Life and Time and People

“You can’t change your past, but you can change your future.”

I’ve heard variations of this quote time and time again over the years. It’s never seemed more true than it does right now. So much of life is determined by how we respond to things both good and bad. I’d be lying to say that I respond correctly in most situations….rarely do I (whether I show it or not doesn’t make my response a good one).

Sometimes life feels crazy and overwhelming. Sometimes time goes by like a jet plane and other times it seems to move as slow as a slug. These things often make little or no sense in the moment. But, it is up to you and me how we respond to what happens. We can’t change anything after it’s happened…but our response to things can mean life or death for us. Figuratively and literally.

This last week I’ve been slowly reading through the book of John in the Bible. Jesus is a pretty rad guy (and a LOT more than that too…savior, friend, etc) and gives us some prime examples of what it means to hold our tongue and not be a jerk back to people who quite honestly deserve it. The Pharisees tried getting him into traps with his words on more than a few occasions and he continually responds calmly and with eloquence that stuns them. I think that’s pretty cool, and also a pretty big challenge. Something that I most definitely need to work on. Rarely do I respond calm and cool when things don’t go my way or someone behaves rudely….I make the choice to be pushed out of shape. This needs to change. I need to be like Jesus and it’s only possible with more Jesus in my life.

p.s. If I am honest about how the last month has gone since my last post about social media/phone usage….it hasn’t been great…but today is a new day.

A Love/Hate Realtionship with Technology + A Movie: The Circle

Sometimes I love technology. Sometimes I want to throw my phone out the window. Sometimes technology seemingly controls my life. Sometimes I let it.

Recently I’ve taken note of the amount of time that spend on my phone. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google, day-dreaming about cool things in America, etc. Anything and everything can immediately zap up way too much time. From 5 minutes to an hour and half. It’s a slippery slope. A few weeks ago I was off social media for 4 days. Honestly, I didn’t really miss it. One time I sat down and immediately opened Facebook without even a thought. It has become second nature and that’s just now how I want to live. Walking around with my phone glued to my hand and sucked into social media.

My husband knows me too well. Days when I’m more emotional, missing “home” (ie. American life and my beloved family), complaining about my hair or clothes, getting wanderlust for every high mountaintop and far off lake…he immediately knows the problem. I spent too much time on social media seeing all the “gram worthy” things that everyone across the globe has been doing. Days when I put my phone across the room and don’t pick it up even five seconds I’m much more content with the wonderful life I have.

Last night my husband and I watched the Netflix produced movie, The Circle. I knew nothing about the movie other than the cover…..Tom Hanks and Emma Watson….with Tom Hanks I thought it must be literally the best movie out there because he’s a boss. Watching the movie I went through so many emotions; sadness, happiness, disgust, rage, hope, disgust again, and more. As the movie ended all I wanted to do was burn both of our electronics. Getting so caught up in the politics of life and electronics is exhausting. Currently a much simpler approach is the most appealing. That being said, there is no way I would even think for a moment about giving up my smart phone that allows me to communicate via text and video and voice calls to my friends and family on the other side of the world as well as those in my life here in Uganda.

Technology being so much ease to life, but I certainly don’t want to get caught up in the all consuming fire that it also is. What’s the balance? How do I do this?

I’m going to try to live life more balanced. Currently, I’m not entirely sure what this looks like, but I’m certain it involves more living and less living through other people’s lives. More real life.

Also, these last few weeks have been CRAZY busy. Here’s a quick pic from the graduation on Sunday of the annual intern class that my husband and I lead. More details to come.

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Just a little Sparkle + Yet another way to wear your classic white button up.

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Of course Ham (one of my two pups) snuck his tail in this shot.

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Also….due to an eye infection and my current low supply of contact lenses until I visit the States in November, I’ve resorted to wearing my glasses again. Bringing back memories of my 7 year old ridiculous mess.

I can’t help but be a little jealous of the overload of social media postings about floating the river, wake-boarding, lake swimming, parades, and 4th of July festivities. Not to mention barbecues that seem to be endless and the beautiful firework displays (tomorrow). Don’t get me wrong…I basically live in endless summer. Uganda’s climate it basically perfect (if you subtract about 70% of the 89% humidity). Sun all year round with intermittent rainy seasons, and the occasional temperature under 65 degrees fahrenheit. But….basic weather is something like 75-85 degrees fahrenheit with sun and cloud breaks. Really…I can’t complain.

