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We Must Choose to Choose Love

As anticipated, this morning came as a relief to some and heartbreak to others. C and I woke up holding one another a little tighter, hugged before leaving a little longer. The morning commute on the train was a little quieter, the air much thicker. In fear of what might come out of ones mouth, in favor of or disapproval of, many Americans remained speechless and silent.

I’ve said it all along, that this election was more than just about a particular party or a particular view. It was more than just the issues or melting pot of scandal, lies, and corruption. It was about basic human rights. It was about progression. Progression toward an ever growing, ever learning and adapting America. It was about protection and love.

With any expression of view comes backlash. Many returned their opinion on my personal fears of being a homosexual female, saying there are bigger issues at stake… in the end, there are checks and balances… and one man wont have the power to fulfill many of the promises he has made. I agree. I agree that there are many other issues at stake. I agree that many other minorities will face monumental challenges in the years, months, days to come. I agree that democracy is made possible by a system of checks and balances. I agree.

I also agree that unless you are standing in the shoes of those facing those challenges… as a member or ally of the LGBTQ, Latino/Hispanic, African american, female, Muslim, communities along with many more… that you don’t feel the fear the same way these communities do. No only because of one man… but because of the hate shown every single day by our fellow American brothers and sisters. You can say checks and balances will work out, and we all hope they do… but again, it is more than fear of just one man fueling these decisions. It is the fear of hatred. The hatred that now has a leader.

Regardless of what happens, I will be okay. The sadness and heartbreak I feel in regards to my right to marry, my right to healthcare, my right to equal treatment, etc., that will heal. I will still marry the the love of my life and spend the rest of my life loving my wife and family as I would have yesterday. I will still stand for what is right and advocate for those who cant. I will still accept and welcome people of all backgrounds in life, listening to their stories and supporting their needs. Regardless, I will be okay.

Whether or not our country will be- that is another question to be wondered. In my heart of hearts, I know that we can be… and in order to do so we must choose to be. We must choose to support one another. We must choose to accept one another’s differences and lead with an open mind. We must choose to choose love.

-A

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Last Weekend Was a Dream

Once upon a time, four friends planned a camping trip… (thought to be borderline glamping by one), found out it was primitive in nature. Per usual, I chose to pack last minute, and we had a few food prepping details to finish. The nature of this trip did not stop us from living large when it came to food and drinks. Overnight Chia Oats with Cherries, Roasted Veggie Tomato Soup, Turkey Chickpea Spinach Burgers, and Fajita Veggie Skillets were some of the items on the menu. Oh, and (obvs) we had mimosas… because when do the four of us get together and not have mimosas? Once the car was packed, we took a short nap and hit the road around 12:00 am, soon finding ourselves face to face with a giant sand dune (at the crack of dawn).

So let’s just take a moment and acknowledge that all four of us are in pretty good okay shape. Well, you would have thought differently when you saw us panting ten minutes in. Exhausted (but excited) the four of us completed a 6 mile hike before even departing for the island. Six miles- hardly any sleep, straight from our six hour drives to the destination… pretty good if you ask me. We trecked on, always miscalculating how close we were to the end. It was questionable whether we were becoming delusional or if the water even existed, at one point. Every time we made it over the elephantine hills, (where we thought the shoreline beach was), we were faced with at least two more. Eventually… by the grace of some higher power, we made it.

The sights were unbelievable, pictures barely do it justice. It was so hot and our legs were so sore, but it felt so nice once we reached the water. Crystal blue, faint shadows of the islands far off. It was beautiful. Spotted our first bald eagle in the wild, and I was mesmerized by the millions of ladybugs on the beach. Workout for the day, check…. or so we thought.

 

After departing on the ferry (a ferry that served some pretty delish Bloody Mary’s) we reached our destination two hours later. Now the fun began… figuring out how to hike (with all of our stuff) to our campground (without dying). Those Bloody Mary’s didn’t seem so sweet at this point. CS took off in hopes of snagging one of the prime spots along the lake. N stayed with C and I, as we mainly I struggled to carry what felt like bowling balls through the uneven paths in the woods.

