December 7, 2010

Moving day!

December 6, 2010

Meals this week: from noodles to hazelnut cookies.

This will (I promise) be the last post before the redesign. Here’s a sneak peak:

What is that?  That’s why they call it a sneak peak….  get stoked.

In other news, I actually went grocery shopping today with a real live grocery list. For a real live meal plan.  It’s apparently Smitten Kitchen week in my kitchen — I asked Eric to find food he wanted to eat, and he went to Deb’s site exclusively.

Monday:  Peanut Sesame Noodles (this recipe only minus cucumber and hot instead of cold)

Tuesday: Stuffed mushrooms from Savor Washington, recipe re-posted here on our total failure at a newlywed blog.

Wednesday: Baked rigatoni with mini meatballs

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Pizza and stuff.

Baking agenda:  Hazelnut chocolate thumbprint cookies. I think it’s safe to say these are what I’m most looking forward to this week.


I will also hopefully be cooking up a cycling cap (with ears!) for Eric in the near future out of a blue flannel shirt.

Look for the redesign in the next day or two!


December 3, 2010

Our first Christmas tree….

First of all, aren’t I a tease?  I promised exciting changes and a redesign, and none of it’s happened.  What gives?  Well, the main reason is that WordPress is being infuriatingly confusing for no reason.  But I promise this is still in the works.  Maybe it will be a Christmas present, although I hope it comes sooner than that!

Speaking of Christmas….  All the God stations have started playing Christmas music, but two things about this have bothered me:

1) All the songs about Santa.  Enough said.

2) The song “Christmas Shoes.”  This song bothers me so much that I thought about it nearly all day yesterday. There are SO many things wrong with it, from the trite and rather unbelievable story line to the cliche and maudlin lyrics.  The rhymes are forced.  The melody sounds poorly crafted to fit a bad poem.  The guy who sings it doesn’t sound that great.  And what child, especially a boy, knows what size shoes his mother wears?  If the writer had left that little detail out no one would have questioned it, but the lyrics “these shoes are just her size” necessarily call into question the integrity of the poet.  I’ve read that this song is allegedly based on a real event… but whose?  Tell me, because I’ve got some bad news for you… You may not be aware, but someone totally botched your story.  Like, badly. But the worst part of the song?  As I listened, scoffing, to the first verse and chorus incredulous of its completely overdone sentiment, I felt a little catch in the back of my throat and my face got tight.  I don’t know if I’ve ever felt such conflicting emotions, other than the time I almost broke my nose on Eric’s elbow and was laughing and sobbing hysterically.

I digress.  What was this post supposed to be about anyway? Oh yes, our tree.

Now it’s not our first Christmas, but it is our first tree.  Last year we did not get a tree, mostly because we were very penniless and partly because we were leaving town for Christmas anyway.  This year we’re still leaving town for Christmas, and we’re still pretty penniless, but Eric has a job.  We decided to express our gratitude for this job by being a real married couple and buying a Christmas tree.

So, we got out our saw and bought a tree-gathering license and headed out to the forest…. just kidding.  We hopped in the Corolla and headed down to the Home Depot, where we scored this cutie for $13.  It was a cheater — it’s technically over 4 feet tall, but since its top is so weird and most self-respecting tree buyers would have lobbed it off, it was placed with the 2-4 foot trees and thus was cheaper.  Our kind of tree.

So far, Kieran has decided the tree stand is his new water dish, has batted around half of our ornaments (there are only 5), and bitten our lights, causing half of them to go out until I found the right one to twist. I can’t wait to come home and find that he’s knocked the entire tree over. What a child.

Without further adieu, here it is.  Our first little Christmas tree:

December 1, 2010

Oh, hello there.

What shall I say today, since my mind insists on being in not-coming-up-with-clever-things-to-say mode?  How about not a thing.   I’ll let others say it best, who have gone before me.

Now I’m not one of those “quote people.” (You know the ones.)  But I do enjoy wisdom, irony, and cleverness.  And today I was looking up quotations by literary icons as candidates for the backs of my soon-to-come substitute teaching business cards.  Here were some I liked.

From the uber-masculine Papa, some words, soft and deep:

“All good books have one thing in common — they are truer than if they had really happened.” & “All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.”

From the sweet, solemn, and sometimes cranky Emily:

“A word is dead when it is said, some say.  I say it just begins to live that day.”

