularly powerful.

My quibbles with Miller are generally political. He tends to lean towards the political left and, quite frankly, I just don't agree with many of his conclusions on matters political and social. But that's another issue for another time.

If you can overlook the occasional jab at political conservatives and can be open-minded towards the potential pit-falls of formulaic Christianity, then Searching for God Knows What will be a rewarding read.

Favorite Quotes from Searching for God Knows What:

"There are two essential problems with believing God is somebody He isn't. The first problem is that it wrecks your life. The second is that it makes God look like an idiot."

"It seems like, if you really knew the God who understands the physics of our existence, you would operate a little more cautiously, a little more compassionately, a little less like you are the center of the universe."

"But if [the gospel of Jesus] is more, if it is a story about humanity falling away from the community that named it, and an attempt to bring humanity back to that community, and if it is more than a series of ideas, but rather speaks directly into this basic human need we are feeling, then the gospel of Jesus is the most relevant message in the history of mankind."

Miller, Donald. Searching for God Knows What. Thomas Nelson, 2004.

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