I used to have friends all over the map and I loved it.

In college, I'd bounce around campus from event to event with lots of waves and smiles and "Let's get together!"s. Friendships were easy, sometimes surface-y, and many ever-changing.

It was a time of general merriment and joy and there was a life, a breath, a feeling of being alive that came with the season. Let's share! Let's celebrate! Let's be young together! And all the crazy memories (and sometimes mistakes) that followed were still made with a sense of camaraderie. As if we all knew--could feel--this fleeting time would not last and much to our horror, we would grow older. This too would pass. Life would not always be like this.

And then...life did change and despite promises and well-wishes, so did the ties.

Distance, busyness, life got in the way and suddenly I was in a big city with few friends and most of them new.

And I spent a long time missing what I left, some of what I lost, and thinking things will never be what they were.

Even with those who I still saw regularly, something had shifted. No longer were we all lounging with our plastic plates and brownies, playing games in our sweatpants past midnight or setting off to simply create a memory.

Now we were adults--we had jobs, new living arrangements, rings on our fingers that somehow complicated things. It was a necessary, but startlingly abrupt transition.

I wasn't sure what to make of it. And I wasn't sure who to call. And I hated this city, this season of not-knowing, of never-ending transition, of not what it was.

And I still do, sometimes. Because those who have stuck in my life are ones I want to hold onto, ones who knew me then and now, irreplaceable...and yet, not here.

And I know it sounds like one big sob story, but really all I set out to say was that I have been feeling so thankful lately, so blessed, with all those who share my journey day to day. New friendships are hard to forge, especially when life pulls us in so many directions and memories are seemingly so much harder to make, or perhaps experiences are just too exhausting to entertain at the end of a workweek.

Because we don't all share the same road anymore. Decisions are revealing new paths, unique doors, narrower experiences. And when life feels full or unknown or just plain hard, it's difficult to decide who to call alongside you in the journey. Who to trust with your ickiness. Who to intentionally include and how.

And there is a place for those who knew you then--those who are your first phone calls when things fall apart. And those friendships survive distance. Because they must.

But there is something to be said, too, about those who have walked alongside my path--our path--these last few months, expecting nothing, saying little, and just being there.

So for that, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for reminding me that though the world can seem big, and rather ugly at times, it really is full of beauty. And we have felt that shining through so many faces--old and new--and I know that what was, may be no longer...but what will be holds a promise.

Perhaps we're all a bit wiser now. A bit more tired. A few more scratches. But there is still so much life to be celebrated. So much to experience. And it is so much better to do it together.

To those you continually show up, near and far, thank you.

Now let's go make some more memories before we get old and creaky.



And with an unexpected burst of energy, I opened the overflowing closet. I organized. I filed. I rummaged. I sorted.

My eyes fell on the big bulky bag I have been avoiding for weeks now and without thinking, I unzipped it.

And out you poured.

I tried to push the thoughts away and focus on the task at hand. I grabbed your favorite afghan--the one that covered your wooden rocking chair...the one that still has your smell and laid it gently on the back of our couch.

I grabbed the pitcher next--it's bright flowers singing songs of spring--and set it on our shelf.

The green glass bowl in the bedroom.

The serving tray tucked safely away.

And then the timer went off and I took dessert out of the oven and suddenly the tears were there. Not flooding. Not loud. Just a few swift, silent ones that I wiped away quietly.

And I dropped everything right then and snuggled into the couch with your blanket wrapped around me and you were there and I could hear you saying, "Well, honey, how nice!" as you popped in for a visit, followed quickly with "Now, Adam, how is teaching going? Any brats these days?" with a wink and a chuckle.

And I recalled the last time--the very last--I visited your home and he said, eyes red and words squeezing out from the lump in his throat, "So, just, you know, look around and let me know what you want and we'll figure it out." And it was horrible, it really was, to be in your space and look at your things and think I want nothing, I want everything, I just want you to come. home. And offer me ice cream and talk about Grandpa and I'll stay all afternoon. And I felt icky and just put a few things aside and thought exhausting thoughts--too much? not enough? I'm doing this all wrong...

