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Had such a fun time with these little cuties!

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My Sister, My Friend

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mysistermyfriend

When I think about my best friend, it’s hard to find the right words to release the feelings in my heart. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of what I want to say, and then it floats away into a mist of cloudy happiness again. Snapshots of memories, fragments of conversations, all combining to form something so deep and dear that I can’t wrap my mind around it.

My best friend happens to be my sister – my only sister – my only sibling. She’s mine and no one else’s. I like it that way.

Growing up, we were never lonely. My mom always taught us that friends would come and go, but a sister would be with you for a lifetime – so we’d better learn to get along.

If we argued, fought, or got mad at each other, we weren’t allowed to have any other friends over until we’d patched things up.

I remember spending many happy hours in the realms of imagination. We pretended we were characters from our favorite books and movies, and we made up some of our own too. But we never compartmentalized our fun – all of our characters knew each other and belonged to what we termed “the Gang.” I tell you, when the Gang got together for a pool party, it felt like there were fifty people in my bedroom, though it was only me and my sister. And when we played whiffle ball, there were two whole teams churning up dust in our backyard, but my mom only saw the two of us.

“We could be a WHOLE PARADE” – I Like You, Sandol Stoddard Warburg

mysistermyfriend

We were cowgirls together, spelunkers together, detectives together. There’s still a hole in the shared wall between our closets for the wire that connected our Morse code transmitters. If her closet door is open and the clothes are pushed aside, I can peek through from my side and see her bed.

Once we made up our own language (as if quoting our favorite movies wasn’t enough). Another time we turned my bedroom into a 1700s house by covering the Little Tikes Party Kitchen with brown paper bags and taping a paper fireplace onto a table. Plug-in candles threw us into a world of childish fantasies that occupied us for days.

The games we shared, the imaginary stories we wrote are locked in the most secret places of my heart. No one else is privy to enjoy them as we did. I guess no one else would want to – they were significant because they were ours, not because they were anything in and of themselves.

Our imaginations have grown rusty with time, and adult life keeps us busy with work and responsibilities, but we always make time for each other, even if it means combining work with play. Many of our heart-to-heart talks happen in the car on the way to dance class. She often grades papers while we watch TV. I might bounce screenplay ideas off of her on a shopping trip. And when we want some relax time, we’ll probably pop in an East Side Kids film and drink tea.

It’s glorious to know someone who thinks so much like I do and enjoys the same things – it’s as if our minds are linked on a special frequency that no one else can intercept. We speak the same code.

Like on the days we wear the same shirt without planning it (and neither of us goes back to change). Or when one of us is sad and the other says just the right thing without knowing it.

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, but when that friend is your sister, you have the best of both worlds, don’t you?

I wouldn’t want to face the world without her.

AbigailBeck (2)

Sometimes I think it would be nice to write something amazing about all the special memories we have, but then again, it’s nice to have secrets.

I imagine there’s a big old-fashioned trunk in my heart (because we both like old-fashioned) with our names on it. There’s a matching one in her heart. Only we can see them or open them. Sometimes we do – and take out our treasures, hold them up and exclaim, “Remember when we did that?” “We sure had fun.” Then we close the lids, but we don’t lock them, because we’re adding new treasures every moment we’re together. Everyone should have a heart-friend – God knew mine needed to be my sister.

“I like you because/ I don’t know why but/ Everything that happens/ Is nicer with you/ I can’t remember when I didn’t like you” – I Like You, Sandol Stoddard Warburg

 

Photo Credits: Abigail Beck

Quieter Surroundings

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As an early birthday present, my mom took me out for a day trip. By accident we stumbled across a hole-in-the-wall shop called “Vintage Garden.” From the street I could see a teapot in the window, and that was enough to get me inside. We walked through the waist-high picket fence door into a pleasantly crowded world of potted flowers, soaps, bird cages and tea cups.

Vintage GardenDistressed tables, vanities and iron plant stands housed more treasures, and out the back door, a collection of garden decorations added their whimsy to the mix: pastel-colored bicycles; more iron plant stands, rusted over; wooden signs wishing visitors “Happy Trails.”

And the best part? The statues of geese and ducks that poked their beaks out from under tables, into soap dishes, and from behind chairs all over the shop. Now we’re speaking of geese!

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The ambience of the shop contrasted sharply with the streamlined hustle of our tech-entrenched society. It reminded me that in spite of all our advances, humans still hunger for a quieter surrounding, one that fills them with a sense of wonder and whimsy, one that can make them forget all their worries.

