Marriage after 25 years


One thing I find myself thinking about from time to time is, how do people stay married? I don’t mean this as a “red flag” kind of thing or something, but more just a logistical, simple curiosity. Also because I feel like “in this day and age” there are a hell of a lot more divorces than there are long-time marriages, or perhaps I don’t see as many people really “fighting for their marriage” (and what does that even mean? And why would I be privy to that kind of private, intimate knowledge?).

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I just haven’t been exposed to that many long-time marriages (and perhaps I’m also sensitive to it because in our first year of marriage, three of our friends got divorced). But it’s something I’ve always been a bit obsessed about knowing. How do they do that? How did they make it last? Did they ever want to get a divorce? What did/do they do to keep “the love alive” and stay together and be good partners to one another?

Well, luckily for me, a rabbit hole lead me to the “Making It Last” column on the New York Times website. It profiles couples who have been together 25 years or more and it asks them the typical questions: how did you meet, when did you know they were the one, engagement, the wedding, etc, but then it asks about what their marriage was like. Any contentions?  What did/do you argue about? Were there times where you considered divorce? What about having children? (If they had children) were there conflicts about child rearing?

The answers and responses are fascinating. And encouraging! And sometimes depressing. But I think that’s what life is, right? It’s good, it’s bad, it’s ugly, it’s the most glorious thing you could imagine. I want to share this quote with you from one of the mother’s of one of the couples (in fact, the article was about three sisters who all got married within a span of a few months in 1980, and all three couples are still together). Lois, the mother of the three sisters, who was married for 61 years before her husband died, said her secret to ‘making it last’ was, “Realizing that marriage is not all sunshine. You have to get through the tough parts to reap the rewards of the good parts.”

Anyways, I just wanted to share that link with you because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading them. It’s also lead me to consider a NYT subscription because I’ve “reached my limit of 10 free articles a month.” ; ) 

Happy Saturday, friends!


It’s been a busy couple of months, friends. I turned 25,


The spread at my birthday soiree

Ben and I celebrated our three year wedding anniversary, my mom came to visit, we went to NYC, Indianapolis, and explored a whole bunch of new neighborhoods in Chicago, to highlight a few.


A selfie of me and my mom on the eL.

I’ve been doing a lot of growing. It’s been good, and painful, like any “growth spurts.” Ultimately I’m growing into the woman I am to become. It’s a funny thing, growing up.


I am beyond blessed to have friends like these who will sing me happy birthday and spoil me with birthday treats

My engagement ring was broken for a while (somehow one of the prongs around the diamond broke off), so for a while I was just wearing my wedding band, until that started agitating my skin, so I wore no ring. I felt like a phony. You know what I mean? I got the ring back on Friday and I’ve spent so much time looking at my rings together and feeling a sense of relief and comfort. I like those two rings there on my left hand. I like what they symbolize, what they stand for, how they were chosen and created and molded.


I took a “break” from singing for a little. I’m back at it again, this time with less pressure and more peace. In this picture I took my music to the beach and studied and worked on memorizing my texts and translations

This blog post isn’t really anything, but I needed to get something on here. I felt weird having that last post just hanging there. Thanks for understanding.


One of my favorite pieces from the Picasso exhibit at the Art Institute

The year is half over already which is hard to believe, and yet it seems like the last five years have just flown by. In five more years I’ll be 30! 


When we were in NYC we went to Murray’s Cheese Shop with my friend from elementary school, Jess. It was such a treat, and so delicious, to say the least.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I want my life to look like when I’m 30. What kind of job I’ll have, what passion projects I’m involved in, where we’ll be living.


A recent dinner that was very well received. Super easy – boil it all (water becomes the sauce) and voila! Dinner in 15.

I’ve also been trying to focus on the now, the this-very-moment, because I can’t get to 30 without living each and every minute of each and every day that leads up to it. I don’t want to wish this time away, so I’m working on doing more things that make me happy. Obviously, I’ve been enjoying it.


