Wow. I can hardly believe that today is May 1, 2017. This year is flying by. I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer and sharing a few highlights from the month of April!
The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood.
The Handmaid’s Tale was published in 1985 but I had never heard of it until it was recommended to me earlier this year by my friend (and English professor) Katherine, who always gives great book recommendations. I think she knew that this book was being remade into a television series for HULU and she was looking out for me, trying to keep me culturally relevant. I was leaving a party at her house, and she had two copies sitting out on the table, and she gave me one copy and another mutual friend the second copy and said IT WAS NECESSARY that we read each this book. So, a pretty strong recommendation.
[Also, I feel like it is important to clarify that by “party”, I mean six people eating snacks and watching the Super Bowl, not an actual party like young people go to. Solidly in my 30s now.]
I just finished reading it yesterday morning, and I have SO MANY FEELINGS. It was so REAL and also so completely INSANE and while I cannot wait to watch the show, I am also a little scared that it may be harder to watch than it was to read. I highly recommend that you join me on this bandwagon that I did not know I was on.
The Cherry Blossom 5K.
For the second year in a row, H and I ran in the Cherry Blossom 5K. Last year was my first-ever race, and this was my second-ever race, with the main difference between the two being that this year I had the flu and did not train. Like, I did not run a single time in the year 2017 before the race. (I had been biking though.) However, the weather was FANTASTIC and it was a perfect day to run, and I finished in only one minute longer than last year’s race time. I find that pretty impressive even if other people finished twice as fast as I did. After the race we went here for brunch, which was only mediocre to be honest.
It is finally sandal weather here in DC and I have been rocking my gold birks every weekend (except for when it is raining). I purchased these sandals last year before our two-week trip to France because I needed something that would be easy to walk in but still look cute with summer dresses. I do not think it is an overstatement to say that these shoes saved me on that trip! We were walking 30,000 to 35,000 steps a day in Paris, Dijon, etc. and these sandals did not let me down. They are casual and comfortable, but I still feel like they are just a little special. I also received a compliment from a stranger on them at the grocery store today. They were a pretty big investment for me, as I’m not generally one to spend a lot on shoes, but I think they were totally worth the price. (FYI, I usually wear a size 9 but for this sandal I bought the 8-8.5.)
OPI Toucan Do It If You Try.
I have reached the stage in life where I like to have one (and honestly, only one) color of nail polish that I wear all of the time, and that color is: bright coral. It’s good for my skin tone. Anything bluish gives me zombie feet, and after a few mishaps trying to be on-trend I just wear coral. My true favorite is called Can’t Afjord Not To but this Toucan coral is basically the same and I only wear it. It looks cute with my shiny gold birks.
We have developed a new appreciation for the great state of Delaware this month. At the beginning of the month, we spent a surprise beach weekend at Bethany Beach in our landlord’s unexpectedly vacant beach house (see dock photo above). It was still pretty chilly that weekend, so we kept the fire blazing, bundled up in sweaters, drank whiskey and played the train game with friends. We made these waffles (delicious), walked the beach, ate at this restaurant and it was all-around fabulous.
Then, this past weekend we traveled to Newark, Delaware to attend the University of Delaware’s Agriculture Day 2017. We participated in scientific research about dairy products and lawn equipment, which earned us enough cash to buy tomato and basil plants, a little handmade pottery, and plenty of UDairy ice cream (I had the 1st State Cobbler). AND THERE WERE BABY ANIMALS.
April 2017 was a generally fantastic month! Unmentioned above, but we also had a lovely Easter, and I hope you did too. One quick addition: if you love beer and you love coffee and you haven’t tried the Shiner Birthday Beer cold brew collaboration beer, I highly recommend finding it before it is gone.
Here’s to a fabulous May (ah it’s May Day // The Handmaid’s Tale // What does it mean???)!
So May was kind of awesome. It was my first month at home for the E.N.T.I.R.E. month — no work or personal travel of any kind — and it was lovely. I’ve been soaking in the smaller joys of life as we prepare for the summer months and hopefully a steady stream of visitors. The weather in Chicago is still very March-ish to me, but summer is slowly beginning to show its face.
