Friday, July 22, 2011

Cafe de Anderson

Just call our little apartment Cafe de Anderson.
 With the intolerable heat this week, we had time to stay home in the air conditioning and spend a little Mr. and Mrs. time in the kitchen.
The plates stacked high through the week with colorful seasonal produce, and each bite flavored with summertime.
Try one if you'd like!
The ciabatta sandwich is a new favorite, as of tonight.

Bacon, lettuce, & tomato sandwiches with corn on the cob and caprese salad

 Arugula salad with blackened chicken, sliced almonds, onion, carrots, and garden green beans

 (Eggplant replaced with grilled chicken)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Creative Life

Don't let me fool you.
It's not all leisure reading around here.
I do a fair amount of reading in my field, and while I really eat it up, it still stacks up to piles of chapters laden with topics that most people prefer never to have to think about.
I need a separation from pathology, healthy and unhealthy structures of relating, theories, human pain, and emotional distress from time to time.
Time to time as in every day.

Pleasure reading, exploring the city, finding beauty, all balance out my mind and soul, a much needed respite for the working side of my life, heavy on interfacing with how fallen this world truly is.
There's nothing I love more than gathering up my feeble courage and walking straight into the reality of life with someone.
But in order to do so sustainably, I find I need to live the creative life.

Sometimes I need a momentary escape to another world.  
Enter Harry Potter.
Sometimes I need to taste and remember that life is indeed sweet.  
Enter cupcake bakeries.
So often do I need to laugh and go light and free.  
Enter Vespa rides around the city.
Most of all, I need to find grace in this fallen life.  
Enter photographing and blogging the lovely.

What I really meant to say in all of this is that I finished a book for work called Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend at the park the other day.
I recommend it, less so as a counselor, and more so just as a friend.
This book will be my friend for years to come.

Any book could become a friend in this beautiful garden, don't you think?
And like I said, eating, sleeping, and breathing books, we are.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Room With A View

My first office in downtown Chicago is a room with a view
I gasped when I first stepped through the door, new sublet keys in hand.
The office is a short ride into the loop on the "L," all a jostle with black suits and heels.
The train lets off in the business district, but right across the street the face of Chicago, Milennium Park, contests the notion of separation of work and pleasure.

My office location will likely be changing this coming fall, but this first office will always be part of my story of my first days as a professional.
This office did all the talking.

Take a look at the view from the office window.
 Not a bad desk for the new girl.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Everything You Need

Image source unknown.  Please comment if you know it.

A garden and a library.
All I need this summer, indeed.
Trips to Stanley's Fruit & Vegetables are commonplace for husband and I these summer days.
Everything we love from a garden, we find at this lovely (and cheap!) city produce market.
Basil, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and grapefruit have been our favorites as of late.
Grapefruit in the morning for breakfast, and caprese salads for evenings.

Books.  Swoon!
Me and husband are taken this summer.
We eat, sleep, and breathe books lately, at parks, at the lake, in bed before lights out.
He: Devil in the White City and lots of Dante
She: Piling a list a mile high, looking forward to these...

The Help by Katheryn Stockett
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
A Praying Life by Paul Miller
The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen
The Giver by Lois Lowry

If I have a garden and a library, I have everything I need.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Snapshots

Husband and I drink in summer, as through a straw.
Just a couple snapshots, a couple sips, to taste today.
The sweet drink rising up the straw tastes like mornings at Washington Square Park, tastes like an afternoon at Oak Street Beach,  
tastes like summer the city way.

Most of my days off find me at the park for the morning, and husband often goes there at daybreak for an hour before work.
This morning we got to drop in on the park together, and I think those benches may have smiled.
I know I did.

Friday, July 15, 2011

We Run Our Story All Through It

My feet pounded the pavement along Lake Shore Path this morning, sometimes faster, sometimes slower.
The familiar curve of the path took me around that bend where you turn around and see the city rise up in her formation, the Hancock, the Trump, the Willis.
I gasp for breath, though I don't know whether from the sunlight sparkling on Lake Michigan at the base of the city, or from lungs, trying to keep up.

The city is like a time line arranged into a grid, little tick marks around every corner documenting where I first laid eyes on him, where we first got coffee, where he said "I love you," where I wore that blue dress.

Chicago becomes the significantly better version of herself in the summertime, and we run our story all through it.

