not on my list

I'm slowly realizing that, sometimes, the things missing from my Christmas list are the things a person would rationally and objectively think I could use the most. Things like my coffee maker, which was purchased seven years ago for about 15 dollars. It never fails to let half the grinds pass into the pot and it leaks more often than it doesn't. And I don't know if it's because I'm stubborn, or because I'm thrifty, or what, but I look at that old coffee maker most days and just think, what a damn good little machine.

With all the baking I've been doing over the past few months, I probably should have bought an apron. But I took an old dishtowel, and an old cloth belt, and stapled
(yes, stapled) the two together, creating a perfectly functional, albeit unattractive, apron. And I appreciate it the way I appreciate t-shirts from Goodwill — already worn out, so I don't have to worry about being the first one to stain or tear it. It's already stained and torn. Comfortable. The way I like things.


let your heart be light

Oh, what I would give to have a voice like Judy Garland...


new christmas traditions

My favorite way to spend a December Friday night...
fire in the fireplace, hot toddies, The Family Stone, curled up with this guy next to the Christmas tree. And a little bit of snow in the morning.


overheard 003

inside of CVS...

55-year-old woman in sweatpants: "Have you seen a guy with one arm in here today?"
Cashier: "A guy with one arm?"
Woman: "Yeah."
Cashier: "Nope, not today. Usually see him most days. Not today though."
Woman: "OK, thanks. Bye."


what an adventure this is

I'm reading Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl for the first time. May seem like a strange pick for the holiday season, but it's a wonderful reminder to not take a single thing for granted. In the face of such terror and harsh living conditions, listening to bombs dropping night after night, eating boiled rotten cabbage for weeks on end, and after 22 months of confinement, Anne still manages such a positive outlook — and she's only 14 years old! I can't help wishing that I had an attitude like hers:

"I'm young and strong and living through a big adventure; I'm right in the middle of it and can't spend all day complaining because it's impossible to have any fun! I'm blessed with many things: happiness, a cheerful disposition and strength. Every day I feel myself maturing, I feel liberation drawing near, I feel the beauty of nature and the goodness of the people around me. Every day I think what a fascinating and amusing adventure this is! With all that, why should I despair?"


mantel suggestions

I love love love our fireplace, but I'm getting a bit tired of the empty wall above it. Any suggestions? Favorite painters, photographers, or other creative ideas?


holiday centerpiece (on a budget)

Inspired in part by Dawn's lovely handiwork, in part by the beautiful crafty things in Midwest Living, and in part by the beloved Design*Sponge, I decided to create a centerpiece for family holiday dinners back in Georgia. I needed something affordable, easily transportable, and flexible enough to work for both for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Here's what I ended up with...

Supplies only set me back about $13:
-Glass tea light holders (.60 each, WalMart)
-Sheer gold ribbon ($1, Michael's)
-Mason jars (had them)
-Glass candlestick holders ($1 each, Dollar General)
-Tea light candles (had them)
-Tapered candlesticks ($2, Michael's)
-Hollyberry "garland" ($4, Michael's)

Fresh-cut flowers were an additional cost ($15), but worth it. Now all I have to do is grab a few red bouquets and it goes from Thanksgiving to Christmas in a snap.



Back in sunny September it seemed like a good idea to unpack a box, and then chuck it in the garage.

Yesterday morning, after scraping frost off of my car for eight minutes, it didn't seem like such a good idea. I couldn't feel my hands. It was 22 degrees. Sadly, by Indiana standards, that isn't even cold. And since I'll be happily rejoining the workforce starting Monday — after a five month "transition" period — I'm running out of days to put this off until.

The boxes must go. Today.


two rooms so far

By popular demand, here are a few house photos (if three requests qualifies as "popular demand"). We moved in about two months ago. Still have a laundry-list of things to fix, buy, hang, paint, etc. — but as Ryan says, "that's what the winter is for."


one more start

A good book. A warm bed. A strong cup of coffee. A clear sunny morning.
Wonderful reminders that I have all I need, and I want for nothing.

"I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning." -J.B. Priestly


a side of pumpkin

I didn't know this could happen, but something has been eating our pumpkin.

I have a sneaking suspicion that it is Chunk, the big squirrel previously blogged about. I named him Chunk.

That's right, he's named after the Goonies kid.
See the resemblance?


crazy crush

Let's state the obvious:
1) I love Third Eye Blind

2) I have a crush on lead singer Stephan Jenkins

3) This post will be dramatic (I couldn't write it any other way) and probably appreciated only by fellow Third Eye Blind fans
"The First Encounter"
Jacksonville, FL
Raining, warm, muggy — the way it can only feel in Florida in the springtime. It was after 11pm. I ran down the sidewalk, clomping along in a dress in cowboy boots like a freak. We lapped the theater... once.... twice... lost count. But the lesson my friends The Redheads taught me is that stalking always pays off. Not only did we score an official Stephan Jenkins guitar pick, we also found out what bar he was headed for and dashed over.

