Rwanda, checking in.

As you may have heard a time or two, one of my best friends, Jessi, is currently living in Rwanda. She moved there last month for a two-year stint in the Peace Corps and she has already messaged back with stories of incredible cultural differences and amazing experiences. I love hearing her stories so much , I thought I'd share with you...


"This is a greeting commonly used by older adults talking to younger people. It means that they wish them to have many cows. The proper response is amashyongore, which means there should be many female cows among them to reproduce. While the concept of wishing people many cows is pretty foreign, the good-natured wishing of health and prosperity is not. No one has actually wished me to have many cows yet (although I’m staying hopeful), but everyone has been incredibly friendly and welcoming, and I am so glad to be here."

Family relationships explanation

"Talk about complicated. Your aunts and uncles are called different things on each side but the sister of your mother is your mother and the brother of your father is your father. So their kids are not your cousins, but your siblings. Your older sister is your mukuru, your younger sister is your marumuna and your brother is your masaza, but only if you’re a girl. If you’re a boy, then your sister is your mushiki and your older brother is your mukuru and your younger brother is your masaza. The children of one of your siblings of the same gender (brother if you’re a boy or sister if you’re a girl) are your children and the words for “niece” and “nephew” only refer to whether the children belong to your sister or your brother, not their gender. And just to make things a little more complicated, most of these name change if you’re not talking about your own family, but someone else’s family."

Food. Lots and lots of food.

"Tonight we had rice and beans and guacamole for dinner- definitely one of the best meals so far, it was delicious. We eat a lot of potatoes (usually as french fries), carrots, and goat meat (kinda tough, but not nearly so strange as it sounds). Breakfast is almost always bread and crazy salty eggs and lots of coffee (thank goodness). We eat pretty much every two hours, so whenever it’s longer, everyone gets hungry- probably not the greatest thing to get used to, but the food is delicious so we all dig in."

International Women's Day

"Last Monday was International Women’s Day, a holiday that goes largely unnoticed in the States, but that Rwandans apparently celebrate. In the morning we were invited to the soccer stadium for a women’s day presentation. We got there sometime around 9, which of course was hours too early. There was a (high school?) group there that sang and danced the entire time while we waited to start. Eventually they pulled all of us down onto the field to dance with them- it was a riot! None of us knew the songs or the dances, but we danced along just the same. One of the things they do is sing a song and form a chain bridge where you clap hands with the person across from you while other people run under. Between their group and ours it took a while to run through the whole thing. I’m sure we looked hilarious, but everyone had a good time with it.

When the presentations finally started there were a number of Rwandan dance groups. No one has actually explained the dance to me here, but before I left one of the fellows told me that in Rwanda they do cow dances where you are supposed to dance like a cow. Having never seen that before, I imagined sometime like lumbering around like a slow cow, which turns out to not be even remotely correct. Your arms are supposed to be the horns but they move them more like a slow hula dance. I have no idea what’s going on with the feet, but both the men and women wear bells around their ankles that jingle while they dance. The men jump around much more while they dance, but it looks much more graceful than how I’m describing it. I’m not sure yet, but it seems like the men and women always dance separately, and least while doing traditional dance."

I'm glad Jessi is so deliriously happy in Rwanda.

"There are really a hundred little things every day make me so happy. Here are just a few of them;

  1. The hundreds of butterflies that like to fly around Nyanza en masse
  2. Waking up to the sound of the rain hitting our tin roof
  3. The sun tattoo that AJ drew on my foot
  4. The genuine smiles that the old women here give you when you’re trying to speak Kinyarwanda
  5. The gorgeous view of the countryside that you get when you walk up into the hills
  6. How clear the sky is after it rains
  7. The millions of stars that come out every night
  8. Hearing “good morning” from the neighborhood kids every night as we walk back from dinner
  9. Reading on our front porch
  10. Sunday afternoon yoga

And a hundred other things that make me so glad to be here."

Isn't this all fantastically interesting?! Read more of her experiences here.

{image via}


interesting paint technique.

i just came across this amazing artist and thought i should share her work with others. alexa meademakes her subjects appear as if they were in a painting by applying acrylic paint. it's an incredibly interesting and creative, though backward, artistic design. i really enjoy the paradox in her work.

{images via}



i'm not proud of this by any means, but i just read a
nicholas sparks novel. and, to make matters worse, i somewhat enjoyed it.

after years of prodding by friends and developing a concrete resistance to such suggestions, i finally broke down. while i would never admit a sparks's novel into the category of literary masterpiece- or anywhere near that- i do have to admit it was entertaining. {though i should also admit that i could guess the entire plot of the novel, "twists" and all, by the end of the first few pages.}

i guess every once in a while a girl just needs to lose herself in a cheesy, romantic novel full of charming, though unrealistic characters and dialogue.

the timing of this novel was perfect. i had just finished a few dark, intense books on the opression of women, genocide in darfur and sex trafficking in southeast asia. a nicholas sparks novel is just what i needed.

