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Emily for America

First of all, let me say I am no political expert. My main source of news is Twitter and the close-captioned CNN I half watch at the gym. But from what I do catch I think it’s pretty obvious that politicians are straight up nuts. My only thought every time I see anything about any of the Republican candidates debating and name calling is “STOP TALKING! You are only increasing the crazy!” I think we need some new voices in the political discourse and I am happy to enter the conversation. I don’t really want to be president and as my friend Holly pointed out recently, “America doesn’t need a president, it needs a life coach.” So, with tongue firmly in cheek, i’m throwing my hat in the ring and stepping up to run for life coach in chief.

If elected I promise to accomplish the following:

-Every link on a website will open in a new tab

-The word amazeballs will be outlawed those who continue to use it will be fined by the grammar police.

-I will make the grammar police an actual law enforcement agency who’s purpose is to protect the beauty of language and make sure there are no longer adults in our society who think ridiculous is spelled “rediculous”

-Whimsy will increase by 30% my first year in office

-Twinkle lights will be mandatory in all homes

-Overhead lighting will be outlawed because it is too harsh

-Chips and salsa will be available at all restaurants, not just Mexican ones

-“I stayed up all night finishing a book/watching a really good tv show on Netflix/trolling pinterest” will be a legitimate excuse for not going to work and can be used up to 4 times each year.

-Every citizen must read one poem a day

-Aaron Sorkin gets to write all tv shows (I am also appointing him as my chief speech writer)

-Every family must make one home cooked meal a week that they all eat together

-Kids aren’t allowed to have text messaging or use social media until they are 16

-I will subsidize the champagne industry to make champagne more affordable and celebrations more frequent

-I’ll appoint  Wendell Berry, Ira Glass, Eric and Tami Taylor from Friday Night Lights to do the actual work of running the country so no one has to be stressed about boring stuff like the budget, terrorism, and health care because they are definitely going to figure it out. We can all kick back, drink champagne, and hang more twinkle lights!

I hope to have your support this November! God bless America!

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it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Listen, I’m not one of those freaks who starts listening to Christmas music in October, but I like to give the genre it’s due when the time is right and friends, the time is very right. Here’s a list of the very best Christmas songs, so grab yourself some candy cane joe-joes and a cozy blanket and read on!

1. Baby It’s Cold Outside//Ella Fitzgerald- I know there are a thousand different versions of this song, but this one is the best. I hope my future husband knows the boy part and would like to sing it with me while we are making dinner (I have a lot of romantic notions about these kinds of things…)

2. O Little Town of Bethlehem//Bright Eyes- “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight” I can’t even type that without crying. This song is so underrated as far as Christmas carols go. I don’t know where I found the Bright Eyes version but it’s stuck with me.

3. I’ll Be Home for Christmas// 98 Degrees- I know, I know. But go with me here. You probably haven’t thought about 98 Degrees since you had a poster of Jeff Timmons hanging on your bedroom wall in 6th grade (what happened to him?!) but they can harmonize like no other. Just trust me, okay? (Sorry the only video I could find of this song was from an ABC Christmas Special that aired in 2000, the song is 8 minutes in or you could watch the whole thing and revel in the glory of the early part of this century.)

4. Sister Winter// Sufjan Stevens- Sufjan does so many things right, Christmas music included. This song is good for listening to in mid-November when it’s technically still too early for Christmas music.

5. When Love Came Down// Point of Grace- I’m not even sorry about this because there are two times when it is okay to listen to really embarrassing music: when you’re working out and when it’s Christmas time.

6. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays// N’Sync- See above. (The music video is everything awesome and terrible at the exact same time.)

7. River// Joni Mitchell- Because who doesn’t feel like this at least once during the holidays.

8. Faeries// Mannheim Steamroller- Okay, I didn’t realize until college that most people universally consider Mannheim Steamroller to be awful. My parents LOVE them and they have been the soundtrack to our Christmas morning my entire life. Find a more epic song to unwrap gifts to- I DARE YOU.

9. Jingle Jingle Jingle//Rudolph Claymation Movie- Again, no idea that most people hate these. My dad and I LOVE them and still quote them and sing the songs. When ABC Family has an all day marathon of them you better believe I clear my schedule. What is wrong with you if you don’t like these? (Except the Little Drummer Boy, that one is weird)

10. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas// James Taylor- I think his music sounds so nostalgic on a normal day so it’s perfect for the holidays.

