Friday, August 30, 2013

Can I get an amen?

Destination: Chicago (Part 1)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Next month we will be taking a trip back to Chicago and, while we'll only be there a few days, there are so many spots I want to revisit while we're there. I've had quite a few people contact me about my favorite spots in the Windy City, so I've compiled a short list of my recommendations:


Quenchers: this bar is less than a block from where I lived and, while it took us forever to finally try it out, I was instantly impressed.  Great beer selection, free popcorn, and live music.
Scofflaw:  Hip atmosphere without being too pretentious.  Fun & unique cocktails- mostly with gin.  Bonus: free freshly baked chocolate chip cookies at midnight! This was one of our favorite Saturday night spots.
Logan bar & grill: Pretty standard beer/ wine/ cocktail menu but the afternoon patio is perfect for chatting and people watching.


Violet Hour: This lounge is mildly pretentious, but serves superior cocktails.  The door is unmarked and is fashioned like a speakeasy.  You'll know you're there when you find yourself standing in a long line of hipsters next to a long obscure mural.
Danny's:  Great for dancing!  The DJ spins a great mix of... pretty much everything, and the crowd is the least creepy I've ever seen on a dance floor.  Bring cash!
Green Mill: Al Capone used to frequent this jazz club.  Need I say more? 

Worth the Wait
The Doughnut Vault: Cash only, and they are open til they sell out, so get there early!  On a Saturday wait times can be up to an hour, but as a doughnut connoisseur I can personally guarantee they are worth it.  But seriously, get there early.
Hot Doug's:  Again, get there before you're hungry and avoid it on Saturdays.  But seriously... where else can you get a foie gras hot dog? Men's Health named it one of the places you must eat before you die (that's an international list, folks!)

perfection at Alinea

Alinea: I was never able to fork over the $250 to eat here but I've heard it's unreal- it's been on the "50 Best Restaurants in the World" for the past 7 years!
Topolobampo: Eating here was one of the best culinary experiences of my life.  It didn't even matter that the only reservation we could get was a Tuesday at 5:00 3 months ahead of time.   Rick Bayless knows how it's done.  If you don't want to shell out a ton (or wait half your life for a decent reservation) try its sister Restaurant, Frontera Grill.
Girl and the Goat: You go here for the food, not the atmosphere.  And the food is phenomenal.
Hancock Tower Signature Room: The opposite of the above: the $13 cocktails are nothing special but the view of the city by night can't be beat.  Hint: the best view is the one in the girl's bathroom


Cloud Gate, aka "The Bean" at Millennium Park

Millennium Park: Some call it touristy; I call it classic.  Bring a camera for bean pictures and a picnic for the grassy knolls by the lake.
Sear's Tower: I know it's technically called "Willis Tower" now but any Chicagoan will still call it Sears.  Head up to that Skydeck if you're brave!
Second City: Where Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, John Candy, and Steve Carell all got their starts.  They have tons of different shows and many are very affordable.
Music/ Movie in the Park: Anywhere and everywhere all Summer long.  And almost always free!
Cultural Center: Provides tons of free programs and is just a lovely building to meander in.
Architectural Foundation Boat Tour: A bit pricey, but totally worth it if you're interested in history or architecture.

What are your favorite Chicago spots?

Image Credits: top image by me/2/3/4/5

P.S. Click here for part 2...

Calling {A Look Back}

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Below is a post I wrote two years ago. I was a recent college graduate and feeling lost, confused, and useless.  Though I've come a long way in these past two years I find myself still getting caught up in those feelings at times.  I fall back into old habits of determining my worth based on what I've accomplished rather that who Christ tells me I am.  Rereading this post was a great reminder to me.  I hope you are encouraged as well.

I started today off with a very heavy heart.

One of my biggest fears in life is complacence. I have this reoccurring daydream-nightmare in which I am 30 years old and living in a complete state of listlessness. I have a fine job and a fine house and a fine husband and maybe a couple of fine kids. But as I look back on my life I realize that everything I have done has been for nothing. I have added no value to society, and everything I’ve accomplished has really been for nothing of any significance. I see college kids and 20-something-year-old recent graduates with a fiery passion to change the world and I chuckle thinking, “Yeah, I was like that once, too. But some day, kid, you’ll learn how the world really works. Someday you’ll grow out of it.”
This morning I woke up feeling as if that is how my Summer has been spent.

I got really down on myself for not being productive… for not working towards fulfilling my calling… for not helping others as much as I should… for not doing all that I can to change the world for the better. What was worse than that was what came after- cold, hard, fear. I became terrified that maybe I just lost my passion completely. Maybe all the fire I had to help those in need and change the world had been put out by the icy reality of the World. Maybe this was the End.

