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I am a pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world. -Mother Teresa

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pomegranate White Tea

It's a good morning to grab a cup of hot tea, so as much as I didn't want to go inside to make it, I did. I chose Pomegranate White Tea from Trader Joe's. I hope to do this every week from now on because it makes the whole "tea time" theme a little more complete.

Now for highlights & lowlights of the past week, which I've also heard called Roses & Thorns:

A lowlight would be missing my family & friends. It's weird not knowing anyone in this town except people my sister is friends with. I'm not close enough to the people around here who are my age. I wouldn't mind making new friends, but I just like being at home & staying in touch with the friends I already have. Oh, & getting to a terribly sad, frustrating part in Oliver Twist. :(

Highlights include getting back into studying the Bible in Greek even though I'm not going as in-depth as when I was taking the course, substitute teaching homeschool style while my sister was at college, & walking/jogging with my sister 3 evenings in a row at the park. Last night I even went on the merry-go-round, slides, swings, & monkey bars. There's nothing like going on playground equipment to remind you that you used to be a kid. :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Brown Bag Stationery & Journals

So much for boring Mondays! 

I think it's super awesome that Mailbox Moments started this link-up about the same time that I found their blog AND the same time that I've been making handmade items to send my friends in the mail using only items I already have on hand. I couldn't stop at just sharing one.

So, first up is this stationery which is one of my favorites even though it was the least work. It's made from packaging paper that came with orders from Pampered Chef to keep the items from getting broken.

Next is a journal I made from brown paper grocery bags. I used these scissors to cut the pages:
 I do some cross-stitching, so I used this thread to sew the pages & cover together:

 The cover is thin cardboard that was used to keep my custom stamps from getting bent in the mail. I think this quote from Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey is perfect for the cover of a journal:
Sorry it's hard to read in the picture. It says: "Not keep a journal! How are the civilities & compliments of every day to be related as they ought to be, unless noted down every evening in a journal?" :)

The last thing I made is this journal. It took the longest, but I'm not as happy with the results. Maybe it's too colorful to me and so it's not the soothing, peaceful journal I like. My niece said something about it being the coolest journal ever, though. :)
 This is actually my favorite part of the journal, & it makes me wish I'd been able to stitch the quote on the front.
 The ribbon as well as all of the cover paper is from gifts I've received.
 This back cover is from a gift bag that got torn & was therefore no longer useful as a gift bag. :)
 This is the inside cover made from the bottom of the gift bag. I taped it all around a granola bars box. In between this cover & the box is a slit that could be used as a storage pocket for loose papers, ticket stubs, etc. I'm not sure how easy it would be to use or how long this journal will even hold together. :( You could always tape/glue it back, though. :)
 I happened to have this heart-shaped hole punch that I used to tie this journal together like a spiral notebook (sort of) with yarn.
 This quote is from a song my sister wrote, & you can see how messy the tape & stitching (to the right) got. :( Still, I think the experiment helped me learn a few things. :)

Everyone should join in the Mailbox Moments Mondays link-up for next week. It's much simpler than this & gives you lots of options & ideas. If you don't have your own blog, I can try to put your idea up on mine. I can't wait to see what everyone puts! :)

Also, I've been thinking about starting an Etsy Shop for a while now. I guess this finally gave me the shove I needed. I began it yesterday so I only have one item, & you can be one of the first to see it. I'd love to know what you think! I know it's not much yet. :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011


The actual state bird of Alaska is the Willow Ptarmigan. Sometimes it seems like mosquitoes are the state birds here, too, though. 
This came from my dad's brother who lives in Alaska
during the summer.
I've never been to Alaska, so reading these Fun Facts about Alaska was really fascinating:

  • Alaska is larger than the next four largest states combined

  • Alaska contains 17 of the 20 highest peaks in The United States

  • Alaska is only 50 miles from Russia.

  • Alaska has 29 volcanoes

  • Alaska has 33,000 miles of coastline...more than the rest of the lower 48 combined (This includes island shores)

  • Alaska is the only state to have coastlines on 3 different seas. Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea

  • There are more than three million lakes in Alaska

  • LoveNotesByLauryn

    I found a new blog that I wanted to share with you for a few reasons:

    1. Lauryn makes custom wedding, baby, & graduation announcements which goes along with my blog's theme of letters.

    2. She's sweet & funny...at least on her blog.

    3. By doing this, I could win some much-needed graphics for this blog.

    4. I learned a simple little calligraphy tip from her blog.

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    Young Prisoner

    This was from a guy I remember going to youth camp with a few years before I received this. I was very surprised to find out that he was in jail with my brother. Tyler is a year or two younger than me, which made it even more sad to me. More than sad, though, it made me want to offer some sort of joy to his days in jail. That's what I think my letters did. If it's something that touches your heart, consider becoming a prisoner's penpal through one the ministries mentioned here.

