You can find a podcast on just about anything these days, with new options popping up all the time. It gives me hope that in the midst of all the mess around us, we’re still pursuing knowledge and connection and thoughtful entertainment as a culture.
I share a lot of specific podcast episodes on Weekend Stuff, but in case you’re looking for a place to start, here are my top five podcasts right now:
On Being by Krista Tippet
This American Life
Church of the City New York
Beautiful Writers Podcast
The Goal Digger Podcast
I recently came across an article about this company and just a little bit of my hope in humanity was restored. I haven’t actually tried it yet but I just couldn’t wait to share this with you because I love the concept so much.
EatWith is this generation’s version of a supper club but with people you’ve never met. They call themselves the “Airbnb of food”, allowing you to sign up for a home cooked meal hosted by someone in your neighborhood.
The introvert in me is mildly terrified, but as a lover of food, community, and the art of gathering, every other part of me is just a little sad I didn’t think of this first. [Insert Shauna Niequist Bread & Wine quotes here.]
We could all use a few more breaking bread moments in our lives, couldn’t we? Who’s coming with?
I am such an evangelist of the idea that you control the media you consume. Not always, of course. But certainly more than we think we do. And the prime example of this, for many of us at least, is Instagram.
You are in complete control of who you follow on Instagram. So if you find yourself following accounts that lead to negativity – be it judgement, or envy, or insecurity, or materialism – unfollow them! Why absorb those things when you don’t have to? Why not replace them instead with things that bring joy?
One of my most recent Instagram finds is an account called @commoners_communion. These earth-toned squares contain little prayers and meditations that invite hope and holiness into your Instagram feed between all the brunch pictures and shameless selfies.
Puppy Rain Coat
It may seem silly to include this as today’s mercy, but the point of these is to call out the littlest things in life that bring joy and gladness and remind us that God’s grace comes in both massive swells and little nothings. Today, and in this very rainy New York Spring, one of those little nothings is this raincoat we got for Olive.
As a city pup, Olive commutes every day to Doggy Day Care so the incessant rain bothers her, too. This little raincoat keeps her (mostly) dry and really brings out her best features. It also brightens the day for just about every other person we see on these daily walks.
There’s a metaphor in here about simple joys and sunshine on a rainy day but she’s also just so. darn. cute. so let’s just stick with the picture for now.
Save The Children
A few weeks ago, Steven and I were chatting about the social justice initiatives that feel most important to us and considering how we could contribute in some way. For him, it’s clean water initiatives. For me, it’s education, in particular for young girls. But it’s overwhelming because there are so many charities and programs to give to and hard to know what’s best or where to start.
Later that week on my way to the subway, a woman stopped me on the sidewalk and asked if I’d like to help give a child access to clean water and education through a Save The Children sponsorship. The answer was pretty clear. And that’s how we met Rokiatou.
I’m not trying to post about how great and holy we are for doing this or even to say that this is the perfect charity. There are so many ways to give back that might dwarf this sponsorship in comparison. I am just delighting in the fact that we sought a way in which to give and the Lord provided. What a gift it is to be generous in response to such a generous God.
Memories and Milestones
Another thing I accomplished during my week of funemployment was finally documenting the first two years of our marriage in a photo album. (I intended to do this every year but failed. More on that below.)
I’m sure there are more cost effective ways of doing this – namely by scrapbooking at home – but for a non-creative, willing-to-pay-for-convenience consumer like myself, Artifact Uprising made the process incredibly easy.
I chose a template and a color, tweaked some page layouts here and there, and then popped all my favorite photos from the last two years into place. It arrived about a week later and now sits on our mantel, quietly collecting little memories from our first two years of marriage.
I posted about the heart (and hardship) behind this, but I wanted to give it its place here too as it really did add so much mercy to my week.
(I have a link for $10 off your first order – shoot me a note if you’re interested!)
One of the projects I accomplished during my funemployment last week was organizing our kitchen. This may sound like a small feat to you, but the tumor of trash cans, grocery bags, cleaning supplies, and pipes that grew under our sink this year was just out of control. And with a puppy in the house, the trash can and cleaning supplies are never not needed.
So, I took some inspiration from my girl Anna, and purchased bins and trays galore to tidy up our kitchen cabinets. Let me tell you, there is more. mercy. in my mornings. after this effort.
Homemade Jam and Nostalgia
This will be neither the first nor the last time I’ll say this, but our favorite restaurant in NYC is Bubby’s in Tribeca. I went twice this week (I know, I have a problem), once for dinner and then again for Sunday brunch. And while everything on the menu is good, there is nothing quite like their homemade jam. It’s seasonal – currently raspberry for those asking – and just so, so good.
My family owns some land in Alabama. My grandparents kept it up for decades – built a barn and a few cabins, stocked the pond with fish for fishing, plowed the fields for, well, whatever it is you plow for, and tended the fruit orchard to make all kinds of jam (amongst other things).