A view of Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry. I’ve now visited all 5 boroughs of NYC!

I’ve been slower on the weekends. More intentional. We’ve been infusing our life with different cultural exposures, which has been incredibly enriching.


A view from our hike in Brown County, Indiana. We climbed all of those stairs, by the way. They keep going, well out of view of the shot.

A few weeks ago we had the distinct pleasure of seeing Yo Yo Ma perform at CSO – it was music I don’t believe I’ll ever forget. Also, can we pause for a moment to talk about what a beautiful performer Ma is? He is so relaxed, playful, authentic. I loved watching him as much as I loved hearing him.


A view of the Cloisters – at the northernmost part of Manhattan. You MUST go there if you can. It’s breathtaking, fascinating, peaceful, beautiful… I could go on and on.

I’ve been exploring more about Judaism lately, too. It’s a thread that’s been weaving it’s way quietly through my life for some time now, but it’s only been the last couple of months that I’ve taken an active, intentional interest in it. I’ve been reading a bunch of different books about it and I’m absorbed by it all. I’m excited to see where this path takes me.


One weekend we explored the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago and went to the delectable Pleasant House Bakery. English Kings Pies! Super flavorful and delicious.

This weekend we’re heading up to Ben’s parents for our annual trip to Madison to celebrate Michelle’s birthday. This is one of my favorite (if not my absolute favorite) weekends of the whole year. I love spending that quality family time with Ben and his family, and shopping at the farmers market, and sharing the bounty together as a family for dinner, and experiencing some of the finest Shakespearian acting this side of the Atlantic. It’s just such a treat, and I relish the entire trip. I’m grateful for Ben’s parents who enjoy spending that time with us and treat us to such an amazing little getaway.


I still get giddy when I look at Ben. He’s the one for me. <3

So here’s to growing up and finding the many joys in life!

Hello, March! Goodbye, March.

I try (I really do!) not to go more than a week without blogging. One week on, one week off, has been the regular schedule around these parts. But here it is, two plus weeks later (almost three!), and there is nary a blog post in sight.


The wonderful people at Mezza gave me a free cookie when I mentioned that the salad was the highlight of my day. Ha! I should maybe not be so dramatic (but seriously, the salad is THAT good).

I’ve been busy, friends! I was given another executive to support at work, which has its pros and its cons as with any change in the workplace. What it means for me on a day-to-day basis is that I am working. non. stop. All day. Every day. The work I’m doing is not difficult by any means, but it’s time consuming, and I want to keep up with everything, so I workworkwork. Last week I came in early every day because there was just that much work to do. 


I did find some time to make some homemade wheat thins before a movie last week. They pulled together in 30 minutes from ingredients to baked cracker, and they were super delicious!

Boring paragraph, I know, but I hope it explains a little bit why I’ve been too tired to come here and tell you about all the things we’ve been doing and eating and holy shit it’s almost April?! A quarter of the year is almost over?! Yikes.


A tattoo idea I’m mulling around in my head

Well, I can cross off a few more goals on my 101 in 1001 days list:

Got my hair cut

-Sent some ‘heart attack’ valentines

-Went to another opera (with Lucy and Ben! It was Chicago Opera Theatre’s Fall of the House of Usher and it was weird but also mesmerizing. They have a pre-opera reception for all Opera Underground Members [which I am] so I brought them with me and it was fantastic. Quite the spread, as you can see.)


-I cooked Chicken Pot Pie from Jenny Rosenstrach’s Dinner: A Love Story and it was SUPER GOOD


bread: before

-I baked this chili and garlic bread from Joy the Baker’s site, but I totally misread the directions and made it wrong (even though it looks like it came out right), so I want to make it again


bread: after

Not on my list of goals, but things I did anyways the last couple of weeks:


-I got brunch with my beautiful cousins at M.Henrietta while they were in town


-Celebrated my dear, dear friend Liz’s birthday at HQ Beercade



(it’s a maaaaa zing and I’m trying to convince Ben to have his b-day there as well)


Happy, happy birthday dearest Liz!

