Athens in Pictures

Monday, January 19, 2015

A week ago I returned from a little mission trip to Athens. Greece. I wanted to get some pictures up for those not on social media so you can get a glimpse of Athens. 

Walking up the Acropolis

University of Athens - an outreach spot



group photo in Corinth. 

Libby and Kristen


Mars Hill - Acts 17

Standing on Mars Hill

A typical Greek lunch. Lots of bread and lots of salad. 

Organizing for a refugee ministry

A Greek Gyro with fries! 

A dreamy sunset.

Lots of hiking. 



The Sea! 

Inside a church

The hiking was seriously amazing. 

yoga in the subway station. 

Orange trees everywhere!

Christmas Eve Snapshots

Thursday, December 25, 2014

This Christmas Eve I spent the whole day with my immediate family: mom & dad and my three siblings. Christmas Eve included lots of baking, trombone + Monopoly playing, gift giving, and It's a Wonderful Life watching. All images are captured in black and white. 

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins, recipe from Pinch of Yum.

Gingerbread Scones, recipe from Pinch of Yum

How I get around Minneapolis

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Why are you blogging about that? Isn't the answer obvious? Even if it's not obvious, how could it be interesting? 

Transportation can be a big part of your day, so I think it's interesting to hear how people get from point A to point B on a day-to-day basis. There's a lot that can go in to someone's commute. Maybe you're the type who blasts music, listens to podcasts, chats with strangers around you, finishes your breakfast, etc. etc. I think it's all fascinating.

Can I just share my New York commute real quick? Commuting in NYC was so funnn.
My summer commute: 6:40 am- walk out the door and head to the 1 train on 86th and Broadway. If I was feeling tired or extra special, I would stop at Joe coffee and order an iced coffee during my 12 minute walk to the train.  Right before I went down to the subway station, I would usually buy some fruit at the greencart and grab the AM New York newspaper. These moments were sometimes hectic, especially when I heard a train entering the station. One time I dropped my phone during this process. It cracked. bummer. Next I hop on the train (duh) and ride it allll the way to the end of the line. It was a 40 minute ride. My activities during that time varied, and I'm sure you can imagine things I did.

Alright, that's good enough. This post is supposed to be about Minneapolis anyways.

Bike: I do bike, just not now. For one, my tire is flat and two, it's winter. During the fall I biked and I loved it. I can ride the greenway to school, which is basically a biking freeway with no traffic ever. I can park my bike for free too. Is that surprising? ;) My bike has a milk crate attached to the back of it so I can haul things around. I use a U-lock, although I'm not too concerned about bike theft.

Drive: I live less than a mile from my family, so almost anytime I need a vehicle for an extended period of time I can borrow from them, which is great. Now that it's cold I joined Car2go. It's been really fun and usually really convenient. It's also perfect for downtown driving because these cars are everywhere in downtown and parking is free when you drive these. The car cost 0.41 cents per minute and that includes gas, insurance, and parking. I feel like this car has the potential to save people lots of money and headache. Owning a car is just so expensive when you factor in insurance, car washes, gas, parking, taxes, towing, and accidents. It would be interesting to compare and break it down.

Bus: I ride the city bus. That's my least favorite form of transportation. The bus is unpredictable, it takes a long time, and it usually doesn't get me where I need to be. The one exception to this is taking the bus to church. That's fast, about 10 minutes. I have a student go-card so I can ride the bus unlimited times for the semester. I'm not sure if I'll get a bus card next semester...we'll see.

Alright, that's how I get around. Walking plays a part in all of these modes. Walking is a favorite.

Oh! Usually I listen to music when I'm driving. When I bike, I bike. I don't do anything else. When I ride the bus, I usually scroll through my phone.

And now the mandatory blogger question: How do you get around your city?

On journaling

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hey, this is me taking a moment to process journaling. I definitely did it in high school, in middle school, and when I was six. That's pretty much my whole writing life. Once I learned how to write sentences, I wrote in a little journal. Side bar: my first journal was a blue faux-velvet covered notebook with Cinderella on the cover. This was purchased in Germany. Cinderella is still the greatest Disney character that has ever lived. Six year old Abby filled her journals with made up song lyrics, copied text from Princess' books, and maybe a story or two about my little sister. Everything else that I wrote in my journals between elementary school and teenage years were pretty typical. I filled one or two journals per year and wrote about life.

