Page 51: About Me

I feel like after fifty blog posts, maybe it’s a good idea to cover some basics. So let me tell you about myself!


I’m Libby. I live in the beautiful middle of Kansas, USA with my husband and our cat. As of the original date of this publication, Ryan (my husband, not my cat) and I have been married for just over six months. So, we are new to it. Kiki, on the other hand, has been my faithful companion for, like, five years or so. I have it on good authority that when I leave for work in the mornings, Kiki roams around the house with a mournful meow so I think she likes me. But she’s a cat so it’s hard to tell, otherwise. I like to say that we have a very professional relationship. Even right now she’s sitting across the room from me, aimed in my direction but avoiding eye contact.



When I was 18 years old I started keeping a journal and I never really stopped. Though that journal medium has definitely evolved over time. From hard-cover blank books to scrap pieces of paper all tossed together in a manila envelope to the internet.
I’ve never been very good at processing things without writing them down and so writing has always been my most natural form of expression. Though I like to think that I’ve grown into an adult who can censor her internet-self a little bit more than she did back in those early days of Xanga and MySpace. *crossed-fingers*

I like my blog. I like writing. And I’ll probably be doing it for a good long while. There are a lot of things that I feel passionate about and interested in so I don’t plan to pigeon hole myself too much but here are a few things that you can be sure to expect out of this space:

  1. Better photographs. Because these were just pulled from my Instagram feed and I promise that as time goes on, things will get better.
  2. Things that I’m thinking about that might be for no reason other than for me to process it. But then also, recipes and DIY ideas because creating is crucial to my development as a human and because I think that it’s important to share.
  3. Information about the coolness that is the Middle of Kansas. Kansas gets a bad wrap. And, believe me, I get it. But there’s a lot of incredible places, things, and people here as well. I’m going to tell you all about it.
  4. I’m really hoping for some giggles and guffaws as well. More giggles than guffaws, though, because in reality the magnificence of a real good guffaw is the way that they’re so rare.

I have some questions for you, now. Is that okay?
1. What’s your favorite thing about where you live?
2. When was the last time you guffawed?3. Do you have a blog, too? Link to it in the comments and we’ll all get to know one another.


Thanks everyone. You’re awesome.
xoxo, Lib.


Page 50: Treat Yourself!

According to Urban Dictionary (the bible of societal language), the definition of Treat Yourself is as follows:

To partake in an activity which, no matter how detrimental to your health, allows you to enjoy yourself as much as possible.
Treat Yourself! xoxolib

So, Treat Yourself. How do we feel about the concept? How often do we do it? Do we abuse it? I have questions. I have… to figure out the answers. I’m working on it.

