Monday, July 21, 2014

our sweet spot

We went to the lake last week and returned home sunburnt and tired and happy. This has been (or, will be) a busy couple of months for trips and traveling and cramming my newest stack of library books into my duffel (because I always think I'm going to need three books for a two day trip.) I love it - seeing family, weekend trips, the random Wednesday night at the beach. This is summer.

Trevor and I came home from the lake and did nothing for the rest of the night but curl up in bed with The Office, a little wine, and salt and pepper chips. It was divine. I'd rather read than watch TV any day, and watching shows from bed just feels so sophomore year of college, you know, but this was the stay-home date night we didn't know we needed. Chips and reruns.

I love trips and spontaneity, especially of the summer variety. But what I love best is how they make you appreciate the little things of home, of a marriage. Holding hands and buying groceries together, the way the living room fills up with light at exactly three-thirty every afternoon, the fact that we have this whole apartment, it's really ours! decorated just the way we like it, with all our favorite foods in the pantry and our favorite Starbucks Espresso Roast in the coffee grinder. It almost feels like some sort of miracle - am I really grown up now? are we really married? it all actually turned out the way I always dreamed, even down to the part where I marry a man who makes a delicious cup of coffee?

That's what we need every once in a while - to step back and realize how sweet this simple little life is. Even when we're bored on a Friday night, even when I spend so much time in the apartment I get sick of it, even when we don't really know whether we're doing it right all the time. It's ours - this life, this home. Our sweet spot.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

art journal

Adding little things to my art journal on quiet nights is one of my favorite things. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014


I love our apartment. I really, really do. It's so carpety and homey and when you walk in after a long day away it smells cold and clean like a beach house.

We signed our lease, one more year. And at first that freaked me out a little. Another whole year. Because, yeah, sure, it's cute, but another whole year? In an apartment? Does that mean that we're stuck, that we're not moving forward into adulthood by buying a house, settling down, growing babies (or at the very least, tomatoes) etc?

Mostly the thought of staying is what keeps me up at night. I've spent so much of my life planning and rushing into the Next Thing that the thought of actually staying somewhere, even somewhere I love, is daunting. Because staying means that those pictures on the wall are going to be there a while. It means I can't distract myself with figuring out what's next. It means I have to be fully present right here because we ain't going anywhere.

I moved around a lot as a kid and learned to love change, to almost need it, because it was an easy escape. Too shy to make friends at this school? That's okay, I'll be somewhere new next year. Don't like this house, these neighbors? Well, we're moving in a few months. Things will be better then.

But, now that I'm forced into it, I have to admit that I kind of like this staying thing. It's like your favorite show, how it doesn't really get good until the second or third season when you've gotten to know the character's quirks. Staying put helps me to slow down and see things long term, find the beauty in the process. I'm learning alternate routes through town, the names of the cashiers at the store, what this person's story is, the story you can only earn the right to hear over time and cups of coffee.

And that being-present mindset is starting to take over my whole life. I've stopped stressing about finding a new job. I'm slowing down, shifting my thinking enough to where I can actually see the people around me - to appreciate them, reach out just a little more, get out of my head and into a conversation at a coffee shop. It's weird and new, being this person with her feet planted firmly on the ground (or in this case, carpet.) But I love it. I love becoming this more content, settled version of myself.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

June Book Report

June was a good month for books; I think I was so enamored with the idea of summer reading - out on the porch, by the pool, at the park - that I went a little nuts and came out of the library with stacks almost too heavy to carry. But I never regret a long afternoon spent with a good, crinkly library book and a cup of iced coffee.

If you haven't heard of this one, it is a collection of essays and stories written by a Yale graduate who was tragically killed in a car accident just days after graduation. She was a talented writer with a very promising future ahead, which (let's just be honest) is what makes her words that much more powerful. Personally, I loved it. The collection was a little random (which is to be expected); many of the essays were school assignments, which made me all nostalgic about my own days as an English major. Though I don't think this book is for everyone, I think if you really, really appreciate young talent and good writing for the sake of good writing, it'll be well worth your time.

Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. - Sam Wasson

This was such a fun, random read. It's all about the making of Breakfast at Tiffany's, from casting Audrey to costuming to drama behind the scenes. It's a quick, entertaining book that is pretty much a must if you are a fan of Audrey Hepburn or old Hollywood in general. I can't believe I didn't read it sooner.

Delancey - Molly Weizenberg

Like many people, I was a huge fan of Weizenberg's first memoir, A Homemade Life, and had high expectations for her newest tale about the beginnings of her and her husband's restaurant. I was pretty disappointed. There was more emphasis on the technical details (of how they perfected their pizza crust, of their oven, etc.) than the heart of the story, the honesty and humor that made her first book so good. I only made it halfway through, so I guess this isn't a totally fair review (although I heard it never really picks up) but if you're a die-hard fan, or are extremely interested in the restaurant business, you may enjoy it.

