Book Review: Gary Snyder’s Turtle Island

josh-carter-686889-unsplashI fell in love with Transcendentalism my freshman year of high school. My class was taught by the loveliest older gentleman who was a character straight out of a Wes Anderson film. He was a former drug addicted rock band bassist turned Buddhist literature professor. Every day he wore varying shades of corduroy pants and  cardigans or sweater vests. I went to an arts high school, so our classroom sizes were small and when he could tell we were having a rough day, he would forgo the lesson and just play the piano in the back corner of the class and let us doze off or catch up on homework.  There, we studied Self Reliance, Walden Pond, Song of Myself, among many, many others. 

When I majored in English, we would reread them occasionally and it would instantly take me back to that little high school classroom miles and miles away. I’m ashamed that I haven’t gone back to those readings more on my own. When Sam and I started dating, I gave him my copy of Essays and Poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson with all my favorite passages underlined and that was the last time I’ve picked it up. I wanted to branch out this month so I picked a transcendental book of poetry by a contemporary writer, Gary Snyder. Turtle Island is not your mother’s transcendental writings, it focuses more on our physical impact on nature rather than natures’ emotional impact on us. It can feel pretty heavy at times, and others you get a hint of the familiar “sublime” that comes with Transcendental literature.

I found Snyder himself wildly interesting, he was raised in the Pacific Northwest and even from an early age was deeply disturbed by deforestation and threw himself into studies of preservation and human’s relationship to nature throughout time. His passion for the environment comes across clearly in Turtle Island, so if you’re in the market for a nature-centered book of poetry for the summer, definitely give it a read!

May in a Nutshell.

DSC_6660Hello everyone! It’s been a minute since we posted and we wanted to catch y’all up on our beautiful mess month of May. First of all, I landed the dream job, graduated, bought my first brand new car, then we got married on May 12th (we’ll do a post on the wedding soon), went on a little mini-moon to Glenwood Springs, and have been getting adjusted to our new schedules the last couple of weeks! It’s been a complete whirlwind, especially with family and friends coming in and out of town. I’m so excited to share the wedding photographs will you all, so here’s a little preview! I tear up a little each time we look through them, it was such a happy day surrounded by our close loved ones. Also, it’s been a while since we did a book recommendation, so Sam’s picks for May is Dune by Frank Herbert and The Martian by Andy Weir. We hope your summer is off to a good start, and we can’t wait to keep you updated on our little adventures!

Take care,

The Wiesenbears

Top Ten Career-Inspiring Films.

black-coffee-cellphone-coffee-860379As my time at college is coming to a close, I’ve started applying and interviewing for big girl jobs, and I’ve found myself thinking more and more about the women I’ve looked up to throughout my life. Of course, my number one is my total boss of a mother, but there’s so many women in films and literature that have made me feel empowered and inspired. And as luck would have it, today is one of my favorite author’s birthday, Maya Angelou! So I put together a list (in no particular order) of my top ten favorite career inspiring movies. Enjoy!

  1. First Wives Club (1996)- Hands down one of my absolute favorite movies of all time. So funny and witty, I watch it anytime I’m in a rut and need a pick-me-up. The soundtrack is phenomenal too!
  2. Gilmore Girls (2001-2007, 2016)- I am the biggest Gilmore Girls fan, seriously I start watching it again every year on the first day of fall (luckily Sam loves it too). The mother/daughter relationship reminds me so much of my mom and I. Lorelai working hard to run her inn and Rory focused on getting into an Ivy League college have both been inspirations for me during my life.
  3. Baby Boom (1987)- Another classic in my eyes, Diane Keaton plays a single mother/businesswomen who kicks butt and takes names and I love her for it.
  4. Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)- I have a super soft spot in my heart for all three of the Bridget Jones’ movies, but the first one is unbeatable to me. She’s clever and owns her flaws, and isn’t afraid to take risks.
  5. Hidden Figures (2016)- A truly beautiful story of the brilliant women who contributed to one of America’s shining moments, all the while breaking gender and racial stereotypes.
  6. Wildcats (1986)- Can you tell I have a Goldie Hawn/Diane Keaton theme going on? I don’t understand anything about football, but the movie is still really funny and easy to follow without background sports knowledge.
  7. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)- I remember watching this movie forever ago, and wanting so badly to be like Miranda Priestly, even though we couldn’t be more different. She’s such a stylish and driven person, and I really admired her for that.
  8. Bridesmaids (2011)- I know this one is a little unconventional, but Kristen Wiig’s character showed me its okay to not be okay every once in a while, and I think that’s important to remember. We’re not going to all be Wonder Women all the time, and it’s okay to fall apart and be a mess sometimes.
  9. Working Girl (1988)- Honestly, how could I not add this one? A woman working her way from the bottom to the top of a company. What’s not to love?
  10. Sex and the City (1998-2004)- I really enjoyed the series, and the movie is great too. I love how focused it is on the importance of girlfriends and their desire for each other to do well both professionally and personally.

