It’s the Final Countdown

Dooty-do-do-, dooty-do-do-do.

Tell me you’re also one of those people who sings the instrument hooks of songs? I know I’m not the only weirdo. My sister does it, too.

I digress. I really am into the final countdown until my 30th: 5 more days. I really can’t believe it’s time for that already! I decided to do this 29 before 30 because I was feeling a little bummed about getting older. I figured having all of these things to look forward to would make that process a little easier. Not only do I feel like I had such a big and fun year, I’m actually really looking forward to turning 30 now. I’m feeling like all the best is still yet to come.

It’s been great for me to blog along the way of this process as it has a) kept me focused on trying to accomplish the things on the list, and b) I now have a record of what most of my 29th year was like, which is pretty cool. I am absolutely not going to cross everything off the list. I only have 5 more days, and there is no way to make it happen.

I would say that you could break my list down into 3 categories: the things I completed, the things I started and made a big effort on but will not complete by my birthday, and the things I completely failed on. Let’s start with the failures:

Mail a birthday card to each of my friends and family members. 100% fail. I didn’t even mail 1 single birthday card. My intention with that one was to be more like my grandmother and mother, who never forget to send a card. They are still to this day the only birthday cards I always get, and it always brightens my day. I bought cards with the intention of doing this and even made a calendar with everyone’s birthday, but I would always forget to mail them and would end up giving the card in person whenever I’d see that particular person around their birthday. I so badly want to be the person who sends snail mail, but I just am not.

Visit our dear friends the Jarretts. We tried to set something up with Lindsey and Brian for July, but our washer and the electrical around it had other plans for us, and we unfortunately had to cancel. Why is it so hard to schedule time to see long distance friends? This is the one I’m the saddest about not fulfilling. I am super hopeful that Tim and I can get to Arkansas soon. Lindsey– I’m coming for you, girl! I promise!

Now for the things I started and made a big effort on but will not complete by my birthday:

Watch every single Academy Award winner for Best Picture. I TRIED on this one. Like, really tried. But some of the late 20s, early 30s films are so hard to find! You have to special order them through Netflix or pay to order through Turner Classic Movies, and that got a little pricey. Plus, it was hard to find time each week to watch a 3 hour film (why are so many of the Oscar winners over 3 hours long?!?). I will say, I did see all of the 1970s-present, most of the 50s and 60s films, and I really only have some 30s and 40s and one 20s film left. I think I honored this list item pretty well even though I won’t finish.

Read 10 books over the course of the year. I read 9! Again, so close. I could read something in the next 5 days, but that feels forced, so I’ll choose to wave the white flag now. I used to love to read and just got out of the habit after college. This is something on the list I really want to keep as a habit after my birthday.

That means that I completed (or will complete in the next 5 days) 25 out of my 29 goals! Not a total win, but I feel pretty proud of it. I’ll do one more post-birthday blog to recap the victories, but I’ll be wrapping this up. It’s served it’s purpose in having helped me have an epic last year of my twenties.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • I cooked recipes 47-50 since I last blogged. These oven baked sweet potato fries, this veggie stir-fry, this coconut butter, and these crispy fried eggs.
  • I read book #9, Reflections in a Golden Eye by Carson McCullers. I have always loved Carson, and this book was just as beautifully written as her others.
  • We will be celebrating my 30th with a super fun party this weekend.
  • I’ve continued to write, take photos, and go on as many dates with Tim and weekend and day trips as possible all throughout this past year.

6 Happy Years

Tim and I celebrated six years of marriage on Saturday. In so many ways it seems like that we were married yesterday, and then again, I honestly can’t really remember what life was like before then. That’s my home, my safe and happy place.

I’m by no means any expert, but what works for us is to always be the best of friends first, to have each other’s backs no matter what, and to laugh. A lot. I’m one lucky girl.

