Gluten free Persian kotlet

Last night I looked in my fridge to see what I could make with the ingredients I had. I whipped up some mashed potatoes and carrots, then realized I had some ground turkey meat defrosted in the fridge. So, using the recipe from New Food of Life (my Persian cooking resource), I changed it a bit to make it gluten free and easier to make.

I wish I had taken photos, but it is so easy, you should be able to make it with no problem. The best thing about this: you don’t have to form any meat patties with your hands. Yay!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
1 lb ground turkey or beef
2 eggs
1/2 small onion
1 tablespoon tumeric
1/2 tsp salt
Dash of pepper
3 tablespoons flour (I used 2 tablespoons of potato starch and 1 tablespoon of sorghum, but you could use anything)

1. Put all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth and there are no large lumps. Mixture will be slightly liquid.
2. Heat coconut oil or vegetable oil in a large, non-stick pan.
3. Use spatula to scoop out the mixture and put it in the pan, spreading it so that it is about the size and thickness of your hand, or a little smaller. You should be able to fit several at a time.
4. Flip over when the kotlet is fully cooked and starting to brown, make sure both sides are browned evenly. Place on plate covered in paper towels to drain the oil.

Can be served with yogurt, hot or cold. This is great for picnics, especially!

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Fall is here?

#latergram Chicago at sunset is the most beautiful place at the end of summer.
Chicago on Monday
3:30 pm. Chicago is throwing a little tantrum.
Chicago on Friday (last week)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago has been angry and confused recently. Thunderstorms, dark skies, rain, cold weather, mixed with warmth and sun. I had to wear my wool winter coat today and I was not very pleased about that in mid-September. It just feels wrong. I want to wear a lightweight coat and cute boots and a funky scarf! There should be leaves turning different colors, not this dreary miserable mist. Everyone in the office has blankets on their laps and coats on throughout the day because our AC unit is confused. College students don’t know if they should actually put pants on, or just continue wearing leggings. Women stand shivering at the L stop in only a pencil skirt and blouse. It’s chaos!

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My youth group started up again last week. We have 8 young women now, and they are making their way through Ruhi Book 4. In addition, they are teaching children’s classes, learning how to guide at the House of Worship, and hosting Feast once in a while. All this while balancing crazy school loads and extracurricular activities. I continue to be so proud of them.

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Over the last few weeks an experienced Treasurer from another Baha’i community was kind enough to spend time with me, teaching me some Treasurer skills. A few members of our community have also spent a lot of time helping me with the transition. (I’d call their names out here but they know who they are.) This experienced Treasurer went through the trouble of making an entire chart of accounts for me to use. Funny enough, I am in budget season at work right now and a lot of what I’ve been learning through work can be applied to being the Treasurer in a Baha’i community.

It has not been a particularly easy thing to learn, but I am finding that as long as I get some decent tools and make a checklist for myself, it isn’t as hard as I thought. Granted, we have a small community in Wilmette so that helps a lot.

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I finally made it to the Minnesota State Fair!

Chocolate milk and hot fudge sundae.
Chocolate milk and hot fudge sundae.

I was born in Minnesota. I’ve been coming to the land of 10,000 lakes for my entire life but I have never made it to the Minnesota State Fair. This year I decided that it was our opportunity, since my in-laws now live in St. Paul (fairly close to the fairgrounds) and I managed to plan ahead enough to make it happen. It did mean that we missed Green Lake Baha’i Conference this year but there is always next year!

So…things I ate at the Fair: 1 hot coffee, a smoked turkey leg, chipotle risotto poppers, cotton candy, a hot fudge sundae, chocolate milk, mini taco salad, and nachos. I did not eat as much as I thought I would. Shea had most of the same stuff (often tasting my food), but he also tried some corn dogs and a deep fried monte cristo. I really do miss fried foods sometimes. Sigh.Such a great day.

As you can see, the crowds really weren’t too bad. It is a great experience for families, because they have things for even the littlest kid to enjoy. Since we were with my in-laws, my nieces and nephew, etc, we went along at a leisurely pace, but it was actually quite nice. I didn’t do any rides, though I would have liked to…it just wasn’t the experience I wanted this time.

One of my favorite parts of the fair was the horse barn (I mean, really, what girl didn’t have an obsession with horses at some point in her life??) It was almost unfair because you can’t ride them, and I miss riding horses. After about 6 hours we decided that we were done for the day and headed out. Amazingly, we all ate dinner that night.

