Category Archives: 2014 Manifesto

Adios 2014, it’s been real!

It has become a custom to spend a few moments on the last day of December to look over the year and reflect upon it’s adventures.

I started out 2014 with a new amazing job in my field of study which I love. I got a new apartment, and I adopted the most amazing puppy who is a nutcase but also the biggest lovebug. I watched my brother graduate from college, and celebrated for him when he got accepted into a master’s program. I started taking online Sketchbook Skool classes, and from there joined an international group of incredible women in a sketchbook exchange group. I went to several concerts including Brad Paisley, James Taylor, The Backstreet Boys, Steely Dan and Paul McCartney and had a blast at all of them. I participated in the #100HappyDays challenge and posted a picture of something that made me happy each day. I went on a family/friend trip to Branson and I participated in the Color Run in Kansas City. I saw ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘Mamma Mia’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ on stage, and witnessed an old family friend’s beautiful wedding. I got on the big screen for the first time at a Kansas City Royals game with my coworkers, and cheered on my boys in blue in their postseason and World Series run- (we were SO CLOSE!). It was a great year! If you want to see how well I did with the goals on my manifesto this year, click here.

2015 will be all about making a difference- and not just in my own life. It will be about helping others and getting involved in my community- supporting my loved ones and others I don’t even know. So even though I will not have as many consistent blogs this next year (like the Motivational Monday posts) I will still be around posting about all the shenanigans I get up to, and most of my goals when (and if, fingers crossed) I complete them. 😉

Be looking out tomorrow- January 1, 2015, for my new goals for the year! I’m looking forward to the new year full of brand new opportunities and experiences, and my 30th birthday… yikes!! Here’s to the best year yet!

Advertisements

December Vocabulary Words

One of the goals on my 2014 manifesto was to learn a new vocabulary word each day. With the help of daily emails and the Facebook page from Dictionary.com, this goal is super easy to accomplish. These are the words for December:

*All of the images and information are copied directly from the dictionary.com  Facebook page.

“The Last Battle” by C.S. Lewis

 unnamed-12

This year I will read all of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series– five of them, and will complete a goal on my 2014 Manifesto. So curl up with a cup of hot coffee, your fuzzy socks, and a blazing fire, and let’s get reading.

Narnia… where you must say good-bye… and where the adventure begins again. The Unicorn says that humans are brought to Narnia when Narnia is stirred and upset. And Narnia is in trouble now: A false Aslan roams the land. Narnia’s only hope is that Eustace and Jill, old friends to Narnia, will be able to find the true Aslan and restore peace to the land. Their task is a difficult one because, as the Centaur says, “The stars never lie, but Men and Beasts do.” Who is the real Aslan and who is the impostor?

That’s only the beginning. As the aptly named title suggests, this last book in The Chronicles of Narnia series is the end of the old Narnia- and the beginning of the new Narnia.  In the beginning of the book, the ape named Shift persuades his gullible ‘friend’ the donkey named Puzzle into dressing up as Aslan and pretending to be him. In this masquerade he is able to gather a large following and to enslave many of the Narnians. They are destroying Narnia and the last King of Narnia, King Tirian and his friend the unicorn Jewel try to stop them. Events lead to Eustace and Jill being called back from England- and we get a glimpse of Peter, Edmund, Lucy and even Digory and Polly. Edmund and Jill help King Tirian in his quest to expose the plot against the real Aslan which culminates in the last battle.

This book mirrors the story of Revelation in the Bible. We see the climactic ending of the Antichrist’s (the ape’s) reign of terror and Jesus’ (Aslan’s) triumphant return to establish His worldwide kingdom. The main characters mentioned above get to see old friends in the new Narnia, and will live there with Aslan for eternity. Perhaps the most powerful of lines comes at the very end of the book: “And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

‘The Narnia series has a timeless quality, due in no small measure to C.S. Lewis’ unstinting willingness to use his stories as vehicles for Christian theology. Their power to uplift as well as to entertain, unrivaled in children’s literature, make them genuinely worthy of inclusion in the home library of any Christian.’ I have genuinely enjoyed reading each of these books. I recommend every one of them- read in order of course. 😉 I’m very thankful that C.S. Lewis has other bodies of work that I can now read!

How to Plant a Succulent Garden

One of my 2014 Manifesto goals was to nurture my green thumb more this year. Last year I tried my hand at creating a terrarium. This year I re-did my terrarium, created another one, and started a succulent garden. Succulent gardens are easy to put together, and require minimal upkeep. It resides in my kitchen window nooks so the plants get plenty of sunlight.

In this post I’ll share with you how I put together my succulent garden. It’s a beginner’s stab at it, but several months later they are thriving!