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Winning Letters

    Mrs. Barbara entered my contest, winning 3 custom postage stamps. Here are some of her thoughts on letter-writing that I just couldn't help but share:

    When I sit down to write a letter, I can never think of anything to write about.  I wrote them on the computer.  Arthritis in my hands makes it hard to write.  Letters typed on the computer may not be very personal but one good thing about them, you can pretty much, in some cases, copy and paste the same paragraph in 2 or 3 different letters.  I guess that is o.k. as long as the recipients don't get together and share their letters and say Oh, Look...she said the exact same thing in my letter.  (a little humor here.) -Barbara

    Here are the letters Barbara wrote to her friends when she entered my one month anniversary contest. She has given me permission to share all three of them, and I'm so grateful. I'll be posting more from other winners later. :)

    July 26, 2011

    Hi  Patty,
         I haven’t heard from you in quite a long time and thought I would write to just get back in touch.  
         How have you and your family been doing?  I have four great-grandchildren now and they sure have been a blessing to me.  Three girls and one boy.  I baby sit with two of them Cole who is 5 and his sister Autumn who is 5 months old.  They keep me pretty busy.
         It has been a rough time since Frank passed away.  I miss him so much and still look for him to come in the house every day.  I don’t think I will ever get over missing him – he was my world.
         Baby sitting and making quilts is about all that I do to pass the time. I don’t travel anymore because I don’t like going places by myself, so I just stay home.
         Do you have a computer and are you on the internet?  I keep in touch with a lot of people and family on the internet on face book.  It is nice to be able to keep in touch that way.
    It has really been hot here this summer as I am sure it has been there.  We have had several days over 100° and heat index close to 105°.  
         A friend of mine has a Blog on the internet where she does journaling and invites people to send her letters they have received or written to put on her blog.  She has entries on her blog from her personal journal which is very interesting.   Part of the reason I am writing you is for her benefit and to also say that she has been an inspiration to me in getting me back into letter writing.  I have a couple of more letters that I am going to write, so will close for now.  Hope to hear from you soon.


    Hi  Elizabeth:
         Bet you are surprised to hear from me.  I just wanted to send you a letter congratulating you on your new job.  I hope it all works out for you and that you will be happy where you are.  How did your graduation party go?  I thought about you.
         How are your mom and dad doing?  I keep thinking about flying to Wisconsin, but just can’t make the expense of the tickets.  I look forward to seeing you, Shannon and her family on the cruise in September.  Good thing I already have that one paid for or I probably wouldn’t be going there either.  I can’t wait to meet Shannon’s babies and her husband.
         It has really been hot here this summer as I am sure it has been there.  We have had several days over 100° and heat index close to 105°.  
         A friend of mine has a Blog on the internet where she does journaling and invites people to send her letters they have received or written to put on her blog.  She has entries on her blog from her personal journal which is very interesting.   Part of the reason I am writing you is for her benefit and to also say that she has been an inspiration to me in getting me back into letter writing.  I have a couple of more letters that I am going to write, so will close for now.  Hope to hear from you soon.

    Aunt Barbara

    Hi  Ramona and Arkie:
         Thought I would write you a note.  I heard about your  fish fry/picnic where most of Hampton was invited. Jean told about it on the Family site.  She sounded like she really enjoyed it and meeting old friends again.  She sounds happy there with Ted and Sharon, I am glad that they have taken her in.
    Just wanted to let you know I appreciate your stopping by here on the way to Florida and inviting me to go with you.  Sorry, I couldn’t make it at that time.  I don’t go anywhere anymore because I just don’t like going by myself which is what I would have to do, so I stay home.  I never was good at driving on trips, and can get lost very quickly.  Frank used to say that I could get lost in my own back yard.  Flying is out of the question because of the expense.
         I keep busy with my great grandchildren; they are a blessing to me.  I baby sit for Linda 5 days a week and that keeps me pretty busy.  I drive to Martinez and back every day to baby sit.  Guess I will do that until I can’t do it any longer.  Baby sitting for her pretty much takes care of traveling.
    It has really been hot here this summer as I am sure it has been there.  We have had several days over 100° and heat index close to 105°.  
         A friend of mine has a Blog on the internet where she does journaling and invites people to send her letters they have received or written to put on her blog.  She has entries on her blog from her personal journal which is very interesting.   Part of the reason I am writing you is for her benefit and to also say that she has been an inspiration to me in getting me back into letter writing.  I have a couple of more letters that I am going to write, so will close for now.  Hope to hear from you soon.


