Let’s do this!

One of my favorite blogs of all time is HRH Collection. The bogger’s name is is Alex, and she’s absolutely adorable. She has her own jewelry line, she’s incredibly stylish, her house is amazing, and she even has a cute little white bunny that makes occasional appearances (just like I have Aiko!). I really enjoy reading her blog and get really excited when she posts new things.  She has taught me the coolest way to jazz up my shorts, the art of using bronzer to highlight my cheekbones and just how to create the perfect combination of edgy and girly. Though she often finds herself apologizing for her brief delays between posts, Alex continues to follow through with photos, videos and text posts that really inspire me. The appeal of a great blog is that steady stream of fresh new content that keeps readers coming back.

That used to be me.

I used to have new posts every, single day. Mondays were for Recipes, Tuesdays were for Photos, etc. I had a strict Editorial Schedule that I actually stuck to! EmJoyable used to be an accurate depiction of doing things by the book, filled with seasonal recipes, activities and adventure, and inspiring other people to be as excited about everything as I am! Then I started slacking. There just wasn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. I started planning a wedding, crafting a lot more, hanging out with friends and participating in recreational sports. Now don’t get me wrong, those are all very important things! And I love them! But those are the things that I want to share on EmJoyable. Those are the things I want to inspire other people to do! Those things are the reason EmJoyable was born!

And I’m back.

I had two big moments recently. The first came when I was walking through Montrose Harbor on my way to my playoff volleyball game. I realized that I am so incredibly happy. Like, ridiculously happy! I just want to freeze time and be in this phase of my life forever. I love my apartment and where it’s located in the heart of the best city in the world. I’m engaged to my best friend and we’re planning the coolest, most fun wedding of all time — and I get to make so many crafts for it!!! I have the best friends in the entire world who are so incredibly supportive and nice and fun and social and pretty and fantastic! I just, can’t help but squeal thinking how truly lucky I am, and if I could inspire even one of you to realize how happy you are in your own life, then my mission is complete.

The second moment came while I was having drinks with two of my favorite girls on Thursday night. One of them used to live in Chicago, recently moved to Michigan, and was just back in town for work. The other is my dearest friend in the City, who was born and raised in Chicago. (Keep in mind that I’ve only been here for about 2 years, so we had a nice dynamic going on here.) So we’re sitting on a patio outside of bar, drinking RumChata and chatting it up like girls do. We started talking about how great Chicago is and how there’s just this energy here that is just invigorating, that is impossible to match anywhere else (New Yorkers reading this, you’re allowed to disagree with me here, but you surely understand the sentiment for your own turf). And then EmJoyable came up. These girls are two of my biggest fans, and they have been checking my blog repeatedly, and finding the same old content. One of them even knew the exact date of the last time I posted! And I had let them down. I had let my readers down. Each time someone came to my site and left, after finding nothing new, I had missed an opportunity to inspire. One day last year, I had 3,899 views in a single day. Yesterday, I had 4.

I never realized until that moment that there are people on the other end of this blog. When you’re typing away into the backend of WordPress, it’s hard to see that there are actual people reading it on the other end. And they are people like me, checking their favorite blogs every day, and wanting to find something exciting. I have enough excitement in my life that I should I should always be able to provide that!

So I’m making this post as a commitment to inspire! As a commitment to you and myself that I am back, and I will always come back.

Love you!

My New Faves

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot more time reading other people’s blogs than writing my own. Sorry about that! But it’s been a really inspiring endeavor! There are so many good ideas out there and so many creative people to talk about them. Lately, EmJoyable has been primarily about cooking, but it’s more than that. It’s a lifestyle blog. It’s about doing cute things, celebrating everyday and embracing creativity! I wanted to share some of the blogs that I’ve been reading lately. I hope that you take some time to check them out and get inspired too! They’ve certainly put some ideas in my head that I will be trying out soon!

Cheers!

Baking/cooking blogs

Sweet Pea Kitchen
Just a Matter of Thyme
Chocolate Covered Katie
Heat Oven to 350
Dessert First
Bake or Break
Baking Bites

Fashion blogs

The Londoner
The Life Styled

 

Fall Bucket List 2012

After six years as a barista, I will always define my seasons by Starbucks seasonal drinks. Now that Pumpkin Spice Lattes are out, I’m officially allowed to start blogging about fall! Fall is my absolute favorite season. October first is my favorite day of the year, pumpkin recipes never get old and you simply can’t beat the weather!

