30 September 2012

He Loves Me

Now, I know God always loves me. In reality, that is evident in both the really, really hard times of life as well as the good times. He gives me the strength and the grace to deal with both.

But then again, there's occasional times when I feel all mushy about it, because it's as if God went over and above and beyond and gave me what I didn't even need. Although I just wrote about being content with what I have--and I am!--I do have a bad tendency to worry a bit about the future and whether we'll have enough. The future, looking at it from here, has always appeared very expensive to me, and though I know I have everything I need right now...sometimes I get caught up in wondering if I'll have everything I need next year, or the year after that.

I know that I shouldn't worry. But when I get to worrying, in spite of that knowledge, God usually sees fit to remind me that, well, He is God. Four years ago, I was starting college. It's a long story if I were to tell all of it, but basically, I didn't want to go to college and I didn't want to live where I was living. I was, generally, miserable. And I also didn't have any cool weather clothes, which becomes especially sad as temperatures start dropping. Someone gave me a $100 gift card to Sears as a high school graduation present, and I went there that fall to see what I could get that would help out with starting college. It just so happened that the day I went, seemingly everything in the store was on clearance. I ending up buying a comforter for my bed, two or three pairs of pants, and probably nine or ten shirts. I basically got an entire fall wardrobe, plus a comforter for my bed, for $100 at Sears. I've never seen anything like it before or since. I don't think I've even bought clothes from Sears since then, because they don't tend to carry much in my style or my size of clothes. But  that day, when I had money to spend there, they had everything I needed.

God loves me.

I'm amazed by His love again this week. On Friday I was given a set of china to serve 12, complete with serving dishes.

On Saturday, I was given a set of hardcover Agatha Christie books. Now, I have no idea how, or even if, my Grandpa, who brought these books to my house as a gift from a friend of his, knew that Agatha Christie was one of my favorite authors. It just so happened that she is an author I love to read, and while this set does include many books of hers that I've read again and again, it also includes titles that I hadn't heard of before!

I'm in awe of Him right now.

In reality--nobody needs a set of china or hardcover books by her favorite author. Those are extras--the cherries on top of the ice cream sundae. But the God who knows the desires of my heart and who can provide extra, unnecessary little material blessings just for the fun of it can definitely provide me with everything I do need--material or immaterial, I trust that He's got it covered.
28 September 2012

Money, Money, Money!

 Or, as Mr. Howell says, in what he claims is the universal language: "Moolah, Moolah, Moolah!"

Please tell me I'm not the only one who gets that reference? I make references to Gilligan's Island all the time and sometimes I feel that no one appreciates them but me. But that's okay, I still love Gilligan's Island, even if you don't.

Ginger Grant and the Professor at a costume party.

If you've been around for a while, you know that I don't work, and that Angel's a nurse. He's also attending grad school part-time, and I attend cosmetology school. This means that there's two of us living on one income and paying school tuition for the two of us at the same time. We're committed to paying all tuition as it comes due, without taking out any loans.

We have been very blessed in our finances. I am so grateful for Angel's nursing job, and that he stuck it out through four years of college to get his degree, and that he chose such a practical major. (He says that if he wasn't going to be practical, he would have majored in philosophy. I'm so glad he's practical!) We're also blessed in that we're largely the same in our ways of thinking about money. We're both savers. We both want to live on one income later, when we have kids, and that is why Angel is going to grad school right now, because we think it'll be easier to live on one income with a whole family when it's a nurse practitioner's income rather than a nurse's income.

Since we've been married, we've always made sure to save a portion of our income to go towards future expenses. We knew that Angel would be going to grad school, so we saved for that, as well as for the house and the cars we know we'll have to buy someday.

What really helps us with being able to save what we need to and live within our means is that we both tend to have the same attitude of contentment about what we have. On our recent vacation to Minnesota, Angel and I went through an entire Ikea store, looking at all of their cool stuff, and at the end, were able to walk out saying, "I really don't think we need anything for the house, do you?"

Now, the reality is, we don't have any curtains. We don't have a table in our kitchen, which means with the tiny amount of counter space available, I'm usually unloading grocery bags from the kitchen floor. Most of the furniture in our house, in fact all of it, except for our dining room table and chairs, a coffee table, a couch, and our bed, is either borrowed or inherited, or borrowed until inherited, from my parents and grandparents. Out of the furniture we own, the only piece we bought new was our bed (which I am in love with)--everything else was from thrift stores.

But still, we can go through a huge housing goods store, and decide that there's nothing we could use.

We don't have central air-con, but we carry an oscillating fan around from room to room when the summer heat reaches nearly 100 degrees. And in winter, we heat the house to only 60 degrees and wear slippers and blankets.

