I Proposed to my Boyfriend with a Magic: The Gathering Card

Sooooo, yesterday was kind of a big deal…not only because it was our second anniversary, but because there was cake! Why was there cake, you ask? Because yesterday evening, I asked John, my boyfriend of two years to be my husband… and he accepted!!

So, you may be wondering, why is Lauren interrupting this great story about cake to tell me about some boring engagement? Excellent point.

It’s because John is the absolute most wonderful, hysterical, kindhearted, genuine, caring person that I’ve ever met, and I feel so incredibly lucky that we found each other. He regularly gives me butterflies. He’s walked with me through so much trial and challenge and change, and has stayed by my side without fail. He makes me laugh until I can’t breathe, and loves me for exactly who I am. I am so excited to plan a wedding, invite everyone we love to celebrate with us, and then embark on a new journey together.

I could honestly go on for hours, and this is getting pretty wordy. In case you are wondering, our friend Dave’s wife made the cake, which is the one in the featured image. It was gorgeous chocolate with chocolate icing and sprinkles…. John’s favorite. 🙂

P.S… I proposed with the Magic card down below. I slipped it into John’s deck when he was being a gentleman and getting my (nonexistent) jacket from the car. ❤

Holy Matrimony

I am SOOOO freakin’ proud of this card. Flavorwise, I think it’s perfect. In retrospect, I might not have mad tapping the enchantment a requirement for the Eternal Bond ability, but I couldn’t make it *too* good.

OK, I am officially nerding out over here.

John and I met two years ago when we were both starting our first year of teaching at Poinciana High School in Florida. He had a great beard (see photo above for proof!) and so I sat next to him, and found out that he was a total nerd who was also the sweetest human ever. Two weekend dates later, I asked him to kiss me, and he asked me to be his girlfriend. Three weeks after that, we were moving into an apartment together. Now we’re engaged and literally none of our friends or family are the least bit surprised because they say our love is that obvious.

I’m so, so proud and blessed to be in a relationship where the love and respect we have for each other literally shines through. This is the kind of love and trust that I’ve only dreamed about, but never thought I would actually experience.

Anyway, I’m getting super mushy here, so I’ll end it before I start posting the names of our future babies.

QUESTION: Are you engaged or married? Who popped the question? Tell me your story in the comments. 🙂




“Covered Woman on the Beach” – A Poem

Take off your clothes, they say to her,

as their burly bodies tower

she’d been napping on the beach and lost track of the time,

enjoying the play of the afternoon light on water

and the applause of the sea on the sand.

happy now that there’s something she can wear in the water,

which will dry in the sun and leave salt on her skin

(after a languorous, sparkling swim)

so she’s not alienated from the world

so she can be free.

perhaps she knew the law

and chose not to abide

because laws can still silence justice

because order can still suffocate liberty.



“Afternoon” – A Poem

the blue light of afternoon

carries brave flecks of dust into the sky

while i watch from my spot on the bed.


a dotted drawing of an eye,

tacked above the mirror, surveys the room

casting a judgmental air over the state

of the carpet.


the silver charm bracelet

given to me by my nana as a gift years ago

is now a tarnished bronze.


to be adventurous i’ve mixed

my teas together, a loose green and fragrant blueberry

thinking its color will remind me

of a bottomless lagoon in the shadows of some deep forest

where i can swim without end.


My First Time Baking Bread!

Yesterday was a lazy Sunday, and by “lazy” I mean I did some yoga, cooked a lot (and by “cooking” I mean “threw a bunch of stuff into the Crock-Pot”), and finally unpacked the suitcases that have been spilling all over the bedroom floor for the three weeks since we came back from Florida. It feels SO GOOD to not be stepping on my own clothes.

If you’re wondering why it took me so long to unpack, it’s mostly because I avoid it. It means admitting that the trip is over and that I can only reminisce about it… but if I keep the suitcase packed, who knows? Another adventure might crop up and then I’ll be ready. ;-D

I just finished a Netflix documentary series called “Cooked”, based on a book by the same name by Michael Pollan, who is one of those skinny intellectual guys with a wind-beaten face who you can tell also runs marathons in his spare time (I don’t actually know this about him, I can just tell). It’s a brilliant series, if a bit short, and watching it truly made me appreciate food and cooking, and think deeply about the emotional connections we have to our food.