I’ve been reading Marina Keegan’s The Opposite of Loneliness (review coming soon here on the blog) and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. I started and finished the entire Divergent series when we were on vacation last month and so my book completion rate has multiplied exponentially this quarter.
I watched all the finales (I think) but most of them were so forgettable that I can’t even remember which ones I enjoyed. Which is saying something. Game of Thrones has been excellent though — this season is the best yet.
And I’m bummed about Mindy Kaling’s show, Mindy, being canceled — it wasn’t a show I anticipated from week to week, but I enjoyed its light-hearted take on romance. I missed the last half of this season because I was doing other things, so I’ll be catching up on its ending when it becomes available for free. (Comcast we pay A LOT for onDemand, so you really should have given me time to watch this season before taking Mindy off the free replay list. I mean, seriously.)
This month was H’s birthday, and we did some fun things around the city to celebrate. First up was a unique Ben Folds concert at the Fourth Presbyterian Church here in Chicago. The Church was right next door to the hotel we stayed in when we first came to Chicago to look for an apartment, and it was a fun little date. It was also totally weird to see and hear Ben Folds rocking out in his special way inside a church. Every time he said a curse word the crowd murmured with awkwardness. “Can he say that here?” (In case you are wondering, yes. No obvious repercussions.)
Then, we had the most glorious birthday dinner at Stephanie Izard’s restaurant The Girl and The Goat. For H, there is nothing better than a fancy restaurant with a menu created by a Top Chef contestant. (It cost a lot more pennies than my favorite place, Burger Bar. And I had to wear a dress, so I’m just saying burgers and beers remain superior in my book.)
This month H has been grilling a lot and we’ve been eating grilled chicken, veggies, and quinoa every single day for lunch. (Well, not every day but you hear me. I made lentil soup one week.) I’ve also decided that my ideal Summer beverage is a 12 oz. can of Shiner.
We’re working hard to not over-purchase groceries, which means we are meal planning and using up things in our freezer. We had a strawberry-cherry crisp one weekend for breakfast to use up some yummy frozen strawberries we had (thanks Mom!) and we’ve eaten up all of the green beans from my parents’ garden last summer. I’m not sure why I’m such a hoarder of freezer things, but I’m working to change that. As the kids say, #yolo or whatever, right? So we are eating our delicious frozen goodies.
Seeing the Midwest
We made two fun day trips up to Wisconsin. (We are trying to make Wisconsin my new West Virginia. Although I do not love it like I love West Virginia. Country roads, take me back to Harper’s Ferry please.)
We spent a Saturday afternoon and evening in Milwaukee where we enjoyed delicious frozen custard and visited the Bronze Fonz. We took a brewery tour and we attended a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game. I actually really loved Milwaukee and would like to visit again — and I have an important question for any Milwaukeeans out there: why are there SO MANY clocks on the buildings? I mean, that is a lot of clocks.
And then we took a longer drive up past Madison to Devil’s Lake. We hiked, fished (I caught the first fish and it was the largest!), enjoyed the scenery and ate cheese curds. Because Wisconsin. It was my first time fishing from a canoe and I hated how wobbly it was. But otherwise it was super fun.
What I’m Wearing
Clothing during the Chicago not-winter-not-summer is super confusing. Some days I’m in sleeveless dresses and sandals in the morning and then a rainstorm comes in and it’s freezing on the way home. Other days I still need sweaters, long pants, socks and boots. There is no consistency and it is completely unpredictable and I generally have no idea what to wear. Fortunately fashion is not a high priority where I work.
However, there is one thing I have been consistently wearing that I can heartily recommend: Tarte Lipsurgence Liquid Lip Shine, in Exquisite. I am terrible at lip gloss, lip stick, lip-anything. Terrible. But I ordered a Tarte makeup kit from QVC and this is the greatest and best lip product I have ever owned and I am wearing it all the time. (I mean, not every day because I forget, but I do really like it.)
