Monthly Archives: October 2014

One Monthiversary

I can’t believe I’m already one month into my 29 Before 30.

On one hand, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot and have really gotten a good start on my list, but on the other, I feel like there is still so much to do! Time always seems to go so fast, but I swear the  last month has FLOWN. Although Bloomington has experienced a bit of an Indian summer the past few warm days, I can already see that the majority of the leaves have started to fall and before we know it, winter and the holiday season will be setting in. Unbelievable.

One thing I’ve already learned from this 29 Before 30 is to make every single day count. I love that two of my list items, the daily photos and writing, keep me accountable to each day. It’s really fulfilling to me to set out living every passing day with intent. I’ve always struggled with anxiety, and there is something about having those two daily rituals that has really helped to calm my anxiety quite a bit. I think it’s the routine of it– it’s given me a positive place to channel that energy, and for that, I’m thankful.

The list has also been fun. I love that I’m spending more time focusing on creating memories with my friends and my family and doing the things that make me happiest. One of my all-time favorite tv shows is Friday Night Lights, and in one episode, my favorite character Tim Riggins gives this hilarious speech to his brother about how since he has gone to college, all of his time is taken up with things he doesn’t want to do but has to do. “Where’s the me time, Billy?”  he asks.

Basically, in the last month, I’ve been taking back my me time. And boy does it feel good.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • Made the most delicious weekly recipe, Sticky Bourbon Chicken with Rice. If you ever do anything I tell you, MAKE THIS. You’re welcome.
  • Planned my girls’ day with my mom and sister. It’s coming up in the next two weeks, and I absolutely can’t wait!
  • Had my weekly date with the hubs on Sunday, which included a day trip to the Morgan-Monroe State Forest on an absolutely beautiful day.
  • Wrote and took photos each day. Here are some shots from the past week!
This leaf is gorgeous!

This leaf is gorgeous!

Gunner in the backyard.

Gunner in the backyard.

He's the cutest.

He’s the cutest.



All the Right Reasons

Saturday night was special.

Tim and I headed up to Indianapolis to see the Jayhawks, a longtime favorite band, in concert. It was not only going to be a weekly date, a day trip, AND concert 2 of 6, but we were also going to get to spend time with my sister Tory  and brother-in-law Jordan. Little did we know just how amazing our night would end up being.

We started the evening off with a great dinner at Napolese, enjoying wine and some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. Tory and Jordan live in Cincinnati and are always so busy with my sweet niece and nephew, so we don’t always have a ton of opportunity to double date like that. It was so much fun to catch up with them!

After dinner, we headed over to the Vogue for the show. As we stood in line and waited for doors to open, Jordan reminisced that it was here, at a Jayhawks show at the Vogue about 12 years ago, he had proposed to Tory. The Jayhawks are clearly very special to both Tory and Jordan, as the proposal setting, the fact that the song “All the Right Reasons” was in their wedding, and the name of my niece Marina, a nod to a character in another Jayhawks song, proves.

The show itself couldn’t have been more fun. The Jayhawks sounded terrific, played some songs of theirs I’d never heard live, and really seemed to be having a great time playing together. But what made the night completely unforgettable was when Gary Louris, the lead singer, announced that over the years the band had played a lot of great gigs at the Vogue and that one time a couple had even gotten engaged on stage. We of course went crazy at that moment! Then during the band’s encore, they even asked Tory and Jordan to get on stage, where they were congratulated and Gary dedicated “All the Right Reasons” to them. My sister was so touched that the band had remembered, and it was really a testament to just how incredible this band is.

After the show, Gary was kind enough to talk to all four of us, sign a record for Tory and Jordan’s family, and take a picture with the couple. It was one of the coolest nights of my entire life!

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • Cooked this spicy and delicious Green Chickpea and Chicken Coconut Curry with Swiss Chard for my weekly recipe.
  • Watched two Best Picture winners this week: 1979’s Kramer vs. Kramer and 1984’s Amadeus. Loved both, and I honestly can’t believe I’d never seen Amadeus in its entirety since it’s such a classic. Kramer vs. Kramer really stuck with me though. I mean, you can’t go wrong with Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, but the story is so beautiful, too.
  • Wrote and took photos each day. Below are some shots from the concert!


