Sunday, May 3, 2015

Week 17: Eight of Spades


 When I was a student at KU, I used to love attending daily mass at the St. Lawrence Center. It was a good time to be reflective and put the stresses of school on hold for a little while.  I added this card because I haven't been to daily mass in a while!  This goal took a little bit of planning.  Most mass times near me weren't early enough to accommodate getting to work or school on time ... so I opted to leave a little earlier than usual and attend the 8:30 service in Hyde Park at St. Thomas the Apostle.  This church is right by the University of Chicago and it seemed like there were a lot (well, that's probably an exaggeration) of students there which was fun since my home parish is mainly a bunch of young families.  I was only a little late to work, too.  It was a nice way to start the week!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Week 16: Jack of Hearts


I have too much stuff.  Everywhere I look, there's stuff.  It's cluttering my cute porch, it's overpowering my closets, and it's taking over my cabinets.  How much of this do I really need anyway!?  I read an article recently about high-achieving people who wear the same thing every day... whether it was the late Steve Jobs and his black turtleneck, or Zuckerberg and his gray t-shirt, or Obama and his blue or black suits... they decided to cut the decision of what to wear out of their life so they could focus all their energy on really important things.  (http://www.businessinsider.com/barack-obama-mark-zuckerberg-wear-the-same-outfit-2015-4) I don't have such important decisions to make, but I like the thought behind their approach.  My closets are filled with shoes I wear maybe once or twice a year, clothes that no longer fit, tops I pass over every morning when I reach for my favorites... why am I holding on to all of this... stuff!?

I shared with my sister  over our weekly Starbucks that my bathroom cabinet is filled with products I moved from KC - and haven't looked at in the half a year I've been here (except when I open it to reach for the ever-important toilet paper).  The lotions, sprays, and washes went unused and untouched while they took up space in KC, too!  Why did I move them!?

Some of my stuff I really like... my art collection, Polish pottery, photos of loved ones, books... those take up plenty of room already... this card was a welcomed reason to purge some of those items that I don't use, will never use, and simply take up too much space that I'd rather have empty than filled.  This week's time constraints meant that I only filled and rolled (in my granny cart, on a bus!) one bag to the Salvation Army... but I feel like I'm kind of on a roll now and can't wait to donate more items to people who may actually find a use for them!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Week 15: Jack of Diamonds


Some of these goal cards seem to happen at just the right time.  Sadly, one of my neighbors lost his father the week I pulled this card.  I had initially thought that I'd be buying flowers for someone 'just-because' and on a happy note... but it seemed appropriate the flowers went to him.  Daisies are my favorite and the Jewel (grocery store) was having a 3-bouquets for $12 deal (was that really a deal?) so I got some Baby's Breath and whatever these yellow flowers are to round things out.  I love fresh flowers and know I'm going to be missing my KC yard this spring/summer - where I would frequently go and cut flowers for my house... for free!

Week 14: Six of Clubs


When I first moved to Chicago, I was looking for ways to get involved in my new community.  I was talking to my downstairs neighbor, Kevin, about things to check out and he mentioned that he'd volunteered at Lakeview Pantry in the past.  Lakeview is my neighborhood! His volunteer location was a little less than a mile away at a church called St. Alphonsus which sounded great!  At the beginning of this project I looked up the Pantry and saw that they had a volunteer orientation.  I was a little nervous I'd pull the card Week One, so I signed up right away.  My orientation date was February 2nd.  It was held at the 'East' location... on Broadway in the heart of Boystown.  I walked there after my class got out and managed to get a little lost (I had just talked with the woman who would become my employer and my mind was going a mile a minute)!  Luckily, the folks at the Pantry weren't sticklers for timeliness and let me in.  :)

It was a pretty cool set-up.  I walked into the front room which had a counter and shelves stocked behind it, kind of like what you might see at a grocery store.  They even had a Gluten-free section!  Then I listened to the orientation spiel, met and talked to a few other volunteers sitting around me (apparently this is a popular place for getting court-appointed community service hours taken care of), and finally went on a tour of the rest of the place.  It wasn't a big space - there were some offices, and some shelves jam-packed with food, and several refrigerator/freezer type appliances.  I learned that the Pantry serves people who walk in and utilize the front store-front, but they also have food designated for folks who are homebound and in need of food.  The volunteer opportunities consisted of helping out with front-of-the-house operations, delivery, and unloading trucks.  They can use help most every day of the week, several times a day.  It sounded like something was bound to work with my schedule!

This week I finally pulled the volunteer card and signed up to help unload a truck.  It was at the East location again, which just so happens to also be about a mile walk from my place.  I went directly after my chemistry class and then got down to business.  It was a big truck driven by the Greater Chicago Food Depository.  There were about 8 pallets to unload, filled with things like brown rice, sweet potatoes, milk, eggs, bananas, and canned tuna.  We marked some items with an orange sticker indicating that they were for home delivery... others we just packed onto dollies and wheeled inside.  I'm not one for puzzles, but figuring out how to stock everything was like a giant puzzle I didn't really mind doing :)  I had a good time with the other volunteers - many of whom come every week at the same time to unload trucks and stock the shelves.