Other highlights of our MN trip: going out to Shea’s uncle’s cabin for the day and kayaking for the first time (in a river), watching the kids fight over frogs (even the girls!), getting a ride in Uncle David’s boat, seeing dear friends (two brunches nearly did me in), and spending time with my family and Shea’s (so much amazing food and love). We are both “from” Minnesota in some ways, and it is always like coming home to spend time there. The last two years we went in winter, which is just flat-out crazy. Summer is the best in the Cities.

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Our turn around the sun

Somehow we are compelled to share, express…it makes us human. I am not sure how I can find words for this last year. I am sitting on a plane, arriving back home just in time for my one year wedding anniversary today.

Two and a half years ago I met this man who was just passing through Chicago, who was holding his nephew at a Baha’i meeting and who I immediately thought was pretty darn handsome. It took me a little while to get to know him, and thank God he stuck around long enough for us and took a chance on this Midwestern half-Persian girl who can’t stop planning. anything. ever. Shea Munion, you are a brave man.

It took me a long time to go through wedding photos, reconcile a few things, and to find ways to settle into the life we have now. When I think about what was going on in my life last summer and fall, and how quickly everything happened (a wedding, new jobs, planning four conferences while planning a wedding in three months while traveling, adjusting to sharing my space) I am actually a little impressed that I’m actually functional.  (There have been times that it has been a little questionable, however!)

One year anniversary posts can get a little…saccharine at times, and I find it challenging to find the right balance of sweet and honest. Marriage is amazing, and it is also a lot of work. (Sorry for the clichés!) I want to say that because we are not being fair to those who look up to us as examples when we pretend that it isn’t. Shea and I had a lot of honest, heartfelt, loving, searching conversations while we were getting to know each other, and thank God and our families that we had been learning about this process for years before we even met each other. It was deliberate, but it was also a sweet time that I look back on with a bit of wistfulness and also a knowing smile when I think about the things we were worried about then. I am lucky to be married to a man who brings out a playful side in me, who laughs with me and makes me a little crazy with his exuberance while I am also in awe of it.

Sometimes I laugh when I realize that I’m still figuring out what his favorite dessert is (he doesn’t have just one, I think?), or when we are having a conversation in which I realize we’re trying to say the same thing but have different words or concepts for it. Nothing is perfect and we certainly aren’t. I recognize my immediate need to just get things done and that marrying Shea has given me the gift of a man who helps me slow down a little bit, take a breath, and maybe just relax or go on a bike ride.

We aren’t exactly opposites, though it can seem that way. And it is truly amazing to be able to have a spouse who wants to serve the Faith with such dedication, and who I can make plans with to be able to serve in my own way (and sometimes that overlaps). Ten months into our marriage, Shea joined me as a member of our Local Spiritual Assembly, and we are learning what it means to serve in that way together.

Two independent people make the choice to get married and spend eternity together (that’s right, the choice. He didn’t fall out of the sky into my life and suddenly we magically got married. Ok well there was a little bit of magic involved but that might be a story for another post). I am thankful for family members who welcomed each of us into the other’s family life, for friends who were supportive or nudged us in each others direction or listened to me when I was losing my mind a little, for our little Baha’i community in Wilmette who have loved us so much and welcomed Shea with open arms.

There are days when I look around in awe of the fact that this is my life, that I have a husband that I try not to embarrass by writing about (but really, come on, it’s hard to resist). He is kind, patient, funny in a way most people never get to see, talented at drawing people out and eliciting trust, loving with all people and especially with children, pure-hearted, and mischievous. He is not afraid to travel and try new things (which sometimes scares me). He takes care of our little baby marriage and of me.

Let’s go on some more adventures, my love. I can’t wait.

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Priorities

Tulips around town.It has just been a lot recently. A lot of things, a never-ending stream of scheduling and travel and mostly fun things and a few not-so-fun things, and it was getting to the point that I was resenting my calendar. Which is sad, because I love my calendar and to-do list…

But it is summer and I want to enjoy it! In fact, I am staring out at the 85 F weather right now wishing I was outside with the sun baking into me and my toes in the water.

It is perhaps a combination of the nature of the work that I do all day and the service in the Baha’i community, along with my desire to stay connected to all the friends that creates untenable situations in which my brain starts misfiring. My true nature is a mixture of completely social extrovert who only thrives when she has adequate social interaction and a person who needs alone time to recharge on a regular basis. As I get older this is just exacerbated.

