I wish we could sometimes love the characters in real life as we love the characters in romances. There are a great many human souls whom we should accept more kindly, and even appreciate more clearly, if we simply thought of them as people in a story.
G.K. Chesterton in What I Saw in America
My family is another step closer to the Brazil World Cup this summer! I picked up our visas from the Brazilian Consulate this afternoon, which meant I got to laugh at all our ridiculous visa photos and get even more excited for this adventure. Also, the Brazilian Consulate workers were WAY nicer than the Chinese Consulate people, so I think this is a good sign for our trip as a whole.

My family is another step closer to the Brazil World Cup this summer! I picked up our visas from the Brazilian Consulate this afternoon, which meant I got to laugh at all our ridiculous visa photos and get even more excited for this adventure. 

Also, the Brazilian Consulate workers were WAY nicer than the Chinese Consulate people, so I think this is a good sign for our trip as a whole.

This is how you win her. Part 1.

Start with crazy hair and kind eyes. A penchant for quirky bow ties and stylish shoes is preferred, but not mandatory. A sure sense of self, however, is required.

Within minutes of formally meeting her around a campfire, scoff at what she’s studying. Watch her eyes narrow as you talk, her pale pink mouth crinkle up in anger at your words. She fires right back, playfully spitting venom in your direction. Get used to that. She will always keep you on your toes.

Marvel at her determination as the philosophical argument continues. Turn the lively discussion to the faith you share with her, to your mutual hatred of ugly typography, to the adventurous streak that runs through both your veins. Watch her eyes soften as she decides you may not be a such a jerk after all. 

Let a real smile stretch across your face, the kind that causes the wrinkles around your eyes to scrunch up in a mischievous way. This will be the first thing she loves about you. 

Walk peacefully through the woods, lagging behind the rest of the group as the two of you stay locked in conversation. When she trips over a root jutting onto the path, graciously steady her before laughing. Walk in silence for a while together. Marvel at how brightly the stars shine out here, far away from city lights. 

Stay outside talking until everyone else has gone to sleep, until it is just you and her, until even the summer night air has become cold.

Recipes for the domestically challenged.I mentioned an avocado salsa salad I’ve been obsessed with lately here and had like seven people ask me for the recipe… I’m flattered, you people are great, but you’re also seriously overestimating my kitchen abilities. I promise I’m not withholding any great kitchen secrets from you, but there’s truly not a recipe for this. I’m answering this publicly to make it easier: I start with a giant bowl of spring mix salad, add chopped up avocado topped with sea salt, put in some pico de gallo or chunky salsa, throw in cheese if I remembered to buy any at the store, and toss in chopped peppers and tomatoes. If I’m feeling really extravagant, I might even add croutons too. Then I just mix in a dressing (pick your poison, I like balsamic with this but I’m sure other things would be good too), or just use mashed up avocados and salsa as a dressing, and you’re good to go! I’m a little embarrassed to share this because it’s not even a recipe… but I eat this almost everyday now, so I suppose I shouldn’t keep the deliciousness all to myself. That would just be selfish. Now share some knowledge with me, what are your favorite salad combos?

Recipes for the domestically challenged.

I mentioned an avocado salsa salad I’ve been obsessed with lately here and had like seven people ask me for the recipe… I’m flattered, you people are great, but you’re also seriously overestimating my kitchen abilities. I promise I’m not withholding any great kitchen secrets from you, but there’s truly not a recipe for this. 

I’m answering this publicly to make it easier: I start with a giant bowl of spring mix salad, add chopped up avocado topped with sea salt, put in some pico de gallo or chunky salsa, throw in cheese if I remembered to buy any at the store, and toss in chopped peppers and tomatoes. If I’m feeling really extravagant, I might even add croutons too. Then I just mix in a dressing (pick your poison, I like balsamic with this but I’m sure other things would be good too), or just use mashed up avocados and salsa as a dressing, and you’re good to go! 

I’m a little embarrassed to share this because it’s not even a recipe… but I eat this almost everyday now, so I suppose I shouldn’t keep the deliciousness all to myself. That would just be selfish. 

Now share some knowledge with me, what are your favorite salad combos?

Try to say nothing negative about anybody for three days, for forty-five days, for three months. See what happens to your life.
Yoko Ono 

Happiness List.

