Breaking the silence

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” -Ernest Hemingway

I hate that my parents have been separated since August, 2015. Shouldn’t this nightmare be over now? It’s April, 2017. Or maybe it’s better that we’re still in limbo, if it means avoiding the true nightmare of divorce. I guess if they stay together it’s worth it. If it takes a little more time to solidify their relationship then I guess their time was productive. I’m just sick of it. It’s exhausting.

It makes me sad that my mom lives alone, because she wasn’t the one who wanted this. I’m glad she has the dog as her companion. I don’t know what she would do if she didn’t have him. I feel like my dad got the upper hand with this whole deal. He gets a new condo to soak in the solitude he had been craving.  He gets something new and exciting. He can even leave all his clutter at the family homestead and just avoid dealing with it. The irony is, he has an empty garage at the new place.

That’s what keeps coming to mind: clutter. Part of me doesn’t like going home because of all the clutter, physical and mental. Being there reminds me of the past, and somehow the negative seems to linger more than the positive. Of course we had good times- birthdays, Christmases, family dinners, joking around, blasting rock ‘n roll, cookouts, LOST binge watching. But the halls still echo with the sound of arguments past, and I just want to start new. I want to start our family over in a new house. We can get rid of the clutter and start fresh; a rekindled relationship and a new life.

I hate that even with one person living there, our house is still full to the brim. Where did all this stuff come from? Did we lose ourselves in it? There’s so much mail. So much computer junk. The remnants of my dad’s old desk from the job he got laid off from years ago. The detritus of our childhood. Empty boxes we’re saving for who knows what. And so many coats. I think too much when I’m home. It’s the bad kind of nostalgia.

I feel bad for my dad, because he has to get up at 4 AM every day to commute from where he lives to his new job, which is a little further than his old job and a lot further from our house. He just looks so exhausted all the time. Why won’t he come home? Wouldn’t it be easier to get to work at least? And the dog would get more attention. He’s acting out now that he has to split his time between two houses.

Best of all, he would be home, with mom. I don’t buy that this new place feels like home to him. I don’t even think he buys it; he still calls the family house home when he isn’t paying attention. He’s just stubborn.

I don’t believe for a second that they don’t love each other. Even in this separation, they are lost without each other, I just don’t think they realize it. My dad is constantly calling my mom to chat. They’re best friends. Maybe frenemies sometimes, but best friends. Neither of them will ever find anyone who knows them the way they know each other. Yes, that means their bad qualities. But that’s what love is! You love the whole person, flaws and all. And you try to change your flaws to better yourself and for that person. And that’s actually what they’re doing.

I know that they love each other because I know how much they love me and my brother. I know that the things my dad loves about me are a lot of the same things he loves about my mom. I know I remind him of her, in a good way. I know he’s proud that I turned out like her. I am her in some ways. And my brother has the good qualities that my mom loves so much in him and my dad. He is my dad in some ways. We’re a family. How can they break up the family they created? I can’t imagine Christmases where we aren’t all together, the four of us. “Our little family,” as my dad calls it.

I’m still holding onto hope. Hope that they will reconcile, and that the marriage counseling and prayers are helping to heal things. Hope that this won’t ruin my own view of love and marriage. My precious boyfriend has a reminder in his phone to pray for my parents daily because I don’t usually have the strength to. Even if they divorce, maybe my view of love will be okay.

I was a pretty scared and anxious kid a lot of the time. I held it all in of course, but my biggest fear (besides dying in my sleep), was that my parents would get divorced. In my simple child mind, I thought I could prevent this by giving them the silent treatment. If I stopped talking to them, they couldn’t possibly go through with their decision. They wouldn’t be able to bear their little girl not talking to them. The irony is, now that they’ve been separated I have been mostly silent about the issue. It’s not because I don’t care. It’s because it’s way too painful to even think about, never mind talk about with them. I’m paralyzed.

Mom and Dad, I just want you to know that even though I’m almost 30 now and you probably think that divorce won’t scar me too much, you’re wrong. It will hurt and affect me just as much, maybe even more, since I am at the age where I am probably going to get married sooner rather than later. You’ve spent your whole adult lives together, why would you stop now? You’re almost 60. Do you really think you can just start over and have it better? You will never have anything as meaningful as our little family.

