Sometimes, life is not particularly interesting. And right now, life here is not terribly notable. And that’s okay. Living abroad is not all sunshine and rainbows and puppies and unicorns all the time, ever. I am busy trying to finish some subjects online, I’m working part-time for a really great company with phenomenal colleagues, and I’m spending my free time with the American and working on various projects. My working hours usually fall right in the middle of yoga classes, so I’ve not been going as much as I’d like, and as much as I need to. All of this makes me feel rather uninteresting, but I’m doing what I need to get by and to chase my dreams. That has to count for something, right?
#1: Colder Days + Less Free Time = Fewer Walks
I haven’t had much time to explore the neighbourhood, and haven’t been back to the zoo in a good few weeks. So being that longer adventures are on the wane, I try to take a different route to work or from yoga in order to see something new. Lincoln Park has some fantastic brick houses, but I’ve been gravitating towards the timber-framed ones with welcoming stairs and brightly coloured doors.
With the exception of last Sunday (with its 20C temps and high-alert tornado warnings), the days are getting increasingly shorter and colder. It’s dark well before 5pm, and mostly grey. I feel my energy levels waning, and the urge to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a cuppa tea strengthening. But that’s par for the course.
Nevertheless, I did manage one decent outing this week. Yesterday, The American and I took a walk out to the peninsula at North Street Beach to shoot a time-lapse of the Chicago skyline. We wandered along the Lakeshore, talked and got lost in our own heads for a bit. Lake Michigan was an icy turquoise, and the wind ever present, but not too cold if you kept moving. However, the camera froze (quite literally), so we’ll have to brave the weather again soon and see if we can get the shots we need. I’m looking forward to sharing some of the new developments of our side project with you soon!
#2: Brightening up the Basement
Now that the weather is officially cold, I’ve taken to running on the treadmill downstairs. But the basement is kinda scary and running for 40mins on a treadmill staring at blank walls is making me crazy. So I’ve been making various signs — mostly of motivational messages — to post down there. The first one went up this week. I love the idea that new ones will keep appearing and no one knows who the guerilla motivator is.
If there’s one trade-off about this time of year, it’s the return of Pfeffernüsse at Trader Joe’s. For those who don’t have Trader Joe’s near you (and can’t run out a nab a boxload whilst they’re available), they’re biscuits/cookies spiced with an intoxicating combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice and dusted with powder. I’d say the taste is similar to gingerbread, and pairs well with spiced cider (like Trader Joe’s Pear Cinnamon Pear Cider) or wine. Pfeffernüsse reminds me of spending Christmas in Germany a few years ago — the smell of Glühwein, pine Christmas trees and garlands, and roasted nuts at the München Christkindlmarkt. The Germans really know how to ‘do’ Christmas. There’s something about coming in from the Chicago cold, and sitting down to a hot cuppa and some Pfeffernüsse. It’s a little slice of Germany right here in the US.