I will tell you that I’ve discovered that there’s a big difference between when I claim to be treating myself and when I actually am treating myself.
-Maybe I’ve had a really rough day and at the end of it I want to drive to DQ for a delicious ice cream cone. Sure! TREAT YOURSELF!
But then sometimes I have a really rough several days and at the end of each of them, I definitely will still drive through for… an assortment of blizzards and fried cheese. Treat yourself?? That’s not a treat yourself. That’s definitely not a treat to your future self by any means.
-Maybe I’ve done really well keeping my budget in check and this super cool pair of leather leggings that I’ve had my eye on comes up on super, big time, mega sale. Yeah, girl! TREAT YOURSELF!
But then sometimes I get bored or drunk and will go online shopping in the dark and a few days later a huge box of worthless junk from The Oriental Trading Company (no offense Oriental Trading Company) will show up on my doorstep. That is not a treat yourself. You have to figure out what you’re going to do with it… That’s, like paying someone to send you a box of chores.
So I’ve decided that I need to reign it in. I need some rules and some definitions for myself, here. There’s freedom in boundaries, right? So what makes something a legit treat yourself and what makes something an abuse of your future self?
I think obviously, number one has to do with frequency. If you’re getting ice cream every single night–I think it’s safe to say that’s no longer a treat it’s just your lifestyle. Which is fine–I’m not saying you can’t eat ice cream every single night. You do you, man! You do what ever it takes to get through the day. But it’s not exactly a treat if it’s an ever present commodity is all I’m saying.
Secondly, I think that we have to take into consideration the amount of sacrifice that either Future Self or Past Self will have to put in to “pay” for it. Think of it this way. Two people are involved here: Past Libby and Future Libby. And one of them will be buying and one of them will be paying. I hope this is making sense. Maybe it’s not. But I feel like if Past Libby is paying for the treat (that is to say, if Past Libby has been socking money away or has been working out a lot, or whatever) then it’s a real treat. If Future Libby is the one who’s making the sacrifices or paying? Well that doesn’t seem like a great idea. If Future Libby can’t make rent because Past Libby bought a leather jacket, well that’s not awesome. But if Past Libby saves money so that Future Libby can own a leather jacket… YAY!! I’m not saying this is always the case but it’s a good rule of thumb to say that Past Self needs to be the saver and Future Self should be the spender. This could get pretty meta real quick so I’m gonna stop right there because we are always both at the same time, whaaaat?!
Treats are important! They keep you going throughout your day, man. Shiny star-shaped stickers aren’t just for kids anymore! Sometimes life gets you down and you need just a little positive reinforcement! I’m just saying that we… maybe just I, actually, I’ll just speak for myself here. I’m just saying that I need a new definition of Treat Yourself and I need to find a way to make that a reality in a way that really is rewarding and not wasteful.
Here are my ideas for legitimate Treats:
-A nicer version of something that you keep on hand anyway. You know, buy the dishwashing soap that comes in the fancy bottle and has been scented with extravagant essential oils. Maybe go crazy and buy the super duper extra soft toilet paper this time? TREAT YOURSELF!
-Something that you have to work (not too hard) for. Have you had a really rough day and you don’t have it in you to make dinner tonight? Walk yourself down the few blocks to the Enchilada Deluxe Platter. TREAT YOURSELF!
-Find something that you’re really enjoying about the day. Treat yourself by recognizing the pre-existing treats in the world. Maybe on your lunch break go to the park and sit under the trees with red leaves? Maybe drive the long way through quieter neighborhoods rather than just jumping on all of the freeways. TREAT YOURSELF!
What are your rules for treating yourself? What are your favorite treats?
xoxo, lib
Curry Carrot Soup

Page 49: A Recipe for Curry Carrot Soup [vegan]

I want to know, right now, what is your go-to I Am On A Budget And Out Of Time But I Still Want Something Kind of Special Recipe?
I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours.

Curry Carrot Soup xoxolib

I’m going to bring you something special. Something that I’m going to refer to as a Unicorn Recipe. It’s a unicorn because it sits at this intersection where all these perfect aspects collide and it’s pretty uncommon to find something that is:

Quick cooking
Not even remotely difficult*
Totally Yummy
Unintentionally vegan (where my vegans at?)
Moderately impressive

*it’s not even remotely difficult if you happen to have a hand-held stick blender. Which I know not everyone has. If you have an upright blender it’s still pretty easy but can’t really be considered “not even remotely difficult” because, like, hot soup in a blender doesn’t sound like something I want to dance with. But you do you! Maybe order a cheap stick blender on Amazon and have it delivered next-day? This is the one that I have. I don’t stand by it or anything–it just happens to be the one that I have.

Curry Carrot Soup xoxolib

I never claimed that it photographed well.

Anyway this is a soup that I make probably once a month in the fall. And then I freeze the leftovers in Ziploc bags so that I’ve always got something on hand for those times when I’m exhausted and we need to eat dinner. Or it’s something nice to give to people who might want some soup?

Give of your unicorn soup, brothers and sisters.

Another thing about this recipe is that it’s one of those things that I’ve been making for so long that the recipe just lives in my brain. So this last time that I made it, I tried really hard to write down all of the ingredients and not just mindlessly toss it all in the pot on instinct like I ordinarily do. So I’m going to do my very best. There aren’t that many ingredients in here unless you count the spices. And, frankly, there isn’t a right or wrong way to season this. Once you’ve got the main ingredients in there, you just follow your instincts. If you trust your instincts. I trust your instincts. It’s only soup. It’s not neurosurgery.
For me, I like the Chinese Five Spice more than anything else so I tend to lend a heavy hand there. But other people may want to omit that all together and just season with curry? Or heck, just salt and pepper! That’s cool. You know what you like. Or, you will.

