ringing in the new year.

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. vs. 25

I don’t particularly like New Years Resolutions. Most of the time, I feel stressed out to accomplish them and then whenever I don’t accomplish it, I feel guilty. Why start the year putting all of these expectations on myself? However, I do like having yearly goals. You may be thinking, “Isn’t that the same thing?” Well, in my mind, not exactly. These are things that I want to fill 2012 with. Things I want to do, things I want to learn, and things I want to own/buy. When December 31, 2012 comes around and it is time to do another “yearly goal” list; if I didn’t buy one of the items I wanted to buy or  learn something I wanted to learn, then I can simply decide it’s not something I need to do or I can try to do it the next year. See the difference? Less pressure. It’s good to have life goals.  A resolution can definitely be a goal, but I just don’t like to feel like I HAVE to do it or else I failed. Not for me. So anyway, I am ringing in the New Year with my yearly goals. I hope that throughout my blogging experience in  2012, I can look back at this regularly and then blog about how that goal was met, accomplished, or I decided it wasn’t worth it.

In the year 2012…


Things I want to do:

Spend time with Jesus in the morning hours.

Work out in the mornings regularly rather than just sometimes mornings, sometimes evenings, and sometimes not at all.

Get out of bed when my alarm goes off..the first time.

Don’t be a stressed out bridezilla on my wedding day or any time before.

Make Kaleb happy by having spontaneous surprises for him.

Cook more delcicious-looking & delcious-tasting food.

Start making homemade soap and washing detergent.

Read a book of the Bible from start to finish that I haven’t completely read through yet.

Get engaged in a really good show on netflix and watch all of the series (like Lost..I am almost finished!)

Fully enjoy graduate school…and not just be anxious to graduate and start  “real life.” (be content)

Become more fluent in German.

Things I want to learn:

Learn how to sew.

Learn how to restore old furniture. Like Vintage Junky does.

Learn how to do a fishtail braid. Like this.

Learn how to play violin better (summer goal when I only have one class).

Things I want to own:

A puppy…one as cute as this will do 😉

A vintage chandelier (so far, I haven’t found one under $250..I am determined to find one WAY cheaper.)

Vintage electronics for Kaleb’s soon-to-be office.

A craft room/office that looks as cute as this…

A white Christmas tree… (I am allergic to real Christmas trees and I LOVE the white ones)


P.s.- The highlight of 2012: I am getting married to my favorite man in the whole universe!!!

Yep, that deserves 3 exclamation points.

Tell me: what are you most excited about for 2012?

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gift idea for a friend.

She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. vs. 17

My friend Jordan is one of my favorite people to hang out with. About two weeks ago we went on a road trip, and she was talking about how her birthday was coming up. Then we got in a conversation about organization. She said, “Sarah, you are one of the most organized people I know.” Hmmmm what I compliment! But I often wonder why I get coined the “organized one.” I like organization; however, I am far from being perfect in that area. Either way, I liked that she said that. AND THEN she asked me if I would be interested organizing her closet. So we decided that one of her birthday gifts would be for me to come over, give her some tips, and organize her double closets and make them look like a piece of art.

On Tuesday night, we went to TJ Maxx and got a lot of organizational tools. (Basically, she got a shoe rack, a sweater rack, and a “as seen on tv” vacuum bag).

Then on Thursday, I went to her house…she cooked me lunch and while I was eating she looked at my sewing machine (which is messed up….whew! It’s not the machine operator that’s the problem, it’s the machine! what a relief. p.s.- I like to tell myself that to make myself feel better; however, the machine operator still doesn’t know how to use or fix the machine. So that’s only partially true. But you know what? I’m not givin’ up!)

After that, we tackled the closets.

BEFORE:

Making progress…

Let me tell you about these “as seen on tv” vacuum bags. When Jordan first picked them up, I was thinking, “Why are you looking at vacuum bags right now? We are looking for organizational items!” Then I realized what they do!

You put something like clothes in them (like maybe your off-season clothes), and then you hook the vacuum up to this little suction nozzle. Turn on the vacuum.  Then it’s kinda like a miracle..it’s sucks every bit of air out of it.