And it isn't about those things, and it doesn't change anything, really, and I know you aren't in those things and are instead in your new home that I will one day visit, but for now, I have to say, it's really nice to see you everywhere I turn.

Our birthday month is coming up soon, and I know that I won't be getting that signature $2 bill in the mail (isn't it funny, the things we miss?) or do our birthday lunch.

But as I go about my day to day, I'll think of you.

And when I'm feeling sentimental, I'll reach for the blanket and hear you say as I wrap myself tight, "Now, honey, don't you keep crying over me. Dyin's just a part of livin."


Recipe: Cheery Cherry Streusel Bars

When Adam and I stop for candy before a movie*, our tactics could not be more different.

Me: Chocolate. Always. Maybe chocolate/peanut butter. Maybe chocolate/mint. Maybe even chocolate/raisins if I'm feeling crazy. But always always chocolate. Always.

Adam: Fruity. Sour. Basically your all-around gag fest, which is a major bummer when he offers to share and I DON'T EVEN WANT ANY!

This attitude carries over into the kitchen as well. However, since yours truly is usually the baker, you can guess which ingredient is a staple in our house.



Last week I was lucky enough to borrow a Better Homes and Gardens Favorite Bars & Cookies recipe book from my fab mother-in-law.

To be honest, I was a bit cookie-d out so I decided to go out on a limb and give these fruity streusel bars a whirl.

And man oh man, am I glad I did! I seriously cannot even tell you how many times Adam has stopped me to say, "Whoa. Best dessert ever. My favorite of all-time. I love this. ...did I mention this is my favorite?" And I loved it too!

So, I'm gonna go ahead and give it five stars and say GO MAKE IT!

Recipe: Cheery Cherry Streusel Bars
Source: Better Homes and Gardens

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 10-oz jar of any ol' preserves you please

Optional topping: powdered sugar icing
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350º
2. In a medium bowl beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium until combined.
3. Add egg; beat until combined.
4. Mix in flour.
5. Stir in pecans. Set aside 1 cup of the pecan mixture for the topping.
6. Press the remaining pecan mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9x9 pan.
7. Spread preserves over crust to within 1/2 inch of edges.
8. Dot the rest of the pecan mixture on top of preserves.
9. Bake about 45 minutes or until pecan topping is golden brown.
10. Cool in pan. Drizzle with optional powdered sugar icing or cover with sprinkled powdered sugar. 

Optional topping directions
1. Combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla in a small bowl.
2. Stir in enough additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make an icing of drizzling consistency.

...did Adam mention it's his favorite?!

*yes, to smuggle in...except now some movie theaters let us parade on in with candy in tow sooo alleviated conscience?


The Things We Carry:

You have loved us first, help us never to forget that You are love so that this sure conviction might triumph in our hearts over the seduction of the world, over the inquietude of the soul, over the anxiety of the future, over the fright of the past, over the distress of the moment.

-Søren Kierkegaard (emphasis mine)


Things you never, ever want to hear while at the beauty salon. EVER.

All said by the consultant. Because my life is awesome.

1. Sorry I'm late! Had to finish waxing my lip! Whoeee that'll getcha!
2. (while stirring the wax that is about to be applied TO YOUR FACE) Hmm...this is weird!
3. I'm confused...
4. Let's switch chairs. Whoever is in charge of this station is, like, SERIOUSLY slacking on sanitation today!
5. Yeah, you'll need to get up. I mean, usually, I can move the chair while the person stays sitting but...yeah, you need to get up.
6. (to another consultant) I'm doing this right...right?

Don't worry, I still have both eyebrows.

...and newly-grayed hair.


Recipe: Chocolate! Spicy! Oh my! Cookies (aka Mayan Chocolate Sparklers)

So, when you're feeling a bit ho-hum in regards to another chocolate chip cookie (it happens to the best of us) but still in the baking (and chocolate) mood, have I got a deal for you!

It's sassy. It's spicy. It's the Mayan Chocolate Sparkler!

