welcome ... enjoy yourself

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

april goals

Oh April goals...how I wanted to check you all off my list.  Alas...pretty much none of these happened.  Except things were a bit quieter this month which was nice.  I did some stretching, not daily.  And I painted, but didn't finish anything.  And the art room took some steps, but is far from organized.  I almost didn't post this because I was embarrassed that I didn't check anything off, but I decided that posting this would help me to stay accountable to myself.  Crossing my fingers and giving myself a little pep talk so that when I'm posting this time next month I can go on and on about what a successful, productive month I had.  It can happen...right??  

Do you ever have periods where you just cannot get the momentum to be productive?  What do you do to get yourself out of your rut?  

Monday, April 28, 2014

today i'm thankful for

a successful kick off to our 2014 community garden season

getting my hands dirty in fresh organic soil 

seeing the garden transform with the help of many hands

sharing a meal with my fellow gardeners

feeling sunshine on my face in Milwaukee for the first time in a long time

having a whole day to relax around the house

seeing buds and flowers blooming all over my neighborhood

much warmer morning walks with the pups

celebrating one year of having Diego as part of our family - love that beagle boy!

Friday, April 25, 2014

in honor of earth day

Happy belated Earth Day!  In honor of Earth Day, I'm sharing some reflections on eating and how it can help us be better Earth "citizens."

I've long been an advocate of making a difference by starting with baby steps.  It's always helped me to remember that even if I can't make a huge difference right now or make huge shifts in my habits, I can still take small steps that gradually add up to something much larger.  My baby steps started ten years ago with a forty day vegetarian challenge, which grew into a decade long vegetarian challenge, and then carried over into my cooking and shopping habits.  Not being able to shape my meals around meat led me to eating more vegetables and shopping at more local farmer's markets.  Later I began participating in Community Supported Agriculture programs, and more recently I helped start and now direct a local community garden.  My original baby steps became habit, then second nature, and allowed me to slowly add on more and more.   

Through my baby steps, I've learned that eating is such a simple way to make a huge positive impact. What we choose to eat and where we buy our food from can have lasting impacts on our bodies and on the environment. Today the environmental impact of large scale industrial farming is more visible than ever before. So too are the positive effects of small scale, organic farming.  (I'm not going to write about that all here because that's all really another post for another day.) Eating environmentally consciously is conveniently better for the economy, local farmers, and our bodies. It helps us remember that we're part of the Earth and rely on it for our daily  survival.  When we honor that connection it's better for us and the planet.


I think Michael Pollan, food writer and activist, has been doing a great job of making this message accessible to a mass audience. I'm reading his book Cooked now, in which he discusses how cooking is one of the best ways 
to remember our connection to the planet. It reminds us of where our food comes from, connects us to the food chain in a very intimate way, and helps us recognize that we come from and are nourished by the Earth. Here's an excerpt from Cooked that illustrates this point much better than I can! 

...taking back the production and the preparation of even just some part of our food, has the salutary effect of making visible again many of the lines of connection that the supermarket and the "home-meal replacement" have succeeded in obscuring.... To do so is to take back a measure of responsibility...

..."the environment" ... suddenly begins to seem a little less "out there" and a lot closer to home. For what is the environmental crisis if not a crisis of the way we live? The Big Problem is nothing more or less than the sum total of countless little everyday choices, most of them made by us (consumer spending represents nearly three-quarters of the U.S. economy) and the rest of them made by others in the name of our needs and desires. If the environmental crisis is ultimately a crisis of character, as Wendell Berry told us way back in the 1970s, then sooner or later it will have to be addressed at that level -- at home, as it were. In our yards and kitchens and minds.
Wooh - I love that! Get it Michael Pollan. Here he's essentially saying that if we want to address the environmental crisis, we can start by paying attention to what we cook. Our gardens and farms are part of the 
environment, and when we create sustainable ways of feeding ourselves, we help build a more sustainable relationship with our planet.

And that finishes my environmental PSA for today. Hope you all enjoy your weekend, and when you eat and prepare your food, I hope you take a minute to remember your connection our wonderful Mother Earth.

Monday, April 21, 2014

today i'm thankful for

being reunited with my Diego and my hubby

800 miles driven in four days with no car problems

an old fashioned road trip with an old college friend

celebrating an epic wedding shower and bachelorette party with great friends

my family who always has room for one more

a Frozen watching date with my mom

Easter baskets and celebrations

the most beautiful weather I've seen in months

daffodils, tulips, and dogwoods

my husband who celebrates his birthday today: being married to him has been my favorite adventure

Friday, April 18, 2014

flower friday

Well things have been pretty quiet around here this week, and not for any real reason.  Just been busy with random things and with getting ready to go out of town this weekend.  Some weeks are just like that.  But no worries - I will be back with a full week of posts starting Monday! Hope you have a fabulous weekend!  I leave you with photos of my current kitchen flowers.  I love their in between stage with some flowers still perky and others slowly drying. So pretty.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

house journal

I am very excited about plans Paul and I have to travel to the East Coast next month.  We'll be going to a good friend's wedding and stopping in Rochester, Ithica, New York City, and Hartford.  We're both really looking forward to seeing friends we don't get to see often.  I've mentioned here before that Paul and I met while we were serving in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) program, a program for young people serving at non-profits and living in community.  Paul lived in the Hartford house, and I lived in the Syracuse house - we met up at retreats and parties all across the East Coast.  It was all very glamorous, except for the part where we were only making $85/month. 

