welcome ... enjoy yourself

Friday, June 28, 2013

garden gift

My garden is currently exploding due to the fantastic combo of lots of rain and lots of sunshine.  I've been harvesting radishes and lettuce and having fresh salads everyday!  

Here's a garden confession: I don't actually like radishes.  I grow them because I like having something colorful to pull out of the garden early in the season.  It's nice to have an early success to keep me going to August and September.  The nice part is that I have a friend in Milwaukee who loves radishes, so I'm basically planting little garden gifts.  Sharing the harvest  adds to the great joy I get from gardening.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

a letter to my love

Being back in Syracuse this weekend reminded me of this first picture we took together and all of our other JVC dating adventures.  I remembered talking with you at a retreat, then making plans for you to visit from Hartford for our Leap Year party.  I remembered you holding my hand for the first time at the bar we went to the night before our party.  I remembered our first "date" to Wegmen's grocery store to buy hangover supplies (we were still young and crazy back then).  I remembered all of the trips we took to meet up around the east coast.  I remembered how we challenged us to be present in our respective cities so we would fully appreciate the limited time in our volunteer year.  I remembered hiking the Appalachian Trail and making plans to date long distance between Portland and Chicago.

I thought of all the circumstances that had to come together for us to meet and fall in love.  I'm so glad serendipity was on our side.  It's so fun to remember our beginnings and to feel thankful for how far we've come together.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

reunited and it feels so good

This weekend I flew to New York to reunite with my JVC roommates.  We lived for a year together in Syracuse, New York, from 2007-2008, working at area non-profits, having lots of adventures, and learning to live the JVC values of community, simple living, social justice, and spirituality.  This was our 5th annual reunion, and we decided to go back where it all started.  We were missing our roommate Devin, but she was definitely there with us in spirit!  This weekend I... 

was picked up by this lovely lady in New York City after spending a six hour layover in the Milwaukee airport.  We started our adventure with a taxi, train, and car ride to get to Syracuse. ... 

met Kara's new dog Miller ... 

missed my days working with refugee families while attending the Syracuse World Refugee Day celebration ...

had a delicious ice cream at Gannon's, THE place to go for ice cream in Syracuse (check out those crazy tables!)  ...

helped Brian finish his Snickers Explosion (it was too much for him to handle since it was an explosion - not a "controlled demolition" as he pointed out)...

took pictures at our old JVC house...

took a pilgrimage to my favorite grocery store of all time (also the site of mine and Paul's first date - we were JVs without any money when we started dating)...

spent the rest of the weekend in Kara's beautiful lake house off Lake Ontario...

read through our old predictions for where we would be now - everyone writes three predictions for each roommate and includes a few fun ones too (Brian confused fun with morbid.  Why would anyone want to predict that Sean Connery would be dead?  At least he included a sad face)...

busted out "the whipped cream trick," the one where you throw whipped cream in the air and catch it in your mouth.  I can provide a tutorial if anyone is interested... 

found interesting tree decorations...

took pictures of the super moon...

and met up with our fantastic support person Beth in her hometown of Oswego.  Gotta love timed pictures in the middle of restaurants. 

This weekend was so amazing.  Having spent a year together finding simple ways to entertain ourselves, we've been able to keep our reunions very basic and inexpensive.  We spent the majority of our time just relaxing and catching up, and the time together felt so meaningful.  Thanks JVC!

Friday, June 21, 2013

5th annual JVC reunion

I'm off to Syracuse, New York to spend a weekend with these crazy cats.  I served for a year with them in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, and we all loved each other so much we've made it a tradition to get back together for annual shenanigans.  We counted my wedding at the 4th reunion, and I've shared photos from reunion three, two, and one.  It's so great to be able to share being "ruined for life" with truly amazing people.  More photos and stories to come next week!  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

happy birthday mike!

Happy birthday to my little (ok, younger) brother Mike!  You've got a great sense of humor, and I've met few people who have your gift for stringing together outrageous phrases and insults.  You're way smarter than you give yourself credit for, and you're going to do a great job doing my taxes...forever.  It's been so cool to watch you grow up from the little kid with the huge glasses and love of ninja turtles to the huge guy with smaller glasses and a love of ninja turtles.  You've got dad's gift for compromising mixed with mom's ability to stand up for yourself.  You've become so thoughtful and considerate.  I love when I get random phone calls from you, and I love how you can make me laugh.  You've really honed that craft over the years.  I'm so proud of the man you're becoming, and I hope we keep growing closer as we both enter that crazy adult period of our lives.  Hope you have a great day!  I look forward to celebrating by closing Wolski's with you sometime soon!  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

29 goals update

This weekend I checked two more things off my 29 goals list.  That makes five goals accomplished!  I'm on a roll!  Kind of.  First goal: repotting plants that were desperate for more spacious homes.  Paul gave me this plant when I first moved to Chicago.  I think I may have started crying when I got it, because I was so relieved to have something so comforting when everything around me felt a little chaotic!  Now the plant is relieved to have larger digs after four years in its original home. 

