Friday, July 30, 2010

When the stars align.

*Alternative title for this post: Thank you, Jesus.

Sometime this summer, Jeremy's car decided to stop starting. This was frustrating, though not entirely impossible for our life, as we live close enough to Jeremy's work for him to bike there if necessary. So, we put off doing anything about the car trying to make a good decision about whether to repair it or not. It's served us well for the couple years Jeremy's owned it, and as he purchased it for less than a thousand dollars, you'll understand when I say, the car was a bit rough (our awesome brother-in-law, Luke sold him the car and it was huge blessing!). Since then Jeremy's dashboard was torn up when a kid broke into his car and stole the CD player. So, the car was not long for this world.

This week we finally got the car towed in to the mechanics to get an estimate for repairs. We'd set a price limit and the estimate came back over a $100 higher than our limit. And so we had the back and forth conversation of what to do; should we donate it, sign it over to the mechanics, or talk to my mechanic brother. We decided to talk with my brother to see if it was a possibility for him to purchase parts and drive up here to fix it some weekend. And then we could buy ourselves some time to look for a replacement vehicle, but still have functioning vehicles. That's where we landed sometime on Wednesday.

This morning Jeremy and I set out to the mechanic's planning to call AAA when we got there and have the car towed back to our apartment and await Elliot's repairs some time in August. Although I asked Jeremy on the way there if we were crazy to be doing this, and he said "probably", we thought this was best for us.

Instead, we bought a car.

Our mechanic came to us recommended by several people and we've been pleased with his work; he's always been honest with us. Not only do they repair cars, they also sell cars there, but every time I've glanced through their cars, nothing we'd want to purchase has been in our price range. As we've known our future would be including the purchase of another car, sooner than later, we've spent some time saving money as well as talking about price range and kinds of cars we wanted (with Hondas and Toyotas at the top of the list).

Sitting on the lot today was a '98 Toyota Avalon with just over 135k miles on it, in pristine condition. Just out of our discussed price range, we decided to negotiate. Jeremy got it into our price range and threw in his old Honda to keep the price lower (plus it got it off our hands). They agreed, let us test drive it, then gave us $20 to put gas in the car and drive it home to come back later with a check and the Honda title. And so, as of 4:30 today, we own a new-to-us car; a very unexpected, but huge answer to prayers and many potential frustrations.

I was supposed to be at work today. But, one of my co-workers had surgery and isn't recovering as fast as anticipated and so I switched my schedule to work for her tomorrow. Ordinarily, we wouldn't have had this day and this time together to be making such decisions.

God worked so many details together perfectly today to provide for us in an area of uncertainty, one in which we'd been praying for guidance for some time. And as I drove home in my Honda (the one that the tailpipe fell off of this week!) with Jeremy somewhere behind me in our new car, I couldn't help but breathe this prayer, "Thank you, Jesus."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Learning Something New

So, last Thursday I started something I never imagined I'd ever do...a yoga class! Somehow I never thought the yoga-train would stop my way, but when a friend asked me if I'd like to join her in trying it, I found myself saying "yes". And you know what, I'm glad I did. So far I'm really enjoying my relaxing hour Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to this guy!

Yesterday was his official birthday, but somehow sneaky guy that he is, Jeremy managed to make a birthday weekend of it. :)

Friday night we had some friends over for supper: chicken piccata, salad, and homemade chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

Saturday we slept in until almost noon! (Neither of us could believe it.) Then spent some time out and about just enjoying the day and enjoying each other. We ended the day watching movies on the couch.

Today on the spur of the moment we decided to head to Lake Michigan for a few hours of sun and relaxation. Then when we left around 4:30, Jeremy surprised me with a special dinner at a nearby restaurant/winery.

Jeremy doesn't have to work tomorrow, but I do. So, I think the birthday celebrating might be over. But, we've still got lots of time to enjoy life together. And I'm truly thankful for another year with him!

I love you, Jeremy!

Monday, July 12, 2010

When Books Collide

About this time last year I was busily making a quilt for Jeremy's birthday. To keep me sane during the crush to complete the project I watched all the Harry Potter movies and listened to an audio book called The Wild Trees. The Wild Trees is the story of the giant Redwood forests in California and the many scientists and tree-huggers striving to save the forests. Quite interesting. I have to admit that there were times I couldn't follow all the science, particularly the many different plant lives living in the boughs of the Redwoods. But, I was glad I listened and I learned a lot!

This weekend I read The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman. I was pleased and surprised that part of one of the story lines involved the giant Redwoods in Humboldt county. It brought back memories of feverishly sewing last year. I also loved the descriptions of rare books woven into the story.

I love when my various reading endeavors intertwine and my mind is expanded. I can't imagine life without books!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Night Thoughts

It's 1:30 a.m. and my alarm will be going off in five and a half hours. My body tells me I'm tired. My mind tells me I can't sleep. Where is the off-for-sleep-switch for a busy brain?

Remember my post last week where I mentioned watching the documentary No Impact Man? In true Stephanie-style, I promptly placed the book on hold at my local library (the book that was the reason behind the whole year-long experiment of living with no environmental impact that the DVD documented). I just finished it tonight before attempting to settle down to sleep and I think that's just a small part of why I'm still awake. For a week and a half now I've been pondering how I live.

I wouldn't ever go to the extremes that Colin Beavan and his family went to as they explored their relationship with the environment. I'll keep electricity and I want to enjoy foods that can't be found locally, but still I've been thinking. A lot. And I suppose that's really why the book was written in the first place.

