Category: What I’m Into

What I’m Into: May 2014

What I'm Into May 2014

Dear internet world, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer today to share what I was into in May:

TSA Pre-Check.

I love you.  Please never change.  Please always pick me every time forever.  That is all.

Comfort eating.  [Sad trombone.]

But seriously — traveling is really hard and I’ve fallen off the healthy eating bandwagon in a major way.  I’ve been resetting and feeling a lot better this past week and I expect that June will be full of vegetables and not going out for lunch every day.

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Burger with egg, avocado, bacon, and cheddar.

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Peach crisp hot from the oven.

 

Spreadsheets and labels. 

I’ve been costing things and calculating savings like it’s my job.  It is.  Doing math for America (loosely speaking) is terrifying yet exhilarating for this English major.  I’m using pivot charts and line graphs and pie charts and formulas and tables.  Each time I learn a new trick, I feel like I’ve conquered math and saved the world.

Also, Avery now has an online label design center that makes label-printing super cool!  Check it out for your next project.

Four-wheel drive luggage. 

Traveling is so much easier with rotating wheels on your luggage.  I have large and carry-on sized bags similar to these, and they are fantastic.

Nashville. 

I spent two of the five May weekends in Nashville and, as much as I have whined about traveling, it was pretty dang awesome.  Tennessee is beautiful and I love being there because that’s where so many of my favorite people are.  I was so lucky to see one of my favorite college friends marry her special someone, I ate some delicious hamburgers with my very awesome wonderful friend and her husband and my parents, I made s’mores and burned sticks in the fire pit, and went fishing/reading in the Fish-and-Ski.  And I got to surprise my grandmother on Mother’s Day.  Win-win.

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Getting a little sun on my feet while reading Peter Orner’s Love and Shame and Love.

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City view from Love Circle in Nashville.

On Demand.

Specifically, HBO On Demand.  Have I told you already how much I loved/freaked out watching True Detective?  It is really awesome and you need to check it out.  It’s just scary/bloody enough to make you think without making you cringe.  Too much.  (For context, I can’t watch zombie movies but I can totally watch this.  It might be Matthew McConaughey though.)  Also, we’ve been watching Game of Thrones and Veep and I’m thinking I might re-watch The Wire.  HBO On Demand is the best ever.

Dryel.

Have you known about Dryel all this time and not told me about it?  My life is seriously changed from this new addition.  Dryel is a zip-up bag and cleaning cloth that allows you to launder sweaters, delicates, and DRY CLEAN ONLY!!! items in 30 minutes in your dryer.  It has saved me so much time.  Sure, my jeans and tops would be cleaner if I did actual laundry, but when you’re traveling a lot there just isn’t time to wash and air-dry your special items.  With Dryel, I can throw an outfit or two into the dryer while i shower and it will be fresh and good-smelling by the time I’m ready to get dressed.  Dryel has been keeping me clothed during my crazy May.

WordPress.org.

I’m still learning, and it’s a bit harder than using wordpress.com to host my blog, but I can already see why everyone raves about the ownership and autonomy you gain when you move to self-hosting.  I’m interested in learning CSS but I want to learn it in one Saturday morning so if you have any resources for a crash-course please send them over.

 

Well, that’s what was I’m into during May.  And probably a whole lot more, but I think we’re probably at capacity here!  Thanks for sticking with me during this crazy month, and Happy Summer!  Thank goodness it’s finally warming up.

So tell me, what were you in May? 

 

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.  ;)

What I’m Loving — March 2014

Whew, where did March go?  I can’t believe it’s already time to link up with Leigh once again. 

WORK.  Is that a weird thing to say, that I’m loving work?  Well, I have been.  I started this month off with a business trip to Florida (thank you America), and have been doing hard, challenging work this entire month.  So basically, I’ve been living the dream.  [Literally.  Working incredibly hard every day is exactly what I want to do with my life.]

FRIENDS.  Oh, that’s right, we’re finally using the “f” word here in the Windy City.  I’m setting into some very enjoyable friendships/co-workerships in the office, which is starting to feel like a great fit.  On March 8, in honor of International Women’s Day, I met up with a half-dozen members of my writing group who also live in the greater Chicago area, for drinks and food and writerly hang outs.  I also attended my second Kappa Delta Alumnae Chapter event this month, grabbing dinner and meeting some new women in the city.  It’s so nice to have “people” once again.

