Placemaking and muffin making

We moved last week and the hot button question people are asking is “are you settled yet?”

I still pause before I answer, because I’m not sure. All the boxes are unpacked, the kitchen is in order and has produced a few meals, we have a supply of toilet paper, are no longer scrambling to find bath towels, and there are little homey touches popping up in every room. Settled in the new apartment, yes. Settled in my heart and secure enough to call this new city home? Not quite yet. I still feel a bit uprooted, but the shock is fading and we’re working hard (because it is hard work) to dig in and make way for the feeling of belonging.

Hugo and I made banana muffins together this morning, and in the process, made a memory. That’s the thing this apartment lacks to really feel like home. All our stuff is here, and our people are here, but there aren’t many memories yet. That’s quickly changing as we laugh together, play together, make muffins together, and do life together in this new space, and it’s wonderful!

Feeling at home in a new city is a bit harder. I still have a lot of place attachment to Chicago and Ohio - they’re both warm, familiar places, and I call both home. It’s really odd to live in a place that doesn’t feel like home, and I don’t want to sit too long in that odd feeling. So the process has begun - we’re learning the way around our new Brooklyn neighborhood, finding the grocery stores and delis, figuring out how to live carless, building a new routine.

I listened to a podcast this morning about placemaking and loving the place you live. Part of feeling at home in a new place is what you make of it. Or, as Melody Warnick said on the podcast, “We create our cities with how we think about them.” If I think of Brooklyn as huge, hip, and hard to break into, that’s probably the kind of Brooklyn I’ll experience. If I perceive it as a thriving, diverse community with much to offer, I’ll probably begin to see it come to life in that way. Melody gave numerous other practical tips and experiences from her book about loving the place you live in the interview, and I’ve experienced each one to be true in my own previous placemaking episodes. She suggested that we can speed the process of placemaking by

- walking (to interact with your new neighborhood in a more human way and observe things you may overlook in a car)

- shopping locally (to feel a sense of purpose and become part of the larger community)

- being neighborly (because people are life-giving, and knowing your neighbors makes your ‘hood safer and more friendly)

- doing fun stuff (to leave a trail of memories and feel belonging)

- getting out in nature (to appreciate the earthiness and history and uniqueness of the place where you live)

I’m going to take all these tips to heart as we continue to make our home here in Brooklyn! Belonging is a gift that takes time, and I think it begins with gratefulness and good old positivity. But if the process of becoming attached to a place can be accelerated, I’m all for it. As Melody said so well,

“loving the place you live doesn’t mean you have to stay there forever. It just means while you’re there, you love it really hard! You make it your own and live it up.”


My love for Brooklyn is a little deeper this afternoon because of the new memory of muffin making in our cozy little apartment. Tomorrow is an entire day waiting to be filled with more simple memories and everyday adventures as we make this new city our home. Oh, and leftover muffins. They’re simply 👌🏻.

Packing/Wishing list for NYC

We've planned a trip to NYC for a week, and I have already begun the mental packing/wishing process. Does anyone else consider the planning for a trip to be part of the fun? I certainly do; I've been pinning like a crazy lady, saving places to visit, and researching the best parks, playgrounds, and coffee spots in the city.

Here are the things I'm planning to include in our bags before we head out each morning. There will be plenty of space for adding snacks and you'd better believe we'll have our MetroCard at the ready. Hugo was delighted to learn that New York's trains are distinguished by letter and not just color. He's certain we'll need to ride the H train, but I'm not certain such a train exists. Maybe Q will have to do?

Hers: Blanket for park hangs (thrifted this one) / Zojirushi travel coffee mug because I'll be buying coffee each morning and bringing my own cup means wasting less. / Saltwater sandals. Walking shoe of choice (don't judge) / Stowaway lipstick: my new favorite discovery is this cosmetics company that only makes small sizes of makeup designed to be finished before they expire. There's that generate less waste theme again. / Knomo Beauchamp backpack / Camera (duh) / Books. If I read through all of them, I'll treat myself to a used bookstore in Williamsburg and be hipster to the MAX.

