Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Congratulations to our winner!

Congratulations to Gail for winning the beaded cross give-away. She chose "Dark Before the Dawn" as her prize.

Thanks again to my cousin Marla for hosting the give-away. It was such an encouragement to get so much positive feedback on my work.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Beaded Cross Give-Away

That right, you're not dreaming! I'm giving away (as in for free) the beaded cross of your choice through my cousin Marla's blog. All you have to do is tell Marla which one of my crosses you'd like to win. The lucky recipient will be drawn Tuesday night at 11pm.

Marla is an incredible author and, let's face it, has a much larger blog following than I do. So, she is allowing me to leverage her cyber popularity for this give-away. Oh, and did I fail to mention that I love her books? Oh, I already hinted at that? Well, here's a little point-proving tid-bit for you: Since I was in college, I have given a copy of this book to nearly every gal friend of mine as a bridal shower gift. I read it once before I even knew Devin, then again after we got engaged. Now that we're married, it has become a sort-of reference tool for me. I won't go into detail, but I had to make myself read the chapter "Fighting Fairly" just a few nights ago because I needed a little (a lot) of Marla's humbling wisdom. Thanks cousin!

So hop on over to Marla's blog and win yourself a cross. And hey, even if you don't win, you can alway console yourself by purchasing one for just $17!

Church Family: A New Experience

This past weekend, I had two opportunities to hang out with members of the small church Devin and I are now attending. It was an experience unlike anything I have ever had. Which is sad, because feeling a family connection with the people in my church should not be a new experience for me, but it was.

Friday night we were invited over to the pastor's house (along with the other young married couples) for dinner and games. Prior to attending Family Bible Church, I have never attended an event at the pastor's house, let along received a personal invite from the pastor himself! I grew up in large churches and the pastor was someone I held in high reverence. I felt special if I happened to catch his eye as I pass him after services (which I can only remember happening maybe twice). It's not that my previous pastors were snobbish, they just had thousand and thousands of members in their congregation and didn't exactly have the capacity to engage personally in everyone's life. So they sort-of took on this "socially untouchable" status in my mind.

But here I was, not only having dinner at the pastor's house, but being personally sought out by he and his wife for conversation. Conversation that went so much deeper than, "How ya been?" I even played the pastor in a game of Hearts (and beat him, much to his good-humored chagrin).

Then, Sunday after church we were again invited to their house for lunch. Which is something they offer every Sunday to anyone interested. And yet again, we were engaged in open-hearted conversations with those in attendance. It was so different for me and I loved it.

I can not believe that I have experience church my whole life without ever having actually experienced Church the way is should be - believers connecting with each other, caring deeply about each others' needs and walk with the Lord and involving themselves in each others lives. For probably the first time in my life I understood what people mean when they talk about a "church family." Again, it's not that the previous churches I have attended have been rude or unwelcoming... there is just such a stalk difference between the connections I've seen/experienced at those large churches and what I am seeing, experiencing and growing to love so much about Family Bible Church.

God is so good to have brought me to this church. I smile and shake my head at myself when I remember how nervous and uncomfortable I was with the instant, welcoming acceptance I received when we first started attending. But, I suppose after 26 years of blending in with the crowd, being noticed and welcomed personally... by nearly every member of the church... was foreign and intimidating for me. However, the more and more I experience it, the more I love it and wonder how I ever survived without it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Great Date for $5.53

Last night, Devin and I went on an incredibly fun date. We laughed and ate some yummy food and saw a show and had an all-around blast. And it only cost us $5.53. How in the world did you do this?, you may be wondering. Well, like many things in life, it is all about perspective and being content with what you have to work with.

We wanted to get out of the apartment and enjoy an evening together, but we didn't want to spend a lot of money. So, Devin started digging through our "date box" (where we keeps coupons, restaurant gift cards and books with fun date ideas) and found a Bed, Bath and Beyond gift card with $7.66 left on it and a buy-one-get-one-free pretzel coupon from Auntie Anne's. Thus began one great evening together.

First stop-  the lovely, but more-often-than-not over-priced Bed, Bath and Beyond. We entered armed only with a $7.66 gift card, a joyful heart and a determination to find the most bang for our buck. After forty-five minutes of scouting (and receiving many quizzical glances from the employees), we proudly presented our purchases to the clerk. Our findings consisted of a Twix candy bar, an "invigorating" scalp massager and a blue jar candle that measured only two inches tall.

