Boarding School – remembering things that have laid a foundation for my life.

I moved around a whole lot when I was little – with both parents in the Navy it was guaranteed we would be somewhere new every three years or shorter and I was always starting a new school. I believe between pre-k to middle school I went to something like 14 different schools. I lost track at some point. I didn’t have any siblings so I always had this “me against the world” feeling and I totally loved it. I got so used to always being new it made me very outgoing and eager to meet new people. A skill that I think really helps me out today. I’d lived in Hawaii, Rhode Island and England (several different locations in each) all by the time I was 7. All of those things shaped who I am today and I wouldn’t trade the awesome experiences that I had for anything.

So wrapped in all that information are several facts that you may or may not know about me (even if we have been friends for a long time, sometimes it just doesn’t come up): I’m an only child, I went to a british boarding school when I was 8 and had the most proper british accent. We moved back to the states, California specifically, before I was 10 and I promptly lost my accent (after a certain age most people retain their accent but when you are young you pick up accents and drop them easily) I’m sad though, it would have been so cool to still have a british accent. However, now I’m just a jumbled mess of accent, people ALWAYS ask me where i’m from because I don’t sound like anywhere in particular.

I am telling you all of these things because I just was thinking to myself about how many things I probably don’t know about some of my closest friends. I never “grew up” with one group of friends that I know everything about. A lot of my friends have completely the opposite experiences.

Boarding school – what a cool chapter of my life. Here in the U.S. everyone automatically thinks you were a wild child for going to boarding school but it is very common in Europe to attend prep schools and boarding schools as just normal kids. In my case, my parents were stationed somewhere with not a lot of kids my age so I asked to go to school there because I knew a friend that was there.

I came across my boarding school online tonight and I just couldn’t help but share it. It is called Hanford and while I know there have been many changes since I was there some 18 or so years ago, the pictures on the website are just as I remember the school. An old mansion with a lot of rooms and some very long standing traditions that make sense to no one else other than Hanford “old girls” as all the alumni are called.

I really cherish the time that I had there and just wonder what kinds of experiences other people have had that seemed totally normal at the time but now that you look back on it you realize that it was a truly unique once in a lifetime kind of deal?

Here are some pics of the school – totally reminds me of some of the scenes from Harry Potter. Below is the dining hall. We had a chart of table manners that started at piglet and went to Royal Guest. You did not want to stay at the piglet level long. Great way to teach manners! I still utilize those manners today.

This is a view of the main school building where most of the dorms are for the younger girls. There were all sorts of rules and if you know me at all then you know that I was often in trouble. For me, this was like a huge sleepover every night. I lived in one dorm that had 4 girls and then the next term there were like 10 or 12 of us in a large dorm. A bunch of 8-9 year olds = trouble. For sure. Below is the back of the school and the large lawn and then the bottom is the front of the school. Huge old mansion.

Do you have some random adventures from childhood that you love to share?



Never To New To Change It Up A Little

Sorry for my brief absence. I have been doing a lot of thinking about the direction that I want the Bella Mandarin blog to take. I of course love sharing all my tutorials and random tips I come across along the way. I also plan to have a page up here in the near future so you can purchase some of the items that I make. However, I have been really feeling lead to talk more about my life – struggles, triumphs, falls flat on my face and most of all the brokenness that we all experience at some time or another.

I know i’ve only been around a couple of months, but i’ve been planning this blog and business for far longer than I have been posting. Thanks so much to all of my friends and family members who have encouraged me to continue blogging and making crafty items.

My biggest thing right now: finding a job. I recently moved back home as I shared with you before and need to find a job here. I have been searching and applying and praying constantly that I will get that call for that next great opportunity. This is a tough process, I want to be back in the working world and doing something but I want to do something with a purpose and at a place that I feel like I will both contribute to their organization but at the same time grow personally. This is one of those struggles that can easily knock you down but I have faith that God’s plan is bigger and much more purposeful than mine and as long as I do my part with applying and continuing to search, I know he will put  me exactly where he has known I will go.

Another thing that I think a lot of people don’t talk about and they should: depression. The number of people that suffer from various forms of this disease is huge and it can take a very serious toll on your health, relationships and every aspect of your life. This disease took my best friend from me just a couple of years ago. This one moment has shaped and changed the way I think about and do everything. This friend meant so much to me. Was one of the few people I was ALWAYS real with. I miss her and I think about her everyday. There is such a stigma attached to depression and I want to write about it to be real with everyone. This is a very real and serious disease and there is nothing wrong with seeking help, in fact it makes you pretty brave to step forward and take control of something that can have such control over you. I know from personal experience.

I also just got out of an almost three year relationship with a man that I love very much and will always care about. He truly is my best friend. I am so fortunate. It has been a struggle but I know that God has plans for both of us and whether our paths will cross again, only God knows, but no matter how much I know God has it all figured out – it is still tough. You share a lot – laughs, cries, fights, support, etc. and we had some especially tough life things that we went through together and I can tell you that nothing can change that bond and if you are struggling with something like this, just pray. God has given me peace and understanding that he has it all under control I need only focus on what he has for me now.

We all have the times where we are on top of the world but on the flip side we all also have those moments or periods in life where we hit a valley and we aren’t quite sure how we will make it out. Rest assured that God’s got the plans and he will never give you more than you can handle. My sweet friend C told me once “God will never show you Gold and give you Silver” and that runs through my head anytime I feel overwhelmed. It is true.

I appreciate everyone of you who read through my updates and new blog posts and I just feel that it is important to share things close to my heart while also sharing recipes, crafts and helpful ideas. That is what friends do after all – the good the bad and the in between.