Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Recipe: Mushroom Chicken & Veggie Casserole


The day may be gray and dreary, but I like to think that I at least am the color of summer flowers and sunshine.

I say this, of course, after two cups of coffee. Before those two cups of coffee, I would be better likened to an angry stormcloud full of sleep and rage.

It's nice to step outside and not immediately break into a terrible sweat, but you get drenched anyway since it's been raining all morning.

I like this! I like rainy days. I like them more after moving our entire household in three-digit baking sunlight. I felt fried like an egg in a skillet after Saturday's moving and Sunday's un-air-conditioned cleaning time.

My coworker Dan bought us cinnamon rolls this morning, because he knows just how to make a quiet rainy coffee-soaked morning even better.

We had some vegetables to use up, and I've been trying to find something to do with a cookbook I bought semi-recently and haven't really done much with, the Old Salem Museums & Gardens Cookbook. I had bought it (along with enough Moravian cookies to choke a donkey) at the Spice of Life Food & Fitness Fest back in the spring. At such a health-focused event, one naturally feels compelled to buy too many cookies, and eat all of them.

In any case, my point: I have this cookbook, and I haven't really used it, and I thought I probably should. We had potatoes that we desperately need to use up, a parsnip, some celery and all sorts of things in the fridge.

So I took a recipe out of the cookbook, "Mushroom Potatoes", and I changed it until it was nearly unrecognizable, and it was delicious. So here you go:

Mushroom Chicken & Veggie Casserole


Ingredients

2 cans cream of mushroom soup
 (I used cream of mushroom and cream of mushroom plus garlic, but that's up to you; we're garlic people)
2 cups milk
 (I used skim, because that is what we drink. Whole or 2% would have made a thicker sauce)
2 tablespoons minced onions
5 cups potatoes
(We used small red potatoes)
1 large-ish parsnip
3 cups chopped celery
1 lb, roughly, diced chicken
(I just bought the discount stir-fry cut. You do not need fancy chicken here, people)
1 cup breadcrumbs
Butter, for the breadcrumbs
Hot sauce, to taste

Now, Onto the Creation!

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While it is heating, chop your potatoes and parsnip into large pieces. Add to the boiling water and cook until tender.

While you're working on that, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Dice your onion and celery; this can be a rough dice or fine, depending on whether you like to have a lot of texture in your casserole or not. Dice your chicken as well.

Blend the cream of mushroom soups and milk in a saucepan. Once mixed well, heat slowly until hot all the way through.

Take a large casserole dish (this recipe makes roughly 5-6 large servings) and spray it with nonstick or rub it with butter, depending on whether or not you think there should be more butter. Put the onions and celery into the casserole dish.

When the potatoes and parsnip are tender, drain and then add potatoes and parsnip to your casserole dish. Add the diced chicken and then pour the soup over the top. Salt and pepper to taste and add hot sauce if you like things a little spicy.

Mix until well combined.

In a small bowl, take chopped butter and mix with breadcrumbs until you have a slightly lumpy, crumbly texture. Top the casserole with the breadcrumbs, as evenly as possible

Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. The casserole should be bubbling around the edges.

BAM.

Dinner!



Ladies, and gentleman, you may bow before the casserole queen.

Honestly, this is probably a better winter food than a summer food, but it was also immensely comforting after a weekend of seriously hard work, and a nice way to really settle in to the new place.

Like I told Jason, there is almost no way to go wrong with cream of mushroom soup. You can add it to almost any casserole and achieve greatness.

Not a pretty dinner, mind you... but still a great one.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Home

A wonderful thing just happened. The nice Charter man just showed up to hook up our internet and get us back on Xbox Live, which means we can get back on Netflix! I am once again connected with the events of the outside world through my computer screen, and connected again to reruns of Frasier, which is really the most important of the two.

Saturday was... Saturday was crazy. At 9 AM, Jason and I loaded up his truck and my car with the first serious loads of stuff; Jason carried box after box after box of insanely heavy books, I carried all the green and orange storage crates I'd collected back in Carbondale, when we lived in places where they thought two small cabinets was serious storage space.