Of course this is a life-long process and struggle, but being newly-married (to an amazing man who is really good at having conversations about this stuff with me) is helping me figure out how to balance things and be more deliberate about how I spend my time. This may mean choosing to go only to meetings in the Baha’i community that I know will bring me joy or that I have chosen as a priority, or it may mean spending time with people that I truly feel connected with, instead of doing something out of a sense of obligation.

It also means letting people go from my life who I have trouble keeping in touch with or who never reach out to me. It means holding people accountable when they waste my time or do not respect the service that I am offering. These are not easy things to do, of course!  But the alternative is feelings of pain, resentment, or frustration whenever certain things happen. Here are some things that I have been doing to help manage this process.

Step 1: Make a list of current priorities. This is not a to-do list, but rather a list of the larger things that are important to me this summer. Things like: spending time with good friends/family, being outside, wrapping my head around being Treasurer for my local community, working with my youth group, etc.

Step 2: Create boundaries/the ability to say no. This may mean having someone to talk to about the decision, or telling people that I will get back to them after considering the request.

Step 3: Revisit priority list whenever a request comes up or I feel overwhelmed.

It is working so far and I will just have to continue this process. 😉

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I passed my CMP Exam!

CMPlogo

Last Wednesday was a bit nerve-wracking for me. I took my CMP (Certified Meeting Planner) exam and found out right away that I passed! Within a few hours, something that I had been trying to do for years was over.

I started the process of preparing to take the exam in January of 2012 by registering for a class at Harper College from March-May 2012, which I passed. Then life took over and I was far too busy to think about studying for the EXAM.

There are at least 2 things that you must have to qualify for the CMP test (there are other options but this is what I qualified for):
-At least 36 months of working in the event industry & current or recent work in events.
-Completion of 25 clock hours of industry-related continuing education within the past five years.

From the Convention Industry Council website:
“…the CMP credential is recognized globally as the badge of excellence in the meeting, convention, exhibition, and event industry. The qualifications for certification are based on professional experience, education, and a rigorous exam.”

I studied the official materials for a few months this spring, and that, combined with the last 7 years of working in events, enabled me to pass the test. Just the things that I have learned in the last 8 months at my current job have been enormously valuable. When you are surrounded by 60 other event planners on a daily basis, you have no choice but to learn!

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All the news, in one little post

House of Worship at sunset yesterday. Perfect. #latergramThere are some amazing things happening at Nineteen Months, since my friend Caitlin took over as Writing Editor and we changed up a lot of stuff, including the site design. I’m so happy with the direction that it is going and the talented contributors that we have.

I have a new niece in my husband’s family, and I’m pretty much wanting to see her all the time but my current life schedule doesn’t really allow it. Newborns are just so delicious!

A year ago, Shea and I were in the process of getting consent from our parents to be married, and I cannot believe time has gone by so quickly.

I was recently elected Treasurer of our local community and am still trying to figure out all the details. Online banking makes a lot of things easier, but it is still a tough job!

My youth group of young ladies started Ruhi Book 4 a few weeks ago, and I am so impressed with their abilities, their mature questions, their bravery to take on projects even when they don’t know how to do everything. I feel so lucky to be able to spend time with them!

There are the usual friends leaving Chicago (waah!), the friends getting married, having babies, traveling, etc. The winter has left us acting like hermits and I think we’re all still trying to crawl out from under the rocks we were buried under.

I have been spending a lot of time reading about the event industry, for various reasons, and of course am immersed in it every day at work, so I’m always in “event mode”, which is a bit of a shift for me in some ways. I love the networking events, learning about the best new way to set a room, or what hotels are being built in cities. I want to write more about this subject here (without pulling work into it too much), because I feel that so much of what we do is hidden. Most attendees don’t have any idea what it takes to put a meeting together, so it seems that educating at least the small audience of this blog may assist with some of the misconceptions or lack of knowledge about the meetings world.

Decor for the Ridvan celebration in Wilmette. It was wonderful.
The Wilmette Baha’i community recently put on a Ridvan Holy Day celebration and we had a lot of people from surrounding communities show up. It had been a while since we hosted something like this and it was so sweet. The children captained little “boats” they made out of cardboard, ferrying people across the “river” that they drew in chalk on the sidewalk outside, and the inside of the Baha’i Home was made to be a “tent” with roses everywhere. Such creative and talented people in our community! It was fun to be a part of the process, but it reminded me why I do event logistics and not event decor! The decor part seems more challenging to me than logistics for some reason.

