Category: Good Stuff

What I’m Into: September 2014

What I’m Reading

Outlander (I’ve finished the first and started the second but hit a bit of a blah-wall).

On Writing Well.

Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor (moving slowly through this one but it is g-o-o-d).

What I’m Watching

Outlander on Starz (it started my book obsession and really is a great watch).

Fall premieres:  Parenthood, The Mindy Project, Nashville, Scandal.  September is a great month for television!

I’ve mostly avoided Netflix this month (success) and we watched The Other Woman.  I liked it okay.

What I’m Doing in Chicago

IMG_2698

Visiting Oz Park and the Chicago Zoo.

IMG_2762

Attending baseball games (Go Cubs!) and enjoying summer weather.

What I’m Eating

IMG_2679

Sweet potato hash with a poached egg.

Shmear-ing spicy cranberry sauce on everything I can.

IMG_2772

IMG_2771

Korean fried chicken and bibimbap at Crisp in Lakeview.

IMG_2784

The ultimate comfort soup at XOCO in Near North Side.

We also had late-night cocktails at The Violet Hour (and I tried very hard to stay awake but was not incredibly successful).

What I’m Loving

Wearing blouses.  I told you on Facebook that I’d missed out of blouses for the first 27 years of my life and that during this 28th year, I’m wearing them as much as I can.  But, matching them with pants and shoes is still a struggle.

Hand lettering and other beautiful things.  I’m basically obsessed with Andrea Levendusky. (UPDATE: for some blog spam reasons, I’ve had to remove this hyperlink — just google her!)

Dreaming-up alternative careers:  professor, writer, researcher, gossip columnist, ethicist, senator, baker, coffee-shop owner . . .

What I’ve Been Writing

On Reconciliation: My Story

On Why I Love September

On Why I Don’t Have “Guilty” Pleasures

 

So, what about you?  Was your September awesome? If you’re looking for cool things to read, watch, or otherwise know about, be sure to head over to Leigh Kramer’s link-up so you can tour the favorite things of some of the best lady-bloggers on the web.

 

Advertisements

Not Guilty Pleasures

I like to say that I don’t have any guilty pleasures.  From time to time I’ll even correct someone, asking why they should feel guilty about enjoying the things they love.  It goes something like this:

Friend:  You know, watching that show Dating Naked is one of my guilty pleasures.

Me:  You mean, one of your pleasures.  Why feel guilty about something you love?  Plus, that is a great show.  (I mean, it really is great, isn’t it?  You can reach out and touch the awkwardness.  And who knew so many 25-year-old virgins watched VH-1?)

But the thing is, with all of the above-quoted bravado, I really do feel a bit sheepish about admitting some of my favorite things.  I keep them to myself and really only talk about the “cool” things I do.  Which may be why this blog is sparse of late. . . Anyway, when I do reveal some of my less cool activities, I protest the “guilty” label but find myself blushing a bit or doing that awkward smiling thing where you really aren’t happy but your face is stuck in smile-mode and then suddenly you realize that your face is SO TIRED OF SMILING that it feels as if your eye-balls might pop out of their sockets.  So probably I still feel guilty about it.  However, I’m faking it until I actually achieve my desired level of enlightenment.  Like a pro.

This week, I’m right in the midst of one of my NOT GUILTY pleasures:  reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.

I know, I know, it’s 850 pages of ridiculous time-traveling historical fiction that is mostly a romance novel.  And yes, it is true, there aren’t any dragons so it’s nowhere near as good as Game of Thrones.  [I did spy a 18th-century version of the Loch Ness monster in there, but it wasn’t scary, so I accept this criticism.]  But sometimes, when you spend so many hours walking the path of giant spreadsheets and the technical application of specialized jargon written by congressional staffers and interpreted by regulation and applied and defined by administrative boards, it’s nice to have a little magic in the evening.  Even if it is completely ridiculous and even if the romance parts stopped being interesting a few hundred pages ago.

And so, I just wanted to tell you:  I’ve worked two eight-hour shifts and mopped the kitchen and cooked dinner for my husband several times but also, I’ve had the first Outlander book in my possession since about 6 p.m. on Sunday and I’m already 567 pages in.  It feels good to tell the truth.

 

So, do you believe in guilty pleasures?  And have you read the Outlander books?  Am I completely insane?

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 9.05.2014

Five Things New

1. Abi Bechtel for SheLoves Magazine in an essay entitled Her Face.

2. Justin Lee for Crumbs from the Communion Table with Did Daniel Pierce’s Coming Out Video Upset You?  Here are 5 Things You Can Do.

3. On Twitter Reputations, “Being Kind” and the Golden Spirit, by Esther Emery.

4. Abby Norman on her blog with Birthday Celebrations and Awkward Feelings: Let the Little Children Lead.

5. Engaged in Paris, the story of my friend Katherine’s engagement which was inspired by me!  (well, I mean, not entirely inspired by me.  The engagement itself wasn’t my idea, just the way that they told their story.  But I’m still taking credit.)

