Saturday, February 16, 2013

Nothing says romance like felt hearts, fried chicken, and Quentin Tarantino

Happy belated Valentine's Day! 

Valentine's Day was always a take it or leave it holiday for me... Until this year. I swear, getting married flipped the domestic switch I never knew I had (I kind of hated at first) and now I can't get enough of cooking, crafting, and holidays (like, every single one). So of course, I threw a little soiree for Matt and myself, complete with our favorites--breakfast for dinner (fried chicken, egg, bacon, cheese, and gravy on a biscuit... Sorry, arteries!), chocolate heaven (a.k.a. Pots de Creme, YUM), and Quentin Tarantino (I had to balance out my new found domesticity with the irony of watching Tarantino's True Romance on Valentine's Day). It was such a fun and delicious night. Also, I learned how to fry chicken! I'm pretty proud of that feat.

Hope your Valentine's Day was lovely! 

Sunday, February 3, 2013


I was hiding in my sickness cave again for the last week. How stupid it is to spend the majority of a month (the worst month of the year) sick with a sinus infection. Oh well. It's not like I had high hopes for January anyway.

You know what? Despite my general loathing of January and my stupid sinuses, the month was better than I had anticipated. If you haven't picked up on one of the general themes of my blog thus far, I'm trying to live a more intentional life this year (and forever, but we are starting with 2013) and it's going really well so far. Don't get me wrong, the sinusitis and a couple of loooong days of school and work have left me feeling like I'm stuck in a daze, sleepwalking from one point to the next, but for the most part, life has been full of lots of little beautiful moments (see photos above). One thing I can guarantee you is that having a bad year can really give a person perspective. Even a really stubborn person like me!

So here's to celebrating little victories and embracing the much more fun month of February! May it be everything you wish for and more.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Juice Fast {Take 1}

As I've mentioned in previous blog posts, I'm attempting to live a more intentional life. I've decided that this journey has to begin with a dedication to holistic health--mind, body, and spirit. While I've been devoting a lot of time to my mental and spiritual health lately, I've not been the kindest to my body. In my last post I mentioned that for the last three months I've been grieving the death of my brother, something that has caused me to reevaluate my life and priorities and spend far more time on my mental and spiritual health than I have in a long time. One thing I never realized however, is that in the midst of grief, it can be very hard to take care of yourself physically. I think there is a tendency to put all of one's energy into mental, spiritual, and emotional healing (and for good reason) and forget to make physical health a priority. For me, this has meant eating in a rush, eating too many sweets, too much salt, and too little fresh fruits and veggies.

After watching a few health-related documentaries (Fat Sick and Nearly Dead and Hungry for Change), Matt and I became inspired to try a juice fast. Our hope was that the fast would help us to re-calibrate our systems and get back to a primarily plant-based diet that included many more fruits and vegetables than we had been consuming in place of the processed junk we'd become accustomed to.

The plan was to complete a three day fast, which turned into a one day fast for Matt and a two day fast for me on account of my getting sick--this made it really difficult to decipher between detox symptoms and illness symptoms (I go into more detail below). So erring on the side of safety, I decided to cut the fast short and try a longer one in a month or two. I still consider it a success because I'm extremely motivated to continue juicing, upping my intake of fruits and vegetables, and decreasing processed foods (or at this point, just not reintroducing them into my diet.)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Some Jumbled Thoughts on Life, Love, Loss, and hope

Northern California, 2007
The last few months have been full of reflection for me, and with all of this reflection, I've had many realizations and revelations about what is truly important to me in life. Three months ago, my life looked so different than it does today--I was stressed out, anxious, living an unhealthy lifestyle, and not spending near enough time on my personal relationships. Everything changed when my brother passed away under unexpected and traumatic circumstances. When I began to move through the initial shock of my loss, I realized vividly what was important in life and what I had been neglecting in my life and relationships. I think that Ben helped me to realize these things, and I believe he still does. He was dedicated to serving others far above himself, and while I don't think he realized the impact he made on the world, it was a great one, one that has inspired my entire family and many of our friends.

I guess what I'm trying to verbalize is how difficult, yet important, it can be to come to a point in your life where you realize that what you truly desire is far different than what you'd had in mind for a very long time. I guess this is just the natural order of things when you go through whatever it is that forces you to reevaluate your life and start living intentionally with the knowledge that each day, no matter many seemingly insignificant moments it is made up of, does matter, and moreover, it is a gift.

The past few months have led to a drastic reevaluation in my priorities and goals in life, and the theme I keep coming back to is love, first and foremost, and then grace and mercy. If you would have asked me three or four months ago what my life goals were, nearly all of them would have been career-related. Today, my goals are to be more loving, more kind, and more appreciative of all of those who impact me positively in my life because I now know that at any moment, the ones we care most deeply about can be taken from us and we may never get to express to them how much they meant to us (in this life).

This hasn't at all been an easy road, and I still hit lows that I never imagined could be so extreme. But strangely enough, through my pain I've been able to see the world much more clearly than ever before and I've experienced joy so full that I know it's a part of something bigger than me. I hope that we can all channel that something bigger, whatever you believe it is, and live more intentional, graceful, merciful, and above all else, loving lives.

Be well!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Sweet Sunday {Earl Grey Cake}

This is a really basic cake, but it is so delicious. 

I was inspired by this post I found on Pinterest, but I wanted to do a lemon-vanilla buttercream frosting rather than a fruit glaze. I ended up just improvising a bit with a simple white cake recipe, to which I added two bags worth of steeped loose leaf Earl Grey tea along with the zest from about a 1/4 of a lemon. Then I made a basic buttercream recipe and added the same amount of lemon zest I used in the cake batter. I baked as specified by the recipe and then frosted the cake once it cooled. And oh man, my apartment smelled SO good while it was baking! I wish I would have found this last summer so I could have served it at my wedding shower! It seems like a perfect wedding shower cake.