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Remember

Tulips in springWe saw a red-winged blackbird attacking a hawk, protecting its territory. It seemed to be winning.

We played golf with pine cones and sticks, and stood on a stage with no audience but our own words and thoughts.

We are remembering what it means to be warm again, to leave the windows open and smile in the sun.

We are remembering what it means to breathe the air with no restrictions.

We put bare feet to the ground and eat frozen yogurt while standing on the sidewalk because it just feels so good.

(this is exactly what we needed)

We’ve been in the prison of Chicago winter, and it has broken us down into fearful creatures that whisper in the corner about the weather, as though it will hear us and maliciously dump another foot of snow on top of our frozen, soggy little heads.

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First Bulls game

Good view! Bulls game.As a kid, I watched Bulls games with my family, mostly because Michael Jordan was playing and the Bulls were the hottest team out there. We are not a sports-watching family (thank God) so that was the extent of it. I was offered tickets to attend Bulls vs Bucks (Milwaukee) through work and they had an executive suite with food and drinks, and of course the Bulls won (we left before the game ended to avoid being in a crowd of 21,000 people leaving a game at once). It was a good time, though I’ll be honest and say I probably didn’t watch the game as much as other people…the food was pretty distracting!

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Happy Naw-Ruz!

Happy Naw-Ruz!This is our first Naw-Ruz (Baha’i New Year) together as a married couple. Around this time last year we were talking to our families about getting married, so it is doubly wonderful to celebrate it with friends, family, and the Baha’i community. We are blessed to be surrounded by so many amazing people, to live in a community where we can serve the Faith, and to work in jobs where we are valued and treated well.

I often wish that my blog could be a better record of what our life is like, and as I was writing the above, Shea started singing “Do your ears hang low?” from the kitchen as he made us tea, in a very 1950s-Christmas-carol voice. This is the kind of thing that he does on a daily basis that makes me laugh, and I hope that I do the same for him.

(I asked his permission to share the above, obviously. God bless him for knowing what he was getting into by marrying a blogger!)

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The Word of God hath set the heart of the world afire…

New Orleans“The Most Great Name beareth Me witness! How sad if any man were, in this Day, to rest his heart on the transitory things of this world! Arise, and cling firmly to the Cause of God. Be most loving one to another. Burn away, wholly for the sake of the Well-Beloved, the veil of self with the flame of the undying Fire, and with faces joyous and beaming with light, associate with your neighbor…

The Word of God hath set the heart of the world afire; how regrettable if ye fail to be enkindled with its flame! Please God, ye will regard this blessed night as the night of unity, will knit your souls together, and resolve to adorn yourselves with the ornament of a goodly and praiseworthy character. Let your principal concern be to rescue the fallen from the slough of impending extinction, and to help him embrace the ancient Faith of God. Your behavior towards your neighbor should be such as to manifest clearly the signs of the one true God, for ye are the first among men to be re-created by His Spirit, the first to adore and bow the knee before Him, the first to circle round His throne of glory. I swear by Him Who hath caused Me to reveal whatever hath pleased Him! Ye are better known to the inmates of the Kingdom on high than ye are known to your own selves. Think ye these words to be vain and empty? Would that ye had the power to perceive the things your Lord, the All-Merciful, doth see—things that attest the excellence of your rank, that bear witness to the greatness of your worth, that proclaim the sublimity of your station! God grant that your desires and unmortified passions may not hinder you from that which hath been ordained for you.”

-Baha’u’llah, Selections from the Writings of Baha’u’llah

Shea pointed out this quotation to me a few weeks ago, and I had never seen it before. It is so encouraging!

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Lemon butter vegetable pasta

On Friday night we had one of those moments where we had no interest in going to the grocery store after work, so we considered the options in the fridge and decided to make do with what we had. I threw this together in about 20 minutes and it was delicious. Please excuse the terrible cell phone picture, I was too hungry to bother with fancy photography.

Kale, sweet potato, zucchini, onions, penne rice pasta, and Parmesan in a lemon butter garlic sauce.

You will need at least 2 pots, a pan, and a small saucepan. Be prepared to use all four burners at the same time!

1. Peel & cube a sweet potato, boil until soft.
2. Boil penne pasta (ours was Schar’s gluten free pasta) and drain, set aside in large bowl.
3. Simultaneously, chop up an onion and a zucchini and fry it with the kale, add a little water, put the lid on, and steam.
4. In a small saucepan, fry chopped garlic for a few minutes, then add 6 tablespoons of butter and the juice of one lemon. Sprinkle some salt and pepper in as well. Cook long enough for the flavors to mix but don’t let it burn.
5. As each ingredient is done, put it in the large bowl with the pasta.
6. Toss everything together, pour the butter lemon sauce on top, and sprinkle Parmesan on top. Sriracha sauce optional.

