Exploring Our Town | Chicago


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.





^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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Balancing Act


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)

Growing Pains


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


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 🙂



^ 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.


^ 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


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.


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.


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!


Wicker Parking



I remember an evening, after the movie Wicker Park premiered staring Josh Hartnett (remember him?), when a few friends and I tried to locate the Wicker Park neighborhood in Chicago. Remember the days before Google Maps and smart phones? I’m not sure where we were at the beginning of the night, but after searching unsuccessfully, during a bitter cold evening in January or February, we wound up eating ice cream at a Cold Stone creamery (which really doesn’t make sense!).

Last week, before Jordan left for a friend’s bachelor party weekend, we spent a free afternoon in the city – a pre-celebratory birthday date. I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I first found out Jordan would be out of town for our birthday, so I wanted this day to be memorable and to do something or go somewhere new. Jordan suggested that we find an interesting restaurant and choose the neighborhood accordingly. We decided on Birchwood Kitchen (more on that later), but before dinner we explored and shopped.

We love Wicker Park. It is full of small coffee shops, record and book stores. The clothing stores are a mix of low and high-end with a splash of vintage and now that the vintage has mirrored my childhood wardrobe, I’m feeling an instant connection. I found a few fun pieces of clothing that I’m excited to work into regular rotation and an LP of Sufjan Stevens Invites You To: Come On Feel the Illinoise at Reckless Records. That album (and live concert) has always been one of my favorites; I’m instantly teleported to the end of high school.



Ok, Birchwood Kitchen was a major win! The menu is simple with salads, sandwiches, and burgers, but fresh and delicious ingredients. They also sell coffee, lattes, and homemade bakery items. The inside of the restaurant is more typical of a coffee shop (comfortable benches and plenty of tables to have a work meeting or a coffee date with a friend), but the patio outside is the ideal place to spend a summer night! It is literally nestled into the neighborhood (you could see neighbors in their backyards). As we paid our bill at the counter, I noticed all the fresh pastries and convinced Jordan to purchase some for dessert. Jordan chose a lemon bar and I picked out banana chocolate chip bread. They were delicious!



I just love exploring this grand city. There is so much to see and discover.

My Birthday, Your Birthday


If I had to share my birthday with anyone, I’m sure glad it is with Jordan.

Jordan is out-of-town this weekend for a bachelor party and although I’m glad he’s able to spend quality time with wonderful friends, it feels strange to have this day all to myself! We haven’t spent a birthday apart since 2006 (and in fact, we were at each other’s birthday parties in ’04 & ’05).

Now that I’m used to sharing this day, I’ve realized I prefer having my better half around.

Happy Birthday, Love! I’m ready and excited for another year with you.

…I tried compiling a picture for each year (in order: ’06, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’13), but apparently we missed 2010-2013. Whoops!

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He Asked and I Said Yes


One of the reasons I began this blogging journey is to create a visual record of our life: present events and reminiscing on past events.

Six years ago today, Jordan proposed to me.

The week before Jordan proposed didn’t exactly go as planned. We left on a Friday evening, ready and excited, to spend Labor day weekend in Ohio visiting friends and enjoying the last of the summer. A mere 30 minutes from our final destination, Jordan’s engine overheated and the car stopped running. Thankfully, we were rescued by our friends while the car was towed. We had to wait until after the holiday to hear if the car could be saved.

We enjoyed our weekend despite the uncertainty of the car situation. As soon as they opened, the car was officially determined DOA and we immediately purchased Megabus tickets to get home. I had missed one day of classes already, so I left on Tuesday, but Jordan stayed two extra days to decide how to settle the car (thankfully the mechanic purchased the title). Jordan originally planned events during the remainder of the week to celebrate our upcoming birthday, so that I wouldn’t suspect a special evening. Because of our separate travel, the week was cut short. I still was unsuspecting when he suggested we dine at a quaint local restaurant once he arrived from Ohio on Thursday. We had talked about getting married and even briefly looked at rings that spring, but I didn’t know if Jordan had bought a ring or not. Unbeknownst to me, Jordan already had successfully designed and purchased a ring. He even asked my parents earlier that summer!

It was a muggy September evening and after dinner Jordan wanted to get ice cream. I noticed he was driving in an odd direction, but thought maybe he had a new ice cream place for us to try. Eventually we pulled up to a forest preserve and he surprised me with ice cream nestled in a cooler! After we finished eating inside of the car, Jordan suggested we take a walk (I still was clueless to what was about to happen). This particular forest preserve is situated next to the church where we first met, so it was fun to reminisce about those early high school years. As soon as we stepped out of the car I immediately got bit by an entire army of mosquitoes and asked if we could stay in the car. I wasn’t game for the romantic walk that was planned (poor Jordan), so instead he just went for the big question in his parent’s Buick!

