wanting

Remember how I talked about one day buying something extravagant, just because?

Well, if I could spend lots of money on something totally indulgent right this second, I know what it would be… mail-order Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. It’s expensive and impractical and apparently wonderfully yummy. And so, of course, I spent way too much time today perusing their flavors. Here are a few of my favorites:

{Wildberry Lavender}, {Olive Oil, Saffron, Orange, + Caramel}, {Salty Caramel}

{Cherry Lambic Sorbet}, {Dark Chocolate}, & {Juniper + Lemon Curd}

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darkchocfullspoon__64274.1305434146.460.504
JuniperLemon_Spoon__08376.1335990118.460.504

 

And the list goes on (and on). Too bad the closest “scoop shop” is 589 miles away.

Road trip, anyone?

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38 days

I know the perfect thing to do to celebrate the 38-days-until-our-wedding mark.

Look at inspiration photos.

My days of gleaning brilliant bits of inspiration from Pinterest are, sadly, long gone. The decisions about the gown, the flowers, & the decor were made months ago, and now my wedding planning consists of the teeny-tiny-get-it-done things. These are bright and exciting in their own way, because every time I buy chevron straws for our mason jars, or research what it takes to stick canvas to brick, or work on my vows (my vows!), it all becomes a little more real.

But, every once in a while, you just need to look at all the pretty pictures.

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is there any other way to live?

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“I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”

-John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

p.s. photo here.

lately

These past few weeks, I feel like my heart has been tinged around the edges with nostalgia. Perhaps it’s because I’m about to transition into a real, grown-up part of my life… the part where I get married. The part where my new husband and I move to a city where we don’t know anybody at all, where we have to find jobs and an apartment and friends all on our own, where we start over, from scratch, for real. Maybe it’s because I’m starting to forget the names of the people I knew in high school, and some even from college. Maybe it’s because it’s been almost a year since I saw any of my best friends, all of whom are thousands of miles away, and because every moment of every day I make new memories without them. Maybe it’s all of that and more.

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But, whatever the cause, this bittersweet aching feeling hearkens me back to times scattered all over my history, and the memories are so real that sometimes I feel like I can taste them. It’s like… well, like they’ve been bottled up this whole time.

I close my eyes and I’m at summer camp again, sitting in a small chapel in the hills of Asheville and watching the morning light filter through stained-glass windows. I’m laying in the grass beside Will in Lincoln Park, with the warmth of the afternoon sun on my back, exhausted after a day of exploring the city. I can feel my heart beating as I stand up at my high school graduation, shaping my words in an attempt to tell my classmates that I had grown to love and respect them, despite their hostility towards me throughout those years. I’m surrounded by my 8th grade youth group, our bodies wedged together as we stand on chairs in the back of a worship service, with arms raised. I’m sitting around a table at my apartment in Santa Barbara, sharing a “family dinner” with my dearest friends, laughing and eating sticky toffee pudding and watching the candles drip wax onto the table.

It’s as if I’m reliving my saddest memories, and the ones where I was deliriously happy, and a thousand that lay in the middle of the two poles. It’s everywhere and then it’s gone, and I feel empty, wishing I could have it all back again, and yet full with gratitude for how much I have lived. These are the days, I guess, to reflect on what has shaped me into who I am, before I become as “Mrs.” and start another season of my life.

Here’s to many more memories to come.

p.s. you can find the photo here.

chocolate almond chess pie

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Doesn’t it look delicious? This, my friends, is chocolate almond chess pie.

If we’re being honest, I must tell you that my ideal dessert rests somewhere in the chocolately-fudgey-thick-and-gooey region. I love things that are rich and sweet and substantial, and that are preferably full of chocolate. I want a dessert that is full-bodied, not some whipped flaky Splenda- filled nonsense. And this pie fits that description perfectly. There is no messing around with the chocolate almond chess pie. It is thick and rich and perfect with a teeny crust of crystallized sugar right on the top. It’s yummy warm or cold, and in my opinion, is best served with a large glass of milk. Yes, it’s that type of pie.

