The Day After Friday the 13th

I spent Friday the 13th on a walking ghost tour of Chicago. Walking through the dark and brisk city, imagining a time when fires and 20 feet rivers could wipe out hundreds of people had a hollowing and thrilling effect. Old Chicago legends were debunked and rebunked, and if you’ve ever been on a ghost tour you know what I mean by that. I was familiar with a few stories, including the murder house of H. H. Holmes, because of the brilliant podcast, Lore. These folklore tales are always based in history and documented accounts, but are designed to stimulate your imagination.

Imagine my delight when, on this extremely dark and rainy Saturday the 14th, I discovered that the new Lore tv show was released yesterday! I watched the first episode this morning, and it is the perfect Halloween-season show. I’m all about a terrifying episode of American Horror Story, but Lore is great because it is based in fact, does not exaggerate the already awful events being recounted, and can be watched alone. I can’t really watch American Horror Story or even Black Mirror on my own in the evening because I get freaked out. Lore just made me really really curious. It made me think things like ‘oh my god nighttime before electricity was so scary!’ Back then, if it was windy outside, your candle might go out and you are already afraid of sickness/death/ghosts/demons etc. It’s kind of like the haunted version of drunk history?

Our tour guide described our ghost tour as a moving campfire. We took our spooky stories to the road! The Lore podcast has always been that for me, oral history and scary stories to accompany late night drives. Now these chilly tales will be even better enjoyed from my warm apartment with a cup of hot cider in my hands.

 

 

The Mysteries and Thrillers My Friends Recommend

Approaching the beginning of October, I reached out on Facebook to find all novels thriller and mystery. I love these genres but have barely scratched the surface! I was excited for the variety of recommendations my Facebook friend gave, and it was fun to see which books resonated with different people. So, courtesy of my acquaintances new and old, here is our October reading list.

All things Agatha Christie
-Lee

It seems one can’t go wrong with Agatha Christie. I have not yet approached these standards of murder mystery! I found this Amazon author’s page helpful in exploring my options with Christie. Do you have a favorite book of hers?

Gillian Flynn: Sharp Objects and Dark Places
-Sara

We’ve all ready Gone Girl, right? I guess I finished the book and just sort of forgot about the author. I enjoyed the book, although sometimes all of the hype before the story leaves me a little let down after I finally finish it. One quality I like about these stories is how the truth of the crime stares you in the face the entire time, but the events throughout the story fill you with self-doubt. The answer to the mystery somehow sneaks up on you!

Gaslight Mysteries
-Christa

This murder mystery series has a midwife as a main character. Any time there is a midwife, you can expect a female centered plot. Bonus: the title of each book has “Murder” as the first word.

Double recommendation for Child 44
-Sara, seconded by Rikky

This Child 44 Trilogy must be incredible. The comment section below this recommendation left few details, just a strong insistence that I must read it. There is also a movie? Somehow this is my first time hearing about the books or movie!

Darkly Dreaming Dexter
-Sean

Amazon tells me that devout fans of the show might not love the books. But then again, most people who read a book first always hate the tv version. A freaky book to get you in the Halloween spirit.

Final Girls
-Kate

Kate says “I just finished Final Girls and it was the best book I’ve read in 2017. There were so many wonderful twists and turns. I had no idea whodunit until they revealed it. I read a lot of mystery and thriller so I like to think I’m good at this. Trust me you will enjoy it. It’s the perfect end of summer, beginning of Halloween season read. If you read it lemme know your thoughts!! I’ve been dying to talk about it.” I’m sold.

Tony and Anne Hillerman Books
-Bethany

These books will transport you to the stillness of the west and the sinister mood of not knowing who in your small, close-knit community can be trusted. This police procedural models the inefficiency of “the system,” and the need to keep your bits about you at all times. I ready Skinwalkers just after moving back from out west, and the spooky superstitions are told with the candidness any Navajo will tell these tales with.