1. Visit your local garden center and collect the supplies you will need. A pot or container, charcoal, cactus and succulent soil mix, the plants themselves, and any decorative items you wish to add.

1

2. My container has drainage holes so I do not need to worry about including gravel or another type of crushed stone to absorb water. After the drainage layer (if you need one), add the charcoal – this will help keep the soil fresh.

2

3. Add the soil. Succulents grow best in a soil made specially for them. There are different colors of soil available, but in the end it will all mix together and not matter at all which kind you choose.

4

4. Take the succulents out of their pots and mix their soil in with yours.

5

5. Plant the succulents. The plants I chose are (in front) Sempervivum Cebenese (back left) Echeveria and (back right) Senecio Scaposus.

7

6. Add any decorations you wish. I added lava rocks and a dried skull to play on the dessert theme.

9

7. Water the plants after you are done. Succulents only need watering about once a month, but get the 411 about the plants you purchase from the garden center workers. They are a wealth of information!

10

I have enjoyed nurturing my green thumb this year, and plan on continuing into 2015!

To see more items on my 2014 manifesto click here. You can also see my 2012 manifesto2013 manifesto and my bucket list.

The Notre Dame Cathedral – in Gingerbread!

unnamed-11

About this time last year my brother asked me if I wanted to make the Notre Dame Cathedral out of gingerbread for Christmas 2014. Of course I agreed, it had been years since I had built one- but back in 4-H I was made one a year for auction with my foods group for a long time. So I’ve missed it- the tradition, the smells, the ‘Christmasy’ feeling…

Little did I know what I was getting into.

I had forgotten just how much WORK an actual gingerbread house is- especially one with a custom pattern. It took around 25-30 hours to complete – spread over a few weeks.

So, without further ado- I present the making of my Notre Dame Gingerbread Cathedral- tips and tricks included:

The first thing to do was to design the pattern for each of the gingerbread pieces. To do this I used card stock, basically just eyeballing pictures of the cathedral- using the paper to create the basic shapes. This is a representation, not an exact reproduction. Once you get the paper house, or ‘cathedral’ then you are ready to go:

Take your paper creation apart and get organized- make sure to label each piece as you deconstruct the paper creation with a number. This number correlates to a sketch showing the location of that piece which references the number. Never have a piece by itself not attached to a number, at any stage of the build. Believe me this will  be very beneficial for your mental health. Once you have all of the pieces taken apart and labeled, you can get even more organized for them to become gingerbread pieces. For example, my piles were the ‘ready to go’, also the ‘ready to go (but a window will need to be cut out)’, and the pieces that I would need to make rounded, (We’ll get to that later.) I ended up with 46 pieces altogether.

6

Time to make the gingerbread! After making it all I realized I actually made a a ‘light’ version of gingerbread. A.K.A. no molasses or ginger is involved. However it was very easy to make and work with.

The line up for one batch (and this project took 3): 9 cups of all-purpose flour, 2 cups of light corn syrup, 1 1/4 cups margarine, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar, You can double or triple the recipe, but I made it in my biggest bowl and that could only handle one at a time… so unless you have a monster bowl, then I would take it one batch at a time.

9

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, heat the corn syrup, brown sugar and margarine until the margarine has melted and the sugar has dissolved completely. Stir until smooth.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the syrup-sugar-margarine mixture, making sure it’s cool enough to hand knead the dough until it is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Wrap the dough in plastic and let it rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.

Roll out the dough 1/4-thick onto a sheet of parchment or foil to fit your baking pan. Lightly flour the patterns and fit them onto the dough. For clean edges, cut them with a pizza wheel. When you place the cut dough onto the baking sheets make sure to write the piece’s number on the paper to keep track of it. Bake 15 minutes or until the pieces are firm and lightly browned around the edges. Cool completely before removing from the pans. Unless you want to make a rounded piece of gingerbread…

If you want to make a rounded piece of gingerbread then right after you take the piece out of the oven *carefully* and quickly take it off of the parchment with a spatula or other utensil and oven mitts and place it on an old rolled up poster or other rounded object. It may crack just a little, but you will get the desired effect.

22

Once the pieces have cooled you’re ready to put them together! To make the frosting, beat together 1 pound of powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 3 egg whites. Beat them until you can make peaks in the frosting that do not fall over. Be patient, it can take a long time!

To make the stained glass windows we crushed up lifesavers candy and placed the pieces in the window openings of the gingerbread pieces which were on a baking sheet with parchment paper (labeled). Bake in the oven for about 2-5 minutes at 350 degrees while keeping a close eye on them. This will cut down on the weight of the structure. If putting in a stained glass window on a curved piece just crush the candy pieces on their own on the parchment paper and when still warm enough to manipulate, frost onto the piece.