From that one dude, T.S. (Only because it would make him angry be disregarded so.  And you can bet in this quote he is talking about his own…):

“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”

From the happy and haphazard Jack Kerouac:

“Maybe that’s what life is… a wink of the eye and winking stars.”

November 27, 2010

Give thanks…

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here’s a new list of thanks inspired by this weekend with my family.  I needed to catch up, anyway!

[previous gifts here]


The complete immediate family gathered ’round a table

Listening to my Papa play the guitar

Watching my Mama spend her days in service to us all (and helping where I can!)

Seeing my newlywed sister and her husband’s love for each other

Getting to share home, laughter, food, and Christ with guests

A poinsettia on the door step

Breakfast at Chaps

A fireplace and wood stove keeping us warm in very chilly conditions

Veritable feet of snow outside!

Chocolate stout cake for three family birthdays.

Thank you, Father, for this wonderfully warm, joyful weekend, the hope we have in you, and the freedom you give us to enjoy your good gifts even though we deserve none of them.

November 22, 2010

My favorite things, 2010.

Lots of favorite things posts circulating the web right now, so I thought I’d jump on in and participate.   Though I try not to be materialistic, I do have my little creature comforts.  Things: great stuff to have, horrible word to use in an essay.

And without further ado, and in no particular order…. the things I love in 2010.

1-3) This outfit

1) Eric’s thrifted Oregon sweatshirt. His mark on me when we first started dating.  I never gave it back.

2) Vigoss studio skinny jeans from BP.

3) Fake Costco Uggs.  3 years old.  Well worth the $20. I’m not “into” Uggs, but these things… they’re like cheap, rad slippers that you can wear anywhere.  They are my go-to getting-the-mail shoe, quick run to Target shoe, driving-to-pick-up-Eric shoe….  I don’t wear them “out” other than for errands, but..  ok I’ll stop making excuses.  I really do love them.

Sadly (awesomely?), you will find me in this outfit 90% of the time if I’m not working on a given day.

4) This chapstick

5) This tea

(I drink it almost every morning)

6) This Bible

(ESV Personal Size Reference)

7) This makeup

(Mary Kay signature concealer)

8) These guys


9) This gadget

10) These headphones

What are your favorites?  Time to curl up with Kieran and The Fountainhead.

<3 Brynna

p.s.  Since the horrendous linked boxes around images are glaringly obvious in this post, now’s as good a time as any to announce that there will be some changes coming soon, including a redesign! (Hopefully before the New Year, although with the holidays you never know.)


November 19, 2010

Homemade burp cloths.

Last Monday, I went to a baby shower for two beautiful women at my church, Hannah and Natalie.  Hannah had her baby boy, Oliver, about a month ago, and Natalie is due any day now with a baby girl.  Jones Design Company‘s Emily Jones blogs about her stationery designing business and other crafty things she takes on.  She’s also a mom of four with a young baby, so some of her projects are baby-related.  Last week as I was browsing I came across a post/tutorial for adorably baby burp cloths, and I decided to make some of my own for these two new babies.  In addition I made a flower pin from JDC and a bow tie pin from Prudent Baby.

I already owned the dark blue starry night fabric, the light blue, and the yellow floral, and I purchased the adorable animal print and stripe print at Jo-Ann’s.

I lined Oliver’s cloths with light blue terry cloth, and baby girl’s with light green.

I loved this peach floral fabric I found — and I have some left over! :) I tried a practice flower with thread because I was running low on hot glue sticks, but I used hot glue on the final like the tutorial suggested.  It was easier and worked better than thread, because it allowed the petals to poke out more than lay flat.

I hot glued a pin back.  Perfect for little sweaters, hats, and shirts.

This bow tie called for interfacing, but I ended up using quilt batting and it worked just fine.  I wasn’t going for formal, and the softness is great for a baby.

I finished the cloths with a tie of ribbon, and pinned on the pins.

Congratulations, Natalie and Greg, Hannah and David!  Enjoy your beautiful babies.

November 18, 2010

Poor, poor blog…

I’m so sorry for the neglect.  I will post tomorrow about something [hopefully] interesting.  As with most weeks, I planned on taking things day by day.  However, I ended up substituting Monday through Thursday with more days to come next week and most likely the week after.  Yesterday, my longest day, I was at school from 7 until 4:30, at church Thanksgiving from 6:30 to 9:00, and celebrating Kristen‘s birthday from 9:00 to 10:30… and woke up at 5:30 to do the 7-4:30 shift again!  By the way, this is a resignation fill-in, meaning there are no lesson plans and I have the same kids all day for all subjects. Needless to say I am exhausted.  It’ll be a night of pizza and good beer and moping about the Blazers’ bad news.

