Weekend Wrap-up: Returning “Home”

So I lied.  The Bloomington weekend wrap up did not come last Monday as I promised in my last post.  SO sorry. The week just got away from me.  And then our internet went out over the weekend.  So, no blogging action happened.  Anyhow, here’s the scoop from our weekend in Btown, the town of our alma mater, Indiana University.

We took off Friday night after the work day and enjoyed the 4-hour drive talking about our week, chatting about our plans for the weekend, and soaking in the setting sun over the Indiana farmland.

One of the only good things about the drive on 65-S is the windmill farm, I feel like I am in space or something

We also stopped at Chik-fil-a on the way and ate it curbside. Yum, oh how we’ve missed you Indiana!

We were so blessed to be able to stay at our friend’s house, Brandon and Megan.  They are gone for the summer on a mission project so they let us make ourselves at home.  I can’t tell you how amazingly relaxing and vacation-like their home was for us.  They live south of campus in a cute neighborhood that has a yard, couldn’t believe it, a yard!  I feel like I haven’t seen one of those in ages.  Being in the city you’re lucky if you get a 4’x4′ piece of grass, thankfully we have just that so I can have a small garden and few flowering plants. But it was crazy as soon as we laid down to go to sleep, I could hear crickets, CRICKETS! I love Crickets! … okay maybe not love them, I don’t really like bugs (ask Justin, I scream and holler at him to kill them when they get in the house).  But honestly what a change to be able to hear nature before bedtime.  Here’s a cute picture of their neighborhood/subdivision.  I took a walk one morning and really enjoyed it!

Saturday Morning Justin and I woke up early and headed for a bike ride.  This was my first time riding around the south side of Bloomington, and oh, it was beautiful. And OH MY, it was hilly.  Hillier than the Bloomington I remembered.  At about mile 12, I felt like I had gone 40, heck felt like I had ran a marathon already.  I was disappointed.  I felt a) out of shape and b) sad because there’s no hills in Chicago to even practice on. We’re thinking about doing the Hilly Hundred in the fall, but literally I have no idea how I am supposed to get proper training in! We did eventually make it to 20 or 25 miles, but that is nothing compared to what we used to ride last fall when we were training for Little 500.

After our short but very winded ride (well I was winded at least, Justin probably could have gone 20 more) we headed to Village Deli, it’s the popular breakfast joint right near campus.  We met our friends Nate and Kelsie there.  Afterwards we took a walk around campus.

The Union

Kelley Business School Bridge

Then we headed to Yogi’s and the boys grabbed a beer.

Kelsie and Nate left to get ready for a wedding in Indy while Justin and I went back to the house to get some rest.  We ended up not really resting at all and having a very long, but needed conversation about us and our relationship.  Those conversations are normally not fun and require a lot of emotional and spiritual effort. But at the end of them they are so worth it.  I love him even more after hard conversations.  God’s grace and work is so evident in just that.

After our conversation we headed to our friend’s Dave and Courtnee’s house, who are both on staff with Cru, formally Campus Crusade for Christ.  Dave was Justin’s discipler when he was in college.  Dave really helped Justin grasp the foundation of the Gospel after he first came to Christ.  We both spent time our senior year at their house for dinner, tea, catching up, and encouragement.  It was great to be back in a familiar place.  The only difference is that now they have a little person, who is no longer an infant but an almost toddler.  As stated by Justin, Luelle might be the cutest little girl we’ve ever seen.  Dave let us play with her while he and Courtnee got dinner ready.  She had these little squeaky shoes that helped you know wherever she was (they are actually called Sneak A Roos). Luelle found a new friend while we played.  Mr. Turtle the sandbox, with no sand. She loved it.  She was just basking in the sun and drumming her little hands on the outside of the bin. She’s so precious.

She’s concentrating. So cute.

We ate dinner outside on their back porch and talked about their gardening endevors for the summer.  Courtnee is spending her sabbatical working on her backyard.  I think it’s a great idea!  She’s done so much already and it looks lovely.  You can check out her adventure here, she has tons of great ideas and tips for gardening too.