Still when I see American summer my heart hurts a little. Mostly due to all the memories I have growing up in the PNW hiking, swimming, running through sprinklers, consuming endless amounts of otter pops, driving with the windows down and music blasting in true summer fashion. Ahh…here I am living in the land of no otter pops but with sun to fill all your hearts desires (except today on my day off when swimming was on the agenda…of course today is overcast).

Now to the goods. Ever since I picked up this white button up top a few weeks ago….I can’t get over how perfect it is. The detailed crochet collar and details beg me to wear it every time I look in my closet. I picked up this sequined spaghetti strap midi dress at the Monday market the same day I snagged this perfect white top from my previous post. It has the same 30 cent price tag. Who can resist clothes for less than a dollar??? Not to mention these dark maroon/purple shoes care of my mother-in-law on my last visit to the states (thanks Mom!).

The endless possibilities of a basic white shirt are endless. This being the first one I’ve owned in at least the last 10 years. It dawned on me the other day that I graduated high school 10 years ago. Officially making me in my late 20’s. Sigh. But things are looking good this side of life (though I never really imaged myself at this age, in my mind I skipped from 20 straight to OLD). Back to the shirt, I used to stay as far away from white clothing as possible, especially in the last few years since living in Uganda where the red dirt/dust that gets everywhere. But I’ve now come to the conclusion there’s nothing a little bleach can’t fix.

My husband thinks he’s hilarious. In most cases he is. He loves/hates being my photographer.

In the next few weeks I’ll be experimenting with other outfit choices. What’s your favorite way to wear your basics?

Date Day Ideas + Best Casual Date Spots in Kampala

Date your spouse. This is something I heard long before I had a spouse (or a boyfriend for that matter). Now, nearly three years into my marriage, I couldn’t agree more with the aforementioned statement.

My husband and I basically do everything together. I would give it an average of 22 of 24 hours in every day are spent together.

We work together (literally…we share an office with just the two of us)

Live together.

Drive together.

Eat together.

And the best part is we still like each other. Don’t get me wrong, we have our fair share of squabbles and arguments. But we’ve learned to be quick to forgive (this gets challenged nearly everyday). That being said….we still like to spend our Mondays (our consistent day off) together. Having some sort of date-day fun. I’ve compiled ideas and pictures from the last three months as follows:

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KFC stop for ice cream and a quick card game on our way back from running errands.

 

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Coffee, writing and cards on our day off

#1: Eat Ice-cream/get coffee and play cards. It’s cheap and a no brainer. (our favorite Kampala/Entebbe spots are KFC (they have great ice cream balls with chocolate and cookie crumbles), Anna’s Corner, Cafe Javas and Cafe Marie)

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I LOVE him.

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Quick stop for jumping pictures for the win!

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Pretty epic.

#2: Go on an adventure drive/ride. We have a motorcycle and love to ride together…me as long as we get to stop along the way and take pictures/look at things/stretch our legs. Road trips in cars are excellent too, especially without a destination, just get in the car and drive without any plans….stop anywhere that peaks your interest as you drive by. Our favorite day trip include: the equator (about a 2 hour drive each way) to get a late breakfast and Jinja if we’re in it for the long haul (about 2 1/2 hours with no traffic…but traffic is a constant struggle on Jinja Road)

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Dressed up in our traditional Uganda wear for a LONG cultural engagement ceremony.

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Sit with your friends for added entertainment.

#3: Make “responsibilities” that you do together a date. Wedding for example; go out for late-night happy hour appetizers afterward or make it a double date and sit with your friends so you have someone to laugh with when you get bored. It makes it no longer a necessity but a fun thing for both of you! (or make fun of funny things as you see them, just between the two of you)

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He’s fine….I’m dying

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Sunshine walks.

#4: Go on a walk. Make it an adventure. Go a route you’ve never gone before. Walk to the nearest gas station and buy a treat under two dollars. See who can find the best deal!

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It took ages to get our food….so Seth started playing the piano in the empty room.

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Before the power went out we amused ourselves by watching Chinese television with this woman.

#5: Try a new restaurant together. It’s always an adventure, whether you like it or not. We recently tried a Chinese restaurant with DELICIOUS food and a whole lot of character. Go into it knowing that things may not be as they would if you went to a restaurant on your “normal” or “favorite” list. Enjoy seeing how this one is different and try something on the menu you normally wouldn’t. This one was a bit weird but we’ve already gone back with friends because the food was just too good! Good Chinese restaurants are hard to come by in Uganda. This one in Entebbe is delicious!