I can see it now…a small rededication of marriage vows ceremony, fixing up the house, getting rid of the clutter (physical and mental), selling the house, and moving to a new place together closer to the city. Closer to work and your kids. Closer to the church you love. Smaller, but cozier. With a fenced in yard for the dog. A big kitchen for Dad to cook for us in. One where he won’t be feeling crowded if someone else is there with him. A man cave for Dad and a reading nook for Mom. So that they can have some time apart while still being together. A guest room or two for us to stay in when we come home. A new home. A place that maybe is even cheaper than the living situation now. An opportunity for rental income in the empty condo. A new life, together. Oh, please, God. Please.





Well, hello

It’s been a while since I’ve written in this blog. This is what my life looks like on April 1, 2017:

-I’ve been living in the same apartment for 5 years now (and rent hasn’t gone up!)

-I have 2 newish roommates as of September

-I had a falling out with one of the old roommates after she moved out. Sad, because she had become a good friend.

-I have a wonderful boyfriend of 7 months! More about that later

-My best friend has two babies and is trying for a third

-I’ve been at my “new” job for 1.5 years

-I’ve given up Facebook for Lent this year

-My car is almost paid off

-So are my student loans (relatively speaking…less than $20,000 is good, right? To me this is actually a huge achievement- I have paid things off pretty aggressively if you must know)

-I am finally going to Bonnaroo this year

-My parents are separated after 30+ years of marriage. They’re working on things. I pray that with God’s help they can rededicate themselves to each other

-I’ve been a nurse for almost 7 years

-I’m still not exactly sure what I want to go back to school for, to further my nursing career

-Exactly 1 year ago I was in London with my brother

-I’m still working through the trauma of 2015- it was a really crappy year that caused me to get kinda depressed. Going to therapy for a while helped.

-I got bangs, grew out my bangs, and am ready to cut my hair into bangs again

-In the time since I last wrote, I went to California, Montreal, London, and will soon be going to Nashville

-One of my childhood friends died a year and a half ago

So what should I write about first?






Christian dating: an anticlimax (pun intended)

Ohh, Christian dating.

If you’ve experienced it you know what I mean with that sigh. If not, let me give you a look with my experience with one particular Christian guy.

I thought I had found my ideal guy last year- I read his online profile and really felt a bond with him, and that was before he had even posted a picture. In a risky move, I sent him a smile/wink/whatever that particular site has (I’ve tried them all, except Tinder), and asked him to post some pictures.

The next day? Jackpot! He looked like a preppy American Prince William and was holding a baby (double jackpot! The baby wasn’t his!) We started talking and it was genuinely nice to get to know a guy through long letters. It felt old fashioned in this digital age, even though it was through the messaging on the site. It felt reassuring to be starting things the way so many people in the past did. It was a while before we started texting and talking on the phone, and a few more weeks before we met in person for our first date.

We got along extremely well on our first date, down to being in complete agreement on the type of pizza to split. I should’ve known then that we were both too eager to please, and too wary of any sort of conflict. This was a pattern that continued on throughout the time we were together. For the record, I can genuinely say that I got my favorite type of pizza (Margherita with fresh basil and mozzarella), but it was more the attitude that we both had of “wow, this is so easy!” with each other. We came to believe, subconsciously I’m sure, that these little happenstances equaled us being “good” for each other, and we didn’t want to break the streak of having things in common and agreeing on everything.

Ironically, even though we each thought this easiness made us good for each other, we both had hesitations about being together, and were baffled about why we had hesitations even though we were so good “on paper.”

After we had been on 4 or 5 dates he proposed to me that we take the next 2 weeks off from dating to really pray and focus on God’s will for our relationship (did you think he actually proposed-proposed to me?!) We did this and had very limited connections until our next date. I wasn’t sure what to think…I felt like I was on trial and was more consumed with insecurity than prayer and thoughtful meditation and counsel on our relationship (if you could even call it that). I came back to him a few weeks later discouraged, because I can’t really say that I heard God speak to me one way or another about this guy. I had a “good feeling” because he was “good on paper,” which isn’t saying much, because when I look back I actually remember a lot of bad feelings from this time, mainly insecurity and uncertainty that was so overwhelming that I couldn’t focus on God’s will clearly.

We reunited and both kind of felt like God didn’t give us a clear answer. We wondered, is THAT the answer? Maybe it was.