Life Update + “Cheap Stroganoff”

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Exciting news! We’re moving into a new apartment next month! It’s been an adventure the last couple of days trying to figure out what to keep, donate, and get for the new place. We bought the comfiest, most beautiful emerald reading chair a couple days ago and have basically been showing strangers pictures of it in grocery store check out lines ever since, like proud parents. We feel like such adults. As excited as I am about the big move, it’s a double edged sword because it is another thing added on top of the chaos we already have going on, so it’s made our already hectic schedules that much more crazy. Tonight we threw together a quick dinner I was pretty proud of (we’ve affectionately dubbed it Cheap Stroganoff), so I knew right away I wanted to share it with y’all. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS: 2 thawed chicken breasts (diced), 1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup, 2 garlic cloves (diced), pinch of dried oregano, tarragon, basil, and parsley, salt and pepper to taste, 2 cups of pasta of your choice (We used penne, in hindsight egg noodles would probably make a more appropriate Stroganoff, but we work with what we have!)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Add pasta to boiling water with a pinch of salt
  • In a large pan over Medium-High heat, add diced garlic and cook for about a minute, add thawed chicken
  • Once chicken has cooked (approximately 6 minutes each side), add can of Cream of Mushroom soup to large pan, along with all seasonings. Cook for 2-3 minutes
  • After pasta has boiled to desired texture, drain and combine ingredients in large pan. Let ingrdients mix well and serve warm.

Book Review: Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary

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Hey guys! Long time, no posts. The wedding and graduation are getting closer and closer, so it’s been a little hectic in our neck of the woods. However, I just finished reading a book I’ve completely fallen in love with, so I wanted to leave a little review with my thoughts on Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary! It was required for my Critical Theory class this semester, and honestly was such a nice break from Plato and Aristotle. It was the first book I had to read all semester that didn’t feel “assigned.” Our professor told us the book took five years to write, and the work put into it definitely paid off because it’s quite possibly one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read.

It switches perspectives from Charles Bovary to his wife after their marriage. Madame Bovary finds her personal life mundane, so she reads romance novels and compares her real life to them. She has a tendency to over romanticize how married life should be and feels unsatisfied when it doesn’t compete to the lives of the characters she reads about. Charles is oblivious to his wife’s fantasies and believes that they’re both happily in love. Flaubert has an interesting way of making the reader both roll their eyes at his characters and still want them to do well. So if you’re in the mood to try a new (gorgeous) book, be sure to check it out!

Take care,

The Wiesenbears

A Newfound Love of Hygge.

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Y’all I’m so excited! I was doing my usual Pinteresting at the end of the day before Sam gets home and stumbled upon a term I’ve never heard before: Hygge. Apparently there isn’t an exact English translation that embodies hygge, but it’s a Danish word that implies the practice of coziness, creating a sanctuary to help enjoy the simply things life has to offer. Some of it’s “principles” are soft lighting, warm drinks, switching off phones to help be more present, and doing things that make you feel joy. Since my New Year’s resolution this year was to worry less and do more that makes me happy, I thought this was a perfect addition to my practice. I’ve also read it’s great for people who tend to feel down during the colder, grayer months. I was pretty proactive when I first read about it so we went out and bought a candle, tea, and some new fuzzy socks. We’ve also tried to do homework at home a lot less this semester, instead we’ll meet up with friends at a favorite coffee shop, so when we’re home we can just realx, and I’ve noticed that coming home at the end of the day I’m already a little more relaxed because my brain now equates home with knitting, reading, drinking tea, and having down time. So if you’re in the mood to do something cozy and relaxing to get you through these last couple months of winter, try out some of the elements of hygge that would fit well in your life!

