Wednesday, November 2, 2011

things to love in the fall

I always thought spring was my favorite season, but after returning to the midwest from six years in always-sunny southern California, autumn may be moving into the lead.

It's especially great in Chicago, because I think fall lasts a bit longer here. It's November 2nd, we're still hovering around 60 degrees, and the trees are still filled with colorful autumn leaves. I love the excuse to have a cup of coffee or tea by my side through most of the day. The skies are often gray, but not dark like they are when the clouds are filled with rain. The inside of my house is filled with a cozy sense of productivity, like I could be content to work here for hours.

September brought us into a fall that began with a host of new responsibilities, sources of stress, and an endless list of to-dos. As I sit in my dining room today (pathophysiology books and study materials close at hand) I'm struck by a new sense of gratitude for this season. There's just not enough time in life not to reflect on the good things that come our way. Of course many of those things are immaterial; the blessings of good friendships, peace in the midst of uncertainty, the license to spend time working toward a meaningful goal. But some of them are very much material. And these, I pass along to you:

I love this stuff. My favorite way to enjoy the morning is to put on a pot of this, burn my pumpkin nutmeg candle, and let the delightful smells of fall fill our apartment. 

This is the tea that just might be able to break me of my coffee habit. Smooth, delicate, floral; this stuff is simply a delight. I especially love it with a little bit of milk and honey.

How many times have you been told by avid Harry Potter fans: "you have to read the books." It took me hearing that about thirty times before I finally dove into the series. Jeremy and I read them one after another in two months, just recently finishing book seven. I loved them. Partly because they're great stories; I had to force myself to put them down every now and again so that I could continue doing normal life things. But also because they're great to talk about and ponder over. This has become the best selling series of books ever written and I think it's important to be a person who can understand why.

Now I'm reading this. I'm only half way through, but I think I can recommend it. First off, I think it's really healthy to read good books about real things that happened to real people. Fiction tends to be my favorite recreational reading, but often a good biography is just as enjoyable and can be far more rewarding. It gets a little intense at times (I probably wouldn't give it to my kids to read), but it's an incredible true story about a rebel kid turned olympic runner turned WWII bomber pilot.

This actually has nothing to do with my fall this year, but in the spirit of reading books (a wonderful pastime for these cozy days inside) I had to mention this. I just realized I never wrote about this book, which I intended to do when I finished it in June. It's actually real inappropriate that this is at the end of my blog post, because this is hands down the best book I have ever read (barring the Bible, of course). Unbroken is great so far, but it doesn't even begin to hold a torch to Eric Metaxas' Bonhoeffer Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Metaxas is an incredible biographer, writing about Bonhoeffer in a captivating yet immensely informative way. This book amazed me, inspired me, and repeatedly caused me to consider my own Christian life. Bonhoeffer will forever be a hero of mine, and I'd read any biography Metaxas wrote. 

Well I suppose it's about time I get back to working on the things that need to get done and won't do themselves. I'm encouraged by this season, and excited to see the beginning of November. Here's to hoping and praying for the ability to keep our lives in perspective, always. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

someday i WILL be an np

Whoever said grad school was easier than undergrad was not in NP school. My program is seriously kicking me in the pants.

I'm not sure what exactly I was expecting. Of course becoming a nurse practitioner would be difficult. It makes perfect sense. I suppose it's mostly that I wasn't expecting at all. I worked hard to apply to grad school and really hard to earn a hefty scholarship as well, but my actual coursework was apparently far from the front of my mind.

Now I'm up to my eyes in the most difficult exams of my life with far less time for school than I ever had as an undergrad. My professors give out A's, B's, and F's, which means I'm doing all I can to keep my head above water, praying that somehow I will make passing grades in all my classes.

Although it's difficult to shake the nagging feeling that failure is within the realm of real possibility, this weekend has been a bit of a breath of fresh air for me. I'm in New Orleans at a conference put on by the National Health Service Corps (those folks who gave me the hefty scholarship), an organization committed to bringing Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, and other clinicians to areas where access to healthcare is extremely limited. The corps is made up of recent graduates of medical, dental, PA and NP schools who have committed to spending a minimum of two years serving in low-income, underserved communities in the US. Over the past forty years over 41,000 clinicians have served in the corps. Currently over 10,000 current NHSC members are providing healthcare to more than 10.5 million people in Health Professional Shortage Areas across the nation.

The weekend has been filled with stories of communities being transformed by committed, dynamic primary care practitioners who are passionate about the underserved. They serve as a powerful reminder that the work I do even now is not about me.

