Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Girls Weekend 2015

Last weekend, I got the chance to go visit some really good friends from college. I went  on Wednesday morning to save some money and see some friends in the Atlanta area before we headed to Charlotte.

My friend, Marie, let me borrow her car while she was at work, so I headed to a local college campus to read in their bookstore/library. Sat there with tears streaming down my face in a semi-abandoned corner as students finished their finals and turned in their books. It was embarrassing but therapeutic at the same time to get really involved in a good story.

Shoutout to Marie who was with me for a couple days and catered to my gluten free whims even if it meant going back to the donut shop multiple days  ;)

We headed to Charlotte on Friday and got some good QT on the car ride there.

There were 9 of us who ended up living on the same hall in college and became really close. Anna couldn't make it this year, but that didn't stop everyone else from getting together to share some laughs and good conversations. We are all so different and this has become even more apparent after college, but we still love getting together! 

So glad we could get together for some good weather, shopping, pedicures, and so many laughs. It was great to see everyone in person and really get to catch up on how everyone is doing. Can't wait till I get to see them again ;)

Monday, May 4, 2015


The refugee family thinks we work for the agency that brought them over to America so it's tough sometimes when they expect us to do stuff for them. I don't think it's because they think they are entitled, I just don't think they realize that we are volunteering our time and money to help them out. It's all in perspective. I think if they ever did know how much time we spent with them or money we had given to them, they'd be blown away. Not because it's a lot, but because we're doing it of our own free will. I think it would help them feel loved, welcomed and accepted. I don't need the gratitude from them, but I would want them to know they are loved. 

But isn't that how it is with us humans? We don't realize how much God loves us or how flawed we are. We think that we are good enough on our own to earn our relationship with God.  If I just do everything right and love other people then God will love me more than others. We're unaware of the speeding bus barreling down behind us and don't realize that the person who pushed us out of the way saved us from impeding death. 

The closer I get to Jesus, the more I realize how much he saved me.  I could never, ever do it on my own. I am thankful that God didn't wait for me to have the right perspective about Him or how truly sinful I am in the presence of a perfect and holy God. 

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

So we keep loving and teaching our family how to thrive here hoping for the day when we can have a real conversation in a shared language where they can know they are loved, welcomed, and accepted.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Girls Weekend

The third annual Girls weekend starts today! We're headed to North Carolina for all the fun. Can't wait to see these ladies and laugh for days. 

First Girls Weekend: Georgia

Second Girls Weekend: Chicago

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Our Family

Working with a refugee family, who doesn't speak the same language as you, teaches you to get creative. There is a lot that can be communicated without words. We play games, take pictures, and dance. I'm hoping for the day when we can communicate in the same language but for now I'll take the moments of shared laughter as we struggle through this together.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Our First Home

When we first started thinking about buying a place, it was about saving money and building equity. Things you don't think about until you find yourself in this phase called adulthood.  But then we started asking ourselves questions like, what community do we want to be a part of? Where do we want to be for the next 5-7 years? What kind of life do we want to live? and even though money and equity are things we were thinking about, we were also thinking about how to make a difference in the community where we were at. Buying a house became less about the money and more about how we could use our house to bless others. How could we live, shop, and go to church in our community? We saw places that were too expensive, had small entertaining spaces, were far from our church, or weren't close to public transportation. All things that didn't feel like us.

Then we walked into our place and the charm got us. The big open spaces where we could have people over for food and some good quality time. The kitchen right amongst the space to hang out.  The space to have guests stay over so we could visit or show them the city. It just felt right. 

So when I saw the Starter Stories Project organized by Compass, a real-estate startup company based in New York, I was inspired to participate in sharing our story. Owning a place for us means stability and community. A place for us to invest in the lives of others whether it's planned or spontaneous. I know the blog has been silent these last few months, but I thought I would update what we've done to our place so far to make it feel more us and still be able to have good quality time for those in our lives. 

Now I know it's not really a fair comparison since all the "before" pictures were taken at night and the "after" pictures are during the day but you get the picture. We're still decorating this room but it's coming together. Adam just made that Loyola sign that reflects the "L" stop closest to us. Next up will be to fix the really bright lights, make a new coffee table, and figure out what to do with the weird corner of furniture.

This kitchen is so pretty and functional. We hope to change out the lights and then way down the road possibly paint the cabinets white vs cream. Our place doesn't have as much natural light since it's a basement unit so we are trying to utilize bright colors to not make it seem as dim.

We have really gone to town on DIYs in our new place to make it feel like us. I had something like this in our old place to hold my measuring cups and spoons but not as intricate. I liked that it can be practical decoration. We knew we wanted something to follow the rustic/industrial feel our new place has, but Adam really outdid himself when he found that pipe and was able to put this together. So we got the barn wood from his grandpa, the pipe from Home Depot, the S hooks from Amazon (that we spray painted) and the red "gas" pipe from a resale shop. He then had to use his mathematical/engineering mind to be able to have everything be at the right angle. This task would have been a huge struggle for my designer mind haha it's why we make a good team.