11. The Christmas Waltz// She & Him- A new addition but Zooey’s voice was made for the holidays.

What are some of y’all’s favorite Christmas songs?

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so, it’s about to get really cold

Wednesday was a lovely day in St. Louis- beautiful fall trees against a sunny blue sky and unseasonably warm temperatures in the mid 70’s. A girl cannot ask for more than the opportunity to roll her windows down in November. However, when that same happy girl looked at the forecast for Thursday and saw that it was going to be rainy with a high of 50, it finally hit her- it is going to get really cold really soon.

This will be my 6th midwest winter. I know I didn’t grow up in Antarctica but I somehow thought that North Carolina winters had accurately prepared me for winters above the Mason-Dixon. Let me tell you something, friends. I was so wrong. My mom has lived in Massachusetts and Arizona and still maintains that the hottest and coldest she has ever been was in Columbia, Missouri. There is something about the cold here that soaks deep down inside you and turns a little piece of your soul into something that’s “always winter and never Christmas.” If you think I am exaggerating then try and explain how I am now the kind of person who gets into her car on a 100 degree day and doesn’t turn on the AC because she is cold.

I remember my freshman year at Mizzou, naive little North Carolinian that I was, asking my roommate why class wasn’t cancelled because it was  32 degrees and snowing. She, Chicago born and bred, looked at me like I was crazy. “It’s only supposed to be three inches and it’s not even really sticking. No one cancels class for three inches.” I thought she was confused. THREE INCHES? That shuts a city down! I used to get school cancelled because there was a small possibility it might snow. Clearly, I had a lot to learn.

Despite the totally soul-killing winters that last well into March, humid 100 degree summer days, cicada plagues, and the fact that St. Louis is on a giant fault line (ps no one ever talks about this and i’m scared!) I sort of love this place and i’m going to be stuck here for at least three more winters. Although I am still somewhat of a novice when it comes to extreme cold (Case in point: last year a blizzard hit Columbia and the only way I could conceptualize it was to call it a “snow hurricane”) I’d like to think i’ve picked up a few survival tips to make the next four months a little more bearable.

Tip 1: Stockpile Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane Tea and buy a cute thermos.
The best way to survive winter is to be drinking something warm all the time. While I would love for that to be coffee I still feel the effects of too much caffeine (unlike Katie who basically has a coffee IV going at all times and never seems to notice) so this leaves me with tea. You know how sometimes the idea of drinking tea is so lovely but then you end up with this mug of weakly flavored hot water that doesn’t taste nearly as good as it smells? Candy cane lane tea actually has a discernible flavor and that flavor is minty, vanilla, and delicious. They only sell it around the holidays so make sure you buy enough to last you through February (or, the whole year if you are me) I suppose you could use a regular to-go mug instead of a thermos, but I think a thermos shows that you have really committed. A thermos says “listen, 12 ounces is not enough because it is cold 24 hours a day and I need a beverage holder that understands this.”  Also people use thermoses when they go camping so I think it makes me look outdoorsy (which, obviously, I totally am! DO I NEED TO SHOW YOU MY BACKPACKING MEDAL?!)

Tip 2: Hang twinkle lights on all available surfaces in your home.
In the winter it gets dark at, like, one pm and it makes you start googling those fancy sun lamps they sell people in England so they can get Vitamin D and not be depressed. While twinkle lights can’t deliver any Vitamin D, they are a definite mood-booster. Some people think twinkle lights are just for Christmas but I say that if you value your sanity you should just leave them up until March.

Tip 3: Find a wake up buddy.
Basically a big reason I think it would be great to be married is because it’s really hard for me to wake up in the morning unless someone starts talking to me, otherwise I forget I am a person with relationships and responsibilities and I think my sole purpose in life to be cocooned in my blankets forever. It’s hard enough for me to get up when the sun in shining and the birds are chirping, so it’s next to impossible to wake up when it’s freezing and dark. Luckily, I have Molly Mulcahy who calls me every morning at six am even though I mumble incoherently for the first five minutes. Usually ten minutes in we are laughing and let me tell you that is nicest way to wake up!

