Tuesday, December 31, 2013

por fin

i finally made it back to mexico, seven years after the first time. this time with my man in tow. i introduced him to tacos de tinga de pollo, pina coladas with a squeeze of lime, and suavicremas de fresa. we relaxed on the beach, visited two mayan cities, and bargained our way through the markets at chichen itza.

some photos:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

mission: accomplished

after a whirlwind couple of months, i am currently sitting on my friend cheri's couch in st louis taking a break. i got out of bed at 9, i'm still in my pj's, my hair is all bed-heady, i only just finished breakfast, and i plan on doing very little today besides watching elf and working on some things for my brother's rehearsal dinner. vacation is amazing. does anyone still visit this blog?

i finally have time to write an update on my 2012 reading list. and here's the update: despite a major slowdown around june/july (coincidentally right around the time i started working more hours, joined the board of a non-profit, started a new relationship, & ...stopped blogging), i made it to 20 books! when i last updated this list in early april, i had reached book number 7. so to continue...

8. the hunger games, catching fire, and mockingjay, by suzanne collins: i know this is an unpopular opinion, but i was not a fan of this series. the first book was by far the most interesting, but the reluctant hero(ine) story is kind of played out in my opinion. and by the final book, i hated the main character and just. wanted. the. story. to. end.

9. the year of yes by maria dahvana headley: this book is the story of a woman who vows to say yes to every date she's asked out on for a whole year. completely by coincidence, my best friend and i read this book at the exact same time. we thought it would be funny and enlightening... but were wrong. the author was young when she did this experiment (around age 21, if i remember correctly) and of course managed to get asked out mostly by people who were completely loony. my favorite scene involved her unknowlingly dancing with marilyn manson at a club... which should tell you a lot about the kinds of guys she ended up spending time with, might i add.

10. the lost girls by jennifer badgett, holly corbett, and amanda pressner: this is the story of three friends who quit their jobs and spend an entire year traveling around the world together. i liked some writers (and their personalities) more than others, but this book has fueled a year's worth of wanderlust. must... travel... soon.

11. the number one ladies' detective agency by alexander mccall smith: this is the sweet story of a spunky lady from botswana who aspires to be a private detective. it's apparently part of a series and has also been made into a movie, which i need to check out. it was an easy read and i loved it!

12: bel canto by ann padgett: quite possibly the best book i've read all year. loved the characters, loved the plot, love any book involving UN involvement. piqued my interest in opera...

13: the soul of baseball by joe posnanski: borrowed this one from my sister to rekindle my love affair with baseball. done and done.

14: the search for delicious by natalie babbit: can children's books count toward my goal? i borrowed this one from my sister as well, because apparently it was a crime that i had never read it! it's a very charming story, so i'm glad i finally did.

15: the white masai by corinne hoffman: this is the story of a european woman who falls head over heels in love with a masai warrior while vacationing in kenya. she's super adventurous and marries him, moves to his village, and braves stomach bugs, wild animals, and social differences during her time there. it's a super interesting story, though i was pretty judgmental of the author while reading the book, as i felt she should have had a bit more foresight about the struggles she and her husband would face.

16: the secret life of bees by sue monk kidd: a re-read, this is one of my absolute favorite books. i ate a lot of honey while reading this one. :)

17: little altars everywhere by rebecca wells: also a re-read, also one of my favorites. it's not summer without the ya-ya's!

18: divine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood by rebecca wells: see above.

19: siddhartha by herman hesse: this one's short and i'd been meaning to re-read it for years, so i devoured it over the course of two days in july (when i was basically bed-ridden). not quite as epic as i remembered it being at age 15, but still good none the less.

20: garlic and sapphires by ruth reichl: this was a kitchen reader book, but i forgot to post a review (hi, i'm a negligent blogger). it's the amazing, insightful story of what it's like to be the food critic at the new york times. i've never read a times review, but i've been meaning to start. ruth reichl is an incredible writer, so i'd like to read more of her books...

21: sex slaves by louise brown: this one was research for a talk i gave in september. it was simultaneously educational, fascinating, heart breaking, and infuriating.