Oh, and we’re still looking for a regular trivia night and trivia people around the loop/south loop.  Just an FYI in case there are any random internet stalkers close by. 

CHICAGO.  The weather is improving, the sun is shining more frequently and for longer stretches at a time, and I’m just plain loving Chicago.  Everything about it — the jazz music and the frumpy coats and the popcorn (oh the popcorn!) and the skylines and the way that the best restaurants use animals in their titles (“purple pig,” “little goat”).  My parents were here for a visit and we did basically nothing, but even still — I just love it here.  I didn’t think I would, but I do.

READING and WRITING.  This month has been all about l-e-a-d-e-r-s-h-i-p.  I’ve been reading blogs, articles, and am nearly finished with The Truth about Leadership (Kouzes/Posner 2010).  My favorite tidbit from the K&P’s Ten Truths reminds us that being a leader is all about relationships, and that you need to know the people you are leading and have the right kind of relationships with them to lead them toward positive change.  K&P teach leaders to know their values and visions for their organization, and to know their people — what makes them tick, what their visions are for the future — and to connect these organizational and personal dreams together.   I love it.

ON THE SCREEN.  Television has been kind of meh this month, eh?  (Shout out to my Canadian readers right there.)  I guess Nashville and Scandal are my top choices, but meh.  I also really like Blacklist most days but, meh.  Nothing is really catching my attention for very long.  This weekend we watched several movies, and I’ll give you mini-summaries:

  • Divergent — awesome(!) and now I want to read the books right now.  I’m going to try to purchase them before my DC flight on Friday night.
  • American Hustle — sad but good, with some lovely dresses.  Now I love Jennifer Lawrence a little more.
  • Frozen — what the what is all the fuss about here?  I don’t get how everyone talks about this so much.  Meh.

EATING/DRINKING. I’m a creature of habit, and this month I’ve found myself doing a few things over and over.  Drinking English Breakfast Tea all day long.  Mixing dried cherries, chocolate chips, and raw almonds for my own delicious trail mix.  Also, I’ve been cooking from Bread and Wine (Shauna Niequist) a lot.  I can’t stop loving that tiny little book.

HERE ON PINK-BRIEFCASE.  I’ve been practicing this little thing called speaking up.  Just a bit more than normal, but it’s something I want to do more.  My favorite posts here on the blog this month are

Well, there you are.  March in a nutshell.  April is going to be insane!  We’ll be out of town two out of four weekends.  I’ll be seeing some of my very best friends; trying on my writer hat for four days straight at a big fancy writing conference; and then pulling my lawyer hat out of the closet, grabbing a blazer (it’s been a while, blazers!), and heading to a legal training at the end of the month.  Hopefully I’ll finally get to wear all those new spring shoes I’ve been buying.

NOTE: my friends, our internet has been down to about 10% for days and it is so slow and terrible that I just couldn’t upload any photos for you today.  I also couldn’t really preview this post the way I normally do, so if there are typos here or anything looks weird, I apologize — leave me a note and I’ll try to edit them if we ever have consistent internet again. 

What I’m Into, February 2014

Well, hellooooo, March.  I am so happy to see you!  I am living for spring weather, and I have faith that sometime in March I’ll experience at least one sunny Chicago day with temperatures above 40 degrees.  A faith that can move mountains.  But, before we get too far into March, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share What I Was Into in February 2014.

feb 2014 wiit

Valentine’s Day Weekend!  I made my first batch of home-steamed mussels, we attended a couples cooking class, had dinner at Chicago’s The Purple Pig, spent an evening at an historic Chicago Jazz Club, and grabbed coffee and brownies at a friend’s church’s brand-new coffee venture.  It was a jam-packed, wonderful weekend.

Shoe shopping.  With a gift card from the holidays and my January clothing budget, I was very responsible and purchased cognac flats and heels (the perfect neutral in my opinion), leopard-printed black flats, a new pair of boots to  replace my favorite boots that bit the dust this year, and a new spring-ish bag.  I’ve always worn one favorite pair of shoes until they absolutely fall apart, and I’m excited to try being a grownup and rotating shoes to match outfits.