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do not dwell

Drama.

do not dwell on this darkness
this depth of winter in the heart
there is such wonder on the other side of it
do not hold on with shaking hands and screaming heart
there is no redemption there.
the chilling grief that held you in place
the betrayal of your work was only one thing
yet you can be now.

trust in the certainty that this was right.

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What a week

There have been happenings. It has been a little chaotic, a little overwhelming, and a little hilarious.

A week ago we were parked outside on the street in Chicago and a U-Haul cargo van backed into the front right side of my car and drove away. I saw it happen but didn’t get a plate number. This meant filing a police report (nothing to do about it unfortunately) and taking my car in for an estimate this past weekend. Now my car will be in the shop for 2 days, at least we have Shea’s.

The big event, however, was on Friday night. Shea and I met up at his train stop and went together from work, a little after 5 pm. For those of you who don’t know, our commute is at least 1 hr 15 minutes, on a good day, door to door. Some days it takes longer. We were cheerfully headed home when, just past the Howard stop, the train shook, shrieked, and ground to a halt.

As bad as riding the CTA is sometimes, it usually doesn’t do that. Pretty immediately we figured out that one of the cars on the train had derailed. They ushered us onto the first 2 cars of the train while they tried to figure out what to do…which meant that we were all packed like sardines…for 1 hour and 45 minutes. One young lady was telling someone that her date was waiting at the train platform behind us…and the whole car started asking her questions about how they met and where they were going for dinner. It was pretty great.

We got our information about what was happening from Twitter, friends/family outside the train, & news sites, but we had no real idea of when we’d be able to leave. At around 8:00 pm they finally informed us that they had pulled another train alongside ours and had set up planks to allow us to walk across. The firefighters assisted and everyone transferred cars. By the time we pulled back into Howard Station it was around 8:20 and we decided to take Uber home. I didn’t walk in the front door until 8:45.

All told, it took us nearly 4 hours to get home on Friday night. Whew!

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halfway

there is a perfect moment of silent bliss
when my head falls to your shoulder
and the train shudders on the track
and the world stands still for us

or

when you surprise me with the tiniest thing
tell me to close my eyes
and I know you remember.

and

we made it this far
(I have no idea where the time went)
half a trip around the sun.

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My view from work

When I started my new job last fall, I was assigned to a (very nice, shiny new) cubicle on the southeast corner of my building, right next to the Chicago river and facing Lake Michigan. I know, really lucky. Somehow I haven’t managed to bring my DSLR to work to take photos with a real camera, but you never know when the light will be perfect. Sometimes when I need to think, I turn my head and look out over the water. It does wonders for my thought process (and sanity).

Came into the office at 7:30 am and the lake was giving off fog. Beautiful.

The clouds looked like mountains hovering over the lake today.

This was the view a few minutes ago. It has cleared up a bit but we definitely have snow.

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Recent Books that you may want to read

Since I started riding the train 2 hours a day, I have had a lot more time to read. Sometimes I read fiction but I also love history (I even considered studying history for my degree at one point but then realized I wanted to have a steady income). If you really want to see books of substance that I read or am interested in reading, check out my Goodreads page.

One of my biggest problems has been finding the books that I want to read in the eLibrary has been difficult. Sometimes I get lucky, but many of the books that I want to read are simply unavailable through my Kindle. I rarely buy books because I read so quickly (exceptions are Baha’i books, references guides, and cookbooks). I’ll have to get hard copies through the local library, I guess!

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President – This book broke my heart a little. By all accounts, James A. Garfield was an incredible man and President, and I wish he had lived longer. The historical richness of the book, especially the descriptions of how early Presidents dealt with the daily work of the White House, kept me engaged.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption – by the author of Seabiscuit, this book kept me up until 1:30 am on a work night, and I was astounded by the amount of research and detail that went into it. Some of the book is hard to read because of the descriptions of the mistreatment of POWs during WWII, so if you’re sensitive, keep that in mind.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin – One of my favorite books is “The Devil in the White City”, and Erik Larson does it again with this meticulous, scary book about the years leading up to WWII. I’ve read a lot of books about the war, but very few about what pre-war Germany was like, and it was terrifying to see parallels in current events with the lack of empathy that people had for their fellow human beings.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Clearly written, especially helpful if you’re an extrovert like myself who wants to better understand the introverts in their lives. Lots of data combined with storytelling.

