What I’m Reading
Outlander (I’ve finished the first and started the second but hit a bit of a blah-wall).
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
Visiting Oz Park and the Chicago Zoo.
Attending baseball games (Go Cubs!) and enjoying summer weather.
What I’m Eating
Sweet potato hash with a poached egg.
Shmear-ing spicy cranberry sauce on everything I can.
Korean fried chicken and bibimbap at Crisp in Lakeview.
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
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.
H and I were talking the other day about changing trends in baked goods (the most important trends on which to maintain up-to-date information), and determined we are both quite happy with the shift from cupcakeries to donut/doughnut shops. While a cupcake can still be a perfectly wonderful thing (Washington DC’s Baked and Wired or the ever-wonderful Sprinkles come to mind), too many of these cupcakeries sold giant cupcakes that looked much better than they tasted and were too large to fit into your mouth without replicating a scene from Jaws. Once cupcakes require forks, knives, and napkins and start giving you sushi face if you dare to try to actually take a bite of both the cake and frosting together, it’s time to move on.
Last weekend we did just that. A famous Los Angeles donut shop called Stan’s Donuts opened a location in Chicago, and we drove over to Wicker Park to check it out and do some people watching. The location couldn’t be better (right under the blue line station but tons of convenient street parking nearby) and the weather was great: mid-60s and sunny. Hipster parents and hipster children were everywhere. The decor is pretty snazzy too: a little retro but bright and colorful with a wall of kitchen-aid mixers (it’s like they decorated their business just for me!). There isn’t a ton of seating but there’s enough to go around. The best thing about Stan’s Donuts (well, other than the donuts) is their decision to stay open each evening until 9:00 p.m. (even on Sundays!) and to bake fresh donuts all day long. Stan and his people believe that fresh delicious donuts should be available all day, not just at 6:00 a.m., and I couldn’t agree more.
H and I sampled a blueberry fritter (his favorite), a captain crunch cereal milk-filled donut (pictured above), and a lemon-pistachio old-fashioned cake donut (my choice). We found the captain crunch to be a bit heavy on the filling — I don’t like filling in donuts typically, so no surprise there — but the filling really did taste exactly like captain crunch cereal milk and the donut was remarkably good. H powered through the blueberry fritter and most of the captain crunch (sans filling), and I enjoyed my lemon-pistachio with a large Intelligentsia coffee. (I’m still not sold on Intelligentsia coffee yet, but I’m trying to embrace it as it is Chicago’s bean of choice.)
In our family, donuts may have always been superior to store-bought cupcakes, but recently its more obvious how clearly they have taken the lead. Have you arrived in donut country yet? Still loving cupcakes, or the “healthy” addiction, frozen yogurt? If you have a favorite place, share in the comments below or link me up on Twitter!
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.
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!
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.
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:
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:
- Dark Chocolate Chili Almond KIND bars. Holy cow they are delicious and only 200 calories.
Eating healthy(ish). It’s a work in progress.
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.
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!
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.
- 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.
** 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. ;)
Hi there. It’s been a wonderful week in the real world, but I’ve been a little quieter than normal here on the internet. Here’s three real-life updates for you!
- I’m still having some tech troubles. I bought a new laptop early last fall, and while it is quite good-looking, I’m finding Windows 8 to be incredibly frustrating when problem solving. I’ve been running tons of diagnostics and we ended up buying a new wireless router, but I’m still not connecting at 100% and I have to re-enter my wireless network password every single time I turn on my computer and hope that I’ll connect. It’s annoying, and I’m on the hunt for a solution. (If you’ve experienced this error please comment here so I can benefit from your solution!)
- I was really excited to watch Morning Joe’s coverage of the 100th Birthday of Wrigley Field yesterday — did you see it? I went to my first cubs game earlier this month and even though I typically find baseball pretty boring, I had a wonderful time! Wrigley Field was old-school in all the right ways. [Sorry SS. I know how much you love the Cardinals.] Also, I’ve selected a new catch phrase for Chicago weather: Ernie Banks’ weather assessment on a chilly, sunny morning: “Let’s play two!”
- As the days get sunnier, I’m loving Chicago more and more. We had a few warmer days last weekend (Easter Sunday was the most beautiful day I can remember!) and now that it’s cooler again, my fellow Chicagoans have been mumbling in the elevators about how chilly it is. But I don’t even care! A cold sunny day is my favorite kind of day.
I’m doing some work behind-the-scenes to hopefully build an even better space for you here, but that work is slow and time consuming so don’t worry if it takes a few more weeks before you start to notice. I’m still here, and posting regular updates to the blog’s facebook page, so be sure to stay in touch!
I connected with my law school mentor this week. It’s been a while since we were in touch. She shared some good news I wanted to hear, and I shared a link to the panel on creative writing projects by
prisoners INCARCERATED PERSONS I attended last week.
It was just a few emails, sent back and forth while we were each doing our own regular work. Nothing important, really. I asked about her daughter’s first year away at college; she asked how my husband’s job was going and if we’d fallen in love with Chicago yet. [Quite well, and yes! a little more every day.] She asked about my current work, and I wrote back about my ongoing project and how I was surprisingly very happy even though I wasn’t currently practicing law. She replied,
Wow, [pink-briefcase] — that is amazing. Those are some incredible skills you are learning. What is the hardest part? Where do you see yourself after this?
