Friday, 28 February 2014

Farewell summer

Farewell summer. It has been mostly fun.

Thanks to you, I got to return to the beach I got married at and frolic in the sea;

I saw hang gliders taking off and landing near the spot I was proposed to just over a year ago;

I took long walks in light-filled and balmy evenings;

I regularly had dinner at 9pm because my internal clock hadn't quite registered the sun set at 8pm, not 7pm;

I discovered an interest in gardening; and

I had plenty of great excuses for yummy ice-cream and tasty smoothies.

Come back soon summer. I miss you already.

Now, where is my snowboard?

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Getting through?

D has been looking for full-time permanent work for close to a year now.

When the only thing you seem to be getting are "thank you for your application, your skills are of value but we found someone better" letters, your morale starts to sink. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. And those are the replies you actually receive. More often than not, you're seemingly sending your resume out into a giant black hole, never to be heard from ever again.

We try to keep in good spirits. D has such a wonderful and positive outlook that it would take more—much, much more—to get him down. But there are good days and there are most certainly bad days.

You start wondering if the boulder will ever be rolled away to reveal the bright sunshine it had been blocking. You begin to think perhaps this lifestyle—one which you've never imagined or wanted—is the one you'll have to adjust to.

In the irony of the job hunt process, the wider the gap between jobs, the less likely someone will want to hire you.

And that's when you start wondering, is this the life that God is "blessing" me with? Is this life the life worth living?

Don't get me wrong. I know that God is still blessing us. I'm still gainfully employed and D still manages to get odd jobs now and then. We can pay the rent, we can feed ourselves and we can even give ourselves little treats now and then. But it's also one in which as D says, "we're surviving, not thriving".

But it's not the financial side of things that's causing me despair. And I know we're doing much much better than many other people around the world. I recognise that this falls into the realms of first world problems. That still doesn't stop the sense of worthlessness that slowly creeps in with each rejection letter, with each non-reply, with each day that goes by where you start losing that sense of who you are, of what you should do, because you're simply waking up in the morning and looking for work, only to receive . . . nothing in return.

God has brought me through enough difficulties in my life for me to trust Him. To know that He is good, that He loves us and that He wants so, so much more for us. I know that at the end of the day, hopefully in the not too distant future, we will look back at this period in our lives and discover the reason why we had to go through what we're currently going through. I know that, because He's proven to me time and time again that that is what happens. He only wants the best for us and there is a purpose to everything He does.

And yet, it doesn't stop the fear. It doesn't dilute the worry. It doesn't curb the despair. Your faith starts to waver. The anger and frustration at God, at our situation, begin to show.

Then this:
God at times permits tragedies. He permits the ground to grow dry and stalks to grow bare. He allows Satan to unleash mayhem. But he doesn't allow Satan to triumph. Isn't this the promise of Romans 8:28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose"? God promises to render beauty out of "all things," not "each thing." The isolated events may be evil, but the ultimate culmination is good.
We see small examples of this in our own lives. When you sip on a cup of coffee and say, "This is good," what are you saying? The plastic bag that contains the beans is good? The beans themselves are good? Hot water is good? A coffee filter is good? No, none of these. Good happens when the ingredients work together: the bag opened, the beans ground into powder, the water heated to the right temperature. It is the collective cooperation of the elements that create good.
Nothing in the Bible would cause us to call a famine good or a heart attack good or a terrorist good. These are terrible calamities, born out of a fallen earth. Yet every message in the Bible compels us to believe that God will mix them with other ingredients and brings good out of them.
But we must let God define good. Our definition includes health, comfort, and recognition. His definition? In the case of his Son, Jesus Christ, the good life consisted of struggles, storms, and death. But God worked it all together for the greatest of good: his glory and our salvation.

And so we hold on in hope. We continue to trust. And I continue to pray that D will get through this and that his spirit won't be broken by this famine in his life, in our lives. All we can do is let God continue His work, and sustain us through the tough and difficult times.

PS: If anyone reading this is looking for, or know someone who is looking for, an Assistant Accountant, I know a really talented and hardworking one who is ready to start immediately!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Johns' Baby Mittens

The John's Forest Bonnet looked so lonely by itself that I just had to make a matching pair of mittens. They were oh-so-tiny, but once again, I held on to a quote by knitting revolutionary Elizabeth Zimmerman: "babies vary and knitting stretches".

As mentioned before, knitting baby items are a joy in that they are completed in no time at all – this particular project took me a couple of hours or so – but they can be a little finnicky when you're knitting tiny little items like mittens. When the ball of yarn is bigger than one finished mitten, I found myself endlessly rummaging through the knitting bag trying to find said stray finished mitten.

Once again, the pattern was modified and knitted in the round so as to avoid seaming. And for those who want to know more, a kitchener stitch will give your project that nice flat dome finish. It's what's commonly used to finish off beanies as well.

And because baby mittens are useless individually and since I've already discovered they do get lost fairly easily – and also because the original pattern had them as well, I braided three individual strands of the yarn together and attached the ends to each mitten to hopefully keep them together forever. Which means if they get lost, at least they're lost together.

Pattern here.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Johns' Forest Bonnet

My first finished project for 2014. A gift for friends who are expecting a baby next month.

It was a ridiculously quick and easy knit, especially after I modified it so that there was no seaming and sewing required.

Baby projects are awesome. You get to create super cute items in super quick time. The only challenge is believing that they will actually fit the baby in mind, as finished items are usually so tiny you wonder if it would fit a human.

For those so inclined, a three-needle bind off made it possible to avoid sewing/seaming.

