Full lives.

lindsay-letters-thanks-pumpkin_1024x1024Image from Lindsey Letters here.

We are in Indiana celebrating Thanksgiving with James’ family for the next couple days. This means snuggles with my fresh baby nephew, game nights where people yell a lot, Starbucks studying marathons with my brother in law who (thankfully) also has to work some over the break, and serious binging on all the tastiest foods. As in, there was homemade pie when we arrived at 11 last night.  Like every other person these days, I’m counting my blessings, remembering what I have to be thankful for. I love this print that I saw the other day because it reminds me of some of the things I am most thankful for from this past year are not just what has been given to me, but what I have been able to give. Here’s my short list.

Family dinners on Thursday nights where I get to serve food to the people I love most in DC.

Flannel sheets that we dug out for the first time of the season this past week.

Trashy TV that allowed me to gather some girls in my living room once a week all summer and into the fall.

Facetime and SnapChat and Instagram and all the ways that James and I could still glimpse each other’s lives when we were living apart.

James is home.

Sundays where our small group volunteers to clean up the nursery and I am humbled and reminded about the need for non-flashy service. Our church doesn’t have a building at the moment and while I would be thankful for one, I am constantly proud to be part of a congregation that models how to follow God when you don’t know where he’s leading.

Peanut butter and apple slices. Donuts. Brunch. Big bowls of soup. Brie-bacon grilled cheese sandwiches. The foods that have flavored our year and kept us around the table.

My elastic waist pants that allow me to be so thankful for the aforementioned bounty.

A job I love, coworkers I enjoy, students I appreciate, and an office with the most precious and non-tacky Eiffel Tower lamp.

Long walks around our neighborhood, even if the Capitol is covered in scaffolding till 2017.

Full lives, full hearts.

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

“Obviously the most important step in eating soup is carrying the bowl into an unexpected part of the house to take a picture.” -James, when I dragged our guests into the hallway to take pictures with better lighting. All for you, dear readers.  tortilla soup-13

In the first couple months I lived in DC we experienced both an earthquake and a hurricane. Both ended up being not too much to write home about, but they were exciting. The day that the hurricane brought heavy rains to town, James and I decided to trek out to the suburbs for games and soup with our friends Susannah and Josue. We took the metro, riding in empty cars as the wind and rain whipped around us, and I contemplated the potential foolishness of our evening out. But as soon as we got to Susannah’s, we started eating this soup and I forgot all about the long wet journey we had taken to get there. Whereas I am not the greatest soup chef around (try, “maybe the worst”), Suze makes amazing soup all the time. She just throws things in and it comes out amazing, while I throw things in and it comes out looking like I cleaned out the fridge in a pot. Which obviously was my only strategy.

tortilla soup-9In the middle of dinner, James leaned over and whispered to me to get the recipe. People, you do not know how rare this is. My husband is many things, but a foodie is not one of them. He’s learned to love  food more since being married to me, but nine times out of ten if I ask what he wants, he will request chicken tortilla soup. Even this is a victory, since I used to ask him for dinner requests and he would just look at me like why would I differentiate between one form of nourishment over the other? Then I started introducing things like kale and goat cheese to his plate and he quickly developed strong preferences, mostly as a survival tactic. He even requests this soup on his birthday, which always meets with a refusal, as his birthday is in August, when no one should be eating soup.

tortilla soup-1Since Suze first served up this soup, I have colonized it and claimed it as my own, appropriating it as one of the things that I make. I should admit that I am kind of an everyday tyrant constantly making things mine in truly shameful colonial style. James left his scarf here when he was gone for all those months? MINE. Borrowed my friend Rachel’s jacket like five years ago? MINE. The couple library books from various states on my shelf? MINE.  Tried this soup and loved it? MINE.tortilla soup-2

tortilla soup-3And now? Now it is one of our very favorite cold weather staples. We make massive pots of it, eat of them for a week, and then freeze the rest for another day. This soup is magic, getting better the longer it sits, and it is so easy to make. Most of the work is opening cans and chopping, and you could even cheat on that and buy pre-chopped frozen veggies if you wanted. If so, you would find ABSOLUTELY ZERO JUDGMENT. Be empowered, all ye busy workers. tortilla soup-6Plus, pepper chopping is an occupational hazard. True story: One time I chopped up all these peppers for this soup and I made the mistake of not washing my hands immediately afterwards. I have the most sensitive skin ever and let’s just say, THIS GIRL WAS ON FIRE. I sat with my dainty hands in a bowl of cream the rest of the afternoon.  tortilla soup-7

tortilla soup-8tortilla soup-10Chicken Tortilla Soup

Makes one HEFTY pot of soup. We are talking “invite all your people and their people and then you will still have leftovers.”

