Monday, July 30, 2012

Surviving

It's safe to say we've all felt alone at one point in life. I have. Do you know the feeling? It's a sort of insecurity in the pit of your stomach, you're not sure where you belong, and you feel as though the world is avoiding you. Maybe it only comes out occasionally, when you're in a new place or with people you don't know, or maybe it's a constant, nagging, perpetual pressure deep down inside you. Regardless of the intensity, this feeling can be nerve-racking, daunting, and unwelcome. What is it about being alone that we fear so much? What exactly does the term mean, to be "alone"? I believe deep down in the core of our being lies the innate desire for acceptance, a term that perhaps we have come to more accurately define as love. When we feel alone, we feel unloved. 
Ahaha! This picture is great. 
I wonder, is love an instinct? Do we have a choice but to love and desire love? I compare my desires to animals’ natural tendencies. For example, the mother bear. She would risk her life to protect her cubs. Does the mother love her cubs, or is it out of instinct she would sacrifice her life for them? Also, consider geese. Once a goose has found a partner, the two stay together for life. Is that love? Is that commitment? Do they have a choice or is it something they were born with, something hidden in their genetic code? There are also many animals who do not share such tendencies. Alligators and turtles lay their eggs and leave. Most animals have several mates over their lifetime.


As I consider this, I find there is a connection in which everything comes together: survival. 
Animals act the way they do in order to survive, to continue their life, their species.  


Humans are social creatures. We desire to be together, and it's not just because of the way we were raised, it's in our nature. I think love is instinctive, in fact it is necessary. I believe humans were given the ability to love in order to survive, and not just as an individual, as a race. 


Consider humanity with me. The concept of humanity holds a vast definition. Humankind is so different in every sense of the word. Think about the different cultures from continent to continent, nation to nation, family to family, person to person. And yet, we are unmistakably connected, undeniably united by our humanness. No matter where we come from, we come in groups, groups connected by a bond. Perhaps that bond is love, perhaps it is survival. I believe it's both. 

If animals use their inherent abilities for survival, isn't it safe to assume that humans do or should as well? Yet, as humans, existing is more elaborate, more confusing, and much more extreme. 


For example, we possess the ability to create complex thoughts. We have the ability to not only survive, but live on a completely different plane of metaphysical concepts. We question things outside ourselves. We advance, we invent things. We question our purpose for existing, where we came from, and how we came to be. 


If we have so much complexity, so much knowledge not necessary for our physical survival, then whey is it there? I think I'm beginning to understand. As a global studies major, I study different cultures. Last spring I took a cultural anthropology class. During the class I learned that there are certain "cultural universals" shared with all people groups everywhere on the planet. One of the cultural universals was the belief in a higher power, or a force greater than humans. Could our advanced ability to think be another tool, another inborn necessity for survival? Not physical, bodily survival, but survival of our soul? Why else would we maintain such knowledge? 


I believe people are eternal, not physically, but on a different level we barely understand. We were given our ability to consider higher powers and the concept of "eternal" in order to survive. 


And just as we have a desire to be loved by others, to not feel "alone" in every sense of the word, we innately desire something greater too. Perhaps the desire for love is born from something far beyond ourselves, a deeply hidden, subconscious passion. A bond, not between humans, but between the human and the Eternally Divine. Maybe this is a longing that cannot be completely fulfilled in this lifetime. And as one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, put it: 










        ::::
These are just my thoughts recently. I tend to be a deep thinker, topics like this fascinate me.

Share your thoughts too if you'd like!

{dm}


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Health. Health. Health.

Generally speaking, everyone could stand to be a bit healthier. Health is kind of a big deal because it not only effects your body, but your mood as well.

Today I will share with you some quality advice for healthier living. As a disclaimer, I'm not a registered dietician, but I am a runner. If you know anything about runners, you'd understand we'll do anything to become faster, including making healthy lifestyle choices; this has been my goal over the past several years. I hope you find my thoughts helpful. Sometimes healthy reminders are necessary!


1. It is better to eat constantly. 
Eat snacks (about 150-200 calories each) in between meals (350-400 calories each) rather than going several hours from one meal to the next without eating.

When you don't eat for more than three hours, your blood sugar drops and your metabolism slows down. This means that when you do eat again, your digestive system takes longer to absorb the nutrients, therefore food sits in your stomach/intestines longer and is more likely to effect you negatively (turning food to fat instead of energy).