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Mariano’s.  You guys.  Mariano’s is the perfect grocery store.  It’s a perfect mix of Publix and Whole Foods, with a very low price point.  They have wine tastings on the weekend and you can get sushi or sandwiches or pizza to eat in the store or take home, their butchers are so friendly and will grill up meat for you right there (although, why you would want that I have no idea), their cheese selection is fantastic and their bakery breads are fresh and tasty.  Every time I walk into Mariano’s I think about Heaven.

Kappa Delta.  I attended my first KD alumnae event in Chicago this month, and it was so fun!  I met a few ladies that had definite friend potential, and I was so happy to reconnect with an old friend/advisor who served as a consultant when I was KD president WAY back in the day.  And then, she wrote a blog post in my honor!  It popped up on facebook and I was so incredibly flattered.  Isn’t it wonderful to find such lovely friends in all kinds of places.

On the TV:  Fringe.  I started watching this completely weird show on my sick days in the last week of January.  H got interested and we watched all five seasons together this month.  We barely watched the Olympics because we were so into Fringe.  It is sciency and weird but it has a good love story and if you’re looking for a show to watch as a couple, I highly recommend it.  Although I didn’t love the ending.

Reading:  nothing new.  I’m still plodding along through Blanski’s When Donkeys Talk.  I’ve read a ton of blog posts and magazine articles and such (check back each Friday for the week’s top reads!), but no books have been completed.

skyline dusk

It’s been a long, cold winter, but I’m loving our new city and so excited to spend this Spring and Summer getting to know Chicago better.  Photo (above) taken from Promontory Point, looking north toward Chicago’s skyline.

Well, that’s a quick run-down of February’s highlights!  What were you up to in February? 

 

 

What I’m Into, January 2014

I love linking up with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into series, but it’s been a little hard this month.  Because, except for a few days of awesome, January kind of sucked.  Let me explain:

January

Between two polar vortexes (can you pluralize the word vortex?  I just did!), incredibly terrible winter weather, and two weeks of being sick enough to consider going to the doctor in -14* temperatures, there wasn’t a lot of time for fun this month.  So, I apologize in advance if this past month’s highlights are a little, well, lame.

What I’ve Been Watching

A lot of movies and television and netflix.  I don’t exactly remember all of them since I was taking a lot of naps and cold medicine while I watched them, but I logged a lot of couch hours this month!  When I got desperate for new shows to watch after too many sick days in a row, you all quickly came to my assistance, offering up a dozen or so new shows for me to consider.  On top of the regular shows we’ve talked about before, I’ve been digging Nashville, I watched a bit of Fringe season one, and I caught up on this entire season of Parenthood.

What I’ve Been Reading

I finished my friend Elora’s incredible book Every Shattered Thing (well, technically I read this in December, but it has stayed with me this month).  I’m almost finished with Tyler Blanski’s When Donkey’s Talk (I heard him speak at STORY Chicago this past fall).  That’s at least one book toward my 28 Things reading goal for the year.

What I’ve Been Wearing

Mostly, jammies.  I had three new tops from Stitch Fix waiting for me when  I returned from holiday break, and I’ve been LOVING them.  I also finally took all of my dress pants to the dry cleaners, which means I have been wearing dress pants to work again.  Which is awesome.

A Little Bit of Awesome

I wrote a list of 28 Things I want to do this year.  And I started getting them done.  (See the next item…)

I completed my first DIY project this month — a spring-ish wreath for our living room.  Check out this photo (cute, right?!):

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I cooked a ton of delicious food.  Before the sickness set in, we ate very well.  I have a few snapshots for you that were supposed to be blog posts (please forgive the cold medicine and thermometer hanging in the background of the third snapshot):

Three Foods

And, I went to Las Vegas with my husband and two great friends for a long weekend!  It was the greatest ever.  I loved it and I have so many pictures to share with you, but I’ve been delinquent in doing so.  Soon, I’ll have them all here for you in their beautiful, warm and sunny glory.  Until then, here’s a little sunshine and sparkle to warm up your winter week.