We made it. Smelly and sore, but we made it. We set up camp, tied our food up in a tree (hilarious), and scoped out where we would be able to dig a hole to go to the bathroom. That was probably the most interesting part for me. Never do I ever think I will feel as free as I did having to dig a hole in the middle of the woods, in the pouring rain.

Friday, we walked down to the water before the storms came. The bugs were unreal. I’m pretty sure we all got our protein fill for the day weekend that night. Once back at our campsite, we made hot chocolate (attempting to take pictures that apparently were just not meant to be) with CS’s jet boiler (biggest blessing we had all weekend), and walked out to the sand to lay down and stare at the stars.

Holy. Stars. If I could have taken a picture of that image and save it for the rest of my life, I would have. Never have I ever seen so many stars, and so bright, as we did that night. It couldn’t have been real. I’m still convinced that someone had Hunger Games-ish technology and placed a backdrop over the sky. It was just too perfect. Soon the storms came… and we fell asleep to the sound of rain on the tent.

Saturday, we hiked for over five hours. Seeing the beautiful cedar forests (these smells man, these smells), dunes (at which point CS had Hakuna Matata in her head and I couldn’t stop signing Toto’s Africa), and the trails surrounding our campsite. These pictures don’t even compare to the colors and textures in real life. Depending on where we were, it sometimes looked like a different country. So many types of terrain in just one place. We made it back just in time, too. Saturday night had some heavy rain.. which for the record- was an interesting night if you had to use the bathroom. Somehow, we managed to start a fire 1) in the rain 2) with wet wood (and the dry wood that N scavenged) and 3) cook our dinner before it began to pour. I mean come on, at this point we can agree that we are fershure ready for Naked and Afraid (.. right?).

Sunday, we did another little hike after spending the day drinking mimosa and talking life on the beach.

It’s trips like these that you never want to end. You learn things about one another and yourself that bring you closer. I for one, learned to go to the bathroom in a hole (under a poncho, in the pouring down rain, in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere) and faced my fears of spiders… not even flinching when one crawled on me. Win win. In all seriousness we reflected on who we each are as a person and helped one another recognize the support we all had for one another.

I miss the sounds already. The unrealistic stars painted across the sky. The sounds of trees, rain storms on the tent, wildlife, and burning fire wood. I miss the smells and the colors, but most importantly I already miss the people. Sometimes you cross paths with people, only to learn that they will always be in your life. No matter what. You’re forever friends, connected by something inside that will never break.

I could go on and on about this past weekend, and I absolutely will to friends and family as they ask me about it, but on here- I’ll leave it at just that. I am already counting down the days to when the four of us head out on our next adventure. This weekend was a dream, a dream I will cherish forever.

-A

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Week(end) Wandering

Photo-montage of the happenings in our lives: Experiments in the kitchen, visiting new places in the city (including a bar in an old bank vault), family dinner celebrations, new job offers, DIY’s around the apartment, and spontaneous visits from friends. To say this summer flashed by, would be an understatement. Almost to our 1 year chicagoan-anniversary.. and my favorite season. Which also means… that much closer to the start of classes and crossing the next big race off of my bucket list. Just a few more summer happenings before our first Chicago summer comes to a close.

Happy almost hump day!

~A

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2016: When NO Lives Matter

I cried today on the train. The first half of my commute home was spent catching up with one of my dearest friends- talking about her upcoming powerlifting competition, my dreams of Africa, how wonderful our significant others are, and laughing about my constant need to dive out of the way of flying pigeons.

Moments after the call ended, my stomach still aching from laughing so hard, I looked around the train. Men and women, boys and girls, people of all ethnicity and religion. A man wearing a turban read a book and quietly smiled at passengers walking by. An African American man stood up to offer his seat to the little old lady who had just boarded. A little girl with porcelain skin peered out the window and laughed as the train got faster. I looked out the window myself, only to see two Chicago police officers clapping for a street performer playing the saxophone. This is when I started crying.

