Saturday, March 1, 2014

why travel

currently listening to: "Fuel to Fire" by Agnes Obel

I love how different people are.
It may seem like a no brainer that people are different, but believe me, it's a lesson I'm learning anew every day.
It's the kind of lesson that creeps up in relationships, finds its way into businesses, and shows itself blatantly in varying cultures and religions.
It's a lesson that, if never learned, can truly cripple you.
It's a lesson that I've continued to learn through the brilliance of travel.

I love travel. 
There are so many reasons I love it, and some of them are hard to put into words that make sense unless you've been there to smell, taste, and know them.

Macaron crumbs scattered on the bed, unnoticed as you drift off to sleep in a warm apartment above the glittery streets of Paris. Fish and chips fresh and drizzly on your lips, a salty warmth on a London day sparkling with snow flurries. Ears are biting, fingertips are clutching the toasty foil.
Climbing the dark stone ruins above Slane, Ireland, breathing deeply and smelling grass, trees, dirt, legends.
Holding in the gasp of terror as the giant stingray approaches, feeling the absolute elation of a desperate fear being conquered. Squinting against the sunshine, feeling it purge your skin of moisture, then diving back into the water for a fresh wave of coolness.

Why travel.

I think wanderlust is a real thing. Once you start, a craving begins, a true longing for new places.
Exploring is addictive, adventures tend to multiply.
I have been blessed to see a tiny glimpse of the world, and I think if I could I would hand it out to everyone I know like candy.
I would give it away because I think everyone needs it, and it would be a thrill to give it.

In America we generally have a very small view of things. Usually it begins with "me" and ends with "me."
What's happening inside my head, my heart, my bubble, that's the end all and be all of life.
Traveling tends to demand a balance of your view of the world. Or it at least demands that you consider it. Your expectations and assumptions of other countries and of humankind in general.
Traveling is a shock to the senses, a learning experience and a joy.

And boy, it shows you how small are you. The intricacies of God's design, the diversity of His people all over the globe. How infinitely miniscule you are in the grand scheme of things, in the vast universe.
Traveling will give you insight to that diversity
As a Christian, traveling takes my breath away. It makes me cry, it stores a piece of eternity in my heart and mind. It shows me how large and varied the Christian church really is.
It will show you faith, in all its forms, sizes, faces and languages.
The world is like a tray of colorful herbs and spices, awaiting to tantalize and educate you.

That's why. It's why I travel, and it's why I want to travel with my future children in tow.
I want to show them the beautiful world, to share with them the many discoveries of traveling, both profound and simple.
To show them in a real way that life goes beyond our living room, our technology, our toys, our me. 

*inspired in part by this post

october backlogs: halloweeny things

The week before Halloween, I finally did it.
I hosted a Ladies Night Out!

For those of you who don't know, LNO is a monthly law wives event that we take turns hosting. The theme is decided by the host, and we just plan a fun night for us law wives to get together for fun and fellowship. It sounds pretty cheesy and sometimes it is, but it's also so needed. 

I had always wanted to host, but as you probably know, either by photos or by personal experience, our apartment is tiny. 

But I mean, c'est la vie and stuff. I did it anyway. 

It was a crisp fall day, and the theme was fall! Naturally.

I set up our dining room table as the main hub of craftiness, and bought little frames for everyone to paint and decorate to their heart's content. I also printed out cute little Fallish sayings, like "fall into fall!" and "keep calm and pumpkin spice everything", etc. for them to put in the frames.

I set up the back porch as the pumpkin carving station. I was hoping to spread out the areas of activity, so that it wouldn't feel so crowded!
Isn't our back porch view delightful?

I was so excited and couldn't wait for everyone to get there. Messy, chatty, crafty, cidery, happy evenings are the best. 

It started getting pretty crazy right off the bat.
Paint brushes flying, ladies chatting and frantically passing jewels, buttons, ribbons, fabric and more.

My friend Emilie even brought some spray paint for her pumpkins, so she could have crisp white pumpkins with a pretty monogram design on the front!
It turned out so great, too. She has such incredible style. She has designed their home impeccably, I always love seeing her creative touches!

