31 December 2013

2013: Year in Review

I did a post of this sort last year, and truly enjoyed the process of looking back over the months and picking out highlights. Here it goes, a year's worth of life, according to the blog:

January: I've Been Keeping a Secret

Until this point in time, I hadn't revealed the fact that the place I call "home" is in Malaysia. Since I probably talk about it excessively, it's kinda hard to imagine I hadn't ever mentioned that at the beginning of this year, huh? I don't remember much going on in January, besides a lot of snow.

February: What is Cosmetology School Really Like?

I kind of try to forget about this, but Cosmetology school was actually a big part of my 2013. Oh well. This is one of those life decisions that you do regret. It's no secret that I vehemently detested school, but I am glad that I pressed on, completed my education and got a license.

March: The Great Chicago Adventure

This was definitely the highlight of our March! Car trouble, getting stranded in a big city, figuring out train systems--I was so thankful for the unconditional love of our aunt and uncle when my siblings and I were truly the most inconvenient guests ever!

April: Bear With Me

The Original. Where it all began. I have to admit, the arrival of the Bear was a momentous occasion in our lives this year, and also a pretty big day for the blog!

May: You'll Sleep When You're Dead

Angel's brother and sister stayed with us for a few weeks in May. Consider this a warning to anyone thinking of coming for a visit: We will not let you rest. There is always more fun to be had. And apparently we do not consider either pregnancy or morning sickness as a valid excuse from having adventures with us.

June: The Danger of Buying Black Pepper in Bulk

June was a quiet month for us--we were both getting in as many hours as possible at work and school in preparation for adventures later in the summer. But that didn't stop me from creating kitchen mishaps for myself.

July: 22 while 22

I turned 22 and began work on this list. Also, because this was the month when we left on our big trip, I turned 22 in Malaysia! Poor Angel had his 29th birthday in transit.

August: Why I'm Not Impressed by Target

There are a lot of good posts from the month of August--but this baju kebaya was probably my favorite outfit of the year.

September: Unmerited Love

I got to talk about a woman who loves me in a way I don't deserve. My Auntie is so special to me.

October: Summer Vacation Changed My Life

This was when I announced the beginning of our life change on the blog, though it actually began back in August. You know, sometimes you need to sit on the news for a while before you start going around telling everyone!

November: Angelisms, Part 4

Angelisms came back due to popular request. I guess I can't blame you guys for liking my husband. I mean, I do, too!

December: What is my Big Family Really Like?

My family came to America for a visit starting in November, and we've been enjoying spending a little time all together. It was long-awaited.

I'm looking forward to serving God, loving my family, and writing for you all in 2014! At midnight tonight, go ahead and wish yourself a Happy New Year from me!
30 December 2013

New Shoes

Makeup bores me. Purses are a necessary evil. Scarves aren't exciting. Even jewelry, though fun, isn't terribly enticing.

But shoes. Every once in a while, I stumble across another pair that so stun me with their perfection that I can't get them out of my mind. We were wandering around Dillards, actually looking at men's shoes for new work shoes for Angel. I somehow found myself in the women's shoe section (how did that happen?) And before I knew it, I was running back to Angel, cradling this black and white oxford-type shoe in my arms. "Look at it! Isn't it perfect?"

Angel was hesitant, "I don't isn't sparkly. I only like sparkly shoes."

"But these look like the perfect shoes! I could wear them with dresses or with jeans or slacks or anything!"

(That seems to be my reasoning behind all shoe styles that I love. Remember how I argued that Doc Martens could be worn with anything?)

I've actually had the idea of getting a pair of oxfords for about a year now, but I've never yet found a pair that was perfect. The cheap ones didn't look nice and the expensive ones were just that, expensive! I found out that I could get these shoes for about 50% off, which made the final price $30. Angel reminded me that I still had Christmas money from my parents and grandparents, so that clinched the deal. I came home with new shoes--the kind that make me smile every time I see them on my feet!

What's your thing? Shoes, purses, coats, dresses, jewelry, makeup? Or are you one who finds none of this very frivolous stuff interesting?
27 December 2013

A Texas Christmas

Your Christmas may have been awesome, but was it....

get in a minor (no injury, slid into a ditch) car accident,

Rent a car,

Meet your first nephew for the first time,

Go to church with your in-laws,

Stumble across teenage photos of your husband,

Find this sign posted at a restaurant,

Stop at In-N-Out Burger,

Discover an unexplained giant eyeball in Dallas,

 Eat your first-ever first tamale, watch Angel run away from a seemingly random Pitbull and German Shepherd wandering around downtown, and stay up late to open all presents at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve kind of awesome? I doubt it.