I drive a 16 year old Chevy, Angel drives a 10 year old Dodge. Sure, we've been stranded on the side of the road a few times, and Angel's spent a couple days changing alternators, belts, valves, and struts. But both cars are solid, and, I hope, have quite a few years left in them. Angel does dream of a Toyota Avalon, but we'll stick to the cars we've got until they're more expensive to keep than they're worth. Honestly, I love my Chevy, and if I could, I'd drive it for the rest of my life, but I'm not sure it's got another 50 years left in it.

 I've gotten all of one manicure in my life (for my wedding!), and the last professional hair cut I got was in January. We rarely eat red meat because of the price, not because we don't like it. Many of my classmates at cosmetology school go out for lunch five days a week--I bring an apple, some veggies, and a cup of yogurt along to eat in the break room.We get broadcast tv on our handmedown television set and rabbit ears antennae, and no, we don't have Netflix either. We have cell phones instead of a home phone, because that works better for our hardly-ever-at-home lives, but we don't have texting in our phone plans because that would just mean extra money to pay every month.

We don't live as cheaply as we could, by any means. I like shoes and dresses, and Angel likes buying them for me. We both love going on dates to play mini-golf or Dance Dance Revolution. Angel really, really hates to do oil changes, so he takes the cars to the shop to get done instead of doing them himself. We don't have everything about finances figured out, and, quite frankly, the very idea of mortgages and investing scares us. But I'm so grateful for the peace that we both have about our finances. Even though some people might look at the way we live and think that we don't have very much--I'm grateful that God's given Angel and I the wisdom to know that what we have is more than enough.
27 September 2012

What You Shouldn't Say to a Chinese Major

I love conversation, and listening to others' opinions and ideas on various and sundry topics. Sometimes I can learn a lot from conversation, and other times, I get a secret laugh out of it. That's okay though! I'm very aware about my extreme lack of knowledge on many subjects. American football? The only player I could name would be Tim Tebow. Africa? I don't think I could even name all the countries, let alone fill in a map accurately. The French Revolution? I have vague memories of the aristocrats and the guillotine....but that's about it.

 I may have decorated a birthday cake for my professor with Chinese characters.

Other subjects I'm a little more passionate about, and well-informed on. I love studying languages, and, as many of you know, I majored in Mandarin Chinese in college. Now, that's not the most common major out there, so it tends to inspire comment. Some of these comments are very strange.

For example, someone recently asked "So, if you can speak Chinese, does that mean you can speak Japanese as well? No? Well how about Vietnamese? How much are Chinese and Vietnamese related?"

Here's an announcement for the general public: I know it's not immediately obvious if you have no experience of either language, but Japanese and Chinese actually sound nothing alike. And Mandarin Chinese is a completely different language from Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, and Bahasa Indonesia.

I've already written of how I feel about the most common way English speakers mispronounce Beijing, so there's no need to reiterate that here. My only recommendation is, when you don't know anything about a subject, don't guess. When, instead of guessing or offering your opinion, you say, "Is Chinese related to any other languages in East Asia?" you leave the conversation open for me to tell you about how many Chinese characters are used in Japanese writing.

Suppose I were to meet someone who has spent time in Africa, who loves the continent, and has a heart for it and history there. If I say, "Oh, Liberia! That's right next to the Congo, isn't it?" I show myself to be ignorant of the topic that is closest to their hearts. If, instead, I say, "Liberia? Now what part of Africa is that? What is the climate like? What language do you speak over there?" then, I haven't embarrassed myself with my lack of knowledge, and I've shown a genuine interest in allowing the person to educate me about their passion.

And, on a somewhat related note, try to avoid saying "Mexican" and "American" when what you mean is "Spanish" and "English." We may have our own vocabulary that is specific to our country or region but that doesn't mean the name of the language changes.


And by the way, fellow Christian bloggers out there, if you haven't yet, you should join Morgan's Quite the Bloggers linkup--she's trying to get all us Christian lifestyle bloggers together so that we can encourage each other. Check it out!
26 September 2012

Art and Shiny Pants

 You might not be able to see this so well in the picture, so I feel the need to tell you that my jeans are shiny! They're practically iridescent, and they are the best jeans I've ever seen. Angel and I spotted them in the store at the same time and agreed they were perfect. In the past, when I thought I'd found the perfect article of clothing, it didn't turn out to be so perfect because they didn't have my size, but this story had a happy ending, as you can tell, because I wore my new jeans on our date to the art festival in a nearby town.

The good news is that Angel did not fall in the river while eating ice cream. I told him that he especially should not fall in the river because he had his iPod in his pocket. Otherwise, it wouldn't have been as crucial that he stay dry.

