Friday, December 31, 2010

I Am Excited By Opposums

So I know what I said about not updating again... I promise when I wrote that, I meant it, 100%.

I was also lying through my teeth.

I just didn't know it yet.

I was sittin', looking out the window in the kitchen while on the phone with my friend Kristin, just chatting about her 3-year-old boy Leium and developments in her life, when I see something gray and covered in fur go stumbling across the yard.

"I have to go, Kristin. There's a... there's a possum runnin' across my yard!"


I ran to get my niece Delainey, who I'm pretty sure has never seen one in real life before. Now she was just starting to lie down at this point, and this is probably the reason we couldn't get her to nap until 5 p.m., long after my sister went on a date with my brother-in-law and D was left in the tender loving care of her grandparents and I, but that's another story for another time.

Wait. I think I just told you the whole story right there.

Well back to the story I'm trying to tell.

Delainey clambered up on a kitchen chair and we watched the opposum, as well as two very confused rabbits, run across the yard between our house and our neighbor's house. The rabbits really weren't running much, just stock-still and staring at the awful ugly fuzzy thing eating their food like it was the coming of Satan himself.

Eventually we couldn't see him out the kitchen window, so Christina, Delainey and I ran around to the front, where we caught sight of him again, just ambling on his merry way. He eventually stopped by our front bushes and just... sat.

Just sat there, chewing.

Delainey and I leaned out to watch him, and he didn't move at all, just... watched us right back. I'm sure we had pretty identical expressions on our faces, us and the opposum. Only we weren't chewing grass.


Can you see him? Top left corner.

That's how close we were.

When I was a little kid, an opposum found its way into my grandpa and grandma's barn out at their farmhouse and took up residence there, alongside the barn cats. It had little baby opposums. I showed my best friend at the time with an incredible amount of pride, because we could see its beady little eyes and that was clearly a sign of how awesome we were, to have seen one so close.

I think my level of enthusiasm today was the same, or even greater, than that fateful moment of my childhood.

Which is why I think I need a more exciting life, because clearly something is wrong when you get squealy and giggly about opposums.


Especially, my friends, when you are more excited than the three-year-old beside you.

Hello, my name is Katie, and I am excited by opposums.

I need help.

The end.

Preview of My White Christmas

So I discovered something magical.

My mother's computer has a slot for digital-camera memory cards! Which means I was able to pull a few photos out to show all of you before I'm home (hopefully tomorrow night! Cross your fingers for that plane to take off on time!) and have a couple of hours of free time to load those pictures up and choose which I like best!

And also sift through 400+ photos of my niece to find the few that are of snow.

I think I have a photo of my own foot, too.

I don't know why.

So for now:


The street my parents' driveway opens onto, as of Tuesday.

The temps have since risen and now everything melted and is just wet and awful looking.



Your intrepid blogger, taking a frigid walk in the snow just so she can take pretty photos and give them to you.

I am so selfless that way.

Okay, I just like walking in snow.

But you readers still get the benefits, right?

Right?


Some pumpkins out at my grandpa's farmhouse. I... think they may be taking Halloween down a little bit late, don't you?

Everyone have a good weekend! I won't be updating tomorrow or Sunday, as I'm going to be alternately on a plane, off a plane, in a car, in my house, walking down a hill, and at Justin's apartment with Jason and everyone having what promises to be the nerdiest first-party-of-the-new-year-for-me ever.

Tonight?

My sister Christina and my brother-in-law J.W. are going out, leaving Little Miss Delainey in the care of her Grandma Laura, her Grandpa Randy, and me!

Best New Year's Eve party ever.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Belle Weather and the Backstreet Boys

Two things:

1.  Yesterday my Grandma Swearingen and my cousin Melissa stopped by my parents' house, picked me up, and drove me "into town" (the nearest city to my parents, Bloomington-Normal, which has always been "town" to everyone I know here) to a lovely Chinese restaurant for lunch. We met my uncle Bob and aunt Lisa there, and I want you to know, when you don't feel very well that noodle soup with chicken from Mandarin Garden? Really hits the spot.

After that, Grandma and I broke off on our own to do a bit of shopping. We ended up at the Barnes & Noble in town, where Grandma and I had some coffee (they still had pumpkin spice! I cannot tell you how happy this makes me, that I was able to have my venti-triple-pumpkin-spice!) and chatted for a while in the cafe. I have to say; I haven't spent a ton of time alone with my Grandma Swearingen in quite a while, and I had a blast.

However, the point I am getting to is this: I discovered a woman in Barnes & Noble. She is hilarious.

She is Celia Rivenbark.



Now, I must admit that I have only just discovered her. I can't speak for her earlier books; I haven't bought them yet. Buying her other books is pretty much my first order of business upon making it home. But while in Barnes & Noble, looking for something light and fluffy to read on the plane, I picked up her newest book, You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start in the Morning, as well as a slightly older book, Belle Weather: Mostly Sunny with a Chance of Scattered Hissy Fits.


Celia Rivenbark lives in North Carolina and is a Southern mama, and she lets you know it everywhere throughout her writing. Her writing involves a lot of stories about just what that means and observations on life as a mama, as a wife, and as a writer. She describes herself as a "slightly tarnished southern belle".

One thing is that, being a Yankee born-and-bred only recently transplanted to South Carolina, I don't quite grasp every in-joke. I started with Belle Weather at about three p.m. yesterday afternoon, and I finished it at roughly midnight. I meant to go to bed at 10, but once I got up there I just kept reading until I was done.

They are breezy, easy reads, the kind that keep you smiling, chuckling, and occasionally laughing out loud, causing confused stares from those around or nearby.

She is opinionated and she lets you know it, but always with a wink and a smile.

Her newest book, You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start in the Morning, is the other book I bought. Once I'm through with that, I'm going to have to go look up the other three. Yes, three.

Once I find a writer I really like, I latch on to whatever they've got to give to me. I am probably a royalty check's dream that way. 

2.  While driving to pick up a few last-minute supplies for the dinner I'm making for family tonight (recreating my Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese, wish me luck) and listening to NPR, something occurred to me.

Music is a funny thing, isn't it?

My first recollection of "music" that I liked, as it were, is a mix of Sesame Street and Whatever-My-Parents-Listened-To-In-The-Car (generally country). I have a soft spot for the Garth Brooks who sang "Friends in Low Places" (which I am not ashamed to admit I have belted out at the top of my lungs while driving somewhere) and Lorrie Morgan's entire War Paint album which exists on a cassette tape somewhere in my parents' house.

