Monday, June 8th, 2015
Well, it’s been months since I sat down and wrote anything for this space. I have thought about it a million times, and Nathan asks regularly when I will be writing something new. Honestly, it just hasn’t been possible to write anything for a while. It isn’t because things stopped happening, or I stopped taking pictures, or I no longer get stuck in my head long enough to draw out something to write about. It’s just that, well, these last eleven months have been hellish. And, yes, you may notice that eleven months pretty much exactly lines up with how long I’ve been married. And, no, the hellishness has nothing to do with my marriage. Nathan and I are great. He has been one of the only things in my life over the last year that has been good and stable and happy. While my marriage itself wasn’t the source of the emotional drain that spanned this year, the actual act of getting married certainly contributed to the stress. Our wedding was beautiful, and we were surrounded by loved ones, and marrying Nathan was the best decision I ever made, but the wedding was also very stressful and overwhelming and some of the things that resulted from it have been really emotionally damaging.
I know that all of that is so so vague. I’m sorry for that. The reality is that a lot of the negative energy that lingered after the wedding is gone now. It has taken almost a year, but things are getting worked through and getting back to normal. There are people that are close to Nathan and me that know all about the trials of the last year, and I am happy to talk with people about it individually. But, it has been one of the toughest times of my life, and I just don’t feel like the whole internet needs a backstage pass for that.
For many people, when life gets difficult it becomes easier for them to share with others or to write out their thoughts. For me it wasn’t like that at all. I got so stuck in my own head. I kind of just shut down. I want this blog to be a positive space, and I didn’t see a lot of positive for a while. The good things that were happening seemed less important to share here and more important to hold onto just between Nathan and me. That is the thing with blogs and instagram and facebook- they aren’t at all as they seem. This point makes it’s rounds on the blog circuit every few months, but I believe it is worth repeating. If you were to look at my instagram feed for the last year, you probably wouldn’t have any idea that anything out of the ordinary was going on in my life. Instagram literally filters the bad out of our lives. This blog, my status updates, every picture I run through VSCO Cam, it is all a tightly edited sliver of my life. So many of the brutally hard things, and many of the heartbreakingly wonderful things, never make it past my own brain.
In some ways, this edited version of my life is great. I can look back at my instagram feed, or read old blog posts, and I only have to relive the good moments. In other ways, it seems wrong that we try so hard to present a fake reality to the world. We try to eliminate the vulnerability that we experience. These conflicting opinions make it hard for me to draw a line on this blog. The difference between authentic, vulnerable, and relatable, and only documenting the good things for the sake of having an archive of happiness, is fuzzy for me.
Someone told me the other day that if I could invent a “fast-forward” button for life then I would be a millionaire. If people had a tool to use to just skip over the hard times then perhaps there would no longer be any hard times. This thought has been rolling around in my head since, and it still makes me uncomfortable. A career counselor once told me that if I chose to go into a field like social work, then I would learn how not to feel so much. They would teach me how to mute my emotional attachment to the people that I worked with. That concept was completely at odds with the way I wished to live my life. The “fast-forward” button bothers me in the same way. Would I ever want to relive the last eleven moths? HELL NO! But, I wouldn’t have wanted to skip over it either. There was a lot of true anguish that characterized these months. There was also a lot of growth and love and God. Nathan and I fought our way into marriage and into adulthood. We came out alive and we came out loving each other more than we did when we started. Our community came around us in ways that still make me teary with gratitude.
All this to say that writing hasn’t been on my radar. I do miss it, though, and I want to write more. So, I guess I am back. I don’t know what a posting schedule might look like or what I’ll write about. But, I do know that it feels good to hear my fingers clack against the keys and see the strings of thoughts appear on the screen.
Friday, February 6th, 2015
Oh, hey. 12-13-14 was over a month ago, you say? Well, I don’t care. How about that?
Our city has a display of lights at the botanical gardens around Christmas time, and it is my most favorite “date night” of the whole year. I love the River of Lights. It seriously makes me giddy. It was raining and cold the night we ended up going, but it was still wonderful. I had grand ideas of using my real camera and having gorgeously composed images, but rain happened instead. IPhone photos it is-only the very best.
Wednesday, February 4th, 2015
Let me start off by saying that Grand Cayman is my favorite place in the entire world. My heart and soul live in Grand Cayman. It was our family vacation spot of choice, it is where I learned to dive, it is where I had my first rum punch, it is where I saw my first turtle in the wild. I love it. All of it.
Grand Cayman played no small role in my deep desire to be a professional beach bum. Give me a bikini, some dive equipment, and a bottle of sunscreen and I am good to go. A bottle of tequila or rum wouldn’t hurt either, come to think of it.
Naturally, when we realized that Cayman was on our cruise itinerary, we knew we had to get in a dive. We ended up booking a shore dive that left just outside of Georgetown. A shuttle took us from the port to the dive shop, and we just jumped in the water and swam out to about sixty feet or so of depth. It was gorgeous, of course. Ninety percent of the beauty of Cayman is underwater. To go to Cayman and not dive, or at least snorkel, would be a crime.