Okay so here goes. This is what you’re going to need for a really big pot of soup but it could easily be halved:Curry Carrot Soup xoxolib

2 T. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
4-6 crushed garlic cloves
1 T. Chinese Five Spice
1 t. ground red pepper
1 t. Hot Madras Yellow Curry Powder
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground black pepper
1/2 t. turmeric (I add this specifically for coloring purposes only)
2 lbs peeled, roughly chopped carrots (or baby carrots)
2 32 oz boxes of vegetable stock

  1. In a soup pot over medium-high heat, sweat the onions and garlic in olive oil. Cook until they are translucent (5-6 minutes).
  2. Dump in all of the spices and stir until the onions and garlic are coated and continue to cook for a few minutes before adding carrots. This helps the spices to bloom a little bit before getting washed away with all of the liquid.
  3. Add vegetable stock. Depending on the size of your pot you may not use it all (or you could need more–you can supplement with water). Just add stock until it covers the carrots and bring to a boil. Cover and allow to boil until the carrots soften. For me it was about 20 minutes or so. But that could change depending on the size of your carrots.
  4. Once your carrots are soft enough that you trust the strength of your blender to puree them, go to town! Use your immersion blender (or transfer, in batches, to an upright blender) to puree until smooth!
  5. From here, you are basically done. Unless you’re not pleased with the texture of your soup. If it’s too thick for you, thin it out with water or stock. If it’s too thin for your tastes, as it was for me, bring to a gentle simmer and reduce until it reaches a consistency of your liking. Make sure to continue stirring so that it doesn’t burn.

Curry Carrot Soup xoxolibAnd there you have it! I like to serve mine with a dollop of plain yogurt and a spritz of lime juice on top. The longer it sits, the deeper the spices get. I brought this soup to a family get together and I really wish that I’d remembered to bring yogurt since a lot of people mentioned that it was really, really spicy. The yogurt definitely cools it down and adds an extra punch of flavor.

Other things that I have added to this soup in the past depending on what I had on hand:
Sweet potatoes,
white potatoes,
butternut squash,
apples (sounds weird but it goes so well with the cinnamon and clove in the five spice).

I really hope that you try this and tell me what you did differently and how did that work out? We’re all learning.

xoxo, lib

Hatch Studios Hutchinson Kansas

Page 48: A Birthday Party at Hatch Studios

I’ve made a very intentional point to stop saying, “We should hang out sometime” to people that I have no intention of hanging out with. I’d say for the past year and a half or so I’ve done a pretty good job of not tacking that statement onto the end of a conversation that I’m trying desperately to get out of. It’s an easy way to end the conversation right now but it doesn’t serve our future selves. Because you’re just going to have to deal with it again. And we’re just going to have to say, “we should get together,” again. Forever and ever. amen

Life tip:
The best way of ending those conversations? “Hey, it was really good to run into you, today. Have a good one.” Period.

I’ve been working part-time for Hatch Studios in Hutchinson, Kansas for the past four months or so. Hatch is a studio devoted to providing space for people in the community to create art. I’ve been a fan/ patron of Hatch since they opened their doors. I love the whole idea and vibe of the place. And one day I reached out to Lacey, the owner, and told her that I believe in her work and listed off all my skills and asked her if she had any need for me. And lucky, lucky me, she said yes.

My work is all done online. I believe the job title that we settled on was “Virtual Assistant” and I answer emails and help people to plan their parties. But eventually the feelings of jealousy caught up to me. I was envious of everyone else’s parties and decided to just throw my own. So, I hope this doesn’t come off as a marketing ploy but really I just want to give you an idea of what a night at Hatch is like.

I reached out via text message and Facebook and real life to some local people that I like a lot—people to whom I have sincerely said “we should hang out more/ for the first time ever in real life!” As I mentioned before, my birthday is this week. So I used it as an excuse to get a lot of random people together. People that I have only known on the internet, people that I have known in real life but admire, people to whom I am related but we don’t see each other enough, people that I see all the time and can’t get enough of. I set a time and a date and most people said “sure!” And most people were able to make it and it turned out to be so much fun.