The pantry in their Sylacauga house was filled with little mason jars of jam every time we visited. Strawberry, blackberry, fig, and my favorite: boysenberry. All homemade, all fresh from the orchard.
My sweet grandmother Glenda passed away about two years ago and my granddad doesn’t make it out to the land much anymore. But the taste of fresh jam takes me back to that house and that pantry and all those happy memories every time.
So, although the Glenda Wheeles and the Bubby’s jam recipes remain a secret, here’s an easy one we can all make. For that little taste of home and happiness. Enjoy!
A New Leaf
I struggled to think of a “mercy” this week. Not for lack of its presence in my life, but for lack of my own awareness. The whispers of grace have seemed silent amidst the volume of stress over the last few days. And though I have the power to readjust those dials, I’ve done a poor job of doing it.
That said, on Sunday Steven and I both had to spend the day working. So we snuck off early that morning to first grab breakfast down the street and pick up the groceries we needed for the week. And on our way to the check out aisle I impulsively grabbed this bouquet of eucalyptus because it looked pretty.
It may sound silly, but it seems to represent something to me in the midst of all this stress and frustration. Like a little reminder of what’s good. A little glimpse of rest, of Eden, of Home.
So my mercy this week is this confession and this bouquet. Even the tiniest of moments can be filled with mercy.
The Loveliest Letters
My friend Lauren works at this ultra-cool invitation boutique in SoHo called Fourteen-Forty. She also owns her own print and paper goods business called Instead of Ashes that sells all kinds of beautiful, handmade post cards / greeting cards / prints / etc.. So basically she’s the coolest.
For Galentine’s Day, our friends got together at a little tea shop on the Upper East Side and Lauren surprised us all with these perfectly packaged, beautifully handwritten cards.
There’s just something so sweet about sharing your gift with the people around you. I can’t quite define it, but it’s something about the intricacies of humanity, the expression of grace through art in its different forms, the beauty of giving out of what you’ve been given, and the depth of the layers of our experience of God.
She Reads Truth – 1 & 2 Corinthians
In 2018, one of my resolutions was to read the Bible in chronological order within the year. It was a journey. One of discipline and grace and a lot of mornings spent in Chronicles. But incredibly rewarding and worth doing if you haven’t before. (I used this reading plan and it was great.)
This year, however, I was really looking forward to a slower study of Scripture and found it in this book. The way She Reads Truth compiled this study – from the aesthetics to the intention of the layout to the cut-out memory verse cards within – creates such a calming experience when sitting down to read through Corinthians.
I don’t believe Bible studies should just be pretty and make you feel good. They should be challenging and encouraging and thought-provoking throughout. But when they’re all of the above it’s a real win.
Galentine’s Gift Ideas
1. UrbanStems Winona succulent. For your friend with the not-so-green thumb.
2. Parks and Recreation print from Etsy. For the Leslie to your Ann.
3. Weekly desk pad from Rifle Paper Co. For the friend that always plans you girls’ trips.
4. Grown Ass Woman mug from Callie Brannen Design. For the boss woman in your life.
5. Awakening Trio from BeautyCounter. For the girl who’s all about that extra glow.
I’ve always been a fan of planners. They meet some Type-A, detail-oriented, mildly-obsessive need I have to feel organized and in control. There’s probably some psycho-analyzation available to us here but let’s leave that for another day. Recently, I’ve been in search of a better way to stay on top of all my various to-do’s. Between a full time job, a full time life, a budding BeautyCounter business, and this blog, my google calendar and sticky note to-do lists just aren’t quite cutting it. But, thanks to the black hole of YouTube, I found myself watching a string of videos about bullet journaling that may have changed my life.
This method of journaling gives you the freedom to track exactly what you want, in the way you want, without the constraints of any set design or layout. I recommend reading about the original method here and then searching for examples on Pinterest or YouTube (#minimalistbulletjournal is my go-to search). Happy planning!
On Tuesday I went to dinner with some friends and they surprised me with a gift. It was a gift card to one of my favorite bakeries, a sweet citrus candle, and this Create mug. What you can see in this dark, off-centered picture is that I haven’t dusted my lamp stand in a while and I’ve got some accidental BeautyCounter product placement going on. But what you can’t see is just how meaningful this gift was to me.
It’s taken me so long to feel known in this city and this group of women has played such a major role in helping me get there. They encourage me in so many ways, not the least of which is my writing, and this sweet and simple gift spoke so much identify and value to me that it had to be this week’s mercy.
I’m not sure where it’s from so I can’t link it here but I’m drinking joyfully from it this morning and toasting with you to community and friendship (and coffee).
Purpose in Work
I am deep in the throes of questioning all things professional. (Is this the right job for me? Does my career even matter? Can I pursue my side hustle(s) more seriously? What am I chasing? Why on earth did I become an accountant?) And thus far, I have few answers.
