Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's and Naps

Vintage New Year's card available here.


Back in South Carolina, and definitely happy to be here, although I already miss my family. The drive home was infinitely interesting; Indiana had had a snow shortly before we hit the state line, and the roads were pretty touch-and-go for a while, until Indianapolis and its habit of actually salting its interstates saved us. Kentucky was snowy, too, which was very pretty. Tennessee was just damp, which was less pretty, and full of angry sleet. 

The mountains of North Carolina decided to surprise us with a happy snowstorm, which turned most of the cars on the road at the time into panicky, swerve-y creatures. Jason is a calm driver, but their behavior was making even him nervous; and God knows driving in the mountains makes me nervous in the most ideal conditions. We were a little wall-eyed by the time we actually arrived home; we basically spent about an hour being gloriously, blissfully not in the car before falling over into bed.

Yesterday was girls'-day-out shopping times at the mall, followed up by seeing Les Miserables. I really liked this particular movie take on it, although I will say that there were times that things felt a bit too staged and grandiose for a film. It was mostly a visual problem, and only occasional. Anne Hathaway's "I Dreamed a Dream", though, is brutal. She not only nails the song, but almost the entire thing is done in a single long take, focused in a close-up on her face and nothing else. It's the perfect staging for the song, to let Fantine's misery shine without diluting it with any other imagery. It turned out to be a five-Kleenex movie for me. 4/5, my only quibble being some visual elements feeling sort of forced and fake. And also for the several large, bluntly placed butterflies fluttering around when one of our main characters is singing. We get it, guys. She's a Disney heroine. I was waiting for bluebirds to sing along with her.

The shopping part was great. In fact, I am all snuggled up in a new blanket from yesterday right now. It is the warmest blanket, people. Warm and soft and snuggly as all get out.

Jason and I are enjoying our last couple days off before we both head back to work on Wednesday. This mostly means we are napping if we feel like it and eating snack mix and I am enjoying my Starbucks gift card from Christmas entirely too much.

Working on New Year's Resolutions. I'm not sure why I do these; I suppose it's just good to have goals, even if I don't really end up succeeding at them all that often.

Tonight is the obligatory New Year's Eve party, which looks to be an awesome time, and tomorrow once we get home I'm just going to do a pile of food-prep for this week (baking sweet potatoes so we can cut 'em up and throw them into stuff as we need them) and nap.

Because while on vacation, one can nap if one wants to.

Turns out? We want to.

See you in 2013.

(Yes, I realize that's what everyone is saying right now, but it amuses me and I think I'm clever.)


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Make a Wish

Vintage Christmas card available for purchase here.


Merry Christmas!

Be good to one another. I'll be back later.
 
I hear a certain little girl beginning to stir, and she has an awful lot of presents to open...

Monday, December 24, 2012

In This House

In this house there are too many presents to count, a little girl watching old Disney VHS tapes with fresh eyes, my husband drinking "coffee of opportunity" (whatever's left when everyone else has had some), a discussion over vegetables, nobody is getting any more wives, Jason, and life is good.

Christmas Eve is pretty cool so far, although I guess it's only 9 AM. But I think we're just gonna get better from here.

In this house, there's a little girl I haven't seen since Easter, a girl who greeted my arrival by throwing herself at me, my sister and I rocked out some of the last of the wrapping (including "scrap wrapping" a present using the leftover bits of wrapping paper in three different colors, which I think is really our great masterpiece), my brother and I talking books, and soon this house will have even more people in it.

We'll do my father's side of the family tonight, which means, awesomely, that I will get to see my little cousin's wife! I call this man my little cousin even though he's only three years younger than me. Some things never change.

In this house, there's a little girl.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

27000!

27,000 pageviews! Color me excited. I like a nice even (large) number.

Maybe I should set up some kind of fun thing for 30K or 35K... or maybe I'll totally plan to do that, forget, and then try to plan one for 50K. You never can tell with me; I'm a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in, I don't know... cheese or something.

Jason and I are getting ready for the holiday madness, although to be fair the madness started sometime around Thanksgiving and has simply been inexorably ramping itself up. The upside is that we are basically done with getting presents for people; the downside is that we're totally not even remotely done giving them.

Currently reading: The Heroes, by Joe Abercrombie. Abercrombie is a somewhat up-and-coming author who specializes in a version of sci-fi/fantasy that makes clear that there isn't always a happily-ever-after, even when fictional mages and kings are involved. Jason and at least one other friend of ours and I devoured his first trilogy, and I am less than 100 pages from the end of The Heroes.

I started it Wednesday.

The books are being called, somewhat truthfully, "scroundel lit" or "gritty fantasy". Nobody's really a good guy, there's an awful lot of mud-streaked faces, and well... war. Nonetheless, if you can take your sci-fi/fantasy with some serious darkness in it, I highly recommend Abercrombie's work.

Currently Panicking About: Christmas. Isn't everyone? Or, I guess, your holiday of choice. I am always panicking about something, and I suppose Christmas is as good a reason as any. Jason and I are traveling this weekend, so there's all sorts of logistics I can imagine the worst about. Which makes me glad I worked today, and Jason was home to do the actual planning and logistics. It's easier for me to not panic if I can't actually see what I can get worked up about.

Especially when traveling in a car, I have some issues. Also when traveling in a plane. Or on a bus. Or cruise ship. Possibly even on a speedboat.

You know, there actually isn't a form of travel I don't worry about.

