Why I love today:

1. Watched the end of When Harry Met Sally. Gets me EVERY TIME! (And makes getting up before the birds a smidge more bearable).

2. Sun on my shoulders as I walked to work...the perfect date!

3. Caramel macchiato (non-fat, no whip).

4. A night in with my b-f-f...and a weekend of festivities ahead.

5. This delightful discovery. How fun!

Happy weekend, everyone! Get out there and enjoy yourselves.



1. That my husband is really nice about me learning the art of the domestic--even when it includes flat cookies and washing clothes...with FABRIC SOFTENER (drat drat DRAT!!!). Maybe I made up for it with Boston Cream Pie cupcakes? Eh?

2. That I saw the girl from the laundromat last night at liquor store (don't judge me!). And she was wearing the same things she wore this weekend. When she washed her clothes. Thus, I'm pretty sure it was an outfit re-wear. And this made me smile secretly to myself and think we should so be friends.

3. The idea of being crafty but can't quite muster up the gumption to make it a reality.

4. That I get to talk to someone about wedding planning and say "It will be awesome! It will all come together! Don't worry about it!" and totally mean it...and totally NOT be jealous to not be her. (I know double negative police. Get over it.)

5. This in theory...but who could honestly fall asleep while swaying so high WITHOUT RAILINGS? Plus, there would be bugs.

photo cred.


Why don't you start living your life in...?

From here.

"Listen, Jake," he leaned forward on the bar. "Don't you
ever get the feeling that all your life is going by
and you're not taking advantage of it? Do you realize
you've lived nearly half the time you have to live already?"

"Yes, every once in a while."

"Do you know that in about thirty-five years more
we'll be dead?"

"What the hell, Robert," I said. "What the hell."

"I'm serious."

"It's one thing I don't worry about," I said.

"You ought to."

"I've had plenty to worry about one time or other.
I'm through worrying."

"Well, I want to go to South America."

"Listen, Robert, going to another country doesn't make
any difference. I've tried all that. You can't get away
from yourself by moving from one place to another.
There's nothing to that."

"But you've never been to South America."

"South America hell! If you went there the way you feel
now it would be exactly the same. This is a good town.
Why don't you start living your life in Paris?"


Weekended: Shoulder shrug.

Because it can't all be roses.

So sometimes you just have to focus on how good the cookies were and shut your eyes to the kitchen mess (and how many said cookies disappeared into your mouth just.like.that!).

Or how great it was to connect and forget the blue-stained white shorts that scream laundry misfortune.

Or how much you love your one year old bff (claiming that title. Oh yes I am!) and pretend like peanut butter and jelly was not on the menu for dinner. And lunch again today.

But it's a new day. And the sun is out! And I started a new book!

And I've only managed to break something once.

So...Happy Monday?

photo cred. (I'm gonna need at least two of those...)


Oh, grow up.

This NYT article has made quite a splash this week.

"What Is It About 20-Somethings?
" explores life during the tumultuous decade as a (whaddya know) 20-something--a time of life dubbed by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a psychology professor at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., as a distinct life stage, which he calls “emerging adulthood.”

I was especially intrigued with Arnett's general characteristics of this age, specifically with what he had to say about our hopefulness:

"During the period he calls emerging adulthood, Arnett says that young men and women are more self-focused than at any other time of life, less certain about the future and yet also more optimistic, no matter what their economic background. This is where the “sense of possibilities” comes in, he says; they have not yet tempered their ideal­istic visions of what awaits...Ask them if they agree with the statement “I am very sure that someday I will get to where I want to be in life,” and 96 percent of them will say yes." (Page 4)

96 percent! That's pretty incredible. And, at least to my emerging adult ears, a powerful message of encouragement. Because while most days, I do feel that hope, there are times when life just gets so messy, so complicated, so convoluted that I feel it slipping away. And it's nice to know that together, even when my tank is a tad empty, our hope still runs high.

Of course, as we all know, there is more to our emerging life than merely blind hope.

It also comes with a tall order of expectations.

'“It’s somewhat terrifying,” writes a 25-year-old named Jennifer, “to think about all the things I’m supposed to be doing in order to ‘get somewhere’ successful: ‘Follow your passions, live your dreams, take risks, network with the right people, find mentors, be financially responsible, volunteer, work, think about or go to grad school, fall in love and maintain personal well-being, mental health and nutrition.’ When is there time to just be and enjoy?” (Page 6)

This time of life is hard. It's like we have all the puzzle pieces and are told we should know how to solve it by now and yet...we just can't seem to get it together!

And look over there! THAT person is so far ahead of us there is no WAY we can keep up and now we're embarrassed by the few pieces we've hesitantly hooked ourselves (albeit disjointedly).