The band arrived shortly after. Then there was an hour of lamenting that I couldn't approach the VIP section because I was so nervous I'd throw up on myself. Thankfully this was followed by one shining glorious moment: Stephan is making his way out of the bar. The crowds part like something biblical. I grab his arm and the only thing my brain produces is, "Hey, great show." He turns and takes my hand, smiles a huge smile: "Thanks. I'll see you soon." The Redheads and I waited around a bit longer, because I was sure he was coming back.
Such a dangerous phrase, see you soon. How soon did he mean? Soon, like in an hour? Or soon, like in seven months? Which brings us to...

"The Second Encounter"Indianapolis, IN 10/30/09Another rainy night. Third Eye Blind played a free show under a tent on Pennsylvania Street, as a promo for the Pacer's opening game. The tent was cramped and dark, and sweltering, on an otherwise cold night. Not exactly comfortable, but worth enduring for the music. After the show, Ryan and I grab dinner — and I grab his BlackBerry to scope out Twitter, in search of 3eb updates. Annnd, bingo: Third Eye Blind afterparty will be at Blu.

Hours later, at Blu
... we wait. Ryan, patiently. Me, not so patiently. But this time, I'm ready. Ryan has my camera when Stephan Jenkins walks in the door. I don't think, I just go.

Me: "Hey, would you mind taking a picture?"
SJ: "Yea, sure." Grabs my hand. We're walking toward the VIP section. He's trying to keep up with the bouncer ahead of him. I'm floating along behind (probably with an idiotic smile) until this stupid stupid girl jumps in our path and yells "OHMYGOD!" At that point, SJ turns around, gives me a sheepish grin, says "sorry, I gotta go" and scurries up the stairs.

But the story doesn't end with me punching that girl in the face, as you might have been assuming. We hear rumors that SJ (yes, I call him that) will be bartending later in the night.
We wait again... long enough so that by the time SJ is working the bar, what I really want to order is a Shirley Temple. But I'm thinking this is my chance to impress him. So I ended up ordering "the Stephan Jenkins Special," which is a strong martini (ick). I can't drink it, but I swipe the glass. And, as an added bonus, he signed my new t-shirt... if you can call that a signature.

Photos courtesy of Ryan, paparazzi photographer extraordinaire.


the physchology of baking

I have a confession to make. I've been baking compulsively since I moved to Indiana.

Muffins, Cookies, Breads, Brownies. I didn't know what my problem was. And then Laura said something which made a whole lot of sense.

First you must know that what Laura and I have in common, other than being natives of Campton, NH, is that we've both had a lot of free time on our hands (for vastly different reasons, I should add). But more than enough of it, to the point where free time isn't fun time anymore. It haunts you, in a way. (I know the busy people who happen to read this are shaking their heads in annoyance, thinking Well I wouldn't feel that way... but you'd be surprised).

So, with no knowledge of my baking endeavors, what she said was this:

"Sometimes I just need to bake some brownies, you know? Just to have a set of instructions, and be able to follow them, and you know exactly what you're gonna get."

And there it was.

To be able to control the variables. To know that it's a project that you can actually finish. To feel as if you've fulfilled some sugary purpose.
To be able to look at that huge stack of baked goods at the end of the day, and know that you created it. That you changed something.

It sounds foolish, but it's immensely gratifying when life is otherwise a smorgasbord of starts and stops, scrubbing a dirty old house which never comes clean and job hunting (me), bullshit insurance paperwork and trying to reclaim a normal life (her).

This is the part where I wrap up with some sweeping, uplifting commentary, right? How about a cookie instead?


friday starts on wednesday

You know what I really LOVE? When two things that I love individually collide in a perfect union.

Thing 1: Friday Night Lights
Thing 2: Greg Laswell's music

As a long-time fan of both, I find the combination utterly hypnotic. Season four of FNL starts tomorrow! Oh, and P.S. check out my future boyfriend at the seven second mark.


two beauties

Right now I can't get enough of the trees around our neighborhood. I find any excuse I can to walk (or drive) around and gawk. Love the fall.

On a bizarre related note, I got a notice in the mail a few days ago that read:
"Each household is permitted to place up to 40 bags of leaves weekly for disposal."

Naturally, I'm wondering A) who has enough leaves to fill 40 bags each week? and B) can you imagine the
holy mother-load pile you could rake up if you put all of those together?