All the episodes are named after a traditional “element”; i.e. fire, water, air, and earth. My favorite episode, “Air”, was all about bread and how air is what makes bread so irresistibly delicious and fun to eat (thanks yeast!). It’s true. Who doesn’t love a beautiful, crusty baguette, with all its airy flavor?

It turns out that bread without air in it becomes just a kind of doughy brick, which I learned the hard way when I was inspired by “Cooked” to bake my first loaves of bread!

First I went out to TJ Maxx to buy myself a cheap bread pan, which I found out later that I didn’t even need! You can just bake bread as a free-form loaf on a cookie sheet or pizza pan, and it will take on its own unique, organic shape as it bakes. Loaf pans, incidentally, are better if you’re using a batter rather than a dough.

So I came home, having bought two packets of yeast a couple of days before (I’d been looking forward to Bread Day for quite a while), and got myself ready to cook. Our new kitchen has a butt-ton of counter space compared to our old one, so I was really excited to use it!

The recipe I (sort of) followed is from Minimalist Baker, for a simple whole-grain seeded bread. I love my bread to be chock full of nuts and seeds and grains and just pure YUM… so of course I had to make it. The dough came together beautifully, looking like this in the bowl…

WP_20160821_16_11_03_ProLooking more like a sad biscuit at this point, but it’ll come together!

I deviated a small bit from the recipe Minimalist Baker provided: I used all whole wheat flour, rather than half whole wheat and half Hodgson Mill pastry flour (I will use that next time, though!). I did throw in some Hodgson Mill stovetop porridge for texture, which I love but I think it made it harder for the bread to rise. In there also: honey and steel cut oats. Mmmmmm.

I ended up making two loaves: one with four mashed-up bananas which were dubiously brown, but which were sweet as all getout and integrated nicely into the dough. Out of the two, the banana loaf is actually my favorite!

Here’s what they looked like coming out of the oven…


Beautiful, right? The banana loaf is on the left and the regular loaf is on the right. And yes, I did make a cooling rack out of part of my boyfriend’s old dorm shelving unit and an empty orange crate. I think that’s the best innovation of this whole project. 🙂

So one thing I noticed right out of the gate is that both loaves were HEAVY. Like, each one felt like a brick. That made me really scared to cut into them, because what if they solidified into two solid cement blocks that I would feel obligated to eat?

Turns out, they kind of did.

Inside, both loaves were super dense, with virtually no holes at all. According to ImaginAcres, it’s probably because I murdered all my yeast way back at the beginning of the process. The recipe says to use warm water (like bathwater) and instead, I used…. well, really really hot water. So all of my yeast had their proteins denatured and they went to a watery grave.

Sorry, yeasties.

Regardless, I sliced some to have with our dinner, which was a chicken, carrot, and potato soup with tarragon, bay leaf, and turmeric (and it was delicious). Funnily enough, my boyfriend John loved the bread, but it was far too dense for me.

Was I disappointed? Sure. But not only is bread really cheap to make, it’s also a fun learning process. Now I know how to avoid killing my yeast, and to make sure I knead my dough enough (which I did NOT do… I have very little patience and so really skimped on the kneading). I even read that you should set a timer or watch TV while you knead, because it’s far better to over-knead your bread rather than under-knead it!

So, knead-less to say (hehee), I need more practice. But I’m excited for the practice, because few things are more satisfying than getting your hands all doughy, and then smelling that delicious bread baking afterwards.

Who knows, maybe I’ll make Sundays the official Bread Day of the week.

Problem Dissection or Parent Shaming?

In an age where tragic stories are available for commentary essentially the moment they happen, how do we navigate discussing these events in a productive and compassionate way?

In the last couple of months, I’ve seen multiple sharings of an upsetting news story of a young family which lost a two-year-old child during an accident involving an alligator at one of Disney’s beach lagoon hangouts. Discussion around an event like this tends to be civil, at least, because the death of a child is such a sensitive topic which is painful for so many people.

When I first read the article, I was initially pissed that five gators had been euthanized throughout the course of the search for the missing child. While I’m still upset about that, my thinking has shifted to the lack of information and education made available to parents regarding the dangers of not only water itself, but also of playing in water known to house dangerous bacteria and territorial reptiles.

