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Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

Winter Berries at Sunset

Winter Berries at Sunset

I’m taking a cue from Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy and Katie at Cakes, Tea and Dreams and asking the question, “What’s saving my life right now?” I love this discipline of focusing on the positive things, as little as they may seem.

This verse comes to mind:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

This one, too:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

Here are some of the things that I am thankful for, or, that are saving my life, this winter:

  • Lighting candles. I bought a couple of brass candlesticks in November and lit tapers every time I had friends over during the holidays and burned through several candles. I light them when I’m home alone, too. The glow from just two candles can fill an evening with comfort and warmth.
Candles are meant to be lit.

Candles are meant to be lit.

  • Hosting family and friends. In December, I hosted a Christmas party for my small group, a Lessons and Carols service, dinner and movie nights, Christmas Eve with my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and six-year-old niece. In January, I hosted a pizza and game night, spent an afternoon watching movies with my niece, and hosted my small group. I love having people over and I love making memories in my little house.
Late night pie

Late night pie

Morning at home

Morning at home

  • Lavender Body Butter. Minnesota winters are dry, resulting in extremely dry skin. My hands  I bought a jar of this body butter at a roadside stand on the Old Mission Peninsula while on vacation in Traverse City, Michigan two summers ago and it was well worth it. I’m sensitive to harsh chemicals and fragrances, and lotions tend to make my skin drier. This body butter is fabulous. On my desk at work, I keep a bar of hard lotion that my mom made from many of the same ingredients.
  • Hot Chocolate. I love coffee and tea, both. But this winter I rediscovered my childhood love: hot chocolate. I gave Smitten Kitchen’s Decadent Hot Chocolate Mix to my coworkers last Christmas, and made some for myself as well. I have savored many marshmallow-topped mugs this winter.
Cuppa Hot Chocolate

Cuppa Hot Chocolate

  • 5ft inf. I don’t know how or when I discovered this website and Instagram feed, but I’m sure glad I did. The cheerful and creative arrangements of flowers and objects are like Vitamin D for my soul.
  • Sunsets. A couple weeks ago, I noticed that the sun set after I got off work. That is a hopeful sign indeed. The darkest days are past and spring isn’t far off. While winter is lovely, I savor the little signs of warmer and brighter days ahead.
The sun sets after 5 pm!

The sun sets after 5 pm!

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I hope to write some posts soon, but in the meantime, here is some photographic proof of what I’ve been up to…

Opera Under the Stars (Clouds is more like it.) Shattuck was the perfect setting for this!

Opera Under the Stars (Clouds is more like it.) Shattuck was the perfect setting for an outdoor performance of La Boheme!

My first (hopefully only) accident...

My first (hopefully only) accident that resulted in a two-week stay at the shop for my Giant.

A lot of game playing, including this favorite: Puerto Rico.

A lot of game playing, including this favorite: Puerto Rico.

Enjoying time on my "front porch," here with lemonade (yes, I made it!) and some good books.

Enjoying time on my “front porch,” here with lemonade (yes, I made it!) and some good books.

My first soccer match! My 12-year-old cousin and her team were in town for a game.

My 12-year-old cousin and her team were in town for a soccer match!

Picking strawberries on the 4th of July!

Picking strawberries on the 4th of July!

Enjoying an outdoor lunch at the bagel shop/

Enjoying an outdoor lunch at the bagel shop.

Cheery cherries from my very own trees!

Cheery cherries from my very own trees!

I ate some good desserts...

I ate some good desserts…

The Piper Warrior that I flew!!!

Early one Sunday morning I flew this plane…

Enjoying the lovely blooming trees, like this gigantic Dogwood.

Enjoying the lovely blooming trees, like this gigantic Catalpa. (That’s a two-story Victorian home in the background for comparison.)

I saw the Oh Hellos at First Ave with some friends. So much fun!

