Thursday, 30 October 2008

Happy Halloween

I don't actually celebrate Halloween, but this picture is just too good to let pass....

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Art attack - home

I'm a little slow but it took me a while to take some time to ponder the xfacta's art attack challenge.

I finally found some time this weekend and this is what I came up with for the challenge theme of home.


It may seem a rather boring photo, but it means a lot to me. Home is the space where I am truly able to express who I am, and part of that involves activities to do with art and craft.

I love taking photos, I love art and being at home allows me to do that. It's where I rest and rejuvenate.

Home is where I can be during the day, exploring more crafty activities and displaying it around me.

It is also where I read and ponder through writing, and you can see a stack of books/reading materials and notepad on the shelf next to the bed.

Monday, 27 October 2008


You know, I've always thought that Bathsheba was bathing on the roof when David spotted her, which then started his spiral into real naughtiness.

And I could never shake off the wonder as to why Bathsheba would be bathing on the roof.

At Bible study last week, Daniel pointed out something so obvious that I had never noticed before.
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing...

David saw her from the roof, but that doesn't mean she was actually on the roof.

And that made a lot more sense.

He had a bird's eye view. Even if she were bathing in her backyard (which she most likely was, considering there was no plumbing back then), it would be quite difficult to hide from David's view. She wasn't actually trying to seduce him. At least I don't think she was.

I had a look at a few different translations and they all said David saw her from the roof. It didn't specify that she was actually on the roof.

How in the world did I get the idea that she was bathing on the roof?!?!

The Bible verse and various translations can be found here.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008


I think I've become a really bad passenger ever since I learned how to drive.

Before knowing about driving, I would very happily sit silently in the passenger seat, oblivious to the various driving conditions that a driver would need to watch out for.

I instinctively trusted that the driver would get us to wherever we needed to go safely and in one piece and more or less made no comments about the driver's abilities.

How things have changed over the last two years.

I don't criticise out loud per se. But I find myself checking blind spots for the driver, making sure the road is clear on behalf of the driver and I have actually caught myself going "er, maybe you should brake now" to the driver.

I actually have an opinion as to whether the driver does hard braking, is tailgating, or driving unsafely.

Except, most of those judgement are actually based on how I would drive, and not the "manual on being a perfect driver".

I hate what I've become because I know how annoying a backseat driver can be.

What happened to that trust I used to have? I miss it.

And somehow, I can't help but draw a spiritual parallel here because it really is somewhat like my relationship with God.

If I didn't know any better, I would simply trust God, like children do.

But because I've had a taste of life, I've lived life so to speak, and I've developed a certain way of doing things, suddenly, God's "driving" may not be the same as how I would drive my life.

And I want control. I make comments. I think He may be doing some things too fast, too hard, or too slow.

Perhaps we simply need to sit in the passenger seat and shut up.

Except when the driver is running through a red light or does not realise there is actually a truck coming headlong or is driving stupidly/dangerously of course.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008


Make Poverty History.

That's a pretty fashionable catchphrase nowadays isn't it?

Bono speaks about it. There are entire concerts for it.

At its core, it has a good message. But sometimes I wonder if we should do more.

The whole premise behind the make poverty history campaign lies in "building awareness" and "pressuring governments to take action", and sometimes, I can't help but wonder if it's a cop out phrase.

It's easy for someone to say that they support the make poverty history movement when all they have to do is "let people know about it".

Don't get me wrong. I realise that there needs to be mass support for anything to take effect. And I realise that governments play a huge role in helping to make poverty history.

But I can't shake the feeling that it's enabling us to feel good about ourselves and yet take the easy way out.

There needs to be more.

If you really want to help make poverty history, you need to play a part in it, not simply tell others that they need to do something about it.

I'm not saying I'm above fault here. I haven't been playing an active role in making poverty history.

I like to tell people I care, and I like to tell people about the horrible situation that the world is in, but have I really done anything? Not really.

I hardly blink when I spend $50 on knitting yarn for myself, but when it comes to helping donate to a good cause, a cause that will help people learn skills to earn a livelihood, I sometimes struggle to even contribute $10.

To make the message effective, we really have to live the message.