2. Sugar is the enemy. 
We all know candy isn't good for us, but that's not the only thing that contains ungodly amounts of sugar. Check the nutrition label for the sugar content in your cereal, granola bars, canned items, drinks, bread, etc. Cereal shouldn't have more than 6 grams, bread no more than 2 or 3. Think as low as possible when it comes to sugar.

Foods and drinks high in sugar spike your blood sugar (your goal should be to keep your blood sugar levels even all day). When you have a high blood sugar levels, you get a buzz (sugar high) but then you crash and feel hungry soon after. This leads you to crave bad foods that are high in sugar and calories which begins a vicious cycle that sets your blood sugar levels on a crazy roller-coaster ride.

3. Eating fat isn't bad.
There are certain fats in food that benefit you, in moderation. However, check the nutrition label for saturated fat %. It is better to choose unsaturated fat because consuming too much saturated fat raises your cholesterol, and that's trouble for your guts! Here is a link I found extremely helpful in understanding the different kinds of fat: Dietary fats: Know which types to choose.

4. You probably eat too much sodium. 
You like your occasional dash of salt to add a little flavor to your food, but trust me, whatever your eating already has plenty. Quite frankly, your body doesn't need so much sodium.

Usually, your kidneys eliminate access sodium in your pee, but if for some reason there's too much, it begins to build up in your bloodstream. Because sodium attracts and holds water, your blood volume increases, which makes your heart work harder to pump blood to every part of your body, which increases pressure in your arteries.

That's bad
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day. Read more: Sodium: How to tame your salt habit now. 


5. Drink before you eat. 
A lot of the time when you think you're hungry, you're actually just thirsty. Drink a glass of water before you eat anything. In fact, always drink more water than you think necessary. 8-10 8oz. glasses a day (that's basically 3 camelbak water bottles). Why? Let me give you an analogy:

Imagine you just took a dump (sorry for the graphic mental image). It's time to flush, but there's no water (or very little). The toilet is working perfectly but without the water, the crap isn't going anywhere.

You need water to flush your food through your system. Enough said.

There are also a ton of other benefits to drinking water, it helps everything. Water is just great, you need to drink it. Ok? Ok. :)


When it comes to mealtime. 
Also, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when choosing your meals:

Breakfast. 
It's the most important meal of the day!!! Also, it should be your biggest (most calories). Think high in carbohydrates (Yes! Carbs!) and also protein.

Suggestions:
- Low-sugar cold cereals (Kashi has great stuff!) or oatmeal
*Sidenote: personally I'm not a fan of milk (skim or otherwise) because of all of the unnatural hormones added in. Also, milk is relatively high in sugar. Instead, I drink unsweetened Almond milk with my cold cereal. It has much more calcium and vitamins and made from all natural ingredients. 
- Banana with Peanut butter or a handful of raw almonds
- 2-4 eggs/egg whites on two slices of whole grain toast or two whole grain tortillas



Lunch
A balance of carbohydrates and protein

Suggestions:
- Peanut butter and jelly on whole grain (always a classic)
- Spinach salad with chicken
- Baked potato
- Tuna sandwich
- Egg salad sandwich (1-2 boiled eggs chopped+mustard+light mayo on whole grain bread)

Don't forget to include vegetables (especially green) like green beans, peppers, celery, carrots, broccoli etc.  

Dinner
Think less carbs, more protein.

Suggestions:
- Chicken and rice
- Spinach salad with chicken
- Beef with baked potato

And again, don't forget to include vegetables raw or cooked.

Snacks
- Fruit
- Yogurt (especially greek!)
- Toast (whole grain)
- Boiled eggs
- Trail mix
- Nuts

Dessert
Just think moderation and you'll be fine

Suggestions:
- Dark chocolate

Welp. That's all I have for right now. I hope you find this helpful! If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Happy Thursday.

{dm}

Sunday, July 22, 2012

YOLO!