Love to you all. <3

November 12, 2010

A Jewish agnostic’s look at the Bible.

I spent a while this morning flipping through David Plotz’s Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible. I happened upon this book, as well as Mary Gordon’s Reading Jesus (haven’t read it yet — another day), at the library one day and decided to take them home with me. What do non-Christians read when they read the Bible? I wondered.

I didn’t know what to expect.  The inside cover boasted that the book was “irreverent and enthralling,” which I would say was accurate.  Of David Plotz’s (the editor of Slate) accomplishments I need not sing; he is a terrific writer, which is obvious considering his accolades. But I will say he did a commendable job in this book of approaching the topic honestly… well, as honestly as he was willing to (read on).

I also need not point out that I disagree with Dave’s ultimate conclusions.  Throughout the book, however, he summarizes stories in the Old Testament and his words taught me a lot, despite the fact that I’ve been reading the Bible for a long time.  Good Book challenged me, uncomfortably, to consider facts such as Biblical scholarship, how to decide who is right, and how we decide if the Bible really is set up like it was supposed to be with so much imperfect human in the picture.  Did some rogue go in and mess up the carefully arranged books of Genesis?  Is that why, as Plotz points out, it sometimes seems so nonsensical and tangential?  These points were thought-provoking, causing me to unexpectedly wrestle with them in a way that was ultimately edifying.

But Plotz spends a whole lot of time both throughout the book and in his closing chapter making sure we know a few things.  Things I’d like to challenge.  I do admire Plotz for taking the time to actually read the Bible before deciding whether it should sit on a shelf untouched, be burned, or be read by everyone everywhere.  Surprisingly, he takes the last perspective. Hear, hear! Plotz’s “intellectual defense” of reading the Bible is this:

While reading the Bible, I often felt as though I was understanding my own world for the very first time.  It was humbling . . . I don’t want to sound like a theocratic crank, but I’m actually shocked that students aren’t compelled to read huge chunks of the Bible in high school and college, the way they must read Shakespeare or the Constitution or Mark Twain.  How else can they become literate in their own world?

Bravo.  However, we move forward: his personal defense is that, as a Jew, he now understands rituals and traditions he never got before.  “Reading the Bible has joined me to Jewish life in a way I never thought possible.”  To this I say a resounding…. duh.  The Bible is, after all, the basis of the Jewish faith.  That’s like saying you never thought it was possible that reading an automotive manual would give you a more well-rounded perspective on car engines and help you finally understand your mechanic buddy’s jokes.  Welcome to the inner circle, Dave.

Here you might be wondering what I wondered for the first few chapters of this book, after a couple remarks from Plotz that the New Testament “stole” such-and-such story from the Old (a silly and dismissive take on fulfillment of prophecy and the inseparability of the two books), or that Christians have it easier believing in Jesus to guide their lives instead of the “vindictive” God of the Old Testament (by the way, Christians believe Jesus is the God of the Old Testament).  The answers:

1) When Plotz said “The Bible,” he meant the Hebrew Bible only. The Old Testament. That might have been helpful to clarify from the get-go — like in the title of the book.  You see, for a guy who apparently champions Biblical literacy for the illiterate masses, Plotz cannot assume that everyone who picks up this book even knows that a New Testament exists.  Not only for my Christian sake, screaming internally How can he leave out Jesus!?, but for the aforementioned academics.  Just like college students can’t understand Moby Dick without knowing who the first Ahab is, how does one expect them to understand the myriad New Testament references and Christ-types in literature?  The Old Man and the Sea? No wonder nobody in my freshman honors English class got that.  Because who is that guy?  Irresponsibility #1.

2) When Plotz reads the Bible, he reads it as literature.  And he doesn’t believe any of it is actually true.  He is a self-proclaimed agnostic, and in a heartbreaking confession in the book’s last chapter he declares:

You surely notice that I’m not saying anything about belief.  I began the Bible as a hopeful, but not indifferent, agnostic. I wished for a God, but I didn’t really care. I leave the Bible as a hopeless and angry agnostic. I’m brokenhearted about God. After reading about the genocides, the plagues, the murders, the mass enslavements . . . I can only conclude that the God of the Hebrew Bible, if he existed, was awful, cruel, and capricious. He gives us moments of beauty — sublime beauty and grace! — but taken as a whole, He is no God I want to obey, and no God I can love.