Don't worry, though; I have located the closest Starbucks within range of every single stopping point we may have, so at least I'll be so caffeinated I won't be able to sleep through my worries.

That'll help.

We have a friend house- and cat-sitting for us, so I've got that bit of contentment to distract myself with occasionally. You know, when I'm not busy trying to decide which Interstate will be the most crowded and full of people who don't know how to drive and what if the road is slick and oh man what if somebody goes the wrong way down the highway which people totally do all the time.

Anxiety disorders are fun for the whole family! There are so many things to panic about, and I will find them all.

It's very exciting.

Pray for my husband's mental health, guys.

He's about to be stuck in a car with me... for eleven hours.

Merry Christmas, oh light of my life and love of my heart.

How this man still loves me when we arrive at our destination is anyone's guess.

On a lighter note... or possibly just a just-as-weird, different-subject note... it was decided at family Christmas last night that when I have children, we are going to tell them that Santa Claus doesn't like cookies and milk so much as he likes nice cheese plates and glasses of wine.

Very large glasses of very good wine.

Or, you know, whatever kind of wine Mommy drinks.

I've started writing again, after failing NaNoWriMo miserably, and so far I'm on track. Wish me luck keeping up with it during the holidays... I'm going to still try to get my three pages per day while we run here, there, and everywhere.

What can I say?

I'm an optimist...

Until I'm in the car. After that, all bets are off, and there are deer everywhere just crouched at the side of the road, waiting for us to blink.

Sneaky ruminants.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Always Remember to Thank a Teacher

Editorial cartoon link here.

A teacher may stand for your child when they are in need.

It's essentially the same thing I put on facebook, and yet...

Everyone wants there to be a "magic fix". We are mired so deeply in the need for justification and for there to be an easy equation of "If we do this, the bad stuff won't happen anymore," that we can't see the forest for the trees.

It's deeper than that, and deep down, we know it.

Without acknowledging the complexity of what goes into such a tragedy, we will continue to hack at the Gordian knot with a kitchen knife.

The problem is not God being taken out of the schools. I loathe that idea with a passion, because i loathe the concept of a God so unloving that He would allow carnage to occur as, what? Some kind of punishment? Was He punishing the six-year-olds? What sort of explanation is that?

It's not because there are too many guns or not enough. A gun is nothing without a finger pulling the trigger. Don't mistake me on this; I am not comfortable with guns, and am a staunch advocate for better regulation of the firearms industry. I support a ban on clips with more than ten bullets and a ban on assault rifles being sold to the public.

But I also have friends who own rifles, and pistols, handguns and shotguns and all sorts of things. I have loved ones who hunt. I have loved ones who have taken me to a shooting range, invited me to try it out despite my discomfort. They have tried to educate me. They are knowledgeable, and careful, and work hard to combat the idea of gun owners as crazed killers just looking for their chance.

A gun is nothing without a finger to pull the trigger, but it is designed for one horrible purpose nonetheless. To cause harm to a living thing.

There isn't any one problem.

The truth is that we don't know how to fix this. There isn't any one way. Our culture glorifies violence too heavily, ignores or victimizes the mentally ill, makes needing help a kind of shame. We glorify and demonize firearms in the same breath. We are clearly wrong, and have been wrong for much longer than most people want to admit to. There is no "good old days". The "good old days" are just the time when the terrible things weren't reported, depending on who they happened to. The "good old days" are just the days when it was easier to pretend, when the memories are rosier and your mind wants to focus on the positives and not the negatives.

All that said, there is something much more important to do.

Go thank a teacher for the under appreciated and overwhelming work they do, often underpaid.

Go thank them for three hours after every school day spent planning their lesson for the next or helping out students in need. Go thank them for every time they've bought a kid a backpack when they couldn't afford one, every time they've been there to buy lunch for the kid who goes hungry. Thank them for their patience, for their work, for serving the greater good of the community.

Thank them for standing between children and the world.

Thank Victoria Soto for hiding her children, for being the one thing that stood between them and horror.

Thank the teachers of Sandy Hook who lived, and those who died. Thank those who read to their students to keep them calm while gunshots popped in the hallway, and those who tried to confront the gunman and lost their lives in the process.

Don't say his name.

Say the names of those teachers, and their students.

Say them over and over and over and over again, until they are the only names left in the news. Until we have forgotten him.

Until we remember that the most important thing we can do now is make sure we remember them.

Friday, December 14, 2012

We Interrupt Your Regular Programming

I was going to do a 5 Things post today, but there are bigger things. Today, in Connecticut, a man opened fire on an elementary school. He killed children, he killed adults. Children had to run past the bodies of their classmates on their way to safety. Cops told them to close their eyes and put their hands on the shoulders of the kid in front of them, to follow the sound of the adults' voices.

This is the second shooting in in less than a week.

This is the eighth mass shooting in the U.S. this year.

When I was a kid, Columbine happened, and I remember being absolutely floored by it. I had never, not really, thought about how someone could come into my school and kill me, and it might be that guy nobody liked or it might be that guy who was fairly popular and hiding his all-consuming rage. It could be anyone.

A couple years later, when I was in middle school, my name popped up on the "hit list" of someone who was a couple of grades older than me, someone I didn't even know. The list was found and the person suspended. I was put on that list due to being friends with someone the person in question did not like. School shootings happen, and we don't know how to keep them from happening.