(It's worth noting that since I just kept the cassette tape out, no case, I have never seen the actual cover-image for this cd before. My impression: that is a very brave lady wearing a very brave dress.)

After that, it went to Amy Grant when she sang about romantic love rather than religious love, also on cassette. Somewhere after Amy Grant things get fuzzy, and then Jewel came into the picture, then the Backstreet Boys, that earnest five-some who wanted it "that way", although what "it" was or what direction "that way" was located in is something they never did explain to us. Somewhere in here I began to officially "loathe" country music, very loudly and whenever in my parents' presence, although I still had my cap set for some of the old country-western and of course Johnny Cash.

A side note: Johnny Cash is his own genre of music, related to country but not of country. I think most fans of his music will agree with me here. He generally gets labeled country because music stores feel it would be wasting space to have a whole section just listed as "Johnny Cash" in genre and radio stations get very confused. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Country-western is also different from "country". Country is Taylor Swift crooning about bleachers and high heels or Faith Hill and Shania Twain gettin' wronged by their men (or never getting wronged ever, depending on your song). Country-western, however, is Hank Williams and "Riders in the Sky", the kind of stuff my father used to listen to on our boom box in the evenings when he did dishes, songs that my mind immediately places next to an image of John Wayne in a neckerchief and manly squint.

Yes, that's right; our boom box. I don't want any sassback about this; I wasn't born in 1986 just to start calling them "portable stereos" or some nonesense.

Johnny Cash was a constant, but the Backstreet Boys were replaced by D.C. Talk and the Newsboys, those equally-earnest Christian Rock boy bands that wanted me to just cry out loud that I was a "Jesus Freak". Which I did. Perhaps too loudly. Alanis Morisette's angry-lady howl took over Jewel's delicate bird-song of a voice.

Somewhere between 8th grade and sophomore year in high school I realized I didn't like that music as much anymore. Although I kept all my Jewel CD's, the stuff I actually listened to had been replaced by old-school punk bands like the Clash, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols. Anything noisy and arhythmic had found its number-one fan in me. Powerman 5000 appears at this time, as does H.E.D., the Offspring, Green Day (yes, my taste in music never did quite leave the nineties, did it?). My high school boyfriend burned me piles of CD's from Rage Against the Machine, Weezer, and all those bands he loved that I found I was falling in love with, too.

Overtime, emo bands came into the picture, emo bands and nineties female singer-songwriters, bands like Taking Back Sunday and Fall Out Boy were my best friends in college. Perfect music for breakups and romantic complications, which I was having a lot of at the time. I felt a lot of things very keenly, and there was a lot of talking on those records, and that talking really spoke to me, man, you know? Also Johnny Cash. I never left Johnny Cash behind... that would have been a sin against my nature.

Now we're on this: listening to classical music on NPR and humming along with the songs I know. Stumbling onto the quiet British folk-singer Laura Marling and falling utterly in love with her spare, pretty compositions and clever wordplay, bands like the Toadies that I missed out on the first time around or Aimee Mann's beauitful deep alto voice and calm, spare-no-honesty songwriting. Dancing like only a white girl with no rhythm can to Rage Against the Machine (oh what, did you think I left my old music behind? Heavens no, it just moved down some on the increasingly bizarre rotation). Vienna Teng's soaring piano melodies. Buddy Miller's mellow not-quite-countrified jammin'. My Chemical Romance going off the rails in a very melodic fashion.

It makes me wonder if I'll ever circle back to country... but I don't think so. Much of what is playing on country stations these days makes me grit my teeth and long for the days when Garth Brooks had something to say about thunder rollin' and Reba McIntire's hair was bigger than the rest of her head combined. I want to go back to overwhelming steel guitars and none of this "country-pop" stuff.

Or maybe I'm just turning into one of those "in the good old days we went uphill both ways for our authentic music" types, and we all know that's not true. There are no hills where I grew up!

Okay, there's one. It's quite a ways away and people go sledding on it when there's snow. But that's not the point.

I forget the point.

Something about kids these days and their loud music and get offa my lawn, I suppose.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Am Bad At Planning

I would label this "Part One", but if I tried to explain all of the individual ways and dates and examples of my inability to plan well, then we would just be here forever. My entire blog would be about my inability to plan for things ahead of time. I am famous for wandering circles around the house looking aimlessly for the toothbrush I brought with me, this pair of pants or that pair of socks lost to me, always forgetting some important object I thought I had placed out where I would see it, convinced that I had even written myself a note... and still, I forget.

An entire blog of those stories?

That, I think, would just be no fun.

Well, it might be fun. Maybe it would start a trend.

But let's just leave that a prayer unanswered, shall we?

In any case, the specific ways in which I am bad at planning for this particular moment of time are that I both left all the gift card-presents I had for people in South Carolina, and I forgot the particular cord which allows me to put pictures from my digital camera onto computers.

So although I have my mother's permission to load photos onto her laptop in order to post a couple of my winter wonderland shots...

it ain't gonna happen.

I have roughly... 310 photos I have taken. this leaves less than three hundred remaining. Roughly 75% of those are of Delainey, my little niece, doing whatever it is Delainey decided to do at that moment. The other 25% is a split between photos of my various family members and pictures of snow.

For now, my words shall have to suffice when it comes to this trip to Illinois.

My words are this:

My niece is incredible. My sister is the best person I have ever known. I made my mother's bed, conceivably the first bed I have actually made voluntarily and not out of necessity. Today I went out and saw my grandma's tombstone, privately said goodbye until next I can come. We have not gone shopping, not once. My brother's laid-back easy-going attitude is ever a helpful dose of serenity in my life. I miss my husband. I love my grandpa. I miss my cat. I love my whole family. I miss my grandma just as much every single moment as I missed her when I said goodbye. Christmas has been awesome! All it needed was Jason. The world here is white, all white, twenty miles in every direction is white. Snow, snow, snow. It's beautiful, with the extra sweetness of knowing I can leave it and go back to (relative) warmth in SC. I have woken up before 8 AM every single day.

I love it here...

but I can't wait to go home, too, back to Jason and my kitty, to my job and our lives and my in-laws, our friends and all that Greenville has within it. Still, it's going to be hard to board that plane, because half my heart lives here all year round.

That said...

hopefully next time I get it together enough to be able to share my photos with you without having to wait a week.

Let's just hope I don't forget my toothbrush this time.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A note on my continued existence

I'm alive!

I'm also in Illinois.

Flight was okay; turbulent and panicked, due to my rampant fear of heights, that particular fear the filling chocolate cake of fear topped by a happy dusting of every plane accident that has ever happened going through my mind during takeoff.