Hatch Studios Hutchinson Kansas

So I booked a Wine and Paint class for last Friday night with all of my friends. I instructed everyone to bring whatever they wanted to drink. I brought cupcakes. Some people brought presents. They sang happy birthday to me—okay, this was officially a birthday party and not just an excuse to get rad people all into the same room.

Hatch Studios Hutchinson Kansas

Lacey taught our class and it always strikes me what an incredible teacher she is. She’s so good at identifying potential problems and helping us to avoid them, and providing a lot of information without getting too overwhelming. She’s also really, really, patient. This is probably her most mesmerizing talent. Even when, in the middle of painting, I reminded everyone that there were cupcakes if they wanted one and it ended up turning into a snack break, she didn’t even seem annoyed. If the tables had been turned, I would have been giving so much side-eye at me.

Hatch Studios Hutchinson Kansas Hatch Studios Hutchinson Kansas

So we walked in, the tables were all set up with easels, water cups, the necessary brushes and a pallet. We got to choose any colors that we wanted, which means that even though we’re all painting the same picture, everyone’s finished product ends up looking so different and full of personality. Everyone grabbed whatever they wanted to drink and we got to work. Lacey said some very nice things about me and then walked us, step-by-step through how to awesomely execute our painting. It took about 2 hours and in the end, everyone had a gorgeous painting to hang in their home.

Hatch Studios Hutchinson Kansas

A couple of life lessons that I learned through this experience:
1. It’s natural to really hate what’s happening on your canvas at the time that it’s happening. Through out the whole night, someone (or three or four someones) was saying, “I don’t know about this…” or “oh, no! I’ve definitely ruined this!” But in the end, you have to just keep going with it. Which leads to life lesson number two.
2. Trust the process. Understand that you’re not going to start with a masterpiece. You’re going to utilize a relatively messy method to create a masterpiece and there’s a lot of pride in that.
3. Know when to leave it alone. Otherwise something that could have been lovely is going to result in a big, conjumbled mess just because you couldn’t help yourself from fixing meddling.
4. We’re all going to make it through, in the end, and we’ll have something colorful to show for it. There will also be cupcakes.

So thanks to my friends who came to this fun night. And thanks to Hatch for having us. And thanks, other people, for reading this and for leaving nice comments.

xoxo, lib.

Evolving Grief

Page 47: Ever Evolving Grief

I came to the coffee shop this afternoon with a goal and that goal was to finish one blog post. And you know what? I forgot my charging cord. So it’s kind of a race against the clock battery to see if I’m going to meet that goal. We’re at 57% currently and that doesn’t leave a lot of room for the usual 60-90 minutes of dicking around on the internet that I usually have to account for.

I’m turning 32 next week. That feels like, okay, I’ve officially reached an age where my birthday isn’t a big deal to anybody at all. Not even me, really? Which is kind of a new thing. For the past 13 years I’ve always made a point to make legit plans for my birthday and hype it up big time.

Okay, so, my dad died fourteen years ago–on the day before my 18th birthday. I’m not going to intentionally bum you out or anything but it’s a good point of reference. It’s a really strange topic to bring up. It isn’t something that everyone knows. It’s not a secret by any means but it certainly isn’t something that you lead with during initial getting-to-know-you conversation. But then later when it does come up, it’s usually because your friend asked a light hearted question like, “what is your dad like?” and I’m like “Oh no, I’m gonna bring the energy way down, right now. Sry.” It’s not that talking about him makes me sad. It doesn’t. I love to talk about my dad. My husband and I laid in bed and talked about our dads all night the other day. It was so nice. But–it can tend to give other people this deer in the headlights look.

Other people who have lost an immediate family member at a relatively young age, do you have a way that you deal with this? I’ve been struggling for about a decade and a half and could really use some pointers.

So, anyway, because of timing, I’ve always made big plans. Something to get excited about and look forward to in hopes of getting myself distracted about the fact that the day before is the day that something reasonably traumatizing happened to my family. But it never really works. Which, I’ve learned, is okay.

