Monday, June 29, 2015

The Joy in Fiber

This afternoon I made progress on a box of papers I brought home from my first semester. I was able to dwindle it down to notes and only a few sentimental pieces of paper. During this, I also went through a lot of papers from classes. One of those sets of papers was my portfolio from College Writing that we turned in at the end of class then reviewed with our professor a week later. At my review, our professor, the source of many laughs during the semester, scared me into thinking that my revision of my narrative essay was no good. However, it was the opposite: she loved it so much that she wouldn't let me keep the copy that was printed in the portfolio and I got an A- in the class for the semester! I've been meaning to share this essay for six months now, and now seems as good a time as any.

This is the picture that helped me in writing this essay. It was my ninth self portrait in the challenge of 2014, and you can find the original blog post here.

"Sunday afternoon, dinner is cooking and I’m snuggled up by the fire. It feels too good to be true that I’m able to spend the day knitting and relaxing. Knitting is the one thing that instantly calms me when I pick up the needles and slip the yarn through my fingers. Fiber and family, what more could a girl ask for?

It’s early March, still just cold enough for to wear a sweater here in north Texas. My fingers, familiar with the throwing and pulling through of the yarn, are chilly despite the fire beside me and the handmade quilt I’ve enveloped myself up in. This quilt, made of prints with desserts and food and quilted with little ants, has been my companion for the last six months. It was a gift from a woman who is a grandmother to my sisters and I, who are without a biological grandmother. I’ve learned the trick of becoming a burrito with it: standing on top of the chair I’m in and then wrapping it around me, sitting on top of most of it. The heat from the fire doesn’t quite heat my toes, so this blanket is just the right thing. The fire my father started when we got back from church is still going strong, the flames steadily licking the insides of the fireplace. I glance over at the burnt brick which surrounds the fire. All that now-black brick is significant of the 14 years my father has burned fires in there to keep us warm. He can’t see it from his seat on the couch a few feet from me, so he asks me for updates on how it’s doing, and whether or not he needs to come over to stoke it, bringing it back to life. I tell him that it’s doing just fine, especially in keeping me warm. The warmth radiating from the fire continues to warm my arms which aren’t able to stay inside my little cocoon, because my navy blue sweater doesn’t seem to be doing its job of keeping my arms warm. Mom is walking back into the living room from the kitchen, joining us all in watching TV. I can smell the dough from tonight’s bread all the way from the other side of the living room. My mouth waters just thinking about the warm bread lathered in butter which we’ll be eating soon.

I’m working on a hat for my little sister’s best friend, Emily, who is a young teenager that has more wisdom than most adults. I had agreed to make this for her a month ago, and bought the yarn soon after that. Other projects had occupied my time, but now it was her turn. This pattern has been on my needles a couple times previously, so this time I feel confident enough, with my previous experience, to make a few changes. Earlier in the day I had taken out all the work I had done - only an inch, thankfully - and tried again with a smaller needle so the fabric would be a little thicker, and therefore a lot warmer for her. Emily is definitely one who deserves a nice, handknit hat. In the five years my sister and her have been friends, Emily has been a great encouragement to both my sister and I. Even when she has a sleepover with my sister, her and I end up talking for at least half an hour. She’s an old soul who will appreciate the amount of time being spent to make this hat. As the oldest of five, I have plenty of faith she is more than responsible enough to keep track of the hat. When I knit something, I find it important to know the recipient will value the time and money put into it. I look around at my family members, and think of what I can possibly knit them for Christmas. It may be nine months away, but these things take time. I cringe at the thought of knitting something for my loved ones that won’t be a practical item in their everyday lives. I try not to worry about it now, however, because this moment, when we’re all just relaxing together, is an invaluable gift. I’ve been by this fire all day, entertained with House Hunters, a NASCAR race, and a few (knitting) podcasts, so the progress on the hat is stunning. Maybe I can finish it by the time I go to work tomorrow?

