good things : easy DIY lighting

I missed my Christmas tree.

So I made these.

Top photo: old vase (which I was looking for last weekend…), old tissue paper I found under my bed, old string of lights I found in my closet.

Bottom photo: two extra glass mixing bowls turned upside down, old tissue paper I found under my bed, old string of lights I found in my closet.

(Apparently I store old things in odd places.)

It’s just the right amount of light to replace the little tree/flash that could. It doesn’t necessarily emit the same amount of yuletide joy, but it makes me happy to look in it’s general direction nonetheless.

I love impromptu projects.


good things : my parents

My mom is an enthusiastic conversationalist. She usually takes the lead on most of our family phone conversations. But tonight we had a Skype date instead and my dad had a bunch of things to talk about from the get go. This visibly dismayed my mom, and when a break came in the conversation she said, “Well I’d have a few things to add if I could get a word in edgewise!”

To which I couldn’t help but add, “Um, Pot? You’re pretty much calling the kettle black.” (Channeling, of course, Pheboe and Monica.)

My mom said, “Pot! Yeah, who’s the pot now?!”

Then this, from my dad: “No, Martie, pot is something we do at Christmas.”


(And if you’re horribly confused right now – we don’t actually do pot, or any other miscellaneous drugs, at Christmas – just go back and read the post in the hyperlink and everything will make sense.)

I love my parents. Especially today, a year after what started as an unpleasant morning but ended up being the biggest lifesaving blessing in my life to-date. Dad, I’m so grateful that one year later we can Skype and talk about pot. And Mom, I’m glad some things never change. Thank you both for making life so much fun.

and that’s when the cops pulled into our driveway.

Last year’s Christmas story featured some classic Mom antics. Trust me, she had her moments this Christmas as well. (At church: Me – “Who’s that?” Mom – “Yes, I’m excited about the rolls, too!”) But this year, it was all about the police and marijuana.

Don’t worry, the two are not related. This story doesn’t end in prison.

First, we’ll start with how we all awoke this morning. It was kind of like a poem. But kind of not.

We set our alarms for 7am. I was up at 5am because I’m ridiculous and still get just as excited for Christmas morning as I did when I was 5 years old. But shortly after 7 we all heard the sound of silver bells…or security alarm bells. My dad tripped the alarm on his way downstairs which caused my mom and I to spring from our beds to see what was the matter. We didn’t spring too quickly because accidentally tripping the alarm is something that happens on a daily basis often around here.

After the alarm goes off the security center calls the house to make sure there isn’t an actual perpetrator on the premises. They usually call immediately afterwards, but since we are so good at setting the alarm off they probably run a few errands, grab a cup of coffee, maybe send out some belated emails before calling our house.

Except for this morning, they called back while we were in the middle of setting the alarm off for a second time so we weren’t quite able to get to the phone in time.

So they just sent the police over.

Merry Christmas! There’s a cop in the driveway!

We gave him a plate of cookies and brownies and our condolences.

About 30 minutes later we were opening Christmas presents. At which time my dad, who is 77 and does full-time prison ministry, felt compelled to utter, “It makes you wonder: how many people are opening Christmas presents this morning, and there’s marijuana inside?”

At which time my mom, who wouldn’t know marijuana from marigolds, felt compelled to sniff the envelope to her card and utter, “Mmmmm, pot.”

And that’s how my senior citizen parents and I started Christmas morning.

Here’s hoping that all of your mornings were equally joy-filled. And less filled with cops and hash.

the 25 days of pinning (and christmas eve musings) : day 24

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My family is weird.

We have more desserts than people in the house right now. (Two shoo fly pies, one pan of brownies, one chocolate cake, and a rustic apple tart…and we would have made cranberry bread if I hadn’t left the recipe in Rochester. Meaning the ratio is two desserts per person. I call the pies.)

Our tree is BRIGHT RED. No really, it’s like Rudolph’s nose. If you squint from wherever you are you can probably see it.

We don’t leave the house on Christmas. If you hadn’t noticed from our similarly antisocial Thanksgiving celebration, we don’t get out much.

Speaking of, this year we’re repeating Thanksgiving for Christmas dinner this year because it was just so darn good the first time around. The turkey is brining as we speak.

And this year is happier than most because we can watch a lot of football. A LOT of football. Which means we can watch a lot less Lifetime Christmas movie marathons. (And all of God’s people said, Amen.)

I’ve never known anything but our off-kilter Christmas traditions. But really, is any family on-kilter? I think to qualify as a tried-and-true family you have to be at least a little abnormal.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Merry Christmas Eve, friends! Hope you are spending it with the ones you love in whichever fashion fits you best.

beka stays in rochester : hitting the streets

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I love being outside. I always prefer outdoor seating at restaurants. I could walk around my neighborhood for hours without getting the slightest bit bored. Give me a camera to take along and the day is pretty much done. I’ll be out rolling around in the grass taking pictures of acorns until sunset.

But running outside? Yeah, I pretty much hate it.

This boggles my mind and frustrates me to no end. I enjoy running. I enjoy being outside. Therefore, one could logically conclude that A + B  = C. Except in my case A + B = I enjoy running inside and doing all other things outside.

I can think of three reasons for this conundrum. 1 – I like knowing the facts. I like knowing how far I ran, at what pace, for how long, and how many calories I shaved off in the process. This is highly control-freaky but I work best when I can see tangible results in all areas of life, workouts included. 2 – I like not having to worry about crossing streets/falling into potholes/tripping over trash…because we all know that lacking grace is one of my most developed spiritual gifts. The treadmill doesn’t throw anything unexpected in my way, and as someone prone to falling face first into the unexpected, I appreciate that. 3 – Let’s be honest. I can watch Sports Center and Giada at Home on the treadmill…and I appreciate that too.

So when the urge to throw on workout clothes and go for a run outside hit me last Sunday I took full advantage. I changed in the blink of an eye and headed out before I could change my mind. I listened to the Packers game until my phone decided it didn’t want to work and ran in silence the rest of the way. And then I remembered that I like running without audio distractions because I always end up praying. I ran in the dark sans phone/iPod almost every morning while working in Admissions and it was the best possible way to start every day. (A practice I was quick to forget once I left Admissions and selectively remembered only the waking up pre-dawn and running in the first 5 minutes of consciousness parts.)

On Sunday I ran down my street, turned onto East Ave, and went down to Main to see the flagpole-turned-Christmas-tree at the intersection before turning around and running back to my apartment.

It was just wonderful.

The sun was setting when I left and as daylight faded I got to see the city all aglow with Christmas decorations. I was so entertained by passing countless restaurants and stores and homes and people. And when I ran over the highway, with the sun sinking low and casting it’s last light over the city, I felt like I was in one of those scenes from a movie I’ve always wanted to be in. One with a girl living in a city who get a sudden burst of determination and goes out for a run against a breathtaking urban backdrop. Whenever I see a scene like that I always think, “I wish I could run in a place like that.”

Well it turns out I can! When I was running on Sunday I was (yet again) overwhelmed with gratitude for my little Rochester life. I’ve literally been given everything I wanted in a place to live and then some.

So with that in mind, along with incorporating more running back into my life (seriously, there’s a running revolution going on over here…quick calculation: I think I ran well over 25 miles this week – 8 on Friday alone!), I’m going to make a conscious effort to get off the treadmill and onto the street more often. It’s a good decision in all respects.