We had a great five year anniversary trip to Mexico last year, so we kept it pretty low-key with a nice dinner Friday night at Bluebeard and then made each other a fantastic meal at home on Saturday night. I made the below tomato, watermelon, and feta salad for our first course, and Tim made filet mignon, mashed potatoes, and collard greens for our second. For us, it was the perfect way to celebrate.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • I realized I’m a little behind on my recipes, so I’ve made 4 new ones over the last two weeks. Tomatoes right now are PERFECT, so I made this Caprese salad with balsamic reduction and this watermelon, tomato, and feta salad. I also made this Italian melt and this spicy and sweet popcorn.
  • Tim and the pups and I took a family photo! No, it was not professional. Yes, it was a selfie. But for the 4 of us, that is a serious victory.
  • I’ve skinny dipped. Let’s leave it at that!
  • Tim and I had two pretty great dates this past weekend celebrating our anniversary. We also had a fun day trip to Indy.
  • Though it happens slightly after my birthday, we have already planned concert #6- Hayes Carll on 10/7.


I’m currently…

-Wishing summer could stay around forever. I hate letting go of longer days!

-Craving the Thai iced coffee from Hopscotch. It’s soooo good.

-Feeling busier than I have in awhile with my students back and work really picking back up to a high speed.

-Looking forward to my 30th, which is officially 1 month away!

-Watching The Office re-runs non-stop. Even though Tim and I occasionally take breaks from it, we always go back to this show. Michael Gary Scott forever.

-Eating all the avocados, all the time.

-Desperately trying to fit everything I can from my 29 before 30 list in the next month, but quickly realizing that’s probably not going to happen. And feeling totally ok about that because it’s been an epic year.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • I made the world’s best BLTs the other day, and I made the bacon this way– game-changer, seriously. I also made these maple dijon roasted carrots last week and they were so good. Roasted carrots are perhaps my all-time favorite vegetable side dish. Then, I made this super-delicious Greek-style rice that I served with tzatziki-marinated chicken.
  • I got busy on watching some movies! It may be hard to believe, but I’d never seen Gone With the Wind. I finally watched the 1939 Best Picture winner two weekends ago, and although I definitely complained about the length a few times, I’m really glad to have watched it. I also watched the 2014 winner, Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). It is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time, and Michael Keaton is amazing in it! And finally, I saw 1956’s Around the World in 80 Days.  It was neat to see all the cameos, but was really kind of meh. Underwhelming.
  • I’ve stayed up with writing and taking photos.
  • I totally forgot to list concert #4 from all the back in May when Tim and I saw Brazilbilly at Robert’s Western World in Nashville. We also just saw concert #5 two weeks ago, which was Gillian Welch and David Rawlings at the Bluebird here in Bloomington. It was a really special show! Tim and I went out for dinner and drinks beforehand, so it was a really nice date night.

Taking Care of Yourself

I’m not really sure why, but I struggle sometimes to put myself first. I constantly think about and worry about the loved ones in my life, and it truly comes second nature to prioritize them over all other things. And when one of those loved ones is having some sort of problem, I’m quick to remind them to take care of themselves and put their needs first. But when the script is flipped and it’s me in some sort of distress, I can tend to approach it with this “maybe if I just ignore it, it’ll go away” mentality.

Don’t get me wrong– I’m not saying I don’t complain. I certainly don’t broadcast problems to any and everyone, but I definitely vent to my husband and occasionally family and best friend. But if I am totally honest, I do a lot of my suffering in silence. I have this thing where I worry about bothering people, being a burden to them, or wasting their time. Recently I learned a really valuable lesson that I need to do a better job of taking care of myself despite those worries.

I am currently recovering from a little medical thing. I hesitate to call it an emergency because it was definitely not like my life was on the line, but let’s just say I was not well. Nope, you know what. I’m going to share it because I often feel there is silence around women’s health issues, and they can frequently be brushed under the rug. I had an ovarian cyst rupture, and it was TERRIBLE.

It all started about three weeks ago, when I noticed that I was just not feeling great. At all. I kept thinking it’s nothing, it’ll go away, but with each passing day I would feel a little worse. Although I could pinpoint a few symptoms, the worse part was that I just didn’t feel like myself. We all know when we are sick, like with a cold or the flu or sinus infections, we don’t have the same energy or appetite as usual and that we don’t feel super well. But this was different. I didn’t even feel the way I feel when I’m sick… I just felt… off. Not like me. It’s hard to explain. When I told Tim this, he was pretty insistent that I make a doctor’s appointment. My friend’s and family were the same. After some hemming and hawing, I did finally make one– but I couldn’t get in for about a month. I accepted this and tried to move on. I went on about my days per usual, but I kept feeling worse. And then, I developed some pretty intense pain in my lower right abdomen.

