Pinteresting!

Lately I’ve been actually doing some of the things I’ve pinned. I know – crazy idea, right? I’d even say some of them are becoming household staples.

  1. Borax + washing soda + Fels-Naptha soap = laundry detergent. I just made my second batch – I think the first was in May! It’s easy. It’s cheap. It’s effective. It’s free of a lot of nasty chemicals. If you have any doubts about how clean it can get clothes… I used to use Fels-Naptha to clean my paintbrushes when I did oil painting. It knows its cleaning business.

  2. These sweet potatoes (scroll down the post). Oh my goodness. These are SO good! And really easy. The only tough thing is waiting for them to be ready! I even made them for a friend who doesn’t like sweet potatoes and they were a hit. What I love about it is that I can just cut up half a potato and cook them in my toaster oven for a one-person portion.

  3. I made this meat-veggie-potatoes-in-one-dish meal last weekend. Again, super easy (sense a theme with my homemaking?) and quite delicious! The one thing I’ll do different next time is marinate the chicken breasts beforehand. They didn’t have a ton of flavor, although it was still good. But the carrots and potatoes were amazing! I will definitely be using this in the future. I think it’ll be a great choice for taking meals to new parents. One dish to stick in the oven and one dish to return.

  4. The little man I nanny and I made a hug like this for his dada to take to work. He really enjoyed making it and I think it was a hit with its recipient. We didn’t do a hand print; I traced his hands on construction paper which he had colored.

Have you been putting any pins to practice? Let me know how it’s gone!

xoxo,
Alanna

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Once Upon a Time: Where are you from?

When I meet new people, inevitably the question comes, “so where are you from?” Occasionally it’s worded, “So… are you from Memphis originally?” but that’s usually with some hesitation in the voice. It’s pretty obvious from the moment I open my mouth that I’m not a born-and-bred Memphian. I may have added some Southernisms to my speech in the last few years, but I sure don’t have the accent.

I actually never know how to respond. Sometimes I just say, “I moved here from Pennsylvania,” if it’s just a passing conversation. Often, though, I respond with the more complex answer, because, frankly, I really am not from anywhere. So this week’s Once Upon a Time is a little peek into my geographic history.

1. I was born in Portland, OR. I wish I remembered more of it, because I know it is a fabulous city. I haven’t been back since I was about 14 or 15. I guess, if anywhere, this is where I’m from. My parents are both Californians and I think that if there’s any geographical influence in my life, it’s probably West Coast.

2. My dad has always worked for the church, but when I was 5.5 we moved across country to Richmond, VA, so he could go to seminary to become a pastor. Richmond was a fabulous place to be a homeschooling family. Again, my memories of the city itself are vague, but I can recall many fun trips to DC and to surrounding historical sites. Colonial Williamsburg, plantations, Civil War reenactments. It didn’t matter here where we were from because everyone at the seminary was from somewhere different – even around the world.

3. My dad’s first church was in a little town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We lived a few blocks from Green Bay, and I have lots of memories walking down to the street along the bay with my family. The best beach for swimming was a few minutes’ drive away. I was very happy here… the queen bee of my group of homeschooling girlfriends and enjoying the attention of being a pastor’s kid (I may or may not have been a bit of an attention-seeking child). We arrived here when I was almost 8, and left the summer I turned 13.

4. The small town near Pittsburgh, PA, is place where I lived longest (9 years). You might think this would be the place I name as where I’m from, but this town and the one in MI are places where you’re not from there unless you’re really from there. Attending the local school from kindergarten on up, spending Friday nights at the highschool football games, marking the summer with the annual festivals. Grandparents living closeby and knowing who formerly lived in which old house. It’s not that we didn’t join in to the town life, we just weren’t complete, tried-and-true locals! Being a pastor’s family always sets you apart a little. I went to college just an hour away. I really did love living here and this is probably the place I’d say I “grew up.” 13-21 is a pretty important life chapter.

5. Finally Memphis! I moved here a few months after my college graduation (in fact I signed my lease on my 22 birthday). It was supposed to be a short, two-year adventure with A., my roomie-since-freshman-year. She had a commitment to the teaching program she entered and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in life so I came along. Fast forward 4.5 years. We’ve both fallen in love with the city and are nurturing ever-deepening roots (she’s married!). Without a doubt, Memphis is my home town.

So now you see why I never have a simple answer for the “where are you from?” question. I guess for me it’s a little easier to look at other influences to respond to the query. I am from my parents, from my sister and my brother. I am from homeschooling. I am from books and history and imagination. I am from love and faith. I am from the family of God.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” ~ Romans 8:14 & 15

So where are YOU from? How do you respond to that question?

xoxo,
Alanna

Whistle While You Work!

