It’s Friday, and these are my feelings.

Untitled-1Yesterday I had the 4 hour written portion of my PhD comprehensive exams and this afternoon I finish off with the 2 hour oral section. Which is to say, I am feeling pretty preemptively excited, because after this afternoon they will be DONE.

….And then it occurs to me that this means I actually have to buckle down, commit to a dissertation topic, and start writing. That makes me feel like I want to vomit and then go hide under my bed. (The latter is obviously not possible since those who live in tiny spaces must use the under-the-bed space as a linen closet/ wrapping paper storage / catch all of homeless house sundries.)

Yesterday I woke up to a bag of donuts that James went and fetched in the wee hours of the morning. Nothing says brain food like sprinkles and pink frosting. I’m feeling pretty blessed to have married someone who speaks my special brand of love language. He’s put in a lot of extra work around our home while I have been zeroed in on studying over the past couple weeks and I can’t emphasize enough how much I appreciate that.

This weekend we are headed to Pittsburgh for a wedding, and managing to catch a Pirates game while in town. I’m feeling pretty excited for baseball food and that all-American glow that surrounds the ballpark.

Thanks to all your many awesome suggestions last week, we have booked our travel and lodging for our adventure this summer, and I’m feeling pretty relieved. My initial internet wanderings quickly turned into panic as EVERYTHING WAS BOOKED AND EXPENSIVE. But alas, we have places to stay and crazy cheap tickets in between them.

And now, some feelings that I invite you to share with me. Because it’s Friday, and you should have them too:

I felt ALL OF THE FEELINGS this week when I watched this video. For real you all – drop what you are doing NOW and go watch it. I promise that it is way more important than this blog post.

This list had me cracking up. I feel this way all the time, and am constantly wondering what people see in some of those shirts. Every time you are tempted to declare “la vie est belle!” remember that the true French response is: ” Life is all right at best. I mean it can be beautiful, but if you need a T-shirt to get a reminder then it’s sad.” The quote that should really be on a shirt?

“The subways are always more covered in pee on the other side, am I right?”

Finally, this trailer has me feeling all sorts of anticipation. Han Solo held my heart for the first 25 years of my life (Yes, I did get married at 24 -don’t bother doing the math), and I am seriously looking forward to Christmas. If they ruin this, I will never forgive them. I’m not even sure who “they” are, but they sure messed up those other sad attempts at building on the original.

It’s Friday. What are your feelings? Leave a rant below, blog on your own and link back, or ignore entirely. Happy weekend!

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When college friends come to town.

Bethanyvisit-1Bethanyvisit-2 Bethanyvisit-3 Bethanyvisit-4 Bethanyvisit-5 Bethanyvisit-6 Bethanyvisit-7 Bethanyvisit-8 Bethanyvisit-9Last fall, my college roommate Bethany asked if I wanted to run the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler with her. If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time, you might remember the last time I ran this race. I certainly remember that there were ZERO blossoms, rendering the name a wicked tease. When Bethany brought up the race, I initially balked. My running motivation has trickled off dangerously over the last couple years, and ten miles? That’s a lot of miles. But alas, I can’t pass up a chance to spend a weekend with a bestie that I haven’t seen in over a year.

We did run the race, in case you were interested. Faster than I anticipated, and with only a couple moments where I wanted to die, moments that were aided by the presence of those perky signs held by runners and former track coaches. I tend to fall in the “cherry blossoms are overrated” camp, as the crowds are terrible and it’s hard to appreciate the blossoms when you can barely move. But they sure were amazing on our run. We spent at least a solid third of the race running through fluffy trees on either side, meeting above like the White Way of Delight. Bethany waxed poetic and quoted Housman, and I even briefly reconsidered my ban on Tidal Basin photo-shoots during blossom season. Which, though I have done them for the past two years — see here and here — always involves such a lengthy parking search and frustration at the crowds that I have sworn them off.

