Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Maid-Servant at the Inn

“It’s queer,” she said; “I see the light
As plain as I beheld it then,
All silver-like and calm and bright-
We’ve not had stars like that again!

“And she was such a gentle thing
To birth a baby in the cold.
The barn was dark and frightening-
This new one’s better than the old.

“I mind my eyes were full of tears,
For I was young, and quick distressed,
But she was less than me in years
That held a son against her breast.

“I never saw a sweeter child-
The little one, the darling one!-
I mind I told her, when he smiled
You’d know he was his mother’s son.

“It’s queer that I should see them so-
The time they came to Bethlehem
Was more than thirty years ago;
I’ve prayed that all is well with them.”

~Dorothy Parker, The Maid-Servant at the Inn

I think this poem is particularly beautiful.  Read through it again and let it sink in.  I pray you all had a wonderful day with those you love, and I thank God for sending his sweet, perfect son incarnate to earth.

F R I E N D S!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas!

Just some photos that I took last week to document what our house looks like at Christmas.  I love this time of year!
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Thursday, December 15, 2011

23 and 1/2 Hours: What's the single best thing we can do for our health?

A doctor/professor answers the old question, "What is the single best thing we can do for our health?" in a completely new way.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Message to Women from a Man: You are NOT "Crazy"

I'm reposting the following message (which I first saw here) because as I read it, I couldn't help identifying with the whole thing.  As a child, I always balked at the assertion that I "threw like a girl."  I was a girl, thus I threw like a girl. Duh.  And what was wrong with that anyway?  As an adolescent, I first encountered the common argument waged against women when men think they're being irrational (note that I've never had a woman say this to me), "You must be on your period."  Again, it didn't make sense.  The so-called cause of our irrationality was PMS, which stands for PRE-menstrual syndrome.  It's a phenomenon that's supposed to occur before a girl gets her period.  Duh, again.  The article below if an interesting read, and is, in my humble opinion, sad but true.  How many of us face daily or weekly emotional manipulation which is accepted by us because to do otherwise would mean we're irrational or hypersensitive?  If this rings true, read on, dear reader, read on:
Yahsar Ali
You're so sensitive. You're so emotional. You're defensive. You're overreacting. Calm down. Relax. Stop freaking out! You're crazy! I was just joking, don't you have a sense of humor? You're so dramatic. Just get over it already!
Sound familiar?
If you're a woman, it probably does.
Do you ever hear any of these comments from your spouse, partner, boss, friends, colleagues, or relatives after you have expressed frustration, sadness, or anger about something they have done or said?
When someone says these things to you, it's not an example of inconsiderate behavior. When your spouse shows up half an hour late to dinner without calling -- that's inconsiderate behavior. A remark intended to shut you down like, "Calm down, you're overreacting," after you just addressed someone else's bad behavior, is emotional manipulation, pure and simple.
And this is the sort of emotional manipulation that feeds an epidemic in our country, an epidemic that defines women as crazy, irrational, overly sensitive, unhinged. This epidemic helps fuel the idea that women need only the slightest provocation to unleash their (crazy) emotions. It's patently false and unfair.
I think it's time to separate inconsiderate behavior from emotional manipulation, and we need to use a word not found in our normal vocabulary.
I want to introduce a helpful term to identify these reactions: gaslighting.
Gaslighting is a term often used by mental health professionals (I am not one) to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they're crazy.
The term comes from the 1944 MGM film, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman. Bergman's husband in the film, played by Charles Boyer, wants to get his hands on her jewelry. He realizes he can accomplish this by having her certified as insane and hauled off to a mental institution. To pull of this task, he intentionally sets the gaslights in their home to flicker off and on, and every time Bergman's character reacts to it, he tells her she's just seeing things. In this setting, a gaslighter is someone who presents false information to alter the victim's perception of him or herself.
Today, when the term is referenced, it's usually because the perpetrator says things like, "You're so stupid," or "No one will ever want you," to the victim. This is an intentional, pre-meditated form of gaslighting, much like the actions of Charles Boyer's character in Gaslight, where he strategically plots to confuse Ingrid Bergman's character into believing herself unhinged.
The form of gaslighting I'm addressing is not always pre-mediated or intentional, which makes it worse, because it means all of us, especially women, have dealt with it at one time or another.
Those who engage in gaslighting create a reaction -- whether it's anger, frustration, sadness -- in the person they are dealing with. Then, when that person reacts, the gaslighter makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure by behaving as if their feelings aren't rational or normal.
My friend Anna (all names changed to protect privacy) is married to a man who feels it necessary to make random and unprompted comments about her weight. Whenever she gets upset or frustrated with his insensitive comments, he responds in the same, defeating way, "You're so sensitive. I'm just joking."
