Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Planner

I just bought myself a new July 2011-June 2012 weekly/monthly planner! Flipping through the blank teal-and-lime-paisley-bordered pages makes me curious what the next school year will hold. . . . I’m hoping it will include the completion of my Master’s degree and elementary teacher’s certification . . . many special times with family and friends . . . and a deepening trust and joy in Christ.

Whenever I look at the empty pages of a new planner, I can’t help but wonder all that God has in store for me and pray that I will be faithful to walk in it (see Ephesians 2:10). As I contemplate the plans that I’m already starting to write in these pages, I’m reminded that God knows the good and perfect plans He has for me (see Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 12:2). Plans that likely will differ from mine: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Corinthians 2:9). 

Moreover, when I consider the lives of many great men and women throughout history, I’m awed to think how appointments with destiny are often unexpected and camouflaged. . . . I’m pretty sure that a blinding roadside encounter wasn’t written anywhere in Saul’s Daytimer. . . . I doubt that any of Esther’s personal long-range goals included risking her neck to rescue her people from annihilation. . . .  I know Corrie tenBoom had no desire to be sentenced to a Nazi concentration camp . . . .  More often than not, divine calling is realized in the inconvenient or adverse—that is, exactly what I would not devise for myself. Come what may, I must claim His Word versus insisting on my agenda. Whatever plans I make this year must be yielded to Him, confident that He who has begun a good work in me is faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6).

As I start using my new planner for 2011-2012, here’s the plan: His Word above my way.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Signs of Spring

It's exciting to finally see signs of spring after a long Michigan winter. Once the rain cleared this afternoon, I grabbed my camera and went for a little walk/photoshoot around the neighborhood . . .

Blue sky and green grass!

Lots of rain puddles.

Rain drops on tulip leaves.

The trees and shrubs are beginning to bud. I can't wait until they blossom!

Many of the hyacinths and daffodils are blooming.

The first tulips have also begun to bloom.

The robins and other songbirds are chirping merrily.

Happy Spring!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ribbon Napkin Rings

When I moved into my first apartment, I was eager to start hosting small dinner parties for friends. Having been given a lovely set of china, I wanted to outfit the dining table accordingly. I quickly found a tablecloth and napkins set on sale, but I searched and searched for napkin rings that fit my budget. Finally it dawned on me to dig into my ribbon supply. For less than the cost of only one napkin ring at Pier 1 or Bed Bath and Beyond, I made an entire set of these colorful ribbon napkin rings. =)

They’re so easy and quick to make. With all the fun ribbon designs out there, there are many possibilities for table decor. For these napkin rings, I simply cut a piece of ribbon long enough to tie a loose loop around a napkin and then tied a double knot.  I also fray-checked the ends. Voila!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Vintage-Crochet T

This vintage-crochet shirt was a really easy DIY refashion inspired by Anthropologie. I love the vintage, romantic vibes that have made the brand so popular. To me, they celebrate everything feminine and artful. To make this shirt, I hand-stitched an old crochet doily that was lying around the house, to a basic t-shirt I already had in my closet. Voila!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Greener Wardrobe

I’m so excited about these chartreuse pants from Express that I found at the thrift store yesterday. I wasn’t even shopping for clothes for myself, but as I was walking toward the cashier, I happened to notice these pants hanging on display. I think they’re going to become new my spring wardrobe staple—they’re so comfortable and they coordinate with just about everything! 

Here’s a sampling of the outfits I’ve put together with my new pants. . .
(The outfit above is completely thrifted. I bought the shirt at the thrift store a few months ago, and the sash I made from an old bed-sheet. Total cost for this ensemble: about $4.)

(My brother calls this my art-museum outfit, lol!)

What a delightful surprise that an off-beat color such as chartreuse can be just as versatile and practical as khaki! A basic-styled pair of pants in a fresh color adds a lot of pizzazz to my spring collection. Here's to a greener wardrobe. =)

Zebra Day!

I had so much fun substitute-teaching K-4 pre-school last week. It reminded me why I'm persevering through my grad studies. Wednesday was “Zebra Day” at school because the children were learning the letter Z. In honor of “Zebra Day,” I went to the thrift store and found this funky sweater wrap for 75 cents and paired it with this hand-carved beaded necklace that my aunt had brought back from her trip to Africa and given my mom. During show and tell time, I told the children that my necklace came from Africa, where the zebras live. (oohs and ahhs.) My zebra outfit made me feel a little bit like one of my heroines, Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus. =)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Style Secret: Menswear to Maternity

I love clothes and fashion (what girl doesn’t?!). One of my favorite pastimes is refashioning a thrift-store find into a cute new outfit. I have so much fun repurposing something that’s been discarded into something fresh! Since I already have lots more clothes than I need, I recently had the idea to direct my upcycling hobby toward making maternity clothes for friends and the local pregnancy center. 

