What I Like

I like yoga, dancing, being organized, drinking coffee, eating peanut butter, working out and being active, the sun, skiing, cooking and baking vegan food, trying new recipes, grocery shopping at Whole Foods, farmer’s markets, going to concerts, tweeting, reading blogs, the city of Chicago, Washington D.C., Hope College, kayaking, watching tennis and baseball, wearing rings on my fingers, learning, driving my Jetta, being studious, new music, clean teeth, wearing warm socks, Gerber daisies, short hair, and summer. 

I really like being a vegan. I like what making this lifestyle choice has done for my physical health. Eating vegan has enabled me to better care for the body God gave me. Eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet and completely cutting out all animal products has dramatically changed the way I think about, purchase, prepare, consume, and relate to food. I truly enjoy eating, and think about food as nourishing and life sustaining. I like feeling healthy and energized because of my eating habits. I like all the new kinds of foods and different options I’ve tried by breaking away from a more typical diet. Choosing veganism has opened my eyes to different ways of doing things. It’s helped me grow into a woman with strong convictions, who does not sway to all the different pressures surrounding her. It’s given me confidence in making my own decisions and sticking to them. I’ve grown by having to articulate and defend my beliefs and habits to others who do not know about them or understand them. Eating vegan is a very intentional, and sometimes difficult, lifestyle. I like the person I’ve become because I’ve faced the times it’s difficult to be a vegan with integrity and grace. I like that my diet supports sustainability for our environment and is friendly to all of God’s creatures. I like that becoming a vegan has opened my eyes to and given me a passion for the many people in our world who are not abundantly blessed like I am, who have little or no access to essential elements to life, who cannot make choices about what they eat, who have no access to educational resources about nutrition, and who actually go hungry every day. Eating vegan started as something I was going to try for a week or so, but it’s turned into something incredibly valuable and defining. I can honestly call it a lifestyle choice because now I’m vegan for life.

I like balance. I enjoy finding balance between the many wonderful things life offers: study, play, work, sleep, community, solitude, eating, resting, learning, moving, etc.

I like nurturing intentional and meaningful relationships with other people. It’s important to me to share my life with others. I like to show how I care for other people by taking an interest in them and in what’s going on in their lives. I like to follow up with people after we’ve had a conversation or I’ve learned something that they’re happy about or struggling with or simply going through. I like to remember specific things and ask about them later. It’s one of the ways I like to show my love for other people. I like to make time for other people in my busy life. I like to encourage. I like to use people’s names when I talk to them. I like to be a peaceful and sincere presence in others’ lives. In the same vein, it means a great deal to me when other people act this way toward me. I also really like giving gifts.

I like organization, responsibility, and dependability. I value following through on commitments. I have a great appreciation for accuracy and small details.  

These are some things I like. 

What we’re reading

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[[Hello. We’re back to blogging. Yes. No excuses for those three-ish months.]]

Julie and I read a lot. Blogs, books, magazines, newspaper stories on the Internet, seminary books and notes written over … email (ha!). We thought we’d like to share some of the best of what we read — what speaks to us and encourages us and educates us. This is the first installment in the series, “What we’re reading.”

Kimberly:
This post from Baby Rabies: This Much I Know- On Anxiety And Organization. Wow. Jill’s post hits home for me, a gal who wants to please others and do everything and always be on top of every facet of my entire life. Not possible, and not the way to live. Click over there to read more from one of my favorite momma bloggers.

* The Hunger Games … book three. I read the first two pretty quickly. The third one is proving harder for me to get into. I’m about half-way through it.

* Jen Lancaster’s first book, “Bitter is the New Black.” Lancaster goes from high-paying career woman to living on unemployment throughout the book. But she brings many ounces of humor into her situation. And she’s coming to Naperville in May! I plan on seeing her.

Julie:
* God and the Art of Happiness, by Ellen Charry. Ellen Charry was my systematic theology professor this past semester. She is an incredibly interesting woman (a former Jew who converted to Christianity), she’s brilliant, and she’s arguably the best teacher (stress on teacher rather than professor — what she does rather than what her title is) I had this year. She’s been at PTS for twenty-some years and is the first woman to teach systematic theology at Princeton. This book is the sequel to Charry’s first book, By the Renewing of Your Minds, which we read selections of for class. Charry believes the purpose of our lives is to know, love and enjoy God. In the Reformed circles I occupy, it’s much more common to be hesitant about the word happiness — God’s ultimate purpose is not for you to be happy, to have a comfortable life free from suffering, God wants you to be holy and take up your cross in following him. It’s refreshing to read Charry’s persepective that there need be no conflict between pleasure and piety, between goodness and happiness.

