Hosting Thanksgiving

This year, we bought a house. We were not planning to buy a house, but we got suckered in to this amazing deal. We add that last part to help us not feel like we were crazy for moving from the perfect studio apartment into a 3 bedroom house.  Continue reading

How Skipping Church Affects Our Children

Truth with Love


In a Q&A, Carl Trueman was asked about why churches today are losing their young people. Typical answers to this question range from things like the temptations of this world or the irrelevance of the church–your typical answers. But Trueman makes a keen and convicting connection between our parenting and apostasy.

“The church is losing its young people because the parents never taught their children that it was important. I think that applies across the board. It applies to family worship, and it also applies to whether you are in church every Sunday and what priority you demonstrate to your children church has on a Sunday. If the sun shines out and their friends are going to the beach, do you decide to skip church and go to the beach? In which case, you send signals to your children that it is not important.” (Carl Trueman)

Now we know that artificially taking…

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New Tea Towel Designs

It has been sometime since I posted anything. My excuses listed below.

  1. bought a house
  2. started working a new job
  3. freelance work landed on my plate
  4. traveled

Thankfully, my life does not depend on blog posts. However, I was finally able to get my tea towels back out and make some new designs and write a post about them.

Etsy shops tend to do well when items can be personalized – baby and wedding items tend to be the top sellers. After some research and trial and error, I found a way to create customized designs in Adobe Illustrator and transfer them to a tea towel. These products actually turned out great (in my opinion) and took half the time of my hand-painted towels (which are still fun to make too :)).

These tea towels are perfect for wedding gifts or friend gifts for a special occasion. In addition to being great for drying glass, check out this creative list, from apartment therapy for ideas on tea towel usage.

Head on over to Machten to take a look!

Making Tea Towels

I used to hate tea towels. I remember the first time I ever picked one up and tried to use it. My thoughts were those of doubt, “why would any one make a towel so thin and useless for dish drying!” I was in 8th grade.

Since that time, I have learned that tea towels are perhaps the most versatile towels in the kitchen. You can use them to dry, that was one of their original uses, you know, back in the day of daily fine china and afternoon tea, but that is probably not their best use, especially if you are used to a thicker and more absorbent terry towel. Better ideas for them are to line bread baskets, wrap fruits, veggies, and cheeses, wrap a hostess gift, and a plethora of other around the house uses.

Since they are so versatile, I now love having them and having many options. I don’t really want to set out my bread basket with Santa Clause peering over the edge in the middle of summer, but I also do not want to be scouring the web and local boutiques for the perfect towel. I decided to DIY. I am not an artist, I don’t sit around sketching and drawing things in my free time. My portraits of people have always been stick figures, the same things they were in K5. However, I can draw lines and even circles and that would be enough to start designing my own tea towels.

Target had some good options for plain white tea towels, so I bought a pack of 4. I washed them and once they were dry I went to work. I have a friend who loves NYC and I wanted to include a towel in a gift for her. I googled “famous New York icons” and then printed off images of the Empire State, Statue of Liberty, stop lights, pretzels, etc. and set them in front of me. My lack of ability to draw did cause some frustration, but overall, with the images right in front of me, I was able to draw recognizable icons. I used sharpie and acrylic paint. My biggest self-critique is that I need to practice drawing… a lot. But, otherwise, I think it turned out great.

My other tea towel design is based on Christmas. We just made it through the season, but I took a moment to remember it with a “merry and bright” towel. For this towel, I printed off text from Adobe InDesign and then cut it out with an X-acto knife (cue the cramped hand). Once I was done cutting and hacking and sawing at the cardstock, I set my template on top of the towel and used a sponge brush to press the paint onto the towel.

Now back to the drawing board to make the rest of these seemingly useless towels into personalized kitchen gems.

inside the house
inside the house





My dad practically rebuilt our house after our family bought it. My grandma still swears it should have been condemned and never purchased by a family who had young kids. However, we moved in and lived through construction and renovation. I always saw my dad working with wood – it could be the floors, the trim, built-ins, our TV console, whatever it was at the time, I always thought he was amazing at doing it.

Of course, it was not until after I married Tory and moved four hours away from my dad’s workshop, that I became interested in basic woodworking. Don’t be too impressed. I mean cutting, sanding, and drilling holes. I am not even sure if that qualifies. It all started when I discovered the antique shopping world where we live. Barn windows, homemade frames, Amish furniture, it is all here and nearby! Across the street from us is a cedar furniture plant that sells its leftover scraps for pennies, from which my crazy idea was born. I really wanted to make coasters. It sounded simple enough and I did not want to spend a chunk of money on something I could make, so I bought cork squares and mod-podge and made some. We still have those coasters and use them daily, but they aren’t exactly the dreamy design people would want to buy.

However, my dad informed me that I should get a bag of cedar scraps and make coasters out of that. Great idea Dad! There I went, walking across the street, oblivious to how heavy a bag of cedar scraps was. I found out. There is a reason people use cars, but instead, I carried my bag of cedar like Santa might carry his pack when he visits the house of an exceptionally well behaved child. So there I was, proud as a could be that I had my own bag of cedar. About a month later, Tory and I drove across the state so that I could go to a Boden sample sale and Tory could cut coasters (my idea of job delegation) with my dad.