Beneath an overhead heavens of strands of lights and hanging baskets heavy with blooms, our table of two at the Kerryman patio (best outdoor patio in the city, if you're asking me) marks another place on this city-turned-story map.

"That hot summer Sunday night.  I spilled to him under patio lights all that I was taking in from my current reading, One Thousand Gifts.
How I love to talk to that man about books.
His brown eyes surprised me with pooled tears as he urged me about what he believes I can do. 
Ways he believes my gifts to be good. 
How he wants me to water buds he believes can bloom.
He believes.
In me." 
That makes the map.

Husband.  Life with you is so dear to me.
Your brown eyes are my favorite place to be.

And the story goes on.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

HP Party

A little celebration was held this week at my friend Kirra's Bridgeport apartment.
A Harry Potter party with such creative foods from the books and plenty of anticipation for the last movie this weekend!
Just look at those cupcakes!
When Kirra called me on Saturday about the party, I immediately canceled our reservations to kayak the Chicago River to be sure to be at Harry's party instead.

In the meantime, I have a couple HP movies to watch in preparation for this weekend.
Movies always disappoint after books, but I'm gonna try.
I mean, it's hoopla, and I certainly want to be part of hoopla if there's hoopla to be had.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Did You Really

Did you really think a summer weekend would pass without our picnic blanket brushing the grass of Montrose, welcoming the familiar scene of the city saying goodbye to the long, summer day?

Did you really think the first city light would twinkle on after the sun slips behind the skyline, and we wouldn't be there to watch it?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

City Lights' Look

City Lights got a new look this week.
It's been a little something I've been hoping to arrange for awhile, and summer is spacious and just the right time for me to tinker with some of my projects.
I use the word "projects" loosely, meaning read novels, buy dresses, have a Chicago hot dog.

Working with Caitlin from Roost on a blog header design was wonderful, and oh I am in love with what she did with City Lights.
She is such the talented artist and her customer service is tops.
If you read City Lights in an email or reader, come over here and see the look!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Summer Home

Part of what summertime in the city has come to mean for husband and I is cooking new recipes together, and buying lots of fresh cut flowers.

Summer cooking is a way we welcome the slower pace.
A center around which we spend the evenings talking over our newest reads, thoughts, and ideas, while doing dishes and chopping the season's produce.

Some of our favorites for the month of June: 

Fish tacos with cucumber relish

Tilapia salad with apples and almonds

Chipotle beef tacos with cabbage and radish slaw

Looking for: a really delicious fresh strawberry lemonade recipe.
Do you have one you like?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chicago Summer

I work.  I grocery shop.  I do dishes and straighten up our little apartment over and over again.
I workout.  I toss junk mail, both from piles of papers and a never-ending email inbox.
I wipe down counter tops and read clinical literature.
I take naps and go to bed early on Friday night for work the next day.

I mean, as every book has a preface, you should know that I don't spend every morning reading in Washington Square Park, every afternoon at Oak Street Beach, every evening biking on Lake Shore Path, or every twilight picnicing at Montrose Harbor.

But I wouldn't consider myself a true Chicagoan if I didn't spend some summer days in such a manner.
The loveliest.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

4th of July Celebration

I forgot one thing.
My journal.

Oftentimes when we travel, I bring my journal along but I've found it rarely finds its way out from beneath the pile of folded dresses, various books, and other items deemed agreeable for the trip.

This 4th of July, in the quintessential setting for celebrating the land where I'm free, I missed my journal.
Would I have actually spent time putting pencil to paper instead of staying up as late as I possibly could keep my eyes open to sit under the pergola lights with coffee and some of my favorite faces?
History says no.

But with every taste of summer and wholesome freedom, pool mornings and lake afternoons, baby smiles, twin quilted beds in Granny and Grandpa's attic, fans and Coke and Momma's stove-popped popcorn, I wanted those pages.

As it were, I sidled into fresh sheets on Neal's twin bed each night before bed, and spoke the words into the dark room I would've written, ceiling fan spinning out the hot summer air.

How much I love to laugh that hard.
How whole I feel with him and them and me, all together.
And little things, like how I like drinking Coke out of a mason jar. 
And such.
Maybe a few pages of words will still make it into the journal.

For now, I'll let a few photos do the talking.
See last year's celebration here.