Boy's: New Usborne book for the Airplane because lately he's been so intrigued with his body and what's inside it. / Saltwater sandals. Because matchy-matchy. / Klean Kanteen waterbottle that I really ought to upgrade to a bigger size. / State Mini Kane backpack. I have this thing for beautiful bags, in case you're wondering. / Counting blocks to tap into his recent fascination with counting and simple arithmetic. / His own camera. He loves to direct me for his photos, and I try to always oblige. Goodness knows I've asked the same of him countless times!

What am I forgetting? Have any tips for seeing the city with a 3-year-old sidekick that you want to pass along? Any must-see NYC spots?


My heart has been so heavy for the pain inflicted across Orlando last weekend. If I could turn back time, I'd take it all away in an instant. 

I've experienced a wash of so many emotions after hearing details of Sunday morning's terror at Pulse and it hasn't subsided much; every time I turn on the radio or pop open my news app, it's there. My heart goes out to those people who experienced the horror first-hand, a thousand times more painful and frightening and grief-stricken than me hearing radio broadcasts. I've tried to put my jumbled thoughts in order as a way to give my deep-feeling heart some solace.

This is my little way to say I see your pain, I love you, I'm sorry, and I'm praying that peace and hope can rise above suffering.

To those who are mourning the loss of friends, family and loved ones: I am mourning with you. I am so sorry. There are no adequate words. I hope someone hugs you for me and I hope you find strength in the days to come.

To Orlando: I pray that your government will be empowered to work swiftly and effectively to bring healing, restoration, and justice where voids have been left in the wake of gunfire and death. May you come alongside each other as a community to grieve and counsel and honor and rebuild after such a nightmare come true, and may you find a strength in your togetherness to support those who are hurting. May you lift each other up to life and may the hands and feet of mercy be mobilized throughout your city.

To the LGBTQ and Pulse community: I am grieving with you in the wake of this immense act of terror and injustice, and I would take it all away in a heartbeat if I could. It is unthinkable that someone could act out with this level of violence against a community he doesn't understand, and it is a living nightmare that the unthinkable has come true. I hope you will be surrounded by others who love and care for and support you in the coming weeks and months as you process and cope with trauma and the loss of friends and family. I hope that somehow you will be given a strength to reach out and come alongside others in the midst of your pain; that you can bear the burdens of your fellow humans. Maybe the weight can be lessened by sharing it. I pray that through the pain and darkness you will find a hope that withstands the test of bullets and a peace that overtakes death. May you be surprised by a light of grace that sees all and knows all and welcomes all - pain, grief, anger, fear - and invites you to rest from the turmoil. Maybe somehow you will be given the strength to love your enemies and bless those who curse you - a strength from a Power outside yourself that has stood the test of time and death and shame and been victorious. There is a peace that's inexplicable and above reasoning and beyond the realm of understanding and it is free for the taking. I hope you find it and hold it fast.

To the Muslim community of Orlando and across the US: I am angry with you and offended with you at the words of hate and exclusion that you have already experienced. If I could turn back time and stop it all from happening, I would. But since the terror is done and the unthinkable has happened, I hope you can find a strength to withstand the difficulties you are about to face with dignity. I pray that you will find and accept and cling to the peace that survives when understanding doesn't, and that you will find the hope that is steady through the times when your belief falters and your faith wavers

To the family and friends of Omar Mateen: I'm sure you are living in such a state of shock and disbelief after the events of the weekend. I cannot really fathom all the emotions you may be experiencing, but I pray that as the fog lifts you will be given strength to go forward in dignity. I pray that truth will become clear to you, that grace will be a powerful force to reckon with, and that hope will outlast everything else.

To those of you like me, who are removed from the nightmare but still shaken by the newscasts and articles and radio broadcasts: Now is not the time to be silent. Our fellow humans are reeling from an unimaginable pain and if there is some small way we can bear some of it, in a handshake or a text or a hug or a little blog post, let's rise to the responsibility. Let's give hope. Let's talk about eternity and life and things that matter and go deep into the shared heart of humanity to find that common thread that laces us all together: a need to be saved from this often hellish world. Let's speak of everlasting peace and a new world where suffering will be gone from our memory and fear will be no more. Let's stand together. 

 #PrayersForOrlando. We love you.


The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. (Psalm 9:9-10)