-Hung out with Ben and his brother at his brother’s new apartment in Roger’s Park (so close to us!) while he was cat-sitting their parents super funny new cat. We ordered a 24″ pizza, and I’m pretty sure we ate almost all of it.


This week I’m in cleaning and preparation mode because my MAMA IS COMING! She’s flying out this upcoming Saturday to visit for a long weekend (Saturday to Tuesday, weoo!), and I can’t wait. We’re basically going to be eating all weekend, because the only things I have planned for us are food-related things, but somehow I don’t think she’ll mind. ; )

We’ll be staying at the Palmer House Hilton the first night she’s here (I have to sing at the early service on Sunday, so it’s just easier to be downtown already, and really – how luxurious is that?!) and will hopefully be able to spend a little time with the family I used to nanny for, and maybe go out to the ‘burbs to see my cousin who just had her third (!) baby, but we’ll see how it all plans out. I promise to take lots of pictures and tell you all about it. : )


Lobby of the Palmer House

As for now, I’m off to make some khao soi, a traditional northern-Thai soup/curry for dinner. It’s not perfect, but it’s close. I’ll try and write down what I actually do and report back.

Hope you all are well and finding time to breathe and enjoy the fleeting winter! xoxo


the Art Institute and Dinner with my Love

Still playing a bit of catch up here – hope you don’t mind. I wanted to share some pictures and notes from our excursion to the Art Institute the other night, and the incredible dinner we made.


the beautiful Chicago Art Institute at sundown

There were a few paintings I wanted to see (Hopper, Singer Sargent), but other than that my plan was simple: be quiet, be calm. I wanted to quiet everything in my body and brain and just take it all in.


Ben capturing a photo of a piece by Magritte, one of his favorite artists


In front of Hopper’s Nighthawks – the painting that brought me to Chicago


the loop lit up at night

After strolling about, hand in hand, hearts quiet, we ventured back into the cold and walked to Pastoral for sandwiches and wine. It was pure fate that my new favorite wine (a Bordeaux, “Chateau de La Bouyere” 2009), that is no longer in production, was sitting quietly on the shelves. Needless to say, I bought all 4 bottles. : )


We came home and shared little gifts. Ben wrote me a hysterically funny and sweet card, but requested that I not share it (as evidenced above).

The next night we made dinner. It was more like two dinners mixed together, but I was super craving this meal that the Cheesecake Factory makes, and we also wanted scallops, so we put the two together.


The makings of Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic

So together we made dinner as a team, my love and I. It fills my heart when we cook together. I love being a team with Ben in my favorite place (the kitchen, duh), especially when it produces such a delicious outcome.Image

The recipe we used to make the Cheesecake Factory rip-off meal was a mix of this one and this one. It makes a ton and it is So delicious.


The finished product with Pan Seared Scallops

All in all, it was a relaxing, intimate, and cozy Valentines day. I hope your Valentine’s was exactly the way you wanted it to be, too.

Oh, and a little note from Rows:


Rowsdower isn’t such a fan.

Weekends, lately

The past couple of weeks Ben and I have have had weekend excursions, and last weekend we had the extreme pleasure of going up to his parents house in the suburbs and meeting their new cat, Phina (!!!!). : )

Friends, meet Phina:Image

She is SUCH a great cat, and so funny (and so pretty!). We are so thrilled that Ben’s parents have such a great, loving, playful cat. They could use a little more sunshine in their lives. : )

Michelle prepared an awesome lunch of gourmet sandwiches and cheddar-beer soup, and we played a rousing game of Risk! (I told you, we’re addicted.)


I promptly died/was eradicated. Ben, obviously, won. (OF COURSE HE DID.)


The last of my calvary. About to be taken over by Ben’s army. Because of course.

We’ve been going nonstop lately, so this weekend we decided to take it easy. Ben made us fancy omelettes (goat cheese, pecorino, and arugala) with extra crispy bacon. I contributed fresh squeezed orange juice, which promptly became mimosas. I love the way my husband thinks. : )



Later that afternoon I made a double batch of oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies, B’s favorites.


