Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Getting real

Yesterday, all day, I believed it was Tuesday.

Maybe I just wanted it to be. Maybe I was so sick of Monday that I tried to fast forward.

This winter has been a particularly brutal one.

Brutal on my health, my head, my emotions, my productivity, my inspiration, my surroundings.

I have been sick on and off since the beginning of December with one thing or another. I spent New Year's in a hospital, instead of the masquerade ball I was so excited to attend. I received a diagnosis I wasn't exactly thrilled with, one that will plague me forever. The uncertainty of the future has me in a slight panic.

The January days have been bleak, and left me with a dull sense of dread in my gut that I couldn't seem to shake.

Yesterday and Sunday were particularly brutal. It was like I would never be carefree again, not even for a moment.

I wanted a breakthrough. I wanted spring. I wanted a thunderstorm; that light, that energy.

I read something from Jane Pratt of xojane a couple months ago in Glamour magazine. I have, however, lost the article...just like my phone charger and my sanity...

But anyway, it said something along the lines of how we should not wait to crawl out from a dark place before we write about it. We should chart it, keep note of our progress, and if nothing else, prove that we're human.

Guilty as charged. I rarely write about the down days. I am not a wallower. If I am not happy with my life, I go into action mode. I never let myself sink into the depths; I research and plan and try to fix it.

But I have come to recognize that those moments of feeling anxious or depressed or completely and utterly drained have a purpose. They force you to stop and stew. They form a solid rock bottom to give you stability before you take off again.

This morning, I woke up to the sound of thunder. It will linger all day. It shook the windows and roiled through the early morning sky.

I immediately went outside. (I had to get something from my car, but I also wanted to feel the gorgeous mid-60s air and light rain on my skin.)
It reminded me of a day I remember vividly from third grade. I rushed out to the backyard one spring day before school and watched the thunderheads roll in. And something in me felt so alive. That feeling comes rushing back anytime I wake up to a morning thunderstorm.

Today I get my thunderstorm and my taste of spring.

And today, for the first time in weeks, I woke up and nothing hurt.

(A song for the day, mostly because it has been stuck in my head:)

Monday, January 28, 2013

My thoughts on...fashion.

If you know me in person, you know I look like this 99% of the time:

It's like that scene in The Princess Diaries where Anne Hathaway looks in the mirror and goes "Yep. That is as good as it's gonna get."

But like...every. single. day.

So on this blog, I can tell you what you are *not* going to see pretty much ever.

Fashion posts. Where I say, "Look! I wore this cute outfit because I'm good at that sort of thing. I even pose really well and also look like a model."


That rarely happens in my life, and if it does, it is often by accident and no one gets a picture of it.

I applaud people out there who can do that, but I am just not one of them.
I lack any and all ability to take a decent photograph and be in a cute outfit simultaneously.

For example,


(But I mean, even Tom the photogenic one struggled with this one. Dumb sun. And smudged camera lens.)

And this:

I can dress myself and all that, but I wouldn't call fashion (or photographing it, for that matter) my forte.

There are a total of two posts I can remember off the top of my head where I show off my fashionzz:

Here and Here.

So over the summer I attempted some cute, fashion-y type posts, but I just find that generally, my own clothes are nothing to post about. Unless I find something truly amazing that I just have to talk about and know that everyone should own.

Until that happens, my Pinterest fashion board is the hippest, coolest part of my clothing collection.

And my owl mittens. Which people still think are rabbits or squirrels.
And according to the strange man at the bar yesterday...they look like ghosts (?).

So I do apologize, but pretty fashion posts probably will not show up here anytime soon.

I try to make up for it in awkward tales and stalking blogs of those who know what they're doing when it comes to le fashion.

Some of my faves:

All of those blogs are gorgeous eye candy. Daily reads of mine.

Perhaps I will pick up a thing or two from them.
Until then, I am all about the mismatched socks and comfy scarves. 

Especially because it's January.

And gross outside.

Long live the sweater-and-thick-legging combo. Because I know I will be rocking that for as long as it is allowed.


Friday, January 25, 2013

What 22 will bring

It's my birthday in a couple weeks, and I find it strange to think that I won't be 21 anymore.

21 is it. It's the furthest point I ever thought to growing up. I assumed that at this point, I would have it all together, and the rest of my life would kind of slowly unfold as it was meant to.

I may have even kind of believed that a year ago.