On the Internet
It’s been a few months since I’ve really been paying attention to the internet (I’ve missed you!) but there are a few things that I’ve been loving. I started following a few new blogs/websites, including Hollywood Housewife and Darling Magazine. And I really enjoy the writing at Grantland.com even though its geared toward sports fans. (Looks like my husband is wearing off on me!) I’ve also been listening to a lot of podcasts, and am particularly enjoying Happier by Gretchen Rubin and The Right Reasons (it’s all about reality TV and it is HILARIOUS).
I’m falling hard for the writing and editing team I’m working with at The Mudroom. I’m still learning who each of these strong women are at their cores, where they are from and what makes them tick, but it’s a wonderful community and I’d love for you to check it out. Here are two of my favorite posts to date: one, two.
And, suddenly I’m really into Pinterest again. Follow me here if you want to.
Have you been doing anything awesome this past month? And: how are you? It’s been ages.
To check out more monthly wrap-ups and get tons of book and music recommendations, head over to Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into link-up! I always find really good stuff there.
December was an unexpected month. I mean, not that exactly — I absolutely knew that December would come after November, as did everyone else who uses the Gregorian calendar or is at least four years old and living in the Western hemisphere. I mean more that this December wasn’t what I expected.
Going through the month, I felt like the days were passing too quickly and I couldn’t keep up. I searched for “Christmas spirit” everywhere but couldn’t seem to find it. I did not bake a single batch of cookies the entire month. For a girl who likes to bake at least a half-dozen recipes, bring cookies and such into work or drop goodies off at friends’ homes, and save a sampler platter to bring to her Dad in Tennessee, that was a pretty low blow for everyone involved.
While it was happening, it didn’t feel like anything. I didn’t really know what I was walking through. I didn’t really blog (sorry readers), I didn’t really work out (sorry pants), and I didn’t read very much or complete any more of the awesome online classes I started. I barely finished listening to Serial. Looking back, though, I can see that this past December was so good for me. December was a month where my loneliness was met week after week by lovely new friends.
The thing about being career-minded and married and moving to a new city as an adult is that your friends are often very far away. Instead of seeing them every other day, you see them just once or twice each year. It’s natural to feel lonely in your new city. But, if you are like me, you might not recognize that loneliness even when it is filling your life. I apparently confuse it with things like work stress, seasonal allergies, or the crippling emotional blow that is entering another winter in Chicago. (I mean, seriously. It is cold.) And then I convince myself that work stress, allergies, or cold weather are good reasons NOT to go out and spend time with new friends, which compounds the loneliness that I haven’t even noticed I have.
I can be such a dummy.
The past six weeks my Chicago people and out of town guests totally rejuvenated me. Thanks to Abby for visiting pre-Thanksgiving and reuniting me with some lovely ladies I hadn’t seen in too many months. Thanks to the awesome book release party for connecting me with people I care about but haven’t seen in ages. Thanks to little girls who take dance classes and brought me to my first-ever showing of the Nutcracker (FYI the Nutcracker is WEIRD!) — and to the awesome hosts of the post-performance shindig. Thanks to the friend who came to stay with us for a week while attending a conference in the city. Thanks to my awesome family and in-laws for fun activities and hang outs over the holidays, and thanks especially to the two couples that joined us here in our Chicago apartment for New Years’ Eve fireworks. I had forgotten how much fun it was to relax, sip on homemade cocktails, bake a cake, and just have fun.
I watched some TV and read a few books and went to some cool places over the last month, but I’ll catch you up on those things later. For now, when I think about this December, I think about you. Thanks, friends, for making this life more awesome.
As I usually do, today I’m linking up with the fabulous Leigh Kramer to share what I was into during the previous month. For great shows to watch, books to read, recipes to try and internet things to click on, check out all of the posts here.
I’ve started this post a number of times, but I haven’t been able to finish. Maybe this time.
It’s been rough. I am sad. And angry.