Right along with the change in weather this year is my change of local! I recently moved to a new neighborhood in Chicago that is absolutely beautiful. I live by some of the best patio restaurants, wine bars and extraordinary window shopping in the city. Now that I have this whole new turf to explore, on top of all the other fabulous fall activities, I feel like I need to make a 2012 Fall Bucket List.

I hope that fall inspires you to explore your neighborhood and go out and do cute things! (And yes, don’t worry, there will be a Go Do Cute Things – Fall Edition coming out soon!) Here’s my top 10 things to do this fall. I will keep you posted every step of the way.

*   *    *

1. Visit a Farmer’s Market (often).    
There’s a Farmer’s Market just up the street from me and all I want to do is wear a cable-knit sweater, sip my Caramel Apple Cider and peruse the tents full of produce. And then buy a huge bouquet of fresh flowers to walk home with and put in a vase on the kitchen table.

2. Try my hand at pie crust for a completely homemade apple pie.  
I’ve attempted homemade pie crust once before and failed miserably. As a recipe blogger, this is a task I MUST accomplish. I figure if I fill it with fresh apples, even if it totally sucks it won’t be that bad. 

3. Visit a local bar for a pumpkin inspired beer. 
I thought I accomplished this goal last Halloween at Fountainhead, but it turns it out it was just beer that was served out of a pumpkin, and wasn’t actually pumpkin flavored. I hear that there are several pumpkin ales and I’m excited to try at least three of them.

4. Build up my fall wardrobe with scarves, sweaters, flannel and boots!
Can you believe I’ve never owned tall, brown, leather boots? I couldn’t either! I am desperately in need of a pair this season! I know that fall attire has been in the stores for the past month, but I’ve been trying desperately to hold off on buying it all until I had a crisp, fall saturday afternoon to spend doing so. It will be a very expensive, very fulfilling, very fantastic day I just know it!

5. Not get last in my first-ever Fantasy Football Team. (Let’s go Oak Street Jenny MacAurthors!)
I’ve only really gotten into NFL football over the past two years, but when my fiance asked if I wanted to be on his league, I was extremely excited! I asked if EmJoyable was an appropriate Fantasy Football team team and it turns out that it’s not. So I opted to pay tribute to my favorite character on The League. I was an NFL columnist for a college sports website for a while, so hopefully that counts for something. I don’t expect to win, but I would just really, really like to not get last.

6. Make pumpkin seeds that don’t suck. 
I tried them last year and they were really soggy. My goal this year is to make delicious, crispy and salty pumpkin seeds that someone might actually want to eat.

7. Eat brunch outside.
And if we’re being honest, also eat lunch, dinner and dessert outside and as often as possible. My neighborhood is lined with trees and floral arrangements and I can only imagine how beautiful it will look when the leaves start to turn. Plus, I am surrounded by brunch places with cute patio seating outlined with rod-iron fences and strings of white lights. I could eat brunch on a different patio every weekend till Christmas.

8. Make a killer DIY R2D2 halloween costume.
No one seems to believe me when I say that this costume is going to be adorable, but I promise that it is! And it’s going to be easy and cheap! I hope you’re as excited about it as I am.

9. Host a fall-themed party (and make a few friends to invite to said party). 
I’m not exactly sure what this means. All I know is that I bought six wine glasses, so that will clearly be involved. There will certainly be pumpkin flavored snacks, a craft table (yes, like Mrs. Dunphy on Luke’s birthday on Modern Family) and probably a screening of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” I just know it will be great.

10. Blog about ALL of these things!
I know I’ve been a total slacker lately and that makes me very sad. So I am making an honest vow to be better! No one likes a blogger that doesn’t blog. Let’s have a great fall together!

*   *   *

What things are you hoping to do this fall?!