(Devin took this picture of our candle for his blog)

(Enjoying our new purchases)

The best (i.e. most entertaining) part was, we were able to "cash out" the remaining gift card money - a grand total of 22 cents! The clerk, who seemed genuinely amused by our adventure, had to call the manager over and take down our name and address in order to bestow upon us our break-the-bank 22 cents.

Gathering our purchases, we left Bed, Bath and Beyond 22 cents richer and headed to the Chandler Fashion Square Mall for our buy-one-get-one-free pretzels. We arrived with only fifteen minutes until the mall closed and speed-walked our way to Auntie Anne's Pretzels. Gasping for breath - from laughter as much as from our quick jaunt through the mall - we placed our pretzel order. By this time, we only had about two minutes to get out of the mall before it was locked up. After rushing back through the mall, we sat down by the outdoor fountains to savor our delicious pretzels.

We got there just in time to enjoy the music-timed fountain show that plays at the top of every hour. Picture a mall version of Vegas's Bellagio:

 (Bellagio)                            (Chandler Mall)

I was delighted when the soundtrack from The Sound of Music (one of my "favorite things")  began to play in time with the fountain. I adore musicals and had to suppress my urge to sing along with gusto (for which Devin was very grateful). Even though the fountain doesn't look that impressive when compared to something like the Bellagio, it was a very well-done show and completed our $5.53 date perfectly.

Date Cost Breakdown:
BB&B purchases: free with gift card
Two Pretzels: $5.75 minus $0.22 (from gift card cash out) = $5.53

Q4U- What is your favorite way to have a great date on a small budget?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Something to remember when you're 80

I saw this print ad the other day and thought it went really well with my Project 101 in 1001 journey.

Q4U- What is something you've done in your life that you're likely to remember when you're 80? I'd love to hear about it!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Goal #73 in Progress: Beaded Crosses

While I wouldn't say that I am ready to cross off Goal #73, I am making progress. I spent most of today making some gorgeous (if I do say so myself) beaded crosses. Aaaaaa.... creating just for the fun of it -  one of my favorite ways to relax. It was wondrous. My fingertips are poked raw thanks to what seemed like miles of copper wire and my back is aching after hovering over my craft for hours, but still I maintain that this day of creating was glorious

So without further ado, here are some of results from today's relaxing toil:

(Photo courtesy of my wonderful husband)

Originally, I had made crosses like these to adorn all the bouquets at my wedding:

And as "Thank You" gifts for all those wonderful folks who made our Big Day day flow smoothly:

I also decorated our Christmas tree with a few and they were a lovely reminder of the "reason for the season."

Goal #73 is to sell these crosses at Easter and Christmas time. And wouldn't you know, it just happens to be Easter time! So, to end the suspense - yes, you can purchase these beautiful crosses

Q4U- What activity relaxes you the most?

Crafty Notions: Beaded Crosses

Handmade Beaded Crosses: Crosses measure 3 1/2" tall and come in a variety of styles and colors (see below).

Price: Price: $30.00 each (includes gift box and shipping to U.S. addresses). Order five crosses and receive a discounted price of $25.00 each (includes gift box and shipping to U.S. addresses).  E-mail me with your order (payments can be made through PayPal).

Crafty Notions Beaded Crosses:

 Desert Sunset
(shades of purple with gold and orange accents)

 Pretty in Pearls
(shades of pink with pearl accents)

Sands on the Shore
(shades of blue and teal with brown stone accents)

 The Dark Before the Dawn
(shades of gray, black and navy)

 Pearls of the Sea
(shade of aqua blue with pearl accents)

 We're All in This Together

*Please note: Because they are handmade, the pattern of beading will vary slightly on each cross.
** All crosses are custom-created after orders are placed, please allow 4-5 weeks for processing (6-7 weeks for orders over five crosses).

photography by Devin Hanson Photography

Monday, March 15, 2010

Goal #24 Complete - Packing Away the Memories

This past weekend, I went to visit my folks in Tucson. While I was there, I undertook the arduous task of cleaning out "the abyss" - also know as the huge, catch-all, walk-in closet in my old room.

My parent's have been very generous to allow me to keep my things in this closet. But considering there are five people still actually residing in their house, it hardly seemed fair that I was taking up the largest closet.

Thus, I gathered up storage binds, garbage bags and a box marked "Donate" and got to work packing away some memories.

Choosing which memories to store away and which ones to toss was bittersweet. I was nostalgic as I sorted through hundreds of items, many of which brought me back to a very specific moment in my life. The costumes from my days as a theatre major were the best - Goneril from Shakespeare's King Lear, Raina from Arms and the Man, The Ghost of Christmas Past from A Christmas Carol, and Raven from The Robber Bridegroom -  all characters that I was very proud of and cherished playing.