I lived, in any case.

I warned my seatmate that I don't do well on planes. He informed me that he flies 13-20 times a year for work.

"Good! That's reassuring, because you're still alive," I responded.

He said "Yes I am," and put his headphones on.

So I flew, and I saw no ground through my flightk, because I wasn't looking. No one else did either; we flew over the clouds that brought snow to the south.

South Carolina, my new green humid warm home, got a couple of inches of snow pretty much the minute I was gone.

They had a white Christmas! I know my sister-in-law had to be thrilled, she was all excited at the prospect when I left.

Now I'm here, in my parents' living room, watching my hilarious brilliant genius little niece play. We're going to go into town to buy some supplies, do a touch of shopping, and return in time for a Christmas night of extended family visiting... to watch this incredible child open more presents.

She grew so much in the months I was gone.

No pictures until I return, I think; all I have is Mom's computer. I may buy a small flash drive and go ahead and put photos up. I have some adorable photos of Delainey with presents.

I have adorable photos of Delainey doing all sorts of things, honestly.

I may or may not have been involved in a tea party with two dolls, a teddy bear, and "banana hot apple juice tea". That needed to cool.

Because it was too hot.

All that is missing in this moment in my husband... I return to him soon.

For now...

Delainey tells me which penguin is taller and I am content.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Adam


One of the fun parts about finally being in South Carolina, with my in-laws, is that the childhood stories I have previously heard (Greatest Hits Currently Include: Jason falling asleep face-first in spaghetti, Jason being given "a ticket to sleep" and promptly passing out in his carseat, Jason playing with dust when Robin tried to punish him by taking his toys away) are being augmented by new stories.

Jason, as a child, disliked the rigid understanding we have that children open presents on Christmas Day or, in some families, get one on Christmas Eve. Child-Jason sat and thought this over, and realized something very important; Christmas Eve... but Eve came after Adam!

Which means...

Two days before Christmas? Is Christmas Adam. And he came up with an idea to get to open a present on Christmas Adam, too. Apparently there is also Christmas Creatures of the Earth and Sky (getting a full week before Christmas by going through the whole Creation story in the Bible) but I don't think Robin and Rusty let him win that one.

So we are at Christmas Adam; the presents are finally wrapped, albeit badly. There is a reason my family really didn't like that I did the present-wrapping. I'm famous for using up four times as much tape as necessary and still handing over a lumpy mystery-box to relatives.

They're wrapped, in any case. It's not elegant or graceful, but it's done.

It turns out my Christmas present from Jason (the Mark Twain autobiography), although I thought I had ordered it before the publisher completely ran out, may not come anywhere near Christmas. So I went out and got The Princess Bride to read on my flight and in my spare time over my week in Illinois. You may think a whirlwind week of visiting friends, relatives, and countrymen won't leave much time for reading... but if you think that, you vastly underestimate how much I love books.

Tonight is dinner with my in-laws, then packing for my trip. Tomorrow I have a very short shift at work, then dinner with family and some friends, then my Christmas with my in-laws, then sleep...

and then...

ILLINOIS.

Which has gotten a bit of snow... so I'll be flying into what promises be a white Christmas.

As my mother said earlier today...

I am TWO SLEEPS away!

Happy Christmas Adam, everybody!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Carriage Rides and Countdowns

On Sunday, my in-laws and I drove to a nearby town, Fountain Inn. Greenville is a big, sprawling city, but there are lots of little towns around here that are sort of melted into where Greenville begins and where it ends. I don't really notice the difference, only that suddenly we are on a whole new area's little main street place... an area that is a lot more like the small-town main streets I am used to.

Sunday was a cold night; we all bundled up in coats and scarves. I must admit I had to wear my gloves.

It was a hard blow to my pride, but these things happen.

We parked behind a furniture store called Kimbrell's, and walked down the street a little bit.

You have to forgive my photo quality... it was pitch black at night.

The store-fronts were all full of Christmas:



The little street's trees were full of lights:



Also children.

But mostly lights.

Fountain Inn had a little ice-skating rink set up, with people skating around gleefully and other people watching from the sidelines:


The speakers set up nearby were, meanwhile, blaring our Christmas music as loud as they could. This was great, except that the rotation was something like eight songs, so I kept feeling like I had deja vu.

We waited patiently in line for our turn to get up into the carriage, watching the horses come and go, huddling around a little torch that the town had set up where the line was.





Our group included my mother-in-law and father-in-law Robin and Rusty, my sister-in-law Hunter and her boyfriend Michael, my aunt-in-law (that is so fun to say; I love making up new terms for relatives-in-law) Gena and of course Jason. I only got a single halfway decent picture, and that is of Hunter and Michael.


Look at them in that blanket trying not to freeze. It's heartwarming, really.

Also, I had no idea Hunter's gloves were purple until later that night? Because I only saw them in the night's darkness and the yellow-y light from all the lit up trees, and I thought they were navy or black.

Shows what I know.

After a few minutes of trying very hard not to become icicles, it was our turn! We boarded a carriage pulled by a nice Percheron named Dakota, who was kind of sick of the whole thing and ambled his way through the ride, but all in all he was in a pretty good mood.


I have not one single photo of the actual ride. We were driven past houses who had decorated, occasionally with an obscene amount of lights and wreaths, for the Christmas season. They were beautiful houses, covered in lights and Santa. One house had a Grinch theme, one house had reindeer and Santa chillin' out on the porch, one house had Santa climbing a ladder slightly behind the house, so you didn't see it at first, only when you were almost past.


And so this is Christmas?

I tried, folks. All I have are twenty-eight photos of blur and dancing lights.

I did my best.

This week is full of frantic activity; finishing up all the things that must be done for Christmas, packing, working, packing, working some more... my car's alternator died so we spent one of the days we meant to finish Christmas getting the car fixed. Now the car works, but uh, our Christmas present to ourselves this year is kind of a working car.

Merry Christmas to us?

It's only a little over three days until I fly to Illinois!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Am Bad at Christmas, Take Two

So this is the entry, at least mostly, that I had meant to write before I got distracted by delicious apricot-dark-chocolate-bark.

And then the delicious version of feijoada that Jason made for dinner that night.

And then the way he made me homemade hot chocolate from our leftover dark chocolate and milk when I admitted to craving it.

Have I mentioned how awesome this man I married is?

IN ANY CASE,

I was going to write about Christmas. I think. And not endlessly bore you with stories about how Jason is super-cool and such.