*Yes, I realize that some of these events were not awesome, but I choose to take the strategy of relishing the adventure that is life, though in the moment I might (and did) cry over a few car dents.

Hoping you all had a merry and adventurous Christmas!
26 December 2013

December 26, 2004

I've written different versions of my memories of this day over the years, but this is my first time telling the whole story here. Many of you probably remember the news reports of the tsunami that took place on December 26, 2004, which is still considered the deadliest tsunami in history.

{Scenes of the aftermath and the clean-up process in my neighborhood}
It was nine years ago, but  that day is one of the most vivid memories I possess. At the time, I was 13 years old and I'd never even heard the word tsunami before. My family had gone to church and then out to lunch. My mom had declared naptime for everyone that afternoon, but most of us kids had plans to cut naptime short and play with the Christmas presents we'd received just the day before.

Those little plans didn't happen. We weren't even done eating lunch when restaurant workers shouted at us to run, and we did, though we didn't know why. Mom grabbed the baby, and I grabbed one of my sisters' hands and ran as fast as I could in the black velvet high heels that my oh-so-stylin' 13 year old self had decided to wear to church that day. As I ran out of the restaurant and up onto the main road, I could see gray water flooding the entire restaurant. My whole family and all of the workers stood on the sidewalk near the road, staring at the flooded restaurant, and wondering what had happened. The back wall of the restaurant meant that we couldn't see the beach, but the restaurant was just a little off the shore. People were shouting that there had been a big wave.

In the rush, funny details stick out. It was very important for my Dad to pay the restaurant for our meal, and because the water hadn't reached as high as the table tops, they insisted on wading through the murky water to pack up our uneaten food in brown wax paper and bring it to us to take home.

We quickly walked the 5 minute distance back to our neighborhood, and were greeted by most of our neighbors standing on the street, staring blankly at the ocean. The homes closest to the ocean had already been flooded.

We rushed indoors, changed into play clothes at my mom's orders, and rushed back outside to wait with our neighbors. We stood huddled in little groups around the gate of my house. No one really knew what was going on, but a few minutes later, shouts and screams from those who had ventured a little closer to the beach told us that another wave was coming. I grabbed my sister Anna's hand and turned to run up the hill to the main road, but she started screaming, "Where's Rebekah?!" I stopped a moment to look for her and I saw that she was already running up the hill with another of our siblings. I yanked Anna along with me, but as I ran I turned for one last look, and it's a sight I'll never forget.

The most terrifying thing I've ever seen: The wave rose taller than a house, and as it rushed in, it caved in the walls and lifted the roof of one of my neighbors' houses. I stopped looking then, and just ran. When my family and neighbors stopped running, at the top of the hill, we saw that the wave came in just far enough to spill into the gate and yard of my home, and then it receded.

The rest of that day, and the days afterward, are a blur of work and dirt and grease and heartbreak and love and resilience and tragedy and miracles. When the tsunami happened, no one knew what was going on, but the news of what had really happened trickled in over the next few days. I remember scenes:

Auntie pulling apart sticky, sand-encrusted and water-smeared baby photos of her children and laying them in the sun to dry, pointing out which babies were which.

A friend, who had been at work when the tsunami hit, crumpling to the ground in shock at the first sight of her home.

Children and teens finding out that their Christmas presents just opened the day before--I remember photo albums and a Spiderman backpack--were irretrievably damaged.

The rising death toll on the front page of each day's newspaper.

Colorful saris hanging from our 2nd story balcony to dry after being washed by hand in buckets--forever stained with spots of black oil from the ocean.

Mountains of broken and water-spoiled furniture and appliances in the middle of the road, waiting to be picked up by the dump trucks.

A friend taking all the children who lived in our neighborhood out to McDonald's to cheer us up; I remember seeing fishing boats that had landed in neighborhoods on the wrong side of the main road because the water had come so high in certain areas.

The days passed without laughter or smiles, we were preoccupied with fear of further bad news that might come; after some time had gone by, we were finally able to make jokes with our friends over how many telephones we found in the rubble we were cleaning up, or get into waterfights with neighbors while trying to rinse ourselves off with the hose in my yard after a long day of dirty work.

