birthday baby

My birthday was last week, and I walked away a very happy, very lucky woman:

  • I am now the proud new owner of an iPad2! Yowz! I have faithfully named him Moo, after Katie Sokoler’s cat. Katie doesn’t know me, but I love her photography and I love her cat.
  • My family is loving, supportive, generous, and takes me out to pizza every time I turn 29.
  • Officially, I have been taken in as a “Member in Discernment” with the UCC Minnesota Conference. Meaning, I have officially been approved to *pursue* ordination as a minister in the United Church of Christ. Read: “pursue” doesn’t mean automatic (or even assured) ordination; there’re lots more steps to take. But nevertheless, this is is a big step, albeit of many.
  • B took me out to an amazing dinner at In Season (review at Heavy Table)

Finally, all of YOU were so sweet and awesome and voted on your favorite pair of glasses from Warby Parker last week (and no one even teased me, which I was wholeheartedly expecting!). So very soon, you will be rewarded with my decision on which pair of glasses I’ll be purchasing (ZOMG!), but I’m still working on a little project for the big reveal. I know, it’s terribly suspenseful! But you won’t have to wait long!

Until I reveal my ever-so-dramatic decision, here’s a teaser for you: the glasses in the photo of me and B below (while I like them a lot), are NOT the glasses I have chosen to buy, although they were the obvious frontrunner from your votes. DRAMA!

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Christmas at the farm

Every year our family spends Christmas Eve in South Dakota. My mom grew up on a dairy farm outside of Sioux Falls, which for her meant hard work–but for me, it meant family vacations building forts in the woods and getting lost in corn fields.

My grandmother passed a number of years ago, and since then the family has struggled deciding to what degree to keep up the farm. Every time I return, it is with some uncertainty as to which buildings will still be standing. So this year I grabbed the camera and tromped about in the snow, my fingers turning red as I snapped a few shots.

I’m fascinated by these old buildings. Mom, it seems, has countless stories about milking the cows and caring for weak runt piglets, of taming feral cats and doing work in the fields with her father. She famously tells about the two vacations of her childhood: first, to visit her sick uncle out west; and second, to attend his funeral a year later. This hard lifestyle, she claims, is in part why her father died before his time.

As the farm stood silent this Christmas, I thought about all the years it buzzed with activity: cows to be milked, food to be made, chores to be done. A day like any other, with the exception that at its end, a family gathered around a warm table and a fragrant tree, and spoke deep midwinter blessings to one another.

See more pictures of the farm on Flickr.


autumn apple bread

I had a hankering to make some bread this evening, and an overabundance of apples. The result? This amazing bread! I haven’t baked bread in SO long, but it came out so soft and moist. I’m very happy with the results.

Every time I bake, it reminds me of my Grandma Kelly, who taught me to knead and punch down the dough. So I took the pictures of this loaf in front of the kitchen canisters I inherited from her.

Whenever life gets a little stressful, it seems, I always return to baking. The recent elections kind of threw me for a loop, but I’ve rebounded. Still, no amount of mental acrobatics or logistical justification can match the satisfaction of a long-awaited, slow-to-rise, well-kneaded, warm, fragrant loaf of homemade bread. Did someone say comfort food?


welcome, fall.

back when we lived in new york, by the time fall came, i craved it. the nights were sultry and the pavement was hot. under ground, where soil is supposed to be cool and damp, instead was multiplied in temperature. i took more showers than is reasonable. and when fall came–late, usually, later than in minnesota–the cold air was more than welcome.

in minnesota, our summers are less forthright. as indirect as Minnesota Nice, sunshine enters slowly in the north, and we don’t tire of it easily. thunderstorms are dramatic and unyielding. humidity is blessedly thick. and the nights are cool, filled with cricket song.

so you’ll forgive me when i say that i haven’t been greeting summer’s end with the eagerness i used to. it used to signify a return to my studies; brand new classes and the promise of a better, more informed me by the end of december. this year, fall signifies B’s return to med school, and the subsequent loss of his time and his energy. my work provides some cyclical excitement, but politics in this election season offers more tearing down of community than thoughtfully considering the future of our nation and our people.

i had imagined summer to be a time of recharging. time with friends and family, time to check things off my “bucket list”, time to enjoy B and his last-summer-off hurrah. i did some of those things. but as i’m learning must often happen in life, some of those things didn’t happen. more than anything, i found myself lacking in time to care for myself: to write, to read, to play my guitar (which i don’t play well, but i do enjoy pulling out now and again), to sleep, to walk, to talk, to cook, to eat. i did invest time in those i care about (but not as much as i wanted), and i took up a new, valuable hobby that is good for my body (aerial arts).

still, today was the first day in a long time that i was able to actively relax. i slept in, spent time with B, went to the farmer’s market, worked on my potted garden, watched a little tv, and made dinner. a GOOD dinner, one that consisted mostly of vegetables and took me longer than 30 minutes to cook. heck–one that i cooked MYSELF.