We put in metal detectors, we suspend students we find with hit lists, we try to keep unrelated people off school campuses, we read the psychological reports of the shooters over and over again, looking for the magic button that will keep it from happening again.

There are children in Connecticut today who are learning in the worst possible way a fact we try so hard to hide from them; that there are people in the world, in this country, in your own county and maybe down the road from you... there are people out there who just want to hurt you.

They may not even know you. It doesn't matter.

They just want to see how much pain they can give to the world.

Those children, or at least most of them, had no understanding of this truth yesterday, last night, this morning.

Now they do.

Pray, if praying is what you do.

Light a candle, meditate, send good vibes into the universe do whatever it is you do to wish the world a better place than it is. If only for the sake of people whose lives have changed in a split-second, who have lost their children, their parents, their siblings, their uncles or aunts these people who have lost their people.

They could use whatever love, support, consolation, or sorrow you have to share with them.


 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

14 Days Til My Illinois Christmas Commences


Yes, I know our reflection is in that image. Sometimes there are things I do to amuse myself that make no sense to anyone else. This was one of those times.

 I'd like to tell you I haven't really posted this week because things were just so exciting, but... that wouldn't be true.

Busy? Yes. Exciting? Not particularly.

We are most of the way through our piles of Christmas shopping, which considering it's only two weeks (!!!!) until we'll be back in Illinois to see my family... is probably a good sign. I'd like to be 100% done, but... turns out that I have a superpower, and that superpower is finding a way to tell myself 'I'll do it later.' I am like a procrastination hero. Somewhere, there's a medal. Or, you know, there will be - once they get around to making it.

I am neck deep right now in daydreaming about our plans for dog-ownership. It's kind of sad. I am actually wistfully comparing prices for food bowls and dog beds, harnesses and leashes. One of the local foster/shelter places had some gorgeous pitt bull mixes outside Petsmart today when we were there, and it was hard to walk away from them. Of course, it's hard for me to walk away from any animal in need, which is why it's so nice to have Jason there to insist of that annoying common sense stuff.

We're holding off on being serious about our dog-search until January, since at that point we won't be traveling for at least a few months. I didn't want to find the perfect dog, adopt them, and then have to turn around and immediately board them at a kennel or ask a friend to take them. That just seemed... like it would be kind of mean to the dog in question.


I have had an eggnog latte today already, but I think I am going to go make myself some more coffee. Seems like one of those days.

Also, it was something like 70 degrees earlier when we were out doing some Christmas shopping. Whenever I am homesick for Illinois, or have any qualms whatsoever about our decision to move to Greenville... I want someone to link me to this post, or remind me about it, or something. Seriously. Seventy degrees on December 9th.

Seventy.

I like that number.

I'll leave you with some Christmas music. One of my favorite singers doing one of my absolute favorite Christmas songs - this is Ella Fitzgerald singing "We Three Kings (of Orient Are)".




Saturday, December 1, 2012

Chicken Livers

On my drive to work, as I sweep into the little town I actually work in, I drive past what was probably an old factory, or warehouse. It's red brick like so many things in this part of the country, a huge building maybe 2/3 the size of a Super Walmart. It's been empty for a long time, I'm guessing.

It has a smokestack with some kind of brush-like tree growing out of it. Kudzu and vines and things are growing up the brick sides, the green sort of startlingly bright against the faded red bricks. The big slide-up doors you might use to back a truck up, to be able to load the merchandise going out into the world, are not closed and haven't been at least since the first time I saw the building.

Inside is dark, and I don't know what's in there. I don't exactly make it a habit to find out.

I'd be kind of interested, though, if I wasn't absolutely certain the place is probably crawling with poison ivy, or oak, or whatever. Poison something.

There is rusting machinery out in the area around it, though; they've moved some right up against the road, so now there are back-hoes and a couple of big trucks like the ones my dad used to carry corn or soybeans during harvest. Everything is covered in rust.

Everything looks like if tetanus had its own heaven. When good tetanus dies, this abandoned building - these rusting trucks, the handle on a door pushed open some time ago, the grating over a vent or up in the smokestack - this abandoned building is where it finds its eternal reward.

I never see anyone there. I don't know if anyone does anything with it. It's next to where the train used to run through, but you don't see trains either anymore, not at that point. The town is debating putting up a walking/running/biking trail similar to the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville over where the trains no longer run. For now, it's wild snaking takeover plants like ivy and kudzu, rusted ghosts of machinery, and the building itself, still completely solid.

Spray-painted on the side of the building are two words. The letters are mostly even, although spray-painting is not an exact science so there is a pronounced wobble here and there on a curve or straight line. It's not stylized. These are just words, for better or worse. Just two words that mean something to someone in the town I work in. Two words they felt were so important they needed everyone who drives past on the road to see them, take them in, consider the source.

Two words that someone in this grand old world felt were of utmost importance. Two words they decided could not be lost, but must be left for the sake of history.

The words are this:

CHICKEN LIVERS

Just that.

Make of it what you will.

The possibilities are endless.
 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I'm Dreaming of a... Vaguely Greenish-Brown Christmas...


The moon has been huge lately, hanging in the sky like it's trying to climb down to us. The air's got that chill to it, too, and things are going brownish and drab all over. Ah, winter. Of course, this is still South Carolina even if we are a stone's throw from the mountains, so things are pretty green, too.