In today’s world, you can only be pro-one group. If you stand in support of Muslims, you agree with ISIS and terrorism. If you stand in support of African Americans, you’re against police officers. If you stand in support of police officers, you don’t believe that black lives matter. If you stand in support of Mexian and Latino ethnicity, you support illegal immigration and think everyone should pay for you and your things. If you stand in support of same sex relationships, you’re against God and live a life of sin. If you stand in support of God, you hate members of the LGBT community and those of different beliefs.

Notice I only said “in support of.” Every single one of you reading this are a part of one of of these “groups.” If not one listed, something. You identity as who you are. Whether you stand in support of or are, you are looked at no differently.

No matter what you stand in support of, or even who you are, you’re instantly viewed as being against something else. You’re categorized with the extremists and those who do make bad choices. Blame is sought in these generalizations rather than getting to the root of the problem and understaning that the actions of one do not represent the actions of all. 

I cried because we live in this world. I cried because not a day goes by without hearing of the death of someone, of the hate for something, of the fear within humanity. We live in this world where everyone yells:

#blacklivesmatter

#whitelivesmatter

#bluelivesmatter

#alllivesmater

But look at our world. Do any lives actually matter, today? Lives are taken as quickly as you start your car in the morning. There is no thought. There is no feeling. Actions fueled not only by hate.. but misinformation, fear, adrenaline, etc.

As we make our way through the next half of 2016, I wonder, does any life matter any more? I can only hope that the right voices will be heard. The right actions will be taken. And once again, life can matter.

~A

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Week(end) Wandering

Another photo round up of the happenings in the life of C and A. We have been lucky to enjoy visitors almost every weekend for the past couple of months. So many memories. So many laughs. Such great people. Aside from the typical workday hustle, we have been sure to keep up with the usual- a lot of brunchin’, even more beachin’, and a new love for finding the hidden neon gems around the city (like said picture above).  Last night we rung in the holiday on the 96th floor where we got to watch hundreds of fireworks all across the city.

Tonight, we’re going to relax and celebrate the 4th with the kitties and some wataaah… because between the sun and the spirits, we have a little catching up to do before the start of the week. Here’s to hoping everyone enjoyed a safe and wonderful holiday with people they love.

Happy Monday and have a great week!

~A

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Friday Feels + a Hey, What’s up? Hello.

A couple of days ago, I was offered a job. Sort of like my dream job too. I was offered a position as Director of Programs for a nonprofit organization that focuses on prevention and community health. It wasn’t until they started to talk about relocation that I realized… it was in the heart of South Africa.

Now if you know me, you might be thinking “well, you’re going right?” In another life, heck to the absolute yes, I would be on my way right now. But in this life, I’m right in the throws of balancing graduate school, nursing school, my professional and personal life, and everything in between. I recently took a position serving on the Board of Directors for a nonprofit, Eco-Soap Bank (look it up- they’re amazing!), whose philanthropic efforts are focused in Cambodia. I’m still writing for The Nourished Belly, and I have taken on some roles with two other organizations focusing on program development and grant writing.

By the grace of some larger than life power, I have been connected with fantastic opportunities and know I am moving in the right direction towards my goals. I am getting the right experiences, and I am always quick to take on more with a swift and enthusiastic “yes.” One thing I have learned, (and sometimes need C to remind me of) is that everything happens for a reason + everything aligns at the time that it is supposed to. Learning to say no, especially when you want something so badly, is difficult. To up and move across the globe at this point in time, would be amazing yes, but it’s just not the time. Not to mention… I would have a real life code Greys Anatomy over here (Flashbacks of when Arizona leaves Callie to go to Africa for those of you who aren’t crazy fanatics like I am). But C and I’s story would go a whole lot differently… because I don’t know about you, but Shonda Rhimes has no idea what she is talking about. Those two are meant to be together… #teamCalizona.

