Friday, October 7, 2011

Learning how to be wrong

Ok, so the the title of this post is a little inaccurate. I don't really have much learning to do in the "being wrong department." I'm wrong plenty of times; possibly more than I am right. Even though I will be the first one to admit that I am not always right, I've been thinking lately that I probably don't always mean that. I tend to think I am right way more often than I actually am. I have this tendency to think that I am so much more enlightened, informed, etc than a lot of other people, and it's just too bad that all those small minded and ignorant people out there just aren't on my level. I know that's an incredibly ugly thing to think, which is perhaps the reason that it has taken so long to acknowledge it in me. I haven't really noticed this side of me, because frankly, I didn't want to. When we realize something negative about ourselves, it's much easier to ignore it. If it's ignored, we have one less thing about ourselves that we have to recognize as imperfect. We can go about our lives and not have to think about all the things we need to change. Sure, we can recognize some mistakes, because after all, "I'm not so arrogant to think I'm perfect. I can admit when I'm wrong..." and yet, we only allow ourselves to take it so far.
  Recently, for one reason or another that I can't really pinpoint, I have come to realize just how often I think I am right, and everyone who disagrees is completely wrong. I'm much quicker to argue my point of view and opinion, and not quick enough to really consider the fact that this person who has a completely opposite point of view might be right. Recently, I just kind of woke up and thought to myself, "Who up and gave you all the knowledge and wisdom of the universe?" It just kind of hit me that it's basically impossible that I am right as often as I think I am. This was a sobering thought to me, and I realize it's something I need to work on. For all of my life, one of the most detestable character traits I might find in someone has been arrogance. I can't stand an arrogant person, and yet, I never saw the arrogance in me. Carl Jung, a famous and renowned psychiatrist has said, "Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves." I feel like ol' Carl really hit the nail on the head with that one.
  I'm trying to learn, I'm trying to grow. I don't want to keep ignoring this part of me; I've been ignoring it for long enough. It's something I need to work on, and hopefully in doing so, I can get a little closer to the person that I am meant to be.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Homemade Natural Face Mask and Toner

I found this recipe on a YouTube tutorial while I was looking for a natural face mask, and it works really well.


1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons green tea (cooled)
7 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon honey

Mix into a paste and apply it to skin. Rub on gently, and let it sit for 10 minutes.

The apply cider vinegar dissolves dead skin cells, unclogs pores, and detox's the skin. The sugar will exfoliate dead skin and scar tissue. The honey is a natural skin cleanser that is anti-inflammatory, moisturizes, reduces redness, stimulates skin cell renewal, and will firm the skin. The green tea will also detox the skin, as well as repair skin cells and has anti-aging properties.

The mask can be stored in the 'fridge for 1-2 weeks. Use the mask once of twice a week for best results.

1 part apple cider vinegar
2 parts green tea (cooled)
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice (optional.)


Friday, July 1, 2011

Thoughts from our campsite

Ryan and I recently spent a week camping in Maine; our first camping trip together. There were amazing times while we were there (having time together in a beautiful mountainous environment) and not so amazing times while we were there (Ryan had to get 4 stitches in his hand.) One of my favorite parts of the trip were our late night conversations in the tent about all of the distractions in our lives. When you spend a week without any television, radio, phone, texting, and internet you realize how much time these things take up in your daily life. None of these things are inherently bad, but they can become such a distraction from the really important things. Retreating from these things gave us more time to talk, to laugh, to think, and to listen to simple things in life that are so precious. It was so refreshing to have the sound of birds, wind, and rivers take the place of a blaring TV and a phone ringing every 20 minutes.
  It made us realize how much of a role technology plays in our lives, and that we need to stop and examine a few things. What would our lives look like if we started to limit the amount of time the television was on? What would happen if we stopped spending so much of our time online? Would it increase our communication? Would it bring us even closer together? We had a few conversations about what we could do to limit our technology use and hopefully replace that time doing other things. One thing we discussed was how much of the time our TV is on. It's not at all unusual for our television to be on, even when there's nothing on that we want to watch. We realized that we default to having it on, just for the simple sake of having some kind of noise on in the background. When I stop and think about that, it completely baffles me that we default to wanting noise. As much as we are bombarded everyday with noise and chaos, you would think we would want a break from it. We decided we need to change that. From now on, we want to limit our television watching to times when there is something specific on that we actually want to watch. It doesn't make any sense to having it on otherwise. We also decided that we want more time to just be together and talk without any interruptions. We discussed limiting our time online to only using it when there is a specific purpose. Check your email, check your facebook, write on your blog. There's nothing wrong with that. The problem (for us) comes in when we're wasting time surfing the web for the sake of filling time. Wouldn't it be better to fill time interacting with each other rather than a machine?
  Are we making drastic changes? No, not really. We haven't decided to get rid of our TV or our computer. We haven't sworn off facebook or answering the phone after 7:00. We're just starting to recognize small changes we can make that will hopefully benefit our relationship and overall well being. We'll see how it goes, and perhaps our small changes will become bigger ones as we go along.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