Luckily, I had my wise fiance there with me to shed some Truth on my fear. He told me that the things I had been doing this Summer- helping friends plan their weddings, eating lunch with strangers, spending time with my family- were, in fact, fulfilling my calling. He helped me realize that helping a passing stranger is no less significant of an act in the Kingdom than changing a nation is. We are in this time of transition; out of college but still waiting for the real world to begin. This is a time of growth and reflection, and those things are tremendously significant in the eyes of God.

I remember talking with one of my favorite professors about this very dilemma right before graduation, and I am praying that his words can ring true in my heart, as well as with everyone else feeling this heaviness. He said to me, “God will have something for you to do- even if it is simply to wait on HIM. After all, chasing after Him and Him alone is, in itself, our greatest Calling.”

**Image credit

This post is part of the Love Yourself Linkup

Cara Box + Liebster

Monday, August 26, 2013

When I first began blogging I had no idea about the new world I was stepping into.  I never would have dreamed that there was a whole community wrapped up in this simple hobby (or career, for some!) and I never imagined I would meet such amazing people through this medium.

Last month I signed up for the Cara Box Exchange.  In a nutshell, you get paired up with two other bloggers and spend a month getting to know them.  I was paired up with Caitlin from Voguish at Best and Stephanie from Real Army Wife.  I feel like both of them are my kindred spirits!  It has been such a joy getting to know both of them and being able to share my thoughts and experiences with them.  I feel like I have gained more than just pen pals- I've gained two new friends. 

The box that Caitlin sent me was unreal.  You would think this girl has known me for years!  Every item had so much thought and creativity put into it. 

Pizza and Candles are my love languages
Caitlin asked who my celebrity crush was and I said Tina Fey.  So stoked on this!

She also has the cutest etsy shop ever.  Check it out here!
darling notecards + journal
favorite favorite favorite.  That's Chicago! Is she talented or what?
I feel so blessed to have gotten to meet such quality people through blogging.  What an awesome experience this has been!

On a similar note, I was recently nominated for a Liebster award by Katie from A Worker at Home. Katie and I met in college and she blogs about faith, life as a military wife, and her darling family. The Liebster Award is a blog award where bloggers nominate fellow up-and-coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers.

(How many times can I use the word "blog" in one post? I dare you to turn this into a drinking game. I claim no responsibility!)

So Katie posted eleven questions for me to answer. Here are my responses:

1. What is your favorite season and why? Fall is always lovely but I'm a Summer girl at heart.  I always have been and always will be a total beach bum!
 2. Why do you blog? I started this blog so that Ty and I could stay connected with our friends and family who are scattered throughout the world.  Through this medium I have rediscovered my love of writing and blogging is a great way for me to refine my writing style.  As mentioned above it's also been a great way to meet new friends!
 3. If you could spend a day with anyone in the world (living or dead) who would it be and why? The first person that comes to mind is Nelson Mandela.  I would love to just sit in silence and hear him talk about his incredible life.
 4. What is your favorite hobby (besides blogging)?  Dancing.  I've been a dancer for about 15 years and for me it is the best stress reliever in the world.
5. If you had to eat one kind of food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Pizza. It's the second best stress reliever in the world.
6. What is your dream car? Oh gosh, something electric.  I've never been really into cars.
7. Who inspires you?  My dad. He is so driven and lives life with endless optimism.
8. What is one of your favorite quotes {or verses}? "Comparison is the thief of joy"- something I have to remind myself of constantly!
9. Do you prefer birthdays or holidays? Why? Holidays... birthdays carry too much pressure to feel special.
10. Mountains or the beach? Beach, although I love Southern California because we get both!
11.What was your favorite class you've ever taken? "The Christian Faith" my Junior year of college.  It was so challenging and enriching, both academically and spiritually.  Plus it's where I met my husband ;)

So now it's my turn to nominate.  Obviously I'm nominating Caitlin and Stephanie!  No pressure to join in, but if you do feel like participating here are your questions:

1. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be?
2. Do you prefer reading or writing?
3. What is your favorite holiday?
4. What's the best vacation you've ever taken?
5. How long have you been blogging?
6. Cats or Dogs?
7. What's the last movie you watched?
8. Favorite item in your closet?
9. Shameful song you shamelessly know all the words to?
10. How do you eat your oreos?
11. What's your favorite holiday?

Thanks to everyone who's been a part of this blogging journey with us.  We're having a blast!

