Look what I got…!

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me formally introduce you to my brand-new, Pentax K-r digital SLR camera!!

Isn’t it pretty? This year for Christmas, everyone joined forces and gifted me with this baby. (Thank you, thank you, thank you!!) I was so excited that I easily shot 700 pictures in the first 24 hours. I think we got some good ones, too. I intend on taking some time to really learn how to use it, (if you remember, item #11 on my list is: get an SLR and learn how to use it) but, I have no concerns about the photos I will get, in the meantime.


End War; Amplify Peace.

Love is pain. Love is joy. Love has many, many emotions in it, and whatever emotions you choose to target, you have to do it within your truth. Your voice is just a channel for that.  You just give it;  [you] give it and it leaves you, and it goes to somebody else. And that person can’t keep it. That person loves it and they pass it on. And it goes on and on and on – that’s why we’re here. That’s why we’re human beings; otherwise we wouldn’t be at all.

– Angelique Kidjo

Amplify Peace  is an amazing movement to promote peace in East and Central Africa.  They are working to  build radio stations throughout these areas to end violence, to encourage child soldiers to return home, and to inspire healing in war-torn nations.  It’s an amazing organization to know about, and you can even support it this week on Sevenly (makes a good Christmas gift, right?).

It also shows that one voice, one message, can actually make a difference and can bring healing to a community (and that’s not just a Before 30 goal).

30 Weeks of Indie Travel: Oliver’s Post #1

It all started with an email. A coworker of mine emailed me this website, followed by about a thousand explanation points.  In case you didn’t know, I love traveling, and I want to travel – everywhere, anywhere, all the time.  I might have high-pitched squealed when I saw the website. In my free time, I find myself going to Bootsnall to see how cheaply I can go hiking in Ethiopia (or, ahem Jane, Peru).

So, this story begins in the same way. I was sitting at my desk at work, amongst the stacks of ever-increasing paper and files, sipping coffee, and I saw the email slowly fade into my outlook. There it was: 30 prompts on traveling.

I was mesmerized. I wanted to do everything. I wanted to drop everything (including my coffee mug), head to BWI and jump on the first plane leaving the U.S.  Instead, what I did was forward the email to Jane, emphatically stating, “WEHAVETODOTHIS.”

So, Prompt #1: What were your travel goals last year? Did you accomplish them? What travel goals do you hope to accomplish this year?

One of my goals for Thirty Before is to visit all of the continental U.S., and I wanted to make a serious dent in this. I didn’t think it would actually happen. At the start of the year, I was under-employed, living in a corner of my sister and brother-and-law’s house, and seriously considering living out of my car until I could possibly find a real job.  By God’s grace, something came along in February, and I was on my first work trip to Minnesota in April(I know people, settle down your amazement at my glamorous job). I had never been! Later work trips sent me to Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Delaware. I feel seriously accomplished, and I’m hoping that road trips or other random excursions will knock out the remaining states that I have (Jane! You’re in, right?).

Of course, that was a less concrete goal, and I will tell myself that I accomplished it. Next year’s travel goal probably doesn’t have “travel internationally” written in it, just to be realistic, as the need to save money, pay off student loans, and actually pay to apply for all these grad schools are also pretty high goals. But I do hope to go to five more states that I’ve never been to, and also to be more intentional about traveling to other cities outside my own at least once every two months. I want to be intentional about living here where I am (so I won’t set out once every week), but I also want to see and explore more of this unique area (and all of the nearby cities) in this area where I live.

Here’s to traveling more in 2012!

30 (Weeks) of Indie Travel: Jane’s Prompt #1

I’m very excited about this post, and you should be too, because in it I will be killing a whole flock of (Christmas) birds with one little stone.

You see, Oliver had this great idea about increasing our blogging productivity (which really won’t take very much at this point). For the next 30 weeks (is that what we decided?) we will be responding to the writing prompts from BootsnAll’s 30 Days of Indie Travel. (Three French Hens…)

If you blog, perhaps you would like to join us on this adventure? Ready, set, go…

Week 1: What were your travel goals last year? Did you accomplish them? What travel goals do you hope to accomplish this year?

Ty loves New York City. A lot. And, he’s been there a lot, too. I don’t know his record, but there was a time in his life where he was going at least yearly, probably more.

I, on the other hand, have spent maybe a total of 8 hours in The Big Apple– ducking in and out of buildings to keep from freezing to death. It was fun to see the city with Jocelyn, and catch a (discounted!) broadway show, but I’m not sure that 8 hours was enough for me to place a judgement– one way or another– on the city. (As though it really matters what I think.)

So, that brings me to Twoooo Turtle Doves.

#19- Visit New York City with Ty

I added this to my 30 before 30 list when I wrote it over a year ago. We’ve been talking and half-planning and talking, but keep coming up short on both time and finances. All of a sudden, last month (maybe earlier) it became clear to me that Ty was set on going… soon. I looked at my calendar and shook my piggy bank, and… meh. I had a hunch that if we were  to go to New York that Ty would propose.

But, it just wasn’t working out.

I consider myself a very observant and aware-of-what-is-going-on-around-me (was that redundant?) kind of person, and Ty doubly so, but one morning he blew his cover and nearly demanded that I take a day off of my internship so we could do something– go to New York, maybe, or spend some time in Cook Forest, or whatever. We both just need a break, he said.

Yeah, okay.

That afternoon, I made a plan for us. Let’s go to New York over Thanksgiving. I’d love to see the parade, I have the time off. Good plan, yes? Yes. It was decided in my head. We are going to New York over Thanksgiving, we are watching the parade, and Ty is giving me a ring, doggonit.

I get home from school that night, plop on the couch with Gnomeo and Juliet, and peruse airbnb for cheap places to stay. Ty (who is kneeling behind the couch and looking at my laptop over my shoulder) debates the feasibility of the trip on such short notice.

Finally, he says: “lady, we don’t have to go to New York. I was just trying to be fancy because I want to ask you to marry me.”

And this is what is going on in my head…


Wait, is that a RING? Is he asking me RIGHT NOW?

Thank God I’m not wearing my blue fish pants!

Have I said anything out loud yet?! How do I get around this COUCH?!

He says I said yes, and I have this ring, so he must be right.

And, sometime soon we will go to New York City, and we both can enjoy the city with no proposal pretense.

(And a paaaaaartridge  in a pear treeeee.)

25 Before…


(Someday, I’ll write about engagement things, but today I need to write about Christmas. Maybe because I don’t want to remind Oliver that she needs to begin the onslaught of wedding links and blogs…)

The reason I need to write about Christmas, today yesterday, is because today yesterday  is the day that people hang their Advent calendars– even though Advent technically started on Sunday. This year, I plan to have two Advent Calendars. One that I made with my Sunday school kiddos, and one that I am sewing for Ty. (Though, at the speed I’m moving, he’ll be lucky if he gets the twelve days of Christmas.)

I wanted to tell you about these calendars– albeit late– because I want you to play along at home.

This is the second year in Sunday School where we have made Advent “Giving” Calendars– as opposed to Advent “pigging-out-on-chocolate” Calendars. For each day, the kids wrote something they could do or give to someone else. Walk the dog. Make my bed without mom asking. Be nice to my sister. Make a new friend in school. I have no idea how many of the kids followed through, last year, but I really appreciated the reminder to be intentional about giving a little extra to others this time of year.

Here’s mine… isn’t it pretty? Scrapbook paper, staples, and sharpies never looked so good. Sorry about the photo quality. It’s from my phone. You get the picture.

I’ll post one of Ty’s if I ever finish it…

What do you do to make Advent special?