22: maus by art spiegleman: originally read this in college and just re-read it. it's the only graphic novel i've ever read, but i love its unique spin on stories from the holocaust.

23: the bean trees by barbara kingsolver: i loved the poisonwood bible and animal, vegetable, miracle, so my sister lent me this book to check out. i'm about 3/4 of the way done, but i love it so far. BK's characters are always so dynamic and relatable and i love that she worked cincinnati into this story!

24: little women by louisa mae alcott: this is december's book club book. little women was my favorite movie growing up, so i'm excited to read the book again!

and, with that, i declare 2012 a success.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

august has come & gone...

  •  i've jumped head-first into new & exciting professional opportunity in the local fair trade world. it is filled with networking and an upcoming speaking engagement! oh my. 
  • i've been spending my weekends (and occasionally weekdays) at festivals selling, selling, selling... and talking about fair trade, of course. have i mentioned lately how much i love the several recent twists in my career path? it's been lovely.
  • i've had a crazy awful bacterial infection on my legs for the last month and a half. no matter how many antibiotics i take, it still hangs on. i was in so much pain i couldn't walk for nearly a week, i've been to the doctor no less than 10 times (and counting), and since my bottom half is covered in scars and sores and bandaids and gauze and white medical tape, sundress season has been (mostly) wasted.
  • ...but i've bought several maxi dresses to make this situation more bearable. so glad they're currently in style!
  • some old friends have moved out of state, and but i've made several new friends in their absence... including but not limited to a new roommate and a new boyfriend. (yeah, i said it!)
  • my aunts, sister, and i planned and threw a bridal shower in cincinnati for miss becca last weekend. it was lovely! and i found out that i LOVE cucumber sandwiches... particularly if they include goat cheese and thin slices of red onions. :)
  • there have been so many home improvement projects! i stained my front door (success!) AND painted my coffee table teal. it doesn't match the new carpet i bought, so now i have to sell the carpet on craigslist, though. you win some, you lose some?
  • i FINALLY went to my first baseball game of the 2012 season last weekend! the wrong team won.
  • since i didn't get to stop by skyline on my quick trip to cincinnati, i am making lentil skyline for dinner tonight (for the first time)! hence, the picture at the top of this post. nom nom.
here's to hoping september is as awesome/eventful (and that i find more time to write)! xo. 

Saturday, July 07, 2012

shut up and sing

in case yall were curious, the dixie chicks' documentary is INCREDIBLE.

rachel suggested i watch it a few months back and i loved it. i got all fired up and now i want to be friends with the dixie chicks soooooo bad.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

are you still there, long lost blog readers?

i'm currently in madison, wisconsin, at a yoga retreat for work, and it is a whopping 100 degrees. also, i find myself with a henna tattoo on my arm (what?).

life has kept me busy lately. i've been traveling a lot the last two months - there was a 4-day-long trip to DC (which included a dance party in front of the white house... more on that later), a frenzied 36-hour trip to cincinnati (that's long enough to eat indian food, go to a wedding, plan becca's bridal shower, go to father's day brunch, and take a quick walking tour of the banks, if you're curious), and now i find myself in the great state of wisconsin for 5 days. summer has arrived in chicago (sans the usual cooling rains), and i've been doing things like picnic-ing on the beach, eating breakfast on the back porch, planting (and killing) cilantro, going for long walks, eating tons of salads, and reading summer-friendly books like the secret life of bees and divine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood. more adventures coming soon!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

para para paradise...

the morning after derby, erin and john and i recovered by draping ourselves on couches and in lounge chairs, eating buckwheat pancakes, drinking yerba mate, and watching music videos on john's gigantic computer monitor (which is actually a big screen tv!).

two of my favorites:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

art + wine

after attending a fundraiser last night that involved painting and sipping vino, erin and i have decided that the combination of the two is the best therapy ever. this week has been hectic and stressful for us both, so it was wonderful to unwind, be creative, and spend a few hours venting and laughing with one of my best girlfriends (who is leaving me to start law school in michigan in two months... tear!).

