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christmas was very good to me this year. usually thanksgiving is my favorite of the holidays, but somehow, december 25th out-performed it. and for that i’m glad.

it could be in part to the fact that christmas season stretches longer than the others; with a handful of gift exchanges and get-togethers. i learned how to make peanut-butter chocolate-chip scones for my staff homemade gift exchange (we did that at my coworker’s house, which i’m incidentally absolutely in love with. it’s so hip, in fact, it’s been featured on a couple blogs that i’m aware of: here and here.) i went roller skating with some of our youth group ladies + friends for the first time since elementary school, i believe. it was hilarious and definitely something we should do more often!

i went to some christmas services and a musical (which was amazing: when jesus was born, fake snow rained down on the audience and their versions of the traditional christmas songs were utterly captivating. i wish they were on youtube, they were that good.) i spent christmas eve at my parents’, and we did presents in the morning. everyone seemed to really like what i got them (which is my favorite part of the season), and i got some books and dvds i’d been wanting, some new shoes and shirts (mary jane heels even!), a laptop bag and a cordless drill! i actually am excited about that, particularly because i’ve had to borrow my dad’s multiple times in our townhouse. AND because now that my dear roommate is officially off the market and planning on getting married when our lease ends, i’ll have to do another round of decorating all over again.

but actually that’s something i’m looking forward to. i’m excited for holly to get married (i get to be one of her bridesmaids!!! and, hopefully, lend a hand with the whole wedding-planning process!) but also i feel like it’s an opportunity to take that next little growing-up step. of course it’s going to be a stretch financially, but i’ve started stocking up on stuff i’ll need for my own little abode; most importantly–inspired by the bride-to-be herself–with a silver-tinsel christmas tree and some silver and green glass ornaments plus a green-feather tree topper. so little by little…till then, let the christmas-spirit ring!

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I was talking to the one guy friend who I’m closest to the other day (and one of my all-time favorite emailing buddies) and we were talking about my recent little break-up. He was telling me about how it’ll be good for me to take this time for myself and figure out what I want—rather than what society says you want. He was talking about us being rushed into finding love, as we watch everyone around us traipse into relationships and get married off, and then he made a good point: “We’re still so young. I hate that we’re in our twenties, and we’re saying, ‘I’m so old!’”

As shouldn’t surprise me, it was a very good point. I’m still so young with a multitude of possibilities laid out before me, a nice little smorgasbord to select from and arrange on my plate. (Little known fact: “smorgasbord” used to be one of my favorite words, circa 1997.)

One of the nice things that’s come from this whole status change is that I know feel like I have so much time on my hands! I know I had time before, but I always felt obligated to save a chunk here and there, “just in case.” (Because, of course, you know that boyfriends and girlfriends have a quota of time to fill, don’t you?!) But now, my time is my own and I don’t owe it to anyone, nor can I have expectations about what to do with it. I know it was always my own, but that’s the trap I set myself in when I’m in a relationship—getting trapped in obligations and “shoulds.”

So what have I been using all this newfound time on? Well hopefully by the end of this weekend I’ll have some photographic proof: My latest crafts is birds cut from felt that I want to string from the ceiling. I’ve also started trolling the stores in search of Christmas presents (my mom is going to be the toughie this year), and last night I sat down and tried my hand at design. Even though I work on a design magazine and appreciate design to the utmost, I’ve never fancied myself a designer. I still don’t, but I tried to flip that whole “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” Anyway, we needed some logos for our student ministry at church and I had a couple of ideas that I decided to put to the challenge. The hard part is that I don’t know any how to maximize any of the software so it was a pretty rudimentary process. Yet and still, whether they work out, it was still a fulfilling little project.

Here they are in all their glory (except that they’re crappy files). They’re all based off our church’s tagline, “Building a growing community of passionate Jesus followers.” Within each logo idea are a couple variations to choose from (different type treatments or sizes, etc.):

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Spectrum one pays homage to the 6 passions with 6 different colored petals (which can also be read as colored drops, ie drops of Jesus’ blood). Also, the petaled image in the middle incorporates Eastside’s new logo.

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Elevate also incorporates Eastside’s new logo and can take on a couple different variations (either filling in the space in the “e” or just coloring in the background). The rest of the word is (fittingly) “elevated.”