Honorable mentions to one thing I have in common with Jenny Lawson, and the most beautiful pregnancy reveal post from Ms. Sarah Bessey.

 

Thanks for stopping by!  I’m so excited for the blog to finally be back in action.  I’ve missed you guys!  Did you read any other awesome things this week?  If so, make sure to share in the comments or link me up on Facebook or Twitter.

This is not about Back to School

It’s Wednesday and I’m headed to work and my Feedly is full of mommy bloggers and not-usually-about-motherhood bloggers talking about sending their kids back to school, or sending their kids to school for the very first time. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate these situations. I love my friends who have kids and I often even love their kids. I like the BTS photos on Facebook, sometimes leave comments, and even said a little prayer for a few young ladies I am especially fond of.

But seriously, internet, I need a little variety in my morning commute. For any of you out there looking for something different, this is for you:

1. It is hot today in Chicago.
2. I just walked past Garrett’s Popcorn without purchasing anything. Huge personal accomplishment.
3. Today I am wearing a dress from Ann Taylor. It is navy, tan, and white with a zipper down the front. To be honest, I could do without the zipper.
4. I mean really, what is it with fashion zippers? They are not as good-looking as everyone thinks.
5. My office in Chicago has a really fantastic view of the city and Lake Michigan but it is so hot all the time that I have to keep the blinds tightly shut to keep the sun out. Which kind of defeats the purpose of the view.
6. I am really terrible at wearing shoes. Matching shoes that I own to outfits that I own is very difficult for me. It’s a daily struggle.
7. At work, I keep one pair of nude pumps at my desk and I wear them every day. And I get compliments on them almost every day. For the first two years, I wore a nude pump from Nine West with a fake snakeskin pattern. For the last 18 months, I’ve been rocking Anne Klein pumps with a shiny patent pointy toe and a matte everything else. And a stranger said “Hey I like your shoes” to me last Thursday at lunch. In six months these will probably be worn out and I’ll need a new pair.
8. I’m starting to feel silly now but I want to get to a solid ten items before posting this ridiculous list.
9. We are almost finished re-doing the guest room in our condo and now we are starting to hate every other room for not looking as good as the guest room.
10. I don’t have to fly back to DC for 11 straight days from today and I am so excited! That puts me home for a solid 16.5 days, which honestly feels like 100 days after the last few months.

Have a great day!
PB

What I’m Into: Summer 2014

Well, it’s September.  Holy cow.  How did this happen?  The summer has flown by in a blur, but there were a few pockets of awesome mixed in too.  Here is a quick rundown of some of the things I loved (or learned) over the past few months.

 

I went to a professional soccer game.  It was crazy fun.  Did you know that fans throw beer into the air after each score during DC United soccer games?  Yeah, me either.  They do.  (Pro tip: do not wear your suit to the game even if you are going after work.  Dry-cleaning is expensive.)

blog photo soccer game

 

I ate a lot of not-so-great restaurant food, but I also enjoyed some pretty yummy DC meals during my lengthy hotel stay.  For example, have you ever eaten a scotch egg?  It’s a soft-boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, and then breaded and deep fried.  I think.  I tried this one at the Copperwood Tavern in Shirlington (Arlington), Virginia.  It was delicious.

scotch eggs copperwood tavern

 

During the rare minutes I wasn’t working or traveling this summer, I mostly (a) went to dinner with friends or (b) watched Netflix in my hotel room.  But one weekend when H was in town we drove out to Theodore Roosevelt Island for a little wilderness.  Did you know that even though they drained all of the water out of the fountains on Theodore Roosevelt Island and closed the island’s bathrooms for repair, the landmark is beautiful in a weirdly Soviet way?  It needs a lot of love and attention and Teddy deserves better.  I was excited to finally visit the Island and — disappointment all around.

Eagle Island

 

I took a four-day weekend over the Fourth of July and flew to Chicago to drive to Detroit to spend the weekend with extended inlaws.  I caught two huge fish and one tiny perch and bought my own fishing pole (named Ice) and a camo fishing hat from Bass Pro Shops.  It was potentially the best weekend ever.

IMG_2422

IMG_2420

 

This summer I also saw two pretty cool people get married, ate a TON of Kansas City barbecue, went to brunch with some pretty fabulous people (really, tons of Brunch.  That’s my kind of summer.), and learned a lot at work.  After 60 days away, I’m feeling pretty comfortable in my skin and more confident about what I want out of my life.  Which is to say, a cool job is cool but it isn’t enough.

 

AND THEN I came home.  It was beautiful.  I crashed the first night in Chicago and then got to work, making our two-bedroom condo overlooking the city mine.  My return home was one year after our move to Chicago (weird how anniversaries work, isn’t it?) and only a few days before our fourth wedding anniversary, and I didn’t want to enter this new year without fully unpacking from our move and settling into our space.  We still had a few boxes of photographs and art pieces that needed to be hung, and we had crammed all of our excess belongings into the guest room closet (seriously, it was treacherous), and it was time to dig in and clean out.  We made a huge contribution to Goodwill and have a few more furniture pieces headed that way next week.