Glitter and Glue - Kelly Corrigan

Such a fast, funny read. This is one of those highly entertaining memoirs that reads more like a novel. It's about the author's post-grad adventures traveling the world, ending up as a nanny in Australia, and how that made her come to appreciate her less than chummy relationship with her no-nonsense mother. I didn't expect to love it as much as I did, but it was such a...I don't know, fresh read. Not that I want to make it sound like produce or anything. Perfect for reading by the pool.

The Artisan Soul - Erwin Raphael McManus

I was so, so excited when my friend gave this to me and it did not disappoint. I didn't know anything about McManus before I started reading, but apparently he's all over the place. He not only founded Mosaic Church in L.A., but is an incredibly gifted writer, speaker, creative-person-in-general. The book is about what it means to view our lives as a work of art, to craft it into something more beautiful and meaningful. It's a beautiful book, whether you consider yourself "creative" or not. The Mosaic Church podcast has an Artisan Soul series to go along with it, which I would also highly recommend.

In Praise of Slowness - Carl Honore

If you're all about facts and research and reading to better yourself/learn something at the same time, this one's great. Honore has really done his research in the physical, cultural, historical necessity of slowing down. I love that he breaks the book down into sections - on slow parenting, slow work, slowness for the mind/body, slow food, etc. Fascinating and thought provoking. 

A Happy Marriage - Rafael Yglesias

I picked this off the shelf because the cover was so pretty. I have a habit of doing that. This is an autobiographical novel about the first days of a courtship and the very last days of the marriage, as the narrator's wife is dying of cancer. The drawn out scenes detailing her illness made it especially raw and emotional, and I appreciated the author's honesty. I also liked the book's format, alternating from the past to the present every chapter. It's not a lighthearted, easy read, but if you're a fan of One Day by David Nicholls, I think you'd appreciate this book.

Mansfield Park - Jane Austen

When I was a teenager I decided to read one Jane Austen novel every summer until I had read through all of them. And I read them all except for Mansfield Park (I think I dropped the ball the summer I got engaged.) I'm still working my way through it, but, even though it's not my all time Austen favorite, I love the cast of characters. The main character, Fanny, is lacking some of the spunk characteristic to Austen's other heroines, but overall it's a fun, witty, classic Austen read.

What's your favorite book you've read so far this summer?

Monday, June 23, 2014

bike tour of raleigh

He asked me what I wanted to do on my birthday and I said ride bikes and drink coffee, and that's exactly what we did. It was the perfect way to begin my twenty-fifth year. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

on forever friends

It'd been a long day, a long week. Not enough sleep, but we were going out for coffee so that would help. At least, that's where I assumed we were going. Trevor said we were just going out for a cheap date, but the actual location was going to be a surprise.

We cruised into downtown Raleigh and drove by a fancy restaurant. "This is it," he said.

"Ooh, this is a surprise. Doesn't look cheap, though."


We walked inside and I headed towards the hostess. "Burris," I said, "We have a reservation for two."

"Burris, party of eight," she corrected. We followed her silently; I assumed she meant that the reservation was for eight o'clock. But there it was, a table with eight places settings.

"Hey, uh, should we tell her that they made a mistake? That we need a smaller table?" I asked as she turned and left.


"But...don't you...what?"

He leaned forward, elbows on the table. "Let's just say there are a few more people joining us."

"Wait, what? Who? Why? Is this for my birthday? THIS IS FOR MY BIRTHDAY. Who is it? Ugh, where's my lipstick?!"

I kept running my palms over my pants, nervously watching the door, trying to suppress a goofy grin. And in walked all my favorite people in the world, my sisters and brother-in-law and best friends, all of whom live at least a couple hours away. All of whom I've missed like crazy since we moved. We celebrated with wine and dessert and my heart was full. We went back to our apartment and stayed up till the wee hours, acting a-fool, picking up right where we left off.

I miss this - being surrounded by people whose quirks and sense of humor I know. People with whom polite conversation is totally unnecessary. People who don't think twice before borrowing my toothpaste. I've met great people here, people I've felt instant connections with, but it's not quite the same. We're still trying to figure each other out.

As they trailed out the door the next afternoon, I suddenly realized that I'm twenty-five. Which means I have known these people for ten years. Ten years. (Except for my sisters, of course.) And you know what's funny? It took us years to become close. Most of us were casual, say-hello-in-the-hallway friends for years in high school. And then, slowly, we began showing up at each other's birthdays and graduation parties, still trying to impress each other. Still polite. It wasn't until college that we truly became forever friends. Gosh, even Trevor and I were casual friends for five years before we dated.

