Embrace the dark

I hold my tongue when it’s time to set the clocks back. Everyone gets so angry about daylight savings. It screws up their baby. It confuses their dog. It makes it too dark too early. I stay quiet and celebrate. Bring on the dark. Bring on the early bedtime. Bring on the blankets. The lonely, dark cocoon of winter is my sweet companion and always arrives at the perfect time. Finally, an external backdrop to match my internal one.

Listen. It’s not that I’m in a constant state of dour, depressed reflection. In fact, people have chided me for being TOO upbeat and positive. During the fall, I start to turn inward and peek into my dusty corners that need attention. By the time winter comes, I’m firmly planted inward and ready to deep clean. 

I like the darkness. Growing up in the woods of northern Wisconsin, I made a hobby of stargazing. I’d regularly walk barefoot through the backyard and into our field. No flashlight. Just the muscle memory of the land. I trusted … Read the rest

Starbucks Holiday

Christmas has come and gone. You’ve probably spent sleepless nights wondering if I was able to find my holiday spirit this year. Yes, I kinda did. I’d give myself “B-/C+.” Enough to pass, but not enough to warrant a gold star. I credit my mediocre success to listening to the Trap Christmas station on Spotify, using inordinate amounts of Christmas emojis and watching my Christmas Cactus bloom for the first time ever. Most notably, I spent the month of December sampling Starbucks holiday drinks with Sissy.

Since we no longer live in the same city and can’t spend December together doing our usual traditions, like decorating sugar cookies while watching Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special, we improvised. We took a list of nine limited-edition coffee drinks from the polarizing coffee chain and checked off as many as we could, sharing impressions and recommendations with each other along the way.

We aren’t typically into fancy coffee drinks, so this was a festive deviation from our typical routine. And before the holiday season slips away, I want Read the rest

Annoying lessons in gratitude

It’s gratitude season. Everyone’s jabbering about what they’re thankful for and it’s making me think about where gratitude comes from. Yesterday, as I drank the “World’s Best Chai” from Uncommon Grounds way too fast and wished it would last forever, I thought about this story about not getting attached to stuff.  It goes something like this…

“You see this goblet?” asks Achaan Chaa, the Thai meditation master. “For me this glass is already broken. I enjoy it, I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns. If I should tap it, it has a lovely ring to it. But when I put this glass on the shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ When I understand that the glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious.”

Basically, all the wonderful things that come into our lives are already gone. Depressing, I know. It’s an … Read the rest

Grab life by the dough balls

“You’re kind of a history buff, aren’t you?” Someone actually said that to me. Never in my life have I been called, nor identified with being, a history buff. I’m not sure I could name one thing I learned in my history classes, and rely heavily on “based on a true story” movies to bridge the wide gaps in the historical timeline in my brain. However, if you’ve only met me in the past six months, you’d think that I must be a huge history nerd given my schoolgirl crush on Lewis and Clark and incessant sharing of lessons I’m learning in my Missouri backyard.

Recently this blog has been more devoted to history and travel than to bakeries and travel. When I sit down to write, I struggle to find a seamless way to integrate the bakery element. And then I get frustrated and give up because it doesn’t fit nicely into the box I created for this blog over two years ago.

Guess what? My life is way different than it was two Read the rest

My boyfriend

I have a crush, and it’s getting serious. It started as they do – an innocent flirtation, wondering if it’s all in my head or if my feelings are genuine. I’ve been fighting my instincts, poorly attempting to rationalize my way out of it – the brain and heart have a long history of clashing on this topic. I can’t deny it and need to come clean. I’m falling in love with Missouri.

Oh Missouri, with your disarming blend of Midwest sincerity and Southern charm. Your “have a blessed day” well-wishes, and referring to grocery bags as “sacks.” Even your armadillo roadkill and boring baseball rivalry make me smile. Every day you show me something new that makes me wonder how I lived so long without you. Oh, I get it now! Is this why you’re called the “Show Me” state?

At first glance, we don’t have a lot in common. You’re a little conservative and churchy for my taste, but I am enchanted by your kindness. Your broad, confident shape is unlike any Read the rest

Picnic lifestyle

Picnic friends

It was 93 degrees in Paris, and I was on day five of my solo European adventure. The romance of independent travel was wearing off and my simple desire for someone to talk to was setting in. I had been awake since 3 a.m., running face-first into a cruel series of travel-induced roadblocks, least of which was my laughable attempt at speaking French. I wandered “les rues” weary and wilting under the heavy air, desperately needing water, a functional ATM and a bathroom. And then there it was.

American in ParisWhen I was eight, I fantasized about seeing the Eiffel Tower one day. Europe seemed galaxies away – completely inaccessible to a country mouse like me. But 22 years later, the imposing icon was right in front of my face. My weariness turned into a whirl of giddiness and awe. I wanted to share this with someone. My eight-year-old self wanted to turn and say, “Can you believe we are here?! Do you see this?!” But everyone around me were strangers and seemingly unaffected.

To make matters … Read the rest