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Spray Painted Urns

April 17, 2012

Last year I came across a great idea over at Nesting Place: adding color to your garden by spray painting urns. I had some urns that I thought would perfect candidates for spray painting; urns that looked very plastic-y. The only problem was I had a hard time finding paint. Last year I looked for plastic spray paint, but didn’t really find many options or colors I liked. So the project was put on hold.

This year, a trip to Home Depot proved to be much different. There was a huge array of fabulous colors of spray paint that would adhere to not just wood and metal, but plastic too.

I chose to go with purple as my color of choice. The plants that will be blooming in the flower beds I put the urns into are pink Echinacea and yellow day lilies. I think I like the look, although I’m not totally sure. The pansies and dusty millers in the urns still have to “fill out.” I might like ferns in there better, I don’t know. I’m thinking the urns might look a bit too glossy (semi-gloss was the only option) but maybe some weathering will happen naturally? The good thing is, I can always repaint them a different color or even with textured spray paint. I think I’ll give it the whole summer to decide. What do you all, my faithful readers, think?

And please ignore the weeds in the flower beds. Haven’t gotten that far in the gardening process yet!


Doll Love

April 9, 2012

Little girl sure is loving her doll these days. Dolls, books, and drawing being her greatest loves right now. Everyday she brings much sunshine and joy into our lives. She wrestles with her brothers and also hugs them all the time. “We have the sweetest sister!” the boys often comment. The sibling love is adorable. That’s not to say their aren’t screams when she wrecks their trains. But they really do all have a blast together.


Real or Not Real?

April 6, 2012

In book 3 of The Hunger Games, The Mockingjay, one of the characters goes through a form of torture called mental hijacking. The enemy uses his memories and twists them, tapping into his innermost fears. Once this character is physically rescued, he still has to deal with the aftermath of mental confusion and fear. He no longer knows what memories are real or distorted. The way he copes in order to find his way to reality is to make a statement to those he trusts around him and then to ask the question: real or not real? The response he receives helps him unlock truth from lies.

I finished The Hunger Games trilogy the other night and am feeling a little wrecked. Overall, the ending has a feeling of hopelessness and despair, of being caught in a fear of the future. The only thing we’re given to hang onto is the good we see in other people and to recount that good to ourselves in an effort to keep going on. But is that really enough?

I can’t help but contemplate the affect of reading The Hunger Games versus other books that tell true and similar stories of those who’ve been tortured, drugged, beaten, and pawns in the hands of unjust governments. Of Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand. Of Daughters of Hope: Stories of Witness  & Courage in the Face of Persecution by  Kay Marshall Storm. Of the magazine The Voice of the Martyrs. I remember being astonished by the feeling of hope and even joy recounted by women who’d suffered unspeakable woes in Daughters of Hope. How could this be? How how how can someone go through such miseries and still keep living? Let alone feel joy and hope in the world?

Today is Good Friday. When we remember the ultimate torture of Christ. Physical, mental, spiritual, it was all laid on Him. He took all the atrocities we’ve ever committed against Him and our fellow man and bore them all the way to Hell and back. Why? 1 John 4:14-18 gives us a clue:

The Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Jesus became the Savior so that we wouldn’t have to be captured by fear. So that we wouldn’t have to fear anything that anyone could do to us because the ultimate fear has been taken away: fear of God’s righteous wrath because of our sins. Instead we can abide (what a beautiful word) in Him. And when we truly abide in Him the result is love.

When Christians suffer, we have the choice to suffer distinctly. Whether the trial is a personal crisis, physical illness, or at the hands of an evil regime, there’s still the possibility to cast out fear through the love of God and have hope and joy. I’m not in any way marginalizing the suffering. I’m just saying there’s the possibility of living, really living, in the fullness of Christ.

And so today, of all days, I remind myself of reality. I remind myself of the truth:

My name is Danielle. I’m a child of God. Jesus died so I could abide in Him. And when I abide, fear is overcome. I can have love and joy and peace in any adversity. Thank you Jesus for bearing all my sins in your body and redeeming me to be your own. Help me live in the light of this truth everyday.

Real or not real?


Woodberry Kitchen

April 3, 2012

A few weeks ago Josh and I visited Woodberry Kitchen and had some of the best food we’ve ever had in Baltimore. Until now, my best meals have at Range in San Francisco and Union Square Cafe in New York City. Granted, there’s still a lot of restaurants I’ve not visited in Baltimore. However, since Woodberry was just ranked #3 in Baltimore Magazine’s annual restaurant roundup, I’m guessing that my experience visiting the restaurant is consistent with other people’s visits too.

Woodberry Kitchen has been opened for four years now and I’ve been hearing about it from various friends and Josh’s co-workers. So we were very excited to visit. We ended up not being able to get a reservation. I called on Wednesday and we were planning to go there on Saturday and they were already booked! But we got there right after they opened and managed to be seated right away.

Woodberry’s philosophy of food is one I love. They create dishes based on seasonal foods grown locally. On the menu there was a list of their vendors: various farms I recognized by name from the surrounding area. It was also evident by the night’s specials: lots of asparagus! Asparagus is in season and you could have your pick of five or six dishes of your choice. I loved seeing the canning jars full of food stashed around the restaurant too. I don’t know if the staff cans for the restaurant or if they outsource it but they didn’t hide the fact but instead used it as decoration, almost, tucked around the restaurant.