He goes on to say that his Christian friends tell him the Old Testament is a set up for the New Testament, “like leaving halfway through a movie.”  But Plotz says, “That doesn’t work for me. I’m a Jew. I don’t, and can’t, believe that Christ died for my sins.  And even if he did, I still don’t think that would wash away God’s epic crimes in the Old Testament.”  He goes on to argue that if God made him a quizzical and rational being, God must be willing to be subjected to his reason, and he doesn’t pass the test.

Plotz’s ideas place in me a renewed sense of the arrogance of the world.  Not surprising, since his magazine, Slate, succeeds on the basis of witty, snarky columnists who write from a satirical “I know better” perspective.  In a word, arrogance.  Now I appreciate a bit of snark as much as the next person, but as an entire worldview I cannot recommend it.  It sets you up, like Plotz, to see yourself as the be all and end all of your own philosophy (hello, relativism!).

I’m also humbly reminded of the devastation that occurs when humans take sin lightly.   This is the only explanation for becoming angry at a God who is angry at sin.  I know it seems much more complicated than that, even to myself, but is it really? Plotz’s willingness to try to understand only goes so far: he was ready to read the Bible, to learn from it, and to hold himself up against it and find out what it means.  But when a friend recommends the New Testament?  “I can’t, I’m a Jew,” is his response.  I won’t go into the obvious leap of logic found there.

This man’s identity is based completely on how to be a “good person” (he uses a convenient pull-this-pitch-this mentality in his approach to God’s laws in Leviticus), and how to live the “good life” (he uses Ecclesiastes but misses its point entirely).  This is nothing new.  This is a man aching for something more than he has, but who is unwilling to let it change his life in any way other than to secure what he views as maximum happiness for himself and his posterity.

I can’t “argue.”  I can only comment. I respect the risk Plotz took in undertaking this quest and shifting his own beliefs, but I only wish, out of love for him and those like him, that the risk had been even greater.  What we end up with, instead, is a tame year-long project in summary, followed by a heartfelt but ultimately shallow explanation of Plotz’s own perspective. After all, isn’t it ironic that a book about exploration, curiosity, and risk-taking would end with words like “I don’t,” “I won’t”, and “I can’t”?  The cost is too great.  An old story.

And, closer to home: how often is this approach true of me?  I pray that through Grace I would be more willing to daily sacrifice myself and humbly submit to His ways.

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

November 11, 2010

Airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars

A few things on my mind today…

I’m sick.  That’s right. Last week I bought 2 big cartons of OJ because my favorite Simply Orange was on sale, and we started drinking it furiously. I also had excess toiletry money in the budget and decided it was a good time to buy and begin taking daily vitamins.  And I began Yoga.  And what did I get from all my healthy endeavors?  A nasty cold.  And when did it rear its ugly head?  The morning of my first ever substitute job.  Thankfully that first day (Monday)  was mostly a sore throat.  Yesterday (I hope) was the worst, and I’m not ashamed to say that while I did two very strenuous things — taking my computer to the genius bar and making chicken soup — I spent most of the day lying on the couch watching Veronica Mars.

I had to skip Yoga yesterday morning because I figured nose breathing wasn’t really going to happen for me… but I’ve gone twice so far and survived!  Thankfully this yoga practice continues my experience with Americanized yoga studios, and actually this one doesn’t attempt to bring in spirituality whatsoever.  It’s funny — I almost miss being told to breathe out my negative energy. :)  As it is, the entirety of my mental focus is devoted to not falling out of the silly balance poses, which I do all the time anyway.  My second session was significantly more difficult than my first.  I thought it was just me until I left class and all the regulars were saying it was brutal — and the hottest class they’d ever been in.  Some were estimating upwards of 115 degrees.  Yikes.

Novel-writing is still eh.  While some of my friends are carting right along, I cannot seem to find an idea I actually want to stick with for a whole novel, and I’m beginning to think I’m far too ADD and far too much of a perfectionist to see this thing through.  What that really means, of course, is that I should figure out a way to combat ADD and perfectionism.  I’ll let you know how that goes. :)

Happy Thursday, all!  Today: More rest, lunch with Hannah and picking up my fixed computer (!).  If I get industrious, mayyybe some online Christmas shopping/brainstorming. :)


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