Take care,
The Wiesenbears

Senioritis + White Chicken Chili.

Am I the only one that was dreading going back to school this semester? I feel like this is the first term since I’ve been in college that I really just didn’t want classes to begin. Sam and all my friends were so excited, but it’s taken me a little while to warm up to going back. Getting some new school supplies helped, and we got most of the wedding preparations done over winter break so I have less to worry about on top of classes and work. Unfortunately, poor Sam has caught the flu, so I’ve been spending the last couple of days nursing him back to health.  I’ve finally gotten sick of grilled cheese and tomato soup, so I pulled out some recipes from my Aunt Sharon and decided to try one I’ve had stored away for a while, it was so simple and came out even better than I expected so I knew I had to share with you guys, enjoy!

WHITE CHICKEN CHILI

INGREDIENTS: 4 cups cubed cooked chicken, 3 cups chicken broth, one cup of salsa, one small can of green chili, 1/2 large white onion chopped, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 cans of Northern Beans, 1 can of Northern Beans blended in blender (for thickness), 1 teaspoon cumin, 2 teaspoon dried basil, 3 tablespoons of butter

DIRECTIONS: 

  • Melt butter in a large pot, add garlic and onions, cook for about 2 minutes.
  • Add remaining ingredients, simmer on medium heat for 25-30 minutes.
  • Serve warm. (We added a little shredded cheese and sour cream after dishing it up, optional but highly recommended)

 

Hello, 2018!

Happy New Year, everyone! To be honest, New Year’s has never really been a grand holiday to me. I love the idea of a fresh start, but I believe you can start over at any time. I’ve made a couple New Year’s resolutions in the past that I didn’t stick to or quickly forgot about, but it seems when this time of year rolls around I start thinking about what I’d like to change in the upcoming year.

The only thing I want to work on, the only thing I can think to change, I just want more. I want to cook more, craft more, spend more time with Sam, my mom, my close friends. I want to take things a little slower, linger a little longer, and make time to read often. I want to learn to let go a lot more, and to be more patient with myself. I want to talk less, and listen more, and allow myself to take in moments more fully. I want to start going on long walks alone to center myself again, and not be so worried about the things I can’t control. I want to take out my oil paints more and make more things with my hands.

2017 was both beautiful and a nightmare, and I experienced what it’s like to feel whole and completely lost all at the same time, so I hope in this year I’ll learn to worry less about the gap between those two and to just accept the journey. I hope your last day of 2017 and first of 2018 were memorable. Here’s to the year ahead!

Take care,
The Wiesenbears

Christmas Adventure: Leavenworth + Seattle.

IMG_1175Y’all this trip has been so good for our hearts. I had forgotten how much fun exploring a new place is, and watching Sam trying to maneuver around an unfamiliar environment is so cute. The roads from Salt Lake City were a nightmare, but when we finally got to Idaho it was smooth sailing from there!

We decided to stay in a small town outside of Leavenworth named Wenatchee and we absolutely fell in love with it. After we unpacked, we went out to dinner at a restaurant, McGlinn’s, and had the most amazing food and drinks (Huckleberry Riesling is a new favorite thanks to them), and everyone we met in Wenatchee were so friendly, they really made our night. The next morning was Christmas Eve, so we drove down to Leavenworth, and it was beautiful, festive, and completely packed with people. It took almost an hour to find parking, but once we did we were off! The first thing we did was run to Andreas Keller to make reservations for dinner that night, then went to the gingerbread factory for some cookies, sat and watched the sledders on the hill, went to the town’s little bookstore, and spent the rest of the afternoon meandering around town.IMG_1149

We made our way back to the restaurant for dinner and had the greatest German food and got to listen to live folk music. I tried my first mulled wine as well, I don’t usually like red wine so I was a little apprehensive, but oh my goodness it was delicious, definitely a new Christmas tradition. By the end of the night, it was snowing softly and we drove back to Wenatchee to decorate the little Christmas tree we had brought along with us, stick the presents in our stockings, and fell asleep watching Christmas Vacation.

