4.21.2011

Look at the Crucifix


"Watch, and pray" Matthew 26:41

The holiest week of the year is upon us. Let us not leave him alone. Let us not fall asleep. We all have our burdens, heavy on our souls or perhaps on our bodies. Maybe we feel consumed with pain or anxiety. But let's not make them unfruitful crosses. Let's take up our particular cross and carry it. With joy. Even if it's hard. We have found our cross. Let's abandon this will of ours that we are so desperately still holding on to, and put it in His hands. Look at those hands. He did this for each one of us. Will we not do even a little? He knows our struggle. He is listening, even if He is silent. He speaks: "Father into your hands I commend my spirit." We hear it. We know now what this means for us. We echo this loving act of abandonment at last. And we mean it.


Let's willfully keep Him company. Let us also go to the Mater Dolorosa and keep her company. Let us wait with the flame in our hearts burning with hope. Let's not lose this hope again.

The following is taken from a beautiful homily by Rev. Anthony J. Rice, S.J.C.

Another way of meditating on the Passion is by simply looking at a Crucifix. We have all seen Crucifixes in our churches and our homes, but have we really looked at the Crucifix? Have we intently gazed upon Christ hanging dead on the Cross? Have we contemplated the wounds of our Lord and seriously considered that God died for us because of His incomprehensible love for us?

It is easy for us to take this for granted because the Crucifix has become so familiar to us. So let us look at the Crucifix with an entirely new perspective.

If you would like to know God, look at the Crucifix.
If you would like to love God, look at the Crucifix.
If you want to serve God, look at the Crucifix.
If you hope for eternal happiness, look at the Crucifix.
If you wonder how God tries to prevent you from hell, look at the Crucifix.
If you wonder how much God will help you to save your immortal soul, look at the Crucifix.
If you wonder how much you should forgive others, look at the Crucifix.
If you wonder how much your faith demands of you in humility, poverty, chastity, meekness, and every virtue, look at the Crucifix.
If you want to know what unselfishness and generosity are, look at the Crucifix.
If you wonder how far your own unselfishness should go to bring others to Christ, look at the Crucifix.
If you want to understand the need for self-denial and mortification, look at the Crucifix.
If you wish to live well, look at the Crucifix.
If you wish to die well, look at the Crucifix.

Read the entire content here.

4.16.2011

My painted hutch revealed

How did you like that tease?
Truth be told, I wanted to wait until it was completely finished, but that could take another month or so! So, without further ado…
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What a difference it has made!
Can you believe it originally looked something like this?
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It certainly took a lot of priming, and several coats of paint to give that little wooden hutch some TLC. It was one of my first projects during  the few months before my wedding day. I was mad on the hunt through garage sales and thrift stores for furniture for my first home. This little hutch was actually a gift from my aunt-in-law!
I loved the result, but I knew it still needed a little more character. I love my wedding china so much, but it wasn’t popping much with the white-on-white.
I envisioned some blue in there to go with my kitchen colors, but I was unsure how it would turn out. Should I paint the whole hutch a blue, or just the inner panels? I did a little research and fell in love with these inspiration photos a few months ago!

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source: unknown- Anyone? (I clipped this to my evernote months ago)
I don’t know what was holding me back! But once the wax incident happened, I knew I was going to need to paint the whole thing anyway so it was a perfect push!
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I’ve been mixing in other blue cups and a teapot for accents (see 1st pic) but I like having just the teapot on the third shelf for an accent. What do you think?
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I’m sure you’ve noticed I STILL didn’t take care of the wax problem. It’s still there! Baby steps! That will be the next step, but since it’s a much more involved project, it will have to wait until the weather STAYS warm.
Besides, it’s not so distracting anymore with the pretty blue!
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I am in love with the new look!

*Sharing at Miss Mustard Seed's Furniture Feature Party

4.12.2011

Sneak Peak: my hutch

This past December I did a silly thing. I thought it would be a festive idea to light a red candle inside a little lantern. Then I placed it on top of my white painted hutch for the evening.

A few hours later, there was a dripping mess of wax! All the way down the doors and the outer edges.
Oops!

I tried everything to get it off: scrapped the wax, used my Shaklee Basic H, poured boiling water on the wax...