So we're scrambling, smiling, looking around hoping no one notices yet desperate for SOMEONE to notice...SOMEONE to say "Hey, it's okay! You're doing a great job!"

And then someone asks us for our five-year plan.

This article struck a chord in me. I don't really care if the world embraces this new "emerging adulthood" idea or blows it off as total crap from a generation that just won't grow up.

Sure, we are narcissistic. And yes, we are privileged into thinking that we deserve something different.

Maybe we'll drive ourselves crazy trying to have it all and maybe one day we'll realize poof! our la-de-dah hope is gone and then we'll be Adults.

But maybe--call it the emergence in me speaking--maybe this tug of war, this wrestling with expectations, this questioning of societal values, will push some of us to really change something.

And by changing something and refusing to sit back and blindly step into the Expected Norm of Adulthood that consists of A then B then C plus D then eventually E...

Well, maybe we'll wake up one day and NOT be in our 20somethings but still feel that hope.

Time will tell.


I am learning:

To roll with the punches.
To gaze into the face of Challenge
And embrace Opportunity
And say why, hello, New Season!
Won't you join us for dinner?

To be a little fickle.
To leave the book half-read
To stop the movie mid-way
And to do it guilt-free.
Just because I can.

To live with intention.
To set new goals,
To take initiative,
To ask myself
So, would I read My Story?

To be refined.
To see my dark spots.
To listen
when challenged.
To speak without fear
And when the time comes, to let go.

And in all of this (and lessons et al.)
To just keep trying.
Because I will fail.
And that is okay.
One step at a time.

Image cred.


Wish dreams and ugly things.

Sometimes you read something and it stirs a little piece of your soul, but you can't really figure out why just yet, so you file it away for another day when perhaps it will make better sense.

Other times, you read something and BAM! Right then and there, you are moved on the spot and you know precisely why and feel like that very thing--small or insignificant as it may be--was written just for you. Right then. At that exact moment in your life.

For me, this is one of the latter.

Excerpts from Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Emphasis mine.

"Innumerable times a whole Christian community is broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God's grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves.

By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world...God is not a God of the emotions but the God of truth. Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God's sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community the better for both. A community which cannot bear and cannot survive such a crisis, which insists upon keeping its illusion when it should be shattered, permanently loses in that moment the promise of Christian community. Sooner or later it will collapse...He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.

...Because God has already laid the only foundation of our fellowship, because God has bound us together in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ, long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients...We do not complain of what God does not give us; we rather thank God for what He does give us daily. And is not what has been given us enough...?

...We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good...We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things? If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ."


Weekended: Rockin' down the highway.

Because it is way too easy to get lost in Obligation, Responsibility, Agenda-keeping and List-making (yawn, snooze, bore).

And sometimes you just need to jump in the car, drive 10 hours and party with your bff (laughs, karaoke, 2 a.m., DID YOU SEE THAT?!s).

Nothing like a good reminder to loosen up and live a little!

(And nothing like constant caffeine to get you and the best husband ever back home safely.)

photo cred.


And that's an order.

photo cred.

Hope your weekend is filled with sunny skies, icy drinks and a whole lotta life.


p.s. Isn't it funny what we're drawn to? Like there is any way I would find myself at a skate park...(no offense, skaters. By all means, do your thing.) But I digress.
p.s.s. Do you have to really say "I digress" if you put it in a postscript or is it just assumed?


Mint-y fresh.

One of the things Adam and I wanted to do right away was get our finances in order.

Neither of us were exactly what you would call super "fiscally responsible" (could be worse...but could be better!) and both of us had habits that we wanted to change.

At first, we had a grand plan of saving receipts and tallying up our monthly expenses. We even had a snazzy spreadsheet and everything!

But you know how it goes, suddenly you have a fistful of wadded up receipts and absolutely no motivation to categorize each and every blasted one so they accidentally wind up in the trash can. Whoopsie!

And while I pretended we were "gathering information" and going to start REALLY budgeting at a time called Later, basically nothing was changing.

Enter a little thing called mint.com.

Mint.com is a free (!) personal finance software and it works like this:

1. You sign up.
2. You enter your bank account information.
3. It tracks your expenses every time you swipe your card as well as any activity in your bank accounts (you have to have online banking).
4. It uses this information to create pie charts that gives you immediate insight into where your money is REALLY going.
5. It is very customizable--you can create a budget, create financial goals (i.e. saving for a trip, a home, etc.)...and will even email you if (okay...WHEN) you go over said budget.

Now, I know what you're thinking--why the crap would I enter my financial information on a website that is not my bank? Identity theft is not a joke, SARA.