– – –
Apparently people write things on the internet when they see bad things all around them. A lot of people write mean things or stupid things or racist things or angry things — but I don’t really know how to do that. Right now I can only feel the feelings and ask the questions and read the books.
I don’t think the solutions to systemic injustices in our world are so straightforward that random people on the internet know what they are talking about. I want to hear the real-life stories of pain and injustice from those who are experiencing it. I want to hear about ways to fix our world or seek justice or reconcile communities from the people who actually study this kind of thing and work toward it regularly. And if you aren’t one of those people then I don’t really want to hear from you. Instead, I’d like for you to stop talking, sit with me, and listen. Then maybe you’ll feel sad and angry too, and we can learn about how to make things better without making them worse.
That’s not really a good thing for a blogger to say, is it? Unfortunately it’s true right now. I find Facebook incredibly depressing.
– – –
But this past month wasn’t all bad. Even when the world is dark and sad, I strongly believe that being alive is baller. Here’s a rundown of what I was up to last month:
What I’m Reading:
This month I’ve been reading about hopelessness and war and death and racism and American criminal law. I’m three classes into this open course about American literature after World War I. I’m three chapters into this book on race and American criminal law. I’m also reading Amy Poehler’s hilarious book Yes Please. Which I enjoy, but wish was more vulnerable and revealing. It’s a bit of a shallow read.
What I’m Watching:
This month I’ve been watching all the television shows. I don’t like the trend of shows taking winter breaks, not coming back with new episodes until January. Do you guys remember back in the “good ole days” when Alias had 22 episodes per season? We need to get that back. What is up with HBO’s last season of The Newsroom having only seven episodes? Not cool.
I still enjoy Madam Secretary the most of this year’s new shows, but State of Affairs has captured my interest — although it is too early to tell if it will be keeper. It’s nice having Katherine Heigl back! Parenthood continues to be awesome, and I’m secretly loving Agents of Shield. I’m not sure it’s cool to say that on the internet but it is true.
What I’m Listening To:
This month I’ve started listening to podcasts, and now I love them. For blogging I like the How They Blog podcast. For road trips I like Serial and This American Life. What are your favorite podcasts? Hook me up!
I’m also looking for some new music. Do you have any favorite current bands or artists? I haven’t bought a new album in probably a year. I tend to forget that I’m allowed to do things like purchasing new music, and go for months at a time without even thinking “Hey, I’m allowed to choose music that I like and to listen to it just because I want to!” And then I remember, but I don’t know what’s cool because my favorite band is still CAKE and I think they stopped being a band about ten years ago. Help me out!
What I’ve Been Doing:
Voting. This month I voted as a Chicago resident for the first time. While the lines were honestly shorter than I expected, there was only one voting machine per precinct! Each voter had to wait in line to vote electronically or vote on a paper ballot. I used the electronic voting machine because there wasn’t a line when I arrived.
Getting a massage. This month I had my first massage in two years, and it was fantastic! I think it was perhaps the best massage I had in my entire life. Thanks Shaney!
Painting. My friend Lindsay and I wanted to try a painting night so we scheduled the November KD event at a nearby Bottle and Bottega location and — true story — it was so fun! Following instructions while painting and talking to friends is a little stressful, but if you try to stay loose you can make something really beautiful! (No photos here because I’m totally gifting my painting creation to my mom for Christmas. Because there’s nothing more appreciated than hand-made crafts by your 28-year-old daughter.)
Working. A lot. I spent the week before Thanksgiving working in DC, and it was a great week. My team was very productive and while I didn’t get the friend time I can normally squeeze into my evenings while there, I had a few professional firsts and headed home feeling great. My work continues to be challenging and full of surprises and I absolutely love it. Most of the time. :)
Hanging out with Accidental Devotional’s Abby Norman! The weekend before Thanksgiving (and right after my work trip), Abby Norman and her husband showed up to spend the weekend hanging in my Chicago condo and attending a communications conference downtown. It was so lovely to spend some time having awesome conversations with my friend. Our oven was broken all weekend so I didn’t do a lot of cooking for the Normans (sorry!), but we made up for it with a deep dish pizza taste-off.