* Lost in Transition: the Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood, by Christian Smith. To end my first year at seminary, I’m taking a three-week intensive class about college and young adult ministry. This is one of our texts. I was introduced to the concept of emerging adulthood when read this article in 2010, and there’s been more and more attention from the media and scholars about that population (ages 18-23) since. The authors did 230 interviews with emerging adults to find out about difficulties facing them, the underlying causes of those difficulties, and the consequences, for everyone.

* The Triathlete’s Training Bible. Borrowed from a friend who did an Ironman last year (which is crazy impressive), this book is helping me train for my second sprint triathlon in Philly in June and my first international distance triathlon in Chicago in August.

— Kimberly & Julie

Chipping away

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This post is the complement to my previous one. Rather than examine the big picture, today I want to take a look at the details.

Most days, I feel like I’m chipping away at life. And it’s the details of life — my daily to-dos — that cause me to feel this way. A phone call, a bill paid, an appointment scheduled, a friend penciled in, a grocery list written down.

Sometimes it’s mundane, like paying rent or grabbing bananas at the store. Sometimes I love the thrill of figuring it all out — changing all sorts of accounts and other documents to reflect my married name. Sometimes it’s plain painful to get through one task — this, for me, would be tracking our spending and budget each month.

Most days, I just want to forget all the need-to-be-accomplished things and make cookies, have a glass of tea (or wine), curl up, read a book, and climb in bed. So, sometimes I do. Although I’m really not one to procrastinate, most things on my to-do list can survive waiting a day or two.

If I put off shopping, for instance, I can come up with some fantastic dish that I didn’t even realize I had all the ingredients to. If I stay home instead of running to the bank/post office/Target, I can clean. You should know cleaning is my all-time favorite procrastination method.

Despite my stall tactics, things must get done. So, I’ve come to appreciate what works for me.

• I’m super motivated in the mornings. I try to do some things before I leave for work. I often will make phone calls where I’ll probably be on hold while I’m driving to work.
• Lists, lists and more lists. Those three are typically short-term, long-term and groceries.
• Prioritizing. I try to do a few of my short-term tasks, which usually are more pressing, each day. Then, when I can, I get to some of the less timely ones.
• Break things down. So one perpetual to-do item is finishing our budget from the past few months. I have been working on one month at a time. It’s much less daunting that doing five months all at once.
• Have something going on in the background to distract me. This may sound odd at first, but I’m much more productive if I have reruns of a sitcom on the TV. It’s like a little bit of noise makes me zone in. DVDs work well because there are no commercials to annoy me. Sometimes music will do the trick as well.

Earlier today I had a thought: There will never be nothing to do. So, I’ll continue chipping away, however slowly it seems I’m going. Oh — the one place there may be nothing to do? Vacation.

— Kimberly

Welcoming a new year

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One week ago, Nathan and I took a look at our goals for the future — both short-term and long-term. We talked about things that we have on our bucket lists. One of our goals is to sit down each month and think about what we’d like to (realistically) accomplish in the upcoming weeks. Then, we’ll evaluate in 30 days.

I am looking forward to being intentional about what we want to accomplish as individuals and as a couple. And I’m excited to see what we will experience and start and (hopefully!) finish in the next 12 months.

In the whole goals/new year/reflection vein, I wanted to share a bit about what I’ve been reflecting on and thinking about for the new year. So, to start, I wanted to share my highlights of the past 12 months.

Highlights of 2011:
Getting engaged and planning a wedding
Wedding dress shopping with my mom and sister
Visiting San Francisco — my first trip to California
Moving home for two weeks before getting married
Having Julie nearby from January through September
Finding yoga and a great studio
Completing a 30-day challenge (26 yoga practices in 30 days)
Hosting friends in Galena
Going to Missouri with Nathan for a wedding
Seeing friends blessed with new babies, new jobs, new schools and new adventures
Bridal showers with friends from out of town
Getting married to my best friend!
Honeymooning on Mackinac Island via Holland, Mich.
Seeing so many family members and friends that I don’t normally get to each year
Going on an architectural boat tour in Chicago with friends
Stepping down from a volunteer role that I was not fully enjoying
Reading good books, including “The Help” (I will share more of the good ones when I can remember them!)

I’ve been so blessed in 2011, and I can’t wait to see what new adventures will arise in 2012.

Growing up, my family took up a new tradition for a few years. On Dec. 31, we’d write our new year’s expectations rather than resolutions. We’d write them secretly, seal them in an envelope, put them in my parents’ safe and take them out on Dec. 31 the next year at which time we’d share with the others and figure out how accurate we were in our expectations.