I won't forget that day. I, and almost everyone who I knew who was there, had tsunami nightmares for months afterwards. Before that day, us kids often spent time on the beach, digging for shells and building sandcastles. After the 26th, it was a long time before we felt safe spending time on the beach again. I know that for the rest of my life I'll be celebrating Christmas while remembering the day that came after. It was a day of tragedy for so many families, cities and neighborhoods. My neighborhood was blessed. More than 10 houses were completely destroyed or severely damaged in my immediate neighborhood, but no lives were lost, and that is a miracle. I've told you about my Auntie before--she lost nearly everything she owned in that wave. It's hard to come to terms with knowing someone that you love has lost everything: both the practical necessities for daily life and the priceless, memory-filled mementos that accrue over a lifetime. And yet, so many people lost much more than just everything they owned. They lost entire families or entire villages all at once. That was December 26, 2004.
24 December 2013

Merry Christmas from the Bear!

The Bear, and the rest of us, wish you a very merry Christmas!

And here's to hoping that everyone remains patient enough to open their gifts only at the appropriate time--no peeking allowed!

Although, if there's any mischief in the next 24 hours, I'm blaming the Bear.

Everyone will believe me. Right, guys?
23 December 2013

Building in the Background

Some photo-taking people around here take long rambling drives into the country to find falling down buildings to take photos next to because they think it's cool. Shacks are trendy and make great photo backdrops. They're practically this generation's version of the fake plastic Christmas fireplace backdrop in all Kmart photo studios of the early 90s.

I don't consider myself a shack-hunter. This falling down building is in my yard--actually I have several falling-down buildings in my yard to choose from. But one of them is painted with reflective silver paint, so I fear it might outshine me if I were to pose with it.

These are my decrepit buildings. I think I would feel very nervous posing with other people's shacks.

But this one in particular, well, this one is the chicken coop where, nearly two decades ago, we kept Brownie and Whitey (creative names for our chickens) until a fox broke in and ate them (farm life is brutal). My little sister locked me into this chicken coop when I was 5...and the reason the only window is still broken is because I broke it with a 2x4 in an effort to escape (I was very concerned that I might be locked in the building all day and have to miss dinner). My Dad put a new roof on the building when I was growing up, and I helped paint the building once or twice, though the paint job is looking a little worse for the wear at the moment. This chicken coop probably doesn't have a long time left in this world--but it had a few adventures in its day.

I have a story. The clothes I wear have a story. Even the falling-down shack in the background has a story. And that's why I've wanted to be a writer as long as I've known about the magic of the written word.
20 December 2013

Famous People

 My uncle went to a duct tape signing with Uncle Red of The Red Green Show, and gave us this roll because we love that show very much.
Have you ever met anyone famous?

I haven't. Or if I have, I haven't recognized them. Actually, whenever this question comes up as an icebreaker or something, I always say that the most famous person I've ever met is myself.

In my head, it's a witty joke--a more interesting way of saying that I've never met a celebrity of any kind. In reality, I see that it could come across as somewhat arrogant if I happened to be in a crowd of people who take all statements seriously. So maybe I should come up with a new line...

Angel claims that back in the late 90s he saw Whoopi Goldberg with a man carrying a briefcase at the mall one time when he lived in California. He saw her, thought he recognized her, went up and asked, "Are you Whoopi Goldberg?" and she said, "Why? Do you like my work?"

That's what Angel claims. I wasn't there, so I can't vouch for the accuracy of the tale, or if it was her or not. The answer sounds non-committal to me. He's also met people who were or went on to be Olympians or professional runners during his days of high-school racing, so he has had some verified brushes with athletic fame.

So what about you? Do you have any stories of encounters with someone who's gotten their names in the history books? Or, on a lesser level, the magazines? I don't want to brag or anything, but I'm pretty tight with Rachel G. I could tell some pretty interesting stories about that lady...
19 December 2013

A Serious Matter: Candy

At a recent Bible study meeting, our leader asked, as an icebreaker question: "What is your favorite candy and what is your least favorite candy?" The discussion that followed was so vibrant and intense and...well...loud, that I thought I'd start the discussion here. At least at the end of this post I won't have to ask, as the leader did, "Now how I am supposed to transition from arguing about candy to the book of Isaiah?"

First Year of Marriage Valentine's Day Gift: Gummy Worms and Sweet Tarts, and two books. Angel's a smart guy.

My top favorite candies are sour gummy worms, SweetTarts, Sour Skittles, and Nerds, but not the purple and pink Nerds, those aren't very good. As you can weakness is slightly sour candies, not chocolate, though I will be happy to eat Snickers or Riesens if you give them to me.

My medium-appreciated candies are: Jelly Bellies, candy corn, Smarties, Pull'n'Peel Cherry Twizzlers, and Jolly Ranchers.