PS: while the rest of the class painted this, we decided to mix things up and make our paintings one of a kind!

Friday, May 11, 2012

a derby outfit on a budget

this is my first "what i wore" blog post ever. after years of planning outfits for pretend trips to the kentucky derby (see here and here, and believe me when i say that while i've been planning derby dream outfits since 2006, i'm too embarrassed to link to my college blog), i finally went got to go this year and didn't buy any new clothing for the occasion!

straw hat: $12, bought at CVS last year to shade my face from sunshine on afternoons spent at lake michigan

why yes, i DID decorate this hat myself :)

hat embellishments: $15, bought at michael's in lakeview about a month ago (i now own a gigantic roll of tulle & a hot glue gun, if anyone wants to borrow!) 

shirt: $8, bought at a thrift store in fort worth last spring

LOVE the back of this shirt!
skirt: $6, bought at the white elephant in lincoln park last month

jewelry: beaded necklace and random wooden bracelet borrowed from my roommate, 2 more bracelets made from ebony wood given to me by my boss a few weeks back

shoes: $18 aqua havainas, bought six years ago at urban outfitters in cincinnati (i planned on wearing cuter shoes, but was worried about mud...)

TOTAL: $59, paid over the course of six years. not too shabby.

the hats of the 2012 kentucky derby

i stopped tons of girls to tell them how much i loved their hats and befriended several guys wearing seersucker suits. i love the kentucky derby.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

coachella (2012 edition)

this was magnificent.

and a total waste of money.


this month's been a whirlwind, full of new & amazing (& a little bit stressful) professional opportunities, meeting new people, travel planning, & 837,478 wedding-related emails & phone calls between members of my family (the big event is a few days before christmas!). despite the craziness, i found time to do this...

8 inches, gone! and it feels great. :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


my baby brother proposed over the weekend! these two are getting married!!! eeps.

PS: hooray for planting friends in nearby bushes to take photos of the event!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

20 in 2012, part 1

i'm on a mission to read 20 books in 2012 and since this means i'm averaging 2-3 books per month, i'm going to write about my book list quarterly instead of every 6 months this year. most everything i've read so far has been super interesting and every book has been different. topics have ranged from cell biology to french food to philanthropy to polish culture in the 1940's... and everything in between. i've learned so much! here are quick summaries of the books i read january-march...


1: the true story of hansel and gretel, by louise murphy: my mom recommended i read this one and oh my goodness, it was good! this is the story of two jewish children, hiding out from the nazis in a small town in poland toward the end of world war 2. to conceal their true identities, they go by the names of hansel and gretel. i've read so much about world war 2, but had never thought about the experience of living out the war in poland, with germans invading from the west and russians invading from the west. i had to pinch myself several times to remind myself that this story was not my reality. it's an intense but amazing story, so i recommend you read it.

2: why we can't wait, by martin luther king, jr: this is a very quick read and you should definitely check it out. the man could write! the book includes his writings (letters, essays, editorials) leading up to and during the birmingham campaign in 1963, and includes the well-known letter from birmingham jail.

3: giving, by bill clinton: this book was equal parts inspiring and frustrating. each chapter is full of short anecdotes about people doing good in the world. inspiring because so there are so many compassionate, innovative people doing awesome things. frustrating because, despite the efforts of these thousands (millions?) of people, there is still widespread poverty, violence, and inequality. agh.


4: the immortal life of henrietta lacks, by rebecca skloot: my friend jess invited me to join her book club! this isn't necessarily a book i would have picked up on my own, but i learned so much from it that i'm glad it ended up on my list. it's the true story of henrietta lacks, a poor, african-american woman who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the 1950's and had cells from her tumor removed and experimented on without her permission. essentially, the last half-century (plus some?) of medical research would not have been possible without her, but her name and story are virtually unknown (even within the medical field). it's a legacy her family has struggled with for decades and it made me think about medical ethics in ways that had never crossed my mind before. so so good.

5: a homemade life, by molly wizenburg: february's kitchen reader book. you can read my review here.