I saw the Oh Hellos at First Ave with some friends. So much fun! (This is a photo I took when my cousins played here in 2010.)

Enjoyed an annual birthday tea party with a couple of friends. Last year's theme: Alice in Wonderland. This year's: Downton Abbey.

Enjoyed an annual birthday tea party with a couple of friends. This year’s theme: Downton Abbey.

Stopped in Mantorville on my way to Whitewater State Park and ended up being talked into attending the afternoon melodrama at the Opera House: Dogsbreath Deveraux the Dastardly Doctor or Nurses Foiled Again! There was plenty of booing, cheering, and sighing.

Stopped in Mantorville on my way to Whitewater State Park and ended up being talked into attending the afternoon melodrama at the Opera House: Dogsbreath Deveraux the Dastardly Doctor or Nurses Foiled Again! There was plenty of booing, cheering, and sighing from the audience. Too fun!

The view from Inspiration Point at Whitewater State Park. (At least I think it was...)

I did make it to Whitewater and went on a short, but scenic, hike to Inspiration Point.

I welcomed a few new paintings by my artist friend Jennifer. The one on the left, Wild Blue Yonder, is the most recent addition to my home gallery. I love it oh so much!

I welcomed a few new paintings by my artist friend Jennifer. The one on the left, Wild Blue Yonder, is the most recent addition to my home gallery. I love it oh so much!

I also attended at local showing of Jesus Christ Superstar with a friend. Her son’s doctor played Jesus and her friend played Judas. I didn’t have any close ties to the cast, but they did a wonderful job!

I’ve added some things to my list of things to do, such as see Pride and Prejudice at the Guthrie. Did you know that this year is the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice? Definitely a great reason to see the play! (Who wants to go with me? Mom?) Also, thanks to Audrey’s post over at Minnesota Prairie Roots this morning, I would love to go to Walnut Grove to take in the Little House celebration.

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Lindsay (sitting) and me with our younger siblings.

Lindsay and me with our younger siblings.

When I was one year old, my mom went back to work part time. She called the local Bible college to find a babysitter for me, and was connected with Janet, who had a newborn daughter named Lindsay. That was 32 years ago this summer. Little did anyone know that I wasn’t only getting a babysitter, but a lifelong friend.

With friends Jennifer and Jana in Kauai for Lindsay's wedding. (Sept. 2006)

With friends Jennifer and Jana in Kauai for Lindsay’s wedding. (Sept. 2006)

I can’t imagine life without Lindsay. We’ve shared many adventures, from Kindergarten to Lindsay’s wedding in Kauai. Together, we survived wilderness camp in the Boundary Waters the summer before eighth grade and have been on a number of hikes in the mountains near her home in Colorado.

Hiking near Vail during my visit in 2009.

Hiking near Vail during my visit in 2009

Today is Lindsay’s 32nd birthday. Happy Birthday, Dear Friend! Here’s to many more shared adventures…

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33

Celebrating my 33rd birthday with my family.

I celebrated my birthday last Sunday. It was a wonderful day full of family, friends, and food. My parents made a delicious lunch: grilled pork tenderloin, brats, pasta salad, cinnamon chips and fruit salsa. My birthday cake this year was an amazing chocolate Bundt cake with vanilla ice cream and ganache. (Thanks, Mom!) And the finishing touch was an original poem written by my brother, which I was granted permission to share.

Roses are red
In some regions pinkish
White roses exist
And gold or light yellow

Violets are blue
So the poems of old go
For the sake of tradition
Let it be so

Today is your birthday
Dear Sister of mine
There have been five presidents*
In your lifetime

All served two terms
Save Bush the First
And in fairness
Obama has just begun term two

So happy birthday
And many more to be
You are a sibling
Of high quality

My friends Reagan and Brett hosted a dinner and game night for myself and two other friends who have late May birthdays. The night included a tasty meal, delectable dessert bar, fun games like telepictionary, and lots of laughter. At midnight, when there were five of us left, we broke out Puerto Rico and played until 2 am. (And since I never lie on this blog, Brett won…but only by a few points.)