We ended up just kind of cramming everyone around the table, and they didn't seem to mind.
I put on Runaway Bride in the other room and we all just settled in for a girlish evening.

We had cider and hot chocolate throughout the night, as well as a few other snacks that the ladies brought.
After the initial crafting was done and the frames were drying, a few of us went out back in the cool night air for some pumpkin carving. A few girls brought their own pumpkins, so they got to work!

It was such a pleasure to host, and the whole night was aglow with girl time.

I was really glad I took the plunge and allowed our small space the potential to be a place of warmth and memories. Sharing your space can be one of the most exhilarating things, and a lot of time little excuses or doubts or insecurities creep up and stop you from doing so, but so what if it's messy? So what if it's imperfect?
I'm starting to sound like Shauna Niequist. But it's true. It's sacred and it's joyous and it's worth it.

Another October/Halloween highlight was our Gnomeo and Juliet costumes!

Our church has this incredible harvest festival that we've participated in every year. I feel like a broken record, but this year was our last one. Everything is coming around for the last time, which is really sad. I try not to dwell on it!
We actually didn't participate in the Trunk or Treat our first year here. We did the hayride station, freezing our tushes off and drinking lots of cider and hot cocoa and bidding on the baked goods for the auction inside!
But for the last two years, we got to dress up and decorate our trunks. Last year we were Carl and Ellie from UP, which was so much fun. This year we wanted to do something similar, a fun (and easy) costume that the kids might recognize and that was another great cartoon love story.

Another super-random but fabulous October highlight is that we started eMeals!
I don't know if you've heard of it, but I've been spreading around my love for it like an official spokesperson.

They basically email you a meal plan every week, based on your diet preferences, how many people are in your home, where you grocery shop, etc. It's completely hassle-free.
If you're like me, and you absolutely hate trying to maximize your shopping lists every week, and you end up wasting a lot of produce, or eating out to avoid having to cook something made of canned beans and frozen chicken because that's all you have in the house, or you end up stressing out trying to plan healthy meals for every single meal on a budget, my sweet darling this is for you. 

Dustin and I currently use Herbalife, which is a program of meal replacement shakes and vitamins and such. We drink a shake for breakfast and lunch, so dinner was always tripping us up. We wanted something healthy, filling, efficient, easy, and delicious. eMeals has been our best friend from day 1.
We use the "low-carb" option, so every Wednesday morning I get the new meal plan in my inbox, and Dusty and I go shopping together that night. The list includes 7 recipes, (entree and side dish), and a detailed shopping list for the grocery store of your choice, prices included. All you have to do is run to the store, check off each item (while chatting hand-in-hand and half-joking about buying that party size of puff cheetos), and go home and throw Friends on while you whip up some Mexican pork chops with a caesar salad.
The recipes are incredible, but are still easy enough to make quickly (and even experiment with, which I occasionally do).
Anyway. Enough about that! Moral of the story is, it's the best thing we've ever done.

dijon/white wine blueberry chicken
with roasted asparagus
spicy salsa pork filets
with steamed zucchini and squash

Our actual Halloween was one of the most subdued, and one of the best, Halloween evenings.

It was a Thursday night, so we obviously had work/school that day as well as the next.
It was a gorgeous Fall day, a little rainy. The leaves were stunning.
We had the chance to take some pictures on campus on a hillside of fallen leaves. Dusty took some of me for this blog post, and then we had a random student walk by and ask us if we'd like one of the both of us! So we let him take a few, and thanked him before trotting through the worsening wind and rain to our car!

Our creepy Halloween evening was pretty simple.
We went over to spend time with Colinoria (Colin and Victoria), who had a big bowl of candy for trick or treaters. Lucky for us, no one came! So we just got to eat a lot of candy while we carved pumpkins and watched Children of the Corn. 
One of the best and worst movies of all time, I think.
He wants you too, Malachi!

Victoria carved a super cute owl, and I carved Eva. I'd say I created a pretty fair resemblance!
I guess cat pumpkins are becoming a tradition for me.


I'll soon get started on our November adventures -- maybe, eventually, I'll start blogging present-day again.