The last fleeting gasp of our old apartment:


Jason's dad Rusty made it to the new house before we did, and started mowing the grass for us. It'd been left to grow and go to seed since a few weeks before we officially bought this place, so cutting the grass is a special chore since it's something like eight inches tall now. Or it was, before a combination of Rusty and Jason got two-thirds of it back down to size.

Our friend Josh showed up, and we were able to really get things going in earnest. A few car loads later, we had our first glimpse of what it's going to look like with our stuff inside the house.


Uh... probably not exactly like that, though.

Most of the kitchen things have been put away. I've been able to empty some of the plastic storage containers we've had to use for years as apartment dwellers. They await their future lives as holders for art supplies, but what's most important is that we don't need them to hold food or measuring cups or anything anymore.

Once we had moved everything that really needed to be out of the place, we declared it quittin' time and came back to the new house, where my friend Sarah (Josh's wife, occasional food blogger here, and candidate for sainthood) hit up Fresh Market and brought us a feast of sandwiches, veggie salads, cookies, and fresh lemonade.

Did I mention she's a saint?

After Rusty, Josh, and Sarah had left for the day, Jason and I got down to the nitty gritty of forcing our tired aching legs to keep moving long enough to really accomplish some things. We were able to get the bed up quickly (which of course made the cat the happiest cat ever, since we could finally let her out of the room we'd had her hidden in all day to keep as much of the stress off her back as possible), Jason set up the bookshelves and TV, and I did the most important thing:



 I unpacked the books.

 It is one of the most calming things in the world for me, taking out pile after pile of books, settling myself in and just deciding where they go. By the time I was done, I ached, but it felt like I was home.

Yesterday, I went over to the old apartment around 9:45ish, armed with a giant iced vanilla latte and a lot of determination, and started to clean. Sarah, Saint of Clean, showed up shortly thereafter and showed me tricks I didn't even know. Jason came over once he'd done as much mowing as one man can stand in a day, bearing Sarah's iced caffeine, and the three of us attacked our old place with ferocity. We left it looking quite similar to how it looked when we moved in.

Then we had dinner with Sarah's mom, who fed me tequila and beer and I love her. 

My takeaway from the weekend has been that A. moving sucks, which we knew already after having moved all of our things seven times in eight years since we first went to SIUC together, and B. Josh and Sarah are the living embodiment of all that is good in mankind. 

Jason's parents brought us a coffee table and some of Jason's things that were still being stored at his parents' house, and are letting us borrow the lawn mower until we can get our own. What did I say about how awesome the people I know are? I think I said they are super awesome.



This morning, I had the first cup of coffee I've made since we moved, and it felt perfect, even though I had no milk or sugar and had to improvise with some coconut/almondmilk and brown sugar, which by the way is a weird and not entirely pleasant taste.

I am about to run my errands for the day, now that the Charter man has come and gone.

I need to drop off our old keys with the apartment complex, get some groceries and gas, and then I can just... settle down for a while. We may be unpacking for the next month straight, but this is home.

Home is where the coffee mug says your name.



Friday, July 27, 2012

BAM. HOMEOWNERS.

We sat down with the attorney, the sellers, the agents, and we signed ALL the papers... and we are homeowners!

It was ridiculous in the way the last week and a half of everything to do with this house has been ridiculous, though; they kept changing the HUD numbers right up until the last minute, so the attorney was printing things out while we we were sitting at the table talking through what we had. The money wasn't even in the account in time, despite the fact that I had been informed they should have had all the necessary money as of 3:30, but they didn't get it there before 5 PM and then said they wouldn't send it over because it was after 5.

FINALLY, though, everything was settled enough for us to take the deed to our brand new (to us) house and be on our very merry way!

We stopped by the apartment to get some of the larger rubbermaid tubs, threw them in the back of the truck, and headed over to the new place so that we could change the locks.



Say hello to some very blurry new homeowners and the deed to their new house! Which they are standing in! And it's kind of dark because the sun was going down, hence the blurry.

While we were over, we decided to go ahead and have our very first meal in the new house!



Papa Murphy's Chicken Garlic DeLite pizza, a salad that came with it, and some Dr. Wham! which is like Dr. Pepper if it hit you in the head with a 2 x 4.

