Taste of Home

No. Not the magazine or website. We’re talking about living in a land that is so completely different from home and finding ways to step back and enjoy things that remind us of our homeland. I am not for a moment saying that I don’t enjoy living here, but avoiding the reality that this land is different would be foolish. Sometimes our hearts long for home, and sometimes we remedy those feelings and emotions by creating an environment that eases those desires.


Each week I get together with my friends and each week our theme is different. We cook and bring our food together and share. Community.
I love this. I look forward to this. I enjoy creating flavors in my kitchen and sharing them with the people I’m closest to over here. This is how we fellowship. This is how we do life together.

However, after several years of recycling themes and trying some that were basically failures– I thought about that beloved combo: grilled cheese and tomato soup. Then my mind wandered to that place where we find comfort food and enjoy the calming atmosphere (when it’s not lunch rush, at least). Panera Bread.

I told my friends that this would be the theme of our dinner party. My neighbor said I needed to make a sign. So……….. I did (after a little argument between friends about whether there was a woman in the logo or bread– and there are both). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy home is tiny and my walls are covered with art, mostly made by yours truly. I guess it added to the Panera feel with low lights and calming colors.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We had soup, salad, and gourmet sandwiches– oh and baguettes for dipping in the soup: Panera style, yo.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo this is hospitality in this area. Your home? It’s not too small. Fellowship with people does not mean you have to do it all. Invite your friends, let each person bring something and enjoy each other. This is a sweet chance to try new recipes.

How often do you have people over?




Toms and hearts

Sometimes my days are lived with very little intention. I go through the day focused on myself and forgetting to live life with my heart and eyes aware of what is going on around me. I neglect being aware of people in general, my students, and even the Lord. It’s a shame and that is why I want to live being aware. Why waste days on frivolous things when you can be fostering a heart of gratitude and awareness of just how great this gift of life is.

Cheers to the leftovers in my fridge that morphed themselves into a delicious fall soup that makes you want to go create a leaf pile and jump in it. Cheers to the sweet message my student-friend left saying she misses me. I get warm fuzzies because I miss her too. Cheers to the friend whose internet doesn’t exist, creating reasons for her to basically live at my house for part of the week so that she can get lesson planning done (aaaaand check her facebook). Cheers to the neighbors who create reasons for me to craft and create and use the stash of craft supplies my home hoards. Cheers to you, coconut oil. You know who you are and you know that you make my life just a little more beautiful every.single.day. Not only do you make my food taste like island magic, but you keep my skin nourished and soft in this dry climate. How do you do it? Cheers to JJ Heller for creating sweet music to dance to in my little house.

This is how life can be lived being aware, lest I get lost in the mundane.
What are you aware of lately that makes you happy?



Home sweet home

Since I was little I was always trying to decorate. Trying as in not quite succeeding. I grew up in a room with my 3 sisters. We had bunk beds  lots of dressers, too many clothes and well, not much room for decorating. My decorating was something like — put all trophies from softball and baseball on dresser, accompanied with those crafts made once upon a time at camp. On the other side I displayed my dollar-store lotions and body sprays. Hey, that was high qual for me in those days. Anyhow, it looked pretty rockin’.

When I was in high school and college I got more serious about art and crafting. I fell deeply in love with re-purposing clothing and almost anything. I would spend hours at thrift stores and choose items that weren’t super desirable with images in my head of what they could become. I made lots of things. I wore some of them when I was home over the winter. I still like them and still keep my “get-rid-of” items to re-purpose.

However, there were also other things I dreamed about as a child and teen. I had every car   make memorized. I could watch the road and name every car. I also LOVED looking at house designs. I would look in my mothers home-living magazines and find the house plans. I would have houses for all my friends planned out. I had our house picked out where I would get my own room and everyone else would too. I also imagined that I would be a rich person.

Times change and life changes. I packed up two black trunks and a backpack with everything I could fit in and boarded a sequence of planes as I headed to my new home. I was not going to have my own car, live in a little vintage house, or be that rich person I once imagined I’d be. Grace. Takes you from finding satisfaction in this life to realizing that this life is such a vapor and there are more eternal things to grasp onto.