After dinner we had some excellent peach cobbler that I helped Courtnee make.  After dessert little Luelle went to bed and we played a great game of Settlers of Catan.  And if you don’t know what it is.  You should stop reading this and go buy the game right now.  It’s one of the best strategy games out there and is so much fun! And the night didn’t end there.  We spent another couple hours afterwards talking with Dave and Courtnee. Dave jokingly but upfrontly asked us when we would be moving back to Bloomington to join staff with Cru at IU. I think someone else could find this similar to a recruiting antic, but actually I felt very encouraged by his question.  Joining full-time staff with the Cru ministry has been a desire of mine for a while, but since starting work and living in Chicago, it has really slipped my mind.  During my senior year I seriously considered joining the IU staff as an intern.  But God called me back home to Chicago, the last place I wanted to go at the time.  After graduating I had a lot of student loans and God was calling me to take care of that first. These are the verses that God brought to my attention.

“Pay to all what is owed to them taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fufilled the law” – Romans 13:7-8

“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” – Proverbs 22:7

And although it may not sound fun, paying off our loans has been one the most rewarding experiences.  We can reduce our total debt amount significantly by simply paying a few extra payments a month.  It’s incredible.  It’s so freeing.  And it challenges us to grow because it means that by being a bit more frugal (turning down vacations, avoiding expensive dinners, and shopping at the cheaper supermarket) we are letting God have control of our money and ultimately are experiencing more contentment in Him.  It’s so worth it.  And we also know that there is an end in sight and once we get there, Justin and I will be able to embark on adventures and take more opportunities and risks.

And where we land someday is still up in the air. There are endless possibilities.  Cru staff is still an option for us.  We’ve also tossed around the idea of a owning a small business, working for a university, or continuing in the corporate environment. We would love to be back in Bloomington for any of those options.  It feels like our real home.  Not just because we went to school there and lived there for 4 years, but because it’s the place where we both met Jesus and started our Christian journeys. It’s the place that has so much deep meaning and deep memories for us.  It’s the place where we get fired up and passionate about life.  It’s the place where feel completely relaxed and completely ourselves.  Maybe someday we’ll be back.  We’ll see.  For now, we are here, in Chicago, working in the corporate environment, having a small yard, and a basement apartment.  Although those things don’t get us excited or passionate and although we don’t see Chicago as our long term home, it’s where we are at now.  And we must continue to ask, how do find joy in where we are at now? And how life unfolds afterwards is the whole mystery that God asks us to be a part of.  How awesome is that?  Forget the 5 or 10 year plans, hop on God’s plan!  Corny, I know, but seriously.

Anyways, to continue on… Sunday we spent the whole day with Nate and Kelsie. We headed to church with them and afterwards snapped some pictures at Sample Gates, one of the best photography scenes on campus (although my shots don’t do it justice)!

Then we headed across the street to Buffa-louies (that I always mispronounce as Buffalo Louie’s, whatever). Justin claims he hasn’t found better wings anywhere else yet!  Afterwards we went to the pool, and even rode the slides.  Then Justin got a haircut.

Natedawg, the ultimate barber

Later we took a ride on the B-line trail, which is now finished.  Yahoo!  It’s a fun way to see downtown Bloomington and the wooded scenery too. We ended our ride at Upland Brewery.  It was delish!  Their Wheat Ale is my favorite.  Justin and Nate really enjoy the Amber Ale.

Gorgeous sunflowers in front of the brewery

The patio area where we sat, and good shot of our bikes

Justin and Nate

Upland Wheat Ale

Later we played Scattegories and Bananagrams with them.  Kelsie and I obviously dominated the boys in the word games. Maybe it’s because we talk so much so our vocabulary is quite vast.

Monday we prepared to get back on the road. But we had one final stop we couldn’t forget.  Cresent Donuts.  Justin’s spot.  When we were in college he used to sneak out to get donuts late at night and would later confess to me how much he had eaten.  Sometimes we would go there later in the day, only to find out he had already been earlier that morning!  My man loves his donuts.

Looks like a hole-in-the-wall place

But you can’t resist the deliciousness waiting on the inside

Justin refers to Cresent as “The Bar”

The popular chocolate creme filled (these were the donuts we had at our wedding)

I went for the sprinkle

Last stop on our mini-vacay weekend was Fishers, Indiana.  It’s where our good friends Carl and Danielle live.  They are currently raising support to be on staff with Cru in Boston.  We are so excited for their journey and praying hard that the Lord will continue to provide so they can report to Harvard’s campus in the Fall (check out their blog here). We had lunch with them and did some catching up.  It was just a quick visit because they are coming to Chicago in 2 weeks.  We can’t wait to see them again.  I didn’t take a picture while we were there, but here’s one of all of us from our wedding.