The end result of the closet purge wasn't quite as dramatic as I had hoped (the closet held much more that wasn't mine than I had thought). But, I felt accomplished and my parents were grateful, so the goal was still a success!

Here is the closet before:

(The door wouldn't even open the whole way!)

Here is the closet after:
(My parents can actually get to the gun safe now! Can you spot it in the before picture?)

(And the door is fully opened!)

Here is the mass I removed from the closet:

(Two bins of "memories" for the attic, one bin of hand-me-downs for my sisters to wear later, three and a half bags of garbage and one box to donate)

I think accomplishing a goal with such tangible results was a very satisfying way to kick of Project 101 in 1001! But it was going through a whole closet-full of memories that was the highlight.
Q4U-  What is one special item that you have packed away as a memory-keeper?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Project 101 in 1001: The List

As I wrote my List of 101 goals, I constantly reminded myself of some important things:

Firstly, I focused on two Bible verses about making plans.

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.“ - Proverbs 16:9

“'For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” - Jeremiah 29:11 (emphasis mine)

Secondly, these “plans” of mine are firmly set in jello. In other words, life happens, things change and sometimes my plans don’t work out. I’m making a pledge now that I am going to be okay with that, even if it means everything on my List doesn’t get checked off.

Thirdly, there were some long-term goals that I wanted to focus on while constructing the List:
  • Staying home with our future kids while working from home part-time to contribute to family income
  • Having more flexibility to serve, travel and go on mission trips
  • Give more of my life and comfort for the benefit of others

And lastly, my 1001 Days will be completed about seven months before my 30th birthday. I think this is a pretty cool way to bring in the year of the Big 3-0.

So, without further ado – here is the List.

Project 101 in 1001
Launch Date: March 10, 2010
End Date: December 5, 2012

Personal Goals 
1. Create a blog to chronicle Project 101 in 1001  
2. Blog a personal/life update once-a-month for six months
3. Take a sewing class 
4. Sew an article of clothing and wear it in public  
5. Take an exercise class  
6. Take a class about using coupons 
7. Use at least one coupon for every grocery purchase for four weeks
8. Learn how to use the espresso machine 
9. Learn to ski or snowboard 
10. Hike Fossil Creek 
11. Hike the trail in Gisela, AZ and float back down on the river 
12. Go to a rock gym or go climbing on actual rocks 
13. Do the “Daniel Diet” – eat only fruits, vegetables and water for 10 days 
14. Make dinner two nights a week for one month
15. Try a new recipe once a week for one month

16. Read ten books off of the BBC’s Top 100 Books list 
17. Watch ten movies off of the AFI’s list of 100 Top Movies 
18. Attend five plays, musicals, or symphonies  
19. Attend a show at Ethington Theatre (the theatre at my alma mater) when it re-opens 
20. Act in a play 
21. Attend an Art Walk in downtown Scottsdale and dress to the nine 
22. Clean/organize the guestroom closet 
23. Clean/organize the bedroom closet 
24. Organize and pack costumes and old clothes at mom and dad’s house 
25. Before my annual dentist appointment - floss every night for 30 days  
26. Do a ten-day “Media Fast” – no TV, movies or non-work-related internet use 
27. Scrapbook three pages a week for six weeks 
28. Finish the photo album from our honeymoon 
29. Build/maintain a garden on our back porch 
30. Get up at 6:00am every weekday for two weeks and have breakfast/devotionals on the back porch 
31. Pack a lunch for work every day for three weeks 
32. Get a professional massage 
33. Get a pedicure on the first day of summer 
34. For Christmas one year, hand-make all gifts 
35. Start a recycle bin at home 
36. Find a ministry to serve in (see goals 60-62) 
37. Read the Bible once a day, every day, for 30 days 
38. Memorize ten passages of scripture 
39. Read Calm My Anxious Heart 
40. Grow hair out

Relational Goals 
41. Have friends over for dinner four times, over the course of two months
42. Go sailing with Lynn and Bob 
43. Have a weekly date night with Devin for at least 6 months
44. Go on 20 of the dates listed in the books Dates on a Dime and Coffee Dates for Couples 
45. Watch the marriage series Love and Respect with Devin or with a small group 
46. Host a “How to Host a Murder” dinner party 
47. Have a Back to the Future party with friends and watch all three movies in one day 
48. Baby-sit Joshua (my nephew) at least ten times
49. Organize a game of laser tag with friends 
50. Take swing dancing lessons with Devin 
51. Send Jordan, Julia and Katie (my youngest siblings) a card for every major card-selling holiday in 2011
52. Make a real friend at church (not just an acquaintance)

