Saturday, December 31, 2011

year's end

Christmastime is busy, you know.  I’m sure you know.  Busy yet relaxing.  I saw the Nutcracker ballet with a few friends.  I did last minute gift-wrapping, as usual.  I fell in love with my church's Christmas Eve candlelight service all over again.  I slept in.  I watched an adorable black & white 40's film called The Man Who Came to Dinner while visiting my dad's side of the family.  I ate yummy food.  I watched lots of movies, and listed to lots of good music.  I went to see the zoo lights with my mom's side of the family.  I got a cell phone.  I took bokeh photos.  I had sleepovers with friends.  I saw the awesome new Sherlock Holmes movie.  I had Christmas tea with my "adopted" aunt and uncle.  I helped a friend of the family put up her Christmas decorations and my aunt take hers down.

I am continually humbled and amazed by people who give good gifts--who know how to give good gifts--who put thought and love into it--who surprise me because they really don't have to.  Seriously.  I wish I could become a better gift-giver.

Christmas this year was rather low key.  Slow and relaxing--which, all said, has been wonderful.  But now it's over, and here we are on New Year's Eve.  The end of 2011.

I feel as if 2012 is the year of the future.  Folks, I guess the future gets here tomorrow.  Ya know, the world is supposed to end and all, but before that I'm mostly looking forward to the release of such movies as The Avengers, The Hobbit, and (possibly!!) Les Misérables.  Oh, and it's leap year.

2011...hmm.  It's been full of ups and downs, that's for sure.  I've had some amazing experiences, visited some incredible places, and met some wonderful people.  It's been challenging and awesome, torn with struggles and yet full of adventures.

I was looking back at the list of things I had wanted to accomplish this year.  At some of them, I could nod and know that I had succeeded.  Others I know I did not focus on, and thus failed at them.  And others I know are works-in-progress, to be worked on through this year and beyond.

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions, but my one gift to Jesus this year (it is his birthday, after all)--the one thing I want to focus on above all else--is: in all things, to love.  Love.  Such a simple, taken-for-granted little word that encompasses so much of who I should and want to be.  A concept so extraordinary that God is it himself.  God is love.


I hope you all have fantastic endings to the old year and fantastic beginnings to the new one.  Any celebrations planned?

xo, Jennnnnn

Saturday, December 24, 2011

born that man no more may die

So, it's Christmas Eve.  Can you believe how quickly it has sneaked up on us?  The past week has been packed for me; break has proven wonderful if busy.  With last minute shopping, social events (caroling and the mall), and catching up on work that needs to be done, I've been kept on my toes.

Christmas Eve itself almost holds more excitement and tradition for our family than Christmas day.  Our biggest tradition is our Christmas Eve dinner.  It's my dad's job to always make a huge, extravagant, exotic meal--we've had African meals, Mediterranean food, and this year our theme was Brazilian.  So, so good.

Another Christmas Eve tradition is opening the small gifts that are stuffed in our stockings, usually paired with dessert soon following.  Then my church has a beautiful candlelight service--one of my favorite nights of the year.

And now here we are.  Christmas day is in a matter of minutes.  My mom and sister and I have settled down with a chick flick and tomorrow I'll attempt to sleep in while my little sisters shout in excitement.  For me, getting into the Christmas spirit has been more difficult this year than others, it seems.  I was more excited for the holidays during November than during the past week or so.

It's so easy to forget that the reason for Christmas is the birth of our Savior--that fact gets lost or pushed to the back of our minds.  Jesus was born to be our Rescuer and our Friend.

hail the heaven-born prince of peace
hail the son of righteousness
light and life to all he brings
risen with healing in his wings
mild he lays in glory by
born that man no more may die
born to raise the sons of earth
born to give them second birth
hark!  the herald angels sing
"glory to the newborn king"

Goodnight, my sweet friends.  I hope your holidays are splendid, and don't ever forget the greatest gift that was ever given to us.  Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

let me freak out, okay?

It's rant time.

So, my play.  ahem.  Our play.  It's Jane Austen's Emma in case you all forgot.  There's been...complications.

