What I’m Into, April 2014

Wow, April.  I can’t believe it’s over and I can’t believe we survived.  After nearly seven months of winter isolation, I got out and about A LOT in April.  It was incredibly fun.

What I’ve been up to:

We spent a weekend in Washington, DC, with our very best friends.  It was so lovely to see them all and to celebrate birthdays and first-zoo-trips and drink coffee at my favorite coffee place ever.

DC

The following weekend I rented a car and drove to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the Festival of Faith and Writing.  It was weird and awkward and wonderful.  I met some really lovely new friends!

ffw dinner group!

Kristin from halfwaytonormal.com // Brenna from brennadambrosio.com // Emily from emmillerwrites.com // Anne from modernmrsdarcy.com

I loved so many of the sessions, but I really started feeling my writerliness in a session with Peter Orner (a non-practicing lawyer who is an MFA professor in San Fran and is from my city!).  His novel Love and Shame and Love is set in Chicago and is waiting for me to finish up a few other things I’m reading.  I’m so excited to read it.

Love and Shame and Love, Peter Orner

Love and Shame and Love, Peter Orner

Sometime that week we also made it to our first Cubs game at Wrigley Field.  The next weekend was Easter Sunday, and we spent the holiday with my friend Brenna and her lovely family.  One of her three daughters sat in my lap all day (except for the parts where she was throwing up everywhere) and H and I both felt like we belonged.  Brenna set a lovely table as well:

Easter Meal

Because we spent so much time out of town this month, it’s been hard to do all of the things I really love to do — such as staying at home in my jammies and watching lots of television.  I’ve seen the season finale of Scandal but I’m still a little behind on all of my shows (which is probably good since the season finales leave me with nothing left to watch all summer!  I should probably try to spread them out a bit, but I’m pretty sure I won’t.)

Instead of a subject-by-subject breakdown of the month, here are a few random things I’ve loved this month:

  1. Dark Chocolate Chili Almond KIND bars.  Holy cow they are delicious and only 200 calories.
  2. Eating healthy(ish).  It’s a work in progress.

  3. Kappa Delta.  The Illinois-Wisconsin State Day was last weekend and it was so fun to attend!  I’d never been to a state day before and I didn’t know how adorable it would be to see my Kappa Delta sisters celebrate 50+ years of sorority membership.  They are a d o r a b l e.  And also, smart and kind and funny and stylish.  And even more – seriously, there’s more – they had Midwestern accents.  I nearly died of happiness.

  4. Body shop bath products.  On a related note, I won a raffle for coconut-scented Bodyshop products and they. are. awesome.  I’ve never been one to spend a lot of money on fancy shower/bath stuff, but my showers have been quite lovely this past week!

  5. Pitch Perfect.  I mean, I think that movie is on TV every single day, but the thing is: it is hilarious every single time.

6.  FUMC at the Chicago Temple.  I have so many notes in my journal and things to write about how lovely it has been, but without getting into all of that, it’s just basically the greatest church I’ve ever gone to.  I can really focus on the sermons and enjoy the services because I’m not counting grammatical or historical or factual errors or constantly crossing and uncrossing my legs to distract myself from completely inappropriate comments about poverty, race, or gender.**  It’s really what I’ve been needing and I’m so glad we found it.

  1. Edward Gorey.  Do you guys know about Edward Gorey?  I totally didn’t, and then I went to this Goreyesque event and I fell totally and completely in love!  Apparently Goreyesque is a celebration of funny morbid creative things, like a short story written from the perspective of a recently deceased seventeen year old who makes fun of his sister’s vapid friend while watching his sister wrestle with the details of his suicide.  Which was sad and hilarious.

8.  Me.  Is that weird to say?  This month I’m totally into me.  I’m into goal setting, I’m into believing in myself, I’m into my writing and my blogging and my spiritual development.  I’m also into my brain: I went to a lawyer training event one afternoon and for a few hours remembered how fun it is to think about the law and how much I love doing that.  So that’s cool, right?  I’m kind of into me right now, and working hard to take care of my whole self (brain/heart/body).