Dinner at Napolese




Tory and Jordan on stage with the Jayhawks

On Concerts

Concerts are my happy place.

Beginning as a small child, my parents would tote me along to see live shows. I am so thankful for that because it has led to a lifelong love. The first concert I can remember going to was a bluegrass festival along the Ohio River in Owensboro, KY with my dad. That night, we got to see an extremely young (and then sort of unknown) Alison Krauss & Union Station and Doc Watson– probably my dad’s all-time favorite musician, and someone who holds a very special place in my heart as well. I got to meet Alison Krauss and have my first of many pictures with Doc (I’d go on to be lucky enough to be able to see him at least a half dozen more times before his sad 2012 passing). Not too shabby for a 6 year-old!

Since then, my passion for music and seeing live shows has only grown, and I’ve gotten to see everyone from Bob Dylan to Jay Z. Since getting married, completing graduate school,  and my husband and I both settling into our careers, the concerts have started to be less and less frequent as our schedules got busier. Like a lot of other things on my 29 before 30, I really wanted to spend this next year refocusing on things I love, like seeing as many concerts as possible and feasible.

Saturday night, I got a fantastic head start on my goal of seeing 6 concerts this year by seeing Jason Isbell at the Buskirk Chumley. I had seen Jason before, back when he was with the Drive-By Truckers, but I hadn’t seen him since he has been solo and his 2013 album  Southeastern is one of my very favorites from this past year. His lovely wife Amanda Shires opened, and she was incredible, as was Jason. But the best part of the whole evening was when they played together– which luckily was the majority of the evening. I don’t think I’d ever seen a married couple play together, and it felt so intimate, like you were sitting  in their living room. Their voices and his guitar and her violin sounded though they had been made for each other. You know how sometimes you think you really like a musician, and then you see them live and they just don’t live up to your expectations? Jason and Amanda both were the exact opposite, totally blowing Tim and me both away and making us fall in love even more with their music.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • Cooked my third weekly recipe, Banana Oatmeal Bread. Side note: apparently Taylor Swift and I read the same baking blog, Joy the Baker!
  • Watched my third Best Picture winner, which was 1980’s Ordinary People. It was such an honest look at life. Just hauntingly beautiful, sad, and even a little funny at times, too.
  • Continued writing and taking photos each day. Below are  some of my favorite shots from the week.
Before the Jason Isbell concert

Before the Jason Isbell concert

Jason and Amanda

Jason and Amanda

Made a fancy honey and cinammon latte

Made a fancy honey and cinnamon latte

Fall drives in Indiana are the prettiest

Fall drives in Indiana are the prettiest


Food Hugs

Fall is here, y’all. And something about the fall makes me nostalgic. And hungry.

With the onset of the chill in the air and Southern Indiana’s autumnal rain comes a very specific kind of hunger. I start to crave the homey comfort foods I was raised on: my grandmother’s apple pie and apple butter, the eggs and toast my dad would make me as a before-bed-snack, a deep bowl of my other grandma’s “party potatoes” (which are baked mashed potatoes that have a whole brick of cream cheese in them), and my mom’s banana bread- fresh out of the oven. My mom also made this chicken casserole of cream of chicken soup, sour cream, cheese, boxed stuffing, and French’s fried onions that is probably free of nutritional value, but inexplicably delicious and, in my opinion, has the power to heal whatever ails you.

Basically, as the leaves turn, I want all the carbs, all the time.

I think it’s my stomach’s way of reminding me that it’s ok sometimes to want a food hug. Food is such a sensory experience, and all I need to do when I miss my Mamaw is peel apples and it’s like she is right there with me, or when I need a little comfort at the end of a long day, I can whip up some late-night eggs, a-la-Dad. Also just a PSA here, but giving food hugs away to others, especially in the form of cheesy. condensed soup-laden casseroles is a particularly good way to make and retain friendship. Bonus points if said casserole is topped with French’s fried onions.