It’s Sunday! This week has literally flown. Do you ever feel like that? Like every day is like a blur, weeks fly by, and time has a way of racing like a cheetah with its tail on fire? That’s how my life feels. And I know it’s only going to get worse as I grow older. 
That’s why I need to stop. Right now. At this very moment. Before any more time slips away, before I live any more days, or even blink. 
I need to be still. I’m young (booyah!) but that doesn’t mean my life is going to last long. I might not even finish this blog post. I might not even wake up tomorrow. Those are heavy, heavy possibilities to think about. 
I don’t want to live my life fearing death, but I also don’t want to live my life pretending it’s never going to happen. Eventually I will die, whether it’s in ten minutes or seventy years. 
YOLO. Have you ever heard that acronym thrown around? Well, if you don’t know what it means, I’ll spare you the embarrassment of asking: you only live once. 
One shot. 
One adventure. 
One life.
Just one. 
It doesn’t matter what country you come from, or who’s family you’re in, or what you believe. Heck, it doesn’t even matter how many people follow your blog! We all get the same number of lives: the one we’re living right now. 
It’s not the life you’ll have tomorrow, or the one you had yesterday. All you have is right...now. 
So what should we do with it? One of my biggest fears is wasting my life. I used to think: 
I need to get involved in as many religious things as possible, and volunteer. I need to help starving people around the world, I need make a difference, I need to rescue lives, I need to...I need to...I need...I...I...me...me...
No doubt good does come out of this approach, but recently I realized: isn’t that just another form of selfishness? Isn’t it just as selfish to do things for other people so I don’t feel guilty when I’m lying on my deathbed? I think it is very easy for people who think like that to get burnt out. They’re caught up in serving and saving the world. They have dreams and fantasies of how fulfilled they will be and how much of a difference they will make. However, they soon find out it is difficult, they get sucked dry. They lose their joy. 
So what? We live selfishly because in the end it’s no different than a life of servanthood? 
Heck no. 
I believe Jesus Christ was a real person. I believe he is God, who came down and walked around in a human body. 
I want to be like Christ. When I stop and evaluate my life, this is what I realize. It sounds so noble, so honorable, doesn’t it? No. Perhaps this desire is the most misunderstood of all. 
In this life I will be called to suffer. I think that there will be many people offended by what I say, and indignant by the hard questions I will ask. I might even lose my life because of it. 
Yet, that is a reflection of how Jesus lived. Why shouldn’t I expect anything different for my life?
But what about right now? What do I do?? Am I failing Jesus because I’m not suffering? This is my conclusion to all this: 
I need to listen to his voice. I will be still. I will rest in the peace of knowing that God is calling me, he will speak into my life...but only if I seek him with all my heart. I can’t just chill out here in my peaceful little world. He needs my whole heart. Not part of it, or most of it, but every last possible doubt, fear, anxiety, and insecurity I cling on to. 
So when he does call me (because he will. In fact, he is right now), 
I will not act out of guilt, or fear of wasting my life, I will act out of love. 
Because at the end of my life, nothing is going to matter if it wasn't done out of love for him. Nothing.
To love the Lord your God. This is his first, his greatest commandment. 

{dm}

Friday, July 20, 2012

Things I Love

The Ultimate Cure for Dehydration ;) 
Happy Friday! I'm heading out soon; some of my lovely cross-country ladies and I are going camping. However, first, let me share with you one of my favorite things.

Camelbaks. God bless whoever invented them. They hold 24 oz. at a time. I try to drink at least 5 full bottles a day. Usually I'm able to. It's an easy way to stay hydrated. I probably wouldn't drink half as much water without it. If you struggle getting the necessary 8 cups (or more) of water every day, I highly recommend this. It's worth the extra cost because it lasts a long time, and well, let's be honest, you use it every day. I love it. I literally couldn't live without it! Ha.

Not sold on water? Do you find it's hard to drink more than two or three glasses a day? Here are a few benefits to keep in mind when it comes to staying hydrated:


{Information taken from this link}


The human body is anywhere from 55% to 78% water, depending on body size. A rule of thumb: 2/3 of the body consists of water. In other words, it is the main component of your body. Your tissues and organs are mainly made up of water. Here is the %:
  • Muscle consists of 75% water
  • Brain consists of 90% of water
  • Bone consists of 22% of water
  • Blood consists of 83% water
The functions of water in human body are vital. The water:
  • Transports nutrients and oxygen into cells
  • Moisturizes the air in lungs
  • Helps with metabolism
  • Protects our vital organ
  • Helps our organs to absorb nutrients better
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Detoxifies
  • Protects and moisturizes our joints
Every cell in your body needs water from head to toe. So drink up! 



Have a great weekend!
  
{dm}

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

So Many Books


Ok, I'll admit it. I love books. Not just any kind of book though, it must be well-written. Nerdy? Definitely. Ashamed? Absolutely not. Books are a way of escape; to stop being yourself for a while and cross over into the mind of the writer. And if the author does it right, it's quite entertaining. It's like a movie, except it requires your own imagination and possibly more time. Maybe I take too much pride in the fact that I enjoy books. Probably. It is one of my many quirks. Regardless, I embrace it.

Argos Bookstore {Yes, that is Spiderman on the window--vintage style}




After discovering the quaint, old-world bookstore in Saugatuck on my birthday, my mom and I decided to check out other charming old used bookstores nearby.