It’s really more fun if you fist pump and yell when it is happening…

It looks like this when you are done…

Ok. You ready to see the after?!

……………you sure?

TA DA!

I was trying to be a combination between the Mad Hatter & Vanna White…you think it worked?

All joking aside, look at her closets!


So, if you want to give a good gift to a friend, organize her closets. I offered to do it all myself; however, she insisted on helping which was awesome. More than anything, this 4-5 hour organizing event turned into a really fun hang out time. And I think that any friend really appreciates time. In a busy society like ours, I think giving time is one of the best gifts you can give.

craft room.

Today was an eventful day. I woke up and started another sewing project. I worked on it for about 2 hours…and I got nothing done. I tried sewing a pillow, one like the other day, just larger. For some reason everything went wrong. First, I started out oiling the machine by the bobbin. Then I cut my fabric and decided to sew. The needle got stuck probably 5 times. Then my thread kept coming loose. I would sew an edge, and then it would tear apart easily. Everything went wrong. I was losing patience and getting frustrated. So I decided to stop for the day.

Later I thought that I should at least get something accomplished so I went to look for a sewing table. This past week I had already went go to the Good Will and Thrift Shop in Carbondale probably 3 times a piece and didn’t find anything. So I took a little road trip to Murphysboro. I got further frustrated by the high prices in the downtown antique shops. They have things that I want but I can’t have. As I was driving back to Carbondale, I prayed that God would help me. Just help. Give me patience and help me not to give up. I really want to learn to sew, and I really want to have a neat little space to do it in.

Before I went home, I decided to stop by the Thrift Shop once again. Nothing. Then I thought I should go to the Good Will because you never know…someone may have gotten rid of a table in the past day and decided to donate it.

I walked to the back where the furniture is. I glanced to the right, and there it was. A sewing machine cart. And a cool-looking one at that. I was like seriously?! Someone JUST donated this to the Good Will?

It is neat because it is on wheels and whenever the door is closed it looks like this:

THEN there is a leaf on the left side. Whenever you open the left door, it has a latch that attached to the leaf and looks like this…

Then whenever you sew, you can have your feet in there pressing on the pedal.

So I called my lovely fiancé, ecstatic about my find. I asked him if he would be able to help me pick it up and bring it to my apartment. He agreed and was thrilled about it…


Can’t you tell? hehe

So the room I am making into a craft room is the hallway/laundry room right as you walk into my apartment (before you walk into the living space). I am not finished with it by any means. But here is what it looked like before…


As we were moving it in…

My craft room after… (a work in progress)


Look for upcoming posts to see what I do to it! Any ideas? I would love to hear from you!

The day started out very irritating for me; however, I decided to keep my head up and not give up. The best moment was after Kaleb helped me move it up the stairs, he hugged me, and said that he believed in me. He said that I shouldn’t expect to be an amazing sewer right now but that he knows that one day I will be. He said he was proud of me. Gosh, that was worth it all. What I felt like a failure was just another try. And I am going to keep trying until I get it right.

the stylist.

“She makes her own bedspreads.” vs. 22b

I knew the day was coming. I have been anticipating it for many years now.  What day might you ask?

The day that I knew I needed to learn to sew. I had always imagined it being me forcing myself to learn to sew on a button, hem pants,  or make a pillow so I could be that mom/wife who is a superhero and can fix anything. But you know what? The exact opposite happened. Yes, the day did come. I felt this overwhelming feeling of needing to sew. But I really WANTED to sew. I desired it so badly and couldn’t wait until I could get a sewing machine and actually put that needle on that fabric for the first time.

I can tell Jesus is changing things in my heart. He is preparing me to be the woman He designed me to be.

So first step:

Get a sewing machine.

I was concerned about spending a lot of money on a sewing machine and all of the materials I needed with it. Well, Cyndie, Kaleb’s step-mom, gave me her grandmother’s vintage machine for free.

Isn’t she a beauty? A Singer Stylist 457. On Christmas Eve, I brought it to my parent’s house, and my mom and dad were both showing me how to get started. However, the needle was stuck. Cyndie told me that she wasn’t sure if it worked, but that it was mine to have either way. What a blessing. So I am going to take it to a shop and see if they can fix it. I really want it to be the sewing machine I use. But for the time being, my mom said I can have/use hers. I have amazing, giving moms in my life.