Here are a few of the happy things in my life right now:

+ I had an absurdly fun weekend full of wine consumption, bachelorette shenanigans and line dancing lessons.
+ It’s officially leather jacket weather in Chicago! This is kind of my favorite season, so I’m pumped about that.
+ There’s a new avocado and salsa salad I’ve been making myself on repeat. It makes me feel like an adult to find myself actively craving green leafy things. 
+ I move in two months, so apartment shopping has become my new favorite pastime. It’s stressful, but actually a little fun!
+ My Lenten fast is seriously challenging, but I’m proud of how well I’m sticking to it.
At a bachelorette party in rural Illinois. There are cowboy boots and flannel shirts galore here and people learn how to line dance in middle school gym class… I’m severely out of place ha. These are things I only endure for my very best friends. 

At a bachelorette party in rural Illinois. There are cowboy boots and flannel shirts galore here and people learn how to line dance in middle school gym class… I’m severely out of place ha. These are things I only endure for my very best friends. 

I just always feel so much better after a bottle of wine.
Overheard a middle-aged woman saying this in my office. Happy Friday indeed!

A round-up of good reads, etc.

Between the love of reading I developed as a child and the fact that staying up to date on current affairs is actually part of my job now, I read an absurd amount every single day. From my recent Internet scourings, here are some gems that seemed worthy of sharing with you:

In Which I Fix My Girlfriend’s Grandparents’ WiFi And Am Hailed As a Conquering Hero // McSweeney’s
I picked up a “Best of McSweeney’s” book during a recent library trip and tore through it in a day. Quirky and clever, this unique brand of humor always cracks me up. And it was somehow even funnier in book form. The above essay was one of my favorites. All too relatable. 

The Best Cocoa Brownies // Smitten Kitchen 
One of my co-workers brought these in last week topped with sea salt. I don’t even like brownies that much, but I was freaking out about how good they were. She generously shared the recipe with me, and it has now jumped to the top of my “to bake” list.  

Wooing A New Generation of Museum Patrons // NY Times
I love museums, but admittedly didn’t know much about the behind-the-scenes system that keeps them funded. I’m especially intrigued by the moral dilemma of where to donate money because, like many of the millennials cited in that article, it’s hard for me to justify donating to a museum instead of a social cause. At the same time, I adore museums, and I know they do need money to stay in business… So I’m a bit torn at the moment.

"One More Thing" Book Trailer // B.J. Novak 
I saw this trailer a while ago, but a friend was just telling me how he just read B.J. Novak’s book. He loved it, so now I’m itching to read it asap. I would buy it, but I don’t want to break my “no frivolous spending" rule. I’ll just be patient for now and see if I can track it down at the library, but has anyone read it already? What did you think of it?

Why You Should Keep a Journal // Lifehacker
I’ve been thinking lately about how I want to be better about keeping a handwritten journal again. I used to do that, but I’ve slacked off lately. This article gave me a whole new chunk of reasons why I should resurrect this habit asap.  

A Wedding in Intensive Care // NY Times Opinionator 
I’m a sap to begin with, but this article? Oh my goodness, I was near tears even just reading this at work. Beautiful, and a good reminder that weddings are about so much more than pretty dresses and extravagant receptions. 

Roasted Strawberry Lemonade // In Honor of Design
Since Chicago celebrated the first official day of spring with a cute little snowstorm today, I’m ready to get out of here. A trip to warmer climates is sadly not in the near future for me, but a spiked version of this pretty strawberry lemonade sounds like the perfect accompaniment to my daydreams of summer. 
The other night, while I was at the library trying to chase away the blahs, I rediscovered one of my favorite commencement speeches (“Make Good Art" by Neil Gaiman) in the form of this pretty little book. I sat on the floor in the library and re-read the whole thing right there. If you’re needing some inspiration or a kick in the butt on this gloomy Thursday, reading or watching this could be a good place to start. 

The other night, while I was at the library trying to chase away the blahs, I rediscovered one of my favorite commencement speeches (“Make Good Art" by Neil Gaiman) in the form of this pretty little book. I sat on the floor in the library and re-read the whole thing right there. If you’re needing some inspiration or a kick in the butt on this gloomy Thursday, reading or watching this could be a good place to start. 