As far as desserts go, this one is pretty simple. Gather your ingredients…

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…and then mix them all together, little by little.

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Isn’t it luscious? When everything is blended in, just pour it into the pie crust and stick it in the oven. Bake it for 40 minutes, and then, listen now: turn off the oven and leave the pie in there while it cools down. That extra time will continue to cook the middle without burning the edges, which leaves it fudgey all the way through.

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Garnish it as you so desire. Personally, I have a deep love for almonds, and so I took the happy opportunity to toss a few on the top.

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It’s okay, go ahead and have a piece. Or two. I hope that you love it as much as I do.

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Chocolate Almond Chess Pie

(adapted from this lady)

INGREDIENTS:

1 graham cracker pie crust
1 stick unsalted butter
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/4 tsp salt
1 c sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
almonds, to taste
DIRECTIONS:
1. Melt the butter and chocolate together.
2. Whisk in the eggs, vanilla, and almond extract, then add the sugar and salt.
3. Pour the filling into the crust and bake at 325*F for 40 minutes.
4. Turn off the oven and let the pie sit while it cools. The top of the pie will flatten and crack… that’s okay!
5. Top with almonds and whip cream.

relationship tidbits: always talking

“Conversations do not have an expiration time based on hours. They are left at one point or another one day to be picked up and continued the next day or next week. We have some conversations that have been in progress for years.”

Celebrating the Third Place

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My first true interaction with Will took place while I was doing my laundry, about two weeks into our freshman year at college. I was angry and anxious, upset about something that had recently occurred in my church back at home, and after I put my clothes in the washer, I turned to him and asked, “Can I vent to you for a second?” Surprised, he put down his things and nodded his consent, and we launched into an hour-long conversation about the church.

Then, after we had been dating for about a year, we started playing a sort of game, where we went back and forth asking each other questions… the only rule, really, was that the answer had to be honest. And so we spent hundreds of hours, probably, peppering each other with random queries, both heavy and light. What are your dreams like? Have you ever been caught doing something shameful? What’s your favorite memory with your sister? If you could be any animal, what would you be? Can you sing the lyrics to a whole song without listening to it at the same time? Have you ever been to a therapist? How often do you pray? In particular, we spent hours talking about our personality types (Will is an INTP while I’m an INFJ), mostly using the typological descriptions as springboards for deeper conversation. He would ask me things like, “Is intuition really that important to you? Do you actually make your decisions based on feeling?”, while I would inquire, “Is this bit about having a ‘complex inner world’ true? What sort of theories do you think about?”. We would sit on our beds, in Illinois and California, respectively, scrolling through pages of personality portraits, recounting our lives out loud for the other’s benefit.

Even now, we take walks and describe our passions, our dreams, our fears. We’ll make dinner while talking about the ups and downs of our days, the things that made us proud or happy or self-conscious. Sometimes, the two of us just get in the car and drive for miles, talking about what we would do if we found out we only had a week to live, or what we thought of that movie we just saw, or why crowd-sourcing is so helpful.

So I guess our story, really, is one of conversation.

One day, a boy and a girl started talking.

And we haven’t stopped since.

p.s. photo found here

for Grand

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“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke

My future grandmother-in-law (Grand, as the family calls her) asked me last week if the flowers here in South Carolina were blooming. At first, I couldn’t tell her the answer. But now, since she put the thought into my mind, subtle, sweet changes in the landscape keep catching my eye. Everywhere I look, I see life arriving in bits and pieces of color. Spring has come.

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alive

“There is more magic and more possibility and more redemption in this world than our little brains can even handle, if we would just start living as though we expect it, as though it matters to us, instead of living like the mall is the holy of holies and the remote control the Ark of the Covenant.

I want more than I ever have, feel more acutely about what my life might be for. I want and will scrap around for a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. I believe more than I ever have that change is possible, that a Holy God can bring grace and bravery to even the smallest and deceitfullest, most selfish people, that our lives are more than junk mail and sale racks and warmed over fajitas at Chili’s. We each follow along in the thousand century-long parade of human beings, and this is our tiny little window. Hundreds of millions who have gone before us have walked these continents, these streets, asked these questions, sang these love songs.