So on to our regularly scheduled program.

I am bad at Christmas.

Part of it, of course, is the simple fact that Jason and I do not, as a routine, get to spend Christmas together. The reality of a retail-existence (which I am still living, career-wise) is that you do not plan to have a lovely three days together at Christmas; you plan to scheme and to beg for whatever time off is possible, power-snuggle for what chance you get, and then fly back to work as soon as you have to.

The other part of this is the fact that we haven't really been able to live close to both our families. My family is out in Illinois, and his is here. When we lived in Illinois, we were both working retail jobs and it was nearly impossible to get enough time for both of us to go to my parents' house for Christmas... Jason still tells people stories about how he spent our first Christmas as a married couple alone with the cat while I went to see my family.

I have a feeling our kids will hear that story. Repeatedly. And it will get sadder every time he tells it.

This year will be no exception. We will, fortunately, get to have time with Jason's family but then Christmas morning I will be boarding a plane and flying to Illinois to see my family for a week, while Jason remains here so he can keep working. I am planning next year to figure this out in a way that allows both Jason and I to be in the same place at the same time during Christmas. I will manage this, darn it, or I shall go down in flames trying.

We have never had a tree; we're both too easily distracted and bogged down by life to remember to ever get around to it.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love Christmas. I'm just bad at remembering to do all of it. Decorations just don't happen, unless you count helping other people decorate their houses. I love doing that.

Shopping is happening, albeit all at once, in a horrible rush, and with much stressing out. Every year I tell myself I'll do Christmas shopping early, and every year I end up running around trying to finish it at the last second. I tell you, this is a talent of mine. Every "what kind of worker are you?" quiz I come up with tells me I am a procrastinator, and gives me helpful tips on how to fix that, and I cheerfully mark them down for future use... eventually.

 Maybe tomorrow, or the day after that. I'll get around to it.


This year is my first Christmas attempting to shop in a city of any serious size. I have been continually astounded by the sheer amount of people out in stores, demanding exemptions in price from various exhausted retail workers, lines backing up further than I ever imagined they would at 2 PM on a Thursday afternoon when everyone with a day job should be at work right now.

I stopped by a Barnes & Noble today, and when I went into the cafe to order a drink, they had one poor flustered worker there running everything herself. I was third in line. By the time I got up to make my order, there were twelve people behind me and she had already called for help twice.

I had a pile of presents with me, and asked her if she would prefer I just get my drink and head over to the other side to wait in line over there, since I wasn't in a hurry. The look of sheer, stressed-out gratitude she gave me was enough.

In any case, I am done with all but four things on my Christmas shopping list. Wait... five.

Five things. But they are not difficult things to do.

I would have finished them all this afternoon, and given a mournful sigh at my bank account and waved all that lovely money goodbye, except for two simple facts: it is nasty and cold and rainy outside, and I almost got sideswiped three times in the two hours I was out.

One of those times was a gigantic Hummer, who clearly believed that since they were very large and my little red car is very small, that they could simply run me over and no one would challenge them. The driver of the Hummer and I exchanged a long look over the course of roughly a second-and-a-half. My look was saying I took Drivers' Ed and so did you. I clearly have the right-of-way. You are attempting to do a move in traffic which could conceivably kill me and possibly the two cars behind you as well. Please cease and desist.

The driver of the Hummer's look appeared to be saying But I am in a hurry and my car is bigger than yours! This should be all the reason I need! You are a villainous woman who is keeping me from moving quickly!

We came to a truce, in so much as I continued to drive and she came to a begrudging stop. Our lives carried on.

Now I wait for Jason to wake up, write this entry, and wonder whether or not I should stop drinking a lot of caffeine before I write in my blog.


Everybody have a good day!

Roughly eight-and-a-half days until I am in Illinois for Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

I was going to write a whole other entry than this

I was going to write an entry about Christmas, my terrible gift-shopping problems, all my issues around remembering things during the holidays.

I was going to write many, many paragraphs.

I went to work today, intending to write the entry the moment I got home.

I got off work at 6:30. I just walked in the door a few minutes ago.

Jason is cooking dinner and at some point today made apricot dark chocolate bark.

I am in the middle of eating one piece and I have to admit I have completely forgotten anything I was going to say.

Nom nom chocolate bark from husband nom nom.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's beginning to (feel) a lot like Christmas?

I am feeling the familiar drumbeat of not nearly enough time. I still need to do so much shopping, gift-wrapping, packing planning partying making food and seeing people.

I did tree-trimming with Jason's family; wish we could have stayed longer. So fun to see so many ornaments full of stories, referencing people I haven't met or stories I haven't yet heard, having them explained to me, all those old kid-made creations that parents hold onto each year.


The red berries are out in force on green trees and bushes all over the place around here. They line my workplace, our apartment complex, up against fences, downtown on the other side of the bridge... just everywhere. A visual reminder of the way this new city I live in retains its color, even when the leaves fall.


It's so green here for it to already be December. I hardly seem to notice seasons passing; the usual markers aren't there for me. No snow, but cold enough to freeze the windshield-wiper fluid to the side of our windshield when Jason drives home in the morning and has to clear it off. 

And of course, the most audible reminder of all is the Christmas music blasting all over the place, in shops and in restaurants, on the radio and being sung from everyone's mouths. 

I am not, as a rule, against Christmas music. I don't dislike it as a whole genre. I loathe 'modern' covers of traditional songs that take all the soul out of them, and I have found that much of the Christmas music that plays over the speakers at work falls into this unfortunate category. A welcome exception is Lorena McKennitt, a singer with an incredibly lovely voice and a way of slightly shifting songs without taking away their meaning.

This is Lorena McKennitt's take on my absolute favorite Christmas song, "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen". This is the song I hum to myself when I'm trying to remind myself to get somewhere near the 'Christmas' frame of mind.

Hit the 'play' button there and have a listen:



The chill in the air at this point is enough that even I have to admit I might have to pull my real, true winter coat out of the closet. So far I've been fine wearing jackets and thick sweaters, but I don't know; I might need my gloves at this point.

It takes some sustained cold temperatures for me to even consider wearing gloves, readership. My mother can tell you all about sustained battles of my childhood and adolescence (and, to my shame, adulthood) to try and get me to A. wear gloves, B. remember where I put my gloves or C. agree to just let her buy me new gloves already. Last year I received these gorgeous fuchsia gloves as a gift, and I wore them all the time while trudging through the snow on my daily walks and I love how colorful they are.

I might just have to pull them out.

Might.

