Friday, January 11, 2013

On Inconsistency

One year, during Lent, I took up flossing regularly. I flossed every day for 40 days, then for a year and a half. And one day I just stopped. I mean, I now floss every week or so, which is better than average, right?

Winter at Westminster Woods: boatless and coatless.
Journaling. Running. Knitting. They comes in waves, and I always tell myself I'll get back around to these good habits and projects.

Pryde's wedding registry: the best.
Of course, I have bitten my cuticles since fifth grade with varying stages of stress-induced consistency. Luckily there are three things that make me think twice before biting: thrift shops, subways and flu season.

First office window: big time.
The best and worst thing about moving to a new place is that it disrupts consistency. The move to Philly was great for things like blogging and cooking and reading the Bible. Moving to Kansas City was detrimental to these things, but very good for employment and community.

Evelyn and Samantha: sisters. They don't even know how great.
What better time than January to reflect on things that are consistent, and also those ambitions that cause self-loathing for their lack of consistency? (For the record, there are very, very few things I would condone worthy of self-loathing. Not blogging daily is not one of them.)

Westwood: new home.
Now let's jump to my list of excuses updates:

1) I moved to the same city as my significant other, with whom I enjoy spending time.
2) I assumed my position as Auntie a bit early, surrendering my heart to a baby and a 4-year-old.
3) I took a desirable full-time nonprofit job, facilitating world travel and cultural understanding.
4) I picked up a sweet little freelance gig, blogging for someone else.
5) I became a bridezilla.

Do you see the trend there? Blessings upon blessings upon good intentions. Let it be known that I will not blog every day. But I probably will occasionally. I will find balance.

Let it also be known that my wonderfully pragmatic and devoted fiancé and I have taken on this challenge from Celebrity KC Blogger and Instagram Virtuoso Jaminato. Here's to consistency and letting God's words permeate me every day so His love can pour out from me onto everyone around.

Oh, and I'm definitely going to cook more too.

With love.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sipping on gin and cukes

This instructional post is the highly-anticipated final installment in the My Fare Beloved Garden Project miniseries.

Just over a month ago, Kelsey finished up her summertime garden project by making good use of the cucumbers she grew on our Philly patio.

The Eriksen sister cucumber-gin-and-tonic tradition can trace its roots to the beloved Bourgeois Pig. In summer 2011, as Kelsey harvested an abundance of cucumbers from her garden 1,200 miles from Lawrence, she decided to bring the Pig to her.

And this past summer, lucky for me, she did it again.

She picked up a couple bottles of fine New Amsterdam gin from the Girard Ave. wine and spirits shop. And chose only the blue ribbon winners from the garden.

She peeled and seeded them in her summery wardrobe.

Then chopped, filled, poured.

The little cukes should stay in the gin, in the fridge for three or four days. Shake the jars a couple times a day to extract all that goodness.

After you strain the pieces out, you can throw them away, dare your sister to eat one (if she's a good sport, she will) or freeze them to use as ice cubes in your cucumber gin and tonic (with lime, of course).

What was not consumed on the Philly patio moved to Kansas with Kelsey in the original gin bottles. As part of her nesting process (and in preparation for a huge party), she infused some more.

Please note again: the cucumbers need only soak for three or four days. This autumn straining montage is a separate batch entirely.

This fresh, summery cocktail is a wonderful way to toast the end of summer and, as it turns out, a precious bride and groom.

With love.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Clean Water

A couple weekends ago, after the betrothal and before the flurry of decisions made (woo!), Ken and Rusty and I drove to Holland, Michigan. We were representing River to Well in a really fun weekend with our partner organization, Vox United. Those are the guys who use the money we raise to travel all over Mozambique installing and repairing wells. We got to hear their stories and also participate in 'repairing' a well that they installed in the front yard of Brad's Michigan farmhouse.

These Afridev wells are standardized all over sub-Saharan Africa, so it is relatively easy to troubleshoot and replace parts (for these guys, anyway). And with so many non-working wells that need one little part to work properly, it was pretty incredible to see how much clean water can come from one of their two-week trips.