Okay, that’s all I’ve got for you this month!  How are things in your world, and what have you been loving this month?  Leave me a note here or join the link-up over at Leigh Kramer’s blog.

What I'm Into Link-up LeighKramer.com

What I’m Into Link-up
LeighKramer.com

** I’m not blaming other churches for my inability to fit in, but I am excited to have found a congregation where I can be myself.  If you’d like to let me know that feeling these feelings or thinking these thoughts in church is my fault and not the church’s fault I’m happy to receive that feedback below.  Thanks in advance.  ;)

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 4.18.2014

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This Forbes Magazine article introducing a report by the coalition Americans For Tax Fairness that estimates the amount of government assistance awarded indirectly to Walmart.  Their theory is that Walmart is able to make high profits by keeping its employees’ incomes low, and that those employees are able to survive and continue working due to public benefits like food and housing assistance payments.  What makes this theory even weirder is that a huge portion of those food stamps benefits are then spent AT WALMART, thus forming somewhat of a double subsidy to the corporation.  Note: the math/methodology of this report isn’t a perfect science, but it is a quite interesting assessment.  Either way, definitely take a look.

This Festival of Faith and Writing wrap-up piece by my NEW FRIEND(!!!!!) Anne Bogel.  There were some other goods ones too!  Check out the hashtag #ffwGR to learn more about the festival.  I may post my own reflections here, but it’ll be next week which is a little un-timely so if you are interested now, the twitter hashtag is your friend.

This Inc. assessment of whether or not you genuinely love what you do.  I scored 13 out of 15, which means I am “deeply, madly in love with [my] work!”  That’s pretty cool, right?  What is your score?

Last week I read this article at the Harvard Business Review blog and I was like WHAT THE WHAT, if this ever happened to me I would probably quit my job. Basically, one of the CEOs of PepsiCo apparently calls the parents of her Millennial employees to tell those parents just how special and lovely their children are.  This week, my absolute favorite management blog was like WHAT THE HELL.  Thank goodness there are still reasonable people out there on the internet.  And please read the comments here, they are hilarious.  FYI: Your Millennial employees do not want you to call their parents to tell said parents that their children are special snowflakes.  Seriously, don’t.

And finally, for you guys who, like me, aren’t exactly sure what to do when everyone else starts clapping and/or crying in church this week, here’s a little something for you from Kristen Howerton at Rage Against the Minivan.

Okay, that’s five!  What awesome things did you read this week? 

 

A decorating confession…

I had a lot planned for this past weekend and this work week. A serious cough and another polar vortex shut all of that down. I haven’t been outside my apartment since this past Friday, and I’ve been drinking orange juice, ginger ale, and water like nobody’s business.

Regular blog posts will resume shortly, but the schedule may be a little off for the rest of this week. I’m planning to go into the office for at least half a day tomorrow, and I may be too wiped out to keep up with the editorial calendar.

But then again, maybe tomorrow will be awesome. Let’s plan for that, and trust that it will come.

This afternoon I felt well enough to take down the Christmas tree. I wanted to leave it up until Epiphany, and then got busy and never took it down. I know, I know: it’s almost February. But, it’s not February yet.

Leo was very disappointed that the holiday jungle gym went back into the closet.

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The lights on our balcony railings are still up, but we haven’t turned them on in weeks. It’s way too cold for me to take them down! They may just stay out there until Spring. No one can really see them, right?

So, tell me this and don’t sugar coat it: what’s the longest you’ve ever left up the holiday decorations?

What I’m Into, November & December 2013

Today I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been loving this month (and last month too because oops, I forgot).

Watching

  • The Good Wife.  Best show ever.
  • Nashville (of course).
  • White House Down.  My favorite types of movies involve one unexpected hero conquering a room-full of terrorists with his bare hands and good looks.