A few months later, I actually made some coasters for a good friend of mine (bless her for being my guinea pig). They turned out great! Color-blocked wood, naturally made by the color differentiation in wood and an added pop of neutral color with some trendy acrylic paint.

It did take a lot of sanding, a couple of finger tips, and creative use of our small studio loft space, but they are complete and the process was well worth the end product.coasterholder

Figuring it all out

Before I got married, I taught German to high school students and was an office assistant for the school. I learned a lot at that job, usually because of something the kids did. I loved working there and was sad that getting married meant I had to leave because my husband could not get a job in Pittsburgh. There were moments when I wondered why I ever worked there because it was so hard to leave. However, day in and day out, I taught kids to be themselves and be the best they can be at that. After a while, without noticing it, the lessons I was trying to teach ultimately sunk in to me. As it is said, you learn best by teaching.

When I left the job, I was unsure of what I would be doing. I did not have a teaching degree and to be honest, I did not want one. I enjoy teaching German, but I do not enjoy  full-time teaching (lesson plans, test grading… nope, not my thing!). I love being with kids, but I do not love sitting in a classroom with them. I was the kind of person that would take students to concerts, activities, and restaurants in Pittsburgh. Typically something that is frowned upon by the masses in education.

My husband got a job in near Philadelphia, PA. That “other city” across the state. UGH, what was I going to do in Philthy? I HATED that city. Well, I hate their sports teams anyway. I taught for a year because the opportunity presented itself and I knew it was right, but I knew that I needed to get out of the classroom. I had wanted to start an Etsy shop, but that became a back burner idea since I was teaching full time and driving 2 hours a day.

I convinced my husband that I needed to take some classes from Sessions, an online school. I decided on a web design certificate with a focus in graphic design. I learned basic coding and boosted my confidence on my basic Adobe creative suite knowledge. Finally, I felt like I was doing something I liked.

Once the summer passed by, I decided to revisit my Etsy shop hopes. I enjoy staying home and being a wife, but I knew that I needed to start doing something besides baking bread and making spaghetti sauce. Both of which have great benefits, but don’t make much money. I procrastinate (who doesn’t?) but being the best I can be means opening this shop at the start of 2016.

The Art of Language Learning

“These things are not words, they are alphabetical processions.” Mark Twain on the German language

It is often mentioned to me that German is an ugly language. That it has a harsh sound with harsh “icks” and “sch” syllables. It is not as beautiful as Spanish, but it is no uglier than English. In fact, English is a Germanic language. This fact is something that I find many English speakers do not know.
A little history lesson: Germanic Tribes invaded the now UK and set up shop. Those German tribes stuck around and from them we developed Old English, then Middle English, and eventually, after many changes, modern English.
English has its fair share of ugly consonants. Beyond the sound however, English is one of the most difficult languages to learn. The only consistent fact of English Grammar class is that every lesson the teacher will introduce an exception. Think “i before e, except after c…”.
It is difficult to learn a new language. We are afraid to challenge ourselves and potentially fail. “German is too hard to learn”, a phrase commonly repeated to me when I teach students. Everything is “too hard to learn” because we are lazy. German is no more difficult to learn than any other subject in school; but learning a language does not have an immediate payoff because very few of us will ever use the language to its full potential.
Perhaps the most confusing factor in learning German is gender and cases. Why does it matter if a Computer (der Computer) is masculine? Why is a Lamp (die Lampe) feminine? Why can’t they both be neutral things, since that’s really what they are – things. It can be daunting and it can be discouraging to the language learner, but immersion is key. Any artist who truly wants to excel at his business immerses himself. He doesn’t ask why paint can’t be erased when he makes a mistake, instead, he learns how to adapt his work until it becomes perfect. He learns his art inside and out so that he can excel to the point of success. Language is merely an art. There is no one way to success and fluency. There is never going to be comfort – but the learner must accept and adapt. To create his second soul. , he must immerse

About Me and This Site

“To have another language is to possess a second soul.” -Charlemagne

People often ask, why German? Faced with that question because of my German BA degree, I can’t say I have the perfect answer and usually end up stuttering out a jumbled assortment of sentences. To their credit, it’s a great question. Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic all seem to leap to the front of useful languages to learn and besides that, what does one do with a language degree? However, language learning resonates in Charlemagne’s quote above “to possess a second soul.”

After traveling in Europe and returning home the “second soul” factor undoubtedly sits inside of me. There is a whole part of me that cannot communicate with English speakers around me because they cannot understand German. It is as if another whole person lives inside of me and only on rare occasions does she come out. It may sound discouraging, but the depth of understanding and empathy that I have developed for the German culture would lead me to major in German all over again – even knowing that I would be asked an infinite number of times “why German.”

When one travels, in the States or abroad, they are confronted with an array of backgrounds, interests, sites, languages, and styles. We often roof them under the term culture. On this blog, I endeavor to share part of my second soul and the cultures around us through posts and photos that my husband Tory and I have taken in the places that we have lived or visited.