After the cruise we were hungry and not ready to go back to the ship. We asked the dive shop for a recommendation on a place to grab some food, and were directed to restaurant back in George Town.
We wandered back into town, found the restaurant, and ordered something to drink, and a bucket of fried shrimp.
One of the drinks was a Hurricane Five-very popular on the island and not very kind to lightweights (ingredients as follows):
5 shots of rum (we were told they used five different kinds of rum…)
Two drinks, one bucket of shrimp, and probably the best forty dollars we spent on the entire trip later, and Nathan was ready to find a cigar shop. Cubans aren’t illegal in Cayman- can’t miss that opportunity (or so I’m told).
Tomorrow I’ll post the few pictures that I took in Mexico and give my tips for getting the most out of your cruise!
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015
The first stop on our cruise was in Montego Bay, Jamaica. We booked a shore excursion that toured a pineapple plantation in the mountains on the island. The tour bus picked us up from the port, and we set off on an hour long trip on a winding mountain road.
Once at the pineapple plantation, our tour guide spent the day explaining the ins and outs of pineapple and coffee farming and beekeeping. The plantation is known for it’s many different kinds of pineapple (you can only buy one in the US), but they also had a thriving crop of coffee berries.
Fun fact: both of those bunches of bananas are ripe.
Red Stripe because, Jamaica.
See you tomorrow from Grand Cayman, the next stop on our cruise!
Monday, February 2nd, 2015
We got married over six months ago, so now is clearly the best time to post some honeymoon photos. I’ll also be posting pictures from our Christmas vacation here soon. I’m really on top of this whole blogging thing.
Truth is, the last six months have been pretty tough. After last semester, I sort of checked out of everything for Christmas break and the beginning of this semester. But, I plan to be back on a more full time basis. I have missed this space. I want to do it justice by at least keeping up with it.
None of the honeymoon pictures have been edited in any way, and they were all taken with my digital point and shoot. They aren’t world class photos, but they make me so happy. Our honeymoon was wonderful. We took a cruise to the Western Caribbean-a first cruise for both of us. It was amazing; going on a cruise is a truly relaxing vacation. You don’t have to do anything but have fun. The most taxing part of the whole cruise was deciding when to eat and making sure we didn’t miss our shore excursions.
The first night of the cruise was pretty casual. Cruisers spent most of the day waiting in line to get on to the ship and then waiting to get their bags, so you could just wear whatever you wanted to dinner. Normally, shorts and swimsuits and such aren’t allowed in the dining room.
Dining on the ship is a one-of-a-kind experience. You can have as many helpings of as many things on the menu as you like (Nathan loved that!). Your waitstaff stays the same through the entire cruise, so they get to know what you like, and they work hard to make you experience enjoyable.
There is also a formal night on the ship. I think that was my favorite. Everyone dresses up, the wait staff sings during dinner, and there are photographers set up all over the ship to capture you in your finery.
Your cabin steward leaves a different towel animal on your bed every day. They also create mini towel animals that are left on every pool chair on the deck each day. I may have gotten attached to a particular mini elephant… He was just so cute!
Tomorrow, I will post pictures from our first stop in Jamaica.
Friday, December 5th, 2014
First, I offer you this article all about picking the very best potatoes for your mashed side dish.
Now that you know what potatoes you need, I am going to give you a recipe for mashed potatoes that will change. your. life. I’m not kidding; I like mashed potatoes, but they wouldn’t necessarily be my first choice for how to prepare a potato. But! But! I do like them during the holidays, but I never want to eat them as leftovers. This recipe makes me want to eat mashed potatoes every day and then re-heat them the next day. They are that good.
As with all of my recipes, there are really no measurements. Just add as much of each ingredient as you feel is right. I trust your judgement.
Half and Half (whole milk or heavy cream would also probably work)
First, peel all of the potatoes, chop them up, and boil them until they are tender enough to mash. Once they are all soft and boiled, drain the water and add butter, cream cheese, and half and half. Using a blender, blend the mixture until the potatoes reach a consistency that is fluffy and smooth. Once blended, add as many fresh garlic cloves as you want (more garlic is always better-we used, like, six cloves in our batch). We used a garlic press to mince the garlic, but you could just cut it up really fine or smush it before you add it. After you add the garlic, give the potatoes a sprinkle with some sea salt and mix it up.
These truly are the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had. They certainly aren’t healthy, but they will make you happy. And, really, potatoes are meant for happiness not healthiness anyway.
Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014
Nathan and I have been swapping a nasty head cold back and forth for the last few weeks. It has been dismal. I always used to treasure that rare sick day when I got to stay home from school. But, now that adulthood has reared its ugly head, sick days are not so preferable. A sick day just results in being behind in work and school and feeling crappy. Even though all of my sinuses are sore, my ears and throat hurt, and I am nursing a cough, there has been one thing that has consistently made me feel a little better. I’ve mixed up an elixir of sorts (which Nathan won’t drink) that seems to quell some of the dastardly head cold symptoms.