Okay, okay. Rant over.

So to my parents and grandparents reading this- I am not moving to Africa… yet. In another year and a half, once I can add some credentials to my last name, possibly. Even for just a year or two. That card is in the deck… just not sure when I’ll pull it.

But before I go (because who knows when I’ll be back) here are some updates on the life of C and I… who for sure need a nickname like Calizona.

Carash? Ashaline? Caroley? ……maybe not.

  • C and I are trying to coordinate our schedules with work so we can go on a mission trip to Guatemala. We are hoping to go in December, but we may have to wait until June (depending on work). More to come on that.
  • C has been playing on a softball league for a couple of games, and I absolutely love going. She’s great. To play myself? I need some training.
  • As I mentioned earlier, I started as a Board of Directors Member for Eco-Soap Bank. Seriously, check out their website. There initiatives are amazing, and I am so excited to be working with them.
  • C has been superwoman lately. Working a lot, but still the peppy little thing that she is (…and if she is reading this, she is for sure rolling her eyes at that choice of words hahaha).
  • The cats are great- trained them to like being outside. They love sunbathing just like their mommas.
  • Still arguing with C over the fact that I think a cockatoo would be a fan-flipping-tastic addition to our home. She does not agree.
  • Naturally, we are both sun burnt. Falling asleep at the beach is our downfall. But thanks to the Cherokee Indian in me, mine is already turning into a nice summer glow. Thanks, faja.

The Friday feels are in full effect. Got my sassy suede shoes and a sparkling water to start this weekend off right. Not to mention we have FIVE friends and an angelic little pup coming into Chicago for the holiday. Can you say (sing) welcome to our house party, party? Kidding. We will be soaking in the sun, getting even more burnt, and devouring a whole lotta food!

Enjoy the holiday with the ones you love! Sending lots of love and Friday feels to my friends and family back home. Love you all.

~A

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XXIV

Words cannot describe how lucky I really am. Between my family, the Augusta family, and friends, I didn’t celebrate my birthday once, not even twice.. I got to celebrate my birthday over and over and over for four days. Birthday lunches, birthday dinners, Pasta Sunday at the Augusta’s with my girls and THEE most delicious cake from Casa, birthday drinks, a brownie cake with sparkling candles, canoeing, nights out with the greatest friends, accidental champagne showers, and more (and more) cake! On top of that, my oldest baby brother turned XXI and he is officially one of the big kids! Surprisingly, I did not take that many pictures… but those are always the best times. The times when your heart feels so full and so happy that all that matters is being in the moment. I love every single person in my life, and cannot thank everyone for the many, many birthday wishes, gifts, and memories. XXIV years later, I couldn’t ask for a better life. XO-freaking XO.

~A

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Sunday Funday: A Different Side of the Windy City

There is nothing more satisfying than breaking out in a sweat on a sunny day… especially when you’re just getting over being sick. Little did we know there are some hidden gems right in the heart of the Windy City and some not too far away. Kayaking along the Chicago River gives you the best of both worlds. You start out in a more lush area, filled with wildlife and beautiful scenery. The farther you go, you travel along the river next to the gorgeous skyline and hustle and bustle of the city.  Then we discovered Starved Rock State Park up in northern Illinois. We got lost more times than we should have and ended up completing a 10 mile hike. C liked the paths untraveled, and we ended up high up in a cave where we met a family of baby groundhogs. (Cutest. little. things!) Along the way we found a secluded little cove overlooking the water. We climbed up, laid out our blanket (one of the beautiful blankets Liz got for us in Guatemala), and had ourselves a picnic. Finally home we are dirty, sweaty, and ready for dinner and a movie, cuddled up with the cats.

Excited for the adventures to come this week and weekend, for my beautiful Palmisciano girls are coming to visit! I couldn’t be more excited!

Happy Sunday Funday!