Gathering the ingredients (and yes, that is four sticks of butter on the right)

We only baked a dozen for ourselves, and froze the rest so we can have a stash readily at hand. : )


One of two trays of scooped cookie dough

These are my kind of weekends. Hope you all were able to relax and enjoy a mimosa (or two!) this weekend. : ) xo

The Valentines Have Arrived

Remember last week when I talked about sending friends some Valentines? Well, my original goal was to send “Heart Attack” boxes, but, as I quickly realized, that would have meant cutting a LOT of paper hearts. As I said, I’m not much of a crafter, so when my hand started cramping around my 8th paper heart, I figured I’d need to modify the plans. I want to share more love this year, and one of the ways that I show love is through ridiculously cheesy, mildly embarrassing cards. Embarrassing for me more than the receiver. ; )


Proof that I am not a crafter. What was I thinking with all of those eyelashes?!

So instead of sending boxed heart attacks, I sent heart-attack-letters! I made these really cheesy cards and in each of them I wrote a special note in the middle of one big heart that I pasted on the inside of the card.


Proof that I attempted to craft. : )


That’s quality crafting right there. Only could be outdone by a 4th grader.

Then, I put the card in a padded envelope, puckered the sides so I could have a bit of a ‘hole’ or opening, and stuffed the card with a bunch of the paper hearts, and some confetti I made from hole-punching the craft paper. : )


As you can see from Erica and Hannah’s pictures below, it makes for quite a mess. : )

Chase is not a happy clean-up camper : )

Chase is not a happy clean-up camper : )


Hannah opened her card in the car. Oops!

Whoops! I hope it made them laugh though, and let them know how much they are loved. (Because I do, so much! And I’m so glad they’re in my life!)

And therein documents my attempt to craft. : )

(This also contributes to my 101 in 1001 project of mailing 50 letters. Four more off the list!)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy, happy Valentine’s Day, dear friends! I had grandiose plans to make really clever and heart-felt and cute valentines for my friends this year, but, it turns out, I’m not really a crafter. Ha!

photo (100)

The guts from a “crafting” project


I did make a few Valentine’s, but seeing as how I don’t think my little gifts will arrive to my valentines until sometime next week, I’m going to hold off on sharing any pictures, with the hopes that my friends might be surprised. : )

photo (101)

Ben and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s day too much – he normally gets me a funny card (that has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day), maybe a little trinket or something, and I get him a card (and maybe dress up a little extra ; ) ). Instead of going out we’ll make a special dinner for just the two of us, which I love.

photo (102)

Tonight we’re going to spend the evening taking it easy – maybe grabbing sandwiches and wine at Pastoral, then heading to what I’m most looking forward to: an evening at the Art Institute. It’s free on Thursday nights (starting tonight, actually) and I couldn’t be more excited. Tomorrow night we’re going to make a romantic dinner together (I’m thinking pan-seared sea scallops served with some kind of ravioli or tortellini with a creamy white wine sauce, with some bordeaux [I’m totally obsessed with bordeauxs right now. So! Obsessed!]).

Tell me, did you make anything crafty for Valentine’s Day? Send any Valentine’s? (Did you send one to meee? ; ) ) I hope you all have a love-filled day! xo!



Singing, lately

January marked the start of Audition Season for me, so I’ve been busy busy preparing for all of the different auditions and competitions that happen between January and February.


My “audition look” (hair became more relaxed/loose though by the time of the audition – it didn’t look so Shirley Temple-ish). And you can’t see it- but those tights are the kind with the line up the back. Very retro. : )

This year I had three big auditions and one great singing opportunity. Now, four things may not seem like a lot, but when you consider the fact that you need to learn 2-4 pieces for each audition, and the selections don’t really overlap, that’s a lot of music to be learning or working on (especially with a full-time job).


