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Travel: The Judean Wilderness

Travel: The Judean Wilderness

The desert is clean physically & spiritually because the sun shines in every place and bakes it sinless. Nothing can hide from its righteouRead More...


The High To Keep You Satisfied

The High To Keep You Satisfied

This is an archived Sky Blue post originally published in May 2014. Not every difficulty is a storm: sometimes life is a drought. We do not aRead More...


Home Sounds: Ryan Bingham

Home Sounds: Ryan Bingham

If you love the voice of Ryan Bingham, then you love it out of the blue. At first it sounds raspy, discordant--then you hear that note of truth. IRead More...


Why Does the Devil Get the Art?

Why Does the Devil Get the Art?

This is an archived Sky Blue post originally published in 2013. For a long time, I’ve had a lot of unanswered questions about art–such as, why Read More...

Build Your Own Adventure Catcher

Posted on: Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hey guys, this is Michaela! I’m excited about sharing this craft with you.

So, I want my life to reflect this somewhat corny yet perceptive quote:

Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.

There’s nothing more beautiful to me than building memories with people I love in places that connect us. It is important to me to create a space where I can relive those memories.

Last year when I moved away from home, I found myself scrolling through old pictures on my phone all the time. The trip to Alaska with my sister and my best friend, the ride through the mountains of my home town on a day that was so hot we ended up swimming the horses in our denim jeans, visiting Utah for my beautiful friend’s wedding. Looking at these pictures makes me inexplicably happy and I knew I wanted a unique way to showcase those memories in my new home.

The idea for an adventure “catcher” was random, but I absolutely love the result and wanted to share it with anyone else who agrees that the most beautiful interior design should reflect you and make you happy!

The process of making this display couldn’t be easier:

  1. Print out your photos. I used Artifact Uprising. This service prints out gorgeous pictures and mails them to you. Our photos came out GORGEOUS and the company often has discount codes so check them out! One recommendation I have is to edit your photos and up the brightness and saturation as printed photos don’t always come out the way they look on your electronic screen.
  2. Find a tree branch! In my opinion the perfect display branch should have architectural interest (i.e. knobs, and lots of offshoot branches) and you should also keep branch size/number of photos you have to display in mind as you don’t want your photos to be crowded, or too sparse. Once you find the right branch, trim the offshoots to varying lengths for interest and to help separate your photos when they are hung.
  3. Tie long strands of twine from the branches. Try and switch up the spacing and length of the strands as this will add to rustic nature of the display, or if that’s not your style, you could go with a super symmetrical look.
  4. Use tiny clothespins to clip your photos to the twine. I used one pin on the top and bottom of each photo to help the pictures stay affixed.

Peace on Earth: Christmas 2016

Posted on: Thursday, December 22, 2016

We may be keenly aware of the darkness as Christmas 2016 approaches. But the darkness is always there.

The general consensus is that 2016 was a rough year (for many families in middle America, it felt like business as usual). Depending on your political views, the situation in the U.S. may seem optimistic, uncertain, or just bleak. Elsewhere, there is less room for debate: In Syria, children are being killed by their government, and there is no “good side” and there is very little hope.

When I am in my hometown (and not my apartment in San Francisco), I am more conscious of nighttime. There are always lights in a city. But nighttime is impressive outside of city limits. A full moon is not mistaken for another streetlight. It is shocking and beautiful and clear as a diamond.

I drove home the other day, winding through the hills on an empty highway, and the night was so dark but the waxing moon was almost full and lit up the treeline. I thought of Psalm 125:2“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people, from this time forth and forevermore.”

I close my eyes and I can see Jerusalem. It is surrounded by mountains, a city on a hill. I can see all the towns where Jesus grew up, where He spent His time. 

One of the best things about familiarity with Israel is getting stripped of the idea that the places where Jesus lived are picturesque. Footage from Aleppo reminds me of Bethlehem and Nazareth. These are not sweet villages, they are just difficult–hot and dirty and crowded and poor. When you watch the news and you see the streets of Aleppo, think about Jesus as one of those children on one of those streets, because that’s what Bethlehem is like, and that’s what Nazareth is like. His home, too, was war-torn and threatened, full of people under bondage, people afraid for their lives and the lives of their children. That was the dark place where the Advent happened.

In dark mountains, unblinded by yellow fluorescent bulbs and screaming neons, I see a million stars and my breath is taken by the moon.

In a dark world, no longer confident in the goodness of humanity or rendered complacent by comfort, I see Jesus Christ. 

If you feel overwhelmed by the bleak state of things, know two things: First, you are right. Mankind is worse than you thought. But, God is better. He is better than we can imagine.

Into this place, His light shone, and His salvation was glorious. 

