December 19, 2011

the 12 deals of christmas

"christmas time means laughter, toboggans in the snow, caroling together with faces aglow." kevin mcallister, "home alone 2: lost in new york"

"first we'll make snow angels for two hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of tollhouse cookiedough as fast as we can, and then we'll snuggle." buddy the elf, "elf"

christmas truly is my favorite time of the year for so many reasons. i love the time with my family and the countless opportunities to watch every incredible christmas movie in our pajamas. i love making snack mix with my mom and drinking egg nog like it's going out of style. i love caroling with my family at different people's houses and wearing tacky christmas sweaters and jingle bell earrings. i love dressing as a charissamas tree, wrapping my entire body in lights, and plugging into random outlets, with my trusted extension cord on hand.

and while christmas time means all of these wonderful things to me, it also means having a time to refresh and reorganize in order to get motivated for the new year. i love having time to get little things accomplished in order to live simpler and easier after the holiday is over. i love having time to get on pinterest and find fun inventions and ideas for everyday improvements, and with that being said, i have discovered 12 ideas through my perusing that i am implementing during this holiday season in order to live a little easier and cheaper in the upcoming year.

so in honor of the holiday season and for the sweet love of pinterest, i give you the 12 deals of christmas:

1) clean scratched CDs and DVDs with toothpaste. i did this this afternoon, and it worked like a charm! take non-gel toothpaste, put a dot of it on the back of a CD or DVD, rub it horizontally with a washcloth, and rinse with cold water. it removes the scratches and prevents the CD/DVD from skipping.

2) combine used candles into one, large candle. take old, burnt candles and melt them completely with a candle warmer or in a pot of boiling water. get candle wicks from the craft store of your choice and glass jars. place the wick in the jar and pour the melted candles, creating layers of your favorite scents. one trick to make sure that the wick doesn't fall in is to wrap it around a popsicle stick and place the stick across the top of the jar. cut the wick and burn, baby, burn!

3) ice-proof windshields with vinegar. make a concoction of 2/3 vinegar and 1/3 water, spray on car windshields and windows the night before a frost, and watch the ice melt away.

4) clean the iron with dryer sheets. set the iron on low, rub it over a dryer sheet, and watch the residue and gunk disappear into the sheet.

5) clean coffee stains with an orange peel. take mugs or cups with coffee or tea stains, lightly salt an orange peel, and gently rub the peel on the area to remove the stains.

6) remove soap scum with a dryer sheet. take a dryer sheet, sprinkle a few drops of water on it, and remove stubborn soap scum on shower glass by scrubbing.

7) remove stickers with a hair dryer. the next time you find a stubborn price tag on the bottom of your purchase, blow it with hot hair from a hair dryer, and watch it come off with ease.

8) brighten laundry loads with lemon juice. as an alternative to bleach, use either 1/4 or 1/2 cup of lemon juice and add it to the laundry load in order to brighten whites.

9) remove permanent marker with rubbing alcohol. eliminate permanent marker stains by putting rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and rubbing the area. it works especially well on walls and counter tops.

10) freshen the freezer with vanilla.
take a cotton pad, soak it with vanilla extract, and wipe the inside of the freezer for a fresh scent and frostbite elimination.

11) clean the coffeemaker with vinegar. i do this regularly! simply run a cycle with vinegar instead of water, stop midway through the cycle and allow to sit, and then let the cycle finish completely. run two cycles with water afterwards to remove any excess vinegar.

12) clean the dishwasher with lemonade kool-aid. make sure the dishwasher is empty, pour a complete packet of lemonade kool-aid into the detergent cup, and run it normally. watch stains like iron and lime deposits disappear!

