Friday, August 29, 2008

living simply

Between a course on spiritual disciplines, living around Portlanders and liberal Christians, and eventually coming to Fuller I've had a lot of ways of living simply suggested to me. Somehow I thought, oh, I know what that means, and I'm just seeing what fits into my lifestyle. But I'm realizing there is still a whole new world waiting out for me regarding learning how to live green and to be responsible as a consumer. Even this week I learned that nail polish and lipstick are very chemically, which means bad for the environment and bad for your body.

In the past month we have been learning to do things more simply. This started with a dry period of time (didn't get the taxes back, APU didn't pull through on Donovan's raise, etc) but turned into a sort of game for Donovan and I. How much fun could we have on how little money? What was really a "need" in our lives? We quickly realize, there are LOTS of things we waste money on. Here are a few key ones for us:
1. Coffee trips. Making coffee at home with good ingredients tastes just as good, if not better, and usually can make more than 15 servings at the price of about 4 cups from the coffee shops. Savings #1, check!
2. Planning grocery trips instead of buying spontaneously when we get there. We had twice as many dinners and lots of healthy food after planning and sticking to our list and we spent $75 for the week instead of $100. Of course we didn't have pre packaged food, we limited our meats, and we had no candy.... but our bodies thanked us for these changes. Alright!
3. Just not doing the extra things... cutting back. No meals out, no unneccessary additions to our Target bag, no "shopping" for fun. It seems restrictive and un-fun, but really, it makes you feel a sense of pride that you're being more thoughtful about how you are spending your hard earned dollars. No more status quo... check!
4. Drive less, bike more, walk when you can. Save on gas, parking meters and lots, tickets, insurance, maintenance, the list goes on and on!
5. Spending less on the expensive entertainment culture in Pasadena takes a bit more thinking, but in the end, a lot of times it's a lot more fun! We went to free concerts, shared movies with friends, walked instead of went out for dinner, and played together (lawn bowling, swimming, etc). Being more intentional about not spending money on entertainment was actually more fun. Sweet!

So take a chance, do something different than those around you... embrace a concept of living simply. Hey, you might already have to because of your wallet, but at least you will be more at peace in your mind. Instead of thinking, gosh, my friends have all these great things and I have nothing... you can think, gee, I'm so grateful to have a nurishing meal on the table and a roof over my head. So many people in the world can't say that today, so be grateful if you can.

shout out

Thank you Martha Stewart. You rock my world.

Here is a recipe that made my week. I hope you enjoy it too!

I'm eating the leftover for lunch right now. Yum yum.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

a miracle has happened!

When I started writing this blog I was writing that our taxes still haven't been processed and how it has caused some emotional and financial woes in our household. Yes, we filed before April 15, and no, we still haven't gotten our taxes processed. We have had several trip ups along the way including being really stressed, arguing about whether to do it personally or professionally, getting them in just before the deadline, making a mistake on our first submission, not knowing what to do when we didn't hear back from the IRS, and resubmitting them on our own only to have them denied again. Over coffee I told my friend Robin from church about all of these things that are happening and she said that Len, her husband, could help us. He's a tax man :)

Len and Robin really rescued us from big trouble. Total, including the kicker checks we should be getting almost two thousand dollars back. But because we didn't submit them properly the first time we almost lost the possibility of getting a kicker check! Yikes! Plus they saved us from killing each other because we were both getting pretty stressed about the idea of the money never coming.

Len just called a few minutes ago and he said that he was able to process our taxes! Yea! Len is a miracle worker when it comes to taxes; he even processed them a different way and got us more money than we knew possible! Thanks Len! He also acted on our behalf and worked out all the kinks with our original submission so that we can get the kicker check. Praise God!

This has really shown us what a blessing it can be to live within a church that cares for and prays with you, works together with their skills to help others in need, teaches others, mentors, dialogues and waits patiently, and practices the life of Jesus Christ in relationship to one another. What a good reminder of God's love! He cares for us and understands and hears our cries even regarding our tax problems and our financial burdens. Thanks God, that's great.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dear bike...

here are the top 10 reasons why I love you, bike. you make the world a better place.