 

 

 

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, or, On the Segregation of the Queen
-My recommendation

A Mary Russell novel, the first book of this series introduces Sherlock Holmes and his partner, not sidekick, but partner in solving mystery. I retired-ish Holmes takes on only cases than interest him, and starts the novel guiding and teaching Ms. Russell. By the end, she is able to keep up, and even wins a few matches of chess against the infallible Sherlock.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Series
-My recommendation

The Millennium trilogy is by far my favorite series of books I have ever read. Larson’s writing is captivating, and the main character Salander is such a badass. If you enjoyed the movie, Swedish or English, trust me, you won’t be able to put these books down. I do like the new books, continuing the series under a different pen. They don’t have quite the same impact on me as the originals, though.

All of Ruth Ware’s books
-Recommended by Sara and seconded by me!

I have become such an intense fan of Ruth Ware and everything that she has written. I loved “In a Dark, Dark, Wood,” but I was addicted to “The Woman in Cabin 10.” Ware’s characters are ferociously independent, but the events that lead them to risk are so relatable. A bachelorette party, a work trip, a high school reunion. We all pretty much do all of those things at some point, and they are usually considered safe and pleasant experiences. After finishing “The Woman in Cabin 10,” the gruesome murder of Kim Wall was discovered. I couldn’t get over it because I had just finished this book and been living in the mindset of the protagonist, a journalist who is kidnapped my a murderous owner of the ship. Ruth Ware’s books are almost too real.

 

Thanks to all of the recommendations, friends! Do you have any favorites that I missed?

 

Related: A Collection of Book Lists
Related: True Crime

Weekend Update

I know, I know. “Weekend Update” is already taken. I’m using it (for now, at least) to introduce my new beginning-of-the-week posts. Moving from Reflections and Intentions to something that requires me to be more thoughtful and genuine with all of you. 

What I Did

I wore this alpine meadows outfit at a wedding. Apparently I became semi-famous as “the girl in the yellow shoes.”

Speaking of the wedding, we stayed in the most beautiful hotel that had a curved, purple velvet chair. I read this book front to end in that chair (and on the plane). Adding a curved, purple velvet chair to my dream apartment list.

I began the first of several administrative updates to my blog. I am hoping to expand in many ways, including affiliate links in my holiday posts, which will help me divert more time and attention to those details. I would also like to open up The Wonder Of to guest submissions. More news to come!

What I’m Going to Do

Go on a ghost tour of Chicago with some awesome friends! Even better, we are going on Friday the 13th! I am excited for this spooky evening.

Teach guitar to middle school kids??? Keep me in your thoughts.

Pay my debts and plan for the holidays. If I get those things cleared now, I should be stress-free by December. I think. I hope. Planning to give you a peek into my holiday travel arrangements, including details on multi-city flight bookings, and a top secret update about some of TSA’s newest changes.

Related: 

Discovery

Fall Outfits in Three Moods

Four Things

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Four Things

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I think everyone should try their own Face the Foliage project in the spirit of changing leaves and all things fall. What a good opportunity to take a mindful walk and make art.

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This sweet potato round-up is seriously good. I’m between these tempting noodles with cashew sauce (?!) and the sweet potato peanut stew. Yeah. Sweet potato peanut stew.

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My next read, if only to watch the movie after.

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I can’t stop watching these mesmerizing animations of Nigerian hairstyles. What a cool art project.

 

Fall Outfits in Three Moods

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The Look: Alpine Meadow

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The Essentials:  A floral dress in the colors of your soft clutch and bright pumps

The Mood: Energized

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The Look: Franco Feet

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The Essentials: A graphic sweater and ankle pants with french loafers and subtle textured socks in velvet or sheer

The Mood: Mysterious

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The Look: Urban Witch

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The Essentials: Purchase this rare celestial shirt and pair it with raw-hem denim. Find delicate gold charm-like jewelry to make this ensemble sophisticated, not angsty.