I remember Jason being a little surprised at how colorless Illinois can be in the winter, when it snows and the leaves are all gone, and all you've got are gray sticks of branches against a gray sky over a gray-white ground, all the way to the horizon... which you can clearly see because everything is flat for miles around.

In contrast, I was surprised by how green South Carolina remained, my first time here in the winter. The leaves are basically gone, sure, but there's still green grass or leaves on bushes.

I am eating grapes and good cheese and tortilla chips for dinner, because I am a grown-up and can eat whatever I want. Winter (and the holidays) bring on and indulge the worst aspects of my already ridiculously overactive sweet tooth, so I'm trying to stuff myself with fruit and pretend it's the same thing.

I'm about 40% successful with this endeavor so far.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...


CHRISTMAS.

IT IS TIME TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS.

This is our sole contribution to holiday decorating this year. It is not DIY or homemade. It was bought at a store and anything that isn't wood is plastic. I could have done an eco-friendly wreath or made one myself or painted stuff or whatever, but I just wanted to have a holiday wreath, you know?

I've never had a wreath for us before. We moved out of dorms into apartments, each of them too small to justify any kind of serious holiday storage, and the last one too small to justify 3/4 of the stuff we did have in there. 

Now we have some square footage to work with, and it's our house and we want a wreath, damn it.

So we have a wreath!

Jason is pretty excited, too. Christmas is more exciting when you feel more able to really get into it. I don't know if I entertained or embarrassed him with my interpretive dance along to "Feliz Navidad" while we were shopping at Walmart tonight, but since he taught me the correct words I suppose he was really condoning my behavior if you think about it.

This is all his fault somehow. Give me time, I'll figure out a way.

We'll settle for the wreath this time, but we plan to do a kind of mad Supermarket Sweep of holiday decorations once Christmas is over and everything gets discounted. Well, we don't need everything. I'm mostly thinking the bare basics - a doormat, a tree, some lights. I do want our tree to only have ornaments that were presents from others or that we made ourselves.

You know...

Unless it gets to next year and I just decide to buy some plastic.

My parents' visit was great, and as usual I didn't actually take any pictures. I was a little too busy enjoying myself to remember pictures! We had two big family dinners (although one was... well, we probably constituted our own army at that one), took Mom and Dad around downtown Greenville to see our favorite shops and try a couple of new ones, took them to eat at that Greek place Jason and I liked so much...

It was a good weekend!

Now... 26 days until we're in Illinois!

And hey, as a side note. For Greenville shoppers, you might try Southern Fried Cotton - it's a new apparel store downtown. They have Clemson and USC shirts, of course, some really neat designs that I thought were a little nicer than your average college shirts, and lots of designs for Greenville! And if you have a hunting dog, they kind of specialize in shirts that have different dog breeds on them - labs and whatnot. It was a pretty cool store when we visited, and we're big supporters of local business in Greenville. Or in general.

Given a chance, you should always support your local business!


Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

vintage thanksgiving card available here, on etsy.

Sorry it's a little belated; my parents are in town! They were supposed to land in Greenville around noon... we ended up picking them up at the Charlotte airport at 4 o'clock and getting them back in town for Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws at 6:30. They're here, and they're safe, and that's all that matters... but wow we could have done without that fog in Detroit!

We're getting ready to drive 'em around Greenville... and later there's another dinner tonight, because one Thanksgiving is never enough...

Everyone remember to make sure and visit your local small businesses today and tomorrow for Small Business Saturday!

Greenville has plenty of local businesses who would love to help you find gifts for your family members and friends, so don't overlook them just because the big-box stores are having a sale! 

I probably won't be back on here 'til Sunday, so I guess I'll see everyone then... have a good weekend!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Heron


Saturday morning when I got to work, Jason and I spotted this guy. He was hanging out at our millstone fountain in the garden, walking delicately over to inspect it for food.I stopped and snagged a couple of (terrible) photos. He spotted us pretty quickly.

By the time we'd gone in to put my stuff down and make coffee, he was gone.

Today, Jason and I decided to have a date day. We went to a home decor store and started in on our plans for Christmas decorating, hit up B&N for coffee and a book (and donated a book for their book drive! If you're over there, you should do the same!), grabbed lunch at Trader Joe's, I made sad faces at things I want at Old Navy, and we went to the movie theater to see the new James Bond movie!

Which is awesome, by the way. Completely awesome. Plus the soundtrack to this one was really kicked up a notch. It's a long movie at nearly 2 and a half hours, but unlike the last Bond movie I really felt like this one needed the time to tell the story. Every single actor was on their A-game in this one. Plus, nobody answered their phone and only one person was texting, and he had the grace to be ashamed of himself and try to hide it.

After the movie, he went over to an art & craft supply store so I could grab a few canvases and new sketchbook. I've been drawing again, so I thought I'd consider taking back up painting. If things seem to be going well after a bit I'll work on making my own canvases again.

Oh, and we grabbed a couple of frames, too, for some Carl Sandburg poetry sheets I grabbed when we visited his house in October. We were able to get sheets of my two favorite poems of his, prints that have the poems in his actual handwriting.

Maybe one of these days I'll even be a real adult and go buy some freaking wall paint.

Maybe if I just keep talking about it often enough...


Saturday, November 17, 2012

5 Things - It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

photo from Monique Guerr.

THANKSGIVING.

It's beginning to look a lot like THANKSGIVING.

I know what all of you were thinking, and it is not time for that yet.

Except that I found a few neat Christmas-y things and now I am going to torture you with them.