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2013

This was a chaotic year. A very good one, but I feel like I haven’t really stopped moving.

InSpanish Moss at the Baha'i Center January 2013, Shea and I took our first trip together, driving to Minnesota to visit family and friends in sub-zero temperatures. In February I celebrated 3 years of condo ownership, and starting facilitating a Ruhi group of junior youth/youth at my home every week, which I am still doing. The letter announcing the Baha’i youth conferences came out February 8 and I started working on their coordination in the United States. In March we celebrated Naw-Ruz (Baha’i New Year) and in April I took a much-needed week-long vacation in Florida with dear friends.

In May, Shea and I received consent to marry, and in June we announced our engagement. The planning for the conferences kicked into high gear and I spent 30 days traveling from June to August: Phoenix, San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles. While planning a wedding with my fiancé. Let’s just say that a great many spreadsheets and emails were involved.

Shea and I got married on August 3 and had our honeymoon in San Diego. We also attended Green Lake Baha’i Conference in Wisconsin in August.

Wedding dayWe celebrated my 30th birthday in September and went apple picking with family. I received a job offer from my new employer in September and started work on September 30. It is my dream job and I love what I do. It is fulfilling and being an event coordinator is fun, though it is an incredible amount of work.

In October we threw a Halloween party, in November I traveled to Las Vegas for the first time (for work) and wasn’t too impressed by anything except the food. We celebrated our first Thanksgiving together with family. In December I traveled to Colorado for the first time (for work) and then Shea and I made a quick trip to Minnesota to see family (sub-zero temperatures again!).

Hiking near DenverThere were births, weddings, and passings, too many to go into here. Many friends visited Chicago, there were countless dinner parties and evenings with friends and family. Friday marks 5 months of marriage and we are enjoying married life (but still haven’t figured out a good answer to the question “How’s married life?”). I miss writing here and am trying to get back to it more, now that I am figuring out my schedule and crazy commute. Riding the train for 2 hours a day is a bit draining but I am reading a lot of books.

Here we go, another year…

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Snowfall Saturday

Woke up to snow falling softly and it has continued all day. We have all the blinds open, watching the silence deepen and people slide by, bundled to their eyes. We made crepes and bacon and coffee and juice, we are together and it is winter.

This is one of those days when it would be wonderful not to have to leave the house, when I wish I had a fireplace, but these are little wishes and I am content with this kind of coziness.

Happy Saturday!

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First Thanksgiving together

I love Thanksgiving. Everything about it. This year we got to have 2 Thanksgivings, on different days, and it was great. I can’t even look at ham or turkey anymore, though. I had my sister-in-law’s help with the first round, and we split the making of the side dishes so it wasn’t quite as much work. We were still cooking most of the day, though.

Thanksgiving 2013 #1: sister-in-law & brother-in-law’s home

The spread, minus the turkey. Mmm.

Sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, GF stuffing, regular stuffing, gravy, honey almond carrots, brussels sprouts with pecans,  wild rice stuffing, and cornbread.

The turkey, prepared, cooked, and carved by my husband (20 lbs!):
The turkey

Turkey carving. #firstthanksgiving

I made a lot of gluten free pie from scratch last week. GF Pie crust is super time-consuming but it was worth it. (I used this recipe, if you want to know, but with real butter.) I made pumpkin and blueberry.
Pie!! I have been cooking all day but everything is in containers for tomorrow.

 

 

Thanksgiving 2013 #2 – at our “Munion Palace” as I’ve named it on Instagram. 😉

2nd Thanksgiving meal

Ham, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, GF stuffing, gravy, and honey almond carrots. And pie, of course.

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Music nostalgia

Had some serious high school music nostalgia hit me when a Bush song came on the radio tonight.

I didn’t have access to a lot of stuff other than what was on the radio (and no truly cool friends to get me into new music) so I was left with what was usually on the radio (anyone from Chicago remember Q101?). Most of my friends were either as nerdy as myself, or they were part of the crowd that wore all black and had interesting makeup (these were the girls that taught me how to use an eyeliner pencil in our sewing class). I stuck out like a sore thumb in that group, for sure.