Now it’s time to put the gingerbread pieces together! With this frosting, if you frost the bottom and the sides that should hold the pieces well, but you can always use a glass or can or another sturdy object to hold up the pieces if needed. After constructing the pieces together, go crazy with decorating!

I had a great time working on this project, and fulfilling a goal on my list for this year! Check out the finished product:

Check out my other goals for 2014 here, as well as my 2013 manifesto and my 2012 manifesto.

New Day – Motivational Monday!

Welcome to Motivational Monday! A safe space to lay it all out on the table- no one is perfect, and every one needs a boost now and again. What time is better than on Monday, that sunny little bright spot of the week? Pull up a chair, keep an open mind, and let’s start this week right!

We did it! We made it to the last Monday of 2014 which is also the last Motivational Monday post! The thought today is this- with the New Year’s eve coming up and with that all the resolutions and the feeling of renewal- why don’t we strive to feel and act that way every day? Yes, the start of a new year is a good time to reflect and look toward the future… but every new day is a new chance to change your path and your attitude.

So today, every day, and for the new year, keep this in mind:

You are your own person and you are needed in this world. You have so much to give and you are loved. Be yourself because everyone else is taken. Be adventurous, be brave, and be kind. Work hard, stay humble, and never give up. Life is too short and too precious to have a bad attitude. Grudges are a waste of time and happiness. Laugh when you can and apologize when you should, and let go of what you can’t change. Strive to do your best and you can always be proud.

Happy Monday, and Happy New Year!

 

“The Silver Chair” by C.S. Lewis

unnamed-10

This year I will read all of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series– five of them, and will complete a goal on my 2014 Manifesto. So curl up with a cup of hot coffee, your fuzzy socks and a blazing fire, and let’s get reading.

Narnia… where owls are wise, where some of the giants like to snack on humans, where a prince is put under an evil spell… and where the adventure begins. Eustace and Jill escape from the bullies at school through a strange door in the wall, which, for once, is unlocked. It leads to the open moor… or does it? Once again Aslan has a task for the children, and Narnia needs them. Through dangers untold and caverns deep and dark, they pursue the quest that brings them face to face with the evil Witch. She must be defeated if Prince Rilian is to be saved.

The Silver Chair follows The Voyage of the Dawn Treader with Prince Caspian as an old man, although Eustace has seen barley any time go by at all. Eustace and Jill learn that Prince Caspian’s wife met a terrible fate by a serpent – and that their son, Prince Rilian disappeared in his attempt to avenge her. Aslan needs the children to go on a journey to rescue the prince, as Caspian is nearing the end of his life without another heir. After Jill talks to Aslan and is given tasks to accomplish, and signs to remember, they show in the crowd of Narians just in time to see Prince Caspian leaving on a ship. With their first task bungled- ‘to greet [an old and dear friend] and if he does they will have good help.’ Eustace did not recognize Caspian in his old age, and Jill didn’t make the first task clear enough to him.

The second task is that they ‘must journey out of Narnia to the north till [they] come to the ruined city of the ancient giants. The third task is that they shall find writing on a stone in the ruined city, and they must do what the writing tells them. The fourth is that they will know the lost prince (if they find him) by this, that he will be the first person they have met in their travels who will ask them to do something in His name, in the name of Aslan.’ They start out on their journey and team up with Puddleglum, a Marshwiggle. They journey through giant country for a long, difficult time- until they reach a home that they believe holds friendly giants (as they were told by a passing queen), but in reality the giants plan on cooking them up and eating them.

After escaping from the giants they manage to literally fall into the Deep Realm, into a place called the Underland. This is where the Queen of the Deep Realm (who was the one that directed them to unknowingly become giant snacks) has kept Prince Rilian captive against his will for ten years with the aid of an enchanted chair. In the end, the chair is destroyed, the group escapes, and Prince Rilian makes it back to Narnia just in time for Caspian to bless him before he dies. The children find themselves back in Aslan’s land where they get to see Caspian again who is young again.

The major theme in The Silver Chair concerns following truth – the signs from Aslan- versus following falsehood which often appears to be true. Examples of false appearances include the disguise of the witch, the duplicity of the gentle giants, and the children’s misreading of the gnomes in Underland- whom they assume are after them following the demise of the evil witch, but were actually also under an enchantment she cast. Other themes include the image of Jesus/Aslan as the Living Water offering relief to our thirst, us laying down selfish pride, and Jesus/Aslan’s resurrection.