A Birthday Gift

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Jordan and I typically lean toward giving each other experiences for birthday/anniversary/Christmas gifts rather then material items. I’m thankful that Jordan and I decided to give our gifts this way because I won’t remember a pair of shoes 20 years from now, but I will remember the many adventures, trips away, and concerts that we’ve experienced together.

This year, we’ve really enjoyed the concerts we’ve gone to. Buying tickets several months in advance doesn’t provide instant gratification, but I love having nights to look forward to. Last night we saw Paramore, one of our favorite bands. They were touring in support of their critically acclaimed, bestselling, self-titled album (one of our favs of the year). I’ve come to appreciate these shared crowed experiences: giving one another mental high five’s, like “Are you seeing what is happening?!” We were surrounded by people who were just as excited as we were; happily singing and dancing along all night! And that girl Haley has some pipes on her, woah!

Do you ever give non-traditional gifts?

Remember when bringing in cameras to concerts wasn’t allowed? My iPhone takes better pictures then my first digital camera 10 years ago! Oh, how the times have changed.

Exploring Our Town | Chicago

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I am drawn to urban living. I don’t usually crave wide open spaces. I prefer being able to walk to my coffee shops and grocery stores; parallel parking alludes me though, so I have to work on that. My ideal home is something like Kathleen Kelly‘s brownstone in the movie, You’ve Got Mail. I don’t even mind sharing walls with my neighbors and renting. While I’m able to appreciate the country, it is most definitely not for me. And the perfection that is the suburbs can feel suffocating at times. I need some grit and chaos. Jordan and I hope to move into a major city one day, but until that becomes a reality, we will continue to visit them often. Thankfully, the heart of Chicago is just a short train or car ride away.

Jordan’s been really busy lately, juggling various new projects and was craving a diversion. So without an agenda, we drove into Chicago over the weekend and walked and walked and walked! We ate burgers with avocados and bacon and drank lattes. I may have also stepped into Madewell and started drooling. Jordan was kind and let me buy a new shirt that was marked down so low it was practically begging me to take it home. Don’t worry, he finally picked up the new Arcade Fire album on vinyl so we shopped evenly 🙂

Nighttime in Chicago might be my favorite way of enjoying the city, especially when the Christmas lights are out. It’s so magical. Eventually, the rain sent us home and we started watching Man of Steel (and my girl crush on Amy Adams is ignited once again) before a sinus headache flared up. If you ever need to know if a storm is coming through, I’m your girl (my head sinuses sync with the weather).

Sinus headache aside, it was a pretty perfect day.

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^Seriously, buy yourself some Hunter boots. You won’t be disappointed. This is one of the smartest purchases I’ve ever made.

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A Day at the Vineyard

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As soon as our plane tickets were purchased for Nashville, Lauren and Ashley began planning a trip to Arrington Vineyards. The vineyards are only 25 miles south of Nashville, but it really feels like another world (or maybe, to my flat mid-western mindset, anything with hills means you’ve driven far)! The grounds are so beautiful and inviting – if you’re planning a visit, make sure to bring snacks and a blanket.

We set up a little picnic and spent the rest of afternoon having the best of conversations. It’s hard when close friends move away, so I’m always thankful for opportunities to visit and catch up on life. This was one of the most relaxing days I’ve had in awhile. Hopefully, we will be able to go back!

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^ We’ve got your Christmas cards covered 😉

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Family Walks Around Radnor Lake

Lake Radnor Nashville

I was not an outdoorsy child. My ideal play landscape was either my doll house or kitchen set, both of which sat firmly on carpet. While I did play sports and went to a summer camp that involved overnight trips, I preferred to stay inside.

While sandboxes weren’t my thing, I loved family walks. I remember being really upset when I was too big for my stroller, but eventually I was able to keep up with my brothers.

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Cool Treats

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Jordan and I spent a few days visiting friends in Nashville last week. This was my third year in a row and each time I’ve been able to experience something different. Whether that be traditional BBQ, local coffee shops, music row, shopping the boutiques in Franklin, or even the river front and the more tourist-y parts of downtown. These all help to make Nashville a unique and fun place, but I was not aware of the abundance of cool treats and that this trip would become a tour of the top treat spots.

It all began before we landed when Lauren and Jon, knowing about Jordan’s slight obsession with ice cream, had a pint of Blue Bell waiting for us in the fridge (a brand only found in the south).

After visiting a vineyard (more on that later), we went on a walk that included a visit to Las Paletas, which only sells popsicles. I suggest dipping your chosen flavor in the chocolate (I had coconut, Jordan chose pistachio). Then there was the late night run to try Ben and Jerry’s Scotchy Scotch Scotch in honor of Anchorman 2. If you are curious to try this flavor, it has a limited edition run so don’t wait too long!

The ice cream shop that I really wanted to try was Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. It originated in Columbus, OH and then put two locations in Nashville. Jordan and I stopped by one afternoon after he spent the morning working and boy, this place does not disappoint! I particularly like how they give you the option to choose multiple flavors. After sampling a little, I picked toasted coconut and dark chocolate, which were both delicious! I’m excited that Jeni’s just opened a location in Chicago.

We met friends for lunch at Taco Mamacita before our plane home and they suggested we stop by Legato Gelato. Next time I want to try a shot of espresso over my gelato, affogato style.

And that ended our whirlwind tour of a few of Nashville’s frozen treats!

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Balancing Act

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I was working on an Interests Lately post, but I haven’t had much access to my computer this week. We had a minor mishap with Jordan’s main work machine (back up your files, friends). Regardless, my heart has been a little heavy lately and my original post wasn’t right at this time.