1. When it's hot outside you make me move through the city so fast and alleviate my tender Oregonian skin from scorching in the heat
2. When I am late, I can hop on you and you get me there on time
3. When I go to work I don't have to stop to get a parking ticket because it's free to park your bike
4. When I'm SUPER late, I don't even have to take the time to go downstairs and park you, I can just bring you right into the building... you can't do that with a car!
5. you require no gas, have no carbon footprint, and therefore you greatly improve the well being of all those in LA
6. you are a conversation starter in a city where people rarely talk to strangers
7. you help me stop and smell the rosies because everything is so much more raw and real when you are on a bike... the wind in your hair, the sun on your face
8. you were $25! what a bargain. one of the most price effective choices I've made since moving to expensive southern california
9. riding on a bike sure beats being on a bus and having awkward conversations or hearing a loud roar for the whole ride
10. no gas, no insurance, few repairs, little maintenance... you help me save money!

I love you, bike.

recent readings

Lately I've really been into reading and discovering more about the crisis in northern Uganda. It all started by reading the book Girl Soldier. You can read my recent facebook note if you're interested more in what my thoughts are regarding that.

My newest book is Jesus for President. I've just started reading it, but it looks like it is a real good read. I always assess the books I read and if they are really good I send them to Lou Foltz, a friend of mine at Warner Pacific College and suggest he use them in his Psychology of Religion class. We'll see if this one hits the recommendation list. It has pictures in it, but don't be scared... it's basically encouraging Christians to have a new imagination for what faith and life looks like instead of following our American culture blindly. So I'm guessing the pictures go hand in hand with the imagination of a new way of thinking. So far I'm really liking the totally new format to the book. I will have to keep you updated as I read it. This is my favorite quote thus far,
"Most of the ugliness in the human narrative comes from a distorted quest to possess beauty. Coveting begins with appreciating blessings. Murder begins with a hunger for justice. Lust beins with a recognition of beauty. Gluttony begins when our enjoyment of the delectable gifts of God starts to consume us. Idolatry begins when our seeing a reflection of God in something beautiful leadds to our thinking that the beautiful image bearer is worthy of our worship."
This short segment created for me such an image of the superficiality I can have sometimes, it was all too revealing of my sinful human nature in such a short paragraph.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


This weekend we had a fun time with our neighbors playing Rock Band and different games on the Wii. Here are some photos of some summer fun with our friends from our apartment complex.....

This weekend we had a fun time with our neighbors playing Rock Band and different games on the Wii. Here are some photos of us having some summer fun with our friends in our complex...

Dustin is so excited about the game right now that he can't even stop to eat... this is him asking Kendra for a bite while he's mid-game time...

Yesterday Donovan and I took another LA walking tour. For those of you who don't know... we bought a package of tours that you can take through LA that describes historic buildings and modern sights, it's really fun. We went to USC for the first time and walked around the campus and surrounding area. It is very beautiful. We took a picture of USC's oldest building, the Alumni House, it was built in the 1880's. I was surprised by the adjacent rose gardens, museums, and that the Olympics have been held there twice! The rose gardens go on forever and there are several fountains and cute areas to sit. It's very romantic. If you haven't been and live in LA, you should try it! It's free :)

Donovan has been working on the art of cookie making this weekend too. This is his second batch in two weeks. Here are some pics of his wonderful creation. They were what we made for our church snack this week. Mountainside... we love you SO MUCH. And Donovan, you have skills. Mad skills. Thanks to Tracy for teaching him all that you did about cookie making!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Recently our neighbors moved out of Beth Re'im, which is the apartment complex we live in within Fuller housing. We miss them so much! They were a family of five and we had lots of good times together. Now we are the only residents on the outside of the complex. I hope someone moves in soon to join us! But, no matter who it is, it won't fill the special place in our hearts for Will, Rachel, William, Dante, and Adam.

Adam used to come over to our place and play Yahtzee. He knows how awesome it is, which makes him a very smart three year old. Sometimes we also played Rummikub or Loaded Qs... not the traditional way of course, because rules are hard to communicate to a three year old. If we didn't lock our front door, he would just walk in. If we did lock our door you could hear Adam outside with a cheerful voice "hey guys! I'm right here! open the door!"

They moved out last Friday. I really miss seeing the boys regularly and catching Rachel at the mailbox or the laundry room and talking to Will about bikes. They were the only family with kids that I really knew in our complex, and it feels kinda sad now that they are gone.