I thought it might be fun to tell you all about the handful of little jobs I have to make ends meet. It’s quite an interesting collection and the best part is, I truly enjoy every single one.

  • Catering – my close friend and mentor at church, G, and her husband own a beautiful catering and event company. They provide for events both on-sight at the club location and off-site. Hard work, but it is so much fun! Lots of my fellow servers go to my church, which means I get to work along side friends, plus everyone else is fun and kind, too. And lately I’ve been doing Christmas parties in people’s homes, which means that I get to see cool, big, rich people’s houses and I usually get a nice tip! Plus… I get to wear a chef-style shirt! I love any activity for which I have to wear special clothing. 🙂 Here’s me ready to head out a couple weeks ago:

    What I Wore: Work Edition!

  • Teaching piano. In late October I started giving lessons to sweet N (6) – I’ve babysat her and her 2.5 year old brother for several years. Her parents are literally my first friends at church (that’s a fun story for later). I’m actually hoping to pick up a few more students. I was terribly intimidated at first but I love it.
  • Painting tiles. I am a paid-by-the-tile artist for Right Focus Designs. My church friend L paints, too, and got me connected with S, the owner. S has become a good and close friend. She’s a pretty cool and strong woman. I love getting together with S, L, and the other painter K to catch up and exchange tiles and get our next orders from S.
  • The occasional sale through my Etsy shop. I really want to devote more time to this in the New Year. I have a lot of ideas of things that would sell but I am ridiculously busy – way more busy than when I had a job!
  • Nannying – I have a new odd-schedule nannying position for little D, who will be two in February. Her daddy is a professional musician who both works from home doing… music stuff… and gigs every night of the weekend ’til the wee hours of the morning. Her mommy is a flight attendant currently flying on reserve. So I nanny when she happens to fly, because her dad is at home, but technically at work and then leaves to play music. Sometimes I go over for a few hours, too, to give them a break to get things done since their schedules are so odd. D is precious. She’s extremely intelligent and exploding in verbal development. And she loves me. 🙂

So there you go! That’s what I do… and now signing out to head to the club for the evening!

xoxo
Alanna

Bloglovin’

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^ Hey, would you look at that! I finally got with the blogging times and joined Bloglovin’. So now all you non-WordPress peeps can follow me. WOOHOO! So. Go ye, therefore, and follow mine blog.

Tonight I sent the parents off on their flight back home to Philly(ish). They really live in a small town in Bucks County, PA, north of Philly, but I just say Philly to everyone down here. We had a great visit. Did some cool things. Experienced some uncool things – Hello, Cam’s breaks falling apart (like, literally)! I shall have a fuller report [with Instagrams!] tomorrow, probably.

Just finished enjoying some hot cocoa with leftover real, made-by-me whipped cream. Nom. Wishing y’all a happy Monday tomorrow! Call me crazy, but I actually kind of like Mondays. And I even did when I was working. There’s something fresh and new, a little bit exciting about Mondays.

xoxo,
Alanna

Have yourself an Indie Christmas!

My first pumpkin pie!

I am pretty much the worst blogger ever. Sorry, y’all. At least the past few days I have an excuse – my parents have been visiting from Philadelphia. They arrived Wednesday evening and have to go back tomorrow evening. 😦 We’ve had a delightful time. Lots of yummy food. LOTS. I have a bunch of Instagrams to show you. But right now I have something else on my mind!

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Link Party!

I’m participating in the Indie Christmas link party hosted by Janel, Kate, Casey, and Danielle. I’m not going to get on a soap box about Black Friday. But I am going to encourage you to really consider independent businesses and artisans as you do your Christmas shopping. The benefit to you – a high-quality, unique gift your loved ones will really enjoy. In addition, you will be directly supporting an independent artisan. In this economy, so many people have turned to their own skills and hard work to supplement their incomes or even to fully support themselves.