To which I say, you're right. It's not for everyone. I have friends who use the cash system (thanks to Dave) and love it! And furthermore, I have a mother who would absolutely choke on her coffee if she knew I had put such information out there on the In-ter-net. (sorry, Mom! Love you!)

HOWEVER, I'm not exactly known to be a risk taker per se (understatement!) so I did a bit of homework and this is what I found:

1. Featured on NPR's All Things Considered and described as a tool for "financial slackers" and if I am honest with myself, THAT IS ME (says the girl who up until a month ago had three (!) bank accounts).
2. Featured in The New York Times in an article titled "Should You Trust Mint.com?" which addressed several legitimate concerns, such as how safe is the site? And what happens to my information if it closes?
3.The NYT article got so many people fired up, Aaron Patzer, the site’s founder & CEO, responded to the security concerns here.

After weighing the pros and cons, we decided to go for it.

And maybe we won't stick with it forever and maybe we are making a big mistake but all I can tell you is both of us finally feel informed and even though I thought ignorance really was bliss, it's been really helpful.

One evening this week, we even made a bargain with each other to eat in but go out for ice cream.

And you know what? We opted for homemade smoothies instead.

Responsibility never tasted so good.


The one where I (almost) got all Jackie Chan up in here.

So, remember that garden?

You know, the one we were all excited about and inspired homemade salsa dreams?

And finally started to bear fruit?


A pesky, selfish, indulgent, THIEF of a squirrel who NOT ONLY picks our poor plants bare BUT HAS THE AUDACITY TO LEAVE BEHIND THE CRUMBS?!



Who just THIS WEEK braved his face during the daylight and started chittering away as my husband attempted to water our sad, (nearly) fruitless plants and got all TERRITORIAL?!


Whose nest was discovered UNDER OUR APARTMENT BALCONY?!


This morning I dashed outside to water the plants and as I was watering, I was suddenly startled as I heard a faint chitter chatter in the background. Kind of mocking-like.

And the hairs on the back of my neck stood up immediately and I started getting the prickly skin feeling and that same OH MY GOSH I AM GOING TO BE EATEN BY A RABID SQUIRREL feeling.

And I wanted to just run back inside and far, far away from this battlefield.

But then...

Then I saw not one BUT TWO red (RED I SAY!) tomatoes that HAD NOT BEEN EATEN!

(After spying the bits of green tomato that little rascal had nibbled on our railing. DRAT!)

And I knew what I had to do.

I had to stand up for myself, for my husband, for justice, FOR OUR FRUIT!**

So I snatched the first tomato, real quick like and plopped it in a bowl.

Then I spied the other lone red tomato, dangling ever so beautifully on the furthest edge of the plant box.

The edge that just so happened to be closest to the squirrel's nest, which rests just below our floorboard (on the outside, not right underneath...I made sure to ask right after Adam told my of the spade-smacking because I immediately had visions of gray squirrel teeth-gnashing right by my shaking ankles the next time I stepped foot outside. But Adam had assured me the garden-squelcher enters from the OUTSIDE railing. Whew.***)

I heard the chitter. I scanned again for beady eyes. And then, well I just had to go to my UNAGI place (ooooh, salmon skinroll!).

So I lunged forward, hand shaking, hair rising, skin prickling and pluck!


I held the bowl up victoriously as I entered our apartment.

And we are going to enjoy the CRAP out of those tomatoes. So help me!

*We are not about harming him. So don't worry...the spade was strictly for noise not for violence!
**Yes, tomatoes are fruits. Like I would let my emotions overrule my rationality! Puh-lease.
***I am not exactly known for being ONE with nature. To say the least.


What are you seeking?

Excerpted from Seth Godin. Emphasis mine.

"Occasionally we encounter emotions at random. More often, we have no choice, because there’s something that needs to be done, or an event that impinges itself on us. But most often, we seek emotions out, find refuge in them, just as we walk into the living room or the den.

Stop for a second and reread that sentence, because it’s certainly controversial. I’m arguing that more often than not, we encounter fear or aggravation or delight because we seek it out, not because it’s thrust on us.

Why check your email every twenty minutes? It’s not because it needs checking. It’s because the checking puts us into a state we seek out. Why yell at the parking attendant with such gusto? Teaching him a lesson isn’t the point--no, in that moment, it’s what we want to do, it’s a room we choose to hang out in. It could be something as prosaic as getting involved in a flame war online every day, or checking your feeds at midnight or taking a shot or two before dinner. It’s not something you have to do, it’s something you choose to do, because going there takes your emotions to a place you’ve gotten used to, a place where you feel comfortable, even if it makes you unhappy.

...This insight about our moods and your brand is all well and good, but it becomes essential once you realize that there are some rooms you’re spending way too much time in, that these choices are taking away from your productivity or your happiness.