School is still hard and still will be hard for the next couple years. But for now I'm reminded why it's so important to faithfully persevere. I only pray I can do as much.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

sweet tea in the midafternoon

Lovely Bakeshop. A lovely lovely place in Chicago that appears to live up to its name has apparently been hiding from me for the past year. I found this place on Sunday (thanks to some friends of ours) and thought to myself I just might have found my favorite neighborhood coffee shop in Chicago.

It's simple. It's just off one of my favorite streets, next to a place called The Butcher and Larder (point for location), there's lots of natural light and an adorable patio that's usually about half-shaded (point for charm), it's got lots of space and not lots of people occupying it (point for low-profile), and they serve Intelligentsia coffee (ten points for my favorite coffee-game over). Good news for me.

Lately I've been thinking about taking up a hobby I probably can't afford to start. I've never really been the hobby-having type, but the other day I was hit with an overwhelming desire to get a real camera and start taking pictures. I've always told Jeremy he needs to take up photography so we can have great pictures of our lives and future kids. I've also always thought it was kind of lame that 90% of the pictures on my blog were taken by someone else.

My dad got a fancy pants camera a couple years ago. Not a crazy professional one or anything, just a pretty simple but high quality digital camera with a great lens and manual capabilities. I loved photography in high school, and I love messing around with normal pictures when I get them onto my computer. I'm pretty nit picky about aesthetics and I think I could really enjoy developing the skill of great picture taking.

The hang up is that I'm definitely not getting a nice camera anytime soon. Our family is on a hard core spending hiatus. Believe it or not, its looking like this house thing I've mentioned once or twice is actually going to go through. It seems we may just be the proud new owners of a multi-family home come July 26th. It's pretty unbelievable and I'm still telling myself it might all fall through, but we're keeping our wallets closed in the mean time.

So for now I'm looking for ways to keep myself busy this summer that don't involve much cash. Any bright ideas?

Monday, June 20, 2011

2% milk makes the world go round

It appears the rain is finally coming after holding off all weekend. It's my favorite kind of gloomy Monday morning. My husband is working from home, the dog is staying out of trouble, the windows are open, and I'm sitting at my dining room table with a delicious creamy cup of coffee, compliments of a little 2% with sugar. The house is clean and I feel delightful.

My family was in town for my cousin's wedding this weekend and we had a fabulous time. My parents got to tour the latest house we're thinking of buying, we had some of the best deep dish pizza in all of Chicago with our cousins, and we all seriously danced the night away at the Trettel-Sullivan wedding. 

Moore girls and our male counterparts
My parents, sister, future bro-in-law, and husband are hands down some of my favorite people to spend time with. There's just nothing like having the whole Moore family together in one place. It's going to be near impossible to wait for my sister's wedding in September.

Our mini vacation came to an end yesterday afternoon and I'm thankful for Monday off to ease back into real Chicago life. The junior Manns have got a lot going on. Jeremy is finishing up the bulk of his teachers' first year, I'm waiting to hear on a major scholarship that will determine how I begin school in September, and we're trying to buy a house as the end of our lease is quickly approaching. It's a bit unreal not knowing what our lives will look like just a couple months from now. It's freaky, but mostly exciting. I take solace in telling myself that we're still young and resilient. 

On the greater Mann family front, I'm practically counting down the days until the big Mann Family Vacation in Door County, Wisconsin. The last time all of us were together was for Jason and Natalie's wedding TWO YEARS ago! Our lives have all drastically changed in some way or another since that time in Stinson Beach, and it's going to be incredible to spend an entire week together. Also Jeremy and I will finally get to meet our little nice, Mercy!

Life is very good, and I am continually amazed at where God has taken us in the past three years. Can't wait to see what's up ahead!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Maytime ramblings

I'm pretty sure whoever said that April showers bring May flowers was from the Midwest. Tulips are seriously popping up all over the city of Chicago and the magnolia trees are beginning to bloom. May Day was one of my favorite minor holidays growing up and it's no wonder we celebrated it every year in Minnesota. There's just nothing better than seeing plants, trees, and flowers come back to life after a long, cold winter.

Jeremy and I took Will for a walk after dinner tonight and it was so wonderful to feel the sun and see people outside again. The weather plays a much more significant role in your life when it's changing all the time.

Jeremy's 26th birthday is on Monday. Twenty-SIX! I can hardly believe we're that old. We're still looking into buying a house and it seriously makes me feel like a kid. I have this feeling I'll think of myself as 22 forever; old enough to be out of college, but never really getting into my mid-late 20's. I'll be 25 in exactly one month from today. Weird.