  • two big chicken breasts (or rotisserie chicken) cooked with spicy seasonings and shredded
  • 3 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 spicier pepper of your choice, diced
  • 2 onions, diced
  • garlic cloves, diced (or cheat and use the canned diced garlic like yours truly)
  • olive oil
  • 2 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 15 oz. cans hominy (or corn if you can’t find the miracle that is hominy), drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can of corn
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • dash cumin
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken stock (+ a little water if soup is too thick)
  • Cilantro
  • avocado
  • crispy tortilla strips
  • lime wedges
  • sour cream
  • cheese
  1. Heat a couple TBS olive oil in heavy pot. Sauté onions, peppers, and garlic until soft.
  2. Add chicken, beans, hominy, corn, Rotel, crushed tomatoes, stock, spices, and a handful of diced cilantro.
  3. Simmer for at least an hour, but feel free to do what I do and just leave it on the stove all afternoon. Use this time to clean up your kitchen and give the illusion of being the type of cook who has a clean kitchen by the time dinner is ready.
  4. Serve with cilantro, avocado wedges, tortilla strips, lime wedges for squeezing, sour cream, and cheese.
  5. Now colonize this recipe and make it your own! Add spices, substitute different veggies, experiment.

tortilla soup-12What soups are you loving this fall and winter? Share the love!

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Friday Confessions

  1. We have a giant bag of last week’s donuts that are now slightly stale. Rather than throw them out, I am planning on making DONUT BREAD PUDDING. Because then I’m not being wasteful. #livetoserve   Any recipe ideas to get me started?
  2. Despite the fact that I have never experienced worse customer service and never been more humiliated by a shopping experience, I am considering afresh investing in a pair of Madewell jeans. I know, I know, I swore never to step put in their lying and judgemental store again. But I got a pair of their boyfriend jeans for $15 at the last JCrew clearance sale and I love them more than words can say. It’s making me rethink my anti-Madewell resolve, even as I think about my months of waiting for jeans that never came and I die a little inside.
  3. I have a big presentation for a French Art History class on Monday and this past Tuesday I realized I needed to entirely restructure my argument. I was so excited that I woke up early on Wednesday thinking about re-writing my paper (italics to emphasize my total and pathetic nerdiness) and made it happen after I finished teaching. I had James spend 2 hours slogging through my draft and making edits Wednesday night. When he expressed that certain things were a little confusing — understandable, considering the draft was lacking all images of the paintings I was writing about and had key quotes in French with no translation — I promptly burst into tears trying to explain it. Let’s just say that trying to explain how Roland Barthes’ writings on mythology allow an analysis of the hookah as a language-object in the creation of the myth critiqued by Edward Said’s Orientalism is made exponentially harder when you are ugly crying. Ok, when I re-read that sentence I have to admit that maybe the ugly cry isn’t the only thing that made an explanation difficult.
  4. Still, as excited as I was working on my paper this week, that excitement cannot even compare my excitement about the Pitch Perfect II trailer being released. Y’ALL. I’VE WATCHED IT THREE TIMES. It is going to be aca-awesome and I can not even aca-wait. That second one didn’t really work, did it? Well aca-scuse me.
  5. Yesterday I got into an altercation in the grocery store because a man in a red velour track suit accused me of cutting him in the deli line. I didn’t, for the record, as I consider the deli line a sacred place, but in case I accidentally had, I felt bad. And then he did this:As in, someone in real life did that and they were not trying to be funny. It was followed by “Don’t EVEN give me your attitude sweetheart! If I want to hear what you have to say, I will let you know,” when I stared at him like the crazy person he was being. This is where I would like to say that I calmly apologized and offered to pay for his half pound of Havarti cheese to make it better, but I totally just fled the scene and angry cried in my car on the way home.
  6. On Sunday night I’m having girls over to continue watching The Bachelorette. You may be thinking, “Hannah, it’s not on right now.” You would be right. We bought an old season and are re-watching it. Because January is too long to wait to watch people humiliate themselves for flowers on live television. I like to think of it as “community time.” (In case you were wondering, we went with Ashley’s season because it is just the best.)