We're Buying a House

 We are now (unofficial) homeowners! We have the home inspection and appraisal this upcoming week, and then we will be able to go to settlement. Ryan and I are extremely excited, nervous, happy, anxious, etc. The weight of buying a house can be a little intimidating, but we are looking forward to this new chapter in our lives.
 The house is a semi-detatched duplex located on a cul-de-sac in Sykesville, Maryland (30 minutes from both our jobs and families.) It has 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths, a finished basement, deck, and fenced-in yard. I thought I'd give a little tour of the place since many of our friends and family haven't seen pictures yet.

Meet the Entrance/Living Area

 When you walk through the front door, you immediatly enter the living/family room area. This room leads into the kitchen, as well as the door to the basement on the left.

 This is the other side of the living/family room, and on the other side of the room is a big window.

Meet the Kitchen

 The kitchen is nice and country (which I love.) You can't see it in this picture, but near the 'fridge is a good sized pantry. That'll be a nice change for us since we haven't had a pantry in either of the apartments we've lived in since getting married.

Meet the Eating Area

 This is on the other side of the kitchen where we will have room for a kitchen table (which is also a change for us.) You can barely see in this picture the sliding glass doors that lead out to the backyard.

Meet the Deck

 Right off the kitchen you walk out to the deck which is complete with boxes for flowers (the previous homeowners planted lavendar there.) On the "roof" of the deck is a kind of screening/netting that lets light shine down, but keeps it from beating down on you too much.

Meet the Basement

 When you walk down the stairs, you come to a full bathroom on the side, and then into the basement. The door you see in the picture was an entrance to the outside, but when they put in the deck they covered the entrance. Now it can be used as a space to store bikes or something. There is also a little woodstove in the basement, and (although it is not shown in the picture) a laundry room off to the side.

 I was surprised at how much closet space we have in the basement. The double door closet has a decent amount of space to it, but the small door you see in the corner of the picture goes all the way under the stairs, so it's plenty deep and allows for a lot of storage space.

 Meet the Master Bedroom

 The bedroom has two windows, and off to the left of this picture is a walk-in closet.

 Looking from the wall of where the bed sits, there is the second closet (not a walk-in, but still a decent size,) and right outside of the door is another full bathroom. Coming up the stairs there is also a linen closet (no more having to store our blankets/sheets/towels in my closet.

Meet the Second Bedroom

  The room is small, but big enough for a little kid's room (down the road.) Until then, we might just use it for storage, a music room, computer room, etc.

Meet the Third Bedroom

 The little boy who slept here is also named Ryan. It is a little bigger than the last bedroom and has a closet to the side. We're not quite sure what we'll do with this room either prior to having kids.

And, I've saved one of our favorites for last...

Meet the Back Yard

 This is the view from standing on the deck. There is a decent amount of flat space for a dog and swing set, but when you go past the little gate you come to that first tier of space. We plan to put in a vegetable/herb garden here, which we've been wanting to do since we got married. We also have honeysuckle growing there, which I plan to keep since it smells so nice.
 When you walk past the first tier of land, you come to a second tier where we could put a few more veggie plants, and also where the shed is kept. I would like to see if I can grow some flowers to climb the little chuppa there. There is also a little bit of land behind that second tier, but I don't know if/what we will use it for. It also has honeysuckle growing there.

 This is also from the deck, where you can see a little bit of the flat part of the yard. We plan to have a compost somewhere here, and we may or may not have a clothesline as well.