Just as native Floridians might visit up north during winter and have no clue how to safely drive in the snow, people visiting from out-of-state might not understand the inherent dangers associated with bodies of water in a subtropical climate. Where these folks were from (I think it was Nevada?) they can probably safely watch their children play in some shallow water with little worry about an accident. Folks can’t be expected to just automatically shift their thinking depending upon where we are – we’re not automatons!

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be adaptable or aware of our surroundings – quite the opposite. But we need to realize that no one is perfectly adaptable or immediately aware of everything going on around them, like some kind of cyborg.

But the more I think about accidents like this – children being left in scalding cars for hours, children drowning, children falling into exhibits at the zoo – the more compassion I feel for the parents. As someone who has no children, but has been around them extensively, I know that these little suckers are sneaky and can slip through your fingers like they’ve been dipped in oil.

Even for a seasoned parent, keeping an eye on multiple tiny humans at once is a huge daunting feat, especially if those tiny humans have recently gained use of their unwieldy, chubby legs. They tend to move with the stealth of a tiger and the clumsiness of a slapstick comedian, and if you’ve spent any time at all around young children, you know that both your brain and body get exhausted really, really quickly.

I recently read a great post on Scary Mommy (yes, I’m not a mom and I still read Scary Mommy. Some of the posts are freaking hilarious) about how for even the most responsible parent, exhaustion combined with changes in routine can spell disaster for things like leaving your child in a hot car, or accidents like the one at Disney World. It seems that when humans are accustomed to routine, accidents are less likely to happen than when we have experienced a schedule change, a shift in location, or a profound lack of proper rest.

I think my point is that instead of attacking parents for these genuine accidents, our focus needs to be on preventing further accidents in the future. It does take a village to raise a child, and when everyone offers kind and nonjudgmental advice, working together to solve these problems is infinitely more effective than telling someone they’re a horrible mother (I feel like moms get the brunt of hate when these accidents occur). For example, the aforementioned post lists several really great ideas for making sure your child isn’t left in the car when you are having a hectic day, running on no sleep, etc. These range from setting alarms on your phone to making a plan with day care workers to chattering with your little one on the way to school/work/wherever. Instead of judging and admonishing (something no parent needs!) she actually offers help and advice.

This is what we need, guys. If we really have the best interests of kids and their families at heart (and I think most of us do!) then we’ll move away from the parent shaming.

But here’s my question I: Where is the line between parent shaming and problem solving?

It’s a very thin line, to be sure. Any parent who is sensitive and vulnerable may see even innocent questioning as an attack, and respond with the canonical “Don’t tell me how to raise my child!” I think human beings, including parents, can’t get too arrogant. We can’t assume that we know what we’re doing all of the time, and we need to be able to look at our behavior and choices when prompted by friends who care.

For example, a parent who allows their small child to do something dangerous, like play unattended in the small blow-up pool outside, or play in the literal middle of the street, should be talked to by people who care. Use your judgment. That means if you see something obviously dangerous – or even if you have a gut feeling – happening with a child, you should say something, propriety be damned. And if you’re the parent of the child in a dangerous situation, try to understand that the person is not trying to make you feel bad (usually – we all know those folks are out there), but they are trying to prevent a tragedy. Never be so sure of yourself as a parent, teacher, etc. that you can’t listen to someone’s perspective and actively examine your own behavior as a result. It doesn’t make you spineless; it makes you self-reflective: one of the best things you can be as someone who is molding young lives.

Or really, doing anything. Self-reflection is a virtue.

So the line, really, between parent shaming and problem solving is self-reflection. If you see a problem, don’t be afraid to speak up – but do it in a way that isn’t confrontational, because people tend to get pretty defensive about their parenting choices. Likewise, if you’re the parent, don’t be afraid to examine your choices and parenting style, and the reasoning behind them. These are two sides of a very valuable coin, and both parties need to be self-reflective if we really want to keep kids alive and healthy.

With all of that said and done… I am most definitely not a mom and won’t be for quite a long time (I want to get a PhD and all that first!), so I’m not speaking from the perspective of a parent. However, I do love kids of all ages and admire all of the parents I know who are doing a wonderful job raising their little ones. So this post comes from a place of love and respect for parents. 🙂