And now is our time, our one shot to build an altar to the God who keeps this world spinning, drags up the sun and lets it fall each day. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, or to my twenty-fifth birthday and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and make babies and wear high heels and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now and tell my friends I love them in as many languages as I know how. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and drink champagne and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down and I want my everyday to make God belly-laugh, glad that He gave life to someone who knows the difference between life and half-life.

Because I have lived the half-life, afraid and sullen, tears at the back of my throat and anger in my mouth like a shot of vodka. I have lied to everyone I know, telling them that I am fine, that I understand my life, that I have a clear sense that God loves me, and then have gone home and eaten a whole cake with my fingers, trembling and choking on tears and icing, have gone to bed numb and hoping to die in my sleep rather than lie to everyone and reckon with myself for one more day. I was more lonely then than I ever want to be again. And then in the space of a few months, or more accurately, a few moments stretched out over several months, God reached into the dark and dishonest life I had pulled around myself like a blanket and turned on the light. And for a few minutes, that felt like getting my skin pulled off. Because I had to look myself in the face and realize, in no uncertain terms, that there was a selfishness and a fear that ran through my life like a virus, poisoning me, and God came to heal me. And He did and He does, and the thing I will do, because of Him and because of what He does in me is I will live hard and bright and crazy. I will live with bravery and color and hope because He gave me hope, and I want to press through my life with passion and energy…

…Wake up your mind and your heart, and hammer out a life that gleams like one perfect snowflake. God did not form me out of dust so that I could fit into Banana Republic pants. He didn’t send His son to die so that we could live small easy lives of convenience and apathy. He didn’t raise the dead so that we could sit around and wait to die. The drama and rhythm of this world is lost on us, because our minds are packed like piñatas, spinning and gaudy, filled with noise and junk food, and we like it that way. But my greatest prayer is this: that each one of us will experience silence so deep and shattering that we can’t even breathe, so that our lives will slice open, crack wide open, laid wide to the face of God, piñata candy laying on the ground, forgotten. And in that divide, that open wound, the nature and essence of God will pour in like anointing oil.

And all at once, all the shabby, tired, used-up bodies and minds start to wriggle and pop, like they’ve been dropped into a deep-fryer, sizzling and dancing, transformed into motion. And something that has been deadened and distracted by the candy and noise of this world comes to life anew, wakes up and wiggles like a fritter in a frying pan, anointed and taught to dance. Because we were made for motion, for arching up toward God with all the energy and passion of a thunderstorm, lightning slicing through a sleepy world to remind us that we serve a fast dancing God, a God who set this world whirling and crashing through space so that we could live out loud and drum out the pulse of a billion veins carrying life blood to a billion hearts, temples to a God that got His Holy hands dirty making us from dust. Let us get dirty, in His name. Let us sizzle and pop in His name. Let us dance and shimmer and scrawl out our stories across the sky, like He taught us to. Because, once again, there is more magic and more possibility and more redemption in this world than our little brains can even handle, if we would just start living as though we expect it, as though it matters to us, instead of living like the mall is the holy of holies and the remote control the Ark of the Covenant.” -Shauna Niequist

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p.s. photo found here.

i need a little magic

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Do you ever have those days where you just need a little magic? When it seems like things are moving in slow motion, or the light isn’t quite reaching your eyes, or that you’re a half a beat off from the rest of the world? Well, that was last week. Here’s to hoping that I find a little wonder and joy and magic in the next couple of days.

these almost always makes me laugh

nature’s idea of color

a sweet, & a little sad, answer to a child’s question

the city that never sleeps

i want an excuse to try these out

we all underestimate kids

a historical take on disney princesses

and…this is awesome

for the love of teal

fe92a9ef3fda4e17d3a417a1c571043b36cd74f1afc5b288f2b72816c9bdd2f3Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I love how bright and alive these spaces feel. There’s something about the blending of wood and the color teal that is oh-so-lovely. Do you love it as much as I do?

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You can find the photos, with their original links, on my Pinterest page.