Eating turkey and relaxing in Tennessee. After just one workday and a day of medical appointments, H and I drove down to Tennessee (with Winston!) to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. Our Thanksgiving was wonderful and I hope yours was too! I loved seeing my family and friends and I also loved sitting by the fire and reading. A lot. It’s my favorite way to relax. (Maybe if I had a yard with a fire pit I would watch less television and read more books? Maybe we should just buy a house already so I can find out? Great idea!)
I’m linking up today with Leigh Kramer to share What I’m Into. It’s a great way to find shows to watch, bands to follow, books to read — all of the cool things that cool people are into right now. Click through here to see all of the posts!
Thanks for sticking with me here during a month of very little posting. Sorry about that. Here’s to an excellent December. Happy Holidays.
It’s been a while since we talked about makeup, so I wanted to share a few items I’ve been using lately.
Drugstore Makeup Finds
After a year or more of using Laura Gellar’s baked foundation, it started looking a little orange. Perhaps I was using the wrong kind of brush, or should have tried a lighter color, but I got tired of looking orange and randomly grabbed Revlon’s ColorStay Makeup hoping it would do the job while I searched out a new favorite foundation to wear. I was surprised when I liked it so much! It does require sponge application — which I basically hate, because it’s so hard to keep a clean sponge on-hand — but it is smooth and it definitely lasts all day. I’m wearing number 180 – Sand Beige.
Maybelline Instant Age Rewind is a modern classic, and I highly recommend it. It feels nice going under your eyes and the bottle lasts for ages. Jessica from How Sweet Eats also sings its praises, but I was wearing it even before she was! (It makes me feel cool to say that.) I’m wearing Fair — I typically purchase a shade lighter for under-eye concealer.
I’ve always used CoverGirl’s perfect point plus eyeliner, and I’ve always hated how easily it breaks and how rough it can feel along your eyelid. Maybelline’s masterDRAMA eyeliner is fantastic. It is smooth and soft. I’m wearing the slate gray color called “coal commander” and it is lovely.
My eyes are dry and a little sensitive, and I’m always rubbing them — which leaves mascara everywhere! Dry and flaky mascaras make this worse, leaving me itchy and uncomfortable. The Maybelline Full ‘N Soft mascara has been lovely. I feel comfortable all day and much less itchy. I’m wearing Very Black and I like how it looks with the dark gray eyeliner.
I have such a hard time choosing which products to purchase, finding the right shades for my skin tone — it always feels like it’s so easy for everyone else, but I’m sure that isn’t actually true. If you’ve found some awesome products — drugstore or otherwise — I’d love to hear about them. Share the wealth!
Five Awesome Links
Too Much Peacemaking? Esther Emery for SheLoves Magazine. Must Read of the Week.
Six Stretches for People who Sit at Desks from A Cup of Jo. (Would you judge me if you saw me doing these in my office?)
What Makes a Great Book Club Novel? from Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy. Related — do you finish books even if you don’t like them? How far do you read before you give up? Check out this article and tell me if you agree of disagree. (I disagree. As Henry David Thoreau once said, we must “[r]ead the best books first, or [we] may not have a chance to read them at all.” Or, as modern HDT would say: “Prioritize, people.”)
My friend Elizabeth Hyndman with How to Find, Follow, and Friend People on Twitter.
And finally, this essay by Andrea Levendusky, who is one of my new favorite artists: A Blur of Delight. (for some reason this link is showing up as spam. try andreaglevendusky(dot)com.)
Well, well, well. October is over. A lot of very not-fun things happened in October, but it was still a pretty great month.
What I’m Reading
Not much. I’m still stuck in the second Outlander book and I’m not moving very fast. I read the first 2/3 of book 1 very quickly, and told you how much I enjoyed it. And then — it just stopped. Maybe I spoke too soon, maybe my brain just couldn’t handle the ridiculousness, maybe it was too much romance and not enough history and war to entertain me, but I’m just not making progress and I can’t decide whether to stop or to keep going and hope it gets better. I really enjoy the parts that are about time travel and history and clans and Scotland. I don’t really enjoy the love parts so much.