These are just a few ideas that my husband and I enjoy together. What do you do with your spouse/boyfriend?

It’s all in the details + Structured Top with Distressed Denim

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I am not at all a perfectionist. That can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it.

Don’t get me wrong, I like things done right, but I like when other people put effort into the tiny details. I can appreciate what they did and thank God that I didn’t have to. As someone that loves crafts and using my creative brain this sometimes doesn’t make sense. How can you enjoy embroidery if you don’t like details and don’t work hard to make your embroidery perfect? Do simple projects. Quickly finished in less than an hour or two. I’m an instant gratification kind of person….not a pour over something for hours and days. But when it comes to clothes I can definitely appreciate the little things.

Check out this top I picked up the Monday market nearest my home. Read my previous post for more details about the market. Still only 1,000/= (or $0.30). Holla at this win of a shirt.

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What I’m wearing: similar sleeveless white shirt, long sleeve version here, distressed boyfriend jeans, and similar leather oxfords

I’m not a perfectionist and also not normally one for button-ups or white shirts. But lately I’ve been digging the classic clean style. Paired with these bleach distressed jeans and leather flats really takes the edge off the “stiff” look of the white shirt.

How do you pair your white button-ups? I love the multi-purpose-ness of this shirt that can be dressed up or down for any occasion.

Market Challenge + DIY Cute Pocket

In April I started doing what I call the “Market Challenge” (read this post for more info). On my last trip to the local market nearest to my home I picked up this top along with a few others (one of them that I removed the decorative detail from to add to the top of this pocket for extra intrigue). This top was 1,000/=. That looks like a lot but in dollars it’s approximately thirty cents. WINNING!

I loved the striped pattern and ruffled edged sleeves/cap…and with that price how can you say no? After bringing it home and trying it on I saw that it was missing something. DUH! A pocket! Who doesn’t love pockets? But what color/type of pocket? I had the larger striped material lying around from a top I got from the same market about a year ago, it has sat in my sewing pile for some time waiting for me create something new with it. This was the perfect opportunity!

I used a sewing machine for this project, but if you don’t have one a needle and some thread will work too!

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What do you think? Are there any small or easy things that you do to transform any articles of clothing into creative pieces of art?

Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies

YUM! YUM! YUM! I love the thought of anything home baked. Bread, cakes, brownies, cookies, scones, biscuits, and basically any other mixture of flour and water or butter has my mouth drooling at just the thought. Lately I’ve been buying one bunch of bananas a week thinking that somehow this will be the time that my husband and eat all of them in one week….we’ve yet to succeed (unless we have visitors). We always get to the end of the  week with a minimum of 4 (usually more) bananas left and I continually struggle to find what to do with the remainder. Well in my continual weeks of struggling I’ve come up with a few great suggestions.

But first, these delicious Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies.

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Seriously who doesn’t love a great chocolate chip cookie? These are a delicious twist on your average chocolate chip cookie.

Recipe was adapted from Averie Cooks here: Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I used less oats and more flour as well as all organic cane sugar rather than one third white sugar and two thirds brown sugar, and for good measure added an extra banana. You can see that I had WAY more bananas that needed to be used. One bunch of bananas here in Uganda can have anywhere from 12 to 18 bananas. That’s a lot of bananas for two people. Chocolate chips are hard to come by around these parts so I used some small fruit chew filled chocolate candies…..anything chocolate will do!

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These cookies truly are delicious. Giving you a yummy treat as well as a way to use all you have and not waste. The more bananas, the more cookies you can bake. I recommend baking a few extra to share with a neighbor or a friend!

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Ruffled Stripes + DIY Embroidered Jeans

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This particular season in life has been a busy one. A week and a half ago I was spending 14 hours a day with 500+ young people. It was a phenomenal 3 days spent worshiping God together with so many others. Being that the youth ministry my husband and I lead was the one putting on the conference….we were a bit busy in the weeks leading up to it and days of the event itself. That said…the days and hours of being frazzled from busyness were worth it!

Exactly one week ago….last Monday….on my day off I started trying my hand at embroidery. Since then I’ve made a cute couch pillow with “love” embroidered on the front, a baby shower gift of two framed embroidered words, and added some character to my already DIY’d jeans. Embroidery is much easier than I expected, and although I’m a amateur in every sense of the word it’s so and fulfilling. Giving a great sense of accomplishment after a simple project is finished! Something that I love, feeling accomplished after completing a project that took 30 minutes 🙂

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I tried 2 different types of embroidering. A zig-zag stitch as pictured here.