The other good news is that we saw penguins, fish, and other somewhat unidentifiable art that nevertheless looked really cool. This art festival involves various sculptures, paintings, and other forms of art installed outdoors and inside buildings all over the downtown area. You get to walk a couple miles and see lots of unusual things for free, so this is a yearly event that I always enjoy!

25 September 2012

Icebreaker Tuesday: Collections

 I love getting to know a little bit more about my readers, so once a week I like to go around the circle and ask everyone to answer the same question (you know, like they did in youth group back in the day!). I'll go first, to break the ice!

Today's question: What do you collect?

I know this one is going to sound a little weird. I'm really not big on collecting specific things. I think I've moved too often in my I don't tend to see accumulation of stuff as something desirable, because someday, it'll just be more stuff to pack in boxes and move. However, when Angel and I moved into our house, we found this poster board hanging on the wall. We immediately decided to take up the challenge to collect quarters from all the states and fill in all the empty spaces on the board.

Yes, we know this was rather late in the game, as I believe the first state quarters came out around the year 2000...but hey, you don't always have to do something just because it's in fashion at the time.

As you can see, we have almost finished our collection--we only have South Dakota and Kansas left. We've been missing just those two quarters for months now, and although we eagerly look at the backs of all quarters we run across...we have not managed to find either South Dakota or Kansas. About a week ago, I got a North Dakota quarter in change and I was all excited because I thought that was the state we needed, but I was mistaken. Hopefully someday we will find our missing two quarters and finish the the meantime, is there anything you collect?
24 September 2012

An Abundance of Rachel-Bloggers

Angel likes to point out that lots of marriage books seem to be written by men named Gary. For example, there's Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas (a very excellent book--I'd recommend it to anyone!). And then there's the well-known 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, along with other marriage-related books by him. I actually think it's Gary Chapman's proliferation of marriage books that contributes to the illusion that men named Gary write a lot of books on marriage, because just that one guy wrote quite a few of them! There's also Growing Kids God's Way, which isn't specifically about marriage, but teaches about parenting in a way that is healthy for your marriage--and that class is written by Gary Ezzo. Weird.

Anyways, that's somewhat beside the point, because what I've been reflecting on, is the sheer number of Rachels who blog! Now, because it would be nearly impossible to take a name count of all bloggers and find out the most highly represented name, I have absolutely no numerical evidence for which name is most commonly found in blogging. However, I have noticed a large quantity of Rachel blogs.

 In case you are ever confused by the sheer number of Rachels out there, I'm the one who always agrees to strange and sundry photoshoots that my siblings dream up. I don't mind the camera, even if I do look a little silly sometimes. Why am I in the grass again??

I believe there are two reasons for this.

1) My name is Rachel, so the name stands out to me a little more when I notice another blogger named Rachel.

2) Rachel has historically been a very common name. I've met countless other Rachels in real life and we often have to distinguish between each other through last names or initials. In one of my college classes, there was a grand total of five students. Two of us were named Rachel. That's a bit excessive, I think.

Now, I'm sure you don't just want to take me at my word that there's many other bloggers out there who share my name, so I thought I'd list a few to beef up my argument.

First of all, there's Rachael at Held By His Hand--it's the same name, even if spelled a little differently, and I have to like her, because she thinks both I and Tim Hawkins are hilarious, which shows she has great taste in humor!

There's another Rachael with that spelling at All Things Beautiful. Rachaels like these are probably the reason my name is almost always misspelled by strangers and occasionally family members who forget the proper spelling...but that's okay, I can still love Rachaels of other spellings. 

Moving on, there's the beautiful Rachel Sayumi and Rachel Emmilee too!

There's Rachel at Life in the Moment, and fashion blogger Rachel the Hat (there's an interesting story about how she got her nickname, by the way).

There's the Rachel with the postcards too, and don't forget Rachel at Happily Ever After.

That's all I can think of at the moment, though I know I'm missing quite a few! If you are or know another Rachel-blogger and comment with the link, I'll add it to my list!

So, what do ya'll think? Do you notice quite a few bloggers who share your name, or are you blessed with a rarer name?

And here's a funny story that Rachels as well as others might appreciate: Angel thought for the longest time that the meaning of the name Rachel was "beautiful and lovely in form." I guess he got that from a description of the Biblical Rachel, but it's not actually the meaning of the name. Regardless, as you can imagine, I felt no pressing desire to enlighten him as to the actual meaning. I'd take "beautiful and lovely in form," wouldn't you?
22 September 2012

Big News!

Have you noticed anything new around here?