Long story short, our Frank Churchill has been let go because of a conflicting work schedule and consequent missed rehearsals.  Which means...we have less than a month till performances and we've all been rehearsing together since September...and we're going to have to bring in someone new.


Said new person is old.  By old I mean 28...which, granted, is the same age as our Mr. Knightley (my love interest ha).  But Mr. Knightley is supposed to be older than me.  Frank, on the other hand is the charming young man that comes in and sweeps me--er, Emma that is--off her feet, or so she thinks until she realizes he's been secretly engaged the whole while and Knightley is dah man.  Key word in that sentence: young.  So...28 isn't really cutting it.  He doesn't look at all younger than the guy in our play that's playing his father.

Stupid people.

It'll be fine, I know it will.  I hope it will.  I just want someone my age.  sniff.  It'd be fantastic if you could just pray that it's okay.  I JUST WANT IT TO BE OKAY.  Alright, I'm done.  Thanks.  Sorry.

Oh, while we're at it, would you like to hear another Jenn-freak-out story?  I thought so.  And it happened the very same night I heard about our play.  Too much drama...literally.

Anyway, I had my band concert.  I'm one of two flutists, and I promise I am not just being humble when I say that I'm...not good at flute.  It doesn't help that I'm horribly inconsistent when it comes to practicing.  So, come time for the beginner band to play, Stephen--the only other flutist--wasn't there.  I was praying so hard, getting so nervous, the whole time the beginner band played.  We were on right after them.  The flutes had a solo.  I couldn't do it by myself.  I was ready to publicly disgrace myself and then blot that night from my memory forever and ever amen.  That or turn and run far, far away.

Long story short, Stephen showed up with way too little time to spare.  I punched him and told him that I was going to strangle him--after he played that solo with me.  Agh, too much stress for my poor little self.

SO.  This weekend got off to a rough start.  Thankfully I had some nice relaxing walk-around-the-mall-just-to-browse-and-see-the-lights-and-drink-coffee-with-friends time last night.  I always forget my camera at such times.  sigh.

Oh, and this is a picture of me, as Emma, in costume, with my hair done.  (I'm rather proud of the way I did my hair, actually.  It's period enough without being atrocious.)

Whatcha think?  And how have your weekends been, my dears?  Can you believe Christmas is only a week away?  Agh, forgive me as I freak out once again!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas letters

dear snow,
I'm ready for you.  If it's going to be cold, you might as well come.  Please oh please stick around for awhile next time?

dear Mommy,
Thank you for stringing my room with lights.  I kinda sorta love it.

dear odd dreams about bad performances, plastic bag skirts, and muffins,
Uhm, you're odd.

dear candles,
I wasn't supposed to be one of those candle ladies like my mom.  Okay, let's get this straight--I'm really not one of those crazy candle ladies like my mom.  But still, I really like the way you smell when I burn you and when I extinguish you, especially when you are peppermint scented.

dear candy canes,
I adore you, just adore you.  Why are you only around this time of year?  You are so spectacular.

dear pine and little red berries,
We're best friends forever, right?

dear Tess,
Talking to you about how I wanted to be an astronaut as a little girl brought back good memories.  I love listening to you sing your heart out to the piano roll playing an oldie you've probably never heard of.  Baking cookies and writing letters with you is fun.  You're cute.  I want to keep you.

dear m&m cookies,
Oh, you know I love you to pieces...but then I will eat all the said pieces.

dear Brooke,
When I randomly wrote the lyrics "dog days are over" on a sticky note, I was not expecting to find the reply "duh they're over" (spelled "daaaa their over") written next to it.  Thanks for making my day.

dear future house,
If you just contain a deliciously large library, I will be happy.  That's all I ask.

dear tea,
Well, my friend, you've done it again.

dear Christmas tree,
I was rather sad when I didn't get to be a part of putting you up, and I was also sad that my little sisters decorated you while I was gone.  But I was happy that "cleaning the house" gave me an excuse to put up the remainder of the ornaments and re-situate ones that were about to fall off, thus redeeming my part in the process.  You're pretty, and I like you.