Paul and I also took friends of ours to the Safe House this weekend.  It has a semi-hidden entrance down a dark alley and requires a password to enter.  If you don't know the password, you have to do something goofy to be allowed in.  The walls inside are covered with spy-themed pictures and objects.  We had such a fun time exploring and checking out all the details in the bar; there aren't a lot of places to play and explore as an adult.  You've got to make the most of the opportunities when they come. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

what i brought back with me

Brought back just a few souvenirs with me from Europe.  Here's some of my favorites (clockwise from top): a warm fuzzy hat (you can just see the fuzz in the top of the photo), a hot dress, owl printed scarf, special edition Call the Midwife book, sassy green shoes, tea from the pump room, J'Adore perfume, a fancy red scarf, and a yellow and orange necklace and earring set.  I am styling and profiling! 

I also bought a lot of chocolate (already eaten) and some beautiful artwork to hang around our apartment.  I have plans for a gallery wall of pictures from all the places Paul and I have visited together.  I also bought a few (dozen) painting postcards from the art museums we visited.  I'm usually not a big shopper, but I have a hard time controlling myself when it comes to artwork.  I have some displayed in our living room so I can always be inspired!

Follow these links for posts about the rest of our Europe adventure: 
Bath Part 1 ... Bath Part 2 ... Bath Abbey
London Part 1 ... London Part 2
Paris 1 ... Eiffel Tower ... Paris Part 2 (historic walking tour) ... Paris Part 3 ... Versailles ... Paris Part 4 ... 

Monday, June 17, 2013

today i'm thankful for

Witnessing puppy window naps ... enjoying a great weather weekend ... surprise visits from friends ... trips to Costco ... impromptu barbecues ... being entrusted with managing my department until my supervisor returns next week (woot!) ... connections with church friends ... making our apartment our own ... framing photos and new art ... seeing Pedro and Diego snuggle ... CSA dinners ... having a nice conversation with my dad on father's day ... getting excited for summer adventures ... croissants for breakfast ... good morning kisses ... professional growth ... reassurance from friends about future plans and hearing the words "I will be over the moon for you" - can't beat that kind of support ...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

happy father's day

Happy Father's Day to the man who taught me to kick a soccer ball before I could walk, sang The Rapper's Delight with me at my wedding, chased a bird from our house into the snow Christmas morning in his shorts, makes the meanest shrimp scampi on the block, and can't sit through a movie unless it's titled "1001 goals." 

Laughter seems to follow you wherever you go, whether it's because you're telling a story or a joke, or have just been being accident prone.  You're unfailingly generous and would give the shirt off your back to someone if they needed it.  You never fail to remind me of how talented you think I am, and I am so grateful that I know that you're proud of me.  Love you so much Dad. 

Friday, June 14, 2013


We've reached the end of our Europe adventure.  On our way back to the states, Paul and I planned an extended layover in Iceland.  During the eight hours we had between plane trips, we visited the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa just outside of Reykjavik.  This was the 9th best decision of our marriage. 

Iceland is unlike any other place I've been before.  The Iceland we saw was black volcanic rock, moss covered, and populated only with low flying birds and a few daffodils.  Truly incredible, mystical, and magical.  According to Icelandic Airlines, over 50% of the people in Iceland believe in elves.  After visiting, I could see how the unbelievable could become believable here. 

When we arrived at the Blue Lagoon it was about 45 degrees outside and the wind and rain were blowing miserably in our faces.  I (being the naive American I am) asked one of the staff members if any parts of the spa were inside. 

They answered "yes, the restaurant and the lockers."  Right.... See that man in the yellow wind breaker suit?  That's what staff people were wearing outside in the weather.

But we knew we only had one shot at this and jumped in anyway (frigidly sped walked to the water is a better description of what actually happened).  We stayed in the hottest parts of the water and enjoyed some sparkling wine.  We had a great time and didn't notice the cold much after that.  The Blue Lagoon was an amazing way to end a truly amazing vacation.

From what I could tell at the touristy locations we visited, Icelanders are very interesting.  See above. 

These were similar to houses we saw on our bus ride. 

And this is an advertising slogan.  Interesting right? 

After such a jam packed ten days, we were ready to rest our heads on these in flight pillows, complete with Icelandic lullabies to lull us to sleep.  

Thanks for sharing our adventure with us!  Back to regular posts on Monday.  

Follow these links for posts about the rest of our Europe adventure: 
Bath Part 1 ... Bath Part 2 ... Bath Abbey
London Part 1 ... London Part 2
Paris 1 ... Eiffel Tower ... Paris Part 2 (historic walking tour) ... Paris Part 3 ... Versailles ... Paris Part 4 ... 

paris part 4

And we've come to the last photo essay of our trip to Paris.  Photos featuring: our hotel, our last breakfast (cookies), Victor Hugo's house, fruit porn, the Bastille, Montmartre, Sacre-Coeur, and best of all: the cafe from Amelie!!!  Thanks for sharing our journey!

Follow these links for posts about the rest of our Europe adventure: 
Bath Part 1 ... Bath Part 2 ... Bath Abbey
London Part 1 ... London Part 2
Paris 1 ... Eiffel Tower ... Paris Part 2 (historic walking tour) ... Paris Part 3 ... Versailles ... Paris Part 4 ...