Thanksgiving in Photos

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^ Our snowy drive.

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^ My parents have Thanksgiving prep down to an exact science, but some dishes are better made the day of consumption. ūüôā

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^ Luke’s first Thanksgiving! He roamed wherever he could find the space.

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^ My nieces are at the age where they enjoy helping. They were tasked with setting the table.

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^ The original place card I created when I was younger.

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^ Thanksgiving Day Family Photo!

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^ The one and only round of Bananagrams that I won. Jordan’s sisters are winning machines.

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Weekend Links / / Sea Salt Memories

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^ My mom’s dried lavender.

How was your Holiday weekend?¬†I spent a whirlwind two days back in Chicago for Thanksgiving (pictures coming next week!). It was great seeing family and friends, but the seven hour drive home while still having to work the rest of the week was rough! I’m just now catching up.

Jordan didn’t need to rush back, so he stayed until Wednesday. I’m glad he had that extra time with family and friends. I did what all girls do when their husbands leave for a week, I watched sad movies (TFIOS¬†and¬†Wish I was Here) and caught up on¬†blog¬†reading.

Here are a few of my favorites!

/ / Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Popcorn. I love popcorn and often eat it for a light meal. This combo sounds utterly divine and would be a great party snack!

/ / Rae’s reasons why she chooses to bring her camera with her and¬†photograph the little moments¬†are spot on! When do we ever look back at old photographs and wonder why we captured them? We really don’t. I have regretted not taking photos.

/ / I kind of wish¬†Tracy¬†was my older sister (if I had an older sister). Her¬†gift guide¬†has a little bit of everything: fashion, home and crafts. Even if I don’t purchase a specific item from someones gift guide, it does give me lots of ideas.

/ / Elizabeth wrote about¬†praying intentionally¬†for our husbands on¬†Cassie’s¬†blog series, Equally Yoked. She gave tips such as¬†having note cards with scripture that allows us to dive deeper.

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/ / Linking with Meagan.

Nashville Musings

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I wasn’t sure how I would like living in the South. My family moved to “the North,” (what people call Chicago here, though I always thought I lived in the midwest) when I was seven. I grew accustomed to the hustle and bustle of Chicago and thought the shift in pace would throw me off. Chicago will always hold a piece of my heart, but the transition hasn’t been too shocking. We’re only one month in, so I’ll keep you posted!

Nashville is a bit of a melting pot. I’ve met very few people¬†who are native¬†Nashvillians. Nashville is attractive for many reasons and pulls people from all over the United States. It’s pretty common for someone to¬†just stay once they have graduated from one of the universities in town. That is quite different from Chicago, where a greater percentage of¬†people are multi-generational Chicagoans.

Due to the fact that this town is constantly growing and changing, I don’t think I’m experiencing¬†a true “southern” atmosphere. It’s still a large city with many cultures, but I have noticed a few differences. I’m sure I’ll experience¬†more the longer we live here but these have stuck out to me.

/ / Southern hospitality is a real thing. People are generally more friendly and open for conversation (ie. They aren’t standing in line on their phone).

/ / The pace of life is healthier and more relaxed, but important stuff still gets done. There is a grind in Chicago (commuting will do that to you) and thankfully Nashville doesn’t quite have it.

/ / Everyone has dogs (okay not everyone).

/ / People are more active: hiking, running, walking their dogs, etc. A benefit of living somewhere that remains warmer longer!

/ / Chicago accents are easily detected and teased. ūüôā My voice has always been a bit nasally, but now it really stands out!

/ / Less early 20-somethings live with their parents. They are living independently (maybe roommates), actively pursing their future. Cook County is an expensive place to live (the county Chicago is in, as well as my parent’s house), so help with rent is often needed, but it’s easy to¬†become complacent instead of looking for a way out of your parent’s basement.

/ / There is a reliance and importance put on friendship and community. Maybe it’s because people don’t have family nearby. Or the pace allows for nights out, either way it’s a nice change.

There you have it, my observations on Nashville livin’.

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*I’ve met several people from the suburbs of Chicago!

Weekend Links / / Crowns, Dunhams, and Gilmore Girls

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Nashville has been wet and rainy for the last week and a half. And while the clouds have¬†given me a nice excuse to curl up and read a good book (finally finished Julie & Julia, now on to Lena), we’ve been craving exploration. Any time I’m¬†cooped up in a space for too long, I start to feel a little claustrophobic. Finally it looks like the weather is going to clear up in the next few days!

In our apartment, pictures are slowly being hung and drawers organized. Our place has begun to feel more like home.

Cooking has become more regular, thanks to Blue Apron. Also baking, thanks to Pinterest. I made apple bread the other day, but I sort of wish I had just made apple pie.

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Onto the links!

/ / Kate reviews Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham.

/ / Niamh’s tutorial for¬†paper honeycomb crowns. These would be great for kids (or adult!) birthday parties or perhaps a Christmas party.