stuffed baby eggplants, bought at the farmer’s market. based off this recipe, i stuffed them with wild rice, brussel sprouts, onion, chicken, feta cheese, mushrooms, apples, and a dollop of butter for good measure.

they were good. they were REALLY good.

i bought one fuzzy pink flower at the market, and picked some wild prairie flowers down by the mississippi, near our apartment. we set them on the table as we ate.

and capped the meal off with a glass of whiskey.

okay. NOW i’m ready for fall.


purrfect.

today: a bad day for minnesota politics.

thus, a good day for snuggling with the kitty and watching figure skating.


i’ve been keeping a secret from you

my cold today would have been so much better if only i had not taken nyquil last night. i woke up so groggy i could hardly function until 2:00 pm. i wanted to be sure to get a good night’s sleep, which i did… but i could have slept all day, too. so. i am an official nyquil hater now.

ok. whine, whine. moving on.

i think it’s about time that i fess up to something i’ve been keeping from everybody. i’ve been holding back because it is utterly ridiculous, and when i told my friend lissa about it last week she looked at me with new eyes. those eyes said: “this woman is much more of a cat-lady than i ever expected, and i reeeally don’t know what to think about it.”

so. here it is.

ahem.

*wince*

i’m toilet training our cat.

that’s right, i have this tray thing called CitiKitty and i have biodegradable, wheat-based litter that you flush down the toilet, and i even position my cat’s paws to try to teach her the right toilet position. (did i also mention that i have a very patient boyfriend?)

and. (yes, there IS another and).

i have been doing this since august.

i know.

it’s crazy.

that’s why i haven’t told you yet. i’m ALMOST ASHAMED to tell people. but i’m kinda too stubborn to stop. i want to know that our little cat is definitely NOT TRAINABLE before i stop. and so far, she’s been making some pretty rad strides, once she realized that if she… “goes”, food/treats will be her reward.

i’m not going to bore you with methodology, mostly because it’s gross and i don’t really want to talk about it unless asked. but, if you’re curious, here’s a video that explains much of the process:

what do you think? am i crazy? or would you go through this mess just to have to not clean the litterbox?


Oh day of laziness and lists

Ok, I have to admit, I am completely uncertain about this whole Post Every Day thing. I think it might be a bad idea, largely because right now, I’m like, dude. The last thing I want to do is talk to the whole world. Sorry folks, it’s not that you’re not nice… it’s just that for reals, I’d rather settle in with my soup and my bf and my cat and wonder when those two kids Ross and Rachel are finally going to get together.

I mean, come on, if that video doesn’t make you want to be a couch potato, what does??

But ok. I’ve made a commitment. And if there’s one thing I’ve been digging about 2010, it’s been setting goals for myself and actually kind of meeting them–partly because of this ole’ blog right here. back on january 4, I made four resolutions: to be less crabby about housework, to get to bed earlier, to eat all the veggies in the martha stewart cookbook that i own, and to run a 10k.

So, I think I’m a little better at the housework (in particular, dishes) thing–not perfect, but I’d say I’ve improved, and am at least doing dishes with some more regularity and some less fury. What I’ve most succeeded at is getting to bed earlier, on most weeknights before midnight. And, although I’m not making a concerted effort to explicitly eat the vegetables that Martha says I should, I’ve been doing a better job of creating a healthy menu for the week, cooking most nights, and having the leftovers for lunch the next day (this is also related to my scheme of saving more money. also good.).

With that said, as long as I’m doing this whole self-improvement thing, and as long as I’m making myself blog every day, I may as well make some more goals out of it. So, here they are:

  1. Exercise three times a week, and I will report said exercise here. (Fear! Trembling! Future fury with myself will ensue!)
  2. Once each weekend, I will cook something fancy and write about it here. (Like the stuffed cabbage of yesterday’s lore).
  3. FINALLY finish putting things up on our apartment walls (take pictures, and post them)
  4. Finish the messenger bag I was going to sew for B at the onset of medical school (now six months ago and counting), and
  5. Forgive myself when I do not complete all of these goals. (Shoot for the moon and land in the stars, right? Right-o).

Sigh. It will be fun to hold myself accountable to ALL THAT. That is like my Dream Al, right there. But, I will hold myself accountable to each and every one of you who actually (really?) read this blog, because hey, if you check in here, you deserve my honesty. And my love. And devotion.

Also, because it’s fun, a list of two links:

  1. My adorable cousin Maren wrote about me (sort of) on her blog. If you click through, you’ll get to see a thoroughly embarrassing picture of me in the prime of childhood.
  2. I’m now a published theologian. Please don’t hate me.

Until tomorrow–and let’s hope I run or something.