Even when I was celebrating at my pink and sock birthday that my awesome roommates threw me.

I had a pretty good time drinking strawberry rum and spelling lots of things.

I don't know if I aged 40 years or what since then, but I am SO glad that none of my friends are turning 21 this year!! Truly. It was lots of fun, but it was like every other weekend someone was celebrating their 21st. And craziness ensued.

I kind of feel like that's how the next decade of my life will feel like with weddings and baby showers.

This year I will be working all day on my birthday. I'm not even sure if I'll celebrate it or tell people (usually I make sure EVERYONE IN THE WORLD KNOWS at least a week before!) 

A nice cup of tea would work well, I think.

But perhaps I'll have myself one last, good hurrah in my 21st year.

And maybe that hurrah will be visiting kittens at the pet store and ordering a medium coffee instead of a small one.

Living large, folks!

Also, I am a big fan of Paloma Faith. And her hair.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Girls

Sometimes the women in my life drive me absolutely insane.

Sometimes we cry at dumb things.

We always laugh at dumb things.

A lot of them are stuck with me forever because they know too much.

I have seen them through break-ups, make-ups, engagements, pregnancies, proms, college, breakdowns and breakthroughs.

 (Dear friends, there are a lot of you I lack pictures with. Let's work on that.)

This weekend I was at Chili's with Tom.
There was a table full of females being loud and raucous and chit-chatting away.

I had to explain to Tom that that's how it goes when girls get together.
For some reason, all girls in a group, no matter who they are, all kind of behave the same.
If they're among friends.

Fast-talking, martini-drinking, gossip-heavy fun ensues.
And boys just don't understand it.
It is, indeed, just like it is in the movies.

I have been on a lot of friend dates this week, and I think it is SO important to our well-being to make sure that happens.
Movies (including "Silver Linings Playbook," Loved it!), yoga, grocery shopping, coffee, whatever it may be.
It's really quite rejuvenating, in a way that hanging out with boys just isn't. (Sorry, guys!)
It's not worse, just different.
We get each other. And our stereotypical quest for chocolate.

Since the semester kicks off tomorrow, I know things are about to get absolutely nuts.
But I am looking forward to reconnecting with all the ladies I have missed over break.
And, frankly, a lot of them I won't get to see nearly as often after this semester.

So I plan to take up as much of their time as I'm allowed while I still have them so close.

Monday, January 21, 2013

My Thoughts On...Life Plans

A photo just before sunrise over Peoria, August 2012
I never actually realized how much college would change me.
Does anyone?

But I don't know if it's just college, necessarily. I think it's those years between 18 and 22, with or without college, that brings about a kind of transformation.

As a freshman people told me over and over again how I would change, freshmen are immature, I have so much to learn, etc. And frankly, it was a little annoying to be reminded of that constantly. That even though that was who I was right then, I would still have to "find myself" later on. What was wrong with who I was?

I don't believe we ever really lose ourselves. As I asked my roommate this week, "Isn't it weird sometimes to think that you are stuck with yourself forever? You don't get a single break your whole life, and you can't run away or divorce yourself. You're there until you die. That's some serious commitment."

(I kind of think she thought I was really weird or depressed.)

Yes, I am a completely different person than I was four years ago. But it was still me, just an earlier version of myself. Everything, including our cars, our electronics and ourselves have to adapt, evolve.

But truly, the difference between myself circa 2008 and myself now is vast. And I am absolutely loving getting older. With each passing year I feel a little more sure of myself, a little more content with where I'm at.

I turn 22 in less than a month, and to be honest, my life has taken a complete 180 degree flip from what I thought it would be as an impending college graduate.

Even two years ago, I had a completely different outlook on things. I thought that by graduation I would have had an internship in New York with a job lined up. I pitied anyone in a serious relationship when they graduated because I believed they were limiting themselves immensely. And I was very, very unsure of what my emotions ever were because I had a lot of them, but I buried them somewhere so deep that only recently have I been able to dig them up and let them go. 

Now I am about to be 22. I have no job lined up. I had local internships. The thought of visiting New York, let alone living there, kind of makes me cringe. I have a newfound appreciation for all things quiet and simple. I love the countryside. And I am moving in with my boyfriend at the end of the year when most of my friends are looking for apartments or looking for jobs all over the country.

I am much less put-together than I imagined I would be. I am in a long-term relationship that I never saw coming. I am friends with people I never thought I could be friends with. And I am happier than I ever could have imagined.