entering this in jess's photo challenge--because I love the lights of the season, and consequently, the bokeh ♥

dear ornaments,
Please be careful--you break easily when I'm not paying attention.  Also, I love how every single one of you is linked to a memory, and how we have the tradition of getting a new special one of you each year.

entering this in kelsey's photo challenge--my favorite ornament for sure.

dear Josh Groban,
Thank you for existing.

dear gee gullifers,
I'm pretty sure you're not even a legitimate expression.  So why do I find you stuck in my head?  I'm too embarrassed to use you in public, so I think I'll just stick with "gee" for now, thank you very much.

dear Grant,
Believe it or not, I am indeed surviving your attempts to learn guitar.

dear bokeh,
You're all kinds of wonderful.

dear peppermint mocha,
I usually don't like peppermint and chocolate together, but you are like Christmas in a cup.

dear Christmas shopping,
Why are you always so difficult for me?  I was not blessed with the love language of gift giving you see, so you must take it easy on me in the future.

dear people who compliment me on good hair days,
Aw shucks.  You aren't too bad yourself.

dear fire,
Lighting you for the first time this year made me very, very happy.  You are warm and cozy and extraordinarily close to my heart.  I would also like to remind you that I am not in fact a pyromaniac.

dear Christmas break,
You're incredible.  The end.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

the best things happen while you're dancing

My title comes from an old song, the origin of which I cannot remember.  I think it's in an oldie film, but I can't remember that either and I'm much to lazy to look it up.  It's an epic song--one you can dance swing, polka, foxtrot, tango, and waltz to--all in the same song.  Yup, love it.

Have I ever really told you all about the Celtic Ball?  I don't recall that I have.  I've mentioned it in passing, posted a photo now and again.  But here we are.  The Celtic Ball is a dance for people age--oh, 14 to 20.  We do square-ish dancing, but it's all set to Celtic music (there's even a legit bagpipe player) and it's much more formal.

Needless to say, we always have girlfriends over to get ready with and then ride with.  It makes a good thing just that much better.  And the Christmas Ball is always the best.

the preparation's intense you know

Sadly, there are not many pictures from the night, 1) because my camera died, 2) because there's horrible lighting in there so I kinda gave up, and 3) I was dancing most of the night, of course, so I didn't have time for photos.

I love dancing.  love love love it.  I have friends that don't dance/don't like to dance, and I honestly just don't get it.  (I mean, it's not as if I can dance...I'm so white & have no moves whatsoever...but I do it anyway.)  It's such a happy thing.  The Celtic Ball is always one of the highlights of my year.

Yeah, the Celtic Ball is one of my happy places.

What about you?  Can you/do you dance?

ps--oh!  and I straightened my hair, as you can see!  thoughts?  I think it makes me look older.  hmm I like it, but you see I'm not nearly motivated enough to take the time to do it often.  ;)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

the road goes ever on and on...

My very first post on this blog told a grand number of zero readers why my blog was called such a contradictory thing as Unoriginal Originality.  I've gone back and read that post (does anyone else read their past writings when they're bored or procrastinating?) and you know what I think?  I think it's cute.  Not in a bad or belittling way, of course.  But it was a first step--a plunge into something I didn't even know the vastness of.  It was a beginning, and like many beginnings, we may not know where we're headed at first, not until we have actually walked some of the road.

So here I am, on UO's one year anniversary--365 days down that road.  It makes me ask myself, Where am I headed?

There are so many darling and wonderful blogs out there, but what do I want for mine?  When I thought about it, I realized there were three things that I could make UO's focus.

-my life
-my photos
-my thoughts

And I came to the realization that in all honesty, I want this little mode of expression to be primarily for the latter--my thoughts.  Certainly it has my life mixed in; I can't separate myself from reality.  But I don't want it to look like my journal did up until I was eleven or twelve: This is what I did today...

