Wednesday, October 29, 2014

chicago, part II

So we decided to take a nice little stroll on Saturday afternoon, and it somehow turned into a three and a half mile walk, which, in my book, is long.  And even longer with three babies in tow.  But it was actually super nice to get outside and enjoy the unusually warm day.  When I asked david to guess how long we walked he said, "six miles?" and then that game was no longer fun.  Hate when that happens.

I took some photos for my sister's little family during our walk...and I think these three are my favorites.  But really, dressing your child in overalls made my job easy.

The whole gang...complete with matching pumpkin hats for the littles.

We came back from our walk and put together a big dinner, started a fire on the back porch, and enjoyed our last night together as a family for a while.  It was good good good. 

Then things got late and a bit crazy and my sister Kate chopped off six inches of my hair.  Oh, and it was a literal chop.  Don't believe me? 

No regrets. hashtag YOLO.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

chicago, part I

I am going to be annoying and do this in two posts, and we shall all just deal.

Kenz and I spent last week in Chicago with family.  It was great to be back in my favorite city with my favorite people, and without the agenda of a holiday, which is usually when we are back visiting.  I can be sort of harsh on the Midwest when compared to the East Coast, but there is something to be said about autumn in the Midwest.  Nothing quite compares, and I am glad I got to see a glimpse of it this past week.

Per usual, we spent mucho time taking walks with le bebes and the dogs, which always takes approximately forty-five minutes to get ready for, and then we are back in a flash because so-and-so needs to nap (usually kenz) and this-and-that needs to eat (also kenz. high maintenance child).  But we did log one record-length walk on Saturday and guys, it was long.  But I think those photos are coming in part dos, so, cliff hanger!  Also, my apologize for the sprinkling of spanish vocabulary throughout, but my older sister is bilingual and teaching her son spanish, so we all get a fine touch-up on our spanglish while we are together.

we visited my youngest sister, maggie, downtown.  She is attending Moody Bible Institute, and it was my first time seeing the campus.  It was so fun catching a glimpse of her life in college and getting to see some of her favorite spots.  She is rocking college life.  

 We ate lunch at Yolk, which has the sort of menu where I just want to try every single item.  It was delicious.

And just when I thought kenzie's naps-on-the-go were over...this.  just this.  please never grow up.  or at least let me do this when you are ten.

love these people of mine.  
We missed my sister Kate this day, but she had to work! the audacity!

We spent Friday morning at this incredible park near my parents' home.  Can't wait til kenz is old enough to actually run around and enjoy it, but we had a lot of fun anyways.

Kenz and I stopped by to visit David's family for a bit on Friday, and Kenz and her grandma had so much fun playing the piano together.  It was quite adorable to watch, and I feel like it might be their thing together.  There are a lot of things kenz could gleen from her grandma, but her skills on the piano are up there on the list.

okay! more coming soon and etc etc and so on!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


I wrote this post a few years ago, but I go back to it every once in a while when I am missing Chicago and family.  I am headed there with kenz today, and I am feeling all the feelings exactly the way I wrote them a while ago. 

An Open Letter to Chicago

There is a water tower near the O’Hare Airport in Chicago that is painted to look like a rose. Because my middle name is Rose, I somehow, in my childhood mind, understood that water tower to be for me. Every time I rode past it, I pictured it recording that snapshot of my life, and keeping that record along with all the other snapshots it had gathered. I rode past that tower driving to vacations, flying overseas, during arguments, holding the hand of a boy who would end up hurting me, laughing with girlfriends, and driving to our new home in Pennsylvania. Even now, when I happen to ride past that rose water tower, I watch it out of the car window for as long as I can and think about all the times I have rode past it before; all that that represents in my life. It may seem weird, and my family jokes with me about it. Once, we even stopped so I could take a picture by it. But I can’t even remember when it first started, and there is something nostalgically wonderful about it.

In many ways, I love our home in Pennsylvania so much more than Chicago. I could make a list of 100 reasons why Pennsylvania is better than Chicago. And I could probably convince you to move right into our guest room. Don’t think I’m kidding; I have a certain sister living in our guest room right now because of our great luring skills. David and I have been intentional to dig our roots deep here; to pour into relationships, our church, our jobs, and not be afraid to make a home here. Sure, it would hurt like hell to leave. But this is our home right now, and living in the present is really important to us.

But in other subtle ways, Chicago has stolen small pieces of my heart. It only takes small bits at a time, so I don’t fully realize what’s happening. And it’s not until I go back to visit that this strange twinge happens in my heart. It’s like without my mind even knowing it, my heart feels a little more comfortable and a little more understood. It’s not a feeling where I want to move back, or that I miss it so desperately. In fact, even though I love visiting so much, I am always ready to drive back home to Pennsylvania. And yet, it’s a feeling where I am known in a way that no other place knows me.

For a long time, I kind of hated how well Chicago knew me. I hated that Chicago knew the poor decisions I had made, the arguments I had started, the people I had hurt, and the tears I had cried. Every time I visited Chicago, I felt like I needed to prove how well I had done; how much I had overcompensated for the bad things it had seen.

However, I am now realizing what I love so much about Chicago: that it knows all of that stuff, sees the importance in it and how it has made me grow, and always welcomes me back. And Chicago doesn’t stop there, it always reminds me of all of the good things, and those good things so far outweigh the bad that Chicago and I will always end up laughing about it.

I wander through the rooms in my parents’ home, visit our church, walk the dogs around our neighborhood, walk through the woods behind our house; and I remember that time I read christmas stories in that chair by the fireplace, or that time we went to that diner at 1am for milkshakes, or that time we took homecoming pictures in the backyard…and those emotions flood back in the best of ways.

