After nearly four years of long distance, Brady and I decided a Save the Date that told our history was the most appropriate. This is us kissing at the Clifton Suspension Bridge where Brady popped the question (!!!).
In one day, B and I will have been married for five months; a dozen times a dozen days marked by sleeping side by side, trips to the grocery store (we ran out of eggs again?), cold morning drives to work, and a string of firsts both wonderful and challenging. Turns out we spend money differently, have contrasting visions for the apartment, and, well, are true opposites in most respects. Good thing we’re crazy about each other.
Brightening these days and weeks have been frequent dinner dates with our favorite couple, Hope and Jesse; weekend mornings letting Audrey channel her inner-wolf at the dog park; the occasional night on the town; exploring new eats in the Twin cities, and precious time at home with our families. Does this all seem leisurely and simple? I would agree, and I’ve been so thankful for these laid back days of newlywed life.
More recently, our schedules have taken a chaotic turn as I’ve started serving full time in Uptown, working evenings, weekends, and frequent fourteen hour shifts. No longer living entirely off The Bank of Brady and making a first dent in my student loans is empowering, but I’m still on the heels of that infamous ‘real job.’
I think more than anything, in this life-after-college-just-married stage, we’re still sorting out where we ‘fit.’ We want to build our careers, but also sort out where God wants us to live. Sometimes it feels like Minneapolis, but lately, it’s feeling further away. After lots of prayer, Brady recently turned down a job offer in Michigan, but after deciding to stay in the Twin Cities, is now being interviewed for positions in Utah and South Carolina…I know we’re right where God wants us to be, but my impatience so often gets the best of me.
What else keeps my heart beating fast? Mainly these simple pleasures:
God is good and I am blessed, blessed, blessed.
It’s a quiet morning on Wooddale Avenue. The sun is out making the March snow gleam, and passing cars are more a gentle hum than nuisance today. The little apartment is quiet, too, in a self-satisfied way. Brady finally hung pictures above my desk last night, so excluding long-term projects I hope to do, the place is pretty well ‘done.’ With working long hours now, and catching the 3:04 bus into Uptown for work, my days have felt short, so this empty morning with no pressing to-dos is a treat.
In January I hit thrift shop gold: a stack of novels I’ve wanted to read for ages. I’ve read a handful of them to date now, and have been meaning to share my recommendations as well as the novels still remaining on my list. Upon finishing my masters in English lit. last year, a number of my classmates said the rigorous work load and ever-analytic nature of studying English caused them to like reading less; the opposite was true for me. I loved that though everything else in England (where I studied) was quite different than Minnesota, the books were the same. My dog-eared copy of Wuthering Heights back home was no different than the one we discussed in class. Literature is particularly powerful because of this accessibility. While travel, art, and even movies are a luxury not everyone can access, anyone may visit a thrift store and purchase a twenty-five cent novel, not to mention visit a library.
So, without further rambling, the books making me think, wonder, and dream this year (so far):
This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz: After finishing this collection of nine ill-fated love stories told from the Latino perspective, I was disappointed. The characters created their own doom, and caused me to feel a little too close for comfort to these desperate declines. After setting the novel back on the shelf, however, it stayed with me long enough to realize I actually liked it. Diaz’ novel was painfully true to life, and while I couldn’t wholly relate to the characters’ series of bad choices, I could relate to their emotions. Their questions of ‘what-ifs?;’ their reverberating effects of heartbreak; their overwhelming sense of longing experienced in and outside of love were agitations I had felt.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey: I read this novel about a childless couple starting life again in unforgiving 1920s Alaska back in January when the white cold of Minnesota seemed equally unforgiving. This novel, however, was significantly more enchanting than January in Minnesota. The strength and courage of Jack and Mable to cultivate life in a place as remote and difficult as Alaska immediately captured my attention. Not only did their capability impress me, but I deeply admired how well this middle-aged husband and wife embraced the obvious harshness of winter. Of course, much of their fortitude was a matter of survival, but a great deal of their Alaskan experience was deriving pleasure from the long winter in childlike ways such as ice-skating and snowball fights. In one such “moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone, but they catch sight of an elusive, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.”* Spellbound, the couple are unable to reconcile how a little girl could survive on her own in the harsh Alaskan wild, and Mable, recalling a Russian fairytale from her childhood, believes she and Jack created this child from the snow.
As “Faina,” the snow child, changes the lives of Jack and Mable, the novel becomes a brilliant blend of fantasy and reality as the reader, along with the couple, struggle to explain Faina’s existence. Beautiful from beginning to end, The Snow Child is absorbing, exquisite, and important.