Jeremy's car died about a month ago. At first it would start sometimes. Now, it's stubbornly sitting in our driveway, unwilling to turn over. We'd hoped to drive it when we went down to visit family as my brother is a mechanic and he thinks he knows what the trouble is and is willing to work on the car. Now that she won't start, we're questioning our next step. A big part of me would like to try to be a one-car family. To bike and walk more. The trouble is, Jeremy is the one who gets stuck at home on days that I work he doesn't, or the one that bikes or walks to work in whatever the weather because he works so close by. Because I work so much further away, I'm the one with a car 90% of the time. So, he's not as keen to go down to one car. But, I've been pondering the environment (not to mention finances) and wonder, could we do it for a year? Give it a try?

When we moved to our new apartment, we left behind TV. We own a television (a nice big one!), but use it only for watching movies as we don't own an antenna to bring in local stations. Although I'm not terribly hip, as I can't stay up on current TV shows, I can't say I miss having the TV. It's so often a big time waster, as well as a relationship stifler. I don't know if that's related to the environment, but it's definitely related to how we live.

Just about a mile from home is the year-round farmer's market. I'm striving to buy more fresh produce there. Ideally, I'd like to get a basket for my bike and ride there.

The saddest aspect of the No Impact Man book is the very real sense that Colin is searching for meaning in life as well as greatly pondering what comes after life. He holds no security in Christ and yet realizes that the material goods we gain here aren't going to do much for us after we die. I'm thankful that I can say that my hope and security rests completely in Christ. And I know material wealth won't gain me riches in Heaven. But I'm still figuring out how to be a wise steward of this life and this earth that God created. And so, I'm glad to have stumbled across both the documentary and the book. I think they'll be sticking with me as mental companions for awhile.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Thrift Stores

I used to frequent thrift stores and bought the majority of my wardrobe from them. Then, the prices seemed to almost double and suddenly new clothes on clearance at Kohls, Old Navy, and Target became comparably priced. And while it didn't bother me that my clothes were used, I figured new for the same price was better.

On top of the price hikes, I also moved to a city with pretty pitiful thrift stores. Seriously, one Goodwill I went into had rows of housewares piled on the floor (I don't know if this was an in-process moment or what), rows of clothes so close together that you touched the clothes on both sides while walking down the aisle, and rather strong shoe/foot odor when you walked past the shoes. Needless to say, I don't go there.

But, of late, I've been dropping in at a couple thrift stores I pass on my trip to and from work. Mostly looking at housewares. Today, though, I went to look at clothes. In honor of July 4th, the local Salvation Army's are selling all their clothes for $1. Now, I can handle that. I popped in and looked through the shirts, found several and then stood in front of a mirror trying them all on over my own shirt. Wonderfully this eliminated 9 items and left me with 6. So, I bought $6 worth of clothes, which earlier in the week had I picked those same items out would have cost $21. Thrifty indeed!

Now I do have to say that thrift store shoppers (and sometimes workers) don't seem very aware of personal space. If they see something in front of you they want to look at, they just go for it often without so much as an "excuse me". Today I'm standing in front of a 2 foot section of shirts, systematically looking through them and a woman comes down the aisle and starts looking quite close to me (mind you we're the only people in the row!), then she goes around me and starts looking, still close. Then she stands right next to me and starts pulling the shirts in front of me towards her and her arm is actually touching mine! She says nothing as if this is perfectly normal. I finally looked at her with maybe not the happiest face and she says, "excuse me." But honestly, what is the matter with people?

Despite all of that, I am pleased with a few new shirts. And while I'll continue to drop in on occasion to look through housewares, I'll not be looking at clothes again until there is another sale.

Friday, July 2, 2010

2010 halfway point Reading Log

Here's my up-to-date list of completed books for the year thus far. As I've mentioned before, I like to set myself yearly reading goals. Last year's was 52 books for the year. This years I'm attempting to read 12 classics. We'll see if I make it.

Feel free to ask me further about a book if you're interested (I reviewed a few along the way) and I may write up quick reviews on this for another post.

Enjoy perusing the list!

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (YA)
All-0f-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (children's)
The Girl With Glass Feet by Ali Shaw (F)
Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler (F)
Castle Waiting by Linda Medley (graphic novel)
Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf (F)
French by Heart by Rebecca Ramsey (NF)
My Life in France by Julia Child (NF)
The Blue Orchard by Jackson Taylor (F)
Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt (NF)
Graceling by Kristin Cashore (YA)
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (F)
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (F)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (classic)
The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran (F)
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (F)
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (F)
Dear John by Nicholas Sparks (F)
Jane's Fame by Clare Harman (NF)
The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton (F)
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (classic)
Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman (NF)
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (classic)
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (classic)
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (NF)
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby (NF)
Digging to America by Anne Tyler (F)
The Family Nobody Wanted by Helen Doss (NF)

The stats :)

28 books

1 graphic
1 childrens
2 re-reads (Ex-Libris and All-of-a-Kind Family)
2 YA
4 classics
8 non-fiction
12 fiction
22 female authors

My top favorite reads from the list:

My Life in France
Jane's Fame
Ex Libris
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Polysyllabic Spree

Jane Eyre
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
The History of Love
The Kitchen House
The Wednesday Sisters

What have you been reading?
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