No, I don't have a fancy blog new design. No, my profile picture is still one of my high school senior pictures, regardless of how old I really am. And no, I didn't get a new haircut. Three weeks into beauty school without a haircut--I'm the only one in my class who hasn't given in!

Really, the change is hardly noticeable unless you're paying really close attention. But if you look up in the very top, left hand corner, you'll see that what was formerly known as (that's a mouthful!) has become:

Hurray!!! I'm pretty excited about getting my own domain name, and while I'm not sure everything's perfectly smoothed out yet, it should be soon. So let me know if you can see this or if you had any trouble getting here!


So we should celebrate with a container of frozen sherbet because I don't eat cake!!
21 September 2012

What I've Made

 The first skirt I've ever sewn.

 One variation of Andes mint cookies. You can tell that I don't believe in perfectly round cookies.

 The kitchen of my dollhouse.

 My book. The name's pretty familiar, right? What you're reading now is the sequel.

 Random flowers painted on the walls.

Epic picture wall. Idea totally stolen from a long ago post on A Beautiful Mess. I've had these pictures up for almost a year, all of my guests love looking at them and finding themselves on the wall.

Nice To Meet You

Letters of Admiration--A Tutorial

In the Olden Days, I used to write, but other people rarely read what I wrote. I'm actually pretty proud of this piece, as I wrote it before I even knew that tutorials were such a big thing in the blog world. This appeared on my blog about a year ago, but I thought it was worth a re-post! Enjoy, and maybe you'll even learn something useful!

 Just an example of what we looked like in the Olden Days. Unlike most people, we smiled.

  Note: As a disclaimer, I want to say that although you might assume from the wisdom which pervades this tutorial that I have had a lot of experience in sending fraudulent love letters, let me assure you that I have only sent a letter from a "secret admirer" once. That was to my sister. Or maybe I've done it twice. I seem to remember a second occasion, but that may have been a dream.

Everyone has days when they are feeling wonderfully benevolent, and look upon all of their fellow human beings with a kindly eye. On one of these days you feel like giving of yourself to others; doing all those small things that bring smiles to the faces of your loved ones. I don’t mean simply washing the dinner dishes or brushing your teeth. I mean doing those extra things, those generous actions that no one expects.

 Today, I would like to suggest to you a practical and efficient outlet for your benevolent feelings. Because, after all, though we may all feel that we want to bless others and bring joy into their lives, we may not know how to go about it. I now have the perfect suggestion: send your friends, family, or even strangers letters from a secret admirer! Such a letter would not fail to bring a smile to the face of even the crabbiest old man. For weeks after receiving a letter from a secret admirer, a staid, middle-aged woman would spontaneously giggle to herself, for no apparent reason. A letter from a secret admirer will be treasured for years….kept under the pillow…folded and refolded till it finally falls apart.

“Wait a minute!” you say, “Where am I supposed to find secret admirers for all these people?” Don’t be silly. There is no need for you to find an actual secret admirer for the people you want to cheer up. It is much easier, and infinitely more efficient, to compose and send the letter yourself. You see? Now you are getting the gist of my brilliant plan.

 There are some technical aspects of sending secret admirer letters which cannot be overlooked. It is of utmost importance that the letters not be traced back to you, or else your benevolent plan may prove to be fatal to your relationship with the very one you wanted to bless. First of all, you must decide whether to mail the letter, or to deliver it in a less conventional manner, such as by tying it to a rock and hurling it through an open kitchen window. The postal system tends to be the most practical way to send anonymous love letters. However, the postmarks that are stamped on all letters could be a problem, because anyone who receives a letter from a secret admirer will immediately scrutinize the postmark to see if it provides any clues as to the identity of the sender. There is a possibility that you might be suspected of sending the letter if the one who received the letter associates you with the city stamped on the postmark. This problem can be overcome if you drive to a distant city and mail the letter from a post office there, but sometimes, this option is not very practical. Delivering the letter in other methods, such as by sticking the letter inside the front screen door, or dropping it into a woman’s purse can also be dangerous if you are not extremely careful to make sure that no one can observe you performing the action. If you opt to deliver your letter in this manner, perhaps because you do not have the forty-four cents for postage, I highly recommend wearing an impenetrable disguise, such as a Wookie suit.

 Just as the method of delivering the letter requires much reflection and careful decision, you must also put much time and thought into the contents of your secret admirer letter. In such a letter, you should make sure that the wording of the letter is specific enough so that the intended recipient knows that it is truly meant for them, but not so specific that it reveals information which might point to you as the perpetrator. For example, it is a good idea to use their name in the letter, but, if you have a certain peculiar nickname that you always call them, it would not be wise to call them that in the letter. I need hardly say how important it is to disguise your handwriting well. If you are normally write neatly, now is your time to forget everything your second grade teacher ever taught you about penmanship. If your normal hand is barely readable, pick up your old primer and study the actual formation of letters till your handwriting resembles newsprint. 