What I’m Watching
EVERYTHING. I am such a television junkie and the new fall line-up is eating up a lot of my down time. I love On Demand. It is so great. My favorite new show is Madam Secretary. Tim Daly and Tea Leoni are such a well matched and believable modern couple. Plus Tim Daly is good-looking in a totally normal and not ridiculous way. I haven’t written off HOW to Get a-WAY with MUR-der yet, but I can hardly follow the story lines so I’m usually watching it while working on something else. It’s a little over my head (that’s the nice way to say it doesn’t make any sense, right? right!). Also, Parenthood is in its last season and it is just so wonderful. I’ve loved every episode and I really want Joel and Julia to get back together but I also don’t want them to because her new boyfriend is adorable — I’m glad she’s not my friend in real life because I would be the worst at giving advice in this situation.
I’m also watching the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football Team. They are not playing as well over the last month as I was hoping they would be — too many interceptions and rookie mistakes — but I love them. The Pope loves them, President Bartlet loves them, God loves them, America loves them. There’s still room on the bandwagon. Go IRISH!
What I’m Eating
This month has been all about cooking, and I’ve loved writing my October series #31 Days in the Pink-Briefcase Kitchen. My favorite recipes are probably this pasta recipe, this granola recipe, and this pie recipe that inspired a hashtag! #piemergency #emergencypie. I’ve never inspired a hashtag before and that was wicked exciting.
I also spent a week eating brown rice, baked chicken, and steamed broccoli for all meals and to be honest — I didn’t hate it as much as I wanted to. Deciding what to eat is such a huge time-waster. Knowing in advance exactly what I would eat and saying no to everything else was an interesting life experiment, and reminded me how much I love meal planning.
What I’m Wearing
It’s not my usual thing, but I’m loving Tommy Hilfiger this season and have been wearing his long-sleeved tees, an awesome cardigan, and a classic striped sweater all the time. I still need to order tights for the winter and would love your recommendations for the best name brands to avoid that terrible rolly-down thing that makes you feel like you’re being sliced in half.
I’m also wearing a coat and scarf almost every day now, so I’m trying to learn different ways to style my hair easily so it is off my shoulders for my commute. I’m spending a lot of time watching hair tutorial videos from the small things blog.
What We’ve Been Up To
We lost our cat Leo to kidney failure a month or so back, and after a bit of grieving we decided that we needed to rescue a shelter cat from the local animal shelter. Our new little guy is named Winston after Churchill and he kneads dough ALL THE TIME. He also eats like a horse and has a fake front tooth. So, just enough issues and quirks to be absolutely hilarious. He’s already three years old so we don’t have to go through the kitten stages again, and he has warmed up to us quickly, gotten all of his shots, and settled into our home like he’s always been here.
My husband and his brothers ran the Chicago Marathon over Columbus Day Weekend. My inlaws were in town for the week before Columbus Day and we spent a lot of time enjoying the City. We ate at Opart Thai (yum!) , Little Goat Diner (greatest nachos in the world!), Frontera Grill, and XOCO (for my favorite soup!). What a delicious and exhausting week! We also played trivia at a bar near our home, and one of the best trivia questions was: Name three universities that were home to both a U.S. President and a Super Bowl MVP.
And, I’m still traveling a bit for work. Hopefully that will be over soon, but as much as I loathe traveling too often, I absolutely love my job and so it works out okay. I’m learning a ton and it’s been a fantastic opportunity, so I’m enjoying it while it lasts and taking it one day at a time.
So, what all have you been up to this month? I’m so excited for November and for the holiday season because I finally have a lot of leave built up and can take a bit more time off and really enjoy my holiday season. Let’s hope my workload cooperates so I’m not working non-stop in late November and December!
I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share What I’m Into each month. Click through to check out tons of other monthly summaries — it’s a great way to find new books to read, recipes to try, or makeup tricks to spice up your morning routine.