I had gone into this time of prayer and fasting looking for God to give me a clear red or green light, but what I found was that things were and always had been a yellow light: proceed with caution. We went on a few more dates, and then he told me that for the next 6 or 7 weeks his weekends were booked completely solid with out of state weddings, a guys fishing trip, a bachelor party, family stuff, and a graduation. He basically wanted to take a break during that time and continue praying since we wouldn’t be able to see each other. We still talked, but he was busy. Unfortunately weekdays weren’t an option because I was working mostly 3-11 shifts and he had normal hours. If we were lucky we could talk during my dinner break, but he had various weeknight activities like trivia and Bible study that kept him busy. Finally this break was over, and we went on a date that just wasn’t that fun. I wondered if we had lost too much traction to really get things back to where they were. After a few more dates I felt similar, but had a hope that we were getting closer again, finally in a good rhythm.

After a little while of dating post-break, we still weren’t official, and I felt insecure about this. He also hadn’t kissed me, and even for a Christian couple this seemed unusual. Believe it or not, most Christian couples aren’t like the Duggars, saving everything including their first kiss for marriage. I’m not judging the people who do. I believe in purity but I think that kissing guys you care about is a way to express how you feel without going over the top. I think that to have a relationship there needs to be SOME kind of physical contact that’s a little deeper than how you kiss your great aunt Wendy when she comes to town.

I genuinely think my guy was trying to be respectful in waiting a few months to kiss me, but it wasn’t something we talked about and it left me feeling insecure that maybe he didn’t like me or find me attractive. I would wait for the end of our dates, hoping that each night would be the night.

I bet you’re wondering why I didn’t kiss him first.It’s because I’m stubborn and after months of just hugging and stuff I wanted him to kiss me first (remember, I wasn’t convinced he liked me). I could have kissed him and I know he wouldn’t have stopped me, but to me that wouldn’t have proved that he liked me.

Finally one night, after we had watched a nature documentary (sexy, I know), he kissed me. It was a good kiss and we ended up making out on my couch for a while, praying my roommates wouldn’t walk in and ruin our moment after so long waiting for it (they didn’t). After that we kissed all the time- hello, goodbye, making out on various couches, cautious not to cross any lines.

Summer came, and I was discouraged, still wondering if he really liked me and if so, why I wasn’t his girlfriend yet. I brought this up to him, and he cited wanting to be cautious about God’s will. He didn’t want to move to quickly and end up hurting me. He wanted to guard both of our hearts. It sounded fair enough- after all, I agree with and appreciate all of those things, but something still didn’t feel right to me. I felt like he was still trying to figure me out, and that somehow I was unworthy.

By this time I had picked up on his quirks and found what annoyed me about him. One of the big things is that I felt he didn’t make it his priority to get to know me better by spending more time with me, to figure out if we should be official. It was pretty casual and we almost never saw each other more than twice in one week. On one hand he really seemed to want to find God’s will, but on the other, I felt like he wasn’t spending enough time with me for us to really know each other. I know that we can’t purely judge based on our time together, but looking back I think it would have been helpful, and that we would have come to the same conclusion, only sooner, which would have been ultimately good in terms of getting on with my life. I think his perception of trying to figure out if this was God’s will was to seek counsel from other Christian men in his life, fast, pray, and read. I did the same things, but felt I needed more quality time with him to have an answer on if I even liked him enough to try to make this work.

Towards the end of the summer I got so fed up with my guy and the state of our non-relationship that I was ready to throw in the towel several times. But I always stopped myself, and the last time I stopped myself, I decided I would try harder. I made him a delicious dinner and we had a nice evening together. I gave him gifts for his new classroom; he was a teacher and had gotten a new job, so I got him a few posters to decorate his new space. I tried to be more- more bubbly, more fun, more affectionate, more desirable.

We had another date night at my apartment where we watched a movie together. I tried to cuddle with him and he just seemed rigid. Come to think of it, he hadn’t been super affectionate the last two dates or so- no steamy make out sessions lately. I knew he wasn’t a big cuddler, but this was a little colder than usual. I decided to try to give him a massage. As I rubbed his back I got no feedback from him that this was something he even felt, let alone liked. He kind of leaned forward towards the TV and basically ignored me. Then we went for a walk. It seemed like he had something on his mind that he wanted to talk about, but it never came out. After we got back from our walk we sat on the stoop in front of my apartment. He told me that he wasn’t good with words and would be sending me one of his “famous emails” (he had done this a few times before). We kissed goodbye- our last kiss- as he got into his car and drove away, leaving me anxiously awaiting what I strongly suspected to be the end.

