Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Beauty of Greenbluff

Since moving to Spokane I've spent many weekends with my family exploring the beautiful farm country of Greenbluff, WA--a mere 20 minutes away. We've picked cherries, apricots, raspberries, peaches, cucumbers, tomatoes, and apples. Although spending hours in the kitchen canning isn't my favorite thing to do, I'm looking forward to enjoying the jam, applesauce, pickles, and salsa in the coming months.

I enjoy baking over canning and we've done plenty of that too. When my brother and his husband came to visit we made a delicious peach crisp, which wouldn't have been complete without our favorite Tillamook Old-Fashioned Vanilla Ice Cream. This past Sunday my dad and I made an apple pie using Honey Crisp apples. Hands down best apple pie I've ever had. Last month my mom and I made a homemade cherry pie using a recipe from The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie. Pie crust can be intimidating but years ago my mom stumbled upon Martha Stewart's recipe. You make the crust in a food processor, which really helps simplify the process.

Fall is now upon us, which means there are still many more weekends to enjoy and explore the beauty of Greenbluff. I can't wait to go get pumpkins for Halloween, see the kaleidoscope of changing leaves, and drink warm apple cider. Isn't fall the greatest?

Friday, September 5, 2014

we all have a story to tell


Each one of us is living his or her own story. No two stories are the same, and yet, we play pivotal roles in how the stories of others turn out--often without even knowing it. Reality differs for each individual despite the mutual sharing of experiences.

I've found that at times we willingly, although not always consciously, allow others to write our story for us. It's difficult to reconcile your feelings and emotions when you realize that while one person has taken up five chapters of your life, you're only worth a sentence or two in their story--proving the adage "they are always two sides to every story" to be entirely true.

Agency is both beautiful and alarming. As Lord Grantham says in Downton Abbey, "We all have chapters we'd rather keep unpublished." Making mistakes and wrong choices are a part of this life. It's why we're here. To learn and grow. Failure and sin are a natural part of our existence. I wish that was something I had understood earlier in life. It hasn't been until my adult years that I've truly come to see the intrinsic value in failure.

What must we do to ensure we form a narrative we can be proud of? How do we take control of our own story? Right now, the only answer I have is to keep going, to keep trying. Even if everyday you feel like a failure, don't give up. Keep the faith. Have hope. Sometimes phrases like that seem trivial and empty to me, but I know deep down they are true.

The concept of faith and hope has always perplexed me. Which comes first? Can you really not have one without the other? At this time in my life, I feel like I have hope but I lack faith. I think you need faith to take action. Hope is not enough to facilitate change. I need to push through my personal doubts and questions if I'm to find my faith once again. It's been cast aside for too long.

We all have a story to tell. I need to re-invite Heavenly Father to be the co-author of mine.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Furnishing My One Bedroom Apartment

Going from a studio to a one bedroom apartment with both a living room and dining room has required a significant amount of furniture purchasing over the last few weeks. Moving cross-country and buying a new car means means I'm on a really tight budget. As nice as it would be to buy all new pieces from places like Anthropologie and West Elm, I simply can't afford it

Lucky for me, Spokane has a ton of awesome thrift stores; plus, it's summer so there are yard sales and estate sales every weekend. Instead of being frustrated with my meager budget, it's been fun to search for bargains and see what quality used pieces I can find and refurbish.

Here are some of my finds. So far I've repainted the dresser I found and bought paint, fabric, and the needed supplies to re-do my dining room set. It's going to be a lot of work but I'm excited to see how it turns out. After pictures coming soon!

$75 vintage brass bed frame found at an estate sale
(similar bed frame at Anthropologie goes for $2,000!)
free nightstand from my parents' basement
$20 lamp found at a thrift store

$75 dresser found at Pine Street Market & Boutique

$65 dining room table with six chairs found at Union Gospel Mission thrift store
(This has definitely been by greatest find so far. I'm going to host Thanksgiving for my family this year with this table!)

