merry christmas.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

[card designed by my BFF]
This Christmas, we're far from home but thankful that we can still celebrate here in China.
Merry Christmas from Ruth & David.

black and metallic.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

1 // 2 // 3
you know how i love my golds and rose golds.
black with a hint of metallic adds the perfect edge to a classic.

Lately, December.

a few of my favorite instas from lately... is it obvious that i have a pup obsession?
it's getting cold in Shanghai, but the sun still shines every once in a while.
as long as I get the occasional puppy sighting, cappuccino, and sunny afternoon walk,
i am a pretty happy girl.
oh, and my thesis proposal is in! yippee!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

If you would have told me that I would be celebrating my 26th birthday in Shanghai, I would have said no way... China? I've actually really been looking forward to this birthday, even though it means that my early twenties are officially over. Maybe some sort of transformation happened in the move across the world, but I feel so much wiser and so much more confident. As I was telling Dave, I finally feel like I can go to a nice restaurant and feel like I'm finally grown-up enough to belong there.

Some thoughts on things that I have learned in my early twenties:
Seek out help. If there's one thing I would tell my younger self, it would be to seek out help, often. I've spent way too much time trying to figure things out on my own when I could have just asked a professor or a friend. I think that a significant part of this is the willingness to be vulnerable and to put yourself out there and admit that you don't have it all figured out. I would tell my younger self to find a mentor (or a few) and learn all I could from that person.
Practice gratitude. There's a quote by Melody Beattie (found via Lululemon) that says, "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." I love this quote. Practicing gratitude every day by writing down and thanking God for what I'm thankful for has absolutely changed my attitude and perspective on money, work, and family life.
Pursue excellence, not perfection. I tend to make myself a victim of the 'All or Nothing' mindset -- that if I can't do it perfectly, I shouldn't bother. That mindset has gotten in the way of producing good work because what this mindset is really about is laziness. I guess you could say that one of my goals is 'Be less lazy.' Doing excellent work lets you stand out, brings glory to God, and opens opportunities for the future. Which brings me to my next lesson.
Good enough is good enough. This isn't about not striving. This is about being ok with not always hitting the target. It's the striving that counts. I don't need to check off every item on my to-do list at the end of the day either. I'm thankful for what I've accomplished.
Stay nimble. I'm so thankful that we have had the freedom to pick up and move to China for a year (maybe more). I definitely have specific aspirations, but I have to remind myself that flexibility is the key to going where you are needed (and called). Who knows where we'll be living and what we'll be doing in five years? I just know that I've had great learning experiences and that every experience is bringing me that much closer to who God wants me to be.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. I love this quote from Colin Powell: "Throughout my career, I've always tried to do my best today, think about tomorrow, and maybe dream a bit about the future. But doing your best in the present has to be the rule." I truly believe that wherever we are, we're here for a reason. We have unique talents, resources, and opportunities, and I think the key to making these work is stewardship -- taking what you have and making the most of it.
Lean in. I'm not worried about what kind of work I'll be doing when I have a larger family. I used to think that I should go into certain fields because it would offer me "flexibility." But that's living for a life that I don't have yet. So I'm going to keep working towards big goals, and if I need a break when the time comes, I'll take it.
Strive to thrive joyfully. This is my dad's catch phrase and my new mantra in life. It's about balance and prosperity. I've incorporated reading and reflection time into my daily routine, which has made loads of difference for my quality of life. Working too much and playing too much are both just too much. I've found that finding joy in my work is so much easier when I've eaten well, exercised and rested.
Stay curious. On my list of things to learn: watercolor painting, finance, coding, and poker. Some of these are things that are a big part of Dave's life, and I'm looking forward to being able to share in them.
Make your goals known. I tend to keep my goals a secret because I was afraid of what would happen if I didn't accomplish them. Embarrassment, maybe. Or feelings of failure. But sharing goals is actually really validating. You're opening yourself up to criticism (constructive or otherwise), but also encouragement.
Invest in rest. Prayer, reflection, quiet time -- these things are so necessary to my daily functioning. Time spent resting is time well spent.
Build a community. Family and friends are such big parts of our lives. I have my hermit ways, but taking the time to have people over for dinner or meet for lunch is about investing in people and relationships. I haven't always been the best at building community, but it is something that I'm continually striving for.
Dream in color. Another one of my dad's catch phrases that I love. This is about making your dreams bigger and dreaming more vividly. I was so good at this at a child. I really thought that I would be Secretary of State of head of a publishing company by the time I was 35.
Just do it. Whenever I start thinking that I really should do something, but I'm not sure if I have time to finish it and I'm kind of tired, I just start. I've found that just the act of starting sets the process of working in motion. Even if I don't end up finishing, I've usually accomplished a big bulk of the work.
Comparison is a dangerous game to play. Comparing myself to other people has gotten me into a lot of trouble spiritually. I've been jealous, I've spent money on myself that I should have given to the church, and I've lost confidence and feelings of self-worth. Absolutely, at all costs, avoid comparison. Reminding myself of what I have to be thankful for and also focusing on my strengths has been my antidote to this.
Play on your strengths. Instead of just focusing on "improving" myself in certain areas, I want to play more on my strengths, making them qualities that make me invaluable (and unique).
Work smarter. I work way more efficiently early in the morning. While sipping on a cup of coffee, between 8-11 a.m., I find that I can get three times as much done than I can once 4 p.m. rolls around. I've learned to prioritize (most of) my tasks, so that I can focus on the more important things earlier on in the day, and leave easier tasks for the less energetic times in my day.
Live simply so that others can simply live. My parents are an awe-inspiring example of generosity in action. No fancy cars, houses, vacations, dinners out. No big purchases, new clothing, or expensive hobbies. Yet they paid for college, fully fund scholarships and financially support their church and countless people both here and abroad. I aspire to live like them. I'm thankful for the opportunity to live more simply here in China with fewer expenses and fewer belongings.