Of course I’d love some business at Charlie + Lu. Because of my parents’ visit, I haven’t got photography of my latest earrings, but I plan to update the shop tomorrow night. In addition, I’ve got some new non-jewelry products in the works as well. But if my products don’t fit any of the people on your gift list, I encourage you to look around Etsy and/or your local businesses to purchase presents. And a perfect place to start is the Indie Christmas link party! Click on the link above to view the hundreds of independent bloggers and artisans linking to this effort!

xoxo, and happy shopping,
Alanna

Where Children Sleep

A friend of mine posted a link to a photography project by James Mollison. It’s a preview of his new book, “Where Children Sleep.” It’s a beautiful but sometimes heartbreaking collection of photos of children and the places they sleep (okay, so that’s probably self-explanatory). I won’t say much because the photos tell their own stories…

When Children Sleep

Dia 1

How in the world to begin? My heart is full and my mind is bursting with experiences and sights I want to share but there is so much I literally cannot think how to start.
Wednesday was a day of colors. I decided on the drive that it is the color pallet which is so familiar. It’s crazy how colors can be so completely different from country to country. God is amazing. He painted Honduras with the same pallet He used with southern Brazil. So many greens… The same bright pigments splashed across the same plastered cinderblock houses. All the colors glow with a golden yellow undertone. Yet… Everything is veiled with a saturation of grey. The dust and the heat are literally a visible coating on everything.
The palm groves. I have never seen anything like them and there is no way a photo or my words could convey what they are truly like. Perfect rows of 50′ trees fall in straight line. Beneath the connected leaves it is dark and still… The rows of trees extending as far as you can see. Stately and beautiful, imposing yet intriguing. One end of Cebu just seems to slowly melt into the groves. Most of the people of Cebu are gleaners of sorts. They comb of the forest for palm nuts left by the plantation workers. This they can sell for an average daily income of $2-3.
Faces – yesterday was faces. The nervous yet excited children waiting for us to arrive. Five minutes later their joyful smiles as they sang for us. Their wide open eyes and eager expressions for each new activity at vacation Bible school. The careful watch of the line of faces at the school window… Parents and older siblings and aunts and uncles. Slowly drinking in our words, as attentive as the children. Curious faces of all the residents watching us everywhere we went… And breaking into broad smiles in response to ours. The slightly overwhelmed face and slow, small smile of Karen the teeny one who grabbed my heart at afternoon vbs.
My heart is so full. It feels at home. Back to my heart’s calling. God is good… All the time. Just as I sang with the brilliantly intelligent and talented dreamer I met and had an impromptu jam session with last night.
So much more. I’ve got to hold it all in my heart til I have time to record it all.
Besos y abrazos,
Alanna

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Me with baby Eileen.

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Singing Padre Abrám… Father Abraham.

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Palm grove.

Bienvenidos!

¡Hola amigos! First post from Honduras. The day started verrrry early; we gathered at the church at 3:30 am. I was SO not awake. It’s crazy to me that even with the early start we are already arrived, lunched, checked in at our hotel, and ready yo head out to the village and it’s not even been 24 hours yet! Every time I’ve been out of the country it’s taken at least a day just to get to the destination.
Anyways, here’s my first view of Honduras (from the plane).

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The terrain is much like I’ve seen in Brazil… But yet it’s still so strikingly different. I’ll try to get some more pictures on my phone this afternoon because it’s just hard to put into words.
All for now… We are ready to head to Cebu! My heart is so excited! Here I am, Lord. I have heard You calling in the night. I will hold Your people in my heart.

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You Can’t Hold It

Through my dear friend Brenda, I’m privileged to know singer/songwriter Myla Smith. Besides been ridiculously talented, she’s a bubbly, sweet person who’s great fun to be around. She just released her latest music video, which is awesome. She had asked if I would be an extra in it, but sadly I couldn’t the day they were filming. I’m bummed because it’s totally awesome. Check it out:

Days 8 + 9

Ooops. Didn’t realize I hadn’t posted yesterday’s prompt. I finished it kinda late, though, so makes sense. Ooooh… and I had an interview this morning for the job I really want! It went very well… I should hear about their decision in 3-4 days. He said I was “very poised.” *preens* Hahaha. That means I wasn’t too distracted by the fact that his shirt perfectly matched the wall (warm golden-yellow). It was almost like you could see the wall between the lapels of his jacket. Anyways, on to the art journal pages:

Day 8 – What would you put in a time capsule?

Obviously I wouldn’t put some of these things into a time capsule (hello? Whom would I sleep with without Curly?), but this was a “stretch your imagination” prompt. But these are great items to give a sense of my 2011 life to my descendants in 100 years time! Whom, apparently will have awesome hair-dos à la my Uncle Mark’s book Moog-Moog, Space Barber.

  Day 9 – Completely fill your page with something random. Leave your pen in your desk today and find beauty in the everyday random things around you.

I’ve never done much with mixed media journaling, but, um… IN LOVE. This is so cool because this prompt actually fits in very well for the vision for my (coming soon) Etsy shop. I actually feel like this page is very expressive of my life right now. My fav prompt so far.

That’s it for now… mi madre is coming tomorrow for a visit (!!!!!) and I need to do a little organizing/cleaning. And clean the major art journaling mess off my bed!

xoxo
Alanna