 

I built these flower boxes on my balcony when I got back to Chicago.  And by built, I mean I purchased them from Home Depot and encouraged my husband while he attached them to our balcony with screws.  But I planted them myself and so far only 1 out of 10 of these plants is showing signs of death.  And only a slight shade of death, so that’s a pretty successful planting experience for this black thumbed girl.

flower boxes

 

Here is a photo of my beautiful clean kitchen.  I emptied every cabinet, dusted and cleaned, scrubbed the appliances, rearranged our dishware and even set up a cookbook display to add some extra color.  It doesn’t look exactly like this every day, but we are trying to maintain.

clean kitchen blog

 

And, while cleaning and sorting and donating has taken up a lot of my non-work minutes, we’ve also made sure to spend a little time out in the city.  Chicago is a beautiful place to live, and I’m so happy to be home.

chicago love

Today’s post is part of Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into Link-Up.  To join the link-up or check out other posts, please click here.

 

What I DIDN’T Love: June 2014

I’m supposed to write to you about what I was into in June.  It’s on my blogging schedule.  Well, what’s left of it. 

I was talking with a co-worker about admitting responsibility for mistakes.  If I’m even remotely responsible for something, I take the hit.  I fess up and say “this bad thing happened, and that was my fault, and I’m sorry.”  He laughed and said that the thing we were discussing wasn’t at all my fault, and that my quick acceptance of guilt was probably due to my Southern Baptist upbringing.  (We each just found out that the other grew up Southern Baptist yet now attends a more mainline Protestant church.  So now we have this little joke we make. It’s weird how you find random connections with people, isn’t it?  Anyway…)  And so, here’s my confession:  my blogging schedule has turned to complete chaos because living in a hotel alone without my cat or my husband or my closet or my kitchen is kind of rough.

But while I really want to remedy this issue by telling you What I Loved about June, here’s the thing.  Before I can tell you about the good things that happened in June, I have to tell you about the bad things.  Because, just being honest, June was kind of the worst ever.

You already know that I got a cool job offer and that we said yes to it even though it meant that I would be living away from home for 45-60 days this summer.  And I love my job even though it is super frustrating and I love the project I’m leading even though it’s probably more likely that global warming is no big deal and that we’ll have a Middle East peace agreement by Tuesday than that my project will end well.  But, did you know that on my third day there I fell all the way down a flight of stairs, busting up my leg, breaking four fingernails, and bruising the entire right side of my body?  That totally happened. I’m pretty sure the security guards all secretly know me as “that girl from the stairs video.”

Here’s something else you might not know:  I was so stoked to finally get a new phone, that I went all in:  I ordered a fancy new iPhone 5s with a big memory card for photo-taking and better mobile blogging.  It was the first time I’d ever paid for a phone and I was so excited. Two weeks in I dropped it and the screen shattered, so I had to pay to repair it.  Then, the day after I picked it up and purchased a new case to protect it, it was stolen.  Yes, seriously.  And so that’s several hundred dollars down the drain and, also, now I don’t have a phone.  I’ll be re-activating my iPhone 4 so my adorable tweets and life-changing instagram photos will return to your feeds soon but, since I had been hating on that phone for months and basically living for the day I could upgrade, I’m pretty bitter about the whole thing. 

H and I have started saying that this new phone was probably cursed, so it’s good that I’m rid of it.  Unfortunately I don’t believe that for a second.  (Related note:  having no cell phone while you live alone in a hotel away from your husband is not awesome.)

Oh, and on Sunday I went to brunch with two friends to celebrate a very exciting birthday.  And we all ate a delicious meal and then got food poisoning.  That was really cool too.

So June, I will have to check you later. I need a re-do for Father’s Day and my parents’ anniversary, for celebrating my best friend’s big move and for making a cake for Flag Day. (Yes, Flag Day. All patriotic holidays matter).

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 6.29.2014

five-2.jpg

Why the VA Couldn’t Keep Up with IT, by Nicole Torres.  There is truth here, I think.

On babies:  Big Data will Know if I’m Pregnant before My Mom Does, by Danielle Vermeer, and Having a Baby will Simplify Your Life, by Lauren Laverne at The Observer.

This obituary/tribute to retired assistant defender Bill Laswell was incredibly inspirational.  What a good life.

Roxana Robinson for the New York Times Opinionator with The Right to Write.

On sex trafficking and what we can do about it:  Jamie the Very Worst Missionary with A Million Ways to Say it Wrong, and Kristen Howerton at Rage Against the Minivan with What I Learned about Sex Trafficking from an Evening with Two Prostitutes.

I hope you had a fantastic week!  If you read anything awesome that’s missing here, please link it up below.