Tag Archives: navigating young adulthood

jan’s homemade apple sauce.

17 Oct

no one makes better apple sauce than my mother.

and nothing says fall like walking into a kitchen full of the sweet smell of spiced apples cooking. it was always my favorite treat growing up and a sure sign that autumn was under way. my mom never told us she was going to whip up a batch, it was always the most wonderful surprise we’d stumble upon.

now that i’m on my own and creating some of my own seasonal traditions, i’m taking my first stab at recreating a classic from the autumns of my youth in our (somewhat) adult household.

delightfully, it turns out that jan’s recipe is super low fuss. (though, i’ll admit i called my mom twice during the preparation.)


  • 8-10 apples. (i choose  2-3 varieties)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  1. wash & peel apples.
  2. core apples and slice apples. i quartered each apple and then halved.
  3. combine apples, cinnamon, lemon juice, water, & brown sugar in the crock pot
  4. cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours
et voilà!
feeling indulgent?
sprinkle some brown sugar over the top and dunk with light nilla wafers.

big girls do cry.

10 Oct

we’ve all done it at some point. and for those of us who live in a big city, we’ve most likely cried in public at least once in our adult life.

during my first year living in chicago i went through the full gamut of emotions, a challenging new job, adjusting to life without my family 20 minutes away, a break-up with a long-term boyfriend. so the tears were more expected then. but as i’ve come to find after living in chicago for over three years, my “city girl” shell cracks every so often; and when it does, it doesn’t seem to matter whether i’m in my bedroom or walking down busy michigan avenue.

take my epic commute home on the 148 bus on march 1st, 2010. the story starts earlier that day. a boy with whom i’d come to be thick-as-thieves told me over grilled cheese and cokes at the diner on wabash & monroe, that he was leaving his job. we’d worked together for two years, over which we’d gone from mentor-mentee, to work friends, to best pals. we were desk buddies, coffee dates, lunch conversation. i’d come to expect his familiar smile each morning, the way he would slide into view across the desk when looking for a chat break, and the seat he filled next to me at our weekly team meetings. and though i knew he needed to move on to pursue a career in his true passion, i felt something jolt inside me as he divulged his news of leaving.

everything stopped. i don’t remember the last half of lunch–paying the check, walking back to the office in a blur. i tried to hide my emotions. i was largely successful…until i got on the bus home. and that’s when it happened. right there on the 148 express from state & lake all the way to irving & marine, i cried. with the rain falling outside and fleetwood mac playing on my ipod, i let down my guard and finally let myself react. i cried deep silent tears openly and without hesitation at the realization that i’d fallen in love with this boy. how could i not have seen it? and now he was leaving, and work would be different, and would it make me want to leave to? would he ever love me back? i cried for all of those hard questions that had no answers on that day. it didn’t matter if someone was sitting behind or across from me. the backdrop went hazy and i finally felt alone and unguarded for the first time all day.

as melissa febos so eloquently states in her op-ed article, look at me, i’m crying, when living in a city, we find ways to make public spaces more familiar, more private. i’ve 1200ft of personal space and as febos accounts, there are times when public space outside the home feels more private than a shared apartment. my daily commute, shopping trips, and afternoon strolls are all shared with countless strangers. yet, to me, they’ve become my “me” time. i’m sure many a city dweller will agree, these are truly moments when we feel alone despite the how obviously public the space.

i’m happy to say that in the coming year i found answers to all the questions from my bus ride home on march 1. that boy does love me back, and we now share a home together. work without my best friend felt different at first, but is much better in the long run. god knows i was chatting with that boy far too much! i’ll always remember that bus ride home. it changed my life.

the privacy we find in public is an endearing part of city life. adapting to our surroundings is a key part of keeping our emotional sanity in this urban jungle. once you learn the ropes of living in the city, home & personal space aren’t just in your apartment, they’re anywhere you can find solitude & quiet time for reflection. a place to feel alone.

be it on the el train or in a favorite cafe, the familiar spots in our routine become comforting and personal; so much so, that when we need, we can let our guard down. sometimes even big girls need to cry.

wise albert.

22 Sep

cool it.

20 Sep

it has been an excruciatingly long tuesday.

on days like today, i take a breather, procure an over-priced beverage, and browse relaxing artwork to calm me down.

this gem is a favorite of mine. it says “take a chill pill, leaner”.  it’s all just a rainbow; tomorrow, today’s problems will be part of yesterday.

i’m considering getting this in a small print to put up at my desk. seriously love it.

have a relaxing evening.

