Along with Julie and Oprah

I don’t like to say that I have obsessions.  That brings up negative connotations of stalkers and “My Strange Addiction”s and unhealthy relationships with people and things.

That being said, I definitely have a great affinity for some things that I would like to share with you.  This is going to be similar to Oprah’s “Favorite Things” episode… except you won’t be getting a new fridge or anything for free, really.  Sorry bout that.  And I suppose another thing that will be different is that this is coming from a frugal college student’s perspective, not a billionaire.  (how did she even become a billionaire? that’s a lot of money.)

So, without further ado, please sing this line from The Sound of Music with me — “These are a few of my favorite things……”

You all sound just like Julie Andrews.  Way to go.

1. Noise Trade – All right, my hipster is slightly showing, but this is one of the best things since sliced bread.  (Really, what did we do before sliced bread?  Just bite off the loaf?)  Noise Trade gives away free music.  Totally legally.  Yeah, I know that you don’t believe me.  I almost didn’t believe it at first.  But it’s true.  They have tons of albums on there – and sure, some of them are people you don’t know, but it’s the best place to discover new music.  You can see who the featured artists are similar to and listen to some of their stuff before you download.  You can leave a tip if you are so inclined to help them make more beautiful music, or you can just download.  I’ve found some really great stuff on there.  (Check out The Oh Hellos, Tim Halperin, Sleeping At Last, Fiction Family, Jon McLaughlin… and more!!)

2. 7-sided nail files.  It’s a hepta-file, and it’s like giving yourself a manicure.  You can get them for like $2 at Walgreen’s-esque stores, and it will last quite a while.  Your nails will thank you.

3. CeraVe hand cream – I don’t know what I would do without this stuff in the winter.  I have the type of hands that turn purple and get as dry as stale bread in cold weather.  This stuff really helps though.  I put it on one or twice a day, and it has really helped my skin to stay hydrated and soft.  Also fairly cheap at Walgreen’s, and a tub will last you quite a long time.

4. Evernote – If you have a Mac and need some virtual notebooks in which to take notes or keep records or anything, this is the program for you.  I love it for taking notes in my classes.  It’s easy to stay organized, and I don’t actually have to buy real notebooks – yes, I am a cheapskate sometimes.  It’s available in the App store.

5. My parents.  This is the one you can’t find in a drug store or the App store.  I’m quite thankful for them.  And I’m thankful for phones that keep me in touch with them – even though I call while they’re busy at church sometimes… whoops.  I don’t even have a time difference to blame that one on.  I’ll see those folks again in 5 weeks!

6. Knee socks.  They are so underrated.  When you’re walking around in jeans (which don’t really keep you that warm) in a cold place, they keep you toasty.  My mom recently gave me a pair that go about 2/3 of the way up my legs.  Go.  Buy knee socks.  Be happy.

Now, with Julie Andrews, I conclude by singing, “When the dog bites/when the bee stings/when I’m feeling sad/I simply remembered by favorite things/and then I don’t feeeeeel soooo baaaaaaaaad!”

Happy Thursday.

Cantaloupe flavored.

Ever have those days where you’re thinking about so many things that you’re not even sure what you’re thinking about?  It’s like a massive fruit salad in your brain where all the fruit has started to taste like cantaloupe (obviously the most pungent flavor… and my least favorite).  It drives me nuts.

This is why I make lists.  There are at least four sitting on my desk right now.  One of them is a to-do, another is a list of schools for just in case I don’t get into my first choice for study abroad, another is a list of people I need to email, and another is a list of things to do when the boyfriend comes to town.  Oh, yeah, and that grocery list from last week.

Mostly, though, this morning I was thinking about canned food and storytelling.

I’m not a big fan of canned food.  This is well-illustrated in my life since I bought a can opener to bring to school with me but haven’t used it yet.  I like fresh things better.  I mean, some things you have to buy in a can – like sweetened condensed milk (which you do HAVE to buy sometimes in order to keep yourself happy and cook well) – but for most things, there is a better, fresher alternative.

I’m a big fan of alternative routes: baking from scratch, making majors from scratch, flying out of Midway instead of O’Hare, not eating meat, reading biographies like they’re potato chips (we all know you can’t eat just one).

Then there’s the storytelling part of the fruit salad of my thoughts.  I’m actually awful at it in speech since I forget major details then have to backtrack to include them.  I’m the girl who ruins jokes by saying the punch line too early or neglecting to say the part that makes the punch line make sense.  But I love stories, nevertheless.  I love hearing them and reading them and having them read to me and writing them and sharing them and thinking about them.

And I think that might be the reason that I blog, to share part of my story with you and to weave in the stories of others in my life.  Or maybe it’s just why I write.

Hopefully this whole thing didn’t taste like cantaloupe, unless you like cantaloupe.  Then, by all means, enjoy.

Warm Tuesday.

It’s supposed to rain pretty much all day in Chicago today. That’s what says, at least.  Rain and upper 50s.  I’ve decided to test the waters – pun intended – and wear my rain boots.  I’ve told you about this before, the phenomenon that usually happens where I wear my rain boots: as soon as I put them on, it stops raining and all the puddles dry up.  About 90% of the time, this happens.