It was a great way to welcome a new year!

*Joel forgot Carter–I was born in an election year.

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This post is dedicated to Missee A. and Jason & Alicia T. – the cleverest prankstars [sic] I’ve collaborated with, and been pranked by… You three belong in the Pranking Hall of Fame, if only there was such a thing.

While I’m not necessarily one to celebrate April Fools’ Day, I am a big fan of pranking in general. I admit that I’m not an expert, but I’ve been on both ends of several clever pranks over the years. I personally enjoy being the victim of a well-executed prank – it makes life interesting, right?! And it is quite satisfying to successfully pull off a prank.

My brand of pranking (and thus – take note – the pranks I would have done unto me) involves nothing too nasty, messy, frightening, annoying or humiliating. I will never stoop to anything involving peanut butter, plastic wrap, or a device known as the EvilTron. (Jason, I’m looking at you!)

Having been the victim of several clever pranks, I personally think that the highlight is the moment of surprise, followed by bewilderment. The What?! Who?! How?! That is the moment to shoot for when devising a prank. These kinds of pranks make the best stories, ones that will be told for years to come.

I’ve learned that some people find no humor in being pranked. Respect that. Pranking them is a waste of creative energy, and no one will be happy in the end. I don’t want someone upset with me over a stupid prank. The best reaction I’ve gotten to a prank, and the reaction that I aim for is, “Wow! I was having a bad week, but you just made it better!” Choose wisely whom you prank.

To summarize, Kristen’s Rules of Pranking: 
1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
2. Or at least how they would have you do unto them…
3. Focus on the moment of bewilderment.
4. Consider what kind of story the prank will make.
5. Don’t prank anyone who doesn’t want to be pranked.
6. Aim for a positive reaction; aim to build up and not tear down.

I’ve written a little bit about pranks I’ve been victim to here and here.

While playing solo pranks is fun, collaborating with others is so much better.

In college, Missee and I were a force to be reckoned with. Well, I guess that’s up to our victims to decide, but we had some tricks up our sleeves and played off each other quite well.

Our signature prank was The Expired Textbook Drop-Off. We’d pick up stacks of free expired textbooks, write our victim’s name inside along with their contact info and the year, and then place them all over campus. Imagine their confusion when they started receiving calls that someone found their chemistry textbook.

Victim: “I’m not taking chemistry…”
Caller: “This is such-and-such, right?”
Victim: “Well, yeah, that’s me…”
Caller: “Do you want to pick the book up, or should I swing by your room?”
Victim: “Like I said, that’s not my book!”
Caller: “Um… OK?”

Our victims ended up receiving a small percentage of the books we distributed. It may have been slightly annoying, but it was mostly harmless. (No one wanted those expired textbooks, anyway. At least they were good for something, right?!)

Jason and Alicia, a couple in my Bible study, are also pranksters. We’ve collaborated on a couple pranks, and they were the masterminds behind the Christmas Card Prank of ’11, which people are still asking me about, more than a year later. (If you’re thinking of duplicating that prank, do know that there is a code on the back of photo greetings that can be traced…)

I’ve been the victim of a number of unsolved pranks. To this day, I don’t know who did this to my car:

Don't worry, I didn't.

Don’t worry, I didn’t.

After this gummy message was left on my car, there was a little wave of copycat crimes amongst the members of my Bible study. I was gummied three times that winter; the final time was with gummy spiders.

A note to the anonymous prankster: Confession is a good thing, and it’s nice to get the recognition you deserve. 😉 Another couple in my Bible study know this; they recently confessed to the gummy spiders, almost a year after it happened. (Yes, yes I do have a few unconfessed pranks of my own. But no, I have never done the whole lick-n-stick gummy candy thing, and don’t plan to.)

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