I think for our little team, it was reaffirming to see the physical outcome of the money raised through the photo competition. We are always blown away by the talent and generosity of participants. And equally humbled that we get to be part of the health and survival of families across the ocean.

Now is a great time to remind you that River to Well is accepting photo entries through the end of September! We'd love if you entered.

And if you would like to read more of River to Well's story, here is the guest post I wrote for Superstar Photographer Jeremy Cowart's blog.

With love.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Life changes. And change is good!

About three weeks ago, Ken flew to Philly, I kissed that Brewerytown row home goodbye and we drove halfway across America to my cozy, new suburban KC home. I reunited with my dear friend and past-and-current roommate Laura, headed to Hutch for a couple days of family time and felt peaceful all over knowing that I was home.

The first real week unemployed between jobs, I threw myself into my Advocacy + Communications role with River to Well. We have a fancy new website and an invitation to write a guest post for a well-known photographer's blog. As I whipped that out, magazine-deadline style, I justified not posting on my own blog. (I will reveal that bit of freelance in its own post. I need to stretch these out.)

I sent that to press, and Ken and I hopped in the car to drive to Colorado. Denver holds a special place for both of us, his having lived there and my having spent so much time there with family growing up. This is also where our love truly began.

August 2011. Way back when my hair was short, I had a visible bike scar
and Ken's frames were invisible. We were but children!
We drove to Estes Park on Sunday, August 19, for an anniversary hike.

I won't bore you with the gory details (there was a half-eaten Clif Bar in my mouth and I was a little sweaty) but in the mountains...he asked me to be his wife.

I get to marry this guy:

It is seriously amazing how God operates. I will say it again -- the unpredictability and excitement and trials all make me pretty excited for whatever is next. He is good to me.

2011 River to Well gallery show, Lawrence.
Ken and I bonded over River to Well. This little grassroots photo competition that is physically helping to bring clean water to people in Africa. THIS is my partner in life, people! Can you imagine how much good God can do through us?!

Times Square.
Just during our courtship, we have seen some incredible places together.

Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
We have friends and family all over the world who are incredibly supportive of us, together and separately.

Underground Salt Museum, Hutch.
He lets me cry when I need to and he also lets me laugh at him, which I often find the need to do too.

I feel so cherished and supported by him. Like I could do anything.

This is my future husband:

Photo courtesy of the talented and gracious Rusty Wright
(I say 'gracious' because I yanked the photo from his blog).
Handsome bone structure courtesy of the Good Lord.
I know what you're thinking. And yes, our children will be pretty stinkin' adorable. Not unlike my new niece, Evie.

This blog may change a bit, but I dare say the story can only get better and better.

With love.

Monday, July 30, 2012

High Stress and Divine Sovereignty

I took a short blog sabbatical to wrap up my adventurous, transformative East Coast sojourn. One year ago, I packed up my home in Lawrence, said goodbyes and cried a lot because it all seemed so terribly final. As I prepare now to drive my belongings back across six states and settle in Kansas City, I realize how much more strength and freedom I feel. Not because I dislike Philly -- I love and appreciate it more than I ever expected to. But I am going home. And I am a different person moving to a different city to live among different (and familiar) people. Change is scary and goodbyes are hard, but if there is one thing I've learned this year it is that God's plan is greater and He loves me more than I could ever imagine. It sounds simple, but that is no easy lesson.

To help illustrate this, I present to you my worst day in recent memory, in which God proved (again) how little control I have and how much He loves His children. (Since it would have been dangerous to document the day with my camera, I will intersperse photos from my recent trip that make me feel calm.)

Last Tuesday I left Lee, Mass., where I spent the weekend exploring the spectacular Berkshire Mountains, watching dance and reminiscing about college with my wonderful friend Toni. I was driving the car that I purchased earlier this month to initiate the transformation back to Midwesterner. (I'll go ahead and deflect any assumptions that I got into a wreck...the worst did not happen.) I switched on my phone's GPS to guide me the few hours to Philly. These are all important details.

To get to Western Massachusetts, I had driven along quietly winding roads through New Jersey and New York. I didn't realize that my GPS was leading me back a different way until I found myself entering the Bronx. There was a lot of traffic, but I was not too phased. The beauty of GPS is that regardless of how many wrong turns you make, it will always find a way home.