6: extremely loud & incredibly close, by jonathan safran foer: march's book club book. a more appropriate title would have been extremely obsessed & incredibly depressed. the characters were impossible for me to care about and i didn't enjoy a minute of reading this book. everyone else in my book club liked it though! blah. (has anyone read everything is illuminated, by the same author? i'm curious if its his writing style, the character development, or the plot that i hated so much.)

7: season to taste, by molly birnbaum: back-to-back kitchen reader books by authors named molly! my review is online here

i'm taking a little bit of a break from book clubbing during april and am currently working on:

(per the suggestion of just about everyone. oh snap!)

any suggestions for what i should read in may? i'm like a book-eating monster this year, guys, so throw them at me. 20 books, here i come!

ps: you can follow along with what i'm reading on pinterest here

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

the kitchen reader: season to taste

Season to Taste, about a young woman whose hopes of becoming a chef are dashed after a car accident wipes out her sense of smell, isn't so much a story about food as it is about understanding our bodies' ability to smell. The book, written by Molly Birnbaum, was March's Kitchen Reader pick, chosen by Katherine Martinelli.

This book was fascinating. I spent the entire month hyper-aware of my sense of smell. I tried holding my nose while eating to see how it impacted my ability to taste (the verdict: carrots still tasted sweet, but they lost their earthiness). I noticed when my sense of smell alerted me to something (nearby smokers, and impending rainstorm, that glob of something that's been burning away at the bottom of my oven for weeks). And I paid attention to what smells attracted my attention on the street (coffee, the guy wearing the same cologne as an old friend, flowers popping up everywhere). I've never been so aware of and grateful for my sense of smell before reading this book. It quickly became clear to me that my ability to smell - and to easily identify what I'm smelling - is something I've taken for granted for years.

While this book wasn't what I expected (there was only a rare mention of food), it was really enjoyable. I've read several books so far this year that educated me on subjects I'd never thought much about before, and I'm glad writers like Birnbaum have found the time and means and made the connections necessary to research as interesting a topic as this so thoroughly!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


ravenswood, chicago

mount storm, cincinnati

botanical garden, washington dc

oglethorpe avenue, atlanta

texas blue bonnets, arlington

oakland cemetary, atlanta

dogwoods, jefferson city

botanical garden, dallas

mi arbol favorito, oaxaca

botanical garden, dallas

flor de jamaica, veracruz

flowers can start blooming anytime now.

PS: chicago is enjoying some of the best weather ever right now!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

erin go braugh!

in the words of my brother, i'm "thinking about and missing my feisty, irish grandma today! she gave me enough irish blood to save me!"

happy st patrick's day, yall. :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

la exploradora

one of my new years resolutions was to pursue relationships, opportunities, and pastimes that make me happy, which has led to meeting a lot of new people, exploring parts of the city (and suburbs) i'd rarely or never visit, and even starting a new job. there's been lots of happiness all around.

the far north side of chicago, while flying in from the (south)east,
after an impromptu trip to knoxville in january.

 my friend erin took me on an unexpected suburban adventure a few weeks ago,
which included visits to a bar dedicated to chocolate (and its health benefits!),
a tea shop (where we sampled vanilla chai rooibos tea & i met a handsome stranger!),
a vintage store (where i bought the doily for my dreamcatcher),
and a spice shop (where i talked myself out of buying very fancy cinnamon...).
naperville's kind of cool, i guess.

my new office is right on the lakeshore, so sometimes i leave for work early
& get a beachy walk in before i start my day.

my new job also sometimes takes me through the andersonville & edgewater neighborhoods
on the far north side, which are full of beautiful houses -
the first street looks like it belongs in atlanta, no?

 yesterday was nearly 70 degrees, and meghan & i spent the day meandering around rogers park.
the beach was blissfully sunny and uncrowded and, while wandering around
the neighborhood after, we stumbled upon this mural window covering
and also an awesome wall just like this one!

aaaaand: in 2 weeks, this will be the site of the first ever chicago breakfast hat club!