J480 & Developmental Services Center

If there was ever a class that changed my life, it was JOUR 480: Literary Feature Writing with Prof. Walt Harrington. It was an in-depth writing class that absolutely fascinated me. The class taught the art of this delightful medium of storytelling that reads like a literary piece while upholding journalistic standards of integrity and fact. This class taught me a lot of things, including how to ask tough questions, how to paint images with detail and how to find the story worth telling.

My junior year of college, that story worth telling was about a very darling little girl and the amazing family that raised her. For the sake of the story, we’ll call her Sally. Sally had an older brother, a baby sister and two incredible parents who wanted nothing more than to raise three healthy, loving and happy children. They did just that. Sally just happened to have Down syndrome. I don’t think I saw anyone come within 10 feet of Sally without walking away with a smile. She was just a very strong and inspiring little girl. It was through my writing about this lovely family, that I ended up at at a very special organization that I feel so incredibly passionate about: Developmental Services Center (DSC).

DSC is such a great organization that provides support to children and adults with disabilities in Champaign County. Their mission is to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities by providing services and supports which enable them to live, work, learn and participate in their communities. The organization does so much good in their community that it gives me chills to just think about it. DSC is making a difference in people’s lives every single day. That’s just incredible to me.

I was so impressed by DSC and what they did that I immediately reached out to see what I could do to help. I ended up with an AWESOME volunteer job in the development department. Working under two of the most inspiring, motivated and nice people I have ever met, I gained hands-on experience on the inner-workings of a non-profit organization. I spent my hours there helping with fundraisers, getting donations, working on spreadsheets and writing success stories about DSC consumers. I loved every minute of it.

Why am I telling you this? Because DSC taught me the importance of doing good. Volunteering taught me what it means to do something because you genuinely care about it, not because you’re forced to. So my challenge to you is to find something that you care about and take a stand. Volunteer. Donate money. Run a 5K. Do whatever it takes to support what you care about. That is how you build character.

You can find out more about DSC here. If you’re able, please consider donating to DSC as well. All proceeds go directly toward providing supports and services for people with disabilities in Champaign county. If it’s time that you have, please consider volunteering at DSC. There are lots of ways you can get involved that are listed here.

Goose Island Summer Beers

Goose Island is definitely one of my top-five favorite things about Chicago (the other four things will come in a future post, because that sounds like fun now that I think about it). For those of you who don’t know, Goose Island is a brewery in Chicago probably most popular for their wheat beer, 312. (I say probably because I’m not sure about the popularity of Goose Island outside of the Chicago area, let alone a specific beer.) They also brew a pretty wide variety of other house beers, including six of my top-seven favorite beers.

Photo Credit: Hello Chicago

Yesterday, I spent a solid five hours at Goose Island in Wrigleyville. I was killing time after work before a comedy show that started 11. I know that sounds silly, but I live on the south side and the show was on the north side, and it didn’t make sense to go all the way home between. Anyway, it ended up great because Goose Island had they’re summer beers out and they were all fantastic!

These are the three summer beers that I tried that I highly recommend. Keep in mind that I generally like wheat beers and fruity beers. These were perfect. So if you’re in the Chicago area, now or ever, be sure to hit up Goose Island! You won’t regret it!

Also, I’m really sorry that I didn’t take pictures of all these! What was I thinking!?

*   *   *

Cubby Blue
Blueberry Ale | 5%
Raspberry color, blueberry aroma and flavor, light body*

Now, I know this sounds uber girly and fruity and amazing, but I promise it’s only two of the three. It’s really not as girly as it sounds — it’s certainly no wine cooler. This one is probably my favorite of these three. It’s incredibly flavorful, but not in a faced or fake way. It’s very “honest” if you will.

Wrigleyville White
Belgian Style Witbier | 5%
Hazy straw color, orange peel aroma, spicy citrus flavor, light body*

The spice is what I remember most about this one. I’m no beer-tasting pro, but if I had to describe this beer with one adjective that was not food related, it’d be “loud.” It just had a lot happening. Thumbs up.

Blonde
American Blonde Ale | 5%
Straw color, light tangerine aroma, pear flavor, light body*

To me, this is the perfect summer beer. It was just so refreshing and simple and clean and lovely! I had this with my dinner of fried pickles and sweet potato fries, and I thought it made for a great pairing.

*Source: Goose Island Beer Menu

*   *   *

Cheers!