Monday, January 31, 2011

It's February, with an "R"

Ah February, the month of love! Month Deux of an already topsy turvy year.

I absolutely love February in that it's full of adorable pinks and reds and hearts and chocolate and flowers.

I absolutely loathe February in that it's a continuation of winter and can bring some pretty wild weather.

It's a give and take really.

Here are some things coming from me, to you this month:

~ An interview with my favorite almost eighteen year old about birthdays and a certain groundhog

~ A review of the Super Bowl, along with my favorite commercials and an update on the atmosphere of my home depending on the outcome of the game

~ A tattooing

~ Our trip to a middle school conference with an all girl entourage

~ Mine and Dusty's experience becoming trained as professional severe weather spotters

~ How I spent my Balumtine'th Day

~ Random thoughts about a song that made me uncomfortable in high school

~ The results of my (questionable) decision to let a hair-stylist-in-training use me to fill her practice highlighting quota

~ An update on my photography class

~ Several birthday tributes

And (maybe) much more!

The Rural Juror

So I reported to jury duty today.

And man, was it ever boring.

When I got the summons back in December (Merry Christmas to me!) the first things that came to my mind was good ole Liz Lemon's Princess Leia get-up.

I couldn't find a good clip that wasn't a full episode, so you'll have to make do with this version that someone recorded from their TV screen. Luckily for us, it's still hysterical.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Capital "L" Love: A Pre-Valentine's Day Meditation

This has been quite the weekend. And it has me thinking.

Dusty has this stealthy game he plays with me in which I will innocently be sitting beside him and the next thing I know he's karate chopped my knee, right in that place that makes my whole leg fly up and hit the coffee table.

I promise I'm going somewhere with this.

When I happen upon one of these "quite the weekends" or "hectic seasons of life" or "did you hear what so and so did scenarios" what is my Dusty-just-hit-me-in-the-knee jerk reaction?

Because let's face it, we all have a reaction to these kinds of things that is automatic, thoughtless; like a reflex.

And I mean this on two levels. The level of Personal Life Circumstances, when something tragic or stressful or unexpected happens (a death in the family, loss of a job, house fire, destructive meteor crashing into your backyard, etc.)

And the External Life Circumstances when perhaps something tragic, stressful, or unexpected happens to a fellow believer (Mr. So and So's big, public fall from grace, Ms. What's-Her-Name's family member's death, destructive meteor crashing into your neighbor's backyard, etc.)

I want, more than anything, for my first instinct to be love. Not love because Jesus said to love but love because Jesus loved me first love.

Capital "L" Love.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Photography Class, Part #1 // Camera Nerd Talk Ahead

Last night I went to my first photography class.

It was supposed to be my second, but Old Man Winter had other ideas.

It's a class open to the entire community, so there was a plethora of people in attendance. I was probably the second youngest person in there.

I feel like what happened was a bunch of people got new camera for Christmas, tried to learn how to use them for a week, and then gave up when they saw they could take a Basic Photography class.

**Disclaimer: I am by no means saying I've got this all figured out, because I don't. Up to this point anything I've learned has been self-taught, without even the benefit of knowing whether it's correctly self-taught!**

However, I have been experimenting and familiarizing myself with my camera for well over a year now.

So when the instructor (who seems like a really neat lady, may I just add?) got into the following discussion with an older gentleman in my class, I felt like clawing my hair out:

Instructor: "OK, so does every one know how to change their image quality? I shoot in JPEG 100% of the time, but you may also choose to shoot in RAW."

Older Gentleman, shouting: "What's the now? J Tag? What's J Tag?!"

Instructor: "J... what? Sorry, what did you say?"

Older Gentleman, still shouting: "I don't know what you're talking about! What's J Tag?"

Instructor: "Oh, no sorry, it's actually JPEG."

Older Gentleman: "What?!"

Instructor: "J-P-E-G. JPEG. It's one format your camera can save photo files. JPEG takes up less space on your computer than RAW would."

Older Gentleman: "Computer! I don't mess around much with those machines."


Other incidents in the class:
--5 minutes for instructor to help a lady find the ISO setting on her camera (this mystery was never solved...)
--about 5 minutes for instructor to have a conversation with a woman who wants to buy her step-mom a new point & shoot (save it for after class folks!)
-- Couple minutes for woman who "always carries multiple memory cards, to get that perfect shot," and, "when I'm editing in Photoshop, when I'm doing _____ in Photoshop," learn how to change her aperture.