~A

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Crumbs: Recipes + A Few of Our Favorite Things

If you follow me on any social media outlets, you’re probably aware that I post pictures of food… a lot. Not really sorry about that.. I like food, I like taking pictures- so it just seems to happen. It also doesn’t help that C and I try out new recipes almost every week. So here are a few of our favorite things (in brown paper packages, tied up with string) and some new recipes that we will most definitely be making again.. and again.

Forbidden Rice Bowl: This rainbow-esque, beautiful bowl is jam packed with goodness. The recipe is actually from The Glowing Fridge (who is amazing, by the way- so many great recipes!), and we tweaked it a bit. We ate it twice already, and have it packed for our road-trip tomorrow…. it’s THAT good.

Rosemary + Coconut Coffee: I don’t know about you but I LOVE coffee. I don’t like how sugary creamers can be. Honestly, I would rather have my coffee light and crisp.. not heavy and creamy. I also have a strange obsession with earthy flavors, so I tend to use herbs with everything. I added a sprig of rosemary and a splash of organic coconut milk to my coffee the other morning- holy delicious. It was so light, so earthy, and so good.

Bowls, Bowls, and More Bowls: If you cant tell, we love bowls. Pasta bowls, Chipotle bowls, salad bowls, etc. The other day for lunch I wanted something quick and easy.. so I opted for, you guessed it, a bowl. Spinach, tuna, cherry tomatoes, quinoa, pepper rings, pepitas, and lemon juice was my combination of choice, and it was actually pretty good. So I would definitely say its safe to say that any recipe in a bowl like form- we’re game.

Turmeric + Cilantro Salmon: This was a recipe that C and I tried for dinner tonight and we LOVED it. Not only does turmeric have amazing health benefits, but it gives so much flavor when used. We mixed 1 tsp turmeric + 1 tsp black pepper + 1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt + a handful of fresh cilantro + half a lemon, squeezed. Mix it up, let the salmon fillets marinate in it. Add some summer squash and back at 350 for 20-25 minutes, making sure not to overcook the salmon. We paired it with (another one of my favorites) kale chips, and we probably finished it within 5 minutes.

Sweet Potatoes + anything: We love sweet potatoes. Its a staple in out house, and we try never to run out. Typically we sautee them with different veggies and serve them with eggs for breakfast or save them as a side or snack. They’re an easy food prep with a million ways to make them.

Lemon + ACV Water: Lemon water alone has endless health benefits associated with it. Mix that with the benefits of apple cider vinegar and a dash of cayenne pepper? You’ve got super water. Combine 32 ounces of water with 2 tablespoons ACV, 1 half lemon-juiced, and a dash of cayenne pepper over ice. Mix it up, and drink up! Not only is it hydrating, it naturally cleanses your body, thanks to the antibacterial properties of the lemon, it boosts your immunity, and it increases and improves your metabolic and digestive functions. If you don’t believe me, look up the health benefits of these ingredients (from a trusted source) and see for yourself. Its amazing what power there is in food.

What recipes have you been favoriting lately?!

Happy almost Friday!

~A

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Week(end) Wandering: So long Spring, Hello Summer

Since I am horrible at keeping up with blogging, I did a quick roundup of all the things that have been going on in mine and C’s life.

In summary: taking a ridiculous number of pictures of the two furballs running around our apartment (the little man pictured above), enjoying visits from great friends, celebrating our first Chicago St. Pattys Day, trying new recipes, spontaneous road trips back to Ohio to visit friends, our alma mater’s, and family, taking advantage of the perks of living in Chicago including theater, finding new brunch spots and beautiful views, apartment redecorating (including a DIY mural above our couch), successfully training for and running a half marathon, now training for a marathon, and juggling classes and work.

Busy but blissful. Here’s to three months of summer before classes and clinicals resume and yet another attempt at keeping up with the WordPress world!

~A

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Crumbs: Loaded Guacamole

If you know me, you know I love me some guacamole. I like to experiment every once in a while, but most of the time I make the same recipe… and its good. Only problem is… I’ve never measured it out. It’s one of those taste as you go recipes (aka the best kind).