I'm not yet sure I'm willing to declare this particular battle won by Team Wear Your Gloves, Darn It, It's Cold. Team Eh, It's Not So Bad If My Fingers Are Slightly Numb is putting up a valiant fight.



Not too many pictures, lately. That's the fault of a couple of things; I've been heavily distracted, and I've been very 'cozy' lately. Most of what I do is curl up under a blanket with a cup of hot tea, Jason beside me doing much the same, and read or watch Food Network's incessant lineup of candy-and-cookie-themed-shows and daydream about making my own giant gingerbread houses and then trying very hard not to eat my hard-won construction.

So much tea, I drink. And also coffee, if I'm not careful. I've been attempting to be careful about it, but I am not always successful. There are days where I make it to 4 p.m. and I realize I haven't had anything except a cup of coffee and a huge green tea with soy all day long to drink.

I've been drinking a lot of honey mixed with hot water to stave off any conceivable colds; so far it seems to be working.

Every time my throat gets a touch scratchy, I drink a few ounces of hot water and honey, and soon enough it fades out. I'm a big fan of honey as a cure-all or at least a really good placebo.

My second-favorite Christmas carol is 'Carol of the Bells', especially if done by a really good choir:



In the end, even I am susceptible to accidentally falling headfirst into the season:


I swear, I just wanted to put on cozy pajamas and a sweater to lounge in.

Next thing I know, I'm a walking Christmas tree.

All I need are twinkly lights and an angel on my head.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

On Gainful Employment And My Inner Child

Since this blog is mostly read by family and friends in real life, you know what I currently do for a living already. For new people, I'll explain.

I'm working as a barista at a certain large-scale bookstore's attached coffeeshop. I wear a green apron. A stylized depiction of a mermaid may or may not be involved in said apron.

I don't write about it all that often, mainly because it's not the most exciting job in the world. I am not exactly saving lives here, folks, unless you count all those lives spared by getting people the caffeine they desperately need not to become homicidal by the end of the day. And I'm not really counting those lives.

I am on my feet all day, shifting back and forth from register to espresso bar to our bakery case to the sink in the back and then back through that cycle again. It's nice, because I am always moving, and on a good day it helps the time fly by.

I have learned the following things I did not know before: how to steam milk to the absolute perfect temperature, the secret to whether or not your drink will be decent (did your barista stir it before handing it to you? It's surprisingly uncommon), how industrial dishwashers work, all of the ingredients in most of our food and drinks. I feel full of wisdom, let me tell you readership.

Right now, thanks to the Christmas season, I've been seeing a big uptick in hours. It's been a great boost to our bank account, at a time when we definitely are grateful for it... not that we wouldn't be anyway.


For all that it is a retail/food-service job and perhaps not the ideal for where I had hoped to be as far as employment by this point, I actually really like my job. I like that my coworkers and I tend to have a fairly cheerful attitude, I like the customers, especially the regulars whose faces and occasionally names and even more occasionally grandchildren I get to know pretty well. I even allowed my previous 'no friendships with coworkers I did not know beforehand' rule to expire.

Now, I don't like standing on tile floors all day and neither do my legs or my back, but ah well, they'll live. For now I just have to be careful to stretch after work lest my back start doing a happy little hurty-dance.

I like that I am back in a job where I look forward to at least four of my workdays per week.

Also the half-price drinks don't hurt.

Although they do make buying anything full-price at any other coffee-shop a little bit painful.

Trying to decide on what I might want for Christmas has been... interesting, this year. They always say you know you're growing up when you start wanting socks or vaccuums or other such useful things instead of shiny new toys or movies or video games.

Well, my inner child and my thin veneer of outer adult are currently waging somewhat of an epic war for Christmas. The thin veneer of adulthood continues to remind me, constantly, that we need bookshelves, that I could use some nice useful things like bakeware or something like that, something grown up, while my inner child throws a great big tantrum and stomps her feet and demands more books now now now.

I am, generally, inclined to give way to my inner child, since she clearly makes a whole lot more noise than that silly adult version of me I try so hard to shake off.

Recently asked to come up with a Christmas list by a couple of relatives, I managed to put together an Amazon wishlist for Jason and I (although most of it is mine, since Jason's inner child is frankly very quiet and his outer adult is very much in charge here), I attempted to compromise somewhere in the middle between grown-up useful things and my soul-deep love of all things present-y and shiny.

I mean, look at that list. When you've got an item like this on there:














It's a cookbook! That just screams adulthood, right?

...

... right??

 Okay, so maaaaaybe the part where I also stuck on Shel Silverstein books and the Toy Story movies isn't really doing my argument any favors, but I like to think that the cookbooks totally make up for it and make this a totally useful, grown-up Christmas wish-list. I refuse to think otherwise.

Nyah nyah nyah, you're not the boss of me, you can't make me!

I mean. Ahem. Er.

Yep. Totally a rational adult. Right. That's me.

Nyah.

20 days until my Illinois Christmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Brisk

That is the best word for the temperature right now here in Greenville. It's wonderful; this slight bite of winter to the air, but still 50 degrees during the day. It's been sunny for a couple of days, too; beautiful weather to wear a light sweater or a long-sleeved shirt and take long walks in the sunshine.

I've seen quite a few people pulling out their thick coats or complaining about the cold. My Yankee-born heart knows no fear of 50-degree-weather! But I can tell you that my upcoming Christmas trip to Illinois is going to be a very frigid one, and a hard adjustment. They tell me your blood thins pretty quickly when moving from climate to climate, that by next year I'll have my coat on with everyone else.

I'm sure I will.

I love coats! I'd like to be able to pull my winter coat out and wear it. I just think it looks very weird to walk around sweating because I'm so hot, but darn it, I love my winter coat.

A winter coat I only own because my mother insisted, last year, that I should probably get one. I suppose the second or third time I described the complicated series of sweater-layers I was wearing against the cold in southern Illinois just was too much.

It's so pretty here! There's even still color in the trees. The "star" light on top of Roper Mountain (I live along Roper Mountain Road) is on... it sits at the very top and it's really gorgeous to see lit up at night while I'm driving home.

We have a December ahead of us that is not going to be very friendly to our bank account; I need to change over much of the registration and insurance on my car, we are planning for a trip in January, lots of Christmas presents to buy... my bank account shudders in anticipation.

Then again; Christmas.

Christmas and the prospect of seeing my niece and my sister and brother and my brother-in-law and my whole family again pretty much make up for my bank account's woes.

I have no photos for you this entry; I made an incredible breakfast casserole last night, but my camera has been on the verge of dying and I'm not sure I got any decent pictures of it. It wasn't a pretty casserole? But it was surely delicious.