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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

 

2013: A Year in Photos

It’s funny how you forget your own life, how the good things slip into the dusty corners of our memories the way a favorite sweater can be lost in the back of an over-full closet, missing an entire season of usefulness.  When I think over the year, I note how hard it was to wait for information about where we would be moving, and how frustrating our whole moving experience was because of the HR delays.  But when I look at the photos from this year, I remember how wonderful it was, how blessed we have been with the best of friends, and how happy we are even though we are quite far from those we love.  And so today, I’m taking a few minutes to look back over 2013 and appreciate the many gifts, experiences, travels, and opportunities for growth that came my way this year.

My first meeting at the EEOB!  If I'd known about this meeting in advance I would have dressed better.

My first meeting at the EEOB! If I’d known about this meeting in advance I would have dressed better.

Strawberry Picking with friends and family!

Strawberry Picking with friends and family!

Leadership tips from Fake George Washington at Mount Vernon.

Leadership tips from Fake George Washington at Mount Vernon.

A visit to DC's Police Memorial - an often forgotten but lovely area near Judiciary Square.

A visit to DC’s Police Memorial – an often forgotten but lovely area near Judiciary Square.

We drove up to Philly to see some history.

We drove up to Philly to see some history.

And stopped over in Atlantic City, NJ on the way home.

And stopped over in Atlantic City, NJ on the way home.

hiking with friends

A hike along the Potomac with friends.

A view from the President's Box of the Hubby's graduate school graduation.

A view from the President’s Box of the Hubby’s graduation.

Three photos from our trips to Gettysburg.  Here's number 1.

Three photos from our trips to Gettysburg. Here’s number 1.

Three photos from our trips to Gettysburg.  Here's number 2.

Number 2.

Three photos from our trips to Gettysburg.  Here's number 3.

And number 3.

Cherry Blossoms at Jefferson Memorial

A view of the Jefferson Memorial during Cherry Blossom season, taken with a friend during my lunch break at work.

A tour of the Law Library of Congress, including the [no longer active] card catalog.

A tour of the Law Library of Congress, including the [no longer active] enormous card catalog.

July began with a small-town parade in Clarkston, MI.

July began with a small-town parade in Clarkston, MI.

Also?  Fishing.

Also:  Fishing.

We visited San Francisco's best nature spots (and Alcatraz).

We visited San Francisco’s best nature spots (and Alcatraz).

We tasted wine grown among lavender fields...

We tasted wine grown among lavender fields…

We saw dozens of harbor seals resting in the sun.

We saw dozens of harbor seals resting in the sun.

We searched Muir Woods high and low for banana slugs -- until I finally found this one.

We searched Muir Woods high and low for banana slugs — until I finally found this one.

And then, it was time to go.  We left behind our first apartment as a married couple...

And then, it was time to go. We left behind our first apartment as a married couple…

And we drove across the country to set up our homestead in the Midwest.

And we drove across the country to set up our new homestead in the Midwest.

The journey was made easier by my best friend, and tastier by the cookies her aunt gave us on our pit stop in Pittsburgh.

The journey was made easier by my best friend, and tastier by the cookies her aunt gave us on our pit stop in Pittsburgh.

We spent some time getting to know our new city...

We spent some time getting to know our new city…

And took advantage of our geographical proximity to Touchdown Jesus, cheering my Fighting Irish to a devastating loss.

And took advantage of our geographical proximity to Touchdown Jesus, cheering my Fighting Irish to a devastating loss.

And escaped for a weekend away celebrating a good friend's happy marriage.

We escaped for a weekend away celebrating a good friend’s happy marriage.

We had a few lovely visits from family and friends before it got too cold for pleasant outings.

We had a few lovely visits from family and friends before it got too cold for pleasant outings.

But even with the cold weather, Leo feels right at home.

But even with the cold weather, Leo feels right at home.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving with both sides of our family...

We had a lovely Thanksgiving with both sides of our family…

And have enjoyed the festivities leading up to our first Christmas as Chicago residents.

And have enjoyed the festivities leading up to our first Christmas as Chicago residents.