So I listened to a lot of Bush, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, The Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Tool, Orgy, Radiohead, 311, Collective Soul, Garbage, Incubus, Live, Our Lady Peace, Rage Against the Machine, Stabbing Westward, Silverchair, Audioslave, Metallica, Deftones, System of a Down, and Fuel. (I don’t think I even have most of the above on my iTunes anymore.)

I’ve switched to lighter and more current fare in the last decade, but I still get kicked back to my teens when any of the above come on.

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Halloween 2013

I was a “breadwinner” and Shea was “Shea butter” and together…we are bread and butter.

Yes, I made the costumes. Only took a few hours.

I am a "breadwinner", Shea is "shea butter"
And you expected something different from us? 😉 Happy Halloween!

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Don’t look too closely

Don’t look too closely at the mirror
Shy away from the picking and the choosing
The farewell sighs of youth
We cry and wail at the slightest things
We look so closely and then we fall
Don’t look so closely at the mirror
A focus on self, a focus on wealth and dreams
We look so closely and then we seem
So small.
Write instead about the powerful, the lonesome days
Stalk the inner self that hides and bring it into light
Bring it kicking and screaming if you have to.

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Falling

The whirlwind hasn’t stopped. My brain is trying to rapidly absorb all of the information I need to learn at my new job. Coming in at a higher level means learning all the things very fast. When you add in a longer commute (I went from 10 minutes to over an hour each way) and a continuous to-do list…well, it means that I am still playing catch-up. But I love being an event coordinator and this is what I am meant to be doing.

Apples

We finally settled on Halloween costumes (of course I won’t tell you until AFTER Halloween) and some friends and I are throwing a little shindig on Halloween. I was looking for parties for adults that don’t involve alcohol, and it turns out that they are either really hard to find, or they don’t exist. So we’re doing our own last-minute party.

I am trying to take advantage of the fall food and festivities…did some pumpkin-carving and pumpkin pie baking with family last night, and am spending most of my Sundays preparing food for the week so we don’t have to cook lunches and dinners.

Happy October!

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Not merely talking about the weather

As I continue working with young women within our Ruhi Book 2 study circle, I am reminded of this quotation that encourages women to elevate their level of conversation. How do we do this among ourselves?

Sunset last night. Goodbye Los Angeles! #youthconference
“Confirmations from the kingdom of God will assuredly be received, enabling some radiant leaves to appear resplendent in the assemblage of this world with clear proofs and convincing reasons, which will adorn the cause of womanhood. They will prove that in this cycle women are equal to men, nay, in certain respects they will excel. Ponder ye: in this wonderful Cause numerous were the men who scaled the heights of knowledge; they had a brilliant utterance, a convincing proof, an eloquent tongue and magnificent speech, but the blessed leaf, Jináb-i-Táhirih, because she was a woman, emerged with immense splendour and dumbfounded all the people. If she were a man, this would not have been so at all. Therefore, ye should know that the greatness of the Cause hath penetrated the nerves and veins of the world in such wise that if one of the leaves is attracted and gains mastery in demonstrating reasons and proofs and in uttering convincing evidences, she will shine resplendently. O radiant leaves, I swear by the Beauty of the Desired One and the Mystery of Existence that if ye work actively in this realm, the outpourings of the Blessed Beauty will reflect as the sun in the mirrors of the hearts. Your progress will astonish all.

The attracted leaves should not, when associating with each other, talk merely about the temperature of the weather, the coldness of the water, the beauty of the flowers and gardens, the freshness of the grass and the flowing water. They should rather restrict their discussions to glorification and praise and the uttering of proofs and reasons, to quoting verses and traditions and putting forth clear testimonies, so that all the homes of the loved ones will be converted into gathering places for lessons on teaching the Cause.

If ye do so, in a short while the outpourings of the Kingdom will be so manifested that each one of the handmaidens of the Merciful will become a perspicuous book revealing the mysteries of the Lord of Mercy.

Upon you be the glory of glories.”

‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ, A Compilation on Women

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Summer

Dear Blog,

I haven’t written since July, which is very unlike me. Then again, this summer was pretty unprecedented with travel for the 114 Baha’i Youth Conferences and getting married in the middle of it all.  A few weeks ago I was offered a new job and yesterday was my last day at the Baha’i National Center, after 4 1/2 years of work there. I start on Monday and it will be a very different adventure. I can’t wait!

It is a lot of change, a lot of new things…so much travel, a new marriage, a new job, a new last name…but then I am reminded how good it is, how lucky I am, and it helps me manage the minor moments of chaos.
Lake Michigan, morning walk after camping.