In her book, Happier at Home, Gretchen Rubin writes, "I wanted to experiment with an additional strategy: to choose a single word or phrase as an overarching theme for the entire year."
With bigger goals and more opportunities and choices, this year, more than ever, it seems like I need a theme for the year to keep my focus narrowed. my one word: intentional.
intentional about pursuing friendships.
intentional about how I choose to spend my time.
intentional about my goals and the actions I take to pursue those goals.
I've made the mistake before of spreading myself too thin -- trying to take on too much and then burning out too early. If there's one thing I would tell my younger self, it would be, choose to do just a few things, but do them well.
I've set clear, but limited, objectives for myself this year. In order to reach those objectives, there are things that I won't be able to do. Trade-offs. This year, I will make deliberate choices -- about time, work, and relationships.

Along with my theme for the year, I want to add a verse -- my own personal verse for my 26th year:
"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns."
-Philippians 1:6

glitter and gold.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

1 // 2 // 3

I'm starting new series, top three thursday, with a few recent favorites. I would never wear all three of these at the same time, but I do love a hint of sparkle (and some alliteration) in my wardrobe. Reminds me of twinkle lights... so festive!


Thursday, November 22, 2012


for family.
i'm thankful.

Oh boy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

this upcoming Thanksgiving dinner may be the highlight of my month.
yes, i'm working on my lit review.
yes, i'm still doing my pilates workouts.
yes, i know that there are more important things to think about. 
but the only words going through my brain right now are BROWN BUTTER. CANDIED BACON. PUMPKIN PIE. FREE FLOW WINE.
it's embarrassing how many times i've texted dave a countdown to our thanksgiving dinner.
like, hourly.

i know the absence of family and friends (thank God for Dave!) will hit me like a rock on thanksgiving, so i'm especially thankful for something to look forward to.
we've hosted the past two thanksgiving dinners, and i still love perusing for recipes (some eats i would be making if i were hosting thanksgiving: mains, sides, and treats to take home).
 but this year, it'll be a refreshing change to just show up for our reservation.
hooray for an international thanksgiving celebration!

good thoughts.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

via design is mine. original from 365 days of hand lettering.

A reminder that thoughts guide our words.
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things."
-Philippians 4:8


Monday, November 12, 2012

I can do anything for 40 minutes.

That's what I tell myself when I'm teaching, when I'm doing CrossFit-esque workouts, when I'm paper-writing. And I'm usually successful.
Forty is my magic number.
This week, I'm starting a new workout plan: Slim & Strong in Six.... a six-week online Pilates program with four 40-minute workouts a week. I'm a person who needs the structure of an online class, who needs structure in general. This program is so perfectly timed: right before and through the holiday season/ busiest part of the semester when stress relief is so necessary.
Then tonight, I listened to a message by one of my favorite writers, Shauna Niequist. Her message on friendships, on trust and truth, on becoming more and more like Christ, was so dead on.  In the message, she mentions giving up negative words for lent. For forty days, she gave up gossiping, complaining. About anything or anyone. She talked about how hard it was. Negative words are sneaky. I've noticed in my life, how prone I am to negative words, how easily I complain about work, waiting in line, taxi drivers. How easily I can use sarcasm and assign blame. I think this is a good a time as any to begin to change that. So here's to forty days of no negative words, starting today.