But really, the run was just the excuse for our weekend together. We made brunch Saturday morning, dragged James shopping, sampled the region’s finest donuts, marveled at the amazing DC spring foliage, lazed around in the park Sunday afternoon, and laughed our way (again) through some of the first season of 30 Rock. The majority of my weekends this semester have looked alike: a long run Saturday morning, followed by a long afternoon of studying, and a quiet evening in. This weekend, in all its sunny spring glory was such a nice way to shake things up. My PhD exams are tomorrow and Friday, so it should have been stressful, but instead it helped me work diligently all spring, knowing that I would have a magical weekend off right before my final days of crunching.

I said it on Instagram and I’ll say it again:  there’s just something special about college friends. You spend four years together in a place totally removed from reality, but yet so real. You become friends at a moment when your world is expanding and shifting so much, and that momentum carries you forward after college.  I know that so many people lose touch with their college friends, as is inevitable since we all go different ways. But there’s just something there, something that will always be there, resurrected every time we come together.

Here’s to sunny weekends and donuts and running under the blossoms. Here’s to friendships that last.

PS: James did not run, but he cheered us on from the sidelines with the appropriate encouragement of “RUN FOR BRUNCH! RUN FOR GLORY!” And after running in all our glory, we did indeed brunch likewise. Plus, after some kitchen mix-up that had us waiting over an hour for our meal, we got our whole meal free. HERE’S TO FREE BRUNCH.

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Friday Questions: European Adventure Edition!

Remember that dream, that it’s-not-going-to-happen-but-maybe-someday dream?

It’s happening.

c1b1997b7ac0aabf8abbda1d9385a921We have talked about it for the past year and a half, but every time there were so many reasons that it wasn’t possible. The cost, limited vacation days, the cost, the fact that James was living in another state, the cost, the fact that I didn’t really speak any German and hate being a terrible tourist, the cost, busy schedules, THE COST. But this June, it’s happening. I am overseeing a short-term study abroad trip for my university in southern France, which means that the school covers my round-trip ticket. When they told me I could arrive and leave anytime I wanted, I jumped at the chance to arrive early (because, PARIS) and stay late (because, EUROPE). Plus, after some careful calculations, we decided that if I live pretty frugally with my stipend while there, we can squirrel it away to fly James over after the students go home and we can have an adventure.

So….

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAway we go! We are meeting up in Milan and then hopping a train to spend several days in Cinqua Terre, on the Italian coast. After that it is up to Munich, where we will spend five days living out the German dream. Munich was selected after after I asked my German co-workers where I could go that would act as a base camp for day trips and would look like a German post-card. But, as the semester is busy, I’m hoping to outsource a lot of my trip planning to you, fine people of the internet. 0351a3691e1fe16120e75359dcb1ce64

Where should we stay, play, eat, etc. in Cinqua Terre? I basically have just always wanted to go because it looks beautiful, but I would love some guidance on specific restaurants, walks, sights, and lodging. Airbnb? Hostel? Cheap hotel? Give me alllllll the suggestions!

Where should we stay, play, eat, etc. in Munich? We are planning day trips to castles, cute places in Bavaria, and Salzberg, but where should be our home base in Munich? Any places you have stayed/ things you have done that you just want to pass on? I have been sitting in on German all semester, which means I am totally fluent when it comes to labeling office furniture and expressing my love of eating and watching TV (hello, easy verbs).

Finally, any pro tips for all that train travel in between? Are some of those rail passes really worth it? James reallllyyyyy wants to take the train through the Alps, but it looks so long and kind of pricey.

Thanks people! I promise to reward you with way more Instagrams and blog posts than you ever wanted.

Images via here and here.

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How to Throw an Easter Brunch in 15 Easy Steps.

Spring2015-19Spring2015-18Spring2015-20Spring2015-17 Spring2015-21 Spring2015-22 Spring2015-23 Spring2015-24 Spring2015-25 Spring2015-26 Spring2015-27 Spring2015-29 Spring2015-30 Spring2015-311. Swear that this year, you WILL NOT THROW A BRUNCH. Too much work, too stressful, and there is too much going on.

2. Read in the Washingtonian that the Easter sunrise service at the Lincoln Memorial should be on everyone’s DC bucket list. As a devout reader of the Washingtonian, decide to skip the brunch and enlist all your traditional brunch invitees to join you at the sunrise service, whereafter you will have a simple picnic breakfast of your favorite breakfast food, McDonalds Egg McGriddles.