Today I felt oddly inspired to get back to learning the piano. I've really dropped the ball on the piano ever since I decided I couldn't swallow spending $50 a week on organized lessons. I know enough about music and the piano to teach myself more than I currently know, and I'm determined to get on that.

I'll close with this awesome picture of Brandon Flowers performing in D.C. Turns out I just love his solo album, Flamingo. Pure gold.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bringin you back to some Quiche love

Today is your lucky day, people of the world wide web. I've decided to dust off and re-post a dear old favorite blog post. Easter is three days away and I can't help but return to my very first adventures in the land of quiche-making. This year it's coming to you a couple days early so you can make the most of it as Sunday approaches. Enjoy.

how to save a quiche April 2009 


I'm writing this post in honor of tomorrow being Easter, for which many of you may be making quiches of your own. The following advice can be applied to any kind of quiche. Broccoli/cheddar/bacon, Asparagus/mushroom/swiss, you pick it. I don't know what you people put in your quiches.

Let's start with some helpful preventative tips, so you don't have to master the art of saving a quiche.
preventative tip #1: It is NOT necessary to read the instructions on the pre-shaped, frozen crust you bought. Trust me on this one. Just go with your gut. Throw the insides of the quiche into the pie crust (which comes in a nice little pie tin) and just bake that sucker.  

If you decide to ignore my preventative tip #1 (shame on you), you’ll need preventative tip #2: The pie crust instructions will tell you to remove the crust from the pie tin it comes in. Again, go with your gut (you know you feel like you should leave that crust in that tin). Do not discard the tin. It will not blow up in the oven (you may have considered this as a reason Marie Callendar is trying to get you to remove the tin).

Ok, last preventative tip is coming up here. When all your ingredients are INSIDE the pie tin with the exception of the liquid eggy mixture your recipe calls for, mind preventative tip #3: You DO NOT have to use ALL the liquid eggy mixture your recipe told you to make. If your recipe says something like “Make sure it doesn’t overflow,” you should make sure it doesn’t overflow. When your eggy mixture starts to kind of almost overflow, STOP POURING. The truth of the matter is, you might just have to throw a good bit of that stuff out.

If you followed these helpful preventative tips, you and your quiche will probably end up looking something like this:

If you do not heed this preventative advice, you and your quiche will probably end up looking a little more like this:

It’s going to be ok. Don’t panic. You’ll probably be thinking, “Should I just eat this quiche for dinner? Can I even serve this at my Easter brunch tomorrow? This is no quiche. It’s a quichish blob with tin foil all stuck to it. Did the quiche blob swallow up the crust?”

Now this rescue-desperate quiche is never going to look quite like quiche #1 (shown above my rescue-desperate quiche), but there are steps you can take to make your sorry quiche servable at tomorrow’s brunch. Here we go:

Step #1: Let the quiche cool. If you need to walk away from the quiche, that’s ok. If you need to nibble a little bit of the quiche to make sure it tastes better than it looks, go ahead. But be sure not to nibble too much or your quiche will look slightly deformed after you save it.

Step #2: When your quiche-blob has cooled a bit, try sliding a (preferably) stainless-steel pancake flipper underneath the crust, without ripping the tin foil (if you didn’t use tin foil, you won’t have to worry about potential ripping).

Step #3: (this is the most difficult step) Grab a friend, husband, or other trusted individual who can help you, and who knows what a quiche is supposed to look like. As a team, slide the pie tin under the quiche-blob, simultaneously lifting and maneuvering the quiche-blob into the tin.

Step #4: Squish any outlying pieces of quiche-blob into the pie tin so that the quiche-blob begins to look a little more like a quiche. Let sit.

After successfully completing these four steps, you and your quiche should look like this:

After all of this you should give yourself a pat on the back or have your trusted individual give you a pat on the back, because you saved your quiche. It is now safely contained in a pie shape, and you can serve it at your brunch.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Well it's finally April. The dead of winter is over and this year spring really feels like spring. Ok, well spring hasn't really sprung just yet and I hear April is an especially wet month here in Chicago. But this year the changing of the seasons is uniquely coinciding with a whole lot of new and different in my life.

We're coming up one one year in Chicago this July, which makes it feel like a legitimate home. I've felt settled in and connected here since pretty early on, but being able to count ten months between moving in and now is concrete proof to myself that we've actually been here a while. I like it here. The Midwest is my true home more than I ever could have guessed and Chicago is growing on me all the time. And I'm thoroughly enjoying that can't-wait-for-summer feeling you can only get in a place that experiences the sub-zero temperatures of the Dead of Winter.