Nom nom om nom, as the cookie monster would say.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday


Mom, Dad, and Jason leaning over the railing at the top of Caesar's Head.

You will notice I am taking pictures from a safe distance away.

I am also very worried that the railing will break and they'll fall over the side when I take this picture. Even though that's completely irrational.

I am running lots of errands today. Last night I put through payments for rent and for my student loan, so now my bank account is a little sad and the groceries and I are in for some price-watching.

I am compiling recipes from Thanksgiving, although I am sad that they will have no pictures with them. Maybe I'll just have to subject Jason to all those foods again to get some photos of what I made...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

'Tis the Season?


So, it could stand to be a little prettier today.

Or it could have stood to be a little prettier today. Today is almost over, so it really doesn't have long to redeem itself, and judging by the rain pounding audibly outside, the weather is in no mood for redemption.

The television certainly is, tonight. So far we've watched the last half of Airplane! and are currently watching the Bill Murray Scrooge movie, which I have not previously seen. It is hysterically funny.

So Jason told me, and so I am learning.

In any case, that photo above isn't even from today. It's actually from a rainy day about a week ago. I was headed down the stairs on my way to work, stopped next to the bushes outside our downstairs neighbor's porch, and saw a particularly nice leaf. I took a picture of it.

This is how my brain works, people.

I haven't written in several days mainly because I have been busy, in a kind of constant motion, since my parents were in town visiting. They flew in Thursday morning, Thanksgiving Day. We drove up to the Atlanta airport to get them in my mother-in-law's really nice car, blaring NPR and generally being giggly with one another. I have to admit I was pretty excited.

Their airplane was scheduled to land at 9:30. Jason and I were making great time, even making the outskirts of Atlanta about fifteen minutes earlier than we had thought we would. We were both a little jazzed up, thinking we'd get there early to navigate the incredible labyrinth that is the Atlanta airport's loopy road. At 9:06, my phone rings and it is my father's cell phone. He informs me their plane has just landed and they are on the ground.

Jason and I turn and stare at each other while he drives. "Well, uh... we'll be there in half an hour?"

So we picked them up pretty much at 9:30 on the dot.

We brought them back to get a nice look at our little apartment, all shiny and spiffed up with cleanliness just for their visit, at which point we pretty much packed back up and went to my in-laws' place to start preparing for dinner. I utilized my mother-in-law's incredibly wonderful kitchen space (raised in a small kitchen, I have never had any kitchen that wasn't small when it comes to cooking space, these things endlessly amaze me) and was able to make two dishes for the family dinner at my husband's Nana and Grandaddy's house.

SO MANY PEOPLE. SO MUCH FOOD.

No pictures. Turns out I'm really bad at remembering to photograph anything when I'm surrounded by happy eating people. I'll need to work on that.

I made cranberry sauce and green bean casserole as our contributions for dinner on Thursday. There was so much food; the requisite turkey, there was some kind of white chicken giblet gravy that was incredible, a cranberry relish made with coconut, stuffing, pie... the list kind of keeps going forever. And it never stops being so good...


Eventually, we had to beg off to go home and sleep, as Jason and I were both a little sleep-deprived and beginning to fall asleep on our feet.

Friday morning was a hectic adventure in downtown Greenville, where my parents were introduced to Falls Park and Mast General Store and hopefully fell as much in love with it as I did. We ate lunch at Smoke on the Water, a local barbecue place (who actually catered our South Carolina reception after we got married!) where we ate a whole lot of delicious appetizers and tried to decide how on earth we'd be hungry for Second Thanksgiving.

Somehow, we managed.

Also, my sister-in-law's lips turned blue for a while.

She is apparently very susceptible to chilly temperatures. 


Friday night my contribution was an oyster-and-bacon stuffing. I'd never made stuffing before, but I was willing to give it a try. It was received with almost-unanimous praise, so I'm feeling pretty confident about my stuffing-making abilities. I might even get a medal next year.

I'm pretty sure I'll get a medal.

Also, there was ham, and banana pudding, and... well, I won't list everything. Suffice to say lots of food, all delicious. I tried as much of it as I could physically manage. SO MUCH FOOD.

That's a theme for Thanksgiving weekends in the U.S., my friends from abroad. Gluttony and football.

Saturday we took my parents up to Caesar's Head, up in the mountains around Greenville. It was a pretty lovely scenic drive. We stopped at Bald Rock, a place to look out over the countryside from a pretty high vantage point. Due to my crippling fear of heights, I had to take pictures from a ways away from the actual edge. Although Mom tried valiantly to get me closer to the edge, I could only go so far before that familiar drumbeat of vertigo threatened the edges of my vision.

So I took pictures instead!




I took pictures from a safe distance. In that second photo, to the middle you can see the backs of my mother, my husband, and my father. And then some other people too.

Also a puddle.


That little black arrow I so crudely drew with my little paintbrush tool in Photoshop is pointing at downtown Greenville from the top of Bald Rock. You can just see the tops of the tallest buildings there.

I daresay that's a view my parents aren't exactly used to.


It just stretched on forever. The air is a little clearer up here, and definitely had more a bite of chill to it. This wasn't even all of the way up to Caesar's Head, just a stopping point on the way.

Which brings me to the end of today's blog entry; I'll get another one up in the morning continuing my weekend in some interesting pictures and a whole lot of less interesting rambling detailed descriptions.

This is just a stopping point on the way.

I think it finally stopped raining, too. I hope it stops raining long enough for Jason to get to work safely tonight, safe and awake. He's napping right now; I need to go wake him up.

And then wait for him to come back in the morning, to me on my day off, my ability and willingness to sleep in just to snuggle warm under the covers with my husband and my cat.

Friday, November 26, 2010

We sure give a lot of thanks in this family

So some exciting things are happening:

1. Wednesday night we had dinner and a movie with Jason's family, the first of the three large family dinners I am attending this week.

2. My parents are here! They flew in yesterday morning to the Atlanta airport. Jason and I drove to go get them. We had their tickets forwarded to us as an e-mail, with an arrival time of 9:30. At 9:06, my cell phone rings and I look down and it's my father's cell phone (which he never uses).

I picked it up.

"We're on the ground now in Atlanta," he says.

"That's nice," I reply, then stare at Jason and shrug. "We're, uh. We're still a half-hour away."

Atlanta airport was crazy, as it always is. But we got them back here all good and safe. We are borrowing my mother-in-law's car because our one car right now is a little two-seater sports car, and while it TECHNICALLY has four seats, those bucket seats in the back just do not cut it.