...Yet it's also nice to sit in my underwear at my computer and not be afraid that a little boy is going to walk into my living room... unless I lock myself in.

I've been thinking about loss a lot lately (because of my work and life events) and realize that it is almost always bittersweet like that.

Monday, August 18, 2008

fun happenings

Betty, Megan, Jeanne, Jackie, Helen and I decided to have a little get together at the beach this weekend. It was really fun. We ate the best cupcakes in the world... at Sprinkles of course, walked around Fashion Island a bit, went to the pier for dinner at Ruby's, and chatted all evening long as we road tripped together. It was really fun! Last time we all went to the beach together we looked at the pet shop in the mall (I know, pet shops are the devil, but it doesn't hurt to love on the little guys, does it?) so we went again this time. I took a picture of a really cute group of puppies all laying on each other. I'm still waiting to get a dog. I think we're officially waiting until sometime next year when we feel more settled in our new city with our new jobs. I've decided that I would like to get a Golden Retriever, although I have done much researching and deliberating about this subject. I have also enjoyed Viszlas, but I just don't think we have the energy for those dogs.
When we were at the pier was funny to see Betty trying to take pictures with my iPhone, so I've posted one of the many funny pictures that she took of us on the pier while she was trying to figure it out. Lol! I really like the group pictures too... you ladies look like supermodels with your hair in the wind like that! Wowweee!
My last picture is of the wishing trees that we saw in One Colorado on the night we went out with our complex to 21 Choices. I didn't get any pictures of our dinner together at the complex, but this is to remember that very fun night together getting to know others in our complex. It was fun to write wishes of our own and add them to the wishing trees. I won't completely give it away, but my wish had something to do about my dad. I love you, dad!

our yard!

An update on our yard situation....

it's beautiful! I can't wait for Lewis and Ruby to come home, so one reason I'm posting this is to show them what they're missing out on! Just kidding guys, I know you're having a great time in Oregon... it's the most beautiful state!

But really, our yard looks awesome now, and it almost makes up for the 2+ month period where we had a lot of chaos happening outside of our front door. They were working so hard this weekend to make it happen, they were even here on Saturday AND Sunday to finish the job. Good work, guys! And it's not turf! Way to go Fuller! Maybe we can sit on it and have a picnic or a barbecue someday when the sod is finished settling. I'm so excited!

Saturday, August 16, 2008


We should call this the blog for transportation issues!...

Today we drove for 1.5 hours and then headed to the shop to get our Smog Check.... turns out we failed. Horribly.

So we came home and tried to apply for the incentive program. The program was set up so people could get a $1000 incentive for retiring their cars that don't pass the smog check in California. This also included repair cost coverage for those who are under a certain gross income, if that was preferred by the car owner. Unfortunately we found out that although they sent us a flier this week regarding the incentive, they discontinued the program as of 7/31/08 because Schwarzenegger is... well... confused about priorities. Maybe not confused, as they were never his priorities in the first place, but his recent bill is more than disappointing to us at this point. As Donovan says, both the poor and environmentalism are not top on his list. I liked the quote I heard one state worker say in response to Schwarzenegger's cuts to state worker's wages down to federal wages: he's rich, so he don't know what it's like to get your wages cut like that, it means we won't have food on the table. I feel you, lady, I feel you.

So we're brainstorming right now what we will do. Becoming a zero car household is one of the thoughts we have kicked around for a while, and now may just be the greatest time to make it happen. We'll see. LA is a very car central place, so it may be difficult.

In other news we're having a very fun and local weekend. Tonight we'll go to the Indian Dinner night with our apartment complex, Beth Re'im. I'll try to take some pictures. We're watching the Olympics on our new TV that we got from Kacy, catching up with friends, and possibly going to another concert in the park. We missed the farmer's market due to the car situation :( but we want to go next weekend.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

the bike and I: a love/hate relationship

Today when I was biking to the gym I noticed a little drag on my tire like it was braking, only I wasn't trying to brake. I thought that it was surely because I got in a bike accident this spring and have had problems because the front rim was damaged.