Here it is! Our cozy little 1939 abode. Interior photos will come at a later date, when we swap cardboard boxes for actual furniture.


homemade sushi

Yes, it is as hard as it sounds. But it's possible. With an extra set of hands (thank you Danna) it only took about two and a half hours. Now I know why sushi costs so much at restaurants.

It was pretty excellent, but — full disclosure — this was the aftermath. Worth it.


going a little nuts

This will be one of those entries where, in the beginning, I intend to make one concise point. But then, as one idea bounces to another, it will surely meander along, making murky thought-puddles instead of points. So, you've been warned.

This is what my house looks like now. While I try to be patient and accept that it's all "part of the process" as Ryan so kindly reminds me, it's driving me a little crazy.

Then, the other day, I get a much-needed life lesson from a squirrel. How is such a thing possible? you wonder.

I'm sitting in my car, in the driveway, listening to NPR (and just so you don't think I'm all-too-classy, I was also finishing my McDonald's fries). I see this freakishly huge squirrel in the backyard, carrying what looks like three miniature tennis ba
lls in his mouth. He approaches the fence. I stop eating the fries. I grab my camera.

He tries to push his way under the fence, but doesn't fit. Does he quit and drop the loot? No. Does he give up and eat his meal on that side of the fence? No. After several failed attempts, he climbs up and over. Success.

The lesson here is obvious. It's like the little engine that could, except that he's a squirrel, not an engine. And as previously stated, he wasn't little. He was very large (and orange — what is it with these Indiana squirrels? They're all orange).

So then I get to wondering, what was that he was carrying anyway? I do a little research....

At first I think it's a fig. And I get excited like any English nerd would, because as a Plath fan and fellow neurotic, I've always loved this Bell Jar passage:

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose.

Alas, it's not a fig. My best cyber-sleuthing skills tell me it comes from a Black Walnut tree.

No deeper meaning there. Just a squirrel with a nut.


a little perspective

While I was still sleeping this morning (in our makeshift basement bedroom/cave, avoiding the mountains of unpacked boxes looming upstairs), my dad emailed this photo...

Sunrise over Atlanta, from 375 feet up in the Bank of America building. And I'm reminded that my mountains of boxes are more like molehills.

It's a great big beautiful world, isn't it?


why are the worst jobs easiest to find?

I found both of these gems this afternoon, while searching for positions in the "advertising/marketing" field. Not sure how they ended up there, but the trend I'm smelling is that the worst jobs are the most highly publicized. So, friends, let's take a vote...

Potential Job #1

Potential Job #2
Major liquor brand is looking for FEMALE brand ambassadors in the Indianapolis area!!!!

Candidates should be 21 years of age, have reliable transportation, and an outgoing personality.
Must be willing to wear a short jean shirt or short shorts, a midrif top, and cowboy boots.
Hours will be nights and weekends (about 10 hours per week for at least 3 months)
This position offers excellent pay ($20-25/hr.) and a fun working environment!


a canyon they call grand

And now, back to your regularly scheduled Road Trip Recap.

I'm sorry to say that Roswell, NM does not warrant its own blog post. Given the chance to do it again, I would bypass the town and head for Carlsbad Caverns or White Sands Monument. But instead, we had the privilege of camping at Bottomless Lakes State Park, which they should consider renaming "Endless Mosquito Bites State Park," or "Deer Flies That Bite Through Clothing State Park," or any number of things more descriptive. This is how I happened to become the proud owner of one genuine mesh head-net. Jealous?

On to more worthwhile ventures: Arizona. Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, Page.
Northern Arizona seeped into my blood and now I desperately want to live there. I know I just moved to a new state, but my next new state will be this one... one day.

From the Grand Canyon South Rim you can see the North Rim. It doesn't look that far. If you had a small plane, a helicopter, some go-go-gadget wings, you could zoom right across. But to drive around the Canyon... now that is an experience you don't want to miss.

One of the few places to get supplies en route to the North Rim is Tuba City. In Tuba City, the only place to buy food is Basha's. And inside of Basha's, signs are written in a strange-looking Native American language (luckily for us, they were also
translated into English).

Shortly afterward comes this: the first time I truly doubted the intelligence of my GPS unit. A "shortcut" about 8 miles long, that took us 45 minutes to drive.

But at the end of a very long day, it was worth it. Watching the sunset from the North Rim could make even the most committed atheist second-guess himself.


life without the "stuff"

After living out of a suitcase for four weeks, I've graduated to living out of boxes. I have my clothes, a nightstand, a dresser, a filing cabinet and my computer. It feels a bit Spartan. I think I could get used to it.

I've confiscated this sunny nook in Ryan's apartment (technically "our" apartment but it still feels like "his"), where I set up a small workspace overlooking Meridian Street. Perfect for people watching and sharing the neighbor's internet. This is day nine in Indy.