Enough complaining! Things I learned:

-- Photography is really all about documenting light. How is the light falling on your subject and how can you tell your camera to capture said light.

-- ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed can really be looked at as a trifecta. Higher ISO means more light but not as saturated of a photo. A slower shutter speed means more light but more change of having a blurry finish. And a wider aperture means more light but you sacrifice depth of field (which, I've found, is sometimes a good thing, depending on what you're going for.) I knew these things individually, but I like to see how they all affect each other.

-- I've done well to make myself always shoot in Manual mode. The instructor's mantra is to learn how to "take control" of your camera. I like that!

I was unsure about how I felt about the class after leaving last night, but now I can say I'm definitely looking forward to next week!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tax Time

I opened my inbox today and had three tax-related emails.

That's not a fun way to start the morning.

Every year when tax time rolls around I start thinking back to my second favorite Disney animated film, Robin Hood. ("What's your first favorite," you ask? Peter Pan.)

I have been singing this song all day and luckily one of my favorite musical ensembles, Mumford and Sons think that it's a pretty rad song too. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


So I love the Read It Later app on my iPad.

For reals.

Here are the links that I'm currently intending to Read Later.

An NPR story on the achievement gap in early childhood. Very interesting.

A New York Times article about a doctor's collection of items his patients had swallowed throughout his medical career. Fascinating!

An interesting "think piece" about whether or not it's okay for "Christian" art to be offensive.

A review of a book I must needs read this year.

This guy took a trip to Haiti one year later and beautifully photographed his time there, all from his iPhone 4. (Take that Android!)

I need to go listen to the previews of this album, but anything tributing the genius of Shel Silverstein is worth purchasing, in my humble opinion. Added bonus, Andrew Bird is a contributing artist.

This article only caught my eye because Jack White is collaborating with her and anything Jack White does is a-okay with me. While Dusty will vehemently disagree with this statement, The Jack White Factor is the only thing that kept It Might Get Loud afloat for me. The rest was a SnoozeFest. (Sorry to all my way cooler friends who totally dug that documentary. Maybe I was having an off day?)

See any articles here that peak your curiosity? Read anything good lately that I need to add to the list?

**Update: I did indeed go listen to the Shel Silverstein tribute album and promptly purchased it. Get it on before the end of January for $5!**

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The 12 Hour Window

Because my life is boring and I have nothing neat to blog about I will let you in on a little conversation my Dusty and I had last night about Bed Times and Waking Times. You see, we were both oh-so tired yesterday and I was ready for bed around 8:00 in the PM.

"I feel bad about myself if I go to bed before 10 in the PM," said Dusty.

"Yes my love that is a good point," I yawned, " And I also feel and about myself for waking up after 10 in the AM."

"I see," said Dusty, "Yes, we are adults after all; there's no reason to go sleeping in past 10 in the AM. We've important matters to see to, and things to discuss."

"Quite right," I concurred, "But you're forgetting something. We are not so Adult as to feel the need to retire before 10 in the PM. Which is to say, we are neither Young or Old anymore."

"Hmm," Dusty thought to ourselves, "It seems we've created our own 12 hour window."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Just Because

I have absolutely nothing really "worthwhile" to post about.

I mean I could post about the Steelers fantastic win tonight and how they're headed to the Super Bowl, yay!

Or how my cat's breath smells unusually bad which has caused me to suspicion that he had a late night mouse snack.

Or how I'm really thankful to have a cousin-in-law that a.) lives really close and b.) is a super nice guy because c.) he's a mechanic and d.) came to look at my car even though it was 12 degrees outside. He knows things.

Or how about the fact that I've been feeling a total meltdown come on for quite some time about an issue-I'd-rather-not-discuss-with-you and how that meltdown came in the shower but only lasted for a few minutes but I was crying and got soap in my eye.

And how it still hurts.

Oh, I can also brag about my bowling scores from Saturday: 48-46-54. It's like golf, right? The lowest score wins? (Or should I just play those numbers in the lottery sometime?)

How about my complete and utter befuddlement over the psyche of a middle school girl. Not any specific middle school girl. Just all of them, the entire millions that are out there. I used to be that, but was I really?

But like I said, nothing really "worthwhile."

I think.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything

Dusty and I are starting a new series that he just ordered on DVD that was on the Science Channel last year:

Dusty is really, really into learning the concepts, thoughts, theories, and history of physics. I'm interested because he's interested.