We came across two in East Grand Rapids.  


Redux Books {Check out that ivy!}






Shelves upon shelves of tattered, torn, worn, and treasured old books. 

Maybe my books will be in this section of bookstores one day.

I bought a book. It is creative non-fiction, a memoir from the author. It's called A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I know, the title itself is ironic. "A cheap kind of joke" the author calls it, as it is his own writing he calls "staggering genius". This eludes to the type of character he presents. I read the first chapter. I love it so far. Dave Eggers has a distinctive voice: sarcastic, sophisticated and witty.


A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

I took a fiction writing class last semester. One of the things I learned was how difficult it is to publish a book. If you have ever considered writing/publishing a book, prepare to be turned down! My professor explained it takes up to 70 tries before you land on a publisher. That's sixty-nine rejections! Still, Thomas Edison didn't invent the lightbulb after the first attempt...

I also learned in the class that, when trying to sell your novel to a reputable publisher, you'll need to write a book proposal including the following: 
1. Identify a publisher (or seventy)
2. Write a query letter (one-page letter of inquiry introducing and selling your novel)
3. Prepare a three-page synopsis of your story
4. Select a sample chapter of your novel
5. Create your author profile (your resume)  
For guidelines on how to create a proposal, I recommend Googling it. :) Also, click here for a link that I found helpful.

If you ever aspire to write a book and publish it, I wish you the best. 
Know that we're both in this together. 


{dm} 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Meet Nate

Pensive
Adventurous
Fun-loving
Easy-going
Creative
Spontaneous
Thoughtful and
Tender-hearted.

These are words that describe him best. He was one of my biggest role models growing up, and has always been a good friend throughout my life: meet my big brother, Nate.
Ladies...he's twenty-two and single. ;) 



Nate and I get along quite well. In high school we had the same circle of friends, and now we still keep in touch, even though we're both in college.

The fact that both of these pictures have the number 22 was possibly not an accident.





















He took me to a classy restaurant on a lakefront for my birthday! We both had delicious grilled salmon (quite costly too!), he said not to worry about the price, it was his special treat. Isn't that sweet??


The restaurant was on the east side of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It's a little place called Rose's.

I told him he would have to take me back sometime. The food and service were great!


After our meal, he asked me what I would like to do. I told him I wanted to go into downtown Grand Rapids and walk around. Grand Rapids is one of my favorite places to visit.






On the way, we came across an adorable little antique shop located right under the owner's house! I wanted to go in, but they were closed. I had to take a picture anyway.


When we arrived downtown, we stumbled upon several hipster-ish shops and studios selling anything from modern art, antique knick-knacks, or furniture created out of street signs.


Unfortunately, almost everything was closed. Nate knows I love books and he wanted to show me around the huge library that looks like a European castle, but I guess even libraries aren't open on Saturday nights.





















Nate is an artist. He's studying to be an art teacher, only one more semester to go! He wanted to see the mural that took second place for Art Prize (an art competition that happens every year in downtown GR).

< Her hair is made out of shards of glass!


The mural was so big, I couldn't capture the whole thing. It's located in front of the Devos Children's Museum. I liked that children's artwork was included in the mosaic. A special touch.




What a special night. I definitely don't take this guy for granted. He's great.


I still have several memories as a little kid playing Legos and drawing pictures with him. We were best buds back in the day!


In all seriousness, I'm truly thankful for my brother and the difference he's made in my life.


SHOUT OUT TO BIG BROTHERS! 

Little sisters look up to you guys, whether they can admit it or not.




{dm}

Monday, July 16, 2012

Motivation for Monday

As a health fanatic/running athlete, I've learned a lot about being healthy over the years. On Mondays I'll share what I know about running and give what advice I can about making good choices and living strong. Again, this isn't textbook-official, just me speaking from my experiences over the years as a runner.

Here's a common question people ask: How do I lose weight?

Personally, I don't think that's the right question. Healthy isn't about weighing less. It's about being stronger and feeling better. The wrong opproach to dieting and exercise has the opposite effect on us.

It's about changing the way you approach your lifestyle. 

Running won't make you skinny.
It's true! If you must lose weight, most of it will happen in the kitchen (eating the right food at the right time). Also, everyone has a different body type, therefore, everyone's body responds to running differently. For example, there are over twenty girls on my cross-country team. We all run the same amount of miles and do the same workouts, yet our body shapes and weight are all different, even though no one is over weight. That's the key. Don't compare yourself. Your goal should be to get in shape, not be skinny.