I'm excited about these baby steps towards improvement. Physically. Spiritually.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"It’s all a matter of paying attention, being awake in the present moment, and not expecting a huge payoff. The magic in this world seems to work in whispers and small kindnesses."
—Charles de Lint

quote via this is glamorous

I like the idea of this, this taking advantage of the present. This being awake.
Because my work day is broken into 40 minute periods, I have a hyperawareness of time. I value this time. I know how much I can get done in just five minutes.
And so the days go by slowly, and so do the weeks.
And nothing big happens, except that each week, I get the work done that I need to do.
I like working. I like feeling like I've accomplished something with my day, even just a lot of little things. It's about using the time that God gave me. It's about putting my head down and doing what I'm here to do. And then, it's about looking up and appreciating the sunshine. And the students who say hi in the hallway. And the solitude of that afternoon getaway to Starbucks where the barista makes the latte perfectly, extra hot and frothed to the brim.

Halloween time.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

last year.
this year.
last year this time, i was co-hosting a halloween party with my sister, and husband, winston and i were dressed up as a spider family.
this year, we have lots of actual spiders living with our family. winston is dressed up as the cutest little sheriff in town, and we're spending time together via skype instead.
i sure do miss that fur baby.


Monday, October 29, 2012

autumn weather calls for vests. fluffy, faux microsuede vests.
i just joined the club.

One of those days.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Today is one of those days.
One of those, "hey kids, i'm going to show you a few problems, then you're going to be quiet and do this worksheet" kind of days.
One of those days when my head isn't all all here, this migraine just won't go away, and i'm fighting to keep my eyes open, and all I really want is to be able to take nap in my always-slightly-damp bed (what is it with the moisture here, China?) until Dave comes home. Upon which I will forget that I have homework to do and midterms to make, and we will sip on mojitos at the Shanghai Brewery with all the other expats and then go home and watch Nashville.

It's one of those resting days.
So many days I just want to get. things. done.
Today is a quiet day. A breather day. A walk to Starbucks and enjoy the sunshine day.
The truth is, sometimes I need one of those days.
As much as I love the process of working, I think it's healthy to put in on the back burner sometimes.
So I'm taking a break to send some long overdue emails, listen to Mumford (gosh, how good is the new album?), go home early, and skype with my pup.
All that work? it'll still be here tomorrow.

Guyi Gardens.

Take line 11 north to Nanxiang, follow the brown signs, walk 15 minutes, and you'll come to this place on your right: Guyi Gardens.
It's a little oasis set in the Shanghai suburbs and the town where xiao long bao originated.
The greenery is lush, most of the garden is shaded, and it was surprisingly uncrowded.
We didn't know that soup dumplings were available at the tea house on the garden grounds, so we headed to the restaurant next door. For just 25 kuai, we ate enough dumplings to fill us both up.
I wouldn't go out of my way to come back here when there's so much more to see in China, but for a Saturday afternoon excursion that's reachable via metro, these gardens made for a great city escape.


Monday, October 22, 2012

This Moroccan-themed restaurant/lounge has been our go-to place for weekend drinks and a rooftop happy hour. We first came here for Dave's birthday dinner. Set in the middle of People's Park, the ambiance is perfect. Add a hookah and half-priced drinks, and we're sold. Not to mention the banana liqueur, Bailey's, and cream layered shooter (my new favorite). Barbarossa does it best.

Shanghai, lately.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sometimes I wake up, and for a second, I forget that I'm in Shanghai.
That I live in China.
The place where men on bikes come down the alleyway at 6am ringing bells to collect cardboard.
The place with notoriously uncomfortable beds.
The place where you can get McDonald's delivered to your door in eight minutes.
The place where a tiny bag of candy corn costs 7 USD.
The place of easy breezy public transportation and awesome happy hours (complimentary filet mignon sandwiches, yes please!).
Sometimes, I wonder, what the heck am I doing here?
I have never before lived somewhere where, in all this newness and confusion and soul-searching and God-seeking, I am so thankful for the little things.
For the one bagel shop in the city.
For the person who points out that I dropped my metro card.
For the Chinese teacher who chats with me at lunch.
For all the places I get to visit with my best friend.
For the sunshine that isn't quite like California sunshine but still manages to make the day brighter.
Shanghai is a place of gratefulness.

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