{though to protect my reputation, i must also add that i am currently reading the devil in the white city with water for elephants waiting next on my bedside table}


Fight For Air

On Saturday, four of my friends participated in the
American Lung Association's Fight For Air stair climb. Participants climbed the 97 flights {1,034 steps} of the U.S. Bank Center building in downtown Milwaukee, the tallest building in Wisconsin.

Unbelievably, they all survived. To be completely honest, they rocked. The fastest climber last year finished in 5 minutes, 39 seconds while the fastest of my friends finished in 10 minutes, 9 seconds. Very impressive. They were a bit sore and tired- and couldn't stop coughing for a while after- but all extremely happy they completed such a challenge.

Some people apparently didn't think that one thousand stairs was enough of a challenge and decided to spice it up a bit more. I saw many, many people race up the stairs two or more times as well as dozens of firefighters competing in full gear for the fast time. {Unbelievably, I think most completed it way under ten minutes too.}

Why in the world would someone ever do that, you ask. Well, each participant raised over $100 for lung cancer research. {A cause close to a few of us.} I'm not sure what the donations totaled, but there were over 1,300 climbers so I can imagine that it was fairly large.

A very loud congratulations goes out to everyone who braved that staircase on Saturday!


happy spring.

it's officially spring {though it may not look like it yet} and you know what that means:
april showers, golf, long walks outside, light jackets, coffee on the deck, fishing in the harbor, scarves, sunny mornings, driving with the windows down, flowers, baseball, picnics, reading outside...

{image via weheartit}


eveready diner

when i was in new york, we stopped at a roadside diner in hyde park my brother-in-law said he heard great things about. turns out, he heard those great things from guy fieri on the food network. eveready, a 1950s-style diner, was featured on diners, drive-ins and dives and it definitely lived up to its hype.

the atmosphere was absolutely charming and the food was even better. our waiter said eveready is most known for their ice cream and deserts so my sister had a delicious cherry coke float with a million cherries and i had a brooklyn egg creme {a combination of seltzer, whipping creme and syrup so i'm sure it was incredibly healthy}.

Add Image
overall, i really loved the pace and would definitely go a lot more if i lived in the area. my sister did point out that we have out own diner, drive-ins and dives treasure in our hometown: frank's diner. i think it's about time i checked out their garbage plate.


first day at the cia

i was such a proud sister sending my brother-in-law off on his first day of school at the culinary institute of america. he was so excited and that excitement definitely spread to my sister and i. {it was sweet how excited and proud of him she is.}

while patrick was at orientation, maggie and i sat in on a few discussions on parent-student transition and an informational session about the school. we also explored the area and ate twice at theapple pie bakery cafe, a restaurant in the school where all baking students work before graduating.

for breakfast, i had a spinach and goat cheese turnover and maggie had an edleflower and chocolate creme danish. both were absolutely delicious. the danish just melted in your mouth.

for lunch, i had macaroni & cheese {tubetti pasta with gruyere cheese and parmesan cheese topped with crisp bread crumbs} that was to die for! my sister had a tillamook grilled cheese {with bacon and hudson valley apple served with a mache & arugula salad dressed with truffle cinaigrette}. yes, we are from wisconsin. the food was incredibly delicious. i wish i could have stayed longer so i had time to try everything on the menu.

also, the campus was absolutely beautiful.

dear poughkeepsie {and hyde park}

you are much nicer than the new york reputation. i guess people are just nicer outside of the city.

though your main highways have been conquered by chain stores and restaurants, you hide your personality and charm in neighborhoods. well done.

i'm not a fan of the randomly-placed one way roads, especially those that come without warning. {it's difficult to tell when you can only park on one side of the road}

you are lucky to have the culinary institute of america and all the delicious food that comes with.

it took a bit, but we found some great places to hang out {soul dogs, the derby and blue mountain cafe}.


thoughts from a roadtrip

first, woah, what a long ride, why did i volunteer to come?
my sister did a great job keeping us calm while driving though chicago traffic in a moving truck towing a car behind.
welcome to indiana - the crossroads of america. it smells.
diet coke is your best friend.
maggie rode through most of ohio asleep with her head on my knee. good idea. there was nothing to look at.
moving trucks are not comfortable, especially for three people.
pennsylvania is beautiful but very high. my fear of heights coupled with my driving anxiety didn't make it an easy trip through pennsylvania. i took lots of pictures though.
scranton, penn. is fare more interesting to look at than The Office shows. still cool to drive though the city of a favorite show.
truck stops do not serve any healthy food whatsoever.
the hudson bridge is beautiful. especially when lit up at night.



for making new friends on the metra. a twenty-something girl and an old lady bonding over books. 3 points each.

the dad covered in stickers and hanging out with his two-year-old son. 5 points.