After a few days of this pain, everything finally came to a head. It was pretty clear I needed some immediate medical attention, but I continued to put it off, not wanting to “overreact in case it’s nothing.” Luckily, those close to me who knew what was going on kept gently encouraging me to go ahead to the hospital to get it checked out. Friday morning, I finally listened, and went to the ER. After an awful lot of time in the ER where the doctors and nurses around me felt certain it was my appendix, I finally found out that it was a ruptured cyst. I felt relieved knowing what was wrong, but I don’t think the doctor I saw there fully prepared me for how long it would take me to recover and how bad I would continue to feel. I left the hospital thinking I would be better in a day or two, but that was just not the case. Several more days passed of the same amount of pain and feeling really bad.

Finally, I decided to take the time off work and do what I really needed to do– rest and take care of myself. I laid around with a heating pad for days, wondering if I’d ever feel normal again. I made an appointment to see my gynecologist, and she could not have been more helpful. It’s not like she gave me some miracle cure (because with ruptures, all you can really do is wait to feel better), but she listened to me and reassured me that my pain and discomfort were totally normal. She also did something so nice: she apologized that I had to go through something like this. She encouraged me to keep resting and taking it easy, to listen to my body, and reminded me that it was still going to take time to fully heal. After about 4 straight days of rest, I’m finally really feeling on the mend and have been improving with each passing day. Thank goodness.

This whole situation has really been a huge learning experience for me. I’ve learned a valuable lesson about listening to your instincts and putting yourself first sometimes, especially when it comes to your health. I’ve learned a whole new level of love and care from my friends and family and especially my husband. I’ve learned the value of rest. I’ve learned that sometimes women’s health issues aren’t taken as seriously by some, but also that there are really great doctors out there that do care.

I tend to be a little more private, and I went back and forth about whether or not to write about this. I mean, I know that only about 5 people read this, and most of those 5 people are close enough to me that they already knew what I was going through. But still– this was sharing some personal stuff. Ultimately, it just seems like my experience was real, and it deserved a voice. And maybe even one person will be reminded to take better care of themselves.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • Three weeks ago, I made this glorious cacio e pepe. Due to not being well most of the last 2 weeks, I didn’t make a new recipe, but Sunday was Tim’s birthday so I made him dinner Saturday night with this awesome recipe for grilled pizza dough. I also made this amazing Milk Bar birthday cake on Sunday.
  • Having lots of bed rest recently gave me time to watch 1927’s Best Picture winner, Wings. It was the first ever Best Picture winner, and also the only silent film to win until 2011’s The Artist. I also watched 1971’s The French Connection.  I totally should have watched more Best Picture winners, but I mostly watched trashy television and slept.
  • I tried to keep up on writing, but I definitely dropped off on taking very many pictures. I’m barely over a month left and I still have so many things to tackle on my list….I’m getting nervous I won’t make it!

Weekend Update

Do you ever have one of those weekends where you have laughed so hard your abs are sore? Tim and I just got back from a quick weekend trip up to a friend’s lake house in Michigan where we did exactly that. This is the second year in a row we have done this trip, and I hope it becomes a yearly thing.

The group of us spent the weekend in the sun, boating, eating deliciously trashy food, getting hooked on a terrible reality competition show, and cracking up every step of the way. I was so tired when we got home Sunday, but so so happy. I even got to do one of my very favorite things in life: jump on a trampoline. I had a trampoline growing up, and it remains to this day one of my all-time favorite birthday gifts ever received. There’s just something about a trampoline that makes me start to giggle uncontrollably as soon as I set foot on it. Pure joy.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • Two weeks ago, I made these fish tacos. So easy, so awesome. Last week, Tim and I cooked succotash together. We didn’t use a recipe and based it off what his great-grandmother used to do, but it was similar to this. It’s so good and really is a supper in an of itself.
  • Michigan counted as another weekend/day trip!
  • Two Fridays ago, Tim made me a really special dinner for a date night in.
  • Continued writing and trying to take daily photos.