Reading

  • Sarah Bessey’s Jesus Feminist.  Sometimes I get so annoyed with Americans that I forget that Christianity can be kind of wonderful.  This book reminded me about redemption.
  • Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine.  Seriously, this book was weirdly beautiful and I could see myself writing something like it one day if I ever wrote something like a book.  It’s about eating and loving and feelings and shame and pride and family and risotto.  You should totally read it too.  Highly recommended.

Blogs

  • To be honest, some blogs have been getting on my nerves lately.  Clichés annoy me; I’d much rather find something funny and original online.  When the whole internet starts talking about the same thing and repeating the same three opinions, I start thinking about running away.  There’s been a little bit of that here lately.

The Holidays

  • We had extended periods with family and friends in late November and again in late December, and it was lovely.  Seriously, the best.
  • I got a head start on my plan to be a better friend in 2014, spending some quality time with two of my bridesmaids these past two months and reaching out to several friends to try to reconnect.  AND, I sent Christmas cards with handwritten notes to a lot of people I miss.

Eating

  • Garrett Popcorn.  It is so delicious I could eat it until I exploded.  Luckily I have not exploded yet.
  • Block cheese and Wheat Thins.  Best combo ever.  I’ve been snacking on this all month.
  • La Croix sparkling water.  At first taste it is terrible.  And then something happens, and it is wonderful.  My favorite flavor is grapefruit but I’m still trying new flavors so that could change.

Wearing

  • The largest coat ever.  And it is so warm.  Thank goodness, since the weatherman said it was a windchill of -30* last night.  I honestly just can’t tell the difference between 0* and -30*, or else it wasn’t actually that cold this morning.
  • Double leggings, wool socks, and knee-high boots.  The idea combination for warm legs and rear.  I’ve decided that cuddl’ duds are my favorite, but mostly because they are easy to find and their name is so darn awkward.

Thinking about

  • Planning and goal-setting for 2014.  (Knit my own sweater vest?  Bike 1000 miles?  Eat 1000 cupcakes?)
  • What I want to do next in my career.  (Hardest question ever!)
  • Wes Welker.  I mean, isn’t he lovely?

Two great things I want to share with you

  • Gravy cubes.  It’s my “genius” idea about how to store leftover gravy.  Freeze the leftover gravy into an old plastic ice tray, and then pop the cubes into a freezer bag.  Then, when you feel like having gravy you just pop a cube or two into the microwave.  It’s Thanksgiving every day.
  • Story Sessions.  I joined in July and at first, I was like “what in the world is going on here?” and kind of hid in the back and watched things happen.  And then suddenly in November I realized that I had fallen in love with this community of women writers who love Jesus in their own way and talk about their business and their writing online.  It’s still kind of weird but now it’s the good kind of weird, and I love it.
What I'm Into Link-up LeighKramer.com

What I’m Into Link-up
LeighKramer.com

 

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 12.27.2013

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How to Write: A Year in Advice from Franzen, King, Hosseini, and More, by Joe Fassler in The Atlantic.

Modern Mrs. Darcy’s favorite books of 2013.

A 9-Step Guide on How to Dress for Winter, written by a Djibouti resident helping her kids adjust to Christmas weather in Minnesota.

A wrap-up of the year’s writing prompts over at Ploughshares (a new literary-focused online magazine I’ve recently begun following):  For Those About to Write (We Salute You) #16: Bring on the New Years.

David Marshall’s short essay on Christmas wishes:  All I Want at Signals to Attend.

Two slab pie recipes that I want to try this year (let’s plan a slab-pie party?  Anyone interested?)  Smitten Kitchen’s breakfast version, and then How Sweet It Is’ chocolate cream version.

A Christmas Wish

MerryChristmasPB

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew. “Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

— Scrooge’s nephew addressing Scrooge, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

Let us remember, this Christmas and every day, that we are all fellow-passengers in this life and treat each other kindly, with generosity and respect.

A very Merry Christmas to you and yours.

[Intermission]

I.

I am quiet now.

[forgive the absence]

I feel the pain of friends and family more deeply than before.

 

II.

I’m making plans for the coming year:  plans for a great year, my twenty-eighth.