This one’s a beauty too!

Step two:

Learn how to use a sewing machine.

This is an on-going process. But my momma showed me some basics. I brought over some scrap fabric for us to practice on…


Step three:

Be brave, and try a little project.

I have been really, really badly wanting to make pillows. So we had fabric but no stuffing…so we took some cotton balls from the bathroom…and made a tiny pillow.

This is by no means a tutorial because I am not a sewer extraordinaire yet. However, I learned that to sew a pillow you cut out two pieces of fabric the same size, put them together with the fabric side touching each other (like inside out), sew three sides, reverse it to be outside in, pin the last side, then hand stitch that last side.

My mom was enjoying taking pictures…

Hand stitching the last side…

Step four:

Look at what you made (no matter how imperfect or small) and smile.

I know, it’s just a tiny pillow. However, I felt accomplished. And I decided it can be a little doggie pillow/toy (until they tear it up that is)…so I set it on my roommate Dria’s bed…as a Christmas present for her puppy, Millie.

I am so excited to continue learning how to sew. Are there any simple projects that you could help me with or recommend? I would love your feedback!

treasure hunting.

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. vs. 10

One time Kaleb and I were playing a relationship game with two other couples. They asked a question like, “Kaleb, what is Sarah’s favorite thing to do on her day off?” His answer was…”Organizing and cleaning her house.” (which by the way, does bring me great joy)…. However, my actual answer was spontaneously go to thrift stores, antique shops, etc…the whole day.

Today was one of those days. Except this one was an estate sale. This is whenever someone passes away, and the family opens up their home to sell their possessions to the public.

I like this for two reasons:

1. I feel like I learn a lot about the person who is now deceased….

(for example, today my friend Jordan found a newspaper that was framed from the 1800’s whenever George Washington became the first President of the United States….how neat is that! It may have been passed down to this lady  for a few generations. Either way Jordan and I had a good conversation trying to figure out why that was in her home. Then she bought it for her husband’s vintage-style office as a surprise for him).

2. It’s a treasure hunt.

I probably walked in each room at least 10 times and every time I saw something new I didn’t see before.

AND they let you open their cabinets, drawers, everything (if it’s not already laid out)…and if you are patient… you will almost always find a treasure.

I have been going to these for probably a few years now, but more recently have I really been appreciating them.

So today, we took a road trip an hour and a half away to small-town Mcleansboro, Illinois. And by we I mean Jordan, Laura, and myself…

Enthusiastic? Probably an understatement. We were stoked.

So here are the treasures I found…

An oil lamp. We will be changing the top of it to a clear glass, and then putting it on our guest table at the wedding.


An antique dial phone.  I want to display this in our home someday. And Kaleb said, “If nothing else, our daughters could play with it.” That melted my heart. What a guy.


A mustard colored vase. The color makes this a jewel to me.

A tart warmer. I light candles so much in my apartment, and they burn so quickly. Jordan highly recommended this to me. She said that is makes your home smell amazing. I am excited about trying it.


It has a light bulb in the back of it to warm the tart that you place on top.


Mason jars. These are also for the wedding. I am collecting them as I see them. They also make good drinking glasses while waiting for our big day.

So I got all of that at the estate sale for under $20. I feel like it was a steal.

Then whenever I went through Harrisburg,  I stopped to see my friend Kim. She gave me my Christmas present….


What a nice surprise! My friends Jordan and Abbie have a company called LilyWhite Designs, and they make bags like this and all other handmade items. I haven’t gotten a new bag in a few years. So I was very happy to receive this. A great Christmas present indeed.

Finding all those treasures was definitely great today; however it wasn’t the highlight of the day. Spending 3 hours with those two gals in the car was by far the best part. There wasn’t one moment we didn’t have something to talk about. And the conversation was so uplifting and meaningful. Treasure hunting is fun, but it was even better because I could use it as a way to hang out with two of the best women I know, learn from them, and grow closer to our Maker together.

soup warms the soul.