The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.
M. Scott Peck
Yesterday afternoon, a florist delivered an incredibly beautiful bouquet of flowers to my office. To my surprise, he looked at his clipboard and asked where he could find me! I was confused, because it wasn’t my birthday or anniversary or any special day in particular. I stood there, trying to figure out whether the florist had the wrong person or I had forgotten some monumental holiday. Had people started sending flowers for St. Patrick’s Day and I missed it?Well no, it turns out I hadn’t forgotten some important day. These were “just because” flowers, sent from Zac in China, for no particular reason. 

As all my co-workers fussed over how beautiful the flowers were and how sweet it was for him to send them just because, I blushed profusely and tried to act nonchalant… but my goodness, it was all I could do to keep that giddy excitement and surprise locked in.  

Flower deliveries on birthdays and anniversaries and Valentine’s Day are wonderful and all, but a giant bouquet for no reason at all? Gentlemen, take notes, that is one great way to a girl’s heart. Or mine at least. My goodness Zac, I think I’ll keep you around for a while. 

Maybe I’m gushing and maybe it’s cheesy, but this is the first time I’ve ever had flowers delivered to me at work, and it felt noteworthy enough that I wanted to document it in this little way… And after all, if I can’t gush here, then where can I? 

Yesterday afternoon, a florist delivered an incredibly beautiful bouquet of flowers to my office. To my surprise, he looked at his clipboard and asked where he could find me! 

I was confused, because it wasn’t my birthday or anniversary or any special day in particular. I stood there, trying to figure out whether the florist had the wrong person or I had forgotten some monumental holiday. Had people started sending flowers for St. Patrick’s Day and I missed it?

Well no, it turns out I hadn’t forgotten some important day. These were “just because” flowers, sent from Zac in China, for no particular reason. 

As all my co-workers fussed over how beautiful the flowers were and how sweet it was for him to send them just because, I blushed profusely and tried to act nonchalant… but my goodness, it was all I could do to keep that giddy excitement and surprise locked in.  

Flower deliveries on birthdays and anniversaries and Valentine’s Day are wonderful and all, but a giant bouquet for no reason at all? Gentlemen, take notes, that is one great way to a girl’s heart. Or mine at least. My goodness Zac, I think I’ll keep you around for a while. 

Maybe I’m gushing and maybe it’s cheesy, but this is the first time I’ve ever had flowers delivered to me at work, and it felt noteworthy enough that I wanted to document it in this little way… And after all, if I can’t gush here, then where can I? 

A cure for the blahs?

I don’t know if it’s the weather or work stress or the lingering sinus infection that isn’t disappearing, but I’ve been feeling a bit blah lately, for no particular reason… Or very blah, if I’m being totally honest.

This morning, all I wanted to do was stay curled up under my soft blankets and sleep more. You know those days where getting out of bed seems impossible, even though you got plenty of sleep? Yeah, this was an extreme version of one of those days. 

Since I’m strictly sticking with my Lenten “no frivolous spending plan" (which is going surprisingly well, by the way), I didn’t treat myself to a fancy lunch or new lipstick like I sometimes do to cheer myself up on bad days.  Instead, I’m currently sipping on some white pomegranate tea (so good - thanks Trader Joe’s!) and plan to head right to the library after work. I swear, it’s impossible to stay in a bad mood when surrounded by all those books. 

I’d love to know… Do you have a go-to cure for chasing away blah days? 
When we are old and wrinkly, so old that our hair is more white than gray, so old that we are not just grandparents but great-grandparents, can we still hold hands when we cross the street?

When we are old and wrinkly, so old that our hair is more white than gray, so old that we are not just grandparents but great-grandparents, can we still hold hands when we cross the street?

These statistics should break our heart, and they should compel us to act.
This quote is from President Obama, speaking about the crisis facing young, black American men today, but also how I feel about a few other particularly tragic statistics. It’s overwhelming when widespread injustices are highlighted by statistics, because then what do you do? What can anyone do in the face of such staggering tragedy? 

When I have days like today, where I feel overwhelmed and like nothing I can do will ever make a difference, I have to remember to think small. You do what you can, where you are. One good deed, help one person at a time, that’s what I can do for now. Maybe studying policy or grander solutions will come later on, but for now, this is what I can do. And something is always better than nothing.