I complete another knit stitch, then move the stitches further back on the needle to prevent them from falling off. I feel the half-completed hat fall gently on my blanket-covered lap as I reach down to the ground, into my knitting bag at my side, and pull out the measuring tape again. Four inches is a lot to have completed in a matter of hours. I toss the pink measuring tape back into the bag, then admire the fabric that has come into being in a matter of hours. This pattern was the first I made two short months ago after I first got my knitting needles on Christmas day. In that short amount of time, I have made several items, my pride inflating a little more each time I bind off, marking the completion of another knit project. I take a deep breath, inhaling the familiar smell of burning wood. I didn’t enjoy math while in high school, but now I can appreciate the mechanics of it in this hobby of mine. It requires a lot more math than I first thought it would, yet that fuzzy feeling in my heart gets stronger with each passing moment. It turns out that calculating the number of stitches I need to start with is a kind of math that doesn’t bother me; not when it has such a great reward, anyway. Maybe I’m more of a numbers person than I ever thought before.

Every time I find even a few moments to knit a few stitches, I can physically feel myself relax. The simple, yet repetitive action is just the right thing to work on while watching my favorite show, waiting to clock on at work, or while enjoying some family time. I feel as though my heart will burst from the simple joy of just being with my family while also making good progress on this hat. My heart relaxes as I pick up my project again, continuing on according to the pattern."

- rl

Friday, June 12, 2015

FO Friday: Simple Crochet Shrug

Heeeeeeeeeeeeey look I'm blogging! A finished object (FO)! Shocking, I know. This was one of 20 projects I had marked on ravelry to finish up in some way. For this project, it was that it needed to be seamed together and then photographed. That's it. It took me less than thirty minutes to seam it Wednesday night while hanging out with my friend Emily, then before work yesterday I posed for some pictures in it.

It could definitely be better. First, I would not toss out the leftover yarn I had, so that I could seam it using matching yarn. While the contrasting color would be nice in certain palletes, I'm not sure this was the one to experiment on. Good thing it's for me and perfectly matching is not really my style. The second thing I would change would be the drape of the fabric. While it will be nice to have a cozy + warm shrug for classes and cold dorm rooms, I originally wanted something that was a lot lighter. Thankfully, it's a very simple pattern, so I definitely can see myself making at least one more of these and perfecting it as I go.

Regarding blogging, I definitely want to get back into it. Since arriving back home, it has simply been my priority to spend time with loved ones, work, and get various things organized. Now that my books are mostly organized and over half of the Ravelry projects I was stressing out about have been settled, I can start to think about blogging and getting back into creating things (like the sweater I cast on yesterday!!!).

See ya soon!
- rl

Friday, May 22, 2015

Library Trip #1

This is the result of little sister and I's first trip to the library this summer! Technically she's not on her summer vacation yet, but I had to go soon after arriving back home last Saturday. After picking her up from school the other day, we went straight to the library. Initially I didn't plan on getting any books, but I somehow ended up with the top four in this pile. Looking at all the YA books that lined the shelves made me decide to grab a random book from an author whose last name starts with A. The series I picked up were written by someone with a B last name, and it is a series that I heard about a lot last summer, so I'm pretty excited to read those.

Now to see how long it takes me to read these...

- rl

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Summer Plans

Steamed buns I tried last week with one of the girls on my floor! They were fascinating. If you're ever in Chicago and curious, just let me know and I can give you details. (:

I FINISH MY FRESHMAN YEAR OF COLLEGE IN LESS THAN A WEEK. Crazy, I know. With this, I will be heading home soon. I'LL BE HOME FOR THREE MONTHS. It's going to be so great, aside from the fact that my cat died last night,..yeah.

Anyway, my summer plans are not currently set in stone. While the obvious thing is just to work a lot at Chick-fil-A, I need more than that. My hope is to make as much money possible for next semester, and I think that means it's time for me to move a little bit past Chick-fil-A. I still want to work there, but I would like my main job to be in the form of babysitting/nannying. And that is why I am posting about it: connections. I registered for last night, but I'd like to get personal recommendations first from those I know. If you know of anyone (or are that someone) who needs childcare for your children this summer (like children who are in school but now you need someone to hang out with them while you're at work), then I'm your girl. Some info for you or for whoever you know: three children is probably my maximum, and I would like consistent hours every week. I will have transportation to and from, but to travel with the children would possibly be a different story (we would need to work that out). In total, I am looking for at least 50 hours a week, excluding Sundays. I don't want all of those hours to come from babysitting/nannying, but that's just a heads up that I am looking for as many hours as possible.