Least Favorite candies? As in, candies I won't even be remotely tempted to eat even if you put them in my hand? Red Hots (or any version of cinnamon candy), those old-fashioned strawberry-flavored candies in the wrapper that looked like a strawberry (do you know what I'm talking about?), tamarind-flavored Mexican candy Angel always wants me to try, Butterfingers, Butterscotch hard candies, Tootsie Rolls (why do they always throw those at parades?), KitKats, off-brand jelly beans, Dots (those are HORRIBLE!), Milk Duds, Swedish Fish, Gum, and any chocolate not previously categorized.

Do you have any strong feelings toward any particular candy, or are you one of those really tough people who doesn't find any of these empty calories remotely tempting? Spill the details!
18 December 2013

A Hair Experiment: Pin Curls

I'm toying with the idea of continuing to grow out my hair for a while (last haircut was in July), but over the last month it's really gotten to a length where it bugs me. My hair doesn't have the volume and curl when it's long that it has when it's in order to deal with my hair dilemma in more productive ways than simply chopping it off again, I've been resorting to a variety of updos--one seen in this post when some of you thought that I did cut my hair off.

In honor of my recent hair confusion, I decided to try something different. I like hairstyles with a lot of volume and styles that are a little different than the norm are just my type, so I thought I'd experiment and see what a stand up pin curl (or barrel curl) set looked like on me.

After washing my hair in the morning, I set my hair in stand-up pin curls, which probably took ten minutes (I guess  I've been away from the mannikins long enough to get slightly rusty!). It took about 4 hours for my hair to be completely dry--during which time I cleaned my refrigerator, shoveled the driveway, painted my nails, and  blogged. I practically became the 1950s housewife. Well, except for the internet.

I pulled out all the pins, ran my fingers through a couple times, patted down a few especially unruly curls, and ended up with this:

For reference, this is what my hair is looking like normally (no product, no styling) now that it's longer:

What do you think? I think what I mainly like about the pin curl style on me is that my hair looks much shorter, curlier, and has more volume...all of which I could achieve with a shorter haircut, too. I do think that the way it looked when I took the picture might have still been a bit "helmet-y", but that could be easily fixed by running my fingers through it a couple more times to make it more messy--and maybe I could add a bow. Bows make all hairstyles better.

I learned through this experiment that these pincurls are incredibly strong even without any product to assist them; they were still quite bouncy even after being slept on, I could probably make them last more than 2 days if I wanted...but I like the luxury of washing my hair frequently. Obviously, these couldn't be an everyday style because they take 10 minutes of work plus hours of drying time...but do you think the experiment's worth repeating, or should I stick to my natural style? Or do you have a different experiment to suggest?

Would you ever try a pin curl experiment on yourself?
17 December 2013

Baker Bear

I bet  you wish you had a bear who could bake chocolate cakes for you. Although, to be honest, his specialty is chicken quesadillas.
16 December 2013

The Weather Outside is...Cold

(We took pictures outdoors  since we were all dressed up at the same time. The weather really wasn't all that frightful in spite of the snow, but only because it wasn't windy. A cold wind is a terrible thing. Still, I don't think red satin heels are made for walking in snow.)

Nearly 10 years ago, my Mom sat her children down and said, "We're moving to Malaysia. It's going to be hot. All the time. I don't ever want you to complain about the heat, because--guess what! Everyone else will feel hot too. Everyone is going through the same thing, and it does no good to whine or complain because we can't change the weather."

That little talking-to has really stuck by me over the years. I didn't complain about the tropical weather in Malaysia, and to this day you'll never hear me talking about how the humidity is "killing" me on a Michigan summer's day. My Mom told me to never complain about feeling too hot, so I don't.

However, she neglected to tell me not to complain about being too cold.

Cold, I complain about you.

Besides the fact that I constantly feel on the verge of freezing to death, it has snowed far too much already this year for my taste.

I'm so glad I don't live in Alaska. ;)

Which kind of weather do you prefer, hot or cold?


p.s. You ought to check out the Random Blog Awards I posted yesterday. Who knows, you might have earned yourself a mention!
15 December 2013

Announcing: The Random Blog Awards

In honor of, oh, I don't know, Christmas or the end  of 2013, I decided to dole out some awards to a few bloggers who have made this year of blogging merry and bright for me. These awards are totally made up and carry no monetary value, whatsoever, unfortunately, but I hope they do bring you a smile!