Not today, folks, not today.

Obviously, this isn’t normal January weather for Chicago.  It was below freezing and close to below zero all of last week.  The river froze.  That was normal.  We all trudged around, trying to get indoors as soon as possible, wearing as many layers as we could.

Then yesterday, it got up to 50 degrees.  The river started flowing again, sending huge chunks of ice floating downstream.  It was quite the sight to see.  I’ve just decided to enjoy it while it lasts, because if the weather people are right, then it will most likely be frozen again by this time next week.

Oh, the bipolar weather of the midwest.

I really can’t complain for a number of reasons.  At least this time, the change is in my favor; it’s warmer than yesterday.  And I say that I like variety in my life, so voila! variety.

Now the question of the day is: do I have any clothes here for this kind of weather?

Giving Monday a chance

Mondays can be happy, too, you know.  They can be full of coffee and tasty muffins and interesting classes.  And then you can have really nice conversations with former professors.

I did stay up too late last night, but not doing anything unpleasant.  I was baking muffins.  It’s totally normal.  And I made up for it by drinking extra coffee.

Then Jesus brought my boyfriend back to the United States safely from India, which is also a major plus.  The lines of communication have been re-opened.

I’ve decided to not ostracize Mondays, to not place them in the category of “days I expect to be awful.”  Let’s keep an open mind here, folks, and give the day a chance.

If the post office cooperates and gives me my packages from home, this day will have been totally satisfactory.

I bet Tuesday could be good too, if I gave it a chance and focused on the positives.  Huh, might be worth a try.


Whole, lacking nothing.

I often wake up in the morning feeling like I just need renewal, like I need grace and a fresh start.  And always, always, always, in my head, the refrain comes from Jon Foreman and Psalm 51:

Would you create in me a clean heart, O God?  Restore to me the joy of your salvation.  Wash me white as snow, and I will be made whole.

Usually, I wash things so that they will be clean, not whole.  Psalm 51 actually doesn’t say “made whole”, but instead it uses multiple metaphors to highlight the extent of the cleanness God provides.  So, as I was thinking about that this morning, I was a little bit disappointed in Jon for getting it wrong.

But then I remembered something my Old Testament professor said, and it made more sense.  He was talking about how the word in Hebrew that is used for Adam’s job in the garden of Eden, (usually translated as something related to work) actually means “rest.”  Then, he further shook up my understanding of scripture by explaining that the word for “holy” actually refers to being complete, whole, lacking nothing.  Who knew how much the Hebrew words could change things?

David was asking to be made holy in Psalm 51.  He was asking to be washed so that he could be right with God, an action that would make him whole.

So Jon was right.

Double shot.

I’ve done some self-discovery since I’ve been in college and learned a few things:

  1. I definitely need 8 hours of sleep every night.  Definitely.  
  2. I actually do like spinach, which works out well since it’s good for you.
  3. I don’t study well in my dorm room.

And because of this, Liesel and I have decided to get off campus to do our homework as frequently as possible.  This also serves to fulfill our wanderlust for Chicago since we find coffee shops along the brown line where we think it will be fun to study.

I ordered my white mocha and stood back, watching the barista in action.  I wasn’t fully caffeinated yet (since I only had half a cup of coffee before I left, not nearly enough to be running on all cylinders), so when he offered me an extra shot of espresso for free, I had to ask him to repeat himself.

In that moment, I was struck with a decision.  Accept free double shot of espresso and the energy and focus is will bring?  Or refuse because I feel like it might not be the best idea to ingest that much caffeine?  Too much caffeine isn’t that healthy, is it?  What if I get really hyper and can’t focus at all?

I decided to just say, “sure” and drink the entire thing.  There are some times where you probably shouldn’t accept another shot of espresso, but on study days when you didn’t get a ton of sleep the night before, I think it’s all right.

Just so you know, I didn’t get hyper.  And I read through and understood Thomas Hobbes like it was a children’s book  (sometimes, reading through my assignments for my philosophy class is like wading through a knee-high pool of Jell-O).

That double shot gave me some momentum, and I took it and ran a long ways.  I’m still not entirely sure why the barista offered me the extra shot.  Maybe I just looked like I needed it.  Maybe he does that for everyone over 5’9”.  Maybe he says that every 10th white mocha he makes.

Either way, I feel like I should go back and tell him how much it changed my life today.

I have a renewed appreciation for espresso.

It’s a very happy Saturday.


You are most welcome here.

I mean that.  You are always welcome here, on my journey.  Here, let me pull up a chair for you.  Ah, that’s better.  Cup of tea?  I still have at least 80 tea bags, so it certainly wouldn’t put me out.  Muffin?

Hospitality has taken on an entirely different meaning for me in college.  For one thing, I have much less space and much fewer resources to work with.  Well, we can sit here on my bed or the floor.  It’s pretty much one or the other.  Still, even with the limitations of a dorm room and small budget, it happens.

I’m not sure what Webster’s says the meaning of the word is, but I think it has a distinct look and flavor.  It can look like bringing out the best china for someone and pampering them in every little way possible.  But it can also look like this:

Hey, welcome to my dorm room.  I’m just making some tea, would you like a cup?