I do already have a few summer plans in place (housesitting one week, some potential errands that vary, and maybe a trip or two.) If someone was interested in considering me for hire, we could talk those things through and figure it out prior. Let me know soon, though! I'll be home soon. I'm already spending time looking up jobs, and I would hate to agree to one from someone I don't know when there was someone I did know that was interested.

Something to also note is that none of this is set in stone. I very well could end up working at Chick-fil-A all summer, but I am hoping to expand out a little bit and broaden my field. 

- rl

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Roomie Date in River North

Tonight we had what was probably our best roomie date yet! We went to a place called Blaze Pizza that has decently cheap thin crust pizza. So good! The best part is that we both only ate half of ours so that we could eat the second half for dinner tomorrow night, which is the only time a meal isn't served on campus. This will definitely be a place to bring people when they come to visit! 

After that, we ventured to Eataly, an Italian restaurant and shop that is my go-to for a treat: sorbet! However, when we got there the line was longer than I'd ever seen it, which is really saying something. We opted instead to just walk around the store a little bit and get a little info on the shape of cheese before heading back into the nightlife of River North in Chicago. Ally got frozen yogurt and then we stopped by my Chick-fil-A so I could say hi to coworkers and get a drink. 

After getting back to campus we had to go to the library to get a DVD for children's church in the morning. We ended up spending some time catching up with one of the guys on our brother floor. The three of us eat breakfast together several times a week, but we're not super talkative at 7.30am. 

Overall we had a great night! We did so much in a matter of a few hours, and it felt great to walk around the city being a little dressed up and avoiding spiders in that one window display...ew! It was almost as fun as playing in the park this afternoon with Ally and her little man (the boy she nannies). The little guy thinks the three of us should be best friends because our birthdays are all in successive months, yet he hardly spoke a word to me.

- rl

p.s. two weeks until I go home! I talked with my mom while on my break at work today. Thirty minutes of feeling at home. It was lovely! I miss my mom's voice just discussing the day's events, and I'm excited to hear it for three whole months!! 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

At the End of April

The north and south views of LaSalle St.

Pictures from the day document the end of the last calendar month of my freshman year of college! Crazy, right? The day involved picking up the yearbook, which is a highlighter orange. Fun! It's weird to receive a book I had no involvement in. Talk about major high school flashbacks!

Tonight, after a team meeting for our Studying & Teaching the Bible lesson next week and dinner, I joined my friends on the floor and a few of us went up to the newly opened roof to listen to a little of tonight's Thursday Night Praise. The cold sent us in after fifteen minutes, and 45 pictures. Next up was watching Remember Me with those same friends, while knitting (Ally), going through email (Cassidy), searching for knitting patterns (me) and eating rice krispie treats (made by me, for all).

I am very excited for this weekend. An early shift at work and temperatures in the 70s!!!

- rl

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

(Kind-of) A Knitting Update

(photo taken on my iPhone 5S and edited with VSCOcam, just for fun)

This is my knitting drawer at the moment. A little crazy, right? There are three complete projects, one almost-complete project, one work-in-progress, several balls of yarn for future projects, and my other knitting notions. It's not as disorganized as it sounds, but just about. I'll be home in two and a half weeks (!!!!!!) which is when I plan on updating the 15+ (I KNOW.) projects I have that are all kinds of crazy on Ravelry. That will take several hours, but it will so be worth it.

There have been a lot of thoughts floating in my head lately about knitting and crocheting. I can't wait to get organized and start making some really cool stuff this summer. I don't have any specific plans, except maybe to try some complicated stuff and save the simpler things for the school year.

In other news, THREE BLOG POSTS IN ONE WEEK. It's a miracle! Let's see if I can keep this up, and even increase it!

- rl

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Movie Snacks

Tonight I adventured to Wal-Mary with Cassidy, one of my friends down the hall, She got some Nerds, and when we got back to the floor and were settling in to watch a movie, we decided to mix them with Skittles. It was about perfect! They were the perfect sweet treat for a sad movie like Remember Me. Sorry if it broke your heart, Cass. (:

- rl

Thursday, April 23, 2015

See You Soon

(photo by Ally, flowers from her boss)

I wish I was more productive. It's something I work on every day, but it is not a natural thing for me like it may be for others. Blogging relates to that because if I was able to be more productive, I could have actually blogged this semester! Instead, though, I'm left with regret for not blogging, which makes me feel ridiculous in the grand scheme of things, but it matters to me.