I'm finally beginning to hear back from graduate school programs. I didn't get into UIC, but De Paul accepted me and I've got faculty interviews at Rush in a week. It's incredibly exciting and a bit surreal to think of myself in NP school this fall.

Our lease will be up in July and Jeremy and I will move out of our neighborhood. We like our apartment and our landlord is wonderful, but we're excited to leave Wicker Park in hopes to find a more diverse, lower income community we can be a part of. Lately we're spending lots of time perusing pad mapper, analyzing all kinds of Chicago maps, and going on neighborhood reconnaissance treks with our friends. We're also entertaining the idea of buying something. Our dream life includes us buying an old (late 1800's-early 1900's) stone three or four flat building to live in and rent to some of our friends as well as local neighborhood peeps.

In other very EXCITING news, my siblings-in-law Josh and Bex Mann have finally arrived to the states with their baby girl, Mercy! It's funny. It's not like we get to see them or even chat with them much while they're in Oregon, but it feels so good to have them back in Salem! Maybe it's just knowing they're a quick, easy, good connection of a phone call away that feels so great. We got to chat with them on the phone the day after they got home and it was so refreshing to hear their voices. I don't think I would have known before they took the step, but it feels so wonderful to have parents and a baby among this generation of Manns. I'm so thankful for their new little family, and I am so looking forward to taking notes as these two incredible people raise a daughter.

I could write about a handful of other wonderful things I'm looking forward to and excited about, but this should do for now. So thankful to be alive!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

big Moore Fam news

Being married is the best. Good and good for you. I really truly enjoy being married, and I've been married almost three years, so you have to take my words on marriage as credible. At the very least, you can't discredit me for "being in the honeymoon phase." Yes, it's work--very hard work, sometimes. But it's the best kind of work, and I'd wish marriage on just about everyone.

Last weekend was one of the greatest weekends of my life because my parents flew me to Minnesota with my husband to see my sister get ENGAGED.

 Thank you, parents!!! It was so wonderful. My sister is the absolute best and I can't think of anyone in the world I'd rather see engaged. And not only that; her fiancé is the FRICKIN BOMB. I couldn't have dreamt up a better fit for her. I'm so very happy with my bro-in-law-to-be. Matt's funny, caring, humble, interesting, talented, and seriously genuine. I love the guy, and it's a relief to know my sister is marrying someone I both enjoy and trust to be a great husband to her.

I am so happy for this new season of life in the Moore fam. Cheers! And congrats to Matt and Fain!!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Things to try

Recently I've been running into things I'd like to try, or things I've already come aross that I think other people should try. Here come a couple of them.

First, some recipes that look ultra-delicious (click on the links under each photo to see the full recipe from
Pappardelle with Beef and Mushroom Ragu
Yum. Jeremy and I have been cooking with mushrooms a lot lately, and we've been pasta-lovers for years.
Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes
I already have a delicious veggie-chili recipe, but sweet potatoes sound like a fun twist on chili. Also, a great excuse to use the slow-cooker.
Spicy Asian Chicken with Brussels Sprouts
Spicy Asian food and Brussels sprouts in one dish? Yes, please. I'm especially excited to try this one.

On a completely unrelated (inedible) note, if you're looking for a way to be simply delighted in the middle of the day (or any time of day, really), you should visit Jonathan Charles Wright's blog.
I used to go here every now and then, because Jonathan (who I met through my husband at Biola) is interesting and clever, and writes very well. Jeremy and I think of him as our one friend who will probably actually become a famous writer or something (although he won't care). Lately I've enjoyed reading his blog so much that I just must recommend you go there. It's more than fun. More than entertaining. Just the best. I'm so happy it exists.

A Tribute to 2010

Last year I started off the New Year looking ahead. I distinctly remember feeling like January 1st, 2010 was a clean fresh start with endless possibilities for new and great things. After revisiting a blog post I wrote in honor of the new year, I couldn't help but peruse other old blog posts to see how the year had turned out. I think reminiscing is a good and healthy practice that everyone should discipline themselves to do every now and then. And so. Here I write a tribute to the year 2010, in the form of "Things that Happened in the Year 2010:"

We got a motorcycle.
Turns out there's nothing like owning an old Honda CB350 in LA. I think the thing I miss most about living in a place where the weather is always favorable is being able to go for late afternoon rides anytime of the year.