No, I wanted it to be my thoughts on life.  I can tell anyone about my day, but it is in writing that I most often express my emotions and dreams.  Likewise, you have seen and will continue to see much of my growing photography, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  Entering this world of blogging has inspired me to progress in my photography more than any one thing has.  But I don't want photos to take the place of words.  I want them to compliment my thoughts, to illustrate my imagination.

Ever since I came to that conclusion about what I wanted the focus of my blog to be, I've tried to keep that in mind, whenever I write.  I have a journal to dump about the deep dark dealings of my brain; I have an alternate reality to relive the high and flying colors of my heart.  I want UO to be the best of both.  Not so you think I'm perfect--I'm not, and I don't like anyone who pretends to be--but because it is a place to focus on the positive, rather than needlessly reiterating the nitty gritty details that in the end aren't worth it.  It's a place to gather inspiration.

Yes, by that, I mean inspiration from each and every one of you lovely people who are reading this.  I love you.  You've made this journey worth it.

Also, you all are pretty good at age-guessing.  I think I've kept you hanging long enough, so I'll tell you.  Most of you guessed that I recently turned somewhere between 15 and 17, though the extremes were 14 and 28 (both from people I know personally, obviously--one being my sister).  Well, I'm seventeen.  So now you know.

So here I am.  On this grand adventure and loving it.  One year down this path and the road goes ever on and on (okay, Lord of the Rings reference, anyone?).

It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know that you all are along for the ride.


Friday, November 25, 2011


It's a day later, when most of us are probably recovering from stuffing ourselves with all of the incredible food that makes its way to our tables during this time of the year.  It's all worth it though; Thanksgiving dinner is honestly one of my favorite meals of the whole year.

I got to sleep in--hardcore, till 1pm--yesterday, which was absolutely wonderful.  The rest of the afternoon was busy but relaxing as preparations took place.  My family usually celebrates Thanksgiving with my dad's side of the family, and if not with them, we go to my mom's side.  But this year none of our relatives had a big Thanksgiving celebration--and though at first I was afraid this would jeopardize all the good-food-eating plans I had, it ended up being really nice.  We just had my adopted "aunt" and "uncle" (friends of the family) over for dinner and dessert.

One word: yum.

And after that, I went and met a few friends at the mall to do "black Friday shopping"--which incidentally didn't start (because many places hadn't opened yet) until we were about to leave.  But it was fun all the same.

I have so so so many things to be thankful for.  I take half of them for granted, I know--but recently I was challenged by this question:  "What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?"  Puts a new perspective on things, hmm?  Well here's a list of things I am grateful for, from a to z. Trust me, there's lots more besides.

Finding Joy | The ABC's of Thanks

Linking up my abc's of thanks.  God is good.

So, happy Thanksgiving, a day late. :)
How was your day, friends?
What are you feeling thankful for?

Monday, November 21, 2011

the anniversary of the day of my birth

Technically I wasn't born until 9:30 at night, so I never get the satisfaction of actually knowing that I'm older until then.  When I was little and staying up until 9:30pm was a big deal, I would beg to be allowed to stay awake until that time.  Or else I would just whisper it softly to Cassie in bed and celebrate the next morning.

Nonetheless, it is my birthday.  Actually, for it being a Monday and all, I had a pretty sweet day.  It was a rather relaxing and enjoyable English class, I had lunch with a friend, and I'm now awaiting a glorious meal and dessert with my fivesome.  Plus, last weekend was glorious--a dance with some dear friends and a sleepover afterwards.

photo credits to...Ruthie's dad. ;p
Today I'm also joining Abigail at Rear Window's blog party, so you'll get to hear a bit about yours truly.  So...hello.  :)  I'm Jenn.  The loves of my life include Broadway musicals, paper (stationery and notebooks, mostly), laughter, a story well-told, the smell of a just-extinguished candle, taking photographs, correct grammar, and Jesus.

Also--I've never mentioned my age on my blog.  And now that it's my birthday and it is actually worth mentioning, I'm rather curious to see how old you all think I am.  If you've been around for any amount of time I'm sure you have a guess since I've dropped hints now and again.  But seriously, leave me a comment and take a guess?