Sometimes it is hard to write because I feel this immense pressure to write a comprehensive, cohesive post. Then I have to remind myself that this is only a blog, and I just need to keep writing. I can always add, always write another post.

This is a way for me to get started again, to jump over the barrier that comes up now and again. Now, I have a moment to breathe and I will continue on.

with love,

Sholeh Samadani Munion (Loehle)

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10 years and my love

I had a plan to write all sorts of blog posts recently. And then…well, I had to dive into the 4 youth conferences I’m working on and then something else really big happened in my life and suddenly it was the end of July and I hadn’t written anything in nearly 2 months.

On June 28, 2003, I wrote my first post on the current incarnation of this blog. It was about me putting food in my purse. Somehow that is fitting. This June was 10 continuous years of writing here. A decade of thoughts. It is hard to believe. I’ve been blogging since 2001 but I have been consistently writing here for such a long time, I can’t imagine ever shutting this down. I have to thank my friend Paul (and his family) for hosting this blog for so many years. I couldn’t have done it myself.

But now for the really big news.

In a few short days, I will be getting married to Shea. 

me and Shea

me and Shea

I keep trying to find words to explain all of this and having a hard time doing so. We met last year and discovered this love between us through lots of conversations, prayer, walks in parks, and cooking together. Now I am getting married to a kind, patient, loving, funny man and am overjoyed to be doing so. I don’t like getting too personal on my blog most of the time, and as much as I want to write everything here, I am keeping some things off the internet. But this is just too much not to share. It is a little surreal sometimes!

Here we go, on our grand adventure!

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A fragmented note

I normally don’t go so long without posting on my blog (over a month?!). I can’t even begin to summarize the last few weeks and months. Here are a few things that have been keeping me busy. In no particular order:

Work. This is taking up a lot of my brainspace/time these days. Yes, I am part of the team that is assisting the National Spiritual Assembly with the planning of the conferences.

Baha'i Youth Conferences

 

View from the pool. Ahhh.

I traveled to Florida for a week of vacation, staying with dear friends and trying to relax after a very hectic year. I took a lot of photos of animals, went to several lovely Baha’i events, and just generally relaxed. I also took some long bike rides with my friends, which reminded me how much I love biking and also how much Chicago winter saps all of my energy. sigh. I even saw a manatee and a crocodile in the wild (as well as a ton of awesome birds).

 

I went to a farm for a North Shore networking event. The animals were stinky and cute and I loved them.

This little guy was pretty shy. #sheepish #latergram

Spent some time with my friends in the sun on a rare spring day that felt like summer in Chicago.

The view yesterday. I love Chicago in the summer. #latergram

Went to the park with my Ruhi youth group, and it made me appreciate them even more. They are such great people!

And this past weekend I worked at Baha’i National Convention, where the delegates gather to elect the National Spiritual Assembly. I also stopped by the Choral Festival and saw lots of people that I love.

Nothing is slowing down right now. Everything is top speed and it probably won’t stop until after the summer is over. This is not a complaint, merely a fact. And so, here I go!

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The last few weeks in photos

Squishy!Work is not all about serious things. My coworkers and I get up to various (mostly harmless) antics sometimes. Laughter helps with so many things, since it can be very demanding around here. We merely took advantage of an opportunity (in this case, a stuffed Aflac promotional duck that was hanging out in the lobby for a day).

Sailboats and the House of Worship One day last week was mostly bearable, so we walked down to the Wilmette Harbor and watched the sailboats whisk around the harbor. There were young people being trained to sail, and you could hear the shouts as they nearly knocked into each other several times.

After a day with very few victories, this shines brightly. I found this chair out by the dumpster and now it is in my home. I love it. During a week when nothing seemed to be going right, I found this chair in the alley next to where I park my car. I deliberated on taking it for 24 hours, but when I saw it was still there on the second day, I dragged it upstairs, hoping I wouldn’t discover a hidden flaw. It is in very good condition and matches the decor in my home perfectly.

Outside of the grocery store near my place. Just a pig roasting in the parking lot. Smelled good though.Outside of the grocery store near my place. Just a pig roasting in the parking lot. It was an amusing surprise for my quiet little village.

Flowers near work

We are anticipating spring, but it has been slow to come to Chicago. Finally the flowers are blooming and I am starting to look at the summer festival schedule.

Nineteen Months - GloryFinally, Nineteen Months (the photoblog that I am an editor for) relaunched at Naw-Ruz and has a gorgeous new design. Check it out!

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