/ / We had been warned about the lack of a pizza scene in Nashville. Coming from Chicago, where good pizza is literally at every corner, I knew that would be hard to get used too.¬†Ashley recently visited a pizza place in town that promises to be in the style of Chicago deep dish. I’ll ditch being dairy-free for a night and let you all know if it lives up.

/ / Tj always has the best braided hair tutorials. My hair is growing out and I can’t wait till my layers are a bit easier to work with to try this style.

/ / Netflix revealing Gilmore Girls would be available for streaming didn’t really phase me as I already owned all seven seasons on DVD. Prior to Twitter and the social media storm, it was hard knowing if your beloved show was in fact beloved. I was that 14 year old girl on fan forum websites discussing favorite “shippings”, looking up Nielsen ratings, and hitting record on the VCR each week. I knew a couple people (besides my family who became hooked) who watched Gilmore Girls since the beginning, but¬†over the years I’ve also loaned my copies to new fans.

My heart, while a little shocked, has been so happy to see the outpouring of love thrown on Gilmore Girls.

A few Gilmore articles to note: the New York Times op-ed discusses GG obsession. Hep Alien had a reunion. Wired breaks down how to watch all seven season. How GG deals with money and love.

/ / What articles and blog posts have you been reading?

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/ / Linking with Meagan.

The Right Choice

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As our move to Nashville drew near, emotions came at me like waves. Some days I felt pure excitement but often I found myself alone, quiet with my thoughts, wondering, “Are we making the right choice?” My ability to compartmentalize came in handy as we said our goodbyes (or as I like to call them, “see ya laters”). That strategy worked only temporarily. I still had an eight hour drive alone in the car. During those long stretches of highway, I allowed myself to feel every emotion; a few tears fell, but mostly I felt a nervous energy.

It’s not exactly easy to uproot on your own accord, but when we arrived, to a care package filled with necessities to make our transition easier, I took it as extra confirmation that we made the right choice. I’m so grateful for this new adventure.

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My Home

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It’s moving day! It’s still hard to believe we’re at this point, despite the year long preparation, but there is no denying it.

“This is like really happening now, babe.” Words Jordan has been telling me almost daily. ūüėČ

The¬†truck is loaded with our belongings (thanks to our dear family/friends) and currently, we’re on the road with coffee and snacks. Jordan is driving the truck, bless him, while I’m in our car. I’ve never driven alone for this long before, but I have several¬†podcasts¬†saved to keep me entertained.

I’m going to miss this house of mine, the house my parents moved into 20 years ago. The house that became my home. Thanks for all the love and memories.

…until we meet again.

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Weekend Links / / Our Last

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^ The pre-family-picture pictures are always the best. I love that Jenna is standing all stoic waiting for the rest of us to follow suit.

This was a good, but also bittersweet week. It began with visiting Jordan’s grandparents. Over the past nine years I’ve been embraced as their own grandchild and it feels really special. They live about two hours away, so we took a mini road trip with his youngest sisters. On Sunday, Jordan and I celebrated our birthday with our families. It’s quirky sharing a birthday, but we’ve grown to love it. For dinner, my dad made his¬†famous Cincinnati Chili, but we each chose our own cake; you can’t share everything!

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My mom baked¬†my favorite cinnamon chocolate cake, which complimented my mother-in-law’s¬†homemade ice cream cake!¬†In between packing and moving preparations,¬†we had dinner dates with family and friends. This is our last weekend as Illinois residents, but¬†I still¬†haven’t¬†fully grasped what that all¬†means. People continually ask me how it feels, but honestly it’ll take a couple of months for this¬†new reality to actually seem real. My last day of work is on Monday and we leave¬†on Tuesday. Most of our belongings are packed away, but I’m sure I’ve missed something.

Please pardon me as I become extremely frantic over packing details.

These articles/blog post/interviews served as great inspiration and perfect procrastination material.

1 | When I grow up.¬†It’s¬†daunting to determine what we will do when we grow up. I appreciated Rebecca’s honest words about her¬†journey through different education decisions, careers, and life choices. Maybe our life path isn’t what we set out to accomplish,¬†but life is created in those unexpected moments.

2 | Fresh Air interviews Joan Rivers. A compilation of three interviews Terry Gross has had with Joan over the years.

3 | On turning 30. For her 30th birthday, Sarah shares 30 things she still has yet to learn. The older I get the more I realize I always have more to learn.

4 | The secret to 80 years of marriage.

5 | Chelsea’s list of 10 lies¬†every girl tells herself had me cracking up. Particularly the one about not regretting chopping your hair off. I’ve definitely been there and done that!

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Take Two to the Zoo

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a little while, then it’s no surprise¬†how much Jordan and I love the Lincoln Park Zoo (here,¬†here, &¬†here). The zoo offers¬†a little oasis in the middle of a bustling city. Besides the plethora of animals to observe, the Lincoln Park Zoo has a great (FREE) green space and if I lived closer, you would find me walking the path regularly. Earlier this month, on my nieces’ last day of their visit, we spent the morning¬†here. We told the girls about the zoo a few days before and they became really¬†excited for our little journey. For being six and four, they are quite the seasoned travelers. We knew they would enjoy looking forward to an adventure.