{What you need}:

  • 6-8 ripe avocados (Depending on the amount of servings you want- I always make more than needed)
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 half pineapple, chopped
  • 2-3 limes (I like mine extra lime-y)
  • Minced garlic
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Fresh cilantro

{What you do}:

  • Mix it all up and dig in! I like my guac chunky and full of flavor… so I tend to chop pretty big and go overboard with spices, cilantro, and freshly squeezed lime. Like I said, its a taste as you go- so play around!

~A

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Crumbs: Roasted Acorn Squash + Veggie Medley

{What you need}:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 1 package cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 acorn squash
  • 2 cups fresh curly-leaf kale
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 1.5 cups sliced bell peppers and onions, mixed

{What you do}:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Once preheated, place half acorn squash on cooking sheet- drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle pepper, garlic, red pepper, and salt. Cook for 30 minutes- squash should be soft on the inside.
  • Bring the water to a boil, then add quinoa with a dash of salt. Cook, covered, until water is absorbed and quinoa has become bulbous and soft. Occasionally stir to avoid burning.
  • On another cooking sheet (covered with foil)- broil kale, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, peppers and onions with a little bit of olive oil and spices used on squash.
  • Once vegetable and kale have a little crisp, add to quinoa and sliced acorn squash.
  • Enjoy!
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Crumbs: A World of Oats

Oatmeal is probably one of my favorite breakfast meals. Ironically, when I was younger, I remember hating it. The texture maybe? I’m not sure. All I know is I would attempt to sneak as many spoonfuls as I could to our dog when my parents werent looking. (Thanks Rigsy… for always having my back). Fast forward twenty some years later, and I can’t get enough.

I’m not sure that I have a favorite way of making it, but I do have some top contenders.

  • Blueberries, flax seed, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds
  • Bananas, almond butter, and honey
  • Coconut, blueberries, and vanilla granola
  • Chocolate protein granola, cranberries, and coconut
  • Raspberries, cherries, and flax seed
  • Pineapple, mango, and coconut

The possibilities are endless.

What’s your favorite mix?

~A

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Week(end) Wandering: Ghost of Weekends Past & Holiday Edition Pt. II

Between exploring the holiday version of the city, traveling back home, and visits from our favorites- this holiday season was one for the books.

~A

 

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Week(end) Wandering: Ghost of Week(end)s Past & Holiday Edition

IMG_6938I really try to keep up with the blogging world, but I often find myself overwhelmed with a slew of pictures (that each at the time of being taken had their own little something to bring to a future post) and no time to sit down and bring my words together. Weeks have gone by, and SO much has happened. So here’s what’s been up with C and I in the Windy City.

 I experienced my first all day commute. I took three trains and two busses for a little under three hours to get to a location that was only 54 minutes away via car travel. Although the journey was fun, I took an uber back home… after getting lost and realizing the next bus wasn’t coming for another hour.

C’s birthday happened, and we got to explore more of the city during the weekend, along with a cozy movie day in during the rainy mid week.

 Our first Chicago snowfall happened. Big, chunky, cartoon-esque snowflakes.

 Which prompted plenty of cozy photo-op moments. Like watching the snow fall with a glass of wine, coffee and fuzzy blankets (an amazing pair of housewarming gifts), and a burrito made of two down comforters.  We also headed downtown to meet some of C’s family for dinner, see the city lit up with Christmas garb for miles, and a sleepy train ride back home.

Spent hours scraping out our car from the frozen snow rain that buried it, enjoyed one too many cheat meals, and spent days trying to figure out how in the world we were going to prepare and serve a turkey for thanksgiving dinner (neither of us had a clue about handling a turkey.)   With the holidays around the corner, that meant it was absolutely acceptable to decorate for Christmas… over a month early. Within 24 hours we transformed our apartment into a cinnamon filled winter wonderland… that would most likely stay that way until well after New Years. This also meant an excuse to hurry home and turn on the fireplace and lights. We successfully made a delicious and juicy turkey, with the help of C’s family, and no fire extinguishers needed to be used. For the rest of the week, we explored more of Lincoln Square, snacked and feasted on leftovers for days, spent time laughing and watching movies with C’s family from out of town, and enjoying our first holiday season in Chicago. Absolutely, the most wonderful time of the year.