Life has a way of throwing you through loop after loop, but somehow, it always seems to know what's best.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My all-time favorite dates (so far!)

Whenever I would begin dating someone new, I would put them through some tests.

There are two I can think of right now:

1. He had to be willing to bake something with me.
2. When I did something nerdy, (i.e. pull out my stargazing app when walking around at night) he had to find it interesting, too. Or at least appreciate my nerdy-ness.

Obviously, I wouldn't base an entire relationship off of these things.
But when guys did not pass both of those tests, usually problems arose later in the relationship.

Tom has been the only one to pass both of these!
And I forced him into both of them within a few weeks.
We baked blueberry muffins and I added too much salt.
And I did, in fact, pull out the stargazer app one warm spring night on our second date.

What I found is that I wanted someone willing to try new things, and actually enjoy them for curiosity's sake.
(And yes, I wanted someone nerdy, too.)

One of the things I love about Tom is that I can say things like "Let's try this!" or "Let's visit this place!" 
And his response is never one of "Uggghhhhh fine, but you're buying me ice cream on the way home."
(We do like ice cream though!)

It's always, "Oh, that would be fun!"

So I have found that while tried-and-true dinner and a movie is always a solid option, my top favorites involve trying something completely new (and not even scouring the internet for reviews first!)

Trip to Springfield, Aug. 2012

In no particular order, five of my favorites from the past 21 months or so of our relationship!

Dance Class:
If you and your significant other/best friend/yourself have not tried a dance class, go. Go go go! I found a free one just by looking at the events calendar for our town. There were tons of them over the summer. The sucky part was that we had to switch partners throughout the class, BUT we did score some dance moves to show off at a summer wedding. And to break out randomly in the kitchen, parking lots, etc.

Bed & Breakfast:
For our Christmas together, since I had to get home to the Chicago burbs, we went for an overnight stay to Galesburg and stayed at a random B&B I found online. The price was cheap, we had a deliciously indulgent dinner and the innkeepers made us waffles in the morning. Can't beat weekend adventures!

Day trip to Springfield, IL:
Speaking of adventures. We took a day trip to Springfield to visit some sights and stop by the Illinois State Fair! Day trips are an easy, inexpensive way to get out and explore a bit. Plus, I was so inspired by the idea of spending the day somewhere new that I created a lame video about it with my broken camera. (Actually I love that video, even if it proves my level of amateurness.) 

Breaking into the botanical garden:
Me and Thomas, second or third date. Pretty sure it was the third.  We decided to take a walk down by the zoo/botanical garden/park area. As we were walking, we saw an entrance cracked for the botanical garden. Only later did we find out the door was cracked for a wedding, and we were actually supposed to pay like $9 to get in. Oops? Either way, it was really fun to walk around and get to know each other, even if we were total hoodlums. An unexpected, but very fun way to spend an afternoon.

The Mullet Family:
Ah, the second date. The stuff of legends. We went to Steak N' Shake for some dinner and milkshakes, and Tom pointed out a family behind us. A family of mullets.
ALL OF THEM. Mom, dad, and three little children. All mulleted. And the kids were wearing dinosaur pajamas and dousing their crackers in ketchup.
We still talk about that to this day.
This isn't really a date idea, I just wanted an excuse to relive the magic.

Farmer's Market:
I like to get up early and start the day. Most normal people (including my boyfriend) like to sleep in. So one day over the summer I woke up at the crack of dawn, otherwise known as 8 a.m., and mentioned how I wanted to go to the local farmer's market. So we went! We bought some berries and pastries and ate them down by the river and I really, really loved it. If you've got a guy who is willing to accompany you at 8 a.m. on a Saturday to the farmer's market, he's a keeper. And it makes for a pretty nice morning excursion/waffle house alternative.

Also, there was one more.
Then I forgot it.
(I forget things constantly. It makes me fear my elderly age, when I will surely believe I am a cat named Eleanor.)

What are some of your all-time favorite dates?


Friday, January 18, 2013

Are you a breakfast person? (+ smoothie recipe)

I am always starving in the morning.

As a little kid, I remember struggling to fall asleep because I knew we'd just bought delicious new cereal, and I couldn't wait to wake up and eat it.

(Sometimes I still have that problem when I buy new coffee things for the Keurig machine.)