The expectation theme allowed us to make pretty good predictions about what we’d do over the coming year: graduate to the next grade, get our braces off, apply for college, participate in a tennis tournament, celebrate a birthday, etc.

In favor of continuing the tradition, I’d like to share a few of mine for 2012. Many of the expectations take the shape of goals, for me.

New Year’s expectations:
1. I expect to have my three-year anniversary at work
2. make some fun new recipes, some of which will be great, and others of which could possibly fail! [see Recipe resolutions — all 52 of them.]
3. complete a 28-day cleanse (started yesterday, and I’m quite excited. Julie shared a blog post about it. She started a week earlier than me.)
4. open a joint checking account with Nathan– finally!
5. travel somewhere with Nathan — not sure where yet.
6. find a new area to serve in/volunteer at
7. practice yoga a lot
8. teach my dad how to make bread
9. assist my mom in getting a few things organized
10. get better at our budgeting goals
11. celebrate one year with my husband!
12. scrapbook, scrapbook and scrapbook! (This may be the closest one to a traditional resolution. My scrapbooking has taken a major backseat in 2011. I have many months to catch up on … or skip. I’ll have to see.)
13. purchase a couch/sectional. I’ve lounged on a futon for too long.
14. figure out where this blog is headed

It’s already day nine of this year … and I’m excited to see where the other 357 days lead me.

—Kimberly

Sisters in detox, 813 miles apart

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Last year at this time I blogged about taking a “whole-life” challenge. While I still believe in that idea and try to live by it, this January I’m going back on what I said (somewhat) and both Kimberly and I are taking a 28-day challenge of sorts. We’re doing a detox.

I started one week ago, on January 1, and Kimberly started today, along with a group of people from our yoga studio in Naperville. While I’m participating from 813 miles away, and I’m not on the same schedule, I’m thankful for Kim’s support and glad we’re doing this together.

In the first six days I eliminated various foods from my diet, most notably including gluten, soy products, peanut butter, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate and sugar. The next step (the past two days and next four) is eating only fruits and vegetables and brown rice. Woop woop!

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been wary of detoxes or cleanses in the past. And I’m not sure how I’ll feel about the experience after the 28 days are up. But right now, eight days in, I’m happy I decided to give it a try and I’m feeling good!

For the past four months, I’ve been living the life of a busy and often-stressed grad school student, complete with not-even-close to-desirable dining hall food and MUCH less time on my mat than I prefer. My eating habits slowly (or not so slowly) became much different from my pre-seminary days, even though I have tried so hard to stay balanced and healthy. I’m using this detox as an opportunity to hit the “reset” button on my diet and my body.

Already I find I’m more aware of how I can be fueling my body with the kinds of foods we all know should make up the vast majority of what we eat every day: fruits and veggies veggies veggies. I’m also re-learning how to listen to what my body is calling for — when I am truly hungry and what I am hungry for. This is a real (good) stretch for the girl who has eaten the same thing for lunch for probably the last four-ish years, just out of a default, ‘this is what and how much I eat for lunch.’

I’m looking forward to experiencing how my body continues this processes of detoxification, and hopefully how my mind and spirit will continue to be set right and refreshed at the same time. And to hearing what Kimberly has to say too! I hope she blogs about it. Wink wink. ;)

Julie

 

Recipes for a new year

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These are my recipe resolutions. I have 52 weeks and 52 recipes to try! (I’m likely not going to get around to each of these … but a girl can dream.) Oh, and these are in no particular order at all. Putting 52 links in one post was enough work.

Also, some of these recipes involve things I’m obsessed with lately: kale, pomegranates, ginger, quinoa, oats, couscous, black beans and, of course, avocado. I could eat most of those foods daily and be quite happy.

