16 January 2017

Cream Stuffed Donuts on a Sunday

Vanilla, chocolate and blueberry cream. Also a sassy, emotionally witholding kitten

Our breakfast nook featuring art by my brother Bob

Penny is a talented chef and always eager to help in the kitchen.

mask by glossier

endless coffee and watering my air plant

while we worked on our donuts I had a real breakfast: cooked eggs, toast with strawberry jam and a fish oil vitamin

ben's breakfast had a little bit more oomf

we followed this donut recipe. We've never made donuts before and minus the smoky apartment, they turned out pretty well!

we used this recipe to make the cream. We didn't realize we needed to refrigerate so long so we made some whipped cream (literally whipped cream in our mixer) and folded it into the cream to make it a little fluffier. 

Overall, I'd give this Sunday an 8.5. We tried to watch The Killing, but after seven episodes gave up. The story went on for eternity and we didn't realize there were so many episodes. 

I've been dipping my toes into A Series of Unfortunate Events (one of my favorite book series from childhood), but will probably try and savor it for as long as possible. 

So far though the show reminds me one of my all-time favorites Pushing Daisies. If you've never seen it, it is gentle and sweet and whimsical. It's one of those shows that make large problems seem small and easy to solve and you lose yourself in the cheeriness of it all. It only last two season and I don't know where you can find it, but it's worth the $30 to just buy on iTunes I PROMISE. 

13 January 2017


I think that every time I come to this space to write, my apartment is quiet and the air outside is dusty and cold. This past season has been a difficult one and I have questioned so much about myself. I sometimes feel that I am correct in my direction, that I am where I should be, but then I remember that so many things in my life are uncertain and I am back to feeling the way I did at 16, 22, 25. Days melt into other days and I feel angry at my job for keeping me late or filled with longing for the simpler times of other country life. 

Ben and I have begun talking about moving in the fall, finding a small town to live in before he begins the climb of applying for law school. Chicago has always been my home and like most people who have lived in one city for very long, I am itching to leave. 

I woke up this morning and logged onto an old email to search for a distant tracking code only to realize that three months ago a documentary crew associated with The Atlantic had sent me an email believing me to still be in Russia and wanting to interview me and my experience. I was suddenly overwhelmed with desperation to return to my nomad life and seize those strange opportunities that were so abundant at the time. There are still so many blogs that I read where women have chosen to stay abroad and continue to live such deeply colorful lives around the world. Maybe it's not as hard for them to know where to put themselves. 

I think about the Netherlands, about New Mexico, about the Pacific Northwest. About Hong Kong. About Tokyo. I think about money, how much money everything is and how no matter how much money I pay every month, the debt I owe from my years as a student does not seem to crack. I worry about my "stuff". Our pots and pans and coffee mugs and my beautiful blue couch that belonged to my beloved YiaYia and how I could never go anywhere without it. These things keep me tied down. I remember experienced expats warning me about this very issue: if you go home, you will get stuff and your stuff will keep you from traveling. 

Nothing feels over, but things also feel like they haven't happened yet. 

19 April 2016

Our Wedding pt.2: The Ceremony

"Everything I know, I know because of love."
 Leo Tolstoy
Lisa Horan

When the guests began to come into the venue, the bridal party and I watched from the balcony, half-hiding, half waving excitedly as I saw my friends and family come in dressed to the nines. People were getting drinks, laughing, greeting one another and Ben and I began to feel the nerves. My older cousins, whose daughters were our flower girls, tried to counsel me, but the butterflies were very real. As the guests began to disappear into the doors of the ceremony space, I really began to feel it. This was happening. I was about to be vulnerable and exposed in my love in front of everyone I knew. A quiet fell over the bridal party as we all began to realize the gravity and symbolism of what we were about to do. Hugs were had and then they walked down the stairs and took their places at the altar. 

And then my dad came up the stairs and I burst into happy tears, feeling suddenly comforted that my first love was there for me. He tried to tell me some gross dad jokes, but I was in the zone. April Come She Will by Simon and Garfunkel began to play and down my flower girls went... and a glacial pace. It was a little charming watching them each place their flower petals on the floor and at some point I whispered to my dad, "we need to just go, the song will be over soon!" and down we went. 

It was all surreal. Everyone was smiling and I wanted to reach out and grab everyone. Some people I hadn't seen in years and now they were here nodding me forward. It was nerve racking and magical all at once. I've never felt anything like it.... like gleeful stage fright. When we reached the end of the aisle, my dad gave me a huge hug, whispered "You'll always be my daughter" and then hugged Ben. We stood across from each other with our dearest friend in between who greeted the crowd and began his sermon. 

He spoke about a saying they have in India (his motherland) about the beauty of the moon being in it's spotty imperfections. The craters that make it unique and mystical. That our love was like the moon- flawed and imperfect, but beautiful and magical. My brother followed and read the lyrics of my favorite song, "This Must Be the Place" by The Talking Heads and it was magic. It was a little unconventional but those lyrics have always spoken to my heart and I was so happy to hear them read out loud. 

Ben's vows were written the morning of and were slightly off the cuff, but broke the room's heart all the same. He promised to love, to like, to support, to encourage me. I stood shaking and crying and with more love in my heart than I have ever felt. 

I went next and quoted my favorite line, "Everything I know, I know because of love." I then explained that everything I knew was because of my love for Ben. He had challenged my world views, pushed me to try new things and explore new places. He asked me deep, hard questions. He showed me brave, new worlds. I told him I was blessed that I had found him and that I was honored that he had chose me. That there were years of my life when I felt broken and lost and wondered if I would ever make sense of things and that when we found each other I knew I was home. 

We then performed a wine and love letter box ceremony, rings were exchanged, traditional "I do's" were said and then the power invested in Aman from the Universal Life Church dot com, we were married. The room erupted into applause, Ben and I kissed and then we walked hand-in-hand down the aisle as husband and wife. 

13 April 2016

Our Wedding pt.1: Pre-Ceremony

Intense, magic, anxiety. 

We were married on a crisp, blue Chicago spring day. I wore a lacy Truvelle dress and Ben wore a sharp, black tux from TopMan. Our best friend from college boarded a plane from Myanmar the week before and travelled more than half way across the world to stand between us and deliver a sermon about our love and the nature of relationships. Our friends, an eclectic group of artists and dreamers and travelers and researchers, came from all over America to join us. It was the most incredible feeling to walk down an aisle and every face smiling at you is one that you genuinely love.

Our wedding was a true labor of love. I poured my heart and soul and brain into the thing. Everything was planned by me. My wonderful mother and Ben contributed and my best friend and bridesmaid Cori assisted with the arts and crafts, but the vision was mine and it was an incredible thing to see it take flight and become it's own living, breathing event. People came. The cupcakes were set up. The DJ played all the right songs. Things that Ben and I had discussed for years actually happened.

And we actually got married. We are legally one another's. Ever mine. Ever thine. I want to burst into tears just writing that. Even after all these years...after all our adventures, our fights, our failures and our accomplishments. Even after we know all each other's stories, all each other's jokes. Even after all our friends have become mutual. After our lives are no longer two roads but actually just one. We still love each other. I still want to cry thinking about how much I love Ben Coonan.

There are a lot of pictures and I'll have to post them over a few days, but here they are. They were taken by Christian Gideon who I have nothing but amazing things to say about. He was able to capture all the special, quiet, moody moments of the day and that is not something most wedding photographers are able to do. Check out his site, he's a special guy.

And now I present you with our wedding!

My best friend for twenty years

Part two to come...

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