{if you love the painting above, check out more pieces from laura burkhart}

songs for sweet london

1 Sep

oh man have i been getting my music on over here. nothing calls for some tunes like strolling around a new city. i’ve enjoyed having music as a backdrop for london’s beautiful summery meets autumn scenery.

below is my soundtrack to london. you’ll notice quite quickly that a majority of these songs are of dreamy, hazy, vintage-y love & well stocked with sweet sounding female vocals that echo a more carefree time. there’s also a good mingling of fun poppy beats (aka felix da housecat!).

i must confess, that this girl is subject to little homesickness at times. i’ve found a perfect remedy is listening to music that reminds me of the one i’m missing. these songs do just that.

to the boy back home, pay special attention to track 3.

enjoy, readers!

listen to the playlist in it’s entirety here, via grooveshark.

  1. feist – feel it all
  2. feist – my moon my man
  3. feist – 1234
  4. she & him – don’t look back
  5. she & him – i was made for you
  6. she & him – sweet darlin’
  7. camera obscura – the sweetest thing
  8. magnetic fields – i don’t believe you
  9. john mayer – city love
  10. memoryhouse – sleep patterns
  11. twin sister – all around and away we go
  12. deerhunter – basement scene
  13. beach fossils – daydream
  14. phoenix – if i ever feel better
  15. craft spells – after the moment
  16. felix da housecat – she’s so damn cool
  17. felix da housecat – ready 2 wear

connecting the dots.

26 Aug

part of growing up is realizing that we have an uncharted path waiting ahead of us. for those of us lucky enough to have this freedom, we have infinite options for the direction that we can choose to take our life. we spend a vast majority of our first quarter-century learning, being guided by teachers and parents, ushered from one focused learning environment to the next until we come to the final phase of university.

and then what?

of course the guidance doesn’t end, and instead of teachers we find mentors in our wise coworkers, in relationships, and through the life-long experiences of our parents (who we now listen to!).  but still, the well-worn path which we’ve traveled for so long has ended.

this realization can be unsettling at the least. but it needn’t be that. as we travel down a new road–one less developed, less explored, and maybe a bit rocky at times, we find that navigating our twenties & young adulthood might not always be a cakewalk. but it is an adventure. an adventure we are lucky to have.

a dear friend recently sent me a commencement address delivered by steve jobs which focuses on exactly this topic.  jobs shares extremely relevant,  eloquent, and honest advice derived from his own life experiences.

below are my favorite snippets, but i suggest reading the entire address.

           on not trying to anticipate how the future is supposed to look:

…you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut,destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

on learning to turn our failures into a new beginning:

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

on never settling:

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

on death as a change agent for truly living life:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

incredible advice from an extraordinary man. i hope you enjoyed his words as much as i did. 

london: day two in blue.

25 Aug

some observations from my second day in london.

taken during my morning commute & evening dinner procurement.

i pass this sculpture every day on my commute.

it makes me smile. especially the pop of red inside the “x” and the old men who perch on the bench sipping their morning coffee. cities are the best.

bikes for rental are EVERYWHERE throughout the city.

what a fabulous concept! and bike lanes are everywhere too! so commuter friendly. pats on back, london!

apparently this is a new initiative  as of 2010. here’s the gist–you pay one flat fee (~£40/year) to use the bikes, from any location throughout the city. in talking with folks here, it’s inspired lots of young people to start commuting via bike to work.

a win for sustainable transportation & healthy living! chicago can learn from this.

a brilliant blue chair. spotted while waiting for my thai food.

ps. hoxton square is a treasure trove of hip & eclectic restaurants, galleries, and boutiques. if you visit london go there.

a gorgeous shade of indigo pops out.

i am NEEDING this doorway for my apartment. absolute perfection.

notice a common theme here? maybe i was noticing all the blue today since i’m in need of a calming influence.

i’m the first to admit that i get worked up, stressed out, maxed out–you name it. typically i’m surrounded by friends and a very wonderful boyfriend who help keep me sane when everything else is feeling out of control crazy.

now i’m in a new place and on my own during what is proving to be a seriously stressful work week. turns out that all my walking around, noticing the intricate details of streets and architecture did the trick. {well that, and the large glass of merlot sitting next to me.} today’s adventures & sightings made me appreciate a beautiful temperate day in london–one i might have missed if i hadn’t been so alone.

here’s to relaxing and soaking in our surroundings.