Here are several of my first projects transforming a typical men’s button-down shirt into a maternity shirt. Men’s shirts are great to work with, because they are roomy and long enough to cover a growing baby bump. I’m so happy how these refashions turned out; I only wish I had taken “before” and “during” pictures to better describe . . . 

This started out as a men’s large shirt. I carefully cut off the sleeves, in order to make the arm-holes smaller and to take in the bust. Originally I was going to re-size and reattach the sleeves, but I loved how the too-large shoulders created a cap-sleeve look, so I just left them. Then I cut the shirt into two pieces, right below the bust-line. I took in several inches along the side seams of the top half of the shirt, to make it more fitted. Then I gathered the bottom half of the shirt, and sewed the top and bottom halves back together. Voila!

This started out as a men’s medium short-sleeved shirt from GAP. I carefully cut off the collar, to give the shirt a different look. I also cut off the sleeves, in order to make the arm-holes smaller and to take in the bust. I gathered the back a little bit, to make the shirt slightly more fitted. Then I used the fabric from the sleeves to make the ruffles. =)

DIY Ruffles!

 I’m loving all the ruffles and feminine details that are on trend these days! What’s more, it’s very easy to add some extra flair to basic t-shirts. Here are several that I’ve made recently. There are a number of great tutorials out there, showing step-by-step how to make your own ruffle shirts. My ruffles were inspired by the lovely and oh-so-creative Sachiko, of Tea Rose Home blog.

Vertical ruffles!

Flowers and ruffles!

Cascading ruffles!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mundane to Marvelous

So much of a woman’s life revolves around serving, why have it mundane? Mundane to Marvelous incorporates two of my loves: hospitality and adding beauty to everyday life. Have more fun in the kitchen wearing one of these playful and practical chef aprons . . . then serve your delicious creations using a set of colorful, hand-beaded utensils!

To see more samples of the Mundane to Marvelous collection, visit

It's a Great Day for Thrifting!

It’s a great day for thrifting! Here’s why:
  1. It’s adventurous! Thrift-shopping is kind of like treasure hunting. I never know exactly what I’ll find, and along the way I may discover some unexpected lovely or quirky items that draw out my own unique style.
  2. It’s resourceful! I’m always amazed by the bargains I can find when thrifting. Just this morning at a church rummage sale I bought an entire bag of clothes for my dad for only $2. Among the items was an Izod cable knit sweater, new with the tag!
  3. It’s creative! I love fashion and sewing, but I’m by no means a professional. Buying clothes at a cheap price gives me the freedom to have fun experimenting and remaking outfits without a lot of financial risk. 
  4. It’s helpful! Thrifting directly benefits the community. This weekend, for example, one of the large churches in our town hosted a rummage sale as a fund-raiser for their summer youth missions program. When I went this morning, the cashier told me they had already raised over $25,000 from yesterday’s sales alone! Isn’t that cool?!
These are just a few reasons why I’ve come to love thrifting. More and more I’ve come to see that thrifting is a valuable aspect of good stewardship. It benefits not only my wallet, but the community and the planet, as well.

At first I started thrifting just because I saw it as a way to benefit my wallet. Buying clothes at the thrift store stretches my limited money. I have a lot of fun buying and wearing cute outfits, but at a fraction of retail price. I’ve been able to afford the lifestyle choices that I have made (serving/working at a Christian ministry, pursuing my graduate education, etc.) largely because I’ve learned to find ways to maximize my style with minimum financial expense.

I’ve also come to realize how thrifting benefits the community. The more I've shopped second-hand, the more aware I've become of the abundance that is so much a part of our American culture. It’s so easy just to acquire stuff, that most of us have a lot more than we need or use. Thrift stores or rummage sales provide incentive for us to sort, purge, and de-clutter our own personal belongings. When we have a good cause for which to donate, there’s often more motivation to pass on stuff that is otherwise just collecting dust in our closets, basements, attics, and garages. Why keep stuff we don’t use, when there’s someone else who will? It’s especially satisfying when we know that the proceeds from our donations/purchases are used to support local programs that better our community.

Recently, I’ve also come to consider the positive impact that thrifting has on the planet. The popular terms we see all the time, such as “Green” and “Eco-friendly” call us to incorporate in our daily lives ways to take care of the planet entrusted to us. We are stewards, not only of the money God gives to us as individuals, but also of His creation at large; we are accountable to Him to use it and care for it with gratefulness, diligence, and moderation. Thrifting is such an effective way to “reduce, reuse, recycle.”

Ahh, so many reasons that it’s a great day for thrifting!