He sent me an email the next day essentially telling me about his reservations in furthering a relationship and how he doesn’t understand how this can be because I’m like, so totally awesome (my words, not his). He wanted to know if I felt the same way and had the same reservations. When we talked on the phone the next day I told him that yes, I actually felt exactly the same way and that I almost had this talk with him a few weeks earlier, but thought I would give things one last go. So that was basically our break up, although I’m still not sure what we were breaking up. He told me he wanted to see me again but understood if I didn’t want to get lunch with him. I went back and forth, but decided it might be nice to have some closure, so we got lunch and used the last of a gift card we had won together at trivia night. We actually shared a nice time together and were able to reflect on our time together in a very honest and open way. He hugged each other goodbye and he told me how great a girl I was. We promised to “keep in touch” and “not be strangers.” We haven’t kept in touch, and essentially we are strangers. I guess we always kind of were.

So what have I learned?

-Being good on paper is overrated

-God’s will isn’t usually a clear red or green light; it’s more nuanced than that, and sometimes no answer is your answer

-Ultimately being emotionally and physically hesitant saved us both pain (although there was still some pain, this was one of the “best” breakups I’ve had)

-Getting dinner with your “ex” after you “break up” can actually be good- don’t just write if off as something not to do. Closure is valuable.

-Communication is essential- I look back and realize that we were both trying to please each other so much that we didn’t even fight when we should have. I tolerated a lot of things (like our break) without much complaining. He thought this was a great quality I had, but it wasn’t, it was just me being a coward and not wanting to rock the boat by speaking my mind. Always be open and honest, and truly listen to the other person. It’s okay to have disagreements, because every couple does, and how you work through this is a good barometer for the health of your relationship.

-Prince William is overrated. Surprisingly, Prince Harry is now the hot one. It’s not what anyone expected, and somewhere there is a lesson there. Besides, Prince William and his counterpart who I dated were both balding. Don’t overlook the Prince Harrys out there, because they might just be better than the Williams.

-I still stand by what I say about the importance of quality time.

-I should have just kissed him first.

-C’est la vie.






Pop some bubbly

Celebrate we will, for life is short but sweet for certain. -DMB

A few years ago at the community group I attend through my church we made new year’s resolutions in the form of single words that we wanted to capture the new year. This was the year that I chose “growth,” but one woman’s word was “celebration.” She told us that she wants to celebrate all the small, sweet things in life and raise her son in a happy, celebratory environment.

This really resonated with me. In our culture we tend to over-indulge on celebrating 21st birthdays and other big events, but what about finding all those little everyday blessings and victories to celebrate?

Do you have anyone in your life who you just KNOW will get excited over every tiny good detail in your life? For me it’s my Nana. No matter what you tell her she gets excited, practically jumping up and down, talking in a high pitched excited voice, hugging you and really just sharing the happiness with you. And she tells EVERYONE your good news. She was just beside herself when my cousin got engaged last Christmas- it was all over her Facebook and everything. It’s so fun to call her when I have even a small piece of good news because she gives the rare truly enthusiastic response people want when something good happens.

Celebrating is really a big part of scattering cheer if you think about it. When your roommate aces her midterms (or your kid gets 100 on a spelling test), why not go out and treat her to some ice cream? If your boyfriend gets a promotion, break out the champagne! When your best friend gets into her ideal internship, make her a fun handmade card  and pick some flowers to celebrate. It doesn’t have to be just for those things though…maybe you successfully fought your speeding ticket, or found the debit card you thought you lost, or got a date with that guy you like…the point is, life is full of wonderful things…notice and celebrate them!

I do an okay job with this, but there is always room for improvement, especially for things that bring so much joy. With this post I resolve to buy more champagne to keep on hand, make more greeting cards, send more celebratory messages to those I love, because life isn’t always so happy.

And hey, when those hard days come, remember those too. I found out last week that I didn’t get the job I really wanted and had interviewed for, and came home to some wildflowers and an encouraging card from my roommate. It really made by bad day a little better and renewed the hope that I needed. It wasn’t so much a celebration as a reminder that soon we will have something to celebrate, but until then, hang in there.

What could be better than that?

David’s Tea Advent Calendar Review: Days 24-18

When one of my coworkers told me about a tea Advent calendar, I knew I just had to have it! David’s Tea offers these, and I bought mine in November for about $30. The set includes 24 days of wonderful loose leaf tea in cute individual jars. Each jar hides behind a little door to open each day like other Advent calendars. These jars contain enough tea for about 4 cups of tea (give or take). I thought I would keep track of my favorite teas so that it would be easier to remember which ones I liked, since I know I will probably end up buying a few in larger quantities.