We've already prepared the room we're going to stick the cat in first thing tomorrow morning, so she can be hiding and worrying herself in safety while we move things in and out. We have blankets laid out, and some of the big rubbermaid tubs in there for her to hide behind. Because we're the kind of cat owners who prepare a room for their cat by building her a freaking blanket fort.

Now there is still a bunch of loose... stuff... in this house. There are two remaining unpacked boxes for us to utilize, and once those are gone it's time for the garbage bags marked with duct tape to make their appearance.

I know I said that the last entry would be the final one before our internet gets hooked up Monday, but I was so excited about that delicious pizza I thought I would share with you guys our first meal in our new house!

Tomorrow, the move.

Sunday, finishing touches.

Monday, our internet gets hooked up and I give back the keys to this place that's been my home for two years.

I'll be honest, you guys; I'm not going to miss this shoebox at all.

Well, except for the pond with all the ducks.

I'll definitely miss the ducks.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Countdown


So, we were finally able to nail down a closing time! Hence my cautiously optimistic thumbs-up there! The great expanse of my forehead is explained only by pointing out that it is just too freaking hot in the state of South Carolina to even allow hair to touch my skin at this point.

Although you'll notice that my hair, wily as ever, is attempting to escape even the confines of both ponytail holder and headband up there.

Ah, well. You can't control a wild animal, and my hair definitely counts as such.

Or maybe I do?

You know what, don't answer that question.

 Tomorrow we're going to meet with the attorney, the sellers, their agent, our agent, lots of agents is what I'm getting at here. I am going to give the attorney a check, the largest check I will ever have had my hands physically on in my life. We will probably make small talk before we get down to business. I will probably bite my nails like crazy or have to hold them in my lap the whole time. Lots of paper will be signed.

Then Jason and I will go outside and try not to break into dance moves right outside the office.

I promise nothing.

By this time tomorrow night, we will be homeowners. Terrified homeowners who have no idea what the next step is, beyond sticking all our stuff in the new place and trying to figure out how to fill all that space. 
 Oh, and also where we put whatever necessity it is we need right that second and didn't realize we would need until it was helpfully taped in a box.

 I've taken tomorrow off, so that I can spend my day throwing stuff in boxes and scrubbing the bathroom and kitchen. Vacuuming is pretty useless until we get all the boxes and furniture out, so I won't worry about that until Saturday when we do our last run.

I am really looking forward to that victory pizza we're going to eat Saturday night. It will be some seriously triumphant pizza. I may put a blue ribbon on myself as I eat it.

Well... I hope this weekend goes smoothly. I think this is the last blog entry you'll get from me until the nice man from Charter comes to connect our service in the new place on Monday. Then I will show you so many photos of boxes.

So. Many. Boxes.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Good And Bad

Bad: Today is no less stressful than last Friday.

Good: All our books are packed!

Bad: We are voracious readers who depend heavily on our books, so now we have nothing to read without very, very frequent library runs.

Good: I love the library!

Bad: Uh, there isn't a bad. I just love the library.

Good: We are a lot further along than it seems like, since so much stuff was never able to be unpacked from the last move!

Bad: That means that stuff has been sitting in boxes for two years and I should probably get rid of it.

Good: If I get rid of it, that means more space for new things!

Bad: I think Jason will disagree with me on that.

Good: Our apartment complex is run by very nice, accomodating people.

Bad: The reason I know that is that I had to call them to ask and see if we could pro-rate an extra week past the end of our lease, just in case.

Good: We heard back from the PMI people today!

Bad: They did not say yes OR no, but rather wanted a couple of extra forms filled out that they stated they would get to the HR people where I work.

Good: My HR people got the forms this morning.

Bad: They... haven't touched them. I just spoke to HR and they've been really busy and have barely looked at them since they came in.

Good: They promised they'd get them sent out by tomorrow morning!

Bad: That takes yet one more day away from our possible closing schedule, which means Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday IF God is kind and the universe doesn't get a very dark sense of humor.

Good: I did laundry today, which means I'll be able to pack up all but the 15% of my clothing I'll be wearing to work this week.

Bad: I don't even know yet if I can plan to lay out  moving clothes for Saturday or not.