Crusoe’s Daugher by Jane Gardam: Unlike the above novels, this novel isn’t new, but a reprint of British writer Jane Gardam’s “favorite novel” originally published in 1985. My sister lent me this novel a few weeks ago after Brady and I were snowed in while visiting family in Fargo, but to get to the point, I’m very grateful for my sister. Missing Bristol and my English friends very much, this novel was the perfect Anglophile fix, but also an engrossing read. Set throughout the course of twentieth century England, we meet our narrator, the candid, often comical, Polly Flint, at age six when, orphaned, she is sent to live with her aunts in the ‘Yellow House.’ From this early age, Polly relies on Robinson Crusoe and the hardships he so stoically endured as her compass to navigate the highs and lows of living. Perhaps the subject matter is outwardly simple, but Gardam’s writing and her flesh and blood Polly Flint is alive, dazzling, and immediately lovable.
This is one of the few novels in my memory which caused me to laugh aloud to myself, leaving my husband deliciously out of the joke. Polly as a little girl is an adorably blunt, independent, and a minute observer, but even as Polly reaches adulthood, copes with middle-age, and learns to triumph over life’s cruelties, her childlike curiosity and frank observations remain. Gardam’s joyous, caustic, truthful writing is compelling and utterly-absorbing, and I look forward to reading much more of her work.
Women in Love by D.H.Lawrence: During my year at Bristol U., I quickly realized the pale of my literary education in comparison to my professors. D.H. Lawrence was one such writer I had never read, and second semester I picked up a beautiful copy of Women in Love at a second-hand shop with the best intentions of finishing it one dreary English day. Said day(s) were consistently consumed with course reading, and thus it wasn’t until last month that I finally began chapter one.
Written in 1916, Women in Love is the complex story of schoolteachers and sisters, Ursula and Gudrun, and their resulting relationships with Gerald Crich and his close friend Rupert Birkin. This is a novel I now wish would have been on my course syllabus; understanding the frequent nuances and shifting complexities would, I think, be much more palatable through discussion. Even so, I admired Lawrence’s ability to vividly describe a character’s feelings while, at other times, effortlesssly concealing such emotions. Beyond the fierce affairs of the four protagonists, however, Lawrence creates an equally engaging subtext on the relationships between women and women, and the spheres of the male world. The exchanges between Hermione Roddice and Gudrun divulge as much knowledge of the nature of women as does Gerald and Rupert’s often homoerotic conversations.
This novel felt especially true to life for me because its time period was the same as ‘Downtown Abbey.’ (And yes I mention Downtown because this isn’t a graded essay!!). Just as the Crawley family creates a vibrant picture of the class system and Downtown’s urgent need to embrace modernization to save the estate, so do the characters of Women in Love confront the consequences of England’s class system and the question of how to manage modernity in light of long-held traditional systems of management.
Perhaps the best way to describe this novel is as a decadent eight course meal—a grand dinner for a special occasion intended to be savored, slowly digested, and inherently praised. Except in the case of Women in Love, the reader isn’t served the final course; we are prevented from enjoying our dessert because we are either too full from the seven other plates or, perhaps more accurately, Lawrence reserves the satisfaction of the last course for the desire of wanting just a bit more.
I’m currently about half-way through Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and it’s already a novel I wholeheartedly recommend. As for the others on my 2013 book list?:
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Crime and Punishment by Fedor Dostoevsky
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Wise Blood, The Violent Bear it Away, and Everything that Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor
What are you reading in 2013? What should I add to my list? Do let me know!
I’m a fairly mild, well-behaved girl and my vices are typically as tame as coffee and sweets. You can imagine my glee when I discovered a recipe which combines them both: brown sugar hazelnut cookies with coffee almond frosting. I found the recipe for the cookies here and whipped up the frosting myself.
I followed the recipe as directed and these babies came out beautifully soft and golden.
Coffee Almond Frosting
1 stick butter
1 tsp evaporated milk
4 tsp instant espresso
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Powdered sugar (somewhere around 3-4 cups)
Cream the butter, add the milk and coffee, then add the sugar a little bit at a time until you get the right consistency. You might want to toss in a pinch of salt or two. Spoon unto cookies and let set.
Enjoy with a cup of coffee and Downtown Abbey.
