welcome ... enjoy yourself

Monday, September 30, 2013

today i'm thankful for

Gorgeous fall weather ... the wonderful smell of baking applesauce ... fro-yo dates ... finding old blank canvases I didn't remember I had ... seeing our new apartment come together ... finding new authors ...recouperation time ... dental insurance ... being told my teeth looked great ... a brand new toothbrush ... work potlucks ... dinner with friends on our porch ... coloring books ... lemon rooibos tea ... our crockpot ... checking the first goal off my four simple goals list ... a Sunday morning breakfast made by Paul ... spending time with Paul's inspiring coworkers ... Parks and Recreation (and all the laughing Paul and I did together Thursday night) ... the creators of Broadchurch (because WOW) ... riding my bike ... my St. Francis community ... remembering I'm not alone and that sadness doesn't last forever

Friday, September 27, 2013

the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society

Are you a person who enjoys audio books?  If you are, please stop everything you're doing and find a way to listen to this book immediately.  If you're not into audio books but you spend any time in your car, house or anywhere else by yourself, consider finding a copy of this audio book and take a listen. 

Over the past year, I've started to enjoy audio books more and more.  Especially now that I'm commuting to work by car, audio books are a very joyful part of my everyday life.  I can tell pretty quickly whether the audio book is one I'm going to enjoy, and I fell in love with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society immediately (it helped that I had already loved reading the book version).  Here's the GoodReads summary:   

“ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is.
The top 5 reasons I loved this book:
1. The characters are well layered and loveable - and each played by a different voice actor.  Which automatically endears me to any audio book.  Characters you love reading about come to life in a totally different way when you can hear their "voices."
2. The characters all have wonderful British accents.  And this American loves listening to British accents.
3. The story is about the life-saving power of reading and is basically a long love letter to books (similar to the Book Thief is that regard).
4. The story is comprised of letters written between the characters.  And letters are wonderful. 
5. The book made me laugh and cry.  Hardly any books can claim that honor because I'm not usually one to laugh or cry at books (only at movies and TV shows).  Which basically means this book is amazing.

Now I've done all I can to convince you to listen to one of my favorite books.  The responsibility is yours to get yourself to your library and get listening.  Hope you have a wonderful weekend, even if it doesn't involve any residents of the island of Guernsey. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

four simple goals (before 2014)

Last September, I joined the challenge posed by Elsie at A Beautiful Mess to make four simple goals before 2013.  She didn't post goals this year, but I enjoyed it a lot last year so decided to do it again.  You can visit A Beautiful Mess for the official guidelines.  The idea is to make a list of four simple goals (which could potentially coordinate with the four remaining months of the year) that are relatively easy to achieve, but are things you may not do if you didn't really set your mind to do it.  

The best part of this challenge is including a reward system - you give yourself a small reward when you check your goals off your list.  Built in incentive to accomplishing the goals!  If I accomplish all four goals I will buy myself either a piece of jewelry from Rachel's beautiful shop or buy a print for our apartment from Oana Befort.  Putting that in writing makes me even more excited to start this challenge!  Here are my goals: 

Visit our neighborhood bakery there's a couple of cute bakeries in my neighborhood, and I want to make a point of actually getting my butt to one instead of always saying "oh man, I really need to get over there sometime."

Make Kombucha a friend of mine gave me a SCOBY which I neglected and killed, but it's gotten me inspired to try making it again.  Kombucha has become more popular and is now popping up in a lot of stores (especially places like Whole Foods), and I think it would be fun to make my own.  I'll be trying Rachel's recipe.  

Clean my wedding dress I'm so thankful my mom preserved her dress so that I could wear it on my wedding day.  It's too beautiful to waste away in a closet (like it currently is).  I'd like to clean and preserve it in case anybody wants to wear it in the future.   

Start a new sketchbook I've been super inspired to start drawing and painting again.  And sketchbooks are highly necessary for capturing all those creative juices.  

Please let me know if you decide to do the challenge to.  Leave a link or your list below so we can keep each other motivated!  

Other posts you may enjoy: 4 simple goals before 2013.  How I did with last year's goals.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

apple picking

And the fall adventures continue!  My friend and I made our annual trip to Barthel's Fruit Farm for apple picking - and for caramel apples, porch pumpkins, pears, photo ops and general fall lovin.  The McIntosh apples were in season, and we both carried home dozens of them.  Apple picking has become one of my favorite fall traditions after falling in love with it my Jesuit Volunteer Corps year in upstate New York.  The apples are sometimes secondary to the drive to the country, the fall colors, and being outside in the beautiful weather. 

I may have sampled a few apples straight off the tree.  Is there anything better?  Not in September. 

I picked out some pears too.  I plan on canning whatever we don't eat at our community garden canning workshop next weekend (photos to come!). 

Teaser!  The pumpkins all looked ready to pick, but they won't be ready for another few weeks.  Guess that means we'll just have to take another drive out to Barthel's.  Guess that means I'll have to have another caramel apple, and might just have to buy some apple cider.  Life is so hard

Could this farm be anymore picturesque?  Red barn, roaming dog, beautiful flowers, fields of pumpkins, corn, and apples as far as the eye can see.  Nothing better for the soul than a trip to a farm in fall.  Except maybe caramel apples. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

farmers market

I just started going to a farmers market close to our new apartment, and I wanted to share some photos from my recent trip.  The market is so cute - very close to the Harmonee Bridge and to a beautiful park area with a little stream. 