 And what should you say in this love letter of yours? That, I will leave up to you. I have already noted that it is important to make it clear that the letter is for your intended recipient and none other. For the rest, I recommend using whatever creative skills you may possess, and everything you learned about composition from English 101. Phrases such as “I have long admired you from afar,” and “Let this expression of love be a secret between you and me forever,” and “because I know that my love for you was not meant to be, I leave now to bury myself in a monastery in the Alps” tend to go over well. If you struggle with being creative yourself, instead, you can simply copy a poem into the letter.  Shakespeare tends to work well, however, the poem needn’t even be about love, because the one reading the letter will themselves be able to read love and admiration into each line. In fact, I have even found Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” just as effect a passage for a letter from a secret admirer as any poetry of Shakespeare’s. 

 I hope that these hints will guide you as you try to turn your feelings of benevolence into practical expressions of care and concern for others.
20 September 2012

I believe...

I believe in fuchsia.

I believe in kissing my husband at red lights.

I believe that anything you want to wear is cool, as long as you enjoy wearing it.

I believe in not cooking food I don't like to eat.

I believe ballroom dance is the best form of exercise.

I believe that the Bible is truth.

I believe in naming your cats after medicines. (Amoxicillin, Penicillin, Narcan, Clindamycin, Morphine)

I believe in not wasting the time I've been given.

I believe in making friends.
I believe in learning to speak languages besides your own.

I believe I have the best parents in the world.

I believe in paneer butter masala and naan bread.

I believe in avoiding doctor's visits at all costs.

I believe in in Tylenol and Ibuprofen, but also that you should wait at least two hours after taking one to take the other.

I believe that winter is my least favorite season.

I believe in working hard to perform well in whatever job you're given.

I believe that being more educated does not make you a better person.

I believe in marrying your best friend.

I believe in Gilligan's Island. (No, really, I do. It's real.)

I believe in eating healthy fresh fruits and vegetables and pepperoni pizza too!

I believe that you can be a good person without liking seafood.

I believe that all colors match.

 I believe that sparkly means better.

I believe in not being afraid of the camera.

I believe in dresses.

I believe in investing in people, not stuff.

I believe siblings make great friends--they seem to be semi-good at keeping in touch, at least.

I believe in Narnia.

I believe curtains are overrated.

I believe in posing for pictures.

I believe in making Angel kill any bugs that I see.

 I believe in homemade cookies.

Linking up at Living in Yellow

If you really knew Angel...

You'd know that once upon a time, before I was around to prevent it from happening, he colored his hair blond. Sorry, no pictures, because I think he destroyed all of them after I laughed a little too hard upon discovering them. I'm such a nice wife.

You'd know that onions--that's right, onions--are his favorite food.

You'd know that he will almost never admit that a certain food is spicy. I'll pour in black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, turmeric, coriander, and every other spice in my cabinet and he'll say, "This chicken has a little kick to it."

You'd know that he wears shorts and t-shirts in winter. I'm pretty sure he's shoveled the driveway in shorts before.

You'd know that he ran cross-country in high school. Of that, there's pictures!


You'd know that his favorite channel on TV is the radar channel. I know. It's really, really weird.

You'd know that the man is NOT a photographer. His preferred way of taking pictures is to point and click without necessarily aiming the camera at anything, focusing it, or using the flash. He especially loves holding the camera over his shoulder as he walks and randomly clicking pictures of me walking behind him.

So I just smile, and try to be ready to have my picture taken at any random moment. And just so you know, in this last picture, I'm the skinny arm sticking out behind Angel's head.

You'd know that he likes to play pranks that take advantage of my blindness and my corresponding stubborn refusal to wear my glasses whenever possible. I.e. putting the leafy stem of a tomato on the floor and telling me a story about a huge spider he'd just seen in the kitchen, then laughing when I screamed and jumped on top of a chair when I saw the tomato stem (because I mistook it for a spider in my semi-blind state)

You'd know that he really loves cats and dogs for someone who's allergic to them.

You'd know that he collects glow sticks, and other glowing accessories, and uses every family party we host as a reason to  use some of his stash. 

You'd know that I'm his favorite woman.

You'd know that he never listened to country music till I converted him.