Day 24- Santa’s Secret- This is a delicious, Christmasy black tea with hints of peppermint. The perfect tea for a little holiday pick-me-up. I give it 4 stars.

Day 23- Egg Nog- This is a caffeine-free rooibos tea, and I was a little skeptical that it would be able to compare to one of my favorite holiday drinks. I was pleasantly surprised; this is basically egg nog in tea form, and what it lacks in richness it certainly makes up for in flavor. It even has little white chocolate chips in it that melt beautifully into the tea! I give it 4 stars.

Day 22- Sleigh Ride- This is a caffeine-free fruit infusion. I didn’t want to have it with my breakfast since I NEED caffeine in the morning, but I was so happy I tried it later in the day. This tea is a fruit infusion of apple, hibiscus, pineapple, papaya, almonds, coconut, raisins and cinnamon. The blend is unique and delicious. I give it 3 stars (I’m a tough grader).

Day 21- Lime Gelato- One of the things I love about this tea set is that it has taken me outside of my tea comfort zone. There really isn’t anything to lose, and if I really hated one of the flavors, which I haven’t for the record, the jar makes it handy to give away to someone else. Anyway, I was a little nervous about the Lime Gelato tea since I don’t really like green tea. I was pleasantly surprised though- like the egg nog tea, this was plenty flavorful and true to its name. I give it 4 stars.

Day 20- Apple Custard- This is another fruit infusion, and unfortunately for me it’s caffeine-free. This was a good tea to drink at night- it’s got apples, raisins, spices and a hint of vanilla and chamomile. 3 stars.

Day 19- Organic Cream of Earl Grey- Okay, so I’m a total Earl Grey lover. I wasn’t sure how this would compare to my favorite Harney and Sons Earl Grey, and I was a little confused about the cream part. I didn’t know if I would like it creamy, since I am an Earl Grey purist and refuse to put milk in mine (milk is only for chai and breakfast teas, thank you very much). At any rate, this is definitely my favorite tea thus far, and I will certainly be purchasing a larger quantity of this blend. It has the normal Earl Grey flavor with a touch of creamy, vanilla goodness that really takes it to a whole new level. 5 stars.

Day 18- Organic Silk Dragon Jasmine- This is another green tea, and I confess I actually haven’t tried it yet. I promise I will soon, though! Hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised by another good green tea!

Fall Essentials

As much as I was sad to say goodbye to summer, I am really enjoying fall so far. There’s something about fall that summons new beginnings…maybe it’s because for most of life we started school in September. I also think it’s interesting that Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year is at the beginning of fall. Fall is a time for being cozy, relaxing, and enjoying life’s simple pleasures. It’s a happy medium between the extremes of summer and winter, a time to pick apples, carve pumpkins and look at the foliage. To make the most out of fall I have a list of time-tested essentials that I love having around this time of year…


My Spiced Pumpkin Yankee candle

I absolutely LOVE the scent of spiced pumpkin, especially in candle form (what can I say?, I’m not a big latte fan). There is something so warm and delightful about this scent. I’ve got one of these candles going almost constantly, whether it’s a jar like this or tea lights. Oh yeah, and the fireplace in the background isn’t too shabby either…that’s another one of my favorite cold weather delights!


My Nap brand blanket

I got one of these for Christmas one year, and man is it the best blanket ever. The only thing I would change is for it to be a little bigger, although I’m sure they come in larger sizes. It is irresistibly soft and warm like a baby blanket and is the perfect addition to watching TV on the couch or a little extra warmth in bed on a brisk night.


Beautyrest electric heated mattress pad

Speaking of cold nights in bed, this thing changed my life last winter and this fall, because even on the coldest fall nights I don’t need to cave and turn on my heat. It’s also refreshing for those crisp nights that you want to sleep with the window open but are afraid of getting a little too cold during the night. I got it for Christmas last yeah after hearing my parents rave so much about theirs, and I LOVE it. It’s been great to have as the nights get colder, and it has a remote that allows you to adjust the settings or even preheat the bed a little while before getting into it. Honestly, I’m always cold and I usually only have it on 1 or 2. The mattress pad even shuts itself off automatically after 10 hours. If you happen to be like me and want to stay in bed longer than that, you can just turn it on again and it will last another 10 hours. Fair warning: you WON’T want to get out of bed on those dark, cold fall and winter mornings in your even-cozier-than-normal bed.


Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend herbal tea

This is literally autumn in tea form. The scent of this stuff is amazing, and it’s also delicious and healthy. It’s got cinnamon, apple, ginger, hibiscus, chamomile and some other spices, plus the picture on the box is SO adorable- a fox drinking tea! It’s so good that I stock up on it in the fall so that I have enough to last me through the winter, since it’s only available seasonally at Trader Joe’s. Go get some. NOW.


Butternut Squash Ravioli

One of the most delicious foods I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating is butternut squash ravioli with a white wine and sage cream sauce at my friend Becky’s wedding. I make my own version by buying butternut squash raviolis at Trader Joe’s and tossing them in a brown butter sauce. I’ve experimented a lot, but my basic brown butter sauce is just unsalted butter, a little almond extract, chopped fresh sage and nutmeg sauteed until the butter is browned and the sage is crispy. It’s actually a really easy meal, but could easily be served to guests and would come across as restaurant worthy.


Fuzzy socks

There’s nothing better than wearing soft, fuzzy, warm socks. Yes, maybe you can’t wear them with most pairs of shoes because of their thickness, and maybe your feet would get too hot inside the socks and shoes anyway, but they are the best to wear around the house at the very least. I highly suggest you go buy yourself a few pairs. You will thank me later.


Leather Jacket

It’s leather weather! Enjoy this fleeting time by making the most of this dry, crisp fall weather that is just perfect for non-waterproof, not-super-warm material. I LOVE my leather jacket. My nana got me a jacket from Marshall’s a few years ago, and I didn’t really like it. She’s a huge shopper like me and was okay with me exchanging it, so I checked out my local Marshall’s to see what I could exchange the jacket for. Amazingly, I saw this gorgeous buttery smooth Calvin Klein leather jacket. It was love. And it was cheap…after exchanging the other jacket I only had to pay $10 for the leather upgrade! One of the best deals I’ve ever gotten. My nana was so proud of my bargain and approved of the leather jacket.

What fall essentials would you add to the list? Leave them in the comments! Happy fall!

Favorite Things

Have you ever heard of a Favorite Things party? I came across this idea on Pinterest and decided to have one. You know how you talk to your girlfriends and recommend new products, recipes and tips that you don’t know how you lived without? Well that’s basically what this party is, only you get to actually share these things rather than just talking about them.

It’s really quite simple to do. Encourage your attendees to think of one “favorite thing” that they have been obsessed with lately. It can be a kitchen gadget, an amazing beauty product, a planner, a book, a desk organizer, really great pens, ANYTHING! Pick a price ahead of time, and keep in mind how many people will be coming. For my party we stuck to products that were about $5 (I debated on $10, but realized that might be a little pricey) and each person was asked to bring 5 of their item. You can alternately do this by asking each person to bring enough of their product for each person attending, but it’s hard to know how many people may show up sometimes, so I picked this way and then everyone went home with five new gifts.

I bought pretty gift bags and decorated them with “our favorite things” tags. When everyone showed up I had them arrange their favorite things on the table. Oh yeah, I also  asked each person to bring a favorite snack, drink, wine or dessert with them (bonus if they bring copies of the recipe for everyone). I think next time I do this I will actually request for people to bring a copy of the recipe (or the name of a fantastic $5 or $10 wine- a great thing to know, and they DO exist!).IMG_0460

What did I contribute? I bought a few Turbie Twist hair towels…I have been using these silly things for years! They are the best- absorbent, small enough that you’re not wasting a whole towel on your hair, big enough for long hair, and adorably cute prints. They are a great way to get the excess water out of your hair while you get ready, and the little loop on them keeps them securely on your head. Heck, I sometimes sleep with them in when I’m feeling really lazy. They are also machine washable and can be used to keep your hair out of the way in the bath, or even as you’re waiting for your hair conditioning mask to sink in. IMG_0461

Rather than having people pick and fight over the gifts, we each wrote our name on 5 pieces of paper. We then put all of the names into a bowl and drew 5 random names (make sure to put back your own), and that’s how we got our 5 items. These are the items I got…beautiful flowers (what girl doesn’t love flowers?), a deliciously scented bar of soap from Lush, the world’s greatest liquid liner (NYC brand if you’re interested), a life changing beauty blender sponge to apply foundation (seriously great for blending those imperfections into flawless looking skin), and a cute dual colored nail polish. I also got a sixth gift, because my friend Jenny bought a few extra Lip Smackers lip balms (great throwback!)