And while most of the residue came off, the stain  remained.

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The solution was to paint the whole thing again since I made up that paint color with remnants of old paint and no longer had any left, but it would have to wait until the weather turned warm again (that's ages here in the Midwest!) January...  February...  March...  Apr--!
And then, all of a sudden, the snow clouds cleared, the sun came out, and [insert angelic voices] the temperature escalated to EIGHTY DEGREES!

So what did I do? Something other than what I had originally planned...

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Tee-hee! How's that for a tease? Just like the weather. . . snow again this weekend. :(

4.08.2011

Tried and failed: photo wall

I've always loved the look of gallery wall arrangements in homes, particularly alongside staircases. I love the personal touch to the home, while at the same time transporting one to a special event with loved ones.

On a practical level, arrangements on a wall rather than on tabletop surfaces keep the area clear of clutter and dust, making everything look cleaner. Ever notice what a huge difference it makes to a room to have the end/coffee tables cleared? On the other hand, a cluster of photos, if not well-placed, can make a room look cluttered, and I feel this is especially dangerous when you're dealing with tiny spaces like we are in our apartment.

I'm sure that there still might be a way to pull it all together. Maybe I ought to try mixing B&W photos with color ones, or perhaps not having matching frames.  I definitely think the floating shelves are not working.  All this indecision has left many bullet holes on that poor, paneled wall. It's time to take a break from that. Until I figure it out, I decided to just keep it simple rather than awkwardly in transition.

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I love our wedding pictures, especially the moments captured with my siblings and my parents. We are all spread across the country so looking at them makes them feel closer.

Here's a look at our wall transitions over the past year and a half.

Problems: The crucifix was way too high, and I didn't like that gap in the middle. Also, that antique piece stuck out too much in the middle of the room and was impractical for storing since there were no shelves inside of it.

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October 2009
Adding more pictures and a long buffet table balanced out the space more. The little table on the side along with the chest serve as our "invisible" charging unit. We keep all the cords on the inside of that chest and the table blocks the view of the cords. (The outlets are poorly placed in this room). I always thought painting the clock white or black would make it all come together more, but in reality the problem was the clutter. Just because we have a wall, it doesn't mean it needs to be covered!

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June 2010

 This looked nicer, cleaner around Christmas. Notice how I tried having a large collage print rather than multiple frames to see how it would work for a small space. I thought it'd be a fun area to tweak for the seasons, but then there' would always be the danger of too many oddly "orbiting" things closing us in. Plus, those lanterns pose quite the fire risk. . .

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Why don't I try collage prints over frames. . .

 I gave up (at least for now). This is what this side of the living room currently looks like. I moved the Papal Blessing from our bedroom to the living room. It covered up all the holes and balanced nicely with the painting on the left!  I also cleared all the books from that table and replaced the basket. The basket could go, but it's there because it's functional. It can't all be about looks, right? Note the "invisible" white cord now that lines the trim.  I still need to secure the black lamp cord behind the table legs.


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Poor St. Joseph is still orbiting. The problem is that he's so small and anywhere else he gets lost! It's a true tribute to his humility- he's off to the side, but ever-present.

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Should I paint that clock?

“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”
-Thomas A. Edison

I love the concept, but I'm not loving what I've tried so far in this room. We are going to try an architectural gallery wall in the study instead and then perhaps come back to this wall. It's been fun to experiment!

Is there anything you've been experimenting with recently?

 So that's our "tried and failed didn't work" story, so sorry if you were looking for some real tips from this post. Instead, check out one of my favorite blogs for inspiration, The Inspired Room. There's a Gallery Wall Party going on over there!

4.05.2011

The Pleasure of Books

I shared with you my thoughts on reading books and our  dilemma with trying to simplify, yet not wanting to part with any of them. I especially loved your reaction to this mutual quandary. I agree. How could any of us do it? It would seem like a betrayal of them- the ones that formed us.

It's especially timely to ask this question since many of us are currently transitioning to post-grad, new jobs in new cities, buying or building houses, or perhaps downsizing even more. . . we inevitable start to get rid of stuff and pause when we arrive at the bookshelves.