It was then, all at once, that stuff got stressful: The nearest bridge leading into Jersey was under heavy construction. The GPS satellite connection went out. My phone died. Then it overheated and wouldn't charge. Ridiculous. Meanwhile, I wasted time and gas driving around this northern borough, sweating, praying and resolving to take Megabus everywhere I go from now on. I kept driving south, telling myself that I was not stuck in New York City forever and that it was worth holding out to get gas in Jersey where it is much cheaper (and they pump it for you!).

The details here get a bit fuzzy, but at some point I realized that my phone would charge if I held it up to the a/c vent, so I frequently pulled over in No Parking zones to make sure I was on track and flipped U-turns when I was not. None of the NYC cabs I've ridden ever have to do this. Thankfully, Jesus had the wheel so I was free to baby my phone.

I finally made it to FDR Drive, a comfortable drag along the East River. As soon as I had a second to breathe, the thought came to me: Masha is in Manhattan right now. I had said a final farewell to my dearest Philly friend before leaving for my weekend trip. Her flight to long-term mission work in Europe left from JFK Airport before I would return. She planned to spend her last few stateside hours with her family in the city. Although every fiber of my being wanted to get out of Manhattan as quickly as possible, I had a stronger urge to see her.

My phone battery held up long enough to call her, but when her voicemail picked up I did not leave a message. I felt a bit relieved (sorry, Masha!) and kept driving. She called back just as I reached the Upper East Side. She was in Soho. I told her I'd be there in 10 minutes. Commence rush hour on Park Ave. As I gritted my teeth and willed a protective bubble around my car, I laughed realizing that God brought me here just to give Masha another hug. And when I pulled into a parking spot and met her on the corner, she laughed with me. He loves her a lot.

I could tell you how long it took me to get through Holland Tunnel, how I was never so excited to be in New Jersey. I could tell you about eating cold leftover pasta after I'd been in the car for seven hours (of the 4.5-hour trip), or how I missed the exit for Philly and was scolded for being $1 short for the very last toll. I could tell you how I finally stumbled through the front door of our house and wept on Kelsey's shoulder in a big ol' glass case of emotion.

But I'd like to focus on the fact that God took me to New York against my will to amaze us with His love for us. That makes me pretty excited for whatever is next.

With love.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Wedding with Fireflies

Earlier this summer, before I had to start sleeping with a box fan, we drove six hours across Pennsylvania to see our friend Ben marry his dear Canadian bride. It was the dreamy kind of wedding that I might read about on a blog and wish I could attend. So, in my duty to bear witness to these beautiful God-ordained experiences, here I blog about it.

Ben worked with Kelsey her first summer at CSM, and his vagabond spirit has allowed me to get to know him. We really bonded when he slept on our couch for a week this spring -- that's when he invited me to his wedding.

For me, it was icing on the cake that we got to leave the city and see them wed in a forest. The bride, groom and their wedding party camped on these festival grounds for a week creating their oasis. 

I could go on about the perfect weather and how refreshing it was to be in nature for 24 hours, but I must address the stunning, barefoot, Jesus-filled ceremony. It completely reflected Ben and Naomi's hearts for each other and for God. The Episcopalian priest beautifully melded ritual and personal, and charged that their marriage might be a beacon of Light in a broken world. Amen.

The celebration that followed was as comfortable and sweet as their ceremony. Friends and family wasted no time pouring the wine (into Mason jars) and starting the grill.

Naomi served cupcakes baked by a bridesmaid.

We pitched our sleeping arrangements.

Then rejoined the party to dance to (with) a delightful Canadian folk band and eat s'mores around a bonfire. We saw fireflies for the first and only time this summer (which meant an awful lot to the Kansas girl who wept at the sound of cicadas).

It struck me that I would not have experienced this had I not moved here. There were a lot of reasons for that move out of my comfort zone, but I had not anticipated such wonderful friends. Let alone expect to share these major life moments with them. This post is filled with adjectives because blessed is an understatement.

God willing, I will still be a witness to Ben and Naomi's Light 60 years from now.

P.S. No pressure, Kels and Jim.

With love.