2. Last night was our official Thanksgiving dinner at Jason's Nana's house, and it was crazy and awesome and full of wonderful food. I made Green Bean Casserole and a cranberry sauce with orange and rum. I'll put up the recipe for the cranberry sauce and probably the casserole, since I do things a little bit differently sometimes. Oh all the food was wonderful, from Nana's special crab dip to the turkey being perfect to this great stuffing Gena made to a pecan chocolate pie...

Thanksgiving is the best excuse for gluttony ever.

3. Today we took Mom and Dad and the Faulks downtown for shopping, which is always and ever exciting. Some of my Christmas presents have been purchased :) and I have some ideas on presents for others that I didn't have before!

More later; I have a couple of photos, but not many, from there.

4. Tonight is our second Thanksgiving dinner with the family, which promises to be equally awesome. Jason is currently napping while I cook the cornbread for the beginning of the oyster-and-bacon stuffing I'll be making for dinner.

5. I think I've cooked more in the last 24 hours than in the last two weeks, honestly.

6. Justin (Jason's best friend) made an apple pie he is bringing. This brings me much joy.

7. Tomorrow we're going to swing by my workplace and then come up with something to do that will be fun and illustrative of what living here in Greenville is like; ie, wonderful.

Pictures later... words only for now.

I am having such a good weekend...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Barry

One of our most regular customers at work died recently. We hadn't seen him for a bit, but then we knew he and his wife were set to go on vacation, so none of us worried, really, although we do note when we haven't seen one of our regulars in a couple of days.

His wife just came in a couple of days ago, and this is when I learned that Barry had passed on, quite suddenly. His wife retired on a Friday; he died the following Monday, about a week ago.

They had just gone on vacation.

She has come in the past couple of days. Yesterday she came with a friend and her granddaughter (who often came with she and Barry to visit us at the cafe, get drinks, hang out for a couple of hours, have a fun time) and today it was she and the aforementioned friend. We smile, and I remember in my mind how tiring it can be to hear the well-meant "how are you"'s from everyone you know, and so I try to make small-talk, be engaging and cheerful and exactly what she got from me before, when it was she and Barry.

Nonetheless, in the cafe we have teared up so much in the last couple of days. For all that I have only been working in the cafe for a few months, Barry was a constant, almost-daily presence. He came in with funny mispronunciations for everything he wanted, teased us mercilessly. He was one of the first people to rib me for being new and messing up, but did so in the kindest possible way that had me laughing along with him.

We keep waiting for him to come get his multi-grain bagel. I keep waiting for him to come in and order something to drink.

I was talking about this to a coworker tonight and we both said to each other, If he had this much influence over us, the baristas  at the bookstore cafe he visited, how much more must the people who knew him well be hurting?

I keep thinking of his granddaughter; only a little older than I was when my Grandpa Swearingen died. She looks about the way I felt; bewildered and hurting and a little angry, too.

My coworkers and I worry, when our regulars don't come in for days at a time. Of course, we don't think we're entitled to any notice or anything; that's pushing it way too far. But we have several senior citizens that come in all the time, two to three times a week... sometimes daily...

I'm worried about all of them now.

They should really call us if they go on vacation or take any time off from the bookstore; I'm just sayin'. We just like to know everyone's okay.

It got me to thinking about my Grandma VanHoorn again (but then, how often don't I think of her is probably the better question, and the answer is I am always thinking of her) and I lost it a little at work on Sunday... thankfully I had plenty to keep me busy in the back with the dishwasher. But still; how many people that we didn't know, that we didn't think to inform, people that one sees in passing and gives no thought to, mourned her loss? Her visitation taught me that my grandmother knew basically everyone in the central Illinois area, and a whole lot of people everywhere else, too.

Barry seems like he was one of those; those kind, effervescent silly compassionate incredible lives that touch hundreds if not thousands of lives in a deep way; effortlessly, just through the living.

The world has one less small light.

And so.

That's all I really have to say tonight.

Two days remain before my parents fly in... 32 days until I step foot in Illinois myself.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Feelin' Seasonal


Fall is messy; leaves seem to decide to leave their trees all at once in great showers that cover the road up the hill to our apartment. The wind blows them away fast enough, but it's still fun to occasionally appear to be driving on a road made entirely of yellow and red leaves all the way up.



It's the middle of November and I almost never need more than maybe a long-sleeved shirt, unless it's at night, and then I might need a sweater at most. I am comparing this to last year, the Year of Baseboard Heating in Southern Illinois, and becoming ever more grateful at the prospect of this warmth in South Carolina and the reality that when I need it, I have central heating.

I never realized how wonderful working heat was, having had it my whole life, until last winter when I wasn't working for a couple of months and spent so much time wearing so many layers of clothing in a desperate bid to win a staring contest against cold weather.

I will never take a working heating system for granted ever again.

And neither will my fingers and toes.

Nonetheless, I really miss taking all the walks we did, Jason and I. I miss living a stone's throw from the countryside and cornfields, seeing deer and turkeys almost every day. It's a little hard to see wild deer right next to the highway... although my in-laws had a big issue with deer in their garden and they're just off of one of the most popular roads in Greenville.


Nonetheless, I was thinking about this last night while talking to a friend of mine, and I thought; this town has been really good to me so far, and it's only been a few months. I still feel a little like a tourist who happened to get a job here, but I know a little bit more where things are every day.

Yesterday, I even gave directions on how to get to a Wal-mart to a man when I was leaving from visiting with friends at work. I even knew where to tell him to go. I was so proud of myself.

We're carving out a life here, and I can't really think of a better town to do it in.




Except that I wish liquor stores were open later.

And that what's open on Sunday- and when- wasn't so hit-or-miss.

Oh well.


ONE WEEK until my parents get here (!!!!!). 37 days until I fly to Illinois for Christmas.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

I promised to put up the recipe for my Grand Food Experiment, and so I shall.

I mean, I'm doing it right now.

I used Noble's Pig Vineyard and Winery's recipe as a starting point, and I feel like I really should link to it, for those of you with a taste for cream and butter and the good things in life. Here is the original recipe from Noble Pig. It is a much richer, creamier, buttery-er recipe that looks as though it is divine.

I just can't eat food that's quite that rich, so I ended up changing rather a lot.

And made a note for myself to use half Frank's Buffalo Wing Sauce and half of our regular hot sauce in the future, because it definitely had that delicious buffalo wing-sauce tang, but it wasn't really very spicy at all.

So, on to cookery!