The next day we woke up early and unwrapped presents, and laid around drinking hot cocoa. We had originally planned to go back to Leavenworth, but we had done so much on Christmas Eve, we decided to stay in Wenatchee and walk around the town there instead. There’s two big bridges that run across a river with scenic views, so we walked across them and took some pictures of the town (and some selfies, please excuse the blurry phone photos).

We left for Seattle the next morning, and arrived a lot early than we had planned so we parked the car at the hotel and walked to the Space Needle. Sam really likes the architect that designed the Museum of Pop Culture, Frank Gehry, so we went there as well, and headed to Public Market Center for some food, and to stick some gum on the gum wall. IMG_1215We wanted to do something neither of us had done in Seattle before, so we went for a ride in the Great Wheel. This was our second trip to Seattle together, and although we’ve been to a lot of fun places, it’s hands down our favorite city. The weather is perfect, there’s amazing food on every corner, and almost everything is within walking distance. It was the perfect Christmas, and it’s the first New Years Eve in two years that we haven’t had to work, so we’re excited to ring in 2018 together with friends! We hope you had a very Merry Christmas, and have fun welcoming the New Year!

Take care,
The Wiesenbears

Winter Travel Essentials.

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Our trip to Washington is almost here, and we couldn’t be more excited! We’ve been on winter break for a while now, but both have been working a lot lately to have a little extra spending money while we’re away. We started packing this week, and wanted to share what we thought was worth while taking with us!

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey- This is one of my all time favorite books, which I don’t say lightly. I read it for the first time years ago, and since we were going to be spending plenty of time in the car surrounded by snow, it has inspired me to pick up a copy from the library to reread on the trip.

Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Organic Hand Sanitizer- We like to pack food for road trips to save money, and we don’t always have a place or the time to stop and wash our hands every time we eat, so this stuff has been a blessing on more than one occasion. It smells fantastic and leaves hands feeling fresh without drying them out.

Goodness Knows Cranberry Almond Dark Chocolate- When I did ballet, I always had these with me. They’re the perfect combination of tart, salty, and sweet, and only 150 calories per bar.

Lumene CC Cream- I have search high and low for a CC or BB cream that I wouldn’t have to use concealer with, and this is it. I ordered it during Cyber Monday from Dermstore for a steal and shipping was free! I don’t want to pack a lot of makeup on the trip with me because I want my mornings to be as fuss free as possible, so I’m just taking this with a couple lipsticks and mascara.

Pendleton Lambswool Plaid Throw- Sam’s mom is really good at finding things at thrift shops, and our adventure blanket was one of her finds. Like most Pendleton products, it’s very durable and warm. We always keep a blanket in the car in case we want to picnic or see a movie.

Emergen-C Super Orange- It seems like everyone around us is getting sick, so we’re super careful about taking these along with our daily vitamins. They’re a great way to get a little extra energy too, which never hurts when you’re driving a lot.

iluminage Skin Rejuvenating Eye Mask- I have terrible insomnia, and cannot fall asleep unless it’s completely dark, which it hardly ever is. I started wearing this eye mask several months ago, and I’ve never slept better. The only downside is that it’s insanely pricey because it has copper infused silk to be gentle on delicate skin around eyes. My mother bought these for us on sale for like $10, so if you keep an eye out for them around the holidays, chances are you may find them discounted.

iluminage Rejuvenating Pillowcase- Same brand, same amazing benefits, same ridiculous price tag. This was another I was luck enough to grab while they were on sale during Black Friday. When I started wearing my hair natural, I read a lot about the benefits of silk pillows for your skin and hair, so I’ve been using it ever since. Understandably, most hotels don’t carry silk pillowcases so I make sure to pack one with me where ever I go.

The only other products that are worth mentioning that I’ve mentioned on previous posts would be Mario Badescu Facial Spray and Aveda Hand Relief Moisturizing Creme. I probably won’t be posting a whole lot during the trip so I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Take care,
The Wiesenbears