In high school I got a little better at journaling with intention. I would write out prayers, I would write goals, I would process things there. I'm sure nothing I wrote back then would really impress me too much now, but I do remember spending consistent time on journaling. and I think that's a good thing. I still journal, but not too much has changed since high school. I actually journal less now then I did. This doesn't mean I have fewer things to process or think about, it just means I either A) ignore them or B) talk with other people about them. Talking is good. Sometimes it's hard for much to come out of me when talking to others, but it's still worth it! 

A while ago I talked about a 5 year journal that I write in. Guess what? I still write in it and it's really fun going through this book because I'm currently on year 3 of using it and each day I can see what I was doing in 2013 and 2012. It's even better than Timehop (which I just downloaded on Friday btw). 

Here's an example:
December 1st, 2012:
SAT today. A babysitting job was cancelled and then a new one came up. Got lost on the way there. I took the SAT at Blake school. I hope, hope I did well. (Boy's name) needs to stop liking me. 

Oh my gosh, I was such a high schooler. 

December 1st, 2013:
I've been tired all day. Nari made breakfast. Jo made dinner. I visited Redeemer East Side. I made a lovely divider. Count down to MN.

ehh, that day was little lame. I write these right before bed, so they're pretty raw and simple. 

Here's another example just for the fun of it:
November 23rd, 2013:
Went to the American Museum of Natural History with Louise. Had a $17 pastrami sandwich in the UES. Had Grace over to cook dinner. fun. I'm so tired when I go to bed. shm.

I guess I found that stuff important to share. Sometimes I do write random details about my day. Sometimes I'll write out my feelings or things I'm working through. It all depends. There are no rules for this book. I share whatever I want, because it's mine and really for my eyes only, except in this case when I put parts of it on the internet. 

I'm glad I find joy in jotting memories down. Do you?

Oh, and I do have an actual journal where I write more than 5 choppy sentences. I write in that when I need to or when something significant came up. 

On Painting

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I'm currently taking a painting class at college and it's been really satisfying. Art classes are just pure fun for me. I'm on my 6th painting for the semester (I'm not sure if that's fast or slow). My friend in that class is a much faster painter than me and she's always asking our professor for new assignments. She's done like double the paintings as me. I'm okay with being slow when it comes to painting. It's not something that needs to be rushed. There are no deadlines in this class. There are new assignments and critiques, but I could technically continue to work on one painting for the whole semester. I don't. I'm very much a "check that off the list" type of person, and so I need to say that something is done, even if it's art. 

I know that art is a hard career to be in. For people to say they want to be a painter is a bold and ambitious statement. It takes skill. We all know that. I don't personally know any professional painters. Do you? Come to think of it, professional painters do exist -- and not just in Paris or New York. In Minneapolis, we have lots of art fairs during the summer. At those fairs I've seen artists' booths full of beautiful paintings and they're sold for lots of money. Whether these artists make a living solely off their paintings, I don't know.  Today I discovered a blogger who's a full time painter. Painting is her thing and that's how she makes a living. I think her work is beautiful. It's the kind of work that sells, and that's how she can be an employed artist. Here's her site, if you're interested. Here's a glimpse of her painting:

Simple, beautiful strokes. This is what I think of when I think of painting. This is something I would want. It's inspiring seeing people who love doing something and then go turn that passion into a career. I guess that's my main message with this post. I love hearing (in this case, seeing) stories of people who love what they do and do it exceptionally well. 

Nanny Diaries

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I jotted this down a while ago, because I wanted to remember it. Now I'm "publishing" it.

I'm currently a live-in nanny with a super fun family. I watch the kiddos 12 hours a week. Tomorrow is my 9 to 5 nanny day with the kids. I enjoy it. Last Thursday I cycled through eight children in one day. Kids were literally flying in and out the door. If that confuses you, I'll break it down. The family has three boys. They have one foster child. That makes four. The other four kids came from three other families. But I'm not complaining. It keeps the day interesting. I suppose it can also make me lose my mind a bit. Here's an example.
A few weeks ago I wrote this status on Facebook:

Crazy, right? After I got the keys back, I found the incident funny. During the two hours of waiting because I dropped the car and house keys into the city sewer and then proceeded to lock myself out of the car (by shutting the door to pick up the keys that fell). My cell phone was locked in the car and I had young children by my side. At that point, I looked like the ghost emoji with a blue forehead and transparent eyes. We were stuck outside and I really didn't know what to do. I couldn't put my hand in the storm drain to fish for the keys. I couldn't call someone for help, and I could only walk so far with toddlers. And, like, where would I walk to? I dunno.  Be advised, I only had two of the kids with me at this time.   
After the initial moments of panic, I did something right -- I started knocking on doors. First door, no answer. Second door, a nice gentleman named Paul was willing to help. Well, willing to let me use his phone to call for help. This is where having a great dad comes in handy. He rushed over and managed to get a City of Minneapolis truck to follow him to the scene. hallelujah! So I thought. The worker lifted the metal plate to the storm drain and went down. He dug and looked all over, but no sign of the keys.  I just concluded that I'll have to shell out a few hundred bucks to make a new Volvo key to open the door to fetch my phone and wallet, and, well, drive the car. Life happens, that's why we save and have emergency funds. But the worker gave me the number to the Minneapolis sewer department so they could attempt to go into the sewer tank to find the keys. For those who understand how the pipes and drains work under city roads, don't quote me on what I'm saying here. All I know is that when the sewer department came, they lifted the plate in the middle of the road and went down and managed to come up with the keys. 
Yeah, I said it. The man found the keys! He reached into a pipe under the road and then came out with them. Isn't that awesome? 
I still don't completely understand how I managed to drop the keys. Actually, I do: installing carseats. not fun. But hey! It all worked out and I now I have a story that I can take away. I can also assure you that I'm not parking over a storm drain, like, ever again. 

Something new

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I've had this little blog for quite a while, but I still haven't been able to establish a rhythm or feel like I'm doing this blogging thing right. Is this blog supposed to be an artistic journal? Should I write for the sake of others? How much can I share? What do people want to hear, what do they not want to hear? Who's really reading this blog anyways and who cares? What if my writing is bad? What if I offend people? 
There's just a lot of questions I have. Most of those questions I should just ignore. There's a lot of questions that just can't be answered or I'll never know. Yet there are some questions that answer themselves through writing and experimenting. I do enjoy the blogging process and I've enjoyed it for years. If I find joy in it, that should be enough to keep me blogging. I don't have to worry too much about its purpose. 

Now this post isn't about how I'm going to change up my blogging routine or anything, but it is a blogging-type-announcement. And I'm pretty excited about it. For this semester and possibly beyond, I'll be interning with Pinch of Yum- A professional food blog that I adore. Check out this post (for proof).

Why I wanted to intern
I like blogging and I like business. I wanted to do something that would give me experience in those fields NOW and interning for Pinch of Yum fit the bill. I'm still a student and I work as a nanny so I needed to do something that would be really accommodating to my schedule. I also really enjoy food blogs and food photography. This internship gives me a peak at what it's like to blog for a living.  The couple who runs this blog are also really great people, and you'll see that if you follow them on the blog. Lindsay was a teacher and graduated from a Christian college that I took some PSEO classes at.

The deets
This internship is part time. My main role is social media management and marketing. There are a few other tasks that I do from time to time. I'm still in training mode, but Social Media is a big piece. I'm contracted to work 5 to 15 hours a week. It's a paid internship.

How did I get this position?
This goes back to the why I wanted part. I really liked Pinch of Yum and I wanted to work with them. I simply sent an email and attached my resume to see if they were interested in an assistant or intern. They were! I had an interview with them shortly after the email and everything fell into place.

Don't be afraid to reach out and create opportunities for yourself if you are interested in something!

Keep Pinch of Yum on your radar. Follow their Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest too :) 

Whole 30 & My Experience

Friday, October 3, 2014

This August I decided to try Whole 30 . The first half of the Summer I indulged, like, way too much. I needed to change things up, so I decided to do Whole 30 for the remaining weeks of the summer. Whole 30 has you eat only whole foods: meat, veggies, fruits, and nuts for 30 days. I couldn't eat dairy, legumes, grains, or sugar. TOUGH STUFF right there. Doing Whole 30 in the summer was a really good idea for me because fresh foods were abundant in the city. If you aren't familiar with New York City, you would probably think the opposite. Fresh food in the city? What? I thought NYC was full of $1 pizza slices and bagels. That's still true, but there are green carts on pretty much every block and produce is CHEAP. During the summer I nannied 40 hours a week and then the rest of the week was my time to enjoy (Ahhh. I loved that schedule.) Anyways, I had extra time on my hands so I could eat healthy. I was also making a little extra dough with the nannying, so I could spend money on healthier foods. This eating plans seemed like a good route for me. 