My friend Abbie works for a man who finds a way, almost daily, to unnecessarily shoot down her performance and her work product. Comments like, "Can't you do something right?" or "Why did I hire you?" are regular occurrences for her. Her boss has no problem firing people (he does it regularly), so you wouldn't know from these comments that Abbie has worked for him for six years. But every time she stands up for herself and says, "It doesn't help me when you say these things," she gets the same reaction: "Relax; you're overreacting."
Abbie thinks her boss is just being a jerk in these moments, but the truth is, he is making those comments to manipulate her into thinking her reactions are out of whack. And it's exactly that kind manipulation that has left her feeling guilty about being sensitive, and as a result, she has not left her job.
But gaslighting can be as simple as someone smiling and saying something like, "You're so sensitive," to somebody else. Such a comment may seem innocuous enough, but in that moment, the speaker is making a judgment about how someone else should feel.
While dealing with gaslighting isn't a universal truth for women, we all certainly know plenty of women who encounter it at work, home, or in personal relationships.
And the act of gaslighting does not simply affect women who are not quite sure of themselves. Even vocal, confident, assertive women are vulnerable to gaslighting.
Because women bare the brunt of our neurosis. It is much easier for us to place our emotional burdens on the shoulders of our wives, our female friends, our girlfriends, our female employees, our female colleagues, than for us to impose them on the shoulders of men.
It's a whole lot easier to emotionally manipulate someone who has been conditioned by our society to accept it. We continue to burden women because they don't refuse our burdens as easily. It's the ultimate cowardice.
Whether gaslighting is conscious or not, it produces the same result: It renders some women emotionally mute.
These women aren't able to clearly express to their spouses that what is said or done to them is hurtful. They can't tell their boss that his behavior is disrespectful and prevents them from doing their best work. They can't tell their parents that, when they are being critical, they are doing more harm than good.
When these women receive any sort of push back to their reactions, they often brush it off by saying, "Forget it, it's okay."
That "forget it" isn't just about dismissing a thought, it is about self-dismissal. It's heartbreaking.
No wonder some women are unconsciously passive aggressive when expressing anger, sadness, or frustration. For years, they have been subjected to so much gaslighting that they can no longer express themselves in a way that feels authentic to them.
They say, "I'm sorry," before giving their opinion. In an email or text message, they place a smiley face next to a serious question or concern, thereby reducing the impact of having to express their true feelings.
You know how it looks: "You're late :)"
These are the same women who stay in relationships they don't belong in, who don't follow their dreams, who withdraw from the kind of life they want to live.
Since I have embarked on this feminist self-exploration in my life and in the lives of the women I know, this concept of women as "crazy" has really emerged as a major issue in society at large and an equally major frustration for the women in my life, in general.
From the way women are portrayed on reality shows, to how we condition boys and girls to see women, we have come to accept the idea that women are unbalanced, irrational individuals, especially in times of anger and frustration.
Just the other day, on a flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles, a flight attendant who had come to recognize me from my many trips asked me what I did for a living. When I told her that I write mainly about women, she immediately laughed and asked, "Oh, about how crazy we are?"
Her gut reaction to my work made me really depressed. While she made her response in jest, her question nonetheless makes visible a pattern of sexist commentary that travels through all facets of society on how men view women, which also greatly impacts how women may view themselves.
As far as I am concerned, the epidemic of gaslighting is part of the struggle against the obstacles of inequality that women constantly face. Acts of gaslighting steal their most powerful tool: their voice. This is something we do to women every day, in many different ways.
I don't think this idea that women are "crazy," is based in some sort of massive conspiracy. Rather, I believe it's connected to the slow and steady drumbeat of women being undermined and dismissed, on a daily basis. And gaslighting is one of many reasons why we are dealing with this public construction of women as "crazy."
I recognize that I've been guilty of gaslighting my women friends in the past (but never my male friends--surprise, surprise). It's shameful, but I'm glad I realized that I did it on occasion and put a stop to it.
While I take total responsibility for my actions, I do believe that I, along with many men, am a byproduct of our conditioning. It's about the general insight our conditioning gives us into admitting fault and exposing any emotion.
When we are discouraged in our youth and early adulthood from expressing emotion, it causes many of us to remain steadfast in our refusal to express regret when we see someone in pain from our actions.
When I was writing this piece, I was reminded of one of my favorite Gloria Steinem quotes, "The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn."
So for many of us, it's first about unlearning how to flicker those gaslights and learning how to acknowledge and understand the feelings, opinions, and positions of the women in our lives.