Ginger (I use the minced kind that comes in the jar)
First, boil some water. While the water is boiling, add the ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, honey, and lemon to a mug. Once the water is boiled pour it over the ingredients in the mug. Give it a stir and drink up. If you are feeling like you really need an extra kick then you could definitely add some whiskey or bourbon (but only do that if you’re in for the night).
I know that there aren’t any measurements and that’s because how much you add of everything is really up to you. The more the merrier as far as I’m concerned. And, honestly, this does not taste bad. I promise.
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
Now that the semester is almost over (and Thank God for that), I will have a little time on my hands. I would really like to use up that time by reading and cooking. With that in mind, I have been compiling my winter break reading list. It started with a lengthy trip to Barnes and Noble. Nathan and I could waste hours in bookstores. While I love brick and mortar bookstores, books are normally cheaper online. So, I present unto you my holiday reading list separated into cookbooks and all other books and all with a link to buy:
1. Thug Kitchen: The team behind this cookbook has a rad website (here), and creates plant based, vegan recipes. Their website liberally uses cuss words and verbal abuse to beat you into healthier eating. Reading their blog is such a kick, and I would really like to get my hands on the official cookbook. Buy here.
2. The Kitchn Cookbook: Also the cookbook product of a blog (here). I check The Kitchn blog every single day, and some of my most used recipes come from their archives. I am particularly excited about this one. Buy here.
3. Death and Co: Modern Classic Cocktails: Full of recipes and knowledge about every drink and alcohol you can think of, this book would make an excellent companion for the curious drinker. Buy here
1. Bread and Wine: I have heard nothing but good things about this book. I read Shauna Niequist’s blog, and her insight about relationships and hospitality is always on point. Buy here.
2. Gone Girl: Everyone is talking about it, and I just want to jump on that bandwagon. Buy here.
3. The Best Yes: A friend mentioned that this book had really impacted her; and, as someone who struggles with saying no, I think it might be a good read for me. Buy here.
Well, there they are. I think that they’ll keep me busy for most of winter break. What are some books that you’re hoping to read?
Monday, December 1st, 2014
As I sit here on my living room couch, watching my dad hang the snowflakes on the tree, (we don’t do ornaments, but our tree is a thing of beauty), and savoring my remaining precious moments at home. I’m trying to memorize the way the stairs creak when someone goes upstairs, the way the soft sounds of the TV trickle into the next room where I’m working, and the way the kitchen is bathed in buttery yellow light. This house is my home. I don’t think it will ever be easy to leave for an extended period of time. I’m thankful that I’ve had the privilege to grow up in a place like this, one filled with happy memories and boisterous laughter and blood and sweat and tears.
It might sound funny to be thankful for those things, some good, and some bad. But right now, in this season, I am working on practicing my thankfulness skills. Thanksgiving is over and the leftovers have been gobbled up. The tree is up, the lights are strung, and the garland greets visitors in the doorway. The Christmas season is beautiful. Sometimes, though, amid the pine and the presents and the people, I think that we lose our spirit of thankfulness. I know I do. It’s far too easy at this time of year to want, want, want, rather than give, give, give, let alone thank, thank, thank.
Right now though, as I sit here, in my home, preparing to go back to the daily grind of school and work, I’m working a little harder than normal to be thankful for this pattern of my world. The back and forth from home to school, and from school to home. Two places where I can be myself. Two beds to come back to at night, no matter what. Parents who love and encourage me, near and far. Siblings who both infuriate me and make me laugh. Friends here and there, each pursuing their own calling, yet managing to keep track of one another despite the hustle and bustle.
Thanks is more than a word and more than an action, it’s an attitude that stretches us to do more and say less and think harder. We certainly don’t live in a thankful world, but I want to do my best to be thankful for something, anything, every day. Little things and big things, happy things and sad things, good things and bad things; they all add something to this whatever place we call home. Let’s rejoice!
Sunday, November 30th, 2014
Today at church I was lucky enough to get to hang out with my Godbaby for the whole service. During one of the first songs she dozed off onto my shoulder, and then slept through the whole sermon. She cuddled right into my shoulder and snored for a solid half hour. I felt so lucky. It isn’t everyday that a baby will just fall asleep on you. Plus, baby snores are the best. They are so cute; it is really too much.
At one point I handed her to Nathan and he bounced her on his knee while making car noises. Her smile was contagious. And, to be honest, watching Nathan love on her just about makes my heart beat right out of my chest. She is the kind of baby that makes me feel like having babies is something I want to do someday. Nathan and I definitely don’t have plans for babies anytime soon; but, when we do, I’d like to have one just like her.
Seeing her and her mom on Sunday is one of the brightest spots of my whole week. I am sure that we probably looked a little ridiculous sneakily snapping pictures during the service, but I think we were all sort of in a baby haze. And, honestly, a little baby haze is exactly what I needed this morning. There is just something about cuddling a baby that makes everything seem right in the world. I’d recommend it.