“She…provides food for her household” vs. 15b

Today I felt like eating soup. It was warm and cozy in my apartment and cold outside, so soup sounded perfect. And I just happened to have leftovers from the asian salad I made the other day. So, I threw a bunch of things together and made soup for me and my roommate Dria.

Here were the ingredients…

Also, I added some slivered almonds on a whim. Then I cooked it on the stove.

Pretty simple eh? And healthy too. I liked it because it had a good salty taste and crunchy texture. If you want the ingredients to not be so crunchy, then I would recommend leaving it on the stove longer than 15 minutes. But I liked it that way.

Also, my friend Laura and my mom informed me the other day that cabbage has a lot of fiber…so I am attempting to cook with it more often.

What type of soup warms your soul on a cold winter day?

making something look old.

She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. vs .13

So I have a three week break…of no class or work. Wow! What to do with myself?!

Well, I have various projects (some wedding and some random other stuff) that I have been wanting to do. Some of these things are gifts for people, DIY projects, and learning a new trade (like sewing). So pretty much every day I have been doing something new.

For Christmas, I really wanted to bless people with something sweet, but money is a little tight right now. My friend Jordan gave me a great idea to write people letters. So yesterday and today, I have been doing just that. However, white paper is boring. So I decided to make it look old. Now you can do this similar process to other things besides paper (fabric, etc..). So here’s how to make paper look antique:

1. Pick out paper that is good letter writing size and maybe an off-white color.

2. Put a tea bag in boiling water for a few minutes, then take the tea bag and spread it over the paper. (I prefer doing it this way rather than just pouring tea on a piece of paper because it makes the color uneven and the paper isn’t completely drenched.)

3. Put the paper in the oven on 250 degrees. (I wouldn’t put it any higher than that) Oh! And watch it closely and leave it in there until it dries and then take it out. (I originally forgot to take a picture of this step, so that is why the paper is not tea stained..whoops!)

4. Light the edges on fire. Don’t forget to quickly blow it out! I would recommend just doing like a very small piece (maybe an inch) at a time. It takes longer, but setting an entire side of paper on fire could result in problems.

5. Once the edges are all burnt and neat looking, get a nice black pen…well any color really but I think black looks best on old-looking paper. And have at it. Write a meaningful letter to someone you love.

And here is the result: (by the way, I wrote the letters in cursive and I realized something about myself: I am horrible, and I mean horrible at writing in cursive! I suppose it’s the thought that counts!)

Tell me about a neat project like this you have done before! I would love to hear from you.

kiss the cook?

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. vs. 27

Yep, that’s right..I deserve a big smooch. Why? I’ve been cooking a whole lot!

No, I’m kidding. Well, about the kiss, not about the cooking.

More specifically, I have been doing a lot of baking. Maybe cause it’s the holidays?

On Saturday, I went to my parents house, and my mom and I baked our annual Christmas cookies. This year we made sugar cookies, candy cane cookies, and walnut cookies. Delicious. Let’s just say I ate a lot of cookie dough!

I was in charge of the sugar cookies. Here are the ingredients: (this was a simple recipe from All Recipes)

Here’s the result…

Then on Sunday night, Kaleb and I wanted to spend some time with Joyce, our friend and talented wedding photographer. So we had her over to my place. She brought a Vietnamese dish, and Kaleb and I prepared an asian style salad, bread, asparagus, punch, and cinammon cake. Let’s just say we feasted.

You can find the salad recipe from All Recipes.

Here is the asian style salad ingredients… (by the way, I will be making this again. It turned out great!)

And here is what it looked like…

If I could have any time of dessert, it would be something with cinnamon in it. In Joyce’s words, cinnamon just makes you feel a certain way, and it’s good. Here are the ingredients for the cinnamon cake: (by the way, this recipe is on my Pinterest board).

This is how it turned out…

Warning: it will melt-in-your-mouth. Another warning: this recipe takes longer than you would think. First, you have to make the cake batter, then you have to make the cinammon topping, then you have to make the glaze. I was rushing around the kitchen like a mad woman because I didn’t leave myself enough time to make all this food for our dinner party with Joyce.

Thankfully, Kaleb came over and helped. He made the punch and set up the table…

The we ate and had great conversation.

The more I cook, the more comfortable I get with it. One day, I hope to not even use recipes but create something from nothing. It really is an art.

keeping traditions alive.

Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. vs. 31

I am not a very traditional gal. What I mean by that is, I like out-of-the ordinary, new experiences. Our wedding, for example, is going to be a bit unique and non-traditional. And breaking out of the status quo kind of excites me a bit.

However, there are some traditions that are important and worth keeping. And one of those is: The Charlie Brown Christmas Party.

It’s put on every year by Abbie Jean Short (wanna know what  Proverbs 31 Woman looks like? Look at her life).

Every year about 2 weeks before Christmas, she has tons of people over to her place in Norris City. Some of these people she grew up with, went to college with in Illinois and Kentucky, and go to her church. And somehow, we are all connected. Every year I go, I feel like I know everyone. And mainly, our common connection is Abbie. She cooks a delicious meal, we watch Charlie Brown Christmas, laugh, and play games.

This what it looked like this year:

By the way, many people dress all Christmas-like (that’s kinda tradition too)

The whole gang for this year…

Feelings of excitement doesn’t even describe it. It’s more like love.  And I am thankful for the example Abbie sets on how to love other people like Jesus loved us. You can just feel it in the room, year after year. That’s a tradition worth keeping.

gatherings.

She is energetic and strong,  a hard worker. vs. 17

I have discovered something about myself in this past year. I love having people over to my house. The more, the better.

I frequently like to invite various people over. Every Tuesday, we have small group, and we prepare a full meal. But besides that I like to have: couples, kids, families, a whole bunch of girls, and anyone, really over to my apartment. It’s kinda like the epitome of my week if I get to have a gathering at my place.  So, I have learned a few tricks of the trade with having girls nights, dinner parties, small group, etc…

Sometimes I invite 20 people and 4 show up. Is that ok? Yes, yes it definitely is. Sometimes I invite 20 people and 25 show up. Is that also ok? It’s more than ok!

I thought I could give some tips on how to successfully have a gathering at your home:

1. Talk it up.

If you invited a whole bunch of people say on facebook, talk to them face-to-face about it too. And whenever you see them say things like, “Man, I am so excited for the get-together on Saturday! I’ll see you there right?” It really works. Because then they talk to their friends about it, and suddenly everyone is really excited about this get-together.

2. If you are doing a full meal for someone, ask if they have allergies or have a special diet.

This is really important because I sometimes have people over that are on a fast, are vegans, or are lactose intolerant. You want them to be able to eat just like everyone else. If you have knowledge of these specifications, they you can prepare something for them. And, they will appreciate you all the more.

3. Ask people to bring something.

A full meal alone for 10+ people can easily cost $30. I like having people over; however, I don’t like draining my bank account. Most of the time, people are more than happy to contribute in some small way.

4. Don’t get discouraged if not a lot of people show up.

Let me tell you a secret….come real close….. Sometimes less is more. Numbers does not equal fun or quality time. Sometimes, I enjoy just having 3 close girls over so we can share our deepest secrets rather than 20 where deep talk gets lost…it’s okay if it didn’t go as planned. Roll with it.

5. Smile.

I have a problem. Whenever I am in charge, my mind is so busy, and I forget to smile. I sometimes will have a room full of lots of people, and I feel so busy getting everything ready and talking to everyone that I forget to just laugh, smile, and be in the moment. Enjoy the company…they will feel your stress, even if you pretend like you’re not stressed. They can feel it. So don’t stress!

6. Try preparing new foods.

While it’s simple to grab a frozen pizza and pop it in the oven, go outside of your comfort zone, and make something new. Some unique salad or dessert no one has ever heard of. I bet they will talk about it later and tell how much they enjoyed it. Disclaimer: frozen pizza for parties is not bad. I just mean, don’t be afraid to try something new.

7. Set out plates, silverware, cups, etc.. ahead of time.

This is important because whenever people get there, they are probably pretty hungry. If they see all this food, then they just want to start eating. Whether you are using glass plates or paper plates, set the table early or set the plates out buffet style before they get there. Organization is key.

8. Have fun!

Enough said. Relationships with people is probably one of the best gifts besides salvation God has given us on this earth. Enjoy it, and make time for it. You won’t regret it.