I’m thinking of the future but also the present, thinking of long-term goals (a down payment maybe? a cozy home with a fireplace?) but also looking at the immediate (vegetable soup for lunch and an outfit I like).

I want to use my minutes more wisely and to pour myself into my friendships.

 

III.

I am sorry for how long it has been since I phoned you.  I am sorry for not coming to visit more often.

This will be the year of visits instead of cards, phone calls instead of text messages.

 

IV.

It is one week until Christmas, two weeks until the new year.  We wait, together, for Christmas to bring Epiphany, for the hope nearly covered by sorrow to bring forth joy.

Come quickly, hope.  Come quickly, joy.

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 12.06.2013 (remix)

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Well, NaBloPoMo kicked my butt (as expected).  I planned to take a few days off to rest after blogging every day for the month of November, and ended up taking off nearly an entire week!  It’s been a good week, long and busy.  I’m preparing for things to start moving very quickly over the next few months in the office, cleaning up after a week of guests (who were remarkably clean for boys), and decorating our apartment for the holiday season.  This weekend I have wreaths to hang, Christmas cards to write, and shopping to do.  Also, now that we are a Pepsi family, I need to find a recipe for Christmas ham that doesn’t use the competitor’s product.

The internet was full of beautiful things this week.

I enjoyed readings surrounding the opening of Advent, which began on Sunday, December 1st.  In the background of the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, there is a strong and steady hope for God to work, waiting for suffering to end, waiting for justice and peace to come.  We’ve lost Nelson Mandela this week, we are surrounded on all sides by death and sickness and darkness and sadness.  It’s a dark and stormy world, but we hold fast, waiting for God to work in our world.

Advent: a Prison Story, Richard Beck, Experimental Theology

In which Advent is for the ones who know longing, Sarah Bessey

Blessings for Benton.  My friend is writing through her journey in the NICU as she sits and hopes and prays while her son fights for his life.  Please sit and wait and pray with me, with her.

And now it’s time to start shopping.

I planned to make you a gift guide to help fill your Christmas shopping needs, but as it turns out there are so many excellent gift guides out there that there’s really no reason for me to try to add to the portfolio of great shopping ideas.  Instead, I’ll mention the sites that I’ve been using for my own shopping inspiration:

A Cup of Jo, check out http://www.joannagoddard.blogspot.com for excellent gift ideas from this year and previous years.  (I’ve linked to one post in particular but there are others for moms, sisters, etc.)

Rage Against the Minivan.  Kristen Howerton has posted a great gift guide for gifts that give back, as well as regular gift suggestions as well.

Sarah Bessey gave us a Christmas gift guide where each item empowers women.

Kendi Everyday.  She started with the “fancy lady” gift guide but has more coming.

How Sweet It Is.  I shared these guides last week but they are still awesome and at least one of the items on my own Christmas list came from here.

 

Thanks for sticking with me over the last month of daily updates, and during this past week of quiet.

 

Photo-blog // Thanksgiving in Nashville

So many moments we forgot to photograph–here are a few we captured:

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Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s been a beautiful (yet freezing) Thanksgiving day in Tennessee. I got enough quiet time to read two more chapters of Sarah Bessey’s Jesus Feminist while my husband and in laws ran five miles. We had breakfast with the in-laws, thanksgiving lunch with my parents, an afternoon with my grandmother, aunt and cousin, and are now back at the in-laws for dinner. And drinking.

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This afternoon we made coffee the old-fashioned way, because the coffee maker at my parents’ house was broken and we just couldn’t have cheesecake without it. We boiled water, poured it over the coffee grounds, steeped for three minutes and then filtered through a Martha Stewart tea towel. (Thanks, Martha.) It was maybe the most fun thing ever, and it tasted great.

I have a few things on my shopping list (mainly cold weather items because holy moly it is freezing in Chicago) but I’m not shopping until Friday or maybe even Saturday. For today, I’ll be at home in solidarity with the hourly workers and retail employees forced into work on this American holiday.

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