3. Three days out, call an audible, give in to your true nature, text everyone and say you will just be having a casual breakfast following the sunrise service, preceding the regular church service that you absolutely can’t miss because ORGAN and LITURGY and EASTER in all its lily-filled glory.

4. Spend all of Saturday hoping people will bail for the sunrise service so that you can just sleep in. They won’t.

5. Assemble monkey bread the night before so that Christ is not the only thing to have risen Easter morning. (Too far? Yes? No? Maybe?)

5. Drag sleepy-eyed self from bed at 5:30 am and head to the Mall. So many people share in your sunrise fervor, that it will take 30 minutes and a mad dash to park and walk.

6. Sing about our risen Lord as the sun rises over the horizon and think, maybe, just maybe this was a good idea after all.

7. Repeat lengthy trek back to car and home to start throwing together brunch/ breakfast. Congratulate yourself on getting in almost all your Fitbit steps before 8 am, but know that this will in no way offset the day of tasty treats that awaits you.

8. Know that you will not achieve style perfection. There are not enough chairs, so you drag an arm chair close to the table. There are not enough matching cloth napkins, so you use all the ones you have, in every color, topped with plastic Easter eggs. Scribble “He is Risen!” on those chalkboards from your wedding that still lie around. Last year might have been all bunting and flowers, but this year the theme is “Let’s actually move Hannah’s studying and grading off the table and see what happens.”

9. Though your kitchen is the size of an Ikea couch, let everyone in there, flipping bacon, mixing eggs, washing berries. Keep one person in the hall on a chair, as the smoke detector will go off no fewer than 6 times.  Just keep making bacon. There is no time for frittata, no patience for stratta. You will not look like the classy and composed hostess, because you’ve been up since 5:15 and still haven’t done your hair, put on makeup, or gotten dressed. But you just don’t even care because you’ve been throwing back Reese’s eggs all morning long.

10. Hand people mimosas as they alternate in and out of the shoe-boxed sized bathroom, curling hair, tying ties, changing clothes — everyone trying not to look like they woke up long before the dawn.

11. Gather around that tiny table, with its lack of decor scheme and hodgepodge napkins, and thank the Lord for stepping in and changing the course of human history.

12. Eat. Throw on the Easter dress that you wear every single year. Scatter. Service numero dos. Belt out those Hallelujahs with all you’ve got.

13. Find someone who is hosting a potluck for lunch and be the mooch who doesn’t even contribute. Eat the mac n’ cheese with no shame.

14. Stumble home in a coma of candy and barbeque. Glance briefly around the destroyed kitchen before hitting the bed for a long Easter nap.  Do the dishes in waves throughout the afternoon, punctuated with more Reese’s eggs and the last crumbs of the monkey bread.

15. Rest content in the knowledge that yours was a perfect Easter brunch. It was not a Pinterest party. It will not be emulated and admired the internet over. But even in a lack of highly coordinated decor, in the absence of impressive menus, even in the presence of a bunch of exhausted and wrinkly-clothed friends, Christ is risen.

Hallelujah.

How about you all, how did you celebrate Easter?

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For your reading pleasure.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAs evidenced by the piddly little flow of blog posts that have been trickling out of this site lately, we are just rolling in exciting happenings over here these days.

Right. You know better.

Some of this week’s mesmorizing highlights included watching Parks and Rec while I graded homework assignments from last chapter since I am woefully behind, congratulating myself at the pump because I remembered to use the gas points that I had forgotten were piling up, reading Francophone books centered largely on incest and violence, agonizing over what vacuum to buy, and taking photos of a baby dressed as a bunny. Ok, so that last one was pretty exciting and there will be proof in due time. But for the rest — I’ll spare you. You’re welcome.

Instead, here are couple more exciting things drifting around the internet.

When we study the French Revolution, or any other event, we like to think that we are the “noble” peasants. But we aren’t. Loved this post by Bethany about teaching her class the nuances of history.