1. Kale and pomegranate salad

2. Lemon, ginger and parsley smoothie

3. Easy microwave peanut brittle

4. Fruit salad overnight oats

5. Red quinoa and black bean vegetable salad

6. Weekend glow kale salad

7. Peanut butter swirl pancakes

8. Raw buckwheat porridge

9. Summer squash pancakes

10. Pretzel bites (Nathan wants to make these– I just know it!)

11. Summer squash with pesto

12. Sparkling fruit slushie

13. Beet black bean dip

14. Overnight oat parfaits

15. Spicy molasses cookies

16. Sesame couscous salad

17. Ginger spritzer

18. Gluten-free gingersnaps

19. Chickpea crackers

20. Cauliflower crust pizza

21. Easy no cook fudge (vegan)

22. Naturally sweetened homemade granola

23. Brussels sprout hash with caramelized shallots

24. Pineapple kale salad with black beans and avocado

25. Red beans and rice

26. Crispy green tea cookies

27. Pumpkin bars/cake

28. Apple and apricot cookies

29. Oatmeal choco chip cookies (gluten-free)

30. Southwestern soup

31. Raw walnut + almond cookies

32. Apple ginger spice cookies

33. Black bean, corn and brown rice tacos

34. Chocolate pomegranate clusters

35. Rice pilaf with kale, cashew and veggies (and pomegranate!)

36. Peas and pesto pasta

37. Steak salad

38. Black bean soup

39. Vegan enchilada casserole

40. Orecchiette with spinach and gorgonzola sauce

41. Vegan lasagna

42. Black bean and butternut squash burritos

43. Garlic leek chow mein

44. Traditional French bread (still meaning to post my bread making adventure!)

45. Cranberry kale smoothie

46. Honey whole wheat peanut butter chippers

47. Protein-packed green smoothie

48. Sunflower spinach vegan pesto

49. Sun butter banana protein bars

50. Frozen fruit pie

51. Simple apple pie (I’ve been wanting to make a pie for about 4.3 months now.)

52. Best salad dressing ever (raw) — this one almost doesn’t count. We made it in December. If you got all the way down here, wow. I’m impressed. This is just a really crazy list with no photos, and for that, I’m sorry. But, I’ll be back with a hopefully more exciting post in the near future.

Oh, one more note. I love all these bloggers/foodies that I linked to. They are awesome. This gives you a taste of the food blogs that I frequent … or am addicted to. Whatever.

— Kimberly

Maybe it’s OK

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To let a library card expire. (It’s one I want to hold onto and use in the future, but I don’t live there anymore.)

To unsubscribe from all the emails I don’t actually read. To take time and click “unsubscribe” from any spam that comes in.

To get rid of the things I don’t want or don’t use regularly. (Nathan just brought home a white elephant gift … eeek!)

To let relationships change or even fade.

To not renew a health club membership or to (gasp!) QUIT THE GYM. (I have, and it’s so freeing.)

To make simple meals, use ingredients I already have on hand. (Totally loving the most recent — quinoa cranberry salad of goodness.)

To wear the same type of outfit every day and dress up my layers with one of three scarves that I adore.

To read only bound books. I do not want an e-reader. I know my reading habits will morph with any technological shift. For instance, I would very likely start to read books like I read blogs … by skimming and with a lack of solid attention toward them. And that would be bad.

To have a not-so-smart phone. Without the Internet. I really don’t want it. I promise.

To say no to some things, and to say yes to what really matters.

In a quest to live simply, these things and more are OK.

—Kimberly

Inspired to be joyful

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Life’s crazy and messy and complicated just about all the time. Yet, I’m feeling so blessed and resting in what matters right now in my life. And that’s being joyful.

You see, this is what weighs on me most days:
-My head is so jumbled up … I have 12-zillion things running through my head, some of them written onto to-do lists, some needing to make their way there. Oh, and then they need to happen someday.
-I’d like to be able to keep on top of our budget each month in a timely manner.
-I want to pencil people into my calendar I haven’t seen in a while and be the perfect host and do all the holiday-type things that make this season magical on the surface.
-I’d like to finish buying and wrapping all our Christmas gifts and have them sitting pretty under the tree.
-I really want make a nice meal and eat it with my husband. Yesterday I tried, and the brothy soup I was trying to make turned into pea soup … accidentally. Still, it was nice to share our funny soup and fresh bread.
-I wish I could spend more time thinking and being still.

Despite all that I’m wanting and wishing for, I have so much to be thankful for.

-I’m thankful for a husband who makes sure to kiss me before I head out the door.
-I’m thankful for a warm house and warm bed to sleep in.
-I’m thankful we have a pretty little Christmas tree that sparkles and greets me with its twinkly lights and makes me happy.
-I’m thankful for creativity that I’m just so anxious to express.
-I’m thankful for friends who bring me perspective and support and love.
-I’m thankful for family who accept me just as I am.
-I’m thankful for a job and work to do.
-I’m thankful that God knows what’s best, and that I can trust him ALWAYS.

And that’s only the start of why I’m joyful.

—Kimberly

Adventures in decorating — part 1

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I’ve been meaning to share some photos of what’s been going on in our newlywed rental that we’ve made our own. So, enjoy.