Lifting makes you strong. 
(Duh) Lifting helps runners and non-runners. Lifting has the capacity to transform your body (I'll post my lifting routine next Monday). You don't need a gym membership, just motivation and determination that lasts long enough to feel yourself improve. Building muscle also speeds up your metabolism, which is beneficial for your overall health. There's nothing like noticing how your body is capable of doing things you never thought possible. LIVE STRONG.

You can't spot reduce.    
Have you ever tried doing 100 sit-ups every day and then became discouraged when your abs didn't look any different? Well...maybe not. However, if you did, they probably wouldn't change much. Focusing on one muscle group, like for instance, your obliques (where love-handles appear) isn't going to take extra weight away, but eating right will.

It all comes down to food choices and portions.
I'll get into food choices more on another Monday. Regrettably, there isn't one magical diet plan that will give you a perfectly healthy body. Lots of people have different opinions on food and what's acceptable and what's not. However, we all have a basic understanding of what's good for us (didn't your mom always tell you to eat your veggies?). It's a matter of choosing healthy that is more challenging. BUT WORTH IT!

Have a motivated Monday!


If you run, don't run just for exercise. 
Run for the way it makes you feel when you finish.
Run for the challenge, for what it costs you.
Run for the reward of your perseverance.  
Run for the therapy of your mind and body, 
Because one day you won't be able to. 


{dm}

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Inside a Fire Pit


"It is not scientific doubt, not atheism, not pantheism, not agnosticism, that in our day and in this land is likely to quench the light of the gospel. It is a proud, sensuous, selfish, luxurious, church-going, hollow-hearted prosperity."**

Inside a Fire Pit  
A Confession of blind selfishness 

I'm sitting in a fire pit. 
I could burn alive.
But for now I'm safe,
No Flames among these ashes.

I've been told not to play with fire,
But the fire isn't lit. 
This pit is comfortable. 
It's safe.  

I can sit in this pit of ashes  
There is no danger, only 
My clothes, 
My image, 
My precious self! 

I aught to fear this pit. 
I've seen it engulf,
Incinerate and destroy.
But in the fire's absence, 
I'm content to stay? 

Why would I sit in a fire pit?  
It is for dead wood and flames,
Not me. I do not want to burn alive. 

I confess I am foolish. 
It seems harmless to stay here,
But the danger is coming. 
If I don't move, 
Surely, I'll go up in flames.

{dm}


**Frederic D. Huntington, Forum magazine, 1890, as sited in Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Truth About Running

You've all seen them before: pictures, magazines, websites, all trying to motivate you to run.

This isn't my goal here.

As a cross-country and track athlete at my university, my goal is to tell you the truth about running. Whether you're into it or secretly resent it, this is worth reading.

First off, let me tell you I'm a credible source. Besides the last 3 weeks in May and a couple weeks in December, I run all year around. Six days a week. I have to, I'm on scholarship! It's getting me through school. Here's an article for validation: Lady Cougars.

I'm not a professional runner, just a normal person who happens to run every day. Let me share what I have learned. Note, this is my opinion based on my experience. None of this is textbook-approved, just real life lessons from a girl who would know.

Rules to Run By:  

1. Running is pointless unless you compete with yourself.
It doesn't matter why you want to run, whether it's to lose weight, stay in shape, or impress people driving down the road. If you don't compete for a better time than you had yesterday, or a longer distance, or better form, you're going to be board out of your mind. Literally. Running will be the most pointless waste of time you've ever experienced.

2. Don't compare your ability. 
There's always going to be someone out there better and faster than you. Who cares? Remember rule #1, you're competing with yourself. No one else.

3. Learn to love it. 
What's the difference between avid runners and those people who can't seem to be consistent? The love. If you don't enjoy it, you're not going to do it. That's reality. You can only force yourself to do something you hate for so long before you give in. Granted, you may have to force yourself at first (give it 4 weeks), but you'll begin to crave it if you stick with your goals.

So now you're wondering, how do you love running? 
You have to be competitive.
You have to want to be better than you were yesterday.
And when you are (because you will be), relish your achievement.

That's not trying to be motivational, that's telling the truth.  

4. You have the time.
If you want it bad enough, it can happen. No excuses. This is coming from a college student.

5. Your brain is a liar.  
Your head will get in the way even before you take your first step. Your brain will tell you, "I'm too tired," or "too stressed," or "I don't want to." Don't listen! I found the days I felt too tired or busy to run were the days I needed to run the most. It's stress relieving and wakes you up!