The drive went quickly as we listened to the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack and discussed which Disney Princess was our favorite (Holly: Ariel, Laura: Snow White, Jordan: Belle). You know, all the important things in life.

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I love being an aunt. It’s all the fun and games¬†with¬†no real responsibility. haha. ¬†These girls are at a fun stage where we can have deep conversations and I¬†see¬†them¬†processing new information. Over the weekend, we watched¬†Babe and it was awesome to hear them discuss and explain why they thought the characters were acting a certain way. I remember a lot from the ages of 4-7 and I hope these girls remember that we love them and think they are fun, precious, and so valued.

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^ I think they had a good time ūüôā

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^ She’s starting first grade?! What?!

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^ My mom grew up on a dairy farm and she loved showing the girls the farm animals and explaining how Papa would have to milk his cows everyday; rain, blizzard, or shine!

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^ Laura came up with that pose on her own.

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A Final Walk

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Early on in our relationship, Jordan and I began taking walks. We didn’t intend to make walking a regular occurrence, but it became a way for us to steal a few quiet moments alone without distractions. Walking is also a great way to orient yourself to a new town, so we walk a lot on vacations and anytime we move to a new place.

Our first apartment, sadly, wasn’t in a neighborhood, but nestled in a¬†larger complex, so our only walk option was amidst the condos. Not exactly ideal, but we made due ūüėČ

The apartment we just moved out of was in a wonderful neighborhood. Old, unique homes, with children riding their bikes or playing baseball in the streets; it was a place where neighbors wave and greet one another. Picturesque really. When the weather cooperated, we would walk around the block a few times each afternoon. Sometimes we would veer off into town and find our way to Dairy Queen or stop by the library, but an agenda wasn’t necessary.

Last week, before we moved, we took our last walk through the neighborhood. A storm was brewing, so I’m glad I brought my jacket. We took our time lingering near our favorite homes, looking across the country club fairways to the clubhouse where our wedding reception took place… reflecting on future changes.

I will always look back on our time in this particular house with fond memories; moments of heartache and joy, growth and growing pains, but most especially love.

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^ FYI: Gap is killing it with their summer dresses this season. And they seem to have a sale every other week!

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/ / Do you like to go on nightly walks?

/ / Linking with Lisa for wiww.

Moving On

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I’ve gone back and forth about when I would go¬†public¬†on how our life is going to change in the next couple of months. I thought maybe I would wait until the truck was loaded and we were on the road, but as my life is consumed¬†by¬†boxes, I suppose this is really happening.

To properly tell this story, let’s¬†backtrack a bit.

As a child, living in¬†Chicago for¬†the rest of my life wasn’t something I ever seriously considered. My parents moved across the country a few different times and finally settled in this area when I was seven (Jordan’s journey isn’t that much different). The closest extended family¬†was¬†three hours away. Growing older, I experienced my brothers getting married, moving, having kids, and buying homes. Following in their footsteps seemed logical.

When Jordan and I tied the knot, we didn’t particularly have a “forever plan.” We had a graduate-college-plan, which than immediately led into a payoff-the-college-debt-plan.¬†Jordan and I have spent our¬†adult life either dating or married and therefore, we’ve had to¬†figure out what-we-want-to-do-when-we-grow-up together. We’ve moved around (a lot), changed jobs, traveled, and¬†started a business. But for some reason officially¬†settling down¬†in one area hasn’t been a priority.

The past two years have been filled with a lot of moments that seemed confusing at first, but in hindsight are starting to make sense.

In a few different waves, close friends have moved to Nashville, dropping hints along the way about us¬†joining them. I never took their hints seriously. Jordan quietly was considering it, but he knows me well and didn’t pressure me. We were finally in jobs that allowed us to travel, spend time with friends, and be flexible enough for a growing family. I had hopes and dreams about raising children¬†near grandparents (something I hadn’t experienced) and I wasn’t keen on¬†jeopardizing that.

To say that¬†last year¬†was rough is quite the understatement. It’s still hard to be honest. I thought simply agreeing to grow our family was the big step, but that was the easy part.¬†Our future children won’t be “oops! babies,” but they won’t come in a perfectly timed manner either.

Our¬†life had morphed into being¬†extremely mobile. It seemed that¬†God was¬†positioning us for something new. So when the pokes and prods continued from friends, I wasn’t¬†looking at them as wishful thinking¬†anymore. We came to¬†realize that¬†this could be just a small part of our amazing adventure together. I’m open to moving on, exciting¬†adventures, fresh opportunities, and a new way of living. I wasn’t scared anymore to make future plans without exactly knowing how our¬†future would look.

In the fall, Jordan and I are moving to Nashville. But first, we are making a pit-stop with my parents for the summer.

Although we’re sad to be leaving family and friends, we’re ready and excited for this next chapter of our life. One that is uncertain, except knowing the weather will be much warmer ūüėČ

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^ Even after four moves, I’m still not the most organized packer.

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^ I’m really sad to leave behind these amazing built-in cabinets.

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