The brick in our place really steals the show when you first walk in. We have been utilizing nails from the previous owners to hang some of our stuff on it. Thanks to his parents, we now have a table until we can build our own. Adam has offered to build us a rustic barn table but until then, it's nice to be able to offer a place for people to eat at when they come over for dinner. Adam hung his painting of Chicago this past week and it just feels right. We like to make a lot of our art so our place feels more personal. We're hoping to have a piano under the artwork but haven't found the right one yet.

This is my girly corner. I feel like Audrey Hepburn every morning when I get to sit on a fancy stool and put on my makeup. ( I don't know how accurate of a view of Audrey Hepburn that is, it's just what I feel like) I put some of my favorite prints and picture around this vanity we found at a resale shop for less than $100. I "splurged" a little on the stool from Target, but it just completed the corner so I went for it. (Splurging for us is if it's over $20 since we find a lot of stuff at resale shops, yards sales or for free) In high school, my mom and I shared a bathroom so I got to get ready with her every morning. Now she's 10 hours away and because of our schedules we don't get to talk as much as we would like.  I put a picture of her on my vanity so I can still think of her every morning.

Our room is probably the closest to being done. It feels like a place of rest and peace. I love the blue, white, gold and our rustic headboard we made last month. 

We brought some old favorites from our old place that just look better in a place we own ;)

The way we do projects is we have a rough idea in mind and then when we are out searching we just modify the project when we see cheaper things. This shutter necklace holder was less than $20 because I knew I wanted knobs of some kind and so when I found these discarded doorknobs for less than a dollar a piece, I was sold.

We still have a few projects we want to get done but our place is very functional at this point. We painted the guest bedroom last weekend. Neither of us wanted to spend our Saturday painting so we started painting at midnight on Friday night. It of course took way longer than I thought it would (I have no concept of time sometimes), but we were so glad to have our Saturday back. We just want to make a headboard for that room, get a rug and put some of our artwork up. (I would put a picture up but it wouldn't do it justice. Our outdoor patio is in the corner and our paint supplies were still in the other corner.)

So who is coming to visit us this summer? We are fairly ready for you ;)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Things I learned on Whole30

Black coffee is still gross. Pass the sugar and cream, please. #dessert

You are going to realize how much free food people offer you and how much you still want that cupcake, piece of candy or can of soda.

Raw chicken makes me want to vom.

30 days is a really long time. You gotta get creative because even though you think Mexican food is part of the food pyramid, it really isn't.

Your sink is going to look like this the whole time you're on this diet. Get used to it and tag team the dishes.

Doing this diet while friends are in town is probably the worst idea, followed by doing the whole30 at all. (Thanks Marie and Jenelle for being so awesome!)

My guy is still cute even when we're on whole30. (Him and his dad ref together)

Even when you are hangry you still think it's funny when you're coworker uses this as a cup. You also think it's really funny when instead of the beverage making it to his mouth, it pours all out on his shirt.

After 30 days, you are still going to want a donut, which is why you are going to feel terrible when you think your body is ready for that.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


I feel like the whole last month has been full of stretching situations whether it was us eating only whole30 approved food or trying to hang out with a refugee family who doesn't speak the same language as us. I have been in situations that are putting me outside of my comfort zone. I can feel myself being stretched as these situations strip away the facades I put up and I am stripped down to my bare bones. There is no hiding, no pretending that I've got it together when all I can do is hope google translator works and that a family who is lonely and overwhelmed by a new country understands that we are here to help, we are here to be their friends. I can't pretend that I love my salad that tastes like dish soap because yep, I tried to save money by buying the generic soap and couldn't quite get it off the tupperware container. I want that donut, taco or anything for the love of pete that is covered in cheese (Can I get an amen?). But all of these situations show me one thing. I'm not supposed to have it all together. I'm not suppose use food, friends, language, material things or anything else as my comforter. I'm not supposed to find my satisfaction in my situation or what I own but in Jesus. It's not what I do. It's not what I have. It's not what I accomplish. It's what he has already done. (My friend, Kate Brannen wrote a great post on this) If I continue to chase those things, it's always going to be the same result. The same cat-and-mouse game that ends in me never been truly satisfied. Sometimes I think I forget that. I mean, I know I do but sometimes I don't even want to admit that to anyone, let alone myself. So I'm trying to be real. I'm trying to be honest and say I don't have it together and that's okay for now. My coworker told me it's okay not to be okay, it's just not okay to stay there. So here is to running to my creator who knows me better than I know myself and asking for help and relying on him to get me through each day instead of using things around me to help me feel better.

Monday, March 2, 2015


So apparently this has been in my drafts folder for the last few weeks even though I thought it had been published. Shows how much I have been following my own blog.

Today marks a year of being in the hustling, bustling, busy and lovely city of Chicago. We've kept it real by moving twice and me switching jobs twice, but staying at the same church the whole time. It's been a year of learning more about ourselves, each other, and God. A year of learning, growing and sinking more into what it means to be in community within a city of 2.72 million. 