It’s good to feel sad. It’s important to let yourself feel sad about things that you should feel sad about. It took a really long time for me to realize that things like sadness, anger, loneliness are no mark of a moral failing. And even more–if you can lean into the feeling and really let yourself feel it, it can be useful. Because, at least in my experience, the more you fight it the more unpleasant it is. And it lasts longer. Just let it run its course.

In yoga and meditation you learn about quieting your mind and how that’s not necessarily about eliminating all thought–because that’s kind of impossible. Have you ever tried to do that? Have you ever tried to think about nothing? If you ever have trouble thinking about the name of every single kid in your kindergarten class–just try thinking about nothing. Because that’s when that ish is going to pop up. But instead of getting frustrated, they suggest acknowledging the thoughts as though they’re people that you walk by on the street. “Entire kindergarten class–I can see you’re here but I’m doing a thing right now and if you want to stick around I’ll be with you once I finish up here.” “Good to see you again, What Am I Doing With My Life, take a number. I’ll be with you when I can.”

And I think it’s the same way with feelings. If I try to clear my mind, I’m going to get cluttered up with thoughts that don’t belong. If I try to push these feelings out before I’ve given myself a chance to sit with them a little while–they’re going to bring in a hell of a lot more that I wasn’t prepared for. That’s when the anxiety pops in. Guilt about seemingly unrelated topics. Inexplicable panic at 11:00 pm on a school night.

My therapist once told me that I probably will always get depressed, anxious, panicky in October and that’s just a reality that I’ll have to work with. She said that it’s a little bit like a cousin to PTSD and, in essence, my bones remember it. It’s imprinted on me and it’s going to pop up when the seasons move over into something similar to what it was when he died. At first this was really upsetting news to me. But the more I worked with her, the more I found ways to live with it and sit with it and not be upset by it as often. And by now, fourteen years later, all I really have left of him is my grief over him. And I’m not sure that I want to lose that anyway.

I don’t want to be happy all the time. I want to be real all the time.

When I sat down to write, today, I didn’t want to get too serious. I didn’t know I was even thinking about this right now. But it keeps popping up out of nowhere these past few days.

But I like how, as I grow, I feel less and less inclined to try to forget. I like how I feel less and less compelled to throw a big birthday party and keep myself distracted. I like how it feels to feel it when I need to feel it.


I’m curious about grief and the grief of other people that I know. Have you lost someone? Does this happen to you where when that time of year comes around, you feel that person more and more than usual?
Do you have any tips or tricks that you use when you make new friends and know that, eventually, the topic of your loved one is going to come up?

I hope you’re having a really nice week. I am.
xoxo, lib

What Are You Passionate About

Page 46: What Are You Passionate About?

I recently heard someone ask the question, “What is your passion?” Which is something that I’ve struggled with my whole life. It’s a really huge question—so big that when I hear it I tend to immediately switch off. This does not apply to me. I’ve looked and looked and I don’t have one of those.

What Are You Passionate About

I’ve always sort of assumed that I must not have any passion because I was not born with this innate and obvious drive to do one thing. I thought that those people were just lucky and I wasn’t so much and maybe some people just don’t have any passion?

But he followed the question up with a second question, “When you look out into the world—what makes you angry?” That’s an easier question to answer—for me anyway.

I thought about it for a little while and realized I have an answer for that question. And maybe that’s what my passion is. Maybe that’s how we discover our passion. Maybe our passion isn’t something easy to pinpoint—maybe it’s a little bit subtle and flies under the radar. Maybe it’s taking stock of the things that stir and leave an impression.

I mean, normal things make me angry—paying $11 for a watered down drink, realizing you’re out of milk when it’s 10 pm and you just poured yourself a bowl of Count Chocula. But those are the kinds of things that you forget about quickly enough.

What moves my heart and what leaves more of a mark on me is when I see people who assume that nice lives can’t be theirs. When people believe that because we live in a normal house in a normal town with a normal budget, we aren’t afforded nice things. But we can take pride in ourselves—our work and our bodies and our minds and our hearts and our homes. We can do that! We don’t have to live somewhere exciting to have opportunity.