During my trips I see such colorful, tasty looking veggies.  There's usually music playing, and lots of families walking around picking out that week's dinner ingredients.  I drool at all the baked goods, and I've started to stop at a pastry vendor to pick up breakfast treats to go with my tea.  

On my last visit, this pastry vendor, seeing my camera, asked me if I was a photographer.  I answered "just an amature."  Hearing that the vendor told me to take a picture - of anything.  After I had done that, he handed me a quarter saying "The only difference between professional and amature photographers is that professionals are paid.  And now you're a professional.  You said 'amature' so dismissively.  Never ever limit yourself."  

How's that for some nice inspiration?   

I'm hoping to stop by a few more times before the market season ends.  And you can bet I'll be bringing my camera. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

today i'm thankful for

being related to these sassy ladies ... time with St. Louis family and friends ... busting out some killer moves on the dance floor with my siblings and family ... books on tape for long drives ... singing at the top of my lungs driving down the highway ... talking with wedding plans with a good friend ... the first day of fall ... positive community developments ... time to wear boots and vests ... painting projects ... brunch ... seeing my sister's new house ... a great date night with Paul ... a beautiful new bench for our apartment ... a tea and shopping date with my mama ... beautiful sunsets ... mums and pumpkins ... watching friends reach their goals ...

Friday, September 20, 2013

summer 2013 highlights

What a summer!  I'm celebrating the end of summer by sharing my summer highlights.  I feel lucky and accomplished and exhausted looking back over all the photos from this summer.  It feels like a blur remembering all the things we did in just a couple of months.  I have felt super busy, but I'm glad I was able to travel to beautiful places and hang out with some of my favorite people.  Here's a sampling of this summer's highlights: 

planting my first flower cutting garden (wildflowers are my favorite!)...

fulfilling my dream of travelling to Europe with Paul...  (here's all the posts in case you missed them:
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)

and of course travelling to Iceland...

our fifth (JVC) Syracuse reunion...

spending lots of time working at the community garden - - and giving away tasty veggies - and learning more about accessible gardening ...

all the great veggies (and fruit and eggs) from our CSA box...

trying my hand at new recipes including nasturtium jelly (a huge hit at potlucks!)...

a visit from my favorite sister...

taking a day trip to Madison with Paul...

little adventures with our pups...

making fresh fruit popsicles...

going camping and making campfire cakes...

travelling with my family to Holland, Michigan...

summer concerts incuding Jimmy Buffet (above), LL Cool J, Pitbull, Justin Vernon, and Mumford and Sons (wow, random music much?)...

and visiting Portland and the Oregon Coast (plus adventures at the Portland Japanese Garden and Salt & Straw)

With all those activities and a move to a new apartment, I manged to finish a good chunk of the goals on mysummer wishlist but didn't get to everything.  Swimming in Lake Michigan at sunrise and camping on the beach will have to just wait till next summer.  So I already have something to look forward to!  

Now I'm looking forward to pumpkin everything, pretty colors, and cozy sweaters - and I'm especially looking forward for things to slow down a bit.  My body wants to rest after all that summer activity.  

What were your summer highlights?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

follow me on instagram!

You can now follow me on Instagram!  My user name is joy_allthings, and can follow via this link if you are using a mobile device: http://instagram.com/#joy_allthings.  Please leave your user name in the comments if you use Instagram because I'd love to follow new people.  If you're not on instagram yet and you have a mobile device, I highly recommend the program.  It's one of my favorites.  Lots of pretty pictures, very easy to make your pictures look interesting, and very easy to connect with others.  It's the most fun distraction I've found in a while.   

Warning: my instagram is currently filled with lots of wedding pictures.  As time goes by dog, food, and flower pictures will probably dominate it.  I have my priorities.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

salt & straw

Is it any secret that I love ice cream?  If it is, it just means I've been quiet about my obsession.  Which is probably good for all of us.  

During my last trip to Portland, my ice cream obsession was taken to a new level when I managed to have Salt & Straw ice cream two times in four days.  Not quite enough I know, but I had other places to visit too while I was there.  

Salt & Straw does ice cream exactly the way I would expect a wonderful Portland-based company to: with local flare and gourmet taste with great style.  A sampling of some of their current flavors: almond brittle with salted ganache, sea salt ice cream with caramel ribbon, freckled woodblock chocolate, honey balsamic strawberry with cracked pepper, coffee and bourbon, chocolate with gooey brownies, pear with blue cheese... mouth watering yet?  

The store is as beautiful as the ice cream.  Their samples are even served on real metal spoons!  It's funny that something so simple is so uncommon .  As always, it's the little things that make a big impression. 

When I put this post together I realized I never actually got a picture of the ice cream.  What a terrible oversight.  Now, you'll just have to visit their website or shop for yourself and see what all the fuss is about.  And now I'm going to try to survive an ice-cream less afternoon.  Alas.  I wonder if Salt & Straw would speed deliver ice-cream to the midwest.  I can dream can't I?