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And a straight stitch as pictured here. Don’t mind my dog sniffing my rear.

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Check out these links for some awesome embroidered denim:

Flowered Embroidered Mid-Rise Jean (I love these ones!)

Rolled Cuff Embroidered Jean

Tribal Embroidered Jean (My fav and the best deal of these 3)

Do you have an current favs? Or simple embroidery ideas? I’d love to try them out!

 

Make-it Monday: Unisex T-shirt Turned Crop-top

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Ever since I can remember I’ve been snipping, spray painting, sewing, dyeing and ripping my way through life as far as clothes go. My mom taught one of my older brothers and I how to sew when I was young (maybe 9 years old?)…our first project obviously being pajama pants. That’s a given for anyone that has ever learned how to sew in America. Her creativity, is what I think, jumpstarted my creative mind. She gave me liberty and license to use my imagination and let me use her sewing machine and whatever other sewing supplies she had in the house. My mom never yelled at me over broken needles or whatever else she had to fix after my mishaps, if you know her, you know that she is literally the best.

I love being able to use the creative mind my mom gave me as an outlet. Life is sometimes too busy, too stressful, too tiring, too “have-to” that if I don’t use my brain to do something creative I feel too stuck in a box. Whether it’s at work or at home, when I get to use my hands and mind to create something it’s takes me out of the “have-to” mindset and reminds me that I “get to”. I get to live an awesome life. I have an awesome husband, I have awesome friends, am apart of an awesome church, serve an awesome God and live in an awesome country. It’s amazing how doing something you’re made (or just love) to do can give you a better perspective on life (spending of time with Jesus helps too).

Back to “Make-it Monday”. The shirt that I’m transforming in this blog is one that I got to design (hooray for getting to be creative at work) for the upcoming youth conference put on by the youth ministry that my husband and I lead out of Life Church here on this side of the world. It is your basic unisex t-shirt and every year I like to make mine unique to me.

Here’s a picture after cutting and pinning before sewing.

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I cut the bottom off of a black slip that was too long for all my skirts and used it to add contrast and flair to the design. Trimming up and folding, then sewing in and up the sleeves was an added bonus. In unisex sizes I generally wear a size small but I bought a large to be sure that I could cut and sew as I pleased.

And here’s the finished product.

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Obviously no outside pictures at my house are complete without at least one of my dogs joining in.

Sometimes people don’t realize how easy it is to make something your own or add your own personal touch to something that a million other people own to make it one-of-a-kind. I love doing things like this! What do you do to use your brain for fun and creativity?

 

Wardrobe Wednesday: Market Challenge

In past posts I’ve mentioned the local Monday market near my home, just outside of Kampala, Uganda. It is packed full of clothes, shoes, fruits, vegetables, and numerous other random things. One Wednesday in a month I’ll be posting the results of that month’s Market Challenge. I love games/challenges, great deals and clothes. What could be better than a combination of all three? Below are the rules that I will be abiding by. In the future I may include guests in these posts.

Market Challenge guidelines:

  1. $3 limit (10,000 Uganda Shillings)
  2. 1 hour
  3. The best outfit possible

Disclaimer: Shoes will not be included.

Hope you enjoy the journey with me. Are there any secret hot spots for bargain deals near you? What has been your experience? Here are the results of my first ever Wardrobe Wednesday: Market Challenge.

OUTFIT #1

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  1. Striped Front-Button Maxi/Midi Dress: $0.56 USD (2,000ugx)
  2. Shoes (bought from Buckle last time I was in the States)

It could use a few alterations to make it a bit more flattering as far as the fit goes. Most likely I’ll wear it a few times then pass it along to a friend.

OUTFIT #2

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  1. Striped Faux Front-Button Midi Skirt:  $0.56 USD (2,000ugx)
  2. Long black tank (tank dress) (bought from Forever21 approximately four years ago)
  3. Shoes (same as above)

This one needs a through washing to get out a small stain on the back waistband. I really like it! I think it’s cute, on-trend and flattering.

It’s amazing what you can find for a steal when you take the time to look.

P.S. This is the first post with the camera that my husband commissioned my family to help buy me for my birthday last week. He was the photographer. It will be a journey for me to learn how to shoot and edit pictures, but I am very excited. Any tips? I can use all the help I can get!