Another look at the audition dress/ensemble (different belt)

I competed for the Bel Canto audition and did much better than I did last year, but still didn’t advance (alas!). I’m better than I was last year though, so I’m satisfied with that. Thanks to the great suggestion of my vocal coach, I also performed an early and rarely-performed Puccini piece, and the judges really enjoyed that, which was fun for me. It’s nice to not be singing all the same songs as everyone else. : )


The view from Curtiss Hall, on the 9th floor of the Fine Arts Building where I performed at Schubertiade

A few days after the Bel Canto audition I performed as a part of the Chicago Chapter of Student NATS in a time slot at Schubertiade – a day-long Schubert-music festival in downtown Chicago. It was packed! It was really fun for me to perform in front of a group of people who were there solely because of their love for Schubert (okay, and the free wine and food didn’t hurt, either). It was an absolute blast, and I got to hear my voice teacher perform a set with my vocal coach, as well, which was superb. That was a really great highlight of my day, and I hope that I can perform a longer set of Schubert pieces next year (I mean, he only has 600 or so songs to choose from…. ha!).


My voice teacher and vocal coach performing together in front of a packed audience in one of the salons at Schubertiade

Last week during one of my lunch hours I ran across the loop to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus auditions, and while I felt that I did really well on that audition, I don’t think I’m at that level/caliber of singing yet. But who knows! They announce call backs sometime in March. Even if I’m not called back, I feel very good with the progress I’ve made since last year, which I think, ultimately, is what matters.


Mentally studying the music one day when I was too tired (and unmotivated) to physically sing. The mental work is just as important as the physical!

Next week is my last audition – Grant Park Chorus. This is one that I hope I get called back for, because it should be (relatively) within “my level.” We’ll see how my excerpt and sight reading go. Fingers crossed for that! Again though, if I did better than I did last year I’ll be happy, but I’ll definitely be happier if I advance! Ha. : )

Funny tidbit

At my church job this weekend the pastor pointed out a funny list at the very beginning of the hymnal. It was a list of directions by John Wesley, written in 1761, and I just had to share them with you – it’s just too funny to (94)

Some of my favorite bits: “and if you have learned to sing them otherwise, unlearn it as soon as you can,” “Beware of singing  as if you were half dead, or half asleep,” and “Sing in time. Whatever time is sung be sure to keep with it.”

Have you ever come across any funny directions or prefaces from a book (or in this case, hymnal) that you didn’t expect to find?


Happy Haircut!

This weekend marked the 8-month mark since my last haircut, which was high time to get this beast of hair trimmed and shaped (it needed a lot of work).


As you can see, I’ve been growing it out for quite some time, but it was getting a bit ridiculous (no shape, so many split ends, it didn’t flatter my face, etc, etc, etc), so I made an appointment with Bria Salvador at Mops Beauty Shop. I’ve been to Mops before and absolutely loved what they did with my hair, but I hadn’t had it cut with Bria. This time I decided to try her out because not only was she super referred by not only a friend of mine, but also Refinery 29 (what what! One of the top 3 stylists in Chicago?! Woo!) had some high praise, too.

What I really enjoyed about my experience with Bria was that she really took the time, before she washed my hair or did anything, and talked with me about my hair, the products I use, how I style it day-to-day, and what I’d like my hair to be like. She thoroughly analyzed my actual hair texture and style and recommended a fantastic cut that would really bring out all the great things about my hair – the thickness, the wave, the color – and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it came out.


Here’s an unedited view so you can see that there’s lots of layers and movement without losing much length

She removed a lot of weight without losing length, and cut the front section in such a way that I could have three (!) distinct looks for day-to-day wear (instead of just getting a cut and parting it to one side, I have can part it a couple of different ways without the rest of my hair looking ‘off’). It’s been three days now and it’s still holding up great from the blowout on Saturday night.


I’m so in love with it – I can’t wait until May for my next cut and “summer style” consultation!


Obviously, I’m not paid to rave about Bria, I just wanted to share my incredible experience with her with you. If you decide to get your hair cut with her at Mops, mention that I referred you! : )