Mankind’s quest for peace will never end in a picture-perfect array of knick-knacks, because the atmosphere of serenity that things can create is short-lived at best. It is only when we submit ourselves to the Prince of Peace that we can find lasting rest for our souls. Only then will we be able to appreciate life’s little pleasures rightly: as loving gifts from our Lord.

Cracking the Secret of Boyne Castle

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In 1969, Disney’s “Wonderful World of Color” television program aired a three-part movie starring Kurt Russell, Glenn Corbett and Patrick Dawson called The Secret of Boyne Castle (UK: Guns in the Heather). Though the film is not commercially available, we were able to get a recording when it played on the Disney channel many years ago. The screenwriting is sometimes cheesy, and certain plot points are laughable, but it has always been one of my favorites. I think it’s because it takes place in Ireland.

Filmed partly on location, Secret of Boyne Castle follows two students, Richard and Sean, who find themselves mixed up with a spy ring from behind the Iron Curtain. Adventurous chase scenes, daring escapes and fast-paced espionage are glued together with charming slices of Irish culture for a story that’s just plain fun.

Of course Boyne Castle is a fictional place created for the movie, but I’ve always been curious where the crew shot the castle scenes. Was it a combination of several places, or even a set at Pinewood Studios? My searches had always yielded nothing, but today I found my answer.

At home with a head cold, I wanted to watch something lighthearted, cheerful, Irish. In went Secret of Boyne Castle. As I followed Richard and Sean’s escapades, I paid closer attention to place names than I had before. Soon I realized that the climax of the film was supposed to take place in Clew Bay, off the coast of Westport in County Mayo. An Internet search brought me to a list of mansions and castles in or near Connacht, a northwest province of the Republic of Ireland.

A long shot maybe, but one that paid off. I clicked on the link to Dunguaire Castle in Galway, and there it was, big as life, the legendary (in my book) Boyne Castle.

Dunguaire Castle (aka Boyne Castle)

As I labeled it on my map, I realized that during my own visit to Ireland, I had driven within the vicinity of the fortress without knowing it. So close …

Now I have another reason to return to Ireland.

And at last I know the secret of Boyne Castle.

Xmas, Music, and Jesus

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KOST 103.5 claims to be “the best way to spend the holidays,” playing ’round the clock Christmas music to make us feel good for the season. But in its attempt to capture the spirit of Christmas, the station has evacuated the holiday of everything it truly celebrates: Jesus is essentially absent from the playlist.

I didn’t say completely absent — I’m glad to see on KOST’s playlist that “Joy to the World” still makes the queue once in a while, but for a holiday that commemorates the birth of the Messiah, the discrepancy is sickening.

What do I expect? Our American society tries its hardest to cast out Jesus, and naturally our radio stations follow suit. Biblical Christianity and those who uphold it are sidelined, but it’s no surprise since Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18, 19, ESV). People hate the gospel of Jesus Christ, because deep down inside they know it’s true, and since it’s true, they’re accountable to God for their sin.

But accountability is only the beginning of the story. Yes, we are guilty as charged, but the very God whose law we broke sent His only beloved Son to take the full consequences for our sins instead of us. He became a man in order to die — and He died so we could live forever with Him in heaven.

So keep on singing those old, forgotten Christmas carols — they’re full of good news of salvation for “poor lowly people,” for wretched sinners in need of a Savior. Don’t leave Christ out of Christmas — you do and you reject the only hope you have.

 

 

A Tube of Autumn Cheer

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IMG_6215There’s something about autumn that makes us want to curl up in a corner with a favorite book, a thick blanket and – a hot cup of tea. For many people tea is the comfort drink of choice, and depending on the blend, it can conjure up a host of moods and thoughts. In autumn a spicy chai or a tangy orange tisane might set the mind wandering to memories of roaring fires, rain clouds and holiday cheer. With its potential for pleasure tea makes a perfect fall or winter gift, and when packaged in an elegant glass tube with homey accents, it can delight before it’s even brewed.