Vegetarian Chinese Salad

Monday, August 19, 2013

This recipe might win the award for most common Summer meal in our house.  It's easy, requires no use of the oven (a big deal when your house doesn't have A/C!) and is so delicious.  The original recipe added chicken, which we choose to omit since we are trying to eat more vegetarian meals these days. (Check out more vegetarian recipes here)  Enjoy!

Vegetarian Chinese Salad
adapted from Food Network
Serves 4-6


  • 1 head napa cabbage, thinly shredded (about 6 cups)
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large carrot, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 3 minced scallions
  • 1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts
  • 1 (11-ounce) can Mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar 
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce or Sriracha 

In a large salad bowl combine Napa cabbage, red cabbage, shredded carrot, scallions, water chestnuts and mandarin oranges.  Toss well.

For the dressing whisk together vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, canola oil, brown sugar and chili sauce.  If you plan on saving some salad for leftovers (we always do!) then leave the dressing on the side, as tossing it in with cabbage will result in soggy salad, which nobody likes.

What's your go-to Summer meal?

Learning to Love My Introversion

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

In many ways Tyler and I are a classic case of opposites attracting.

He's tall, I'm short.  He is and always has been a phenomenal athlete while I possess the unprecedented ability to sleep for 16 hours straight.  He laughs at my lack of math skills and I am constantly correcting his grammar.

Most of these differences are minor and have led to a sweet appreciation of the other (as well as the occasional tiff.) One difference, however, has often led me to terrible bouts of jealousy.

Tyler is a 100% certified extrovert. He thrives in any social situation and delights in meeting new people.  He's a life-of-the-party, first-on-the-dace-floor, dress-up-like-Elf-and-hand-out-candy-canes type of guy.

In that sense, he's everything I always wanted to be.  I've always been an introvert, and an extremely shy one at that.  Upon first meeting, I am often misinterpreted as being haughty or disinterested, when in reality I'm usually just so terrified of saying something idiotic that I just don't say anything at all.  This fear (and the accompanying "bi*ch look" on my face) has lightened up over the years as I've learned to fake confidence and remember to smile at people even when they intimidate me to the point of almost peeing my pants.  However at my core I still feel a sense of shame that mingling with new people can be so difficult (and exhausting) for me.  I envy Tyler's ease in social circles and his excellent ability to make small talk.  I have often thought my lacking in those areas was some sort of defect.

This is an actual photo of Ty trying to drag me to be the first on the dance floor
My senior year I had an internship with a local nonprofit and, as per Pepperdine's requirements, I was required to take a biweekly class in which we debriefed our internship experiences.  It was a class of four girls and our professor was a counselor and so we spent a lot of time delving into our personalities and talking about feelings.  One of the other girls in the class was someone I had known throughout our time at Pepperdine.  She, like Tyler, had a magnetic, outgoing personality that I was both intimidated by and incredibly envious of.

One week as we were going over our Meyers-Briggs results (and I was whining about my lame personality) she said something that really surprised me.  She expressed that somewhere down the road there came to be this misconception that introverts have more fear and insecurity than extroverts, and that just isn't the case. She proceeded to express some of her own fears and insecurities; many of which were- gasp!- the same as mine.  They just happened to manifest themselves differently.

That encounter led me to view my personality in a whole new light.  Rather than focusing on the traits I don't possess I am now able to think about the positive things my introversion has given me.  I am a good listener.  I form deep and lasting friendships.  And hey, if Mother Teresa was prone to introversion it can't be all that bad right?

Currently on Repeat

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

This song just sounds like Summer to me.  And with only a month-ish left of Summer, I'm soaking in as much of it as I can.

What's on your end-of-summer playlist?

Happy anniversary!

Friday, August 9, 2013

This blog is officially one year plus one day old today. We are celebrating by drinking wine, hanging out with the elder Jayneses, and remaining completely oblivious to any and all things happening on the Internet. Thanks for hanging out and keeping up with us this past year- we're excited for all that is to come!


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Yesterday my best friend gave birth to her first child.

As I watched her in the labor room and heard hourly updates on what was going on inside of her I couldn't help but be completely awestruck.

You guys... women's bodies are amazing. 

I can not even believe the things that our bodies are able to do.  (Even women who can not/ choose not to have children.)  I know it may sound silly... I obviously knew how babies are born but being there and hearing about how her body just knew exactly what to do and when to do it left me speechless.  It also left me feeling so much guilt over all the time I have spent hating my own body.

I recently read this article and, though it was extreme, it really hit a nerve in me.  In it the author reviews the book The Beauty Myth and one of the thoughts expressed in the book is that the media actually wants to keep women hating their bodies.  Here is a passage:

"Somehow, somewhere, someone must have figured out that [women] will buy more things if they are kept in the self-hating, ever-failing, hungry, and sexually insecure state of being aspiring "beauties." ... The Beauty Myth, in its modern form, arose to take the place of the Feminine Mystique, to save magazines and advertisers from the economic fallout of the women's revolution."