Maybe you detached and passed them on. Maybe you still treasure them and plan on passing them down to your children and grandchildren. One memory I hold dear is sitting in my grandpa's library, enclosed by the walls and the echoes of those volumes. He was a professor, a traveler and an avid reader, and I wish I had had the opportunity to grow up near him. I would have undoubtedly spent hours running my fingers through those well-read, worn pages.

I'd like to share this excellent speech by William Lyon Phelps that our friend Andy shared with us when this topic came up in conversation.

The Pleasure of Books

The habit of reading is one of the greatest resources of mankind;and we enjoy reading books that belong to us much more than if they are borrowed. A borrowed book is like a guest in the house; it must be treated with punctiliousness, with a certain considerate formality. You must see that it sustains no damage; it must not suffer while under your roof. You cannot leave it carelessly, you cannot mark it, you cannot turn down the pages, you cannot use it familiarly. And then, some day, although this is seldom done, you really ought to return it.


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"The best mural decorations is books"
But your own books belong to you; you treat them with that affectionate intimacy that annihilates formality. Books are for use, not for show; you should own no book that you are afraid to mark up, or afraid to place on the table, wide open and face down. A good reason for marking favorite passages in books is that this practice enables you to remember more easily the significant sayings, to refer to them quickly, and then in later years, it is like visiting a forest where you once blazed a trail. You have the pleasure of going over the old ground, and recalling both the intellectual scenery and your own earlier self.


Everyone should begin collecting a private library in youth; the instinct of private property, which is fundamental in human beings, can here be cultivated with every advantage and no evils. One should have one's own bookshelves, which should not have doors, glass windows, or keys; they should be free and accessible to the hand as well as to the eye. The best of mural decorations is books; they are more varied in color and appearance than any wallpaper, they are more attractive in design, and they have the prime advantage of being separate personalities, so that if you sit alone in the room in the firelight, you are surrounded with intimate friends. The knowledge that they are there in plain view is both stimulating and refreshing. You do not have to read them all. Most of my indoor life is spent in a room containing six thousand books; and I have a stock answer to the invariable question that comes from strangers. "Have you read all of these books?"

"Some of them twice." This reply is both true and unexpected.

"One should have one's own bookshelves, which should not have doors, glass windows, or keys; they should be free and accessible to the hand as well as to the eye."
 
There are of course no friends like living, breathing, corporeal men and women; my devotion to reading has never made me a recluse. How could it? Books are of the people, by the people, for the people. Literature is the immortal part of history; it is the best and most enduring part of personality. But book-friends have this advantage over living friends; you can enjoy the most truly aristocratic society in the world whenever you want it. The great dead are beyond our physical reach, and the great living are usually almost as inaccessible; as for our personal friends and acquaintances, we cannot always see them. Perchance they are asleep, or away on a journey. But in a private library, you can at any moment converse with Socrates or Shakespeare or Carlyle or Dumas or Dickens or Shaw or Barrie or Galsworthy. And there is no doubt that in these books you see these men at their best. They wrote for you. They "laid themselves out," they did their ultimate best to entertain you, to make a favorable impression. You are necessary to them as an audience is to an actor; only instead of seeing them masked, you look into their innermost heart of heart.

-William Lyon Phelps, 1933  via radio broadcast.

One month after this speech was broadcasted, the Nazi regime began their campaign of burning  books with "anti German" ideas.

What's your strategy for keeping/storing/passing books? And what's a great book you've recently read? Is there a particular author that you've wanting to get acquainted with? I'd love to see my reading list grow. Right now I have two authors that come to mind.

Confession: I received my degree in Spanish Literature and have yet to completely read Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quijote!
I studied exerpts and the genre, but was studying abroad or had a full schedule when the course was offered. There has been, however, also something else holding me back from doing it now. I want to wait to acquire my own copy. And not just any copy, but a well-worn one and  ideally a first edition.

One like this one, but in Spanish, of course.

I've also been wanting to read Flannery O' Connor for years, especially since I lived in the same city and attended the same school she did! Today I finally began Wise Blood.

4.02.2011

Waiting for Spring

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A 10-stem bunch of daffodils for $1.99? Yes, please!
I need some Spring around here!
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