The Mood: Powerful

 

Reflections and Intentions

Reflections
-Kept my boyfriend’s birthday gift a secret for a whole month and surprised him with a kayaking trip through downtown Chicago!
-Kept eating right, kept exercising, kept losing weight.
-Took a sick day and felt better for it. It’s hard to know when you are really sick and when rest will fix it. Hint: rest will always fix it.

Intentions
-Schedule group personal training and other exercise opportunities (read: hiking, dancing) for the upcoming months
-Stay one day ahead of schedule so flying to a wedding this weekend is zero stress
-Really, TRULY stay up to date on the blog

Intended
-meet my blog goals. Sorry for the inconsistency, guys!
-My Climb Like a Girl program is almost over. I need to set a new personal challenge.

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Discovery

I really enjoy the personal challenge that comes with each new theme. September was all about resiliency, which translated for me as a strength and firmness. I am excited to learn and evoke more playfulness with October’s theme: Discovery.

October brings the first brisk bites of fall weather, with the accompanying sense of opportunity. It is a time of year that people consume all sorts of flavors we neglect the rest of the year: apple, pumpkin, nutmeg, mace, squash! The same goes for color and texture. The other day I bought goldenrod high heels and a royal blue velvet clutch. Granted, the purchases were for a specific wedding outfit, but the color and texture were so unlike me! I think I caught a little bit of this autumn influence.

October brings instant thoughts of festivals and Halloween. A month of celebration and adventure, people from all walks of life partake in a bit of blatant paganism. Expect a post on the vital relationship between women and their personal witchiness. It’s coming.

My personal resolutions for discovery including learning something new, trying on a new viewpoint or lifestyle, and trying something I think I don’t like (swimming, pickles, etc.).

Expect invigorating challenges, new things, whimsical stories, and the expected spookiness on the blog this October.

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Wake Me Up When September Ends?

I feel like I sort of blacked out during the month of September. Everything started out fine, and is still fine really, but I lost my focus. I stayed busy and did what I needed to do, but this blog definitely fell back in priority.

Kudos to your readership, though, because we maintained our following with only 11 posts in the month. I am working to maintain some regularity with posts throughout October. I have a lot of great drafts in the works and hope to publish them in the coming weeks. Thank you for sticking with me!

September’s theme was resiliency. Here were some of my early September thoughts on the topic.

I can be resilient.

Resilience requires constance. A commitment to one way- the harder way, usually. I commit to a job that makes me weary but brings the weary up. I commit to food I need even if it’s not the food that I want. I commit to moving when all I want to do is be still.

I think that is how to be resilient. Commit to a few hard things.

I am happy to say that, now in October, I did these things. I started some ass-kicking weight training, I went outdoor rock climbing, my boyfriend and I kayaked through downtown Chicago. Oh, and I lost 10 pounds and counting. It’s been a strengthening month.

Here is a collection of posts from this month on the theme of resilience:
Strategies for Resilience
Learning to Ride a Bike
5 Rules for Your Side Hustle
Game Changing Workout Gear
On Female Friendship
What I Ate in 10 Days

Thanks for sticking with me!

Related: The Best of August on The Wonder Of

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Reflections and Intentions

Reflections
-I forgot my keys. It’s definitely Monday.
-I went rock climbing outside  !!!!!!
-I am rectified in CPR.

Intentions
-meet my blog goals. Sorry for the inconsistency, guys!

-My Climb Like a Girl program is almost over. I need to set a new personal challenge.

Intended
-Climb a V2 at the rock wall
-I’m climbing outside and camping this weekend!
-Get more sleep. (Tuesday night maybe?)
-Do more things that aren’t Netflix. Bike. Play piano. Play a long game of chess.

What I Ate in 10 Days

Taking control of eating and spending habits requires resiliency. Here is an account of me saying no to doughnuts because they look better than they taste, but sometimes saying yes to cake for the opposite reason.