Why are you going there again?"

Read the full post here.


Weekended: laaaaaaid back.

It was a weekend filled with summer-relishing--loose schedules, short to-do lists and a lingering lunch with Grandma (direct quote, "What I want to know is who plays football outside in this heat? Now that's just plain stupid.")

Also, thrift store perusing, Indian-food making and my first heart-wrenching viewing of this.

Oh, and I read this. In just a smidge more than 24 hours. LOVED IT! Haven't lost myself in a book like that in a loooooong time. Highly recommend.

Happy Monday friends!


Under Pressure.

I'm realizing more and more that there are several life skills I assumed I would just somehow have mastered by the time I was a twentysomething.

Like cooking, for example, despite the fact that I only ever stepped foot in the kitchen to follow my mom's DIRECT ORDERS when forced in high school and occasionally, to make brownies (from a box) or cookies (the break-away-pre-mixed kind). Oh, and puppy chow. Because I am diverse like that.

I cooked a tad more in college but before my roommates out me, NOT THAT MUCH I ASSURE YOU, and despite using good ol' George now and then (and assembling a lot of turkey sandwiches),I haven't exactly acquired culinary skills.

As in, at all.

And now I'm almost four months into marriage and I don't know why and I know it's a tad (okay, completely) irrational, but I just kind of figured poof! I would be immediately awesome and Rachel Ray-like and when someone would ask for my recipe I would just smile and say sweetly, "Oh, that? I just kind of threw it together." And move on to world domination. Or something.

But the thing is (spoiler alert!), LIFE TOTALLY DOESN'T WORK LIKE THAT.

There are days when I follow a recipe and it is pretty awesome.
There are days my husband really does throw something together and it is awesome.
There are days when I improvise a little and it's so-so.

And there are days when dammit, I burned the freaking cookies and suddenly I'm crying like an idiot and thinking I am a total failure at life and wondering how can I be twenty-five years old and FORGET THE BAKING SODA?! NORMAL PEOPLE DO NOT DO THAT!

And I have to take a deep breath and remember when I was 9 years old and tearfully showing my dad that I got a B on my math test. Because it was over decimals! And who understands decimals?! But I'm Sara-freaking-Shellenberger and I DO NOT GET Bs ON MATH TESTS!

And my Dad just looked at me, shocked.

Not at my stupid grade.

But at his blubbering, frizzy-haired, crooked-teeth daughter who is um totally losing it and he just said, "Hey, kiddo, you can't be the best at everything."

And it's weird, you know?

To think of all the things my Dad has told me and this is one of the most vivid. Something he said off the cuff and didn't follow with a lecture or launch into a story from years ago or even ever bring up again.

But it's something I still hear to this day.

Even when I don't always want to believe it.


Hey, yeah, I'm talking to you, over there.

photo cred.

That's right.

Even the Mutants at Table 9.

(I was going to say name that movie...and then I discovered the phrase made Urban Dictionary!?)

It's the little things.



You know how everyone who has a garden gets all weird and obsessive and proud-parent-ish about their little plot of land?


One of the first things Adam wanted to do once we were hitched was start a garden.

While I was busy fighting the DMV for a name change, Adam took it upon himself to build a cute (I mean...MANLY!) garden box and plant away! Neither of us had any gardening experience, but thanks to a book (thanks Jenny!) and a bit of perseverance, we (um...really he) just went for it.

And I am so glad he did.

It's been quite the adventure. Pesky squirrels and hungry bugs attacked. Storms raged. The sun's rays beat mercilessly down.

But our little plants? OH, THEY PREVAILED!

Wanna see? SO GLAD YOU ASKED!--

Garden box


Spice rack filled with goodies (mostly) from the garden.

Oh, and friends, we have jalepenos. LOTS of jalepenos.
(...uhh...any good recipes?! please share!)

Today, we picked our first (red) fruit! Wahoo!
(it's the shy one on the right)
Who knew one little tomato could cause so much excitement?

My favorite part, hands down, has been seeing Adam outside, day after sweaty day, making sure his garden is getting the care it needs.

And what a fitting metaphor this humble garden has been for our first season as The Robertsons.

...Garden-themed party, anyone?!


Weekended: Wined and dined.

Pictured below:

A dinner party, of sorts.
The cooks were frazzled,
the meat wasn't quite right,
the floor wasn't swept
and a few flies snuck in (uninvited, of course).

But our hearts were so full of joy,
so thankful to share life with such dear friends
and so blessed to walk this journey together,
that instead of worrying or fussing
or getting all hot and bothered,

We smiled and laughed and said,
"Hey, pass the brownies!"
and "We're really glad you're here"
and knew that this is exactly
the best way to dirty all our dishes.