So with October in full-swing outside my door, I am hopeful that my fall will be filled with food hugs, both given and received. I hope yours is, too.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • Finished Not That Kind of Girl. Book 1/10, check!
  • Watched my second Best Picture winner, All About Eve. Bette Davis tears it up. Highly recommended. So great to see so many strong female leads in a 1950’s film. Side note: it desperately made me want a martini, like the way Mad Men makes me want an old fashioned.
  • Made my second weekly recipe, homemade Chipotle burrito bowls. I used ground turkey instead of chicken for the protein. Not because of any creative culinary reasons but purely because I didn’t have any chicken.
  • Had my second weekly date with Tim, which was a really fun shopping trip  to Edinburgh and Indy.
  • Continued to write and take photos every day. My favorite two photos from the week are below.
Shopping date

Shopping date

My  pups watching the rain

My pups watching the rain




One Week Down

Tomorrow puts me one week into my 29 Before 30, and I’ve already been making good progress on my list!

Although my only fully completed task is #1’s start a blog, I have stuck to both of my daily goals and have been writing in my journal and taking at least one photo (usually more) per day. These seem like such small tasks that I’m sure most people do daily without even thinking, but for me the initiation had to be much more intentional. All throughout middle school, high school, and college, I was in the habit of writing most days. Sometimes this writing was an account of my day, sometimes it was stream of conscious ideas and goals, and sometimes it was more prosaic or even poetic in nature. But regardless of the form, it always felt good to get my thoughts down on paper. It helps to make the present not seem so fleeting– because of the permanence, you can always go back and revisit a good day, reconnect with a past you, or even remember a heartache.

Writing is and always has been how I best express myself, at least when there is something important to think through. There is something too anxiety-ridden for me with phone calls– like I just wait to escape the conversation even when it’s with someone I  love. They tend to be reminders of the distance between the two voices, and all I do is pace and twirl my hair when I’m on the phone anyways– something both my mom and sister do, too, so maybe their feelings on the subject are mutual. In person conversations have the added element of whatever is laying thick in the air during it– whether that be tension or passion or laughter. Emotions, whether mine or someone else, can tend to wash over me and cloud and sometimes twist what I say and especially what I hear.

I’m one of those people who thinks out loud in conversations, and my mouth is just a leaky hole for the thoughts in my brain. The thoughts pour out as they happen, which can often lead to me saying things I don’t really mean. When I write, I actually have time to process those thoughts a bit before turning them into words on the page. I think that’s why I want to write letters to my loved ones this year about why I love them, and I why I want to send them Christmas and birthday cards– to better convey to them just how much they mean to me. And to put it down for eternity.

As for taking photos, I have always been THE WORST. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad to not be selfie-obsessed, and I never have to worry about missing the great thing that’s happening in the moment because I’m too busy posting photos to Facebook, but I have definitely regretted not committing certain experiences to at least a quick iPhone snap. I’ve let some great stuff get away, like the time my dogs shredded a whole bag of powdered sugar and their faces and my house looked like a scene out of Scarface. I’ve had the most amazing friend in my life now for five years, and we don’t have one photo together! That’s criminal. That changes this year!

I’m also a little over halfway through my book 1/10, Lena Dunham’s I’m Not That Kind of Girl. So far, it’s exactly the super-quirky, sometimes uncomfortable, but crazy honest narrative you’d expect from her, so it may not be for everybody, but I have really been liking it. It’s made me laugh out loud more than a few times, and it’s a really good fit for me at the moment because we are the same age and I relate to a lot of her stories and reflections.

Oh! And last night, I watched the first of my “And the Oscar for Best Picture goes to…” films, which was Terms of Endearment. The tagline for the movie is “Come to laugh, come to cry, come to care, and come to terms,” and let’s just say, I did that and then some while my husband, who was cooking in the kitchen, kept poking his head in to look at me with a sort-of-puzzled but mostly judgey face. But OMG. Shirley Maclaine. Perfection. And not only is Debra Winger’s acting incredible, but her late 70’s-early 80’s fashion is ON POINT. I need some high-waisted bellbottoms stat.

Cheers to this first week! I’m celebrating by cooking my weekly new dish…and posting these cute pictures of Gunner and Georgia.

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