$20 coffee table found at Union Gospel Mission thrift store

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Harper, we're not in Chicago anymore...

It's been six days since I left Chicago for Spokane. Last Friday, Harper and I barely made it to the airport on time thanks to my procrastination. I was a hot mess. Thank goodness my buddy Tasha drove us to the airport and helped me finish cleaning my apartment. Heavenly Father was definitely looking out for me because my flight got delayed one hour; otherwise, I would have arrived at the gate 10 minutes before take off. Whoops.

I started my new job at Gonzaga University on Monday. I admit that after my first day I was a bit underwhelmed. My new job is much more structured and regulated than my previous position. Gone are the days of having my own office and prioritizing my own tasks. Right now I don't even have my own desk.

The people I work with are nice and I think once I get more versed in all of the online systems I have to learn I'll feel better about things. I'm an impatient person and hate the learning curve. Every day this week has gotten a little better so I think that's a good sign. I keep reminding myself that this job is a stepping stone in my higher education career.

Everything in my life is different. I bought a brand new car on Saturday. I got a Costco membership yesterday. Now I go to places like The Home Depot with my parents (picture included for your enjoyment). I knew Spokane was no Chicago, but I didn't comprehend what a big lifestyle change this would be.

I'm happy to report that Spokane has a TON of thrift stores. Tonight I found some amazing stuff for my new apartment. Pics to come! My U-Haul box arrives this weekend. Hooray! My new apartment is absolutely amazing. I can hardly wait to decorate it. Warning: this blog may become a home decor blog over the next few months.

Change is hard. There's not getting around that, even when we make a positive and conscious choice. Right now, I'm taking it one day at a time. So far, so good.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I'm going back home to the west coast...

image via
Last night I picked up my cap and gown. On Sunday I will graduate from DePaul University with a master's degree in journalism. All that stands between me and the finish line is one final paper that I'll finish and turn in tonight. I can hardly believe grad school is almost over. I actually made it!

In less than a month I will also bid farewell to the Windy City, which I've come to love over the past three years. Like in the song by Coconut Records', "Cause I miss you, I'm going back home to the West Coast..." Earlier this week I was offered a job at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. My dad recently started a new job with U.S. bank and soon my mom and sister will join my dad in Spokane. Now, I won't be far behind!

After almost 10 years of living at least a thousand miles away from my immediate family, we'll be reunited and see each other on a regular basis. I can't help but smile at the prospect of coming over for Sunday dinner, taking Brinkley and Skittles for walks in the park, and going to Gonzaga basketball games with my dad. My mom and I can do crafts together, I can visit my brother and his husband in Seattle, and my little sister and I can cruise the town in my new car (purchase forthcoming).

I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to live closer to my family and move on to an awesome job with a fantastic university. I've always been impressed by Gonzaga--in fact, I almost went there for grad school--however, I knew at the time DePaul and Chicago were where I needed to be.

Chicago has been good to me. I've made some truly wonderful friends, had amazing experiences, and done some pretty awesome things. I'll always look back on my time here with fondness. It was hard to move to a city I'd never been to with absolutely no one to call a friend or even acquaintance, but although the journey hasn't been without its fair share of bumps and roadblocks, I'm proud of the life I've built for myself.

I will sincerely miss living in Chicago and the people I've met here who have changed my life. Leaving people you love is always the hardest part about change. But I feel like my future is bright and that Spokane is the perfect place to start the next chapter of my life.

This move, unlike many of my previous moves over the years, isn't fueled by the need to get away from a painful or bad situation. I'm not running away from anything or anyone. I'm choosing to move forward and pursue new opportunities so that I can continue to create the kind of life I seek.

With Heavenly Father's help, I making things happen and that feels really, really good.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Real Life

Real life isn't glamorous or stylized like these lovely ladies. At least that's not my life. For example, I found a recipe for Tomatillo Ranch Chicken on Pinterest months ago that I actually thought I could attempt making. It's taken me a month to get all eight ingredients. Pathetic or amusing? I think it's both.