We're actually travelling for one of my JVC community mate's weddings, and thinking about being back East has me feeling all nostalgic about our service year - and the house journal.  

During my year of service my roommates and I started a house journal - lovingly referred to as the house "gurnal."  We each took turns writing our thoughts and reflections in it, and it became a great collection of our best memories together.  After our service year was finished and we all moved on to our various cities, we decided to take turns with the journal.  Six years later, the journal has made the rounds a few times and is looking well loved. 

I love when the journal surprises me in the mail, and it's my turn to catch up on what everybody's doing in their lives and record my updates in the journal.   I love that we can still have a way to stay connected - and also love that we have a communal record of our lives.  It's a great way to continue to support each other in a simple way in our long distance friendships.   

ometimes the journal ends up forgotten under somebody's couch for a few months, and sometimes people write somewhat sarcastic entries (see above), but it all adds to the joy and adventure of the communal house journal.  Looking forward to seeing who gets the journal next when it's passed off at the wedding in May.  Probably won't be me since I may be the one who forgot the journal for a few months....I'll have to wait my turn until everybody else has another go at it :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

today i'm thankful for: derby edition

At the end of January, I joined a roller derby recreation league in Milwaukee called the Brewcity Bootleggers.  I went from barely being able to skate around the track to almost passing my basic derby skills test in ten weeks.  I have been so proud of myself and so happy to have found such an awesome sport!  Today I'm thankful for...
my friend Mary who encouraged me to give derby a try (and gave me my skates)

our fabulous derby coaches for believing in us

my fellow Bootleggers for being so supportive and fun

my body for having the ability to skate, adapt to new challenges, and get stronger

having practices to look forward to during the dreariest time of year

my husband for being happy for me falling in love with derby

my friends for listening to me gab (a lot) about my new found love of derby

my gear for keeping my body protected during my many (many) falls

the therapeutic benefits of skating and exercising

Sooooo thankful for this sport for getting me through a long, hard winter.  It has been so fabulous finding such a fun, challenging sport.  Don't know what I would have done without it!

Friday, April 11, 2014

30 before 30

Welcome to my 30 before 30 list!!  Yay!!  I've been thinking about this list for a couple of years, and I'm really happy to officially share this here so I'm longer tempted to edit it.  While picking my 30 goals, I made a big mistake.  I compared it to this lady's 30 before 30 list.  Her list includes such things as swimming with sharks, climbing a mountain, sky diving, running a marthon, sunbathing topless on a European beach...you get the picture.  First of all - good for her.  It's awesome that she had the means to do what she wanted to do and that she had the movitation to go after her deams.  Second of all - I'm not her.  I don't have the means to travel like she did, and I don't have the desire to do a lot of the activities she did.  And I'm coming to accept that that is completely ok.      

Writing this list helped me to be realistic about my prorities and be honest about who I am and what I want.  While I would love to travel even more than I already do, working at a low paying non-profit job that reflects my values has become more important to me than getting to travel the world (even though it still pains me to write that).  I also love spending time relaxing with my husband and my pups, and that limits the amount of time I can devote to other things.   I like having an established community, which really cuts down on my desire to move around a lot. While I still can and have done "exciting" things, my goals for where I want my life to be at 30 are much less flashy than I thought they might be when I was younger.  My values have led to choices that have shaped my life - and will continue to shape my goals, dreams, and accomplishments.  

A lot of these goals I chose are simple and reflect what gives me joy in my day to day life.  Most importantly I'm happy that this list reflects my big unwritten goal for turning 30: to have a good sense of who I am and what I want.  Thanks for reading!  

1. Finish decorating the apartment

2. Take a French class/do something French (kissing doesn’t count)

3. Read 5 classic books I never got around to reading (from list of 50 books I want to read)

4. Buy a magazine subscription

5. Camp on a beach

6. Stay the night in a yurt

7. Close Wolski’s (for real)

8. Make a go to recipe book

9. Update my blog (for real)

10. Make my own ice cream flavor

11. 30 days apartment photos

12. Fill sketchbook

13. Photo albums: wedding, Europe, Papa 

14. Hike Ice Age Trail

15. Do a weekend getaway out of the Wisconsin travel book

16. Visit a new state

17. Save for retirement

18. Read news habitually

19. Host a dress up party

20. Learn to make a fancy dessert (like macarons or truffles) 

21. Do the big paintings (Romero and Fr. Greg)

22. Organize my files!!

23. Create a garden oasis on our front porch

24. Do something irresponsible (like get a tattoo)

25. Go to the zoo

26. Travel to New Orleans

27. Dip my toes in Lake Superior 

28. Visit a state park

29. Fly a kite

30. Make a fancy dinner

There you have it!  Do you have a big goal list you're working on?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

art in bloom

Art and flowers: two of my favorite things, combined at the best event the Milwaukee Art Museum offers.  ART IN BLOOM!!  The premise is simple: participating florists are randomly assigned an art piece to inspire a floral arrangement.  The museum curators choose pieces from throughout the museum so attendees get a chance to see all parts of the museum as they look at the 40 something entrees.  Some floral arrangements match the art pieces very literally, others are more loosely connected to the art.  The results are always interesting; there's always a few pieces that make me scratch my head, and there's just as many that take my breath away and literally make me stop to smell the roses.  This year there were lots of excellent pieces, and I managed to get some nice pictures of a few of my favorites.  

