Sunday, April 14, 2013

Rediscovering reading

Although I consider myself an avid reader, I've found that I go through "extreme" phases of reading: from reading almost non-stop to taking months to labor through one book (as my book club partner has discovered :) ). After a several months long dry spell, the reading non-stop bug has bit again and I am thoroughly enjoying it!

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

My friend Leslie and I started a book's just the two of us right now, but we are enjoying it. This was the first book that we tackled and I was thrilled because it had been on my list for awhile. It's C.S. Lewis' retelling of Cupid and Psyche's story (Greek mythology) told from the perspective of Psyche's sister, Orual. Amazing writing, plot, character development. The book is broken into two parts and the second was challenging - I read it twice to try and figure out exactly what was going on (it's hard to discern if Orual is dreaming or really experiencing the situations she describes). Definitely enjoyed this one.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

This was the second book that Leslie and I tackled. Almost 900 pages of Russian literature. One of my favorite books is Crime and Punishment (also by Dostoevsky) so I was excited to start another of his that has been collecting dust on my "to read" stack. As with most of the Russian literature I have read Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn), the story isn't limited to the plot, but each of the characters expounding on religion, politics, and the state of society. The plot centers around three brothers, their issues with their father, each other, and murder. It provides a glimpse into what life what like during Dostoevsky's time and encourages the reader to ponder society then and now. The characters are over-the-top dramatic and I found myself wanting to smack them upside the head and tell them to get a hold of themselves :). They are well-developed, and I found myself, liking, despising, caring, and relating to several of them, but the drama was a bit too much for me. The length of the book wasn't too intimidating, since Dostoevsky is a talented story-teller and not too many parts drag, but I much prefer Crime and Punishment.

Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper

I cannot say enough good things about this book. It's a collection of mini-biographies of women missionaries through the years, their struggles, and how the Lord provided above and beyond anything they could imagine and in some of the most dire and dangerous situations. The gut-punch quote of this book from Mrs. Piper: " I ask myself and you: what is it that keeps us from venturing into something that God has been putting in front of us? What is it that causes us to say "I can't possibly do that?" What am I afraid of? What do I lack? What are my weaknesses?...If we think we can't do what God is asking us to do, we're right. But God can." An inspirational, thought-proking, and spirit-lifting reminder of the sovereignty of God.

The Maze Runner Trilogy (The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure) by James Dashner

I literally read one of these books per day - I absolutely flew through them thanks to Mr. Dashner's amazing ability to make one turn the pages at lightning speed with a complicated, layered, and twisting plot and mysterious and believable characters. Along the lines of "The Hunger Games" and "Divergent", this is another young adult Dystopian society series. Out of the three series, I've enjoyed "Divergent" the most and his one probably ties with "The Hunger Games" because of the ending. I appreciate authors who can make those tough plot decisions and take a risk. The Maze Runner trilogy is more gruesome and scary than the other trilogies - I believe because of the content matter (a devastating disease is involved) and possibly because it's written by a man and the main character is male, just a different perspective than the other two series. I would read this at night and actually found myself jumping when the house creaked because I was in an intense and disturbing part of the book :). These are a great, fun, and quick read...and apparently a 4th book, a prequel, is in the works. Woot.

Counsel from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis E. Johnson

I picked this up at a conference last year to better educate myself on counseling others, as I was working with a couple of friends who were in challenging situations that were very much outside my realm of experience and ending up finding myself being counseled by this book! The emphasis on this book is bringing the focus of of a situation back to the cross and how it relates to Christ and where that person is in his/her relationship to Him. The importance of bringing things back to the Cross is stated clearly in this quote from the book: "We need to hear it (the gospel) again because if we have forgotten His work on our behalf, it will skew the way we think of Him, the way we think of ourselves, and the way we think of others." Highly recommend this book to help with counseling others and/or for yourself. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Filling out the house

Even though I've been in my house for three years now (!!!), it is definitely still a work in progress. I like adding things slowly and getting a feel for what I want in certain spaces. I've been happy with the results thus far, so I figure I will stick with this pace.

The living room needed something else...and I stumbled upon an IKEA hack of the VITTJSO glass and metal shelves. They are a black-brown and I wanted something more industrial looking and I loved what people where doing to them with just spray paint.

I chose a hammered silver spray paint. Two cans later...some awesome shelves that I think really help to fill up the room more.

Pre-spray paint (ignore my seriously messy it is on this year's spring cleaning list)

All hammered-silvery!

See? Much more filled out now. :)

I've also been searching for about a year for a mid-century style armchair for my bedroom. I wanted a reading nook and I was quite picky about the chair...I was going for a certain look and needed to be able to sit in it with my legs/feet curled up into it (um, that's how I like to read :) ). After scouring craigslist for months, and other furniture websites...I began to think that it was a lost cause...until my friends and I happened to go to IKEA and I saw the STRANDMON chair and ottoman. ANd it was comfy! And I could curl up in it! And so, it is now part of my reading nook, along with my craigslist lamp and mid-century table :) It's been getting a LOT of use.

So cozy...

Duct tape rocks!

My sewing skills are extremely limited. As in, I can never remember how to even thread the machine that I have. At most, I've sewn about 5 straight-ish lines in my life. That being said, I was extremely excited when my favorite DIY blog posted about making your own faux roman shades WITHOUT sewing. I've been wanted to do roman shades in the breakfast nook and kitchen but was intimidated by the need for sewing.

This is where the duct tape comes in.

The DIY blog used some fancy fabric-y white tape. I used good-old-tried-and-true duct tape.

Faux roman shades assembled with duct tape, pins, and no-sew-iron-hem tape. 

Duct tape rocks.

I searched for this fabric for almost two years. It's "Cecilia" from IKEA and they were always out of stock when I went there. I finally snagged 4 yards, measured, and hemmed using iron-on hemming tape.

My blinds are vinyl and at the top, there is a wider vinyl piece that hides where the blinds are attached to the window frame. I literally just duct taped the fabric to the vinyl piece. This is from where the faux roman shade will hang.

I then started pinning 4-inch folds to get the "roman" look. This took a bit to get everything even and lined up.

Mid-folding and pinning

Voila! Faux roman shades! You can't see the tape, you can't see the pins. Amazing.

I love them. And duct tape.