~A

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DIY: Coffee Bar

I’m all for anything that involves cute jars, especially mason jars. I’m also for all things coffee related. So it just seemed fitting that as we prepared for guests from out of town, we make our own coffee bar! Simple and sweet, fitting right in the little corner nook on our counter. I assume that as we come across more jars and beans, we’ll keep adding to it.

As a gift, we were given some different coffees- ground and whole bean . So we found a couple larger jars to put them in. Filling one with ground coffee and another with beans, we soon had an easily accessible and way cuter way to enjoy your coffee. Using tiny jars we got as wedding favors, we filled them with our favorite coffee spices- nutmeg, cinnamon, and cocoa. We found a small coffee press for a decent price and a bowl for the filters. Voila! Coffee bar for.. 6? Target had cute black mugs that we stacked upside down next to the bar so our guests didn’t have to search through cupboards. In the end it was a great hit with company, and it is one of our favorite parts of the kitchen. Definitely a  DIY-win.

-A

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What You Have, Others Might Not Even Have That Option

Today was really windy and cold… today I wore a dress and heels. So you can imagine my terror when I tried to get an Uber only to find out that everyone else in Chicagoland had the same idea because of the storms, and there weren’t any available for another 15 to 20 minutes. I had ten-ish to walk from the station to work.

As I scurried down Wacker, holding my dress down and tightening my coat as I froze from the cold wind, I realized how thankful I am to even have the option to use my mobile phone to call “everybody’s personal driver.” (That’s Uber’s saying if you aren’t aware.) I realized how thankful I am to have a warm, winter coat to tighten around my body, and I realized how thankful I am to have the ability to (despite how many times my parents taught me to dress for the weather) choose to dress poorly for the weather, not because its my only option.

While everyone knows that there are others around the world with far less, faced with far worse problems.. gratitude and thankfulness is seldom expressed. I’m going to take a moment and dip into one of the biggest controversies to hit this winter season (so far)- Starbucks Holiday Cups. If you aren’t up to tune on the latest debacle, many are offended by the design of the #RedCups this season. The missing snowflakes, swirly winter designs, and sleds (which if I am correct are symbolism of winter, not Christmas in particular?) have deeply upset many people. As I walked down the streets of the heart of downtown Chicago, holding my red cup, I wondered how many people were upset with me… while at the same time, I was SO thankful to even be holding that cup. I have seen many people weigh in on this issue, all with the same message:

We forget and take for granted what we are so lucky to have.

While I am thankful for my life in Chicago, my frivolous things, my Starbucks, Netflix, and the warmth of my fireplace on Saturday mornings… I am thankful for so much more.

My health and wellness. My body. I can walk, talk, smell, see, feel, hear, dance, and run. I am healthy and mobile. My knowledge and intelligence. I am surrounded by opportunity and growth. My job and career. My safety and security in the country I live. My freedom to be exactly who I am and love who I choose. My shelter, my home. My community, family and friends…(including my cats). My support system. I am not alone nor do I need to fear whats ahead or in store.

Take everything else away. Look at the basic hierarchy of needs (Maslow’s. Look it up). We have them now, but whats to stop them from one day disappearing? The saying, anything can happen is more true than I think most realize. As a kid, I remember being asked to share what I was thankful for around the holiday seasons. My siblings and I would say our family, our dog, and a list of toys, video games, favorite stores, and favorite vacation spots (hints to our parents for the next trip). When I was teaching, I asked my students this questions quite often… mostly because I enjoyed the silly things little kids say, like when their big brother doesn’t pick their nose or mommy’s squishy pillow belly. When we are young, we are so new to the world. It isn’t until we are much older, after the ah ha moments set in, that we truly understand how lucky most of us are.