So tonight, after two previous grocery store trips and a Peapod delivery, I decided to finally make said chicken. And yes, I had to go to the grocery store for a third time because I'd forgotten to buy cilantro. Awesome. I'm just glad I escaped the rain storm or I might have just sat right down in the middle of the sidewalk and cried. Oh, and did I mention I made my chicken while wearing an old grubby sports bra and shorts because it's so dang hot? Talk about sexy.   

I live in the city and don't have a car, which means I only buy as many groceries as I can carry. Inevitably, I always forget at least two or three items on my list, even when I write things down. I'm single and live alone so I don't cook a new dish every night. And if I'm being honest, most of the time "cooking" involves warming up a frozen Trader Joe's entree (lately I've been loving the shepherd's pie, although you can never go wrong with the full fat mac & cheese) or making eggs with broccoli or a grilled cheese sandwich. On a good week, I'll make two different dishes and then alternate them for lunch and dinner. By the end of the week I vow to never make said dishes again for at least a month.

I don't know how food bloggers do it, let alone moms. My mom is a whiz in the kitchen and can make deliciousness out of nothing. I'm not quite that skilled. Perhaps my lack of regular, full-on cooking is to blame. But every time I try to expand my horizons I am faced with the scenario I opened with. Damn those ingredients.

So this is my life. It's never going to look like those glamorous girls eating donuts and cola. And that's ok. Real life is making half as many trips to the grocery store as there are ingredients in your recipe. This chicken better be worth it!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wednesday Wisdom from Mr. Hastings

I would not be who I am or where I am today without the guidance and wisdom of my high school history teacher. Mr. Hastings continues to influence my education and personal development even though it's been 10 years since I sat in his classroom at Everett High School. He believed in me and recognized my potential. He understood my values and genuinely cared about my future.

In the classroom, Mr. Hastings prepared me for the rigors of college. I learned how to study, how to take tests, and how to write--all at a college level. My gen-ed courses were a breeze thanks to the study habits and learning techniques I adopted during Mr. Hastings' U.S. Government and Honors State History classes.

Although I excelled academically my freshman year of college, it was a difficult year for me personally. Health problems led me to withdraw shortly into my sophomore year. At 19, I found myself at the first major cross-roads of my newly earned adulthood status. I needed to change schools and my major. While I contemplated how to move forward, I remembered something Mr. Hastings told me my senior year. He said that whatever I chose to do with my life and for a profession, that I should never stop writing. I had a gift and I owed it to myself to cherish and develop that gift. With those words in mind, I turned to Mr. Hastings for advice and direction.

I was no longer his student, but Mr. Hastings took the time to meet with me in person to research potential colleges and program options. Together we charted a new course for my life. Because of his help, I chose to attend Utah State University and major in English with an emphasis in professional and technical writing. Attending USU was one of the happiest times in my life. I know I may never have gotten the opportunity to rediscover happiness and passion if it hadn't been for Mr. Hastings' guidance.

During the summer and holiday breaks that came while I pursued my bachelor's degree, Mr. Hastings and I would always get together for lunch to catch-up. Now faraway from my hometown, it's been a few years since I've seen him but he his wisdom still plays a role in my life. In a month, I'll graduate with my master's degree in journalism. I think that accomplishment would make him proud. Yesterday I had a personal essay published on a major website, which got a phenomenal response.When I doubt myself and my abilities, I often remember Mr. Hastings' words.

This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week. I know my life is only one of many Mr. Hastings has touched and influenced. He's the kind of teacher you don't forget. I am grateful for teacher's like him who take the time to get to know their students on an individual level and are invested in their success beyond the classroom.

Because of my teachers, my life has been forever changed. What teachers have inspired and influenced your life? Follow Webucator on Twitter for more great stories!