And so, dear Chicago, I have come to visit you again, and this time in the fall. I haven’t been to Chicago during the fall for quite a few years, and I already know it’s going to feel fresh and new; yet familiar and comforting all at the same time.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

black bean avocado brownies

You like that fall styling I did there??

So I've heard of these brownies from different people around the internet and my first reaction was like, what the what?  what is wrong with a sugar-filled normal fudge brownie?  And there is nothing wrong with that, my dear friends.  But these were just too intriguing and I had to try them out.  However, the recipe calls for a food processor, and we didn't have a food processor.  And it seemed like a necessary step because you didn't want to bite into a brownie and find whole black beans inside.

Anyways, this story isn't even that interesting...I'll get to the recipe in a minute.  So I told david, "I kind of want a food processor, you know, for those recipes that come your way twice a year that require one."  The very next day the food processing gods (they really do exist) smiled down on me and I got an email from my grandparents with a list of things they were getting rid of from their second home.  FOOD PROCESSOR.  I snatched it up and the day it arrived I made these super weird brownies.

So here is my honest opinion on whether these are worth the hype.  They are very good...very fudgy and chocolatey and moist (sorry, I hate that word too).  It did take me a hot minute to get over the fact that an entire can of black beans went into them, and sometimes I felt like there was a slight black bean aftertaste...HOWEVER, I really think it was all mental.  and I pushed through and actually really enjoyed the entire batch.  I think I will be making them again, especially during those times where I am trying to cut back on sugary junk.  These are a great compromise.

Good Lord, could I write any more about these stupid brownies?  Onward! The recipe!

 adapted from HERE

1 - 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 egg
 1/2 of a large extra ripe avocado
1 teaspoon olive oil
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup chocolate chips of choice, plus 2 tablespoons for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 8x8 inch baking pan.  Place all ingredients besides chocolate chips into a food processor. Process or puree until ingredients form a smooth batter. If the batter is WAY too thick and won't process then add in a teaspoon or two of water. This batter needs to be very thick in order to produce fudgy brownies. Add in 1/3 cup chocolate chips and fold into batter.  Pour batter into prepared pan, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of remaining chocolate chips.
 Bake for 25-35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out somewhat clean and top of the brownies begin to crack.  Cool pan completely on wire rack then cut into squares.  These are meant to be served cold, which makes a big difference in taste.  I tried them warm and cold, and cold is much tastier!

Thursday, October 16, 2014


today is my twenty-seventh birthday! 

my day is actually full of non-birthday related things to do and places to be, but that is okay! is just sort of this thing you carry around inside all day that makes you extra happy and extra grateful for life.  David and I will go out to dinner tomorrow night to celebrate, and then next week kenz and I are heading to Chicago for a few days...a very generous birthday gift from my parents!

people talk about getting stuck at a certain age; where no matter how old they are they always internally feel that age.  For me, I think that might be twenty-seven.  I have felt very much twenty-six, and do feel like I am turning one year older, but I think I'll get stuck at this next age forever.  I hope it's because I'll like it so much.

I always get really reflective around my birthday and around new years, so last night I wrote down in my journal all the truths of me at age twenty-seven.  It is something I started to do a while back, and it is so fun and interesting to look back on and see how things may have changed.  I also love looking ahead and setting goals for myself, but just thinking about who I am as a person in this moment is really interesting to me. 

This past year was a big year of change for me personally and for our family.  I love change and so I have loved this past year, but as I get older I appreciate consistency and finding joy in the mundane much more than I did in my early twenties. 

I've become more confident in personality, my gifts, and what I have to offer others.  I've wasted less time trying to be something or someone I am not, and simply appreciating the uniqueness of others rather than trying to be like them.  It makes people a lot more likeable!  This area is always going to be a journey for me, but I've felt a lot of growth in the past year.

I've also decided not to let my age determine too much in my life.  I'd prefer listening to Bang Bang by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj over a lot of other music, and I'm going to stop pretending that isn't true.  I also don't like wearing heels.  and so I'm not going to, even though that seems like a very twenty-seven-year-old thing to do.  I'll almost always order a java chip frappachino at starbucks even though that's a very sixteen-year-old thing to do.  Extra whip!

I've never been a super introspective person naturally, but I think it is important to know yourself and, every once in a while, celebrate yourself.  I've got a lot going on that I could complain about or feel insecure about, but I'm realizing that is a waste of time and energy.  And positive vibes are contagious.  Especially now that I have a daughter who quite literally looks up to me, that is becoming more and more important.

Anyways, a few birthday thoughts I thought I would share.  It's a great day to be alive.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

a weekend with the sibs

This past weekend we drove to Western Pennsylvania to meet up with david's two brothers, their wives, and our one year old nephew.  If ever I was doubting the beauty of Pennsylvania (I wasn't), this trip confirmed that we live in THEE most beautiful state.  The fall colors were at their finest, the river sparkled, the crisp air pinked our was everything we could have asked for in a weekend away. 

We stayed in the same cabin we used last winter, which is quickly becoming one of our favorite places to retreat.  There is no cell service on the property, which is rare in our world and a welcomed break.  We filled our time with hiking, canoeing and kayaking, long walks, warm fires and smores, and lots of catching up. 

I came away feeling so filled up with family love...I love david's brothers and their wives, one of which is my older sister, so, duh.  We had great conversation, lots of laughs, tons of baby snuggles, and fun adventures...this trip is something we hope to turn into an annual tradition.

and now, an extreme amount of photos...readysetgo!