And so from today, I'm going to put $1 aside everyday to go into the "make poverty history" piggy bank. One that I will "break" after a year, to donate to an organisation that is helping people break out from the cycle of poverty.

Which organisation?

Maybe this? Or perhaps this.

ETA: This looks interesting too!

Wanna join in this ride?

This post is part of Blog Action Day 08 - Poverty

Selvedge dress

I love love love this selvedge dress (what is selvedge?) and can only dream of the day that I will be able to make one for myself.

In all likelihood, I'd probably purchase one faster than I can make one.

Still, gorgeous dress.

Link via whip up.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Only one colour

Now, it's a known fact that I have a weakness for the colour orange.

I get drawn towards things that are orange. I like to buy things that are orange. I get gifts that are orange. When friends see anything orange, they usually think of me. Heck, I named my car Carrot just so that it somehow has an orange connection.

I wear orange clothes too, but to consistently wear only one colour?

To only be surrounded by one colour?

I like colours a little too much to do that. But it seems that some New Yorkers do.

I'm just not sure if they're doing it for the attention, or because they really loathe other colours. It's odd, and it boggles my mind.

Link via Della.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Band cuffs

What do you do when you have scrap lengths of yarn lying around that aren't enough to make scarves or hats?

Knit band cuffs!

These are great knitting for summer, and amazingly fast and easy knits. I think it took me about 30 minutes to make one.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Cleaning miracles

This may be old news to some, but I have just discovered the cheapest, bestest way of cleaning everything.

Well, maybe not everything, but most things.

Introducing white vinegar and bi-carb. The combination of this stuff cleans almost everything.

I've tried it on stove tops, the bath-tub, the basin, the shower, glass even the bathroom floor and it's just amazing how white and sparkling everything becomes!

Sprinkle a little bi-carb on the surface you want to clean and either pour the vinegar on and watch everything sizzle or wet your cloth with the vinegar and wipe.

Most stuff will simply wipe off. You may have to scrub a little for tougher stains, but it really really works.

Cheap (vinegar costs about $1 and bi-card about $2), chemical-free - best of all bleach free so no headaches, environmentally friendly and just so effective!

I love it.

And yes, I've successfully scared myself too as to how domestic I've become.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Knitting with dog hair

I cannot help but be somewhat disturbed by something I learned from a knitting website.

Apparently, you can knit with dog hair.

Yes, people have made whole sweaters with their pet's hair.

I'm not so much interested in the "how-to" than I am in the "why-would-you-want-to".

I suppose you can argue that it's the same as wearing stuff made from sheep's wool, but somehow, it's different.

Is it simply because we're just so used to one form of yarn, and not the other?

I don't know, but my nose crinkles at the thought of it...

The Knitting With Dog Hair book has a rather funny subtitle though - "Better A Sweater From A Dog You Know and Love Than From A Sheep You'll Never Meet."

Link via Core 77.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Nemesis Train

I am a bit of a sucker for postmodern books. I enjoy the lack of traditional structure. I like the fact that in its seeming randomness, things still make sense.

Just finished reading Nathan's book Nemesis Train and there is no doubt about its postmodern nature. Which is ironic in itself since postmodernism is supposed to defy all definitions, but for the sake of this post, we shall not debate that.

Firstly, it's not often one gets to read a book published by a friend. Even more rare to find out that it is good. I'm so proud of Nathan! And have hopes that some of his brilliance may perhaps rub off on me if I hung out with him long or often enough.

Nemesis Train is an extremely well thought out book, and despite its obvious literary strength, is a surprisingly easy read.

But there is a tone of sadness, a tinge of "there really is no meaning in life" in the book and honestly, I was half worried that I would hurl the book across the room by the end of it because I really really hate it when books don't have a happy ending. I was most relieved when I realised I didn't have to do that.

I really liked the book, and I especially loved its very, no wait, extremely, clever ending.

My formal review here.

Oh, and since you're still reading this post, you should buy the book.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Ding in my stash laptop bag

This has got to be the longest and biggest knitting project that I've ever undertaken since learning how to knit at the start of the year.

It felt like it took forever.

Granted, I ended up getting distracted several times and started and finished other projects while trying to complete this, but it still felt like it took forever. I wonder if I'll ever have the stamina to knit clothing. Now that will be a test of endurance.