I was an English major in college and as an English major I was forced to be on the school newspaper staff. Sorry everyone who worked with me but it was definitely not my passion to go into journalism! I did not like it. I did not like all of the recognition of athletes or political figureheads of the school. These weren’t the kind of people that I opened the paper to learn about. But I had to be on this team if I wanted to graduate. At pitch meetings, people would have these ideas and specific beats to which they were assigned and I didn’t want to do any of them. I mean, I didn’t know what my passion was but I had a pretty good grasp on what my passions were not! Finally they asked me what I wanted to write about. I said, “You know, honestly, I’d rather focus on the people that we never really learn about. The people who keep to themselves but have interesting things to say.” And miraculously, the editor told me that I could write a feature, every two weeks, about an ordinary student. And suddenly, I was really super pumped to write for the newspaper! I chose my first subject by going into the cafeteria and talking to the first person that I saw sitting by himself. And it was a lot of fun. People would inevitably say, “I don’t know how you’re going to make me sound very interesting.” But I always did. I was really excited about that skill that I had. I liked my ability to see something exciting in someone who saw themselves as just so crushingly ordinary.

We can be ordinary people with ordinary lives that we value and adore and appreciate. We can find adventure in our neighborhood and we can find gourmet in our own cupboards. Ordinary things can sparkle and ordinary people can shine if we just make a little shift into the sunbeam. I think that’s how we move from having a passive life to taking an active role in our future. Maybe I can work to help people to see some of these things. Because what’s the point in having a passion if you’re never going to do anything with it?

What Is Your Passion?

I think maybe everyone does have a passion but maybe it could be disguising as something a little more subtle.

I wonder about you–do you know what you’re passionate about? How did you come to recognize it?


Page 45: I Felt God in the Sun on My Back

Sunday mornings are my favorite part of my week. Saturday mornings are great, too, but Sunday mornings feel like they’re just for me. Particularly in the summer time.


Saturdays are all about staying in bed for as long as possible. Snuggling, watching videos on our iPhones until they run out of battery juice. And then we talk for another hour about what we are going to do for breakfast.

Yesterday, we did that for so long that we finally had to change the subject to what are we going to do for lunch. And, of course, by then you’re much to famished to do any cooking yourself so we went to Mr. B’s (our absolute new favorite place). I had a bowl of chili (in July) and peach cobbler. It was pretty great. We went to the Farmer’s Market, too, and it was a great day for it. Of course we got there too late to catch any tomatoes or zucchini but we nabbed up a jar of Sand Hill Plum jelly to smear on the homemade bread we were going to make.

Sunday mornings, though, are all about me taking care of me. I drink a big glass of water and come write in my journal or I’ll sit on the steps with a cup of green tea. Or I’ll stand in that incredible morning light in the kitchen that I am confident can heal just about anything.


The other night I was talking to Kat about how I guilt-free stopped going to church on Sunday mornings. It was when I ‘d moved to McPherson and, since I’d just come from a very church-every-day sort of an environment, I did feel an obligation to find a church. One Sunday morning in spring, though, after months of attending and never feeling anything but utterly uncomfortable, I took a day off. I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat out on my steps. I felt the sun on my back and I let it warm me. I heard so many birds talking back and forth and I went walking around the yard to try to find out which ones were making which sounds. I picked flowers around the yard and just walked. I felt my muscles in my legs moving and I felt grateful. I felt the sun on my face and I felt safe. I felt freedom–which was something that my heart hadn’t experienced in, truly, decades.

And so I stopped feeling so obligated to Church. And I opened myself up to the opportunity to feel that love in other places. That love and safety and true freedom that, for years, I’d only heard people talk about. Make no mistake–I have no bitterness or cynicism in my heart for the way that I was raised or for the years of church that I attended. I have freedom and freedom comes from living a life and it has no room for bitterness.

My story to freedom is a long one and it’s complicated but then again it’s also really simple. I felt God in the sun on my back. I stopped holding onto things that were weighing me down. And it works for me.