You'd know that he sounds like a native English speaker, except when he asks you what "No Loitering" means and says, "Oh, I thought it was just another way to say 'No Littering.' "
19 September 2012

Cemetery Date

I love this new fuchsia and white patterned shirt. I bought it in July at a Salvation Army store for a few dollars, but Sunday was the first time I had a chance to wear it because we've had such hot temperatures that anything with a long sleeve didn't seem appealing for a few months there. You may notice that I'm still in my "wear as many colors and as bright of colors as possible" for the three days of the week that I'm actually allowed to wear colors. I'm pretty sure that won't be changing anytime soon.

You also may have noticed the slightly odd background location of these pictures. Angel and I discovered on our honeymoon that our favorite free date is a walk through a cemetery. I enjoy piecing together the life stories from the bits of information found on tombstones. It can be a somber time, because sometimes the dates and names stick with me. The stones for children who only lived a few days or years always tug at my heart the most. On Sunday I found stones for couples that had been married over 60 years before the first spouse died. Then, one stone we came across at the same cemetery was for a husband, a wife, and an infant son. The wife died at 22 years old, on the same day as the son. The husband lived several decades longer.

Angel likes finding features on certain tombstones that he likes, and we discuss what we'd like to include on ours. Do we want to include our wedding date? How about a picture? Any specific Bible verses or unique quotes? His latest idea was to include our professions on the stone. Cemeteries, especially older ones, are often beautiful, peaceful places for a walk, and we enjoy learning a little about the people who came before us.

What do you think? Is it really that weird to go for walks at cemeteries?

Sometimes Angel likes to purposely not smile when I'm taking a picture.
18 September 2012

Icebreaker Tuesday: Worst Food Ever

Hello everyone! This week's question is designed to make you reminisce about those dishes you cringed at when your mom or grandma brought them to the dinner table. I'll answer first, and then you all, please share your stories in the comments!

Today's question: What is your least favorite dish, ever?

 This picture is really just to be annoying. While you're thinking of the the worst food you've ever eaten, you can be looking at the delicious carne asada tacos that Angel and I ate for Sunday dinner.

I guess it doesn't have to be a dish you hated in your childhood, it could be one that you came across quite recently. Growing up doesn't necessarily mean that you're never again forced to eat foods that you don't like, but I've found that adulthood has meant for me that I'm usually able to influence the menu a little more. One of the things that I was very excited about when I got married was the fact that I'd be in charge of the kitchen and that I'd be able to make my favorite dinners everyday. (Is anyone else up for fried chicken at least once a week??)

The dish that stands out to me as the one that I would run away from, or claim I am allergic to, even till this day, is Russian Fluff. In case you don't know what it is, the recipe found here sounds pretty accurate to the dish I remember. Russian Fluff was an especially terrible dinner for us kids, because whenever it was served, it was pretty much guaranteed that we wouldn't finish it, which meant that there would be leftovers served up again and again during the days that followed.

So, that's my least favorite dish. Another dish that stands out is Cabbage Soup, which really doesn't count because I think I secretly liked it when Mom served cabbage soup. Still, whenever we had cabbage soup for lunch, all of us kids would act like we were poor, mistreated orphans of the Oliver Twist era, and were being forced to eat the horrible gruel since it was only slightly better than starving to death. We'd spend the entire lunch talking about our whip-cracking orphan keepers and the stone floors and thin scraps of blankets that we got to sleep with at night. What interesting lunch buddies we must have been for our mom.

So that's my story of the dinners I detest, what about you?
17 September 2012

Shoe Redo

In 2008, on one fine summer day, I came across a wonderful pair of plaid ballet flats on clearance for $9 at Walmart.

They looked like this. I wore them frequently, because red plaid matches with everything, and I came to love them very much. Only sometimes I loved them a little too much. You can't see it in the picture, but over time, the fabric near the heels and soles of these shoes became stained with salt because I wore these in winter on salted sidewalks. So they weren't looking too good anymore.

What's the solution? You can't just throw away a $9 pair of flats after four years of use, can you? Of course not!

So I added this.

And now my shoes look like this. Because if red plaid flats are cool, blue shimmering flats are 2x cool. And these don't have salt stains, which is always a plus.
14 September 2012

Abbreviation Aggrevation

Maybe I'm just allowing my inner nerd to come out here, but I have to admit something. I don't like abbreviations.

You see them everywhere.

wed. dec. lb. oz. jr. BC AD cm. kg. ft.

Okay, maybe some of those are necessary. According to the experts who write Language Arts textbooks. But then you have the texting-style abbreviations and the 'cutesy' abbreviations too.


You wouldn't know it now, but back in the olden days (high school), I did text. Quite a bit too. But even then, I was rather stubborn and typed out every letter in every word. I would literally type, "Are you going to youth group tonight? If you are, could you give me a ride to church and back? Thank you."