Tip 4: Eat so much soup.
Squirrels prepare for winter by gathering acorns, I prepare by making unreal quantities of soup. It doesn’t even matter what kind as long as it’s not that bizarre cold soup people make in the summer. That stuff is gross. I recommend the Stipo Soup that Katie’s family makes. You may have spent your whole life calling it Santa Fe soup blissfully unaware that it’s real name is Stipo Soup, thanks to me now you know! Also I bet if you asked her very nicely she would give you the recipe. This is also a good time of year to invest in a crock pot. Crock pots are magical devices that cook your food for you while you are away so you can come home to a bowl of hot soup. Why everyone doesn’t use these all the time is beyond me.

Tip 5: Own a lot of really beautiful lounge wear.
In the winter, especially if you live in a house with poor insulation (which, by the way, is apparently any house you live in during college and grad school) you will need to wear multiple layers at all times. When I was a little I would get a fancy doll each year on Christmas, and now I get a pair of Anthropologie pajama pants. Maybe you need to consider starting such a tradition. Even though there is no reason pajama pants should ever cost $70, you are allowed to make irrational decisions when it is cold out. If over-priced sleepwear isn’t your thing, you should at least invest in some foot duvets, they are like tiny blankets for your feet! Please trust me on this.

That’s all I’ve got, what are your tips for surviving the season?

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katie’s fall five

Leaves have a burnt smell underfoot. When its dark and cold all I can think of are flannel and bonfires. as well as pumpkin pastries and listening to lots of Angus and Julia Stone. I’m no longer wearing cardigans, but heavier coats. I am immersed in Autumn and I couldn’t be more content. Here is what helps me enjoy the season:

  1. Incorporating sweet potatoes in everything. I bought 6 sweet potatoes last week and have been eating them nonstop. A couple days ago I improvised a recipe: roasted nutmeg sweet potatoes over wild rice. Here’s what you do: chop up sweet potatoes into squares (after peeling and rinsing off). Put them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle on some olive oil, a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon, and some sea salt. Bake for about a half an hour on 350 or until they look done-ish (I’m no food blogger…don’t expect me to be too specific here). Serve over wild rice that you buy in a box. Or make your own. Whatever. Either way, its delicious.
  2. The Cardinals won the world series on Friday. This is probably the only sports related thing you will see on this blog, like ever…unless I’m talking about the top 5 most beautiful soccer players or something (which has been known to be something I bring up in conversation sometimes). Anyways, I’m from Saint Louis so this picture makes me emotional and proud. 
  3. You know how much I love to have a soundtrack on hand for everything: Currently I’m listening to new Feist and Laura Marling. These ladies have inspired my perfect fall playlist.
  4. I have been loving going to brunch lately. Something feels so fall-ish about waking up on a Saturday or Sunday, putting on a leather bomber jacket, boots, and an infinity scarf, and taking a brisk walk to meet a friend for brunch. It is honestly a lovely weekend routine.
  5. Obsessing over Rugby’s NYC  Tweed Run. I think its easy to understand why:

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why I have a library card

About a year ago I bought a Kindle and now I wish I hadn’t.

I bought it because I owned a lot of books and I had to move those books several times and they were very heavy. So I thought I would buy a Kindle because that way I could still own my books but I could move them with little to no strain on my weak arms. For awhile I loved my Kindle and in a lot of ways I still love it. I love it when I need to buy a book RIGHT NOW, or when I’m packing my school bag and don’t have room for an entire collection of short stories (My morning routine looks like this every day). But even for all it’s nice features the Kindle is another screen and at the end of the day holding a little electronic device up to my face isn’t very satisfying. It doesn’t demand my attention and if i’m bored I can switch books on a whim without even looking up. When I finish a book I don’t have the satisfaction of shutting the cover and marveling at the pages I just read. If I get distracted and forget about my book for a few days my Kindle doesn’t sit on my shelf and beckon me to curl up with it. Instead it’s so slim that I generally lose it under a pile of unread magazines. It could contain the greatest tomes of literature in the world but it doesn’t matter if it’s buried under US Weekly.

The more I learn at school about the Bible and how it was written, why a certain word was chosen, or why a specific event was told, the more I realize that ideas and stories are weighty things. When God decided to write down a message to his people he wrote it as a story because he knew that stories mean something. Wars have been fought and ships have launched over mere ideas. It’s easy to throw them around carelessly on blogs or skim over them on whatever screen you happen to be viewing at the moment, but a book demands your attention. It is, quite literally, in your face and if you turn the page you don’t get a different website- you get more book. Books take time to understand and some of that time you are probably going to be bored but, more often than not, your occasional boredom is rewarded with a new perspective. The world will look a little different through the lens of a new story, that idea becomes the tipping point for a host of other new discoveries.