Recipe: Chocolate! Spicy! Oh my! Cookies (aka Mayan Chocolate Sparklers)

Adapted from montcarte (who adapted from Under the High Chair)
Makes about 5 dozen

Note/confession: While I try to pretend I am a risk taker (okay, I don't. And I'm not.), I actually got far too nervous to add the black pepper! I KNOW! And I'm all "oh, here, everyone, go try this!" So, for those braver than me, I will include the pepper here. And know that I plan to add it next time. Because some of us need to dip our toes in first and then we can jump in, MMMKAY?! Don't look at me like that.


½ cup granulated sugar 125 mL
1 tsp ground cinnamon 5 mL

¾ cup vegetable shortening 175 mL
½ cup unsalted butter, softened 125 mL
¾ cup granulated sugar 175 mL
¾ cup brown sugar, packed 175 mL
2 large eggs 2
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 5 mL
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour 425 mL
1 ¼ cups cocoa powder 300 mL
1 tbsp ground cinnamon 15 mL
2 tsp baking soda 10 mL
¼ tsp salt 1 mL
¼ tsp ground black pepper 1 mL
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper 1
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 250 mL


Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mat.

Combine sugar and cinnamon for topping.

1. Beat shortening, butter, sugars and vanilla until creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
2. Sift together flour, cocoa, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir in black pepper, salt, and cayenne pepper.
3. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture, beating after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Roll in 1” (2.5 cm) balls, don’t flatten. Roll into cinnamon and sugar topping. Place on prepared cookie sheets, about 2” (5 cm) apart.
5. Bake 7-10 minutes. Cookies should still be soft in center. Let cool on baking sheet for 3-5 minutes. Remove, cool on wire rack.

Best when accompanied with a glass of milk! Enjoy your weekend!



And it's learning to live in the in-between:

Dreams and fears.
Messy and clean.
Order and chaos.
Joy and sorrow.

For there are hands to hold and tears to wipe away
Sunshine and lighthearted laughs.
Friends and funerals.
Road trips and routine.
Babies and bad news.

And some days end with
How does everyone else seem to do it so much better?

But lately, embracing that hey, it's you and me
And what we've been given
And we're all just doing the best we can.



In one month, my husband and I will be here.

We will be staying at an orphanage, visiting hospitals and generally diving into the lives of anyone who will let us.

(Sidenote: we are traveling with fifteen high-schoolers and staying overnight in an airport. Let's call it an adventure and move on.)

While we've known about this opportunity for awhile, it wasn't until last week that it began to sink in for me that this is really happening.

As with all foreign travel, I have a mix of nerves and excitement, but mostly excitement.* First time to stamp my new passport! First time traveling abroad with my husband! WARM WEATHER!

(Yes, I will be sweaty and blistered and probably sleep-deprived but again, ADVENTURE!)

I'm not usually one to give things up, even for Lent, but for some reason, my thought pattern yesterday went a little something like this:

I drink too much caffeine (SHOCKER)//I don't like that about myself//I should stop drinking pop nearly every day//I need something to motivate myself//oh hey! I'm going to the DR soon//I am seriously worried about getting caffeine headaches on said trip//That will make me fussy.//That is stupid.//I should give up pop in preparation for the DR!

So there it is. Instead of getting a fussy wife for a week in another country, my dear husband gets a fussy wife for one month leading up to the trip! EVERYBODY WINS!!!

It's semi-lame to make this public but also, I need accountability. So friends, keep me accountable!

Also, please note that I did not say I am giving up coffee soooooo LOOPHOLE!

Finally, if you are interested in supporting our travels (and live in Kansas City), we are collecting a few items for donation to our friends upon our arrival.

Those items are:
  • Black shoes for school (new or gently used, all sizes)
  • Vitamins
  • $30 baggage fee donation (the airfare for one suitcase full of supplies)
You can donate now through March 12.

p.s. Am I a fussy person? ...don't answer that.

*I know this is soooo 90's but I can't help immediately remembering that part in Armageddon when Owen Wilson is getting strapped into the rocket and says:
"Great, I got that "excited/scared" feeling. Like 98% excited, 2% scared. Or maybe it's more - It could be two - it could be 98% scared, 2% excited but that's what makes it so intense, it's so - confused. I can't really figure it out."


Color me happy.

Some bold colors to brighten a gray day.

A heart crying out for SPRING SPRING SPRING!

And many reasons to celebrate life as it is.