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese, Katie's Way

Ingredients

4 tablespoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb whole-wheat elbow macaroni
1 small onion, chopped smallish
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
Roughly 3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Frank's Buffalo Wing Sauce, divided
2 tablespoons whole-wheat all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 cups milk (2% or skim is good; I used skim)
1 lb extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or cut into very small cubes.
Four heaping tablespoons sour cream
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
Generous palmful of fresh parsley, chopped


The first thing you're going to notice is that this is probably the most ingredient-heavy dish I've ever dealt with using a recipe for. I tend to get dismissive when I see large lists of ingredients; it speaks of entirely too much effort to my poor frazzled brain. 

Every once in a while, though, I just get a hankerin' for a certain food item, and I must have it at all costs.

This was one of those times.

Now, On to Creation!
  
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Now, we used a baking dish that is roughly 9 x 13, and found that it was juuuuuuuuuust big enough to handle the meal, with a little spillage over the side while baking. I would go on the safe side and use a larger baking dish if possible in the future. I definitely reccommend using the next size up, not a 9 x 13.

In any case, spray your baking dish with non-stick spray.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the macaroni pasta and cook until al dente, or just a little bit before completely done. Drain and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, or about five minutes or so. Stir in chicken and garlic and cook for another couple of minutes (two or three), then add 1/2 cup of hot sauce and simmer until slightly thickened, or another minute or so.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in another skillet until melted, on medium heat. Stir in the whole-wheat flour and dry mustard, until smooth. Whisk in your half-and-half and skim or 2% milk, then add the remaining 1/2 cup of hot sauce, and stir until thick, for about two more minutes. Whisk in the cheddar until it has melted and become one with the sauce, then whisk in the sour cream, until it's smooth.

Spread half the macaroni in your baking dish, top with the chicken mixture and then the remaining macaroni. Pour your cheese sauce evenly on top, making sure it's sinking into the crevices like it should. 

Take your remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and heat in a mixing bowl in the microwave until melted. Stir in your breadcrumbs, blue cheese crumbles, and chopped parsley. Top the whole concoction with this, as evenly as you can. 

Bake until bubbly, for about 30 minutes.

Allow to rest for five or ten minutes before serving.

I would place extra blue cheese, parsley, and hot sauce on the table for customizing. It never hurts to keep a little extra sour cream around, too.

Yay! Time to eat!


When I fly to Illinois at Christmas, I think I will volunteer to make this recipe for a family dinner or something. With the amount of hot sauce in it, it wasn't very spicy, and you can always cut down on the amount even more for those stomachs that can't take any heat and just keep the extra hot sauce on the table for those who like a lot of heat to add their own. 

I don't think I'll have the energy to make another ingredient-intensive dish before then.

But...

you never know.

(Yes I do. I do know. I am so lazy.)

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Riot of Color


This town is a riot of color in November, color and sunny warmth. It's just chilled enough at night for me to wear sweaters and long sleeves, but my coat has not yet made its way out of storage. We'll see when that first happens.

November is a good month, generally.

I know a friend who is doing a month of making herself write down one thing she is thankful for every day in a sort of Thanksgiving-run-up. Sometimes it's more than one, but she makes herself write at least one thing.

She told me recently that she noticed that her mood has actually brightened more in the past couple of weeks, because she's keeping track of things that she is grateful for in her life, looking for bright sides all the time.

My little niece is three years old. My sister put up the first picture of the three of them as a family on facebook again; she and my brother-in-law and this tiny little bundle of hair and downturned mouth that was Delainey, in her introduction to the world. I don't know how three years went by so fast; she's so big now! So certain of herself and her world already.

The countdown continues. 12 days until my parents come for Thanksgiving; 42 days until I fly to Illinois for Christmas and see my siblings, my niece, my brother-in-law, my extended family again.

I have plans.

This week's Big Experiment involved taking two of my favorite foods, putting them together, and seeing what occurred. I had thought about this idea for several days, and finally went and looked up a recipe to give me some ideas. I had to tweak it quite a bit, but in the end I thought it came out absolutely incredibly delicious.

Behold:


Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese!

I'm going to put up the recipe for it tomorrow, I think. I'll link to the recipe I used as a jump-off point, but the recipe I ended up using was very much my own by the end.

This experiment was tested on Jason, myself, and Justin, and neither of the guys had anything but good things to say, so I'm happy!


Occasionally, I can cook.

While I was meant to close yesterday, I ended up opening and I didn't work today, so we got to sleep in since Jason didn't work last night and we decided to hit up downtown Greenville this afternoon, to take a walk and maybe shop a bit.

Oh, did we walk.

My legs would like to inform you that we walked quite a bit.


I asked him to pose for a picture.

Well.

I learned my lesson.

From here on out, I'll just take pictures on the sly!

We walked a couple of miles around Falls Park and back up again, coming back onto Main Street from kind of a back way that involved a lot more straight uphill walking than I was entirely comfortable with. By that time, it was time for early dinner and we ended up eating at Coffee Underground, where I discovered two important things: that Coffee Underground serves alcohol (yay, Bailey's latte!) and that they do breakfast all day long, which means of course that next time I am omelet-ing up the place.

This time, however, the Mediterranean sampler was good enough for me. Hummus, goat cheese, little cut-up artichoke pieces and olives with nice crunch herb bread to put it all on. Nom nom nom.

nom nom.

nom.



After that, a touch of shopping at the general store; one of my absolute favorite places in town and probably the first place I always say we need to go when we're downtown. They had a really good deal going on one of my favorite brands to buy socks, hats, gloves, and scarves for the winter from. Their deal was on socks.

So I now own more prettypretty socks from SmartWool, seriously the best socks in the whole world.

The whole wide world.

Possibly even the universe?

I'm pretty confident that that isn't even hyperbole on my part.

Also, shoes. Delightful, incredible Privo shoes. I will stare at them wistfully until one day they are mine. One fine day...

Okay.

I'll stop this now. I don't mean to do this.

I swear! I'm a tomboy!

There are pictures to prove it and I never wear skirts or dresses except out of obligation or in a sense of respect for specific people. I am the least girly girl ever. I absolutely swear this to you.

So why am I so excited for pretty socks and daydreaming about the new pairs of shoes I wish one day to have?

It is a mystery for the ages.



In short; today was awesome, yesterday was pretty cool too, tomorrow looks like it'll consist entirely of going to work in the morning/afternoon and then cleaning my house at night?

But at least Friday and Saturday rocked.

Depending on how work is tomorrow? Sunday might rock too.