I was skeptical when I saw the title of the first episode: "Is There a Creator?" But you know what, my skepticism is unfounded! I'm totally digging this show, even if at times I space out and have no idea what's they're talking about.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Things I'm Diggin'

I realize that my last few posts have been quite wordy and somewhat heavy. So it is with gladness that I present a couple Things I'm Diggin' so far in 2011:

This is an awesome little book that I read about on You Are My Fav (which is also, probably, something I dig, but have been for quite some time.) I especially love that you can scroll through and read the whole book! Do it! Now!

Something else that I dig is some new music Dusty got while I was in KC. I realize their most recent album came out back in '09 but I've never claimed to be caught up with the times, so forgive me. Online job searching is the bane of my existence but these guys make it *almost* enjoyable!

I really love this blog. It's really helping me branch out in what I make for dinner on any given night. The real challenge is to "healthify" some of those recipes though, while still serving food that is edible!

4-8-15-16-23-42: The summer of 2008 Dusty and I, along with a slew of friends, discovered our love for all things LOST. Since then we've followed the group through their adventures on the Island. My friend Charity, however, was out gallivanting around the world during season 6 and HAS. YET. TO. LEARN. HOW. IT. ENDED! (For better or for worse.) So we're re-watching all six seasons. I truly had forgotten a lot of what happened. It's almost, though not quite, as good as watching it the first time.

So! That's what's in my little life this cold, cold January in 2011. I must say, I've been feeling a little boring lately. I was actually kind of hard to come up with even 4 things, which is sad. Maybe some day soon something noteworthy will happen.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Really, Really Good

Last night the Lord spoke a word to me that was so sweet and so near and dear to my heart.

This is something that I pray about a lot, but hadn't really thought about yesterday.

Yet he knew I needed encouraging, probably more than I knew it myself.

It reminds me of what Jesus said in Luke 11:

10-13"Don't bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we're in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing—you're at least decent to your own children. And don't you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?" (Luke 11:10-13, The Message)

He gives really, really good stuff because he himself is really, really good!

Monday, January 10, 2011


Unlike all the rest of you suckers I'm starting my diet today. I figured if I started right at the new year I'd give up and count myself a loser like everyone else who has, by now, given up. Instead I gave myself another two-ish weeks of freedom, had an awesome BBQ feast prepared by my brother, and I'm ready to go!

I am not confident enough to tell you all my actual weight goal- that would be T.M.I. my friends. But here are some non-incriminating goals that I am also working towards:

  • I would like to feel a little less self-conscious at the pool this summer. Note that I said a little because anytime I'm in just a bathing suit I will, no matter how much I weigh, feel weird.
  • There's this pair of jeans that I have that I really, really, really like. They haven't fit since high school. But I still have them, for some reason. If those fit, I'd be mighty happy!
  • Sometimes I go into places that teenagers typically shop at because I like the accessories and I feel like everyone is looking at me, wondering why a fatty is in a teeny bopper mall shop. I'd like to not feel out of place at a store like that, even if I'm just there because they're having a sale on purses.
The list could probably go on and on. However I'm afraid the more of my goals I reveal the more you'll be able to really nail down my approximate actual weight.

And that's just not a risk I'm willing to take... yet. :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Stretching and Grinding

After a day like today I have a lot to process.

I am officially a volunteer at Crossway Pregnancy Resource Center. It's a pretty intimidating/exciting opportunity.

You see, last year the Lord really spoke to me about a certain change of heart that needed to take place. Those are always awkward conversations. But, my theme for 2011 is that I want to "do right by the Lord" and one way to accomplish that is to take him up on his opportunity to change.

I'm still trying to take it all in. I've never been someone to be extremely vocal on the pro-life/pro-choice debate because I think that it quickly leads many but not all religious folks to fanaticism, which never yields a productive debate. I find the actual procedure of having an abortion just as abhorrent at the Christians that picket outside the clinic.

But, I do firmly maintain that when the Kingdom of God breaks into someone's situation it comes with life, not death. And that is the first and foremost reason that I'm pro-life-that-the-Kingdom-brings.

I'm not sure where I'll find my niche while volunteering at the center; it could be that I do a lot of behind the scenes work or it could be that I really stretch and grind and begin to counsel women intent on abortion.

Either way I'm content with the reassurance that when the Lord reveals to us a poor posture in our heart he will also provide ways to remedy the situation.