I'm the kind of person who is always up for heading out the door at the crack of dawn to hit up the local diner, whip up huge omelets in the morning or grind up a smoothie really loud and piss off my whole building. Seriously, if my mortal enemy asked me to get breakfast with them, I would have to say yes.

I HAVE to eat breakfast, or else my whole day is thrown off!

Lately I have been surprised at just how many of my friends either don't eat breakfast, or think breakfast food is gross, or are never hungry until at least noon.

That's crazy talk. And I may have judged each one of them for a short while before getting on my soapbox and delving out all kinds of reasons breakfast is the bee's knees.

Well, I'm not going to do that to you.

But I am going to share with you the breakfast smoothie I have been addicted to this week!

Peanut Butter and Banana Oatmeal Smoothie

-1 banana
-About 1 cup original almond milk (I add a little more)
-2 tbsp peanut butter
-1/4 cup rolled oats
-1 tbsp ground flax seed (Optional)
-3-5 ice cubes

Just toss it in a blender and you've got breakfast!

Usually I just eat oatmeal in the morning, but this is definitely yummier and more filling.

I bet I could even get my non-brekkie (that's a word now) friends to drink this.

Anyone out there a breakfast fiend like myself?

And for fun...

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Weekend Look

I spent the weekend at my Dad's house in St. Louis. Tom came along. We ate a lot of food, it was great.

We spent Saturday at the Del Mar Loop for my stepbrother's birthday. It was such a neat place! Very collegiate.

Also...I made cupcakes. With greek yogurt in the batter. Totally worked.

Lola. AKA Ninja Cat. Who will walk on you while you're napping and get her claws lodged in your knee. And you never really know if she will react with purring or lashing out when you pet her.
Keeps things exciting, like Russian Roulette cat version.

Then we went to Jilly's...who WON CUPCAKE WARS! Oh my gosh. Best cupcakes ever. I was pretty happy that I don't live anywhere near this place, because I would become diabetic.

Top left: Bee Sting Cupcake (Lemon, honey and almond.) Top right: Carmelita (chocolate, caramel drizzle, caramel filling.) Bottom left: Blueberry Cobbler. Bottom right: Twisted Pink Velvet (pink velvet cake, caramel filling, cream cheese frosting with caramel frosting on top.)

Yes...we are those people.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, January 14, 2013

My thoughts on...The Cat Incident

So I live in an apartment building.
An apartment building that does not allow animals.

So imagine my surprise when, a couple nights ago, I walk inside and notice a cute little kitty wandering around the entryway.

I immediately let out some kind of weird maternal "look how adorable and helpless you are!" kind of squeal thing and bent down to pet the cat.
And it was so sweet that it came right up to me and meowed and my heart broke into about a million pieces.

(What IS IT about baby animals that turns people to mush? Honestly. If I see a puppy being walked outside I am typically in danger of crashing the car due to the distraction, and I make a lot of weird noised followed by "I WANT TO STEAL YOU!" I say this out loud, by the way. Alone in my car.)

So anyway, the cat.

I asked some people in the building if it was theirs, and while it wasn't, they suggested an apartment number to try.
So I went to that apartment, cute little kitty in tow, and the door was wide open.

All the lights off, a laptop on the island, cat things inside, and the door was wide open?!

I don't even know.

I just about called the police but it looked like no forced entry or foul play were at hand.
(Too many cop shows.)

I let the cat run around my apartment for a few minutes, called the number on its collar and then put it back in its home, all the while wondering how exactly that happens when four people live in an apartment. What if the poor little thing got outside and froze?!

Dear people of that apartment...I was about to kidnap your cat. Just FYI.

Well, I went away for the weekend to St. Louis (stay tuned for photos of Cupcake Wars award winning  treats!) When I came back, my roommate tells me that her friend saw the cat outside.
She described it and I decided that yes, that was the same little kitty.

I immediately pelted her with questions:
"Where outside?"
"Outside, outside?"
"Like in the cold?!"
"What did she do about it?"
"I should have freaking kidnapped it when I had the chance!"

Here is what I gathered:
Her friend saw it outside in the cold when she was driving away.
...And left it there. Did not stop for the kitty.

Then told my roommate about it three hours later, when it was too late to look for it.

I just need to rant about this, but how exactly does that happen TWICE. Twice!! Even if the cat is a sneaky little escape artist, it had to get out through TWO doors to get outside, doors that had to be opened by someone.