What is the nerdiest/geekiest/weirdest thing about you?
I'm a self-proclaimed Lord of the Rings nerd.  What can I say?  I know way to many random facts about that trilogy (and am incredibly excited for next year's release of The Hobbit!).  Oh, and I can probably quote and sing my way through The Lion King.

If you could live in a fictional universe from any book, movie, or television show, what would it be?
Now, I could state the extremely obvious and say Narnia here because duh, who doesn't want to go to Narnia?  But in the attempt to be more original, I would love to enter the world of the play Wicked--technically Oz, only so much more wonderful.  Plus, I'd love to visit the (nonfictional) 40s and 50s.

because let's face it--I want to wear dresses like this.  source.
Little or big, practical or frivolous, what is one of your favorite items in your house?
Florence, my piano and friend.

Do you like animated movies?  If so, what is your favorite?
Okay--so animated movies aren't my thing at all.  At least not the things they make nowadays.  Old Disney classics are a completely different matter however.  I adore The Lion King, Robin Hood, and Aladdin.  Tangled holds a special place in my heart, too.

this so makes my day.  source.

What's your favorite thing to get at Starbucks?
For a cold drink, a java chip frappuccino.  For a warm drink, a mocha--or during the fall, the pumpkin spice latte all the way.  Of course, I'm always open to new suggestions...

What is your favorite pizza topping?  Do you prefer waffles or pancakes?
Pineapple and ham is always a special treat.  And as for the waffle/pancake dilemma....ohh.  Hmm.  Do I have to answer this one?  Fine.  Pancakes, if they're the right kind.

Do you like to play games?  If so, what is your favorite?  Have you ever let anyone win a game?
Why, of course I do!  I love card games, Apples to Apples is always fun, but sometimes the best are group games where you have to use your imagination.  And yes--I have let others win...though it doesn't happen very often.  I'm rather competitive. *wink*

Do you make your bed every morning?
BAH.  No sirree.

Picasso or Norman Rockwell?
Don't get me wrong, I have a great appreciation for the artist that Picasso was, but something about Rockwell is just so perfect and homey and nostalgic and reminds me of being a kid and simpler times.

triple self portrait?  nice.  source.
Do you like carpet, tile, or hardwood floors?
Most of the time smooth wood.  Good for sliding in socks.  Though carpet is usually lame (trust me, the stuff in my room is old and not so pretty), we must consent that it is good for just stretching out on the floor sometimes.  ;)

If you could put one thing in a safe under your bed, what would it be?
Allllll my paper stuffs--journals, letters, sketchbooks--and a backup of all my photos.

What was the last thing that made you laugh?
Watching Peter Jackson's production videos for the soon-but-not-soon-enough-to-come movie The Hobbit.  *grin*

Think fast...what's the first song that pops into your head?
Heheh, I was "waiting" for this question, but when I read it again, the first thing that came to mind?  The Glee version of "Jar of Hearts."

Hope your Monday has been lovely, friends!  (I know that sounds impossible, but anyway...)  And psst--guess my age for my own entertainment, maybe?  ;)


Sunday, November 13, 2011

so I have this thing for clocks.

I am just really quite fascinated by them.

Some extravagant & others plain and simple, some old and full of history & others spiffy and modern.  All styles, sizes--oh yes, I especially adore those little pocket watches.

These photos were taken during my summer travels--from Milwaukee to Chicago to Montreal to Quebec to Boston.  I just fell in love with this little time trackers.

Oh! Do not attack me with your watch. A watch is always too fast or too slow. I cannot be dictated to by a watch.  -Jane Austen

And now just a few things I am grateful for today:
time [to complete homework, hopefully]
friends who are willing to pray for me
stories that I have love/hate relationships with [ahem, Jane Eyre]
a new navy blue cardigan
a birthday list which includes this and this
and of course the fact that my birthday arrives in eight days
Captain Jack Sparrow, always
the fact that Thanksgiving and the associated good food is fast approaching
late night Starbucks runs
there's more to life than books you know.  but not much more.
my brother's sense of humor [most of the time]
the grace of Jesus

What are you fascinated by/thankful for?