At first it sounded like a conspiracy theory to me.  But the more I thought about it the more it made sense.  The more we hate ourselves, the more we will feel the need to change.  The more we feel the need to change, the more stuff we will buy that promises us we will feel better about ourselves.  

I know not all media is evil.  In fact I came across this video earlier in the week which is an amazing example of a media campaign that fights for women.  But I also know that I need to be discerning.  I need to know that many of the things I watch or read were not created in my best interest.

I'm still processing all of this and still thinking through yesterday's events.  But to any woman who is reading this: whether you are tall, short, small, large, young, old, barren, healthy, ill, happy, discontent, fit, or out of shape.... I hope you know what a beautiful, marvelous awe-inspiring creation you are.

*Image by Kelly Hicks Design

This post is part of the Love Yourself Linkup

DIY Mercury Glass Vase

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Below is an article I did for Baller Hardware's home improvement blog.  Scroll down to read it and be sure to stop by Baller's blog for weekly inspiration and household tips!

Today we are going to turn a plain old glass vase into beautiful faux mercury glass:

This project is super easy and can be done in about an hour.   Here's what you'll need:

1. Looking Glass Paint (this is different than reflective silver paint.)
2. Vinegar
3. A clear glass vase (this one was from good will and cost 99 cents!)
4. A spray bottle
5. A lint-free rag.

Begin by mixing one cup of vinegar with one cup of water in the spray bottle.  Spray the entire vase with the mixture.  It's best to use a heavier spray rather than a fine mist so that the droplets are larger.  While the vase is still wet spray one coat of the looking glass paint over the entire surface. (Remember to shake well before spraying!) Let it sit for 5 minutes.

After the paint has partially dried wipe down the vase with the rag, using light pressure on some spots and heavy pressure on others.

Repeat this process for a total of 3-4 coats on the outside of the vase.  Then repeat the process with 3-4 coats on the inside of the vase.  The reason for painting both sides is that the mirror paint dries with a dull silver on one side and a reflective finish on the other.  By incorporating both elements you give your vase the multi-dimensional look of real mercury glass.



Thursday, August 1, 2013

I started wearing makeup around 7th grade.

I was the only blonde in a group of friends who all had beautiful, thick black hair and subsequently beautiful thick black eyelashes.  My toeheadedness often kept me from looking like I had any eyelashes at all, and so I started wearing mascara and I never really stopped.

before homecoming, 2005

My makeup infatuation only increased in high school.  For awhile I even wanted to be a cosmetologist.  I would spend hours and hours before high school dances perfecting my eyeshadow and making sure not a single eyelash was out of place.  I spent two hours getting ready in the morning and being on a dance team kept me constantly in a full face of makeup.  What may have looked like overkill to an outsider soon looked perfectly normal when I looked in the mirror.
After a dance show in 2006
at a dance show in 2005

In college I cooled it a bit with the eyeshadow (who has time for that?) but my skin suddenly decided that since it had spared me from the awkward teenage acne stage it was going to make up for it in my older years.  So I became dependent on concealer and foundation (which, subsequently, caused more breakouts.) I couldn't leave my dorm without it.

My first day at Pepperdine, 2007

My name is Amanda and I am was a makeupaholic.

Until recently.

Call it laziness.  Call it getting married and "letting myself go."  But when I began working in an office where I only saw a maximum of four other people during the day (one of whom was my father) I just decided it wasn't worth the hassle of putting on makeup in the morning.  I hadn't reached some new level of au naturale self love- I just preferred to sleep in.  So every morning I'd pass my mirror, bare faced, not really loving what I saw but also not really caring enough to do anything about it.

And then something crazy happened... I actually started to like the way I looked without makeup.  That pale, eyelashless (okay I'm being dramatic) girl started to look... dare I say.... pretty in the mirror.

It's amazing how, if we tell ourselves something is "normal" for long enough, we start to believe it's true.  Many of us know how true this is with negative statements; when we talk negatively about ourselves even in jest (I'm totally guilty of indulging in self-deprecating humor) we really start to believe it.  But I guess I never really noticed how true it can be of positive statements as well.  When I started telling myself I didn't need makeup all those "flaws" that once seemed so glaring started to fade to the far nether regions of my mind.

Last weekend Ty and I went to a wedding and after I had hurriedly done my makeup in the car (standard procedure) I looked at my face and thought "darn... I wish I had put on less."

This post is part of the Choose Beauty Linkup