I remember Jordan asking and me saying yes, but the words he used went right over my head. The next day we had a big birthday party planned, which in fact he planned to be an engagement party! I didn’t know a lot at 20 (and not much more at almost 27), but I knew that Jordan was the man for me.

These pictures really made me laugh and smile. We look like such babies! It’s special to still have everyone in these photos in our life in such important ways.




Tinker Bell and Me


“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.”
– J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan 

Growing up a baby of the ’80s, Disney movies were the only movies in our house for my brothers and I to watch. The second golden age of Disney animation was beginning and we had a VHS player! What more did we need? “Which is your favorite Disney film?” was a common question to ask your friends. Like any girl would, I enjoyed a good princess movie, but Peter Pan has always been my favorite.

I absolutely loved Tinker Bell. She was feisty and small, independent and yet she still needed Peter. As the youngest of two brothers, I often felt like Tink: desperately needing to be heard, striving for my own identity, but clinging to the comfort of older siblings. Other people must have seen the similarities as well, because Tinker Bell was one of my nicknames. I even dressed like her for two Halloweens in a row!

Life has been interesting lately. I try to live a balanced life and one that is full of perspective, but sometimes wallowing feels good. Impatient Tinker Bell had a tendency to wallow and pout if things didn’t go her way… though it usually just got her in trouble. And really, it gets me in trouble too.

A year can feel very overwhelming without structure. There are days when I miss the structure that being in school gave me. For years, I would go into a counselors office and walk out with a set plan and over the course of the semester I executed that plan. Now, I have no one to tell me which course to take. There are just endless possibilities. Jordan and I are working through the possibilities and I’m trying to not wallow when something doesn’t pan out like I had hoped. It’s kinda exciting, but I wish I could sprinkle some of Tinker Bell’s pixie dust to make everything just right. Though, really, I just need to pray and surrender. I believe God always has a bigger and better plan.




^These photos were taken in and around Kensington Garden and Regent’s Street. The Peter Pan statue is in Kensington Garden.

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Chicago on Two Wheels



Jordan and I are amidst a love affair, a love affair with Chicago. When I was younger, Chicago used to feel really overwhelming to me. Over time, through day trips with friends in high school, music festivals/concerts in college, and date nights with Jordan in the beginning of our relationship, the city became smaller, intimate and more manageable. Working in Chicago for two years had a huge impact on me in discovering that manageability. Driving in Chicago traffic was either going to break my fear or leave me running for the hills. I crushed my fear (except for parallel parking, that still alludes me) and became comfortable. I even could answer questions about directions! I knew streets and neighborhoods and could contribute to a conversation. My confidence level soared a few notches in those two years. Every now and then Jordan and I discuss the notion of moving to Chicago, but it’s never felt like quite the right time. Maybe it will one day or maybe it’ll just exist for fun Tuesday date nights and weekend excursions. Jordan and I recently experienced Chicago in a new way, on a bike.

I received my first (non-brother-hand-me-down) bicycle when I was seven. Our neighborhood in Ohio was filled with families with young children. Two of those families had three daughters. A set of pink and purple banana seat bikes was exchanged between those two families. The week we moved from Ohio to Illinois, I was gifted the purple one (with unicorns!). I felt so special, especially after dealing with neighborhood kids teasing me for using a boys bike. It was a hard move for me, but that bicycle helped to sooth my broken heart (I was a very tragic seven-year old, apparently) .

I rode that bike until I couldn’t fit on it anymore (eventually I received a brand new bike for once, though I missed those unicorns). Around the block, on a trail, to a friend’s house and back, or maybe to get a special summer treat from Dairy Queen. I knew I had arrived in my new surroundings once I felt comfortable biking alone. Somewhere along the lines of learning to drive, my bike began to collect dust in my parent’s garage. Biking allows for a special connection to your surroundings, I wish I would have kept up the habit.


Jordan and I had noticed bike rentals popping up in Chicago. We kept saying we wanted to try them, but needed a somewhat leisurely afternoon to enjoy them. We took a recent Saturday afternoon to bike around the city. I was a little hesitant at first when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to use the sidewalk. You mean I have to bike with traffic?!? Jordan reminded me about the bike lanes, which are extremely helpful especially since it had been years since I last rode a bike.

We rented bikes from Divvy. We started in Old Town and traveled as far south as Buckingham Fountain. You pay one flat fee for 24 hours, but you have to stop every 30 minutes and rent a new bike if you don’t want to incur any extra charges. Thankfully, Jordan found an app on the Apple App Store that guided us to each checkpoint. Stopping every 30 minutes was a little tedious at first, but we were quicker with the on/off process towards the end. Jordan and I have caught the biking bug once again and we’ve discovered that  A) we need to buy bikes and use them in our own town more often and B) we need to rent bikes in each town we visit.


Biking is my new favorite way to view a city; more expansive viewing than walking, but more intimate than driving.



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