It was a beautiful day to be outside working hard and I'm glad I went.  I know I'll be back!

Week 13: Four of Hearts


 Jenna and Hagai were over for Gwumpkies so I made them pick a card when our dinner was through.  Jenna was astounded to find the Golem of Prague haunting my cards.  You can read more about the folklore here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golem

 Jenna shuffled, Hagai cut the deck, and Jenna picked what she said was 'Perfect for Easter' - taking CTA cards to a homeless shelter.  I'm not sure what prompted me to write this goal other than I generally feel a calling to help those less fortunate.  Perhaps the snowy day when I was brainstorming my list made me think how fortunate I was to have a warm, comfortable home when so many others don't.  Maybe my thoughts drifted to my job search - and my interim step back into school while I looked and tried to figure things out.  It may have been that my new snow boots arrived and I was feeling particularly blessed that I was born into a family that could (and did) support my move and graciously offer me a place to stay so I could have this great adventure... and use my savings for something frivolous like new boots instead of hoarding every penny and worrying about where my next meal would come from, where I would lay my head, and if I'd be warm enough when the temperatures were sub-zero.  My thoughts are always with those who do not have it easy like I do.

CTA (or Ventra) cards seemed like a good idea to me at the time.  I have loved riding the busses and 'L' to get to my destinations.  It's nice to not have the hassle of a car and people watching is an added bonus.  While I think it's pretty reasonable to spend $2.25 to get where I want to go, I do recognize that it's a luxury... and $2.25 can add up quickly (as is evident by the amount of times I've been caught off guard when my card says 'insufficient funds' and I think it's only been a couple weeks since it's been loaded)!  So I thought it may be nice to help other people who are also looking for work - and for whom the $2.25 to get to a job interview may be too much of a burden to overcome.  You'd hope that you could find a job close by... walking distance would be ideal... but the city's a big place and jobs are hard to come by - I'm now trekking an hour and a half to Hyde Park for mine... So if a Ventra card or two could help someone get to an interview, get a job, end the cycle of poverty... well, I guess that was my ultimate hope when I made this goal.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Week 12: Seven of Diamonds

One of my very favorite things to eat are gwumpkies.  And how lucky am I, after being cursed with gluten intolerance, that they're gluten free!  This was one of those special recipes my mom would prepare around the holidays that really made me feel all cozy inside. Yum.



I'd always been a little hesitant to make them on my own - they seemed time consuming and complicated, so I made it a goal and then when the card was pulled, persevered and made them!  Inviting good friends over to share them kept me on track.
These gwumpkies would not have been possible without about a thousand phone calls to my mom.  ("The recipe calls for a can of tomato soup.  That isn't gluten free.  Do you think a box of creamy tomato soup wou
ld work?"  and  "Jenna and Hagai are Jewish so I can't use pork and beef.  What other meat could I use?" and "Here's a picture of two dishes I could bake them in, which do you think would be better?")  Thanks, mom.  They came out great.

I made them with delish mashed potatoes, some green beans, and the traditional creamy cucumbers.  It was another cold, windy, and rainy day when I made them and they were just the comfort food I was craving!  I'm glad I was able to share them with my friends - and even though Jenna is both Jewish AND vegetarian, she graciously ate around meaty insides.  (I felt like an idiot.)

I'd invited a neighbor over as well, forgetting she wasn't getting home from her business trip until the following day.  She told me she was bummed cause stuffed cabbage rolls were one of her faves, too... so I saved her some and the left-overs got a thumbs-up! 

They weren't as difficult to make (after the zillion phone calls) as I thought, and now that I've got the hang of them, I think they're something I will love to make again!

Week 11: Ace of Spades


Ah, Lent.  Did you give up anything this year?
I chose to say a prayer for someone new every day.  Much like this card game, I wrote the names of 40 people on little slips of paper and picked one every day as I headed out the door.  I started Lent off sending a little text to the person I was praying for, letting them know they were being prayed for that day.  After many "That's so nice of you" comments, I stopped because I didn't want it to be about me doing something nice - the prayer was really what was important!  This caused my mom, after Easter, to ask if she was one of the people who I prayed for since she never got a text!!  She was the first person I wrote down!!
I digress.  This week I pulled "Rosary Every Day".  How fortuitous.  I picked a name on the way to the train and those lucky people had a Rosary said for them on my hour and a half commute to Hyde Park!  I had many Rosaries to choose from... one of my first was from an old friend who brought one back for me (in a Pope John Paul II case!) after a trip to Rome in high school.  Another was a Rosary bracelet I got for Christmas this year.  The one I used on my train days was a small one I keep in my wallet that I picked up at the beautiful "Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe" in Mexico City when I went a few years back.  Anyway, a perfect goal card for Lent!