What I’m Into: May 2015

 

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.

Reading

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.

Watching

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.)

Celebrations

 

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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.)

 

Eating

 

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.)

 

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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.

madison wisconsin devils lake hiking outside scenic (7)

 

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. 

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 4.03.2015

 

blog photo five things

It’s been a while since a weekly wrap-up, but I’m excited to be falling back into my groove with this space.  I spent some time this week reading through my entire Feedly stream (it was 500+ links long) and so these links may be from a few weeks back in internet time, but they were all on my radar this week while I’ve been catching up.

So, let’s get to it!

Five Awesome Things

O Adjunct! My Adjunct! by Carmen Maria Machado for the New Yorker.

The Rock’n’Roll Casualty who became a War Hero by Clay Tarver for the New York Times (this is from the summer but I loved reading it and just found it this week!).

The comment thread for How Can I Develop a Poker Face at Work? on Ask a Manager.  Interesting, helpful, and hilarious.

Two posts about being okay with a little imperfection, in our own lives and in our relationships:  Breaking Down from Kimberly at Penny Pincher Fashion, and You Will Stumble from Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy.

This list of 20 Career Tips from (female) Entrepreneurs, collected by Joanne at Cup of Jo and including some fantastic advice from Deb of Smitten Kitchen!

 

So, what awesome things have you been reading this week?

On opening the windows, shaking off the dust, and blogging again

I have that feeling now, that feeling where the weather starts turning warmer and you want to clean everything and throw out all of your winter clothes and go shopping.  Spring fever or something like that.

I’m finally home.  My traveling isn’t over forever, but I don’t have any work trips planned for at least a month and I’m settling back into a more normal routine.

I’ve missed you all.  And I’m excited to be back, but also nervous that it’s silly to blog after being away for months.  (But, honestly, blogging is a little silly at its very nature, so whether or not there will be readers really doesn’t increase or decrease its inherent silliness, am I right?)

Work has been — hard.  I’ve been traveling and stressing out and making presentations and filtering spreadsheets and loving every minute.  I’ve never felt more grateful for anything than I have felt these last few months for the continued opportunity to work hard in a job I love.  I’ve had really terrible jobs, and I know how depressing and terrifying and boring it is to feel like your time is not used well and you aren’t accomplishing anything because I have lived that life too.  A lot.  (If you are there right now, I’m sorry.)

I’m also learning first-hand how important it is to set boundaries for myself.  Everything in moderation.  When I’m caught up in my work, months can pass without me remembering to get a hair-cut, go out with my friends, paint my fingernails.  And let’s not even talk about laundry.

When you’ve been going nonstop and working a lot its easy to convince yourself that your work is very important and that because your work is important, you are important too.  And that is a lie.  Just because your job is hard or your hours are long does not mean your job is important.  And, whether or not you work a lot or your job is important does not make you important.  You are already important because you are a person who loves others and who is greatly loved.  Being a person who is alive is AWESOME.

I’m mostly writing for myself today.  And this is what I need to hear, every day, but especially when things feel insane or tedious or impossible or just plain boring.  You too?

 

Thanks for joining me here, my friends.  It’s been too long, hasn’t it?  How are things? 

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 1.11.2015

It’s been a while, my friends.  I have SO MANY links for you but I’ve tried to whittle it down to just five.  I’m going to schedule some tweets throughout the week to clear out all of the posts I saved for you over the past few weeks.  Click here to follow along.

Five Things New

The Sad Internet: 2014 in Review.  Could not stop laughing. (Also, can we just all agree that twitter can be kind of humiliating?  So many tweets, so few responses. . . )

What Ruth Bader Ginsburg Taught Me about being a Stay-at-Home Dad.  RBG is awesome and while there’s clearly a lot of privilege in this author’s experience, it made me feel optimistic about the future.

Depression is Not a Scandal from Jamie the Very Worst Missionary.  I don’t really understand why we have to have this conversation, but clearly we do, and Jamie does it so well.

Self-sufficiency is overrated from Penelope Trunk.  Penelope Trunk is so weird and awkward sometimes but SO AM I.  I love her.

An open letter to the Girl Scouts by Jenny Lawson (the Bloggess).  Looking for positive examples of women who live their lives with integrity and confidence?  Click here.

 

Friendship. It’s What I’m Into in December 2014.

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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

The 2014 Pink-Briefcase Top Five

Setting aside the ridiculous number of hits from Tupperware sales-ladies on this post and the constant stream of support and awesome comments you provided during October’s 31 Days in the Pink-Briefcase Kitchen series, the following five posts were the most popular posts on the site this year.

2014 Wrap Up Five Things

This Year’s Pink-Briefcase Top Five

When I started reviewing the statistics to build this list for you, I wasn’t sure if the results would be either helpful or interesting.  I quickly discovered that the five most popular posts on the blog were among those of which I am most proud.  Here they are:

1.  I started off 2014 right with no more waiting.

2.  I said some things I’d never said before in This is about religion.  Sorry, not sorry.

3.  I told you how I felt about this year’s big professional risk in Living the Dream.

4.  I shared my silly obsession with the first Outlander book in Not Guilty Pleasures.  (True story: I still haven’t made it even half-way through the second book.  Hot fires burn quickly!)

5.  And, I said goodbye to a community I loved and wrote about healthy relationships and bridge building in Begin Real Reconciliation with a Conversation.

This year has been a lot of things — beautiful and exciting and hard and, well, a little weird.  Week by week, I’ve loved sharing this space with you. Thanks for a great year!  Here’s to many more.

 

 

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 12.12.2014

Five Things New

 

It’s been a while, my friends.  Here are five awesome things for your weekend reading.

  1. Austin Channing with Break the Silence.  And basically anything written by Austin Channing the last few weeks.  I’ve been reading and re-reading her words and soaking them in.
  2. Caris Adel with Where White People Should Start.
  3. Esther Emery’s 10 Ways a White Person Can Be Interrupted by the Ferguson Movement.
  4. The Daily Muse Editor for Mashable with 35 Things You Should Do for your Career By the Time You’re 35.
  5. The Comment Section of How to Turn Off Work Mode, from Corporette.

That’s my five!  What awesome things have you been reading?