At least I'm not attacking you with Christmas music... so far. Well, except my friend Jamin.

I have already attacked him with Christmas music, because I had "Winter Wonderland" stuck in my head and I do not suffer alone, I make others suffer with me.

So for this edition of 5 Things, I am going to rattle all that latent Christmas stuff around in my head and make you suffer through it with me.

Except for my mother, who will not suffer through this so much as she will revel in it. This is, after all, the woman who once left a Christmas tree up into February.

Now she tell you that it was because we were hardly home for Christmas and didn't even get to enjoy it and these things are meant to be enjoyed and besides, it looked really pretty lit up at night.

She will also point out that when Dad wanted to take the Christmas tree down, I argued on her behalf in favor of leaving it up. In my defense, I was fourteen and mostly just didn't want to deal with having to help pack up all the ornaments. Also I like Christmas trees.

I'm sorry, it's genetic. I can't do anything about it. Blame my mom.




1. This set of greeting cards from the Kate & Birdie Paper Company. I like the muted Christmas colors and the little rooftop design.

I also like these other three designs as well! Although that last one is a valentine, not a Christmas card. Really, I just think that the cards are really gorgeously illustrative and you all know how I feel about illustration.

(for those of you who don't know, because why would you know this? I'm a fan. 'Illustrative' is the best description one can give of the artwork I make myself.)




2. I want these agate stacking boxes from Lille in my life. And on my coffee table or shelving units. Or maybe as a kind of bookend on a bookshelf...

 We want to paint the house is kind of muted, dusty desert colors (I am thinking a brick red for the living room?) and I think boxes like these would go really well with the walls. I could also stash knick-knacks in them.

No, not new knick-knacks. I think I've been put on a knick-knack moratorium. I think I'm also supposed to stop saying the word 'knick-knack', but I truly I am a rebel and I shall say it anyway.

I could keep my interesting small things in these boxes and I could both have my piles of rocks, postcards, old coins, shells, and whatnot and could also pretend to be a minimalist... until I open them.



3. I found a list of 101 Handmade Gift Tutorials over at everythingetsy. If you're wanting to do a DIY or handmade Christmas this year (and I know a ton of people are), everythingetsy put together a seriously big list of gifts bloggers and others have come up with for ideas.

I like the sisal rope bowl, the monogrammed coffee mugs, and the locket art.

Everythingetsy also has Holiday Gift Tutorials, Green Gift Tutorials, all kinds of things. You should go click through whichever one catches your interest, because I would like other people to be in the same position I'm in of losing way too much time perusing craft ideas I'm not sure I have the energy to accomplish.





4. Speaking of craft ideas...

I want to make this wreath! I found the DIY on Family Circle, though it's not so much a set of instructions as a simple list of encouragment. I want to make it and spray it with SO MUCH fixative so I can hang it outside on my door. Tell me this isn't kind of a cool idea.

Go on, I'll wait.

...

That's right, you can't.

Because it is a cool idea.

Nyah.




5. Deer sweater! I want this awesome thing off of etsy to have for my very own. I like Christmas and winter sweaters a lot. I rarely have an excuse to wear them, though, especially now. This isn't super Christmas-y though, so I feel like I could wear this the whole time it's even remotely cool every year in South Carolina. So... November through January.

That's enough time for it to be worth buying, right?

... right?

Ah well.

A woman can dream... and this woman dreams about reindeer sweaters.

All right.

Now that you've all sat through my little holiday madness, I'll let you wander off to think about literally anything else.

But I'll still be here, plotting ways to get Christmas songs stuck in the heads of everyone I know.

I'm like a James Bond villain, if Bond villains were really dorky.




 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Few Things

I know I skipped my usual Wednesday post. We've had a really busy week and I just never felt quite like sitting down to really type up anything (even if Wednesday just consists of sticking a photo up here, maybe with a caption, and running off to whatever it is I'm up to that day). Tuesday we had dinner at my in-laws, last night some friends on their way up to D.C. needed a place to crash, tomorrow we've got a Book Club meeting at a local restaurant... it's just been a week of Stuff to Do.

Next week my parents are coming into town for Thanksgiving, so Jason and I have lots of picking up to do around the house, food to buy for Annual Eat Til You're Sick, Then Eat Again Tomorrow Day... well. There are lists, that's all I'm going to say at this point.

So many lists.

In any case, this is the first chance I've had to sit down and see if I've got anything for you.

So here are a couple of photos I've taken lately. Or a few photos, I guess, since there are more than two.

Several photos?

...

Let's not get into this. My brain, she is too tired for the grammars tonight.

.


.


.


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Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Ramblings


I made these jalapeno and pepper-jack cheese scones today. I've had them pinned on Pinterest forever and just finally got around to actually buying the few ingredients we don't just have on hand today. They are about as delicious as I expected, which is to say that they are all kinds of delicious. I am also thinking that just using the dough would make great dumplings in a chicken-and-dumplings soup. I am also thinking about making some black bean soup for dinner.

Because soup.

It being Monday, I'm not exactly racing all over the world. I like my Mondays to be low-key when possible, and we've been busy enough the last few weeks that I've really needed Monday for house-stuff and some personal downtime.

And also, I suppose, for making things I found on the internet.


Speaking of, I've decided to try this trick (also found on Pinterest, because that is where I find things lately) for making your T-shirts feel really worn and soft. Supposedly it will recreate a more vintage look/texture. I'm trying it on the T-shirt I bought as a souvenir from when we stayed at the Fryemont Inn in October. I'm supposed to leave it in there for roughly three days and then wash it with only a little bit of detergent.