Also, during the run your brain can sometimes be a broken record: "Stop. Stop. Stop. I'm tired. Stop Stop. Stop." Use discipline! Tell your brain you are stronger than you think. Remember, compete
6. Build a relationship with your body.
It's hard to listen to your body when your head is screaming, "I HATE THIS!" There's two voices inside you, one from your brain, one from your body. Usually, the brain is fussy, wimpy, and obnoxious. But you can learn to control it. With some mental discipline, it will be on your side. The body on the other hand, speaks more subtly...unless there's pain. Learn to differentiate between mind and body. That sounds kind of Yoga-zen-ish, but I'm dead serious! The body will tell you when you can push harder, listen!


7. Shoes matter.   
You know those sneakers you found at a garage sale in eighth grade that still fit? Don't you dare touch them. If you're planning on running even just a couple days a week, buy real running shoes! Bad shoes lead to serious injury. I recommend Asic, Brooks, or personally, I use Mizuno. I wouldn't recommend the Nike Frees. They look sick, but no matter what they may claim, I don't believe they're a running shoe.

8. Finish strong.
At the end of every run, no matter how tired you feel, try to really push it! Do the last 0.2 miles faster! You'll feel amazing after you stop.

9. Food matters. 
Have you ever thought "I went for a run today, I can have this {fill in an unhealthy sweet/snack}?" It's not true. In fact, when you're running you should be more careful. It doesn't matter if you're not trying to lose weight. Runners need fuel. Think of the food that you are putting in your mouth as fuel. Better fuel makes a better running machine. I'll let you do the math.

10. DRINK!! 
I shoot for as much as possible: 10 8oz. glasses of water a day or more.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Canon

I finally did it. After a year (literally, a whole year) of waiting, I finally have the Canon T2i. My first DSLR. I'm so incredibly jacked about this camera. 

Here she is: 



You can read this review to find more about this superb little T2i for yourself


It seems everyone is an aspiring photographer these days. I say, more power to them! Photography can be a brilliant avenue of expression.

I've been aching to use more than my mother's point and shoot for months. Also, I'm going to travel all across China in the coming months. What better way to capture the memories?

As my art professor would say, this is a world dominated by images! Pictures have incredible power. Much more than we realize (just do a little research on media or propaganda). I can't wait to dive into the digital single lens reflector world.

..
{dm}

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Creative Outlet

My dad is a carpenter. During the school year he teaches shop at our local high school and in the summers he helps folks remodel or add wood finish to their homes. He also creates things out of wood as a hobby. There's all kinds of beautifully crafted wood pieces laying around our home. My family and I have definitely taken them for granted...because...they're everywhere! My dad loves making things, and over the years they have started to pile up. Here are just a few examples of his work:

Candle holders of every size, shape and wood

Homemade wooden pens!

Beautifully designed coasters 

Plates of every size and shade

Boxes, cups, and bowls. I especially like the bowls he makes with the natural edge.
He makes boxes like the ones above too; square circle, oval...you name it. 

Pot holders, cutting boards, and napkins holders too!
They're beautiful, right? This is less than half of what is scattered around our house. He's also made Christmas ornaments, doll furniture, real furniture, collapsable chairs...I can't even keep track. He needs an outlet! I told my dad I was writing in my blog about his work, and he asked half jokingly, "Did you mention everything is for sale?" He is an artist and he greatly desires to share his creation with others.

Give me your opinion! Do you think my dad has a market here? Do you have any tips or recommendations? Would you buy his stuff or give it away as a gift? Do you think other people would want his handmade things? Share your thoughts!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Recent Discovery

I know this is a writing blog, but it's also a blog about me. I am a health fanatic. I love all things healthy. Therefore, I'm going to share a recipe I came across that is and will forever be a personal lifelong favorite.

That being said, I'm a fan of Pinterest and the array of images, ideas, thougths, and delicious recipes it provides me. Here's my page: http://pinterest.com/danaedracht/.

Especially in these glorious, less-busy days of summer, I try to be proactive in my search to try new things. Here is my most recent discovery inspired by Pinterest:

Clean Ice Cream: 
bananas+peanut butter+cocoa
The less ingredients contained in our food, the better our digestive system is able to utilize the nutrients, and the faster our metabolism is, and the healthier we are (I'm a cross-country runner, this stuff matters to me)!

Therefore, when you look on the "Ingredients" label on your food packages, the smaller the list of contents, the better! Just a healthy tip.