So this holiday season, as we express gratitude and share the things we are grateful for… think about the things that seem so second nature. Our health. Our surroundings. Our opportunities. Be thankful for the things that could one day not be there. Recognize the things in your life that you have that others might not even have the option for. Be thankful for and appreciate every tiny moment of this thing called life.

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Week(end) Wandering

A little late, but the past two weeks have flown by. After a trip home to Ohio, a flat tire on the turnpike, the #besthalloweenever (as strawberry shortcake or… strawberry washing tub), visits with family and catching up with siblings, rooftop date nights, and delicious new recipes in the kitchen, I’m not surprised two weeks have flown by with the blink of an eye. Time to take a moment to remember to stop and breathe.. right after C and I figure out how to cook a Thanksgiving Turkey!

Cheers to the midweek hump!

~A

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Things I’m Learning About the Windy City

With the holidays coming up, it’s hard not to think about home. C and I have decided to switch off each year for the holidays. This year we will be here in Chicago with her family, next year in Ohio with mine, so on and so forth. I mainly miss the people back home more than anything, and I wish I could just move them all out here (so yes Ohio friends and family, when I win the mega millions, you’re moving to Chi-town). However, as homesick as I have been, I am also realizing that I’m starting to get the hang of city life. Having been in Chicago for a little over two months, I have started to learn the ins and outs. Like…

  • No one (absolutely no one) waits for the crosswalk light to come on. Despite what the light says, if you can gauge the speed and distance of the oncoming car and your ability to speed walk out of the danger zone.. You go. Oh and if you have a skateboard or longboard, you’re basically a car.
  • When the train becomes an express train… Hold. on. tight. It may or may not be a game to see how many passengers the conductor can knock out of their seat.
  • You may as well make your morning run in heels. If you have to dress up for work and majority of your outfits include heels, you’ll benefit from practicing your sprinting skills in them. I myself find this particularly helpful when almost every day I find myself bolting up every other stair to catch the train.
  • Silence and quiet becomes eerily creepy. If I don’t hear a siren, car horn, or jazz instrument at least once every two minutes.. something is wrong. At first I questioned how I would ever get used to the noise.. Now it’s just a part of life.
  • If you don’t have the Starbucks app on your phone to order ahead, you need to accept and understand that you will never have time to get Starbucks.. Ever. Thankfully, I can surpass the lines and crowded waiting area and grab my coffee and go.
  •  I no longer know how to drive. I haven’t but once since C and I moved here (She likes to drive, so I’m not complaining). I have this problem where the sound of car horn instantly sends my nerves into a panicked frenzy and fuels my body with anger. So I just can’t. I’ll take public tranposrtstiom over driving any day.
  • Speaking of… while the train ride to and from work every day is okay, it’s always an adventure when traveling any further. You may get on a bus or train and find out you’re going the wrong way after 45 minutes of thinking you mastered it.
  • Also- you get really creative at avoiding eye contact when you’re smashed in like sardines (yet more people still shimmy themselves onto the train) even when your faces are less than an inch apart.
  • You’ll never run out of places to eat.
  • You’ll never run out of places to grab a drink.
  • You might become the laziest human on the planet. There are services (and yes we’ve used them) that will deliver anything, at any time, anywhere. Groceries, Chipotle, wine, take out, Chipotle, medicine when you’re sick, pet supplies…. Chipotle… Wine…
  • There is life around every corner. No matter what day of the week or what time of day there is always something going on. There is so much diversity and culture that there is no time for boredom.
  • Taking an uber for a 4 minute drive (no matter what the weather is like) is one hundred percent acceptable.
  • The term Windy City is not just a phrase, and if you’re not careful your dress may fly up like a scene from a cartoon.
  • You fall in love with it every day.

Since moving here, I can genuinely say that this was the best decision I’ve made. I love my job, I love my (new) home, I love the people around me and those supporting me back home.. & im so excited to see what’s ahead.

~A