We'll see what happens. If it works you might see photos of me in the shirt here!

If it doesn't, uh... we'll never speak of it again.

Oh! I wanted to add to everyone's favorite recurring theme on this blog, Let Me Tell You a Story About How I'm Weird.

I thought I would relate to you all the interesting fact that if I sneeze while I'm driving, I always take my foot off the gas and put it over the brake. When I was learning to drive as a teenager, I used to be really terrified that I would sneeze while driving and my foot would slam on the gas pedal in reflex, and then I would cause a multi-car pileup with flames and explosions and people running in circles screaming.

So I trained myself, painstakingly, to make sure my foot moved before I sneezed, over the brake. If I feel a sneeze coming in I always try to get into the rightmost lane, too, so I can go off the road if I have to. That's part of what I trained myself to do as a teenager. At the time it seemed like a pile of common sense to do that. In retrospect I think it's another in a long line of things I like to call why did I worry about that?

It's become such a habit I don't even notice I'm doing it anymore, except that today I actually thought about it and remembered the way I used to force myself to remember it when I was younger.

If only I had some useful good habits I was so good at keeping to.



I'm also scouring a few magazines trying to find some good ideas for a food-or-DIY-themed Christmas. I think I've already found a cool idea for how to make kind off an offbeat-looking door wreath.

We're planning to buy a little 2-foot Christmas tree. We've got a couple of ornaments - one that was a wedding present that is sort of a "yay marriage!" themed thing, a couple of personalized ornaments. My plan is to not buy any ornaments, but make a few to cover the rest of the tree. Maybe some garlands or something.

I don't know.

I vowed to myself that when I became a homeowner, I'd let myself give in to the lure of seasonal decorations. We never had them as apartment-dwellers because moving every year made storing decorations annoying - it meant we had to move boxes of decorations every August, and I was trying to add as little as possible to the pile of stuff we carted around to us.

(I say this as I look at bookshelves full of books, many of which I've bought in the last year)

In any case, I kind of skipped over fall decorating, but I want to do some Christmas stuff.

And then spring/Easter.

And then fall again.

But... we'll just start with a sparkly little Christmas tree.

... and see how long it takes the cat to declare war.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tender Greens & Winter Is Coming


First things first, it's Veterans' Day here in the United States. Have you thanked your veteran today?

In vaguely sad news, we're starting to hit that point where the leaves are mostly off the trees and this whole 'fall' thing starts turning into 'winter', also known as the season of "where did all the color go? COME BACK TO MEEEE."

So that's less exciting.

In news that is exciting, it is my niece Delainey's fifth birthday today! And it's only 42 days until I get to see her (and most of my family) again! My parents will be coming into town for Thanksgiving in a week and a few days, so I'll get to see them then!

Today, at least in the early afternoon, it was gorgeous outside so Jason and I ran downtown. We needed to hit up the Main Branch of the library anyway, so we figured we'd go early and just walk around enjoying the sunshine. This was a good plan, except that we hadn't eaten since breakfast. We sort of simultaneously realized we were hungry, and were trying to think of a place to eat.

I remembered reading in the newspaper something about a new place being just a little further into the West End than we normally go, and we found it! 



It's called Tender Greens. (For locals, it's a little past Mellow Mushroom - maybe two doors down). It's a Greek-influenced soup, salad, and sandwiches place. For passerby, they have their menu posted in the window directly below the contents of the photo above, so you can see what you're in for. I'm always up for trying somewhere I've never been, so we decided to walk in.


For one thing, I love the decor. The tables are these big wooden slabs, really solid. Some of the original woodwork is still there, too, along with some really cool old wooden shelves that had sort of an array of Greek basic cooking supplies; olive oil, various and sundry preserved vegetables, that sort of thing.

I got Sprite to drink and Jason had some of their lemonade.

I ordered some of their shrimp soup to start.


Look at that. It is creamy and delicious, almost a bisque, and they must throw the shrimp in at the very end like you're supposed to, because they basically fall apart in your mouth. It's super lemony and herb-y. Is good soup. Both soup came with lime on the side, but I just dunked my whole lime in.

They actually went ahead and gave Jason a bowl of their other soup on the house!


Lentil soup was the other soup today. It was the great deep, warm flavor you really expect from lentil soup, which makes me wonder why I don't buy more lentils because they don't just make soup, they make soup. I bet I could type soup several more times before I got tired of it.

Soup soup soup.

Soup soup.


I was in a Greek place. It was required that I eat dolmas. The little side dish order of them came with four, but before we even remembered to take a photo we'd already started to split them... so we did the best we could. The dolmas were great; the rice was completely cooked, almost like a risotto inside, and they were very very lemony.

Turns out I like lemony dolmas.

Everyone wins.


Jason had a kind of beef sausage pita sandwich for lunch. It came with a Greek salad (read: red onions, olives, tomatoes, om nom nom) and potato chips on the side. I had a bite; the beef sausage was great. I wasn't super in the mood for meat (we'd made homemade Egg McMuffins for breakfast, so I kind of felt meat-ed out).

I was kinda feelin' salad-y.

Cue the salad.