Should there be anything you need to get off your chest before the weekend starts, make yourself at home in the comments below.

 

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Four years of donuts.

donutnight Fall2014-159 Fall2014-163 Donutnight2 Fall2014-165 Fall2014-166 Donutnight3 Donutnight4 Fall2014-168 Fall2014-169 Fall2014-170 Fall2014-174 Donutnight5 Fall2014-184Fall2014-175 Donutnight6Four.

That is how many falls I’ve been here, in this city, watching the leaves change color around the Capitol and enjoying all that autumn in this place has to offer. This fall I felt like some of my fall love was on hold why James was gone, because fall needs to be shared. I needed a partner for walks, another set of eyes to see changing leaves, and another person on the couch as it started getting cooler. This weekend, he was home, and I feel like fall started again, even as it is ending in one final burst of gold and red.

Four.

That is how many parties we have had to celebrate the making and consumption of donuts. Some would say that this is a party not worth having, that donuts don’t merit an entire evening of celebration, that parties should have multiple food groups. No. Some would be wrong. This isn’t open for discussion. I know that might come across as harsh in our relativistic-tolerant-everyone-is-a-winner culture, but the truth must come out.  And the truth is that rings of dough that are deep fried and then drenched in sugary glaze and toppings deserve a parade, a statue, and perhaps a national holiday. As those are more difficult to accomplish, we are starting with a party.

This past Saturday was the Fourth Annual Donut Making Extravaganza. There were too many people in our living room, too many donuts in our bellies, grease splattered all over my kitchen, and long line of glaze that somehow made it the entire length of our entryway. It was all appropriately glorious.

But more than the sheer glory of donut gluttony, I just keep mulling over the rightness of that evening, the perfect contentment of all those people in our home slamming back donuts. It felt right to be back to hosting people in our home beside James. And it felt so good to see all those people crammed into our little place. I think back to the first donut night, when it was just me, James, my two roommates, and I was still spelling it doughnut. Four years later? Four years later there were around 30 people throughout the course of the evenings. We actually had a donut cutter inside of using a cup and the cap of the canola oil. There were babies and new friends and old friends and it just felt right. Four years later I am spelling it donut because other people started doing it and I got lazy. Our annual donut night stands as a benchmark of our life here in DC, a way to gauge how far we’ve come and remember.

I’ll eat to that.

See last year’s donut night here, and yes, that newborn that we are holding is the same little girl that is walking all over the place  at this year’s party.

(Note: In case you want to fry along, we made these pumpkin donuts as always and also tried these salted caramel topped yeast donuts. On the latter, we loved the donut but were not so crazy about the overly woodsy caramel sauce. And if you are reading thisand growing concerned about my nutrition, you should know that this weekend did me in, and Sunday night had me in the fetal position moaning. Worth it.)

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A little sprucing up.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 presetI’ll admit, I’m kind of tired of this blog.

I promise, this isn’t about to be a post about being burnt out on blogging. The only thing more narcissistic than having a corner of the Internet devoted to yourself is becoming deeply taxed from looking in the mirror and writing about it. (Obviously, breaks from blogging because one has better things to do with one’s time are a different story… we should all take breaks from the screens that control us on a regular basis. Plus, there is usually something better to do than blogging, especially if you ask my mother.) And this isn’t a goodbye post from blogging. Sometimes I have days where I wonder if it is worth the time from our lives to be here, if anyone is reading, if it is a total waste. But on the whole, no, I don’t really want to quit.