Good: The Post Office acknowledged that our mail should start forwarding on the 30th as planned! And they are not holding our mail too early, but we just haven't gotten any this week.

Bad: We don't even know if we'll be in the house yet anymore. And I am jonesin' for some magazines that should be coming within the next couple of weeks.

Good: WE ARE BUYING THIS HOUSE.

Bad: I have no idea when, and the people in charge of working that out don't know when either, and they seem to be getting more and more offended each time we point out that it's kind of important that we know that.

Good: My work has no problem with  me having to take days off this weekend, even though I can't yet tell them exactly what days and won't know until probably 24 hours beforehand at this point.

Bad: Those are vacation days I was hoping to use for when we visit Illinois at Christmas.

Good: A week from Thursday, we will have been married for four years.

Bad: No bad. Only awesome marriage awesomeness.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Revenge of the Return of the Flames on the Side of my Face


I sounded all upbeat and optimistic in my last post, didn't  I? After our original frustration with the lenders, we were able to set a new closing date, all was well, angels and so forth and la la la happiness.

It turns out my optimism was just a wee bit misplaced.

We received another phone call last night from our lender.

The problem is, in three simple words, private mortgage insurance. The problem is on our lender's end, because they waited until the last minute to apply for PMI (their last PMI application was put in literally two days before our original scheduled close) and now we're waiting for the PMI company to get back to them. We are learning for the first time that this was apparently what caused the delay last time, too.

Last night's phone call gave us the disappointing news that our lenders here in SC had not yet heard back from the PMI company in California, were not likely to hear back from them until Monday (our lender called us at nearly 9 PM last night, when the California company was closing for the day). Not hearing from them until Monday would mean that there wouldn't be sufficient time to get the close done Monday, even in the afternoon like we had planned.

So, you wonder, what day shall our close be now?

To be frank, we're wondering the same thing.

Nobody knows!

It's very exciting.

It could be Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Wednesday... could be anytime next week!

It'll be like a surprise party.

If I sound angry, well... it's because I really am. We have taken care of literally every single detail on our end short of actually getting new drivers' licenses to reflect the address change. We are prepared. We have done everything except start actually moving. I made lists. I checked things off those lists. I was a responsible adult and anyone who knows me at all knows how hard it is for me to keep that kind of thing up for long.

One of the last things I said to my lender was, "You know we need a place to live a week from Monday, right? This is not just a delay, we have to be out of this apartment, with it totally empty and cleaned, by the 31st. We cannot keep doing this."

Really, we were warned about delays. We just didn't realize that they would start happening two days before we were meant to be able to start moving things in. We had kind of expected things to happen along the schedule planned, at least by this point in the proceedings, especially since we're dealing with professionals who do this kind of thing for a living and have been doing it for years and, in some cases, decades.

I feel like sending some kind of apology to the sellers explaining all this. "Here are some flowers. I promise we want to buy your house and we are trying as hard as we can to give you money! Love, Katie and Jason."

I'm really not that worried. We are nothing if not surrounded by family and friends, some of whom have given us a standing offer for whatever help we may need. Come Hell or high water, we will have a place to sleep after the 31st no matter what. I tell myself that, and it helps me feel grateful for everything we have in our lives that has gone right.

I wanted to end on that note, because as angry as I am and as much as I have gone over and over and over this in my mind, we are incredibly lucky people.

We dragged ourselves out of the two years of grinding poverty we got stuck in back in Carbondale, we had enough money saved when we moved to South Carolina that we could have survived, albeit in a lean fashion, for six months if we couldn't find jobs right away, in two years we saved up enough money for a down payment for a house, the lenders approved our actual loan very quickly, our families are endlessly supportive and loving, our friends are fantastic... we are very lucky.

I'd just like some of that luck to rub off on the house thing right now, if it won't throw off the balance of the universe.

Please.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Flames. Flames on the side of my face.


The title is a quote from Clue, the best movie (and board game) ever.

So here's how it goes:

I left work this afternoon at 5 PM, on my way to meet our realtor for one last walkabout at our soon-to-be place before our closing on Thursday. 

THIS Thursday. That's an important point.