Real Simple celebrated their 15 year anniversary this month and rounded up their best recipes. I heartily concur that their chicken pot pie is the best ever. We always skip the baking step and serve it in bowls with squares of baked puff pastry on top.

My beloved sister-in-law (mother of the cutest nephew ever) opened an Etsy shop showcasing her  beautiful watercolors. Check out her custom nursery prints!

As I mentioned, we bought a vacuum this week, after almost three years of using a glorified electric broom on our two small rugs. My favorite blogger-turned-friend Jess (meaning, I basically comment stalked  her blog and Instagram until she gave up and became my real friend) wrote a really perfect post about her life crisis of buying a vacuum. While I am married, I think that she makes some really important points about mourning plans. I also want to give this list of criteria to all my future daughters. #dontdatenoscrubs

Said vacuum buying adventure obviously happened at Target, Mecca of All the Good Things. Though I went in for one thing, I came out with many others, including this swimsuit. Be honest: vintage chic or frumpy town? Things I didn’t buy, but wanted to, included golden owls to hang on my wall and this pillow with an octopus on it. Are octopi (octopuses?) a thing now? I’m very ok with that.

A couple weeks ago I got to celebrate the cutest little birthday ever. See some great pictures of Everly’s party here.

It’s good Friday, the beginning of the weekend where we celebrate the most important event in history, the moment when the whole order of things changed. I like to read this poem every Good Friday to go forward into the weekend. I also revisit this quote from my favorite atheist every Easter.

That’s all folks! Looking forward to the weekend as it promises [more] study marathoning, some dinners with friends, watching UK dominate the Final Four, celebrating Easter and saying the h-word that we avoided all Lent as much as possible, and devouring these cookies. What are you up to this Easter weekend?

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Seize the date.

Bagels-1 Bagels-2 Bagels-3A truly magical and singular thing happened last Sunday: James and I both woke up an hour before our alarms.

A typical Sunday around our home is restful, a true Sabbath of relaxation, family, and worship. But a typical Sunday morning around here is the exact opposite. We hit the snooze way too many times, dash around frantically getting ready for church, never manage to get breakfast, drive just a little too fast to church, linger in the parking lot to hear the end of “Wait,wait, don’t tell me,” and then frantically dash into church,  hoping to snag a stray muffin left over from the Sunday school crowd, a plot which NEVER works.

But last week? Last week we both woke up unprovoked an hour before the alarm, sun streaming through the blinds and the whole day ahead of us. We rolled over in bed and decided to go on a date. A reckless, pre-church, Sunday morning bagel date at Bullfrog Bagels.  Instead of our usual frantic Sunday morning dash, we started our day with bagel sandwiches, newspapers and magazines, and each other. Admittedly, we then got cut off in traffic, missed an exit, and ended up still doing the mad dash into church, but it had been preceded by a calm bagel date with my favorite man.

This is how dates have to look right now. Stolen moments, seized from busyness and careful planning. I’m maintaining a strict study schedule until my exams (15 days, but who’s counting?), and that means there aren’t many free nights for evenings out on the town. “Dates” lately have been Netflix on the couch at the end of a long day, cleaning the house while we watch college basketball, and taking quick walks around our neighborhood.

They’ve been dates that fly under the radar of busyness, that don’t require much preparation, that don’t need reservations or advance notice. They’ve been bagels before our alarms go off. And I’m not complaining at all. Learning to make dating each other a part of everyday hectic life seems like a pretty good idea.

Also, bagels. Those always seem like a good idea.

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The easiest part of my day.

5b93756ae748d58a585fb6158075f31eThe easiest part of my day is picking out what to wear in the morning, and I don’t just mean on the two days of the week when I work from the living room in my dayjamas. I mean [almost] every day.

This was not always the case.

If I had to estimate, I would say that it took me over half an hour to decide what to wear, at least twice a week, all last fall/ most of my life. You know the feeling: you drag things out of the closet, try on ten half outfits, nothing looks right, so you fall back on the one thing you like. Again. Then off to work late, rushing through the rest of the morning. Please tell me that isn’t just me.

And if I had to bet, I would probably wager that your difficulty in dressing in the morning was due to the same woes that plagued me: too many options, and all of them are terrible.