Best Unicorn goes to Deanna, because she took a unicorn to the gas station, a place where even our bear has never ventured:

Angel's 2nd Favorite Blog award is for Carolynn. Because you know he has to say mine is his #1 favorite, it's his job.

Best Shoe Collection is for Suzanne. The reasoning behind this is obvious if you look at the photo below. You don't happen to wear a size 7, do you?

Best Emails goes to Angi. For real.

Favorite Brand-Newlyweds is for Erica and Malcolm. In this case, brand-new means they haven't been married a year yet. And her posts about their adventures exploring where they live aren't just fluff like "Ooh, isn't this a pretty picture!" There's real thought involved. Revolutionary!

Cutest Husband Award goes to this lady.

Best Desserts is for Kristin. (I spelled your name right, look!) I don't even like desserts all that much, but hers seem to prioritize taste over excruciatingly long preparation periods, and that I like. I also like sugar cookies.

Prettiest Hair goes to Elizabeth. I mean, I love my own short, curly, brunette look, but going in the completely opposite direction...the girl's got some really gorgeous long hair!

Only Other Wife I Know Who Took Anniversary Photos With Her Husband Wearing Their Wedding Clothes...that mouthful of a title goes to Veronica. Seriously, I'm impressed at anyone who manages to do it. It's no easy ordeal. Although...I could have made it easier on myself had I chosen either a summer wedding date or a long-sleeved wedding dress...

Blogger Who Makes Me Laugh the Most goes to Rachel.

Okay, fine. Funny Bloggers Who Are not Me: Michelle and Misty definitely have to be on that list. I'm sure there are other. The problem is that I laugh a lot.

I Wish She Blogged More Often goes to Anna. I mean, if she can make ice cream look like a potato, what else could she do?

Best at Getting Involved in the Blogging Community is for Susannah. Seriously, I don't know how you do it--the whole community aspect is the hardest part for this semi-introverted writer over here!

Best Blog Name: Obligatory Newlywed Blog. It's genius, isn't it?

Big Blogger Who I Actually Read: Aunie. I don't know about you, but I rarely read 'famous' blogs. For the most part I find it hard to feel any inclination to consistently read blogs written by bloggers who never acknowledge that you exist. But this is one lady who I think does make her readers feel like they know her!

I'm sure I could keep coming up with more, but this is supposed to be a blog post, not a book. If I missed you, please don't feel bad--you're name could be on the list for the sequel. If you were to hand out blog awards of randomness, who would you be mentioning?
13 December 2013

How I Deal with Fear

So, you may not have noticed this, but I have a very dramatic personality. And imagination. And brain. All that good stuff.

My mind doesn't tend to come up with the most straightforward and likely answer to an unanswered question, but instead the most dramatic and outlandish one--either in a good dramatic way or in a bad dramatic way.

When Angel isn't home from work and it's already 15 or 20 minutes past his usual time and he hasn't called, I don't think that maybe he stopped to get gas like any normal person would think--I think there's been a terrible accident and I'll never see him again and what in the world am I going to write for his obituary and I don't want to be a 22 year old widow and where will I move to and I don't even know anything about organizing funerals!

However, I realized a long time ago that this tendency to invent the most dramatic and interesting explanations behind the most normal of situations--while it probably plays a very positive role in my ability to write well--could be crippling to my ability to live well. If I were to constantly worry about the possible results of all the imaginary tragedies and triumphs that I can make up in my head...I would go crazy. I wouldn't be able to function. I would be needlessly worried far too often.

So, I made a choice. I'm not going to worry. I'm not going to be afraid. No matter what.

When I spent many nights alone in this farmhouse a couple years ago, I decided that I wasn't going to be startled by any noise, that I wasn't going to prowl around the house with a flashlight whenever I heard a squeak or a rattle. Sure, I could invent a gang of robbers out to steal the massive piles of gold buried in my basement, but even if such robbers were there, digging away after the gold, and even if I swore I could hear the chink of their shovels against the dirt and rocks, I'd sleep peacefully in my bed and I wouldn't be afraid.

The reason I didn't have to worry was because my Lord said, "Do not fear, for I am with you." (Isaiah 41:10)

I pray for the safety of my family and friends daily, and beyond that, I choose not to worry about them, because Jesus said, "And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?" (Matthew 6:27) My worry won't help me, nor is it of service to anyone I know and love. Anxiety and fear are nothing but traits that could cripple me and wound me, so I choose not to make them part of my life.