I stopped for gas, and while I was waiting I noticed I'd missed a call from a number I did not immediately recognize. I called it back, and it was our lender. There's been some sort of an issue with the mortgage insurance folks not getting back to her right away and something to do with the attorney's last-minute stuff, thereby stalling all the process of getting the closing set up, meaning... drumroll please... we cannot close on Thursday.

As we'd planned. As we've been planning for.

This is with two days' notice. This is after I've made all the applicable calls to the water people, the trash/recycling people (two different people, oddly), the electricity and cable and homeowners' insurance and the post office and just ALL THE PEOPLE. I have everything set up! The only thing that needs to happen is that we write a check and the lending people give the sellers money. We are approved for the loan; this is literally the final step that is just... not happening as quickly as the lenders had hoped.

We have given ourselves what seemed like plenty of leeway by having ten days between closing and having to be out of our apartment. We could move our stuff in bits and pieces, allowing us to deal with the simple fact that there is nowhere to put our packed-up boxes in this apartment the size of a shoebox.

I was furious as I pulled into the carport of my soon-to-be home. I had to keep reminding myself; this is still happening, you're just a few days off schedule. This is still happening.

I took some photos, but forgot to upload them and I won't have time to even think about it until Thursday... so I'll try to put up a few shots of the inside here for you on Thursday. 
We may, all fates and applicable karmic balances willing, be able to close on Friday afternoon, still giving us the weekend. It's looking like it might be Monday, though, which just throws everything off and means I'll have to take at least one day, possibly two, off work for us to pull this off and still have a halfway-clean bare apartment to show our current landlords when we leave.

I love my job for giving me enough vacation and sick time to be able to do that without having to cancel our planned October getaway or seeing my family at Christmas. I love that I work now for a company that actually expects me to have a professional and a personal life, that I no longer work service-industry jobs that expect you to choose one and they deeply disapprove if you choose your personal life.

Jason is also furious, and we have been furious together, and it is truly an impressive cloud of helpless rage. There is nothing we can do with it; nowhere to put it. I packed the last bits of books up, meaning that we know have eight and a half boxes that are just books. I'm kind of proud and pretty ashamed of it at the same time, because there is literally no one other category of things we own that takes up that much space.

I had a glass or two of wine and some jam on crackers to calm myself down when we got home, and we've been watching Futurama and just trying to chill out. I'll hear back from the lender and the realtor tomorrow on what the final decision is on when we'll actually be able to close. 

I keep reminding myself that to the people on the other side of this equation, we are just numbers on a piece of paper; our numbers looked nice to them, so they're willing to give us money. We are not Jason and Katie with hobbies, friends, family, and ten days to move. We're just a series of equations calculating our risk on a sheet, and they like that risk, but you don't hurry yourself for the sake of paper.

It's just that on our end, we're not paper. We're us. And I really don't react well to having plans changed at the last minute... not even when it's just a switch between restaurants I didn't know about until twenty minutes before I'm meant to be there.

You know, I had just managed to stop having those "list everything that could possibly go wrong" conversations with myself, too.

Heh, it's really not that bad. This is a fairly common last-minute problem, all things considered. The websites I voraciously devoured as though they were privy to some Great Secret of Homebuying all said to expect last-minute issues like this to crop up, and several friends have assured me as well that this isn't all that unusual.

But I want to be mad, darn it! 

I also want a cookie, but there are no cookies to be had in this house.

So instead I'll just be mad, and then tomorrow I'll go buy a cookie.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike


Today, this happened.

My friends Lauren, Liz, and I went a-ridin' on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. I rented a bike from Reedy Rides because I don't own my own bike (yet). Reedy Rides is where Lauren works and she is an expert cyclist, so she helped me pick out what I was interested in. Also you should totally rent bikes from Reedy Rides because they have the best employees who are super cool and I am totally not biased.

I was interested in the bike with the basket, because I am practical and clearly have good priorities. I also happened to pick out the right kind of bike for me, I think. It's called a cruiser.

Most importantly, though, it had a basket.