And that kind of made me stop and think. Of course I can't move somewhere and make instant best friends. It doesn't work the way, the same way instant coffee just doesn't work. True friendship takes time, so much time, and isn't that something we'd like to ignore in this instant,  "follow me and I'll follow you!" fast-paced world.

Time, patience, showing up. That's what it takes. That's what I'm willing to give. Because those forever friends who drive two and a half hours just to celebrate your silly birthday - they are the stuff of life, the people who make you realize who you are and who you want to be. They make it all worthwhile.

Friday, June 13, 2014

magnolias and things

T H I S  W E E K

A farmer's market date.


Guilty pleasure 80's movies (looking at you, Jewel of the Nile.) 

Working inventory at 5AM. Totally thought it was one of those things where everyone shows up in sweats, unwashed hair, and no makeup but, nope. Just me. 

Coffee with friends. 

Morning at the lake.

Jane Austen. 

Trevor coming to my rescue when my car battery died at work. I left the lights on. Fortunately my absentmindedness coincided with his lunch break. 

A truly legendary thrift store find.


Introducing my husband to Breakfast at Tiffany's -- he's not a fan. Though, as dear as it is to my heart, it is a weird little movie. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Wednesday, June 4, 2014

May Book Report

Rosie - Anne Lamott

I've read a lot of Anne Lamott's nonfiction; it's what she's known for. So, while wandering through the library, I found some of her fiction on the shelf and thought, why not. I can't speak for her other fiction, but Rosie didn't exactly find a place on my favorites list. The writing was distinctly Lamott - funny and sometimes shockingly honest. But the story was a little flat, as interesting as the characters were. I am, however, extremely picky when it comes to fiction, so it may have been just me. If you're a huge Anne Lamott fan, I'd say it's worth a read, if only to enjoy her distinct writing voice.

Daring Greatly - Brene Brown

I didn't know too much about this book when I picked it up (something about vulnerability) but I've seen it all over the Internet and figured it must be good. The topic of how vulnerability can change every aspect of our lives for the better is an interesting one, but when it was finished I was left wanting more. I appreciated her research, but would've liked to see it be made more practical. After reading the book, I know why vulnerability is important, but the how is still a little foggy. I commend her for getting the conversation started, and I would certainly recommend this book, but I won't promise that it'll change your life forever and ever amen.

Love Does - Bob Goff

It seems like people have been talking about this book forever, but I finally got around to reading it this month. This is such a fun book. I think it's worth noting that this is not one of those beautifully written, underline-every-other-sentence books. It's a collection of stories of the life of one fascinating man, and how his many adventures have all pointed him to Jesus. It's such a fun concept, I think, and I loved it. You do get the feeling that a lot of the stories were thrown in for no other reason than they are really good stories. But that didn't bother me; Bob Goff's whole outlook on life is the real point of the book. It's honestly changed the way I think. Also? My husband loved it, which rarely happens.

The Nanny Diaries - Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Oh gosh, I love this book. This was my second time reading it and I loved it just as much this time around. It's an expose on nannying in upscale New York in the form of a fast paced, hilarious novel. The writing is sharp and funny, but in a smart way, as opposed to your average chick lit. If you wanted to love the movie, but didn't (like me), the novel is definitely worth your time.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

thoughts from the porch


Indigo blue sky, eerie and cool after a warm day in the sun. I want only to sip orange juice on my couch, bare armed and bare legged, watching the world stand perfectly still outside my window. There's a concert at church tonight, dinner to make, clothes to fold. What is it about spring that makes the daily things not just livable, but exciting?

* * *

I was sitting out here in the cool, almost mountain-like air, in the weirdness of this night. Quiet, waiting for God to come, maybe talk to me. I know that these moments are so very real, but I also wonder if he really is here, talking to me. Because all I hear is rustling leaves and the neighbor sneezing from the other side of the pond and the occasional dog bark.

And then I read, "Hallelujah! You who serve God, praise God! Just to speak his name is praise! Just to remember God is a blessing - now and tomorrow and always." (Psalm 113:1-2, The Message.)


* * *

On the porch. The air is thick with jasmine and honeysuckle, and so hot. I love this porch, especially when the leaves are full and new and the branches seem almost heavy with life. Sometimes I sit here and almost feel out of place - as if I'm already in an old, favorite memory; dreamy and surreal. Remember when I was young, when I used to sit out on the porch of that cute little apartment? When I read the Bible for the first time, really read it, when I learned what it meant to make art? When Trevor and I could make a whole date out of pouring coffee and sitting next to each other? Weren't those the days? 

These are the days.

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