After a month of couch surfing and traveling, I got the keys to my first place that I could call “mine”. It was a hotel room of sorts with a “kitchen” in the balcony. Complete with two twin beds, two desks, a large old-school tv on a stand, two night stands, a storage cupboard, gaudy flower wall-hangings and a broom. Someone also gave me a futon. All of that furniture was in a 13×13 space. Home.

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In the weeks leading up to my arrival I did a lot of internet searching to find ideas for how to use a small space efficiently. No home-depot  drill, table saw, or all of those conveniences I had access to in my fathers garage would be available to me. I had to find a way to not just live here, I wanted my home to be a special haven for people, a place where people felt welcomed and where hope was shared.

I stacked the twin beds on top of each other, putting the one base on its side and used it as a book shelf. However, last spring I got a call that my house was getting an overhaul. I was not very thrilled about this because it basically meant I had to take my whole house apart cause they were taking my desks and twin beds and giving me one large desk and a double bed. Whatevs. I liked my room the way it was but I quickly adjusted to the changes and learned another lesson in contentment that in this land– nothing belongs to you.


This is now what people see when they walk in. I bought a dining table — reupholstered the sofa and the chairs and covered my walls with colorful things.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy mother is kind of the best shopper for me. She knows I adore all things vintage and pretty. She got me a large piece of fabric with birds (no I wasn’t intending on my room being bird-themed but it just kind of happened…) and I bought a frame downtown and stretched it over making it into a wall-hanging. My student gave me the lantern, and mom gave me the tea pot//cup (salt and pepper) set. I thrifted the table runner at a vintage store.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the double bed that I now have. I thrifted the afghan last winter and yes, carried it all the way back here from America. Because I loved the colors and the beauty of it. Plus… it was $2.25. Hello! Also the duvet is double-sided — I thrifted two vintage sheets and made the cover while in the states last winter. And of course, thrifted pillow cases that perfectly fit my style. The headboard…….. is still in the winter-era. But it’s still winter here so i’ve got some time to figure out what I wanna do there.


I want a bookshelf but haven’t gotten one. So I use all sorts of things to house books on. On my desk I repurposed a shoe-shelf to turn it into a bookshelf (ish). And yep, I store my stools (a household necessity) under my desk.


This is the doorway to my kitchen. It’s not in a picture mode now, so I’ll show you the kitchen some other time. I made the pennant banner before I moved here 3 years ago– and I hand-cut the words above from black contact paper making vinyl decor that gets people talking. Students will ask me.. what does that mean? I tell them what blessings are and we sit around counting them. I have a notebook filled with note cards that have their expressions of thanksgiving.


This is leading to my front door (oh wait.. my only door leading out..) and my cupboard that I recently quilted a photo display for. It used to have decrepit photos curling up from years of sitting there. I finally gave it an overhaul and am SO glad I did.  The other closet doors have four seasons needle-art made by a woman from my home church. She was moving and thought they best go to the thrift store. I wasn’t about to let that happen. These things are BEAUTIFUL. I love staring at them. Does that make me weird. It’s supposed to be spring now, but pretty sure there are piles of dirty snow and ice outside. So I look at the spring (green) one and dream of the days when this land will have flowers blooming.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd across from this is the door to the bathroom and this little bit of happy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust an eclectic assortment of things. From a hoop my mom made for me (she’s an amazing artist!!) to the wooden hanging that one of my best friends over here made for me– a quote I wrote down from an incredibly inspiring book I read last week… and so on.

This is home for me. This is where I spend my days, share my meals, and live. I had the biggest party to date here last night… there were 11 people. Yes, 11 in that space. I actually measured with my tape measure this morning, and the entire place is 13ftx25ft (because of the WC on one end and the kitchen on the other– but the main living area is about 13ft x 13ft. Oh yeah, and I think in total for decorating I spent about $40.

I count it a privilege to call this place as my home. This is what my Abba Father chose for me to dwell in. Grace.

So next time you think you can’t have company over because you don’t feel your home is adequate, think again. Hospitality doesn’t have to wait til you’re in a larger home or a better-looking home. Do what you can with what you’ve got. Count your blessings and go bless others.