Anyway, we did fifteen miles altogether on the trail. After our first two miles, we took a quick break to hit up the Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery, where I had never been, to have some coffee and chatty times and ooh and aaaah over organic vegetables and the cheese from Happy Cow Creamery. Then we rode clear over to Furman University, where we took another short break to go stand out by the lake and enjoy sunshine and ducks who are clearly way too trusting.



Also, a turtle that way too trusting.

Technically two turtles, although I didn't get a photo of the other one... and also a snake, but the snake was actually attempting to slither away from us, so I don't think he was too trusting. He was probably just suspicious enough.


Sorry for the awful photo; I have to take all my photos on my phone because I can't seem to locate my camera's battery charger. I put it in a very safe place, but the problem is that it's so safe I can't find it. This is a pattern in my life.

After burning off a couple of calories, we decided to earn them all right back by eating at Carolina Ale House for lunch. In my defense, I had a salad!

... and also had a Buffalo chicken appetizer all to myself.

But... salad! Salads count!

We hit up Pedal Chic, a female-focused bicycle and bicycle-accessories store in downtown Greenville that I always want to go in, but since I usually have Jason with me I've just never really felt like it was the right time. Today, with three girls and all the time in the world? It was the right time. Everything in there was super cute and kinda made me wish I was more into bicycling.

Although that seems to be where this is heading, since Lauren and Liz extracted a promise from me that I will go again, next time there is biking.

Apparently this is going to be a thing I do often.

... I'm okay with this, as long as I get the bike with the basket.

I have rewarded myself for my hard days' work with an iced latte and a trip to the library, and now I just need to cool down for a bit before Jason gets home from work.

You know what, I have just one more thing to add.

I BUY A HOUSE IN THREE DAYS.

THREE.

DAYS.

THREE.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Raindrops and Gratitude


It's raining here.

(Yeah, we kinda noticed, every single person from South Carolina who reads this thinks to themselves simultaneously.)

 It's been raining for a couple of days now, and thank God, it's not that skies-open-up-and-just-dump-water kind of rain that the dry ground can't really soak up fast enough to really matter. You know what I mean - the rain that causes runoffs of red clay to stain everything in sight without actually bringing any relief to our trees.

These aren't really even thunderstorms, which I (and my nervous, storm-phobic cat who totally did not pick that up from me except that she totally did) am quite happy about.

No, it's finally a good, steady, constant slow drumbeat of moisture... something the grass, gardens, and ground can grab and hold onto.

It's also broken that sweltering heat wave, finally getting us down into the mid-70's to mid-80's that I love so much.



The flipside, of course, is rain-slick roads and a gray haze over everything, squelching ground and increasingly erratic traffic patterns.

I drive to work in the morning astounded at how many people in cars the same slate gray color as the road, rain, and sky just don't turn their lights on. They simply appear like magical beings out of the haze as they drive past me or pull out suddenly in front of me or in some other way announce their presence quite unexpectedly.

I have to say, it does add some excitement to my day. It also makes me very, very happy my brakes are trustworthy.

Of course, even three days of constant rain are a drop in the bucket for South Carolina. Obviously it's wonderful to see it, but it's a drop in the bucket for basically everywhere, considering that 61% of the continental United States is experiencing terrible enough drought conditions right now to be declared National Emergency areas. That's over 1,000 counties in 26 states.

You'll notice basically the entirety of South Carolina is on that map.

At this point, we take what rain we get with open arms and damp clothes. The whole state's about three steps from "it's raining" parties, but I wouldn't put it past us. Southerners (and the Yankees they bring down here with them) know how to celebrate just about everything.

Still, this is the kind of gray day, with this slight hint of dare-I-say-it a chill in the air, where you just want to pull on your coziest sweater, curl up under some blankets, and spend the day with coffee and a good book.



Well, at least I've got the sweater, the coffee, and the book.

Three out of four ain't bad, right?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Things I'm Thinking About


Coffee I'm Drinking: Joffrey's Coffee and Tea Jamaican Me Crazy (the best conceivable flavored coffee - Kahlua, Vanilla, and Caramel flavors).

Yum.

Even if my coworker doesn't like flavored coffees so I end up making coffee twice every morning...

Totally worth it.