Today, four thousand miles from snowy Minneapolis, my peers are squirming in their seats as they await their turn to shake hands with someone important as part of our graduation ceremony from the University of Bristol. I’m, of course,accepting my degree absentee, and though it would be lovely to see Bristol and Ashleigh and Caro, among others, life in Minnesota has been good to me and there’s too many reasons not to be happy. So, in an effort to keep my spirits up, here follows a list of ten reasons why today is a darn good one.
1) Easy and delicious chicken tortilla soup simmers in the crockpot.
2) I have the worst memory, but my One Line A Day journal helps me record day to day life.
3) Audrey and I (my Scottish Terrier:)) have spent copious amounts of time together, and though Brady would contest, this is a good thing.:)
4)I I’m going to try my hand at glitter nails today…results to follow!
5) A NEW BOOK. Need I say more? Completely hooked on Tea Obrech’s The Tiger’s Wife.
6) A lovely new peplum Ted Baker top! I ♥ gift cards.
7) Lap swimming. I may look like a half-drown minnow, but it does soothe my soul.
8) Parks & Rec!
9) DesignSponge and how it has shown me that with a staple gun I will rule the world!
10) Being married is sillier, more fun, and much sweeter than I ever would have guessed.
-2-3 chicken breasts -1 large yellow onion
-2 cloves minced garlic -2 cans low sodium chicken broth
-1 can green chilies -1 can Fiesta nacho cheese soup
-4 to 6 oz of salsa -3 T. lime juice
-1 t. salt -2 t. ground cumin
-1 t. chili powder -1/4 t. pepper
-1 bay leaf
-Fresh cilantro, avocado, and tortilla strips to garnish
Pre-cook chicken and onions. Shred chicken. Add all ingredients to stockpot and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer until ready to eat. Garnish and enjoy!
Christmas was officially one month ago, and I’m only now getting up to posting pictures and a few antidotes, but that’s okay; 2013 is my year not to worry over the little things.
Our first Christmas together was splendid. We safely made the four hour drive home to Fargo on iced-over highways and snow-covered hills with little Aya and Christmas presents safely in tow. Once in town, we stayed at my lovely in-laws’ home, but divided our time between my sister-in-law’s, my family, and his. In the process, I got my cuteness fix from my darling twin baby sisters, sweet little nieces, and naughty little nephew, Cooper, who is somehow a mini replica of my husband, Brady. To top it off, my younger sister surprised my family with a wiggling golden retriever puppy named ‘Winston.’
We celebrated the birth of our Savior on Christmas Eve with my in-laws, attending the Christmas Eve service at Good Shepherd Church where my father-in-law sang O Holy Night a capella as the service began. When everyone in the sanctuary held lighted candles towards the stain-glass window, it felt like Christmas and I felt dizzily blessed by it all. We returned to my in-laws for homemade Christmas goodies, wine, cranberry cake, and wonderful company. Cooper provided the evening’s entertainment as he opened his gifts along with any others below the tree. Whether Coop opened a race track or a woman’s sweater, he was equally pleased with his skillful unwrapping. The next morning, Brady and I had the pleasure of being woken up by Coop dressed as a pirate shouting ‘My presents! My presents!’
Christmas morning was celebrated over caramel rolls, coffee and gift-opening at my parents. Brady and I were spoiled with a beautiful handmade map made by my older sister, Maria, detailing our world travels with the quote ‘Love is the shortest distance between two hearts’ embroidered in the corner.
After breakfast we made our way to my favorite place in the world: Grandpa and Grandma Gotta’s on Pelican Lake. At twenty-four, I treasure every moment I have with my Grandparents, and Christmas Day was no different. Grandma Gotta, in her usual fashion, had transformed the lake into the epitome of Christmas cheer: the tree was a magical collection of unique ornaments gathered over her fifty plus years of marriage; the nativity set painted with her own hands rested in its usual place in the kitchen, and Pelican itself was covered in a fresh blanket of blue-white snow.
Over dinner I learned my Grandpa as a little boy was neighbors with Al Capone’s brother. I realized for the thousandth time that my family is happiest at the lake; and remembered as I held Winston’s fluffy warmth that there is always room for one more.
That’s all for now.
Our bedroom makeover is finished at long last! I can’t find the photos I’d taken of our room before the makeover, but envision mildew brown sponge paint brown walls, and you’ll have the gist of it. The walls are now painted a fresh sea blue and the room has been transformed as a place that is relaxing and welcoming after a long day away from home.
I found the fill-able glass lamps at Target, and love that I change up the decor by simply refilling the lamps. I found the thin self above our bed at Ikea along with our crisp white and grey duvet. The sea prints came from TJMaxx.