So at least two people may have seen it running outside and just let it go?

Oh my gosh.
Totally threw off my day.

Now I want to adopt all the cats and be that lady.

How was your weekend?


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Thoughts On...2013

Alrighty. It is Tuesday, and I am now posting my "My Thoughts Monday" for the week.

I suck at this and it's only week two.
But I'm gonna keep on keepin' on anyway!

The theme for the week (because I haven't really addressed it yet) is...the new year!

The blogosphere has been blowing up all over the place with resolutions and goals and reflections and whatnot. 

But I have a hard time with resolutions.
NOT a long term planner, here.

Pretty much I can plan for the next ten minutes, and that's it. If I'm lucky.

Therefore, resolutions and I just do not mix.

That being said...I have some mini-goals set to go, and this year is going to be SO much fun to document!

Things to look forward to this year?
-Turning 22
-Attempting to publish a children's book
-Spring Break in Ireland
-Moving in with my boyfriend
-Hopefully finding a post-grad job. In like...the next eight weeks.

And lots more I'm sure I'm forgetting!

As for resolutions...there are the usual, of course.
Eat better.
Sleep more.
Figure out how to sit still long enough to let a fresh mani dry.

But really, I have a tradition each year.
At the start of the year, I attack my room, throw out a bunch of crap, light a lemony candle and buy a plant. Check!
This year I purchased a succulent. Very hard to kill, I hope?

Aaand off to yoga! (Another New Year's Resolution.)

Here is a happy new year song to enjoy:


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Thoughts on...26 Acts of Kindness

For the New Year I wanted to start a weekly feature, so one thing I am trying out is a "My Thoughts on..." Monday.
So that I can talk about random things and make it seem legit.

(Yes, I am aware it is Wednesday, not Monday. More on that in a moment.)

So, here we go.
The Newtown, CT tragedy really shook me (and pretty much everyone) for awhile. It still is. That kind of grief doesn't really subside. Time passes, people accept it as a reality, but you don't forget.

When that kind of senseless, unbearable tragedy happens, it's easy to approach it with anger and finger-pointing. 
But one of my favorite responses to the Newtown tragedy was Ann Curry's 26 Acts of Kindness campaign.

If you haven't heard of it, it started on Twitter as a way for people to tweet about random acts of kindness they perform in honor of the lives lost in the Newtown shooting.

After that happened, people wanted to get involved in some way, by doing anything, just to feel like somehow they had helped alleviate the pain. What better way to do that than by channeling the sadness and confusion into something heartfelt and positive?

I really wanted to get involved somehow. Few things in this world feel more rewarding to me than doing something meaningful for someone else, even if they have nothing to offer me.
That sort of kindness has oodles of benefits for everyone involved.

That brings me to the weekend I had. I spent it in the hospital. Saturday through Monday. My New Year's plans were cancelled, I thought I was having a stroke, I underwent a crap ton of tests...but luckily for me, I left with a clean bill of health.

While I was there, I was lucky enough to have my dad and stepmom drive 5 hours, my boyfriend travel 4 hours, and lots of other family and friends spend large chunks of time with me in a hospital room. It was truly a blessing and I felt very loved.

But the part that really got to me was my hospital roommate, a woman I will call Jill. Despite all the loud people and the antics happening the entire time I was there, Jill was an excellent sport. She told me she felt like she was part of the family while they were there, and that while she was happy I was able to head home healthy, she was sad to see us all leave.

I thought about her the night I went home. I would be driving back to school with Tom the next day, and it didn't feel right to just leave without doing something for her. Jill had to stay in the hospital for about another week to have surgery.

So even though it delayed our ETA by a lot, Tom and I stopped off at Target to get Jill some fuzzy socks, lotion and a card, and my grandma chipped in some holiday towels and an ornament. Then we took it to the hospital to the room I'd just left the night before.

It wasn't a grand, sweeping gesture, but it felt so good to surprise Jill with a visit before her surgery and give her something to let her know what a joy it had been to meet her. She was grateful and gracious for everything, and so positive and upbeat the entire time even though she wasn't feeling well.

Seeing the way my family and friends spoke to her and cheered her up made me so proud to be a part of that whole group, and she really helped me see that.

So here's to Jill for the camaraderie during a stressful time, and for the fresh perspective. My thoughts are with her now as she recovers from her surgery and gets back to her happy self.

And to all of you...a very happy new year!

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