After the gym I hopped back on the trusty bike. I have to admit, I'm not really sure why this is, but I've stopped wearing a helmet. I think it has something to do with it being way too hot for me in this city and the fact that most of my bike trips are on my way to work... it's just not cool showing up to see a client with helmet hair. How unprofessional! Plus, although local Pasadenans have told me that helmet laws in LA include adults, I have seen many-a bike riders on the sidewalks without helmets riding to and fro. So I figure I will ride slow and stay on the sidewalks (I know, I know, UNSAFE! that's where I was hit by a car) and like pedestrians I will not wear a helmet. So far so good. Until today...

My brakes felt very touchy. It scared me because I felt like I might go flying over the handle bars... hence the thoughts about my reckless non helmet wearing for fashion purposes!

I stopped at the City Hall to pay bills and hopped on my bike once again. Only this time, the back tire was immobile. It took me a good two minutes to realize that somehow the back brake had collapsed on the tire. I still haven't figured out what it was that made it happen to the brake system, but I will tell you this: my bike and I have a very love/hate relationship, it takes a lot of ups and downs, and my bike is relatively bipolar in nature. This is just one anecdote to prove this and document it for the world to see. Let's see if I take YOU back to Portland, you stinky bike.

So for the afternoon I punished my bike by leaving it in the courtyard unlocked to see if anyone would steal it. Of course, they would have to carry it, as I had to when I walked home from City Hall (so much for yoga and relaxation!). You can see how I contribute to this relationship... both my bike and I act out at times. Just kidding... the real reason why I didn't take it back was because just another 200 ft of carrying that bike in the heat through locked doors seemed impossible to me.

Someday when I'm feeling nicer about my bike, I will tell you why I love it, not just why I hate it.

What I did gain from this experience was a nice chat with a Jamaican who was working at Hutch's BBQ, a local spot that we've never been to and are a little scared of (a restaurant that's always open but never has people in it!), and he was kind enough to ask why I was carrying my bike and demonstrate for me how to hold it without effort ... he made it look way too easy! I might even go to Hutch's because he seemed so nice. I also gained a conversation with a worker I see around Fuller often but have never chatted with, and a lot of stares!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

first blog ever

I'm jumping into the world of blogging for two reasons. One is because both Ruby and Jen have blogged and have inspired me or encouraged me to blog. They are both beautiful, creative, caring, insightful women, and I want to be like them when I grow up!

Secondly, I want to start blogging so I can stay in touch with the two loving communities that we are at home in, both our community in Portland and our community in the LA area. We love you all so much and are so grateful to have people like you in our lives. We often wish that we could have both communities in the same place, we feel at home with all of you! And... let's be honest... I need this too as a way of transitioning into this new phase of life that is coming up. I'm always thinking about transition and termination and how to do it well :)

The purpose of this blog will be to share the daily events of life with family, friends, and our church body while we are near or far so we can stay in touch. I'm modeling it after what I have seen on Ruby and Lewis' site... just fun things that happen from day to day that are worth celebrating and sharing. So, in light of my new blog and it's focus on ordinary life events, I will share with you the long process we have been going through to get a normal-looking front yard.

As many of you know, several weeks ago a large tree fell that was on the property right in front of our apartment. Fortunately for us, it fell away from the building. Unfortunately for the owner of the van, it fell onto the street and was held up by this mini van. The day was different and an exciting distraction from important things, such as finals and homework. As a result of the tree falling, a long process of construction ensued and have been coming and going for almost two months now, between city workers, policemen, stump grinders, the pavement company, and now lawn maintenance.

The day after the first tree fell I realized an endearing little path through our yard and it reminded me of an author from one of my theology classes that talked about unexpected human made paths that pop up in response to a changing event. A few days later our yard was chaotic, broken plants here, mud spots there and a sprinkler head that had been tweaked and shot into our front door if we had it open when the sprinklers were on. We called maintenance and asked if the sprinklers could be turned off because they were making a mess out of the non existent lawn and added that we would like them to plant grass if possible because we want to use it as a porch area (a big request here at Fuller). Weeks later (that brings us up to yesterday) maintenance came and ever since it has been a 24/7 fiesta! The workers enjoy singing, festive music, long lunch breaks, and chillin on my front porch. It's like a holiday that I've never celebrated before... it just kinda lands in your lap and you go with the flow. So in honor of this unknown holiday I'm eating fajitas for lunch today and taking a long lunch break.

Here are some pictures of the lawn as it is now. We will both find out in the coming days (hopefully not weeks!) what it turns out to be... grass or maybe something else.