But isn't the issue of gaslighting ultimately about whether we are conditioned to believe that women's opinions don't hold as much weight as ours? That what women have to say, what they feel, isn't quite as legitimate?"

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Exercise Finder

Click here to go to site.
It's the time of year when people start thinking about exercise routines. (Okay, maybe not just yet, but in a few weeks when it's New Year's Resolution time.) I found this website via Pinterest (love that site!) and you can click on the body parts to get exercises to target each muscle group.  Better yet, the exercises don't seem to require any special equipment.

In other news, I've started doing pilates and am hooked on  Are y'all familiar with that website?  It's great.  There are a TON of different videos and the girl who leads the workouts it totally positive and upbeat.  It's really fun to work out alongside her.

According to the New York Times, people tend to gain 1 pound over the holidays (with overweight people putting on more).  That's not so bad, right?  Well, the bad news is that once that pound is gained, it is unlikely that it'll ever be lost.

Hopefully this will give you some ideas for how to get in shape in the New Year!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Found here
I need to have this one drilled into my head so that I stop pursuing things which do not lead to life.

Friday, December 9, 2011

For Him

Someday I'd like to go
to Atlantic City with you
not to gamble (just being
there with you is enough
of a gamble) but to ride
the high white breakers
have a Manhattan and listen
to a baritone saxophone
play a tune called "Salsa
Eyes" with you beside me
on a banquette but why stop
there let's go to
Paris in November when
it's raining and we read
the Tribune at La Rotonde
our hotel room has a big
bathtub I knew you'd like
that and we can be a couple
of unknown Americans what
are we waiting for let's go

~David Lehmen, May 2

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So Many Books, So Little Time

You can't get a cup of tea big enough, or a book long enough to suit me.
~C.S. Lewis

I took a trip to the library tonight (a little monsoon-esque weather didn't thwart me, no siree!).  I haven't finished the last two books I started (I do intend to), but that didn't prevent me from getting a few more.  Is it just me, or are libraries just about the best things this side of heaven?  Books fill me with awe-- do you remember that scene in Beauty in the Beast when Belle goes to the bookseller?
Belle: Good morning.  I've come to return the book I borrowed. 
Man: Finished already?  
Belle: Oh, I couldn't put it down.  Have ya got anything new? 
Man: (chuckle) Not since yesterday! 
Belle: That's alright.  I'll borrow... this one. 
Man: That one?  But you've read it twice! 
Belle: Well, it's my favorite: far-off places, daring sword fights, magic spells, a prince in disguise! 
Man: If you like it all that much, it's yours! 
Belle: But sir?!? 
Man: I insist! 
Belle: Well, thank you, thank you very much!
Yep, that's how I feel about books too! (Oh, side note: I went to the movies last night and couldn't help noticing that Beauty and the Beast is coming out again in theaters in 3D on January 13th.  Yay!)

I haven't done this in a while, but here are a few of the books that I picked up tonight (in no particular order):

WHY I PICKED IT UP: I'm definitely NOT pregnant, but this book was on display and caught my eye.  It talks about different factors that influence pregnancies and babies.  Interesting, right?  Also, my bff, Corrie, had her baby not too long ago, and I'm the proud Godmother, so anything about babies interests me at the moment.  (I also have a slew of friends at the moment who have babies or are expecting-- it's just that time in life, I guess.)