(messy kitchen, pretty yellow lilies, unused gym membership, random compliments on my thrifted $6 sweater! and all)

Image cred.


Give love. Not Hershey's.

Hurry! Quick! Go here and send your favorite people a super cute e-valentine! DO IT!!!

Now please continue reading my Debbie Downer message about Hershey's.

Occasionally, you should stop and remind yourself it is Friday so you don't get too depressed. --Also, that in one month it is OFFICIALLY SPRING and HOLY CRAP I am ready.


So, okay, I know we all do our own thing on Valentine's Day. Personally, we aren't super into it at the Robertson abode, but I do like a day that makes chocolate a priority (as well as love, diamonds, making guys feel like crap for not being original, blahblah).

Okay, if I'm being honest, there is a teensy (not so teensy) part of me that dreams Hollywood dreams for this day...but then I remember I'm uncomfortable at fancy restaurants, I'd rather save our money to travel and that fresh flowers, wine and a great husband are waaaaay better than a day o'consuming all things red and sparkly.

(Oh, hi. I've pretty much spent the last week sequestered to our one-bedroom apartment so if I'm not making sense it's because I'm just SO. EXCITED. TO. SEE. YOU! Please don't go.)


So, anyway, chocolate.

Ever since I've been looking into the issue of fair trade, it seems my ethically conscious consumer senses have been heightened. Which is a good thing, I think, except the sirens have been going totally crazy when it comes to a company that I've done (more than) my share of supporting to feed my choco-love...and that company, as you may have guessed, is Hershey's.

It started when a friend of mine (hi, Chrissy!) sent me this article and told me she stopped buying Hershey's products altogether.

It continued as I've received several emails from Free2Work, an organization Liana mentioned.

It blared as I did my own research and found several sites calling for Hershey's to step up and make some changes.

Why Hershey's? Good question.

According to change.org, Hershey's has received increased pressure to release their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies and practices, which it finally did in 2010. This is actually a good thing, as corporate watchdogs (and regular ol' consumers) are calling for serious changes to be made in the cocoa industry, which is rife with child labor, human trafficking, and very dangerous working conditions.

Change.org also points out that while Hershey's is by no means the sole offender in said atrocities, Hershey "stands out as the only company that has no policy in place to trace its cocoa and ensure and independently verify that certain standards are met."

Further, as explained by Awakened Aesthetic, "Hershey, which has the largest market share in the US at 42.5%, gets the majority of their chocolate from – you guessed it! – West Africa."

So, Hershey's has released that it gets its cocoa from the region in West Africa that is known for the above offenses...yet they will not release any specifics regarding their cocoa, which allows them to fly under the radar in regard to accountability.

(Except actually it's just making a bunch of people really mad so they should just get with the program, be transparent and deal with the consequences.)

Something to keep in mind in this season of cocoa consumption. 
Or as some would say, food for thought (yuk yuk yuk).

You can take action, and learn more about Hershey as well as other chocolate companies by visiting Free2Work's company ratings here.


Note: I have to point out, and perhaps this is my unwillingness to let go of my beloved Reese's or Hershey's dark chocolate chips (when baking...OKAY OR BY THE HANDFUL. Judge me!)...but one thing that is frustrating/confusing for me, the novice at this kind of thing, is that the very corporate rating system that seems the most active (Free2Work, as mentioned several times above), ranks Hershey's as a C-.

However, other companies that are not under the axe as much, are given WORSE ratings. (Dove=D. Godiva=D-.) What is up with that?


Things I'm not going to tell you:

1. How many episodes of Ugly Betty I've watched this week
2. How many of these brownies I had on my sick day (went with 1/2 c cocoa...and did not regret it)
**edit: Adam highly suggests a bit of Nutella on top of the brownie. I fully support this idea.**
3. The last time I cooked dinner, cleaned the bathtub or cut my hair
4. How often I wish all my favorite people lived within walking distance
5. How very blessed I feel living the life I do with the man I have beside me (scrapes, bruises and all)*

*lest you puke.

Image cred



Winter is not my favorite season (UNDERSTATEMENT) and though my husband may object, I really have been trying to squelch my tendency to complain about the weather nonstop from November-March.