Whatever it is.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Every Minute

Ho hum.

That's how I feel right now.

I spent the first few days of 2011 at home. Not in my house home but home home. The place with my parents and brother and good friends.

My trip was way too short. Four days is not enough to be home. I feel like you do when you have to wake up from a deep, deep sleep. It's hard to drag yourself back into the waking world.

Every time I come home it gets harder to leave. Yet I don't feel like I will ever live in Missouri again--and I'm fine with that.

My "pal" Sara Groves sang it best in her song entitled, "Every Minute":

And I wish all the people I loved the most
Could gather in one place
And love each other and know each other well.
And I wish we could all go camping
And lay beneath the stars
And have nothing to do and stories to tell.

Sounds like perfection to me.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

011 Bar-B-Party

My brother is becoming famous (from my mother's perspective maybe infamous) for his prowess when it comes to barbecue.

And why shouldn't he? After all he lives in Kansas City!

When word got out that I would be in town this week he arranged for a dinner party, Kansas City style, complete with his home smoked meat and sauce made by Brother's partner in culinary crime, Clayton. They even have a name for their "company": KC Royale.

Here's what was on the menu:
  • Smoked Brisket
  • Smoked Pork
  • Bacon Wrapped-Cream Cheese Stuffed JalapeƱos
  • Home Cut French Fries
  • Corn Casserole (my contribution)
Kyle started smoking the meat this morning and managed to keep up with everything with the help of Jeremy and Clayton.

Listening to the guys in the kitchen all day was quite entertaining. Topics ranged from Clayton's (some may say "weird") fascination with Michael Jackson to how to get the perfect smoke ring on a piece of meat. My favorite conversation was when they reminisced over Clayton's "Men Only, No Women Invited, No Food, No Movie Dark Knight Dance Party."

In between all the fake bickering (and believe me that was aplenty!) they pulled together a fantastic BBQ! Feast (no pun intended) your eyes on what happens with nine adults and one toddler cram into my parents eat-in kitchen/dining room:

Monday, January 3, 2011

For What It's Worth, My Thoughts on a New Year

I remember ringing in 2010. I was so excited to embrace a new year. There was not an ounce of apprehension, fear, or questioning in my bones. In fact, I knew from the start that 2010 was going to be a great year. And you know what? It really was. From the beginning 2010 was like a kindred spirit who I meshed with immediately.

I cannot say that I have the same sort of well-wishing optimism about 2011. I'm coming into this new year (and in fact new decade!) with a lot on my mind.

I have something in my life that is broken and in desperate need of supernatural repair.
I've got a sense of my calling but no framework to see how it can be put into practical, day to day use.
Dusty and I have bills to pay and very little money to pay them with.
I'm burnt out with the whole church scene; more burnt out than I've ever been before.
This is the year that one of mine and Dusty's deepest desires can be fulfilled, but there's the ever-looming question of, "will it?"

For me 2011 is like a new acquaintance: I'm not too sure how we will get along. I'd rather have my old friend 2010 back. She was so pleasant and easy.

At any rate, I feel the Lord has directly spoken to me out of Philippians 4 today and given instructions for how to deal with the unfriendly terms I've found myself on with 2011:

"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." (from The Message)

I don't think I could ask anything more from the Lord this year than to experience his wholeness. If that's all 2011 were to bring me I will find myself very full indeed.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Opening the Vault

I'm not really sure why she's doing it.

Maybe she feels the need to de-clutter her closets.
Perhaps she gets melancholy when looking at old pictures.

Whatever her reasoning, my grandma recently gave me a sackful of old photos from when I was a kid. And I love looking at these old photos. There's so much history behind each shot-- back when us kids were young and my dad had a rockin' mustache. Here are some of my favorites:

This is a shot of my momma and Baby Me. I love the look of new motherhood all about her. So sweet.

And who couldn't love this little bundle of joy?! I was a cute baby!

This is a picture of me and my dad that I've never seen before today. Dig the 'stache?

This is my all-time favorite picture of me from my childhood. It just speaks volumes...

This picture is my mother's all-time favorite shot of her two kiddos. In her words, she took it because she felt is just gave such an accurate portrayal of an ordinary day in the Hamlin household. I don't know what I'm wearing on my head, but apparently it was crucial for being able to eat my Spaghetti-o's!

And finally, perhaps one of the dorkiest pictures of me, ever. I'm rockin' the bangs and my Reebok Classics.