WHY I PICKED IT UP: Selected by Caroline Kennedy, it's a collection of poems that cover all aspects of womanhood.  I have a friend who emails out a poem a day with his insightful commentary following.  It's making me appreciate poetry in a whole new way.  While flipping through the book, my eyes fell upon these intro lines to a poem:
oh this man
what a meal he made of me
how he chewed and gobbled and sucked
in the end he spat me all out
I was hooked, and the book came home with me.

WHY I PICKED IT UP: I'm intrigued by the idea of choosing to be happy.  I desire to be a person who is satisfied with my life.  The author spends one year setting goals for herself and making every effort to find happiness in the life she has.  I'm going to follow along on her adventure and see if it holds any secrets for me.

WHY I PICKED 'EM UP: I'm a sewer-- a skill I use primarily in making clothes for myself.  I want to learn how to embroider, or more particularly, to do beadwork embroidery.  I love clothes from the 1920s, and I can't help but notice that beading seems to be a hallmark of that time period.  I'd like to work some beading into my designs if I can manage to get the hang of it.

What about you?  What are you reading these days?

Monday, December 5, 2011

How to Make a Snowflake

Every winter I do a snowflake post.  I loved making snowflakes as a child.  I even remember that the way I met my sixth grade best-friend-to-be was by gifting her a snowflake with silhouettes of bears carefully cut into it (she loved bears!).  And, believe it or not, the keyword that brings the most views to this blog is "how to make a snowflake."  Strange, right?

I guess it wouldn't be December if I didn't do at least one snowflake-inspired post.  For those of you who want to refine your craft, check out this how-to from  Below are two snowflakes that the author created; one is a seahorse and the other is love themed.


Once you've gotten the hang of things, surf on over to these posts (here and here) to see some snowflake crafts.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

O Parakeet of the Lissome Star

"...(W)ho can say why two people become a couple, that small principality of mutual protection and regard?  Couples are jigsaw puzzles that hang together by touching in just enough points.  They're never total fits or misfits.  In time, a pair invents its own commonwealth, complete with anthems, rituals, and lingos-- a cult of two with fallible gods.  All couples play kissy games they don't want other people to know about, and all regress to infants from time to time, sine, though we marry as adults, we don't marry adults.  We marry children who have grown up and still rejoice in being children, especially if we're creative.  Imaginative people fidget with ideas, including the idea of a relationship.  If they're wordsmiths like us, they fidget a lot in words."
~Diane Ackerman writing about her relationship with husband Paul West in her memoir, One Hundred Names for Love.

Yay, yay, yay!  I found this book at the library the other day (indeed, it jumped off the shelf at me!) and I'm so excited to read it.  I first heard about it from an interview with Ackerman on NPR.  The book tells of her writer-husband's stroke which left him completely incapacitated and more significantly, without any vocabulary at all.  She nurses him back to health, and somehow, rather miraculously, coaxes his brain into remembering it's former glory.  The title refers to the names that West gives Ackerman as terms of endearments.  While most people would simply call their beloved something along the lines of "honey-pie," his poor addled (yet still creative) brain christens her with monikers such as, "O Parakeet of the Lissome Star," and "Delicious Pie of the Alternate Sheepfold." 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Prairie Style

Did you guys do any Black Friday shopping?  I definitely did.  Last year was my first time, and I guess I enjoyed it because this year I went back again.  Last year I did the whole 4am thing, but this year I decided that unless you want one of those limited big-ticket doorbuster items, there's no need to be there at that time.  I slept in, and around 8:00am my mom and I trekked off to the local JC Penney store.
Prairie-inspired collage via here
So what did I buy?  Clothes, of course!  One of my favorite looks from the runways is what I'm calling "the prairie look."  I LOVE what the Mulleavy sisters did for Rodarte Fall 2011 RTW (with clothes inspired by one of my favorite films, Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven) as well as Anna Sui's Spring 2011 RTW.  (Her collection was also inspired by the same film.  Seriously, if you haven't seen it yet, you should; Days of Heaven is one of the most beautiful films, cinematography-wise, I've ever seen.)

