DIY boat bookshelf

Last July, Eric and I drove out to Lake Victoria to pick out an old fishing canoe as our anniversary gift to one another.  We saw an old one with lots of holes, half-sunk and rotting away on the banks of the river, with several pieces of trash floating in its mucky water.  It was the one for us.

This sounds like a strange anniversary gift, I know.  But we had a project in mind, so we got the help of several locals to load the boat on top of the truck, unsure if we could make it home with the huge load.  We were told to have an "African heart" and that it would all work out.  Our carpenter friend rode along with us, calling out the window to everyone along the way who were giving us strange looks, "Da flood is coming! This is Noah!" Despite the excitement, we managed to avoid all traffic police and we took every bump and pothole along the way as slow as we could, and we made it home with our rickety boat in one piece.

It was not in one piece for long.  After unloading our rotting treasure, our carpenter cut the canoe in half and there we left it, sitting in our yard waiting for the wood to dry out.  Several weeks later, the carpenter came back and nailed a few planks into each side of the boat to make shelves.  And viola!  Our anniversary gift to each other - now a unique bookshelf with a story - adorns the corner our dining room and may just be our favorite piece of furniture.

Knitting Frenzy

Since I've been home in Indiana, I've been in a bit of a knitting frenzy.

Before, I could only knit something in the shape of a square or rectangle, but now look at me go!  I've made a few garments for myself and some cute little things for Toto.  With the extra time on my hands while we still await the baby's arrival, I scour the web for more patterns and try to keep myself sane by knitting away.

Donna poncho by Tahki Stacy Charles, Axis vest by Shibui Knits, and Camp tank by Malikoo

Top knot hat by Mack and Mabel, baby mitts by Spud and Chloe, bitty baby booties by Small + Friendly

Baby pants by Pa Avigsidan, Diaper covers by Tricksy Knitter

Also, I keep reading this beautiful article over and over.


People often ask me if I’ve had any cravings in pregnancy and, knowing they are referring to food cravings, my response has always been, “Actually…not really.”  Although this is true when it comes to food, what I don’t mention is that I have had many cravings, just not culinary ones.

I’ve tried to listen to these cravings, nonetheless.  Some are new and some are not surprising, but I trust them inherently and have tried to hold a sense of curiosity about where they will lead.

I have craved…

...water.  I hardly ever swim, but I went to the pool a couple times a week in my second trimester.  There was something about immersing myself in water that felt natural and soothing and I couldn’t ignore it.  Sometimes I wouldn’t even swim.  I would just float, look up at the sky, and appreciate the water encompassing me.  Staying in my family's cabin on our pond has been a major bonus.

…books.  I spend some time in the mornings and evenings reading, and usually some stolen moments throughout the day.  Although this isn’t so unusual, I have sped through more books than normal and can’t help but buying more!

…pottery.  I haven’t thrown pottery since high school and even then, I took only a couple of classes.  But for some reason, I’ve badly wanted to get my hands on some clay and mold it into a form.  I finally found a pottery class at a local high school and although the teacher isn’t very enthusiastic about helping a newbie and I’m the ultimate novice, my craving is being fulfilled.  The first class left me frustrated and I thought twice about going back, but this week I tried to let go of expectation and just focus on the feel of the clay, the spinning of the wheel, and how the form changes under the pressure of my hands.  Being present in it was somewhat hypnotizing and it was just what I wanted.

…breath.  I catch myself wanting to breathe deeply.  The best way I can explain it is I have wanted to drink in air, even to chug it!

…knitting.  I finally picked up knitting again for the first time in years and I carry my projects with me nearly everywhere I go, sneaking in a few stitches or rows in car rides, during coffee house chats with friends,  and while watching TV or listening to a podcast.


Call me crazy, but I find these cravings as strong as I’ve heard other women explain their food cravings during pregnancy.  I’m as ravenous about finishing a book as some women are about a peanut butter sandwich with pickles.  Instead of sending my husband out at midnight to pick me up something from Taco Bell, I stay up half the night just to complete part of a knitting project.

I’m not sure what will happen to these impulses once the baby comes, but I have appreciated the opportunity for the creativity and health they have brought into my life during this season.

Quilts: Textiles from home

I'm usually enthralled by the different textiles I find around the world.  Whether it's mudcloth from Mali, block stamped scarves from India, or woven rugs from Jordan, I love bringing these textiles into my life, learning how they are traditionally made, and running my hands over their surfaces.

And sometimes, it takes going around the world to appreciate the culture and traditions that you grew up with at home!

The people of Midwest America have been quilting since the pioneer days, and my family in Indiana has carried on this textile tradition.  Growing up, my grandma always had a quilting project in progress.  She made a quilt for each of her 13 grandchildren and, by the time she left us, there were enough quilts for us to all take another to save for when we got married.  Her quilts are still found throughout our home and our cabin.  I even made enough room in my suitcase to bring one to Uganda, to make my life there feel just a bit more home-y.

The tradition continues, as my mother makes each of her grandchildren a quilt when they came into this world.  At my baby shower last week, she gifted the baby its own patchwork blanket made of green and brown fabric pieces she chose, cut, and sewed together, each with intention and love, I'm sure.

My grandmother had a sign hanging in her kitchen, made my by aunt.  It read,
"Our family's like a patchwork quilt
with kindness gently sewn.
Each piece is an original
with beauty all its own."

The first quilt my grandmother gave me when I was 8 years old.

Mom, sewing a quilt for my niece, Leann

Mom's quilt for the new baby

DIY wire photo display

There may be no major craft stores in Uganda and there are very few stores with reasonably-priced home wares, but that doesn't mean that you can't decorate your home nicely. 

I was brainstorming ideas on how I could display several of my photos in our home, when Eric came up with the idea of making a wire mesh photo display

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