I mean, sometimes it really does just slip out because seriously, no one can possibly enjoy a temperature that makes you clench your insides so tight your ribs are touching just to brave the walk to the car, during which your damp hair freezes and your body falls to helpless convulsions while crying, screaming, pleading for spring.

--Okay, so it's a work in progress.

Anyway, last week I was finally able to participate in what becomes the teacher battle cry all around the world in these Midwest winter months and makes the winter a bit more bearable and perhaps even a blip of joy-yes, in some bizarre twist of fate, I got not one but TWO snow days.

My husband, a teacher, has enjoyed four of these glorious days and while I enjoy celebrating his good fortune, it really was wearing to watch him dance with glee as I bundled up for my horrendous walk outside, knowing my husband would get a day of coziness as I begrudgingly toiled and slaved...and walked uphill BOTH WAYS!

So imagine my surprise! My delight! My GLEE when I got that first beautiful, beautiful text at 5:00 a.m. saying "Due to the weather, we are closed for the day."

Closed. Closed?! CLOSED?!

Oh happy day! Oh happy, happy, wonderful day and glittering, gorgeous snow and I love everyone and everything and the world is all SO RIGHT! AMEN!

And I dart into the bedroom, where my sleeping husband lie dreaming snow day dreams and squealed, "SNOW DAY! I GET A SNOW DAY! ME! I GET A SNOOOOOW DAAAAAAAAY!"

And he mumbled, "That's awesome."

And before I knew it, the very next words tumbled out of my mouth, in a helpless horror of TOTALLY UN-SNOW DAY TALK which should be limited to fresh-baked cookies and sweatpants and books and movie marathons...and NOT:

"I think we need more toilet paper. Also, we are out of stamps and rent it due."


Fair trade update: Thanksgiving.

Just wanted to say a big, heartfelt THANK YOU to all who have commented, emailed, read and/or responded to my recent posts about fair trade.

I am learning a lot and feel so supported and encouraged, even amidst all the surrounding questions and overwhelming nature of such a large (and oh-so-complicated) issue.

I don't have any concrete answers to offer or any new fabulous info to share with you today.

I just wanted to take the time to spread some warm fuzzies and say hey, you, all of you, thank you.

Thank you for reading.

Thank you for caring.

And thanks for giving me a chance --and the accountability--to explore the world with all of you.

(This is where we hug and cry and go eat chocolate.)

Enjoy your weekend, friends.


Recipe: Snuggly, Savory Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup

Perfect for snow days, stay-in-sweatpants days, and do-not-brush-your-hair days.

Or really, any day that you need a little comfort in your tummy.

And these snowy days, who doesn't?!

(Plus, sweet potato=SUPERFOOD...which totally off-sets the many chocolate cookies consumed after. Okay not really. But please nod in agreement anyway.)

Bon appetit!

Recipe: Snuggly, Savory Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup

*Shout out to Amy for submitting this to my work recipe exchange!*

Note: If you did not get a snow day (or TWO snow days in my lucky case), I sincerely apologize and offer my condolences. I can't pretend it wasn't glorious, but I do know how not-so-fun it is to be trudging through the muck when much of the world is snuggled on the couch watching Netflix. I suggest you treat yourself to a latte and make your lucky other half make dinner. Also, pedicures do wonders for the attitude. Even when done at home while sitting on the cold tile. --Just make sure you wear socks asap because my b-f-f has gotten frostbite (YES, FROSTBITE!) on her poor toes by merely walking on her cold floors. PSA, you're welcome!!!


 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 10- to 11-ounce fully cooked smoked Portuguese linguica sausage or chorizo sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (Spanish chorizo can be substituted)
2 medium onions, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds sweet potatoes peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 pound white-skinned potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
6 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 9-ounce bag fresh spinach

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook until brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Transfer sausage to paper towels to drain. (I poured off some of the oil in the pot at this point, but the original recipe doesn’t think this is needed.) Add onions and garlic to pot and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add all potatoes and cook until beginning to soften, stirring often, about 12 minutes. Add broth; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Using potato masher, mash some of potatoes in pot. Add browned sausage to soup. Stir in spinach and simmer just until wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining one tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and serve.