My Favorite Things party was a great success, and everyone loved taking home a few goodies hand picked by their friends. The possibilities are endless…here are a few more ideas, inspired by some of my current favorite things (prices vary a bit).

-Harney and Sons Earl Grey tea (the best Earl Grey I’ve ever had)…it comes in a purple box

-A copy of Real Simple magazine

-Yes to Tomatoes skin cleansing wipes…awesome for acne-prone skin, won’t over-dry your skin, AND great for taking off even the most stubborn make up on those nights you just can’t bear to wash your face at the sink

-Kitsch brand ribbon style hair ties

-Cookie dough scoops for uniformly sized cookies

-These awesome wine bottle stoppers from

-Toasted marshmallow scented Yankee candles (tea light or votive size)

-L’Occitane hand cream- the best for dry skin!

-Peter Pauper Press brand notebooks

-Evian Natural Mist Mineral Water facial spray from Sephora- so refreshing!

Again, the possibilities are endless! Good luck, and let me know what you would bring to a favorite things party…

My Two Cents on Finance: Vacation Fund

When I was working as a nurse’s aide while still in college, I had a fascinating co-worker named Jean. Jean was in her 60’s and had lived an amazing life spent traveling the world with her husband. I had to wonder how a woman who had spent her career as a nurse’s aide, making much less money than she deserved, had been able to afford to travel the world- and not just travel either- I’m talking month long stays in Germany, Mediterranean cruises, and extended tours of Africa. She had been to her favorite spots in England many times, and had been to places like Prague before they were trendy. It seemed that anyplace you picked in the world she had been to multiple times, complete with stories of adventure and whimsy.

One day I finally asked her how she managed to go on all of these wonderful trips and vacations (obviously without mentioning the salary issue). Jean told me that when she married her husband in her early twenties they had made a decision to make traveling a priority in their marriage. She told me that from the start they started a vacation fund and that it has made the difference between dreaming and doing. She told me that no matter what, they each contributed money to the vacation fund every paycheck. Sometimes, when times were especially tough, they only put $10 in the fund, but the point was that they kept contributing, never borrowing money from it even during the hardest times, and increasing the amount each week as they planned and booked actual trips. This prioritization and discipline of saving has given Jean and her husband the gift of world travel for decades, which I only imagine has made their marriage that much richer. Is there really a better gift you can share with those you love than travel? The subsequent experiences, exposure to new cultures and memories are some of the best things in life.

I’m happy to say that once I got my first post-college job I started a vacation fund right away. I opened it with a few hundred dollars, and have steadily had $50 taken out of each paycheck automatically go into my fund. When I’ve planned the few trips I’ve gone on since starting the fund, I’ve increased the amount and added whatever money I could afford to prepare for my trip. Once on the trip, I just use my credit card (beware of foreign transaction fees though!) and then pay my credit card bill with money straight from the vacation fund. This is has made paying for both small and big trips feel less stressful, and has allowed me to “splurge” on doing activities that might be a little out of my comfort zone had I not saved ahead of time. Once I’m back from my trip I try to replenish my fund by adding a little extra money for the next trip if at all possible. 

I plan to keep this vacation fund going for years to come, and while I hope to do some more solo travel, I also want to make sure I can afford to travel with my future husband and family someday. It’s as simple as opening another savings account wherever you bank and setting up automatic payments each day you get paid. It’s something little, but it has already made a powerful impact on my life and I know it will continue to in the future.

It’s Elementary

I was thinking about how to balance my life more and was struck by the thought that my life would be better if it was more like elementary school. I think I need that balance of learning new things, music, art, writing, DEAR time, gym and recess every day. I really think that if I found even just a little time for each of these things every day I would feel happier and less stressed. This is how I plan to implement going back to elementary school…some of these are everyday things and others (like going to more concerts) are things I enjoy that I just want to do more often.