We talked a little more, about law school rankings and the future of legal education and the flowers blooming there but not here, but those twenty-five words worked a powerful magic in my heart.
. . . .
I have a supervisor that isn’t my supervisor at work. He is kind of a mentor, kind of a boss, and kind of a friend. I’ve learned a lot working for/with him. Every now and then, when things get rough and I start to feel on edge, I read over an email he sent one day, which started off:
Your professionalism, persistence, patience, exemplary work ethic and positive attitude have been evident to all throughout this project.
On days when nothing goes right and all I can do is put down my pen and shake my head and pour the tea and start over again, this sentence waits for me. I look up and see it, hanging on my blue bulletin board right above the empty jar that once held black-raspberry jelly my husband’s grandmother made us for Christmas, which now holds pens and highlighters and a pair of scissors, and I read those words. I remind myself that one bad day cannot cancel out months of hard work.
. . . .
I’m not sure that either of these mentor-friends knows how important their words were/are to me. I didn’t write back “HOLY COW THAT IS SO NICE I’M GOING TO PRINT OUT THIS EMAIL AND HANG IT ON MY BULLETIN BOARD AND LOOK AT IT EVERY DAY FOREVER.” I said thank you and continued on, slightly embarrassed about all of the fuss. No perfectionist really wants to be congratulated for doing a good job (don’t I always do a good job? I always try to do a good job! why is this time different? did I screw up something terribly last week?! . . . ). But as awkward as I may feel when I first receive these affirmations, I am completely changed by knowing that people I trust think these things. I am confident and brave and resilient because I trust their opinions of me to be true, even when my opinion of myself falls far short of their esteem.
We talk a lot online about how words have consequences, but we often really mean that words have negative consequences. We criticize and condemn each other too freely, with too little concern for the way another might feel to read a scathing review, a bullying comment, a snide remark. We forget too quickly that it could easily be the negative comments they are printing out and hanging up on the blue bulletin boards of their hearts. Negative words do have an undeniably strong hold on us, but I’m becoming more aware of the immense power positive words hold as well.
It’s weird, how they say you can’t go home again and yet — you can. You just purchase a plane ticket and pack a bag and there you are. This weekend we traveled back to Washington, D.C. (our home for the previous five years) and spent a few days in our favorite city, visiting with our favorite people and eating at our favorite places. This isn’t a recipe for a perfect tourist weekend, but here’s a DC resident’s perfect weekend in our Nation’s Capitol.
FRIDAY NIGHT: land in city and sleep in the guest room of your bestie’s house.
SATURDAY MORNING: eat Bethesda Bagels. Recommendation: bacon, egg, and American cheese on an everything bagel. Grab coffee at Quartermaine next door. If you go with a friend one of you should order coffees while the other stands in line for bagels because, unless it’s snowing or raining the bagel line will be out the door.
SATURDAY ERRANDS: close your old bank account. Or, you know, whatever.
SATURDAY MORNING HANG-OUT: meet your best law school buddy for coffee at Politics and Prose Bookstore‘s Modern Times Coffeehouse, the place where you studied for all of those finals before they instituted completely unacceptable laptop policies that ruined everything forever. Recommendation: London Fog.
SATURDAY LUNCH-ISH: brunch/lunch at Open City in Woodley Park. We learned that the music makes babies dance. The service can be a little slow so make sure to tell the waiter exactly what you want the first time. Recommendation: Greek Pizza, BLT, iced mocha.
SATURDAY AFTERNOON HANG-OUT: Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Avoid boring pandas but be sure to see the Lions. They are awesome. Best part of America are the Smithsonian’s river otters.
SATURDAY DINNER: Coal Fire Pizza in Gaithersburg. Recommendation: Dark and Stormy, Ring of Fire Pizza (Italian sausage, banana peppers, and spicy marinara).
SATURDAY POST-DINNER: Celebrate your friend’s birthday back at her house with carrot cake and red wine. They are a perfect pairing.
SUNDAY MORNING: Grab a coffee and cheer for your husband and friends as they run a ten mile race around the National Mall. Take in the monuments for a bit while it is sunny and relatively warm, but head toward brunch by 10:30. It’s definitely time to eat.
SUNDAY BRUNCH: Ted’s Bulletin on Barracks Row is a bit of a wait, but totally worth waiting for. Recommendation: homemade poptarts (strawberry is the best), sausage biscuits and gravy. If you’re lucky you’ll see the cadets marching around with their giant guns.
SUNDAY AFTERNOON: After a shower for the runners, head down to H Street to hang on the back patio of the German Biergarten. Recommendation: the hefe-weizen that is “very carbonated,” pretzel buns with mustard. The mustard is the best part.
SUNDAY EVENING: Return the rental car and grab your last dinner at The Silver Dinner, airport edition.
We landed in Chicago late Sunday night and it was technically early Monday morning before we were back in our Condo in the South Loop. We both worked today and we are exhausted, but our wonderful weekend was worth every minute.
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
- My most popular post this month was This is About Religion. Sorry, not sorry. I’m not usually a faith writer, and this might have been a stretch for me, but you all were incredibly awesome. Thank you.
- My favorite post this month was #50daysawriter Update: The Half Way Point. I’ve been working on taking my writing more seriously, and these last thirty-something days have been really positive for me.
- I also joined my writing community for an International Women’s Day link-up about The Girls We Once Were.
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.