For this post, I'm going to break my experience down in three categories: 1) The structure, 2) The hard parts 3) The good parts. 

The structure and key facts 

I found out about Whole 30 through Instagram (no surprise there). I used Instagram for inspiration and accountability. I took pictures of the foods I was eating and I saw pictures of foods other Whole30ers were eating. My Whole 30 experience lasted 28 days. It would have been cool to make it through the whole thing, but I didn't. I shopped at Whole Foods and NYC green carts. Occasionally there was Whole30 approved meals I could eat where I nannied, so I was able to shop the nanny fridge.  I took daily field notes to record this experience on my iPhone. I don't think I'll share these notes, mainly because it's TMI all the way when it comes to my digestive track. I probably cheated between 5-10% of the time. I never ate grains, but sugar, dairy, and legumes were harder to avoid. 

The hard parts.

1) Eating at a social table. Weekends were killer for me because of social outings. I would go to China Town with some friends and we would order a delicious spread, but I found myself only able to eat the beef and broccoli picked out of a rice bowl. I could never order desserts. I was just so limited when it came to eating out with friends. That wasn't fun. I didn't appreciate the attention either. You're gluten free? Are you on a diet? Do you feel sick? 
2) Meat and veggies - all the time. I probably could have done better research on dinners recipe to eat, because it felt like my only options were some form of meat and veggies. It got boring. Breakfast was exciting for me, and I usually ate a tasty salad for lunch, but dinner was typically anti-climatic. 
3) Saying goodbye to New York. I mentioned that my Whole 30 was really just a Whole 28. That's because my LAST few days in New York were celebration days, and I wasn't able to resist those final ice cream and bakery dates with dear friends I made. I was okay with ending this early. I know it doesn't make me qualified to honestly review the Whole 30 experience, but I got a pretty good taste of it. 

The good parts.

1) My blender and I were BFFs, so that was fun. I was able to make lots of uber healthy smoothies and puddings with that thing.
2) People around me started making healthier choices. I wasn't going for this at all, but it was fun to see the ripple effect. The girls I nannied (especially the 11 year old girl) started asking for vegetable omelettes for breakfast instead of coco puffs. She started to think eating healthy was cool. When I had friends over to my place they were excited to eat zoodles or other healthy snacks. 
3) My workouts were better! This was fun! I never felt bloated or sick when I worked out. I was able to run my fastest mile ever and I managed to run a 10k with a friend (something I haven't been able to do since high school). 

Would you do a Whole 30? Are you gluten free? Have you tried eating paleo? Let me know about your experience.

The pictures throughout this post were all taken by me from Instagram feed. 

I'm going to share another post on Whole 30 that talks about what I learned about my eating "style" and habits. Stay tuned... 

Minneapolis Flavor: September

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Minneapolis is a cool place guys. I've met a lot of new friends, discovered fun shops and pockets in the city, and am adjusting to this new rhythm of life after leaving New York City. Here are some photos I've gathered with short descriptions.

Sipping on coffee

A backyard bash in Powederhorn park and open mic night with a group of friends from church. Music, music, music! 


Enjoying my brother's football game and my cousin's soccer game. Fall sports are the best. Matt and Ariana are both seniors in high school and are stellar athletes!

Studying at Urban Bean coffee house.

Nannying these kids. 

Pictures: iphone only. 

City Year: What I Learned

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I graduated from City Year two months ago, but I still haven't taken too much time to reflect on it. Approximately 99% of the people I talk to have no idea what City Year is.  Most people know what Americorps is, which gets us somewhere when I explain City Year, but confusion is still present in most of my conversations, which is understandable.
"City what?" (I feel like I always have to yell the name.)
"Why do you wear that jacket? Why do you wear a uniform?"
"oh, like Teach for America? My friend did TFA."
"I thought you do Americorps after you graduate college?"
"Do you teach?"
Those are the kind of comments I hear all the time. I'm not going to specifically answer those in this post, but if you would like to know what City Year is, check out their website here or go to my sidebar and click the label City Year. You'll find lots of past posts from over the course of this year.