The World's Fair Book and Supper Club was born.
Inspired by Matt Smith and dreamt up by my husband and Jonathan Charles Wright, the supper club was (and still is) a huge success. Jeremy and I hosted the first meeting. We made a six-course meal complete with wine pairings and Joseph Conrad's favorite cocktail, the Singapore Sling.

Wes Anderson brought us The Fantastic Mr. Fox.
The fact that my husband saw this movie in theaters twice is testimony enough that its a best film of 2010. If you still haven't seen it, you've been foolish.

Stories Books and Cafe released the recipe for the worlds most fantastic veggie chili.
I still can't believe the man behind the counter offered to write his very own self-perfected recipe on a piece of paper for me. Boy oh boy, we've reaped the benefits of this one more than once.

I read this book:
And what a great idea it was. Everyone should read George MacDonald's fairy tales. I recommend reading this entire collection. I have yet to read his longer works. Better add this to my list of things to do in 2011.

We discovered Scoops.
Scoops: the place that made me believe in gelato. Once we found this gem, we went there all the time. What flavors! One of my personal favorites: pear white wine.

I ate artichokes for the first time.
When I lived in LA, I learned of the glory of fresh vegetables. I wish Abundant Harvest could have followed us to Chicago. It was thanks to our CSA these artichokes found their way into our hearts and bellies.

My husband got a masters.
All those long nights at LMU finally paid off. I was very proud.

Jeremy finished his last year at JCMS (Johnny Cochran Middle School) and was hired by Teach for America.
Getting hired by TFA in Chicago was a surprisingly new direction for our lives. We made the decision to leave LA and packed our bags to leave within the next two months.

We said goodbye to our first apartment.
I'm convinced there's a very real possibility we may never again live in a place as wonderful as 1331 1/2 Laveta Terrace. I loved everything about it.

We drove across the country in a giant Penske truck.
We lost our AC in the middle of the dessert, blew a tire, busted our trailer and still managed to make it to Chicago in one piece.

Chicago became our new home.
Summertime was a great time to come to Chicago. We quickly grew fond of the place and settled right in.

 I got a new job.
I was amazed to find a job in a CTICU so quickly after moving to a new city.

I finally convinced Jeremy it would be a good idea to get a dog. Enter William.
What a brilliant idea. We love this little guy.

I discovered Mumford and Sons, and also fell a little bit in love with the music of Sufjan Stevens.
I'm late, yes I know. But boy have these two discoveries added lots of good to my life.

Jeremy and I rode 50 miles on our bikes in Hancock county, Ohio.
My trusty steed made it the whole way in mint condition, but we suffered two bum tires on Jeremy's bike.

I survived the dreaded GRE.
I never thought I'd have to take this test, but I made it through with no major casualties.

I took up knitting.
Here's the beginnings of my first project: a scarf.

I became an aunt.
Thanks to two of our favorite people in the whole wide world, we have a baby niece named Mercy in Ethiopia. Josh and Becca finally received news of a baby girl waiting for them to become her legal parents in just over a month! 

We dove into wintertime for the first time in seven years.
It's been a long time since we've really known winter. I am now the proud owner of a down parka. My husband has started drinking coffee. Big changes, people.

So there you have it. It's hard to believe 2010 started out on a motorcycle in sunny California and ended in a down parka on the streets of Chicago. What a great year! I'm so blessed. Here's to another great year behind us, with high hopes for the year ahead! Happy new year, folks.

Monday, January 3, 2011

holiday times in photogs

BOY did we have a great time in Minnesota for Christmas. The trip was short, but sweet. We made it home just in time for the big Moore Fam Christmas Eve, spent Christmas morning with both our fams, spent Christmas afternoon Yankee-swapping with the Trettels, ate a fancy Christmas dinner at the Manns, and had three days to spare for chill time with our fams. Just a few of the many highlights of our trip:

Driving around Minnesota with the Jer. We made it to the Mann's from Chicago
in about 6.5 hours. The drive went surprisingly well considering we left after
work on the 23rd. Also considering our dog's tender constitution.

My sister's boyfriend Mathematics (some people call him Matt) made it to
Christmas Eve at Grannie and Grandpa's. There's Figs and him wearing the
traditional tissue paper crowns we get inside our crackers.

Father Mann on Christmas morn' in his Christmas head ware.
Christmas Dinner at the Mann's. After dinner we sang Christmas
Carols and gave each other tips we had to pass on from the year 2010.
On our last night we made a big dinner at the Moore's. Jeremy, ma and
I made this delicious (and impressive-looking) braided sweet bread. Yums.