Here's the simple recipe for the delicious ice cream:
1. 3 Ripe bananas - they're easier to mash when they're squishy!
2. 2 Tbsp. of peanut butter - or more, it doesn't really matter (I love peanut butter)
3. 2-3 tsp. of cocoa - natural and unsweetened
*Note: all of these measurements can and should be changed according to personal preference.


So, what do you do? 
It's simple. First, in a medium-sized bowl, mash the bananas. The recipe from Pinterest would have you first cut up the bananas into tiny slices and blend them with beaters. However, I simply un-pealed them and mashed them by hand with a potato masher. I like my ice cream chunky, but it's delicious either way I'm sure.
Second, add the peanut butter and cocoa. Stir it all together until it's mixed well. 
Third, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the freezer. I left mine in overnight, however, I don't think it takes that long to freeze. Maybe 3-4 hours.
Fourth, take out of freezer and serve. I let mine thaw for 10-15 minutes because it was pretty hard. When it softens up, it has the exact same texture as ice cream, without all the mysterious processed ingredients! 

This ice cream has that lip-smacking, melt-in-your-mouth, irresistible kind of taste. And the best part? You can eat it for breakfast! It's that good for you!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Day of My Birth +20

It's my birthday!!! I'm excited to be another year older. I look forward to birthdays. I always will! Age is a state of mind. I will never dread being another year older. Life is a journey, I desire to embrace every stage, not only the years I'm young.

So, what did I do today? Well, last week I came down with mono. Bummer, I know. Obviously, this knocked me out for a few days, but I'm on the mend. I am feeling really good today! My mom took me out to Saugatuck. It's the cutest little town right off of Lake Michigan. I had never been there before. Naturally, it was a pure delight.

Here it is on a map! The little town of Saugatuck. 


I woke up this morning to a homemade hot breakfast! Mom made one of her special breakfast casserole dishes. It had blueberries and cream cheese! YUM!! Plus there was a bag of Ghiradelli dark chocolate with a card. If that's not a good start to a morning, I don't know what is!



In Saugatuck we visited several random shops and boutiques. My favorite was an old bookstore located above the town bank. An old couple owned the business. They looked like characters straight out of fiction! The woman had kinky, wild, grey hair with a gypsy style of dress. The husband rang up our purchase. His wrinkles, age spots, uncommon face structure, antique glasses, and grandpa-style clothing gave him that other-worldly kind of intensity you only see in movies or read about in books. The bookshop itself was a work of art! I took pictures with my phone, but alas,  I've had trouble downloading them (my phone and I have a very love-hate relationship). Anyway, I've decided I'm in love with old book stores. I love books and I love old things. A combination of both? Yeah, I'm definitely in love. Mom bought a book by one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis: The Screwtape Letters. I read it in high school, but never had a copy of my own (DEFINITELY recommend this book!). She also bought a lovely crocheted headband for me at another store we visited. 

Thanks Mom! You know how to make a girl feel special. :)    

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Serene Sunday

I've never known where to place Sunday. It's supposed to be the first day of the week, but I consider it the weekend too, which is (obviously) at the end of the week.

This being said, I believe Sunday is that one day we have to "regroup" ourselves, sort of pull ourselves back together. In essence, Sunday is a day to quiet the mind and body and reflect on the week that has past and prepare for the week that is coming.

We all learn and grow, and because I have the insatiable need to write everything down, I'll share what I have learned this past week and how I've grown. I hope to do this every Sunday with my blog.

This is the little church we went to in Montana
It all started in Montana. 
A couple of weeks ago, I went with nineteen other students from my university to a leadership institute in Montana. I believe the experience changed my life. I don't say that lightly because I feel like I'm the type of person who is very difficult to change.

Anyway, our Chaplin, Ron, drilled 3 basic themes into our heads while we were there:

1) The number one lie people of the faith believe today: 
Following the Kingdom is a position privilege, not responsibility.  
Yeah, guilty as charged.                               
2) Ask these three questions everyday: 
Is the work well done? 
Is the Word well used? 
Is the Lord well pleased?  
3) Also, consider these questions for your life: 
Where am I at? 
Where am I headed? 
Who am I becoming? 
Another quote that stuck with me: "Success is predicated upon cost." 
Enter by the narrow gate...Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life... {Matthew 7:13-14}
Those three themes were still mulling around in my head this past week. On top of that, right now I'm reading My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers (I HIGHLY recommend this devo if you're looking for a hard, very highly convicting word of inspiration daily). On July 7th, the title for the entry read: All Efforts of Worth and Excellence are Difficult. Immediately, I thought of the privilege vs. responsibility theme from Montana. Here's a little quotation from the devotional that day:
Thank God that He does give us difficult things to do! His salvation is a joyous thing, but it is also something that requires bravery, courage and holiness [responsibility]. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to live the worthy excellent life of a disciple of Jesus in the realities of life.  And it is always necessary for us to make an effort to live a life of worth and excellence. 
Virtually, that is what I learned this week. The immense responsibility and discipline of being a disciple. It won't just fall into my lap. I have to seek after it...whole-heartedly. I know this, now all I have to do is live it.