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Roots takes to the “growing” part of the tagline and is a little bit more youthful/playful than the others. I thought this would lend itself well if we ever make t-shirts.

i’ve got to say, it’s been a picture-perfect thursday. paul’s been sick, so last night i went over to keep him company (and also learn how to play guitar hero, although i was disappointed that “reputation” wasn’t the joan jett version). we were listening to the new angels and airwaves cd that he got and fell asleep on his bedroom floor. i feel like lately i’ve been sleeping more and more, and half the time i feel like i ought to be back in high school, heading to bed at 10:30. i’ve just been chalking it up to “old age.”

anyway we woke up and i left around 2am, came home and decided to head in late to work. so i didn’t wake up until almost 10 when i made my way into work. it was a productive day at the office and flew by. came home, watched some ANTM, and here i am. in about an hour i’m going to go meet brianna at starbucks, which will be a nice way to wound down the night.

although i have been playing around with paint shop pro which came on my laptop but was always too complicated. i started messing around with it this morning and the stuff from the photoshop class i took back in college (which i can hardly believe is over 3 years ago!) has started coming back. maybe we’ll see some fun examples of that on here soon. i’d like to take photos more regularly. otherwise i feel like the new camera isn’t really going to use. in the meantime, here’s a picture i played with of me and paul:

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on a less “dear diary”-esque note, my church has started a blog that they update with ideas for bible readings and discussions. i think it’ll be a good tool to use for short daily readings/devotionals, especially because there’s no flipping or fumbling involved–click and it’s there, plus you can access it from anywhere. i love seeing churches and faith be so hip to the technological age; it’s pretty cool.

i noticed that i haven’t been very good about posting with pictures lately. my apologies with that.

as it turns out, there has been a lot going on visually in the life of carmen, so here’s a little retrospective:

over my bed, there’s a big white wall. currently i have a pretty picture of dancers above the headboard, but i think the picture is too small for the space. i’m contemplating blowing up a lyric into a big poster and framing that for overhead. you can do it pretty cheap through walmart.com; i’m just not 100% that i’m going to love it. but i hope so. here’s a version of what i’m thinking, image-wise (although the green will be more sage-y, but i do like the white background. not sure what color for the frame though):
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has anyone ordered posters through there? i’m afraid that the resolution will come out blurry. (the lyric is from the end of our dear old boys troubled hubble‘s song, “nancy.”)

additionally, i’d been fretting over my necklaces and so i went on a crafting binge while i hung out at my parents’ house. my dad helped me find a proper stick and cut it down to size, and then i hammered and nailed and spraypainted until i came up with this:

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i’m pleased with it. not 100% in love, but i think it will do. i’m not sure what i think it’s missing. maybe another coat of spray paint? honestly i’m too lazy for that. at least it’s sturdy.

and earlier this week, our staff took a little “inspiration outing” and checked out some designerly shops downtown, one of which was High Street, a place where i seriously want to call home. it was beautiful, with all kinds of old couches and beautiful chandeliers and patterns and lots of nature-y accents:

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looking back at the calendar, i see that days have melted away. so, playing catch-up, here’s a review of where i’ve been biding my time lately:

  • awaiting the arrival of my new computer. my home desktop died two weekends ago and i spent all that time flip-flopping between decisions–Mac or PC? desktop or laptop? 15.4-inch or 17-inch? what kind of software? what name brand? i finally got to the point where i realized how distracting it was and all the choices were getting me nowhere. so i stopped. took a deep breath and decided God would decide for me when the time was right. then on monday, with a clear head, i made my decision and my new black, 15.4-inch Dell laptop arrived with all my pretty photo-editing software. and i have peace about it.
  • now i’m just waiting to buy my new camera. i want a sony cyber-shot w80. did my research on that and i think for the price, there’s so much bang. of course i still have a little love affair going for the elph, but i’m quite content with the cyber-shot’s features (amazing lens, can take indoor pictures without flash, face-recognition, auto-focus, etc) that i’m not looking back. indecision will not take me captive again!
  • resulting in a never before seen aligning of the stars, two new, much-anticipated cds dropped yesterday: motion city soundtrack’s even if it kills me, and new found glory’s from the screen to your stereo 2. both are a-m-a-z-i-n-g. take my word for it.
  • planning for the Back to School Dance Party. or more appropriately, thinking about it but not doing anything. it takes place tomorrow. and i have no idea when we’re going to have time to prep. my gut predicts: an hour before the Eagle’s set to Land.
  • and of course…