Pictured above are some of the beautiful and relaxing things in my life from this last month. Not that everything in my life is beautiful and relaxing, but there are highlight moments for sure! I desire to get back into sharing these moments that do exist by blogging about them. At the same time, I want to blog about the ugly and stressful things too. However, I cannot do either of these things if I don't blog in the first place. To those that encourage me to blog more, I hear you! Maybe it was blogging every day last year, but I'm just now feeling the excitement to blog again. I really  miss Work-in-Progress Wednesdays, especially, so maybe I can get back into that. I guess you could say I just want to share my thoughts in general, though. That is one of my favorite things to do on here. I enjoy writing with the thought in mind that I'm just writing to a friend.

Maybe I truly will get back into these things soon. Maybe I can actually start writing out blog idea posts for the week and putting them into action. Maybe I won't start any of these until my summer starts in three weeks (!!!!). Either way, I'll write to you soon, friends.

- rl

p.s. - Can I just say how thankful I am for a roommate who encourages me in my dreams and even has similar ones? It's too wonderful to have a best friend to discuss the things that excite me about the near future. (: (:

Monday, April 06, 2015

Beach Shots + Words of Thanks

I have walked at least 12 miles in the last eight days from going to the beach. It all started last Monday with a bike ride as a roomie date, and now I'm hooked. It's a good thing rain is in the forecast this week, otherwise I would be there every day this week too. These are pictures from my time there on Saturday afternoon, right after a small but significant amount of homework and before dinner in the SDR (student dining room). My favorite part of going to the beach is not dipping my toes in the still-freezing water, or even sitting on a towel and getting some reading in, but instead the trek through the sand to wherever my feet lead. The only problem is that this beach is limited, unlike previous beaches I've been to at the Gulf of Mexico which have sand as far as you can see. This beach, Oak Street Beach, is limited, but good. I had no idea I loved the beach this much. This definitely changes things as to where I'd love to live one day. Where can you have sheep and also take a walk on the beach?

Totally unrelated, but something kind of big happened two weeks ago: an anonymous donation on my student account to cover 92(ish)% of my last payment for the semester. I got an email the Monday morning after spring break informing me that my account would be updated by the next morning, and that was that. I haven't posted anything about it before now because I didn't know how to put it eloquently, and I still don't, so: thank you. I don't know who it was, and I'm content to not know if the person doesn't want to reveal themselves. It's a really crazy fact to digest, even though it's not a completely new concept to me. After all, our (as in, every Moody Bible Institute Undergraduate Chicago campus student) tuition is covered by donors.

There's not much to say besides that. It's a crazy, mindblowing thing, but it's a fact. While part of me wishes I could keep it a secret and be able to thank the person, that's not possible, so on the blog it goes! In other news, I have three major things due in the next week, which stresses me out a little, but I know they'll all get done somehow. A lesson plan on Malachi, a research paper on how homelessness has an impact on families and children, and a New Testament reading report. There's progress on each, so now I just need to do my best to finish each of them strong. Don't even get me started on the fact that the semester is coming to a close. So many bittersweet feelings on that!

- rl

Monday, March 30, 2015

Textbooks - Spring 2015

The semester is over halfway done, but I just remembered about doing this. Better late than never, right? If anything, it's nice to actually post about these and already know so much about them. These are the books I had to get for this semester. I only own one or two of these, and even those are shared with Ally, my roommate.

There are several of these books, however, which I would love to own some day.I saw something online last semester about how one way to save money in college is to sell back the textbooks you have to buy. I am taking this to heart by only borrowing the books I need for class, or buying them and then selling them at the next semester's book sale. Worst case scenario, I'll come back to Chicago several years after graduation and buy some of these same used books from students at that time.

- rl

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Maggie Daley Park

Elizabeth was super stoked to finally get to see the bean!
 Inside of the bean is just as epic every time.
 Just walking over a large roadway on a super cool bridge. #Chicago
This about expresses our joy over these swings! 
 We also did some pirate-ing!

Last weekend, I messaged Elizabeth, a girl I serve with each week, to see if she was at all interested in joining me to this epic park sometime. We went back and forth on times, and finally got together after lunch yesterday.