Saturday
5:48: I don’t know why I am awake, showered, and dressed at 5:48 on a Saturday morning. I am sipping lukewarm coffee and working on the blog. ☕️

7:30: My classic green goddess smoothie. I have this almost every day, so photos and recipe cwill be found below.

8:45 I’m glad this week isn’t the money diary because I just dropped my car off for repairs. 😱 Anyway, we are downtown getting a lavender latte because Pickwick (Now Hero coffee?) is literally the cutest coffee shop in the whole world.

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I ended up eating 1/3 of my boyfriend’s Manhattan Bagel. 10/10 would have again.

1:30 We tried to go to a football game. That turned into a fruitless 45 minute bike ride followed by a frustrating moving of the car from one shop to another, and finally, a desperate stop at Potbelly. I ate the whole classic smoked ham and swiss sandwich (with tomato and lettuce, please!) along with some tangy salt and vinegar chips and an S. Pellegrino that I sourced from my refrigerator. Then I had a Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cup. 🚴

6:00 A post rock climbing feast at Green Street Smoked Meats. While I really only needed half of either, I ate all of a serving of pulled pork and loaded baked beans. No regrets.

9:00 A mini Trader’s Joe peanut butter cup while I soberly sipped water with my friends. Later: 1 (maybe 2?) baby pigs in a blanket and many, many tortilla chips.

Sunday

11:00 I had a lazy morning of sipping coffee until suddenly the coffee hit and I was STARVING. I hangrily rampaged the kitchen and whipped together a winning brunch of one pot bacon, green beans, and potato.

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12:00 A handful of pretzels I think, a chocolate covered banana, chunky monkey ice cream… skipping breakfast was not a great strategy.

4:00 Woops, I took a long nap. 2 dark chocolate peanut butter cups and a bowl of popcorn, because I haven’t been grocery shopping yet. I washed and prepped kale, which is almost like eating it.

7:30 Kale and butterbeans! 🍲

9:30 One more peanut butter cup and like 10 more pretzels (oops)

Monday

8:00 Another hangry day, because I have fasting bloodwork sometime between 9 and 12. This appointment and its many requirements means that I have the day off work.

8:54 I am so hungry.

9:26 I’m not getting less hungry.

9:54 Like, coffee would be nice. I wouldn’t mind not eating if I could have a hot drink.

10:12 Seriously, how long can this appointment last?

10:35 The nurse just guessed that I am run by looking at my legs. HIGH PRAISE.

11:35 Okay, I went a little crazy.
I just consumed:
-a egg and cheddar biscuit with butter and jam
-a chocolate almond croscent
-leftover kale and butter beans
-two cups of coffee
-a handful of pretzels

All at once. I really didn’t spread it out. This is a case for eating small meals throughout the day, also a valid argument for not skipping breakfast.

5:30 Taco night! I had mine on kale to compensate for my wild and crazy brunch.

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10:30 Sneaking snacks of pita chips and hummus before bed.

Tuesday

7:30 My school week breakfast and lunch routine is pretty consistent. The night before I make a green goddess smoothie.🍐🍌🍐🍌🍐Having that with coffee!

11:00 I have a snack of carrots and celery in garlic hummus. I clean my teeth and garlic breath with a giant honeycrisp apple.

1:00 Lunch is always last night’s leftovers on a bed of kale and spring mix lettuce. Tacos were made up of sweet potato, black bean, corn, onion, and red pepper. Add a lime wedge and enjoy! And then an orange. Everyone loves the smell of fresh citrus. It’s a pleasant aroma that lingers.

6:00 Our meal that was so good I forgot to take pictures followed by a chocolate cake with too many shortcuts and a decedent icing.

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8:46 Too many tastings of the icing. My stomach hurts, bad.

9:48 Still feeling bad. Maybe it was taking medicine with the cake? Dad swears by coconut water to cure acid reflux. I had some. It seems to help.

Wednesday

7:30 I wasn’t kidding about the consistency. Green goddess smoothie and coffee. I owe you some photos and recipes!