Pattern here.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Paying it forward

I am a firm believer of taking the time to give a compliment when it is due, mainly because I can also be quick to write letters of complaints when those are due. However, believing that letters of complaints are merely feedback to improve things, I concluded that I need to write letters of compliments as well to keep good things happening. Maybe it's just my way of ensuring karma doesn't come back to bite me.

Yesterday, D and I had lunch for the first time at No Ordinary Cafe in Willoughby. The food was average, but what really caught my attention were the artwork on the walls.

This one was my favourite
I really couldn't take my eyes off them and wanted to possess each and every single one of them. It made such an impact on me that I had to find out about the artist. Lucky for me, she had a website and after playing lurker for a few minutes, decided that I just had to tell her how much I liked her work.

A while ago, I got a reply:
Dear Melody

Thank you so much for taking the time to send me such a lovely email!

I really appreciate your very kind feedback and I am so happy that you love my paintings.

You have made my day!

Kind regards

Elizabeth Langreiter
That made my day.

Then stalker Melody found her on Facebook and liked her page.

You too can stalk Elizabeth here.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

10 signs you're getting older

  1. Your skin, once soft, smooth and supple, is starting to turn snake-like at an alarming rate.
  2. You start aching in places you never did.
  3. You don't bounce back from a late night as easy as before.
  4. You choose not to have late nights because you don't bounce back from them as easy as before.
  5. You're getting hairier where you don't want hair, and less hairy where you want hair.
  6. You call the boys from 1D boys.
  7. You call anyone under 25 a kid.
  8. You acquire tastes for food you never liked, such as eggplant and okra.
  9. You think growing your own food is terribly exciting.
  10. You find out the exact time of your birth so you don't age yourself prematurely.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Waste not, want not

Thought for the day:

The less you purchase/consume, the less you waste. The less you waste, the less you throw out. The less you throw out, the more you help the earth.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Picking up the needles

Ah, the bliss of sitting back in a comfy couch in the evening, watching an interesting show on television and a knitting project on my lap. Needles, how I've missed you.

I didn't realise just how much I'd missed knitting until I finally picked up the pictured work in progress, left aside a year ago to focus on work, study and wedding. When the needles started clicking, I could feel my entire being relax and my mind float off into a happy place.

Of course, my fingers and arm are a little sore from being out of practise after a year but it's just so exciting to be creating again and I'm already buzzing with all the potential projects I can make. And it's also great because it represents the fact that I actually have time to breathe again!

The irony of course is in that when life gets overwhelming, the first thing to go are the very things that relaxes us.

For those wondering, the work in progress will hopefully become another Origami Bolero (based on Jo Sharp's pattern), minus the dodgy seaming  

Sunday, 2 February 2014


What happens to all the rubbish you produce? I'm sure you know it goes to landfill (or the incinerator), but do you really know the impacts landfills have on us and the environment? Just because it gets buried away doesn't mean the problem won't come back to bite us.

D and I went to the film screening of the movie, Trashed (preview at the end of this post), a few days ago and it's extremely difficult to come away from the doco-movie without feeling like we need to put in a lot more effort in reducing the waste we generate.

That's Jeremy Irons sitting in the midst of a landfill in Lebanon. It's something that confronts you right at the start of the documentary. Mountains of decaying matter piled up high, right next to a pristine looking sea. Except, of course, appearances can be deceiving.

The rubbish you see has been leaking into the sea and the problem floats all the way to nearby countries like Italy and Cyprus. The problem isn't so much in the rubbish, but in the fact that in the process of decay (which in the case of plastic, could take hundreds and hundreds of years), extremely harmful chemicals are released both into the water systems and into the air. With housing estates nearby and with fishermen fishing in the sea right next to the landfill, it's unsurprising that humans will feel its impact in a very real—and harmful—way.

The problem isn't just isolated to Lebanon of course. We all have landfills in the countries we live in. It's easy to say it's not our problem when we do not live in close proximity to it (and perhaps we don't even really know where our nearest landfill is) but the harmful chemicals it leaches out will have an effect on us sooner or later. And we ought to spare a thought for those who are actually living near one of the many landfills dotted around the world.

And while we may think incinerating our rubbish, instead of putting it into landfill may help, think again. Just because we burn away our rubbish doesn't mean the process does not produce harmful—if not even more harmful—gases that mess with our bodies and the environment.

We are killing our planet and ourselves in a very real, albeit extremely slow, way, and it really has to stop.

It's an uphill task in a throwaway culture. Products come at such a relatively cheap price that we can afford to buy items with the sole purpose of throwing them away (disposable plates and whatnot, garbage bags, bottled water . . . ). It's convenient, it doesn't hurt our pockets and so we persist, not realising that somewhere, somehow, something does hurt and while it may not hurt us now, it will eventually, even if it's our children it hurts.

Reducing our waste can be done. In an extremely admirable way, this family has done it.

I'm not saying that we all have to go the way that family has (if you can, kudos to you). Realistically speaking, I know D and I won't be able to do that. But perhaps in time, we can. After all, our lifestyle is merely a habit we've developed over the years and habits can change. But for now, the first thing we can do is take a little more thought into the things we purchase and those we throw away.

We can all bring reusable bags to the shops and refuse plastic bags, purchase things we know we will need for a long time, purchase things with minimal and recyclable packaging, recycle whenever we can and compost food scraps (D and I use the Bokashi Bin).

A life worth living only becomes so when we consider others and the future. As residents of Earth, I really do feel we all have some sort of responsibility when it comes to respecting the place we live in, and looking after it. You wouldn't trash your home, so why would you trash the home your home is in?

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