The Madonna and child arrangement was my top pick this year (although it was a really tough choice!).  Those colors!  Those shapes!  I felt it matched the painting so well (in the background of the photo above), and it helped me see the Madonna and child piece in a way I never had before. 

This is an example of a piece I had never taken time to look at before it was included in Art in Bloom.  After appreciating the floral piece, I found beauty in the Noah's Ark painting I hadn't before.  (Score 1 for the Art in Bloom curators.)  See how it doesn't match the piece exactly but you can see how it was inspired by it?

Loved the use of the bonnet in this one!  I forgot to get a picture of the painting this was based off, but it was a 19th century beach scene with a couple of ladies in dresses - and bonnets.  The bonnet, colors, and sea type plants worked so well in the piece and really captured the feeling of the painting.  

Awards are given for the top three pieces and for honorable mention(s).  First place was given to this beautifully innovative piece based off a button sculpture (below).  The sculpture is one that usually gives me a "huh?" feeling (which a lot of modern sculpture does for me), but again, seeing such a cool floral piece made me give the sculpture a second chance.  Do you think the rose arrangement capture the feel of the sculpture?  The designer statement mentioned how the repetition of the water vases mirrored the repetition of the buttons.  

I looked forward to this event so much.  Art in Bloom comes at such a great time of year, just when I need the pick me up that only flowers and sunshine can give.  I went twice in four days this year!  Luckily I have these great photo reminders of how lovely the event was to carry me through until next year.  

You can see more photos of this year's Art in Bloom winners here.  You can also check out my Instagram for more photos I shared from the event (joy_allthings).  

Monday, April 7, 2014

today i'm thankful for

the most excellent 29th birthday ever

hearing well wishes from friends and family

birthday breakfast, birthday sushi, and birthday fro-yo

spending the night of my birthday relaxing with my little family - and not wanting to be anywhere else
my roller skating birthday party

eating birthday cupcakes in a parking lot

an epic Head and the Heart concert

feeling so content with my life

sunshine and 40+ degree temperatures

finding blue bells on my morning walk

friends who deliver Ted Drewes across state lines

making summer travel plans

my husband who made our car sparkle like new, helped me have such a special birthday,
and reminds me that spending everyday together is "awesome"

Friday, April 4, 2014

today is my birthday!

Usually, I like to be more humble and not announce my birthday here, but I'm excited and happy so I'm just going with it.  My 28th year was fantastic in so many ways.  I really loved being 28 - I felt happy and comfortable with myself, and I just enjoyed being me.  I love that each year I feel a little happier in my own skin and a little bit more confident in who I am.  I'm trying something a little different today to commemorate the past year.  I've reflected on my year and have put together a list of 28 things I experienced this year.  Thanks so much for reading and thanks for all your support and love and friendship this year!

When I was 28 I...

stood on stone pavement in Bath with my love... 

travelled to Europe and around the country...

fulfilled my dream of going to Paris...

savored tasty macarons, fresh fruit, quiches, wine, fish and chips, tea and biscuits, and lots of chocolate...

added a great beagle named Diego to our family (just one, not four)...

spent many evenings cuddling on the couch watching Star Trek with my hubby and our pups...

took dozens and dozens of walks with my beagles...

joined a roller derby rec league...

surprised myself by how brave and strong I could be...

built my confidence, my skating skills, and my leg muscles...

ate so many desserts especially macarons 
(I'm mentioning them twice in this post because I loved them that much this year!)...

baked lots of cupcakes, bread, and cookies...

made nasturtium jelly, ice cream, fresh juice, and popsicles...

learned to can tomatoes, to skate backwards, and to knit with round needles...

grew lots of tasty vegetables in my community garden plot...

worked at a new job, advocating for people with disabilities...

led our community garden and helped lots of people grow their own food...

rested on the Oregon Coast...

took so many pictures and fell in love with photography...

enjoyed visits from my sister in law, my family, and friends...

explored Milwaukee and found new reasons to love this city...

moved to our very own apartment...

decorated our new space and made it home...

painted lots and lots of canvases with inspiring lyrics...

dreamt about my future with Paul and starting a family...

loved my family, my friends, my husband, my pups, my apartment, my life, my body, my job, my city, and so many other things...

resolved to find good in every day...

hoped for many great adventures and more of what I love in my next year of life!

Ah...so thankful for my life - so thankful for this day - and so thankful for all of you!