Hope you enjoyed learning some fun things about Bloomington, we cant wait to go back! Until next time…

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High Five for Friday

So this Friday I am linking up with Lauren @ From My Grey Desk (my first link up ever!).   High Five for Friday is a post dedicated to your 5 favorite things from the week.  Here I go…

1. I could not be more excited for tonight after work.  Justin and I are traveling to Bloomington this weekend to visit our alma mater, Indiana University.  We will be visiting with some close friends while there, Nate and Kelsie.  We are also bringing our road bikes to do some cycling on the hilly roads!  High on our priority list is grabbing some donuts from Cresent Donuts in Bloomington.  It’s Justin’s all-time favorite donut shop.  We even had their donuts as our wedding favors.  They were a big hit.  We cannot wait to indulge in their deliciousness!  Stay tuned for more details in the weekend wrap up on Monday 🙂

Image source: Photo by puffclinty on Flickr

2. My lilies in the front yard are beyond gorgeous! The orange ones just bloomed last night.  I can’t get enough of them.  Every morning they greet me hello and every evening they welcome me home.  It’s just a delight.

The pink ones are my favorite.

3. I’ve been loving this new OPI nail polish.  I think I love it even more because of the name, Hot & Spicy.  Perfect summer orange-y color. Love!

Image source: Welcome to Crazy Town Blog

4. I mentioned in my weekend wrap-up that I was sick and tired of the chain grocery store Jewel.  Wednesday I checked out the local Hispanic grocery store called Cermak’s.  And man, was I impressed.  The produce aisle was full of beautiful color and healthy looking fruits and veggies. Did I mention it’s only 3 blocks from my house?!  This is where it’s at.

Fresh produce 🙂

Fresh aloe vera plant. You can use it to make medicine for sun burn and upset stomachs.

5. Yesterday while I was riding the train I saw the cutest, and I mean THE cutest old man. He was talking on his cellphone, actually his iPhone, and was speaking very loudly.  I could tell he had hearing aids and he was trying to write down an address on a piece of paper.  I was so impressed by his ability to multi-task at his age.  I think sometimes a lot of seniors assume they are too old and then they get stubborn and refuse to try and do what they used to do.  But man, if he can take public transportation, work an iPhone, and write all at the same time, he’s doing pretty well.  And as a fun fact about me, I would say I definitely have an affinity for old people.  My mom sells and services hearing aids and works everyday with the elderly.  I have spent a lot of time working for her and interacting with her clients.  I think that opportunity really opened my eyes to how important they are and how crucial it is for our generation to understand them.  I find that they have so much wisdom to offer and honestly love hearing from a young, fresh heart.  They love to share their favorite stories, recipes, and shower you with love and food.  So if you get the opportunity remember to spend some time with a grandparent or help an elder with their groceries.  You won’t believe how much they will appreciate you.

Image source: Rosie O’Beirne on Flickr

Hope you enjoyed my first High Five for Friday Post!

Check out Lauren’s Blog @ From My Grey Desk

What are your top 5?

Hope you all enjoy the weekend!

What’s Cookin, Good Lookin: Pesto Chicken

So the other night I decided to be pretty resourceful and make dinner with whatever I had in the fridge and in the cupboards. I rarely do this.  Normally I pick out a recipe and then go shopping for whatever ingredients I need.  This sometimes can be hassle and counterproductive.  Hopefully as my cooking skills improve I will become more of a natural rather than a strict-recipe-follower.

First I went to the backyard to check out how our basil was looking.  When I first planted it, I nearly killed it.  I’m not much of a green thumb and often forget the basics aka WATER YOUR PLANTS.  In college I was given one request by my roommate who was going to be gone on a trip: take care of Rosie, her rosemary plant. Bad babysitter choice.  I completely neglected Rosie.  Whoops. Don’t worry, my roommate revived her when she came back.  My mother-in-law and stepmom hopefully will instill some better gardening skills soon.  Anyways here’s Mr. Basil…

I thought he was looking pretty good (minus the fact that someone has been snacking on him).  So I picked a bunch of the leaves off.  I had to tell myself I was only pruning him, not killing him.  My mother-in-law taught me that its good to snip off all the dead stems so then plants can grow new ones.  But I get really afraid that they won’t grow back.  She’s pretty trustworthy, so here’s to pruning!  Afterwards I gave the leaves a good cold bath.