To me, there's nothing wrong with that. I'm not super informed about texting manners anymore, though, so could you tell me, is it annoying if the people you're texting with spell everything out? I'm not sure what it is about abbreviations, but I just tend to feel that most words deserve to get spelled out.

How would you feel if you were a word that always got shortened because everyone was too busy to even take the time to write out all of the letters that rightfully belonged to you?

I also don't like nicknames, generally. I was always embarrassed when my Dad called me "Rachy-baby" when I was a kid. And I'm pretty persistent in not calling Angel or referring to him as my "hubby." Mostly because I can't say the word without laughing, and partially because I find it a very confusing nickname. I know lots of ladies who call their boyfriend "hubby," which confused me because I thought "hubby" was short for husband. But by now I think it's just a nickname. I bet it's also confusing when I refer to Angel as my favorite boyfriend. I'm not really big on affectionate terms in real life-- but Angel knows what it means when I start calling him "Honey."

And I actually did nickname Angel, because he's a special case. Angel's nickname is "Lovey" after Lovey Howell on Gilligan's Island. Nowadays, according to my little cousins, our couple name is "Lovey Dovey": I'm Dovey, and he's Lovey.

A guy at my cosmetology school who I met last week has taken to calling me Rach. Not even my mom, my husband, my sisters, or pretty much anyone who knows me calls me Rach. A few old friends might, occasionally, but it's been a long while since I've heard it. I'm not offended by Rach, just noticed it and find it strange to be nicknamed by an almost complete stranger. It's not as if Rachel is a very long name or one that is difficult to say. My sister Elizabeth on the other hand....that's a long name. Practically impossible to pronounce, so I've heard. She's been Lizzy to most people in the world for years now, and I think she likes it.

Lovey and Dovey? Okay, I'll grant you that one. Hubby and Rach? Not my favorite.
13 September 2012

Pretty Dresses

I came across Shabby Apple about a year ago, before I started blogging, and was immediately interested in their clothes. I tend to have the problem of not being able to find dresses that fit well in normal stores. Now, that's probably because I'm not going to the right stores, since I don't tend to shop at higher end shops. I can find dresses that fit in the Junior department--but because I'm really not that short of a person, those are often so short that I'd have to wear pants under the dress to be comfortable. I'm not against the style of wearing pants with dresses, I do that occasionally--but they really seem to take the 'dressyness' out of an outfit--anything seems more casual when you're wearing pants.

I'd never bought clothes online before, but we decided to try it out, and for Christmas, Angel bought me a dress. It just so happened that it fit perfectly! Since then we've ordered the same size every time, and all three of my Shabby Apple dresses have fit just the way I like them to! I like that the sizing is, so far, consistent enough that I don't have to be too worried if the dress will fit when I order one.

Found here
I know you just saw this one, because this is what I wore on my first day of school. Angel actually bought this dress for me as a surprise without even asking me if I liked it first! It's a good thing he has good taste.

Found here.
I wore this for my college graduation!

And this was my first Shabby Apple dress--I can't find it on their website anymore, but it was part of the Manhattan Collection, maybe it'll come back!

Clearly I haven't tried all of the Shabby Apple dresses, but I love the fit and the quality of the ones I've tried so far! If you're looking for a dress for a special occasion, I wholeheartedly recommend them! And watch out for their sales too--that can make the dresses a little more affordable. Right now, you can use the code favorite10 to get 10% off anything on their site. The code expires tomorrow, though, so if you've been thinking of buying a dress from them, now's the time!

Dresses from Shabby Apple
12 September 2012

Do I Regret Getting Married?

I met a new girl at my cosmetology school yesterday. As part of our get-to-know-you introductions, she asked what high school I went to. I said, "Actually, I've been out of school for a few years now--I'm married and I'm 21, so a little older than some of the other students here."

Which is true because most of my classmates are new graduates from high school.

The first words out of her mouth were, "Do you regret getting married so young?"

Now, I found this a very strange thing to say to someone that you just met. Personally, I can't imagine many situations where I would want to ask someone if they regretted their current marriage. I laughed it off and said, no, that I loved being married, that I'd do it all over again if I could.

She persisted, "Do you feel like you've missed out on life since you got married young?"

No--I think I gained a lot of life experiences and have had far more adventures with Angel than I would have been brave enough to attempt on my own. Getting married meant that I had to grow up quickly, of course, but there's nothing wrong with that! Immaturity is rarely a desirable trait.

As she asked, and I answered, I thought to myself--how sad it is that a young woman like this girl looks at the idea of marriage and clearly finds it to be something like a prison, something to be regretted. But, in all likelihood, what else has she seen of marriage? Nearly all of my classmates' parents are divorced, and few of my classmates are on speaking terms with both parents at the same time.