Pretty happy with this project. The main reason for the exercise was to get rid of yarn in my stash. I was given a bunch of acrylic unlabelled yarn that I really didn't have much use for, so it was a good excuse.

And I needed a bag to protect my laptop from the elements when I made that 2 minutes hike down the road from home to work.

So all in all, although it's not the most brain-stimulating or clever little project, goals achieved!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Making sense

It's a normal tendency to think that if we've been good, we will be rewarded and if we've been bad, we will be punished. It's how most of us were raised.

So naturally, when it comes to a relationship with God, whom most Christians call "Father", we would tend to see it that way too.

The following article contradicts that logic in a very real, dramatic and sad way, but provides meaning and a glimmer of hope as well. A glimmer of hope that we Christians cling on to, when the world doesn't make sense.

As the sun began to set over the Khan al-Khalili marketplace in Cairo, Egypt, the daily buzz of people, businesses and vehicles gave Erik Mirandette, his brother and friends no reason to feel alarmed. Then, in an instant, an explosion knocked Mirandette off his feet and sprayed him with nails as he simultaneously glimpsed a wall of fire engulfing his friend, Kris Ross. Behind Mirandette, his younger brother, Alex, and friend Mike Kiel were also leveled by the nail-saturated blast.

The bomb would ultimately claim the life of Mirandette’s brother, and leave Mirandette and his friends changed forever.

About two years earlier as a student at the Air Force Academy, Mirandette found himself restless. “I was a regular university student in my sophomore year, and things were going rather well,” he says.

Yet he could not shake a sense of discontentment. “I felt like there was just something else out there that I needed to be doing at that point in my life. I really wanted to experience life abroad, and I wanted to make a contribution to my fellow man—to do something to help and serve for a couple years. I thought, What would happen if I just gave two years of my life completely up to doing good things for someone? What would happen with that? What would God use that for?

Five months later, Mirandette was in Morocco with a humanitarian worker his church supported. “I was working with the refugees,” he says. “We had about 1,000 to 1,600 men at any given time living up on this mountain in the direst of circumstances, feeding from a dump, diseased and dying. They needed medicine; they needed food. The Moroccan military was conducting raids; they were getting shot at every week. It was a miserable situation. To go into a situation like that where there is no safety net, there is no comfort zone, it’s real. It’s life and death. And to see how much more serious and important a faith is—my faith got very real very quick.”

After spending more than a year and a half in Africa getting to know the stories of refugees, he wanted to understand more about their plight. “I really wanted to see what they were going through—what was going on in the rest of Africa that would cause them to leave their countries and venture toward Europe,” he says.

So he set out on a journey across the African continent with his brother, who had joined him in Morocco, and Ross. Their goal was to travel from Cape Town, South Africa, to Cairo, Egypt, and to serve with humanitarian groups along the way.

“I contacted a bunch of humanitarians and a bunch of missions throughout Africa, and we started leapfrogging our way up the continent,” he says. “We flew down to Cape Town, got three dirt bikes and started traveling north.”

What followed was four months of exploration, adventure and service to those in need.

“We worked [in Cape Town] and helped those communities, working with AIDS awareness stuff for a couple weeks, and got to know a lot of people there. Then we traveled north through Botswana.”

From Botswana they traveled to Zimbabwe and made their way up through Zambia, Tanzania, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Memorable stories outline their journey, from a camp invasion by a bull elephant in Botswana to patrolling with paramilitary rangers and swimming at the base of a breathtaking waterfall in Zambia.

In Tanzania the concrete road became a dirt trail that would bring them through 500 miles of often mud-entrenched jungle. From Tanzania they followed the trail to Burundi and into the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Only three weeks prior, that span of the trail had been an active war field.

“When we got to the end of that road, there was this huge volcano in one of the cities outside of Goma, which is in the northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. We climbed the volcano and spent time looking down into this fiery pit.

“That was a significant moment for me,” he continues. “At that point I was more convinced than I had ever been before that I was doing exactly what I needed to be doing with my life. I was out there with my brother and my friends, and things [were] good.”

In Nairobi, Kenya, with 4,000 miles left between them and Cairo, the trio was joined by Kiel, who had just completed a four-year contract with the U.S. Air Force.