This year, I'm trying to learn more about simplifying my life. How to be a good wife, sister, daughter, friend, and working woman of God without trying to add everything else to the mix. So if my blog is a little silent, it's because I'm not super woman and gotta sleep sometimes too ;)

We'll see what this year brings as I try to navigate all my responsibilities and still have this as a creative outlet. Thanks for following along.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Busy Bees

We have been busy at making our condo feel more like home and doing a good job at it if I do say so myself.

Brightened this shelf area up by painting it light gray and adding old barn wood shelves. Adam and I got to traipse over an old farm with my brother-in-law, Buck, to find this barn wood when we were in Maryland over Thanksgiving. Reminds me of him every time I walk into the enter way.

We painted most of our condo from this yellow to a light gray except for our bedroom. We painted it a navy blue and I am loving it. We still need to hang all our white and gold decorations but it feels elegant yet cozy.

Took out the anchored plastic paper towel holder ( I have no idea why they decided to anchor a plastic paper towel holder) and replaced it with one we made out of pipe. Really loving the rustic/industrial feel we've gone with in our place.

These are two of my favorite projects Adam has made so far. I mean for real though, I love everything he's been helping me with. It's been so fun to do these projects together by brainstorming ideas and then helping each other complete the project.  The top art piece was Adam's vision and he took that one from start to finish. It looks awesome in person and is a perfect piece for entry way. The second piece is our coat rack in our front closet. So when I painted the closet, I had to take the old coat rack out of the closet. When I did that it jacked up the wall that I had just patched so I could paint. In my typical fashion, I got mad at an inanimate object and decided that the ugly monstrosity would not go back in the closet. Poor Adam went to work with a working coat rack and came back to an empty closet that now needed a coat rack. He was nice though and made this beautiful thing. Makes me happy every time I get to hang my coat there.

Adam has been getting good use out of his tools with all these projects. I can't wait to show you all of the finished products when we get them done. We are getting so close.

A couple weekends ago, we visited some friends and Adam's sister down in Kentucky and found these beauties along the way. Things are so much cheaper outside of the city. Most of the knobs will be used for various shelves.

Seriously, we spent $10 on that box of knobs. It was amazing and then Adam made this shelf to hang my aprons. I feel like we probably should do a few tutorials because we've been learning a lot but I don't really have any pictures to support that next time.

Thought I would give an update even if it's not very thorough. We are loving life and our new condo ;)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Top 5 things I didn't blog about in 2014

All over social media the last few days, I've seen top things people did, created, blogged about, etc in 2014 and everyone's resolutions for this year. Haha Gotta love people who've got it all together. That is definitely not us. We snuck in a second move this year, I changed jobs twice, and have met a ton of great friends which has left us muy ocupado (aka every minute planned busy). For the most part, we love this lifestyle but sometimes it's nice to be on time to something, buy gifts before Christmas Eve (Sorry mom!), and relax once a while. So in celebration of the New Year, I've decided to take a look back on the things I didn't blog about because we were too busy.

1. Girls Weekend/Boys Weekend
I had a girl's weekend in June with 7 of my college friends that was a perfect mix of sightseeing and relaxing. We had perfect weather and good food. Poor Abby and Kindra were both pregnant and Chicago is full of so much walking #wewalkedsomuch #terriblefriends

That same weekend Adam went to Michigan with his dad and a few of their friends for an annual golf trip. They rocked the views of Lake Michigan, good food, and three days of golf like a bunch of champs.

Adam also went on his second annual trip with his buds where they visit a new baseball field every year. Minneapolis was the destination of choice this year with Target Field and the Mall of America being obvious activities during the weekend. Love that they do this!

2. I saw my family 5 times this year
Ladies and gentleman, a new record has been set for seeing my family in one calendar year since I left for college over 7 years ago (Yikes, was I really a freshman in college 7 years ago? SEVEN? oh boy!). From girls weekend to surprise parties, I had a blast seeing new nieces and nephews and family staples this year.

3. We had 23 visitors this summer in our small apartment with only one bathroom
We loved hosting friends (old and new) and family this summer to see our favorite city and hang out with us city folk. Cubs games, beach trips, and good, good food. So fun!

4. I got a new job
I started a new job at my church at the end of October and hit the ground running. I'm the only graphic designer for a multi-site church here in Chicago. We currently have 6 locations but are looking to multiply again this year. It's been really busy but also really encouraging and challenging (in the right ways) ... just a really good fit for me. Really happy that this opportunity opened up for me.

5. We bought our first place!
This happened so fast but we fell in love with a place close to the lake and our church. We talked to a realtor at church on Saturday, saw the place on Sunday, I had an all day interview with my church (my new job) and saw it again on Monday night. We then put in an offer on it. I got offered a job the next day and we heard that they accepted our offer. Wowzas. We then closed 10 days before Christmas and moved that weekend! Crazy- Crazy but we are loving the place. We've done a ton of projects the last few weeks along side each other and friends to get this place looking like us and are hoping to show it off soon ;) After 5 moves in 3 1/2 years, we are ready to settle down for a bit.