As soon as I started washing them, the scent from the herb was incredible.  It’s amazing how different herbs smell when they are home grown vs buying them at the store.  It was like a little snippet of heaven for my nostrils.  Next, time to scour the cabinets and fridge for all the ingredients: olive oil, garlic cloves, pine nuts, parmasean cheese, lemon juice.

I then stuffed all the ingredients into my handy Ninja chopper.

And boom, pesto sauce.  So incredibly easy. Here was my outcome after some taste testing and mastering.

Next I took my 3 chicken breasts and cut them into strips.

I greased an 8×8 cassarole dish.  I took my basting brush and brushed half the pesto mixture on the bottom of the dish.  I then laid in my chicken cutlets.  I brushed the rest of the pesto mixture on top of the chicken, making sure I got every bit of the poultry covered.

I dashed a bit of salt and pepper on top and covered with foil. I cooked it in the oven for 30 minutes at 375 degrees and Voila!, dinner is served for me and my Mr. Good Lookin.

And you thought it ended there… My husband and I can’t have dinner with out dessert hardly ever.  So I went back to my cupboards and fridge and realized I had all the ingredients I needed to make my wonderful friend KT’s easy fruit cobbler (P.S. She’s a master chef in another life, highly suggest following every mouth-drooling blogpost).  It was delicious and seriously the easiest thing ever, just like she said.  We used blueberries and here’s how ours turned out… (I think I may have over done it on the sprinkle of cinnamon, whoops, still tasted good though!)

And here’s how it ended…

We are masters of the Clean Plate Club!  Yum. So good, so stuffed, so ready for bed after all that.

 

Pesto Chicken

Adapted from: Kalyn’s Kitchen

(Beware: I threw a bunch of stuff in the chopper for the sauce and added things here and there until it tasted the way I wanted, here’s a rough estimate)

  • big handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup parmasean cheese, fresh or store-bought
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • dash of sugar
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thick strips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash and dry basil leaves.  Cut stems off leaves. Set aside.  Mince garlic. Put basil, pine nuts, parmasean cheese, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in your chopper (maybe it’s called a food processor, whatever, I call it a chopper or Mr. Ninja). Blend. Add dash of sugar. Blend again. Tweak sauce as you like. Grease 8×8 glass casserole dish. Cut chicken breasts into thick strips (I got 3 strips out of each breast). Use basting brush or spoon to cover bottom of dish with half the pesto sauce.  Place the chicken strips on top of the sauce.  Cover the chicken breasts with rest of pesto sauce, making sure all parts are covered. Dash with salt and pepper. Cover dish with tin foil.  Bake 27-30 minutes.  Cut into chicken to ensure cooked through.

Serve over noodles or rice or whatever you like. Top with additional cheeses if you desire.

Enjoy!

Weekend Wrap-up

This past weekend was an eventful one at home in the city.  We had some moments that were totally fun and unexpected but also some deeply difficult moments too.  Here’s a recap:

Tis’ the season for cherries.  These ones absolutely looked mouth watering… unfortunately quite a few went sour.  We are just now discovering that shopping at the local Jewel in the city completely stinks and we are tired of it. Our produce goes bad faster than it should, it’s way over priced, it’s crazy maddness in there with all the people, and the options are slim-pickins.  I decided this week I will embark on shopping at our local hispanic food store for produce. It always looks way better plus you can always find some interesting fruit or veggie you have never heard of.

We made a new discovery, there is fresh mint growing in our back yard!  Seriously who knew!?  We were hesitant at first since we don’t know a whole lot about plants.  I mean really, how terrible would it be if we ate something poisonous?  Finally this weekend we decided to risk it and make mint mojitos, Justin’s favorite mixed drink. We didn’t die or end up in the ER (which is a common theme in the Reeder clan).  They turned out so delicious that we made them twice!

See the mint plants in the background, I swear they grow like weeds.

Justin’s parents and brother came to visit on Saturday night and Sunday.  This was the last weekend we had with Justin’s brother Boo before he returned to base camp. We had so much fun as a family together and experienced a lot of moments of joy.  We had dinner at Wildfire and completely indulged ourselves with filets, scallops, salmon, halibut, and cocktails.  It was delicious. Here’s us after we stuffed our faces.