This was the "Fresh Date Salad", mixed greens with feta cheese, fresh date pieces (that would be what your brain wants you to think is bacon up there), walnuts, and herbs. The dressing was a really nice, super simple olive-oil-and-vinegar. I was not expecting the sheer amount of salad I received on this plate. It even came with a warm pita, presumably to mop up the dressing left over at the end.

When the owner came over to ask if we wanted any dessert when we were done, we mostly just groaned our protest more than we said it. I kind of wish that I'd snagged some baklava to take home, though. Baklava made by hand is one of life's great treasures.

The prices were really reasonable. With one cup of soup (since they gave us the lentil soup on the house), an order of dolmas, a sandwich plate AND a salad, we came to less than 25 dollars, so with tip you've got a thirty-dollar dinner date right there.

Everyone wins.

The clouds were rolling in by the time we ran to the library and came back, and now it's starting to get chilly again.


I've even got my slippers on.

And since we ran out of hot chocolate I am seriously considering making more coffee.

What?

I don't have to go to work tomorrow.

And this pumpkin spice coffee from Dunkin Donuts may actually be the secret treasure of El Dorado, because it is the best pre-ground coffee I have ever had.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Twofer


It's true. I did. 
And if you've known me for longer than ten minutes, you probably know who I voted for.



Also, leaves.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Why I'm Not a Fashion Blogger, Part 2

You'll forgive the brevity; I'm typing this on the way out the door to work.
 
In any case...
 
Why I'm Not a Fashion Blogger, Part 2
 
 Socks: a little boutique my friend Sarah went to
Shoes: Target.

... because this is my current favorite shoes-and-socks combination.

Socks: SmartWool, bought at Mast General
Shoes: Old Navy

... or maybe this is my favorite.

Either way, I think my point stands.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

(Not Really) Wordless Wednesday: Happy Halloween!

image is from a vintage postcard you can actually buy here on etsy.
.
Happy Halloween! 
In the words of my mother, "Be safe, be legal, and be responsible!"


(or at least make sure the crime is so confusing the cops don't even know what to arrest you for.)


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ah, Now This is the Kind of Fall I'm Used To


The weather's gone cold and cloudy, with wind that blows freezing right through your clothes if you haven't layered up well enough.

It feels oddly like Illinois outside today. This is the kind of late fall weather I'm used to; cold and cutting.

We had to turn on the heat at work finally. I drank something like a gallon of coffee at work today just because I kept craving something warm.

Last night, Jason and I finally gave in and turned the heater on. We're keeping it low, at 65. I also bought a pair of fuzzy slippers that I'm probably going to wear down to adorable red heart-printed little rags by February.


I've been keeping track of friends and loved ones all along the Northeast coast; they're all fine, although some of them are currently without power and a couple are basically trapped in their houses until floodwaters recede. I was concerned we were overreacting before the storm actually hit, but now I'm beginning to wonder if we didn't underestimate it even so.

My heart goes out to everyone who lost someone to this storm.

I am making vegetarian chili and cornbread for dinner, and I'm going to try and remind myself to clean since we'll have a few people over, but I'm not sure how successful I'll be at resisting the lure of the warm blankets and snuggly cat on the couch over there.

Not to mention the snuggly husband.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sleepy Goats, Aggressive Reptiles and Other Sunday Fun


We went to the zoo today!

Our friend Jo invited us to come along with her, her little toddler son, and Sarah (who I may have previously informed everyone is a saint. Several times. Although mostly on facebook).


That's Jo's little boy and Sarah, inspecting some ghosts. There were wood cutouts of animals, blow-up witches, Frankensteins, ghosts, and all kinds of Halloween-y stuff all over the zoo, because they do this annual event they call "Boo at the Zoo", where you can take your little one around in a cool, safe environment to do Halloween things.

I was also informed doughnuts are involved somehow by Sarah? But I'm not clear on that.



The monkeys were all incredibly sleepy. Most of them are nocturnal or at least enjoy the nighttime a little better, so I didn't blame them. I hadn't had any coffee yet and was myself having a little bit of a time staying awake.

On the other hand, I had a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast and those monkeys got sweet potatoes, spinach, oranges, and other assorted fruits.

Lucky monkeys.





The reptile house was the best part. The reptiles were all pretty active and moving around, which is fairly unusual. This little guy above was fascinated by the little red UV light on my camera (it comes on just before the picture takes) and kept snapping at the plastic trying to bite at it.

There was a little girl next to me who kept shrieking with fear, giggling, and then telling me to do it again.

I liked that little girl right away.


Now, they have all this little standing benches so that little ones like Ben can stand on them and see better into the cage without parents having to exhaust themselves having to hold their kiddos nonstop. This worked out especially well when we saw this big guy above, the rhinoceros iguana.

Ben clambered up to see him. He was just hanging out on his tree branch at the moment, but when Ben got up there, the iguana decided it was a little interested in what was going on out there with all the people.


So he got off his tree branch and came over to check Ben out.

Ben was not certain how he felt about this, but Jo (the lovely lady in blue there), Sarah and I knew just how to handle the situation.

We took twenty thousand pictures.

 All three of us.

All at once.


Of course, a big part of the reason the zoo was so crowded is due to the labors of that lady up there, the giraffe Autumn. Autumn had a baby a few days ago, and you would think that this little baby giraffe is going to find the cure for cancer with the way people crowd around.

I mean, I can't judge.


I went and took pictures of Kiko, too.


He was pushed as far back against the back wall of the enclosure as he could get. He wasn't going to have anything to do with the crowds of people cooing over him. He's a little too young to really understand we can't get over the wall and get close.