Daily, I will choose the more excellent way.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Living Long and Loving it.

I love old photographs. I often go through old family photos, print by print, for the sheer joy of reliving the timeless moments captured so long ago. Honestly, it's like a whole other world to me.

Imagine living in a time where this was a normal part of life:

This is my great, great grandpa sitting on his tomato pant setter. The little boy is my grandpa on the left.




Emerald Dale Corfman: An inspirational, mysterious, and profoundly stubborn individual if I ever knew one. He was born in 1914. He is my grandpa. No, not my great grandpa--he is my mother's father. And to my utter incredulity, he lived in a time when they still used tomato pant setters pulled by horses. And that's not all...

Now, picture driving around in a car like the ones parked along the street:

I'm not kidding, I found this beneath my mom's bed in a forgotten photo album. It looks like one of those vintage postcards...


My grandpa just turned 98 this past June. 98! I'm still trying to wrap my head around how old that is. Here is just a few of the historical highlights he lived through:





1. Hiroshima & Nagasaki

2. Walking on the Moon

3. Peal Harbor

4. First Powered Airplane

5. Women Win the Right to Vote

6. JFK Assassinated

7. Nazi Holocaust Exposed

8. World War I 

9. World War II

10. School Segregation Ends

11. U.S. Stock Market Crashes 

So who is this man? He lived through both world wars? WHAT? Yeah. I know...you wish he was your grandpa too. It is true that many people have and will live to be 98, but not like my grandpa. 

He's an incredible man if you ever get the honor of meeting him. The man is so sharp. He's not in a nursing home, slumped over with dribble on his lip. He's happily living independently on his own. 

My grandpa is an inspiration to me. I've decided if I ever live that long (I hope to), I'm still going to be just as much in love with life as he is.

After observing my grandpa, here are some standards I've decided to keep in mind:   

1. Be stubborn.  Grandpa is and always has been a stubborn man. Not in a bad way, he's just not afraid to speak his mind and express his like or dislike for something. Opinions are good. 

2. Everything in moderation. He likes his sweets and treats, but he never over-does it. He says he enjoys one piece of dark chocolate every day. 

3. Read. Reading is one of Grandpa's favorites. He reads like a champion, sometimes more than a book a week! It keeps his mind sharp, and his imagination too! 

4. Don't let age effect you. I don't think Grandpa considers his age much. "I'm too old" Has never crossed his lips. He just does what he wants.

5. Stay active. Grandpa didn't slow down after retirement. He took care of his big farm until he got up into his mid nineties. Now that he sold the farm, he tells us he gets on an exercise bike every morning to keep his legs strong. 

6. Find something you love. He loves to garden. He used to plant all kinds of things from rhubarb to roses. Nurturing something, watching something grow brings him great satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. 

7. Engage life. Learning is a part of Grandpa's lifestyle. He is never too old to try something new. The little boy who used to sit on a tomato plant setter drawn by horses now has his own cell phone and computer. He knows how to text and send emails. Did I also mention he lived through the Great Depression? Yeah, he did. 

8. Love family. Let's be honest, family is so much better than social security. I have seen the absolute joy that Grandpa's children and grandchildren have brought to him over the years. Even though I often claim I could never have kids, I know in the end they are the dearest, most invaluable things in life. 

Grandpa with his three daughters

Some father-daughter love. That's my mom next to him!

A man's age is something impressive, it sums up his life:  maturity reached slowly and against many obstacles, illnesses cured, griefs and despairs overcome, and unconscious risks taken; maturity formed through so many desires, hopes, regrets, forgotten things, loves.  A man's age represents a fine cargo of experiences and memories.  
~Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry 

If you haven't noticed, I'm proud of my grandpa. I'll always be his little granddaughter. :)


Grandpa and I. 1996
**I wrote an essay you can link to in the "My Work"page reflecting my struggle and appreciation concerning my grandpa and the incredibly long life he retains in memories. I encourage you to read it for yourself!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Quotes by Me


I've had some fun finding a few quotes I wrote in my blog throughout the months and giving them a little visual appeal. :)