Does anyone else feel that life is a giant pendulum and once the balance has been reached, it starts to swing again? My pendulum is currently swinging a lot.

I’ve cried a lot this year; joyful tears, personal tears, but many more for others. Sometimes, life and death cohabit the same space. Sometimes, we are celebrating and mourning with friends and family almost simultaneously. It’s in these moments, when I am reminded to soak up this precious life.

Jordan and I are spending the next few days away visiting friends. I am grateful for these opportunities. Have a wonderful weekend and hopefully you are able to spend it with the people you love 🙂

You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light (2 Sam. 22:29, NIV).

(Photo taken in Marie Antoinette’s kitchen in the Petite Trianon, Versailles)

Pumpkin Bread

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Jordan was away overnight last week attending a conference for work. While he was preparing to leave, I began organizing and clearing out our closets (I love doing this after a season change). It looked like a tornado had whipped through our house, but I promised him I would have everything in order when he came back.

The problem was I had just picked up the last two discs of Homeland season two from the library. I managed to finish the closet makeover, straighten up the house, finish the episodes (intense!), and bake pumpkin bread. It was quite the epic day off 🙂

And speaking of days off, those are usually my baking days.

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Growing Pains

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My old blog account resurfaced this week. Ok, it didn’t just appear, I looked for it. After reading through some of the posts, I realized that a) my grammar used to be better and b) I was really whiny, wow, was I whiny. It was cringe reading at it’s finest. Growing up is embarrassing. We make mistakes and hurt people’s feelings; we experience literal growing pains.

For much of my youth I struggled with fitting in and being seen, not as someone’s sister or friend, but as an individual. When we moved from Ohio to Illinois, kids told me that they didn’t need another best friend because they’ve had one since preschool. “Hey guys, that was only two years ago,” is what I often thought. I became sensitive and guarded and took situations out of context and made everything personal. Instead of becoming attuned to others that were hurting, I instead hurt others; it’s hard to have that in my past. I didn’t need to take every rejection as an attack on my worth. I should have clung to what God thought of me and not worried about who wanted to be my friend. And God did bring me friends during that adjustment period, despite early rejections.

During our marriage, Jordan has really sanded some of my rough edges. I am so thankful that he lovingly calls me out on certain areas. I was the baby and only girl in my family, so my world kind of revolved around me. Or at least, it felt like that. Through encouragement and conscious decisions I have worked on living more graciously. I make an effort to ask others how their day is going, instead of talking about mine. My time is less precious. Life is more enjoyable for me when I focus on other people’s needs.

I will never figure life completely out, nor would I want to, but I am glad that each day is open to new lessons; wrongs can be made right, apologies can and are said.

Thanks for sticking with me, friends.

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Tour Guides

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Jordan and I had the pleasure of hosting out-of-town guests over the weekend. They drove down from Canada to attend our friend’s wedding and we were glad they decided to extend their stay. Jordan and Mike toured together in their band days, oh maybe eight years ago, but as couples we hadn’t spent much time with one another.

For the next few days, Jordan and I played the role of tour guide. We brought Mike and Keira all around our little town: including our favorite neighborhoods to take walks through, and of course many of our favorite restaurants. We ordered in Aurelio’s (the original location is local, but there are other locations in the suburbs) one night and chose our go-to, cheese and sausage. Chicago is known for deep dish pizza, but we generally save that for visitors and eat thin crust pizza that is cut into little squares. Jordan is the ice cream king in our house (if we don’t have at least two different kinds available, panic starts to set in), so we had to take them to Dairy Queen. The DQ in town is only open seasonally, so we were happy to get one more Blizzard in before they close up shop for the year.

On Tuesday we spent most of the day in Chicago. Our main objectives were to visit The Lincoln Park Zoo and the beach. Thankfully, the weather was ideal for our plans! Jordan and I visited the LP Zoo earlier in the summer and while we really had a great time, the animals were much more abundant this trip.

We’re looking forward to visiting them in Canada. And I may have already looked at ticket prices 🙂

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^ The closest I’ll ever get to a lion, despite my desire as a little girl to have one as a pet. Apparently, I was really influenced by The Chronicles of Narnia and didn’t watch enough Animal Planet to realize how that my dream couldn’t become a reality.

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^ This guy was my favorite. In fact, all of the monkey’s in the monkey house were so fun to observe. They generally were hanging out in their family groups.

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A Weekend Worth Celebrating

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Look at my handsome groomsman!

Happy Monday! I can’t believe Monday has arrived again. I had intentions of documenting many things last week, but the days came and went and my DSLR camera didn’t leave its bag. Most of the week was spent spring (fall) cleaning our apartment for the arrival of friends (who were attending a wedding with us). We love hosting guests for many reasons and an added bonus is that our home becomes extra shiny. I also took the opportunity to do a little baking for the extra mouths to feed (but let’s be honest, I bake even if it’s just for myself). These apple crisp muffins were Jordan’s favorite, but as I love all things pumpkin, this coffee cake style pumpkin bread was mine.

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On Saturday we attended a beautiful outdoor wedding. The cornfields and forest surrounding the ceremony and reception tent were perfect for secluding all of us from the outside world. It rained during most of the ceremony, but the guests shared umbrellas and set in for the rest of the evening; the bride and groom fully embraced their special day.

I didn’t remember to grab my camera, so these pictures are all from my iPhone! I wish I would have though, because everything was worth documenting.

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We went to a baby shower on Sunday. It was nice to celebrate this little girl’s impending arrival and spend time with friends who were also in attendance. I cherish these people. We’ve experienced a lot with one another and it’s special to see these babies start to roll in.

I didn’t intend to match with the momma to be; it happened naturally!

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