Baby giraffes are perfect. They are exact replicas of adult giraffes, only tiny. I kind of want one to live in my yard.


There were turtles everywhere, large and small. Spotted turtles, box turtles, tortoises, you name it.

These big guys were my favorite.

I like any tortoise so large I could ride it like a horse.

Although I definitely wouldn't get anywhere terribly quickly. I still think I would cut a fearsome visage riding my battle-turtle into war, though.


They had big cats, too; leopards, lions, and this beautiful ocelot here as well. He was napping when we walked up, but obliged me and let his head raise long enough for me to get a picture.

The way everything works, it winds you on a pretty straightforward path. At the end you walk past what is essentially the petting zoo.


The petting zoo was full of passed-out goats and a pig who seemed to be eating the "animal food crackers" kids threw to him out of obligation more than any enjoyment.

Also, Sarah accidentally hit a duck in the head with a cracker.

We thought that was a fitting end to our zoo adventures.

We met some friends for lunch and coffee, and then headed over to the Greenville Humane Society. Jason and I are planning to get a dog after the holidays are over, and I had put us into GHS's awesome "Best Friend Finder" program. Basically, you list the kinds of animals you're interested in, and if any come in they give you a call to let you know.

We'd received a call that a German Shorthaired Pointer had come in, but by the time we got there he had already been adopted. Which is kind of sad for us, but awesome for the dog. We decided to check out the animals anyway, and I nearly walked away with a Boxer named Tyson. Unfortunately, he has aggression issues with smaller animals. I hope he gets adopted; he was such a sweetheart.

My cat is my baby, though, and she's already going to be pretty mad when we bring a new quadruped home and expect her to put up with it.

After a quick stop to look at the puppies and kittens (because seriously, you have to they are some kind of drug), we went our separate ways and headed back home.

I had an oatmeal raisin cookie for dinner, because I am a grown-up and I wanted an oatmeal raisin cookie.

Now I'm settled in to laundry, fighting the cat over who gets to have all the blankets (I'm losing), and I think I'll make myself a cup of tea.

Oh, and in a completely unrelated note, I gathered together something like 20 pieces of jewelry I don't think I need to have any longer, and put them in a box to give away.

Of course, I just bought three new pieces.

So...

I suppose the moral of the story here is that balance is key, or possibly that I should just stop buying things.

I don't like that moral though, so we'll go with the balance one.

That one lets me buy new jewelry.

Friday, October 26, 2012

5 Things - The Reclusive Female Feline Enthusiast Edition



1. Yesterday was sort of an... interesting day, in bad ways and in good. We were on the right side of town for a while, so I ran in and picked up my new glasses, since they let me know they were in.

So... glasses. They are notable to no one except me, but I like 'em and this is my blog, so they're Thing Number One.

So there.

Don't worry, everything else will be much more interesting.

I hope. I promise.




2. Family Glassware from Uncommon Goods. You get to customize and pick out a set that represents your own family, which I think is pretty cool, although I suspect that if my mother were to purchase this, she'd end up with me represented by Child 5 in the little baby outfit.

I told Jason that I want to buy him this for Christmas, only I will wrap it all up in a big box, and when he opens it he'll find one Man glass, one Woman glass, eleven Cat glasses and a notecard that just says "Soon."

Because what good is Christmas if you don't use it to show your spouse a chilling vision of the Crazy Cat Lady-to-Come he married?




3. This is the article I spoke about in an earlier post, about the artist who gathers interesting plants, presses them, and turns into a kind of collage by framing each plant individually and having it arranged just so on a surface or wall.

It's worth a read; it's an unusual version of home decor, but I found it really interesting.

I am concerned that this place may just become a spot for me to declare my love for various and sundry things that appear in Garden & Gun.

So far I've held back.

So far.



4. The Cheapskates' Guide to a Greener Home over at Natural Health. It's a list of tips and tricks to make your house a greener place to live without having to expend a lot of (or, mostly, any) money.

While we've done some things with the house - we are installing the energy-efficient bulbs, we don't turn on the heat until sweaters and blankets just don't do the trick any longer, we don't keep paper towels in the house any longer - I'm not terribly good at this greening-my-home thing when it comes to stuff like watching how much I throw out.

It's a list I think about and kind of dwell on now and then. I'd like to deeply simplify and get as many chemicals out of our house as possible. In some ways I am all about the better-livin'-through-science, but I really lean towards the more all-natural stuff.

We've switched over to using vinegar and other more natural stuff for cleaning. The upside is that our kitchen floor looks great. The downside is that it turns out vinegar makes the floor a lot more slippery than our old chemical-stuff did.

The upside to that downside is that for the first time since I was a teenager, I have taken up sock-skating.

It's awesome.



5. One of my newer friends out in that there internet world (what my mother has referred to as my Axe Murderers since I was a teenager) started a blog semi-recently. She takes Pinterest finds and tests them out, to occasionally successful (or incredibly unsuccessful) ends.

Her last few projects have worked out pretty well, and at least one of them has me plotting an idea for a friend of mine.

Her blog, Living Pinterestingly, is over here.

You should go there and amuse yourselves.

Go on! Nothing more to see here. Move along.

I'll just over here staring at this Framed Cat Blueprint and deciding whether or not I am ready to be that kind of cat owner yet.








(the answer is yes, but Jason's answer is different and noticeably not yes. Meanie.)