If at First You Don’t Succeed

Exteriorsmall

Innovation Engine Exterior

Atriumsmall

Innovation Engine Atrium

After moving to Chicago I had a tough time finding a job for a while.  Being in a new place where I hardly know a soul is not the ideal environment for job searching.  I spent four months unemployed, except for my short stint as a chess wizard.. I had the hat and everything, before I finally got my job.

Luckily, while I was unemployed I was not just sitting on my laurels.  With all of my free time I revamped my thesis project to submit to the AIA Committee on the Environment’s Top Ten for Students Design Competition.  I did not change too much, the basis of the project remained essentially the same, but there were a few things that I had wished I was able to spend more time on during my time at the U of O.

I submitted my edited project to the jury in January and I recently heard back that my project was selected as one of the 10 winners.  The day before my little brother Bruce gets married I will be in Atlanta to accept the award. I am glad that I kept working at it, it has really paid off and will hopefully open up plenty of new opportunities for me in the future.

Innovation Engine Project Details
2014-2015 COTE Top 10 Student Awards
AIA COTE Press Release/Announcement
University of Oregon Press Release/Announcement

My Shadow

shadow_2009

Rexburg, Idaho, 2009

February is almost over, its been over three months since I last posted. Perhaps it is because I can’t fake the happiness anymore.

The last two years have been an emotional roller coaster and I don’t even know when this ride is going to come to an end. From the anticipation of the “should we have kids NOW or later” conversation, to the hope and excitement of “Yes, birth control is in the trash no going back now”, to the cycle after cycle of negative tests, second guessing everything I do, “Is xyz hurting our chances?” and now to the scheduling of test after test.

Unwillingly, I have turned things into a singular focus and it is taking its toll. Everything revolves around my cycle, regardless of how much I try to push it out of my mind each month.

I feel as if I have become a shadow of who I used to be. Just this person who takes each day as it comes, hoping that I won’t breakdown in the bathroom of a movie theater or in the middle of a lesson at church. I would have never imagined myself in this situation, feeling broken, my soul slowly being ripped away. I miss my old self and I don’t know how to get her back. I can only go one step at a time feebly grasping onto hope that one day things will work out.

Gingerbread Competition 2014

gingerbread_prep

gingerbread_bobbyemi

gingerbread_bobbyfrosting

gingerbread_building

gingerbread_emibuilding

gingerbread_emimarshmallows

gingerbread_mombuilding

gingerbread_dadrelaxing

gingerbread_momdad

gingerbread_charemi

gingerbread_bk

gingerbread_bkfinal

gingerbread_lane

gingerbread_winner

I hope everybody has been having a wonderful Christmas season. We have just settled in at my aunts house in Michigan for the week and are excited to ring in the New Year!

But to recap, our Annual Gingerbread Party was fantastic. All the submissions were top-notch. Our windmill took hours! We went through three versions for the roof (and its still not up to my standards, but by that time I was fed up), figured out how to weld ring pops and candy canes together and got the blades to actually spin.

To decide the winner we decided that Emi (our two year old niece) should choose her favorite one. She, of course, picked her own house because it had the most marshmallows.

I think we finally figured out the best way to bake gingerbread and put it all together. Next year is going to be our best yet, stay tuned.

gingerbread_blades

Family Pictures 2014 Part Two

family_01

family_02

family_03

family_04

I know we already had some photos taken while we were in Oregon, but I thought it might be nice to have something a bit more wintry for our Christmas cards. So Bobby’s sister Char offered to take our pictures again this year.

We wanted to show that we were in Chicago, as it was one of the biggest changes for us this last year, so we met up with Charlotte near the Lincoln Park Zoo and walked along the Lake Front Trail until we found this dock that allowed us the perfect view of the skyline.

I am so happy we moved to Chicago. I never thought I would move back to the mid-West when I left for college in 2008. Our road trip this summer changed all of that, once we left I felt like Oregon wasn’t home anymore. I missed the people, the weather, the roly-poly hills, the Great Lakes and so much more. I have been overcome with disbelief (and cried in my car on my way to work and back) because I feel I have to pinch myself that I live here. So heres to you Chicago, I am glad I am home.

Traditions

advent_eggnog

Over this last year I have been fascinated by family history and research. Just trying to figure out my family’s roots. I know about their lives once they came to America but before that? Not much.

I have gotten in contact with a few of my cousins who still live in Germany and one casually mentioned celebrating Advent. This may not be ground breaking, but I have never heard of this tradition before. This is something that I have been meaning to implement in our family ever since, and today is the day, the first Sunday of Advent. Here is what I have learned so far:

The Wreath
Symbolizing the everlasting love of our heavenly Father.