When I think “fine dining” stiff white table cloths and rigid servers come to mind. That’s not the way of Woodberry. Woodberry is located in the Clipper Mill area and reclaims a lot of the original architecture of the old factory it inhabits to create a perfectly rustic atmosphere. I told Josh it felt Mumford & Sons-ish. If that doesn’t make sense to you, I’m sorry. It feels very trendy in an artsy way while at once feeling very homey. The female servers wear vintage looking aprons of varying patterns. The male servers all wore checkered button down shirts. The canned produced lined shelves. The bathrooms didn’t have paper towels but instead had piles of cloths in a basket from which you could pull from the wash your hands then throw in a laundry basket. Yeah, I really liked this place.

Our server was awesome. She went above and beyond in answering every question we asked and helped us select the best drinks to go with our food. We started with a basket of three different types of breads they’d made at the restaurant. Then we moved onto homemade pigs-in-a-blanket with grainy mustard as a dipping sauce. Josh ordered a salad, which he raved about which included, of course, asparagus. For our main meal we both ordered the same thing. Josh and I have similar tastes and in the past I’ve ordered something different from him so we could try two different dishes. But the truth was I wanted what he was getting, so why go for anything less? We ordered Rock fish that was placed on a bed of perfectly roasted potatoes, green beans, and a roasted tomato mayonnaise. Absolutely perfect. For cocktails we tried the Whiskey Smash and some sort of lemon honey concoction that went fabulously with the fish. For dessert we had coffee and Josh went with their apple pie while I tried the C.M.P. (Malt ice cream, chocolate sauce, wet peanuts, and a hardened crust of marshmallow fluff you had to crack to get to it all).

If you want excellent food (and you care about where it comes from) in an unique atmosphere with fabulous service, Woodberry Kitchen is the place for you.

The Hunger Games

March 30, 2012

(Image credit: The Hunger Games official Facebook page)

Last night I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning finishing The Hunger Games, like so many others who’ve been captured by this series.

I first started hearing about them around a year ago. My friends started reading them, but I wrote them off. I’m not really into teen fiction. I’m not really into the futuristic genre either.

However, I finally caved as more of my friends–whose opinions and tastes in literature I respect–read and raved.

I too was captured by The Hunger Games plot. The plot is what drives this book, after all. I can’t help but wish that the books wasn’t a YA book, though. I longed for the writing to be a little meatier, although I have to say I’m glad the YA slot it holds kept the violence toned down.

Due to an uprising in the nation of Panem, it’s twelve districts must each send a girl and a boy to participate in the Hunger Games, which is a fight to the death, televised live for all it’s constituents to watch. The Hunger Games follows Katniss Everdeen as she takes the place of her sister as tribute in the Capitol’s annual games.

One can’t help but view the Hunger Games and it’s arena as a futuristic version of Rome’s gruesome games at Colosseum. Nor could I shake the image of Katniss and her companion for the games, Peeta, being herded onto the train headed to the Capitol as being not unlike the image of the Jews being carted off to concentration camps during the Nazis regime in Germany. Clearly, this book is a statement about government overreach and corruption.

Also, this book calls our idea of entertainment into question. In a nation that takes in a steady diet of entertainment via reality TV in such shows as The Bachelor, Big Brother, and Survivor, such parallels are also obvious. These shows may feature challenges both mental and physical, but the real entertainment value is in the use of gossip, back-stabbing, character assassination, and false alliances. But it’s all in good fun, we tell ourselves. After all, these people sign up of their own free will. Nobody actually gets hurt. But perhaps the real question is why do we find these shows such addicting entertainment?

Most books are better than their film adaptation counterparts. However, I can’t help but wonder if a film adaptation of The Hunger Games will add a dimension to the questions Collins raises in her novel that could not otherwise be appreciated. In the book, the games are intended to be televised and watched by the entire population. And so, the movie reenacts this element of the novel. It is true that this story showcases characters who portray humanity and selflessness. And many of us–me included–plan to watch the film with the intention of cheering on these characters, and the good qualities they represent. In the end, Katniss and Peeta choose to not play by the rules of the Hunger Games, instead undermining the Capitol’s power to control to some degree.

But wait.

As thousands line up for tickets to see The Hunger Games, I cannot but help to see the irony that instead we could be proving the most chilling implication of all: that we are not so unlike the Capitol crowds that clamored for more gruesome Hunger Games exploits. Instead, we take the Capitol’s place as the audience.

And actually, deep inside each human heart we have the capacity to be just. like. them.

Been Busy

March 29, 2012

Wow, it’s been a busy two weeks around here! A photo session. Print design for an event. Photos of the said event. And then of course processing all those photos . . .  Not to mention normal life, doctor appointments, homeschool co-op, and a date night out at a delicious restaurant (review coming on that outing next week).

I’ll be sharing the images of the event I covered soon. But for now, click on over to my photography blog to check out a sweet family session.


Eyes to See the Wonder

March 13, 2012

“Sunrise, sunset with no eyes to see it
Garnets and rubies ground up in the sand
Words from my children with no ears to hear it
Where is the wonder?

New tender mercies and infinite graces
Woven like threads in the cloth of my days
Deep wells of glory behind common faces
Where is the wonder, where is the wonder?”

-Sara Groves, “Precious Again” from the album, Invisible Empires

Sophia saw the daffodils and squealed with delight, running over to them and pointing. It’s her first spring really interacting with the world around her now that she can walk. The boys are excited too. They pick handfuls of the yellow flowers and bring them to me: “We have something for you, Mama.” The stems are usually too short for putting in a vase. I show them that the flowers need stems to drink water and stay alive for a while if I put them in a vase.

Motherhood offers up a gift to see the wonder again. To see the things I’d miss. To see the things I take for granted. The hazy pink mist of budding trees. The purple crocus and yellow daffodils. The airplanes jetting across the sky. The dogs people walk–which creates great excitement for my children.

Motherhood is the chance to see everyday beauty and “infinite graces” through the eyes of wonder.