  That's the house, although I plan on calling it "The Big Rock Candy Mountain."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Call to Simplicity

Ryan and I are always talking about pursuing a simpler lifestyle; one that doesn't revolve so much around technology and excess as so many people are prone to doing (ourselves included.) We like our cable TV, our Internet access, our daily conveniences. Even though we're so accustomed to having these things, we both have a deed desire to lead a much more simple and natural life. We talk about spending less time in front of the TV and more time enjoying things like playing catch outside. We look forward to the day when we will have a yard so we can grow our own vegetables and raise chickens. We both see God in nature and in a simpler way of life, and we really feel compelled to embrace. It can definitely be difficult though to break old habits. For example, I love to declutter. I get a sense of productivity and peace from getting rid of excess amount of junk that we end up stockpiling without even realizing it. The thing that really amazes me;however, is how we can get rid of a whole lot of stuff, and in no time at all have a ton more we need to declutter. Where did all of this stuff come from? When did we start accumulating all of this? It just goes to show us how desensitized we are are building up stuff that we really don't need (or even want.)
We really feel a calling to live a simplistic life. At church, they have been talking about having margin in your life. Margin in your time, margin in your finances... something that will keep you from filling your life up so much to where there is no room for the things that really matter. We're still figuring out what a simplistic life is going to look like for us, but I'm excited to see what is down the road for us and how we will adjust to it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Homemade Eco-Friendly Deodorant

As I transition to using homemade shampoo and conditioner, I have decided to throw in homemade deodorant as well. Most commercial brands of deodorant have aluminum in them, which has been linked to cancer and other physical harms. Not to mention, most commercial deodorants are expensive and harmful to the environment. In an effort to purge our home of toxic chemicals, I am experimenting with making my own deodorant with the hopes that it will work well and replace our commercial brands. I have been using my homemade mixture for the past few days, and so far so good! I have found it lasts longer than commercial brands, smells amazing, and is definitely the cheaper way to go! You can apply the mixture by rubbing it on your underarms like lotion, or you can spoon it into a deodorant container (but you will need to keep it in the refrigerator if you want it to stay in a solid state.) This mixture does not leave any residue on your body or clothes, and keeps your perspiration to a minimum. You don't want to use full on antiperspirants since this is your body releasing toxins. 

Deodorant recipe:

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup corn starch or arrowroot powder (I use corn starch, but for some this will irritate the skin. Arrowroot does not contain talc in it, so it will not irritate.)
6 heaping tablespoons of coconut oil
5-6 drops of tea tree oil.

The baking soda eliminates odor, the corn starch (or arrowroot) is a natural thickening agent, and the coconut oil and tea tree oil are antibacterial properties (and smell super good!)

My hope is that this recipe continues to work so that we can get rid of our commercial brands and contribute to a healthier lifestyle for ourselves and the planet. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Vegetarian Experiment

Growing up, I was never a huge fan of most meat. Put a piece of steak in front of me and I would rather not partake. However, I do like some meat like pepperoni, bacon, sometimes chicken, fish, etc. Although I eat a lot of vegetarian dishes, I also tend to enjoy meat products. However, I really want to try giving meat up altogether.
The other night, Ryan and I sat down and watched a documentary entitled, "Earthlings." This is a movie depicting the horrors of how where are meat comes from. I always knew that animals were being slaughtered for our meat and that it wasn't the most pleaseant of experiences, but I had no idea the extent of it! The best way I can sum up the situation is that the lives that are being taken are not being respected. All life (humans and animals) should be respected and treated kindly. I am not against eating meat, but the ethics behind it are seriously lacking! I don't want to support an industry that unnecessarily tortures and ridicules animals. Having an animal be shut up in a small space for it's whole life, subjected to injury and disease due to it's cramped living conditions, hung upside as it has its throat slit and left to bleed to death (which can take a lot longer than you might think) is not acceptable. For an animal to have a metal rod shot through it's head, have it's throat slit, and dropped to the ground (all while it's still alive) isn't something I can support. So...

I'm going to try to cut out meat. In some ways I could fool myself into thinking this will be pretty easy. I prefer tofu to chicken, I prefer soy sausage to the real thing, I don't enjoy most red meat (even veggie burgers are fine by me.) However, I know that old habits die hard. The types of meat that I do usually eat could be a struggle to cut out. Unfortunately, it's been so ingrained into our minds that meat is meat and it's acceptable to eat it, regardless of how it comes to be on our plate. Ryan made a good point when he mentioned that this moral issue isn't something that will ever be called into question in your life. Most people are not going to question your choice to eat meat or keep you accountable about where that meat came from. Most people don't want to think about it. This decision is something that I have to commit to on my own, because the majority of people think the notion of giving up meat is silly.

In my discuss with Ryan after viewing the documentary brought to light the importance of moral consistency. If I am alright with eating meat, I need to be alright with the way it is slaughtered. If I'm not alright with the way it is slaughtered, I can't be alright with eating it. So, I'm going to give this a try. We'll see how it goes, and hopefully I will be on my way to a life of vegetarianism!