Yesterday my sister and I went to the dog park with her two cute Papillon puppies.  Here's my take on the prairie style:
Prairie Dress: JC Penney, purchased on Black Friday
Duster sweater: Simply Vera Vera Wang for Kohl's, purchased on Black Friday
Riding Boots: vintage
And here's the handsome little Cole Bear.  Isn't he a cutie?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sewing Challenge- Necklines with Bows

I just saw these images from the Dior 2012 cruise collection (via here) and was immediately smitten with the bow detail and the off-the-shoulder neckline.  My fashion designer brain started to imagine what the pattern must look like.  I don't think it would be that hard to draft a pattern for this, assuming that I had the time.  It's cute, no?  (Scroll down to see the closest detail shot that I could find).





And while I'm posting pictures from this particular collection, I'm going to throw in this one.  I LOVE that shade of green-- it may very well be my favorite color.

Craft Tutorials

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Trend Report: Native American Prints and a Pet Peeve

  As a child it would frustrate me to no end.  I'd see a dress or shirt that I wanted, and inevitably, my mother would say I could not have it because the garment wasn't well made.  I'd furrow my little brow in consternation and she would patiently point out the various flaws.  Often the stripes or design would not match up (a minor problem that affected the design, but not the functionality of the clothing) , and at other times, one could see that the fabric was not cut on grain (a more egregious error that would result in ill-fitting clothes).  Reluctantly, I would hang the offending dress back on the rack, and walk away wishing my mother wasn't such a stickler about these sorts of things.

   Fast-forward to today, and I am my mother.  Learning how to sew has made me much more aware of these small details and when they're not done well, it annoys me.
   I've been lusting over so-called Aztec prints.  They're popular this season, carrying over from the summer and now popping up in sweaters and jackets.  I love the above coat from BB Dakota, but can you guess my major complaint?  The jacket retails at $130 and yet they did a terrible job of lining up the print on the jacket.  Those large diamond designs really should have been centered at center back and center front and the panels should all have been cut so that the designs match up.

   They're beautiful coats, but it's this lack of attention to detail that prevents me from buying this coat (which would still be true even if the coat retailed for a lot less).


   What's the solution if you're a precisionist like me (and my mom)?  Make your own, of course!  I love the Ahwahnee Coat from Wearing History Patterns.  Now, onto finding the perfect fabric.  Any suggestions for online fabric stores I should check out?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

This Took Forever

I know all of you fellow seamstresses out there feel my pain.  Anyone who sews, knits, embroiders, or indeed, any sort of handiwork knows that these projects take A.Lot.Of.Time.  Right?  And yet, friends* (and strangers) constantly prevail upon us to make them something or to help with their projects.  Or even worse, thankless friends* fail to appreciate the work that we put into our homemade gifts.  Knitters speak ominously of the "Sweater Curse, " (see Never Knit Your Man a Sweater Unless You've Got the Ring) and the Selfish Seamstress boldly proclaims, "... I only want to sew stuff if it's for me."  You get my point.

These labels, sold by Sublime Stitching, do a great job of conveying, "Yes, I made this.  Yep, I worked really hard on it!"  Perfect for all of your projects, no?


*I should note that I don't make things for my friends very often (I guess I'm a bit of a selfish seamstress, too), but when I do, they do tend to be very grateful.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Mosaic of Them All

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all."
~Stanley Horowitz

I love these pictures of fall (found here).

And this one:

Suzie Q

My dear friend Susan V for Chaps Ralph Lauren (and Kohl's).  I love getting a catalogue in the mail with her beautiful face on it!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Campus Envy

Over the weekend my boyfriend, sister, brother-in-law, and I went up to Princeton, New Jersey for a conference on suffering.  We arrived early on Saturday and sat in the historic chapel as Pastor Ligon Duncan expounded on Psalm 88.  After lunch, I sat in a seminar led by DA Carson on Suffering and the book of Revelation.  We snuck out during the musical interlude to walk around the Princeton University campus, and boy, am I glad that I did.  The campus is beautiful and it was the perfect fall day for a stroll.  I'm totally jealous of the lucky students who get to study at this university.  I think the landscape and the old buildings covered in ivy would naturally inspire me to want to read books all day.

Photobucket Photobucket