But in the midst of this, I started reading Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller and it couldn’t be more poignant or timely. He sheds so much light on the purpose of work (careers, homemaking, all of it) and the framework by which we should measure it. I highly recommend this read.
Reflect & Rejoice Guide
I don’t always love the way our culture thinks about a new year and the resolutions we make. (More on that below) but what I do love is taking this time to look back on the year that’s passed and set sound, hope-oriented goals for the one to come.
My dear friend Sarah (@sarahscottpape) created a Reflect & Rejoice guide to help us do just that. It’s grace-filled, beautiful, free to download, and so, so worth your time.
Stuff to Stuff the Stockings
My favorite part of Christmas morning every year is opening my stocking. There’s something so delicate about it – all those tiny treasures tucked into place, little hits of happiness waiting to be held. A subtle reminder that what’s big and bold isn’t always what’s best. And that the small and simple is sometimes the sweetest.
If you still need stocking stuffers for your Christmas morning, here are four of my favorites:
Top Left: I Heart Ritual gift set that brings California’s best coffee shop to your home.
Top Right: Rifle Paper Co. citrus floral recipe cards that make me long for a non-NYC-sized kitchen.
Bottom Left: Catbird sweet nothing earrings that are equal parts simple and elegant (and affordable).
Bottom Right: Anthropologie George & Viv gift soap that might make the guest bathroom the prettiest room in your house.
Oh The Who-Manity
Steven and I saw the new Grinch on Friday night and it was the perfect way to welcome in December. Though my heart still belongs to the original cartoon, this year’s version captured so much of the what I love about the Grinch.
There’s something so pure and human about the story. I’ve spent so much of my life with what felt like a heart three sizes too small. And the way this world does Christmas these days can put us all at risk of Grinchiness. We all need a happy little reminder of what Christmas is really about.
So bundle up in your coziest winter attire, grab your loved ones, stuff store-bought candy into hidden pockets of your coats (#frugal), and go enjoy all that holiday Whoville happiness.
Cinnamon Roll Turkeys
Last year we hosted my husband’s family for Thanksgiving brunch. I did tons of Pinteresting and planning and bought everything I needed for what I hoped would be a beautiful holiday spread. I was particularly excited for these cinnamon roll turkeys, thinking surely they wouldn’t be too difficult to make. I was wrong. These drunk-looking turkeys made for such a sweet memory from that morning. And I’m sure better bakers than me can actually pull them off. Please send pictures if you try them.
World, Meet Olive
My “mercy” this week is a little different than the others. Her name is Olive and she’s the newest and little-est member of the Laake family.
On Thursday, Steven and I rented a car, drove to Connecticut, and picked up our little four-pound rescue from her foster family. She cried the first 20 miles of the trip back to the city and then immediately fell asleep in my lap.
Since then, she’s peed on four of our four rugs, chewed on everything in sight, and cried the saddest, tiniest cries every time she’s been put in her crate. But I can’t believe how much I love this puppy. Visitors happily welcomed and prayers for patience desperately appreciated.
O Holy Night
I might lose some readers for this but I will go ahead and confess that I don’t wait until after Thanksgiving to start listening to Christmas music. I used to. I was much firmer in my holiday timeline convictions in my younger years. But sometimes this grinch heart is three sizes too small and needs more than 25 days to get in the Christmas spirit.
This version of O Holy Night by Sara Groves brings me to tears almost every time. The delicate arrangement does something to these already soul-settling lyrics that is hard to describe. I just couldn’t wait three more weeks to share it with you.
A Little Book of Big Prayers
It would be hard to overstate the weight this book carries for me. Or the depths it speaks to. Or the beauty found within. This collection of prayers has steadied, stilled, sanctified, and secured me in so many seasons and I can’t recommend it enough.
Here’s a link and a snippet for your Monday morning:
“Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Though hast brought me to the valley of vision,
Where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
Hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.”
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (GF, Vegan)(
This week I set out to make pumpkin bread in celebration of the crisp fall air that’s settled into the city. I made the grocery list, traipsed the half mile to the store, lugged everything back home, and then realized I forgot the pumpkin. So instead, I lit the pumpkin candle my mom bought for me and audibled to banana bread.
There’s just something about baking from scratch – the imprecision of it all, the film of flour across the counter, the kneading of dough with bare hands – that feels slow and sweet and significant in all the right ways. And this gluten-free, vegan recipe was (mostly) guilt-free and just about perfect. Happy baking!
I streamlined my coffee mug collection when we moved to NYC because we didn’t have the cabinet space. Since then, I’ve used the same clear glass mugs for every hot beverage I make. And while I love them (and am grateful to whoever bought them off our registry), it was time for an upgrade.
I bought this set of white bubbled tea cups and saucers off Amazon and they’re giving me all the fancy hotel vibes for my morning coffee and quiet time.