It was a bit colder outside than either of us expected, but it was worth it. We took the train into the loop and trekked over to the park. First, though, we had to make a stop at the Bean in Millennium Park because Elizabeth had never been! It was crazy as ever, but worth it for her to see it after two months of living in Chicago! On our way to Maggie Daley park, I pointed out and told Elizabeth about the jazz festival at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in August and ice skating at the Ice Ribbon in January. It's hard to believe I've done these things here in Chicago! (I'm feeling pretty blessed). Once we reached the park, we were getting giddy. I don't know whether you would call the park child-friendly or adult-friendly, because there were both there! We were definitely not alone in waiting in line for the epic swings or climbing up inside the lighthouse just to go down the slide.

We really didn't want to leave, but our hands were cold and I had work, so we slowly made our way back to the train. Elizabeth was excited to find out that the station we got on our train at was the same one they filmed While You Were Sleeping at! (Randolph and Wabash, for those that don't know).

- rl

Monday, March 23, 2015

Basically the Worst Blogger Ever

How does one go from blogging daily for an entire year, to not blogging for a month? And I did that twice this year. Aye! Now that I sit here typing, however, it feels good. I PINKY PROMISE I will try harder to blog more often. I know my parents and loved ones will appreciate the effort.

Pictured above is Ally and I's roomie time yesterday. We made orange chicken and jasmine rice. We also did some knitting while watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It's nice to be roommates in similar fandoms!

- rl

Friday, February 20, 2015

To a Most Beloved Sister,

Today is this cutie's birthday! This was her last month, trying to get the hang of crochet. After a craft night with friends we happen to work with, we headed over to one's apartment to watch Austenland. Such a hilarious movie for us Pride & Prejudice fans! My mom had helped Jenna learn to crochet a few days before this, so we had gone over the basics again and she got a lot done! It's so much fun to watch people learn how to knit.

Today, though, Jenna is probably at work. I wish I was with you, Jenna! Our working together last year made us a lot closer, so it's such a treat now when I come back home and we see each other almost daily again. Jenna's the best sister (and manager!) a girl could ask for. J-bird, you inspire me all the time. I miss you daily. I love you dearly. See you in two weeks!

- rl

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Founder's Week: Part Two

Another snippet of Founder's Week, brought to you by my iPhone. These pictures are all from Friday, the busiest, but best, day for me.

A few weeks ago, my mom texted me, asking if I would be willing to sit at a table following the morning session to sell books. This wasn't suspicious to me, as explained in this blog post! I was excited to have a special part in the week, and especially with someone that I've known a long time! It was a little confusing and crazy to know what my actual purpose was, but it all worked out fine.

After Dr. Richard finished speaking, I sold books at a table in the lobby for close to an hour, then packed everything up and met with him and a few others to have lunch. After lunch, I rushed over to the Rend Collective Q&A, which I had missed the most of but still got a lot of laughs out of.

I didn't have much time after that to get ready and head off to PCM. On the way back, we got off a stop early and walked to Moody Church. I sat directly behind the sound booth with a few others from my group, which was especially fun to observe while Rend Collective played (#lovethepassion). I worked on my knitting while David Jeremiah gave his message, which was encouraging, because I sometimes forget that our bodies should be well taken care of. I walked back to school with a few bro/sis, with a stop at Jewel.

It wasn't long after we returned to the dorm, however, that I heard a yell in the hall that the brother floor was going to do the polar plunge. More on that another time, however. (;

- rl

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Free Day at the Art Institute

My favorite exhibit, and we even found one that had a spinning wheel and a basket of yarn!
Cassidy seeing Monet in person for the first time. Usually a bubbly person, she was very somber at this time!
Ally, me, and Cassidy in a fun feature!

Last week, I read about the Art Institute's Free Illinois Resident Weekday Free days (#longesttitleever) and knew we had to go! I posted in our bro/sis Facebook page to get a group together, but it ended up only being the three of us. We left after lunch and got through a decent amount of the museum. As we were leaving, I was getting bummed out that we hadn't been able to see everything, but then I remembered that I'll be here another few years, so I have plenty of time to come again!

Yay for free things + friends to enjoy them with.

- rl