I like how the shelves simplified hanging and lend a relaxing atmosphere to our room. I also like that my books and jewelry holder become incorporated as accent pieces.
The next item on my list will be finding the perfect cream frame for this beautiful 1941 vintage love of England!
It’s so nice being home.:)
For those of us living in colder hemispheres, winter is still very much with us. And whether we like it or not, boots, jackets, and warm layers are a yet a must. But bundling up doesn’t mean you can’t feel cute and showcase your style.
After years of braving the North Dakota tundra, studying in Norway, and most recently, experiencing the wet cold of English winters, I’ve learned a thing or two about winter fashion.
How to be a winter Fashion DO!:
Rule #1: Choose sleek silhouettes to avoid feeling (and looking) like a snowball–this applies to coats, boots, and sweaters.
Rule #2: Refer to rule number one! This is the most important rule when it comes to dressing fashionably warm.
I also particularly prefer skinny jeans and leggings in the winter. If you do wear a bulkier sweater, the look is still balanced by your sleek skinnies, and skinnies are much easier to tuck into black ankle booties than a pair of boyfriend jeans.
Choose a winter jacket with a naturally nipped in waist, or opt for one with a belt. If you’re a curvier on top (like myself) avoid double-breasted jackets to further streamline your look. While the girl in this picture totally rocks this look, don’t be afraid to add a bright pop of color, be it a scarf or handbag. Earlier this fall, I found a mustard yellow jacket at a vintage shop and it made every outfit of mine more optimistic and energetic. Believe me, if we need anything to get through grey winters, it’s color!
Half-way through the week, Brady and I both woke up the colds and sore throats– the sort of illness that makes you swear off coffee and just want to close your eyes. So, to get us through the remainder of the week, nothing sounded better than soup for dinner. But as much as I love chicken soup, it can get a bit old. So tonight, I opted to try something new from my custom-made cookbook–one of my favorite wedding shower gifts from my lovely sister-in-law.
I followed this recipe exactly as the directions specified, and it turned out beautifully. It is thick and creamy with awesome flavor and HEALTHY! I give it five stars.
CARROT & CURRY SOUP
-3 lbs carrots chopped -1 medium chopped onion
-2 T curry powder -Dash of cayenne pepper
-1 T honey (can use more) -Salt and pepper
-1/8 t garlic powder -9 chicken bouillon cubes
-9 cups water -I can light coconut milk
-2 t olive oil
Chop onions and carrots and put in stockpot with olive oil (I used our French oven). Saute until tender. Add bouillon and water. Add all seasonings and let boil until carrots are soft and tender (approx. 30 mins).
Use hand mixer to puree. Add coconut milk and simmer until desired consistency.
VOILA! That is it. Easy as pie and just as delicious.
Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
During college my older sister and I lived in a loft above our favorite coffee shop. As coffee fiends we knew this could be a dangerous decision, but they’re were so many reasons to say YES, (the location! the balcony! our own washer and dryer! ) and needless to say, we caved. Some days we walked downstairs to the coffee shop with towels wrapped around our still wet hair; other times we’d make a dash to fuel our frequent all night study cram sessions. Long story short: we had little funds to spend on decorating. We did, however, have books. And we were already obsessed with Modge-Podge.
This art idea came from those impoverished days, and I’m happy to admit they taught me a thing or two about DIY. This canvas print is easy, fun, and can be personalized in so many ways–from the book you choose to the colors, and the words.
To begin you will need:
-Any size canvas (mine was 18 x 24 and I found it at Michael’s)
-A jar of Modge-Podge (you can also make your own by mixing equal portions of Elmer’s glue with water)
-Sticker letters (mine were three inches tall and I found them at Michael’s:))
-A small paint brush
-A book (I used a dictionary as thin pages work best)
1) After tearing a rough approximation of pages from your book, begin covering the canvas to get an idea of layout and whether you need more pages.
2) Once you have enough pages and like the layout, cover the canvas space and book page with modge-podge. Carefully smooth the page over the canvas and paint with a thin layer of mp. Continue until the whole canvas is covered.
3) Once the modge-podge has dried completely-say overnight or so-lightly apply the stickers where you would like them on the canvas. This step can be tricky as the stickers need to be secure enough to stay in place when you paint over them, but also pliable enough to peel off at the end.
4) After applying the stickers, paint over them in whatever color strikes you. As this print was for our bedroom, I painted the canvas the same blue which was on our walls.
5) Once the paint has dried, carefully begin peeling off the letters. I used a sharp knife to help with this process.
6) Once the letters are removed, your original piece of art is finished!