Between Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia there were, again, hundreds of tales to tell. It wasn’t until their journey was nearly over that they met their only major roadblock. When they arrived at Sudan’s border, they learned that the country’s border policy had changed just weeks before, and Americans were no longer allowed in without an invitation by the government.

The group was forced to travel the last leg of the journey by plane into Cairo.

“Once in Cairo, we’d accomplished our objective; we had finished our journey,” Mirandette says. “We had braved 9,000 miles across this continent of Africa, through two civil wars and about five different rebel groups. We’d finally reached the end of our journey.”

Mirandette and his brother Alex planned to go back to the States to celebrate Alex’s birthday in just two weeks. However, on their second day in Cairo, a suicide bomber with “the equivalent of 20 kilos of TNT” walked up in the middle of the band of friends and detonated his bomb.

“It was absolute hell,” Mirandette says. He recalls seeing body parts everywhere as he lay on the ground. “All my clothes had been blown off me. I’m lying naked in the street. My body’s full of hundreds of nails, and the nerves in my leg are severed. A good chunk of my left tricep was blown off.

“You’re lying in the street just trying to make sense of it all. I look over, and I’m pretty sure that one of my friends is dead. My brother is nodding in and out of consciousness, and my other friend looks like hell, but he’s walking, and he comes over and helps me tie tourniquets around my bleeding appendages and then goes over to deal with my brother. I mean, the smell, the choking smell of smoke with all the body parts. It was a complete and utter hell.”

After hours of pain, panic and fear as they were transported and tended to, Mirandette, who had been sent to a different hospital than his brother, received a phone call from his mother.

His little brother didn’t make it.

It was the worst thing Mirandette could have imagined. “I would have, in a heartbeat, given my life to save my brother,” he says. “I even tried: He was the first person on the ambulance, and we were sure that I was going to die. And then he was taken, and I live.”

It is a chapter in their story that left only confusion, pain and doubt.

“It really caused me to question the nature of God,” Mirandette says. “How could He reward a group of guys who are following His plan with such an unspeakable hell? It’s hard still to try to wrap my mind around all that.”

In the months that followed, Mirandette’s body began to heal, but inside he remained “a real wreck.” Even after returning to his home in Michigan, he was surrounded by reminders of Cairo.

“In Grand Rapids everybody knew my story,” he says. “Everyone knew my name. Everywhere I went somebody was there to say something about the whole thing. I just needed to get away for a while.”

From Grand Rapids, Mirandette and Kiel moved to Kauai, Hawaii, where their internal healing could really begin. Mirandette found a job bartending, but more importantly he found anonymity and peace. “It was there that I wrote The Only Road North (Zondervan), which was really cathartic—just sitting down, telling the story and trying to make sense of it all.”

In his book, Mirandette recounts his journey, from his days as a discontented college student to a seasoned African traveler—a man whose faith was more real than when he began. But he does not propose to have any answers.

“It took us four months before we felt ready [to simply live again],” Kiel says. “The dream of one day waking up and being the way I was is gone now. It’s a continual process that I’ve accepted, and I have come to embrace the new me.

“We still fight our inner battles, but we know that we have two other guys who can help us through it,” Kiel continues. “We have gone from adolescent friends to three brothers who will always be there for each other no matter how life decides to mess with us. A bond has been formed that is difficult to describe in words.”

For Mirandette, the end of this story requires the beginning of a new one. “The conclusion that I came to was either everything that I had believed in up until that point—everything that I had stood for, everything that I had lived for the last couple years, everything that my brother died for—either that was true, or my life and his death were completely in vain. I wasn’t willing to accept that.

“I have to believe that someday—I can’t imagine that it would be in this life—it’s all going to make sense, and it’s all going to be made right. Until then my responsibility, my job, my obligation is to do the good that I can do and to make the difference I can make.”

The original article was found here.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

God's plans for being better are better

Heard this phrase during worship this morning and it made me chuckle because of the way it sounded.

What it meant however, is a good reminder that I need to trust in God and know that he is good and that he only has the best intentions for me.

So all that praying to God asking for xx so that my life will be better, all that requests to God for xx so that I will feel better...

I should simply be letting go of control and trust.
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