Learning new things: taking an adult education class or grad school class, reading the intellectual devotional, listening to talk radio in the car

Music: listening to Pandora more, buying more music, listening to more music in the background of things, taking piano lessons, going to more concerts

Art: actually using the book on sketching and sketch book I have, doing art with kids at work, doing crafts from Pinterest, taking a jewelry making class or pottery class, scrapbooking

Writing: writing more blog entries (even super short ones), doing a month long period of writing every day, buying creative writing prompt books, using my question and answer journal daily

DEAR time: dropping everything to read every day even if it’s 10 or 15 minutes, going to the library more, keeping a better list of new books to read, joining a book club (even though I probably don’t have time), listening to books on tape (not the same, but you still get the story)

Gym: having a more concrete routine of going 3x/week, weights while I’m watching TV, going for more walks, doing work out videos, going running, coming up with a daily quick workout routine when I get up (push ups, crunches, jumping jacks, squats, weights), swimming

Recess: random fun things! Having fun every day is crucial 🙂 Not to mention it’s important to socialize! I try to reach out at least one person I care about every day, whether through a text, lunch date, phone call, etc.

Field Trips: Museums, aquariums, historical sites, etc.

And of course, most importantly, nourishing my spirit by spending time with Jesus every day, which means reading my Bible, reading my devotional, praying throughout the day, journaling spiritual things, and reading more spiritual books. Plus spending time with other Christians and having talks that help us to figure out the hard parts of our faith.

I think that as adults it’s so easy to focus on one thing, which usually ends up being work. While I think work is important and should be satisfying or fulfilling to you, I’ve learned that it can’t be everything. My creative side cries out for more…I need art, leisure, fun and learning to be part of my everyday life, for my sanity and my soul. Besides, multifaceted people are always so interesting! I love finding out the layers to new people I meet, and since I made the conscious effort to dabble in new things a long time ago, I’m on my way to becoming more multifaceted.

What about you? What do you do to balance your life? Share some ideas in the comments section!

Let’s all Thank a Teacher

I got together with my best friend the other day who I’ve been best friends with since we were 5 years old. We went through school together and have had our ups and downs, but at the end of the day I love her because of and despite everything we’ve been through during our friendship. Maybe we wouldn’t become best friends today if we met on the street, but she has been an important constant in my life.

As we were sitting on her balcony overlooking the city we started talking about high school. My friend is now getting her Master’s in Chemistry and wanted to let her high school chemistry teacher know what she was up to. Honestly, as her best friend, I never would have guessed that she would become a chemist. I knew that she enjoyed her chemistry class with this teacher, and having had the same teacher for a different science class I could see why. Miss Miller wasn’t the coolest or most popular teacher, despite being young, but she was an excellent teacher and made learning complicated scientific concepts both fun and interesting. She was passionate about science and the environment, and despite being somewhat self conscious due to only being a teacher for a few years, she really was one of the best teachers in our school.

My friend emailed her to thank her for being such a wonderful chemistry teacher and inspiring her to become a chemist. She thanked her for buying each of her students their own laminated Periodic Table to use as a reference, and told her that she still uses that same Periodic Table every day in the lab. She thanked her for exposing her to organic chemistry, something that most high school students do not learn, but that she has come to fall in love with. Something about the way this teacher ran a class really made students care about the subject, and I really believe that this foundation is what brought my friend back to Chemistry after trying two other majors at the beginning of college. She told Miss Miller this and thanked her for being such an inspiration.

She got a response two hours later from Miss Miller, telling her that the email came at the exact right moment. She said that she had had a horrible day at school trying to manage a particularly difficult and rowdy group of freshmen and that she was honestly thinking about quitting and making a major career change. She told her that the email changed everything, and that it reaffirmed why she became a teacher. She realized that for every 50 disinterested or rude students there was a handful of students who she really touched. If my friend had had a different chemistry teacher she may not have realized her love for the subject, and may have never wanted to become a chemist. Miss Miller was always encouraging, telling her students that “Chem is Try,” and that it may not be the easiest subject, but that she would help them understand it if they did their part to put in effort.

After hearing this story I thought about the many talented and wonderful teachers who have influenced my life. I had an English teacher who was the biggest bibliophile I’ve ever met and whose love of books was contagious. I had a history teacher who showed high schoolers that it’s cool and attractive to be smart, and who taught us so much about life and history. I had another English teacher who always encouraged my love of writing even though she knew I was majoring in something else, telling me that I had a writer’s soul.

While these and a few other teachers really influenced me, I’ve never told them that. They don’t know what I’m up to these days…sadly they don’t usually get to see how their students turn out as adults. So I’m challenging myself and you to reach out to just one teacher who made a difference…after all, isn’t that why they wanted to go into teaching? You could make their whole day, and reaffirm those who are struggling that this is their calling and that what they do really does matter. Teaching is a hard job, and too often it’s thankless. Let’s change that and scatter some cheer…