Number of Colts games attended: 1
Number of times I've gotten lost: 2
Number of times I've cried: 2
Number of state fairs attended: 1
Number of red lights accidentally run: 1
Number of antique shops visited: 3
Number of mules fed (at an antique shop): 1

For the past week, I kept thinking I need to write about this... and I kept procrastinating. When everything is new, I find that everything is worth writing about. And since that would be impossibly overwhelming, I've just avoided it.

Plus, I've be
en busy ignoring certain realities (like how much I will miss my old life), and distracting myself with other things. Things like: finding a job, trying new recipes, making lots of to-do lists, running, driving in circles, watching Real Housewives ATL with Ryan (and finally talking to him without a cell phone), etc.

All the while, I'm sure there's some tepid pool of emotion lurking right u
nder the surface, just waiting for me to slow down. And when I do, it will surely catch up with me. Sigh.


dear facebook,

Thanks for the oh-so-subtle reminder...

This is my current view from Starbucks, across the street from the new digs, where I just laid down four precious dollars for two measly hours of internet. Whatever, I'll mark it down on my budget spreadsheet as "research."

Things are good so far... I've unpacked a few boxes at the apartment. Still feels like I'm just visiting for the weekend though, and I'm wondering how long it will take to feel permanent. The Penske truck is still loaded up and I'm waiting for Ryan to get back from work, so we can move it all into storage. Hooray for heavy lifting!


don't mess with it

Austin, Texas. Nice place to visit, bad place to camp in July. When it's still 90 degrees at midnight, the last thing you want to do is look at a sleeping bag, let alone curl up in one. But the highlights of our short stay were worth the sweat and tears.

Highlight #1: Greg Laswell at Stubb's
Stubb's is famous first for their BBQ and second for their concerts. Or maybe the other way around. After dinner, we made our way to the basement for the show. No air conditioning, but I had a good spot ten feet from the stage, and a cheap Lone Star beer, and I even got to talk to him afterward... when I promptly plugged Atlanta (their next gig) and recommend breakfast at Flying Biscuit. Gotta represent the A.

Highlight #2: Barton Springs
Here is what made the heatwave bearable Barton Springs. Thirty million gallons of spring-fed, stone-bottomed, 65-degree goodness. We parked our overheated selves in the water for about five hours.

Highlight #3: The
BatsBy day, the Congress Ave bridge is quite ordinary. But every evening around dusk, tourists stand elbow to elbow. Underneath the seemingly unremarkable bridge sleep 1.5 million bats, the world's largest urban bat colony. More than the sight of it, the sound was a bit unnerving.


the big easy

Above all else, go to New Orleans for the food and you won't regret it. Muffaletta sandwiches, Jambalaya, Cafe du Monde beignets and coffee.... I'm not ashamed to say I ate my way through the French Quarter.

Beyond that, it's a beautiful old city. Perhaps the American version of Venice: awesome and historic, yet sinking and smelly. And haunted. But unfortunately, the scariest part of our ghost tour was when a dark shape scurried past me on the sidewalk (I screamed, of course, thinking it was a rat, but it was only a pigeon who was too fat to fly).

We rode the street cars to the Garden District, wher
e Mardi Gras beads hang like fanciful icicles from phone wires and peaks of million-dollar homes. Oh, to have a rich Great Aunt Gertrude who lived there!

And what trip to the Big Easy would be complete without an outing on Bourbon Street? We spent a chunk of time at this karaoke bar, Cat's Meow, with a bird's-eye view of the stage, where a Kid Rock wannabe sang one terrible song after another. All in all, highly entertaining.


comforts of home

First of all, I can't tell you how nice it is to have access to a clean toilet 24 hours a day. In the past month of traveling, I have experienced the most revolting public restrooms in all of America. And what's worse than a nasty bathroom, is no bathroom... for miles and miles and miles. It's enough to make you dehydrated as hell.

But, believe it or not, I have more exciting things to write about. I'll post recaps of the places we visited as soon as I can get my photos in order. For now, I'm glad to be back in Georgia... even if the humidity is so thick it's like the earth giving you a big warm sweaty hug.


no time to write

...and so much to say! Alas — here are two quick shots from the Grand Canyon North Rim. Will hopefully have internet in LA (we'll be getting there on Friday) and can catch up a bit. Miss you all, xoxo.


here we go

All packed and ready to go. Not much room to spare. I could write so much more about the insanity of today (how my family freaked out at the 11th hour, thinking we needed to rent a car, trying to find a rental SUV on a holiday, almost taking MARTA to the airport in search of one, etc.) but it's late. We're leaving in 8 hours. I'm going to bed. Happy 4th of July! Catch you on the flip side.