A few months ago I was walking around downtown Chicago through the maze of buildings and I was suddenly seized by the thought that we made all of this. This city wasn’t present at creation, these buildings and streets weren’t always here. Each brick and piece of steel was put there by a person. It’s kind of overwhelming when you think about it. I get the same sense when I walk through the library past all the shelves of books. We made all of this. People spent hours putting pen to paper, telling us who they are, and letting us into their heads page after page. If you’ve ever tried to do that you know it’s hard, much more complicated than it looks. I think we should marvel at a book the same way we marvel at a skyscraper- with respect for those who made it and wonder that such a thing is even possible.

Books are ideas and stories incarnate. And if you’re reading the right books then that incarnation is nothing less than the author’s heart. When they are real, ink and paper, I think it’s a little easier to treat them with respect and to remember that someone was brave enough to put the truest part of themselves onto paper and leave it unattended to linger on a shelf in an unknown bookstore for anyone to pick up. I probably won’t give up my Kindle and I don’t think you need to either, but I think we should all try to spend a little more time in bookstores and libraries so we don’t forget to be impressed by a story in it’s proper form.

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a mixtape for fall: emily

To me, fall music is about nostalgia and simple songs. I’ve had the same fall mix for years and every year I just add a new song or two. It’s music that’s can be swayed to while stirring a pot of soup on the stove, played softly in the background while you’re drinking tea, listened to with the windows down on nights when the air is chilly and the light is gone sooner, and sung along to while picking up your room at the end of a long day. It’s the kind of music that eases you into change just like the trees turning colors outside.

Here’s the Spotify link and in case you didn’t catch it yesterday here’s a link to Katie’s wonderful mix as well.
Happy fall, friends!

60B//Nancy Wilson
Dancing Shoes//Green River Ordinance
Murder in the City//The Avett Brothers
To Be Surprised//Sondre Lerche
Finch on Saturday//Horse Feathers
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing//Sufjan Stevens
Springtime Indiana//Sandra McCracken
Square One//Tom Petty
One Fine Day//Natalie Merchant
Corrina, Corrina//Bon Dylan
Half Acre//Hem
Songbird//Katie Herzig
Desire//Ryan Adams
City Noise//Jill Andrews
You and I//Wilco
Cecilia//Simon & Garfunkel
Learning to Love Again//Mat Kearney
Shine//David Gray
Dream//The Cranberries
Magnolia//Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors
One of These Things First//Nick Drake
Old Enough//The Raconteurs
Tomorrow is a Long Time//Nickel Creek
Wedding Day//Rosie Thomas
Where Do You Go to My Lovely//Sandra McCracken
Tout Doucement//Feist

Enjoy!

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a mixtape for fall: katie

Delicious Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking successive Autumns.

-George Eliot

My desire for fresh music is in perfect synchronization with the changing of seasons. Fall holds a special place in my heart that requires a special soundtrack.

Keeping with Emily and I’s tradition of making each other mixes as soon as summer ends and we feel like we need to turn off the Girl Talk and crank up some Patty Griffin, we thought we could feature some fall music on the blog. Today, I bring you my mix. Emily says that my music is always “about two levels sadder than what she’s listening to at any given time,” so keep that in mind as you listen.

Note: I’ll include the track list below, but the songs are up on my Spotify profile. Here’s the link.  Also, Emily will be posting her mix tomorrow, which I’m sure will be filled with Autumn cheer for your listening pleasure.

Champagne Year//St. Vincent

The Story I Heard//Blind Pilot

Best For Last//Adele

Mistaken For Strangers//The National

Orange Sky//Alexi Murdoch

Quiet Houses//Fleet Foxes

Postcards From Italy//Beirut, Jeremy Barnes

The Park//Feist

Curs in the Weeds//Horse Feathers

Lillian, Egypt//Josh Ritter

Our Bleeding Hearts//The Great Northern

Different Names for the Same Thing//Death Cab for Cutie

Shell Games//Bright Eyes

Gagging Order//Radiohead

Sing a Song for Them//Jenny Lewis

Lonely Company//Quiet Corral

To Be Alone With You//Sufjan Stevens

Hope you enjoy and happy Autumn!

Love, Katie

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