    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    North Carolina

    I must confess that North Carolina is quickly becoming a favorite for me.
    Part of it is all the wonderful sites to visit, but mostly it's the great people
     that I know who live there...people I get to visit the wonderful places with.

    Fun Facts:
    • The Wright brothers completed the first successful flight of a
    • mechanically propelled airplane over the sands of Kitty Hawk, 
    • North Carolina on December 17, 1903.
    • Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run in Fayetteville on 
    • March 7, 1914. 
    • The first English child born in America, Virginia Dare, was born 
    • in Roanoke, North Carolina, in 1587.

    • Jockey's Ridge is the tallest natural sand dune system in the Eastern
    •  United States. Depending on the weather, its height can range
    •  from 80 to 100 feet!
    • Whitewater Falls in Transylvania County, one of over 200 waterfalls 
    • in North Carolina, is the highest waterfall on the East Coast.
    • The Biltmore Estate in Asheville is the largest private house in the 
    • world, with 250 rooms.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Highlights & Lowlights

    Time to make some hot tea again, then share what's been going on this week...

    This week's lowlight for me is finding out I have to pay $84 to become a substitute teacher. I'm thankful that my lowlights have been small things lately, but sometimes it's those things that get to you most, leaving you in a bad mood because you don't think it's important enough to pray about. Or maybe that's just me.

     But the highlight is how much I feel like a kid again. My week has consisted of making a chore chart, playing legos & Apples  to Apples, climbing over the deck onto a huge pile of dirt, putting together a jumbo dinosaur puzzle, jogging a new trail at the park with my sister, climbing a tree, hearing my nephew read Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes in the cutest way possible, & sleeping outside on the trampoline with my 10-year-old niece. I did some sorta grown-up things, too. Sewed a small pillow & a hole in my shirt, started reading a verse of Greek a day; I'm going through Romans, & babysat.

    What were the highlights & lowlights of your week?

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Back to School Giveaway Challenge

    Happy first day of school! I feel a little left out that everyone is going back to school except me...but I feel left out in a good way. :)

    Before I forget, if you don't win, but you have similar items & choose to use them to "enjoy the moment," please let me know about your experience with it! Even if the contest is over, I'd love to hear how it inspired you.

    Ok, so this month's prize is a pencil! Wooohooo. BUT it is pretty cool because it has stickers that go on it so that I can spell out a name or phrase for you if you want. And actually it's five pencils.

    Anyway, one of my ideas is that you could use it to underline/make comments in a book. (If it's a really good one, I'd like to read your copy with your comments in it.) Oh, or you could draw me (or someone else, I don't know why I'm being so selfish today) an amazing picture. Or you could start a story about ME (kidding) & pass it on along with the pencil to a friend who would continue the story. They could pass it to a different friend or back to you until it's finished. Of course I want to read the finished copy.

    Anyway, if you have better ideas of how to "enjoy the moment" by writing with this pencil, let me know that, too. No matter what, leave a comment here (or email me) describing your plan & you could be tthis month's winner. Write away right away!

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Tea Time

    As school starts again, I'm reminded of one of my favorite things about college: Tea Time. It was a small group of girls who gathered weekly to drink hot tea & share the highlights & lowlights of the previous week. Not being very fond of tea, I didn't attend until I became a chaplain & began helping lead it. I grew to enjoy hot tea more & more, as it brought us together in a most relaxing way. Tea Time evolved over the years, but the informal atmosphere never changed. And neither did highlights/lowlights.

    In an attempt to keep up with the weekly events of my friends & to grow to know new ones, I'm creating a weekly section of the blog for us to share our highs & lows: Tuesday Tea Time. So grab a cup of hot tea (coffee, hot chocolate, or apple cider will work, too!), make yourself comfortable, & share your heart. I'll go first.

    I always start with my lowlight so I can end on a positive note. This week was frustrating financially. I don't enjoy filling out job applications, but on top of that, the bank blocked my account because I used it to make a payment on my student loans. I hadn't used that account in a while, so my bank got suspicious. So I have to call them again to verify my identity. I don't like talking on the phone, & I guess I just wonder if one day I'll say something wrong & they won't believe that I am me. Anyway, it's just a small lowlight this week because all I can think of is the fun I had. Oh, yeah, I also didn't get much sleep, but that's because of my highlight.