First Sunday (normally four Sundays before Christmas)
Theme: Hope
Candle: Prophecy Candle/ Candle of Hope
Reading: Jeremiah 33: 14-16

Second Sunday
Theme: Peace
Candle: Bethlehem Candle
Reading: Luke 1: 76-79; Luke 2: 1-7

Third Sunday
Theme: Joy
Candle: The Shepard Candle/ Candle of Joy
Reading(s): Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-4; Philippians 4:4

Fourth Sunday
Theme: Love
Candle: The Angel Candle/Candle of Love
Reading: Zephaniah 3:17; John 3: 16-17

Christmas Eve
Theme: The Savior
Candle: Christ Candle
Reading: Isaiah 9:2-7

According to Patheos (source below), the only candle that is strict in its meaning is the Christ candle, and the other candles have no set meaning but are used to point towards Christ. There are many variations and themes to this tradition and I am excited to begin this evening.

Many sources suggest using blue or purple and pink candles but I wanted to use red this year to represent sin and more importantly the atonement of our sins through Christ, the Redeemer.

As I look for more traditions I realize that I have so many around me, especially around the Christmastime season, even the small ones have a way of always being present. For example making eggnog (Grandma Marti), Christmas stockings (my great-great Aunt) and our gingerbread parties (starting with Bobby and I).

Sources
Living Hope Lutheran
Deseret News
Presbyterian Church
Circle of Light
Patheos
Color Symbolism

Pflaumen Kuchen

kuchen_pan

kuchen_toppings

kuchen_slice

kuchen_delicious

A few years ago I made my grandmothers pflaumen kucken (plum cake). Now that I feel comfortable with that recipe, I wanted to try a new variation of it. What better holiday to try it out for than Thanksgiving? However, my mom had something else to say about that. I was not allowed to use the kitchen for anything other than what had previously been planned for the Thanksgiving feast on Thursday. I could only squeeze my baking time in the night before. Makes sense, Thanksgiving is a holiday for indulging, and it requires a lot of time and preparation. So I started baking within 10 minutes of arriving at my parents house on Wednesday night.

With this variation I wanted to make it in an 7″ x 11″ cake pan rather than a sheet pan (which in turn would make thicker slices). I also melted the butter that was used on the top portion and mixed it in with the sugar and cinnamon instead of adding them to the pan separately, which gives it the burnt-to-a-crsip look even though it is not burnt.

Without further ado, here is relatively the same recipe I posted two years ago:

Ingredients:
9.5 Tbs. butter (divided)
1 cup sugar (divided)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1 2/3 lbs. Italian plums (or any other fruit)
1 cup sliced almonds (optional)
2 Tbs. cinnamon

Directions:
1. Melt 8 Tbs. butter
2. Combine the butter and 3/4 cup sugar.
3. Add the eggs, flour, salt, baking powder, vanilla and milk. Mix well.
4. Grease a jolly roll pan and preheat oven to 325 degrees Farenheight.
5. Spread the dough onto the greased pan.
6. Wash, halve, and pit plums. Cut each plum into six slices.
7. Lay plums cut side up and touching each other on the dough.
8. (Optional Step) Sprinkle the almonds onto the cake.
9. Combine 1/3 cup sugar, cinnamon and 1.5 Tbls of melted butter. Sprinkle on top of plums and almonds.
10. Bake for 45-50 minutes

Next time I try this recipe, I really want to use dice one or two plums and include it in the batter to help moisten the cake (maybe next week? I still have left over plums).

Light Festival

lights_eventplanning

lights_cameraman

lights_spotlight

lights_dancecrew01

lights_dancecrew02

lights_dancecrew03

lights_view

lights_happypluto

lights_mousefamily

lights_santahand

lights_paradesportsteam

lights_deeback

lights_deesnider

lights_elves

lights_goofychipndale

lights_santasleigh

lights_santafakesnow

lights_soloist

lights_gymnast

lights_elsaanna

lights_crowd

As I was walking down Michigan Avenue, I was having second thoughts about coming to the Light Parade. SO MANY PEOPLE! Rows upon rows of people you couldn’t even see the parade unless the float was as tall as the people themselves. I thought about leaving but I thought I would at least wait until the parade started to see if I could actually see. Eventually I just kept walking, hoping that I might see something. I got to the end of the street blockade which is where they were doing all of their filming for the live coverage, but I could see!! I weaseled my way to being four rows back… from the cameramen and spotlights, so I didn’t have the best view, as you can tell from only seeing the back of Elsa and Anna’s heads.

Despite the crazy amount of people, this was the best parade I have ever been to! The lights, the floats, live performances, marching bands, confetti, the giant balloons, the Disney characters, Christmas elves, fireworks and don’t forget… Dee Snider from Twisted Sister… Seriously, the crowd erupted to singing, “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, the atmosphere was electric.