hanging out with the ever-elusive boy. tonight’s a big night; he’s meeting my family, which i’m very interested to see. i haven’t brought a boy home in y-e-a-r-s, so it’s a weird feeling, but a good one. if you know me very well, you know that i’m pretty aware of my feelings. i remember in college going on dates and coming home and nicole would ask me how it went and i’d respond, “eehhh, i dunno.” and her response one time was, “well, what was it this time?!” it made me realize how picky i am; how i’ve gone on many first dates and only a few second dates and even fewer third dates. my dating record in that respect looks like the dropoff of a huge water slide, which ought to make a big old splash at the end but, invoking Mr. T.S. Eliot himself, “ends not with a bang but a whimper.” but, all poetics aside, i’ve come to realize that pickiness isn’t overrated and that i trust my sense of judgment, particularly when it comes to what i know that i need. i know that i want to be friends with this person. i know that this person doesn’t “fit” with me. i know those things. so the fact that i feel like this person does fit with me, at least for the time being, i’m confident in that feeling. i don’t think it’s ever let me down. and plus i think the whole situation couldn’t be more blessed from any angle.

i remember i started reading all those books about women and men and relationships and singledom, and although i had been very OK with the idea that maybe i wasn’t meant to fall in love and get married–what if i wanted it too much and singledom was God keeping me closer to his will? what if He knew that it’d be bad for me? so i was OK with that. i always just told myself that i could always adopt and that that would be enough. well in one of the books, they said something about how God isn’t malicious–he isn’t going to put a desire on your heart and then not fulfill it. so i my view of that whole situation altered and i began praying that God would fulfill that desire in his own time, and in whatever way he deemed appropriate–to my mind it was a Boy relationship, but maybe it was mentoring or missions or something else. my mind is only so big and so i can only see so much. i just wanted to feel filled.

also, one of the things i’d picked up from the “the thrill of the chaste” book was the idea that you can’t be on the hunt for a relationship because what invariably happens when you go hunting? you end up killing that which you were chasing after. it’s destructive. so i also started praying that god would make it so that i didn’t have to chase or hunt, that he’d just provide and deliver the person without me having to do any “work” (meaning, trying to make him like me, trying to get his attention, etc.). and what do you know but that that’s how it worked? that the new boy came through an avenue i never would have imagined. (abridged version: two of the girls i lead on sunday morning, who are 14 and 15, told me they had a tennis/water polo coach and wanted to set me up. i humored them. it actually happened.) God provided.

so that’s why i think that no matter what comes of this–another week or year or indefinite–right now i can’t doubt that it’s in God’s will. plus, my relationship with Him is very strong and so that is another thing that encourages me in all this, where i want to have 100% certainty but that i know that some of the best things in life require a small leap of faith–God included. so, for now, the same with Paul. (yes, there you have it: that’s his name.)

of late, i’ve been celebrating a sort of Christmas-in-August.

the other week i came home to a cute little polka-dot print package from a roasty-toasty Miss Kristin out in phoenix. inside?

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a (…poor picture of a…) cute wooden jewelry box (green on the inside) full of old costume jewelry that she found at an estate sale and thought of ME.

then, on sunday, i came home from a long day spent being lazy at my parents’ (and catching up on every last miami ink and bridezilla episode) and holly had a present of her own for me: a soundtrack for our new little life. with it came a lego that she’d gotten from church as they were talking about the need to be connected.

i’ve been loving the cd ever since and when i brought it to work on monday, could hardly pay attention and accomplish anything because i was determined to learn every word to “walk it out.” (still working on it.)

here’s the playlist:
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(look what my roommate’s trying to do to me with all these explicit songs. i don’t know if my angelic ears can take it.)

top it all off, yesterday my manager (with whom i have daily hot chocolate breaks) gave me some extra kings island tickets she had. me, bee and holly will be putting them to use on saturday. i haven’t been in years. backwards racer, here i come!

so, long live August! (i feel loved.)

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