False lights keep us blind; seeing eyes rid us of complacency. No more false hope. The truth sets us free. There is one light that came into the world–one hope, one message, one justice, one salvation, one victory, one peace. Born in a dark place, born for a dark earth. Don’t backlight the manger or minimize the stink of a barn and the coldness of a desert night. Don’t ignore the injustice of an innkeeper sending a woman to a stable to give birth. Don’t bury your head in the sand and ignore the serious nature of world events and what those events tell us about who we are. See all of this with wide-open eyes, because this is the darkness that shows the incarnation for what it is: shocking and magnificent. We are the shepherds on a hill, living lonely lives of labor, and angels came and sang to us. We are kings in a foreign land, following delusions, chasing our intellect in circles, and a star shone and God opened our eyes and we were made to worship the King. Into our worst mess and our most stonewalled pain, God came down and He walked with us. We saw Him and we felt His presence.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Home Sounds: Ryan Bingham

Posted on: Saturday, September 17, 2016

If you love the voice of Ryan Bingham, then you love it out of the blue. At first it sounds raspy, discordant–then you hear that note of truth. It’s an old banged-up ring you find in a store off Route 66; tarnished and dinged, but then you bite and taste silver. Dylanesque, full of red dirt and experience. Husky, dusky, whiskey rough, distilled Americana, blues and soul, more than a little rock and roll.

You can hear Bingham’s history as a bullrider, rodeo cowboy, and ranchhand growing up in New Mexico in his voice–you can tell he has earned the right to sing folk. As he told Rolling Stone Magazine:

I can’t stand studios. When I started playing, I kind of lived out of my truck. I had a camper set on the back, and I’d just disappear out in the desert, or find these real desolate places and set up camp for a while and hang out. I still miss parts of that, when I was just rambling around out there.

It seems that part of that change in scenery came about in 2009, when Bingham’s song Weary Kind won him and co-writer T Bone Burnett a shelf’s worth of awards (Oscar, Grammy, Critic’s Choice, and Golden Globe) after being featured in the Jeff Bridges film Crazy Heart.

This sudden genre-crossing success changed nothing in Bingham’s musical path. In fact, he left his record label shortly afterward to self-release Tomorrowland in 2012, bucking the music industry to maintain control. As for his newest album, Fear and Saturday Night, all the songs were written in an Airstream isolated in the mountains of California. Bingham’s career is one of creative control and non-conformism.

I saw Ryan in December 2015, the first time he headlined the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. His live show reflected a newfound jubilance. In the tradition of folk, Bingham is bold enough to wear his heart on his sleeve: While Tomorrowland is an angry, bleak reflection after the deaths of his parents; Fear and Saturday Night is happier and lighter, reflecting his marriage and the birth of his daughter. Considering his choices so far, at 35 there is every reason to believe Ryan is an artist who will keep growing and being true to himself and his sound.

Summer Caprese with Heirloom Tomatoes & Balsamic Glaze

Posted on: Sunday, July 24, 2016

The perfect summer dinner –

If you can’t cook and you’re looking for a way to impress your guests (or if you can and you love caprese like every other normal person) try out this suuuuuuper easy recipe with heirloom tomatoes and balsamic glaze.

And because you’re dying to know about heirloom tomatoes and why you should spend extra money on them when “they’re all just tomatoes,” here’s a brief recap on what these crazy looking things are:

An heirloom tomato is a variety that has been passed down through generations for valued characteristics. The variety of heirloom tomatoes historically available has been gradually reduced/ replaced by a few varieties of hybrid tomatoes, bred for their commercially attractive characteristics. In the process of specialization, much of tomato diversity and variation of taste has been lost. An example of quality lost in the standardization of the tomato is a genetic mutation that gives tomatoes the classic uniform red color. This mutation sacrifices the fruit’s ability to develop a sweet taste. Because of this, many heirloom tomatoes have a better and more unique taste.

So try something new and pick up some heirloom tomatoes while they’re in season this summer!

Summer Caprese with Heirloom Tomatoes & Balsamic Glaze
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  1. 2-3 large heirloom tomatoes
  2. Mozzarella cheese
  3. 2 bunches of basil
  4. ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
  5. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  6. Salt and pepper
For the reduced balsamic glaze
  1. Pour the vinegar into a sauce pan; heat on medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  2. Simmer on medium for 4-5 minutes until reduced and slightly thickened.
  3. Let cool; vinegar will thicken as it comes to room temperature.
  4. If you want a variation, try throwing 4-6 blueberries in the simmering vinegar and let the fruit boil down with the reduction. The addition of fruit increases the sweetness of the balsamic glaze and adds some interest to the dish, also it makes you look like a legit chef. ;)
For the tomatoes & cheese
  1. Slice tomatoes and cheese into rounds.
  2. Stack the tomato, cheese, and 2-3 basil leaves.
  3. Drizzle cooled balsamic and olive oil over the top.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Serving ideas
  1. Pair with naan bread, heated over the stove top in a buttered saucepan. Drizzle the naan with honey and sprinkled with salt and pepper for the ultimate summer dinner.
Notes about glaze
  1. Reducing the glaze increases the sweetness of the vinegar and changes the texture so that you can pour it over the top of your caprese without it running off. It should taste sweet-tart. I’d really recommend springing for high quality balsamic vinegar as it will really make a difference! Here’s an interesting article on choosing the right vinegar: http://rouxbe.com/tips-techniques/332-how-to-choose-balsamic-vinegar
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