December 12, 2011

baby beluga

"we ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. but the ocean would be less because of that missing drop." mother teresa

"you might be a big fish in a little pond, doesn't mean you've won, cause along may come a bigger one." coldplay

"what is your life? for you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." james 4:14

the only way to explain my life for the past few months is that i have just taken a ride on the craziest rollercoaster i have yet experienced in my short, little time here on this earth. at the moment i am currently sitting in the car of the rollercoaster as it is just now starting to slow down and come to a stop. a series of big life changes all decided to take place in the busiest and most challenging semester of my academic career starting from the very first week of classes, and i was forced to hold onto the lap bar and pray and trust that i wouldn't fly out.

and i am extremely pleased to say that i remained securely in my car with minimal whiplash. despite some heartache, serious stress, and borderline serious illness, there was much joy, many improvements, and many excitements in the changes that took place. and while this semester has had its definite struggles, i believe that we are improved through challenge. i have felt my heart and self being refined like silver and chiseled through adversity and trial. i have seen myself grow and learn the true lessons of life and find a new joy and happiness in living that i didn't know before.

and with that being said, i would like to share with you the greatest lesson that i have learned through my endless pursuit of the acquisition of knowledge. it's a dichotomy created by the wisdom of mother teresa, the lyrics of coldplay and raffi, and the book of james, and i believe it is the perfect blend of irony and incongruity as i learn that the more i see, the less i know... because i am a baby beluga swimming in a really deep, blue sea.

while for the past few years i have written this blog affectionately known as "charissa explains it all," i want it to be known that the name is merely the result of a popular tv show and that in reality i don't even know 14.28% of it all. and as i continue studying and eating and sleeping pure knowledge, i continue learning how little i actually, indeed know.

and i write this today because i believe that the greatest struggle of my generation is the fact that we think that we already have all of the answers and believe that we are great white sharks residing in very itsy-bitsy ponds. when we are already assured and secured in ourselves and our "greatness," we close ourselves to knowledge, truth, and ultimately grace.

i read the condescension expressed all over facebook as some young people call out those sinners, unable to recognize and acknowledge our own sin. when we claim to be sinless, we make ourselves into liars and make ourselves useless in the eyes of the sinful. i see the way we exclude ourselves from older generations and isolate ourselves from older people in worship. we question the authority and knowledge of our parents, our professors, and our superiors as we delight in realizing the truth that they obviously are not smart enough to see. and i see the way that we become inflated and buttered up as a result of our ever-increasing knowledge and status as we become known for what we've done and what we do instead of WHOSE we are. and i am here to tell you i have been just as guilty of it as anyone else.

but the greatest gift i could ever receive is the realization that i am a baby beluga in the deep blue sea, and the sea is DEEP. i am a teeny, tiny, baby drop in the ocean, and while i know within my heart that the ocean would be less without that drop, it is nevertheless just a drop. i am a beluga whale in a little pond, but every time i venture off into the larger ocean, i realize just how tiny i am and that much bigger fish exist. ultimately, i am a mist that is here today and then gone. and i am becoming quite content in my tininess, knowing that i may never be able to change the whole world but that i can impact someone's life every day. and i am becoming quite content in my insignificance, knowing that the gifts GOD has given me are here today but won't always remain.

while i write a blog and like to share my thoughts, many of my "wisdoms" are products of my shortcomings and failures. while i may appear to have some things together and to have a sure sense of direction, i can only credit my discoveries to GOD'S direction despite my wandering. and where my pursuit and aim used to be to become a well-renowned speech pathologist known for her writings and expertise, my one pursuit is to grow as a daughter of GOD who knows a thing or two about a mean, ole lateral lisp.

while i hope to accomplish much in my lifetime, i am realizing that i will never stop learning, growing, sinning, and striving. i realize that i will never reach a place where i will sit back and say, "well, i think i've reached a good stopping point." i realize that one day my children will be teaching me truths about life and people that i haven't realized in 40 years of living and that tiny light bulbs will be going on in my head until JESUS returns.

while i hope to be perfect as my FATHER is perfect, i know that it will never be. while i hope to acquire knowledge and become an expert, i know that i will never know enough. while i might hope to be successful or to make a name for myself, i realize that that name will only remain for the length of a mist. and so while realizing and respecting the bigger fish in the pond, i will continue making my little, but not insignificant, mark in the ocean, swimming wild and swimming free as a little white whale on the go.