Financial Goals 
53. Attend a class on Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University with Devin 
54. Live six months radically frugal 
55. Tithe 10% of income every month
56. By the end of 1001 days, have enough saved for a house down-payment (including closing and moving costs - estimated $20,000 or more)

Others-Focused Goals
57. Write my Compassion sponsor children once a month for a year
58. Write a thank you letter to five people who have made a difference in my life
59. Send hand-written notes of encouragement to five friends/family members 
60. Volunteer at an local orphanage or foster home center
61. Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center
62. Locate a local theatre ministry and attend a production
63. Go on a mission trip with Devin
64. Give up buying coffee for four weeks and give the money I save to Mocha Club. (This will provide approximately fourteen Africans with clean water for one year!)
65. For my birthday one year, ask for cash and donate it to House of James Orphanage
66. Serve breakfast to the homeless
67. Join the Peace Feast Project and eat at five different Middle Eastern restaurants
68. Organize a food, toy or diaper drive for a charity at Christmas time
69. With Devin, donate a bridal session to an underprivileged couple
70. With Devin, donate a portrait session to an underprivileged family
71. With Devin, donate family portraits to the families staying at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital
72. Find a ministry that needs graphic design an donate 20 hours of services

Business Goals
73. Make enough beaded crosses to sell at Easter and Christmas
74. Learn to make jewelry
75. Have a jewelry party
76. Sell my own work at a craft show
77. Learn to draw caricatures
78. Start doing Lady Jennifer shows again
79. Attend the Phoenix Wedding Expo with Devin to gather ideas for design and photography
80. Create samples of invitations, announcements and cards
81. Launch invitation-designing side of business
82. Design something new, for fun, every week for eight weeks
84. Create freelance design website
85. Launch freelance design business
86. Create/print promotional materials for freelance design business
87. Attend a Creative Connect
88. Enter a design competition
89. Have Devin teach me more about photography- specifically composition and lighting
90. Create a “look-book” of photography ideas/inspiration
91. Shoot at least five weddings with Devin
92. Work from home full-time

Travel Goals
93. Visit Compassion sponsor girls in Uganda
94. Visit New England in the fall
95. Take a “flip a coin” road trip with Devin
96. Take a trip to South Carolina to visit Stephanie, Daniel and Mia
97. Go camping in Yosemite National Park (my favorite camping spot)
98. Go camping in Woods Canyon Lake (Devin’s favorite camping spot)
99. Stay at a bed-and-breakfast as a weekend get-away with Devin
100. Take a “Girls Trip” with girl friends
101. Plan a surprise get-away with/for Devin

(too see how I'm coming along on these goals, click here)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Project 101 in 1001: The Beginning

Here are some things you should know about me:

One: I don’t like to fail. I mean I really don’t like to fail. Often times I will not even try to do something if I think I might fail at it (which I suppose is a form of failure also.) I think it comes from my firstborn-Type-A-always-do-your-best mentality. Sometimes this personality trait benefits me and prods me to success. Often times however, it is my downfall and has probably kept me from some pretty great things.

Two: I don’t like to let people down. It stems back to the “fear of failure” thing. If I told someone I’ll do something – I do it.

Three: I’m in a major life-rut and I need to make some changes.

What kind of changes? You may be wondering.

Why, I'm so glad you asked!

I want to write a better story with my life. Because right now, it’s not exactly a page-turner. I want to be a better wife, a better friend, a better person. Someone whose life has direction and purpose and brings glory to God. The Lord has given me this life for a reason and I can't continue to sit idle while it passes me by.

Thus, when I heard about the idea of "101 Goals in 1001 Days", I thought it sounded like the perfect catalyst for me to start making some changes in my life. How it works is this: Build a list of 101 goals and make an action plan of how to accomplish those goals in 1001 day (just under 3 years).

But in order to follow through with that many goals, I was going to have to tell someone about it, a lot of someones. That’s why this blog came about. As I complete each goal, I’ll write about it. You see, if I’ve told people about the changes I’m striving for and that I have a blog about it, I'm accountable to do something about it (please refer back to item two: I don’t like to let people down).

I hope you’ll follow me on this “Project 101 in 1001” journey of mine. Some of the goals are serious, some are fun, some are focused inwardly, while others are focused outwardly. One way or another, I think this process will be fun, challenging and that at the end of it I’ll have a better life-story to write.

Q4U- What are a few goals you'd like to accomplish in the next 1001 days?

Next post: My List.