I am not tired of blogging, just a little tired of this blog, this space. This blog will never be huge, will never have millions of followers, will never make money. That’s ok with me. I like it the way it is, the way it lets me share our lives with the ones we love who are far away and have a creative space to enjoy.

But the space itself. I’m not so sure anymore. I feel like it is a little vain to invest time and any little money on a blog, but I also feel a little tired it the way it is. So can we just talk shop for a little while?

I started out with WordPress all those many moons ago and for the most part I’ve been happy. But lately I feel like it doesn’t seem to have what I want.Which, I’ll be honest, I’m not exactly sure what that is. Buttons! Cool header! Space for photos! Easy commenting! I just know that sometimes I find myself trolling through graphic design sites and Etsy blog template spreads and wanting a little facelift. Many of these require a Blogger or Blogspot host site instead. And then I find myself Googling how to migrate my WordPress blog to another host and my brain starts hurting because technology makes me want to vomit. Let’s just jump straight to my questions:

  • Those of you who blog, what host do you use and how do you feel about it?
  • Have any of you migrated your blog from one site to another successfully?
  • Graphic designer people. Have you used them, was it worth it, have you tried those Etsy templates? Names People – I need names!
  • For those of you who do or don’t blog, what things drive you crazy on blogs?

Ok then. Thanks in advance for your help in my blogging existential crisis. Back on to more important things, like planning donut flavors for tomorrow’s 4th Annual Homemade Donut Making Extravaganza. Happy weekend!

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It’s over.

husbandishomeGuess who showed up at my door this week with flowers, a box of Kleenex, and all of his luggage in tow?

This guy.

After a weekend of being profoundly ill — we are talking just-leave-tissues-stuck-in-your-nose ill — I was more than ready for that husband of mine to move home for good. After close to six months of long distance marriage we are DONE.

As excited as we both are to be back together, I know that the readjustment will have little bumps. I have my own schedule now, my own habits, my own proclivity to sleep spread-eagle in the middle of the bed and have everything just as I like it. He has spent six months  reverting to bachelor ways. I basically like to stay up late and watch all of my TV shows in peace, and we shall call them Legion, for they are many. He has little interest for the CW lineup. Anyone who has lived apart from a spouse knows that it is just a little bit like being newlyweds when you come back together. The excitement, yes, but also the learning. Still, it beats the alternative by a factor of approximately a million.  We are back to laughing on the couch, taking walks around our wonderful city, and eating together at our table.

It also has me thinking back over this time and feeling so appreciative for some of the people who have made it easier. I’ll be honest, there where some people who I expected would be more supportive who weren’t. Everyone we know is so busy, and I can’t really blame them, but it still stung. But then there were others, friends who were constantly checking in, constantly inviting me to things, constantly dropping by to stay up late with me and watch bad TV. Those people, and I could cry with gratitude just thinking about them, made all the difference in the last six months. And you all, the faceless readers who have written comments, sent me emails, left notes on Instagram — you will never know how much that meant. Thank you.

And now. Now I promise that this blog will hopefully become less of a my-husband-is-gone sob story and resume its previously scheduled programming of brunch and pictures of my feet. Let’s get that last part started right now, with some feet that I am happy to have around the house again, even if their owner has forgotten not to leave his shoes all over the entryway. Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetPS: On a totally unrelated note, let’s talk about my lipstick in those top photos. It was totally an homage to Taylor Swift’s impeccable makeup in her latest music video, “Blank Space,” wherein I cheered when she stabbed that cake as if I too had a long trail of sordid exes. Cannot even help it.

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This family.

Untitled-8Kreinbihl-49 Untitled-2 Kreinbihl-106 Untitled-3 Untitled-9Kreinbihl-63  Untitled-5 Kreinbihl-92 Untitled-6 Kreinbihl-138 Kreinbihl-154 Kreinbihl-175 Untitled-7 Kreinbihl-184 Kreinbihl-201 Kreinbihl-205This family. I sure do love the three of them a lot and loved spending a perfect fall afternoon taking some pictures of how sweet baby Everly is growing. I mean, remember just yesterday when she was a newborn? Not to mention when we were busy awaiting her arrival, or even further back to her parents’ marriage and engagement. It is such a gift to see this family grow!

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