Conflicting Lessons from Gunner and Georgia

Last Wednesday was so special because it was both of my dogs’ birthdays. Yup, both Gunner and Georgia were born on July 1, just 3 years apart, respectively. Those two truly are members of our family, and Tim and I just couldn’t love them more. They are each very much their own dog, with hilariously unique personalities.

In honor of their birthdays, here are the most important life lessons I’ve learned from Gunner and Georgia, in which I’m sure you will see just how different they are:


1- Most people are only ok. Be selective. When you find really great people though, don’t hold back at all in showing your love for them.

2- Food is only ok. Except for sweets. Sweets are their own and vastly superior food group.

3- Hold a special place in your heart for your mother.

4- Being sassy will often times get you what you want.

5- Everything can be fixed with a butt-scratch.

6- Even though your little sister is super-annoying, sometimes it’s fun when she tags along.


1- All people deserve a chance. Be open-minded. When you find anyone, and I literally mean anyone, don’t hold back at all in showing your love for them.

2- All food is delicious, and nothing is more motivating than the promise of a meal or tasty treat.

3- Hold a special place in your heart for your father.

4- Being sweet will often times get you what you want.

5- Everything can be fixed with a belly-rub.

6- Even though your big brother is the COOLEST, sometimes it’s fun to put him in his place.

I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to have both of these dogs in my life. I hope to celebrate many more birthdays with them!

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • I made these cocoa brownies two weeks ago for my weekly recipe (rich and awesome), and this cold brew coffee (easy and so tasty) last week.
  • We ended up having to cancel our trip to see Lindsey and Brian. Our washer acted up, and we had a 3-day weekend to address it as well as a host of other issues around our house. Why does being an adult have to involve doing really un-fun things instead of the things you actually want to do?
  • I finished book #8, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. There were a few laughs, but if I’m honest, it was probably my least favorite I’ve read this year.
  • I kept up with writing and taking photos. Below is Tim about to give Gunner and Georgia their birthday treats.


On a Streak

Sometimes, I get so busy enjoying life that not much comes when I sit down to write. My mind is just an ADHD-zone of what’s been good lately– and there has been so much! I might be in a little bit of a writer’s block, but every day life is in the opposite of a rut. What do you call that? On a streak?

Here are some of the happy things:

-Did you watch A Deadly Adoption, the Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell Lifetime movie? I had the best time watching it with Tim and Krissy, making fun of all the melodramatic language and plot twists.

-We are going to my family’s cabin this weekend with friends, and I absolutely can’t wait! It’s impossible to be stressed there. And watching my dogs play there is one of my favorite things to do EVER.

-Summer fruits and veggies! It’s ridiculous how happy summer produce makes me. The green beans have been amazing, as have the cherries. I’ve been on a major radish kick lately, just cut up and sprinkled with sea salt. I like to drink that with white wine and pretend I’m French. On the one hand, I don’t want the 4th to get here because summer goes so fast after it passes. On the other, I can’t tell you how ready I am for Indiana sweet corn and tomatoes. The best in the country grows here. Spoken like a true Hoosier.

-We started VEEP. It’s the funniest show I’ve watched in a long time. Julia Louis-Dreyfus = HERO.

-We had such a nice Father’s Day down at my parents. My brother, sister-in-law, and Tim and I took care of the food so my mom and dad didn’t have to cook, and we spent the afternoon watching my hilarious nephews swim. It was a perfect day and, at least I think, exactly what my dad wanted to do.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • I made these Mexican grilled corn and avocado toasts for our weekly recipe. So easy and delicious!
  • Tim and I went out to Restaurant Tallent last Friday for our weekly date. Amazing food, per usual.
  • In the most exciting news: I’ve been planning the Vickers-Jarrett reunion with Lindsey, which I think will be over the 4th, and I.CAN’T.WAIT!!!