Expectations · Inspiration


Today’s beautiful post comes from a woman I’ve had the privilege of getting to know here in Oxford.  She has not just sacrificed career choices or zip codes to help support her husband’s plans in graduate school, she has moved countries, cultures and even languages (English is not her native tongue) on her journey thus far, and this is only the beginning of where their graduate school path will take them. Having never traveled outside of her own country before she met her husband, she has since traveled and moved a great deal.  I hope you enjoy a small part of her story as much as I have and I hope it gives you perspective and encouragement while taking a moment to step back to marvel at the unique and beautiful ways our lives have take different paths than we might have anticipated.  –M.C.


“ What a nice weather!  How lovely they are.   I am watching the old couple who is sitting in my next bench. The husband is holding his wife’s hand tightly.  They are looking at each other with love and smelling sea breeze together.  It seems by years. I am watching that lovely picture and smiling.  And thinking what is my future husband going to look like.  How tall he is? What color his hair is? Where does he live now? What is he doing right now, right now!?”

This was one of my notes I wrote a long time ago before I ever met my husband.

When I wrote these notes, I had a completely different life than now.  I was sure I had already completed my full self-development…all I learned was enough and I was pretty sure I knew how my life would turn out. But there were other surprises for me!

When I met my husband, it was an ordinary day like others.  All I wanted to do was find the cheapest carpet and I found more than a cheap carpet at that souvenir shop!  I found my most special thing!

Not long later we decided to marry.  I’d never left my country before, I’d never had any opportunity to travel around the world.  Life wasn’t very easy for me, and for my generation.  I felt I always had to study and achieve something, I had to deserve my family’s effort for me and I always had to hold in high honour.

That wasn’t their wish for me to marry a foreigner sometime. To let me to leave my country, leave my culture, leave my family? It should have been a nightmare. It was a long and painful period to deal with them and with my friends. That wasn’t just my family who was against the idea, my friends, my relatives and my professors. I decided to not finish my masters degree. That should call “Cultural Shock!”

But thankfully with patience and love, everything changed.  Yes, I had to given up lots of things.  Now I am in a different culture, different language, different side walk, with different friends, different traditions and that wasn’t a picture I thought when I was watching that old couple. But the picture and frame which I have, I love it! There are somethings that still needs to repair in picture but with faith and love nothing is impossible.

“You are my gift from God!” that is what I wrote in my husband’s wedding ring with my hand writing, and that is what he wrote in mine in my language.

God is always ready to give gifts and ready to help us to find the best frames for our pictures of life. It doesn’t matter on which wall it hangs. The wall doesn’t affect the way picture looks, but the picture in a nice frame effects the wall and the whole atmosphere of the room tremendously.   On your graduate wife journey, does your picture look like you had planned it?

Beauty and the Budget

Beauty and the Budget: Project Framed Things II


Following Jill’s post on ‘framed things’, I’m excited to share a few inexpensive tricks from my own flat.

1)   So, I absolutely love it when I come across a series of prints that are similarly framed and lined on a wall as seen here.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore mismatched and funky frame arrangements as well (and many such arrangements can be found in my home) but something about the order and the stability of a few simple prints brings an element of permanence and consistency that is otherwise very hard to achieve.

While being on a budget, it is pretty much impossible (unless you strike gold at a charity shop or boot sale) to find more than one print/drawing and mat and frame that go together.  So, I decided to create my own series.  I am a huge fan of Picasso and Matisse’s sketches, so I decided to just copy some of their simple face images.  You could do a series of your own loose sketches, or even frame a series of fun, brightly colored paintings by your toddler…the possibilities are endless!

I bought 4 matching frames with thick mats at Wal-Mart (of all places) in the states for $10 each and proceeded to carry them back with me in my carry-on at Christmas.  You could also purchase the frames (like Jill mentioned) at some place like Ikea or Argos, here in the UK.  Although a bit more pricey than other tips below, the only costs involved are the large frames!

2)   Sticking with the idea of framing a series of similar items, you could choose to frame postcards, bar coasters from your favorite pubs, pressed leaves from your yard or any number of fun, colorful items that liven up your home.  I bought the below frames at Ikea for £3 each and the vintage postcards were found at the local market for 50p each.  I dug the bins and found some that had women depicted in different settings, clothing and doing different activities.  I have these in my bedroom and I love the feminine glow that they bring.

I also used the same frames to hang some pressed leaves in our living room.  Check out this link for a great guide to properly pressing leaves.  At my old home in DC, I even had framed pieces of flat coral and dried seaweed from a beloved beach trip and it looked amazing.  Be creative!

3)   My last money saving tip for lovely but inexpensive framed wall décor comes in the form of wrapping paper.   I cut out the little egg section below (actually used on a gift from my friend Sarah)  and popped it in this $3 frame that I found at a yard sale in DC.  I have the below map of England framed in our flat and it’s total cost was £4.  The frame was £1 at a local charity shop and the map itself is actually a sheet of fancy wrapping paper from Paperchase that cost £3.  You could find the equivalent at Papersource in the states.  I also have the adorable ABC sheet of wrapping paper up on the back of our nursery door to teach our daughter the ABCs.

More tips: Check out these gorgeous calendars which could be used to cut and frame.  In our daughter’s nursery back in DC, I found a beautiful old nursery rhythm book at a yard sale and I cut out pages and framed them to line her walls.  It was absolutely precious and  so original.  Be creative…the possibilities truly are endless!  Keep your eyes open and frame away!