    I went to my aunt's house with my sister! This includes about 50 highlights in only a couple of days:

    • Reading The Hunger Games (which I got in Dec. from helping in a Scholastic warehouse) out loud while Kristi drove 8 hours (we also had a nice long, uninterrupted conversation, partly about Notes from the Tilt-a-whirl, which is a rare occurrence when at her house with 5 kids around). This reading also caused us to stay up until 2am even though we got up early to go on a 3 mile hike at Raven Rock.
    • Stopping at SC welcome center for a frolick in the woods. Our legs were satisfactorily stretched, but before we hopped back in the car, Kristi decided to wonder to another section of grass. Reading the sign that it was an area for pets, she cautioned me, "Watch out for dog poop." Seconds later she slid in a fresh blob of it herself.
    • The discovery of the most plush bed as our resting place for two nights at our aunt's.
    • Going yardsaling with the aunt & uncle. We each came away with a little stash of treasure. We also stopped at the Dollar Tree & then off to Trader Joe's. I just tried my orange chicken, & it's delish! :) I also loved the mint ice cream sandwiches. Yum!
    • Then it was time for a swim, a delicious dinner of salmon they caught in Alaska a couple of weeks ago, & the watching of Pride & Prejudice. *Sigh* Yes, a dreamy weekend.
    • On the way home I got to see my new niece for the first time. So tiny! It was good to see the rest of the family, too!
    What are your highlights & lowlights from last week? Can't wait to hear from you!

    Friday, August 5, 2011


    This letter came from an amazing college friend over summer break. She wrote in my yearbook (haha, yes, we did this in college...I loved it because my private school was so small that we didn't have yearbooks) that she had heard that I like writing letters & that she liked writing them, too. She put her London address, making hers one of the most memorable messages in my yearbook. :)
    It was even better since she wrote back.

    Fun Facts about England:
  • Queen Victoria loved Valentine's Day cards. In fact, during her reign, she sent nearly 2500 cards.

  • The English gulp down more tea than anyone else on Earth. Even though Americans enjoy their tea also, the English use about 20 times more.

  • Big Ben is not the name of the entire building that contains the clock. The name is actually what the bell inside the tower is called. The structure is actually called St. Stephen's Tower.
  • Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Prison Ministry

    During the time this letter was written, I was old enough to visit my brother in jail. I remember being a little nervous, but also being very excited because I could talk to him on the little phone through the glass like on tv. It wasn't as great as I'd expected. It was too loud to hear much so lots of the time was spent saying, "What?" or hearing my brother tell the other people to be quiet.

    Also, I remember having taken a field trip with a leadership group in high school. We did a tour of the jail. Now, for a while I'd had this idea that jail might not be so bad because it gave you plenty of time to write & read. Plus, everything is taken care of for you. Naive, I know. But, don't worry, the field trip banished those thoughts. First of all, I love three things that jail doesn't give you: privacy, quiet time, and life outdoors! Some of the people on this trip were afraid of the inmates. Others were waving at their friends in there, lol! I wasn't afraid; I was just uncomfortable & felt sorry for them, even the ones (or especially the ones) who were yelling for us to get out of there. It really made me want to do some prison ministry.

    Writing letters seemed to be the best way for me to do that. That's how I found Christian PenPals & wrote to many prisoners through them (some of which I'll be putting on here later). Although I haven't used this site, I'm sure WriteAPrisoner is another good way to get involved. I'm thinking about trying it myself. It's different in that you see the prisoners' pictures and interests and choose which one you want.

    Anyway, the following is a letter from my brother who is about 7 years older than me, & I love him very much. He's been out of jail for a while & is maintaining a good job. :) He recently got engaged to the amazing Heather, whom we all just love! Thankfully things are looking up in his life from when this letter was written.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    Don't Judge a Book by its Cover: Judge it by my Review ;)

    I finished this book last night, & it made me want to go to the jungle, cry, gag, & see God for who He is, not just who I want Him to be (not necessarily in that order). How many books can you say that about? Since it's a true story, I thought it should have a place on the blog. I had never heard of Bruchko until my sister said she read it to her kids & that I'd probably like it. She never suggests books for me to read since these days she mostly reads stuff about parenting. Or she reads children's books, of course. I don't want to ruin the surprise of the awesomeness contained in this book by giving away the details, so please try to get your hands on a copy & read it for yourself. I don't think you'll regret it; there wasn't a chapter that I wasn't glad I read. I learned so much, & it didn't even feel like studying. It's the kind of stuff you don't usually learn in a classroom. I want a faith like what's shared in the book, & yet the thought of it terrifies me, too.

    Let me know what you think if you read it! :)

    There's a sequel of stories that I hope are equally amazing. I'll have to check it out & let you know. What's your favorite nonfiction book?