Book I Just Finished: Prophet's Prey, by Sam Brower. It's a non-fiction look into Mr. Brower's involvement, as a private investigator, into the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints - not Mormons, but an offshoot cult invented in the 20th century) and the eventual arrest and imprisonment of the so-called prophet Warren Jeffs.

It was a pretty good read. If you're interested in this kind of nonfiction, Jon Krakauer, one of the best nonfiction writers I've read lately, also wrote a pretty good book called Under the Banner of Heaven that dealt with murder committed within the FLDS.

 I'm beginning to think I wear those orange shoes too much - they seem to appear in an awful lot of photos of me lately...



Book I Just Began: Handling the Undead, by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Lindqvist is one of my favorite authors of all time.

He takes very cliched horror tropes - the ghost story, the vampire, the zombie - and kind of flips them on their heads entirely, makes them something new. So far I have loved every single book. I checked Handling the Undead out from the library, but I'm thinking I will probably own it very soon...



Music I Wish I Was Listening To: Songs for Unusual Creatures, by Michael Hearst. I heard a radio piece on this new album on NPR and I am pretty much enchanted. I actually liked it so much I am willing to liken its affect on me to a magic spell, because clearly some sort of sorcery was involved.

These are little instrumental songs inspired by (and from the point of view of) some of the earth's weirdest animals. This music is as odd as it sounds, and it is so good. I have had one of the songs stuck in my head for two days, and I'm not even annoyed.

That's how fun it is.


Reason I Am Smiling: Turquoise and orange and this is the most comfortable sweater ever.

Also that despite it being 92 degrees outside (and feeling ike 99 degrees, and let's just add 50% humidity to that), the air conditioning in this building means that I can wear this sweater all day without sweating myself to death.

Very bright colors + new books (thanks to the library) + weird animals + coffee = a bright, surprisingly (and more than a little suspiciously) enthusiastic day.

I was in a terrible mood yesterday for no reason at all, I decided around 8:15 this morning that today would be different. So far, I am totally successful.

Jason is making dinner tonight, and he won't tell me what it's going to be. Only that it's "from his childhood" and "a surprise" and he knows I hate surprises, but I shall be patient until all is revealed.

I peeked, though.

Cream of Mushroom soup is involved somehow.

And probably sorcery.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Captain Obvious


I took these photos on my phone, when I first came in to work.

I always come in early to make myself some coffee and listen to the radio, but I found myself distracted by the condensation on the windows.
I am an easily distracted kind of person.


Ask my friend Jamin about being on a walk downtown with Jason and I, and having to stop so I could take photos of a particularly cool leaf I saw on the sidewalk.

Actually, let's not ask Jamin about that.

Let's just hope he doesn't remember.


I regret nothing; that leaf had a really interesting color pattern.

See? This is what I mean about being super distractable.


Anyway, the whole point of this silly little note was to ask everyone a question.

So, on this blue skies and sunshine kind of morning...

D'you think maybe it's just a wee bit humid today?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Not Entirely Wordless Wednesday: Fourth of July

(photo from The Union, which also has a transcript of the Declaration at the link)

Just imagine a group of men in a stifling, sweltering room writing this document out, piece by piece, draft by draft, until they felt it was perfect, and how the King had to feel looking at this document and reading it line by line.

"We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Downtown Monday


Jason has the whole week off for the Fourth of July, and I took a day of official vacation plus I already have Wednesday off for the holiday, which gives us four days together.

Yesterday, we sort of reveled in a day off that wasn't scheduled to the hilt. We went downtown and just did whatever for a few hours. We went to the library, had lunch at Soby's on the Side (Bacon, lettuce, and fried green tomato sandwich = serious yum), wandered the Falls Park finding interesting textures and images because we are weird people, met a friend of ours for more wanderings, and sort of ended the day on the high note that is buying a new bottle of moonshine from Dark Corner Distillery.

Honeysuckle moonshine, to be exact. Because honeysuckle moonshine is awesome.


All in all, it was a perfect day to spend outside soaking up the sun.

Of course, we weren't the only ones out loving the weather.


This little guy had his head just sticking out at the top of that metal thing next to a walking bridge we were on, then he shimmied down and came out the bottom, and held still just long enough for me to snap a couple of photos.

Sometimes, idle days are absolutely perfect.