I would like to blame it on not having enough clothes, but that is simply not true. My clothes are Legion. They were so numerous in fact, that they stressed me out, drowning out the clothes I liked in things that just never seemed to work. A partial culprit in this is the 20+ pounds I gained since getting married (yep, typed and deleted that sentence three times, but I’m leaving it in case any other newlywed nineteeners needed some solidarity). I just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of things that had once fit, even if they were routinely reducing me to tears and dire proclamations to eat only cabbage. Another partial culprit was my penchant for bargains, sales so good that I really believed they made up for me not actually being thrilled with the garment.

And so, every morning was a battle of fashion angst and indecision with a side of general self loathing.

In January, as I embarked on my year of discipline, I started by purging the closet. Y’all, it felt so good. But unlike other purges (which we shall also call Legion, as I LOVE throwing stuff out), I joined this one with a resolve to hold off buying stuff and a ferocious set of rules. I purged deeper and made myself take stock of not just my closet, but the rest of our home and life.The result? The result is that almost three months later I reach in my closet every morning and still find clothes I like. Clothes that fit and match each other. Clothes that make getting ready easy, which in turn makes my day flow smoothly. I then went on to purge James’ closet and my (new!) sister-in-law’s closet, and all of us have felt similarly: when you have less, you actually have more. I gave away five garbage bags of clothes, yet I feel like I have more wearable clothes than ever before.

Should you be interested in a similarly freeing closet purge, here are the rules that I used to ruthlessly slash through my belongings. A “no” on ANY one of them meant permanent exile from my closet. I recommend recruiting a friend for this process, as everyone needs someone to remind you that no, you won’t someday make a quilt of your beloved sorority t-shirts and no, you don’t go to enough decade themed parties to justify holding onto that many out-of-style outfits.

  • Does it fit? Not, “does it fit when I have a non-bloaty day where I ran ten miles the day before?” or “does it fit when I reach my target goal of losing ____ pounds?” Does it fit now. Because if not, you are more likely to feel judged by a piece of fabric on a regular basis than you are to fit back in it. This was hard for me, especially as our purge predated Whole30 and a subsequently sizable weight loss. But I’m so glad I did it, so glad that I feel free to strive for health, rather than striving to squeez back into holdovers from younger days before donuts and brunch were a way of life. (The obvious exception to this rule is if you are pregnant, when you do drastically change your size for a period of time.)
  • Does it match the rest of my wardrobe? That sweater that you constantly put on, fuss with, then take off again because it just doesn’t “work”? It never will. That skirt that you keep taking shopping, hoping you will find a shirt to match? You won’t. With the rare exception (cough… sequin mini-dress that rolls out once a year for my annual night out… cough), I am opposed to clothing that can only be worn one way and in one context.
  • Is it appropriate for my age/ profession /  lifestyle? I once had a dreamy femme fatale black miniskirt that I bought – and wore – all over Paris. It was real heavy on the mini and light on the skirt. In Europe, totally fine. Stateside? As a teacher or later a graduate student? I carted it through three moves before admitting that it had served its wonderful leggy purpose and should probably hit retirement.
  • Have I worn it in the past year? No mercy on this one. If you haven’t, toss it. The only exception would be for the occasional sentimental or costume item. But even then, limit it to whatever you can fit in a small box and stow it apart from your daily wardrobe.

Please know, I’m not pushing the tempting blog goddess of simplicity, aka the Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl over here: your clothes can be as wild as you want so long as you wear them. I’m just saying what made my life so much simpler and happier. To prevent the need for as many future purges, I also ask myself these four questions every time I buy something, as well as throwing in the, “Is this actually good quality?” The result…very few purchases actually make it home. Should you still be on the fence about closet purging, check out some of my favorite posts about cutting back and the freedom it brings. I loved what Mary said about how living in a tiny German apartment freed her style, and what Mary Beth said about downsizing your whole life to have more freedom.  I once wrote about purging random clutter around the house here and you can read great closet cleaning tips in regards to capsule wardrobe formation here.

Anyone else have to resort to closet purging to stop the daily clothing crisis? What helped you cut back?

Image via this tumblr.

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