Hope your Sunday was as sweet as mine! :)

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Have you ever had one of those weeks with lots of free time but you plan an activity for every spare minute of it? Yeah, I'm in the midst of one of those weeks. This isn't a complaint, just my confession that I think I overdid it a tad.

I'll write a much more interesting post tomorrow complete with photos of the Earl Grey cake I plan to make tonight or tomorrow. Yay!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Breakfast Date (Followed by a Sugar Coma)

I had some lofty goals for today. I wasn't planning to be especially productive, but since I was cooped up most of last week due to sickliness, I wanted to get out of the house and do something adventurous. I decided Matt and I should have a brunch date because we hadn't done that in a while and brunch is our favorite. 

Sadly, neither of us slept well at all last night. In retrospect, I should never have taken a nap at 6:00 p.m. because I paid for it later with insomnia. I woke up slightly frantic this morning, thinking that I'd overslept (even though there was nothing for me to sleep through). It was only 8:30 and even though I knew I had major plans to be adventurous, I was in no mood to engage in activities other than couch-sitting and blog-reading. So that's what I did until about 10:30 or whenever it was that Matt got up. 

But, even in our haze of grogginess, we decided to embrace our semi-adventurous sides. We headed out into the 14 degree weather and went to a local (less adventurous but still delicious) spot where we chowed down on cinnamon rolls and a chocolate croissant. A sugar high ensued, from which I managed to muster up the energy to deep clean our kitchen and living room (hooray!). I slipped into a sugar coma by about 3:00 p.m.

I hope you had a great, adventurous weekend, whatever you did!

{I'm still pretty groggy so I'm just hoping this was coherent.}

{The cinnamon roll and chocolate croissant were from Dolce, YUM.}

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sick day, foggy day

It's been one of those weeks where the weather seems to mimic my physical state. After getting home from a week-long trip to Texas to visit Matt's family and some of our friends, I promptly developed a sinus infection that has kept me housebound most of the week. I must say, there's something that feels sinful about staying home from work three out of five days the week I get back from vacation.

The good news is that I've been fairly productive while I've been home. Wednesday I organized the kitchen (somewhat) and today I made a homemade tomato cheddar soup that ought to feed Matt and me for the next six weeks. The kitchen thing is a little frustrating. I want to do so much with it, and our entire apartment for that matter, in terms of decoration and design, but knowing that we'll only be here a few more months makes that prospect seem pretty unattractive and too involved. Also, there's only so much you can do with this much wood paneling and seventies decor. I tend to hit a wall pretty quickly when I start decorating here. Suggestions?

My productivity has been sandwiched between long bouts of sitting on the couch sipping hot chocolate and listening to Freakonomics Radio, reading my most favorite blogs, Instagraming like a mad woman, and taking daily naps (I'm going to miss those next week). Oh, I also haven't showered or put on actual pants in like three days. This might be okay if I hadn't ventured out into the world at all but I've had to refill my stockpiles of supplies for my stay-cation. I really didn't need to divulge that information, but over-sharing has seemed to be one of the side effects of this infection (just ask Matt about my proclamation about mucus the other morning. Ah, I'm sorry!)

Okay, I could ramble on for days but Bravo isn't going to watch itself now, is it?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Slouching Towards Progress

I sat down today and made a list of things that I want to do/improve upon this year. I guess it might be a little late for resolutions, but I don't want to think of these as resolutions, per se, since that word tends to conjure up visions of lofty goals that get abandoned by mid-January (I guess I've avoided that debacle by making my list in mid-January ;). I'll instead look at this list as a set of aspirations, many of which I've already made some headway on, or are things I used to do regularly but have slacked on for one reason or another. I'm sure there will be many new aspirations to add throughout the year, but I'll start here.

- Read more (for pleasure) (I'm already off to a good start with this one since I finished a few books last week on our Texas trip.)
- Write more. Writing has been so therapeutic for me throughout my life, so I'm not sure why I tend to forget or ignore that fact.
- Keep eating healthily and move towards an even healthier diet. Keep the focus on whole foods rather than a particular diet or health trend. (Matt is off to a great start with this one by weaning himself off of Diet Coke. I've been doing... okay. A case of sinusitis has temporarily thrown the progress I've made under the bus. But I'll get back to it as soon as my head doesn't feel like it might explode at any moment.)
- Take more photos. Not just with my phone, but my camera! (I never thought I'd have to remind myself to do this.)
- Organize/decorate the apartment. (Real Simple Magazine, be my guide!)
- Keep growing out my hair (Okay, these are starting to feel kind of shallow. Whatever.)
- Clean out my closet
- Get more creative and daring with fashion. (Being a student has taken its toll on my wardrobe and desire to be stylish. But I feel I can revive my formerly fashionable self.)
- Move somewhere new (Austin, probably.)
- Avoid any and all marathons on Bravo such as, but not limited to, The Real Housewives of (wherever), Gallery Girls, and/or Million Dollar Listing.
- Get involved in the community. I've taken a bit of a hiatus from this to focus on self-care the past few months, but I feel ready to get back out there.
- Attempt container gardening once again (in what will hopefully NOT be one of the hottest summers on record in Kansas).
- Use the stove/oven more and microwave less. (Use the fact that things kept inexplicably catching fire in the microwave yesterday as motivation.)
- More tea, less coffee.

Wish me luck.

Along these same lines, you should check out the most recent This American Life episode, "Self Improvement Kick", especially if you love Elna Baker as much as I do.