my uncle mike for admitting slapshot is one of his favorite movies. {and for telling my sister to say hi to everyone in new york for him.} 2 points.

my coworkers for rejoining our trivia team on thursday nights. 2 points each.

the high school friends talking at the coffee shop for starting an amazing tradition. i hope. 5 points.

my friend for suggesting the lovely bones. it's a great read so far, definitely better than the movie. 2 points.

the guy walking down the street decked out in blackhawks gear. 3 points.


happy weekend

hope you all have a fantastic weekend! i know i will.

my weekend is going to get a bit busy: dinner plans with family on friday, spending all day saturday with friends in chicago {one of my best friends from college, who currently lives in memphis, is in for the day. i'm so excited to hang out, chat, eat and, of course, shop.}, then as soon as i get back from chicago, it's off to new york with maggie and patrick. it's sure to be an amazing time. a lot of commuting, but an amazing time. i'm sure sunday will involve lots of unpacking and probably a little exploring {i hope we don't get lost}. i'm excited!

i'll tell you later all about poughkeepsie and the trip.

{image via mahmah}


little notes

dear sam.
i'm so happy you made the trip to chicago from denver. {also to lizz and maggie} it was great to get lunch and catch up with you all. i miss all of my medill friends. we really need to get together more.

dear metropolis.
you are indeed one of my favorite coffee shops in chicago. i can't wait until we can share another weekend afternoon.

dear big star.
you are the reason i look forward to march. your food is absolutely delicious {and greasy}. i just wish it didn't take an hour to order your amazing burgers. opening weekend, i suppose.

dear jenny.
thank you so much for covering me at work so i can go to new york for a week. i truly owe you big.

dear dave at u.s.cellular.
i really appreciate your help getting a new phone. you made the process far simpler than i expected. i am writing a letter to u.s.cellular so they also know how great you are.


i heart roadtrips

big news. i'm going to help my sister and brother-in-law move to new york this weekend. i know it's kind of a last-minute decision but i want to get in as much time with them as i possibly can.

we're going to drive out to poughkeepsie, ny {directly adjacent to hyde park, home of the culinary institute of america} on saturday in a uhaul and i'll fly back on thursday. i'm really excited to help them move and see their new apartment. i heard it's really nice and, i'm sure, has a ton of character already.

on tuesday, patrick's first day of orientation, maggie and i will be able to walk around the culinary institute campus and attend a few friends and family informational sessions. i'm interested to see what his school is like. {so far, i've heard it smells delicious :)}

i think we're also planning on doing a little poughkeepsie exploring, that is if the unpacking is done. i hope we get a chance to take a day trip to new york city but i kind of doubt there will be time. it's going to be a hectic few days.

i'm going to be terribly sad to get on a plane and leave my sister and brother-in-law hundreds of miles away. it's going to be weird to not have them around anymore. i'm going to miss them dearly.

{image via weheartit}


Afternoon at Ashling

On Sunday, my sister and brother-in-law had a little lunch at Ashling on the Lough to see friends and family before they move to New York on Saturday. It was great to see friends and family that we don't get a chance to see often. {It's so difficult to get everyone together now-a-days. Especially family since everyone is at a different place in their life and most with busy schedules.} It's a pretty big restaurant and about three quarters of it were there to see Maggie and Patrick off on their new adventure.

I had only been to Ashling one time prior to Sunday but I really like it. It's an Irish pub and restaurant with an upscale, cozy feel and traditional Irish food.

I only tried the reuben but I heard from others that everything on the menu is absolutely delicious.

Don't you just love the feel of Ashling? It's great on a Sunday afternoon for lunch or for a beer on Friday night.


happy monday

Luckily, my normal 'case of the Mondays' isn't as bad today as it usually is. I think it's because I had such a great weekend and have another to look forward to in just a few short days.

I spent Saturday afternoon in Chicago with friends {Sam flew in from Denver for the weekend}. We ate lunch at an amazing Indian buffet, which was perfect because I'm on a crazy Indian food kick lately. {I've been averaging twice a week.} After lunch, we met some other friends for coffee at Metropolis on Granville in Edgewater. I heard many great things about the shop and I'm so happy it lived up to expectations. I had such a lovely time talking with friends that I don't get a chance to see often, I loved it. I was also able to squeeze in a little shopping on Michigan Ave and at Water Tower Place mall before heading home.

Actually, I didn't go home. I went straight to downtown Milwaukee on Water St. to celebrate another friend's birthday. We went to Bootleggers {where I swear I saw Mario Batali of Iron Chef America fame} and then caught a show at Comedy Sportz. It was a fun but very crazy day.

Sunday afternoon, my sister and brother-in-law had a going away get together with lots of family and friends. Then, movies and Big Star {!!!}, which took about an hour to get because of the craziness of opening weekend.

Great, GREAT weekend! Hope yours was fabulous too!

{image via smashingmagazine}

Blog Widget by LinkWithin