Coming into this year-
I'm a fan of challenges and hard work, but I also like to see fruit at the end, but there honestly wasn't a ton of that, or at least the kind of "fruit" I expected. Pretty much all the views I had at the beginning of the year about education were shifted because of this experience. I saw first-hand how poisonous public education can be and I realized how complicated it is to bring change and reform. For the record, it's very complicated to bring reform. I definitely didn't realize that coming into it.  

Teamwork is hard work
Going into this year, I thought the team aspect of City Year would be the easiest... nope. I mean I've played on sports teams, I've gone on many team mission trips, I felt like I knew what to expect being on a team. City Year BOASTS about the fact they create the most diverse teams possible, and that's what they did. Yes, for a good portion of the day I worked exclusively with my 6th grade class and I didn't have to directly work with my team, but we ran an after school program together and that required us to be a well-oiled machine. A tight-knit one, too. Communication needed to be excellent, energy-levels needed to be high, and flexibility wasn't an option. More times than not those components were missing, and after school was a struggle. We still pushed through, but there were many disagreements, misunderstandings, and minor problems that would arise during the after school space. There's no doubt that I enjoyed my team. We were friends and we hung out together outside of work. However, just because you're friends with people, doesn't mean you work well with someone. I think we all know this. This year I learned it. And yet, if we didn't have problems as a team I would probably be concerned that the work we were doing was too easy. Conflict, to a degree, is natural and should be worked through. 

Below is a picture of my City Year team at the beginning of they year and then at the end of the year. If it looks like there are fewer people in the second picture, there is. There was a lot of "refining" that happened. 

Students aren't predictable!
I wasn't quite sure how to phrase this. I was thinking about saying, students will mess with your emotions, or students can make you laugh, cry, and smack the table all at the same time. Students aren't predictable definitely sums up what I'm trying to get across.
1. Staying Occupied: When kids are in class they need you to be at your best and have a bunch of exciting things planned for them to enjoy class time. I thought the same would be true in the outside space, but it's NOT. Kids want you to leave them alone when they're outside. They stay busy and they stay happy. They might not be doing the most productive thing, but they know how to entertain themselves. When after school started, we had a bunch of games planned because I was worried riots would start, but I guess they didn't need that. This is just one surprising thing I realized about kids' work habits. 
2. Fighting, arguing, and swearing are normal: It felt like those behaviors ran in their blood. Oh, this was the worst for me. Whenever there was class work time, there was bickering. Lunch time was hell.  It just felt like no matter what happened, students would have problems with one another. When do kids grow out of this?!? What's so hard about communicating in a civil manner?! 

The day to day stuff is still good stuff:
Working in the classroom can get tiring because of the everyday tasks that you have to do everyday: tutor, collect papers, check homework, etc. Yet, those are necessary things and kids and teachers still need that stuff for a successful classroom. Thus it's still good and makes a difference, even though it might sometimes be boring. 
I heart this. 

A career in teaching might not be for me
In high school I wrote many times in my journal that I plan to be a teacher. I was set on it, and it seemed like a career I would enjoy. I wanted to do City Year as a way to gain some classroom experience, beef up my resume, and hopefully absorb a few teaching skills. While I did gain some of those things I realized that teaching is much harder than I thought it would be and working with older students doesn't totally jive with my personality type. At the end of the year my boss told me she envisions me being an excellent kindergarten teacher in the future. At the surface this is a nice compliment, but if you look at it on a deeper level, it also means that I struggled working with the middle school crowd. And I did, but we all did. I know I had successful moments and I know I had challenging moments. 

OR ( a completely different thought on my future career)

A career in teaching might not be for me (yet)
I really want to experience diverse, challenging, exciting, etc. things in my lifetime. Going to college and then going straight into a teaching career seems so restricting to me.  I don't want to be forced to do the standard path that most people do, which is: go to college, get a job just because that's what you should do. With that said, I can tell people that I want to be a teacher when I "grow up," but I don't really want to be a teacher right away. I want to travel, work in the ministry field, try other ventures... there's so much out there to try. I'm not committed to really any long-term career plan at this point in my life. But hey, this could change as fast as my plan to do City Year came about. I'm just thankful that I don't feel the pressure to have life "figured" out. Life should be more of a journey. 

I am so thankful God allowed me to do City Year. It was the perfect thing for me.   

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