Sunday morning before church Justin and Boo woke up early to grab (you can only guess…) Donuts!  They road bikes to Glazed and Infused in Wicker Park only to find out the girl opening the shop misplaced the key.  They ended up riding all the way to the location in Fulton’s Market. To say the least, I think they were winded as we were on a bit of a time crunch before heading to church.  We got 7 donuts: 2 old fashioned, 1 rasberry jelly filled, quadruple chocolate, chocolate glazed with chocolate sprinkles, traditional glazed, and my favorite, the apple fritter.  Justin’s parents couldn’t believe for 7 donuts it costs more than 20 dollars, I guess that’s what you get when you live in Chicago and go to the specialty places.  My mother in law says she order 3 dozen donuts for her work sometimes and it only costs her $25. Woah!

We had an amazing church service Sunday.  They last minute decided to have the service outside.  It was perfect!  Our pastor talked about Colossians 4 and the importance of prayer.  I think it home for a lot of us.  For Justin I think it really reinforced the idea of steadfastness in his journey towards getting his CPA.  For me, it was a healthy reminder of how important daily communication with God is.  No matter what it is, God desires to hear our voice and our requests.  Having that constant vertical conversation really brings me back in touch with the Father and what direction He is leading me. For Justin’s family I think it really impacted them and I know Boo’s departure was deeply on their minds. After the service one of our friends and a church elder, Danny, was able to pray over us as a family.  It was really moving and emotional for me.  It’s hard to imagine we won’t see him for a long time and he will be in an unknown place but I am so proud of him for committing to serve us and our country.

After church we headed to Humboldt Park for some frisbee throwing, football catching, volleyball bumping, and dog walking. It was a gorgeous day and so much fun.  We all love being in the sun!

            

We grabbed a quick lunch at the Boundary and then Boo and his parents were off to the airport.  This was the hard part, saying goodbye.  We gave lots of hugs and said “see you soon”.  It really hit Justin that he wouldn’t see his brother for a long time.  But we both also know that this part of being in the military, you have to serve your time.  We are in deep prayer and thought of him over him as he prepares to leave.  We are praying God really grows Boo and shows him his true identity in Christ while he is away, even though the environment may not be so friendly or welcoming to the idea of Christianity. When life is uncomfortable, it’s always the perfect time to really embrace change and let God work in your heart.  We know God has big plans for Boo and can’t wait to see how it unfolds. We are already excited thinking about when he will arrive home sometime next March.  We are so proud of our brother!  Love you Boo-ey!

Here’s the Reeder boys and Mama G:

And Reeder boys with Rickey D:

Hope you enjoyed this post! Will probably try to do a weekend wrap up each Monday.

Metal Toothpicks

Spokes and sprinkles, cute right?  I thought so.  But I definitely cannot take the credit since my darling and creative friend Emilia came up with it.  She’s a wedding photographer and avid blogger.  She’s inspired my blogging desire and has some awesome daily posts, plus her photography is stunning.  Check out her site Emilia Jane.

So if you haven’t figured it out yet, my husband and I love bikes and donuts.  These are 2 passions that Just is crazy about, and now they, of course, have rubbed off on me too.  Donuts, as you know, are a classic American pastry that pretty much everyone should love (even if your on a diet, you have to splurge on them once in a while, or seemingly for us too often).  And spokes are part of a bike wheel, they are those metal toothpick sized rods that connect to the hub of the wheel.  And fun fact those spokes don’t push outward they actually pull the rim inward at an equal distance towards the hub (the center part of the wheel), which makes the wheel incredibly strong.  Spokes are created using a lot of mathematical calculations to ensure the wheel is equally balanced and can hold the same amount of weight all the way around.  

Anyways, we love road cycling and riding bikes in general, actually it’s the reason we met and started dating in the first place.  I’ll have to share that story with you sometime.  I thought what better way to share life with people than through the lens of our favorite hobbies, donuts and cycling.  Someday hopefully they won’t just be hobbies…

Welcome to Spokes and Sprinkles

Hey All!

Thanks for coming to visit my new blog space! I am super new to the blogging world but am oh, so excited that I can’t hardly stand it.  So the reason I decided to start blogging is because I have read so many of my friend’s posts on the most interesting things: life stories, food, photography, reviews of products, tips & tricks, etc… And I thought to myself what a great way to document life and all the little things that happen in between.  I thought it might be my turn to give it a shot.  My hopes are to feauture my husband and I’s favorite hobbies and loves and also share some of our daily life happenings as newlyweds.  I hope this will also be a way for our family and friends to stay close to us even though we aren’t all in the same state.  So here goes nothin…