I have saltines and Greek yogurt, either of those appeal to you?  No?  Well, if you get hungry later, you can grab one.  

It’s more of a welcome-to-my-life approach, an invitation to live life with me.  These are the environments where I feel most at home and most like I’ve been invited to be myself.  And thus, these are the environments I want to create.  It may not look fancy, but the conversation will be good.  It may not be the best cuisine, but I’ll share what I have – even if it isn’t that exciting.  There may not be comfortable or adequate seating, but we can laugh about it together and make the best of it.

If you ever come to my dorm room, this will likely be the approach, unless we get a remodel and win the lottery.

And I kind of like that.


My handy dandy Tide-to-go pen was there for me again today.  I’m telling you, it’s a must-have in any purse, backpack, or bedside table.  I spilled just a few drops of coffee on Bunny this morning, which wouldn’t be too bad.  But he did JUST go through the washing machine.

Tide-to-go to the rescue.  (P&G should be paying me for this.)

Other things that require cleaning: ear piercings.

I think I neglected to mention this back in December, but I got another hole put in my ear back then.


This was taken just after the nice lady punched the earring in.  It stayed red for a bit and tingled, but I haven’t had any problems with it since.

And that’s just the problem.  It doesn’t hurt, so I forget it’s there.  And you’re supposed to clean that thing three times a day for 8-12 weeks!  It’s been six weeks today, so I’m halfway there.  But I certainly haven’t been faithful to clean it that often.

So maybe it’s not infected, and I’m pretty sure that I’m past the big danger-of-infection stage.  But there’s still this little voice in my mind that reminds me that it’s being faithful in the little things that’s important. It says that maybe they tell you to clean it for 8-12 weeks for a reason, and maybe I should listen.

And maybe I should be faithful.  It takes like 30 seconds.

Eventually it will turn into a habit, and it won’t seem like a chore.

Other little things that don’t take long, are good, and could become habit: sending nice cards, smiling, encouraging, and keeping my papers in folders.




Sometimes you defy social and seasonal norms by wearing a wraparound skirt (definitely summer wear) with shiny zebra print flats.  It’s the combination of a lifetime, and you discover that the wraparound really limits your movement when you walk.  But the Bible says to not conform to the patterns of this world, so you wear bright green with zebra on a snowy day.

Or maybe that wasn’t what that verse was talking about.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by wearing a green wraparound skirt with non-matching shoes in January.  Yeah, it doesn’t really sound familiar.

Today’s a more appropriate day for sweatpants.  And some days you have to sacrifice a little bit of individuality for warmth.  So you only make it through half of the day with the colorful stuff on.  Then you get cold and change.

It doesn’t mean you’re not unique.  It just means you get cold, just like everyone else.

Maybe I need to look more closely at Romans 12.



Quotably cold.

I’m trying to not complain about the cold, really I am.  But when it’s 3 degrees outside (and you’re fully aware that the windchill makes things worse), and you have to walk to class (granted, it’s not far), sometimes the only way to make is to walk with friends and yell “IT’S REALLY COLD!!!” all the way there.  This also applies to walking to dinner, to the gym, and the end of the brown line of the L.

Sometimes, you need to state the obvious.  It’s validating.

In case you were hoping for this, I also officially grant you permission to wear your socially-unacceptable fuzzy socks in public.  Even if they don’t match your shoes.  When it’s this cold it’s more important to keep all your toes than to be chic.

I was thinking this morning about how often I hear/see/read people quoting other people.  It’s in probably 50% of the tweets and Facebook posts I see, which isn’t necessarily bad.  I have some favorite quotes myself:

Shawn Spencer, Psych – “Gus… don’t be a gooey chocolate chip cookie.”

John Mark McMillan, musician – “Give yourself to the process. Shortcuts spin you in circles. If it were easy someone else would already be doing it. Embrace the long haul.”

Dave Barnes, musician – “I need a vacation. And when I say “need” I mean “want”, and when I say “vacation”, I mean “chocolate milkshake.””

Miroslav Volf, theologian – “It’s hard to figure out which of the things we could do truly matter; it’s even harder to summon the courage to actually do them.”

These quotes are great, really.  And I’m glad that I can credit these wonderful people with being so clever, witty, thoughtful, etc.

I’ve had some gems myself though, too. Check these out:

“The sooner you finish, the sooner you’ll get done.”  I shared this profound wisdom with my boyfriend.  He was amazed (but not really).

“Pretty sure every kiss does NOT begin with Kay… ohh… wait.  ‘Kiss’ begins with ‘k’!  Ohhh, I get it!” (Thank you to my friends who only made fun of me a little bit for that.)

I was just thinking about how we’ve sort of lost our originality.  Or maybe you haven’t, but I sometimes feel like I’m being swallowed up by a world that loves everyone else’s ideas but fails to validate their own.  We get so caught up by other people’s cleverness that we forget that we have brains and imaginations that are meant to do more than appreciate everyone else.

This might just be a post intended to make me feel better for wearing pink striped socks with flannel today.  Hey, I’m original.
And so are you.