I don't worry about my husband, my marriage, my possessions, my home, my family or my friends because the Bible commands me not to. Philippians 4:6 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

This isn't about any special internal strength of character I have. I know me. I know how dramatic and ridiculous and weak I can be. But man, I have an awesome God. A God who I know I can trust in the good times and bad. I've seen some tragedies in my life--I've seen people die who I desperately wanted to live, I've watched my own neighborhood get destroyed by a giant wave--if that isn't the stuff of overly dramatic nightmares, I don't know what is. But I've also seen miracles, and I've seen prayers answered. There's a choice to be made, and I choose trusting God in every situation instead of worrying about every single life situation that happens to be out of my control because I know He does a much better job of handling my life than I do. 

Because of Christ, I know I'm okay spending my nights alone in a big empty farmhouse. I'm okay with being away from my husband for a few weeks or not seeing my family for a few years. I'm okay with not knowing where I'll be living a year from now or five years from now. When I begin to feel a fear sneaking up on me, I take it as a reminder to pray, and then dismiss it, instead of indulging in it and making myself sick with worry.

I know that someday, it could happen that Angel doesn't make it home from work. It's happened to many. I could get the phone call no wife ever wants to receive. But, by the grace of God, I'm not afraid of that call. Bad things do happen, but constantly being worried about all the bad things that could happen but haven't yet is no way to live. I'm free from my own fears, and I can tell you, it's a good way to live. 

p.s. For the record, there is not really any gold buried in my basement.
12 December 2013

Angelisms, Part 5

Angel puts a lot of photos on Facebook with uniquely-him type captions. Too many for one post. So this is round two of Angelisms, Facebook Photo Edition. Round 1 found here. Remember, these are his captions, with my edits and explanations in bold. 

 Lo que me cocino para la cena; pescado, zucini, y soda en copas de plata. Oh, y en nuestra "China"

 (I could tell he was really excited about the fancier-than-usual dinner when he had to use Spanish to describe it.)

 Don't you wish your tostadas were hot like mine?

 One of those few times when you see bears in the backyard destroying property.

 Rachel's a genius.

 Alone, in an 8 acre farmhouse, sad. Missing my Rachel.

(While I was in Malaysia for 18 days without him. Towards the end I think he decided to be a little over-dramatic.)
 Struts no good. Felt like a bounce house.

 At the Hispanic Festival with these two white girls.

(He's always so direct.)
 Morphine thought my ipod was a snack.

No words to describe how I felt. hehehehehe

11 December 2013

The Vicious Cycle of Crafting

I've come to a conclusion that applies to all crafty people: Craft projects create a vicious cycle.

It starts innocently. You want to get started in scrapbooking, or in sewing. So you buy the basic stuff you need to begin, and finish your initial project. You get hooked. You buy specific items for a specifically themed project--of course you don't want to run out mid-project, so you buy enough that there's just a little left-over material when you're done. Next, you create a completely different type of project, that of course needs completely different supplies. Now, you notice your growing collection, so you decide to embark on a project that will use up some of the supplies you already have--however, you need a few new embellishments to really put the finishing touches on that project, so you buy those new embellishments, and before you know it, you have more leftovers when you're done than you had when you'd begun the project meant to use up the leftovers!

This seems to be a universal truth. This is the reason why sewers have grocery bags full of fabric scraps and scrapbookers have  ziploc bags full of paper scraps. The organized ones may have organized their leftovers by color and type of scrap. You may hold onto that metallic purple permanent marker because of course there will be another project for which it's appropriate to use a metallic purple permanent market.

It's hard to truly use up craft supplies, to really make do with what you have without cheating and buying one little extra to spice up your latest project.

Because of my recent prioritization of NOT buying unnecessary stuff, of truly using up what I have, I challenged myself to make my Christmas cards for this year without buying anything new. Because I've made many cards for many different occasions: post-wedding thank you cards, Christmas 2011, Christmas 2012, graduation thank-you cards, birthday cards, party invitations. From each of these projects, I have leftover cards, envelopes, papers, stickers, stamps, ink pads, pens, etc. I usually come up with a specific pattern that I want to use for cards for a specific occasion, and then I save the leftovers, but I don't use them for the next project because I've come up with a different color scheme or pattern I want to use. But this year, I didn't want to buy anything new. That meant that my Christmas cards would not all look the same, instead, they'd all have to be different, I'd have to come up with different patterns based on what I had available. So, my Christmas cards this year aren't uniform. They're all different. But I was able to make 30 cards without having to buy a single new thing, and now my stash of paper-crafting products is slightly smaller than it was before. Success!

I beat the cycle. For today.