However, I know and I believe that God didn't create marriage to be a relationship characterized by brokenness, by regret, and by the feeling of being trapped and missing out on life. What can I do, with my tiny bit of marriage and life experience, to be a witness to my younger classmates and show them that marriage can really be something awesome? That's what I'm wondering right now.

In basic fact, within the last two days, Angel took me out dancing, took me to lunch, and bought me a bag of Skittles at the dollar store. I'm spoiled rotten! What I feel like saying is that, through marriage, I got a best friend to live with, a permanent date, a sugar daddy, a dance partner, an accountant (he does the taxes), and a personal-sized, energy-efficient heater for all the cold winter days--and who could argue with a deal like that? Even on the days when Angel and I are frustrating each other--what I have there is the opportunity to rely on God and learn how very weak and sinful I am, and realize just how much I need the work of the Holy Spirit in me! (Those days are good ones for praying, I can tell ya!)

It breaks my heart to hear 18 and 19 year old girls saying, "I'm never getting married, I couldn't stand to live like that" as if marriage itself is an undesirable lifestyle. In some cases, divorce may be necessary, but unfortunately, the divorces and the broken marriages of our parents' generation have created a generation of young people who aren't at all convinced that marriage can be a good thing. Some who I've met even seem afraid of marriage. And all we younger, married people can do is try our best to show them that marriage can be good.

My Little Black Dress

 First day of school outfit: The Goth Hairstylist

 I wasn't too thrilled when I found out that cosmetology school required a uniform consisting of a white or black shirt, black skirt or pants, and black, flat heeled shoes that cover your foot completely.

I mean, I've always said that my favorite color is black. I actually own enough black clothes that a friend in high school once told me, "You're the happiest Goth I've ever met!"

I found that hilarious. Just for clarification, I'm most definitely not Goth.

And, if you've been looking at pictures around here for any length of time, you'll notice that I love my bright colorful clothes. So wearing black 4 days a week (on Saturdays we're allowed to wear colors) is very difficult for me. Especially when you add in the fact that I'm not a huge fan of uniform rules in general. On the first day of classes, the only questions about the school or course that I had were: "Can I wear colorful flowers in my hair?" "Can the jeans we wear on Saturday be any color?" and "Can I wear ballet flats?"

My plan is to push the rules as far as possible without getting sent home to change my clothes. I am a rule-follower. In all likelihood, if I'm wearing something that I'm not sure is within the uniform boundaries, I'll bring a change of clothes in my car to be safe. But wearing boring clothes everyday isn't fun. I only owned one pair of black pants when I found out about the dress code--and that pair I've had since I was 12 years old! So they are 9 years old, and definitely the oldest thing in my closet. Angel bought me two more pairs of slacks after a long, hard search. Does anyone else have trouble finding dress pants that fit? It was almost impossible for me. So far, Express is the only store where I can find slacks, and they are so expensive that we waited till the Labor Day sale to buy them.

I don't want to wear the same thing every day, so I'll just have to see how I can mix things up with the black pieces that I have. How do ya'll handle uniform requirements at your workplaces or schools? Do you like dress codes or not?
11 September 2012

Icebreaker Tuesday: Ringtone

Okay, ya'll, I'm pretty sure everyone can answer this week's question. I can't wait to read your comments!

Today's question: What's your cell ringtone, and why?

Now, once you hear my answer, you may think it's weird that I chose this question, but I really thought it would be interesting to find out what ringtones people use.

As for me, my ringtone is....silent!! I always have my cellphone on vibrate. Ever since I got my first cell phone, that's been my preference. My phone is always on, so I like knowing that it's not going to loudly ring at an inopportune moment, like in the middle of an exam, or during the tragic ending of a movie.

Only I never go and watch tragic movies at the theater, because I only like happy movies.

 I love this man, but he sure loves to fuss me!!

Anyways--my ringtone is silent. But I must tell you, there are exceptions. You see, I'm married to Angel. And he really likes to do strange and funny things. He likes to call me when we're both at home and see me go running for the cellphone to find it and answer it. Only, since my phone is always on vibrate, I can't hear his calls unless I'm in the same room as my phone. So Angel goes to the great lengths of setting my phone to its "Outdoor" profile, so that it rings really loud, before he calls me. That way he knows I can hear the phone.

You'd think it wouldn't work, wouldn't you? Obviously, I know I always keep my own phone on silent, so if I hear my phone ringing, I'll know that it's Angel trying to trick me and I won't dash around the house searching frantically for my phone.

But somehow I never remember that key fact in the heat of the moment. And Angel gets a good laugh out of it.

So, what's your ringtone?