To the right is a fun wall-art project I worked on. I knew I wanted to decorate with some cross-stitch circles by putting fabric in them. One day while at Hobby Lobby, Nathan and I found the funky leaves. And, the cross is a gift from my mom. Some of the fabric is found elsewhere in our apartment — the green on the lower left is a pillow. The brown and green on the right is also on a cushion on a wicker chair. The other fabrics I found at Hobby Lobby as well. The whole look was super simple — just took cutting fabric and fitting it tightly into the circles. Then, I mapped the pieces out on the floor and transferred them to the wall. So, this is the scene above our black futon. Oh, and inspiration came from here.

These jars and bottles decorate a little black shelf in our living room. I kind of have a thing for decorating with glass jars, beads and ribbon … plus some tall stuff to add interest. It was also done in my old apartment. Anyway, Nathan put together these jars and beans and glass beads. This is a cheap way to decorate, and it’s super easy to mix up should we crave a little change.

This one’s kind of silly. It’s just an example of how I like to decorate with what we’ve got … including whatever fruit we happen to have on hand! In the winter, especially, I like the little touches of citrus that are bright and cheery. I also enjoy using oranges, pomegranates, potatoes, squash … I think that’s it … to jazz up the kitchen area. Oh, and this sits on the divider between our kitchen and living room.

More jars … and coffee beans! And nuts of some variety. I’m not sure what kind. We got the small gray vase and the large flower vase on the right as wedding gifts. The other jar, Nathan has had for a while. I like his jar better with something in it, and in this case, it’s coffee beans. So, I just like this on-the-cheap decorating attempt. This is the top of a bookshelf in our living room.

And finally, I’ll talk about the bathroom … which we painted!! We have birds in the bathroom … and we added a little over-the-toilet storage cabinet to put towels on. But perhaps my favorite part of the bathroom is this little piece (see below) that hangs above a towel rack. I stitched a leaf onto a piece of paper, and on the right, I just glued blue buttons onto a piece of paper. And, I got this piece of art in the end! It makes me happy … about as happy as the bathroom’s color makes me, which is kind of difficult to imagine with the grainy photo below. Nathan calls it sky blue.So, that’s it for now. I’ll share more snapshots of our place another day.

— Kimberly

December and an Inspiration Workshop!

The advent calendar has two ornaments on it. The tree is up — lights are on, no ornaments yet though. To our delight, we’ve discovered a neighbor family that put up a light show in their front yard synchronized to Christmas music (so cool!). It is definitely December.

Nathan puts lights on our little tree.

I’ve slowly been working on some personal goals for the month December. They include: Take a photo every day. Write more. Bake. Bake for other people. Enjoy cozy nights at home curled up with a book. Create. Spend time with others. Scrapbook. Oh, and blog.

So, here it goes. Why not start with a little prelude to the season and another link-up to Gussy Sews?

Her Inspiration Workshop prompt is …

Tips and Secrets for the Holidays

1. Take time to do something for yourself.
There’s so much going on … only 23 more days before Christmas! Work to do. People to see. Gifts to buy/make. Things I like to do for myself include: yoga, baking, going for a jog, reading, writing, crafting and cleaning — and sleeping!

Baking bread is good for me.

2. Enjoy the sunshine.
In the long dark days of winter, I know I get a little moody. Spending some time outside — even if briefly — is so therapeutic. I try to take advantage of the sunshine-y days and take a brief walk or even just stand outside for a little bit. The vitamin D helps a lot.

3. Remember, reflect, refocus and reassess.
It’s almost the end of the year. I am thinking ahead to how I’ll spend my 2012 — what goals I have, what I’d like to see happen in my life, and what I want to change or improve on in so many areas of what I do. This helps me keep perspective. And, if I start thinking about these things early, I can start making intentional changes and possibly get a new routine established before Jan. 1.

4. Cherish the traditions
This year, Nathan and I plan to open our stockings on New Year’s Day. This is his family’s tradition. We’ll have my family’s traditional French toast casserole on Christmas day. We have an advent calendar. I’m sure Julie will bring back some of her delicious holiday sweets she’s made a few years in a row for us to enjoy. Maintaining traditions is important to me as it helps bring back the wonderful memories I have.

My family made ornaments from paint swatches this year.

5. Try something new.
Nathan and I are planning to volunteer together at one of our church’s holiday programs. We’ve been able to enjoy decorating a new place with greens and lights and tinsel and a nativity. Two years ago, Nathan took me on a sleigh ride. Last year, we went downtown Chicago on New Year’s Day for lunch. I’m not sure what else new we’ll do this year … but I’m sure it will be an adventure. And that’s what I enjoy about the new traditions — even if they happen just once. They keep the holidays exciting and create new opportunities to connect with others that we love.

— Kimberly

Gussy

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