11:00 My afternoon carrots and celery in garlic hummus with a side of giant honeycrisp apple.🍎

1:00 More taco on kale followed by an orange. 🍊

5:00 Sneaking in a baked potato with olive oil, salt and pepper before my climbing class. I meant to pack tomorrow’s lunch before I left, but…

5:20 Popcorn with olive oil and BOTH Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Sorry not sorry. Those were followed by two hours of working out. 💪🏾✌🏾

9:45 Pita chips and hummus.

Thursday

7:30 Green goddess smoothie and fresh coffee! Here’s the smoothie recipe. Instead of almond butter, I use almond flour.

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11:00 Carrots and celery in garlic hummus with a side of giant honeycrisp apple.

1:00 More taco on kale followed by an orange. I brought my canteen of coffee today, and that is a much needed pick-me-up this afternoon. ☕️

6:00 Leftover Indian food from earlier in the week!

8:30 Instead of popcorn and chocolate, I had a few pistachios and then I blended banana and cocoa powder together. It tasted like dark chocolate pudding but it was essentially the nutritional value of a banana. Brilliant.

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Friday

7:30 Basically the same food day as yesterday. A green goddess smoothie and fresh coffee for breakfast.

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11:00 Snack time: carrots and celery in garlic hummus with a side of giant honeycrisp apple.

1:00 More taco on kale followed by an orange. I sipped from my canteen of coffee while I had a surprisingly DELICIOUS birthday cake from the teacher’s lounge. A great way to celebrate Friday (and my principal’s birthday). ☕️🎈 🎂🎉

6:00 Leftover Indian food from earlier in the week, and a big bowl of popcorn.

Saturday

7:30 First breakfast: banana bread loaded (unnecessarily) with butter. Much coffee.

10:00 Second breakfast: a brat burger grilled fresh at the farmer’s market.

1:30 An extraordinarily late delivery of our order from a great little place called Two Cats Cafe. I had a curried omelette, the Morning in Mumbai, unsweetened turkish coffee, and a nutella strawberry banana smoothie.

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5:30 Mom’s potato soup, which tastes like cozy nights in the warm kitchen during cold weather months. Followed by Mom’s pistachio salad. There was a bite of a “cookie” from my brother in there- that cookie turned out to be a spicy cracker. I was so surprised that I I just spit it out.

8:00 A huge cuppa coffee as I hit the road. 🚘

11:30 A much needed slice of late night pizza as I returned home. 🍕

Sunday

8:30 You know how you microwave a frozen burrito and it is frozen on the outside so you end up putting it in for 4 minutes like three different times and then it is lava hot on the inside? Yeah. Bonus points for this burrito being homemade, and for my boyfriend and I have the foresight to freeze it for later. 10 points to Gryffindor!

11:04 Hmm. I’m still hungry.

12:00 Okay, I went to the grocery store and picked up some fruit so I could make a peanut-butter strawberry banana smoothie. Very good. Very filling.

5:30 Gardetto’s. A desperate snack on the road.

7:30 Potato soup (Thanks mom!), grilled cheese and apple cider.

Monday

8:45 I spent like an hour this morning making all of my meals for today and half of tomorrow, and then left without my breakfast smoothie! Luckily, my very thoughtful boyfriend was willing to meet me halfway to work and drop it off. Love the green goddess smoothie and getting all the good stuff in first thing in the morning. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget my coffee.

11:00 You know the drill. Hummus and carrots and celery! Then my honeycrisp apple.

1:00 Veggies on a bed of kale, an orange. An S. Pellegrino because I need a little crisp fizzy pick me up.

6:00 Leftover pizza and a cup of strawberries during my climbing break, and some coconut water to replenish those electrolytes!

 

Thanks for reading my food diary! You learn a lot about yourself and your habits when you track your lifestyle in this way. Next up: money diary. Any suggestions for habit diaries?