Materials:

  • 1 glass test tube with cork stopper
  • 1 scrap of decorative orange paper
  • 1 scrap of decorative brown paper
  • 1 scrap of muslin fabric
  • Orange embroidery floss
  • 2 gold brads
  • 1 medium glass bead
  • 1 small pearl bead
  • 2 gold decorative bead caps
  • 1 2-1/8 inch gold head pin (flat head). Must be long enough to wire through the two beads, the end caps and the cork stopper with about a 1/4 inch to spare
  • 3 small orange flower drop beads (the kind where the hole runs through the vertical center of the flower)
  • 1 9/16 inch gold head pin (flat head). Must be long enough to extend about a 1/4 inch from one of the flower drop beads
  • Teacup rubber stamp and black ink pad
  • Loose leaf tea (I used Organic Saigon Chai from DAVIDsTEA – it’s just right for autumn with its spicy flavors and colorful ingredients)

 

Tools:

  • Straight pin (the kind used for sewing)
  • Sewing needle
  • Round nose pliers
  • Pinking shears
  • Black felt-tip pen (I like to use Paper Mate Flair® pens)
  • Hole punching tool (1/16 inch hole size)
  • Paper trimmer
  • Scissors
  • White glue

 

Directions:

  1. Wash the glass part of the test tube thoroughly and dry it. Set aside.
  2. Using the straight pin, pierce the top center of the cork stopper so that the hole goes all the way through to the underside.
  3. Assemble the pearl bead, the glass bead and the bead caps on the 2-1/8 inch head pin in this order: pearl, bead cap, glass bead, bead cap. Then poke the head pin through the hole in the stopper until the stack of beads rests on top of the cork. There should be about 1 inch of the head pin sticking out the bottom of the stopper.IMG_6217
  4. Use the round nose pliers to bend this excess wire into a simple loop that’s flush with the cork’s surface. This will secure your beads and prevent the pin from sliding out.
  5. Add one of the flower drop beads to the 9/16 inch head pin. Form another simple loop with the pliers, but before you close it off all the way, link it to the loop under the cork.
  6. For the test tube label, rubber-stamp the image of a teacup onto your scrap of muslin (make sure to iron the fabric first!). With the pinking shears, cut out the image in a rectangle shape (leave about a 5/8 inch margin around the image).IMG_6220
  7. Using only three strands of embroidery floss, hand-sew a running stitch around the border of the fabric rectangle. Secure the thread at both ends to prevent slipping.
  8. Cut a rectangle out of the brown paper that’s about a 1/2 inch bigger on all sides than the fabric rectangle. Tear along all four edges for a distressed look (the paper should now be only slightly larger than the fabric).
  9. Align the fabric rectangle with the brown paper rectangle. Punch a hole to the left of the teacup that goes through both layers, is vertically centered and isn’t touching the stitched border. Repeat on the right side of the teacup.
  10. Insert the brads into the holes and open the closure tabs so they don’t show from under the paper.
  11. Cut a rectangle from the orange paper that’s slightly larger than the brown rectangle. Align the brown paper/fabric ensemble on top of the orange rectangle and glue them together. Your label is complete!
  12. Write the name of your chosen tea and its brewing instructions on the back of the label with the black pen.IMG_6203
  13. Cut a 12-inch length of embroidery floss (six strands). Wrap the label around the test tube and loop the floss around the two brads, leaving yourself two tails to tie a bow.IMG_6211
  14. Thread one of the remaining flower drop beads onto each tail of the floss. Knot the floss so the bead doesn’t slide off (you may need to double or triple the knot).IMG_6218
    • If your bow tails are too long, you may knot them a little higher and trim off any excess thread. But be careful – don’t trim them so short that you can’t retie the bow again!
  15. Fill the test tube with tea leaves (be sure to leave enough room for the flower drop bead to dangle above the tea) and cork it! You’re ready to give someone a taste of autumn.IMG_6230

Gung-ho Candy Corn

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Anyone who knows me could tell you that yarn crafts are not my thing. I once managed to render a square knitted dishcloth in the shape of a guitar pick, and my early crochet attempts could have held water. But for whatever reason, I decided to knit a hat this month — not with needles like my amazingly talented sister, but with my easy-schmeasy Provo Craft Knifty Knitter round loom set.

I’d picked up a free pattern at Jo-Ann Fabric, and then I waited for coupons to buy the yarn. Nothing says my favorite colors like a candy corn hat, and it looked so simple I figured even I could pull it off.

Simple, however, doesn’t mean Abigail-proof. In my typical gung-ho fashion I managed to go about 14 rows on the wrong size loom because I didn’t trust the pattern’s directions (they were apparently more trustworthy than I thought). After starting over, I tweaked the instructions to add a hatband and miscalculated the new number of rows I needed. Taking out stitches isn’t so bad, but trying to re-hook 40-plus loops back onto a loom without letting the stitches slip is tedious.

Preliminary turbulence behind me, I finished the hat without incident. When the weather cools down, I look forward to wearing it as a tribute to my corny sense of humor and as a reminder that directions are there for a reason.

Photos courtesy of my sister